Curious Meanderings from an Artist's World
In bed asleep, as they do dream things true.
The alarm clock went off at 4:45 AM this morning as usual.
Comment on or Share this Article >>
I prefer to call it the devil clock, because it has a face that lights up brighter than any night light from you know where. And I can't sleep with any light in the room at all. Naturally, I am sure that there are many such clocks in hell. It keeps the residents there grumpy and thus more tortured. So seeing as Bill and I are not in hell and never intend to visit there, I have to insist that Bill covers his screaming little friend with a dark cloth every night.
Making my clock hatred especially personal, that evil appliance wrenches me out of a peaceful sleep almost every morning. Well, it's really still night, and not a proper time for rising. But that's it's job, you know. Bill likes to rise early to exercise and leisurely get ready for work. I don't mind this. I even understand it. If it wasn't for his wicked timepiece.
Now, the devil clock has this delightful feature called "delay" which is able to repeat its earth-shattering alarm every 15 minutes if one so desires. Bill so desires. I'm sure many of you understand this way of thinking. That's why they put those darn delay buttons on clocks these days. But why you folks prefer to be jarred out of a deep sleep every 15 minutes for the better part of an hour instead of simply hearing the alarm go off once (45 minutes later) and just getting up, I don't know.
As a result of marrying a wonderful but confused person infected with this perverse alarm torture mentality, I end my every weeknight's sleep restlessly. So does Bill, but as I said, he seems to like it that way.
Well, this morning the alarm wouldn't go into the "restful delay" zone at all. It just kept alarming us awake in one continuous shocking loud noise 45 minutes before either of us wanted to rise. So Bill and I were both fully awake by the time Bill found the treasured "off" button. "Who messed with the alarm," he asked gruffly. Yes, much like the wet, grouchy troll in that three-goat story.
I said, "I think the cat did.
He's been getting up there a lot lately. You know. Just sort of walkin'."
Meow. That's me just sort of lying, not only there in bed.
See, the cat does get up there, but not to deliberately mess with the clock. Cats never tangle with the devil, you know. Not on purpose, anyway. I don't know if it was el cat-o or my self-o, but at that time in the morning, I avoid all confrontation and didn't care to explain anything pre-coffeely. Know what I mean? Like that I think I remember trying to turn on the precious blankity-blank radio to listen to something nice Friday afternoon, but couldn't even figure that out, let alone figure out if I had messed up the oh so not sacred alarm setting.
So, what does this all have to do with art?
Absolutely nothing, dear friend.
But then again, I can say with considerable certainty that in order to do anything well, you need to get your sleep. It's important. Sleep is the time when dreams cleanse the gray matter that lives inside your skull. It's the time when you are renewed and refreshed and re-energized.
Yes! Don't you just love a good night's sleep?
After a good night's sleep, you will be prepared to face the world head-on. Tackle even the most challenging art medium or project that your well rested little mind will surely conjure up. Because the two of you are so happy and so rested! (You and your head.)
Now if your sleeping buddy has a tendency to wake you in the middle of the night with his nightmare fooling him into thinking you're the devil and he's got to stop you from taking over the world. And he's the only one (with delusions of Superman) who can save it (which is frickin' scary, I'm telling you!) just shout, "Hey, Bill! Honey! It's just me, Deborah! You're dreaming, it's a dream, it's just a bad dream, wake up!"
Or if you just have a devil clock screaming, "Get up, fool. Your happy little dream's over, now!", maybe you should do what I can't seem to make myself do. Just go to sleep a little early. Start your dreaming at 9:30 or 10:00. That's what my Bill does!
You really don't have to wait until the clock says "It's 11:00 and you've been going to bed at this time since your parents let you in the 12th grade! You can't stop now just because you're a real grown-up." After all, is starting the day earlier and finishing it earlier any different from starting it later and finishing it later?
I think so. But you? Maybe not.
Why don't you consider all of this. For your dream's sake, for your art's sake and thus for the world's, my little sleepy headed friend. Nighty-night.
Don't let the bedbugs bite.
Page #4 of my wallet
I just discovered this great little button on the bottom of my "add a new artwork" page in the "My Artwork Portfolio" section.
Comment on or Share this Article >>
This is probably the button I read about the other day, and if so, obviously I wasn't paying much attention. So this button is a new button for me. A special button. A magical and rather fanciful button. I like it.
It was discovered almost accidentally. You might say it was a moment when, though I was deep in thought, the little button lit up in my brain like a tiny lightning bolt from the computer screen before me.
After adding five photos of my "Little Pink Spaceship" wallet, each with a different page of the book sewn on top of it, I noticed these three words. "Blog this artwork". Intrigued, I checked the square and hit "save". Then, voilą! It showed up on my blog as the photo for the next post, which I immediately edited. It is now the post you are reading.
I have to tell you that I keep finding new and better things that are available on my control panel here. It's very exciting and fun. And it's really easy! I like that best of all.
Now, About the wallet:
My friend, Jane Harrison makes metal crosses and other playful jewelry from recycled tin cans.
They are very skillfully made, and have a refined-rustic-vintage quality about them. It's possible to have all three of those things simultaneously, but not easy. It requires study, experience, time, and planning all on top of talent in order to make a craft into something sophisticated and artistic, and not "Quilted Chicken", as my pal Kay Robb calls crafty-crafts, like crocheted toilet paper roll covers with doll head handles. Many people like them, but they aren't art. They are crafts.
Next time I talk to her, I'll see if Jane will loan me a photo of my favorite of her metal crosses to show you. So much thought is put into hand manufacturing these marvelous little treasures. I've fallen in love with them.
Likewise, Jane is pretty enamored with my personal hand sewn and collaged wallet, now retired from use. I just thought as I was putting it away this afternoon that I would like to share it with you today.
It's a very personal thing, this wallet.
I whipped it up a few summers ago on the long road to Miami. It is made of turquoise silk scraps leftover from a headboard which Bill and I made together from antique porch columns. I also used an old belt and other scraps of things in my goodies bag (a bag of odds and ends that I hope to find a use for some day, but am not sure I will), including one of my favorite old painting rags which came from a pair of Bill's undershorts. Now that is personal.
You may think that it looks pretty slapped together, but for a perfectionist like myself to finish something with this rugged, childlike appearance, it requires a great deal of forethought and careful consideration.
I began with a basic sketch of the shape and design, working out the logistics of the not as simple as it looks construction. Then I figured the size, because I wanted it to be big enough to hold credit cards and money, but small enough to fit in my small purse.
Next I picked out fabrics and trims and cut it all out.
Then it was very deliberately hand stitched in an irregular pattern, using a variety of sewing and embroidery stitches with linen thread. I made a little mixed media book and stitched it to the front. Later I created a heavy vinyl matching cover to protect my little masterpiece. The whole thing was secured with a linen string wrapped back and forth in a specific pattern.
I used this little conversation piece until the vinyl began to get tattered and frayed on the corners. That was when I decided it was time for retirement.
Though I have sold one other wallet and have one on my Etsy site for sale, I don't typically make things like this to sell. I make them simply for the pleasure of making them. It is impractical to sell this kind of thing for me because of the time it takes to make something this detailed and unique. I figured it out once, and I'd earn about $2.00 an hour for it, not counting the sometimes irreplaceable materials.
As you can imagine, I'd rather keep it in my own collection or give it to one of my girls than to sell it at this price.
The exception is when I can sell it to someone who will appreciate fully in all it's unique glory. The one wallet I did sell went to a young artist who I know will always treasure it. I get a lot of satisfaction just thinking about it being in her possession, carefully handled and put to good use.
These are the things an artist makes for the simple joy creating.
They are the little treasures she will pass on to her children and her grandkids. They're the kind of thing that may some day, if someone somewhere understands its uniqueness, will end up in a little glass box on the mantle.
Humbled and Inspired
Comment on or Share this Article >>
I took the work I've been doing for a month or so to the art show yesterday.
It was nice traditional stuff. The marbles, the apple tree, the tea party. When I got there most of the work other artists had brought was far from traditional. It was humbling. It was also inspiring.
So I have two choices this morning. I can go with the humbling experience. In which case, I think I'll do the dishes. Or I can go with the inspiring experience. In that case, I will go downstairs and work on something new and loose and creative. I'll make something that's a little off the deep end.
But as usual, first I have the errands I've been putting off for the last few days.
I have to drive to Boone. That's one hour each way, if I don't get caught behind a scaredy-cat mountain driver or a dump truck lugging and tugging a heavy load of stone up the mountain. If I do, then add at least 15 minutes each way. I'll drop off the papers with the nice people who talk a lot.
Then I'll pick up the vacuum cleaner from Sydney. I'll probably take Syd to lunch at the sandwich shop where Jossie works. I should call Joie while I'm there. Maybe she'll want lunch. Jake's not there today. Then I'll come home and get the phone calls done which Bill put in a neat little package and left on the bed this morning. By then I will have very little time to get started on artwork.
This is the thing about working at home that I am always complaining about.
There's too much to do that isn't art, and it just has to be done. By the time I get all that done, it's usually Thursday. Then I just get going good when it's the weekend and I can't do artwork then. Then it's Monday again, and the whole cycle begins again.
But today I'll just have to stick with the humble thing, and do what I've got to do, and tomorrow, when everything is caught up, I'll work on something new and different.
It's just life.
Gotta go now. I'll talk to you later.
Oh me, oh my, how I wish I could fly!
Keeping myself on task ain't easy, my friend!
Comment on or Share this Article >>
Especially on Mondays. The weekends are full, and Bill and I love to cook and putter around together, so by Monday morning, the house is a bit of a wreck. There's so very much to do, what with not only the "have to's" but the "want to's" as well.
One of the hardest things with working at home is avoiding distractions and keeping on task. I can already tell you that this is definitely going to be one of those days. I have to get work ready to deliver to an art show, due tomorrow, and what have I done so far today? Well, I just got off the pho
I had to let Charlie out. I could hear his little toenails on the floor,click, click, click and if I don't let him out he'll leak on the leg of the sofa or something. Then I had to let him back in and let the other two dogs out. Then I realized it's 11:30, so I made myself some lunch.
Now I'm here again, talking to you as I listen to Laela, my daughter Joie's dog, barking at neighbors for exercise and entertainment, and I need to let her and Bo back in.
Click, click, click...
Then I'm going to get a bath and do my hair and put a load of laundry in and I need to make the bed and do the dishes and sweep and mop the floor it's so dirty it's monday and there's a lot to do plus Bill had a couple of things he needs me to do like go to the bank and make a phone call and there's something else and I can't remember and now it's 11:42 i'll have to call and ask him what was that other thing again?
If I think about it, to get ready for the art show will be a breeze. I just have to put wires on the back of seven new paintings, decide if I want to put all of them in and if not, what I should replace them with. Then I'll label all of them and make up a price list, locate my canvas art carrier bags and pack everything. I'll do that first. After I let the dogs back in and get my bath and throw the wet wash load into the dryer.
Why doesn't Laela come when I call her?
Then I'll make dinner. No wait. I'll have to read this again and figure it out. Maybe this isn't good enough to share. Forget about it. I'm just thinking out loud right now. It's just another Monday.
Bad Dog Charlie, Looking Dominant
Mysterious Ways of the Fine Artist
Comment on or Share this Article >>
Learning the mysterious ways of the fine artist has been an evolutionary process for me, as I suppose it is for most artists. First from pencil to pen and ink, then graduating to color while experimenting in various mediums, I officially discovered my "Style" upon discovering oil pastels. Magical glorified color crayons which allow tremendous freedom of marks and expression, they quickly gave my artwork new life.
My wise and wonderful art supplier/framers, Mike and Marjorie not only turned me on to oil pastels instead of pastels (because of concerns about the toxins I was inhaling from the dust in the air), but we quickly moved on to matt board, finding that it reduced flaking of the oil pastels.
Colored underpainting, Ooh-La-La!
Soon white matt gave way to brown which I used for years. And then thanks to another artist friend, Jean Cauthen, the evolution was made from brown to using complementary colors. Thus I have grown accustomed to painting over background colors, allowing the under painting to show through here and there.
Now this may be a little technical, but stick with me.
I always begin a painting by staining my canvases beforehand, preferably with liquid acrylics but sometimes with whatever is handy, using colors which complement the painting I am preparing to do. Because my usual subjects have a lot of blues, greens and purples, my favorite choice for the background is a combination of Magenta and Cadmium Yellow Medium.
I don't premix it, but usually paint directly onto the canvas so that the color will vary over the entire surface. This creates an exciting range of colors from peachy yellows to orange reds which will peek through here and there, intensifying the colors in the painting above.
My exception to the orange is if I am painting something that already has a lot of oranges in the subject, in which case I will use a mix of blues or greens. But I seldom veer off of these tried and true choices because I have found pinks to make a painting cold, while browns and grays seem to dull it, and so on.
Rule Breaking is not for the Faint of Heart!
Well, I have been know to break a rule once in a while, especially my own. So like I said, sometimes I use whatever is handy. The other day, my magical dependable magenta was missing (try saying that three times!) so I used pure cad yellow, instead. I was planning on painting three purple and white turnips, so yellow should be good. Right? Not right.
You see, I know better. I've tried this before. I have numerous unfinished paintings leaning against my studio walls with glaring yellow backgrounds glowering accusingly back at me. There is just something about painting over the color yellow that makes me crazy.
I don't know what it is. I love yellow. Dandelion's and Daffodils, a bright sunny day, the color of my grandchildren's fine, soft hair. So many nice things are yellow.
But a yellow under painting. It's a bit repulsive to me.
I think it's slowly beginning to dawn on me why. (Vague pun somewhat intended.) Yellow is a dominant, advancing color which thrusts itself beyond the lovely purples and blues and whites, to where they are hardly discernible above all that yellow.
You may not realize this, but yellow is a noisy color and can be garish if applied inappropriately. So it yells at me from the canvas. I swear to you it does, saying, "What are you, stupid? I am the dominant one! Wipe them off. Wipe them off of me immediately!"
Ah, but like my little dog Charlie,
Yellow only thinks it is dominant over me. I can banish Bad Dog Charlie to his crate when he poops on the floor beside me as I write (which, yes, I just did because he just did). And I can lean that loud-mouthed, yellow underpainted failure face first against the studio wall. A useless square of canvas and paint. Until the oil drys, that is.
Then I'm gonna wash my magical yellow-mellowing magenta right on top of that rude cacophony of color and paint those friekin' purple turnips, like it or not! Either way, I win.
Ha! Who's the dominant one now, huh?
Well, as I said, I sometimes make the mistake of using whatever is handy, even if I know better. As I also sometimes find myself saying, "Rules are to be broken." Wait. I hardly ever say that. So who was it that really whispered those words in my ear the other day?
Was it Cadmium Yellow Medium, perhaps?
Or, was it Charlie...?
"Tulips on the Floor , My Studio"
I'm not used to being isolated.
Comment on or Share this Article >>
People who come from a large family and then go on to have eight kids seldom are. But now that my kids are grown and the youngest are in college and my real job is being a fine artist, I am alone almost all the time.
At first it was great. I had the freedom to do as I pleased all day long. I could go to my studio which was downtown, or I could stay home and putter.
What a life!
Then I had this great idea of moving my studio back home and saving money by leaving my downtown studio. This has turned out to be a questionably good idea at best. I mean, I have lots to do to keep me busy here at home. There is the computer, the television, the phone, the dogs, the cats, the dishes, the laundry, the garden, etc. And all that says distraction.
To make matters worse, my new home studio is now in a back room downstairs and is dark and rather foreboding. Dank in the dictionary sense of the word.
My studio downtown was an old house in need of a good bit of repair which I was supposed to do in exchange for cheap rent. It had high ceilings and tall, warped windows. The floors creaked, and sometimes scary strange sounds would happen, usually heard only by the grouchier people who entered there.
Three to Keep me Company
It occasionally had winter guests. First came the little gray rats with tiny pink fingers, which I caught in a little rat cage just like Cinderella and let go in the woods. But instead of turning into a few handy footmen which I could have used now that my sons are grown, they just scampered into the leaves beyond never to be seen again.
Then the cute tiny gray mice moved in. They chowed down on handmade soaps and my computer wires, drank themselves into a stupor with the little individual creamers in the cabinet, and gave birth in the folds of cloth in my sewing cabinets. They had to go, too.
And squirrels liked to hang out in the attic. They would use it as track for exercising, I think. You could hear them at all hours of the day and night dashing back and forth, frolicking as only squirrels can. At least they had their own entry to the attic, and not to the rest of the place. Though the little "rodents" as my fellow renters called them bothered my fellow renters, they didn't bother me in the least. Secretly, I liked them.
Coincidence, you say? No way.
The house had always belonged to a family of artists and construction men who just happened to be named Cline. Hmmm... I'm an artist as you know. And my husband is a construction man. And our name just happens to also be Klein, pronounced the same in spite of the spelling. That old house was obviously meant for me.
Being there was very peaceful and inspiring. For a while I shared the house with other artists who also had studios there. They were often good to have around, and the gallery I created was beautiful, but all that was harder than I expected it to be.
To Sell Art or to Paint, That Was the Question
Running a gallery and selling art and renting studios and raising a family were all full time jobs and this left me no time for being an artist. So I decided to close the gallery. The other artists went their own ways, one by one, and I was alone there for a while.
I loved it, too. From my painting studio, I could watch the traffic, and I had friends as well as my kids who would visit from time to time. I got a lot of work done, but it was expensive to heat and cool and repair, and I was a little worried to be alone there because of vagrants who would magically appear at the back door.
So this time I invited a local art group to come in and they were wonderful, but my life was changing.
I now am home, and I am missing my old studio terribly. Actually, I am fantasizing about going to the man I had rented from and just seeing if he'll rent just the front two rooms out to me. For even cheaper.
My husband may shoot me, but wouldn't it be wonderful to be back there, painting and watching the traffic go by. Maybe I could sneak my stuff back there and not even have to tell Bill about it.
Of course, that's pure fantasy.
I could never get away with it. I can't even lie to Bill about what I just bought at Big Lots, let alone why I wrote a check to Mr. H for $150.00 the other day.
Besides, I hear a little squirrel scratching in the attic above me right here at home. She has her own outside entrance up there, and besides exercising and possibly raising a family of adorable fluffy little rodent children, she collects all the black walnuts from the yard, storing them in her attic abode instead of burying them in my garden under the rose bushes. Thoughtful, isn't she?
So, now that I think about it, I'm not really alone after all, am I?
And though my studio downstairs isn't attractive like the old house was, I am an artist. I have a vivid imagination. I have the ability to create my own little world deep inside my own little head.
I think I'll go down to the dark and dank, get some painting done, and just pretend that my studio is beautiful.
Is that a little mouse I hear?
And I believe there are three magical footmen are cleaning my house upstairs while I work in my spacious, well organized studio. What a life!
Hey, fellas, would you please let the dogs out for me? Thanks!
Too cool to blog? It's only a word...
I hate the word "groovy".
Comment on or Share this Article >>
I always have, even in nineteen-sixty-whatever, when it was supposedly "cool" to say. No. Trendy words are in my opinion words which the speaker uses in an effort to be cool and fit in. And if you have to use trendy lingo in order to impress people, then you aren't really cool.
Because if you really are cool, you're just cool and you don't need to adopt some word that has been promoted by someone else as cool in order to be so.
Are you confused yet? Me, too!
To simplify it for you, the "g"-roovy word was just too Brady Bunch for me, and I was too cool for the Brady Bunch. (If you liked the Brady Bunch and said "groovy", I'm just teasing you, okay? I'm sure you're cool...)
Nowadays, I also hate the "b" word. It's so in. So 2008. "Blog." It even sounds crude. And the concept is egocentric, don't you think? I'm not going to Blog.
Actually I've been wondering if having a blog is a good idea or a bad one.
I started this the other day because I read in an another artist's blog that it is a good thing to do. He said, "It's a very good thing to do." And then he gave a bunch of reasons why he blogs.
Well, I've been toying with the idea for some time now but had managed to talk myself out of it, having read and been told it was a really bad idea. It takes too much time, for one reason. The other is that more than likely, no one cares what I think. Well, there's one more.
Maybe no one should know what I think.
In all honesty I am a bit of a loner and an opinionated one at that, so perhaps I shouldn't put myself "out there" like this. But because I like to write and this guy said I should, I decided to try this for a while. This. Not blogging.
So. What do you think about artists blogging on their web sites?
Do you have a blog, and if so, why do you do it and what do you put in it?
One more question. Have you ever in an effort to be accepted, blurted out that other word, "groovy"?
I'm just curious.
Stripped to Stretched
I have been stretching canvases the last two days.
Comment on or Share this Article >>
I found ready made canvases with thick stretchers 12" square in Big Lots a couple of weeks ago. The canvas was cheap and tore easily. It was also too smooth for my style. But the stretchers were great and I can't make my own stretchers for $5.00.
Besides, I love stretching and preparing my own canvases. So I bought a bunch of them and stripped the cheap canvas off of them, replacing it with more sturdy 12 oz. cotton canvas that I got at Cheap Joe's a while back. Then I gessoed them thickly and quickly, which leaves a rather rough surface to paint on.
Some artists prefer a smooth surface, so they sand and gesso and sand and gesso, but I prefer the rough surface and hate sanding. So the finished product was quick and perfect for my style. ( By the way, I'm going to give all those Big Lots canvas pieces to the local art group so they can use it in whatever way suits them. That way it won't be wasted, but will be recycled.)
I find that the process of stretching and preparing my own canvas is a good way to lead up to painting. It is creative foreplay, you might say. As I work on the canvases, I am thinking about what sort of subject I am in the mood to paint. By the time I get around to actually painting, it goes fast and easy because inspirationally, I'm already half way there.
Are you or are you not?
Being self-taught, I didn't learn to stretch my own canvas until about six or seven years ago. I didn't know what I'd been missing. If you have never stretched your own canvas, you're a bit of an artistic virgin and it's time you try stretching your own canvas. You may find you've missed out on one of the simplest joys of being an artist.
As for the rest of you who are saying things like, "Never stretched a canvas? Baby! Wimp!", I say never belittle a virgin. I'm a mother, and that's not nice. Remember. You were a virgin once, too.
"Found "Em!" Assignment #11
Comment on or Share this Article >>
Have you ever given yourself an assignment?
My friend, Victoria is one of the finest artists I know, and she does just that. She'll say, "I will do a painting where colors are reversed." So she'll paint a purple horse in a turquoise blue field with a yellow sky. Not like the horse on the Wizard of Oz, but just like a white horse in the shade with an yellow afternoon sky.
Then she will put it in a competition and win first place. Her assignment painting stands out in the crowd. The judge sees this fabulous painting and knows that it is very unusual, but it isn't wierd and doesn't feel contrived. Victoria gets an "A".
Why should you give yourself an assignment?
Well, take this little quiz. Check "a" or "b".
1. Have you ever felt stumped and uninspired?
a. Are you kidding? Of course! Everybody has.
b. No. There is no end to my brilliance and creativity.
2. Do you ever get bored or feel you are in an artistic rut?
a. What? (Yawn) Yeah, I guess. I just can't seem to think about that right now. Where's the coffee?
b. Me? No way, man. I'm a savant, so to speak.
3. Do you want or feel a need to expand your skills?
a. Well, duh. I want to be famous for my artistic genius some day.
b. How can one expand on perfection? Dude! I already told you, I'm a savant.
4. Does your work sometimes lack freshness?
a. Well, only if you count the moldy buttered squash I dropped on one of those 47 florals I got leanin' against my studio walls.
b. Freshness? Freshness, you ask? Not only am I a savant, dudette, but I was called fresh by some chick at the grocery store just this afternoon.
If you answered "a" to any or all of these questions, it's time to give yourself an assignment. If you answered "b", you need to get yourself a councelor, and maybe some medicine.
There are dozens of things you can do, but below is just a little list of ideas to get you started.
1. Give yourself a limited time to paint something, and stick to it.
Say, "I have a 12" square prepared canvas and 1 hour before I have to stop to cook dinner. I'll paint this." Then do it. Block in the lights and darks and the main shapes and colors, and voila! You have something fresh and won't even be called that to prove it.
2. Reverse colors like my friend did.
Try applying that to anything, like a floral still life or even a portrait. It'll really challenge your mind to have to make it work.
3. Paint a simple subject really big.
A giant shoe. A gargantuan cup of tea. A cat's smile. Talk about expanding your vision. If you aren't used to painting big, you'll have to think about what to do to keep all that negative space interesting.
4. Paint something really small.
Under three inches. A street scene or your Rotweiler. This will improve your fine motor skills. (No, I'm not talking about driving. Didn't I tell you to get some medication?)
5. Add words to a painting.
Write a poem or just a word. Put in a favorite quote. Hide it or make it obvious. But the rule in this one is make it appropriate to the subject of the painting. And like my mother said, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all!" (I can't help it. I'm always a mother.)
6. If you usually work traditionally, do an abstract, or vise versa.
For the traditional painter, this will not only losen you up, but it may improve your sense of color, balance and design. For the abstract painter, it can strengthen and renew skills you may have forgotten you had.
7. Change your color palate.
Put different colors on your palate, and put your usual paints well out of reach so you can't fall back on those familiar, comfortable colors. If you need to, use a reference for mixing colors.
No, that's not cheating, silly.
8. Try a different medium or get daring with a new mix of mixed mediums.
Just make sure that the mediums are compatable with each other and that you do them in an order that works. I mean, not only can you not put watercolors over oils because it's not possible, of course, but you want to make a painting won't fall off the canvas in five years.
Also, don't put dead animals on your paintings, even if they're dipped in polyurithane. I kid you not! I helped hang a show one time and had a rather gross experience with that. Dead stuff stinks.
9. Do something strictly from memory.
Yes you can. You can do it in your usual style, or you can simplify it if you want to. Don't worry so much about little details, like how those ears really look. Just stick 'em right there on the side of the head. You know where they go.
10. Challenge yourself to do a subject that you don't usually do.
I know some artists who can do anything and everything. If you're one of them, don't worry about this assignment. And if you're the guy who answered all "b's", why are you even reading this? Did you make that appointment yet?
11. Start two paintings at one time and work on them together.
Monet did this. He would gather his kids together and make them cart four large paintings, his easel and art supplies out to the pasture and go from one painting to the next as the light changed. When all my kids were home, I fancied this idea too, but Monet obviously had something I didn't have in order to entice his eight kids to work so hard. Like art income, maybe?
You can even take it beyond Monet, friend painter. Try two completely different things, like a landscape and a figure. If you do two completely different subjects, sizes or styles, the challenge will increase and so will your abilities.
12. Try painting things from a new angle.
Look down on something like a teapot, or look up at a room from the floor. If you're like me, though, you may want to take a couple of minutes to do a little sweeping first.
You can do it!
And you may just surprise yourself, finding a whole new world. Just remember what the little train said, "I think I can, I think I can, I know, I know, I know I can!"
(I know you know you can, "b" guy. You're a savant. Right. So go do something already.)
"Mower in the Midst" or "Mowing Over the Speed Limit"
Comment on or Share this Article >>
It's Autumn and the fall colors are truely awesome this year.
Three days ago as I headed toward the grocery store, I noticed a tree so red that I about ran off the road looking at it. Actually, I'm a safe driver (a very good driver, Rain Man!). But it was tall tree, a little awkward in it's shape. It stood alone by the busy roadside flaunting it's vibrant red leaves much like old ladies who swagger about with those feathered red hats atop their heads. I was instantly inspired. I must paint that tree!
But where was my handy dandy brand new fancy Canon camera, my friend?
At home on the kitchen counter. Of course. And the afternoon light was changing so fast that I couldn't go back and grab it in time. I would have to wait for another late afternoon, hoping the rain or wind wouldn't come and knock off all the leaves before another opportunity arose.
Thank goodness yesterday, only two days later, was a perfect fall day. So I grabbed my camera around 2:00 PM and headed out for my annual autumn photo fest. The tree would still be there in all its glory.
It was a little early, so I saved my special red tree for last.
I always do that anyway, save the best for last. Driving all over the neighborhood, I photographed other red trees and yellow trees, families walking hand in hand with their kids at the park or walking their best friends on leashes. Oh. And that one wildman mowing the park lawn at an obscene speed, dust flying up behind him obscuring everything in its wake.
Nothing at all. Hmmm...
At last I swung Bullet toward the grocery store. (Bullet is my trusty little red Subaru.) As I came around the corner where the tree had been or where I thought the tree had been, there was nothing. Nothing at all. Hmmm... It was just a little strip of land between an old neighborhood and the main road, so I turned onto that road thinking that the leaves must have fallen or I'd mistaken the location and may miss the moment again.
Well I missed the moment all right.
I stopped and asked a man about the tree and he said, "That ol' red tree? The one 'at wuz right over there? They cut it down yesterday." I was like, "No they did not! Not yesterday? Were they crazy? It was gorgeous! They should have at least waited...'till the leaves fell off." I mean, just between you and me, I wouldn't have been able to do it to a tree who had such zest for life.
It's like having your dog put down 'cause he's getting old and his eyes are a little hazy, but he's still running around playing tug of war with the cat. Then seeing the man's expression, I realized he figured he knew who the real crazy was, so I did my usual explanation of being an artist and blaa, blaa, blaaa. I mean, I like trees but I don't hug them, you know. He just turned his back on me and went into the house shaking his head. It was just a tree.
It was a red tree, though. And now it's gone.
All this is just to say that those of us who go around taking hundreds and thousands of photos of charming but insignificant things for the purpose of possibly wanting to paint them some day must realize our secondary roll in all this.
When we take a photo, whether it is of a crooked old tree or a 150 year old dilapidated broken down two room shack with no doors on it, or some big wild fella' mowing the lawn at fifty miles an hour with the sun behind his back making his head glow like that of an angel's, we are recording a moment. A moment that will never be again.
I often go through my photos, finding something wonderful in it's antiquity and charm that no longer exists. I pass by places and remember when the light was amazing and the shadows were long and mysterious and I missed it. Why? Well, maybe I was too busy to turn my car around or too shy to ask if I may take a picture. Maybe I was slow on the draw. Or maybe...I didn't have my camera with me at the time.
So, my advice to you, my friend, and to moi self?
Never leave home without your camera. Never! Unless you have one of those photographic memories that only liars and other fishermen have. As for me, I am getting a purse big enough to hold not just my wallet, but my camera as well. In the camera case of course, since I have been known to be little reckless. Me and that mower dude.
And next time I see a rickety old tree showing off just for my eyes and mine alone, I'll do it the honor of recording its unique beauty. Right then and there.
Little Pink Spaceship Gazette