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Thoughts and scribbles of a homeschooling mother, bookseller, and illustrator.
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I've found it very difficult to get to the creative work recently - it's always hard this time of year with the ending of the school year and trying to get things completed, the end of the Family CoOp and related celebrations, the end of spring soccer seasons and it's related celebrations...if I never have another pizza it will be too soon!!!
|"Spring" Signed, Limited Edition giclee print on paper|
of original pencil drawing, 9"x12" $50.00
Anyway, during this hiatus from actual art production, I did manage to FINALLY have some new prints made!
They are lovely quality giclee prints from the only place around here that seems to do them (and Les does a wonderful job) - Palette Arts
in Nipomo. They are available directly through me (if you want a signed limited edition, quality guaranteed) or through my site at Fine Art America
(which would not be signed and they print on demand on various sizes and surfaces, however I am unable to check the quality against the original - looks good on screen, though).
I'm sure long-time visitors will recognize the drawing above - the first to be released in a series of 4 seasonal drawings. Obviously, this one represents spring - my goal is to try and release a new one during each season until the series is complete.
|"Tweet" Signed, Limited Edition giclee print on paper|
of original gouache painting, 6"x 8" $40.00
|#2 in the series|
|#1 in the series|
You'll also recognize this little guy - part of a series of 3 kid-friendly, primary color images that were originally done in gouache.
|"Still" Signed, Limited Edition giclee print on paper|
of original acrylic painting, 9"x 12" $55.00 OR 16" x 20" $65.00
Of course, my favorite is the recent painting "Still."
Last but not least, I have some 9"x12" prints of the chef study that I used for the mural.
A while back I posted about doing a design for placemats for the Royal Family Kids fundraising dinner. That event was held last night and I was able to attend. It was a lot of fun - outstanding food (world famous Santa Maria BBQ), interesting people, an entertaining live auction, ending with a performance by cowboy singer/storyteller Dave Stamey. The well-established ranching community of the Santa Maria area was well represented and I guess attendance was double what it was the previous year. Best news of all, MANY abused kids will benefit through summer camps from the funds raised at this event.
I was delighted to see that my design was used for both the placemat and the program! Much to my surprise, an elderly couple at the next table asked me to sign their placemats - they were so cute.
Then, today, I found myself back at the easel. Something just wasn't sitting right about the face - the eye/eyebrow placement was just a bit off from the nose which was a bit off from the mouth and chin. I don't know if anyone else would have picked up on it, but it was sure bothering me. So, I was compelled to fix it - which led to feeling like I ruined it - and then realizing that I fixed the proportion and perspective - only to feel like I'd overworked it - followed by prayer - ending with more dabbling and, finally, contentment.
|Repainted...don't know if it's done...|
Now, when I go back and look at the previous picture I posted, her face looks so obviously goofy - glad I didn't leave it like it was (and I was tempted). I think it's OK, now. The problem I face now is that I've made an appointment to have the painting professionally scanned tomorrow. That means, unless I reschedule, I don't get that "live with it" time to catch any other issues I might regret. I'd like it to be done, but...
|...but, I think the face is much improved...still not sure, though...I think I'm going|
to fix something else...and I did - I'll post later...
It's the last day of Easter Vacation - now it's time for the final push to finish out the school year.
|The detail in the upper right - the woods behind - is a bit |
washed out in this picture, but it's loose blotches of green
and the "suggestion" of brown tree trunks.
I did a little painting today, just little adjustments here and there such as defining the hand and foot more. I had been reluctant about doing that at first as I had hoped this would be a looser painting than it is. But, the painting is what it is, and the the foot actually appeared unfinished in comparison to the detail of the face. I've learned not to get disappointed when the final result does not resemble the my initial imaginings because it never does. Every brush stroke and every color choice is a response to the ones that came before until the painting becomes whatever it's going to become. I've learned to look upon it as sort of a game - let's see what happens when... When I run out of things that bug me, then I'm "done."
Of course, I'm not truly done until after I've had the chance to stare endlessly at the painting. "Living with it" usually ends in either some problem coming to the surface or my reaching a level of contentment. Earlier in the process, I spent a great deal of time on the head and it's complicated angle. Something was really bothering me for a while and I couldn't figure out what it was. After one of those periods of staring - going back and forth between the canvas, the studies, and the photo, it struck me - her face had slipped. The original drawing had been correct, but in the process of painting and repainting and repainting, the edges can be pushed beyond where they started.
Anyway, I don't think much more will happen on the painting and, like I said, I'm OK with it not being as painterly as I'd hoped. But, then I remembered an artist that I like named John Singer Sargent. I used to visit the LA County Museum of Art and I remembered why I love his style. From a distance, it's very detailed and representational. But, up close, you can see all of the brush strokes and dabs of paint. I'm no John Singer Sargent, but I suppose I can be happy to work in that way.
|Note "loose" detail - brush marks on ear, hair, hat, etc.|
|John Singer Sargent @ LACMA|
Another lovely day - great for painting...and smoothies! I love living in strawberry country!
|"Look Mom! I've only been working 1 minute and I've already got paint on me!"|
It was nice to have company in the studio today!
After a morning trip to the grocery store, various around-the-house "to do" stuff, I was beginning to think that I wouldn't get much painting done. By the time I got out there it was after lunch! When I finally did get out there, I was quickly joined by two other family artists.
|A good start - more to do...|
It's alreay Thursday! What made me think I might actually get 2 paintings done this week? At least this one did flow once I got started - I was able to get paint on the entire canvas fairly quickly. What you see above seems pretty far along, but there are still layers to be added, details to be refined, problems to fix...I always notice more problems once I photograph a project. I'm cringing as I type. If only I had all of tomorrow to paint. But, we're off to see a matinee of Robin Hood at Cal Poly's Performing Arts Center
. That will be fun, too. Hopefully, I will be able to finish it before we start back to school on Monday, though.
|Believe it or not, these are flesh tones|
(base, warm & cool shadows, and highlight)
I can't believe it's already Wednesday and I haven't started officially painting yet - Easter Vacation is just flying by! But, yesterday, I updated my playlists with some new songs and headed out to the garage for some of the prep-work. I always like to start a larger-size project with as many premixed colors as possible so I don't end up running out of something in the middle of painting. It was my "mad scientist" day - I felt like I should be wearing a lab coat and laughing maniacally when I achieved the right shade. I will still have a palette for additional mixing and fine tuning of colors, but I should be able to do a lot with these.
|Mixed, labeled, and ready to go...|
One of the nice things about working in the garage on a sunny spring day is that my littlest gets to play in the front yard (which she doesn't normally get to do). Although her big sisters are usually with her, there's a nice big window so I can keep an eye on her and she has her boundaries so that she's stays within that window of sight - of course, that's also the window where crane flies go to die this time of year. They were all over, stuck between the glass and the screen or in webs in the corners. So, I had to clean up that disgusting mess, too - YUCK! But, it's fun to see my bouncing beauty enjoying the sunshine.
Now, I can't wait to actually start painting - maybe I'll get to do that tomorrow. Hopefully, I'll get at least one painting done this week and still have some family time. In the meantime, my painting looks a little freaky with all of the test spots created as searched for the right base colors, highlights and shadows.
|Color test spots making the subject look a bit strange|
Easter Vacation is officially here! The girls finished up their classwork today and we all have a break for the next week (from school, anyway).
The new painting is underway and surprisingly farther along than I thought! Earlier this week, I started with a pencil drawing which I painted over and refined with burnt umber - I wanted to take the time to get the proportions right.
|Happy to have a use for leftover mural mixtures!|
I realized that I had several color mixes leftover from the mural - some that I had mixed in quantity and kept in airtight containers - that would actually work with this painting. Some will need to be adjusted slightly, but they were well suited for the underpainting portion of the project. Sooooo, I was able to get started.
BUT, I hesitate to say that this painting will go quickly, even with all of my studies and pre-mixed colors. I've done that before and there's always something that I get hung-up on that extends the project for a while. I can still hope, though, and I do know that the time I took with the studies has helped me a lot. After all, it's a complicated pose, especially when it comes to the tilt and angle of the head - I fought with that one a while. But, I was much more comfortable with it when drawing it out on the canvas (all freehand - no projector for this).
Meanwhile, while mom's busy painting in the garage, my youngest 2 have found a way to entertain themselves before the weather turns. I'm not sure if this is a rain dance, but...
Well, an unexpected day off takes me one step closer to the painting projects that I've been really excited to begin. We will taking next week off of school for Easter Vacation and I'd planned to take this Friday off as well. However, the girls insisted that they would rather take today (Monday) off instead of Friday. Who am I to argue? But, I think they'll regret it come Friday.
|The garage door is a perfect spot to hold the studies - canvas is ready for paint...|
So, I gathered all of my drawings and studies for the "Listening" painting and started sketching it on the 30" x 40" canvas. I can't wait to get going on it - I LOVE the colors, the subject, the pose, and the many studies I did will hopefully result in smooth-sailing when it comes to painting the final. Since I cleared out the last of the dried-out color remnants from the mural, the next step will be to start mixing some color combinations for the new project - that's what I'll try to work on between now and vacation.
|Mural mixes in the trash...time for something new|
Another thing that I've been working on is a re-do of my hiking bear. The paintings that I've been working on are much different than the illustrations that I've been playing with for the past several years. So, this is a nice little change of focus. It's still in progress, but not far from done.
|Redo in progress...|
|Hiking Bear original...|
Easter vacation is coming and I'm hoping to work on some full-scale paintings. In the meantime, I've been working on another study. I've had a sketch in the sketchbook for a while - one of many familiar nursery rhymes that are always rolling around in my mind (my illustration side asserting itself). In this case, those 3 men in a tub have wanted to be in a painting for a while. HOWEVER, I've been wanting to merge the fine art and the illustration a bit more - although it might be a case of me finally accepting the fact that I can't separate the two.
|New study in progress|
Anyway, long story short, I was wondering how I could take this simple rhyme that kept calling for my attention and use it to glorify God. The answer came in thoughts of Renaissance art history classes I had in college - paintings that were packed full of symbolic images that had religious, mythological, or historical meanings. I always loved studying those art pieces as there were hidden stories within the compositions. This project just seemed to fall right into that and, to tell the truth, I think it is road that I'm interested in traveling through more projects.
One of the books that I kept from those days was a Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art
which explains multiple meanings behind different objects and scenarios. The more I thought about it, a more complete tale began to emerge. I'll elaborate more when the final product is underway. See what you can determine from the study...Rub-a-dub-dub
Three men in a tub
And who do you think they be?
The butcher, the baker,
The candlestick maker,
Turn them out, knaves all three
So, where've I been? Well, busy as usual - getting one child ready for high school graduation and another enrolling in high school, proofreading the annual research papers for my 5th and 8th grader, running my mother-in-law to and fro on errands...the usual. Not to mention daylight savings - can't get used to that one! I've actually been productive on some art projects with some newfound springtime motivation - I just haven't been able to get the laptop away from my teenage daughter lately to download my pictures.
|Kids presenting research paper summaries to the Writing CoOp|
The weather is getting to where I can work in the garage again, so I spent all day yesterday clearing out the piles that have built up and reorganizing the workspace (post-mural). I picked-up a 30"x40" canvas for the study I recently did (shared in the previous post
). I wouldn't be able to work that large in the corner of my small bedroom.
|Garage work space ready for new projects...|
I actually did have a request for some artwork for a friend and the charity organization that she's involved with. There is an upcoming fundraiser for Royal Family Kids
and she asked me to do a design based on their Old West theme to be printed on placemats along with their logo. Maybe a little something for the portfolio...
Worked on a study - a close up of the face in order to troubleshoot some issues. The bad news is that I had a hard time achieving the "looser" painting style of the original. I blame my little palette - in respect to the size of the study - since I would quickly run out of my color mixture. I was unable to load up the brush and lay in a layer of color. Instead, I was trying to make the color stretch and that resulted in thin, smooth and blended colors and it was frustrating to have to keeping stopping to mix colors. So, note to self, when I go to work on the larger canvas, I'll have to make sure I have small containers of colors mixed (just like I did with the mural).
The good news is that with all of this painting and repainting, mixing and remixing, I figured out a skin tone mixture that I like a lot. I had always used a lot of ultramarine blue in the shadows, but for this I went heavier with more burnt umber (inspired by a documentary about Manet that I watched recently - don't know if that's what he used, but I noticed his warmer, neutral shadows).
The last thing I have to say has to do with studies and redoing a drawing or painting. I always tell my art students not to immediately write off a redo as bad or worse than the first. It will always look "different" in some way, and beginning artists often get frustrated because it does look different. Usually, when I walk away from it for a while, I come back to find that it's not as bad as I thought, and there are some things that I might like better after all. Or, I can learn something from the redo - as I did here.
I've worked on the study over this extended weekend, and it's been a bit of a challenge. Painting the figure has always been a challenge for me simply because I haven't done a lot of it. What I have done has been more along the lines of illustration and hard-edge drawing. But, I did manage to make progress and actually get some results that kind of work.
|I painted out the face MANY times before I finally achieved the|
"soft" look that I was going for - less is more...
This is just a study, and I may do another one just of the face to get a better grasp of it. In the end, it will be a larger painting (as I think I mentioned before).
By: DIANE SMITH
Blog: DIANE SMITH: Illo Talk
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I've tucked away the porcelain creamer, little orange flowers and cascading drapery, replacing the objects with photo references for a project I'm really excited about doing. The inspiration was a photograph of my oldest daughter taken about a year ago at El Capitan State Beach. However, I'm changing the location from a rocky beach to a rocky riverbed with some trees in the background.
I'm looking forward to playing with some colors that have not been on the palette for other projects - mainly Phthalo blue and green. I'm also excited about exploring colors and patterns of stones in water - I've always been drawn to that in nature. But, most of all, I'm delighted to be working with a specific concept - trying to capture the moment of quiet contemplation or listening in prayer.
I have flashes of what I think the end product might look like, but I've learned not to get hung up in those fleeting visions. They give me a direction, but the journey will likely take me down any number of possible paths. But, this is merely a study for the sake of exploration. Ultimately, I see this as a fairly large painting - large for my space, anyway, requiring more than a little tabletop. By the time I'm ready to move on to canvas, the weather should be comfortable enough to work in the garage again.
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A rare day-off for Lincoln's Birthday, the big kids all gone to friends' houses, and a little sunshine on the front patio means that my littlest can have fun playing out front while mom updates things on the laptop.
|Spring flowers have already arrived.|
Anyway, didn't I say I might just tweak the painting a little? Well, that wasn't exactly true. When it came down to it, I think I tweaked it a lot. Of course, it may not look different but, with a little close observation, one might notice differences. Frankly, I became frustrated with the 2 flowers on the right - they became rather muddled by overworking with to many colors - I even completely painted out the bottom one and started over.
|I think it's done - but I'm still not happy with the leaf - I'll just tweak it a little...|
Light was an interesting challenge as I had a changing light source (a south-facing window) to my left which caused moving shadows and a secondary interior light overhead/right which created shadows of its own. I realized that I was giving conflicting information with cast shadows of the flower petals on both sides of the vase/creamer, but I liked the shapes and decided to keep them. And that's what was truly liberating about this project compared with the first one which was much more dependent on observation. For this one, I gave myself permission to use more artistic license and mostly responded to what was happening on the paper. Besides liking the shapes of some of the shadows, I also liked the orange from the flowers reflected on the porcelain surface - it wasn't nearly as pronounced in real life, but I liked it in the painting.
I still have dreams of one do doing a "quick" little still life that captures its essence with a minimum of strokes... (sigh)
On this lovely afternoon, I was able to spend time painting. I realized that the little still life I just painted was OK, but...something about it isn't sitting well with me. I'm happy to be more comfortable working with acrylic paint, but it's still falling flat. That contrast that I like to emphasize just wasn't there once the colors dried. Also, I wanted to try something a little looser now that I'd solved the question of colors and mixing. So, I decided to try it again from a slightly different angle.
|First paint (left) and today's painting (right)|
I definitely like the 2nd one better - it has a greater level of contrast and it is slightly looser (although I think total reckless abandon just isn't how I was created to paint). There's still a little tweaking that I'll do, but it shouldn't change too drastically from this. One thing that I thought about while painting was how much easier color mixing has become. In the early days of painting, color mixing was a little confusing - sort of hit or miss. But now, I have a better sense of whether I should add a blue, a brown, or a black for a shadow; whether I should add a white, a yellow, an ochre, or some other color for a highlight. I'm actually quite happy with my painting now - I want to have one foot in the natural world and one foot in the expressive without swinging too far one way or another...at least for now.
|This doesn't exactly accurately represent the saturation of some of the colors, but it's close...|
I've been watching some art programs on the Ovation channel lately and I had to pause one episode of Art in Progress to write down a quote. The show focused on the artist Donald Sultan
- I was not particularly familiar with his work and I liked it to some degree, although it was a bit to conceptual for my tastes (a topic for another time). But, he said something that really struck a chord in me as I so often "overthink" things."One of the mainstays of making art is that you don't think of new ideas - you discover them. So, that's why you have to work all the time. If you go out and just lie around and start thinking and waiting, you know nothing is ever gonna happen. And, the longer you wait, the more you realize that when you come back to it, you're right back where you were. You're not any further along even though you thought and thought and thought - you didn't really go anywhere." Donald Sultan
I appreciated this thought since I often like to spend time - too much time - thinking about what I want to do. And, sometimes it's paralyzing.
I'm sure I mentioned somewhere something about doing quick and loose little paintings to play around with the medium and have a little fun. I have a small space in the corner of my room which has been great for drawing, but lacks the space and storage for painting projects. Normally, it wouldn't take to much time to set up a quick little still life, scoop some paint onto my Sta-Wet palette, and get down to business. But, throw in household duties, homeschooling duties, helping Grandma run some errands, dentist appointments, soccer games...well, a 1-day activity turned into several days.
Day 1 - I managed to put together the still life before I had to run off somewhere. And, a day or so later, I quickly sketched the shapes onto my pre-primed paper (I had primed several pieces of paper weeks ago, so at least I didn't have to do that).
A couple days later, I had to come up with a solution to paint storage - I have no place in my room for the pint and quart size Nova Color containers. So, I grabbed some small Gladware (or whatever brand) containers and transferred the colors I'd be working with. I have a plant stand to set the palette on next to the table. I was able to soak the palette paper and get it set up before having to call it quits.
Finally, yesterday afternoon, I actually got to paint. I had envisioned a quick painting that would have beautiful color and contrast in relatively few strokes - HA! My reality is that I layer and layer, push and pull, building values...maybe now that I've practiced the shapes and colors, I could put something together that's looser without losing the color and contrast that I like. Perhaps I'll do that next.
Anyway, I think this is my first non-illustration project since I don't know when. I'm excited about more exploration - I just hope it doesn't take so many days to do one little painting...but, it probably will!
A busy Saturday taking a group of seven giggling, sugar infused 10 year olds to the bowling alley for a belated birthday celebration (September is bad time for birthdays in our family - soccer season followed by the holidays...next thing you know, you're having a birthday party in January).
So, I didn't think I'd be getting much in the way of art done this weekend. Certainly, no painting endeavors. But, as it turned out, it was my turn to be in the nursery at church. We have one baby there, and he was kind enough to let me sketch him.
|Top: The "I'm growing weary of these toys" look|
He was actually a good model as far as babies go - he was fascinated by the scratching of my quickly moving pencil so he would hold his position for a decent amount of time. But, it's always challenging to draw a moving subject. However, sleepy time came quickly and then drawing is a whole lot easier. You have to grab drawing opportunities wherever you can find them sometimes.
Now, I'm off to read some chapters for a literature study I'm leading with my homeschool group.
I did manage to carve out some time yesterday to work on the Summer drawing. I guess I was expecting to struggle and for it to take a lot longer. But then, suddenly I realized that I was done - or at least done-ish. I always have a period of staring and minor tweaking after I "think" I finish something. Still, as a whole, it's done.
|Maybe not the greatest picture, but you get the idea|
I plan to switch it up and hold off on the next two drawings in this series - part of the reason is that I'm not really sure how I want to approach fall. It would be much easier if these were color, since that's an easy way to portray the season. But, I'll have to research some trees and see what sort of personality comes through. Summer was easy - right away, I envisioned the swimmer and the palm. I have some ideas for winter as well, but overall, both seasons will take a bit more consideration.
Instead, I think from here I'll be moving into a study painting of the sketch of my daughter on the rocks
- one that portrays internal reflection and reminds of the stillness and quiet of prayer. I ultimately see that as a fairly large painting (not museum large, but large for my space). So, I'll probably do some little still life paintings as well.
By: DIANE SMITH
Blog: DIANE SMITH: Illo Talk
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...Three times a lady...
If you recall, I'd completed and study for my summer tree/woman and was well on my way into a "final" version. I thought it would go quickly - and the initial drawing did - but, I really got stuck on some things.
First of all, I did the study on a different paper than the one I'm using for this series. It was a very smooth texture while the final has a bit more tooth. It's always a bit of an adjustment, getting used to the different result. But, the hardest part was that it was more difficult to get extreme darks that came so easily in the study because of the texture - the white of the paper shows through, lightening whatever value I put down.
I also struggled with the palm fronds, for some reason. They came together so easily in the study - not so for the drawing that followed. And then, I realized that I had really confined myself to almost only B-range pencils. I really didn't use the the lighter values that I like to use in my drawings. I flashed back to a college drawing class - I'd spent weeks on a poster-sized detailed still life and the professor commented that it appeared to consist mostly one value. When I realized that, I started erasing to see if I could fix it, and this resulted in dirty, smudgy-looking work (not consistant with the other drawing in this series and rather sloppy for the subject matter).
So, much to my chagrin, I knew that this second drawing was not a final but another study. There were elements in both drawings that I've taken and put into what will hopefully be the final drawing. This time, I've started by laying down my light values - 4H, 2H, and HB - on the palm fronds. I'll insert more dark shadows where needed, but I'm in the building of values stage. This will take some time, depending on how much time I can carve out in the next few days.
In the meantime, I will continue to chip away at the mess of toys, shoes, and family stuff that always seems to pile up too quickly. I'm teaching our writing co-op tomorrow - it's my turn and it's research paper time.
The mural is now en route to a sign shop where it will be framed and then it will probably wait in storage until the corner of Cook and Broadway is ready for its placement.
|Jill in action - with complicated back-lighting, no less...|
This morning, my friend and photographer Jill Martin of Jill Martin Photography
came over to get a shot of the panels all lined up together. Overall, I'm happy with it, but seeing it all together in the light of day after not really paying attention to it for weeks, there are a couple things that stood out and I wish I had done them differently. But, I'll keep them to myself as no one else will probably care but me. A couple of the panels have a little warp - I'm sure the sign company will be able to handle that in the framing process.
|Saying Goodbye |
Anyway, I did do some last minute touch ups in a few spots - I was never able to put together more than 2 panels at a time inside the garage, so there were a couple of details that didn't line up.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all! I was blessed this year with the means to purchase a new camera - nothing too high-tech, but my other camera was completely dead. So, now I can take pictures of things I've been working on again...
There hasn't been as much time as I'd hoped during this vacation period to pursue any projects - the week before Christmas was spent preparing, baking cookies, etc. and the week after has been recovery of the house and things like that. But, I have at least given some thought to new projects that I hope to complete in the next several months. The above picture is a sketch from a photo of my daughter - a pose that I always liked. It fits well with the concept I have for a painting. And, it's exciting for me to be going in a different direction than I have in the past - inspirations from the mural project.
By: DIANE SMITH
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Time is ticking away - Christmas vacation is slipping away. But, I'm enjoying looking at the New Year, trying to plan how I can fit everything in that I want to do - especially art. As it stands, I will be the featured artist at the Town Center Gallery in October and I've got to get busy producing new work. Although it's a smaller-town member gallery, I'm excited about having a goal to work for. And, I'm really delighted to be taking steps back into the more "fine art" world - it can only enhance my illustration. I'm inspired by new ideas that I look forward to pursuing - I'll get more into that later.
Today, I carved out an hour OUTSIDE of the house, no less, to do a little sketching. I'm wanting to do some small still life paintings to get into the swing of things and play around with my new and improved understanding of acrylics (thanks to the mural).
OK Santa Maria locals - can you guess where I went by these items?
Anyway, during my break I've been addicted to watching previous seasons of the PBS series Art 21
on Netflix Instant Watch. It has reawakened my interest in fine art and all of the discussion that goes with it that I miss from college (although I can't say that I took proper advantage of the opportunities for such discussion back then). I'm going to dust off my many sketchbooks from back then and see how my ideas have changed since then. Maybe I'll post more on those thoughts soon.
Today, I was able to spend time working on a study for the next seasonal woman/tree pencil drawing. It's nice to be working on some projects again - I really didn't have time after the mural to do anything but school and holiday stuff. But now I can incorporate regular (hopefully daily) work at the drawing table. My goal for this year is to really put forth an effort to do something with my art, whether it's for illustration, gallery, or both. My "featured artist" show at the Town Center Gallery in October is certainly a motivator, but I've been compelled to do something now that my youngest can entertain herself for longer periods of time.
|My daughter snapped this shot of me at work|
So, after sketching some ideas over the past few days, I went forward with a study. I used to be too impatient to do a study - I always just wanted to go right in and do it. I'm finally willing to accept the fact that I'm never happy with the result when I do that - there's always something that doesn't sit right and I end up re-doing it (even if it's years later). At last, I'm content with doing the extra work to get a result that I'm happy with.
|A glimpse of the study for "Summer"|
I've also decided that, now that this is a series, the "mother nature" idea isn't really sitting right with me. That may have worked for the first one, but seeing more than one representation, the sense of beauty and grace stands out more to me.
Well, yesterday was a celebration of my oldest daughter who turned 14! And today, it was back to school. We started with about half the subjects - I like to go in light (for my benefit as much as theirs).
Of course, last night - the last possible night of vacation - I actually sat down to work on something more than just sketching and doodling. Well, I can't say that it was a new project - it was really one that I'd posted about before when it was almost
done, and it sort of hung in that state ever since. So, since diving into a major new project seemed unreasonable on a Sunday evening before the start of school, I just worked on fine-tuning the old so that I could call it "done."
|#1 in the series - Spring|
You may remember the "Mother Nature" doodle I did years ago, and this endeavor was simply finishing a re-do of that. It is the first of a series of 4 woman/tree drawings that will represent each of the 4 seasons. This first one is spring and I'm really excited about my idea for summer. I did do a little planning in the sketchbook on that one, but I won't reveal anything...yet.
|Planning for the next one...Summer|
Of course, for better or for worse, drawing and painting (or any other creative process) is energizing to me. So, working into the night last night has its consequences - it was impossible for me to "wind down" and fall asleep for quite some time. Not good when I had to get the girls up to do lessons this morning. Still, I'm glad to be moving on from a lot of planning and idea exploration into actually producing something - it's invigorating. But, I'm anticipating many more sleepless nights coming up.
I always have the best of intentions - my plan was to start working on small scale and simple still life paintings to play around and further explore acrylic paints. I’ve been going around the house selecting objects that might make for visually interesting paintings. As usual, as I start putting things together, a story begins to grow, more specific items are then needed, and the next thing you know I have a large-scale project in my mind! Not only do the concepts go from simple to complex in seconds, but many of the items that interest me are very detailed.
|A few of the objects I've collected for still life paintings|
S-I-M-P-L-I-F-Y…why is that so hard for me. I guess my personal challenge to myself is just to grab some basic items (nothing fancy), throw them together on a table, and see what comes out. It all comes back to that balance I need in my work - in this case, the balance of the conscious and subconscious. In other words, it’s time to shut off the brain a little, quit over-thinking things, and "play."
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One of my daughters is involved in a group of girls putting together a dance for an upcoming Fine Arts Night for homeschool families. Today was the first day that I was able to sit in for the hour that they meet - I usually have art classes going on. It was a great opportunity to do some gesture sketches - something that I'm not particularly good at. Unfortunately, I had to be off to the side and it wasn't the best vantage point, but I got a few things down.
Last night I flipped through sketchbooks that I have going back 24 years to my college days. Sad to say that I only have 7 complete sketchbooks for all of those years - testament to how I really dropped out of art for a significant period of time, with only occasional drawings between 1993 and 2007 (albeit I was doing stained glass through much of that time - something I'd love to get back to one day).
I had expected to come face-to-face with an artist who was very different than the one who is sitting here typing this. In many ways - socially, politically, spiritually, etc. - I am very different. However, I came across about 10 pages of writing from 1989 where I outlined my approach and artistic philosophy that was pretty much identical to what I do now - beginning with doodles and responding to them, the desire for balance, the need to work representationally... things like that. I remember doing most of the drawings and why, but a lot of it was pretty bad and would never go anywhere. Overall, they were very dark and angry, advertising the lowest point in my life that those directionless years embodied.
|This is one of those experimental drawings that I did in 1989 when I first started exploring my|
doodle method of drawing. It would be one of the last times I felt good about what I was doing
creatively (in drawing/painting) for the the next 18 years
I referenced some drawings that I'd forgotten about (and I still have a few of them tucked away). Those were probably the best that I'd done from that time period, but I had never really had the time to follow-up with them because of the demands of the classes I was taking for my degree. It makes me wonder what would have happened if I would have continued on along that route back then. Instead, I guess I picked it up again - refreshed - in about 2007.
|Page one of the sketchbook I started keeping in 2007 where I was determined|
to draw "for fun" - I used the same doodle method I'd forgotten about
I guess I've picked up where I left off and it's exciting.