A.R.T. and A.D.D.

It’s a little known fact that I have A.D.D.  Just for funzies lets throw in a little depression and O.C.D. while we’re at it.  I’m an alphabet soup of clinical terms – tasty!   Don’t worry, this isn’t anything new for me and I have a lifetime of experience learning how to live with these little brain-minions of mine.  Something that I also have is A.R.T.  The creative drive to express myself.

I’ve painted my whole life.  Drawn, sculpted, you name it.  I’ve been creating ever since I could pick up a crayon.  It was and is to this day my strength.  My drive to do better, my self-expression, my gift to the world.

So how do I balance A.R.T. with my brain?

I embrace A.D.D. when I create.  After many years I realized that part of my creative process is to be EVERYWHERE.  Let me give you a “for instance”.  Whenever I prep for a new art show I always start by re-setting my studio.  Tidy, put things back where they belong, put my body into productive motion.   I give myself a day to organize my thoughts and focus my energy.  I know that throughout this “focus day” I will get distracted.  It is inevitable.  This is A.D.D. and I accept that.  I give my A.D.D. permission to look at the shiny object.  By giving myself this day I get my wiggles out.  As I re-set my studio I take notes, make sketches, and it looks a little like this:

 1.  How many pieces to I need to paint?  How big?  Subject matter?

I’ll sketch what I imagine the gallery wall will look like or what the cluster of panels will look like hanging.  Horizontal?  Vertical?  Big?  Small?  I place all my panels together and begin to prep them.  I’ll tape off the sides with blue painters tape and lay the panels on the floor or stand them up against a wall or table or kitchen counter.  This helps me imagine what they’ll look like together and I begin to see them as a cohesive series.

2.  What color scheme?  How much paint do I need?

Long before this process began I have been mulling over colors.  I think about colors all day long.  When I’m driving in my car I think about color.  Now looking at all the panels laid out it starts to click.  I think of how much of each color I’ll need.  Hmmm….there’s only one thing I need to do first…

3.  Clean kitchen counters

Enter A.D.D. stage left!  A.D.D. is like a one-man band.  Imagine the most distracting thing possible playing an accordion, smashing cymbals and diddling a penny whistle at the same time.  It’s here and it’s not going away until I feed it.  My heart rate rises as I look for the 409.  I spend a few minutes straightening the kitchen and wiping the counters down.  Even though this is an obvious distraction I am still in my head about my paintings.  I can see the final products hanging on the gallery wall.  I also notice that there are no more clean kitchen rags…it’s ok, Jaya, chill.

4.  Pull out colors and prep paint

Prepping for an encaustic show requires a little more love.  I spend some time making whatever paint colors I’ll need so I won’t have to stop midway through the actual art process.  I begin to make some bulk batches of encaustic medium.  Now that the heat is on and I’m waiting for wax to melt I can think about more important things…dirty kitchen rags.

5.  Do laundry

If I’m going to keep cleaning the kitchen counters I need more rags so by golly I’d better get some laundry started.  I just can’t sit around waiting for wax to melt – I need to be efficient.  I’m an efficiency machine.  Like a multitasking art/housekeeping/penny whistle playing transformer.  I’m actually excited to sort through the hots and colds so I can clean some more rags.  I need rags at this point.  Lots and lots of rags.  Thank heaven the laundry is started so I can get back to business.

6.  What tools do I need?

Gather tools.  This includes scraping tools, metal tools, extra tins, torches and brushes.  I don’t want to spend any extra energy during the actual painting process looking for my gear.  I want it in arms reach.  I lay everything out in my work area and I begin to clean my brushes.

7.  O.C.D. kicks in and I meticulously clean all tools for at least 2 hours

Clean and wipe down all metal tools.  Freshen up ALL brushes (this includes brushes that have nothing to do with my project).  Reorganize tool box.  Scrape all dried wax drippings off metal worktable.  Sweep floor.  Vacuum floor.  Clean vacuum cleaner.  Laundry is done – YES!!!

8.  Clean rest of kitchen 

I control myself and filter my encaustic medium before I rage war against the stove.  This is perfect timing because my wax will be clean and in perfect little bricks by the time I’m finished.  Like a ping pong ball I zip through the house: check wax, clean stove, fold laundry, stir wax, sweep floors, put away laundry.  It’s a process.

9.  Get my game face on

My wax is all set.  My shiny hyper-clean tools are laid out.  My studio is ready to be exploded with whatever it takes to finish these X amount of pieces.  I’ve got my reference photos, sketching tools and I’m ready to rock.  I pull out my first panel and it stares right back at me from the easel.  Bring it on.

10.  Cuddle my pet chicken for another hour

Self-explanatory.

See? 10 super-easy steps to starting a new collection of work.  This is how my brain works and I’m sticking to it.  By taking this day I am mentally prepared to focus.  During the painting process everything is everywhere at all times.  I have a table to work on however art will spill onto the floor and into the hallway.  The kitchen counter becomes a drying station for wet paint.  Food?  No. Wet paint.  There’s a spot on the kitchen counter.  Must clean kitchen counters.  Where are the rags?

 

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Inspiration is No Joke

Sometimes inspiration hits when you least expect it.

I know how I operate:  I am deadline driven.  When I take on a commission I want to know when I need to deliver it by.  Of course, there is always the circumstance when I ask, “When would you like this?” and the answer is “Oh, whenever…”  Let me give you a little background behind my latest commission which I just call “The Joker”…
IMG_9929

I am fortunate to have an awesome patron who has commissioned a number of works throughout the years who’s quite flexible with completion timetables.  It’s pretty funny really…sometimes I’ll finish a piece in a month, or two, or maybe a bit longer…About 5 years ago I dropped off a painting to his home in San Francisco and he said, “I’d like to have a joker painting in your style.”  We originally discussed my old-school gouache on wood technique and at first I was quite animated and inspired.  However this faded and I did not feel the same drive to paint this freaking awesome character.  I’ve always wanted to do the joker, why am I suddenly uninspired?  Time passes, I’ve embraced the encaustic medium and I now see my gouache work as a thing of the past.   During that time I have also moved up north to the Sacramento area and met new people.

Speaking of new people, one of my co-workers has a face made of rubber.  One day at work inspiration hit like a lightening bolt as I was talking to him.  I can’t remember the conversation but I do recall rudely interrupting him saying “OMG I HAVE TO PAINT YOU AS THE JOKER!” And the rest was history.

After seeing my friend’s rubber face I had a crystal clear vision in my mind of what I wanted to do.  This new idea wasn’t quite what my collector and I originally discussed but I just had to do it.  I decided to go in the new direction…

This commission was 5 years in the making:  I couldn’t force the painting into a style that I no longer resonated with.  I never forgot about the Joker, he was in the back of my mind and would pop up every now and again.  Inspiration comes out of nowhere and when it does strap yourself in and go along with the ride!

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The Magic Wand

It was just like any other day, wake up, coffee, e-mails, head off to work and right after I clocked in it hit me…

“Jaya, your favorite brush has been discontinued.”

Before we insert-volcano-eruption-emoji-here lets back up a few years.

Once upon a time I bought a new brush.  It wasn’t just any brush, her name was “Umbria” and she was the most magical brush in all the land.  She was soft and firm, she had a handle with a good grip, she was pretty and most importantly she allowed me to paint faster than ever before.  She was the best brush I’ve ever used and I dubbed her “my magic wand”.  Throughout the years I bought more magic wands so my students could test them out before buying one of their own.  Immediately after trying out the brush they would bee-line to the register to snatch one up for themselves.  Soon, multiple magic wands waved in my classroom and everybody was able to paint with beautiful, feathered brushstrokes!  It was a wonderful time.  Everything was perfect and nothing could go wrong with Umbria at my side.

Until…She was gone.

(Insert-volcano-eruption-emoji-here)  What else could I do other than conduct myself with grace and dignity?  I felt that I handled the situation well by throwing a full-blown art diva tantrum.  Since I don’t swear in my blog posts I will censor myself.  “Why the *BLEEP* would they *BLEEPING* discontinue the best brush in the whole *BLEEPING* world?!  Do they even have a *BLEEPING* substitute?!  This is so *BLEEPING* stupid!”  I demanded that my poor coworkers immediately drop what they were doing and help me figure out a potential substitute.  We grabbed all vendor catalogues and began frantic-calling distributors trying to scrounge up any remaining magic wands across the United States.  It was like searching for a unicorn.

“Jaya, what about this one?”

“NO!  That one won’t work!  The bristles are too long! Don’t you understand?! NO!  This one won’t work either!  The bristles are too short!  Why are you even showing me this brush!?  Give me the catalogue!!!”

I could have given Goldilocks a run for her money: this brush is too stiff, this brush is too soft, this brush is too small.  Thankfully, my coworkers know what a spaz I am so they were all too happy to laugh at my pain and get caught up in the Jaya whirlwind.  After a few minutes of agitated page-flipping we found a new brush that could possibly hold a candle to Umbria.   The new “Sapphire” was ordered.

After a morning of what felt like herding cats, we were able to wrangle all the magic wands that our distributors had and they were on their way.  We now had a monopoly on all the best brushes in the entire world and I was reserving each and every one for my classes.  My blood pressure started to lower and I could officially begin the day.

Moral of the story:  When a manufacturer decides to discontinue something you love, cherish, and have on all of your class lists, handle the situation with grace and dignity.  Like me!

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Back in Black (and White)

Mane & Tail no. 1

I am a color nerd.  I am fascinated with color relationships and how they interact with one another.  I am a huge advocate using a limited color palette (if you’ve been in any of my classes you’ve heard me emphatically preach this concept).  I can spend hours painting swatches, color studies, deciphering pigments on the back of paint tubes – oh, I’m a hoot to be around!  “Color Nerd” is a term I learned from one of my teachers, Laura Moriarty, and it just stuck.  That being said…

Over the past few months I have been drawn to explore perhaps the most basic color palette of them all: Black & White.  There’s something to be said about the false simplicity of white and black and everything in between.  I began to truly appreciate the nuances of the mega-monochrome after studying the work of my colleagues, Wendy Aikin and Lisa Kairos, both amazing encaustic artists.  The Grey is a wonderland.  A continuum to see how far one can push and pull the extremes of light and dark.  Grey does not just become the backdrop to a painting – the subject must interact with it, Grey becomes the atmosphere.  

When starting my encaustic “Black & White” series I prepared multiple birch panels.  I limited myself to R&F encaustic colors: Ivory Black, Titanium White and Neutral White (pardon me as I wipe the drool from my mouth).  My only bling was Enkaustikos Antique Gold Pearl which I used sparingly for effect (again, relish!).  The natural color of the birchwood played an integral part to warming up the grey and drawing it towards brown.  The slight yellow cast of the beeswax also brought the Grey towards the light so to speak.  Grey is easily influenced and therefore the array of neutral tones is staggering.

The major inspiration behind this color palette was my desire to paint my horses.

Seahorse

I wanted to keep the colors extremely simple to showcase the raw power, movement and line of the horse.  I wanted the attention to be on the animal.  What I wasn’t expecting was a 50 Shades of Grey love affair to develop within these colors.  You know you’re in love when your painting is complete and you don’t want to stop.  I had to pull myself away from the panel more than once during this series.  “Oh maybe I can just…”  NO!  Put the brush down!  This was the case with perhaps my most popular painting of the series, “Seahorse”.  The warmth of the birch panel fills in the gaps between brushstrokes and reads as brown.  The only colors used in this painting were Ivory Black, Titanium White and Neutral White.

This series has taught me that Grey is subtle.  Grey is powerful.  Grey is sexy.  Let’s see where this relationship goes…

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Wishful Thinking (part 1)

My dad kept asking me, “What’s your vision?”  I found that it was hard to articulate my answer in specifics.  I mean, I had an idea of what it looked like.  But that was it – an idea, a feeling, a daydream, or in other words “wishful thinking”.

Over the past few months he kept pushing me to write it down and articulate it.  I tried but it never turned out exactly how I wanted.  One day something clicked and the floodgates opened…

My California house has a bright red front door.  It is well-lit with beautiful natural light.  The house is clean because I have a weekly house cleaner.  The inside of the house is colorful with gorgeous southwest colors on the wall:  tandoori red, olive, lime, plum and mustard with splashes of turquoise everywhere.  The house is fresh and organized.  There are beautiful hardwood floors, with mediterranean mosaic and Mexican style tile work throughout.

There is a separate barn studio that has a private classroom and gallery showroom.  Again, the barn has perfect natural light with very large windows and skylights.  The office space is in the loft of the barn.  It is comfortable and extraordinarily organized.  This upstairs office space is minimal and streamlined for success.  I have a comfy love seat where a student or client can sit while me or my assistant can sign them up for classes, sell them art and ring up their credit card.

My website is cutting edge with current, amazingly breathtaking artworks.  It has a seamless online shopping cart where people can easily purchase art or register for workshops and SOMEONE ELSE MANAGES THE WHOLE THING FOR ME!

The studio/classroom space can accommodate 8 students.  The electricity never blows because the house and barn are on solar power.  By the way, we pay zero in electricity.  The studio/classroom is spacious and totally organized.  The electricity is professionally installed.  Extension cords come down from the ceiling, there is excellent cross air ventilation, the windows even have lovely shades to block the sun when it gets toasty in the summer.

Attached to the studio is an outdoor gathering area for taking breaks, dining and getting fresh air.  There are overhead pergola-style trellises that provide natural shade.  Students/clients can sit at a long reclaimed wood barn table to have their lunches.  It will be aromatically amazing outside because there will be all sorts of lovely flowers like honeysuckle, lemon verbena and jasmine.  The inside of the studio smells equally bee-autiful because of the beeswax.  When I, my students and my clients walk into my studio/classroom/gallery they feel at ease, at home, ready to create and ready to spend money.

I am an independently employed professional artist, visionary, teacher and inspiration.  I am independently wealthy I live with total financial freedom and serenity.

Everyday I work towards making my dream a reality and this blog post is another step closer.  I wanted to share my vision because when we write down our dreams and put them out into the world they go beyond “wishful thinking”.  By putting pen to paper we focus our energy and something special happens:  ever so slightly life begins to shift and our dream becomes intention.

So what happens?  I will cover some of the following steps in my next blog post “Living the Dream part 2” so stay tuned!   In the meantime I encourage you to write down your dream and at this point “wishful thinking” is ok – think big, reach for the moon, but more importantly: be specific, be articulate, and have clarity.

See you next time!

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Beyond Red & Green

‘Tis the season and I can’t help but notice the dynamic duo everywhere I go:  Red and Green.  When you see the two together it’s usually a garish in-your-face-buy-me-now red paired with a holly-jolly-where’s-my-credit-card-green.  These two colors are the harbingers of Christmas and begin to appear in your local Walgreens just after Halloween.  After Thanksgiving they make their full-blown sneak attack to the tune of “Last Christmas” by Wham.  The red and green of Christmas Present has less to do with a holly branch or a Douglas fir, rather it tugs on those nostalgic heart strings towards a sign that reads “Sale.”  Ok ok…I’m the first to admit that working retail for 15 years has made me jaded around the holidays.  I do confess that a small flicker of joy remains for those two colors.  Let me get down off my Christmas soapbox for a minute so we can dive into two of my year-round favorites…

trees color 3_small

Red and green are a familiar set of complements and there are plenty of reds and greens out there to choose from.  Let me let you in on a little secret:  Quinacridone Burnt Orange and Green Gold are out of this world!  Not your obvious complementary pair but a glorious team nonetheless.  These unique, hidden gems simply dance together on the canvas.

Can colors vary between brands? Yes. Each company will have their own formulas, milling processes, where their pigments come from. Green Gold is a color that definitely varies from company to company. Personally, I use Golden brand’s Green Gold because of its extreme intensity.  I consider one of the most effective ways to understand a color is by examining the range of mutes it creates.  In the color study above you can see the beginnings of an exciting array of browns.  I tinted the colors with white to see what kind of highlights they create.

I really have to hand it to whoever came up with the name “Green Gold” because it is truly a treasure among colors. Transparent, luminous, and heavily leaning towards the yellow side of the spectrum, Green Gold is an awesome color choice when adding energy, electricity and warmth to a painting.

Fall Trees
Fall Trees

Of course, what is a color without its complement?  In the case of Green Gold, its complement would be red. Quinacridone Burnt Orange is a rusty autumnal red with the same luminescence and transparency as Green Gold. Both are modern colors and they complement each other beautifully.  If you are familiar with my teaching style you’ve heard me emphasize the importance of a “limited color palette” (more blog posts on this later!).  This Fall Trees painting practices just that with a specific emphasis on the red and green complements.  Being a loud and proud color nerd – I am happy to spend hours on end exploring the nuances of color relationships and seeing how I can apply that knowledge to my painting process.

The holidays come and go but these two colors make appearances on my palette year-round.  Perhaps it’s the background noise of “Ben Hur” or maybe its a bit of undigested candy cane speaking but I’ll leave you with this:

“Twas the night before Christmas and inside the house

I stood by my easel in a paint-covered blouse.

The canvas looked festive with colors so bright,

Happy painting to all and to all a good night!”

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The “Holy Grail”

I would like to think of myself bravely standing on top of a carved stone lion’s head.  The updraft emanating from below causes my hat to flutter.  I dust off my jacket and extend my leg into the air.  As I lean forward into the limitless abyss I think to myself, “There’s no turning back now…”

Well you know, not all of us have a cheat sheet with step-by-step instructions to the Holy Grail. Sean Connery is not bleeding to death back in the musty temple and you know what?  That leap is scary!  So I ask you, “What’s the dream? The pie in the sky?  The ultimate goal?”  I think the un-asked question that accompanies this is “What’s the hesitation?”  As an artist, you might be able to guess what my Holy Grail is.  Let me give you a snapshot of my leaf of faith…

I am a 34 year old artist.  I also work at an art store.  This year will be my 15 year anniversary.  I have also been professionally painting for a little over 10 years.  Do the math.  I know – I just know – that if I devoted 100% of my time to my craft I would be unstoppable.  Don’t get me wrong – working at the art store has been an amazing journey.  We’re a family at the store.  I’ve gained confidence and work experience.  Where else can I be surrounded by art supplies, work with my best friend, AND have health insurance?  I am also afforded time off to paint, show and teach.  Pretty cozy.

About a year ago I taught a watercolor workshop for the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society called “Kickstart Your Creativity”.  This workshop was incredibly introspective and I posed questions to the group to help them recognize and break through creative blocks.  One exercise was called “Dream Big”.  In one or two sentences they described their ideal artistic dream.  I wanted them to be very clear about their goal so I wrote my dream on the white board as an example.

“My dream is to create art full time and in doing so – support myself financially ABOVE AND BEYOND my means and with complete confidence.”

my dreamI gave them a whole evening to mull it over, word it just right, and share with the group the following morning.  This turned out to be one of the most difficult assignments.  Why?  Why is it so hard to simply define a dream? We put so much crap in front of our dreams that we forget why we, as individuals, were put on this planet.  We also become comfortable with where we are in life and the dream remains just that – a dream.  This discussion led into what I call “Comfort Zones”.  Comfort zones are what?  Comfortable!  Why on earth would you want to leave?  The tricky thing about comfort zones is they are also a safety blanket.  My biggest comfort zone?  Working at the art store.

So here I am, standing behind the registers, with an inspirational-sayings magnet rack across from me.  Most of the magnets are pretty sappy.  They would pair well with my “Hang in There” poster of a kitten hanging from a branch.  One magnet stares back at me: “LEAP AND THE NET WILL APPEAR”.  In all capital letters no less.  Yeah, yeah I know.  I get it.  JUST DO IT.  For Pete’s sake I taught a workshop on this!  I stare back at the magnet from behind the registers, silently judging myself.  Oh good, a customer!  I wave to the next person in line, “Hi, I can help you over here.”

I know why I am on planet Earth and what my purpose is.  I wholeheartedly believe in my creative abilities.  But do I?  I can’t help but think that the large percentage of my time in front of a register means that I am not in front of my easel.  I haven’t taken the leap yet.  I have not cannonballed off the lion’s head.  So what do I do?  I bought the magnet and now it’s on my fridge, silently reminding me that I can do it.  It’s a start, but before I take that “LEAP AND THE NET WILL APPEAR” attitude you might just see me leaning over the lion’s head and shouting into the abyss “Does the net have health insurance?!”

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I’m a Sore Loser

BLOG-7-Salsa-Caliente
Salsa Caliente

So you paint your heart out.  Blood, sweat and tears go into your masterpiece.  You feel good, you feel creative, positive energy is oozing out of your pores.  This is awesome, this is the best piece I’ve ever painted, this is a winner; this is the golden ticket!

When you run a race, you’re going for the gold.  You’re not thinking, “That silver medal has my name on it!”  You train, you get inspired, you focus. You line up at the starting line alongside your fellow competitors and firmly plant your feet in the starting blocks.  With the finish line in sight, you visualize yourself breaking through that tape.  The gun goes off and you shoot out of the blocks like a rocket.  You submit to a show.

Time seems to stand still and the waiting game begins.  The notification date arrives and you check your inbox.  You think, “Maybe I missed the e-mail?  Maybe I wrote my e-mail down wrong (double check entry form).” When the sun sets on the notification date you really start to get creative.  “Maybe it’s going into my spam folder (double check e-mail settings).  Maybe they’re sending me a special letter instead – did I write my address down correctly (double check entry form)?  Yeah, that’s it!  A secret, special letter written especially to me about how especially special my painting is!  (double check mail box).” Then you get it,  “Thank you for submitting, unfortunately…blah blah blah.”  REALLY?!  It is at this point you still see the finish line tape, only it’s wrapped around someone else running down the track with their arms in the air.  You didn’t win, you didn’t even place – you’re one of the chumps wheezing their way trying to catch up with a cramp in their side.

Your mind begins to swim with questions and you ask yourself “Where did I go ‘wrong’?  Maybe it’s her head, maybe it DOES look like a lima bean.  Was the piece too small?  Was the piece too blue?  How dare you call my kid ‘ugly’! Maybe I should just focus on teaching, why do I even bother painting?”  So you catch your  breath and begin to do the only thing you can: mope.

Moping is a wonderful self-pitying action that draws attention to yourself because that’s what you really want, right?  So you do your best impression of a corpse lying face down, spread eagle on the bed with her head buried in a pillow.  You’ve gotten into juried competitions before – what gives?   What was their criteria?  “What do I need to do – create a vision board?!”  Note to self: buy poster board, magazines and glue sticks.  Who the hell got in anyway?  Of course your friends get accepted and you make plans to go to the opening reception.

So you go to the opening to support your friends because they crossed the finish line before you, but really you go see who the heck got in, what it took to get accepted, and of course, who won the grand prize.   You congratulate them, put on a good face, and act like it you’re not bothered what-so-ever when people ask you “Where’s your piece?”  You most definitely do NOT show people your painting on your phone and ask why the h-e-double hockey sticks am I not in the show?  By the end of the evening you’ve given yourself TMJ from saying “congratulations” every fifteen seconds.   Sound familiar?

Ok, cry baby, pull your big-girl panties up…you’re better than this!

Alright, let’s take a closer look.  I’ll break this part of the post up a little differently to emphasize these points.

1.  So you paint your heart out Good start.  You should ALWAYS paint your heart out.  There are two sides to the coin when you think of your piece as a “winning” piece.  A) You value your piece and see it as achieving greatness (more on this in future posts…) B) You’re painting for the competition instead of for painting’s sake.  Finding the balance and maintaining it between these two sides is key.

2.  You’ve gotten into juried competitions before – what gives? Ahhh…complacency.  I looked it up.
[kuh m-pley-suh n-see] A feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like; self-satisfaction or smug satisfaction with an existing situation, condition, etc.
When you believe that certain competitions are a no-brainer boy do you deserve to get smacked upside the head.  You can’t be passionate and complacent at the same time.  Which do you think the jurying panel is looking for?

3.  “Where did I go ‘wrong’? Why do I even bother painting?”  Well that’s a good question, why DO you bother painting?  Is the sole purpose of putting paint to canvas to win the blue ribbon?  “Where did I go ‘wrong’?” can be flipped to “Where can I ‘improve’?”  See the difference?

4. Moping.  Get over it and get over it fast.  The people that do not get past the moping stage will never be great artists.  Moping is an attention-getting scheme and it is not artistic at all.  Can you imagine Robert De Niro thinking to himself, “How come I wasn’t offered that part?  Don’t they know who I am?  I mean come ON!  If anyone wants me I’ll be sulking in my bedroom eating a quart of Ben & Jerry’s!”  MOVE ON, PICK UP THE BRUSH, WHAT’S THE NEXT PIECE, WHAT’S THE NEXT COMPETITON?  Even if you got the grand poobah prize you should be thinking “What’s the next step?”

5.  Vision boards.  I might jest, but an important part of personal growth is positive visualization.  Yeah, sounds a little bit new age but think of it this way:  do whatever it takes to get you pumped up to do what you are passionate about.  If this means pinning up magazine clippings, photos, famous quotes, rejection letters or a postcard of a cat dangling from a branch telling you to “Hang in there!” then DO IT.

6.  Who the heck got in anyway?!   Oh this one’s a peach!  With this attitude you’re going nowhere fast.  Resentment is a big piece of baggage that’s so heavy you need both arms to carry it.  By resenting other’s success you don’t have the open arms to welcome your own triumphs.   Support your friends and when they ask, “Where’s your piece?” just tell them it didn’t get accepted, it didn’t get invited to the party, it’s at home washing it’s hair, whatever floats your boat.  Your friends believe in you and you should believe in them.

7.   What’s next?  This is just one competition, it’s not the only competition, it’s not like you didn’t get picked to get on the space shuttle to continue the human race on some distant planet.  Use rejection as a form of self-evaluation instead of self-deprecation.  Keep submitting.  Keep improving.  Keep painting.

I really enjoyed writing this post and if you found it helpful, interesting, or even infuriating I would love to hear your comments.  Follow my blog “The Fearless Painter” for more of my art process insights.

"Possibilities About" by Holly Van Hart
“Possibilities About” by Holly Van Hart

Come check out the inspiration behind this blog post!
2 shows / 1 reception date “Salon at the Triton.  A 2D Art Competition & Exhibition”
& Holly Van Hart “Possibilities Abound
at the Triton Museum of Art
“Salon” runs from: December 6, 2014 – February 8, 2015
“Possibilities” runs from: November 23, 2014 – February 14, 2015

Reception for both: Friday, December 12, 2014, 6:00-8:00 p.m.

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Artistic Process: The Wedding Present

Part 2

To re-cap from my last post “So You Think You Want to Start a Painting?” – My cousin is getting married next week and for a wedding present I decided against a gravy boat and figured I would create a painting.  I am using her and her fiancé’s favorite colors (deep fuchsia and black) as the color palette.  Today’s post is a step-by-step walkthrough of my artistic process .  Here I’ll share with you my thoughts as well as more technical information on how I created this painting.  The materials I used are highlighted in fuchsia in honor of my cousin.  Buckle your seatbelts…

I start with light collage and tone the canvas with Quinacridone Magenta & Quinacridone Burnt Orange. While the canvas is drying I prep my collage papers.

Before I lay down any paint the question I ask myself is “Where do I want to lead the eye?” I throw down some loose brush strokes with Titanium White  in an S-shape composition.  I play with the positioning of the collage papers then glue them in place with Matte Medium.  Without the following glaze the white lines and paper look garish.  With the glaze they recess into the background.

I hear suspicious noises coming from the horse’s stall. Peeking over the fence I see Rommel playing with his water bucket.  Perfect timing to allow my canvas to “rest”.  I go and change the horse’s water and apply scratches where necessary.

Elayne present - 3 detailI mix a fair amount of Quin. Burnt Orange into my favorite black (Mars black) and follow my S-shape composition. I counter with more Titanium White and begin layering in the background colors again.  This gives me the clean white pinstripes.  I start to think about the next layers and what kind of depth I want to achieve.  I know that if I jump into my gel or pouring mediums now I will need to retire this piece until another day to give it time to dry.  Nope, not ready to call it a day yet…

I know that I’m still avoiding the “blackness” so I re-assert it back into the piece and add some black & gold origami paper. Better.  I switch over the laundry, check on the animals, and have a snack.  While munching on some chips I look at my piece and think of the various directions it could go from here.  I debate leaving the background as is or lightening it.  I decide I should play with the gold leaf before going further with the background, that way the gold will peek through.  Maybe the gold leaf will tell me what to do…

Elayne present - mistake dotsHa!  So a good topic comes up during the gold leafing process: How does one “fix” a painting?  I don’t know about everybody else but once in a while I mess up.  The first step in this process is to stop looking up gravy boats.  After an initial panic I take a breath and assess the situation.  I didn’t like how my gold leaf dots turned out – I felt they were a little “static” and for some reason I was reminded of the 80’s.  This just wouldn’t do so I ripped them off, and with them, the paint and collage paper beneath.   Breathe.  I’ll need to get that background color back in so I re-mix my Quin. Magenta, Quin. Burnt Orange and just a hint of Titanium White (I need that covering power).  I re-apply the background color in full brush strokes over the dots.  To make it look seamless I know I also need to cover some of the undamaged painting.  This made the painting darker in these particular areas.  Not to worry.  Once this layer dried I went back in with some of my white to regain my pinstripes.  I threw in a little more collage paper for good measure.

Needing to clear my head after the slight argument with my painting I do some horse chores. Nothing like a little stall mucking while you’re waiting for paint to dry.  Manure dumped, horses fed, time to head back.

With the sun setting I’m about ready to call it a day. I heavily apply Extra Heavy Gloss Gel Gloss all over the piece with my palette knife.  I want there to be some fun surface texture and by tomorrow this will be ready to begin the final steps.

Elayne present - pouring mediumPouring Medium is something I don’t work with too often so I thought it would be fun to incorporate it into this piece. I have some pre-mixed pouring medium/color combo’s ready to go and drip them on the canvas.  I do this before I head off to work and by the time I get home my medium has set.

Elayne present - finishA week passes and I think about the direction of the painting. I have a pretty good idea where it needs to go but it’s a dangerous road.  Since “The Fearless Painter” is the title of my blog I decided to man-up.  No turning back now!  I layer in Titanium White with glazes of Yellow Ochre to create a visual “bang”.  Phew!  Now that THAT’S over with I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

For the final touches I add more of the Extra Heavy Gloss Gel and the Pouring Medium. Bringing those textures back to the fore-front is the icing on the cake.

This was an exciting exercise out of my color comfort zone and I learned how to make an impact using black and red as the predominant colors. Throughout the painting process I thought fondly of my cousin and her upcoming wedding.  You know, marriage can be a challenging balance and both parties must learn how to integrate their lives together, just like 2 wild colors on a canvas.  Congratulations Elayne and Jason!

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