"Everybody knows a work of art takes at least an hour!" Lucy to Linus, (Peanuts)

FineArtViews Painting Competition - Twice in the Fav 15%

http://canvoo.com/boldbrush/badge/13203 three times selected for FAV15%, Fine Art Views Bold Brush Painting Competition

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Last Image of Samanda, I Promise!

"Juanita in her Hat" - graphite sketch from life
"Juanita" - vine charcoal sketch from life - 1/2 hour pose
"Chrysalis" - oil - 36"x24"
I reshot the painting of Samanda, titled it "BodyWrap" and submitted it to the online FineArtsView
competition for this month. Having been chosen for the top FAV 15% in September with the painting of "Lisa" I am hoping for another notice! We artists are consummate "egoists" - always about Me, Me, Me, I know...so let's talk about YOU for a change...tell me, what do YOU think about me? Old joke, I know. Anyway, this is the last post of this image for a while. I just wanted it to be a better shot than what I posted previously - colours are more accurate here - at least on MY monitor - what about yours? Someone wrote me that Samanda is like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis and I love that idea and it feels very right, so I have to retitle this piece and call it "Chrysalis". Much better! I am so lousy at naming my own work or finding the right metaphors for it...it is there in my head, all of it, but putting actual names to things is not my strong point. I wonder if I can go back and rename the piece in the competition?
The sketches are from yesterday's drawing group at Vicky Scott's studio near Courtenay. I haven't been for a while so it was good to get back. This model, Juanita, we have had many times and she is really wonderful to draw. Vicky and I discussed hiring Juanita to pose just for us and one or two others who are interested in a long carefully planned pose. Most of those who come are interested in poses no longer than an hour. I would like to do an oil painting of Juanita and I loved what she was wearing yesterday. Again, it just felt right. I can never describe to models what it is I want from them accurately enough. When it is there, it is is simply obvious. Juanita has a natural grace and sense of beautiful posing and features that are timeless. I have several quite beautiful drawings of her. A portrait is in order soon, I think.
Thank you for all the wonderful comments on the painting of Samanda! It is so great to have you guys around! It is ok to let me know when you don't like something I do, also, you know! (But be gentle:-).

Monday, November 22, 2010

I'm Saying I'm Done...

This painting has reached the point where I just can't work on it any more. Every new brushstroke would be fussing. A friend says the fabric is creating a mystery in that it is impossible to tell if she is wearing a sari like dress or just wrapped in fabric that is hooked to the sky somewhere out of the picture frame. Her face, she said, looks out with vulnerability but not
with fear. I don't have the answers.

Friday, November 19, 2010

What Colour is "Flesh"?

Continuing with the painting of Samanda I am once again made aware of the huge variety of colours in so-called "flesh" (of the human variety). Caucasians are not just "white" or "peach" or
"rose" toned. Darker skinned peoples are not "brown" or "black". We are all made up of the same
rainbow of colours, just different intensities and values of those colours. Our surroundings and the lighting we are in also influence the colours that stand out in our skin. Samanda is Asian. Her skin has beautiful golden tones. Here in her arm I noticed intense orange and soft yellow but also sienna, umber, viridian green, shades of lavendar, and deep reds. Cerulean Blue and Naples Yellow mixed to make some of the greenish tones, while Permanent Rose, Alizarin Crimson, and Burnt Sienna, and Cobalt Blue are in some of the shadow areas. The red/violet and blue colours in the fabric she holds in front of her reflect subtly on her arms and under her neck and chin. I am unable to locate a single tube of paint that would be the right "colour" for painting her or anyone else. I notice that many artists paint beautiful portraits of people using quite limited palattes, mostly umbers and subtle mixtures of red, yellow and white. There is nothing wrong with this in the least - I just find it more exciting to really look for all the variations that are actually there in the models skin. If you really look at your own hand, move it into varying light and shadow, and you start to notice that rainbow that is part of all of us.
An aside: I entered the Blossom Art Competition recently and received word yesterday that I was not juried in. They had 2300 entries and a very limited number that could be accepted. I look forward to seeing those who were chosen and congratulate them. This is a competitive business but not being accepted does not mean one is unworthy. A different jury would pick a different group of paintings. I am aiming fairly high lately so I have to accept with good grace that I still am a winner because deciding to aim high forces me to paint as well as I can and to reach for more than I might have. I had entered "Nicole in the Rose Trellis" and "Heather with Peonies" and both paintings achieved a benchmark level for me - now on to see if I can surpass myself!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"All Art is Propaganda" George Orwell

Opening up into our valley on the walk home...Salmon River
in the distance.
Coming down the mountain...
Bob with three of our four dogs - Micky is probably in the
waterfall to the right:-)
We live on the right hand lower slope of Mt. H'Kusam
I want to thank those of you who had such gracious comments regarding my post of yesterday. I only know you through this blog and your blogs but it has come to be a meaningful community to me as I think it has for you. I allowed myself to drift into a perilous mood and expressing it in my blog was possibly not wise but it is how I am sometimes. Reading a compilation of Orwell's essays called All Art is Propaganda, by George Packer, intro by Keith Gessen. This is a statement Orwell made several times in his writings. So much thought from the 1930's feels so relevant these days. There was a definite political correctness influencing artists and writers of that time; "Anyone sensitive enough to be touched by the zeitgeist was also involved in politics."
"It was a time of labels, slogans, and evasions. At the worst moments you were expected to lock yourself up in a constipating little cage of lies; at best a sort of voluntary censorship." Anything that wasn't anti Fascist was suspect (not that being Fascist is a great idea!) but the point was there was a lot of censorship going on and stifling of free thought. "It is inconceivable that good novels should be written in such an atmosphere. Good novels are not written by orthodoxy-sniffers, nor by people who are conscious-stricken about their own unorthodoxy. Good novels are written by people who are not frightened." The same holds for all the art forms. In this current political climate there are slogans and projected suppositions regarding ecology, human rights,
animal rights, and what it means to live an "authentic" life. I admit to being on the side of Democratic Socialism...I like having a government who cares about the health and well being and education of its citizens but one who does not infringe on the rights of that citizenry to think and act freely without fear. This is a tricky balance. In every time of history there are complicating and mitigating factors that influence and push events. Artists need to feel free because they are the canaries in the mine so to speak. They hold up a mirror for everyone to see into if they choose to. Even art I don't care for or ideas I don't believe in have a right to be out there. Thus, I do try to be honest but understated in my own work. I don't really want current ideologies to be plastered in my face but I don't want anyone telling me or any artist what to paint or write or dance or act...My pain is for all those in other places struggling to have that right...to just be who they are without persecution, (accepting, of course those who for whatever reason are inclined to seriously anti-social and psychopathic behavior - even full blown anarchists don't want gunslingers and barbarians at the door! Question: Can a violent psychopath be helped?). Here, in our "relatively" peaceful Western society, though, certain notions are stifled and big corporations seem to be financing a lot of worrisome things all in the name of the bottom line. I like to consume stuff too - I grew up in a consumer society, but I know when it is over the top. That is why I am finally finding that I need much less than I used to think, and it is a big relief. Look at the photos above of where I get to live. Our home is modest, our income low, but we live in a spectacular place as yet unspoiled and I am frightened that soon there will be no place like it left. If "all art is propaganda" than I hope to propagandize the idea that, when we are fed, housed, healthy, free, educated, (and I mean REAL food, not MacFood, human scaled and sensitively designed homes and work places, education that is open ended, open minded, and thought provoking, and health care that is fully available without bankrupting you) and mostly that we are kind to one another "all we have is all we need." Gee, I don't ask for much, do I...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Return to Samanda

Yesterday I arranged all my wares beside me and pulled up the images I have on my computer of Samanda. I was not in the mood to paint but I began anyway. Have to get back into a painting I stopped working on over a month ago and not feeling too pleased about it. Within ten minutes I was fully back and lost track of the time. I felt all thumbs and left handed. I played with some colours I don't normally work with (Prussian Blue, Napthol Red). I heightened the contrast and colour in her hair and lightened the upper left hand corner, reworked the drape of the cloth and fussed with her lips. It occurred to me that I am once again at a point where a change is going to happen in the way I work. These are usually subtle and not too apparent to the outside observer but to me they are major. I was just getting comfortable. Drat. This always happens. I am bored unless I am working outside that comfort zone just a bit. Now what, I ask myself. Finish this thing and move on, that's what. It is NOT going to be the painting I envisioned (they never are) and I am going to accept that and do the best I can with it. I wish her pose were different, slightly turned more with emphasis of weight on one hip, maybe a different expression on her face...maybe not looking out me with such expectancy and challenge. And once again, that small itch that sits in the back of my mind, I wonder if doing this is a worthy occupation in such "interesting times" as we live in. Should I be in Darfur attempting to save refugees from the terrible civil war? Would it help if I could raise enough money to rebuild Haiti or build new lives for those who have lost everything in Pakistan or Indonesia? Would I ever know where to start such undertakings? I mention them on my FaceBook page and sign the petitions and rail against all the injustices I hear about. Yet there is that self centered me who just would like to be able to be here painting, reading my stack of books from the library, and listening to amazing musicians on my stereo, making some Apple Crisp from the harvest I shared with the bear, being in touch with friends now and then...and without guilt because I have it so good and so many have it so bad. The years spent struggling to make a living, to find my way, make some imprint on the world, raise my child, trying to defeat the severe clinical depression in my DNA, all are beginning to feel far behind me now and I just want peace. I wish the world the same. I want everyone to find their true way, their true heart and joy. It is naive to think that will happen any time soon. A dear friend tells me that birthing art into the world and seeing the happiness that brings to others is gift enough. It would be so nice to think that was true.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Art Expo Workshop Demo

I received this photo today from Susan Schaefer, who, along with her life partner, Jeff Shields,
organized the whole Island Art Expo event that I took part in last weekend. It is not a closeup of Ruth, my model, but at least it does show that I was working from life. I had a table set up next to me with a Masterson sealable palate and brushes, etc. I don't like to take along everything I own for painting on site so I have a couple of carryalls that hold everything I need and this portable easel. I had a spotlight on a tripod just off the picture edge. I had no idea what to expect for
the room I was to work in so I tried to be prepared for a variety of possible situations. It has taken a lot of trial and error over the years to come up with a suitable way to pack for these trips. It is never perfect but generally I am able to manage nicely.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

One Hour Demo

At the Island Art Expo this past weekend not only did I get to do a portrait of Santa Claus but I gave an hour and a half workshop/demo on portraiture. This always is a tense situation for me since I feel I have to "perform" well and do an impressive job in a short time. Talking and demoing is also a bit of a trick since I want to concentrate on what I'm doing and not on my verbalizing. The model arrived in time and sat very nicely...didn't move a muscle for the entire
hour...she is a professional and that helped very much. I began and proceeded and got through
the demo without shaming myself so for that I am pleased! I was actually just starting to get the
feel for my subject and wanted to continue, to make all the corrections I could see were needed, but the time was up and I managed to discuss my process fairly coherently...everyone seemed happy. I cannot believe, though, that I did not take any photos of the model so that I could work
on this at home. Perhaps that is for the best. I can use this as a reminder of what is possible for me to accomplish in a short time if I'm expected to, and also how far I have yet to travel in my quest for improvement.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Island Art Expo weekend

I am back from the weekend art expo down in Qualicum Bay at the Lighthouse Centre. Exhausting but fun time. Bob couldn't come along to help me schlep stuff because we have
four canine children who can't be left alone for three days and would not really be welcome romping around the art expo venue. Some gallant male artist friends helped me get those
folding doors set up and then yesterday, repacked into my truck.
I did several quickie portrait sketches over the weekend and yesterday morning a man came
to my table and asked if I would be averse to doing a portrait of Santa Claus. "Why would I?" I replied. Santa is as entitled as anyone to get sketched if he has the $15! (Everyone was giving
me $20 for their sketches...knowing that they were STILL getting a real bargain). So Santa came
in the afternoon and sat for his portrait sketch. He was a big hit with the other show goers.
The musicians that played on stage during the weekend enjoyed him too but were not inclined to
break into "Jingle Bells" thank goodness. It is still a BIT early! But I posed with Santa to prove to any skeptics that I really did do Santa's portrait(!) and darn it, my chipmunk cheeks are showing...