Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sketches and a Wish List

Another rough sketch. I don't know what I am looking for, but this is closer. I haven't figured out what is missing. I do like the shoes under the chair. I still don't have my paint back. I am running out of papers and supplies to really work with. Having a daughter who is an art major has its pro's and con's. Perhaps when she comes ready with her own supplies, it might be more fun. I will have to wait it out and see.

Just for the fun of it, I made a wish list on Dick Blick. I could never order all that stuff, but it is nice to think that its on request. It is like window shopping without your shoes off.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

My Creative Process and Giant thumbnails

This is a possible candidate for a painting I am going to call "Down to Earth. This is a 9x12 rough sketch. I know you are supposed to do small little drawings to work out problems, but for some reason, I need to work bigger on my roughs for this. If my work ethic follows my creative ambition, there will be a series of these paintings.

Let me start at the beginning..

I was driving home from the grocery store and I heard this song.

"Calling All Angels"

I need a sign to let me know you're here
All of these lines are being crossed over the atmosphere
I need to know that things are gonna look up
'Cause I feel us drowning in a sea spilled from a cup

When there is no place safe and no safe place to put my head
When you feel the world shake from the words that are said

And I'm calling all angels
I'm calling all you angels

I won't give up if you don't give up [Repeat x4]

I need a sign to let me know you're here
'Cause my TV set just keeps it all from being clear
I want a reason for the way things have to be
I need a hand to help build up some kind of hope inside of me


When children have to play inside so they don't disappear
While private eyes solve marriage lies cause we don't talk for years
And football teams are kissing Queens
and losing sight of having dreams
In a world that what we want is only what we want until it's ours

[Chorus x2]

Calling all you angels [Repeat till fade]

This song reminded me how much I really dislike Reality TV. The news is depressing. We are in a war that is very hard to understand. Everyone seems to be a politician and they are all campaigning months earlier than they ever used to. If it weren't for History Channel, Discovery Channel and HGTV, I would get rid of our satellite.

As I drove between cornfields, I passed our neighbors gathered around a cornfield they were harvesting. I waved as I drove by and thought to myself "This is exactly the kind of angel this song is about." These were the same neighbors that use their tractors to plow our road so that everyone can get to town in the winter. They take care of us so well, the road department rarely comes out here. They are not celebrities, but they certainly deserve to be celebrated. If they were graded on a percentage of time and income, I would venture to guess they give a lot more than some of the most popular people we see on television. There are a lot more angels out there than we often give thought to. We just don't always notice the wings.

With this idea in mind, I have come up with an idea for a series. I haven't decided the size of the series or the distinct details of each one. The theme of the series will be every day people of average capacity can be angels. The titles are going to be words often used to describe someone. This particular one is going to be "Down to Earth" and contain objects you see the farmers and field workers carrying around with them. I want them to be objects that appear to have been just been taken off, or ready to put on. Granted, my neighbors do not find it practical to wear their wings during harvest time, but I have leaned them against the chair to show they do have them.

This particular painting is going to set the boundaries for the rest of the series. I am going to use this to determine the size and mood for the rest. I want the angel wings to blend in and be almost unnoticed, but not quite. Ideas for others are streaming in my mind before I even get this composition done. My end goal is to get some paintings together with things that your average anyone could say "Hey.. thats me!" While this one is my vision of a farmer, it might be that great outdoor lover that always helps people, to someone else. When I told my husband my idea, he instantly thought of 40 Hour Week by Alabama. This is probably not the most unique idea, but one worthy of being repeated.

I am into the experimental phase of my creative process. I get an idea and the overload sets in. I am jotting notes in my journal of objects and people and situations that might fit into this theme for all the paintings. I have learned to just let the ideas fly and filter them later. I am experimenting with lighting and layout. More importantly, since this is a pretty large set up, I am trying to make sure my set up isn't going to be in a location that is going to be disrupted easily. This could easily turn into months and months of work. Since it is still life, I have the advantage of working indoors for the winter. It is probably the best timing I have ever had with a project.

I was getting kind of worried that all this master copy and using photographs had turned my creativity to mush. I think perhaps I just needed to step out and allow life to work its magic accidentally.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Derwent Watercolor Pencils & Deep thoughts

Something that is Architectural

This is for Scavenger Hunt #56. I had to go to my father in laws house to show it to potential renters. Lucky for me, I took my sketchbook because the second appointment was a no show. The house is out in the country and sits on a lot surrounded by a small forest style barrier. It has a very serene "all alone in nature" feel in the back yard. There is a small creek that runs behind it with that bubbling brook sound. If you are going to be stuck waiting for an hour somewhere, this is a very nice place to be stuck in. I didn't sketch the entire time I was there. This is the only one. I spent a lot of time just breathing in the quiet.

I have had these watercolor pencils for approximately 4 or 5 years now. This is the first time I have used them. Isn't that horrible? I think it is because I could not imagine what I should do with them after I got them. If I remember right, I got them on a special deal where you buy something and you get these for $5 or something like that. After seeing all the wonderful color sketches in the Artwork from Life forum on Wetcanvas, I dug through all my "retired" art supplies box to find something colorful to sketch with. I honestly forgot that I had these.

This is a bad example of what can be done with these. I was out there with no water and no brush. I really need to play with them a bit more. They are a bit strange to get used to, but I think I could really like them. Because they can be sharpened to a point, you can get some nice crisp edges with these. One of my "issues" with watercolor is that it gets away from me on edges. They layer very well. I was having fun just mixing colors by layering.

When I first started to sketch this shed, I was going to avoid an angle with the tree. I am horrible at trees. I was thinking about something Jo said on her blog about the structure of trees. I decided I was going to stop avoiding this and get over this weakness. This is not a great tree, but thinking of the leaves in masses and looking at the structure of the tree to define the shapes helped a lot. It is the best tree I have ever sketched.

Art, like anything else in life is more about determination, than anything. I compare it to a lot of other life skills I have gained by practice to stay motivated.

I was not very good at changing diapers when I had Alexis, my oldest. By the time I got to Tristin, child 6, I could change a diaper with one hand and hold another child in my lap.. and read to them.

When I first got out on my own, I got paid once a month. By the end of two weeks, I was down to my last $5 like clockwork. I hated money. Eventually, I decided that money is one of those things you either control or get controlled by. There isn't much room for a middle ground. I am no financial wizard, but our family doesn't go hungry on one income.

There are few more examples, but I won't bore you with them. The point I am trying to make is that once I turned a weakness into a strength in any aspect of my life, I built a foundation for a way of thinking that changes the way I approach challenges. It seems almost ridiculous to correlate sketching trees with life skills, but it isn't the tree that is important, or even the art. It is that ongoing determination to refuse to accept a weakness as permanent. Jessica Torrant did an excellent job of discussing this idea of turning weaknesses into strengths on her blog.

This could turn into one of those deep "art imitates life" and "life imitates art" themes, but I would rather think of it as "You are who you choose to be". Art is just one way to practice being you.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Composition - Thinking beyond mechanics

I am building on an idea for a series of still life paintings. I am pretty excited about this project because it is going to push me to go beyond the mechanics of recreating what I see. There are about 1,050,000 results when you do a search on Google for Apple Painting. It is amazing how many ways an apple can be painted. What makes you click one and not the other? It usually has a lot to do with composition.

There are lots of resources on the web for composition.

Wetcanvas has tons of information in their Composition and Design Forum:

There are some very good articles on composition as well.

Some other resources for composition that I found useful are:

Composition is a huge subject. It can be overwhelming. I don't think it is something that can be learned in a few easy steps. I think it is something that you have to jump in and try over and over again.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Done! Well.. No.. Okay.. Now its done!

Your Personality is Somewhat Rare (ENFP)

Your personality type is enthusiastic, giving, cautious, and loyal.

Only about 8% of all people have your personality, including 9% of all women and 6% of all men
You are Extroverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Perceiving.

I was checking out Art Blogs 4U and clicked on Searen Art and Design, which linked to Quotidian Curiosities which linked to Art by Diahn where I finally clicked on the link to Blogthings personality test.

It was there that I discovered:
Your Inner Muse is Thalia

You are most like this playful muse of comedy.
Life is all about laughter to you, and you're a natural comic.
You make people laugh until their sides split.
And you're always up for some play time!

On a more serious note, Serena Lewis has painted a beautiful eagle in acrylics. I don't think I am going to dive into animals quit like she has, but having just finished an eagle myself, I found her post very eye catching. I enjoyed that this particular post came after another post where she proclaimed "Okay it is finished, I think!"

I had to laugh because when I work on a piece and get towards the end I proclaim "Done" to myself and my family anywhere from 3 to 20 times. Only to say "oops.. I didn't see that.. " a little later and proceed to my next state of "Done". I drive my husband crazy. He is one of those very literal people. As a computer specialist, he has to be exact and fact based. Having an artistic wife, he has come to learn that there are degrees of "done". There is done, as in "I will pull this off the drawing board/easel". Then there is done as in "I am done claiming I am still working on this, but I will do a few drive-by fixes."

I am getting prepared for my next project. It is funny how creativity comes in spurts. I will spend weeks forcing myself to do something every day and then the next thing you know, I will be driving home from the grocery store (of all things) and come up with the next 3 or 4 projects. I thought that my muse probably resembled an elderly woman that took several minutes longer than the crossing light at a street corner. After taking the muse test, I have come to understand that my muse just has a rotten sense of humor that is probably much more funny to her than it is to me.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Look! An Aay-gull!

Copper on paper

The Eagle has landed!
The Eagle has taken flight, I repeat, the Eagle has taken flight!
Look! An Aay-gull! (say eagle with a bad British accent)

These are just a few of the random saying that we said throughout the time I was working on this. You had to see a commercial floating around the web to get the last one. We really had fun with eagle jokes on this one.

I tried to take a picture to show the reflective light that comes off this as you walk past it, but alas, the photo just doesn't capture the true look of this. In one sense, this almost looks embossed, or that somehow the copper had been a sticker glued onto the paper. Unlike graphite, where the shine is spotty and not so uniform, copper gives off a glowing shine that looks beautiful under the right lighting. I am a big fan of copper for drawing. It does not have a large range of values, but the look of the copper is absolutely stunning compared to graphite.

I have not determined the price, but this one is going up for sale in the fall show. I spent approximately 24 hours on this piece, give or take an hour. Its hard to keep track of 15 minutes here and 10 minutes there. Making prices is really difficult.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Supervised Progress on a Copperpoint Eagle

Copper on paper

Here is todays progress. I enjoy doing metalpoint drawings. This is my biggest one so far. I was a little intimidated to start this because of the size, but once I started working on it, I decided that for the most point, the details were minimum and I could easily get this done in a couple of days. If all goes well, I may put this in the show. I would like to have a few pieces to show and I hate to rob the houses of the people that I have given work to. This eagle looks pretty "American" and around here, that is a popular subject. I don't think anyone else works with metal materials, so this might be a fun piece to put in the show just for its unusual materials.

I have a spot in the right (his/her left) wing that isn't accepting anymore copper. I may have to sand that a little to give it some grab. I have three coats of gesso on this so it can take light sanding without much of a problem. I have figured out that having a small strip of sandpaper handy to scratch and sharpen the point is crucial. It also helps for sanding the surface. The shine of the copper on the very matte surface of the gesso is creating a very nice contrast in texture. I think I like how the shine is affected by the very bumpy surface of the watercolor paper. Finally, an experiment that is turning out to be a success.

I don't have any metalpoint supplies, really. There are lots of great tools out there to make this process easier. Quite honestly, I like using minimum supplies at times so I can just sit on the couch and still be a part of everything while I work. Today it was just a plain ol' piece of copper, a drawing board, a lap and a supervisor. As you can see, I had lots of help working on this today. My supervisor was one of those typical bosses that made me do all the work while she took a nap.

The kids seem to really like this one. I am not sure if it is the materials that makes it "so cool!" or if it is the subject. I like the way the wingspan fills up the space and leaves an interesting shape in negative space.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Clinton County Art League - Small Steps

I attended the monthly meeting at our local art league last night. For months I have missed these meetings for one reason or another. It seems my attendance last night was in the nick of time for the call to the Fall Show, September 26-October 28. It is a members only show with a 20% commission on sales. I guess this means I need to get some work matted and prepared for the show. Work is due on the 24th. The show will appear in the Anna and Harlan Hubbard Art Gallery

I think my husband is as excited about this as I am. He has been watching me produce work for years and grumbled as I handed it to anyone that took a fancy to it. He has a point, of course. Now I have a place to show my work and I have very little work to take to the show. I cannot send my Aachen Studies to the show because of the nudity. This is a family friendly show. Although I don't produce work that I am embarrassed to put in front of my own children, we live in a very conservative area. That leaves me with my pointillism cat, some of those small studies and some older work that I produced years ago that is still hanging around. If only I had not given away my
Artemisia Gentileschi study... My husband is eventually going to give me an "I told you so" on that one.

The good news is that there is another show in the spring that I can prepare for. Once I am officially a member, I become eligible for their summer show as well. There is a show in November by "Friends of the Frankfort Library" fund raiser. It is by invitation only. Although it is not a Clinton County Art League show, some of the artist from the league are invited to show their work in that as well.

Joining the art league is a small step on a realistic level, but it is a huge step for me, personally. If it weren't for Wetcanvas and Conceptart and various forums on the internet, I would be living in an artistic vacuum. I had lots of great excuses for not joining; the kids, the dogs, the house and the time. The truth is, I was terrified. I am very self conscious about being primarily self taught. I feel horribly guilty for not completing my training at the Lafayette Atelier. Quite honestly, I didn't feel confident that my work was up to par.
If I were one of my children, I would tell myself to do this and use this as a learning experience. The very worse that can happen is that nothing will happen. There is no loss. Isn't it funny how wise you can be when you are not discussing your own life?

I will leave you with a very good quote I used to have hanging on my wall:

"The follies which a man regrets most in his life, art those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity" - Helen Rowland

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Friday, September 07, 2007

Sketches and Jonathon Bowser

More sketches for the Scavenger Hunt and a sketch from one of my photos. I am already enjoying this sketching habit I am trying to develop. I like what it is doing to my sense of seeing. I push myself to do these really fast. Ok.. it may not be fast compared to other artists, but it's lightning fast compared to myself. I am one of those measure 4 times and then lay a line kind of artist. This scribble-scribble has always been an uncomfortable method to work with for me. Getting out of my comfort zone is doing wonders for my artistic self esteem. I am really not as bad at this as I thought I would be. When I thumb through the first sketchbook I ever used, I am miles from where I started. That's kind of inspiring. The idea that one day, I will pick up this little sketchbook and say the same thing in a few years is even better.

Jonathon Earl Bowser is a Canadian artist I have admired for years. I love the way he combines landscape and figures in an amazing harmony. I look at his site and think to myself "I want to do that". I don't necessarily want to copy his methods or subject matter. I want to find that harmony. This is why I study figures, landscapes, and still life in exclusively.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Faucet Sketch

My maiden name is Faucett. Just a silly little sketch I did to play with ideas for a metaphorical/allegorical piece. I don't know if I am going to do anything with this other than this.

I would like to do something that shows my sense of humor. My life philosophy is "Cry when you are full of joy and laugh the rest of the time". I am one of those people who's kids secretly hope mom cries. They won't admit it to me, but they always ask each other "Did mom cry?" every time they do a solo or graduate or anything wonderful.

.. and thats all the hints I am giving on the possible ways I have thought of to use this sketch.

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Sketches and Determination

Some very quick sketches for Scavenger Hunt #54. I am determined to do these in order for the challenge. I don't have anything to sketch in color with, so I have to at least attempt the other challenges.

Determination - has a variety of entries for Determination. Wikipedia is a lot more simple but it has lots of interesting links to related words. I like being determined. I like doing things that seem a little crazy or beyond expectations for a purpose that some do not entirely understand. Most artists I have come in contact with are determined people. Todays tiny little effort to be determined had me standing in the rain to sketch these in order. Mind you, I did not get drenched, nor did I catch pneumonia. It isn't really such a big deal, but it's that tiny little pinch of salt that makes a dish taste better in my endeavors to become a good artist.

I really miss my paints. Funny how you miss something more when it is gone. I am determined not to let this stop me from working. I have always known there are things I should be doing that I don't always do, like quick daily sketches, thumbnail sketches and ideas for future works. Today is Fight Procrastination Day! I suppose this is a good day to start.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Starving artists and sketches

Scavenger Hunt #54 Sketches 1-3

My silly daughter signed up for an oil painting class and has no paint. She has no brushes, no palette, no linseed oil, no containers, no rags, no mineral spirits and no money. She does have some masonite panels she picked up from Lowes and some gesso I gave her, along with my gesso brush.

It would appear that I am moving on to dry media for a while. I guess I can live without my paints for a couple of weeks. Who knows, this might be very good for me.

I have (finally) done some sketches for Scavenger Hunt #54 on Wetcanvas. I have a little 4x6 sketchbook that I hardly ever use that I am dedicating to these hunts. I spent very little time on these. It is nice to do something a little less serious for a change. In fact, while I was sketching, it occurred to me that it took so little time, it might be a good thing to put into my morning schedule. Coffee and a couple sketches.. yes.. that does sound nice.

I will call this my "Dry spell" just to amuse myself.

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Sunday, September 02, 2007

Aachen Study - Simmering Stews

It is time to let this simmer like stew. Not only do I need to let the paint dry, but I need to step back and allow my brain to stop repeating any mistakes I am making. This will give me time to clean up my studio and get some things done around the house and maybe even get some things started for my next painting. I have never tried to work on two paintings at a time. Since I have to let these paintings dry before I add layers, it might improve my productivity to give it a shot.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Aachen Study - Drapery

Quite a bit more done today. Most of the drapery near the bottom is done. I am down to fixing Juno and a few adjustments here and there on Venus (her eye is still wrong). Every time I get to the finished point on a grisaille, a part of me hates the idea of putting that first layer of color on it. The other part of me cannot wait to see how the color will add life to this painting.

I have probably put in about 18 hours into this painting so far. The hardest part should be done. Getting Juno together should go quickly. By the time I get her done, the left side should be dry enough to put another layer on. I am pretty happy with the way things are going so far.