Monday, September 26, 2016

Moving To A New Blog

But if making art gives substance to your sense of self, the corresponding fear is that
you're not up to the task...that you're not a real artist, or not a good artist, or have no
talent, or have nothing to say...  Making art can feel dangerous and revealing...Making
art precipitates self-doubt, stirring deep waters that lay between what you know you
should be, and what you fear you might be. For many people, that alone is enough to
prevent their ever getting started at all...

~ David Bayles & Ted Orland
   Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking

In 2006, I posted my first blog post. I was testing the waters of the Blogosphere as I tested my resolve to become a working artist. Here we are, 10 years later and a lot has changed. So much so that I don’t feel like this blog really fits me anymore. With much planning (and even more procrastinating and nail-biting), I’ve decided to “go public” with being an artist; put my name and my work out there, and see what happens. Having a new blog that better reflects where I am in my artistic journey is an important part of this next step.

To kick off the new blog, I'm starting a "30 Pears in 30 Days" project on October 1. Intrigued? Well, check it out.

Along with the project, I'll still be sharing my latest work on the new blog and my thoughts on the art process and being an artist, but on a more regular basis. I also hope to do some video demos at some point in the near future, as well as linking my professional website with the new blog and offering artwork and prints for sale through my new Etsy site. Whether you've been with me from the beginning or came on board along the way, thanks for being here. I hope you'll join me on this next adventure. So it's not good-bye, but see you at my new location!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

"They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself." 
                                                                                                              ~ Andy Warhol

I've really neglected my blog this year, I know. I'm currently working on a new artistic focus and format. I hope to be done construction and back to regular posts by mid-September, so stay tuned. Thanks for your patience!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Still Life Stand

"One always starts work with the subject, no matter how tenuous it is, and one constructs an artificial structure by which one can trap the reality of the subject-matter that one has started from."
                                                                                                            ~ Francis Bacon

My still life painting set-up in action.

Other artists' studios are endlessly fascinating to me. How do they store their supplies? How is their painting area set up? What color do they paint the walls? What kind of lights do they use? I've spent many hours reading through blogs and articles getting inspiration for my own studio, so I thought I'd share a new still life set up I put together in my studio in the hopes that someone out there might find it interesting/helpful.

Up to this point, I've been using a desk near my easel to place my still-life arrangements on, so I've been stuck with my still life models always being at one height. I've seen many artists using stands with adjustable heights for their still life compositions and I've wanted to build one myself. I'd already worked with a tripod stand on my DIY pochade box, so I planned on using the same idea for the still life set up, but then my ever-practical husband pointed out that in this case I didn't need to be able to tilt the top of the tripod head (unless I wanted everything to slide off and crash to the floor. Could be handy when I get frustrated with a painting...), but I would need something pretty sturdy to be able to hold up the weight of my still life items and the supporting board. He suggested I use a speaker stand instead of a tripod since it would be strong enough to support the weight and would have adjustable height, but wouldn't cost as much as a heavy-duty tripod with all the bells and whistles. Brilliant!

So he found this baby* for me online for under $50. It can hold up to 100 lbs. and extends more than 6 feet tall. The supporting board is bolted to the head of the stand for stability (especially with a cat about the place. She hasn't tried to jump up onto the platform yet, but I'm sure it's just a matter of time.) Then I made a basic shadowbox out of foam core to sit on top of the board and control the lighting on the still life objects. 

Get into trouble? Who me?

I'm really delighted with this set-up and have been putting in many hours at the easel.

*This is NOT a paid endorsement (although if the company wants to throw some money at me for this post, I wouldn't complain...), but if you are interested, the stand is a PylePro PSTND1.

Monday, March 07, 2016

More Florals

“It is the hours, the tenacity, the work, the hanging in and doing again and again just to understand some technique.”
                                                                                          ~ Daniela Andersen

10" x 8" oil on canvas paper.

We had friends over for dinner Saturday night and they brought us a beautiful bouquet of tulips as a hostess gift. Having had pretty good luck painting orchids, I decided to give the tulips a try. I seem to be going through a floral phase. Could it be that I'm craving Spring? 

The painting is in my usual palette of alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue, azo yellow and titanium white.

One of the reasons I like painting still lifes is because my subjects won't move the way an animal or bird would. However, these tulips definitely moved during the four hours I painted them. The blooms on the far left side of the set-up didn't move much because they were already closest to the light, but all the other tulips were steadily leaning more and more towards my light source. 

Last Fall I planted daffodils, and I've been anxiously scanning the ground for the first signs of growth, but nothing yet (except early weeds). Hopefully the daffodils made it through the winter. Of course I can get store-bought daffodils to paint, but it would be wonderful to paint flowers from my own garden.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Practicing My Scales

"When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else."
                                                                                               ~ Georgia O'Keefe

Making art is definitely a juggling act. So many things to remember! Sometimes when I try to paint an entirely new subject, it's as if I've forgotten even my most basic painting skills. I don't remember back to taking piano lessons as a kid (except for hating to practice) so I wonder if when I tried a new technique, sometimes I forgot what I had already learned.

That's certainly what happened when I attempted to paint this orchid. We've had it for about two months now and I've been really admiring it. Last week I finally pulled out my moleskine sketchbook and did the pencil sketch above. Today, the afternoon sunlight slanting over the orchid inspired me to try painting it. I was so focused on figuring out the leaves and the orchid bloom that at first I forgot my color-mixing skills, and I botched the shape and shading on the cylindrical pot. Luckily cropping took care of most of the problem. It's one advantage of painting on canvas rolls rather than on a stretched canvas or canvas board!

It's just a little study, but I see elements that I'm surprisingly pleased with, given my lack of floral painting experience and I am eager to try again. I was not destined to be a piano player, but I don't mind this kind of practice!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Finally Something To Say

You have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself.
                                                                           ~ Miles Davis

Tea - oil on canvas, 8" x 8"

I can't tell you how many times in the last few months I've sat down at the computer to write a blog post and ended up just staring at the screen. I had nothing. If you are here now reading this, thanks for sticking with me.

Some of you may know that I collect Hall china, particularly pieces from the 50's and earlier, and use them in many of my still life paintings. I just love their styling. Two weeks ago I went to visit a friend at his antique store in town and he had a new Hall piece to show me - something I hadn't seen before: a Hall china coffee pot. I bought it on the spot, knowing that the color and shape would inspire many paintings. I've already done a few 5 x 7's of the coffee pot, and then a few days ago I got the urge to try a more elaborate and slightly larger painting.

Once again, I'm using a very limited palette - alizarin crimson, azo yellow, ultramarine blue and titanium white. All my other colors are mixed from those. I really like the harmony that a limited palette brings to a painting. Plus it's easier on the budget.

I got to this point in the painting (above) last week and kind of lost interest. I was planning on just chalking it up to practice and starting over, but I let it sit for a few days and when I went into my studio this morning, I found that I had the desire to finish it.

Nearly there!

Although the china piece is a coffee pot, I was envisioning tea, especially with those two ceramic mugs, hence the title "Tea".


Overall, I'm quite pleased with the piece. It's not the most dynamic of compositions, and I overworked a few things, but I'm glad I completed it. My ellipses are improving, and I'm really tickled about the rendering of the orchid bloom. The last time I tried to paint a flower it was completely unrecognizable as anything but a paint blob, so I'm thrilled to see improvement there. Now if I had just bumped it up to overlap the pot...