Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Art, Fear and Boredom

I'm reading a book right now called Real Artists Don't Starve by Jeff Goins. I'm only 15% into it but so far it's good. This paragraph...

"Torrance believed creativity could exist in all areas of life and that anyone could be creative. The more research he did, however, the more he discovered how difficult it was to be creative in certain settings, particularly schools. He also observed how creative individuals tended to struggle in systems that forced them to comply to rules they didn't understand. "The creative kids are the ones who rail against the rules the hardest," said Bonnie Cramond, a former student of Torrance, in summary of her teacher's findings. "Creative kids have no patience with ridiculous rules. They don't see any purpose in it." Professor Torrance concluded that following the rules does not produce outstanding creative work. If you aren't willing to be a little deviant, then it's harder to be creative. Sometimes it pays to break the rules."

makes a lot of sense to me. I still rail against stupid rules. My kids always railed against stupid rules and still do. This is something that can be difficult to get across to my art students. Like society, art has certain rules. You learn these when learning the basics in art school - composition, color theory etc.... Of course you can be creative within the boundaries of the rules but once you've been living and painting by those rules for a long time you itch to break them. If not break them, then at least bend them.


This is what holds us back. It's something I work on all the time. How can I do something different, something new? I think this is where working in a series is a really good thing. I've been painting the bird nests for a while now. Folks like them, some love them enough to buy them! Yay! What happens then? Fear of doing something different and then people might not like them anymore.


This is what catapults us into doing something else. The first time I painted a nest I was so excited! Each one I paint still excites me but after a while it gets like - meh - I've done this the same way before. When you've painted the same subject dozens of times, that's when the itch starts. You start to look for a different way to express that subject. That's when you look at things from a different angle- try different lighting, different background, close up view, long view.

That's when it's time to push.

How do you do that? One of the things I started doing is daily paintings. Every day that I'm in the studio I start the day with a little 4x4 or 4x6 painting. It can be anything. Today will be #20. I'm not just doing bird nests, I'm doing anything I feel like that morning. So far it's been a mix of landscapes and nests because those are my main 2 subjects anyway. I'm painting scenes that I've done before but making them a little bit different from the way I did them the first time.

I might push color, trying a different palette or exaggerate the color of a landscape. I might try a different shape or angle on a nest, I might do a new subject like the feathers and see where that goes....

So today my thoughts are - let boredom be a catalyst. And when you get bored don't let fear keep you from bending a few rules, push through. Who knows where it'll lead. And what I know about myself is, I need to push harder.

Monday, May 8, 2017

The gallery, the Etsy shop and a nest update

It's Monday morning and I'm sitting here with my coffee, listening to the birds and thinking about the week ahead. Today is art class. I'll probably just have 3 people in the studio today since a few folks are traveling. The rest of the week will be spent in my home studio working on several paintings. I usually have more than one going at a time- keeps my energy up that way.

Another thing that boosts the painting energy is visiting my gallery rep. Last week I delivered 10 new landscapes to the Signature Art Gallery in Tallahassee. They've been selling my work for a couple of years now and I'd never been there! Shame on me. So, since I had a couple of larger canvases for them this time I thought it would be good to deliver instead of shipping. I'm so glad I did. It was a beautiful day. Yellow flowers (friends from the area will know what kind they are) were blooming all along I75 with the occassional purple ones thrown in here and there- very pretty- you know those complimentary colors work so well together. 😄

Finding the gallery was very easy and what a nice place! I met Mary, the owner, and we had a lovely time visiting. Walking around, looking at the other art there, I realized I wanted just about everything in the place. Every piece in the gallery was beautiful! I truly felt honored to have my work hanging there with so many wonderful artist's work. I could've stayed all day just studying the brush work and techniques in all the other works. 

One of the larger pieces I delivered.

The 2 floating walls where my work is currently hanging. They've made room for a few of the new pieces.

So my gallery is updated and now my Etsy shop is too.

Once upon a time I was doing Friday Painting Parties. I did them for about 3 years but due to a change in the studio space I stopped doing them. I had a number of workshop demo pieces left from those parties and I got tired of tripping over the box of canvases so I added them to the shop at a special price. This week, through Mother's Day, you can get one of these paintings at a bigger discount with the coupon code MOMLOVE20 for 20% off. It really is a great deal so check it out if you're so inclined. There's a mix of subjects and techniques - take a look at the Etsy mini shop on the sidebar to see more examples.

This was one of my faves to do. It's from a photo I took on the gulf coast.

We did a gold leaf sky on this one. What a mess in a workshop! We then used palette knife to paint the rest.

This one came from a series I did called Woodland. They're all sold now, this is the last.

Nest update!

So remember the nest in my mailbox? The babies grew up and fledged but sadly, at least one of them was lost to a predator - the kitty. I happened to be home when the little ones took off and suddenly I saw the cat hunkered down over something small while momma bird was screeching and flying circles overhead. Sad. All I can do is hope the others survived. 

Once I was sure no one was coming back to the mailbox nest I cut a piece of cardboard to fit the width of the box so I could slide it underneath and then carefully pull the nest out. It took some work but I finally got it out without losing much of their construction. Once I got it out I found an egg inside that hadn't hatched. Unfortunately, I broke it when I took it out to show my granddaughter but I kept the largest pieces and put them back in. Now I have a new nest to add to my growing collection. See, this is why I have to move that box of canvases I was tripping over. Seriously..... go to the Etsy shop!

From the front

Side view- you can see how much taller it is in the back.

And of course, I've added to the collection of nest paintings. In memory of the little one lost to the kitty I painted 2 Babies this past weekend from a photo I took of them in the mailbox.

2 Babies

Well, that's the update for now...... I have lots of paintings floating around in my head so I'm anxious to get back to the studio and get busy. 

Wishing you peace and creativity.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Baby birds and a kitty

If we're friends on Facebook you've probably seen photos of my mailbox nest. This has been a yearly occurrence for the last 3 or 4 years. Last year's wren babies didn't survive a predator so I've been keeping a close watch on these little ones (as if I could really do anything about anything if a bigger bird swoops in and decides to make a meal of them). Anyway.... this morning I woke to a lot of fussing coming from the front porch.

Apparently I wasn't the only one to hear the babies yelling for food. A neighborhood kitty also heard. We've had a beautiful calico hanging around our yard for a long time. I don't know who he belongs to but he certainly likes our space. So there he was, sitting on the front porch under the mailbox with huge, eager eyes. Thankfully he can't get to them but he sure causes chaos for the bird family trying to eat breakfast.

Look at those faces!

I shooed him away so mom and dad could feed their growing bunch. I watched them take turns bringing bugs and worms to the nest. Once the babies were satisfied it looked like they were doing some house cleaning. They appeared to have pieces of shell they were carrying out of the mailbox. Gotta keep things tidy.

Just to be sure they could keep on with their parental duties I sat with the front door open a bit so I could watch them and keep the kitty from disturbing them again. Near the top of the photo you can see one of the parents on the edge of the mail slot ready to take off again.

It's another beautiful, cool day today so I'll keep the windows and doors open and keep my ears open too so I can hopefully help the little wrens through another day without the scare of a large feline.

Last time I told you about the floral show happening at Magnolia Art Xchange. Here's my Camelia hanging at Ocala Union Station in one of the exhibit rooms. It was a really nice day- did a little painting, met some great people and got to visit with some old friends. And the photo below is just because...... This past Friday night was the Friday Art Walk in Tallahassee and Vera at the Signature Gallery emailed me this photo of "my walls" at the gallery. What a great place! And they sold 2 more of my paintings- a nest and a landscape. Oh happy day!

I'm going to finish my coffee and enjoy the rest of this beautiful, spring day in FL. It won't be long before we're all melting from the heat so it's wonderful to feel a cool breeze. Hope your day is great.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

1 closes, 1 opens, and painting live!

So the show in Macon at the Macon Arts Alliance Gallery is coming to a close this week. If you haven't been you should check it out. I'll still have work there after the show too and there's lots of talented folks displaying there so if you miss this time there'll still be more to see.

And... coming up this week is the Magnolia Art Xchange show Blooming with Max where the Pioneer Garden Club will be presenting a floral show inspired by master artists. My painting Camelia will also be on display for the 2 day show.

acrylic and gold leaf

The show is open to the public on Friday March 31st from 1pm-4pm and on Saturday April 1st from 10am-3pm. On Saturday I'll be there painting live. I've got another camelia painting started so this is what I'll be working on at the show.

What makes it even better? I'll be painting with my buddy Julie Shealy! I'm so excited!! You may have seen Julie's Bloomies at Gateway Bank this past year. She had a fabulous show running from Oct through December. I first met Julie when we worked together on an Artist Within project with the Marion Cultural Alliance. We don't get to see each other too often so I'm not sure if we'll spend more time painting or sharing grandchildren photos :)  but anyway.... if you can, come by Ocala Union Station and see us on Saturday.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy, sad, angry, grateful, you name it......

I've been feeling them all lately. I don't have to go to Disney World, the roller coaster is right here in my head. I haven't posted in a while because I've had a hard time getting out of my head recently and have just been doing what's absolutely necessary. The best part of the last few weeks has been spending time with my grandbabies. My daughter and her family made another trip from TX. Here she is with her baby girl and 2 nieces and below is her son.

These are the little munchkins who keep me going. When they're here, everything else stops and sometimes that's a really good thing!

What stops? Paying attention to the news. Right now, nothing is more depressing and anger inducing than what this administration is doing- between the likelihood of losing my health insurance when I need it the most to #45 wanting to eliminate arts funding, environmental protections and meals for children and seniors for crying out loud! What's going to happen to the public schools my little munchkins will be attending? What's going to happen to the sick people who can't see a doctor? BUT.... we'll have a useless wall that we'll have to pay for. Riiiight. Everything that's good in this country is at risk because of lying, greedy, hard hearted, selfish people. I am so disgusted by not only the assholes in the White House but people close to me who still support them. What is the point of having a massive military when there won't be much left to protect? Yes, I'm a bleeding heart liberal and proud of it. I'd much rather be that than cold hearted and compassion-less. Ugh.... end of rant.

So there's the sad and angry part. It really is difficult to focus sometimes with all this crap going on. I end up sharing more political stuff on FB than art stuff and that's not a good thing but it's important stuff that needs to be said because it affects all of us personally and the art world too. We need more people to care about it and I'm not going to put on the rose colored glasses or stick my head in the sand.

What helps is balance and staying grateful.

I'm truly grateful for all the sales my 2 galleries have made for me.

I'm grateful for the portrait commissions and the faith that customers put in me to create what could become a family heirloom.

I'm grateful for a growing, local, art community.

I'm grateful to be able to do the work I love!

I'm grateful for my family, dear friends and especially all my kids and grandchildren.

Doing what I love and having friends and family around me - that's the stuff of life that makes it worth living.

Ok, got a few things out of my head and now, back to the drawing board.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A new landscape painting step by step

Hi folks. I hope February is treating you well. I thought I'd share the step by step process from painting my newest landscape. This one is a diptych done on 2- 20x20 canvases so the final size is 40x20. I love texture so before I started painting I prepped the canvas with crumpled tissue paper (you can see a close up below). I just use the white stuff that you use in gift bags, wad it up into a ball, open it up and apply it to the canvas with either a matt acrylic medium or matt Mod Podge. If you try this, be sure to use the matt version, not the gloss. You get better adhesion with the acrylic paint this way. Paint a layer of the adhesive on the canvas. Apply the tissue and then do another layer of adhesive on top. After the tissue is dry I painted both canvases with red acrylic.

As you can see I stacked the canvases on my easel. Of course this is the best way to get continuity when doing multiple panels. I sketched the design first with a white pastel pencil and then started blocking in color.

Once I knew where the basic elements were I started loosely putting in the greens. I use a large brush and keep the strokes mostly open and separate. I don't want to cover up too much of the red because there's still lots of layering to do and I like to leave a bit of red peeking through over the whole painting for interest and consistency.

Here, I'm working my way down the canvases with yellows and greens, still keeping things loose.

I added some purple on the ground area under the trees. Once all of the canvas is covered I go back and begin putting in more color, building layers. The colors I used were permanent sap green, permanent green light, cad yellow deep, arylamide yellow light, orange, purple, cobalt blue and white.

This gives you a better idea of what the texture is like. You can also tell that I don't cover all the red.

I added some purples to the tree trunks and then started adding leaves to the foreground to cover bits of the trunks.

Last layers were adding light to the foreground and brightening up the sky. So, there ya have it. I called this one Dappled. Have you tried adding texture to your canvases? If you do, I'd love to know what you use and how you do it so please share in the comments!

Friday, February 10, 2017

New on Netflix

For the folks who haven't heard yet, I wanted to do a quickie post to let you know about a couple of artsy shows that have been recently added to Netflix. The first one is a show similar to Bob Ross's show which has been on Netflix for a while. This one is about plein air painting in oil with a gentleman named Heiner Hertling. It's called Your Brush with Nature and I watched a couple of episodes last night. I really enjoyed them. I liked his style, his quiet demeanor and the work didn't come across as gimmicky. I think students could learn a lot from him, especially since sometimes he does a little critique session with a student at the end of the show. He made me want to get my oils out again and go out in the field. That says a lot since I've never been a fan of battling the elements while trying to paint. I might have to give plein air painting another try.

The other show is one I haven't checked out yet but I'm anxious to. It was just added to Netflix today. It's called Abstract: The Art of Design. This one is a documentary series that delves into the world of designers and their work. Take a peek at the lives of an architect, a footwear designer, an automotive designer, an illustrator, a stage designer, a photographer, an interior designer, and a graphic designer. It looks fascinating. I'll be checking it out tonight.

Have fun watching!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

What's up 2017?

Was there a January? I don't know. It's just a blur now. I know some amazing stuff happened like having some good sales from my oh so wonderful Signature Gallery. I can't even tell you just how much I love them! Thanks to them, I had to get busy painting some more - oh darn.

Paynes Prairie
The locals know this place. Sometimes on trips between Ocala and Gainesville I'll stop and walk out on the dock on 441 and take pictures. When I have more time I'll go into the park and climb the lookout tower for a different view.

Garage Apartment
Since starting this bird nest series I've been gifted numerous nests from friends. This one came from my neighbors garage. It really is this shape. It was high up in the rafters in a corner and it looked like the bird wanted to fill the entire beam. It included bits of white fuzz that looked like batting and some pieces of blue and pink yarn.

White Feather
I've also been given lots of feathers so I thought I'd play with those. This is the first one- starting small. I'm not sure yet where I'll be going with these so stay tuned....

So those are 3 of the 10 pieces heading up to the gallery in the next week.

Then.... I was contacted by the Macon Arts Alliance Gallery asking if I would send some work to them for their upcoming show in March. Yay! They specifically asked for nests and florals so....... 
These are 2 of the 9 pieces heading that way later this month. And in case you're wondering, no, I did not paint 19 paintings last month. I was busy but I do like to sleep too. Some of the work is inventory I already had here in the studio.

This is a crazy little nest made from horse hair. My friend Jean brought a couple of these in to class one day. She said she can tell which of her horses sacrificed hair for the little bird by the color of the nest.

After the Blossom
This was actually done from a friend's photo. I don't usually work that way but she had some beautiful shots and she gave me permission to use them. I wanted to play with the combo of pink and gold. Gold, anyone surprised? 😁

So there ya have it. That was January. Unfortunately the first week of February kicked my butt. I was sick in bed with a rheumatoid arthritis flare up. Any other artists out there dealing with a chronic condition that likes to interfere with your life? I'd love to hear from you. How do you deal? Anyway, now I'm back to feeling human again and ready to go. It's time to get some work boxed up and out of here and then back to the easel. Next time I'll share the landscape diptych I'm working on. Would you believe it doesn't include gold leaf?