Wednesday 25 July 2012

A New Challenge

I think that an artist needs to try new things. In order to grow in our craft and to keep our art fresh, we have to stretch our artistic muscles. It doesn't matter if what you try works or if you plan to ever do the same thing again, just the doing will teach you something.

Since I started my Facebook pages I have seen a number of pieces of art that have inspired me.

Little Girl & Umbrella
 Although I have done similar negative paintings in the past I have usually worked with what I saw in the background. For this painting, I superimposed the image on the mottled background using both negative and positive work, adding color where it was needed. Only the flowers in the foreground are picked out of the colors of the background.

This painting is only mildly reminiscent of Patricia Allingham Carlson's art but seeing her wonderful paintings moved me to try to see what I could do.

Fluid Movement
Another artist from Facebook whose art has got my fingers itching, is Tanner Pruess. His painting with fluid acrylics are a wonder of freedom and movement with colors mingling or pushing each other around.

Yesterday I had some liquid acrylics left over from another project so guess what I tried? I must admit that I had no idea what I was doing. I simply poured the paint, sometimes overlapping, sometimes just beside each other. Then I picked my canvas up and twisted it this way and that. I added a few more drops of black and white and did more twisting. When I liked what I had, I stopped - this was hard as I have a tendency to overwork things. Today, once the paint was dry I decided it needed a touch of glitter so I added some smudges of gold paint. I'm please - what do you think?

There are so many things in the world that can give us that new challenge that helps keep us fresh.

I was recently re-organizing a cupboard in my studio and found an old book of my Grandfather's, "Ornamental Designs and Illustrations'.  My Grandfather was an engraver and I assume that he used this book as a reference. It has a wide variety of illustrations and I am starting at the beginning.

Here are copies of the two
pages I have worked from. I find the work very time consuming and hard on the eyes - I know why my Grandfather used a magnifying eyeglass ( I don't really know what it was I just remember he used something when he was engraving).

My first two attempts were done free hand with a .005 micron pigma pen.

They are a fair bit larger than the examples in the book and they are a little rough but I though they were decent for a first attempt.
I have decided I will need to use a magnifying glass the next time I try something this small.

Today at Art Club I tried something a little larger and I drew the designs in pencil first. I would never have believed how difficult it is to draw curling leaves.

Once I had the drawings done I went over them with the pen. The pen is easier to work with - it sort of flows.

I am happy with all of my recent challenges. Some I will use again, but all of them have filled me with the enthusiasm to get into my studio and create.

Monday 16 July 2012

Are We Finished?

I think one of the hardest things an artist has to decide is when a painting is finished. So often we keep fiddling with a piece until we lose the freshness and life the painting would have had if we had left well enough alone.

My student, Annie, and I have 'finished' our paintings of the Big Rock. Except for  fifteen minutes when I started the painting and a few hints and tips after at Art Club, Annie pretty much painted on her own and so did I.

Annie's Rock

Although we worked from the same reference photo, our print-outs were slightly different colors. Thus our paintings are different too.

Notice that Annie's rock is truer to the actual shape of the original while mine is elongated. I did mine quickly then adjusted it the following week and I was not concerned with duplicating the photo.

Unless you are doing portraits or commissioned work where accuracy is important, it is acceptable to change your work  - it is called 'artistic license'.

reference photo
My Rock

Without consultation, both of us left out the tree branches on the left. I don't know about Annie but I felt they were just a distraction. It was hard to tell from the photo the color of the grasses in the foreground and we both opted for a green tone.

So! Are we finished? I think I am, but Annie mentioned that she might do a bit of 'tweeking' when we get together next. We will see what happens when I see her painting in person but I think she might be finished too.

Thursday 12 July 2012

A Decision to Make

I have decided to enter one of my paintings in a juried art show at Kimberley's Centre 64. I have to figure out what to exhibit and it is a problem because I really don't 'get' the jury process. I did not understand at all why the winners at the last juried show I attended were picked. I thought the 1st prize painting was awful.

 However, nothing ventured etc...

I have tentatively chosen three paintings. 'Evolving' is an acrylic with  five sections depicting evolution from primordial ooze to a vague man-like form. It might be the best choice for a show called -
"Arts on the Edge"

Full Moon

  The next piece, 'Full Moon' is one of my favorites - which right there makes me think I shouldn't enter it as any painting I have liked in juried shows has never won. It is a watercolor started with the pour technique and ending with some detail in the mill and the bridge.

Broken Trellis

My third choice is 'Broken Trellis'. Again, this is a watercolor but I used a number of different techniques: masking with tape and masking fluid, pouring on paint and blowing thru a straw, negative and positive painting and using stencils. It is different but is it 'Art on the Edge'?

I don't know how many people look at this blog but I hope some of you will help me make this decision. Anyone, with experience in adjudicated exhibitions or not, might have a better idea than I do of which painting to choose.

Sunday 1 July 2012

Different Strokes

Unless one is trying to forge a painting, all artists' work will look different although some will follow techniques so closely that you can often tell whose style they are working in. A number of years ago I took a workshop with Joyce Kamakura (I think the spelling is right) and during the critiquing she commented to one of the students that she 'needed to find her own voice' instead of adhering to the style of Zoltan Szabo. We all look at things differently and we apply paint differently - we live by different strokes.

My student, Annie, finished her painting of the waterfall and sent me a photo. Here are our finished paintings together.

My painting
Annie's Painting

 I did my painting on 140lb watercolor paper and Annie used a stretched canvas which makes some difference to applying paint but very little to the end product. Although both paintings include the same elements and are obviously of the same scene, they reflect a different style. My middle ground is less detailed than Annie's and my foreground larger although still somewhat loose. Annie's evergreens have a very distinct flavor while I have to watch that mine are not like a groomed 'Christmas tree". My colors are a bit brighter and not as true to the reference photo as Annie's colors are. The bottom line? Both of us are pleased with our own painting - actually I am pleased with Annie's too because at one point she talked about painting it over - I'm so glad she didn't

BTW - have a look at the frame on Annie's painting. Her husband made it out of a tree (branch or trunk) so it is rounded and still has the bark on it. A perfect compliment to the painting.