"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, March 30, 2011

Entering Shows

Today I decided to enter, for the first time, the Artist Magazine competition. I sent in a jpeg of "To Tell a Story" and am not holding my breath about the results. I would like to quietly forget that I entered and then be pleasantly surprised come August when the finalists are notified...or  not in the case of NOT being a finalist. 

The painting above is finished, I think. I can't do any more on it right now and my feeling is anything more would be unimportant. I don't even have a title for this yet. 

I did get down to Victoria (BC) on monday as we had to take our grandson home from Spring break. Morris Gallery is representing a few artists that I know so I stopped by to take a look and left my card. Everything I'm reading in the many newsletters I get are talking about how careful one has to be in approaching a gallery these days and it makes me question the whole premise of even needing a gallery. So many are closing and those that are staying open just aren't doing that well. They aren't excited about taking on new artists when they have difficulty selling those they do represent. I also receive numerous requests to be part of artist "books" and go with questionable dealers.  You pay for these privileges. No thanks. I do understand about fees to enter shows and as long as they aren't exorbitant I can manage to enter a few every year.  The new outdoor show season is about to begin. Maybe it will be a more prosperous year than the past few have been but not sure I am up to the effort. I could use a roadie.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Close to finishing this up. I am already kind of distracted by planning for the "painting party" I am hosting next month. I need to focus on what is in front of me, I know, I know.  Now, though, I am second guessing myself about what Sam will wear. Geez didn't I have this all settled? I even found the perfect head wrap to match the outfit - a red, like the red trim on the skirt, and
embroidered with gold threads and sequins! (Makes me almost wish I was back in the dance troupe).  And what kind of background? Simple...probably...maybe? Just lit by the window, natural light or an indoor spot? And wishing I had a proper model's stand. This wasn't supposed to be complicated. I have never, ever had a plan for a painting just fall into place. I look at what others are doing and I want to give up sometimes. Have you seen Marina Dieul's latest? It won an award at the Portrait Society of America 2011 International competition. Spectacular!  Click here, Murina Dieul, to see this beautiful painting! 

Meanwhile I need to spend some time pulling together possible items to use for next month. Try some things out. Think of what the theme will be. Sketch up some compositions. I often think of how I would have done a painting better AFTER I have finished it.  I don't have a whole lifetime ahead of me to come up with an Opus...better, better and better...all the way to 
BEST! There is still so  much for me to learn. It gets tiring. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Taking Over

I love it when a painting begins to take over and almost paints itself. That hasn't happened for a while but it seems to be with this one. I am scarcely looking at my reference now...just going by the impression I get from glancing at it.  I've made a few changes in areas and now see that this is going to be a very different portrait from the one I envisioned. I am as curious as anyone to see how it will come out.
And now the snow is gone and the sun it out and yard work begins but it seems a relief after feeling so closed in for so many months. Ask me how I feel about it in another week or so and the clipping, trimming, planting, and general cleaning are in full swing. At least the painting is a place for me to take a break.

Friday, March 18, 2011

It Came Back

Normally I don't post twice in one day but today I finally took brush in hand and got back to the canvas. I was in an unable-to-paint mode all week long and was getting a bit depressed by it. It happens once in a while especially after completing a work that took a lot of effort and even more so when it's well received. It's funny how that works. I did good so now I can't paint? What's that about?? Too much pressure, I think, to repeat doing "good." I finally stopped caring about it today and was able to work again. It was fun too! I didn't allow myself to struggle...just let my intuition take over. Now this painting, which I haven't been too excited about, is beginning to look like something!  Thanks to all who have left such nice comments about my last piece going into the BoldBrush competition FAV15%. 

The images of the disaster in Japan have been with me all week too. I was in the 1971 earthquake in LA and I know how terrifying it is to have the earth move under your feet, your
home roll and shake over your head and feel powerless to anything at all about it. The aftershocks are almost worse because they go on for days, weeks, and months and you don't know when they will come except you know they WILL so you are in a state of tension all the time. I remember opening our apartment front door (once the initial quake stopped) and most of the water from the building's swimming pool came rushing in! The authorities came down the streets and had us all evacuate since we were right below the dam in the valley and it was ready to burst... fortunately it didn't. Stayed with friends in the Hollywood hills, wakeful all night waiting for the beams above our heads to start crashing down on us. Fortunately that didn't happen either. But many people were killed in that quake and there was a lot of damage. The people in Japan have my heartfelt sympathy. And the people in Haiti are still dealing with their disaster from last year. Worrying about being able to paint or not is pretty trivial in the grand scope of things. I am very grateful for my good fortune.

Selected for FAV 15%

"To Tell a Story" was picked for the FAV 15% for February's  BoldBrush Painting Competition. That makes twice now I have made the cut. I have to say the quality of entries has really picked up this year so I feel privileged to have been selected. Being found out of a crowd is always chancy and even though this is not one of the top awards it is still being noticed. And why is being noticed so important? It isn't really but it feels good. We're all only human and like to feel we are appreciated. I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about this whole issue though. I read an article about trying to "make it" in NYC and how even getting a one person show there doesn't guarantee fame and fortune. There are so many ways to make art and receive some satisfaction from having others like what you're doing. All the struggle to get somewhere, to be noticed, to have the awards, etc., etc., somehow take the joy out of the process for me. I am coming to realize more and more that if I am in the studio working that is the success I have always sought...time and freedom to make this stuff! What else is there? The night of acclaim at a gallery or in the newspaper  is fleeting. The result of the work remains and the thought of the new work to look forward to is all I truly want. Slap myself in the side of my head - wake up - you're on a great journey with lots of ups and downs and the trip is much more fun than the arrival. 
I haven't felt able to paint for over a week now. I think that ends today. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Planning a Painting Party

As I continue to work on this newest portrait of Sam (I call her that in my head...hope you don't object, Samanda!) I have been thinking more about painting from life rather than my photo references. She has offered now to pose during her break from classes at U Vic in April and is willing to sit for a couple of days. A great opportunity I can't selfishly keep to myself so I have invited a few of my artist friends to come up and paint also. So far two have accepted the invitation and are excited about it. When we get together for our drawing group the sessions are only a couple of hours and the model changes pose frequently. This is a chance to concentrate on one pose for many hours over two days. But being a model is no easy job -  I posed for portrait classes to earn money as a student a couple of times and felt it was almost torture! The trick is to find an interesting pose that won't tire out the model too much and make sure there are breaks every half hour or so. I think the breaks are good for the painter too because it brings one out of concentrated revery which may or may not be pulling the work in a direction that isn't what one wants. I like to reconsider what I've done so far and decide if that is the way to continue or if something new is required. I don't make preliminary sketches usually when working from life. I take a moment to visualize the subject on the canvas and then begin to draw, blocking in dark and light values as I go, seeking the relationship of shapes rather than the details. I may use a thinned acrylic earth tone like Raw Umber to do this so I don't have to wait to start painting over it...a good idea when time is limited. 

The dress I have chosen for Samanda to wear for the portrait session is a skirt and top that I bought when I was a young bride in 1974, made in India. The material is a hand dyed cotton gauze (lined skirt), has a gold (real!) stamped pattern all over it and red binding between the seams in the skirt. I was a size two (yes really!) in those days (size 8 now, so not too terrible for a post menopausal lady). I think Samanda will fit into it as she is petite and slender. Now is when I wish I had one of those "fainting" style couches to pose her on, but I'll figure something  out. See I'm getting excited about this already! I am picturing something great to wrap around her hair - keep the background very simple or lots of pattern? I can see so many possibilities.
Probably a simple backdrop this time to emphasize the pattern of her dress, (plus we will only have two days to work).  Bare feet I think. The beauty of the plain, nature-made human body draped in a man-made beautiful dress...neither outshining the other, except for the face of the model which, to me, is always the height of interest.  I frequently paint my models with bare feet - I think feet are beautiful.  

This painting party is going to great...good friends, good food, good music, great model, and time to think of nothing but the painting. Two days will be wonderful but a week would be better. Better not push my luck.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Link From a Friend

     Today a friend sent me a link to a utube video that was so inspirational I decided I needed to share it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF8uR6Z6KLc&feature=youtube_gdata_player

     It is so easy to be caught up in day to day living that we cease to see that perhaps we aren't  really living as our heart would dictate. I was very happy to be reminded of this and to recall the events in my own life that were cross roads needing my attention and decision. Some worked out better than others but on the whole I am happy to say that my direction has turned out, so far, to be correct for me. Money and fame are not too important to me, fortunately, so I have concentrated on finding a lifestyle that would ease my inborn tendency to worry and fret, to calm the storms I sometimes am caught up in, and bring some joy to my heart, and I hope some joy to others as well.  Being of good cheer in ourselves is a balm for those around us. 
I am by no means a PollyAnna - that could get old really fast - and I tend to get on soapboxes at times, probably to the annoyance of some, but I mean well:-)  Here's to your good cheer, your health, and your successful trip to your heart's desires.

      I am finding myself wondering what this painting is about and if I really want to be doing it  but since I dislike unfinished projects I am persevering. Thinking about letting Samanda's parents have this as a thank you for the time she has given so freely in posing. I have a bigger project in mind but don't know if I have the stamina to see it through. Oh yeah, that is what this painting is about - a bit of procrastination and avoidance. I'm good at that.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Values and Seeing

Above, blocking in hues and values over underpainting
Below, blending those hues, cleaning up edges

Returning to the current painting I'm working on I realized yet again that unless I work intuitively the results are less than pleasing. Blending that balance of things I've learned, technically, over the years with just allowing my hand to flow almost independently of my thinking is always the biggest challenge. Looking at the photo reference and recalling the
actual presence of the model in front of me helps in seeing those values and hues as more than just tones on photo paper.  An artist whose work I much admire and whose ethic I appreciate also, Sharon Knettell, http://sharonknettell.blogspot.com, writes extensively about working from life rather than photo references and how it is so much more meaningful. I know exactly what she means. I will always prefer to work from life. I will also always end up with some photo reference to work from also...I imagine. Some issues are contentious. We all have our own ideas about what's best. I do draw the line at using someone else's photo reference. I take my own unless there is absolutely no way around it. Like a commission to paint the portrait of someone deceased. Or including some exotic animal or plant I have no way of ever seeing in the flesh. When I was a commercial illustrator, and before the advent of the internet, I had compiled, starting at age 14, a huge reference file (known as a "morgue") which I added to constantly, cutting up magazines and garnering photocopies from library files. I had to do this since the deadlines were inhuman often and I had no time to dither with the ethics of finding the "source" to work from in life. I learned also how to use my camera as sketching tool and it served me well. Everyone and everything was potential model material!  (Ask my son).
Now that I paint mostly for myself and do not take illustration work and very few portrait jobs I can be pickier about reference. It is true that too many artists have come to rely almost exclusively on photos to work from and have little or no experience working from life. Is this art or is it craft? Is there a difference? My advise is to draw and paint from life whenever possible. There is no other way to truly hone your skills and be authentic in your work. I need to take my own advise more seriously. I am also now vegan and I thought that leap would be hard...but it hasn't been at all!  I want the joy back that I ONLY truly feel when working from life. Copying the marks on a photo just doesn't have the same zing to it. Thanks to Sharon for helping me to get my priorities straight. Read her blog. You might be annoyed, even angered a bit, but you won't be sorry.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Must be my week!

I am very pleased to have discovered that both of my entries into two shows have received awards. The "Heather with Peonies" in the Comox Valley Art Gallery show and "To Tell a
Story" in the Campbell River Art Gallery show.  I had hoped to go to at least one of the openings last night but the weather turned bad and I was nervous to take the hour or more trip down there through the mountains in the dark and falling snow. The shows are just local but I am still very happy about the recognition. Both galleries are known for showing wonderful and well known artists from across N. America so the venues are quite good. Incentive to keep plugging away!  My next door neighbor, Debbie Reusch http://debbiereusch.blogspot.com braved the snow, ice and dark two lane mountain road to go to the opening in Campbell River and let me know this morning about my winning and award. Thank you Debbie!  My dear friend, Lyndia Terre www.lyndia-terre.com also won awards at both of these shows. She lives three hours south and came up to the Comox opening in very bad weather! She told me she shouted "YAY" when my name was announced and everyone there turned and stared at her!
It is good to have fans:-)