Saturday, August 27, 2016

Practice and save your stuff!!

Every once in a while a couple of topics come up when I'm working with art students.

1. They want it now! They want to be able to paint like an "expert" right off the bat. Practicing takes too long. They get frustrated. Some don't want to work on drawing skills but jump straight to the palette and paint. Let's get some color on that canvas. Some even want to finish that painting in the first class! We do live in an instant gratification culture.

2. When they produce something they're not that proud of they want to throw it away. Rip it up! Trash it. There's no point in keeping something they're never going to frame. It's not good enough to keep around. They say to me.... "you're a professional, I'm sure everything you do is worthy of framing". HA! They haven't seen the pile of canvases waiting to be painted over and the papers tucked away in folders that won't see the light of day.

I certainly understand the frustration! Been there, done that. Many times I've been frustrated with myself and my work. Just this week I spent 2 days really struggling with a new painting. At one point I wanted to gesso over the thing and start over. I have to keep reminding myself that every painting goes through an ugly stage and you shouldn't give up on it too soon. Keep working and most times you can get through that stage to the finish and even be satisfied (almost) with the result.

When discussions like this come up I like to pull out my old portfolio from art school. Mind you that was eons ago - 1970's - and yes, I still have a lot of that old work. I even have a piece from high school in that stash. It's the first scratchboard piece I did and the first piece of work that earned some cash. My friend Sue also did a black and white piece so we got together and had note cards printed. We packaged 3 of each design for a 6 card pack with envelopes and sold them around school and church.

Anyway, sometimes we all need to be reminded that things don't happen overnight. We all start somewhere. We're all beginners at something. No one picks up a guitar for the first time and plays like Eric Clapton. No matter what you're doing, it takes practice. There are no shortcuts to that part. Now it's usually in this part of the discussion where the word "talent" comes in but that's a topic for another time.

Right now we need to be more patient with ourselves. We need to focus more on the process than on the outcome. Every drawing that fails, every painting that's not "good enough" is still teaching us something. That teaching goes on for a lifetime! Every painting we do is a lesson in something whether it's a new color mix or a lesson in what doesn't work and we know not to do that next time. Be open to those lessons.

Don't throw out old work.

This is one of the first colored pencil drawings I did when I was attending the Art Institute and studying fashion illustration. Yikes!
This is a colored pencil portrait I did last year.

I sure understand the temptation to throw away artwork. When I get these old pieces out and look at them I cringe. I want to go back into it and fix everything! But when looking at the old work and comparing it to the newer work I can see where I've been, how far I've come, how much I've learned, how much I've advanced in my skills.

Save your stuff! When you feel like you're not getting very far and are frustrated with what you're doing you can look back and realize- hey, I am getting better. That realization is one of the best motivators and will keep you practicing.

Give yourself a break. Keep drawing and painting. Save your work and nothing can replace the time you spend doing the work. Practice- daily if you can. There's no substitute for it and don't worry about it being frame worthy. It doesn't matter. What matters is the doing.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

So many paintings... so little time.

Hope everyone's good. I've been busy in the studio since the last post. Finished this nest....

And then painted this one..... sold another one.....

Then for a change of pace I started this landscape with a flowering tree. I wanted to play with some different colors and shapes. I've done a couple of other pieces similar to this one and love the blue-greens against the gold leaf.

From this angle you can see the texture and shine of the gold. I'm using metallic gold acrylic to drybrush gold along the edge of the leaf. It softens the edge and makes a good transition between the 2 areas. And it shows off the texture too. Love the texture!

So right after starting this landscape I found an old nest in a tree in my yard. I got on a step stool to get some shots of it to paint from. It was well seated in between the branches so it wasn't easy to take photos.

The next day I decided to see if I could get the nest out of the tree without damaging it. It was tricky but I did it with only losing a couple of little twigs. 

Of course, now I'm dying to paint the new nest!!! It's going to take some discipline to make myself finish the landscape first. If I don't, who knows when I'll get back to it. There are so many nest paintings I want to do- bigger, smaller, different angles, doing some with copper leaf instead of gold.... 

So many paintings- so little time. LOL

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Beach week and bird's nests

Beach week was amazing!! What did I do? Nothing. I went from condo to beach and back again. I took walks, listened to the waves, read and slept. I guess those things are actually something but you know what I mean- nothing that was required of me, only what I felt like doing when I felt like doing it. To me there is nothing more peaceful and rejuvenating than being near water and listening to the sounds of nature. After I got back my husband got me a white noise machine for sleeping that includes the sound of the ocean- perfect! I might be back inland but when I go to sleep I can listen to waves crashing, feel the fan blowing and pretend I'm dozing on the porch of a beach cottage as I drift off to sleep. 

 I love how these ripples ended up looking in this photo. It might end up a painting at some point.

My son and his family came out to spend a day and he brought the big bubble stuff with him. I think I enjoyed that more than the girls did. All they cared about was sand and water. :)

So beach week is over and now I'm all refreshed, excited to paint again and back to the easel. The first thing I did was prep 3 canvases. I used the heavy body gesso as usual. After letting them dry overnight I coated them with red acrylic, mapped out my design and then applied gold leaf to all 3.

One was for a landscape, one for a floral and one for a nest but I couldn't decide which one I wanted to start with. My sister-in-law said I should do the one on top first so I did the landscape...


Remember the nest painting I showed you last time? It's already sold and delivered! Now I'm working on the second canvas. I said I might do something different with the next nest painting as far as the texture goes but no, I just couldn't help myself. It isn't giving me as much of a problem as it was before so that's good.

I'm not too far from being done with this one. I should finish in another day or two and then I'll move on to the third canvas- the floral. I'm sure you'll see it in the next post. So, until then, I hope you're doing something artsy.