Bird & Sunrise photo

Bird & Sunrise photo
Because "someday" is today!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Is It Real or Imagined?

I had a discussion with Jeff on the subject of "realistic" paintings. If a painting has a recognizable subject matter and looks like something that exists in the visual world, does the artist use their imagination to create such a painting or not?

We talked about the color choices the artist could make and decisions about composition. What elements of the scene do they leave in and what do they leave out. Do you make your subject look better than it really is, like the portrait painters for the royal Spanish courts in the 1500's? What parts of the subject matter do you bring into focus and what do you leave in the background?

After considering all the different choices an artist could make, we decided that even a realistic subject requires quite a bit of imagination.

I thought of some of Jeff's paintings of churches he completed a few years ago as an interesting subject to consider. I will include one, even though I don't have his original inspiration to show you. I decided also to show an example of one of my flower photos and the painting I created from being inspired by that photo. What do you think?

Jeff's Corner: What you see is what you beget!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

What's In Your World?

Imagine a world. I've been thinking of this idea all week. I haven't imagined a would since I was at least six. I remember what it used to feel like, but somewhere along the way I decided I would rather read about other people's worlds in books. I think I stopped believing I was creative enough to make up my own.

I've been reading Eric Maisel's "The Creativity Book" which is full of a years worth of exercises to help you become an "everyday creative person", no matter what your personal creative passion is. This particular exercise really got to me. I realized how incredibly organized and goal oriented most of my thinking is all day. I get a lot done, but it feels like I never let my mind out to play!

I also happened to see the movie "Bridge to Terebithia" this week and it was all about two young people who use this creative ability to deal with the difficult things in their lives, i.e. school bullies, parents, and death. It had more substance to it than most "kid" movies and it made a good point on how our imaginations can help us.

Think about it. What kind of things would you do in your world? Who would you meet? So far, I know I would have my own flying car, I would go to a beautiful deserted beach and then some adventure would ensue involving a giant fish that swallowed the moon....

Try it out. It's a great stress reliever. Let me know if you surprise yourself!

Jeff's corner: In my world, every road would have a special lane just for me, and all the traffic lights would be GREEN!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Fox and The Hound

After such a difficult time painting my first oil painting in twenty years using the red fox as a subject (see my entry "Who Said Oil and Water Don't Mix"), I feel very proud of my latest accomplishment. I decided to do a 6" x 8" painting of a Rottweiler puppy as a birthday gift for a friend of mine. This was a much better experience and I would like to share with you what I learned.

First: Good reference photos. Good reference photos! Good reference photos!!! This means that there is a clear light source so the shadows and light parts of the subject are easy to see. To me, understanding where these light and dark parts really belong make a great painting.

Second: Get the personality of the subject. Get up close so you can really see the expression of the subject.

Third: The photo must be in focus. No guessing about what is going on. I know artists are supposed to use their "imagination" to fill in things, but when I am trying to learn a new subject, it's not a good time to do this.

Fourth: Have a great drawing first. I did a drawing which I transferred to the canvas. Instead of doing a one color underpainting for placement, I could place the darks and lights right where I needed them the first time, which saved me so much time and headache repainting.

The result was a painting that took me half the time, was twice the fun to do and felt very satisfying for me to complete. Lessons learned. Tell me what you think!

Jeff's Corner: Just like a news story, a painting is only as good as its source.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Old Dog, Old Tricks

The next flower painting that had back light shining through the leaves and petals, I chose to use a watercolor technique that I know very well. My subject was yellow daisies, so I painted the whole canvas the yellow I wanted for the main color of the flowers. The next step is to paint everything else that isn't flower petals and leave that yellow basically untouched for the flowers.

It worked really well. I got that nice sheer glow that I wanted and not that heavy dull color that can happen when white is mixed into a color to lighten it. Jeff laughed when he saw that painting and said "you have made an oil painting look like a watercolor!" He suggested that I add a little more weight to the rocks because they did look a bit too sheer like the flowers. Since the rocks were reflecting light and not having light shine through them, this was good advice.

I was glad to learn that I could bring some of my old watercolor skills to this new style of painting. This change also helped me to finish the painting faster than the pansy, i.e. ten hours instead of fourteen and a half. This is very encouraging to me.

Speaking of encouraging, I would like to thank Kathy for lifting my spirits on a tough day and for her interest in the little fox painting. Most of this battle for a change in my life is in my mind. I knew it would be, but it is wonderful to get reinforcements from outside now and then!

Jeff's Corner: "Sit, Ubu, Sit (Woof!) Good Dog..."

Friday, August 8, 2008

Letting Go

A few years ago, May of 1997, I finished a 24"x 18" acrylic painting of a purple iris. I was so pleased, and felt it was the best thing I had ever done. Of course I showed it to friends and family because it felt like such an accomplishment.

I had one friend actually ask if I would sell it to her. I was surprised and flattered, but I couldn't let it go because I had such an emotional connection to the painting.

Now in the present, I thought I would have an easier time letting go of paintings. I am finding it is still hard. It's funny how things you don't deal with are still there waiting for you! I know it's necessary if I am going to really sell any art. If any of you have some helpful thoughts on how you have learned how to let go, I would love to read them. Yes, I still have the painting.

Jeff's Corner: If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, you probably put the wrong address on the package.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Flower Power

After my adventures trying to paint wildlife, I decided to do a subject I am more familiar with. I chose from my flower photos a single pansy viewed from the back with light coming through the petals. I love when the sunlight makes the flower petals glow. I chose another small canvas, 6"x 8".

I started with a value sketch underpainting in black and white. This gets everything in position and is supposed to make things go faster when you start adding color. I found that this caused me some trouble if I wanted to make a change to the painting. I was hard to cover over the black and still get that glow in the petals I wanted. I had to repaint in a lighter color and let it dry, then glaze over that with the color I wanted.

When I had worked with the colors I had for awhile, I realized I couldn't get the color right and had to buy some different paint. Namely,Mauve and Rose Violet in the Duo brand that were sheer colors without so much white in them.

I was keeping track of the hours it took to finish the painting. Because of the repainting and changes, it took fourteen and a half total hours. The fox took twenty hours, so it was an improvement, but still not the six hours I was hoping for. I have a bad habit of thinking I can just do things perfectly the first time, and then getting discouraged when it doesn't work out. If anyone has any positive suggestions on how to change this sort of mind set, please let me know!

Jeff's Corner: Sometimes it's not necessary to reinvent the wheel...