Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I Am Not Going To Change A Thing...I'm Not!

As the title implies, I am having an interior dialogue concerning the tiny imperfections that catch my eye every time I see a photo of this (finished) piece. Thing is, when I look at the real deal on display in my dining room, I don't see anything that I want to change. So, I am using that as my gauge and taking it upstairs sometime today to sign it. Changes made to it on Sunday have convinced me that I need go no further. I greyed down the light on the bridge and brought more reflected light onto the sides. I reworked nearly all the foreground foliage and defined the treetops better in the background. I went over edges to get them as straight as possible, but with a painter's knife, there are ridges that can't be totally righted. It's just one of the fun imperfections, or looseness, that I find endearing about using a knife. I left the sky and the water alone, so now everything's dry and ready for varnish this weekend...after I sign it today. Champagne celebration!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Don't Get Excited Just Yet

Sometimes I want to say, "Don't get excited just yet", because I know there's a lot of work to be done and many more changes that will bring it to the brink of excellence only to fall during the next session while I work on problems. I've been giving myself the same pep talk, personally, lately because I want to be excited about Sami coming home for Thanksgiving, but also know that her time will be divided between us, her boyfriend and her friends so we may not see half as much of her as we'd like. And I understand that. She has her work cut out for her, trying to talk her friends into coming to see her in Richmond, not as a group but individually and spaced out over the months so she has something to look forward to all the time and can learn to live with her loneliness. Me, I crave "alone time" as a friend coined a long time ago and made perfect sense to me. I was *never* alone growing up and craved a chance to have the house all to myself so I could crank up the music and dance or pound on the piano and sing at the top of my lungs. Sami, on the other hand, began her busy life at an early age: started competitive dance in 2nd grade, dance & TaeKwonDo in third grade, dance & TKD and drum lessons in 4th grade, dance & TKD & drum lessons and homework in 5th grade, dance & TKD & drum lessons & homework and band in middle school which then became marching band/concert band, drum lessons and homework in high school so there was no down time, no time to be alone but she didn't crave it like I did. She feared it. Feared that she'd become a "bum", as she put it, if she didn't always have something going on. I see that continuing now that she's in an place all by herself and just has a job to go to each day and not homework and projects hanging over her head when she comes home. She's craving activities to keep her from sitting in front of the TV or reading book after book after book. I wish her luck with finding a passion that will make the hours fly by, that will take her out of her aloneness and bring her into contact with interesting people and activities so that when she does finally sink into the sofa at the end of the day, it'll be with relief. Now that I'm alone a lot, I find that it's perfect for my craft. I sit alone in the hot tub or on the patio and the ideas flow. I stand upstairs for hours and work alone on my paintings and love the solitude. If I were to go out and paint regularly, I'd be perfectly happy to commune with nature alone and look forward to doing that when my body is tuned up. But, that's where I am in my life. I get excited at the prospect of several days of alone time so that I can really get some work done. It looks like I might have a couple of hours of uninterrupted time this afternoon, so I'm going to see what I can do with "Maverick".

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Maverick (work in progress)

He's coming along. I think I have the likeness better and his posture is more of a dog barely holding still before he jumps. I put in the orange background with the plan of doing the green grass over it (complimentary colors, sort of). The greens of the grass are pretty blue, so this should work nicely. Or I go another direction altogether and make the background purple and abstract. I initially didn't want to take this commission because, as with human portraits, you can get a likeness but people will always find fault with what isn't perfect (me being one of those people when it's my own work). I figured it would be a torturous experience, but decided that I had to be brave and go for it. They say (I don't know who this "they" is, and would like to wring they neck sometimes) that whatever you're afraid of, whatever is your weakness, is what you should work hard to overcome. So, that's what I'm doing. By the way, I am in love with this dog's face.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Started work on the drawing of Maverick, the Golden Retriever, which is a Christmas present for a friend's hubby. He's a wonderfully goofy, rambunctious "teenager", which I have not fully captured in this drawing. I don't know why I have to do my sketches globally instead of starting with a contour sketch. Had I done the basic shapes and contours, I wouldn't now have a barrel chested Lab instead of the rangy Golden that he is. Ah well, at least I see it now instead of way down the road in the process. I'm thinking that I might use a brush a lot more in this painting. I don't see the need to suffer through trying to get everything right with a knife when I know I can get it right easily with a paintbrush. I know that folks like the texture that comes with a knife, so I will definitely work some of that in there and not entirely abandon the knife, but think that the lines of his body will respond better to the lyrical feel of a brush instead of the heavier spreading motion of a knife. All this talk of knives and spreading has me thinking of lunch!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's Getting There

I left for Richmond last Wednesday and got home late Saturday night, gave myself a day of "rest" and then hit the studio yesterday for 4 1/2 hours. Initially, I had promised myself no longer than two hours and to just work on two areas, but it's always better if you keep all parts humming together, so that's what I did. Now it's singing a happy tune that sounds something like..."It's getting there...It's getting there...". When that's the case, it's often a good idea to let it sit and start on something entirely different. We'll see if I can resist the urge to get out a straight edge and work on some things that are wonky. I need to channel another song, "Let It Be", and move on to my doggy portrait. Maverick, the doggy in question, stands taller than me on his hind legs and is full of joi de vivre as is what I consider an inborne trait of Goldens. I am praying that I capture that in the portrait and have chosen my photos to work from with that in mind. Then, when that painting has to rest, I can get started on any one of 5 paintings I want to do from my trip to Richmond, Monticello, Carters Mountain Orchard, Williamsburg (where I didn't photograph a single building) and Newport News' mouth of the James River.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Let It Rest

One of the keys to enjoying your painting is to not obsess over it. That said, who doesn't obsess over the good and the bad when you're working on something you care about? I just call it my "magnificent obsession" and try to quit working by 6:30 p.m. so it doesn't keep me up all night. I solved the problem I was having with the water and am not really sure what I did that made the difference. If you had seen it at 4 p.m. yesterday, you would have thought I was out of my mind because the colors were all over the place and it looked doomed. But, scraping and paper towels took off what I didn't want, and adjusting the hue on some shadows really did the trick. Had I not been obsessed with "getting it right", I surely would have given up. One of the other keys to happy painting, I've learned, is to give it a rest. Sometimes it's just a matter of leaving it in your studio and getting on with other things that take your mind off of painting. In my case, with this painting, I will be leaving town for a few days and so will let it rest here at home without me. No, I don't always book a trip to get away from my paintings, but it seems to be the case with this one, haha! I did the major drawing and then left town for 9 days. I immediately had to get ready for a camping trip, so it had to sit all by its lonesome another week and a half until I had finally cleared my calendar and my life for some dedicated painting. I've put in something like 12 hours this week, so that's why it's moving along so "fast". Now that I have the bridge in, I will turn my attention to the clouds. I actually love them a lot, but know that they need to be lightened up some to be a reasonable part of the scenery. If you encountered clouds that dark, you wouldn't expect to see any defined shadows, but the day we were up there, the sun peeked through in different parts of the sky, so I have to represent what you aren't capable of seeing from the view I'm painting. So, I'll give it a rest and plan out where to hit it next week. It also gives you "followers" a rest from this dialog. Enjoy your time off!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Shoulda Left Well Enough Alone: the Painter's Lament

I like to take pictures of the progress I make on a painting, for all sorts of reasons. I think it's instructional to see it in it's various stages, it helps me to see it from "afar" so as to judge it in a more detached way, people who eventually own the piece like to have a chronicle of its creation. But, sometimes it will turn around and bite me in the butt with the "painter's lament", why didn't I leave well enough alone?? All I can say is that I knew I needed to bring up the value of the water on the right side of the bridge and you wouldn't believe how much paint I put on and scraped off, leaving little bits of color, in an attempt to bring in the different shades of the ripples and the reflected light off the clouds/sky. But, on another note, the strength of the huge bridge has been established. So, there's that.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

360 Bridge II In Progress

I started the painting sketch of this bridge a month ago, knowing that I was going to be out of pocket for at least 3 weeks with Sami's move and then our camping trip. I'm glad that I did, because then it was so easy to step in and start the painting without worrying about the drawing. It's a big canvas (36x48), which will take a number of painting sessions, and I have a Christmas deadline so it was wise to get that early start. I worked on some of the water on Thursday and liked what I got, but then messed with it more after I had been working on the rest of the painting and am not so sure about the green-ness of it. I may go in with a red glaze and see if that brings some of the depth back. I wanted to get everything covered with paint for a good start and then bring in the bridge. Everything seems a little intense and sloppy (my usual beginning), but I think the strength of the bridge as focal point will work nicely to pull it all together. I'll, of course, work on the cloud and plant forms more, and there are plenty of other details to consider, too. We shall see.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Plein Air Painting on a Campout

We had the most beautiful weather on our annual camping trip to Inks Lake State Park. Every day was clear and sunny, the shadows long because of the time of year. The lighting was dramatic on the landscape and made my eye very happy! However, since I wanted to be social with all our fellow campers, I needed to set up my easel on my campsite and work quickly. Well, one works quickly while painting en plein air anyway, because the light changes so fast. I chose the view from my campsite, the light in the reflection in the water under the log I found fascinating. I initially was only going to do the sketch and then go launch the boat and drive around the lake for a bit. Then, come back and put in the color that I knew would be there later in the day. But, my hubby was content to sit with a beer and hang out with our friends in the next site, so I just kept going and going. And used the painting knife. Friends would come over and watch over my shoulder, which I found a little embarrassing because my work always has a sloppy look to it when I'm working. It smooths out as I work the layers with the knife, so I think it looks okay now and definitely has the feel of how quickly I was working in that hour!