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!

 

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”!