A brand new journey

Come with me on a journey – a walk on the wild side. Explore with me the opening of a new door to my creative endeavors. I pushed the envelope a little this time, taking on something I’ve never done before. It started like this:

Paint My Photo – a web based consortium of artists and photographers. I was introduced to PMP by my friend Jean Klein from the Phoenix Artists Guild who is a participating artist member. (There are over 7,000 by the way, from all over the world!) If you’re ever lacking for inspiration or subject matter, check it out one of these days at
www.paintmyphoto.ning.com . It’s completely free, and you will be amazed at the quality of photos, all copyright free that the photographers post for anyone to use. Sounds too good to be true right? But I kid you not it’s awesome! Each month they have a “challenge” that is put out to every member. The July challenge was “Macro florals. To enter you must use one (or several) of the photos posted, and they suggest doing it larger than you normally work – to push the envelope as it were.

When I studied the many close up photos of beautiful flowers, I was inspired to try something different. What the heck – I’ve never been one to retreat from a challenge. I chose this reference photo by Maria Balcells.peony2
I used a large gallery wrap canvas I’ve had sitting behind the door for a couple of years – 24 X 30 – big for me.  I printed out the reference photo to 8X10 so I could get it large enough to measure proportions. Here is the sketch   petalpoemsketch although I am carefully noting shapes and proportions, it is just a preliminary sketch and will probably be changed during the execution of the painting.

I’m excited about the prospect of painting this challenging piece, and although I am a little tired after establishing my initial drawing which took nearly two hours, I begin working the upper left hand corner, treading lightly at first but looking forward to the bold colors. This is what it looked like that first day after I finished the sketch on canvas      poemdayone

I woke up the next morning eager to attack this canvas! I spent a good half hour mixing color, (no neutral this time since I want clear brilliant colors!) I AM NOT PAINTING THE FLOWER BUT PAINTING SHAPES THAT I SEE and paying pretty close attention to the values as they change within the shapes. Color is of course a factor but I am less concerned with accuracy at this point and I’m just plunging in with wild abandon. IT’S FUN! I paint pretty much all day since I have the day off. The housework doesn’t get more than a look and a promise. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow. Here’s what it looked like after the second day. daytwo

Unfortunately I rarely get two days off in a row so I have to leave it for awhile. I am itching to get back at it but alas, duty calls. I do have a life! I finally get back at it the following day, and spend about 4 hours blocking in the general shapes and colors. My brush is flying, I’ve changed palettes three times, I’ve used more white paint than I have for a year! I’m not used to working this large and there is a lot of space to cover. I am still taking careful note of SHAPES and not painting the flower at all. Here’s how it looked after the 3rd day daythree I clean my brushes and put my palette in the freezer reluctantly since I really want to keep painting but my body overrules me and I flop into my bed and fall instantly asleep, satisfied at a good hard day’s work.

I am determined to finish this project – only 4 days into it and I’m still excited – it’s nearly done. I love the limited palette – red, orange, yellow, blue and of course white. Two reds: Alizarin Crimson and Cadmium Red Light; Two yellows, Cadmium Yellow Medium and light; Cadmium Orange comes in handy when I need intense color in the dominantly red areas on the left and right. Dioxazine purple is used in some of the shadow of white areas. Prussian Blue – a color I RARELY use works well for the cool hues in this Peony. I did a little detail work and a bit of glazing here and there to intensify colors. Here’s the finished piece.  Petal Poem final

I enlisted the help of my experienced and computer savvy friend Jean Klein to help me post it into the challenge since I had never before entered a painting on this website. What followed was a stimulating dialogue from other artists in the organization, one after another, people who praised, applauded and encouraged. A panel of judges chose this painting as the winner of the monthly challenge!!!  I was of course astounded (and pleased). It will be published on the cover of their next online newsletter (a quarterly publication) – a coveted position. Sadly, no money prize but a feather in my cap. To date I don’t have too many feathers!

(Author’s note: Since I am pretty new at this blog stuff, I am not familiar with some of the tools that wordpress offers. Therefore, my photos are somewhat scattered around the page with fragments of sentences attached. I really wanted to wrap the text around the photos but didn’t know how to do that…. Sorry about that – my next post will hopefully be better! I hope whomever reads this will learn something or be inspired. That’s my intent.)

I learned so much! Enjoyed it immensely and although I didn’t get a whole lot else done that week, I have to say that I produced one heck of a flower painting. It’s abstract while at the same time realistic. My advice….don’t be afraid to push the envelope! I believe that “Petal Poem” is the first of many macro florals that I will do. I’m afraid I’m hooked!

Windows of France

“Windows of France”

Will I ever learn? Why on earth would anyone want to be out in this heat (110 some days!) traipsing around to store after store shopping for NEW FURNITURE! Well, when I get a notion in my little head it’s hard to squash! After three or four days of intense looking, consignment stores, thrift stores, furniture warehouses – you name it, I’ve been there! I finally found something I could live with! It looked so good in the store, sat comfortably, was the right color and fabric. Affordable to boot, so okay we bit the bullet. Problem is how do we get it home??? Our wonderful grandson Bryan came to the rescue and offered to haul it here in his box trailer, remove the existing furniture, put the new stuff in place and then drive the old stuff to the cabin to replace the mismatched stuff that has been bugging me for years! What a guy! We’re so grateful – words can never express! Anyway, new stuff in place on the patio, old stuff in the trailer, new stuff hauled into the family room to replace it…..UGH! It’s positively HUGE!!! It didn’t look that big in the STORE!!! We are in a dilemma. So, what to do…We rearranged the room, and now, though I’m still not used to the massive size, it looks pretty good. Guess I’ll keep it.

But there is an UPSIDE!!! I now have a GALLERY WALL of paintings! That freed up a lot of floor space (no place to put all the paintings I create, frame and don’t sell! So they’re stacked against the wall, behind the doors, under the beds. Anyone else have that problem?) And I can see the fruits of my labor of love! Of course I used all the paintings I did last summer after my exciting trip to France with my painterly friends!

The four paintings I like the most have been made into notecards. Two have been sold, “Doves In An Ancient Window” went to my dear friend Sandie Townsend – she purchased the first of that series; the second, “Stained Glass Window” was purchased by my daughter and her husband. Here is the series:

ShopWindow_600      TroglodyteWindow_600

StainedGlassWindow_600       DovesInWindow_600

 

If anyone is interested in purchasing one or all four, they are available at $1.50 each – let me know.

So with this huge inventory of paintings, why do I continue to produce more? (My hubby asks me that question regularly!)  Well, because I HAVE TO! I am an artist – it’s what I do. HELP! I’m painting and I can’t STOP!!! So deal with it! Guess I’ll just have to have another sale!

Here’s what the new furniture arrangement looks like in the family room! I’m very excited about the gallery wall!

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“Enjoying the Sunday Funnies”

 

My gratitude to my webmaster, Bill Jacobi – ever there to instruct and repair lo these many years – needs to be emphasized. This “platform” for sharing my thoughts and ideas on my artist’s journey will probably be time consuming, adding to my already busy schedule, but always, I’m sure, rewarding. I have never been a writer as such, but I have in the past shared ideas with my students and friends, ideas that hopefully will interest and educate anyone who has a desire to read and digest my thoughts, opinions and techniques.

The painting at the top of this blog page is entitled “Enjoying the Sunday Funnies”. It is one that I did following my exciting adventure in France a couple of years ago, though it is not a French scene. I would like to share a little about the creation of this work, and hope that I can inspire my readers to be unafraid of tackling challenging subjects.

Although I love painting en plein aire, often I work from photographs I take myself, usually more than one, the resulting composition carefully designed and executed. However, this particular painting was inspired by a photo taken by a friend who visited the Piazza Novana in Rome and snapped a photo of this gentleman relaxing on a wrought iron bench that surrounds “The Neptune Fountain”. (I hope one day to visit this spot on earth myself, unlikely at this time in my life but one can hope, right?)  I was captivated by the lighting on the gentleman’s face, the sunlight over his shoulder bouncing up and illuminating his expression. However, in my photo, this interesting fellow was not smiling. The statue over his left shoulder was not smiling. There were no pigeons, and a quite different view of the buildings that surround the piazza. Throw in a little imagination and a lot of GUTS and the end result after many hours of research and painting time, and voila! “Enjoying the Sunday Funnies”! Probably one of my most “creative” and challenging efforts, and one I truly enjoy looking at. It makes me smile.

So let’s talk about composition for a minute. (ever the instructor!) Can you see my plan for leading the eye through the painting? The highlight on the man’s left trouser leg leads us to the highlight on the newspaper’s edge, leading us to his mirthful face, all bathed in reflected warm light! (I made this up.) This leads us to the statue’s right arm and to HER laughing face. (Also made up – I used a mirror, grinning insanely into it to get the expressions just right! Good thing I was alone in my studio or I might have had to fight off the guys in the white jackets!) The pigeon sitting on the statue’s shoulder was somewhat of an afterthought – a fun afterthought but it seems to reinforce the theme of the painting and all these elements seem to help the composition. (Remember – if it doesn’t help your painting, it HURTS your painting!)

Perhaps the biggest challenge of this particular piece of work was capturing the illusion of carved marble as well as a living, breathing person. I invented some cast shadows on the background building in order to point to the statue of Neptune and the arched doorway on the left works to point to the figure. I had to draw on lots of past knowledge (figure drawing, proportion, capturing the shadow of white) in order to make it happen but it was well worth the effort. I enjoyed the painting experience and looked forward each day at my easel to bringing my idea to fruition. This tiny painting (only 9X12!) was truly a learning experience as well and it’s really quite okay with me if I never sell it.

Thanks for letting me share this wonderful journey with you! Above all, never be afraid of a challenge – no matter what you undertake! The rewards are well worth the blood, sweat and tears! Well, maybe not the tears. Smile – always smile! It causes good WRINKLES!sundayfunnies

 

 

Okay – that’s it! I’m convinced – the world’s gone MAD! Total chaos – and I, a mere mortal, can do little to bring it back to even close to normalcy! So, how to survive? In order to keep my sanity in this crazy world, I tend to latch onto something, usually something creative, and then go whole hog, my pea-brain absorbing examples of what has been done before – (nothing’s new folks, just different versions of someone’s creative idea!). What follows the research and the initial inspiration is usually quite different from anything I’ve seen or done before. Since it springs from my own gray matter, put there by The Creator, it is then tapped as needed.

This happened recently, in January actually, when I usually surf the web looking for clever craft ideas to make items for the Magic Moments Boutique. I happened across POLYMER CLAY CHARMS! I discovered literally hundreds of instructional “how-to” videos, and many videos simply displaying various types of charms. They were all so intriguing, so drawing on my past experiences with polymer clay, I began creating miniature food items, hamburgers, tacos, cupcakes, ice cream bars. After the first dozen I WAS HOOKED! I began looking forward to even an hour of spare time that I could go in my work room and craft yet another charm!

As everyone who works with this incredible medium will tell you, one amasses dozens of blocks of colorful clay. It has a pretty long shelf-life. Some of the wads of polymer clay in my studio are easily a couple of years old. (I tend to buy my favorite clay, FIMO SOFT, at Michaels when they have their special – 4 for $5.00!) I need only the simplest of implements, the most important being my pasta machine which makes conditioning the clay a BREEZE! My retired-from-the-kitchen toaster oven – no expensive kiln necessary, a few cutters in interesting shapes, a few rubber stamps to imprint texture, and I’m good to go! The nice thing about the polymer clay charms is that I can use up all these lumps of stuff I’ve had around for years, and voila, I can create to my heart’s content!

Here are some of the charms I have come up with:charm 1hotdog 005sweet charms

Are they fun or what? Junk food with NO CALORIES! They are a bit time consuming but it’s so much fun for me that I’m dying to share them with my customers and friends. I am selling them for only $3.00 each and can make earrings or charm bracelets and necklaces to order. Watch my blog for more pix of new charms as they emerge from my never idle fingertips! I think I’m on a roll. (Maybe cinnamon?)