Friday, March 30, 2012

Very Little Progress

Spring Break was/ is this week and instead of immersing myself in paint and studio time (which was my original plan), I have been studying about limits and derivatives. I have been able to break away a few hours a day to paint, but no where near as much as I would like. The current painting I been working on seems to have been "in progress" FOREVER. I am starting to realize that if a painting takes too long, I get bored and disinterested. Now, I will still finish this painting, I have way to many hours invested in it to not, but I can't wait to start on the next batch of pieces. Here's what I have been working on:

I still have quite a bit of work to do on this painting...The panel is 30"x40". 
Add I originally thought the figure on the left was a boy, but as I was painting,
realized "he" was wearing a bikini top. I think I may lengthen her hair a bit in the back.
It will still be greased back, but maybe she will look more feminine. I may just leave it,
 I don't know. I kinda like the ambiguity. I also need to lighten her left arm a bit.
It is darker on the picture, but sometimes I tend to overdue it and make it too dark. I need
to make it darker in relation to the painting, NOT in relation to the original photo. Make any sense? 
I need to make the bar larger for the girl on the right. Although she is
looking down and the current bar is proportional to her eyes, it doesn't seem
proportional to her head or the other two figures. So much to do, so little time!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Painting Class and Studying Calculus

Today I started Advanced Open Studios, a painting "class" that will last six weeks. It is the third class I have taken at Sadie Valeri Atelier and I will be working on a still life painted in classical Flemish style. I'm pretty excited about this class. It's my one day a week where I don't have to worry about my own painting deadlines and I get to just LEARN.  I will be working with color, and although I am sure this won't be easy for me (think old dog, new tricks), I am looking forward to the challenge.
This is my still life for the next 6 weeks. 

I worked on my drawing today. As you can see, The base of the little pitcher
 is crooked. I think I need to tweak the larger one's base too.
I don't know how I missed that when I looked at the actual drawing.
That's why I like taking pictures of my work. It gives me "distance" so that
I can see things I may not see in the actual piece.
 In other news, I found out on Friday that I am being laid off from my teaching job. My principal is really fighting HR so that I can keep my job, but part of the requirements is that I finish adding an upper level math credential to what I already have (which is only allows me to teach up to advanced algebra). This meant I had to sign up for the next math test, which is the third out of three tests. I already passed the first two. I was planning on taking the test in the Fall (I have two years to complete the tests) so that I could study all summer, but now I am forced to take the test a LOT earlier. For the next six weeks I will be studying calculus, trigonometry, and math history. Sounds like fun, huh? I probably won't have much time to paint as much as I would like. I will be painting some, as a break between study sessions, but don't expect me to be my usual productive self until after May 5th.

 I started this painting yesterday and have finished the underpainting. Today was my
 last full day of painting for at least six weeks. I am on Spring break this week so I plan on
studying for a few hours, take a break to paint for a few hours, then continue studying. This
painting should be done at the end of the week, I hope!

Friday, March 16, 2012

And the Shadow is Gone!

Sometimes what you think will work, doesn't. It happens all the time with painting. I find an image that I think will look great as a painting, but when it's finished, it doesn't look anything at all like I imagined. I've learned to figure out what will work best, for the most part. Good contrast, interesting shadows, and spontaneous poses usually work well, but sometimes even those elements look bad.

When I found the image that I am currently working on, I thought it would work since it had all three requirements. I liked how the wind made the dress move and the spontaneity of the pose.  The shadows were great, including the one on the ground. But when I had the underpainting done, I realized that the shadow on the ground just didn't work. It looked like an alien or ghost coming out from underneath the dress. Without the horizon line, the shadow had too little context to make sense. It was "floating" too far up on the panel making it look weird. It seemed fine in the photo since the background was included, but it was  horrible in my painting. The shadow had to go.

Now that the shadow is gone, the composition looks much better. Her hair looks funky, but I guess that's what you get on a windy day at the beach.
This is the finished image without the shadow. I like it better
this way and think the white space works well with the image.

Here is the original painting with the shadow. Without a
 horizon line, the shadow seems out of context and looks like a
giant alien form to me. 

I worked on this painting today, also. I think another
day and this will be done.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Standing Up for Myself

One of two pieces that I am currently working on
 Often times it's hard for me to stand up for myself. I can stand up for other people and have gotten myself into some hairy situations because of it, but stand up for myself? Not so easy. It's not that I don't believe I deserve to be treated well or fairly. I do. I just hate confrontation and the possibility of backlash from the person I am standing up to. My stomach gets all anxious and sick feeling just thinking about what I need to do or say. I lose sleep at night because I am playing out what I am going to say and possible reactions by the other person. Trust me, it's not easy for me, but it's what I need to do sometimes and I am finding that in art, I have had to stand up for myself a lot. 

Sometimes it's as simple as asking for a contract from a gallery. You want all expectations for both sides laid out in writing. That's simple enough to ask for, usually, since most galleries provide that in order to protect themselves. If they don't automatically provide one, the average gallery is happy to provide one if asked.

Painting number two in the works. The underpainting
is done on this one.
As you start to have more galleries that represent you, sometimes you realize that certain ones no longer work for you. Either you have outgrown the gallery, they haven't made a sale in long while, or if you're unlucky, the gallery is doing something shady and you need to get out. There are a number of reasons why an artist would need to "break-up" with a gallery, and I say break-up because sometimes it does feel like that. You have to make the dreaded  "it's not you, it's me call" (or if you are me and REALLY hate phones, you email them) and explain why the arrangement is no longer working for you. It sucks. I have had to do it 4 times in the last year. I really don't like doing it but I hate being taken advantage of and won't stay in a gallery that isn't right for me.

Occassionally a gallery will ask you to do something you may not want to do. Perhaps they want you to use a certain color that sells better, or paint a certain subject. Maybe they want you to use a certain size panel or canvas. Some of these requests are easy enough to do. I have painted certain sizes for specific shows and have even been requested to do more "beach" paintings because people seem to like those better. This has never bothered me because I still get to choose the subject matter and composition. I still make the major decisions about what I paint. But every once in awhile you may be asked to do something that makes you feel like you are no longer an artist with a vision, but instead a painting factory. Do you do what the gallery wants and risk upsetting your artistic integrity? Or do you stand up for yourself with the knowledge that this could possibly end your relationship with a gallery?

Recently one of my galleries made such a request. I won't go into which gallery or what they wanted me to do, but I will say that I agonized over my response to this request. Was I willing to give up this gallery in order to stay true to myself? How important was artistic integrity to me? Does it really matter what I paint as long as it sells? I will admit that I did try painting what the gallery wanted. I painted them two pieces this way and it didn't feel good, in addition the the fact that the paintings have yet to sell. It just didn't seem worth it to me to paint in a way that I wasn't happy with. I need to feel good about my work, even if my pieces never sell. After much agonizing, I told the gallery that I didn't feel comfortable with their request and that I was going to paint what felt good to me. I said that I would understand if this meant I would no longer be represented by them. Fortunately for me the gallery was great about this. They said they understood and was happy that I let them know how I felt. Everything worked out. I am still represented by them and all is well.

So even though it may be hard to stand up for myself, it's important to not let anyone, including galleries, push you around and "make" you do things that you don't feel right about. Life would be so much easier if things always worked out they way we want them too, but unfortunately, that doesn't always happen. When less than stellar events happen, it's better to just man up (or in my case, woman up) and do something about it. Speak up for yourself, cause if you don't, no one else will.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

My First Car

This painting is 24"x24", in case you're wondering...
Based on the title of this blog, one would think that this post is about my first car, the one I owned when I was 16 (which was a wood paneled Datsun 210, in case you're wondering), but it's not. This is about the first car (and only car, at this point) that I've ever painted. I am currently working on a painting of a couple that is standing next to car. Normally I don't include backgrounds and rarely do I paint "props", I like the simplicity of just painting people, but something about this car and the composition made me paint it. I'm not sure what it is about this car but I think that was a good decision.

I've been working on this painting for a few days, and while it still needs some work, I'm liking it. Painting metal isn't easy, by the way. The reflections, especially on the bumper (which I have not really worked on) will probably be difficult but I am up for the challenge. My studio-mate, Tracey Kessler, stopped by while I was painting today and I mentioned to her that this was my first car. She was impressed and thought that perhaps I should paint more. I thought about it and realized that I just wasn't a car person.

I don't have the passion for cars like some people do. I've owned multiple cars and my thought process in buying them was always more functional than "fashionable". Does it run? Can it hold what I need? Yes?Good. I'll take it. I'm not into fancy cars or expensive ones. I just don't care enough about cars in general which then makes painting them often difficult. I'm just not interested. Another studio-mate of mine, Scott Inguito, has a whole series on El Caminos. Now he's probably a car guy and you can tell by his paintings that he really likes the El Camino. His paintings are beautiful and I am sure part of what makes them so is his passion for the vehicle. Being passionate about what you paint can make of break a painting. It adds that special "something" that moves you, and hopefully the viewer. I'm more of a cloth and people person. I LOVE painting images of clothing and interesting people. That is what gets me excited. That's what I love to paint.

While I will never be a car person (much to the dismay of my husband who is trying to convince me we NEED a Lexus or a Range Rover...uh, no babe, we don't), I am enjoying painting this car. I don't know if I will be painting many in the future, but you never know. Maybe my husband will convert me into a car person...then again, probably not.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Painting #7 and #8...

It was a very productive weekend. I finished the underpainting for paintings number seven and eight. One of them just needs one more day and it will be complete, hopefully tomorrow. I dropped off a new painting to Arthaus Gallery and an older piece to Artspan for their annual art auction, which is next weekend. I also worked on my 2011 tax receipts so that they are ready  for my accountant next week. It was no easy chore. I had A LOT of receipts but I am happy to say that despite the large amount of money spent on art supplies, advertising, shipping, etc., I still managed to make a profit. I am hoping that 2012 proves to be an even more profitable year.

Painting number 8's underpainting is complete.

Here's a view of the whole piece. The panel is 24"x24".

This painting is almost done. I should have it finished tomorrow.