Friday, December 30, 2011

Back in Sync

For the past two weeks I have felt out of sync. Nothing on the painting I was working on seemed to
work out the way I wanted it to. The paint wasn't blending the way I wanted it to; tones didn't seem correct; everything seemed to be a messy and sloppy. I was working on painting number two for an important deadline and really needed to have everything come out as close to perfect as possible. You've already heard me complain about the painting with the two guys and a girl sitting on a box on a pier to know that that was a troublesome piece. It is also the piece I have been working on for about two weeks.

Thinking back, I realized that during that time I was sick with the flu and was also suffering from some intense neck and back pains. No wonder I was out of sync! My body and health were a wreck! Now that I am feeling better my work is starting to flow again...should that really be a big surprise? And yet, somehow, I didn't make the connection until recently. Sadie Valeri, who I recently took a painting class with, said during class about a month ago, that you really need to be at your best in order to paint at your best. In other words, being hung-over, drunk, high, or even sick are just not  states to be in in order to paint well. Also, being tired or hungry can also be added in to the "not good states to be in for painting categories" since they affect your body and mind too. It didn't make much sense to me when she said it, but now I'm a believer. After being sick for two weeks and really struggling with my painting, I've come to the conclusion that Sadie is right.

I was so frustrated with how I was painting and beating myself up for it, not thinking that my health had anything to do with it. I'm really good at getting down on myself when my paintings aren't turning out the way they should when really I should have been doing is asking myself "am I tired? hungry? sick?" and evaluating myself based on that. Like I said in previous posts, sometimes the obvious reasons/ solutions don't come to me quickly. Experience is really teaching me a lot about studio practices, even if it may come slowly to me.

Two days ago, when I decided to just let the painting I was working on "rest" (it was that or take a hammer to it...I was that frustrated with it) while I did something else, everything started to "flow" again.  I started two new pieces and finished the under-paintings rather quickly and with ease. My juices are flowing again and I feel good about what I am painting...and guess what? I'm not sick anymore and my neck and back are feeling better! I may actually get these two paintings done by Monday, which is my goal. I still have to go back and finish the painting of the two guys and the girl on the box, but I'm thinking after a break from it, and now that I am feeling better, it shouldn't be such a struggle.

So what's the lesson here? If you aren't feeling well physically (or mentally), sometimes it's just easier to rest and get better than to force yourself to do work. It may not always be possible (I do have deadlines), but in a perfect world, we would only paint when we are at our best physically.

I startes this one on Wednesday and only had one of the women
 painted in. I finished the under-painting yesterday.

As the previous painting was drying, I started this piece. I am still
working on the umbrella and decided that I would get that as "finished" as
 possible instead of just doing a quick underpainting since the
polka dots are a bitch to paint.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Stop Motion Video of "Motor Bike"

After much nagging and begging, my husband has finally finished putting together the "poor man's" stop motion video I made of my painting, "Motor Bike", which is available at Whistler Village Art Gallery. You can really see my process and the progression on the first half of the video as I paint in the underpainting. The next two layers of paint are a lot more subtler on the video. It's the fine tuning that is always harder to see this way but is more obvious in person.

In other news, I have been struggling trying to get painting number two done (that will hopefully be going to a new gallery soon). I don't know what it is about this painting that has been a pain, but almost every step of it has driven me crazy. Maybe it's me and I am just out of sync. I don't know. The latest problem is the shadow. I painted it in yesterday using the same tube of raw umber and white oil paint as the rest of the painting, but it seems to be "warmer" than the rest of the piece, causing it to be "forward" in the work and throwing off the perspective. I'm not sure why it does this sometimes, but it has happened in other pieces, and it's driving me crazy. I think today I will just paint over it and hopefully the paint will decide to be "cool" today. It really does feel like it is a random choice by my tubes of paint sometimes. I have tried all different methods of painting with these tubes and it will randomly "decide" to be warm in the oddest times, regardless of HOW I use the paint. Maybe it's because I haven't had much training on oil painting, but I just can't figure out why. Please let me know if you have any thoughts.

The shadow is looking like an oil spill at the moment...

While the paint was drying on my troublesome painting, I started a new piece. It is VERY rough, as are all of my paintings that are still in the underpainting stage, but here it is anyways:

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas is Over. Now What...

Now that Christmas is over I no longer have an excuse to sit at home, underneath a blanket, watching movies for hours with my husband. Now I must get my lazy-ass off the couch and finish some paintings so that I can ship them to some awaiting galleries. Here's what I have so far on the latest:

There is still SO much to do on this one! This is
when a clone would really come in handy...

On a different note, this is WAY late, but here's my final egg painting from my painting class. I am pretty happy with it. It was looking like a potato for awhile so I'm just glad it looks like an egg now. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Necessity is the mother of invention...or at least the hunt for a suitable apparatus for my unique needs.

The background story: 
Recently my husband bought me an iPad so that I could have my reference images on the tablet. He thought this would make my life easier and my paintings stronger, and he was right. Before getting the iPad I would print out my reference images on my somewhat-decent printer. The images weren't always big enough, or clear enough. Often times the images would be darker or lighter than the original, but it was workable. I didn't realize how much detail I was missing until I got my new tablet. By having the images on my iPad I am now able to enlarge the area that I am working on. The images are clearer and since I can see more detail, my paintings can now be more detailed.

There was only one problem... with a paint brush in one hand and a palette in the other, the only place for me to place the iPad was my lap or table. I would have look down on my lap or my table and the strain on my neck was becoming very painful. I needed a solution and I needed one fast.

The solution:
Enter my genius husband, Ben. He went on the search for an "arm" that could attach to my easel that would make my iPad flush with the area I was working on on my panel. He found a lot of "arms" but most of them would permanently affix the "arm" to one spot on the easel and my iPad would also have to be screwed into the contraption. This would not work. I needed something I could move around my easel, depending on where I was working. I also didn't want to have my iPad permanently attached to my easel and left in my studio, which is an open area with 60 other artists. After some more searching, Ben found a wheelchair "arm" for tablets that could easily be clamped on to the top or bottom of my easel. It also has three articulating joints that allow for trouble-free positioning of the screen. Once positioned, the "arm" is then locked into place securely. It seemed like the ideal choice.

Today was the first day that I was able to use it and it works PERFECTLY! Adjustments were effortless. I was able to move the "arm" around to two different positions easily and quickly. More importantly, my neck didn't hurt at the end of the day since I was able to situate the iPad at eye level. I think this "arm" will save my body from a lot of unnecessary strain and pain which will allow me to paint well into old age.

My latest painting...

The arm started off attached to the top of the easel
so that I could work on the top portion of the painting.

I moved the arm to the bottom of my easel when I started working on the legs.

My genius husband...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Winter Break

Winter break is here and I'm feeling pretty healthy so it's time to start painting again! I love these vacation times because it means I can devote all of my time in the studio. I'm not tired from teaching during the day so I can get much more concentrated painting done. It's nice and I hope to go back to just painting full-time again soon cause this is something that I definitely can get used to.

I finished the painting portion of my recent piece and have started a new one. These two paintings (in addition to a few more I plan to get done this month) will be traveling to a new gallery that is considering representing me. It's a great gallery so the pressure is on to bust out some of my best work. I won't say which gallery just yet, I don't want to jinx anything, but trust me, it's a fantastic opportunity!

This is just waiting to be waxed! The panel is 30"x40".

I didn't get much done on this today but hope to have the underpainting
done by Friday at the latest.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

And the Frenzy Comes to a Halt

Sometimes the best laid plans fail...not for a lack of planning or a lack of skills. Sometimes unforseen things happen that just put a kink in your plans and make everything come to a screeching halt. What sort of kinks am I referring to? The tiniest kinds, that while microscopic, can ruin anyone's best laid plans. I am talking about the flu virus.

This is where I left off before I got too sick to paint.
I'm sure everyone is familiar with the symptoms of the flu and how miserable a person can feel when they have it. It can also keep you from important plans. I once had an audition as a singer for a band and had to cancel because I had the flu. My voice was wrecked in the "I sound like a fog horn" sort of way. By the time I was better, the band had found another singer. Now I am sick again and my carefully laid painting schedule that I had in place is now shot to hell. I haven't been able to paint for two days because I feel so miserable. Who knows how many days more I will need off. This, of course, is bad timing. With new paintings needing to ship by the end of the month (and one to a hopefully new, important gallery) I don't have time to be sick! But alas, those pesky flu viruses don't care about my deadlines and schedules. They don't care about my potential new gallery. They just want to spread and wreck havoc in my life, and quite frankly, I find that rude and inconsiderate. Unfortunately for me, I just have to ride this out until I feel better and can continue on my frenzied painting schedule. Good thing I am on winter break starting on Friday...!

I was only able to work on the girl on the left...

Friday, December 9, 2011

Let the Painting Frenzy Begin!

Tis the season to paint until I drop. With many deadlines on the horizon, there's no time for relaxing as I had hoped. It has been a busy year and every time I get through a deadline and think I can relax for a bit, another deadline comes up. I don't think I have had more than two weeks off at a time this year, and with the economy the way that it is, I'd say I was pretty lucky. Lucky, but tired, that is. So while everyone else will be busy shopping and getting ready for this holiday season, I will be painting like a mad woman, again, hoping to get 6 paintings done by the end of this month.

Here's the first painting that I started yesterday. It is a 30"x40" and has five women.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

No Regrets

Today, as I was supposed to be creating my algebra 1 final (finals are next week), I decided to take a break and read up on some Facebook posts. One of the links that someone posted was titled "The Top 5 Regrets People Have on Their Deathbed". Ms. Bonnie Ware, a woman who worked with the dying for many years, compiled this list based on what people say aloud as they are dying. It sounded like an interesting list and I wondered whether or not I would have these same regrets.
My egg that I am working on in my painting class. I have always wanted to
attend art school. Now that I am older, I realize that taking classes at
different ateliers is more of what I need and want right now in my career.
Instead of constantly say "I wish I had the time to take classes...I
wish I taken my art career more seriously, I'm just doing it. No excuses.
Do what makes you happy.

Here it is:
1. "I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me."
Yeah, I don't think this will be an issue. Growing up my mother wanted me to be a nurse (because I was so patient...which is funny to those of you who know me now.) and my father wanted me to be an astrophysicist (I don't even know what that is!). I, being the stubborn child that I was, left home at age 17 to do what I wanted and just be me, whoever that me turned out to be. It's taken some years but I am doing what I love and am passionate about. I am a professional artist. My paintings are in many galleries and my career seems to be doing really well. I did also get my masters in math education and a teaching credential, but truthfully, I WANTED to do that and I actually enjoy teaching math (although I would rather paint any day rather than teach if given the choice). I can honsetly say that I have lived my life the way I wanted to live it.

2. "I wish I didn't work so hard."
Okay, maybe this will be a regret. I do still need to find a balance between work and play in my life (see previous post about finding balance), but being a hard worker is what has gotten me this far in life. Sure I have made some sacrifices for work, but it has no where near taken over my life. Balance is the key and I am working on finding it.

3. I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.
ANYONE that knows me knows that I'm pretty good at expressing my feelings. Some (ahem, my husband and family) may even say that I express them too much. Being an artist and former musician has helped with this. Whatever I couldn't express with with words I was always able to express with art or songs.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
This one is something I will probably regret. I'm just not good at staying in touch. I'm not a fan of talking on the phone, which can make keeping in touch a problem. Now with Facebook, texting, and email I am better at keeping in touch, but it's never been something I have been good at. I'm just not a very social person so it usually doesn't occur to me to reach out to someone unless there's a reason. I'm a horrible friend, I know. I'll work on this one.

5. I wish I had let myself be happier.
Hmmm, well, who couldn't be happier? If our choices decide what makes us happy, I'm sure there is always something more we can do to be happier. I think I am a decently happy person. Could I be happier? Sure. Everyone could be. Definitely something I will always be working on.

So, after reading this list, what will your regrets be?