Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Case of the "Shoulds"

We've all suffered from this. We have all made ourselves feel guilty over it. You know you have too. I'm talking about a case of the "shoulds", the overwhelming feeling of guilt that comes over you when you feel like you should be doing something else (usually entailing work of some kind) while doing absolutely nothing***. So far, there is no cure.

I have been suffering from a case of the "shoulds" all weekend. After feeling a little sick on Friday, I decided that I wasn't going to go in to the studio and paint, thinking that laying in bed and resting would do me better. But then that nagging voice in my head started in about what I should be doing. I should be finishing my painting that I have been working on all week. I should be researching galleries to submit my work to. I should be responding back to a bunch of emails I have been neglecting. I should be cleaning my apartment. But on Friday, I didn't let it get the best of me. I was actually able to rest up and felt a bit better by that evening.

Saturday was a different story though. I had a high school friend in town, one I haven't seen SINCE high school, and she wanted to see my art. Since I didn't get in to the studio on Friday, I figured I should get some work done while I was waiting for my friend to show up. And so I did. I gave in to the "shoulds" and stayed for a good 6 hours, and guess what? I feel more sick today than I did on Friday. What I really should have done was rested some more.

Now I know it isn't easy to resist the "shoulds". I am usually powerless to it's power and succumb almost instantly. It's usually hard for me to just relax and do nothing. I can't help it. There's just too many things I should be doing instead. But sometimes, especially when it comes to your health, you just have to stop listening to that voice in your head. You need to take care of YOU. I think today I am going to try and do that.

*** Other strands of the "shoulds" include:
1. What your parents think you should be doing with your life. This one is tough to resist and only the strongest will survive.
2. What society (television, advertisers, cultural norms, and anything else that likes to tell us what to look like, eat, or buy, etc.)  thinks you should do. 

Here's the progress I made yesterday when I should have been resting.

Here's a detail. I still need to work on this boy and add spokes to the rear tire of the bike. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Teaching and Painting

Getting used to my new schedule hasn't been easy. Working in the morning and then painting all day has taken some time to get used to, especially since I have to get up at 6am now. Fortunately my husband is very good at having dinner ready and waiting for me when I get home. I have also started drinking coffee again, which helps, and surprisingly my energy has been pretty good (must be the B12 I've been taking!). It's not my ideal schedule but, it's been working and I have been painting the same amount everyday so far. I find that after teaching three Pre-Calculus and Advanced Algebra morning classes (and dealing with teenagers!), it's nice to "veg" out in the studio and paint in order to "de-stress".

If I had to take a job, this was definitely the best possible one for me to take. The kids are good and my teaching schedule is perfect. Now if only I could clone myself so that the other things I am neglecting  (like house-cleaning and paperwork) can get done....a girl can wish!

Now on to the progress of my latest painting...

Here is a close-up of the first boy. I am pretty pleased with the way his ear turned out. It's probably the best ear I have ever painted. I was able to finish him up and can now concentrate on the other boy and the bike. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bicycles on a Beautiful Day

It was a BEAUTIFUL day in San Francisco today. It was the perfect Spring day, except that it's winter. It's the kind of day where you really should be outside, basking in the sunlight. So what did I do today? I was was in my studio painting. I am really loving my latest painting, and although sunshine is a rarity in SF, especially this time of the year, I couldn't wait to get inside my studio and paint.

I am starting to pick more complicated and challenging images to paint now. I feel pretty confident in my abilities and am wanting more than just the basic person posing in front of the camera. This newest one has a bicycle in it, but not only does it have a bicycle (which is complicated on it's own), but the bike is at a weird angle. I was a little afraid of starting this piece cause I wasn't so sure if I could paint the bike but so far it, I think it looks pretty good. I still have a ton of work on this painting but so far, I am happy with the results. Take a look:
I did the drawing and got to this point yesterday.

As you can see, I got a lot of work done today. The spokes on the bike will be interesting to do. I'm not sure how I will approach it yet. I want to not get caught up in all of the details (which I tend to do) and just give the "impression" of the spokes, along with the bike. I am trying to paint more loosely with this one.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Latest...Finally

I finally had a chance to take some good photos of the last two paintings I completed...ehem....over a week ago. Like I said before, its been pretty crazy for me.

So now I am sitting in my studio, ready for a full day of painting, and what am I doing? Updating my website and blog! Not exactly what I wanted to do, but oh so necessary. I still have a stack of emails to respond to, but I think I'll wait until tomorrow.

"Striped Scarf" 2011, 24" x 24", oil and encaustic wax on panel

"Missing the Target" 2011, 24"x30", oil and encaustic wax on panel

Friday, January 21, 2011

Adjustments to My Schedule

Ruth Asawa and her beautiful sculptures.
It's been a week since I last posted anything on my blog, mainly because I have had a crazy last couple of days. I posted sometime in December that I was offered a teaching job at the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts in San Francisco. It would be a math position, where I would teach pre-calculus and advanced algebra, and the job would last from January to May. I was torn as to whether I would take the job but finally decided that I couldn't turn down this opportunity. I would only be teaching from 8am to 12:20 and could still be in the studio for at least five hours a day, which is the minimum hours I need to feel like I am painting full-time.

Since I decided to take the job, I spent all weekend and most of this week filling out paperwork, ordering transcripts, getting fingerprinted, and verifying my previous employment (which meant I had to go to my previous school districts and get them to sign some forms). I met with the principal, scoped out my "new" classroom, and tried to get together my lesson plans. In addition to this, I celebrated a birthday, visited my mother-in-law in Portland, had a studio visit by one of my favorite galleries, all while trying to get in some painting time. I started teaching this Thursday morning, getting up at 6am for the first time since June, with little more than 4 hours of sleep.  Needless to say, I haven't had much time to blog.

So far, teaching at SOTA has been great. There are so many creative kids there and they have been great in welcoming me to the school. It's not easy starting mid-year, when students have already established their routines. The last thing they probably want is to have a new teacher come in and completely change things up, but they are surviving and so am I. I don't think this will impact my painting schedule too much. I am usually in the studio around noon, and with my teaching schedule, I can still get in at a reasonable time. I am still painting full-time but now I am also a part-time math teacher, at least until May 27th, when I transform back into JUST an artist. It will be an interesting couple of months to say the least.

On a side note, those of you residing in the Bay Area, I have 12 paintings at Artzone 461 Gallery (461 Valencia St. @ 16th St.) for their "Small Works, Small Prices" show in their side gallery. The opening reception is this Saturday, January 22nd, from 5-8pm. I will be there and I also made up a couple batches of my special homemade truffles. Tomorrow's flavors are ginger with sugar crystals and bing cherry with pecans. Please stop by and say "Hi!".

Thursday, January 13, 2011

First Attempt at Color

Color Study 1: Jellyfish, 8" x 6"
 Yesterday I finally received the rest of the colors I needed in order to start some color studies. I was excited and ready to experiment when I got to the studio today, thinking this shouldn't be too hard. I used to paint in acrylics ten years ago and used color back then, so how hard could this be, right? Wrong. The main obstacle that I found today was that the paint just wouldn't dry fast enough. Because of this, my colors kept getting muddied and it was hard to get any crisp, bright colors and highlights.

I have been using oil paints for the past two years but was only using two colors, raw umber and white. With just two colors, you're not going to get mud when the colors mix (okay, maybe you will with raw umber, but it's actually what I want then). You're not going to have the colors dull, as I did today, because there aren't any. Two colors are easy to work, many colors are not. I also remembered that when I was using acrylics, I used to have a blow dryer handy since I was too impatient for those paints to dry. Now I have to have even MORE patience since these are oil paints and they can take forever to dry! Grrrr. I don't know if I can wait that long between layers of paint.

I did talk to a few fellow studio-mates about what to do. (I'm a self-taught artist so I really have no idea how to use oils and the MANY different things you can add to it.) It was suggested that I add some galkyd or liquin to the paint in order to speed the drying but since these are already alkyd oil paints, I'm not sure that will help all that much. It was also suggested that I work on more than one painting at a time so that I have something else to paint while I wait for current painting to dry. (I could always do some pre-calculus while the paint dries too. I've been known to do that on occasion.) This will probably be the best solution for me.

Another "problem" was that I wasn't used to mixing colors. I just couldn't get the colors or shades that I wanted. I think this will get better with more practice, and I plan on getting lots of it.  I had to stop painting since the paint needs to dry before I can add more to it. I am also thinking of covering this in wax just to see what that would look like. These  are all studies/ experiments so I'll probably try a few things over the finished pieces. 

Overall, I was pretty happy with what I painted today. I realize it's not a masterpiece and probably not as good as my black and white paintings yet, but I think I'll eventually get there with more practice.  

Two Finished Paintings

I finally finished the oil portion of this painting. I was extremely happy with the way the fabric looks on this one. The striped scarf and floral shirt look like actual flowing fabric and patterns aren't exactly easy to paint. The hand looks better, although I think I could use more practice on hands in general. Overall, I like the way this painting turned out. The only thing left on this one is the wax layer.

I also finished the couple painting, finally. I think this painting, along with the other three similar pieces, will be available only through my studio. I am not painting a lot of these so it doesn't make sense to include these, along with the "Forgotten Memories" paintings, at the galleries that show my work. I want to be able to show consistent work at galleries and these explorations aren't quite good enough in concept or execution to show with my other work. They are more experimentations. These, and the color studies that I will be starting (TODAY!) are my way of exploring other possibilities and having fun. I will be showing them on my blog, because I think it's good to record my process and progress, but they have a long ways before making it into a gallery. In the meantime, please email me if you would like to purchase any of these pieces or have questions about them. If you would like a "Forgotten Memories"painting, you can contact the gallery directly (websites located on the side bar) or email me and I can direct you to the appropriate gallery. 

"Missing the Target", 24" x 30"

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Small Works Show at Artzone 461 Gallery

I am proud to announce that I will be participating in the small works show this month at Artzone 461 Gallery's side gallery, in San Francisco. Steve Lopez, director of the gallery, stopped by yesterday and picked up 12 of my paintings to be added to the show. There will be some "Nature" series and "Forgotten Memories" pieces, along with works by many of the other fine artists represented by the gallery.

In the main gallery will be Randy Beckelheimer's beautiful large scale, photorealistic paintings. These paintings are amazing in size and detail. It's a must see! The show runs from January 15th to February 20th with the reception on the 22nd, from 5-8pm. I will be there with some of my homemade truffles for everyone to munch on so stop by and say hi.

January 15 through February 20, 2011
Reception Saturday January 22, 5-8 pm 
RANDY  BECKELHEIMER                                
Side Gallery
Wider Views of Urban San Francisco                             small works


In our Side GallerySMALL WORKS:  small pricesUp to 20” square – most smallerArtZone's Side Gallery features a selection of small works, up to 20" in any dimension, by Gallery artists and others.

  First row:  Heidi McDowell, Gage Opdenbrouw, Jeong Im Yi.  
     Second row:  Ryan Reynolds, Becky Robbins, Nicholas Coley

ArtZone exhibits local, Bay Area artists whom need your support now.  Please contribute to the creative act by collecting our artists and patronizing local galleries.  Thank you.

 Patronize ArtZone so we can keep our business alive in 2011.
  We make it possible for you to live with unique, original art.  Enjoy the ArtZone Experience.

  Gallery Hours:
Noon – 6:00 p.m. | Wednesday – Sunday
  Any time by appointment
Keep up with ArtZone 461 Gallery on   facebook:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Playing with the Bar

I worked some more on the newest painting today. I was really enjoying the floral fabric on this one and focused most of my time on that. The whole painting still needs a lot of work since the face is just the underpainting and the hand still looks manly, but I was playing with how to block out the eyes with the bar. Since you can't see much of her eyes, it's hard to figure out the angle and size of the dark bar. I usually will paint a dark strip on paper and cut it out so that I can play with sizes and angles without having to actually paint the bar on the eyes. Here are both versions:

Version one has no bar on the eyes and looks quite nice, actually, well, except for the manly hand. Just for the record, her hand looks rather manly in the photograph. I may need to take some artistic license and make them less manly. 

Version two has the black bar taped on. I don't know that I have the angle and size right on this yet and will keep playing with it. It's hard to decide how long and wide it needs to be for the angle of her face since you can't see much of it. Sometimes the bar needs to be curved, too. I am kind of liking this without the bar, but, as we know how I am with making sure my paintings are part of a cohesive series, I will be painting the bar soon.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Quick Day at the Studio

After running a bunch of errands yesterday, I found myself with a few free hours before our dinner plans with my brother and his fiancee. Since I didn't really have much to do at home, and was thinking about my latest painting anyways, I stopped by the studio and got a bit of work done. I was only there for about two hours. The studio tends to get busy on the weekends and I like to work when it's nice and quiet. Plus, with everyone working at the same time, the smell of solvents and paints is hard to escape, which makes my head hurt.  I did get more of the underpainting done, which was nice. Here it is:

I REALY need to work on the hand more tomorrow, It's looking rather manly. Hands are not my strong suit, as you can see. I should work on some hand studies.

Here's another view with some slight changes.

I also worked a TINY bit on this other piece. It's still not done, but here is where it's at for now:

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Waiting for Some Color

I paint with alkyd oil paints. I am just too impatient to wait for the paint to dry and the alkyds dry quickly, usually in a couple of hours. Recently I decided that I would try and paint people in color. More specifically, I thought I'd change eras for a bit and use photographs from the 1970s. I like how the photos back then had an orange tinge to them and we all remember what we used to wear back then, right? I'm thinking these paintings will be fun and a new challenge for me. They will still be in the "Forgotten Memories" style (aka bars over their eyes and a waxy finish).

I was all ready to start last week but didn't have the right colors. (I actually did try painting with the colors that I had, and it was disastrous!) Usually I just drive on over to my local Pearl's art store and get my alkyds there, but sadly, they closed. What is even sadder is that the remaining art stores in San Francisco don't carry alkyds and I had to order them online. So now I am waiting, patiently, for my paints to arrive so that I can do some experimenting. They are supposed to arrive on Wednesday, which means I should be ready to go on Thursday of next week.

In the meantime, I started another "B&W" one. (Technically they are done in raw umber and white, hence the quotation marks.) I will be doing a number of these pieces throughout the year and here is the first one:

Close-up of the newest painting.

Newest painting with original photo attached.

This is still in the underpainting painting phase. In fact, I still have a lot of underpainting to do... I should probably be done with this one next week, just in time to start a colored one!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Pulling a Fast One

Back in 2007 and until 2008, I was painting my "Nature" series. It consisted of hand drawn leaves in between layers of colored wax. It was mostly abstract work, despite having life-like leaves in them. I had a few galleries show the work but no one really interested in taking me on as an artist on a long term basis. I didn't really feel this series. Most days in the studio was a struggle. Somedays I wouldn't even paint. I hadn't found my muse yet and there was no way I would have thought about quitting my job and doing art full-time. I was kind of happy that no galleries wanted to represent me because then I would have had to continue this series longer than I would have been able.

Then I started painting people. I knew it was a complete 180 from what I was doing before and I risked having my previous clients not like it. I felt so strongly about the new work that it didn't matter. I needed a new direction in my art that was going to motivate me to paint more and make me happy as an artist. This work did that. I did lose a few clients but in the long run, I had a lot more people interested, and galleries too. So now that it has been two years and galleries are finally taking notice, should I then pull a "fast one" on them and change my style completely? Can my just-budding career survive such a change?

Those of you who have been following my blog know that I have been a mess these past few posts. I have been excited and depressed about doing new work all at once. My decision on where to go next with my work has seesawed back and forth so often that I probably frustrated and confused a few readers. I have been doing some serious thinking about this and consulting with other professional artists about my dilemma. What dilemma am I talking about, you may ask? The dilemma of what to do when you are known for one style of painting (and that's what your galleries represent you for) but feel the need to try something new.

I am "known" for doing paintings with the bars over the eyes. It's what makes my work standout from other figurative work. It's my "thing", I guess, and it makes my work different, more interesting. That's not to say that there aren't other things about my work that is good. But I am known for painting bars over the eyes of my figures. So how do I keep my galleries satisfied yet also make myself happy? A very wise artist, who I probably pester way too much on a regular basis, (eh hmm....Jeff Schaller) passed on a rule of thumb. Paint 80% of my standard and 20% new and explorative work with the hopes of later it becoming 20% standard, 80% new work. Smart guy, huh? (You should see his work!)

As a professional artist, who is showing in galleries, I have a responsibility to the galleries that take a risk by showing my work. It is too early in my career to be switching up styles on them. I hadn't planned on abandoning my "Forgotten Memories" series altogether anyways, but this was important to hear. Later, when I am as famous as, perhaps, Gerhard Richter, then maybe I can paint whatever I want and people will love it regardless. But until then....

Thanks to all the fabulous artists, you know who you are, who have given me their advice and have allowed me to talk this process through with them. I value your opinions immensely and am grateful for our friendship.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

On Second Thought

Last week I started the following painting and then decided that I really hated the final results. The right side looked muddied and didn't make visual sense. I had a hard time tying the elements together and it was obvious. I decided to scrap everything back to just the image of the woman and start over.

The first attempt at this painting. I don't like it.

What I went for the second version of this painting is a lot less busy, simpler, and I like it better. I'm not sure that this is done. I need to sit with it for a bit and see how I feel about it. I do like the backwards map of the US, which is backwards on purpose. Overall, I think this is a better version of the painting.

Version 2. Much better.

I also waxed the painting of the couple today and will hopefully finish it on Thursday or Friday.

In other news...I am really itching to learn something new, which is not happening with this series. In this series I am basically merging two different bodies of work and creating a new one. I'm just not satisfied with that. This body of new work isn't speaking to me the way that I had hoped. It's looking like this series is not going to make the cut, as far as what I want to do for the next year. I want to learn something new, like I did when I started the "Forgotten Memories" series and was learning how to paint people. I am thinking I'd like to do some oil paintings in color, paint people in color. I have never done that before so it will be a good challenge, which I need and want. I want to do some QUICK studies (1 per day I am in the studio) in a small format (no larger than 8"x10") and see what happens. I can't guarantee this will be my new direction for the rest of the year. We already saw how long this last style lasted. 

It's hard to figure out what to do next sometimes, especially after such a long series. I am feeling like I have multiple personalities lately and each one wants to paint differently. I'm not sure which personality will win out. This will be an interesting year...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

It's Not Easy

Working on this new series hasn't been easy. I have already completed one painting, only to scrape back the whole thing and start again. It just wasn't working for me. I didn't feel like the different elements of the piece were cohesive and flowing. I couldn't make sense of it so it got scraped back.

I am having a hard time finding who I am in this work and it's even harder when I keep forgetting that I have a bunch of other options besides using wax as my top and final layer. I forget that I used to use a lot more mediums and techniques when I was younger, in my work, and it's okay to "rediscover" these now. I can pull from my past and be okay with it because that doesn't mean I am moving backwards, I'm just "digging into my bag of skills". I can incorporate all of my skills and knowledge in this work and that's okay. Seems pretty logical, I know, but somehow I forgot that.

"Discovering" this made me feel better about scraping back my recent piece and starting again. The colored wax layer wasn't working for me and now I know I don't have to use that in my work. I have some ideas on incorporating some drawings into the piece and will see where that takes me with that one. In the meantime, I also started a fourth piece since it's good for me to work on multiple pieces at a time. Here is the underpainting of the next piece:

The left side of the latest piece.

The woman is far from being done and the man has needs some work too. I have this idea of targets for this piece, as in hitting/ missing the target in a relationship. Relationships are so random sometimes. It's all about timing and meeting someone when not only is the timing right for you, but also for them. The chances of getting that timing exactly right, and getting right on target, is pretty slim, hence so many relationships starting and ending. I think that's what this piece will be about. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year's Resolutions, Part 2

As I stated in a previous post, I'm not a fan or New Year's resolutions and opt for a list of things to do for the year. I find that it's more rewarding for me to look at the list at the end of the year and cross off what I've accomplished. I list big and small things, things that are easily accomplished (but I haven't done for whatever reason) and things that are more difficult but good goals to aim for. I try not to get down on myself for what wasn't accomplished but instead congratulate myself for the things I did do. Here is my list for 2011:

1. Have 5 galleries represent me. I had this last year and came pretty close to accomplishing it. I think this year I will definitely be crossing this off my list.

2. Make at least $30,000 in art sales. I think this is a reasonable amount to achieve this year. My art sales have been increasing every year and I hope that the trend continues. I picked this amount since it should be easily achieved. I am hoping to actually make more since we all know that living off that much money is almost impossible...especially in San Francisco!

3. Organize my studio space. I am running out of space and need to reorganize to maximize the space that I have.

4. Take a painting class. When I finally realized that I was actually good at math (during grad school), I started taking math classes at the community college in order to increase my knowledge and see what I could do. It was a lot of fun now that I knew I could do it and I learned a lot. When I started the "Forgotten Memories" series, I had never painted a person before. I didn't know if I could and challenged myself to do something I had previously though I was bad at. Now that I know I can paint the human form, I want to learn everything I can about doing it, just as I had done with math.

5. Paint a new series that I love. I have been struggling with this new series and am fighting the urge to give it up and continue with what I know. I'm not quitting though because I know that challenging myself is good. Feeling uncomfortable with what I am painting means that I am pushing myself. It's not okay for me to be stagnant in my creativity and this year I am pushing myself to start and FINISH a new series, AND like what I do, no matter how anxious and uncomfortable the process may make me. I can't just paint within my comfort zone and not push myself or my work.

6. Go to New York at least once this year. It's always good to visit this city and absorb the art scene there. This shouldn't be a problem.

I know I had a few more things on my list but they weren't art related so I will leave those off. Here's to all of us accomplishing what we want this year! CHEERS!