Thursday, March 8, 2018

New work and Studio Redo Pics

Easter Parade
acrylic on canvas 18" x 18"

The Quiet Conversation
acrylic on canvas 18" x 18"
Boy, they don't write songs like this anymore and what a pity that is. Give a quick listen to Bing Crosby singing like an angel to Marjorie Reynolds in Holiday Inn. It will make everything better, trust me!

The first piece started out just as a color idea and when I finished there was really no title still. Usually something comes to me during the process but not this time. So, as I was getting ready to photograph the piece, for some reason I thought about Irving Berlin's song Easter Parade. The colors just remind me of Easter I guess. (And Springtime too if you really want to know.)

The second piece also started as a color idea. I had seen the cover of a Via magazine featuring a shot of Yosemite. Blue skies, green trees and some orange lettering for the magazine title. As I added colors, at one point I thought about the Bark Beetle blight that we have here in CA (and the West) in our forests. I liked the idea and even for a short time I liked the colors I chose. But, after a bit I realized that I just had a collection of colors. Not very exciting. Then, as I started adjusting colors, things began to get toned down and to fall into place. I ended up "graying down" all of my colors until I felt things were harmonious. I was reminded of what Nicholas Wilton calls the "quiet conversation." He means, I think, that not every element of the painting can be the star of the show. All elements in the piece, such as color, shape, and line, shouldn't be given equal weight otherwise nothing will stand out as the main idea. The piece will just be sort of shouting at you. That was how I felt about all of the saturated colors I initially had. Judicious adjusting and editing was called for!

Speaking of editing, I revamped my studio a few weeks ago and started to put things back. Not everything made it! Rich did put up shelves for me and I have been slowly populating them with current work. And bears. And stuff!

Current pieces 2018 and my "thinkin' " corner.

Too many bears for a 47 year old woman! (These are from my childhood, OK? Mostly!)

Some earlier pieces along with books and painting supplies. Gotta have books and lots of them!
So, good news I think. Rich was a real sweetheart and helped me make my studio space into a very special room with many of the things that I love. Those teddy bears have been with me since I was a child. My mom put them aside for me until I got a house and could collect them all in one spot. They have been waiting patiently in the inferno/frozen meat locker that I call our garage. I have some special objects too that I amassed over the years. They are placed lovingly on my shelves so I can see them. When I look at my stuff in this studio space I am reminded that I am an individual (apart from being a wife and daughter and friend) and that I am loved. Really, my wish would be for everyone to have this type of feeling in some way.

Alright, enough nostalgia. I hope everyone is having a good week so far. We have beautiful weather here. I was nearly too hot on my walk this morning!
Thanks for reading and commenting,

Sunday, February 18, 2018

New Work: Cameo

18" x 18" acrylic on canvas
This one was started while the studio was being painted. I set up my easel in Rich's office, adjacent to the kitchen, and got going. The painter interrupted me several times over the course of a few days. It was actually fine. I can kind of hone in on what I am doing sometimes if there is noise around me. It just depends. I chose the title because some of those reddish-mauveish colors reminds me of a cameo pin that I have from my mom.

Today I have been working on a new design and thinking about colors that I may want to use. I don't have a particular idea in mind just yet but I do have a design so that is good. 

Rich is working on the shelf situation in my studio. Honestly, I don't even want to put a thumb tack or nail in the walls but I need to be able to display my art so I can at least see what the hell I am doing or where I am going. 

Alright, it is quite windy here today and I understand that we are in for some colder weather. Maybe not precipitation in my area but certainly some snow up country. I'd like to do some hiking next week but I'll have to watch the weather. It isn't too fun hiking around in the cold much less the cold and the wind. 

Hope everyone is having a good weekend. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

New Work: Uplift 1 and 2

Uplift 1
18" x 18" Acrylic on canvas

Uplift 2
18" x 18" Acrylic on canvas
Recently I mentioned on FB that I was going to have my studio painted. The painter, the same one who painted the outside of our house, came over about a week or so ago to assess the damage. My artwork was still on the walls and as we stood there talking, he remarked that the paintings would make good "sound proofing tiles" like they have in movie theaters or on ceilings. I chuckled a bit (inwardly). Nothing like being put in your place by the guy that is going to paint your walls. 

I have been busy with one thing and another. Most of what I have been doing is voluntary. There have been a few obligations here and there. Painting the studio was a big deal. I hate having my house in disarray. I have been hiking a lot and cooking. Rich had a colonoscopy on Monday (all is well) and there is always grocery shopping and hair cutting. I have had lunch with my two aunts and cousin (always nice) and I like to do my reading in the afternoon. Somehow, the art production has declined a bit. I figure though that as long as I am thinking about things, generating ideas and feeding the creative drive here and there, then I am fine. 

The above two pieces weren't really inspired by anything to begin with. I find that if I set out to "represent" something, that it then becomes a disaster for me. It's much better if I pick a set of colors and think of things along the way. For these two pieces, I was reminded of land forms and how they rise and thrust and move about. I learned a new word today too. By searching through some geology terms, I came across the word "uplift." It means this: A structurally high area in the earth's crust, produced by positive movements that raise or upthrust the rocks, as in a dome or arch. This idea of rocks and earth being moved about over unimaginable periods of time is quite interesting to me. Unfathomable really. And I think that these last geometric pieces that I have done which don't use right angles help to convey an idea of movement. The forms are irregular and regular all at once, somehow. So while I didn't originally set out to do this, to present that idea of geology intersecting with art, I think maybe these pieces, for me anyway, help to support that idea.  

Hey! I have a piece in process. I started it when the studio was being painted. (My painter gave me tips on what to do!) I'll be able to show it shortly. In the meantime, I hope everyone reading is doing well, being creative, and is happy and healthy. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

New Work: Green, Green Grass

Green, Green Grass
18" x 18" acrylic on canvas
I was on my walk the other day when a set of colors kind of popped into my head. I could see the greens and the blue violets together on a canvas somehow and knew that I wanted to paint those colors for my next piece. It was funny but I also saw the shapes as "angular" somehow and knew that I wouldn't be painting them on a regular grid. (For me, a grid is a bunch of squares with 90 degree angles set up in an orderly fashion.) There wouldn't be any 90 degree angles if I could help it. I had done some sketching earlier and had taken a few of my regular grid designs and had sort of "distorted" the squares and rectangles into other shapes while still being mindful of proportion and repetition and line direction. I like that some of the lines meet, that some have implied meeting, and some of those implied meetings are slightly off. I feel like all of the little shapes are pushing and pulling on  the canvas against each other. 

Getting the crisp lines ended up being quite easy if not a little nerve wracking at first. I had read some time ago about using an acrylic medium to "seal" the edge of the tape to the surface of the canvas. By laying down the medium first and allowing it to dry, a barrier is created between the edge of the tape and the canvas and in theory, paint shouldn't "bleed" underneath that seal. The method works very well, say about 95% or better, so long as you are patient and let both the medium and the paint dry. The medium doesn't take long to dry but the paint is another matter. Acrylic is dry to the touch quite quickly but even though it feels dry, it is still "curing." Allowing about an hour for the acrylic to set up seems pretty reliable. Once the time is up you pull off the tape carefully and slowly. I pulled in both directions, towards the new paint and away from the new paint. I didn't quite detect a difference in results though I read that the tape should be pulled towards the newly painted color.

It's a lot of technical stuff and boring if you aren't in to acrylics but honestly, the solutions that I employed have made a world of difference to me. I actually really like the orderly nature of taping and sealing, having to wait, painting and having to wait some more. The whole process slows you down, which is good, but also forces you to really know your medium well. Knowing how acrylics work, what their properties are, and all of the different variables is really helpful.

Alright, enough of that! I have another design in mind and have my canvas prepped. No colors have solidified in my mind just yet but I will be working on that shortly. Hope everyone is having a good week so far. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

New work + Thoughts on Limitations and Opportunities

Grape Salad
informal pic of finished work
18" x 18" acrylic on canvas
I decided to show just an informal shot of my last piece. Normally I use natural light to photograph my work and since it has been rainy and cold I haven't much felt like trouping outside to take a picture. 

This is the last geometric piece that I have done and as I was making it I wondered a lot about what I was trying to do and why I wasn't really enjoying the process. Introspection and critical thinking are so important for making art. I can't emphasize it enough. If you aren't thinking about things there is likely to be trouble.

I knew that my collage work was a response to this taping business. I didn't want to tape anymore but still wanted to have the crisp lines as part of what I was doing. So, the cut paper collage made a lot of sense. I also started in again with painting directly, thinking that I wouldn't mind the taping (even though I knew I hated it). But just as one problem was solved another problem surfaced. It's very tricky to make all of your lines work together to form a straight cohesive unit, no matter whether you are doing collage or painting directly. I found that with most of my work, painted or otherwise, the lines were off to some degree, even if that amount was really small.  Sure, all the lines were straight but the whole piece wasn't perfectly straight. OK, I was willing to accept that idiosyncrasy. I am not perfect and so the pieces aren't perfect either. Still.

So, I have been thinking about what I am willing to do and what I don't want to do. I don't want to line up those shapes anymore, cut paper or otherwise. I also can't tolerate painting squares and rectangles freehand and not having them be perfect. I have tried it many times and ultimately don't care for the results. I love my crisp lines though and don't want to give that up. And I have worked hard to develop my ideas about proportion, shape and color, though I still have far to go with things. What to do?

The solution came about when I thought about breaking apart the grid. At least that is what I call the solution. I sat down and took my last painting, which is painted on a grid system, and started to skew the shapes. I guess the resulting shapes are what might be called quadrilateral shapes-four sides and four angles of varying lengths and degrees. (Rectangles and squares fall in this category but I mean shapes without right angles-don't ask for details though because I got a "C" in high school geometry and barely escaped with my life!) I also went online to learn (once again) how to get sharp lines with taping. (Everything about making art becomes remedial after awhile.) I have started a new piece which I hope will solve some of the technical problems while still satisfying my need to express myself through shape, clean lines and color.

What I learned from the above set of experiences over the course of the last year or so is this: It is hard to accept your limitations and even harder still to work around them. So many of us just quit (which is an option). It's tough to admit that your results aren't up to par and that retooling is needed; that more learning is needed. It's also crucial to know when to keep pressing forward, trying to perfect your efforts, keeping in mind that not everyone will turn out a work of high skill.  It's important too to know when to take a different approach and hopefully achieve your goals in another way. The realizations and admissions are critical if progress is to be made. And nothing will happen unless you are thinking and being honest with yourself. Not listening to others mind you but listening to yourself. So there! Start the New Year off with that little gem:)

Hope everyone is well and happily working away at whatever you choose to do. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Monday, December 4, 2017

New Work: Find Your Tribe

Find Your Tribe
18" x 18" Acrylic on canvas
When you are told something it is always important to listen for the grain of truth in what is being said. The part of the collective statements that resonate with you and in which you can find something helpful. It's also important not to believe wholeheartedly everything that you are told but to sift through things to come up with a part of the puzzle that could be important. There is almost always a clue in and among the chatter.

Such was the case when I was told something in an offhand sort of way by an friend. It would have been very easy to get defensive (I normally do), to take the statement as a pointed direction for me personally, which it wasn't really. The suggestion to "find one's own tribe" was generalized and maybe made offhand yet I took it seriously. It had the ring of truth to it and was maybe what I needed to hear at that moment. Listen, listen, listen! And then maybe act.

The above piece wasn't exactly inspired by the casual directive that I was given but certainly my intent in returning to this hard line geometric work is a part of "finding my own tribe." The (fairly) clean lines, the colors, and the proportion of shapes all feel comfortable to me. Tribe-ish.

I hope everyone is having a good start to their week. I have another piece in process, just started today. There are a couple of hikes planned for this week and I have lunch with my dear aunt(s) and cousin. It's a busy but hopefully fun week ahead. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

New Work: Back to Square One

Back to Basics
Something that is a common utterance in my studio often sounds like this: Enough is enough! Such is the case with the above piece. It is actually painted over another piece that I did recently that I kept looking at and wondering why. Why keep something around that you have made that isn't pleasing to you? So, out came the gesso and that certainly felt good. Covering over the other piece gave me permission to then do whatever I wanted which in this case was to go back to the hard line geometric style that I enjoy. Only this time, I painted directly onto the board rather than using painted paper. And while the colors don't thrill me in a big way, I know why they are there. There is a nice rhythm and balance to the piece too, in my opinion, which makes me very happy.

Is everyone set for Thanksgiving? It's quite a big hoopla of an ordeal isn't it? I love the time of year and all of the food that is available (fruits and vegetables) but I dislike the expectations placed on me by this holiday. I do own up to placing some of those expectations on myself but the rest of them I feel I have not much control over. 

I will be working a little in the studio this week. I started the above piece by making a mock up collage from scraps of painted paper. There is a now a new "scrap collage" that I put together and I think I like the idea enough to paint it. Why switch back to painting directly? There is no real answer other than it seems time to do so. I will see how I like painting on the canvas surface rather than the board. Boards really appeal to me because they offer such a hard surface but they are expensive. Canvasses are inexpensive but the surface is springier and the taping presents a real challenge. So, we will see.

OK, hope everyone has had a good week. Thanks for reading and commenting.