Art Of A Different Sort

Tonight I have a strange one. Jessica’s portrait is still too wet to touch, so I decided to begin work on another project. When I began the 365 project I had planned on focusing on finer art. Today’s project is more of a craft, but there are some crafts that are truly artistic. Earlier in the week I posted a photo of some fairy wings, and mentioned the fairies that I have sold so many of in the last several years. I have for some time wanted to take that project a little further. The fairies I create are painstaking, I spend so much time on the details of them with the exception of one thing. Their heads are wooden beads with a dot of an eye painted on them. They are truly beautiful, and people love them, but I want to make them more individual. Today I sculpted some heads out of clay for the fairies. Sounds simple, but it was a pain in my….Anyway, I made them with Sculpy, baked them in my oven and then painted them. The paint needs some fine-tuning, I painted them in the dark in my garden (because I want to go blind), but they took me a couple of hours to create, and I am quite happy with their faces. I made two, one meant to be an elf, the other a fairy. The object is to make a mold of the faces so that I can reproduce them. It wouldn’t be cost-effective to individually make each face. I would use a flesh-colored clay, and only have to add lip and eye color. If it works out as I hope, then I will possibly do a few different expressions. I may try to finish a fairy by tomorrow and post photos of old and new for comparison.

While rereading what I have just written, I see that I am a little defensive about this project. I guess in a way I have a problem with the word “craft”. I have done so many of those church shows, and honestly never fit in. Not that there isn’t some good work at those shows, but I always thought I could be more than just a church show craft artist. I have had people approach me at shows to ask why I’m there, and tell me don’t belong there. I just never believed enough in myself to try for more. I’m beginning to change my opinion of myself.  I do good work, craft show or not, and believe me it isn’t easy to sculpt a face as small as these. I photographed them next to a pencil for scale. I’m actually excited to see a finished one.

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A Wonderful Day

I had a wonderful day today. We decided to head out for a hike in Torrey Pines State Reserve this morning. It is in La Jolla, California, near San Diego. The trails run alongside the Pacific, and it is spectacular. Very inspiring to say the least. I took more than two hundred photos.  I thought about painting one of them, but I have been anxious to get back to the portrait of Jessica. I am still working on blocking in and building color. As I have mentioned before I feel like my work lacks texture, appearing very flat. The last few paintings I’ve done are better. I want to do the same with this one. I also want to take my time and build it slowly. I was pleased with the progress that I made today.  Although I did find myself adding too much paint and muddying it in the process. I have again put the painting aside for a few days. I am also working on my patience. In the past I would have rushed to finish this painting. I’m not really sure about how, or why I do that. To do the kind of work I want to do I need to learn to slow down and take my time with it.

I also did a little watercolor of a lemon, really for no other reason than I felt so inspired by our morning. I find walking so relaxing, and doing so in such a beautiful place left me feeling stress free and more than happy to get back to painting. Now if I could only live right there…5 30 5 30 2 (1) 5 30 2 (2)

Finding Solace And A Lifeline In Art

I had intended today to return to the full figure painting of my daughter, but as usual I got side tracked. Nothing horrible, but something I had intended to follow through on years ago.  Six years ago on  July 22, my Mother died. In the horrific three weeks that she spent in ICU, I passed the time by painting and drawing. I did a series of small, 5×7 paintings that I hung around her hospital bed. All of them painted with her in mind, two of them depicted the area in Southern California where I live, both inviting her to visit when she recovered, which of course she never did. There were two others, a get well card signed by all of us, my Dad, my three sisters, all of our husbands and her eight grandchildren. The other was a vase of sunflowers. I wanted something pretty for her to see when she woke. She did wake, but had sustained a brain injury, so our Mother, as we knew her, was gone. When she passed away and we were taking her things from the hospital, my Aunt Rita asked me if she could have the painting of the sunflowers. I said I would send it to her, I never did. I had intended to mail it as soon as I got home to California from Chicago, but I couldn’t send it. It was one of the last things I did for Mom, and I hoped that on some level she knew about it. I was recently messaging with my cousin Lorna. She has been wonderfully supportive of this artistic and self-searching journey I am on, she is also Rita’s daughter. It reminded me of that painting and I told Lorna I would send it to her Mother.  Two of the other paintings are hanging in my studio, the get well card is framed at my Dad’s house. I have looked for the last several days for the sunflowers and I can’t find it. I know it was there, it has been for six years. Dan said that maybe I’m not supposed to give it away. So today instead of working on Jessica’s portrait I worked on something to send my Aunt Rita. Something pretty, something I hope she will like.

All of the above got me thinking about how often in my life I have taken refuge in my art. As I have pointed out in my earlier writing, in all the years I neglected myself I always did something creative. It has always been my lifeline. As a painfully shy child it was my companion. When my Dad has had surgery, and there have been a few open heart surgeries, I am at the hospital with my pad of paper, pencils and watercolors. I take those same items with me whenever I travel. I don’t sleep well away from home, and I will sit on the floor of a hotel bathroom, drawing in the middle of the night. When I had my last five knee surgeries (I know…you don’t have to say anything), I prepared for them by organizing my “art cart”.  A three drawer plastic cart on wheels, each drawer filled with pencils, markers, paper, paints, and whatever else I can think of, all to fill my recovery time. Propped up on the couch, painkillers and ice close at hand, I ask my family to wheel over my supplies. I am never bored when I have something to create with, and I can create with just about anything.  When my Mother died I came back to California and made a small piece of art dedicated to her. For me art is so much more than what you see on the paper, on the canvas, in the photo, or the sculpture. It is my lifesaver, my friend, my rock, my comfort. I am only sorry that it has taken me so long to appreciate the gift I have been given. And sorry too that it has taken me six years to fulfill a promise.

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A Not So Original

Back to full size art! A busy weekend didn’t allow for a lot of time for art. I’m going to pat myself on the back once again for following through on my project. The art may have been small, but I still managed to get it done.

Tonight I decided to work on something that has been on my “to do” list for quite a while. Among my collection of vintage tins is one that I have wanted to reproduce. I love the design on the tin, but it is small, and I’ve always thought I would love to see it enlarged. I wanted to create my own version, one based on the original but not an exact replica. It isn’t something I make a habit of. I have great respect for the work of other artists. This is a project just for me, to hang in my own house. I actually had a long-standing argument with a family member about piracy. The livelihood of so many people can hinge on the work of one person. My argument has always been that I wouldn’t want someone taking my work without giving credit or compensation. I have noticed the work of a few bloggers with copyright posted on it. It is unfortunate that we can’t trust each other enough.

I hope as time passes with this blog to begin to sell my work. Selling has been a sore point for me. I have worked so little in my life that selling a painting is like giving up a child for me. And as I need to remind myself, the point of this project is to clean out my studio as much as it is to produce work. As it stands right now my portfolio is full, and as for wall space in our house, it is almost nonexistent. My son still lives at home, so I have no “empty nest” issues as of yet, but I guess just as I steel myself up for Brian’s departure, I must also do the same when it comes to selling art.

The design on the box is by Henry Clive. I’ve owned this box for years and never really looked at the signature before. I did an internet search of Mr. Clive and have found another artist and illustrator to love. I really had no idea. So with a nod to Mr. Clive, here is my watercolor of his design.Image

A Short Note

Early post tonight. I actually did two small projects this morning, and then spent a lovely Memorial Day…cleaning the garage for six hours. I actually had planned to do something else, but quite frankly I’m exhausted.

The first project is another artist card size drawing of an apple. It was a simple drawing exercise I gave myself to do. I need to work on shading and perspective. The other is also an artist card size, but for an entirely different project. I have for years been making fairies. I’ve sold hundreds of them, usually around Christmas. I have decided to continue doing so this year, but have some ideas for making them even more artistic. I designed some wings which I plan to print on vellum. Once I have a finished fairy I’ll put up a photo.

No philosophizing about my artistic life tonight, no “woe is me”, just a very tired woman who needs to relax.

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Good Things Can Come In Small Packages

5 25I have to admit that there was so much I didn’t take into account when starting a year-long project, particularly one that requires writing and the creation of a piece of art each and every day. I know that I have touched on this before, but life got in the way again today. It’s a holiday weekend, we had friends and family over today, and so I find myself once again rushing to finish something for my blog. I seriously had several false starts. It seemed as though I wouldn’t get anything done for tonight, and as tempting as it might be, I refuse to put up older work unless I am near and dear to my bathroom floor (which I was, by the way, last week). I feel like I’d be cheating myself if I did, and I have been cheating myself for far too many years. Not every project has to be a big one. Just creating is the idea. I mentioned the 365 Project when I started this, and the tag line on that book states, “Do something creative every day and change your life.” It is so true. Here I am not even two months in and I can feel the difference. Like so many artists, and more so, so many women, I don’t place enough value on myself and what I do. That is changing, I’ve learned a lot about myself in ways I never considered. I’m so excited about the months ahead, wondering where this journey will take me, and anxious with anticipation to see what work I  will produce.

Back to the subject at hand, life getting in the way of my project. I realized tonight that there might be days ahead where it will be difficult to get my work done. There are birthdays, and our wedding anniversary, and other holidays, all of which will require my attention elsewhere. I guess I will just try to take them as they come and hopefully still be able to create a little something. I did just that tonight. From a photo outside Claude Monet’s house in Giverny. I saw a gardener standing still studying the garden and took a photo. It is a photograph that I would like to paint some day, but for tonight a pencil sketch on an artist card. It is only a two and a half by three and a half-inch drawing, but this one I love. I captured the essence of that moment.  It took me back to Monet’s garden, and our journey there. We took the train from Paris to Vernon, and chose to walk the rest of the way to Giverny instead of boarding the bus with the other tourists. The air was filled with the fragrance of  flowers, and each cottage and garden we passed was more beautiful than the last. When we finally saw Monet’s house and garden, I turned to Dan and said, “How could you live here and not paint?” Now I have to ask myself, “How could you have been there and waited so long to paint?’

It was one of ten days in France with the one that I love, and that makes this little piece of art priceless.

Gaining Vision

Sound the alarm! I actually read one of the many, many, many art instruction books that I own (Well not the whole thing, just the part I had a question about). I did that because I also returned to the full figure painting of my daughter that I began several weeks ago. The same one I have been avoiding like the plague. I really liked the way the initial sketch was looking on the canvas. I also for the first time with a painting have a vision of what I hope the painting will look like when I am finished. That is a giant leap for me. For years I complained that I couldn’t get what was in my head onto the canvas. I really think my mind was so bogged down with all the nonsense of not being good enough. I really feel like my artistic vision is developing. I’m not going to post the painting yet. All I did today was some color blocking, and honestly it looks a little creepy at the moment. It actually looks like a portrait of one of the kids from Village Of The Damned. But proportionately it looks good, and I can see my daughter’s face emerging. I still wanted to have a piece of art to post this evening so I played around with my watercolors. A photo of my garden provided inspiration. It’s a little abstract, but I love the color, and I enjoyed painting it. I did it just for fun, which was actually quite nice. I really feel like I’m moving ahead. I’m not getting as stressed about what I’m working on. One of the benefits of working every day I guess. When I started this blog I used words like pressure and homework. I will admit that there are days when I have fleeting moments of wishing I hadn’t gotten myself into this, but they don’t last long. I think this blog and its accompanying artwork is one of the best things I have ever done for myself. It’s about time.Image

Creating Dreams

I wasn’t feeling great tonight, residual issues from taking the wrong medication last week. (Let that be a lesson to all of us, don’t just pop the pill out of the foil, turn it over first to see what it is!) I started to paint something architectural, but I didn’t even make it half way through the preliminary sketch, I just wasn’t up to the task. It was going to be in watercolor, and since I had the materials out I decided that watercolor would again be my medium for this evening. One of the best parts about being an artist is the ability to create your own world. We have a creative license to draw, paint, sculpt, or carve, etc., the world we want to be in. In some cases we can even have a little fun. When I was about seventeen I drew a sketch of my dad, bald. He wasn’t, and at eighty still isn’t. I thought it was funny, needless to say he didn’t. So tonight while I wasn’t feeling good I decide to paint someplace quiet, relaxing, and peaceful, someplace I’d like to be in the moment. I had glanced at a photo, but then I put it away and let my mind take over. That too seems to be coming easier these days. So tonight’s project is a place I want to be, somewhere to lay in the soft grass, look at the clouds, and relax. Now if I could only find a way to make that a reality…Image

No Surrender!

Tonight’s project is a small oil painting, but before I get into that I want to be really honest here about my struggle today. I’m actually working on several projects, most of them have to do with refurbishing flea market finds. I’ve been putting those projects ahead of this one, thus the late night art work and posting. I’m fine with that because it isn’t about avoiding my art, it’s about earning a living. My struggle today was with the very same issues I addressed last night. I almost did it today, I almost walked away from this painting. Oil painting is my biggest obstacle. It is the art I am most drawn to, and the one I have the biggest issues with. To begin with I really am an “instant gratification” artist, when I want something done, I want it yesterday. I’m also a bit of a control freak, (A bit? I don’t like to fly, I hate it actually, but as I have told Dan repeatedly, if I could fly the plane there would be no issue) anyway, oil is not a medium for control freaks. It directs the time line. Things were not coming out the way I wanted and the canvas only had paint on half of it. I put it down and went in search of my watercolors. I decided what to paint, but then I stopped. I made myself go back to the oils. The struggle continued right on to the end. I won’t give in to it. I have to keep pushing. No Surrender!

Whew! Got that out. The painting…

Struggle Part Deux

My other problem, I have no style. Not personally of course, that is if you consider jeans and a shirt of some form roughly three hundred fifty days a year a style, but a painting style. Again the lack of lessons has left me clueless in the use of materials. Just before I started writing I told Dan that my paintings are flat. My Dad was a house painter by trade, it’s sort of how I used to paint. No dimension, like painting with a brush on a wall. When I go to art museums I am as close as legally allowed to paintings, always studying the strokes and texture of the paint. My paintings looked for the most part lifeless. The other issue (there’s more?), is that I can’t decide how I want to paint. Realism? Yes and no, too much precision. Impressionism? More yes than no, love Impressionism, first place we went to in Paris was the Musee d’Orsay, the Impressionist museum. It’s a difficult style for me because I’m still a little hung up on the “it has to look like it’s supposed to look” issue. I love Grant Wood, Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth. Particularly Hopper. I’m just not sure who I am as a painter. I just decided to post two pictures tonight. The one I did earlier this evening, and another older one. In my efforts to get over myself I figured out a little trick. I had put a soft focus filter on a photograph to blur the lines. It helped me get past the “has to” nonsense. I only needed to do it one or twice, but it really helped. Once I realized that my “not exactly as it really looks” paintings were something I liked, I was able to move past some of the crap in my head. (The older painting was actually in part a photo from Gourmet magazine. Just want to make sure I give credit.)

So tonight I was playing with style and texture. I didn’t work from my actual photograph, which was from a sunrise I photographed in Virginia Beach, but from what I saw in my mind from looking at it earlier in the day. Not entirely pleased with the results, but happy I didn’t give up.

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