Friday, August 30, 2013

Perhaps I Owe Having Become a Painter to Flowers....

This past spring I spotted trays of beautiful annuals outside a local grocery store and couldn't resist snapping a few photos to paint.  

Once I got out the photos and tried to think thru my painting, here we go with that hard composition lesson that I so need to work on.  How do you know when to edit?  We all love flowers and they smell really beautiful, but they can be so messed up in a painting.  Believe me I have samples where it looks as if I tried to cram every flower known to man into the painting.  

Okay, here 'my children of the paintings,' I have a HUGE tip for you that worked for me.  You know how you can take your fingers and zoom in on a photo on your Ipod or iPad?  Well, I guess you don't know that if you don't have one.  It is the same as laying paper over a section of a photo and cutting it down to a reasonable interesting view.  My IPad just made it easier for me to do it and somehow this summer, it all clicked in my head when I did it!  Eureka!  Or maybe I should shout out...Petunia!!

I took the above photo and scaled it down to a more interesting crop below.  It was admittedly a kind of mistake, but it finally broke thru this old girl's head.

 Here are the results of the first day or two of blocking in....

And here is the final painting.  Amazing how much better it looks with an edited version of the photo!  Flowers can say all kinds of things...I'm sorry, I love you, Feel better...But for me, they say LESSON LEARNED!

Can we conceive what humanity would be it it did not know the flowers of paintings?

Buying someone flowers is kind of a weird idea. Like: Hey, these are for you, now watch them slowly die, because I love you.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Have Brush Will Ravel?

What do you do when you procrastinate or even just forget to clean your brushes for several days?  

Recently we lost an uncle and somehow it just did not seem appropriate to paint and even more not to blog.  Giving myself a few days did not mean it was a good idea to walk away from my brushes and leave them to their own drying in my very warm studio.  Today, when I ventured out to return to work, I was thinking what a dork to not clean up last week.  

Saturated in dried paint, I got the brilliant idea to soak them in my turp bucket, knowing this isn't going to be pretty!

In the bottom of the turpentine bucket is a little scrubbing rack and I really have learned it is not the best thing for my brush bristles.  When others have cleaned up for me, (others being my sweet husband,) they over use this scrubber and it leaves the bristles all ragged and raveled, and usually hard to repair.    


They make wonderful brush soaps than can do a better job cleaning and help the bristles form back their original shapes too.  

Hard to understand that some of the best clean up for oils is soap and water, but it really works.  Works well on people too, but bath soap is much cheaper in case you are inclined to feel the urge to take a bath.

My brushes were in an awful mess and every time this has happened to me, I vow never again, but then I guess I will never learn.  I never learned my multiplication tables either, therefore I am an artist instead of all those real jobs that make money.  I digress...

 Once you fill the brush with soap it quickly begins to melt the oil paint.  This can take several attempts to get them clean....felt like about a hundred, but I am sure I exaggerate.  

All clean and back in their place in my studio.  Whew!  Onward and upward, back to hiding behind the canvas.  This photo doesn't really show how clean the brushes turned out, but it does show the pretty view from my studio window is, so that seemed more important right now.  Life goes on....

RIP Uncle Clive, your smile was infectious and you were never anything but kind to me.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Not a Rose of Sharon...This One is the Rose of Carol!

Back to the art of Still Life again this weekend. Time to give the street scene with Umbrella girl a break to dry.

This is a darling photo taken by a Facebook friend who offered me gracious permission to paint it.

Painting glass is a new one for me, but one I have wanted to work with for a while now.  The ripples in the bowl seem like they might be fun.  

Recently a group of fellow artist introduced me to some new shades of gray made by Gamblin, so what the heck...I will live on the wild side, or rather the gray side and give them a try.  Blocking in the bowl went better than expected. I hesitate to have a positive outlook because we all know how that usually ends up.

Getting the flower petals to the brilliant bright shades of orange and pink is going to be another issue.  

Progress is happening!  Petals and bowl and taking shape.

One of the problems I have is not being able to quit.  You have to know when to stop or you will over work the canvas and I am a pro at that.  If not careful, this will be a Mud Rose.  They make those don't they?  Probably not a big seller.

Feeling better about it, but one of my teachers always says, "To be a good gambler, you have to know when to get out of the Casino."  Is there such a thing as a good gambler?  Oh well, that is not his point.  The point is: LINDA put down the brush and walk I did.

Three days later I have finished this beauty and my thanks goes out to Carol Friesen for sharing her photo.

The Rose of Carol
8 x 8
Gallery Canvas

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Fresh and New

Sometimes I need to run up a white flag and get a new start.  A do over, a game changer and a new lease on life. Don't we all?  

Today I pulled out a photo I managed to take last Spring of a photographer with his model on a street near downtown Tulsa.

It was fun for me being a voyeur in their photo shoot on a rainy day.  She was stick thin and had a cute umbrella.  Never saw her face.

Once again those darn angles were tough for me, but I sketched this one in first, unlike my normal style of just taking off with the paint and brush.  So far, I like the progress and the idea.  

If nothing else, it for sure gives me a much needed break from my quest for concurring the still life subjects in my studio.  Fun day!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Puffed Up and Deflated, Is this Woman Too Old to Learn?

Yesterday, I had HUGE lesson in perspective.  More and more I am realizing some people have it and some don't and I am in the latter group.  Trying to learn but wondering, can you teach an old broad new tricks?

This summer we bought a few items for painting at a resale shop while visiting my daughter and her family in Illinois.  One item was a long pewter tray that I thought would be great for a prop in a still life.    Until this past week, I had put it away and forgot about it.  Only after purchasing a bouquet of yellow calla lilies did I think to pull it out.  Feeling puffed up and proud, I photographed the two together.  Beautiful!  Also I was feeling a tad arrogant about how superb my photo skills were that day too. Look how brilliant I am, I took this with my iPad.  Genus am I!  Even posted it on Facebook to get feedback, the whole time still feeling rather proud of my excellent composition.

Then God gave me a swift reminder in just how little I know and how things are not as easy as they look.  After I began to sketch with my paint brush, it became increasingly apparent that math was going to be needed to get this tray done.  MATH??  If I could be profecient in math, I would be an engineer, making REAL money, not a starving artist!

 Okay, get a grip can do this.  After much straining, measuring, pondering and correcting, I finally came up with a blocked in painting that gave me those old warm smug self righteous feelings about myself .  Needing a little feedback that I was not getting at home, I hauled my work to a class I am filling in during my break from regular semester art classes.  Hoping for that much needed positive feedback, the teacher burst my bubble with, "This is a all wrong, your tray looks like it is standing up. Your photo is off too."  What?? My ego stabbed in the heart, sulking with the reminder of once again, I don't know what I don't know.

 However, immediately I saw what the truth in that critique.  Isn't that the way it always goes, we need someone to point out the truth to us so we can grow??  So back to the drawing board, or rather the still life stand in my case.

A fellow student who should never have the word student associated with her in a sentence, yet I just did, offered me suggestions as I messaged her my new attempts of changing the perspective of my composition.  (I have no idea if that is even what you call what I was doing!  Just trying to sound artzy!)  She suggested I needed to break up the the idea of two elongated items with something of a different shape.  What?  There goes all my confidence at my creation in the first place, but I knew she was right.

How bout this?

No comment....Hmmm.

Well then, how bout this?

This one got a comment.  She texted me, "Too much on the left."  Crap, she is right!!

Okay, how bout this one?

"Bunny is looking away and that makes the viewer want to look away from your subject, the flower."

How does she know these things?  Once again, I knew instantly she was correct.  I was turning the bunny that way because I thought it was his better side.  Poor thing is not the most delightful bunny figurine you ever saw, but all I could come up with on short notice.  Wish I had an oriental vase or some oriental statue.  That would surely wow her, but I don't, so a simple pottery bunny will have to do.

"Can you pull the flower back?  It hangs off too much."  Really???

By this time, I am beginning to suspect this is a pitiful attempt to get me to exercise.  Up, down, back, forth, I am running around trying to get this right, on the computer and get positive feedback.  I am only showing you a few of the dozens of actual photos I took an sent.  Be grateful.

"Better."  Okay, for now, 'better' will have to do.  I am painting this sucker!  So I blocked over my original and tried to get the angles right and pull it together so it could be completed later this week.  Feeling satisfied and successful last night, I took one last photo of the rough block in and called it at a night.  My soul dancing with accomplishment and relishing in the pretend accolades this painting will bring me.

Anxious to paint, I was thrilled to wake up this morning and get back to it in the studio.  But as fresh eyes greeted it, I realized once again......THIS IS NOT RIGHT!  It is totally off.  Maybe I should spend more time with paint by numbers and give this up?  Grrrrrrr.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Scottsdale Artist School

How can one person get this old and not know what they don't even know?  Well it has happened to me and I sure didn't plan it this way.  To help me catch up just a little, I have the privilege of enrolling for a week long event at the Scottsdale Artis School with five nationally renowned artist instructors to guide me.  This school's name has been spewing out of my artist friend's mouth for several years now and I finally am going to have the chance to learn what it is all about.  Don't ask me how I am making this happen or even how I am going to pay for this.  For now, I am enrolled, the deposit is in and I will be attending early next year.  Look out world,  I am heading out west, paint and pencils in hand!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Finding the Right One.

Finding the right composition turns out to be maybe more complicated than finding the right husband!  Fortunately for me I did find the right husband and he hauled me around all day looking for the right matter to paint. He's a saint, but that's a whole other blog I could write. We took probably a few thousand photos, thank goodness for digital cameras, and put several hundred miles on our car.  Somehow, I know without even looking none of them are Mr. Right.  Seems like some things just happen by accident or the fates align.  I really want to paint people in fun places and I come across as a predator when I try to sneak up on them and take my winning shot.  In most cases those turn out blurred and too fuzzy to even make me remember the lovely original I thought I saw or like the one above skewed and awkward.  What was I thinking?  Hmmmmm.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Still Life Stands or Sits, Your Choice

I love Derek Penix for his beautiful art and also for how generous he shares information.  He shared this neat trick for creating a still life setup, and with the help of my husband, we took it to another level.  Derek shared the fact that you buy 'speaker' stands on Amazon for very inexpensive prices that are a high quality and perfect for your own personal adjustable height 'still life' table.  They are meant for elevating music speakers for concerts and other things.  The stand and the mount, you buy separately on Amazon, sell for under $30.  For the top, we used an end table we bought from The Salvation Army Store.  My husband took it apart and mounted it on the stand.  For me it made a beautiful reflective surface to place my items for painting.  You pros out there will probably find flaws in this set up, but for me in my journey to learn about composition, it has helped bunches!  If you put a bar stool beside it, get yourself a croissant from the bakery, put on a beret, and close your eyes, (most important step.)  You can even pretend it is a bistro table in France!  C'est la vie!  (Oh I scare myself sometimes how I think.)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Composition - It means everything!

Composition isn't EVERYTHING, but believe me it can sure spoil everything when it is not good.  This has been a really tough battle for me to overcome.  Everything looks good to me when I photograph it.  I find myself thinking it looks great until I sit down to paint it and it hardly ever works.  For me, I can draw anything, but I cannot arrange a pleasing composition or recognize one immediately in a landscape.This is a photo I took this morning and I think I like it.  Time will tell when the painting begins.  By the way, this is one photo out of about 170, give or take!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I Stink!

This is so hard and so frustrating!  Hard edges, soft edges, loose paint, high chroma, values, shadows....all of these are on my dirty words list to me today!  Is there such a thing as death by pallet knife?  That’s probably why mine is so stinkin little!  Self preservation.  Oh the pains of it all....I think I will just take my pallet knives into the kitchen and make cooking tools out of them, or give them to a small child to use as a Barbie pie slicer/server.  My turpentine I will use for a charcoal lighter fluid should I ever decide to barbecue.   I will use all my paint brushes as some kind of barbecue brushes and my paint I will...I will...I will think of something.  For now, I am going to play Wipeout on my canvas with my FAVORITE artist tool....Viva paper towels!  Nuff said!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Contradiction - The artist' definition.

Contradiction means many things to many people.  For me growing up, it meant what is a guaranteed thing to get you in trouble for doing to your parents. Especially, never contradict a parent in front of one of the other adults, that’ll get you prison time for sure.   Now, as a budding artist, well rather budding late life artist, it takes on a new meaning altogether.  Contradiction for the artist is merely taking a new class or workshop from a different teacher.  As the late bloomer that I am, I decided the definite way to catch up with the painters of my generation, is to take lots of classes from lots of different teachers, learning all different kinds of styles and techniques.  That ought to work, right?  Most of my colleagues fondly remising about the class they had with Old So in So, or how much more loose they paint now that they workshopped under Miss Lucy Goosey.  So, in my need for speed, I have now, in only a couple of years, studied long term under 5 different artist who hold class schedules and workshopped under half again as many.  

Recently a painting buddy, (see how loosely I use that term, because they actually pity me and try to help me by suggesting things way over my head and would hardly call me a buddy.)  I am a hip artist now ya know, so I play along and go with the group anyway I can.  Anyhow, recently this person invited me to join in a new class under a locally acclaimed teacher.  Of course, I am game.  It seems I am on the quest to exhaust all teachers locally so I can move on the big leagues and take from those master artist in the Artzy Fartzy places they congregate, (usually out west somewhere.)  In order to take in Artzy Fartzy lands, you need to have developed a skill or style of some kind or at least be a very good bluffer.  I digress...back to my story.  Today was the first day of this new class and boy do I feel befuddled.  Everything I have learned so far now may be a sham!  My brushes are not up to par, my paints are lacking, and medium is completely wrong.  The sad thing is that I think they are completely correct.  Yikes!  

Why is it that there are rules in life, yet in art specific rules are completely changed by the different leaders of the game?  In History, there are facts and facts are facts, yet each teacher I come across contradicts the previous lessons learned.  Here I am trying to convince myself how cool this is and my shrinking brain can't remember all I learn.  What was that?  Did you hear something?  Plink! Plink! That is the sound of my brain cells falling out of my head and bouncing on the floor.

More and more I am understanding just what drove Van Gogh to whack off the ear!  Since I don’t like blood, I may just have to start with a tuft of hair instead.  Oh the agony! 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Brushes - An implement with a handle.

Brushes?  Now there is a seven letter word that leaves my head spinning.  What kind to use?  If you are reading this, what do you use?  There are stiff hog brushes that seem to be preferred by the impressionistic type folks, there are exotic animals that I have never even seen before used to make brushes, and then there are the ones made by semi famous artists that once had TV programs on cable networks.  How is a novice to determine the right ones to invest their money in?  We all know the common phrase, “Starving Artist.”  Now I know why the artist is starving...they spent all their money on brushes!  Maybe I need to do a little art history research to see what the Masters used.  Pretty sure Michelangelo didn’t have this much trouble and look what surfaces he managed to paint on.  All I do know is that I probably need an attachment to my home owners insurance policy to include the replacement cost of my brushes.  At the rate I am going on my journey to learn to paint, maybe they will be my investment to sell on Ebay to cover the cost of my retirement home?  Sigh....

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Growing up is not for Sissies!

Finding the nest empty is not as bad as I once thought and even though the birds have flown the nest, they still come back to visit and call most days.  Asking The Father of all mankind to make me whole and feel at peace turns out to require a little work on my part…so here I go.  On to the new next part of life.  

Art was and still is part of my soul.  Who put it there?  It had to be a gift or a curse from the Almighty?  A curse because you are driven to do something that can take away from the hectic chores of life that become a necessity to keep the wheel of life rolling.  Each day passes and you feel slighted that you didn’t create that great masterpiece in your brain waiting to be discovered.  Time passes and you think you have plenty of it, until one day standing is not as easy to do for hours upon time at an easel and the joints in your fingers are achey with arthritis you didn’t have twenty years ago when you should have painted but thought your time was too limited.  Now, you look around at all the young, hip, edgy artists who are painting gross bizarre images of dead babies and distorted visions of their life and you ask yourself, “Have I waited too long to start?”  When all you can think to paint is a stupid tea pot with roses or lake with a sailboat.  What do people really want from a painting?  Where do I begin?