"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

Sunday, May 29, 2011

"Seeing is Savoring"

I have been reading a book about art and a particular artist that I think may be the best book on the subject I've ever come across. "seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees" by Lawrence Weschler - over thirty years of conversations with Robert Irwin. Robert Irwin is perhaps best known for his conceptual work but he started out as a painter in the 40's.  Reading about his career and his thinking has given me a new look at what abstract and conceptual artists are trying to do. Mr. Irwin wants people to have an experience when they encounter his work, to come away with a savouring of what they have experienced. He says,
"It's strange. With food, for instance, people seem able to understand what's involved: you savor the taste rather than just feed the body. But people have a hard time understanding that it should be the same way with visual experience." 

As a result of this book I am full of the same excitement I remember feeling when I was starting out and the openness to different kind of visual experiences is incredibly fascinating. It isn't about representation, realism, abstraction, or conception...it's about seeing.

And now I am at the point in this piece where I have to "see" where it's going and what I want it to do. Do I allow the foliage and flowers to gradually blend away into soft focus or make a complete image with fully realized background? What is painting a lot of green stuff around the face going to do to the impact it has right now? Too tired to decide now. Tomorrow. I'll think about it tomorrow:-)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Revisiting a Subject

My friend Lyndia noticed immediately that I have used this model before and with peonies too.  Sometimes you just don't feel finished with a subject. Some artists paint the same thing over and over and over. Usually I get bored with a subject and want to move on but here is a case where I had more to say. I've been attracted to profiles in the last year or so also and since these days I am trying very hard to paint what I want to paint rather than what I feel is marketable I am enjoying myself much more. Trying to come up with pieces that might "sell" is getting harder and harder and the frustration level gets pretty high. I now have a small monthly pension so can feel less pressure. Have to be careful and I can't buy that new camera I've been wanting but somehow it isn't keeping me up nights:-) In fact, knowing I can now pay my regular monthly bills is helping with the sleeping-like-a-baby thing immeasurably! Life is feeling pretty good these days and I am working hard at keeping all the bad news out there from getting me down.  All we can do is our little part to leave the world a better place and encourage others to do the same. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Slow Progress

Not much accomplished on this today. I get distracted by life (don't we all?) I just discovered that I don't have the shape of the chin correct (at least going by my reference). I like how this looks, though, so I may leave it. This isn't meant to be an exact portrait. Still, it will probably keep bothering me so I may end up redoing it. It will also mean redrawing the hand position. I know it doesn't look like much but those tones took a good half hour or more in that chin. Sometimes subtlety is harder to pull off than obvious contrast. Actually it's always harder...

We saw a bear this morning on our walk. Bears don't think about being subtle and may be the happier for it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Another Subject Revisited, or Am I Out of Ideas??

So even though I have started two new oil paintings (small) to add to the series I started on "self-portrait- in- bathroom- mirror- with- venetian- blind- stripes" I have also become a bit side tracked by my pastels again. I haven't worked with them in a while but doing the small waterfall piece worked up my enthusiasm. I want to do something new in pastel anyway as I'm scheduled to show in July with a group of pastel artists (some deceased, but famous, the rest, like me, alive but not so famous:-).  I had originally thought about giving them Nude on Blue Pillow but that sold last month and I can't see me refusing a good sale when times are this tough just so I can put the piece in a show. Time for something new in any case.

This is going to another of Heather with Peonies. I took a few really nice reference shots that day and decided the subject is worth another go. Heather has beautiful pale skin tones that seem to match the delicacy of the pale pink Peony colours and the contrast with the dark leaves is striking. Just as Samanda's deep golden skin tones complement the rich tropical colours I used in the last painting of her I like to utilize and echo colours and values in a whole piece that seem to be all of one presence. To me a portrait is not just of the person but the surrounding atmosphere as well. 

This will be a horizontal format with Heather off center and balanced by flowers behind her and only one or two in front of her. I even like the striped T-shirt she wore that day, which I had changed for the first painting I did to a solid turquoise colour...I had a nice one that I asked her to wear for a second photo shoot.  This time the stripes will add some needed extra interest, I think, since I am cropping most of her body out of the image.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Did I Mention Plein Air is Not My Forte?

Ok, two hours spent perched on a tiny travel chair (with built in pouch for carrying art supplies) on a rocky precipice overlooking a madly dashing stream of water was kind of fun and I enjoyed the solitude and soft semi-cool air, but all of that didn't improve my plein air skills one bit. I know I should go out and do it more and then I'd get better. Nature offers so many beautiful and intriguing views and subjects that I find myself getting side tracked and confused about where to concentrate my focus.  It does force me to loosen up and try not to be picky with details, but there is a part of my make up that rebels against that. I want more tidiness and nature is anything but tidy. One of the reasons I often crop in close on subjects is so that I can
pay attention to the nuances completely and not feel I am just dashing off a few shapes and values, which feels to me like not paying them enough tribute or something...Excuses do you think?

This came out sort of ok and might have improved more if I spent another couple of hours out there. I was kind of beginning to get a feel for the rocks after messing with them for quite some time. The water lacked much colour variation due to its presence surrounded by a lot of dark foliage, but the change in values was something I could have gotten into I guess. In the end it all felt like too much, though. So many rocks, so many tiny waterfalls within the major waterfalls, and all those leaves and plants...which to choose, which to stress, which to ignore?
I really admire good landscape painting and while I would love to be able to slap on some paint and have the scene fall into place, that really isn't me. Good thing we all have our different interests and skills or else it could all be pretty boring after a while.  I'll continue to admire the landscapes of others and spend time occasionally giving it a shot myself, but I think I'll stick to what really calls to me, faces, figures, patterns, and close ups.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Blinded Again

I thought the two pieces I did over a year ago of me looking in the bathroom mirror with light from venetian blinds striping across my face and body would be all I had to say about that. Then I received word about a show at the A.I.R. gallery in Brooklyn, NY which is about the place of women's morning bath and beauty rituals in their art and how and if ideas about such things have changed in the past 30 or so years and how it might relate to aging. I wanted to enter but the requirements are for four works so I have come up with some additional ideas on this and they can be part of the series of two that I already did. I am surprised and delighted by  the enthusiasm I am feeling about continuing this series as I have given almost no thought to the paintings since finishing them and having them exhibited last year. I was all set to start something else, trying to gear up for a new series, and suddenly I have an excuse to digress again. What does this tell me? Perhaps I don't really want to pursue the other ideas? I am afraid I won't do it justice if I do proceed? I am afraid of being stuck with a studio full of fairly substantial canvases that nobody wants?

It was interesting from a logistical standpoint to start this. I grabbed some blinds that were lying on the guest room floor from when I was painting the kitchen (I haven't rehung the blinds yet) and balanced them on two camera tripods in front of the window and set up a mirror next to them. I waited until 6pm when the sun was coming from the west quite strongly and cast shadows over my image in the mirror, hand held the camera, and took a bunch of shots.  I also tried setting up my computer next to the blinds and using the built in PhotoBooth. Both systems worked just fine for my purposes and saved a whole lot in model fees:-)

Today I need to let the two canvases dry that I toned yesterday and since the weather is cooperating I want to walk over to our nearest mountain stream and do a pastel painting, something I haven't done for quite some time.  Plein Air isn't my forte but it sure can be fun, sitting in on the rocks surrounded by forest and the music of the madly dashing water, which is running full steam right now from snow melt and weeks of rain.  If I sit quietly and long enough perhaps I will be visited by a bear or an elk.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Return and a Spring in My Step

There is nothing quite like being away from all the tech stuff I have come to accept as a normal part of my every day life. Having the hard drive die was beneficial in that it gave me a new perspective on how I am living.  I hope I can now have the fortitude to only open this computer when actually needed and there is something meaningful to express. I also want to catch up occasionally on all the people I signed up to follow.  

I used the past couple of weeks to work on painting the kitchen walls and finally deciding on what to do about the cracked, stained, gouged 35 year old linoleum flooring and chipped, gouged, stained 35 year old plastic laminate countertop. I am ashamed to admit we are going for vinyl. Everything else is out of our price range. On the plus side, the new vinyls are much better than they used to be and can even be recycled when their useful life is over. We chose the best with a 20 year warranty and should not be damaged by doggie toenails...I hope.  And it LOOKS so much like REAL tile that I was amazed! Normally I despise stuff that is made to look like what it isn't but the most attractive patterns are the ones that look exactly like ceramic tile. Unbelievable. I am having to rethink all my prejudices, which is not a bad thing.  Still, I so want to be environmentally responsible and feel major guilt that I am contributing to the oil dependency we all suffer from. At least it is now effortless to find zero VOC paints (I had to send away for them when we first moved to this house to paint the bedrooms). They are slightly more expensive but not outrageously so.  Money. It only takes money to be able to buy the products that have the smallest footprint it seems. We are keeping the cupboards we already have. They are also 30 years old, partial plywood and plastic with real wood doors. No way we can afford to replace those. We will sand the doors and take off the plastic corners and replace with wood and maybe put on some handles and knobs (they have none at the moment). Can't paint them, except for the doors, as paint would just peel right off. It WILL all look much nicer from a cosmetic point of view when we are done. Right now we have to wait until some money Bob inherited from his Dad can be moved up here. That is turning into a crusade in itself. Due to homeland security issues you can't just move money from a US account to another country, even your own money and accounts without major hassle. We're talking around $5000 here, not Ft. Knox, but rules are rules we keep being told. Oh well, I have patience. We've been waiting nearly seven years to fix up this kitchen, another month or so isn't the end of the world.

The yellow I picked (with trepidation...would it be TOO much??) is indeed bright, but very very cheerful, and has a "country" look that works well up here and is good for the many rainy, grey days we have, being that this is rain forest country. I love the changes in the colour when the sun is shining too - everything from lime to orange glows, bounces, and moves across the room as the sun moves across the sky. I have all these odds and ends of blue, yellow, and white china pieces, and a few paintings that seem ideal in this environment, which makes me smile and there can never be enough genuine, heartfelt smiling going on in my opinion.