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”…
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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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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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Animal Magnetism

animal magnetism banner

 

Animals have always been a part of my life ever since I was a small child.  Growing up I had dogs, a cat, an assortment of mice, zebra finches, parakeets, cockatiels, a rat named Sneakers, and two newts if I remember correctly.  My Cockatoo, Angel, is still with me today and will surely outlive me.  My husband and I live with chickens and two very muddy horses named Logan and Rommell (yes, I know…we didn’t name him).  The animal force is strong within me.

Looking back through my artistic journey I begin to see how animals have played a larger role than I ever realized.

I have always been attracted to what animals represent.  I see the freedom of a bird in flight, the power of a horse and especially the personality of chickens.  There are mixed feelings whenever I paint from my flock.  Love, comic relief, joy, and at the same time sadness because we’ve seen so many come and go.  To me, these mixed feelings convey the duality and complexity of animals.  There is a preciousness and “untouchability” to these creatures.  It’s something we take for granted while we live our very human day to day lives: sitting in traffic, buying groceries, pumping gas…but I digress.

Willy's DaydreamChoosing the right medium is important to portray the personality of the animal and at the same time evoke the emotional response in the viewer.  It’s a 2-way street.  When I work with colorful acrylics and collage my goal is to spotlight the whimsey and ridiculous of animals.  The feeling I am going for is the nostalgic childlike response to seeing an animal up close for the first time.  Unconditional love.

Fly Me To The MoonMy progression into encaustic has led me to a more technique-driven and intuitive way of painting.  I allow the medium to help dictate movement in the subject matter while keeping a “loose rein” so to speak.  My animals today have evolved into semi-abstracts with understated, monochromatic color.  One aspect that this continuing collection portrays is the fleeting moment that we connect with.  A bird lifting off in flight, a stretch, a glance and then it’s gone.  There is an untouchability in animals and we have to let them go, but we covet the connection and search it out.

I constantly say that “art is a journey”.  The transitions between styles, inspirations, techniques, materials, etcetera will always happen.  When a breakthrough occurs it’s like a spotlight flips on.  I feel that each of my paintings I’ve created has led me to this moment in my career.  Perhaps it was the controlled chaos of encaustic that was the missing link, or the confidence to “give up” the high-intensity color, or maybe the subtle message of the animal itself.  Whatever the turning point, the spotlight is shining on the path and I am falling down the rabbit hole, freely and with anticipation of what’s to come.

me & romps 1

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Stick in the Mud

We’ve all been there.  Painting away at a portrait, landscape, abstract, you name it and then it appears on your palette: mud.  You didn’t ask for it to show up but nonetheless there it is AND it’s on your brush.  Does this scenario sound familiar?

You mix colors A and B to attempt to make color C.  You try a few brushstrokes on your painting.
Not quite right.
You add color D to the mix and dab it on your canvas.
DEFINETELY not right.
You try to get back to your starting color so you add larger quantities of A and B back into the mix.  Cover previous brushstroke.
Eh.  Add color E to the now large mix in the center of your palette.  You blindly paint the color on the canvas.
Woah!
Quick!  Add white and some other colors!
Panic sets in and you realize the only color left on your palette is a greyed mauve that bears a resemblance to the vinyl seats in your dentist’s waiting room.

Breathe.  Mud is a simple way to describe an “out-of-place color”.  I was originally going to label mud as an “unintentional color” however many unintentional colors can successfully find their way onto a canvas.  An out-of-place color has no place on the canvas (at least not for what you’re currently working on).

mudWhat is the difference between mud and “mutes”?  

Technically speaking, mud is a “mute” gone rogue.  Mud (especially those large quantities of mud on the palette) comes from color guesswork.  Mutes are colors that have been reduced in intensity.  The most common example to achieve a mute is mixing 2 complementary colors (colors across each other on the color wheel) to achieve a neutral.  The resulting color is lower in intensity, perhaps a little more grey, and still in color harmony with the original color palette.  Working with muted colors can strengthen the power of a painting whereas mud only does the opposite.  Let me give you a fashionista example:
A girl is getting ready to go out for the evening so she opens her closet.  She pulls out her jeans and a bold colored top.  She likes how the top looks so she decides to put on a bright colored hat…and a bright yellow jacket…and cherry red heels…with hot pink lipstick…see where I’m going?  We’ve all seen this person walking down the street – you’re looking at the loud clothes instead of the girl.  That’s the same thing that can happen to your painting.  Mutes are the resting place for those bolder colors.
 Let me propose two questions:  How do we make mud?  Why do we feel the need to use it?  In my mind the second question is more important.  I’ll give you a second to ponder…

I have a couple solutions for you:

  1. Limit you color palette.  Look at what you’ve got squeezed out.  For beginners, if you have more than 5 colors on your palette it is very easy to get in the weeds.  By limiting your color palette to 5 colors or less it is easier to have color harmony.  I like doing this exercise whenever I start a painting:  I pick out the tubes I think I’ll use – maybe about 8 colors.  Then I start eliminating tubes until I get down to a strong commitment of 5.  When working with acrylic I always have white for tinting so I include that as 1 color.  This means I look long and hard at the 4 other tubes I’ve picked.  Without going down the rabbit hole of pigment properties let’s just say that I am a color nerd and I love reading my paint tubes.  I make sure that I don’t have any obvious pigment redundancies (for instance:  I wouldn’t grab pthalo blue AND pthalo green.  I would grab pthalo blue and a yellow that I could mix to create green.  I could then use that yellow with other colors whereas I would be more limited with the pthalo green).
  2. Learn how to mix with a palette knife (this suggestion is  for the acrylic and oil artist).  By mixing with a palette knife you will extend the life of your brushes.  If you make a color you don’t like then just wipe off your knife, no need to constantly clean your brush.  Learning how to properly use a palette knife is an excercise unto itself.  With a little practice the palette knife will save you mixing time as well as assist with paint consolidation.
  3. This suggestion might be the toughest for most…CONTROL.  If you mixed a color that is not going to work then DON’T USE IT!  I cannot stress this enough.  Resist the temptation, put down the brush, step away from the painting.

So what purpose does mud serve?  

colorWhether you like it or not, you are still mixing color and can learn from each of these muddy “mistakes”.  One idea is to keep a sketchbook of your muddy mixes.  You can also do this on a large piece of watercolor paper.  Take notes.  What colors were you using?  To take this practice a little further why not try organizing your sketchbook or watercolor paper into rainbow color categories: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple. Where does your color fall?  Is it a purple-mauvie-brown or is it a pea soup green?

This practice will help you to intentionally see the color bias of your mud, how to purposefully recreate it in the future, and how to avoid getting yourself stuck in the mud.

Check out my calendar of events for upcoming classes if you’re interested in learning further in person!

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If there’s a Will, there’s a Way

quick studio

You can paint anywhere no matter the space.  If there is a will, there is a way.

Recently my husband and I made a big move up north toward Sacramento and let me tell you that moving can be a bear.  During this time I’ve been working on a piece that I need to submit to the Triton Museum of Art and the deadline is fast approaching.  My studio is packed in haphazardly labeled boxes scattered around the house and I have no idea where I put my blowtorch.  After a preliminary unpack I was able to gather what I needed to complete this painting.  Let me tell you how much of a relief it was to be using a limited color palette!

Our new house has a delightful little cinderblock porch with an overhang that I was able to set up underneath.  I gathered a few tables, found my extension cords and set up an impromptu encaustic studio.  One thing I failed to mention about our new home is that it is close to a water nature preserve, two ponds and levy, so I quickly became familiar that the mosquito population quintuples around 4 pm (note to self: pick up Deet and Citronella candles at the store).

It is easy to want to just cannonball into a painting but you need to have a space set up where you can successfully paint–and by successfully I do not mean painting a beautiful painting.  What I mean is that you don’t have to go digging around for what you’re looking for to make the next brush stroke.  This can be a frustrating and time-consuming activity that is not at all creative.

I was impatient to begin working so I had my extension cords crossed everywhere, my fuses were blowing and I was beginning to feel the pressure of needing to complete this piece.  When my husband walked outside and saw how frustrated I was he said, “Why not just take a couple minutes and get yourself set up?” What a novel idea! If only I’d practice what I preach.  I did just that and rearranged my cords, drew power from another room, and cleared my head a little bit by refilling my water.  I also grabbed an additional table and organized my tools.  When I came back to my painting I was stepping into a much more “successful” creative space.  I set up a couple of my dining room chairs as an easel to raise the height of my painting and it worked out perfectly.  After these minor adjustments which only took a few minutes I was able to get much farther on my painting than if I had just kept fighting through my inconvenient slap-dash studio space.
encaustic at annies
How can I stress the importance of having an effective area to create?  If you work at your dining room table then clear it off!  Put the piles of mail somewhere else, clear away those dirty plates, and put down your painting tablecloth so you are inspired.  If you live in a studio apartment you can make a small corner of your room your workspace.  If you like working large then work it out!  Is there a spot outside where you can set up a large painting and drop off?  I’m sure you can find something if you want to paint badly enough.  I needed to complete another piece to submit to a show so I hauled my traveling encaustic studio to a friend’s house and set up outside next to her roaring air conditioner.  Not the most ideal working space but I finished the piece and that’s all that matters!

I teach classes at a variety of venues and every classroom is different.  I need to adapt to each space to make it a successful teaching and learning environment for my students and me.  When I do private lessons at someone’s home very frequently do we spend a few minutes organizing their studio space: if they are right-handed we move the majority of their supplies to the right side of their easel or worktable, we will select a limited amount of brushes to work with from the overflowing brush bin.  We will put away the miscellaneous paint colors that we will not be using and only have the color palette that we will be working from in front of us.  Simplify your space and only pull out the tools which the current project requires.  This will streamline your creativity and is as equally important as learning new techniques.

fb studioThis is the way I do it, it is not the only way.  If you have ever seen photos of Francis Bacon’s studio you might say to yourself, “How on earth did he ever get anything done?!”  Well he did!  He created a plethora of amazing, inspirational, and edgy work.  His version of a successful studio is on the opposite end of the spectrum.  On a side note Francis Bacon is one of my favorite artists of all time but I could never work in his studio.  The photo on the left was taken by Carlos Freire of Francis Bacon in his studio, 7 Reece Mews, London.  Everyone is different and everyone works in different environments.  This photo is a perfect preamble to my next point:  Having an effective studio space and having a “pretty” studio space are two different things however they are not mutually exclusive.  Let me help you prioritize: It is more important to have an effective studio space than one that looks good in Better Homes & Gardens.  Get yourself a working environment first, then you can break out the wicker baskets.  Your studio is ever changing.  You have permission to change it whenever you want to make it a more creative space for you.

I look forward to settling into our new home and fine-tuning my studio 2.0.  It’s a huge change and it gives me the opportunity to exponentially grow in my art career so I am thankful.  If I can move a 3 bedroom house, an art studio, 2 horses, a cockatoo and 2 house chickens then I have faith that I can find my blowtorch and finish this painting.  Piece of cake!

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Once Upon a Time…

The Chicken That Saved the DayAs 2014 drew to a close I sat in the break room at work doing what I usually do on my afternoon break:  check my e-mail.  I like to think that there is some philanthropic duke somewhere out there just waiting to send me a check for a million dollars “By golly, she’s the one!”  So while I hold my breath waiting for that to happen I enter as many competitions that I can afford to in the meantime.  One fine day in late December I received an e-mail letting me know that my painting “The Chicken That Saved The Day” was accepted into Incite 3: The Art of Storytelling and I couldn’t help but let out one of my patented high-pitched squeals.  I ran around the corner to my boss’s desk and began jumping up and down waving my arms in the air.  This was a signal to him to stop whatever he was doing and pay attention to me.  Reluctantly he put down his keyboard and leaned back in his chair, “Oh God.  What now?”  After I jump-yelled-air-punched at him he was able to make out “Chicken…Book…Competition” and gave me a high-five.  Now let me describe why this competition was different from any other I had entered…

chicks_n_tomatoesOnce upon a time there was a chicken named Chickey Penny and she lived with 15 other chickens in the backyard of a little house in San Jose.  She was an “aracauna” and had brown feathers with willow-green legs.  She had ear “tufts” and a beard.  She was also the smallest in the flock and the other girls would peck at her.  All of Chickey Penny’s feathers on her back and tail were plucked clean except for one which stuck straight up like a little flag.  One day a girl and a boy moved into the little house and met the flock.  Chickey Penny jumped right up on the fence to say “hello” and it was love at first sight.  Every day when the girl got home Chickey Penz would run up to the gate and try to squeeze through the bars to welcome her home.  She also knew that there was a brown paper bag inside the house that had the most delightful of snacks so soon Chickers just waltzed into the house to help herself.  She quickly learned that the house was a much nicer place to live than in the coop with the other chickens.  Instead of being pecked she was petted and got to sit on people’s laps.  “I much prefer this flock, this will do quite nicely!”

Eventually the boy and girl moved to San Martin with chickens in tow.  Chickey Penny did not ride with the other chickens, she rode to her new home on the girl’s lap while watching the California hills roll by.  When the sun would set and bedtime drew near she would walk down the hallway announcing to everyone that it was time to go to sleep “BAAAACK BAK BAK BAK!”  She would roost on a towel behind the pillows andme and chicks wait for the boy and girl to come to bed.  As the girl would fall asleep she would stroke Chickey Penny’s feathers and she would stretch her neck across the pillow and purr.  Chicks loved the country life and was especially helpful re-dispursing leaf piles throughout the yard.  Seasons changed and years passed.  Christmases came and went and she even put up with wearing painstakingly made ridiculous holiday outfits.  Chickers lived to be 16 years old and was the best friend the boy and girl could have.

One day the girl decided to paint a portrait of her feathered best friend.  She wanted this painting to be special, something that really conveyed Chick’s spirit and especially what she meant to her and the boy.  She knew even before picking up a brush that this would be her favorite painting.  Finally after weeks and weeks, she stepped back from the easel.  “She’s done!” The girl knew that she wanted to share this painting with the world.  She wanted everybody to know about Chickey Penny so she started entering the painting into book competitions.  Years passed and every once in a while Chicks would be in a local art show.  She was happy that people were able to get up close and personal with the painting but it wasn’t enough.  She kept submitting only to receive, “Dear participant, thank you for your entry but we regret to inform you that…”  Until one day in late December with the New Year peeking around the corner…

tom_n_chicks…”The Chicken That Saved The Day” was accepted into Incite 3: The Art of Storytelling and will be roosting on the world’s bookshelves later this year!

Congratulations Chickey Penny!

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A Day in the Life…

This post is inspired from one of my co-workers, Jenny, who asks me questions on how I organize myself and how I start my day.  Believe me, I take my creative time very seriously.  Let me give you a quick weekly briefing:  Five days out of the week I work at University Art Center in San Jose and factoring in commute time I’m out of the house for about 11 hours.  Usually one of the remaining two days of the week is spent teaching.  Time is precious and here is an example of how I spend my day “off”.  Enjoy!

angel-breakfast6:30 – Wake up.  If I treat myself I’ll lay in bed and cuddle with my girls until 7 .  Let the girls out of the bedroom and into the backyard.  Turn on the classical station, make coffee, slice up strawberries into some cereal, turn on computer.  Have breakfast with my umbrella cockatoo, Angel, while reading e-mails.  I have included a photo for those who are unfamiliar of what it’s like to eat breakfast with a bird while trying to type on your computer.  Spend a couple hours getting computer stuff out of the way, this includes reading about upcoming competitions, checking out any interesting art articles, social networking, and updating my website.  Angel sits on my lap and I give her scratches with one hand and type with the other.  She talks to me with her limited vocabulary:  “Apples, Happy, Angel, Hi” and I repeat what she says back to her (I am very well-trained).

9:00 – Let girls back into the house because they are standing by the back door.  Head out to the field to say hello to the boys.  Throw some hay into the feeders, change the water, put on fly masks, rake up manure.

9:30 – Let girls back outside, make a chores to-do list.    I allocate one singe solitary hour of my day to household chores and one hour to studio chores.  My list might look something like this:

Clean floors
Laundry
1 hour studio
Sweep back patio
Water plants
Dishes
Manure
Organize desk
Clean kitchen counters/stove
E-mail Joe Blow
Organize studio
Safeway
Bank

The trick with the to-do list is to be ok if you don’t get everything done on the list.  I start some laundry and spend exactly 1 hour house cleaning.

girls-roosting10:30 – I repeat this practice with my studio.  There is always something that can make my studio more efficient.  Whether it’s straightening, organizing, building a fixture, going through some old canvases, or just plain cleaning the windows, I spend one hour making that room better.  I let the girls into studio and they roost on my area rug.  While in the studio I think of my art project for the day.  Do I work on a commission?  Do I practice encaustic?  Do I prepare a sample painting for an upcoming class?  Do I paint something for myself?  I figure out what I want to do and begin to gather materials.

11:30 – NOW MY DAY BEGINS!  Since it’s gorgeous outside in the fall I arrange my workspace on the back patio.  I put a chair near my easel and Angel perches on top of it.  Maybe I’ll set up my IPad camera to record what I’m working on, I might have a notepad nearby to take notes on my process.  Now I start to play.  The afternoon is devoted to art and I delight in having my animals around me while I paint.  In between paint layers I’ll give Angel a scratch and discuss the apple situation with her:

“Apples!”
“Oh good, I’m glad there are apples.”
“Apples!”
“Yes, thank you for letting me know about the apples.”
“Apples!”
“Really?  I had no idea about the apples!”

1:00 – Figure out a quick lunch and continue to work.  If I’m lucky my husband is at home and puts a plate of food next to my palette. If my husband is not at home I stroll down the road to the little taco truck on the corner.  The girls roost around the yard.  I throw them some tidbits from my lunch.  Angel watches them gobble up the treats.

2:00 – Check on boys, refill their water buckets.  If it’s hot I’ll spray them down.watering-Romps

2:30 – Put Angel  back on her cage so she can have some food and water if she likes.  She promptly climbs down to sit with my husband on the couch. Continue working.  If I’m outside I adjust my easel periodically because the light changes.  Change my water, refresh my palette.

5:30 – Head back out to the field and tuck the boys in for the night.  Hay, water, take off fly masks and apply scratches.

6:00 -The light is fading and the wind is picking up so I begin to close up shop.  I find that if I try to color match this late in the day to something I mixed earlier in the afternoon I end up with an off color.  If I plow through this (knowing full well that the light is completely different) I make color errors and I am fixing rather than paining.  This only applies when I’m working outside in the natural light.  I dump my water, put my paint tubes back in their bucket and bring the painting into the studio.  I thoroughly clean my brushes in the sink with my favorite brush cleaner:  Master’s Brush Cleaner.

The rest of the evening – Have dinner with all life-forms in the house, usually while watching a cooking show.  I can paint ’till the cows come home but put me in a kitchen and you’ll end up with cereal or PB&J if you’re lucky.  So I live vicariously through the cooking channel.  Everyone’s ready to go to bed so I cover Angel’s cage with her blanket and turn out the lights.  By this time the girls are already roosting on their towel behind my pillow.  As I drift off to sleep I think of how I’m going to continue on the art project I worked on today.  Or what color I’m running out of.  Or that I still need to move those boxes out of my studio.  Or that I should really build those wood panels.  Or…

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So you think you want to start a painting?

Part 1

My cousin is getting married later this month and smart me thought, “I’ll make her a painting!” Nothing like a personal from-the-heart gift to celebrate that once in a lifetime union to your soul mate. It’s either that or a gravy boat. So I asked her what their favorite colors are. I got back fuchsia or a burnt red for her (that’ll work! I like red) and…black. Really?! It’s just like a boy to like BLACK. Couldn’t you be a little more creative? So here I go thinking to myself, maybe by “black” he really means “aqua” or a lovely “spring green”. Who’ll notice? No more fooling myself – I’ve got to work with red and black and NOT make it look like the apocalypse. The gravy boat’s not looking so bad now…

While writing this post I began thinking about artist’s processes. I realize that I am very methodical in how I prepare to paint. Whatever the subject matter, style, size, or medium I always start the same way. To embark on my red and black challenge I begin by organizing myself.

BLOG-2---materials

GATHER MATERIALS: I pick out a canvas. I have a plethora of unfinished paintings that I look through. I know I want an elongated canvas and I find a half-finished 10 x 30 with owls on a blue background. Remember when the owl craze started? I’m a little late to that party now so no problem, I gesso over the owls with my favorite Golden brand gesso. Next I look through my black & white collage papers (ok, now the juices are flowing – maybe black’s not SO bad…), I choose a limited paint selection, a few brushes, and some mixed media accents (water-soluble crayons, gold leaf, gel & pouring mediums).

PREPARE MY WORKSPACE: Set up my easel and supplies. I position my easel to the correct height and since I’m right handed I put my palette and water bucket on my right (I see so many artists struggle with their workspaces – they’ll reach over themselves to mix paint, the easel will be too low or too high. Make it easy on yourself and really look at how you have your space set up!)

TAKE CARE OF MYSELF: I eat a quick lunch, put the animals outside, get some laundry going (for some reason I feel more productive if I have some clothes in the wash), and finally use the restroom. This sets me up for the least amount of interruptions (at least the ones that are under my control).

Preparing to paint is also a creative process. Looking through your paints and tools should be inspiring. It should make you think about where you want to go with your piece, and perhaps a new possibility that you hadn’t thought of before. Workspace is equally important. Even if you only have a corner of a studio apartment – you can transform it into an inspiring area. Turn it into a place where you want to create, not only that, a place where you can create effectively and easily. Clear away anything that does not get your juices flowing. “Only creative stuff is allowed in this 3 foot square corner of the room.” When you sit down to paint, draw, write, sing, whittle, design cat outfits, do so without any excuse to stop. An innocent trip to the restroom can easily be sidetracked and you end up cleaning the entire bathroom. So take care of yourself first!

Part 2 “The Creative Process” to follow next week!

 

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Happy Birthday to “The Fearless Painter”

To be honest,  I don’t follow anyone’s blog.  Ok, that’s not true,   let’s be REALLY honest – when I decided to start my OWN blog I researched “Successful Blogging” and found someone who sounded pretty smart so I figured I’d “follow” him.  Maybe it’s the submissive stigma of “following” in lieu of “leading” and I think, “Well, why should I follow anybody?  I should be leading the pack!  I know what the f*** I’m talking about!  Why should I ‘follow’ anyone else?”  Well, geez, maybe I should get my ego in check…hence I began ‘following’ someone who sounded somewhat interesting and maybe I could learn something.   I can only imagine that I’m not the only visual artist who was pulled kicking and screaming into social media.  I’d rather spend my days creating art rather than taking selfies in front of what I ate for breakfast.  I mean really, who needs to know that I like to mix my Special K Protein flakes with my Special K red berries cereal? I’m still unsure of what “Twittering” is (or is it “twerking”?).  I like birds so maybe it’s up my alley.   In the blog I began following it was suggested that I limit my writing time to no more than 2 hours so I figured I’d test the waters and begin by typing for just 1.  Over the past few months I’ve been fleshing out my blog in my mind, because lord knows I’ve got to be prepared before baring my soul in front of the world wide web.  What should I title my blog?  What should be my focus?  How often should I post and how long should my posts be?  How on earth can I be committed to such an undertaking?  There’s a responsibility to blogging and good grief are my standards high.

To give you a little background:  I work at an art store pretty much full time.  On my days off I teach art workshops and classes.  When I’m not teaching an art class I’m preparing for the class by testing out techniques and making what I like to call “sample boards”.  When I’m not doing any of the above I get to truly explore what I love, live and breathe:  art.  A few weeks ago I taught a workshop at the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society and the undercurrent of the workshop was fear in the face of creating art or vice versa:  creating art in the face of fear. Potato potAto.   It was intense and amazing and I was honored to lead the students through uncertain waters.  I mentioned to the group that I was going to begin a blog.  The only thing stopping me from beginning this venture was the lack of a name.  For some reason I thought it important for my blog to have a proper name.  I couldn’t possibly start this project without a name.  Plus, it has to be the right name, the “correct” name, a name bestowed upon it from the heavens above.  Without this PERFECT name the blog cannot be in existence.  That was when I caught the tiger by the toe.  There it is again, my buddy that puts up the all-familiar roadblock to something potentially exciting and personal and quite possibly life-changing:  perfection.  So if perfection is the only thing that’s stopping me from writing this blog – screw that and here goes…

This is my art blog that focuses on painting as “survival” vs. art as “inspiration”.  We can simplify this further: painting vs. art.  Painting in the face of fear, perfection, selling, john-Q-public and ego is a different game than art for creation’s sake.  Learning from your pieces, painting for the hell of it and loving the process more than the outcome is by far more rewarding and what I consider ART.  I decided to draw up a little contract (mostly for myself) to put my intentions out into the world:  In my future writings I will:

  • cover my personal art processes, inspirations, and road-blocks through the painting media that “suits my fancy”.
  • Post on average once a week.
  • Type for no more than 2 hours.
  • Post pictures and videos.
  • Give myself permission to misspell words.
  • Veer off topic from time to time.
  • Not beat myself up.

That being said, Happy birthday to “The Fearless Painter”!

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