Everyone loves the water, to be near it if not on it.
What is it? Is it the sound? The waves or the movement? The way the light dances on the surface? The mystery of what lies beneath?
I love the reflections, and the light and distorted images of whatever is near. And there is always life around water—flying over it, jumping in it or out of it. And always a breeze. And I love to paint it.
One of the biggest challenges for plein air painters (painting outdoors) is the vastness of what we are looking at. Trying to get the huge outdoors and fit it on our teeny, tiny, little canvas can stop an artist in our tracks so to speak.
All the advice, tips, and rules I hear from experienced painters seem to leave me when I am out there enjoying the wonders of nature. “Paint what you love.” “Look for the big shapes.” “See the darks and lights.”
Ever since I saw my first Monet painting I wanted to paint water lilies. We were at a beautiful garden with a pond with the most perfect water lilies you can imagine. I was so excited.
By the end of my painting session I was so disappointed. I had wanted to paint water lilies. Here is a sketch of what I did. I went home and scraped it off.
Luckily I took lots of photos and when I enlarged the photo and painted in my studio, I actually painted water lilies.
“Field of Tulips”, 8×10″ oil, available at http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/560288
After I took that e-Course in the winter I wanted to make sure I embedded the lessons in my memory, and since the subject matter we painted was basically florals, I painted several more flower still lifes. I’m quite happy with the results.
Then the weather got nice and plein air painting started (painting outdoors) and I was back out in the landscape. I’m always rusty at first and this year was no different. But going out each week helps and I’m getting better.
In the meantime, back in the studio I remembered some photos I took of a house nearby that has it’s whole front yard filled with tulips! Maybe this would be my happy medium. This could be a nice transition between flowers and the landscape. It was very fun to paint.
I am a fair weather painter. I admire those who bundle up in the winter and brave the cold and snow, but for me, the sun and wind and bugs are challenge enough.
I learned to paint “in the open air” while living in California. When I moved back to Michigan I was honestly surprised to find artists painting en plein air.Ha! So we go out together (safer) after being cooped up in our studios all winter to be enthralled, overwhelmed, and challenged by nature.
The first week I came home and immediately wiped off all the paint. The second week was not too bad—won’t win any prizes; probably won’t sell; but is worth studying to see what I learned for next time.
Third week went better. We were serenaded by birds and frogs; there was a creek and a nice breeze. I was happier with the result. Loose, painterly, almost abstract. Available at http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/557386
This week the group opted to paint in the local town. Just when I was getting back into the landscape (after my flower series) we have buildings! Another learning experience; not a keeper. And so it goes…
There is more than just painting to being an artist. After the painting is done there is choosing a title, photographing it, recording it in my database, adding it to my website, and deciding where to sell it—a local gallery, a distant gallery, an online gallery, in a show, with a frame or not, and of course the price. And then how to market it.
Today I delivered these four pieces and they are now available at the Lansing Art Gallery, 119 N. Washington Square, in downtown Lansing, Michigan. It’s a beautiful gallery just a block from the state capitol if you are interested.
Pantone Inc. is best known for its Pantone Matching System (PMS), a proprietary color space used in a variety of industries, primarily printing, though sometimes in the manufacture of colored paint, fabric, and plastics. Annually, Pantone declares a particular color “Color of the Year”. Fashion designers, florists, and many other consumer-oriented companies look to Pantone to help guide their designs and planning for future products. Pantone has said that color “has always been an integral part of how a culture expresses the attitudes and emotions of the times.”
Pantone has chosen two colors for 2016, Serenity, muted pale blue, and Rose Quartz, a pale pink. A challenge was put forth on Daily Paintworks to create a piece or art using those colors. This is my answer to the challenge.
Ok, so in my last blog I indicated that art was 95% inspiration and 5% perspiration maybe making it sound like (some) artists wander the woods or spend hours meditating, then in an hour throw some paint around to create art.
Maybe it’s closer to the 80/20 rule. It’s just that the 80% permeates our whole life. Every trip to the farmers’ market is an adventure in color, shape, and design. I’m lucky if I remember to buy my produce.
And the 20% is hours filled with the agony and ecstasy of hard work that I love.
When I finish a work I’m lucky if 8 out of 10 are keepers. I was happy with this piece when I completed it; a week later I was ready to paint over it. I’ve had it in a few shows and online galleries and it hasn’t sold. I took it to the Saturday Artist’s breakfast for a critique and got some suggestions.
Should I keep working on it? Should I paint over it? Can I give it away?
Fall weather has been great this year. Sunny and warm is not a day to be in the studio. I took a day to be outside in the sun and fresh air getting inspired and taking pics. Potter Park Zoo and Hawk Island Park provided me with both.
I could’ve set up to paint on site, but I wanted to get as many photos as I could for the upcoming studio time when the weather won’t be so nice. Photos and some notes will provide the inspiration making the creation of the art just a matter of getting into the “zone” and putting on the paint. (Oh, ho! if only it were that easy!)
But for me the vision, the excitement has to be inside before anything worthwhile shows up on the canvas. And the light and colors of this fall day was quite thrilling.
People admiring art sometimes tell the artist, “Wow, you’re good, I can’t even draw a straight line.”
Here are my straight lines. Left hand; right hand.
There are no straight lines in nature. Humans make straight line usually with the help of a ruler or some sort of straight edge. In my previous blog you can see my preliminary drawing where I used a ruler to draw in the building. I do not use mechanical aids when I paint.
I could use a mahl stick which many artists use to keep their hand off the surface of the painting while doing fine work. Or I could tape it off like the artists did in the 1960s when Pop Art became the vogue and crisp, straight lines were part of the style.
I want my lines to show my hand, to look painterly. I don’t want a mechanical look even on mechanical objects. This is not a photograph. This is paint on canvas or board after all.
So if you can’t draw a straight line, maybe you can push some paint around.
It takes a few layers sometimes. I’m not done yet. Still moving paint.
More decisions to make. I’ll keep painting ’til I’m happy.
Surgery on my right shoulder January stopped me from painting for about a week while I was tethered to an ice machine and on some serious pain meds. I’m left handed and it made life difficult but I got by and got back to painting as soon as I could.
NOW I’ve had surgery on my LEFT shoulder! Oh boy. (My rotator cuffs have just worn out) I probably use my right hand more than most right-handed people use their left, but this is a whole new ballgame.
But what the hey, I have to paint. And I’ve wanted to loosen up my brush style. Let’s see what happens when I paint with my RIGHT hand!
What do you think?
Oh, and on the 4th one after reaching across to my paint I realized I should move my palette to the right side!
When I was 4 I broke my left arm and I still remember throwing my crayon across the table because I couldn’t color. At least now I don’t have to stay inside the lines.
If you have a story where you had an obstacle to your passion that you overcame tell me about it. I’ll send one of these right-handed sketches to my favorite story. Ends 9/9/15.