Monday, September 26, 2016

Good morning Monday- painting, taxes and a little naughty :)

Remember the painting in the ugly stage?

It's done now and sold. This morning I got it wired and varnished and soon it will be going to it's new home which happens to be the same home in NV where the smaller one went. They'll be together! Yeah, I know that's silly and sappy but hey..... don't a piece of ourselves go into every painting? When a collector buys a painting they're buying a piece of us. My heart and soul go into these paintings. Each one is it's own struggle, it's own challenge and it's nurtured along through each stage of development, pushing me and it to be better than the last one. That's the hope anyway.

Since last week I've acquired another nest. Isn't it beautiful? This is a cardinal's nest that was in my brother-in-law's yard. Just the day before he brought this to me I was thinking that I'd like to find one with some Spanish moss in it and ta-da! Here it is. I not only love the moss but I love the pile of little leaves inside. This will be another challenge for sure.

Hopefully I can get back to painting tomorrow. Over the weekend I tackled doing taxes- ugh!!!! I'm almost done but not quite there yet and this afternoon I'm teaching a class at the studio. 

Until next time..... here's a little thing I found on Facebook this morning. I don't know the name of the creator so if someone out there does, please share with us. It's a little on the naughty side but makes a good point. I've often wondered about critics and their evaluation of paintings. Why do they see what they see compared to what the artist intended? Critics like to get all puffed up with their "artspeak" and sometimes it's nothing more than a simple story. Just ask the artist.

At the National Art Gallery in Dublin, a husband and wife were staring at a portrait that had them completely confused. The painting depicted three black men totally naked, sitting on a bench.
Two of the figures had black penises, but the one in the middle had a pink penis. The curator of the gallery realized that they were having trouble interpreting the painting and offered his personal assessment.
He went on for over half an hour explaining how it depicted the sexual emasculation of African Americans in a predominately white patriarchal society . "In fact", he pointed out, "some serious critics believe that the pink penis also reflects the cultural and sociological oppression experienced by gay men in contemporary society".
After the curator left, an Irishman approached the couple and said, "Would you like to know what the painting is really about?"
"Now why would you claim to be more of an expert than the curator of the gallery", asked the couple?
"Because I am the artist, who painted the picture", he replied, "In fact, there are no African Americans depicted at all.
They're just three Irish coal miners. The guy in the middle went home for lunch"

Monday, September 19, 2016

Painting, sharing, shipping, bingeing

It was a busy week in the studio last week. I got lots of painting done, talked to lots of people, shipped artwork to the Signature Art Gallery and even sold a few paintings! And btw.... the Signature Gallery has a bird room- all things bird so if you're a bird watcher or are just fascinated with them like I am then go see what they have in there. So anyway, it was a banner week and the best of all was Friday when this article came out in Arts Business Institute. A big thank you to Carolyn at Artsy Shark for contacting me. Check it out and if you would be so kind.... tweet it or share it on whatever method of socializing you utilize. Thanks!

This is the latest bird's nest I did and it's sold so it's heading to NV this week. I have another one on the easel in the ugly stage.....

Kind of weird lighting in this shot. I had my spotlight on the nest I'm using for reference so the canvas looks a little dark. My laptop is there so I can message with people while I work and of course binge on Netflix shows- right now I'm bouncing back and forth between the new episodes of Walking Dead and old episodes of NCIS.

This is a little Instagram snippet from the process of applying gold leaf to my canvas.

Artist friends.... what do you do when you paint? Listen to music? Watch TV? Are you a binge watcher? Need silence? Just curious.

Carry on and happy painting.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The next nest

How was your Labor Day weekend? Mine was mostly quiet. I didn't even work in the studio. What I did do was a sleepover with our 6 year old granddaughter. There is nothing in the world sweeter than a conversation with a 1st grader and nothing more fun than the games she comes up with. Bath time means word games, movie time means picnics on the bed and snuggling together, playing outside means chasing bubbles and playing tag. She kept me on my toes the whole time.

And of course at this house, getting together also means drawing and painting time. She left us with this drawing and just cracked me up with the "AKA granddaughter". 

I'm made of complimentary colors :)

After all that fun I did get back to my own painting this week and finished another nest- actually 2 nest paintings.... remember the nest I got out of the tree in my yard?


This is the first painting to come from that nest. It's 18x18 and this time I used copper leaf instead of gold. I'm not quite sure how I feel about the copper. It's the only copper one so far and I don't know if I'll do another. Just that little bit of color shift in the background created some color issues in the nest itself so we'll see.

And it looks like I've started something.... I was recently gifted these 2 nests to add to my collection. The little bluebird nest on the left was my reference for the most recent painting.

The Nursery

Now it's time to prep some more canvases and figure out which nest is next. See ya'll soon.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Practice and save your stuff!!

Every once in a while a couple of topics come up when I'm working with art students.

1. They want it now! They want to be able to paint like an "expert" right off the bat. Practicing takes too long. They get frustrated. Some don't want to work on drawing skills but jump straight to the palette and paint. Let's get some color on that canvas. Some even want to finish that painting in the first class! We do live in an instant gratification culture.

2. When they produce something they're not that proud of they want to throw it away. Rip it up! Trash it. There's no point in keeping something they're never going to frame. It's not good enough to keep around. They say to me.... "you're a professional, I'm sure everything you do is worthy of framing". HA! They haven't seen the pile of canvases waiting to be painted over and the papers tucked away in folders that won't see the light of day.

I certainly understand the frustration! Been there, done that. Many times I've been frustrated with myself and my work. Just this week I spent 2 days really struggling with a new painting. At one point I wanted to gesso over the thing and start over. I have to keep reminding myself that every painting goes through an ugly stage and you shouldn't give up on it too soon. Keep working and most times you can get through that stage to the finish and even be satisfied (almost) with the result.

When discussions like this come up I like to pull out my old portfolio from art school. Mind you that was eons ago - 1970's - and yes, I still have a lot of that old work. I even have a piece from high school in that stash. It's the first scratchboard piece I did and the first piece of work that earned some cash. My friend Sue also did a black and white piece so we got together and had note cards printed. We packaged 3 of each design for a 6 card pack with envelopes and sold them around school and church.

Anyway, sometimes we all need to be reminded that things don't happen overnight. We all start somewhere. We're all beginners at something. No one picks up a guitar for the first time and plays like Eric Clapton. No matter what you're doing, it takes practice. There are no shortcuts to that part. Now it's usually in this part of the discussion where the word "talent" comes in but that's a topic for another time.

Right now we need to be more patient with ourselves. We need to focus more on the process than on the outcome. Every drawing that fails, every painting that's not "good enough" is still teaching us something. That teaching goes on for a lifetime! Every painting we do is a lesson in something whether it's a new color mix or a lesson in what doesn't work and we know not to do that next time. Be open to those lessons.

Don't throw out old work.

This is one of the first colored pencil drawings I did when I was attending the Art Institute and studying fashion illustration. Yikes!
This is a colored pencil portrait I did last year.

I sure understand the temptation to throw away artwork. When I get these old pieces out and look at them I cringe. I want to go back into it and fix everything! But when looking at the old work and comparing it to the newer work I can see where I've been, how far I've come, how much I've learned, how much I've advanced in my skills.

Save your stuff! When you feel like you're not getting very far and are frustrated with what you're doing you can look back and realize- hey, I am getting better. That realization is one of the best motivators and will keep you practicing.

Give yourself a break. Keep drawing and painting. Save your work and nothing can replace the time you spend doing the work. Practice- daily if you can. There's no substitute for it and don't worry about it being frame worthy. It doesn't matter. What matters is the doing.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

So many paintings... so little time.

Hope everyone's good. I've been busy in the studio since the last post. Finished this nest....

And then painted this one..... sold another one.....

Then for a change of pace I started this landscape with a flowering tree. I wanted to play with some different colors and shapes. I've done a couple of other pieces similar to this one and love the blue-greens against the gold leaf.

From this angle you can see the texture and shine of the gold. I'm using metallic gold acrylic to drybrush gold along the edge of the leaf. It softens the edge and makes a good transition between the 2 areas. And it shows off the texture too. Love the texture!

So right after starting this landscape I found an old nest in a tree in my yard. I got on a step stool to get some shots of it to paint from. It was well seated in between the branches so it wasn't easy to take photos.

The next day I decided to see if I could get the nest out of the tree without damaging it. It was tricky but I did it with only losing a couple of little twigs. 

Of course, now I'm dying to paint the new nest!!! It's going to take some discipline to make myself finish the landscape first. If I don't, who knows when I'll get back to it. There are so many nest paintings I want to do- bigger, smaller, different angles, doing some with copper leaf instead of gold.... 

So many paintings- so little time. LOL

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Beach week and bird's nests

Beach week was amazing!! What did I do? Nothing. I went from condo to beach and back again. I took walks, listened to the waves, read and slept. I guess those things are actually something but you know what I mean- nothing that was required of me, only what I felt like doing when I felt like doing it. To me there is nothing more peaceful and rejuvenating than being near water and listening to the sounds of nature. After I got back my husband got me a white noise machine for sleeping that includes the sound of the ocean- perfect! I might be back inland but when I go to sleep I can listen to waves crashing, feel the fan blowing and pretend I'm dozing on the porch of a beach cottage as I drift off to sleep. 

 I love how these ripples ended up looking in this photo. It might end up a painting at some point.

My son and his family came out to spend a day and he brought the big bubble stuff with him. I think I enjoyed that more than the girls did. All they cared about was sand and water. :)

So beach week is over and now I'm all refreshed, excited to paint again and back to the easel. The first thing I did was prep 3 canvases. I used the heavy body gesso as usual. After letting them dry overnight I coated them with red acrylic, mapped out my design and then applied gold leaf to all 3.

One was for a landscape, one for a floral and one for a nest but I couldn't decide which one I wanted to start with. My sister-in-law said I should do the one on top first so I did the landscape...


Remember the nest painting I showed you last time? It's already sold and delivered! Now I'm working on the second canvas. I said I might do something different with the next nest painting as far as the texture goes but no, I just couldn't help myself. It isn't giving me as much of a problem as it was before so that's good.

I'm not too far from being done with this one. I should finish in another day or two and then I'll move on to the third canvas- the floral. I'm sure you'll see it in the next post. So, until then, I hope you're doing something artsy. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

No excuses, inspiration and summertime

No excuses. I saw this video on Facebook this morning and I thought- what an inspiration! I've had some issues lately with my hands due to a long time living with Rhuematoid Disease and of course the first thing that goes through my mind is.... what will happen if I'm not able to use my hands anymore? What if I can't hold a paint brush or colored pencil? Then I saw that and thought- hell, I'll just strap the brush to my arm if I have to. If you want to create or NEED to create like so many of us do, you'll find a way.

"Do not let the fact that things are not made for you, that conditions are not as they should be, stop you. Go on anyway. Everything depends on those who go on anyway." ~Robert Henri

So.... on to painting. Remember the bird's nest from the last post? Airborne is done- 12x12, mixed media on canvas. These are fun and a challenge to do. You know how much I love texture but I can't decide if I like it with these particular paintings. I think the nest itself might be easier to paint if the canvas were smooth but I do prefer the texture behind the gold leaf. Putting the gold directly on the canvas without texture tends to show off the weave of the canvas too much for my taste. I'll do the third one with the texture but maybe I'll play with something different for future pieces.

In the meantime I received a request for a portrait from someone who loves the gold leaf that I use in the landscapes but wants it done for a baby's portrait. Here's my first foray into gold and people painting. I have 7 grandchildren so I'm never without subjects to test techniques on. This one is Mila Blaze.

I think this will take some experimenting with surfaces. I love using Canson Mi-Teintes for portraits because I love to work on colored paper but the adhesive size for the gold does make the paper buckle. You can tell in the photo- especially on the left side. I did this one pretty small because I had a feeling that would be the case. The paper size here is 8.25x11. Maybe it would buckle less if the paper were larger? I don't know. The Canson also absorbs the size so it took 2 coats of the adhesive in order for it to work and get tacky. We'll see how the next one goes....

In the "catching up" post I shared some new landscapes. Since then I've shipped them off to the Signature Art Gallery in Tallahassee FL. and my wonderful rep Vera emailed me the photo of how they have my work displayed there- you can see the brand new ones on the left. I love this gallery and am so happy to be included with the fabulous artists they have there. Check out their website, or better yet, visit them if you can.

What's next? NOTHING! I'm not painting a single thing for the next week because tomorrow I head to the beach. I thought about taking some art supplies with me but then I thought about the hundreds of books on my kindle and decided to make a dent in that list instead and this will be my view for the next 7 days. Ahhhhh.......

Here's to creativity, inspiration, summertime, relaxation, peacefulness, and sunrises over the Atlantic. I hope you're getting your own time to rest this summer. See you when I get back.