Friday, August 31, 2007

Aachen Study - Athena and Artist Statements

There isn't really a whole lot more progress on this compared to my last entry. There are a lot of meticulous punching in darks and bringing up lights left to go on this. My attention span has been short this week. Rather than push this too hard and have to repaint later, I have been painting until I start to lose my attention to details and calling it a day. I am almost embarrassed to show that it is only Athena that has had any real attention at all. The good news is that I am pretty pleased with what progress I have made.

I found an article on how to write an artist statement. I have been plugging away at some of the steps to see what I can come up with. An artist statement is one of those things I tend to avoid. I have had to trick myself into jotting down ideas. So if I were to make an artist statement, it might go something like this:

I am a practical romantic, if such a creature exists. I am as in love with the process of being an artist as I am the end result. In fast paced world of reality TV and information overload, it is both relaxing and necessary for me to slow down and take the time to cherish a few moments in every day. My work is a love affair with time and patience.

I have to credit my love for costume and clothing for my introduction to art. When I used to try to make my own designs, I would sketch out ideas. They were horrible drawings and I began to try to improve them. Pretty soon, I was doing more drawing than sewing. Today, my art is a vehicle to a creative world of its own.

I study masters of the past to gain understanding of form, color and composition. I use their examples to expand my visual vocabulary. Through this study, I hope to bring craftsmanship and imagination together to create an image that will engage the viewer on many levels.

It sounds a little "fu-fu"* to me, but its a start. That is what you get when you take an Indiana woman out of the cornfield. Right now, this Indiana woman needs to get back into the studio.

*Anna's dictionary:
Fu fu - More fancy in nature than what is necessary.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Aachen Study - The Canvas is Covered

The basic block in is done. I hit the studio this morning before the heat set in since I don't have air conditioning out there to work in. I am by no means done with the grisaille, but I do have my basic values blocked in and paint on the entire canvas.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Aachen Study - Canvas Started

Just a quick progress shot of the start of my grisaille. I didn't think of showing how I have set up my palette, but its basically 7 values using Titanium White and Ivory Black. I had my pencil study handy when I mixed up the values. Everything is really blocky right now and I have not really done a lot of blending. After I am happy with the basic value chunks, I will go in and get more detailed. I learned with my last one that trying to get detailed before I got basic values blocked in ended with a lot of do over time. This gives me a chance to stand back and compare things before I refine.

At first, the back looked too dark. As you can see on the unpainted Juno, compared to the stark white canvas, it is a huge contrast. As I fill in some of the related values, it is starting to take more of the graphite values. This is proof of the theory that all values are relational. Even though the back looks quite black at the moment, I assure you this is not nearly as dark as it is straight out of the tube.

I hated to stop at this point, but Alexis came home and we are going to haul her stuff to her new apartment this afternoon. She starts classes on Wednesday at Herron School of Art. I may be just a tiny bit jealous, but I am too proud of her and too happy to have her closer to home to notice.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Dwarves and Womanhood

Female Dwarf Barbarian
Rough Sketch
Graphite on paper

I used to play role playing games years ago. In the fantasy genre, you can find thousands of female Elves to one female Dwarf image. While it isn't particularly fair, I understand some reasons that may be a contributing factor. Female Dwarves are famous for having facial hair and more masculine features than their Elven peers. Dwarves in general are short and stocky. Their skulls are shorter and wider. It is very difficult to keep all that is written about them true, while making sure they are female in appearance.

This is just an exploration of what my mind says a female Dwarf might look like. I think of them as short stocky Amazon women, or maybe along the lines of those tough pioneer women. Very proud, very tough, yet very much female in the way they think. In my opinion she is just not thick enough. Of course, most of the reference I had was skinny women. Compared to them, she is a brute. This is a good start, I suppose.

This is an interesting contrast from the Aachen study. Those women are very round. So what makes a woman feminine? Is it just her brow/eye area? Is it her cheeks? Her lips? Can you broaden a chin and add whiskers to a face and still recognize it as a woman? These are all great things to think about and explore while I work on this painting.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Skill vs Creativity - What now?

I have had quite a bit of "car" time this week. I don't know about anyone else, but put me in a car, or a shower and my brain wanders. For the last couple of days, the main subject has been my skill vs creativity in my work.

I tend to be a "Jack of all Trades, Master of None". A fine example is that I currently have two bridesmaids dresses worth of sewing materials sitting on my table for a wedding. In another life, this was my creative outlet. I can sew to a pretty decent level. I am no professional designer. I would classify myself in more of an upper hobby level seamstress. I can alter patterns and even make some of the very basic patterns from scratch. I can do a drapery method of designing to a small extent. I quit sewing for a variety of reasons. None of them seems incredibly relevant other than I just lost my sewing "mojo". Every once in a while I will pick up some fabric and my scissors and test to see if I have lost all of my skill. I am confident that I can sew these dresses because they are not heavy on customization. As long as I can remember how to follow the directions, all should go well. Quite honestly, the reason I volunteered to give my time to the girls was to save money. I have lost most of my "creative" in the "creative outlet" that sewing used to be. Could I get it back if I tried? The answer to that question changes with the time of day and mood I am in.

My "Mojo" consisted of clients, usually my kids and family, that wanted something special to wear and my need to provide that something with an "over the top" personal touch. When my oldest daughter entered first grade, everything she wore, minus jeans and undergarments, was hand made. Every concert and holiday was an excuse to make something new and exciting. As those requests died down, my drive to keep going died with it.

Interestingly enough, this 15 year old hobby is what initiated my interest in art. As I dove into sewing, I became more and more interested in historical costuming. Just like art, I preferred doing the hand stitched, time consuming details. Some things never change. I discovered a need to get a basic idea down on paper as I thought of design changes. This got me sketching, which lead to drawing, which lead to more and more art until I got to where I am today.

I am taking a good look at the evolution of my creative nature so that I can try to get a glimpse of where I am going. What motivates me? What discourages me? Even though I don't think I am on the brink of burnout, what burns me out completely? (I do know that without a creative outlet I drive myself and my family crazy. ) Am I simply one of those people that needs to change things every few years and start a new cycle? Will the two eventually come together? (this has been a question brewing in the back of my brain since I started perusing art skills seriously) Is the need to make something with my hands honestly considered creativity? Am I truly creative? Or am I one of those people who always have to be learning something?

At the moment, I only have questions and no solid answers. I am content with the idea of figuring this out as I go. Though I am not a fan of ultimate destiny theories, I am a believer that every experience has a purpose.

Of course, I could always conclude that I have had way too much time in a car this week.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Aachen Study Complete

This phase of the study is done. This is pretty close to what my grisaille should look like. I always love pulling the tape off the sides of these when it is done. It feels so fresh and clean and new. I like the look of graphite for the same reason I like pointillism. At a distance it appears to be solid tone and when you get close, you see all the lines and hatch marks. I don't blend these for that reason.

I probably didn't have to do this quite as finished as I did. If I am going to make up an excuse, I will say it is for my "portfolio" to show my abilities in Graphite. The truth is, I wondered after all this painting if I still had a light enough touch to do a graphite piece. I am a little out of practice, but I am pretty happy with this one.

As I finished this up, I have been questioning myself how I can best use what I am learning on this study for an original piece of my own. The first thing that comes to my mind is that my daughter Tori has this pale porcelain skin that would really benefit from being rendered like this. You can really see the blue undertones in her skin. At the same time, she has the most beautiful red lips and red hair. While I am not sure what the theme of the painting will be, I am pretty sure who I would choose as my first choice for a model.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Aachen Study - Juno Started

I have Juno started. It is hard to see, but I have mapped out most of those little places where that transparent fabric coming off her hair is going to pick up the light. I love all the folds in the fabric. The more it comes together, the richer this is becoming. My love for fabric is another driving force in my choice of subjects. In this case, that transparent fabric behind Juno is just fascinating to me.

In my quest to find my niche artistically, I would have to say that long processes are my favorites. I enjoy layers of graphite, millions of dots, or layers of paint. In a nutshell, I like anything that builds slowly off a base. While I give a gratuitous moan about how long this takes, my insides are just cheering because I really enjoy how adding a layer changes things and makes things more defined. It just makes me want to do another layer. There is a point, of course, where this paper will not accept any more graphite. When I start painting, I will have to fight that urge to add "one more little thing" to it.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Aachen Study - Venus nearly done

I have Venus pretty much placed. Now it is time to nit-pick and darken areas. That is a matter of layers and layers. To really complete them, I will probably do a "glaze" of pencil over the whole drawing and then pick out the highlights with my kneaded eraser. Something is wrong with Venus's eyes. I am going to have to take my drawing out to my mirror and have a look.

The trickiest part of this fabric I am working on currently is that there are wisps of white to indicate translucent fabric. It is just catching light in places. The way I am going to have to paint it is to give it a basic value and then scumble white into it. The way I am working this is to do the basic value and picking the lighter spots out with my eraser.

I should be able to start working on Juno today. She is going to be fairly easy until it comes to her hair. There are lots of little shapes in there that are going to be fun to map out and shade in.