Archive for September, 2008
This photo was taken just outside of Nashville where we stopped to take photos of the trees draped with vines, naturally occurring topiary – amazing - looking like animals and people turned into forest. Those were cool enough, and the tire skid marks were an extra unexpected find. The photo has been turned into a black and white, then a colored portion from the bottom was superimposed on top of that…my favorite digital trick.
Now one last trip for this year, driving to California and the Giant Redwoods – back on the 13th.
The Fourth of July past the point of no return; making one small change affects the whole piece. Rather than post another image of the painting as a whole, because there are already enough pictures of it, here are some details of changes made in the past few days from the lower central portion of the painting. The colors are slightly more intense in these photos. to be continued…
Besides being a place to share creative processes and sell and promote my own Art, if this blog can help a fellow Artist in any way, then it serves the best possible purpose.
There’s a commercial on TV – I think it’s for life insurance – where the generosity of one stranger is seen by another, then that person helps someone else who in turn passes kindness along, and on it goes. Artist Chris Bolmeier is one of those rare people who inspires exactly that sort of automatic generosity. Chris features interviews promoting other Artists and offers her award-winning blog entitled Christerical in a sensitive, light-hearted manner.
One of her recent paintings, Blue Tree is about the most intelligent painting I’ve ever seen done by a modern Artist. I truly mean that. First of all, she has the audacity to paint a blue-leaved tree with all the sincerity of a Realist. That alone reflects her bold, fun and quirky nature. Beyond that, the genius of the painting is in those branches. On the left a branch juts out and gives the impression that it’s connected to the trunk while it is also conveniently part of the forest in the background. The centrally located, furthest branches also recede into and are the establishing focal point of distant trees.
These seem like such simple solutions, but this is the kind of thing that makes Artists envious that they had not come up with it themselves…like me for example! The envy is short-lived however, because it melts away in her light-hearted responses to her “million friends”. Unfortunately Blue Tree is not for sale, but at least prints are. I highly recommend that you become Friend million-and-one!
A while back Chris came up with a brainy idea and created the Artists’ affiliate program. Gallery owners and Art groups charge Artists at least 20% of profits if work sells, and it’s not surprising to be asked to share an unreasonable 50% with others who sell our work or provide the venue. To participate in the AAP, an Artist only needs the permission of fellow Artists to earn 20% of profits from the sale of any work if they are linked to promoting it. This requires some honesty and trust from all parties involved, but this is part of the intrigue I think.
I have just learned that October 25th is International Artist Day. Looks like the event has been celebrated in Chicago for twelve years already. What a great idea to publically celebrate our vocation by positioning an offical day for it annually! In that spirit I acknowledge a few other Artist friends I really appreciate: Patricia Gay Stonehouse, Karen Xarchos, and Virginia Wieringa, listed in the order we met.
Patricia Gay (Gay for short) and I became fast friends during a Canadian government Small Business program in 1989. As an extremely creative person she also offered vital strength and support, helping me organize the legal end and official side of my business. At the time I was swamped with all the start-up details, manufacturing and selling faster than I could produce. Her straightforward manner and high ideals were and are invaluable. With full-time priorities as a grade school teacher in Ottawa, Ms. Stonehouse sells her Millinery Vaults, pictured right: cleverly designed, stackable transparent hat boxes, mainly wholesale in quantities through the internet.
I worked with Karen Xarchos during the late ’90s/early 2000′s back in Canada. At the time demand was extremely high for in-home and model home custom-designed wall murals. Karen was a neighbor whom I knew was an Artist, but we did not meet until I finally walked across the street and suggested we take on the backlog of work orders together. Although our styles are very different we designed and painted together for about two years. It was such a nice change collaborating with someone else. We also did faux finishing, all the rage at the time, with or without accompanying murals. Some of those jobs could only be managed by two people or they would have taken too long to complete.
Mural Artists are under a lot of pressure to produce work quickly; it’s pretty brutal work, and physically, mentally, creatively exhausting. It’s also everything opposite to that – the challenges are always rewarding somehow, and an Artist has the opportunity to do what they love and learn many skills within a short period of time. Cheers! to Karen because she is still doing murals. Desiring to stretch in new directions, she has started to paint assignments on canvas in her home studio rather than work on-site so much, then installs the pieces like wallpaper when done. The best things I’ve learned from Karen are to slow down, evaluate, and give more attention to finishing details. She does the most amazing writing with brushes and a steady hand!
Virginia Weiringa and I met on wetcanvas.com, an Artists’ interactive website. Though our views and missions differ superficially, basically our hearts and Arts are in the same place, and we create with the fundamental inspiration that most Artists do: expressing, learning and hoping to encourage others through our work. It’s a beautiful thing to watch other Artists as they stretch and grow and to witness their work evolve. In the two short years since I’ve known Virginia, it’s been exciting to watch her Art career sky-rocket to fame in Michegan, U.S.A., with one exhibition after another in churches, hospitals and local galleries. She is probably the most gracious person I know, and that over-rides any aversion to organized religion I may have, a topic so personal and elusive to define I would not normally bring it up on my website, but since meeting Virginia she has given me pause to consider the larger, universal aspects of life in general. Life is large, we can be sober-minded and hard-working but still have a lot of fun, and Life is beautiful; that we agree on, and these are the messages that come through all of Virginia’s Artwork.
I strongly encourage other Artists to sign up on Chris Bolmeier’s “Sell my Art” list. It makes so much sense to support a fellow Artist rather than give money to someone who has invested nothing toward creating it. If you’re interested in adding your name, listing your work and reciprocating, or purchasing any of it please contact me or Chris…or hey, start your own AAP network.
The Fourth of July, central detail of 36 x 48 x 2 inches Acrylics on wrapped canvas
Sept 26: Yesterday as I added a few final brushstrokes a blue streak showed up unintentionally from some color left in the center of the brush. It was one of those rare details that happen accidentally to change the course of the entire painting. There are similar angular strokes that were starting to build up from color washes, but that tiny spark of blue brought all the others to attention, so today I added a few more in different colors. It was exactly what I was searching for. It is now indeed The Fourth Of July. Over the course of time I may see areas where more tiny streaks need to be added to balance out the composition, but it’s otherwise finished.
Sept 28: Alright, maybe it isn’t finished after all, but this is the stage where the painter needs to step back, set it aside and start another. Finishing a painting is like a drive through the mountains; you see the enormous mountain before you…seems that you’re so close but because they are so large, as you watch the mountain the illusion is that you are not getting closer. It seems to take forever to reach it, as if you’re on a tread mill.
Finishing is the stage where every single tiny mark makes a difference. You’ll want to rush and make the call, but those final marks can make or break your painting. I was so excited about the sparks of color last night — interesting how you can’t see the field for the flowers if you’re working up close to the canvas too long!
This morning after a bit of study I’m thinking maybe the buds, central foreground, are too defined. I also see too much division over-all, and there’s not as much flow as is possible. I played with some possibilities digitally, right thumbnail.Here is where I will use any feedback and criticism anyone has. Extra eyes are really helpful at this point, so fire away if you have any suggestions!
The Fourth of July In progress, 36 x 48 x 2 inches Acrylics on wrapped canvas, custom built stretcher frame.
June 22, 23, Sept 23, 24: Adding mid-tones. The addition of a blue-white haze gel wash lightens areas that need to be rebuilt with brighter colors; in attempts to create contrasts, many areas have become too dark. Paintings always swing back and forth from too light to too dark or too defined to not defined enough, and just like a pendulum eventually come to rest between the two. I hope to bring the painting back toward the energy and explosive colors that it had after only one hour of work. Only the foreground flowers will have some detail; the rest will remain impressionistic in style.
Today’s work, above: Played with color/gel washes and studied the painting a lot today, judging what needs to be changed and what should be left alone. The right side of the trunk needed definition but not with hard edges. The leaves may still too bright with that tell-tale Acrylics look, which I seriously don’t want. There was extra paint on my pallette, so I pulled out The Fourth of July and started in on that one again; may only paint that one tomorrow and set this one aside to study for a while before making any more marks. It may even be finished; put out of sight for a while I will know at a later date.
September 21: Phase 6, started gaining more confidence with the trunk and some of the motion via abstract that I’m searching for. After a lot of work softening shadows and contrasts on the trunk by adding and removing color, the leaves now need more definition and depth.
September 18th post, right detail image: The upper bark is too pink, keeping it on the same plane as bright leaves on the side; am building up the layers of color and have put most of the work into the shadows so far…so now maybe it’s time to start basking in the light! Also just started to play with space implied by streaks of color and washing out areas…see detail, right. The painting may become subtly cubist. Also still hoping a more unique title hits me while working!
Shadows of Summer Phase 3, top and bottom detail of 60 x 40 x 3 inches Acrylics on wrapped canvas, custom built stretcher frame. Since these photos were taken I’ve added a gel-wash of Ultramarine, so the colors pop more than seen here. The trunk colors need more contrast, background leaves need more depth.
Thumbnails: Shadows of Summer Phase 2, top and bottom detail
Tomorrow: plans are to create more flow and less of a hard line between background leaves and the trunk, plus add more reds and make this an early Autumn scene. Also I’d like this one to be less representational, so now that it’s mapped out will change to imply leaves and space more abstractly and play with subtle changes in planes.
Left, a thumbnail of Phase 1 from this morning.
OK, so I’ve been delinquent in the painting department, but I’m very excited to start back at it this week. Before two weeks off travelling from Texas to North Carolina I started organizing my FlickR photostream. Now there are about one thousand new photos to sort through, and the ones I’m most excited about are the set of the 1500 year old Angel Oak in South Carolina (now that’s a tree!) - plus a creepy-cool old steel playground beside a gross, moldy, condemned Family Inns Motel, a real treasure! The tree and playground collections are uploaded in FlickR.
There’s also a short photo editorial of our encounters with many of the electric company truck convoys travelling south from Michegan, Indiana, Virginia, and Kansas to restore electricity to 90,000 homes and businesses along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Gustav. Here are a few of those photos from that set, which we were about to post on CNN’s weather.com when I inadvertently killed my husband’s laptop by plugging a cable in the wrong place. An expensive proposition that now is not as timely as it was, so I didn’t even get to send them in. I just found out that fortunately all the travel photos were retrieved, but the laptop is dead. Um, me no good with computer cables…