Archive for April, 2009

Out of the Cradle

April 29, 2009

skecthbooksArtists take their cues from babies. When we are born the first things we can see are darks and lights. As our sight develops we begin to discern shapes and movement, and then finally we see color! 

When I visit a fellow artist’s studio or a gallery I usually take a quick glance around. I make a sort of mental inventory of what the experience might be promising. I am almost always attracted to one or two pieces that “catch my eye.” No matter if the work is representational, expressionistic or abstract it always comes down to the masses of lights and darks, the shapes they make and the way my eye follows them through the painting. Then there are the glorious colors.

valuepageSo religiously I start each painting with a value study. My sketchbooks are filled with black, gray and white thumbnails that might even pass for Rorschach inkblot tests. When the shapes have a “sameness” about them  I rearrange them to create more interest. I love to go back through old sketchbooks and remember the place and the resulting painting. It is sort like connecting the dots, enjoying the thought process and the experience all over again.

Today I have been challenged to come up with twenty ideas for future blog posts. My sketchbook can tell at least 100 times that many stories. So I hope you stay tuned and follow me through my painting process and my travels. In future posts I will share more pages from my sketchbooks, the images and the thoughts of what goes into my paintings. You’ll see the places I explore and the inspiration I find. And you’ll probably hear a funny story or two along the way.

Making A Bird’s Nest

April 24, 2009

I admire those artists who can go outside, breathe in the scene around them, set up their easel and create a painting that is as fresh and alive as the moment they are in. For me it’s almost torture.

I can name any one of many reasons why today will not be a good “plein air” day. It is either too windy, too hot, too cold, the bugs are biting, the dogs running loose in the park make me nervous, I don’t have the right materials with me, I forgot a hat, I’m getting sunburned, my visor is giving me a headache, and the litany goes on.

I know all the “techniques” for painting outdoors but putting them to practice is a struggle. I look for something that interests me and catches my eye. I consider vistas as well as close up subjects. I do thumbnails of the lights and the darks, I decide on a composition that supports the concept of the painting. I block in the masses, simplify the shapes and quickly get down the “bookends” of the painting, the lightest light and the darkest dark.  And as the painting progresses I find myself getting more anxious about its outcome. It seems to be loosing its freshness. The beauty and the curse of using pastel as my primary medium is that it is so forgiving. I have fallen into the trap knowing that if a stroke may not be just right, I can always fix it. I can make it warmer, cooler, brighter, duller, lighter, or darker. And I do, over and over again.

In the studio, I can walk away from the task at hand and come back with fresh eyes. Outside, the clock is ticking, the light is changing and I just keep pushing pastel around. So why, every Friday, or almost every Friday do I get together with a group of artists to paint outdoors? Because it is a challenge, though at times, an agonizing one.  And I want to get good at this.

Creating a painting is done one stroke at a time. So I have come to the conclusion that instead of going out each Friday with the idea that today I will make a painting, I have begun to focus on not only getting a good start, but making every stroke, a deliberate stroke. It still may not be perfect, but there is thought and consideration behind it. Hopefully in time, it just becomes more right and intuitive.

 By going and coming a bird weaves its nest.
(African proverb)

Everything worth doing takes perseverance.

It’s Not all About Me

April 23, 2009

The Blog Triage class continues with the second part of assignment no.1, answer the question: What do I want to get from blogging?

I have always wanted to be a writer. Problem is though, I have little confidence in my way with words. I’d rather be in front of my easel, in my studio or on location painting. It is sort or ironic that I mainly use pastels in my artwork. It is a medium that one  holds in one’s hand, like a pen or pencil. Perhaps there is some subliminal connection between making art and wanting to write! But that could be a topic for another blog. 

pastelsBack to the task at hand. What do I want to get from blogging? I want to be able to connect with those interested in the creative process, the joy that art can bring whether in its creation, by viewing or owning it. I hope that I will be able to engage others in a dialog about art and how it affects our lives; the awareness it evokes, the emotions it calls up. the memories it recalls. For me all these things are present in varying degrees when I paint and I hope my art resonates with the viewer.

I also want to initiate a dialog, so that my blog becomes a sharing platform. It’s not all about me and my art. I want to hear from others when they are facing the same hurdles in creating and selling art. I want to hear how clients are enjoying their purchases and how my art is influencing their lives.

Are You a Baby Boomer or a…

April 22, 2009

With a commitment to building a more vibrant blog, I signed up for the 4-week Blog Triage class with Cynthia Morris and Alyson Stanfield. Today’s assignment is to describe the people I want to visit and read my blog.

blogtriage_coverHmmmm. So that brings me to the reason I even have a blog. As an full time artist the mantra I have heard from art coaches for the past few years is “You have to post a blog.” In the far reaches of my mind I think that my target audience doesn’t read blogs. I paint regional landscapes and sell most of my work to clients in their 50’s and 60’s with discretionary income that affords them to collect art and hang my paintings on the walls in their homes. I love connecting with my collectors and I hope that they would continue their interest in my work by stopping by and seeing what I have to say about what’s currently on and off the easel. In some other cranny of my brain I think that artists are the ones who read other artist’s blogs. Of course that’s not a bad thing, at all! In fact I would hope that fellow artists would be intrigued with my art and my process and that my posts share my trials, messes, and success.

I would hope that you who visit my blog are interested in the world around you. That you enjoy my interpretation of the everyday world and what inspires me to paint. Living in Northern California, most of my work is of regional landscapes. Those places that I frequent, places my husband fly fishes, wineries in the area and the hills that I live in and the nearby towns and parks. 

So I need your help. If you are reading this please comment on why your’re reading my blog. A boomer, an art collector, an artist or a …? Or how you got here in the first place.

Painting is a Journey

April 21, 2009

Starting a new painting is always a journey. Just as in a real life adventure, there is the planning, the organizing, the apprehension, the excitement and then the contentment that comes when I am home again with fond memories and new stories to tell.

The planning of a new work is as exciting as the anticipation that comes with a real life getaway. Like looking through the glorious travel brochures heaped upon me by my travel agent, I look through my sketchbook, and photo references for something that speaks to me at the moment, a place I want to explore for any number of reasons. I don’t need to wait for my ship to dock and me to board, I can go explore around the hills and the neighborhood to see what catches my attention. I’m off!

The Angst of Creativity

April 14, 2009

If you want to share in the crazy dynamics of being a creative spirit this is worth viewing:

Collage Project

April 10, 2009

collage1After days of staining and dying papers. I have finally put something together.

Today’s Painting

April 2, 2009

rain_tomorrow1Today I am working on developing demo paintings to use in an upcoming pastel landscape class. This class begins in May at the School of Light and Color and  will explore painting various elements of the ‘scape such as skies, clouds, trees, still water and streams, waterfalls etc.