"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

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Computer Death!

It seems I am to be unblogged for a time. My three year old iMac has given up the ghost. I am writing this on my husband's PC. I wrote a post previous to this but his computer had an "error" while saving so now I have to do this all over again. This is NOT my week for connecting I guess.

Basically I am annoyed because my previous Mac just kept going and going so having this one die so young is very upsetting. I did have a three year extended warranty but it expired three months ago. Naturally. Of course. Grrrrrrr.

Until I can either a) have my Mac brought back to life or b) get a new computer (which I cannot afford) I am incommunicado for a while. I will check my email on my dinosaur iBook laptop (11 years old and not up to anything other than email at this point) and when I can get my husband away from his desk I can follow your doings. If you absolutely feel the need to be in touch with me you can email karen@karenmartinarts.ca or ksampson@saywardvalley.net.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter ruminations

It has been a beautiful week and now it's Easter, which has turned out not to be so beautiful, but the rain is gentle and just in time for the newly planted veggies. I spent a fair bit of time outdoors enjoying soft breezes and sunshine, although it was still cool enough to warrant wearing a sweater. I even helped some with the veggie planting! And we strung some fencing (our Border Collie, Brandy, had chewed her way through what was there in her zeal to get out and chase the neighbor dogs which come to our fence to taunt our dogs). I even enjoyed that job. Somehow it was a good change from the mental struggle I always have when painting.  I didn't paint at all until today. Now I am tackling the backdrop, which is a series of gauzy fabrics in different colours so the play of light is challenging to say the least. I am actually tempted to put this painting aside and start something else but I guess I'll whittle away at it for a while yet to see what happens. I don't have time to waste on CPR for paintings beyond a certain point and that point will be soon.

A closer look at the backdrop still doesn't show all the colour variations too well on the computer screen. Why did I decide this would be a good idea I ask myself. There is more than enough to challenge my sanity here. As if it isn't working hard enough to maintain some balance already with things as they are in the world. I feel like every decision about what to eat, wear, buy, and live with is a major affront. Are my art supplies eco-friendly? If not how can I fix that? Is it enough that I refuse to shop at Wal-Mart and only buy organic and fair trade food whenever possible (even though it is getting harder to afford to)? Do I attend an artist friend's show reception even though it's two hours away and will take energy resources to get me there and back? What if I only drive the car (a hybrid) once every two weeks instead of once a week to go shopping for groceries in town? Is supporting our troops being a war monger? How long before I stop missing cheese and will my being vegan really make any difference to factory farming or anything else? I weep for the silk worms killed by boiling water when it's time to take their cocoon from them yet I LOVE silk and painting on it. The list is endless - won't bore you with more of it - but then I remember that it is important to "be the change you want to see."  Every small drop falling from the sky eventually fills the ocean. 

Some of my friends question my dedication to animal rights. This week I heard the perfect response in this comment  from "A Bit of Fry and Laurie" - "I think animal testing is a terrible idea; they get all nervous and give the wrong answers."

Monday, April 18, 2011

It's the next one that humbles you.

Few things are as frustrating as the attempt to create on canvas (or paper, or whatever) the image you have in your mind. It is more so when the set up, carefully manipulated, is in front of you and it still refuses to appear as you wish on the canvas. Painting from life is damned difficult. Now that I have this start I will be forced to work from photos to complete the painting, or just put it away as a failed exercise. I tried to do too much in the two days of having the model here in front of me. I may ask her to come back for an afternoon.  Just me and the model, no distractions. Right now this is SO wrong, so off that I am thoroughly disgusted. 

As for a humbling experience, well, I have heard that movie actors are only considered to be as good as their last picture and authors, their last book. I found out a couple of days ago that "To Tell A Story" has won the People's Choice award in the Campbell River Art Gallery show (now over). If the "people" could only see this, what I am working on now... probably better that they can't. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Two days of painting from the model - what a treat! There were five of us; one had to cancel due to illness unfortunately. We painted and ate and commiserated. Wish I could do this more often. Samanda was the ideal model, holding perfectly still and never complaining of fatigue. I wish I had been in better painting mode! I bit off a lot to try for a two day session and was originally planning a full figure piece. Even chopping it down to three quarter figure was a bit too much. My toned canvas also was not quite dry so I had to contend with that. After so much planning I didn't get around to toning the canvas far enough in advance - hand slap to forehead. Still, I managed to start pulling it together by the second day and have enough photos taken to keep working on it.

What really counts is that there was connection and learning and fun for these two days. You cannot put a price on that. The music was wonderful and don't even get me started on the food. Everyone brought something and my husband, Bob, cooked up a storm, serving us like our own personal butler! How many husbands would do that? There was probably more food than we should have had in good conscience. No popcorn for the evening film...nobody had room. And we watched  "Seraphine"  the true story of a middle aged woman who painted in the early part of the 20th century in France. She was discovered accidently by a german collector who was renting some rooms in a house where Seraphine was the cleaning lady! He attempted to help her get established but World War One broke out and he had to escape France in a hurry. He found her later in 1927 and began to help her again but she was not mentally stable and she ended up in an asylum. Very sad. Her work was amazing though and she did have an exhibit a few years after she died. If you get a chance be sure to rent this video - hope you don't mind reading subtitles (it's in French).  If nothing else it makes one realize how much better off most of us are in our attempts to make art than so many have been. Any time I feel like whining I will try to remember scenes from this movie.

Thank you to my friends for making the trek up here to spend such quality time with me. Definitely have to do this again!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I'm Being Set Up...

There is nothing like spending days and days getting set up. I'm attempting to be very particular in this since I want the painting party days to go well. Choosing the outfit for the model first off presented a couple of problems. It is a dark fabric with lots of small designs printed all over it in gold. What does that go with? How should a background look for something like this? Finding the red scarf for the headgear (matching the red in the skirt) only added to the dilemma. Fortunately I have a nice stash of fabrics which I've collected over the years. I pulled out everything.

I spent two days just hanging the stuff around the studio to see how it all looked in different lights. Do I want strong directional light? Soft diffused light? Natural light? What??? I began to layer stuff just to see what happened and suddenly it began to come together. I then spent two days layering and relayering. I ironed out wrinkles in some and allowed wrinkles to remain in others. I was blessing myself for buying that photo backdrop stand once again, though. It makes life so much easier.  I began, finally to put darker layers at the bottom and gradually layer lighter toward the top. Ok. Another two hours redraping but now I think I might have the right effect. I'll know in another week, just before the model arrives.

And what do I place her on? A chair? A couch? On the floor? Facing which way? Looking up, down, sad, happy, pensive? What is this painting going to say?

Heck with it. It is just supposed to be a couple of days painting for the fun of it. I can over analyze ad nauseum and that in itself gets nauseating. 

Oh wait, a prop...a plant stand with a silver candle holder on it? An actual plant? A bowl of Chili?...