In May of this year, I began painting for myself again. After many years of making custom art for other people and helping them find their favorite colors in their homes, it was finally time to rediscover my own art.
I began by painting a small painting every day. I began with the subjects that were around me and the colors that were in my paint tubes. I set up an easel in my home office next to the cats' favorite window spot and made myself comfortable. I started with small canvases mostly because I didn't want to commit to something and then feel trapped into having to finish it.
As I painted the first few paintings, I realized I had a passion to paint what I love the most which is what is around me, which is my home, plants, and animals. The comfort of home is my starting subject and we will see where it takes me.
I continue to have to detune myself from trying to envision what another person might want, and re-tune into my own senses and sensibility. It has been a major battle of the shoulds, but it has been a blast. I seem to be revisiting the eras of art history that I learned about in art school in college, only this time I am painting myself through them, really tasting the paint as I go. Although I am enjoying visiting the art of Bonnard, Matisse, Thiebaud, Diebenkorn, and others, I hope to soon find myself in my own studio with my own painted words in my mouth.
As I look back on the paintings I have done the past three months they help me understand why I feel the need to paint. Did you ever consider that an artist is asked to write an artist's statement but a writer is not asked to paint a writer's statement? The things I am trying to communicate in my paintings are not really explicable in words, thus the use of paint and canvas.
I will say that I want my paintings to help people feel happy. I get excited when I find colors that set each other off or interact in a way that evokes some human emotion. I enjoy hinting at a possible story, giving slight clues that shyly peek at the edges of the canvas. I'd like for viewers to pause and figure out the puzzle, for as they search for the hidden meaning, they will trip across surprise color combinations and delicious dabs of pure paint and realize life is less fun when the story is narrated to you and more fun when your search creates and becomes part of the story.
Perhaps ironically, I am simultaneously blogging about my painting adventures where I share my thoughts as I paint. I admit the doubts, struggles and temptations to detour, that daily litter my pathway. Friends and curious artisans are beginning to join the group of readers who subscribe to my blog, and their increasing numbers of insightful questions and comments are expanding the scope of purposes the blog is beginning to serve.
Please visit my website to see more paintings and join my blog to read in more detail about my painting experiences. You just never know what's going to happen next!
WIOW I love praise, don't you? Can't help it. When you do something you are nervous about and care so much about but worry it might be silly and no one will understand.... and then someone GETS IT!!! oh my! So I am sharing a letter I just received from a dear fan-customer-become-friend. She did what I hope others will do, which is find the secrets & the stories & the colors, and most of all the happies I tuck away into my paintings.
Oh....MY.....GOODNESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so blown away- I just was visited by Mr Fedex man and opened the package I think faster than I have ever opened a package and believe me I am good at it :-) Anyway, I LOVE LOVE LOVE these paintings. The paint, the flow, the colors. And i love that in the one, I know there is Mr Black's lil (big?) footie, so I can tell a story when i show them off. I love that the black cat motif isn't obvious since I have the big black cat collection. You know like if I went and got curtains with cats. It would take me off into weird cat person land. But these are secret, which is cool. The real star is the technique and the colors and the composition. And the story Salsa tells is amazing. I didn't realize how the green and cobalty blue were next to each other in the big Salsa painting- I love that combo, and so did my grandfather and my dad does too.And I love that purple around the flowerpot too. It does go with the red in my dining room for some reason. I can't figure it out. Except that i do really think that all colors do go together-like wildflowers do. Monty looked right at the Salsa when I pointed to it. i am really going to try for a pic of him in front of Mr Black in front of the painitng of Mr Black. I am going to go vacuum in case of a photo op. Thank you so much! Your work makes me happy and when February rolls around I am going to be sitting in front of your work like its one of those special light boxes. I hope that you aren't offended- its not like its cheesy happy, I don't like cloying cheesy happy. Its just that your brushwork and colors touch something for me.OK I am in gush territory. I will end by saying I am serious about a canary painting and if you can work one of your fab ferns into it along with the cage bars that would be great. If not thats great too.
As I'm trying to get looser, [not trying to be a looser, but trying to loose tightness, Luke! haha!] these two green keeties seem to be having a tight little tiff. So I guess if the loving canaries don't peg you, maybe the tiffing green keets will be more realistic.
Enjoy and don't forget to come visit all my animals @ Night Sky in Aug! or as usual...
Ongoing conversations with Annette about illustration vs painting, building a history of paint, overworking paintings, scumbling, and the difference between a morgue, a museum, and a studio. You shoulda' been there is all I can say.
Been doing some birds. I start with the fluttery gesture of birds. I am fascinated with the bars of the cage like I am the rungs of Windsor chairs. If you squint your eyes you can see the silhouette of Mister Black behind the bars on the bottom right 4th of the canvas.
So a story begins to form. Is it an illustration now? What if I tell you that Petey and Pockey were our pet parakeets that used to sit together on my sons' shoulder.
They were in- separable. You could get the male, Petey to hop on your finger and the female, Pockey, would follow. But you could not get her to come to you alone. That is the story but you wouldn't necessarily know it from looking at the painting.
So if I am painting and the paint I apply is dictated by the shape of the images that tell the story then the painting is illustrative? And if the paint I apply is dictated by elements and principles of design then it is about painting? What if the paint I apply is dictated by both? Is that possible?
Design-wise I am drawn to fluttery things like birds and ferns. And dark silhouettes that have crisp edges and seem solid and immovable, like Mister Black, Windsor chairs, and bird cage rungs. I also love stories, to hint at stories, to give people a peek at a page of a possible story. Ahhh!!! what am I doing? That is all I know right now.
We will be hanging my "show" at Night Sky in downtown Troy, Ohio sometime this week. It will be up thru the end of Sept with rotating paintings. Hope you will stop by & see Mister Black and the gang in person several times during that two months. If there is a certain painting you want to see please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org Or you can always... Go shopping @Etsy!
I continue to paint loose, trying to stop before everything is clearly defined. Still I think you can figure out this is two canaries in a cage. Actually there is a story behind these two canaries.
They are from a box that over thirty years ago contained a bottle of Winsor Newton canary yellow pen ink.
This little box has moved with me from Texas to Ohio to Illinois to Georgia and back to Ohio again. I always knew they would somehow be in my art someplace. There was an old ratty hand made quilt that my grandmother gave me that I hauled around in the same box with the canary yellow box. That became a painting about 17 years ago. I guess it is finally the canary yellow box's turn.
I won't tell you what I am working on next, the idea might fly away.
Black Eyes with Ferns 12 x 12" oil on canvas board
A big change from the last painting. An attempt to loosen up, take chances. I love the energy in this one. Love how the fern sort of shakes. Ferns are one of my favorite plants. They are so delicate and do seem to sort of tremble nervously when you get near them. My friend Sallie tells me to quit touching the ferns when we go plant shopping, but I never can help myself and I see them trembling as my hand approaches.
Annette came over last night and she and Harry and I talked art for hours. Oh my what fun. We talked about Thiebaud, Diebenkorn, and Anselm Keifer. About how you start a painting. About how, if your intent in painting is to create a search, how to continue searching thruout the entire painting. Harry says that if you find the objects too soon, the search is over & you might as well wrap up the painting or it will become stagnant.
So I think this painting is much fresher because I ended the painting when the search was over.
I will be interested to get the input of you, my beloved bloggees...
Black Eyed Peas and The Blue Chair 20 x 20" oil on canvas
The third chair painting turned out more muted as you can see. In all three paintings I worked on layering and scumbling colors to try to create a richness and depth. I kept struggling in this painting between subtlety and just plain paleness.
If you notice, in this story no one ever broke the chairs, but maybe in the next story you might find some black eyed peas napping in three beds. You never know. I certainly need a nap after all this blogging.
Well that's the story of Black Eyed Peas and The Three Chairs. You really don't want to split up the family, do you? Well, good then! Buy all 3 @Etsy!
Black Eyed Peas and The Red Chair 20 x 20" oil on canvas
Boy do I have some blogging to do today! It will take three posts to get everything! So I'll wait here while you go get your reading glasses & a nice big cup of coffee!
OK, first I'll give you news of Black Eyed Peas and the Three Chairs Triptych. Of course they turned out to be too individual to be called a triptych. Would be very nice all three together as a group hanging or something, in fact they are quite a family of chairs, yes like the three bears.
So the red chair is the first one. Yes, yes, Mister Black and Doodle are back in the paintings, but just as in real life not the focal point. It is the black-eyed peas' turn.
The plate of butter was fun to paint.
Did you notice the little edge of it missing? Hmm wonder how that happened. Mister Black is awfully fat.
I really enjoyed messing with the different shades of red.
It is hard to mix white and red without getting pink. Hard to mix a color for a red highlight. I usually mix some green into the red to deintensify it, but have to be careful not to muddy it so much that it gets murky.
But before we fall asleep in the first chair let's go on to the second chair...
I never seem to loose the feeling for black-eyed peas. But the glass tumblers and reflective water were needing some study. And the Three Chairs Triptych was getting stiff-feeling so I took an inhibition pause and painted this one.
A fresh pick of peas. Two on an 8 x 8" canvas. Just enough to free up the brush and get the paint like icing again.
You can really see the tooth of the canvas on this one. But in a couple places the paint/icing is so thick you can't ; I think it's a nice variation.
Annette, Meggan, & I are planning to have a booth at the Taste of Troy festival Sept 20th. The theme will be "100 paintings for $100 [or under]". This seems like a good one for that. I think I will probably do more little canvases like this with the food theme. They seem to serve double duty as "freshers" and "object practice."
This idea gives me another one. They have the most wonderful desserts at Night Sky. Maybe I will try single servings of their cakes and pies.... oh my I am getting hungry. I'm going to eat. You may go shop @Etsy!
I think just a small post for today about shadows. You may have noticed I have been paying more attention to shadows in my paintings. I must confess that when I began this series in May I avoided a composition that had shadows because it was overwhelming to think of dealing with them. Now as I am cozying into my little painting life, I am ready to begin to think about them.
And Harry is of course making me more aware of shadows. He says that all painters and painting-studiers throughout history have tried to figure out some rules for painting so you can "really make things look real." Don't get me started on how ridiculous I think that is, or this won't be a short post at all.
I will tell you the bottom line first: look at the shapes and colors of shadows. Compare the shapes and colors to the object that casts them. Compare them to the colors of the objects they are cast upon. You would think this would give you a pretty good idea of what color to paint the shadows, but nooooo, then you have to look at the lighting source. Is it outside on a foggy day, rainy day, sunny, even, hmmm cold vs hot? Then inside do you have incandescent or fluorescent lighting? You will really feel like giving up and going to take a nap when you find out you also have to consider reflected light from nearby objects.
Harry gave me some clues that serve as some of the few semi-rules I will probably ever leave concretely in my painting notebook. I have to keep in mind that these are CLUES to consider, NOT RULES to be strictly followed:
Objects in sunlight tend to have cooler colored shadows
Objects indoors tend to have warmer colored shadows unless there is fluorescent lighting, then they have cool shadows. [ahha, so Wayne Thiebaud's pies usually have cool shadows because they are in a fluorescent-lit dessert display case.]
The color of a shadow will depend on the color of the object it is falling on, but sometimes you can consider the color of the object casting the shadow to bring in more expressive meaning.
The shape of the shadow depends not only on the object casting it, but the object it falls on. You can help describe and express the fallen-on object by how you paint the shadow. So maybe you have to think about both the object and the fallen-on object when you paint that shadow.
Here I add my own musing. I like to think of the object casting the shadow as the truth, and the object on which the shadow is cast is like a person hearing the truth. The hearer will only somewhat absorb the truth and mold it to their own reality. This is human and cannot be helped. As a person I can only live and be the truth that I am and no one can fully comprehend, interpret, or copy me, not even my own shadow. And whatever I am will always be interpreted and modified a bit, shaped, if you will, by whomever I am dealing with. I don't really see this as a bad thing, but as the art of life.
If your head is spinning, go buy a painting @ Etsy. It will make you feel better. Myself am going to take a nap in the warm shadows.
Wednesday, July 9
Black-Eyed Peas & the Three Chairs Triptych WIP 24 x 24" each oil on canvas
Here is an update on progress on the B-E Ps & 3 Chairs Triptych. I have been focusing on this one panel. I just hope I can make the other two relate enough that it will still be a triptych when it is done.
Doesn't the table look like Wayne Thiebaud iced the whole thing himself! Haha!
Someone asked recently if there is hidden meaning in the cats and the peas.
My dear Bloggees I am sorry I have not been blogging or painting much either the past few days. I have been working on several things here at home, the most exciting is that Harry is having a Solo Exhibition at the Albany Museum of Art in Albany Georgia from Feb thru May of 2009.
Here is one of his latest paintings:
It will be a very large show and we are both already sort of nervous about it. [Shhhh don't tell anyone]
Also I have been reading about some different artists, mainly Wayne Thiebaud. Here is a photo of one of his pie paintings:
Look at how the paint IS the icing! I read a quote once that I now cannot find so I am really not quoting it exactly. He said something like he was raised middle class not in dire need of anything, no crises, nothing really bad in his life and so he paints about happy things. How rare! How delightful! Matisse was a "happy artist", too. I am out to find more of us.
Well that is it for today! If you find any other happy artists out there let me know. Now go spend all your money at my Etsy Store and we will all be really happy! ; )
Black-Eyed Peas and the Three Chairs, Triptych, WIP 20 x 20" oil on canvas
Did you ever wonder why the term "lady in waiting"? Or "waiter"? I never saw a waiter wait. They're always running around. Maybe they stand in the back and wait when I'm not looking.
But me, oh poor suffering artist me, I am wasting away waiting. On what? Oh, on this canvas to dry before I can paint the second coat of paint. I was really liking this painting every day thing because I got to, well, to paint every day. I felt like I wasn't wasting any time wondering what to do next. no angsting over my own existence. I just painted. I got up in the morning, touched base with my passions, figured out the composition and colors and bang, she's off painting! Annette, you mentioned this in relation to the painting-a-dayers. That is, waiting for paint to dry. I think that is just one of the cons to doing one painting a day. You can't build up history of paint. And you certainly cannot scumble!
So it's Harry's fault as usual. A couple days ago he mentioned scumbling and I had to ask him for his personal definition, and then I realized that even tho I have been scraffitoing, I have only been slightly faux scraffitoing and not really scumbling. Oh what in the world am I talking about now for heaven's sake?
According to Prof Ally, "scumbling" is layering so that the first color comes thru the second. Wayne Thiebaud did this. Yummy desserts. Richard Diebenkorn did it even better. Yummier abstract scapes. Haha now little Suzy wants to try. Problem is I have to wait for the paint to dry.
Well I have this idea. Not painting is killing me so what a great time to try an idea I have had for awhile. It feels like the fairy tale Goldilocks and the Three Bears, except the character is a band of Black Eyed Peas and they are dealing not with three bears, but three chairs.
[In this photo of the three paintings, you see the first two paintings with the first coat of paint, and the one on the right with the second session of paint.]
Each chair has a bit of a different point of view at the table, but all three have a problem with the Black-Eyes. My friend Sandy picked up on the personification of the peas in the last painting with the red lamp. She said they almost seem human. Woohoo! So far so good.
I started doing black-eyed peas in art school. The peas have revisited intermittently thru the years. Here they are again, in full force, promising more antics and fairytale story value than ever. Sorry Mister Black, you are relegated to pouting in the corner or hiding under the table with your cute little toes sticking out. Or no wait, that is Doodle. She just dyed her delicate little toes black to trick us. There is all sorts of subtle mischief going on here. Isn't this fun?!
So I wrote the above yesterday. Last night the first coat of paint was dry enough to paint over, so I worked on the canvas with the yellow chair.
I had so much fun watching things happen. I had carefully painted the first coat objects to be approximately the opposite colors of the final objects. As I would paint blue over orange, objects would come alive, trembling with first breath. Especially the purple shadows with the yellow-orange underneath. Oh my, I could hardly sleep last night after painting, it was so exhilarating! It felt like Color Christmas, surprises unwrapping everywhere!
There is still lots to do to finish this tri-story, but hopefully I will have a finished one to post soon. Until then you know where to go and what do do... Shop @ Etsy!
Ferns & Lemon with Red Dots 12 x 12" oil on canvas panel
Mister Black was so mad after that little revisit to Giverny, he didn't show up for painting time so I had to use a lemon instead. He was so mad when he finally did show up, all I could get was the edge of his buttox in the painting after this. But I think the lemon did quite well, don't you?
I carried over the nervous sort of brush strokes from the Giverny Yarrows but let the strokes go longer. Impressionism makes me plain nervous, no doubt about it. But I had to get it out of my system after all that talk about it. I am so IMPRESSIONABLE! I think I am not going to talk to ANYONE so I can paint myself. No that won't do. I like people too much. Akkkk well go... buy this one @ Etsy!
Monsieur Noir avec Yarrow 12 x 12" oil on canvas panel SOLD
OK now you will really think I'm crazy. Look at all these different styles. Or maybe it is just a case of the cat's away. The cat being the shoulds. I went straight from doing Holly Hobby cutsey drawings in high school to art school where angst and intellectualism reigned. Maybe what I am going thru now is a sort of retroactive growing up thru the stages from Holly Hobby to something else, whatever that will end up being. I don't know. I am feeling very teeneaged artwise. So rebellious feeling I don't even feel like writing about it... Bahhhhh hahahahahaha! So enjoy the paintings. Oh and, yes, Monsieur Noir refused to even pretend to go to Giverny this time. Rebellion is in the air!