Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Blue-eyed Blonde 5x7

I painted this lovely lady for the portrait challenge on Karin Jurick's Different Strokes From Different Folks.  I had fun with this -  wondering about her, and feeling like we had a connection since she was painting my portrait at the same time.  This is only the second portrait I've ever painted.  I got that panicky feeling before I started like I used to get every summer when I was little, thinking I'd forgotten how to swim. I'd cling to the side of the neighbor's pool, skinning my fingers and toes on the concrete sides, trying to get up the nerve to let go and just swim.  I stared at this lady for days, wondering what would happen if I started to paint this, and realized I had no skill at all - and what in the world was I doing playing around with oil paints and brushes?! So, again, as the deadline quickly approached, I let go, and just started painting.  I still have a lot to learn, but I think if I get started on another painting right away, I won't get that panicky feeling, and I'll be able to paint without the skinned up fingers and toes! (so to speak).  I hope she likes it!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Audrey Feeds the Birds 14x18

     It's amazing what a deadline will do for you.  It marks a particular spot in your life, and says, "This must be done by today, or else .......... (fill in the blank)."  That is usually not a good thing.  The 'else' is either something you lose, something you forfeit, or something BAD you GET instead!  If you don't pay your taxes by the deadline, you get more taxes, and another deadline, and more taxes again. If you don't enter something in a contest on time, or have an application in by the deadline, you'll never know what you might have had won, or been offered. You gave up a chance of something potentially good. But deadlines are not necessarily a bad thing.  Sometimes they force you to do something you really wanted to do, anyway.  When I was painting once a week at Schrodt Art Studio, the rule was that you had to have your next project picked out before you finished your current one.  No big deal, right? Well, since I rushed to finish the orange poppy in time for the show -HA! I met that deadline!,- and then...OH NO! - another deadline! I needed my next painting.  Now.  I had no idea what to paint next.  Especially since I wanted to paint something 'original'.  On my way out the door that Thursday morning, I looked around frantically, thumbed through a couple of photo albums, scanned the mantle for an idea...(what happened to all those ideas I had last year?).. Then I spotted it.  A little picture of my little girl, Audrey, taken when she was about 4 years old. We were on vacation near Destin, Florida, at a little place called The Magnolia House.  This birdfeeder was in the front yard of Nancy Veldman's shop, and she had given Audrey some birdseed to put out for the birds. 'Oh, maybe I can do something with this', I thought.  I grabbed the picture and headed out the door.
      I must say, I really didn't know what I was going to do with it.  They all agreed it definitely had it's possibilities. So I went to office Depot, had it enlarged, twice, had them brighten up the color a bit.  Then I had to decide what size canvas, where to place her on the canvas, what to add, what to crop out, etc.  (This is all new to me, really.)  I decided the enlargement was a perfect size to transfer onto the canvas with graphite paper.  That gave me a rough drawing to start.  I had to finish one side of the birdhouse, add some space on the right side for 'whatever'...As the painting progressed,  I ignored that right side, painted in the grassy area behind the bushes, added the distant trees, and tried to create a park-like setting.  At one point, I painted a path leading out and away from her, but it didn't look 'safe'. (haha)  So I closed it in, added more greenery, more grass, and more trees in the distance until it looked believable.  My palette of colors was so minimal, I had to ask for a blue to match the color of her dress!  (Cerulean Blue, I think, was what I borrowed.)

     This is the finished result. Out of moment of desperation to meet a deadline, I was forced to decide, from a myriad of possibilities, what to create over the next few weeks.  A true moment in time, captured almost casually on a vacation to the Gulf Coast, has now become a painting that I truly can't believe I did.  Honestly.  I'm almost afraid to tackle something like this again.  What if I can't paint another thing this well again?  Then I think, 'Well, perhaps I will,.... if I must..., in order to meet a deadline!' 

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cityscape 5"x7"

This is the October challenge on Karin Jurick's Different Strokes From Different Folks blog.  I wasn't thrilled with how this ended up for me.  I struggled with straight lines, shadows, and color.  It may look better framed.  But I did it, and I'm sure I learned from it - you always do, when you do something quite out of your comfort zone.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Self Portrait - 4" x 6" - October 2009

I've been wanting to do a self portrait for a while, so I decided to start small.  I drew this about 2 weeks ago, and got a mixed review from my family.  It didn't really look like me,..unless you squinted..and then, well, it did, just younger.  I figured I probably wouldn't paint it.  I took a picture of the drawing just in case it got lost, and then I could always refer back to it and know I tried a self-portrait once upon a time.  But there's something funny about drawing a face.  You keep looking at it, and it starts looking back. Then, after you've critiqued it to death in your mind, you figure it can't get much worse with paint on it, so you dive in.  It took me about 2 hours, after I mixed a bunch of paint.  Actually, I kind of like it, now!  It looks like me with an extreme makeover!  My husband asked me if that was the challenge:  paint yourself 20 years younger?  Ha, ha.  Yes. I think I may have stumbled onto something.  This could be the angle I've been looking for.  "Portraits done on commission: Looks just like you, only better!" or maybe "Perfect portraits of the perfect you!"  or better still "I'll paint you to look like you've always wished you looked!".  So when your spouse says 'Wow!  Now that's the girl I wish I could date!' you can tell him 'That's me, baby.... just keep squinting.'

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Lukas and Tabitha 1995

September makes me sad.  If I had to explain it, I would have to say it was the angle of the sun. Things are always changing, I know, but in September, the sun moves away..quicker, it seems...a little farther every day.  It comes up later, and goes down sooner.  It's lower in the sky, and it's hard to tell when the middle of the day is. There's early morning, and then, suddenly, it's late afternoon. Time moves quicker.  You can almost see it running away. Very strange. Like life, itself. You think you have your whole life ahead of you, and then, all of a sudden, you're looking back at most of it.  Where did all the time go?  How did I get here so quickly? My son is in California, serving in the Air Force.  My oldest daughter will be driving solo in two months, and my youngest just started middle school.  I have two drawings I did when my son was 6, and my first daughter was just a baby.  On a whim, at the grocery store, I bought a drawing pad, just to see if I could still draw faces.  Lukas asked me, "What are you going to do with that?" I told him I was going to draw his picture.  He was very skepical, but very patient to sit for me, and when I finished, he was amazed. It really did look like him. I knew it wasn't perfect, but he was so proud of it, and I got a small taste of what I might be able to accomplish one day...(when I had the time, of course.)  I tried to draw Tabitha, but at a year and a half, she wasn't interested in standing still for long.  I happened to have my paper and pencils with me one day when I stopped at a friend's house.  Tab was asleep in her car seat, and I thought I would capture the moment. I have both of these framed and hanging on the wall going up the steps.  Most days, we walk by them without much notice, but come September, when the sun is slanting low, and the air is bit different, and I'm not quite sure what to do with myself, I stop, and cherish these two sweet faces, and wonder where the time went.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cupcake and Shadow 4"x5" Oil on Canvas

I took the challenge!  This is the latest creative challenge for Karin Jurick's 'Different Strokes From Different Folks.'

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Copy vs. Original

Last year around this time, I was preparing to enter my first two paintings in the art show held annually (semi-annually, now) at the local studio, and hoping it would all go smoothly...I would finish the poppy, get it framed, get it to the studio on the right day, at the right time, etc. (Big deal for me.)  Done. When I handed over the paintings, I was asked: "Original, or copy?" Well, since I hadn't had the painting copied, and I didn't COPY anybody's painting, I said, "original".  Eyebrows were raised. "Really?", they asked.  "Oh, ummm... " Then the two sweet ladies clarified the difference for me... This is what I learned:  If you paint from a photograph, and YOU didn't actually TAKE the photograph yourself, it is called a COPY....a picture out of a calendar, or a magazine, for instance.  For your paintings to be considered ORIGINAL, when you use a photograph as your reference, YOU must be the one to TAKE the photograph. Simple. But a bit disappointing. I actually did change a couple of things from the photographs...I left out leaf... and a tiny little flower that was in the way...I guess that doesn't count. Perhaps if you tried to sell a 'copy', you would be infringing on the photographer's copyright to that image, unless you had specific permission to paint it, as you would for a commissioned portrait, for instance. (If I'm wrong about this, somebody help me clear it up...) So that's when I decided from that point on, I would paint originals - take my own pictures and use them, crop them, etc. Except this one last little (2.5x2.5) one, which I copied from a print of a painting that hangs in my living room, which technically makes this a copy of a copy...

Monday, August 31, 2009

Have you ever put something you don't want to lose in a special place so that you don't lose it, and then, can't remember where that 'special place' is? Well, I have. I should know better by now. It happens to me a lot, even when I tell myself  'don't just set this down anywhere, PUT it somewhere, so you'll know where it is'.  This little painting was done with my mom in mind.  She loves roses.  I wasn't sure if I could paint a rose. I've heard they're difficult, so I wanted to start small.  I really like the way it turned out. I liked it enough to take this picture of it on my phone, to show my husband.  I liked it enough to find a small box, add tissue paper, and prepare to send it for my mom's birthday.  I then thought 'better put this somewhere so it doesn't get thrown out, or lost...' . That was back in January.  I know exactly what the box looks like.  I can see the exact color of the tissue paper.  I could probably give you the exact dimensions of the box I was going to ship it in.  But I don't know where it is. I dream about finding it. I wander around the house, and wonder if someone threw it away, thinking it was just an empty box.... It will probably turn up one day when my kids have to go through all my stuff because they have to put me in a 'special place'.... so I don't get lost, of course.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Second Painting - 'Orange Poppy' 12"x16"

This is my second painting. I worked from a calendar tracing...I did graph it a bit, then drew it the best I could. I love the vibrant peachy orange, and the beautiful ruffled edges. Working with these colors really brightened my days. I worked on this in weekly studio sessions, (Schrodt Art Studio, Louisville, KY) 7, maybe 8 in all. I know that's a long time, but I was really fascinated with the process of trying to blend, or not blend, trying to mix the exact colors I saw, and, to be honest, I was really nervous about the middle of this thing! I really didn't know how I was going to do it, and was wishing I had picked something a little easier. However, after putting it off as long as I could, I decided this big orange poppy wasn't going to beat me, so I just globbed on a bunch of the purple/black, filled in the fuschia center, then left it like that for a while. After a few strokes of the purplish-gold, I knew I had won. I know oil paintings aren't necessarily supposed to look just like the photograph, but this one does, pretty much. It was all very absorbing. Sometimes I had to tell myself to breathe. Do I want to paint like this always? Maybe not so much. Maybe a little more 'painterly'. I'm going to work on that. Oh, and by the way, I finished, and framed this one to go in the studio's art show, along with 'Morning Glories'. I ran up so close to the deadline, I forgot to sign it, didn't have time to varnish it...and it's been hanging on my wall all this time without a signature. I took it out of its frame TODAY, and signed it. I'm glad I can finally show it here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Morning Glories

Obviously, I don't paint every day. I didn't even know people COULD paint every day... except Norman Rockwell, who apparently painted 8 hours a day, 365 days a year... and his family brought him lunch, and had to beg him to join them for Christmas, birthday celebrations, etc. We all love his work, and that was his living. Painting was his LIFE. I've been on a lot of blogs, and websites lately, and I see that a lot of artists out there paint every day, AND have a life, full of family, travel, music, love, faith, and fun. You all have inspired me. This is my first painting. (I won't count the 'project' we had to complete in art class my senior year of high school - acrylic, anyway, a blank canvas, and instructions to 'paint something...whatever you want'. I painted dogwood blossoms on a spring green background, very blurred, and very accident, of course. My mom liked it.) At some point in everyone's life, you realize that you're running out of time, and it hits you that you will never be able to do all the things you want to do, or finish all the projects you've started, or dream of starting. You'll never be really good at everything you may have the talent or proclivity to do, and then you actually start losing the ability to do a lot of the things you once did really well! Like backwards walkovers. I used to be able to do a backwards walkover any time I wanted to. It was fun. I can't do that any more. So, when my husband understood my panic last year about 'not being good at anything' - other than laundry and being a mom (and the miriad of things that go along with that - most of which we do because we HAVE to...and because we love our family, of course) he insisted that I FINALLY do something with my art. I took a class, and this is what happened. Morning glories. I really like it. It was easy for me. And that's when it hit me. This is what I'm supposed to do... and maybe if I hurry, and learn quickly, and ask a lot of questions, I may catch up with where I would've been had I realized it sooner....(sigh)....then again, maybe I'm not behind at all. Maybe I'm right where I'm supposed to be. I'm learning. Not just to paint, but to be okay with the journey I'm on and the life I have, and one day, maybe, hopefully, I will paint - and perhaps even finish - a painting every day! I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cold Kentucky Rain

This has been the strangest July in Kentucky. Cool. Rainy. Then cool and absulutely clear, like an October day in Florida. Then rain again. Then just plain cold. I consider 55 cold. Anything colder than that is completely unnecessary. But in July? They say it's been the coldest July on record, for as long as they've kept a record... more rain, too, than ever before. It's raining right now. It makes me wonder who's prayers are being answered. I was in Florida back in May, and all the lakes back home were drying up. Muddy puddles left in the middle of fields... docks standing out in scrubby grass, dry as a bone...big, hundred-year-old trees literally dying of thirst. A friend of mine raises cattle, and she and her dad were having to sell off a bunch of cows because there wasn't enough grass for them to eat, and they didn't want to keep buying feed for them. I prayed for rain; enough rain to end the drought, and fill the lakes and ponds back up. I admit I asked God to refrain from sending another hurricane, if possible; I figured that's probably what it would take at that point. I wasn't sure, so I left that up to Him. It started to cloud up the day I left, and I mentioned casually that I hoped the rain would hold off until my flight left. Dad laughed. It hadn't rained in weeks, he said, and it wasn't likely to start now. The following weeks in Florida proved to me that God answers prayers when and if He wants to - I'm sure I wasn't the only one praying for rain down there - and with a sense of humor. The first rain in weeks was something just short of a 'tropical storm', but they weren't sure what to call it, because it was too early in the season for a hurricane. It dropped rain all over the state, flooded some areas, and just kept on churning for about 4 days. I haven't kept track of exact details, but I don't think it's stopped raining, yet. I hope the lakes are filling up, and the old fishing village at Lake Pasadena can resume renting boats, and selling bait, and the cows can continue to graze peacefully in San An, and that the old treehouse tree will be around for another hundred years or so. And whoever is praying for rain here in Kentucky needs to stop.