Oh No, I’m Addicted

Last night was the first in a year when I didn’t post. I actually took a day off, and you know what? It was sooo hard. To begin with I started to feel guilty, like I wasn’t doing something that I was supposed to do. (It’s the whole Catholic thing, its ingrained in my brain) I was working on something creative, all day in fact, but it wasn’t something I can share as of yet. It’s a gift for someone, a very involved gift, and its a surprise. Late in the afternoon I began to feel the pull of the blog. Feeling the need to produce a piece of art to put up, and then I realized I didn’t have to. I’m dead serious, I was feeling like a bad person because I hadn’t produced anything. It may be time for an intervention. I’m still in the middle of my very involved gift, so for tonight more of my retrospective of a year’s worth of art. Paintings in oil and acrylic, and one pastel. Tomorrow the last of the retrospective and new art!

IMG_9703   This is an oil done entirely with palette knife. It was a first for me. It’s based on the view from my studio window.

 

square painting cropped  Acrylic, based on a vintage Japanese mirror from the Forties.

 

 

 

 

Pear Pastel (3)  Pear pastel. My dear friend loves pears.

 

 

 

 

gate  Oil. This is the door to a garden in Santa Barbara. I call it “My Secret Garden”

 

 

 

 

DSC05785  The Kitchen Worker. Oil, inspired by a photo in Gourmet magazine.

 

 

 

 

6 7 (16)  Oil on board. Inspired by a vintage illustration.

 

 

 

 

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Waterlily’s, because every artist needs at least one right?

 

 

 

6 15  For Dan. His Dad’s watch, penknife and martini glass, oil.

 

 

 

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Temecula. Oil

 

 

7 11  Acrylic on canvas. I was imaging an old Polaroid.

 

 

 

 

7 12  Acrylic garden shovel. Inspired by a photo in Country Living.

 

 

 

 

7 22  Oil on piece of old wood. For my Mom who loved Lilac.

 

 

 

 

8 2 (2)  Oil. Painted this in roughly two hours, right out of my head.

 

 

 

 

8 6 (1)  My first abstract.

 

 

 

 

8 16 (2)  Oil. Palette knife and thirty minutes.

 

 

 

 

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Another Waterlily in oil.

 

 

 

IMG_1062  Oil. Painted on a day when I wasn’t feeling great and my wonderful husband painted a version of his own alongside me to help me get past my artistic block.

 

 

 

 

10 11  Acrylic. An attempt to capture the colors of Maxfield Parrish.

 

 

 

 

winter scene

Old work, oil on canvas with a great story to go with it. (If you are interested, “A Little Tale”, posted 12/11/13)

 

 

12 24  Brian, my son in oil. An “orphaned” painting from many years ago that I finally rescued.

 

 

 

 

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Acrylic. Palette knife once again.

 

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Oil. La Jolla, California, from a photo I took. My favorite piece from the entire year.

 

 

cropped barn  Oil. From a photo I took in California Central Coast farm territory.

 

 

3 7 14  Oil. A really old one, but a favorite.

 

 

 

3 25 14 An abstract in Acrylic.

 

 

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365 Days Faces and Figures

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Day 365

Today is day 365. I did it, a year of writing every day, of not giving up on myself, of pushing myself on days that I didn’t want to do anything, and keeping my promise to create every single day. In retrospect there are days when a bad mood, a bad attitude, laziness, or frustration presented itself in the work I produced. I can tell what days those are by looking at the work. I can also say that I am proud of myself for what I’ve accomplished. This blog evolved into a much more personal diary than I had ever intended. I have more to say about all of this, but as I’ve so often mentioned here on these pages, life sometimes takes turns that you never expect.

There was a tragedy in my family today. My beautiful niece was in the beginning of a new relationship. The young man was killed early this morning in a car accident. My heart breaks for her, I love her like she is my own daughter. I have no words to comfort her, and I am too far away to wrap my arms around her. I didn’t know this young man, I only saw photographs that showed two young people happy, and read messages on Facebook that made me aware of just how crazy he was about her. His brother was injured as well and is critical, he is the father of two young children. My heart bleeds for this family. I have asked for prayers before. I’m asking again. This time for some people I don’t really know, and for my niece. Ask God, whatever God is yours to help them through this terrible time, to bring them peace, to help that young father heal. As I told my niece a short time ago, hopefully she can find some solace in knowing that her boyfriend passed away at a point in his life when he was happy because of her. It is a day like today that puts so much in perspective. My life isn’t perfect, far from it, but many miles away from me is a lovely girl with a broken heart living a nightmare, and parents who are mourning the loss of one son, and praying for another to survive. I cannot even imagine their pain.

I’m still working on Maddie’s portrait. I redid entire portions of it, but I won’t be posting it tonight. I decided instead to go through this past years work and choose the pieces I’m most proud of. A retrospective if you will…later… I began to look at my work, and I did more pieces of work that I love than I was aware of. Tonight on a night when I think about life and it’s sometimes very sad turns, I will post portraits and figures, but on this page the three that mean the most. My son, my husband, my daughter. I love you all and thank you for your support and encouragement over the last year. A second post to follow with the rest.

Honestly, nothing seems important right now. I just want to say to my niece, “I love you. I wish it were in my power to make this all better for you. To change the last twenty-four hours. To give you whatever you need to heal. To give those two young men back to their families. I am praying for you all.”

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Painting

I painted today. Rejoice, right? Nope not that kind of painting. As many of you may know my son recently vacated the premises, AKA moved out, left the nest, I’m sure you get the idea. That left me with an empty room in my house. Worse yet, an empty undecorated room. That just can’t be tolerated. I have a show coming up, one that I am in no way ready for. Dan and I decided yesterday that we would postpone the painting of the room formerly known as Brian’s room until further notice. My studio is entirely to small for the amount of crap in it. It is busting at the seams. We decided I would use the extra room to work in until after the show. I began to move things in there, wait! Not so fast. I am a person who cannot eat at one of those throw your peanuts on the floor, and allow the waiter or waitress to be rude to you kind of restaurants. I encounter enough rudeness in my every day life as it is, and as for eating with a dirty floor? No way, no how. I can’t do it. I am a publicly admitted slob, I said so myself right here on these pages, but only when I’m creating. That means that when I cook the kitchen is a disaster that will later be cleaned by my minions. (Although now that I have an empty nest I have no minions. That’s a problem.) When I create art there is paint/paper/pastel dust/brushes/etc…everywhere. I clean that mess up by myself. (I haven’t discovered any art minions as of yet.) Dan was gone most of the day. I thought, “I’m going to paint.” What I intended was art, what happened was decorating. I went into the spare room, which had the studio overflow everywhere, and I began to look for what I wanted to do and realized I couldn’t. The room was worse than peanuts on the floor dirty. I just couldn’t work in there. I did the only thing I could. I went into the garage to look for paint. I had some blue, but not quite enough, found some white and, voilà another custom blend. I didn’t even bother to empty the room. I pushed everything in the middle and went to work. That was five hours ago. I’m finished. Sometimes it’s good to be a painter’s daughter. Brush is washed out, roller wrapped up for touch-ups in the morning light, and I’m beat.

No art that was created today, unless you count the abstract art on my hands and face (like I said, slob). Instead I am posting an old one, a painting that I did a very long time ago. I had gone out with a friend for coffee, she was an actress, I the artist, and we had a wonderful afternoon talking all things creative. When I got home I was so inspired that I painted the following piece. Now I am off to rest my weary bones.

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Lessons Learned

Tonight I did a countdown on my calendar. There are ninety-nine days (including tonight) until I will have completed this three hundred and sixty-five day project. It has been quite a challenge coming up with the time, the projects, and the inspiration, but I have struggled through, not always happy with what I produced, but always happy that I did indeed produce something. In truth I have created more art in the last two hundred sixty-seven days than I have in my entire life, and I think many of the pieces are the best work I’ve ever done. There are a few projects that I phoned in, there are two missed days, one due to illness, one from absolute exhaustion and lack of time, and those damn fairies. I’ve actually assigned myself an extra day (in case you were counting), on April 13th, the one year anniversary of the first project, I want to create something special. I don’t know what as of yet, I don’t even know what medium I will choose to use, but I want to mark the occasion with a piece of art. I also want to challenge myself in these next ninety-nine days to push myself even harder. I still have Jessica’s portrait to finish, and I won’t feel that this project is a success without it. As for tonight, my title says it all, “Lessons Learned”. I took on another orphan tonight. A few years ago while at a Starbucks in San Francisco I noticed a young woman sitting with her back to me. I love Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks”, it’s a favorite of mine. Something about the singular woman sitting at the counter was reminiscent to me of the solitude and loneliness that Hopper’s painting evokes in me. I snapped a few photos of her and put them in my “someday I’ll paint again” file. It must have been at least a year before I looked at that photo again. I sketched it out on a canvas and began an oil painting. I didn’t last long. I had the figure a little more than half painted, had given up completely on the background, and I had decided that it wasn’t good enough. It went into the pile of half done work, my orphans. I hadn’t yet learned my “lessons”.

Lesson 1. One of the things that this project has taught me is that my art isn’t meant to be a xerox copy. Art is meant to evoke feeling, my paintings don’t need to look like an exact copy of a photograph. I need to detach from perfection and paint with emotion.

Lesson 2. Texture, texture, texture. My old work was so one-dimensional. I’ve learned to enjoy painting without feeling the need to smooth out the rough edges. I’ve done a couple of paintings using only my palette knife, they are among my favorites.

Lesson 3. Art doesn’t have to be finished in a day. I’ve learned to let work evolve, taking time to let the work speak, the brush speak, and to not rush things.

Lesson 4. This is a big one. Walk away! I have ruined more pieces in my artistic life from not leaving well enough alone, often seeing something really beautiful happening only to second guess myself and destroy it in the process.

Lesson 5. (If you are sick of hearing me talk about my wonderful husband you can skip this one) Dan is amazing. I have always known that he loves me, but in the last several months he has proved to be my biggest supporter, cheerleader, and all-round best partner I could have. He is always there to make sure that I have the time to work on my art. He cooks meals, falls asleep on the couch waiting for me, and is willing to lend a hand on anything I need. He has encouraged me through the tough days, and helps me with honest criticism, and even posted for me when I had pneumonia last June.

My orphan is still a work in progress tonight. When I took this painting out of my studio tonight it spoke volumes about how much I had given up on myself, how I gave in to my feelings of inadequacy, how often I half-finished things in fear of judgement. It was flat, it was lifeless, I think I was feeling a little of that about myself. I unfortunately didn’t take a photo before I started working today, but here is my solitary woman in progress. She will have to wait a few days to dry until I can finish, but I’m really pleased with where we are both headed.1 5 14

Straight Out Of Dickens

Merry Christmas Eve to all. Quite some time ago I posted about my orphaned paintings, work I started but never finished in fear of being judged. I pledged at the time to rescue some of the orphans and see them through to completion, I did a few, but then I moved on to other things. Today I have rescued an orphan. Consider it to be straight out of Dickens, a rescued orphan. You may also consider it my ghost of Christmas Past. My son is now twenty-three years old. The painting is of him…at eight or nine. It’s obviously been awhile. One could almost hear the cries from my studio, “Please Ma’am, won’t you finish me?” I have made a gift for everyone in my family this holiday season except for Dan. I had something particular in mind for him, but alas time hasn’t allowed me to do what I wanted. This painting was also for Dan. He has been waiting for many, many years to see it finished. Well, Merry Christmas Honey, it’s done. For Christmas Present, I’ll try to knock off something tomorrow, maybe something for myself. Christmas Future? I have been writing about moving ahead with my work. Getting ready to present my stuff to the world. I’ve been writing about it, but I haven’t been doing it. I had a doctor appointment this morning for the mysterious pain in my side. (I’m not dying or anything, graceful girl that I am it seems that in my efforts to stay healthy, when I walk I am not doing it right. I am pulling muscles in my thigh or something…only me. The doctor asked if I stretch before I walk. My reply? “Why would I do anything the right way?”) Back to the future…I began a conversation with a lovely woman who works for the doctor. She likes art, she has a friend who opened a gallery in nearby Escondido. As if it were meant to be.  Just last night when Dan and I walked I spoke of trying to sell my art…do you think maybe someone is trying to tell me something? I need to get there, I need to get somewhere. It’s time, and there’s no time like the present, and wouldn’t be wonderful to think about the future and feel cheery and bright.

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A Little Tale

It has been a very long day, actually a very long month. I have been working more hours than I care to think about. Hopefully it will all pay off this weekend, so again I ask the universe (that means you, people who are reading this) for good karma for Saturday. I have checked the weather, no rain this week, it is predicted to be 73 here in Temecula.( I’m really sorry to all my East Coast friends and Midwest relatives, you have my condolences on your weather.) I spent the day on fairies again. I have more than one hundred and ten right now. Needless to say I did not get to any artwork today. I will instead tell you a funny little tale about my daughter and show an older painting of mine. The painting doesn’t actually exist anymore. All I have left is a photograph.

When Brian was a little boy he did all kinds of funny, naughty things. He also gave us the trip from hell in Disney world. He threw a tantrum in every country in Epcot. He didn’t have terrible two’s, he had horrific three’s. Jessica was always a sweetheart. We always laughed about the funny, naughty things Brian did. One day she asked me if she had done anything wrong. I think she was feeling left out. To be honest I had a hard time thinking of anything. There were small things like unrolling the toilet paper through the house, or the time she fried the remote in the microwave, but probably the worst thing she did was ruin a painting. The funny thing is I wasn’t mad when she did it. She was small. To be honest I’m not sure exactly how old she was, but I caught her writing on the floor with marker. I sat her down and explained that we didn’t write on floors or walls, only on paper. I had weeks earlier finished the painting that I’m posting here tonight. I walked into the room to find Jessica, a red permanent marker, and my painting. You do the math. That’s right, red scribbles all over my beautiful painting. How could I be angry? No walls, no floors, she drew on what she thought was paper. Or maybe she had early leanings towards becoming an art critic.winter scene

A Storm Of Color

As always, unsure of what I would create today, I decided to revisit my fourteen year old self. Back before I knew there were rules that applied to painting. Back to a time when I painted for the sheer joy of putting paint on a canvas. No subject matter in mind I simply began to layer the paint on, thickly at first, then dissatisfied, scraping away the paint frustrated at my inability to know what it was I looking for. Aside from my struggles with perspective, my greatest failing as an artist is my inability to transmit what is in my head onto a canvas. There are times when I see a shadow of an idea, but lack of completion of the thought. I don’t believe it is something that can be taught, its instinctive. I truly believe that it comes from the daily practice of brush to canvas. It is what I intended those many months ago when I began to transform this project from its original platform of simply using up what I had on hand, to a transformation of my artistic self. To become a fully developed artist, to understand who I am as an artist, and to find that elusive confidence that I have lacked for so long. I have without a doubt seen signs of what I can achieve, I have discovered new ways of creating art that I truly love, but I still find myself searching for my artistic identity. I am capable of incredible likeness in portrait drawings and paintings, and six months ago that perfectionism was what I thought I wanted and needed, that is no longer the case. I believe there is more to me than that. My Dad has on occasion volunteered my talents. I have done the portraits of children I’ve never met, and even after a printer failed to come through on an order, replicated the logos and business ads for and entire booklet for a fundraiser. (Needless to say, not happy about that one!) I would complain and say, “I’m not a copy machine.” Yet here I was months ago bemoaning my want for perfection. No longer. Photography has it place. It produces the exact image of its subject. What I have failed to understand is that art is more than a representation, it is an emotion. I want to feel about my subject, and I want you to feel when you view it. What happened tonight was a scraped canvas that caused a reaction, a feeling in me. Colors that jumped off a canvas begging to be repainted. It’s a solitary work, I am a solitary woman, you can see that in much of what I do with a brush and a camera. It was very windy here today, I’ve also been hearing much about hurricane Karen. I didn’t think tonight, I painted. Troubled skies, and uncertain seas, maybe my mind is on the canvas after all.IMG_1646

Impatient

Not my best day artistically. I think I’m still running on empty from our trip. I scraped the paint off of a canvas not once but twice today. Things were just not working for me. To be honest I gave a moments thought to taking my scraped off canvas and turning it into an abstract. Unfortunately and fortunately for me I just can’t be a sellout when it comes to my work. The one and only abstract piece I’ve posted with this blog was an inspired piece, actually the only abstract piece I’ve ever created. That one was inspired by a piece of burnt copper, no matter how long and hard I looked at that scraped canvas today it gave me nothing. I finally walked away from it. I looked through my studio and found one of my old orphaned paintings. It was flat and lifeless. I threw it on the easel and began to work with the paint muck I had created with my scrapings. It had turned a very strange sort of lavender. I just went with it, I didn’t want to waste the paint. As always I was much too impatient, the “muck” began to get muddier. I had to pull myself back, wipe off my brushes and begin again. I found what worked for me eventually was to go with a more impressionistic stroke,  in the end I feel like the painting has too much paint, but on the positive side it isn’t flat! And I didn’t give up. I have to admit that today was the first time in a while that “I’m not good enough” snuck back into my brain. It all comes down to oils and my lack of patience. I keep making the same mistakes and expecting different results. I’m going to let the scraped canvas cure and attempt something with what remained on the canvas. I hope for better results the second time around.9 17I may have had a bad artistic mojo day, but I did empty the photos from my phone. In previous blogs I have mentioned both Prairie Crossings and McDonald Woods, both north of Chicago near my Dad’s house. We had the opportunity to grab a few early morning walks before my Dad was awake last week. The McDonald Wood photos are in Dan’s  phone and I’ll have to grab them tomorrow, but for tonight a few from Prairie Crossing.IMG_1371 IMG_1376IMG_1355A little slice of heaven on the prairie.

Heavenly Inspiration

Heavenly Inspiration, And A Reason To Celebrate, was what I was going to name this post, but decided it was much too long. I’ll start with the first part.

 

Long after I’m gone I think one of the things my children will remember most about me is my never-ending, “Look at the sky.”  “Did you see those clouds?” “Isn’t it beautiful?” I love a beautiful sky, a sunrise, a sunset, and in particular a cloudy day. Not too cloudy, just the days when the clouds look thick and rich like you could scoop up a spoonful, or bounce on them like a trampoline. They are also my favorite thing to paint. Clouds are actually what inspired me to paint in the first place. I’ve mentioned before that I have been drawing since about the age of five, but painting came later. I think around thirteen or fourteen. My Dad signed my sister and I up for a Chicago Park District painting class. He made her go because I was shy, which was unfortunately for her a price she paid more than once. We were the only young people in the class. I actually don’t remember too much about it. (I have a very convenient mental block for some of my more regrettable childhood moments) but I do remember what I painted, I may even still have it somewhere, it was a bowl with fruit and flowers. The woman teaching the class wasn’t a professional, she was a college med student making extra money. We went once a week for I think about six weeks, and I really don’t think we learned anything, but it was enough to whet my appetite. Our house was a bungalow with open attic space on both the front and back of a dormer that had been bumped out on the second floor. I claimed one as my “studio”, and would sit contentedly painting clouds, and non-distinctive landscapes. The best part about it was that I didn’t know enough to know that I didn’t know what I was doing. (Did you get that? Tongue twister anyone?) All I know was that it was a place to lose myself, and hide away from everyone, and create my own world right there on canvas. I have mentioned that I was a shy kid, but I was also the kid everyone made fun of, art and reading were my security blankets and only friends. When the teacher would leave the classroom for a moment and chaos would erupt, I would be sitting quietly at my desk, my new Nancy Drew Mystery in my hand, always anxious to get back to the next page. Art was the only class in school where I could feel happy and safe. I forgot about everything else when I was creating. When I began to paint it gave me such a sense of freedom, watching the oils swirl together magically under my brush, creating the days I wanted to have, and places I wanted to be.

 

Today was a particularly cloudy day here in Temecula. There was a storm front passing through, unusual for this time of year here in Southern California, but what a spectacular sky it gave us. Dan and I were out running errands and all I did was snap photos of the clouds. Thus my “Heavenly” inspiration. Initially I had planned to paint from one of the photos I took, but I decided to revisit my fourteen year old self and paint what I wanted to see.

As for my “Cause For Celebration”, I hit a milestone today with my blog. I have one hundred and one followers. I never thought about “followers” when I started this blog and project. It was a way to blackmail myself into doing the work I should have been doing all along. I know who I am. I am the woman who cleans the hotel room before the housekeeper comes in, just in case she might think I’m a slob. It doesn’t matter that she could probably care less, doesn’t know me, never will, but I’m that neurotic. I knew that if I made my promise to do more art a public vow, I would do it. You know, in case the WordPress police show up at my door.  I know some of you that read this blog do know me (probably a lot more now, maybe more than you bargained for), some of you are family and friends, but I don’t know one hundred people, so I want to thank all of you. The ones I know, the ones I don’t know, (and the ones that maybe no longer want to know me now that they’ve gotten to know me better!) thanks for the support, for being interested in the struggles of a woman who has put herself on the bottom of the “to do” list for most of her life. Thanks for looking at my art, reading my words, and for those of you who have reached out by commenting here, via email, or on Facebook. This has turned into a gift for myself, I never had friends as a kid, and have been a fairly solitary adult, but I feel like I’m part of something. Thanks.

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IMG_0918And just because I need to share the beauty from above, a few photos from my iPhone of the clouds over Temecula today.IMG_0945

 

 

 

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