Friday, December 30, 2016

Giving thanks in more ways than one

Well I don't know about you but it's been a crazy busy time these last few weeks. I guess it always is in the time leading up to the holidays. I know my gallery rep has been busy. I want to give a giant shout out to the Signature Gallery in Tallahassee. Because of them I've had the best month in art sales yet. 5 Swallows, pictured here, along with 5 other paintings found new homes recently thanks to their efforts. The folks there are the kindest, hardest working, most ethical I've found in the gallery world so far so thanks to Vera and the rest of the crew there. I love working with them!

What else am I truly thankful for? I had the most amazing Christmas surprise ever. My daughter and her hubby decided on the afternoon of Christmas day that they would pack up my two grandbabies and the granddog and drive straight through all the way from Dallas TX to my house in central FL. On Monday I saw a black dog coming up the front steps of the house. I thought - that looks just like Maddie but that can't be. Next thing I know my daughter's face is grinning at me through the front door glass. Crazy!!!! 

Needless to say there were lots of tears and laughter and hugging and squeezing. The best part.... my son and his family were already here because we were celebrating Christmas with them on Monday so the house was full and happy.

Did I plan to paint this week? Yep. Do I care? Nope. Sometimes, plans you have for painting or other job stuff, can go right out the window when you can have the joy of kids and grandkids for a few days.

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and wish for you a very Happy New Year! See you in January.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Questions. Answers?

A few days ago, Barney Davey from Art Marketing News, shared an article about NADA Miami Beach 2016. It was the author's pick of the best paintings from the fair. I scrolled through, saw a few things that intrigued me but for the most part they left me scratching my head- not only some of the work but the price tags on the work. My initial gut reaction and the words that went through my head were....

It's all about who you know....
It's who has the marketing and promotional bucks to spend....
It's not about good work anymore....
It's about who can get away with pulling the wool over people's eyes....
Of course art is subjective but what the hell happened to design and composition- the building blocks of good art? Abstract or non-representational art still requires the elements of design.

Then I thought..... is it just sour grapes on my part? Maybe I'm just jealous because I can't command $20,000 or more for a piece of my own work. Of course I wish I could get those prices and who knows, maybe someday I will. Maybe there was some sadness mixed in, thinking that so many people have been convinced that this is good art worthy of the hefty price tags.

Are the buyers buying because they can't live without it or have they been told it's a good investment? What do they see in the work that I don't?

Those were my first thoughts. Then my head took over. Yes, art is subjective and art does not have to be about making pretty pictures. Of course it can be but it doesn't have to be. It can be a political statement, a cry against an injustice, a statement about art and society or a painting that's just about color and texture that excites the artist while making it. Of course I know this because I also create work that's not about being a pretty picture such as my symbolic series Silent Voices. I also create work that's just about texture and color in my abstract series.

For a few of those works at the fair, my first inclination is to dismiss it as junk. And maybe some of it is. But maybe there's a backstory to it. Maybe there's a meaning behind it that I haven't learned. What was the artist's intention? As an artist I owe it to another artist to at least find out before relegating it to the trash heap in my mind. 

We end up with more questions than answers. Sometimes I think it's good to look backwards and revisit art history. Look at the evolution of an artist like Mondrian.

Houses on the Gein

The Gray Tree

Composition II in Red, Blue and Yellow

His early works were beautifully rendered landscapes and scenes- soft, subtle and muted in tone. He then transitions to an abstracted version of nature in The Gray Tree. Then much later his work is bold, linear and colorful. It's taking nature's forms and colors to it's most basic and primary elements.

And why not?

My end thoughts.....

It's good to revisit art history
It's good to question
It's good to keep an open mind
It's good to let go of judgement
It's good to find out why.....

Take a look at the article about NADA Miami. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. And now, back to painting.

Monday, November 28, 2016

A quick post holiday post

I hope ya'll had a great Thanksgiving weekend. Just a quick post with a nest update. It's been a busy couple of weeks with the holidays coming up plus I've been sick- no fun! But I'm on the mend now and ready to get back to painting and all the other stuff that goes along with it.

This is a little nest that was on top of my daughter's front porch light fixture. It's a swallow's nest. Before seeing this I had no idea some birds made their nests partially with mud. You can see the photo below. I usually prefer to have a nest in hand to paint from rather than working from photos but as you can see this one was well occupied and later there were 5 beautiful swallows.

The painting below is still a work in progress and another one I'm doing from a photo even though I have the actual nest in the studio. I found it in the hedge in my yard but before I removed it from the hedge I took pictures from different angles in case I wanted to do something that included a few surrounding leaves. Tomorrow I'm spending the day at the easel and I'll post again when it's done.

In the meantime......

After all that holiday food

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Listen to Pablo and make some art

I walk at Tuscawilla Park most mornings of the week- well try to anyway- when the weather and this old body lets me. My city just added this new section to the park and it's absolutely lovely. It's been a good place for me this week.

This week has been hard for many reasons. One of them of course being the election. I'm amazed at how draining and difficult it's been for so many people. It's not just the voting result but the awful happenings all over the country. I'm so saddened by the unrest, the fear and the violence. I want to cry every time I see a swastika painted on a building or the "n" word written on people's property, every story I see where a child is taunted and bullied because of the color of his skin. It's the kids. They are the ones I worry about most. How are they to understand what's happening. Children shouldn't have to worry about whether or not their family will be torn apart or if they're safe in their own home and country.

A lot of people are expressing their upset. That's a good thing as long as it's civil. What's not a good thing is people being told that they're whining or just too negative because they're talking about what's happening in the world. It doesn't help to minimize, dismiss or mock what people are going through right now. That's just cruel. What happened to compassion? Where did human decency go? It's serious stuff and should be talked about. Things don't get fixed if they're never discussed. I fear for my grandchildren's future. I fear for my gay family and friends. I fear losing my health insurance at a time when I need it the most. These things are just the tip of the iceberg. There's so much more and we have legitimate worries.

This is going to take time.

It's ok to express hurt and anger - peacefully. Protest but do it peacefully. I don't care if you sit through the anthem or march in the streets but do it peacefully. No matter who you voted for, just be kind to each other because in the end we all want the same thing - good health, prosperity and people to love. I don't always do it well either but it's something to strive for.

Thank goodness for art. I know I need it now more than ever. Our souls have a lot of searching to do and we have a lot of grime to wash off.

One of the things I love about the new art park are the quotes engraved and scattered along the walkway. I've been taking a photo every time I'm at the park and I thought this one is particularly appropriate right now.

The other thing I love about the park are these faces. They're all over the place and they're hysterical. This stone wall winds it's way around the park and these rock faces are scattered throughout, every one of them different and goofy. Kudos to the mason who built it. They give me a smile and we need lots of those right now.

So listen to Pablo, it's time to make more art.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

No tricks, just a work in progress

I've been back in the studio painting- nests of course. I'm not sure how long I'll be painting these but for now I'm going with the proverbial flow. As long as they keep hold of my heart and mind then I'll keep on making them.

Recently, one of my students was wondering what my process is for painting the nests so I thought I'd post a few work in progress pics.

Here you can see I've already got the gold in place. Before I can apply the gold I prep the canvas. The first thing I do is apply a layer of Super Heavy Gesso with a large palette knife. You can see the texture on the canvas surface. That layer of gesso is pretty thick so I leave it to dry over night. When it's dry I coat the canvas with a primary red acrylic. 

Then I use a white charcoal or pastel pencil to sketch in the outline of the nest. This gives me a map for the adhesive size used to adhere the gold. Once the size is tacky - that takes approximately 15-30 minutes - I place the gold leaf, brush off the excess, and this is what the canvas looks like.

In this next step I've coated the rest of the canvas, all areas without gold, with burnt umber. After the paint is dry I use the same pastel pencil to sketch in the main elements. I mark the edge of the nest opening, the largest pieces of leaves, plastic, or other bits of debris the birds used for building.

I paint those large pieces in first and then use a liner brush to start building the layers of grasses and twigs that are woven together. When I build these layers I work from dark to light starting with a burnt sienna\burnt umber mix and adding other colors as I get lighter and lighter.

acrylic and gold leaf

The final strokes are the lightest ones, the ones that make the painting pop and give it depth. I think the toughest challenge about these paintings is photographing them because of the gold leaf. In every photo the gold looks a little different. It all depends on the angle, the time of day, the light- if it's overcast or sunny outside. You can see the difference even in these progress pictures. At the same time, that's my favorite thing about these paintings- the way the painting changes with the light. It's not a trick but sure is a treat! LOL, I know..... way too corny but couldn't help myself. 

Happy Halloween ya'll!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Munchkins and fun party projects

I took some time off from the studio recently. What could take me away from painting? This pile up of little munchkins. My daughter came for a visit with 2 of my grandbabies. They moved to TX a year ago so it's a treat to have them here with the other 2 who live nearby. No way was I going to spend time in the studio when I could love on all these people!

Before their visit I had a very special project to work on. My father celebrated his 80th birthday and my mother decided to throw him a surprise birthday party. I was in charge of table decorations. Dad is a golfer so of course my first thought was something golf themed. I searched Pinterest for ideas, I went to the party stores, I looked all over and just couldn't get excited about any of it.

Then my husband had an idea. We have a book of illustrations of costumes and clothing through the ages so he suggested making paper dolls with Dad's face on the illustrations. Mom was putting together a slide show of family pictures for the party so I went through the photos and made copies of his faces and matched them with different costumes. I enlarged the illustrations, sized the faces to fit and put them together. I did this the old fashioned way of cut and paste. If I were more used to Photoshop I would have done it that way but by the time I dealt with the learning curve in figuring out how to do it I could have had them done. 

After putting them together I scanned them, flipped them to a mirror image and printed them out so I'd have 2 of each to make a double sided figure. I cut them out, then added a piece of cardboard between them so they'd stand up and then attached them to a base made of paper fans I picked up at the party store. The white bases are just plastic plates turned upside down.

If you're an NCIS fan you can see who kept me company while I worked on this project.

I made 8 of these figures so each table at the party had a different Dad. What a blast it was finding just the right face to go with the illustrations. In a couple of them his own hat in the photo worked perfectly for the style of clothing. 

The party was a great success! He was surprised and he was especially happy to have his granddaughter and great grandchildren come all the way from TX to say Happy Birthday.

So now the party is done and the kids have gone back home. I'm back in the studio painting.... nests of course. I'll share the newest ones in the next post. And if you have any cool party decoration ideas I'd love to see so please share!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Painting what I love for people who love what I paint

The last couple of weeks have been good in the art world. I want to just take a moment to say thanks!

Thank you to my friends and family who give me so much encouragement about my work and support what I do.

Thank you to my Facebook friends who cheer me on and "like" my work, who tell me which paintings are their favorites.

Thank you to my students who show up every Monday ready to learn and practice and make me laugh in the process.

Thank you to the Signature Art Gallery and the Macon Arts Alliance Gallery for their help in connecting with collectors. Vera at the Signature has been amazing. I very much appreciate all she does for the artists.

And a big, giant, squeezy hug to my collectors. Without them I couldn't keep doing what I'm doing.

This is what my collectors make possible - days that are like Christmas in the studio - when art supplies come in the mail. New supplies means new paintings and new paintings mean new ideas and the cycle continues. I'm able to keep on doing what I love to do.

This is my dream right here, right now. I'm living it. Painting what I love for people who love what I paint.

Thank you!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Good morning Monday- painting, taxes and a little naughty :)

Remember the painting in the ugly stage?

It's done now and sold. This morning I got it wired and varnished and soon it will be going to it's new home which happens to be the same home in NV where the smaller one went. They'll be together! Yeah, I know that's silly and sappy but hey..... don't a piece of ourselves go into every painting? When a collector buys a painting they're buying a piece of us. My heart and soul go into these paintings. Each one is it's own struggle, it's own challenge and it's nurtured along through each stage of development, pushing me and it to be better than the last one. That's the hope anyway.

Since last week I've acquired another nest. Isn't it beautiful? This is a cardinal's nest that was in my brother-in-law's yard. Just the day before he brought this to me I was thinking that I'd like to find one with some Spanish moss in it and ta-da! Here it is. I not only love the moss but I love the pile of little leaves inside. This will be another challenge for sure.

Hopefully I can get back to painting tomorrow. Over the weekend I tackled doing taxes- ugh!!!! I'm almost done but not quite there yet and this afternoon I'm teaching a class at the studio. 

Until next time..... here's a little thing I found on Facebook this morning. I don't know the name of the creator so if someone out there does, please share with us. It's a little on the naughty side but makes a good point. I've often wondered about critics and their evaluation of paintings. Why do they see what they see compared to what the artist intended? Critics like to get all puffed up with their "artspeak" and sometimes it's nothing more than a simple story. Just ask the artist.

At the National Art Gallery in Dublin, a husband and wife were staring at a portrait that had them completely confused. The painting depicted three black men totally naked, sitting on a bench.
Two of the figures had black penises, but the one in the middle had a pink penis. The curator of the gallery realized that they were having trouble interpreting the painting and offered his personal assessment.
He went on for over half an hour explaining how it depicted the sexual emasculation of African Americans in a predominately white patriarchal society . "In fact", he pointed out, "some serious critics believe that the pink penis also reflects the cultural and sociological oppression experienced by gay men in contemporary society".
After the curator left, an Irishman approached the couple and said, "Would you like to know what the painting is really about?"
"Now why would you claim to be more of an expert than the curator of the gallery", asked the couple?
"Because I am the artist, who painted the picture", he replied, "In fact, there are no African Americans depicted at all.
They're just three Irish coal miners. The guy in the middle went home for lunch"

Monday, September 19, 2016

Painting, sharing, shipping, bingeing

It was a busy week in the studio last week. I got lots of painting done, talked to lots of people, shipped artwork to the Signature Art Gallery and even sold a few paintings! And btw.... the Signature Gallery has a bird room- all things bird so if you're a bird watcher or are just fascinated with them like I am then go see what they have in there. So anyway, it was a banner week and the best of all was Friday when this article came out in Arts Business Institute. A big thank you to Carolyn at Artsy Shark for contacting me. Check it out and if you would be so kind.... tweet it or share it on whatever method of socializing you utilize. Thanks!

This is the latest bird's nest I did and it's sold so it's heading to NV this week. I have another one on the easel in the ugly stage.....

Kind of weird lighting in this shot. I had my spotlight on the nest I'm using for reference so the canvas looks a little dark. My laptop is there so I can message with people while I work and of course binge on Netflix shows- right now I'm bouncing back and forth between the new episodes of Walking Dead and old episodes of NCIS.

This is a little Instagram snippet from the process of applying gold leaf to my canvas.

Artist friends.... what do you do when you paint? Listen to music? Watch TV? Are you a binge watcher? Need silence? Just curious.

Carry on and happy painting.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The next nest

How was your Labor Day weekend? Mine was mostly quiet. I didn't even work in the studio. What I did do was a sleepover with our 6 year old granddaughter. There is nothing in the world sweeter than a conversation with a 1st grader and nothing more fun than the games she comes up with. Bath time means word games, movie time means picnics on the bed and snuggling together, playing outside means chasing bubbles and playing tag. She kept me on my toes the whole time.

And of course at this house, getting together also means drawing and painting time. She left us with this drawing and just cracked me up with the "AKA granddaughter". 

I'm made of complimentary colors :)

After all that fun I did get back to my own painting this week and finished another nest- actually 2 nest paintings.... remember the nest I got out of the tree in my yard?


This is the first painting to come from that nest. It's 18x18 and this time I used copper leaf instead of gold. I'm not quite sure how I feel about the copper. It's the only copper one so far and I don't know if I'll do another. Just that little bit of color shift in the background created some color issues in the nest itself so we'll see.

And it looks like I've started something.... I was recently gifted these 2 nests to add to my collection. The little bluebird nest on the left was my reference for the most recent painting.

The Nursery

Now it's time to prep some more canvases and figure out which nest is next. See ya'll soon.

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. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

No excuses, inspiration and summertime

No excuses. I saw this video on Facebook this morning and I thought- what an inspiration! I've had some issues lately with my hands due to a long time living with Rhuematoid Disease and of course the first thing that goes through my mind is.... what will happen if I'm not able to use my hands anymore? What if I can't hold a paint brush or colored pencil? Then I saw that and thought- hell, I'll just strap the brush to my arm if I have to. If you want to create or NEED to create like so many of us do, you'll find a way.

"Do not let the fact that things are not made for you, that conditions are not as they should be, stop you. Go on anyway. Everything depends on those who go on anyway." ~Robert Henri

So.... on to painting. Remember the bird's nest from the last post? Airborne is done- 12x12, mixed media on canvas. These are fun and a challenge to do. You know how much I love texture but I can't decide if I like it with these particular paintings. I think the nest itself might be easier to paint if the canvas were smooth but I do prefer the texture behind the gold leaf. Putting the gold directly on the canvas without texture tends to show off the weave of the canvas too much for my taste. I'll do the third one with the texture but maybe I'll play with something different for future pieces.

In the meantime I received a request for a portrait from someone who loves the gold leaf that I use in the landscapes but wants it done for a baby's portrait. Here's my first foray into gold and people painting. I have 7 grandchildren so I'm never without subjects to test techniques on. This one is Mila Blaze.

I think this will take some experimenting with surfaces. I love using Canson Mi-Teintes for portraits because I love to work on colored paper but the adhesive size for the gold does make the paper buckle. You can tell in the photo- especially on the left side. I did this one pretty small because I had a feeling that would be the case. The paper size here is 8.25x11. Maybe it would buckle less if the paper were larger? I don't know. The Canson also absorbs the size so it took 2 coats of the adhesive in order for it to work and get tacky. We'll see how the next one goes....

In the "catching up" post I shared some new landscapes. Since then I've shipped them off to the Signature Art Gallery in Tallahassee FL. and my wonderful rep Vera emailed me the photo of how they have my work displayed there- you can see the brand new ones on the left. I love this gallery and am so happy to be included with the fabulous artists they have there. Check out their website, or better yet, visit them if you can.

What's next? NOTHING! I'm not painting a single thing for the next week because tomorrow I head to the beach. I thought about taking some art supplies with me but then I thought about the hundreds of books on my kindle and decided to make a dent in that list instead and this will be my view for the next 7 days. Ahhhhh.......

Here's to creativity, inspiration, summertime, relaxation, peacefulness, and sunrises over the Atlantic. I hope you're getting your own time to rest this summer. See you when I get back.