Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Atom Journal Page #21

While on vacation I was able to complete a journal page. I tried to take photos as I went. As usual, there comes a point where I am lost in the process and am missing a few steps, but I think you can still get an idea of the progress. I use old books for my journals and adopt part or all of the original title for each journal. I number the pages before I start to work. This makes it easier to organize the digital files of my finished pages.

I began on a page in the journal that was prepped with random collage and a coat of Golden Absorbent Ground. The ground allows me to use watercolor on the collage surface.
 I added a face from my random "character file" - a folder of faces I have roughly drawn on various papers with different media.
This one was an ink and watercolor pencil sketch on gessoed red rosin paper.

I used the collage as a guide for the body placement and shape.
A dog was added to give my character something to do!

Vintage magazine legs were added.
Don't you just love the shape...

I outlined the entire character and dog with watercolor pencil and started to blend it with matte medium.

This is the part where I get involved and forget to take photos.
I added color with pencils and pan watercolor. I always work on top of the added collage to make the character seamless.  I used heavy body Titanium White acrylic for the highlights.
I used a Sharpie white water based paint pen to add some accents and flowers.

I used a muted yellow watercolor for the background and added a bit more blue and red to the flowers to make them stand out.
The wings on the dog were made with a rubber stamp loaded with fairly dry watercolor. 
A few accents added to the doggie wings with pencil. More white pen around the flowers.
 Page 21 of the Atom Journal is done.

A little San Diego Zoo cuteness! A new baby giraffe.
This photo shows how much growing he has to do...

The Meerkats and I wish you a Happy New Year!!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Artmaking: A Creative Vocation

 I recently took part in a local high school mentor program where working artists meet with students interested in persuing Art as a career. I looked up the meaning of "career" because it did not feel right to me. I really think that "vocation" is a better description of the life of an artist. Vocation is defined as: a strong feeling of being destined or called to undertake a specifice type of work. Artmaking is not a 9-5 job, it is a lifestyle. I am compelled to create something...anything, otherwise I get cranky! So my "vocation" is to do whatever it takes to be able to continue to create.

In light of my personal definition of life as an artist, I decided not talk about different careers in Art - leave that to school counselors. Instead, I focused on general things that have helped me as a working artist. It was a fun experience and I decided to jot down some of the things I shared after the meeting. After looking at the list, I thought it would be fun to share it on the blog. Here it goes:
  1. Practice saying "I am an Artist."  If you don't believe, no one else will.
  2. Design your own educational path. It does not have to be all formal classroom education. Experience is a great teacher.
  3. Always say "YES"  and figure it out later. All my best experiences and connections have occured when I said "yes" to something out of my comfort zone.
  4. Practice, practice, practice - it takes WORK to be really good at what you do.
  5. Keep a sketchbook to document your process. Record what inspires you, try out tools, ideas, what works and what does not. Consider them a resource and a record of your personal journey.
  6. Work toward developing your own style by your choices in subjects, colors,  materials and their application. Use an inspiration board  to help you figure out what your are really interested in and re-evaluate periodically, as your tastes and interests will evolve. 
  7. Get feedback and support. Bring your sketchbook with you everywhere. You never know when you will have a chance to get feedback on what you are doing. Choose a safe audience  - family and friends to gather support.
  8. Post your pictures on social media when you are ready. Pinterest and Instagram are a great place to start.
  9. Allow yourself to be curious and keep asking WHAT IF?
  10. Participate in a collaborative projects, enter competitions, submit artwork to the publications that interest you.  Rejection is a necessary evil of a creative career, so create some positive self talk to get through the tough spots.
  11. Find your "People." Not everyone will like what you do, so keep pushing your art out until you find the folks who "get" your work.
  12. My favorite reading list for a creative life are:
·       Art and Fear - Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, by David Bayles and Ted Orland
·       Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon
·       Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Friday, October 16, 2015

Museum Love

I just returned from my first trip to New York City, after teaching at Art Is You, Stamford, CT.

When I travel I make it a point to go to as many museums as possible. We only had 4 days, so I dragged my hubby all over New York to see the top museums on my list.

The first was the Morgan Library, historic private library of Pierpont Morgan, which includes 3 Guttenburg Bibles and stacks of rare books. They also have rotating exhibits and I was lucky enough to catch "Alice: 150 Years of Wonderland." I saw early writings and drawings of the author Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodson) and the illustrator John Tenniel. I loved seeing the drawings from concept to final illustration.

The next museum on the list was the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I found the museum overwhelming, it is so large. The collections are amazing, but you really have to limit what to see. My favorite gallery was filled with medieval statues, stained glass and icons.

The American Folk Art museum is very small, but had a wonderful exhibit of "Art Brut,"a term coined by French artist Jean DeBuffet. Raw art by untrained artists from the 50's and 60's. 

And last but not least the MOMA where I saw am amazing exhibit of Picasso's sculptures. Picasso worked with everything from plaster, ceramics, found objects, bronze. Whatever caught his fancy. He learned what he needed then played and pushed the limits of each medium - good advice! One of my favorites was this small assemblage.What you cannot see in the photo is, on the back of the sculpture, he made hair out of twine.

The MOMA also has an extensive collection of paintings that rotate on display. I was able to see Jean-Michael Basquiat's painting over a massive canvas covered with collaged journal pages.

Four museums and all manner of mixed media inspiration: pencil, ink, crayon, paint and found objects used to describe each artists vision of figures and faces. I came away inspired, recharged and ready to get to work! I bought some new pens and pencils to try and played with them while waiting for the plane to leave....

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Winged Inspiration

I love Celtic music and had a chance to attend a music event called Faerieworlds, just outside of Portland, Oregon. Just imagine the potential for magical inspiration! I was not disappointed. Picture a forested setting next to a lake, almost everyone in some sort of fairyland costume. There were elves, fairies, mermaids and pirates. Vendors with everything from silk fairy wings to barbeque turkey legs for sale.
I loved the "Dream Tree" where streamers with paper and clothes pins were used to post your dreams. 

My biggest fascination was the inventiveness of the wings.....

I had my camera and sketchbook on hand and came away with some great imagery. 

We sat under the stars and watched dancers in costume moving to the music. 
It was MAGIC!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Art Life

I gave a class at my studio to some wonderful folks last week, including my grandaughter, who is 16 years old and another visiting teen. The class was an abbreviated version of my upcoming class at Art-Is-You Stamford, CT, October 7-9. Sort of a trial run to make sure my instructions were good and I had the right supplies.

One of my class samples for Paint Primer on Primitive

It is alway fun to see what students create from your original concept for a new class and this was no exception. Only a few in the class had made a doll before, and this is a grouping of what was produced. Some are not quite finished, but they are stunning and unique! One person even made a mermaid....

My grandaughter gave me permission to share her work....

Definitely a modern twist on Primitive. 

Finished paintings layed out on the table...

I decided to demonstrate a more modern version of a primitive doll and painting, 
to show how early American primitive style can be done with a twist.

I hope you will consider joining me in Stamford, CT for 
October 7-9, 2015!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Quilted Palette

Last weekend I attended the Sisters, Oregon annual Quilt Festival. The second Saturday of July every year the town of Sisters puts on an amazing show. Quilts are organized by similarity and hung on buildings, in stores...basically everywhere you look. Even the Fire Department helps. In a matter of hours there are hundreds of quilts to view.

Each quilt is like a painting, marks made by patches and stitching instead of pencils and brushes. Color combinations masterfully selected from a complicated palette of not only color but patterns.
Here are some of the inspirational quilts I saw. Maybe they will also inspire you!

Section of quilt made by the ladies from Gees Bend

Made with hand dyed batik fabrics

Masterful "painting"
 When I returned home I had two paintings that I needed to finish for the Oregon Wine Experience charity event.  I decided to use the quilts to inform my color palette. 

The "fall" colors are yummy!

and became "Autum Song"

I love the teal and red orange...

It became "Girl with a Red Bird"
I hope this inspires you to look for a color palette in unusual places.
Stay Curious!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Why I Teach

My "Golden Rule Studio"

Why do I teach? I have been thinking about this a lot lately and have come to realize that teaching is an integral part of my creative process. Without sharing what I discover, it feels like something is missing. I created my artist "mission statement" years ago and I still believe it is true:

" I am on a journey, exploring the path of intuitive art, listening to the voice within to learn, create and share what I find." 

So here are a few reasons why I teach:
I love....
- the anticipation of sharing something I am excited about
- learning from my students
- happy accidents that provide opportunities for unplanned problem solving
- seeing students letting down their guard, offering help and encouragement to each other.
- seeing that "click" of recognition when someone "gets it."
- the collaborative energy a group creates.
- that 10 people can approach the same project and come up with 
10 wonderfully different results,
demonstrating that unique creative voice.

It is good to remember that making art is not just about "making." If it was just about mastery of certain skills, art would be easy. The intangible part of making art is being able to visually express who you are.  Learning about new tools and techniques in a class is not an end, but a beginning. It can open a door that will lead your closer to finding your unique creative voice. 

 I hope, as a teacher, I am able to encourage others in their journey of self discovery through play, curiosity and paying attention.....   

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Painting Make-OverI

I often use an old painting to get me re-energized to paint. Because it is a "make-over" I can feel free to experiment and try new colors and techniques.
Where I started...

I got lost in playing and did not take photos of the transition.
 I kept the figure and part of the creature.
At this point it is pretty dark.

Lightening it up, but my biggest critic (hubby) did not like the "peach."
I also changed the eyes to look to the side on the figure.
This small change really impacted the
painting. The two figures are now connecting.

I added some warmer colors - green and yellow glazes.
I also added arms on the girl and a shell with a pearl.
It was unclear who was in the foreground, so back to work.

Close up of added white to pull the figure forward. 

Details of the shell and pearl.

Close up of the creature....

I added more dark around the creature to push him back.

Arms were a bit skinny, so I fleshed them out and made them part of the dress.
Finished ?
I bet you have some pieces hanging around that could be re-worked. Let go and give it a try!