Thursday, July 29, 2010

The 100 Pound Weight

Today I dropped off my SF Art Commission grant proposal to the appropriate location and feel like I had a 100 pound weight lifted off my my chest. It's amazing how much better I can breathe today knowing that I don't have to think about rewriting my narrative AGAIN or getting together my work samples. I don't have to wake up in the middle of the night, anxious, wondering if I covered all of the questions the panelist will want to hear about. I don't have to worry about the difference between a goal and a concept, and wonder if I sounded intelligent enough. I can just breathe and hopefully get some painting done soon.

Grant writing is not an easy process. I wouldn't recommend it for just anyone. I don't think I could have done as good a job as I feel I did alone. Thankfully I have a support staff that  made my life easier (god, I can't even imagine how much worse this could have been!). My writer friend, Will Taylor, helped a lot in the early stages of editing and writing my narrative. He was a great cheerleader too. Steve Lopez and Antonio Cortez over at Artzone helped me flush out my ideas, become more articulate about my goals, and offered more than one shoulder to cry on and an abundance of hugs when I started freaking out, which happened more than once. It's so nice to know that I have all three of them as my support staff/ cheerleaders and that they believe in my project.

So now what? The panel reviews the proposals and gets back to us in December. You heard right, DECEMBER! It seems like it's so far away and will take forever, but fortunately for me, I have a wedding to plan and get together, plus an enormous amount of painting to do to keep me occupied.  Thank god for distractions! Imagine all the free time I'll have once I don't have to worry about getting married! Frankly, I can't wait.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Someday I'll Paint Again

It has been an extremely busy couple of days and because of this, I have had very little painting time. I find that when I go too long without getting some studio time in, I get depressed and grumpy. If you ask my fiance, he'd tell you I've been that way for a few days now. He's probably right, poor guy. Like I said, it's been a busy couple of days. I am over-stressed.

This past weekend was my bridal shower, and with it came my fiance's mom and my grandmother visiting for the weekend, and in my grandmother's case, for the rest of this week. It has been a weekend of an extreme amount of eating, shopping, and more eating. We have figured out the reception menu, the rehearsal dinner, hotels, and my fiance now has his whole wedding and rehearsal attire purchased. There is still many things that need to be done and I thank god I don't have a "day job" at the moment because I don't know where I would have fit that in.

Part of the problem is that, since I am an artist, and also have control issues, I am hand making most of the stuff for the wedding. I am making my own cake (I love making realistic gum-paste flowers), decorations, bouquets, boutonierres, favors, I am painting portraits of important family who have died and can't share the day with us...the list goes on. All of these things have some element that needs to be started soon, if not immediately. Add to that, the fact that I am still working on my grant proposal that is due this Thursday, throw in a bit of family, and we have one stressed out,  studio/ painting deprived bride to be.

I know that once the grant proposal is turned in, a lot of my stress will be relieved. I just need to get through this week. As one of my married friends told me regarding wedding planning, "After awhile, you just start drinking straight from the bottle!". I may just be there!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Today Was a Better Day

I've been in a bit of a funk lately, too much wedding and family stress. It doesn't help that I was not happy with my Mariachi painting either. Poorly painted work puts me in a bad mood. I get too frustrated with myself for not being able to make what I see in my head or in a picture, come through on my panel. I can get pretty down on myself about stuff like this sometimes.

This new one is really making me happy though and the funk is somewhat lifted. I love how working on a painting can effect my mood, especially if I am really enjoying the work and how it is turning out. I REALLY love the track that this new one is going on. I think it's going to be a strong piece when it's done. It made me enjoy my day at the studio and everything seemed better...for the moment (I still have a wedding to plan).

The hand still looks weird but I love the skirt of this dress. I still need to add some high-lights and fix the bodice a bit. I worked on the boy too. Those stripes were not fun to paint. Not fun at all! But I like the effect. He still needs a lot of work.

I worked a little more on this one. I think a few more high-lights and accents and it may be done. I really need this to be done and over with. I feel like it's done a number on my psyche.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Works in Progress

Lately I haven't had much luck on focusing on one particular thing. My mind is scattered, thinking of 60 million things at once, not all necessarily art-related. It's been hard to focus on just one painting since I start to get frustrated easily on a piece and instead of working through the frustration, I just switch paintings.

Currently I am working on three at once, all are at different stages of doneness. Some I have posted here before, and one is brand new. I've decided to start posting my work in progress here. I usually tweet about it but I wonder if anyone on there even cares. Plus, the limiting letter count doesn't give me much space to contemplate what I am working on. I think I need to start contemplating more. I need more reflection. This is where I chose to do it.

This is the newest painting that I started today. I am really liking it so far. I like the high contrast on her dress and the dark shadows. Her left hand looks like it is deformed. I have yet to master hands, as one can tell from my previous paintings and this one. I will probably finish this painting first before the other two since I am enjoying what I am painting and how it is turning out. The other two paintings are looking too cartoony for me which makes me not like painting them.

This one is looking better although I am still not happy. I still have a lot of details to add on the guitars and as you can see, the hands are not done. Since I'm not very good at hands, I tend to leave them out until the very end. The original photograph had a very dark background so it was hard to see where the guitars ended. I had to make up some of the guitar and it's neck. I'm still not happy with the faces but it doesn't look as bad as it used to, thanks to the advice of my studio mate, Rebekah.

I worked a little bit on this one. I figure if I do a small bit every day, then I may actually get this done. I added a hood to the chair on the left and I think it looks better. I still think this painting has too much white space and it doesn't work as well compositionally as the others. I have been using less white space lately and this one doesn't follow my new pieces. I like the ladies enough to try and finish it though.

I am hoping to have at least one of these done tomorrow. I won't have much time to paint in the next week or so since I will have family in town.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Stress Has Set In...

There are 62 days until I get married and the stress is starting to hit me. I haven't really had time to think about the wedding since I have had so many art deadlines in addition to ending my teaching career. Luckily we had the venue booked and a dress bought  within two weeks of getting engaged so there wasn't much to figure out until now.  Now there's details to take care of, hotels to book, bridal showers to attend. Now I feel overwhelmed. Now I am stressed. My hair is even starting to fall out as proof of this stress.

I am used to stress. Normally I strive on stress. Big painting deadline? No problem! You want 15 paintings shipped ASAP? No problem! Write a grant proposal in less than a month? No problem! But family visits and wedding there's a problem. What is it about family that stresses people out like nothing else?

I have family flying in this week for my bridal shower, which is great, but trying to figure out where everyone is going stay is stressful. Trying to arrange dinners with other family members while they are here  is stressful. Just being around my family is stressful. Then there's the question of when will I have time to paint? How will I be a gracious hostess and still have time to get some work done? And I still have to get my grant proposal in by the 29th too. There just seems to be too much to do at the moment and I'm not sure how to juggle everything. This is where having a personal assistant would be very nice. Someone to plan things for me, who just tells me when to show up and where. Ah, maybe in my next life I will have one, but in the meantime, here I am, a balding stress-ball counting down the days until my wedding day.

In other news, I have been trying to do a sample painting for my grant proposal and it's just not working out. My new, proposed work is based on the immigrant experience and I am having a hard time getting skin tones to look right. I only work in two colors, raw umber and white, so you wouldn't think it would be too hard, but I guess I am a little hesitant to use too much color and make the skin look too dark. My people are looking too cartoony and not at all what I want it to look like. I know I just need to continue working on this painting and it will resolve itself, but between the stress I am experiencing, and the slight depression over my hair falling out, I haven't been very confident with this painting. Here it is for you perusal. Feel free to comment on it. 

This is actually a picture of my grandfather (left). He was a musician and supposedly where I get my talent from. So not only do I have the pressure of just getting the painting to look right, it's my grandfather so I REALLY want it to look right.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Too Many Ideas, Not enough Time.

I never thought I would say it, but I have too many ideas for series of paintings. My mind is swimming with ideas that I want to work on but now I feel like I don't have enough time. How is that possible??? I am a full-time artist now! All I have to do is paint (okay, i also have an apartment to clean and meals to cook too and I'm sure my fiance would like to see me sometimes) so why do I feel like I don't have enough time to work on all of my ideas? I feel like I got a lot more work done when I had a day job since I had to make sure that I crammed as much painting time as possible in a day. Hell, I painted 18 paintings in less than a month while teaching all day and tutoring twice a week! Why is it so difficult now?

It is during these times that I feel like I must be a bit A.D.D. I have so many thoughts swimming around in my head since now I have the time to actually think about new ideas and series. This is normally a great thing, except now I feel overwhelmed that I don't have enough time in the day, week, summer to get them all done. I know I need to focus on one thing at a time but I get so excited about new things that I want to try those out too. Then I start to wonder how will I meet the needs of the galleries showing my work AND still be able to experiment and work on these new ideas. I know there's a balance. I guess I just haven't figured what that is since I am new to this whole "painting full-time" gig. I haven't quite figured out how to divide my painting time so that I am doing all of the things I want to do. Do I devote a different day of the week to do specific projects? Or do I divide up my day to do this? Do I just focus on one series at a time?

After having taught for 13 years, I am so used to structure and need it. I like schedules and timelines. It helps me get work done. I guess I just need to figure out how to schedule everything I want to do within a week. I'm sure eventually I will get the hang of this and figure out how to fit everything in. I'll have to. This is my career we're talking about. In the meantime, I guess I'll just be a stereotypical, neurotic artist...

Image: "Corsage" a work in progress. 16" x 16"

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Grant Writing

Grant writing isn't easy. It's not the kind of thing that just anyone can do. You have to have a certain finesse with conveying ideas and articulating goals so that what you write sounds intelligent but not pompous. You have to be able to convince a panel that your project is somehow more worthy than someone else's.

I am not a writer. I have always felt that if I had a gift for writing, I would have been a writer and not a visual artist. I can put together sentences pretty well and even have the ability to sound intelligent, I do have a master's degree after all, which involved over two years of a lot of writing. But writing is not what I do best. It is not what comes naturally.  So you can imagine that when I decided to apply for the San Francisco Arts Commission grant I knew it was not going to be fun. 

Articulating my goals and explaining what the project entailed was easy enough. I've been tossing around my idea for a new body of work for awhile now. It was questions like "How will you know your project is successful?" "What is your envisioned impact on your target audience?" that I am having trouble with. How does one quantify what success looks like in a non-monetary sense? I assume that the judges don't want to hear  that I hope to sell a lot of paintings and make a bunch of money. I'm not sure what to really write for this section. I know how I want this body of work to look like and what I would like my audience to take away from this, but how do know whether or not they get my meaning? How will I know that they understand my work? How does any artist ever know this? Do other artists create art for themselves or for their audience or both?

When I create art, I create it for myself. I hope that it will mean something to the viewer but that's not something that I can control so I don't usually have them in mind. All I can do is hope that what I paint means something to me, that it's the best work I can do at that time, and if I am really lucky, it will mean something to someone else. I don't set out trying to illicit a feeling from my audience. It has never been my goal. But for this project, I am hoping that this new series that I am writing the grant for will mean something to other people too. It's a new direction that I have never really explored but that I feel is important now. I'm not sure yet how I will be able to tell if it does, though. I'm not sure how I will tell if I am successful. I'm still working on that section of the proposal. Any ideas?

Image: "Wheelbarrow", work in progress. 16" x 16"

Thursday, July 8, 2010

My Latest Four Paintings

After taking three weeks off from painting, it feels good to get back into the swing of things. Here are the latest 4 paintings, one of which was a commission and the other three will be showing at the Julie Nester Gallery in Park City, Utah.

In other news, I will be taking a few days off from painting since I just realized yesterday that the SF Art Commission Grant application, which I really want to win, is due on July 29th. I haven't started writing anything for this and need to get that going if I am going to get it in on time. It will be nice if I do get this grant since it's a good amount of money and  the project that I am thinking of is dear to my heart and deals with immigration. Keep your fingers crossed and wish me luck!

"Mimi", 16" x 16", oil and encaustic wax on panel
This  painting was commissioned.

"Perfect Kiss", 16" x 16", oil and encaustic wax on panel
This painting will be available through the Julie Nester Gallery.

"Welcome Back", 16" x 16", oil and encaustic wax on panel
This painting will be available through the Julie Nester Gallery.

"Happy Couple", 16" x 16", oil and encaustic wax on panel
This painting will be available through the Julie Nester Gallery.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"Nature" Series on Sale!

This Friday, 7/9/2010, I will be showing my "Nature" series in the "Landscape Re-Visited" show at Art Explosion (2425 17th Street @ Potrero) studios, along with 13 other artists. This is a one day only show and will run from 7-10pm. My paintings will be on sale in order to make room for my newer work. This is your chance to get my work at a discounted price! If you can't make the show but see something you would like to purchase, please email me at .

Here is a preview of the work:
Untitled (Green Stripes), $1,900  $1,650
30" x 30", mixed medium/ encaustic wax

"The Sky is Not Enough", $600 $500
12" x 12", mixed medium/ encaustic wax

"When it Was Mine", $600 $500
12" x 12", mixed medium/ encaustic wax

"When the Time Comes", $600 $500
12" x 12", mixed medium/ encaustic wax

"If Only We Could Stop", $600 $500
12" x 12", mixed medium/ encaustic wax

"Quiet, Unrest", $600 $500
12" x 12", mixed medium/ encaustic wax

"Quiet Desperation", $1000 $800
20" x 16", mixed medium/ encaustic wax

"Lying in Two Different Places at Once", $1500 $1000
20" x 40", mixed medium/ encaustic wax

"Today Was Another Again", $900 $750
16" x 16", mixed medium/ encaustic wax

"Forward with Hesitation", $900 $750
16" x 16", mixed medium/ encaustic wax

"Another New, Another Unfamiliar", $1000 $800
20" x 20", mixed medium/ encaustic wax

"Untouched Places", $900 $750
16" x 16", mixed medium/ encaustic wax

Untitled (White), $1600 $1200
24" x 24", mixed medium/ encaustic wax