Friday, December 30, 2016

Giving thanks in more ways than one

Well I don't know about you but it's been a crazy busy time these last few weeks. I guess it always is in the time leading up to the holidays. I know my gallery rep has been busy. I want to give a giant shout out to the Signature Gallery in Tallahassee. Because of them I've had the best month in art sales yet. 5 Swallows, pictured here, along with 5 other paintings found new homes recently thanks to their efforts. The folks there are the kindest, hardest working, most ethical I've found in the gallery world so far so thanks to Vera and the rest of the crew there. I love working with them!

What else am I truly thankful for? I had the most amazing Christmas surprise ever. My daughter and her hubby decided on the afternoon of Christmas day that they would pack up my two grandbabies and the granddog and drive straight through all the way from Dallas TX to my house in central FL. On Monday I saw a black dog coming up the front steps of the house. I thought - that looks just like Maddie but that can't be. Next thing I know my daughter's face is grinning at me through the front door glass. Crazy!!!! 

Needless to say there were lots of tears and laughter and hugging and squeezing. The best part.... my son and his family were already here because we were celebrating Christmas with them on Monday so the house was full and happy.

Did I plan to paint this week? Yep. Do I care? Nope. Sometimes, plans you have for painting or other job stuff, can go right out the window when you can have the joy of kids and grandkids for a few days.

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and wish for you a very Happy New Year! See you in January.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Questions. Answers?

A few days ago, Barney Davey from Art Marketing News, shared an article about NADA Miami Beach 2016. It was the author's pick of the best paintings from the fair. I scrolled through, saw a few things that intrigued me but for the most part they left me scratching my head- not only some of the work but the price tags on the work. My initial gut reaction and the words that went through my head were....

It's all about who you know....
It's who has the marketing and promotional bucks to spend....
It's not about good work anymore....
It's about who can get away with pulling the wool over people's eyes....
Of course art is subjective but what the hell happened to design and composition- the building blocks of good art? Abstract or non-representational art still requires the elements of design.

Then I thought..... is it just sour grapes on my part? Maybe I'm just jealous because I can't command $20,000 or more for a piece of my own work. Of course I wish I could get those prices and who knows, maybe someday I will. Maybe there was some sadness mixed in, thinking that so many people have been convinced that this is good art worthy of the hefty price tags.

Are the buyers buying because they can't live without it or have they been told it's a good investment? What do they see in the work that I don't?

Those were my first thoughts. Then my head took over. Yes, art is subjective and art does not have to be about making pretty pictures. Of course it can be but it doesn't have to be. It can be a political statement, a cry against an injustice, a statement about art and society or a painting that's just about color and texture that excites the artist while making it. Of course I know this because I also create work that's not about being a pretty picture such as my symbolic series Silent Voices. I also create work that's just about texture and color in my abstract series.

For a few of those works at the fair, my first inclination is to dismiss it as junk. And maybe some of it is. But maybe there's a backstory to it. Maybe there's a meaning behind it that I haven't learned. What was the artist's intention? As an artist I owe it to another artist to at least find out before relegating it to the trash heap in my mind. 

We end up with more questions than answers. Sometimes I think it's good to look backwards and revisit art history. Look at the evolution of an artist like Mondrian.

Houses on the Gein

The Gray Tree

Composition II in Red, Blue and Yellow

His early works were beautifully rendered landscapes and scenes- soft, subtle and muted in tone. He then transitions to an abstracted version of nature in The Gray Tree. Then much later his work is bold, linear and colorful. It's taking nature's forms and colors to it's most basic and primary elements.

And why not?

My end thoughts.....

It's good to revisit art history
It's good to question
It's good to keep an open mind
It's good to let go of judgement
It's good to find out why.....

Take a look at the article about NADA Miami. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. And now, back to painting.

Monday, November 28, 2016

A quick post holiday post

I hope ya'll had a great Thanksgiving weekend. Just a quick post with a nest update. It's been a busy couple of weeks with the holidays coming up plus I've been sick- no fun! But I'm on the mend now and ready to get back to painting and all the other stuff that goes along with it.

This is a little nest that was on top of my daughter's front porch light fixture. It's a swallow's nest. Before seeing this I had no idea some birds made their nests partially with mud. You can see the photo below. I usually prefer to have a nest in hand to paint from rather than working from photos but as you can see this one was well occupied and later there were 5 beautiful swallows.

The painting below is still a work in progress and another one I'm doing from a photo even though I have the actual nest in the studio. I found it in the hedge in my yard but before I removed it from the hedge I took pictures from different angles in case I wanted to do something that included a few surrounding leaves. Tomorrow I'm spending the day at the easel and I'll post again when it's done.

In the meantime......

After all that holiday food

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Listen to Pablo and make some art

I walk at Tuscawilla Park most mornings of the week- well try to anyway- when the weather and this old body lets me. My city just added this new section to the park and it's absolutely lovely. It's been a good place for me this week.

This week has been hard for many reasons. One of them of course being the election. I'm amazed at how draining and difficult it's been for so many people. It's not just the voting result but the awful happenings all over the country. I'm so saddened by the unrest, the fear and the violence. I want to cry every time I see a swastika painted on a building or the "n" word written on people's property, every story I see where a child is taunted and bullied because of the color of his skin. It's the kids. They are the ones I worry about most. How are they to understand what's happening. Children shouldn't have to worry about whether or not their family will be torn apart or if they're safe in their own home and country.

A lot of people are expressing their upset. That's a good thing as long as it's civil. What's not a good thing is people being told that they're whining or just too negative because they're talking about what's happening in the world. It doesn't help to minimize, dismiss or mock what people are going through right now. That's just cruel. What happened to compassion? Where did human decency go? It's serious stuff and should be talked about. Things don't get fixed if they're never discussed. I fear for my grandchildren's future. I fear for my gay family and friends. I fear losing my health insurance at a time when I need it the most. These things are just the tip of the iceberg. There's so much more and we have legitimate worries.

This is going to take time.

It's ok to express hurt and anger - peacefully. Protest but do it peacefully. I don't care if you sit through the anthem or march in the streets but do it peacefully. No matter who you voted for, just be kind to each other because in the end we all want the same thing - good health, prosperity and people to love. I don't always do it well either but it's something to strive for.

Thank goodness for art. I know I need it now more than ever. Our souls have a lot of searching to do and we have a lot of grime to wash off.

One of the things I love about the new art park are the quotes engraved and scattered along the walkway. I've been taking a photo every time I'm at the park and I thought this one is particularly appropriate right now.

The other thing I love about the park are these faces. They're all over the place and they're hysterical. This stone wall winds it's way around the park and these rock faces are scattered throughout, every one of them different and goofy. Kudos to the mason who built it. They give me a smile and we need lots of those right now.

So listen to Pablo, it's time to make more art.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

No tricks, just a work in progress

I've been back in the studio painting- nests of course. I'm not sure how long I'll be painting these but for now I'm going with the proverbial flow. As long as they keep hold of my heart and mind then I'll keep on making them.

Recently, one of my students was wondering what my process is for painting the nests so I thought I'd post a few work in progress pics.

Here you can see I've already got the gold in place. Before I can apply the gold I prep the canvas. The first thing I do is apply a layer of Super Heavy Gesso with a large palette knife. You can see the texture on the canvas surface. That layer of gesso is pretty thick so I leave it to dry over night. When it's dry I coat the canvas with a primary red acrylic. 

Then I use a white charcoal or pastel pencil to sketch in the outline of the nest. This gives me a map for the adhesive size used to adhere the gold. Once the size is tacky - that takes approximately 15-30 minutes - I place the gold leaf, brush off the excess, and this is what the canvas looks like.

In this next step I've coated the rest of the canvas, all areas without gold, with burnt umber. After the paint is dry I use the same pastel pencil to sketch in the main elements. I mark the edge of the nest opening, the largest pieces of leaves, plastic, or other bits of debris the birds used for building.

I paint those large pieces in first and then use a liner brush to start building the layers of grasses and twigs that are woven together. When I build these layers I work from dark to light starting with a burnt sienna\burnt umber mix and adding other colors as I get lighter and lighter.

acrylic and gold leaf

The final strokes are the lightest ones, the ones that make the painting pop and give it depth. I think the toughest challenge about these paintings is photographing them because of the gold leaf. In every photo the gold looks a little different. It all depends on the angle, the time of day, the light- if it's overcast or sunny outside. You can see the difference even in these progress pictures. At the same time, that's my favorite thing about these paintings- the way the painting changes with the light. It's not a trick but sure is a treat! LOL, I know..... way too corny but couldn't help myself. 

Happy Halloween ya'll!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Munchkins and fun party projects

I took some time off from the studio recently. What could take me away from painting? This pile up of little munchkins. My daughter came for a visit with 2 of my grandbabies. They moved to TX a year ago so it's a treat to have them here with the other 2 who live nearby. No way was I going to spend time in the studio when I could love on all these people!

Before their visit I had a very special project to work on. My father celebrated his 80th birthday and my mother decided to throw him a surprise birthday party. I was in charge of table decorations. Dad is a golfer so of course my first thought was something golf themed. I searched Pinterest for ideas, I went to the party stores, I looked all over and just couldn't get excited about any of it.

Then my husband had an idea. We have a book of illustrations of costumes and clothing through the ages so he suggested making paper dolls with Dad's face on the illustrations. Mom was putting together a slide show of family pictures for the party so I went through the photos and made copies of his faces and matched them with different costumes. I enlarged the illustrations, sized the faces to fit and put them together. I did this the old fashioned way of cut and paste. If I were more used to Photoshop I would have done it that way but by the time I dealt with the learning curve in figuring out how to do it I could have had them done. 

After putting them together I scanned them, flipped them to a mirror image and printed them out so I'd have 2 of each to make a double sided figure. I cut them out, then added a piece of cardboard between them so they'd stand up and then attached them to a base made of paper fans I picked up at the party store. The white bases are just plastic plates turned upside down.

If you're an NCIS fan you can see who kept me company while I worked on this project.

I made 8 of these figures so each table at the party had a different Dad. What a blast it was finding just the right face to go with the illustrations. In a couple of them his own hat in the photo worked perfectly for the style of clothing. 

The party was a great success! He was surprised and he was especially happy to have his granddaughter and great grandchildren come all the way from TX to say Happy Birthday.

So now the party is done and the kids have gone back home. I'm back in the studio painting.... nests of course. I'll share the newest ones in the next post. And if you have any cool party decoration ideas I'd love to see so please share!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Painting what I love for people who love what I paint

The last couple of weeks have been good in the art world. I want to just take a moment to say thanks!

Thank you to my friends and family who give me so much encouragement about my work and support what I do.

Thank you to my Facebook friends who cheer me on and "like" my work, who tell me which paintings are their favorites.

Thank you to my students who show up every Monday ready to learn and practice and make me laugh in the process.

Thank you to the Signature Art Gallery and the Macon Arts Alliance Gallery for their help in connecting with collectors. Vera at the Signature has been amazing. I very much appreciate all she does for the artists.

And a big, giant, squeezy hug to my collectors. Without them I couldn't keep doing what I'm doing.

This is what my collectors make possible - days that are like Christmas in the studio - when art supplies come in the mail. New supplies means new paintings and new paintings mean new ideas and the cycle continues. I'm able to keep on doing what I love to do.

This is my dream right here, right now. I'm living it. Painting what I love for people who love what I paint.

Thank you!