All In Boxes…

July 3, 2013

Someone recently asked me to describe the last 3 months of my life.  “All in boxes” pretty much sums it up.

It is no secret that we recently moved to a new house.  The past three months, my painting process has been pretty much boxed up as well.  I have been frustrated wanting to “do something” and then realizing that it was under the dust and debris of stacked boxes, packing materials and more dust.  The garage which usually functioned as my creative studio space, had become the storage and staging zone for all of the packing materials, which of course did not fit inside the house.  All my studio and painting materials had been packed up awaiting the “Big Move”.  I did reserve my plein-air easel and a small amount of paint and brushes for paint outs. Though, free time proved even rarer event with all the packing, construction deadlines, or work and family needs.

Everyone thinks “new studio, exciting!  Ha, I think, “Crap, where am I going to store all of it?”
I want to actually work without having to invest creative energy into cleaning up my studio just so I can paint.   Which generally happens in the garage space and results in poor painting quality if any at all.  Over whelming to say the least.  Moving my studio has proved to be quite the undertaking.  Thanks, to a few good friends and my weekly yoga, and more than month later I managed to breathe through it.

Logically, with such a big move, all my studio and painting stuff had to move as well.  But what was I really going to need and use in the new studio.  Everyone I asked that had a home studio suggested I would need lots of storage, good light, and work space.  The first challenge was to get it all reduced down from what was a 2 car garage space to a single spare bedroom.

Garage studio space.

Garage studio space.

I intended to keep and store paints, paint surfaces, drawing materials and basic framing equipment.  I reduced my studio supplies to the primary materials.  I was giving up many of the old shelves and storage b/c they would not fit or move.   This forced another purge of inferior art I had produced over the past few years during my fast paced graduate classes. It actually took most of 3 weekends to eventually pack up the studio and another day of realizing it was futile to try to keep the crap work for later resurrection.
Purging proved just as stress full to realize  the pile of painting failures, I intended “to fix” someday was larger than I intended.     (Little voice in my head repeats its mantra” not failures, learning cycles”).  I did not need to preserve them for future sales.  I had practiced the intended lesson.  I could move on.  Don’t worry, I still have plenty more to work on and eventually sale.
Yes, purging is good for art growth.  It can be very emotional if you don’t have a good friend to help you separate all the stuff from the precious and best.  It can definitely leave room for many more painting projects, big and small.

The next few blog posts will feature stages of sorting out my studio.

Spring Break Inspirations

March 13, 2013

Well it’s hump day of our spring break here.
Since my Easy-L tripod is in the shop for repairs I am limited to painting at home this week. So I started looking for fun painting inspiration here at home.   A good day for peanut butter sandwiches and painting!

Still life for lunch.

Still life for lunch.

Course lunch time can not be missed, and must be served on the favorite blue plate with rectangle sandwiches. ~for fear of the tummy monster might unexpectedly visit.

Thus today, I found inspiration in my son’s lunch. 🙂
After scraping my palettes, I laid out fresh clean paint.  2 yellows, 2 blues, 2 reds. Specifically: cad red light and cad red medium and white.  I laid out my under painting with a wash mixture of cad red light and violet (alizarin & ultramarine).  Then borrowing a few notes from a recent workshop with Carol Marine I set to painting islands and oceans of clean grays.

Easy-L palette at work.

Easy-L palette at work.

Turns out it made a great complimentary study.  Yes, Blue and Orange or opposites on the color wheel.
2013_03_13 Spring Break lunch 6x6
I think I had just as much fun painting the bread and crusts of the sandwich as I did defining the orange.   It was a good painting hump-day indeed.

 

 

Saturday offered a beautiful sunny morning although cold to once more venture out for painting here in Austin with our local Plein Air Austin goup.

Of all places to visit Rainey Street!
Rainey street can be found north of the river just east of Congress Ave. The neighborhood has a long history of quaint bungalow style homes from around 1934 here in Austin.  The past few years have seen a new revival of the area in the form of restaurants and Beer gardens.  Now the tiny houses are shadowed by the growing high-rise condos and boom of life in downtown Austin.

Rainey Street

Rainey Street

For myself this paint out offers a stroll down memory lane.  Rainey Street was / is the very same street my grandmother spent many summers playing as a child.   So I bundled up and set off to find my painting inspirations.

My first stop was to find 80 Rainey Street.
IMAG0166

Long before the dams were built the river rose almost every year and the lower edge of Rainey Street was often under water.  Several houses were washed out, so each time my grandmother’s family would move higher up the hill.  80 Rainey was her child hood home.
So surreal to see so many homes renewing along the street and know several more are simply no more. Gone are the homes at 60 and 68 and 82 and the old oak tree in the back yard where she once practiced her coronet.  But the house at 80 Rainey still remains, the challenge was to find beauty in the play between light and shadow.

80 Rainey ~ Memaw's childhood home.

80 Rainey ~ Memaw’s childhood home.

So I set up my easel, broke out my brushes and paint.  It was great to enjoy painting out side even in the brisk cold.  I decided to crop in on the recognizable feature of the house the corner bungalow windows and the lovely shadow patterns.
My intention was to capture the once love of a family home many generations ago and I believe that I did just that.  In such a simple morning paint-outI might have found new inspiration to delve a little deeper in the Austin city and landscapes.  There are more paintings to waiting to be found.

Pushing Poppies

November 27, 2012

Last week, I realized I had a large old canvas that I had started with but the painting never finished to my expectations.  It had lovely spots but as a whole never synced.  It had the color spots for the poppies painting I had been planning out.  So I picked it up, dusted it off.  Yes, that’s the nature of my garage studio space.  And started laying in the ground work for the new painting.  Looking back I wish I had photographed it more through the process.  But I was set on working it through rather than documenting it at the time.

I riffled through my reference stacks for any poppies. Cropped in to layout the desired composition and sketched a rough layout.

Cropping in on Composition

Roughed in sketch for Poppies.

This time rather than pre-prime with more gesso or extra paint I set to roughing in a loose abstracted pattern of the composition in limited gray values.

It was quite liberating to just push, carve and scrape thick buttery paint around on a large canvas again!  All with the simple intention to push the shapes so that they push and pull within them selves.  It’s coming together a bit better than I expected.

Pushing Poppies in Progress. 30″ x 40″

Pushing Poppies is a welcomed paint break started to simply just push the paint around again.  It has been a while since I have had the time and detachment to so on a canvas.  It was a much needed break from all the tight bottled up spaces I have been dealing with here lately.

It is evolving each day just a little more. But I’m ok with where it is taking me just now.

This Little Piggy…

September 13, 2012

Drawing inspiration from the child hood rhymes:
and an adorable stuffed pig with personality we have the makings of a series of fun little paintings.
This Little Piggy… 

So much potential subject matter to yield lovely simple little paintings that lend to great paint passages and expressive compositions.

This little piggy just wants to stay home and hide her head under the blankets.

This Little Piggy Stayed Home. 5×7. #2012_07_12.

Early morning light and deep shadows really helps push the composition.  The light both softens and warms up the compositional balance of negative shapes. A few more layers of paint composing the rounded feet and curly tail add just a touch of whimsy and dimension.

This Little Piggy Snuggled. 5×7 #2012_07_13

This little piggy wants to snuggle in the morning light with her favorite monkey.  Again the lighting and shadows help define the composition while a similar palette of warmer pink and cooler blue values establish the rounded forms of the plush piggy.

Five more minutes… 5×7. 2011.

Five more minutes was the first of this series.  So it is understandably a bit more simplistic.  However by changing the lighting, I ended up with a darker mood and value study.

These paintings are more color, light and compositional studies while really working through a new medium and discovering its various characteristics.   So these are just a few of a growing series of studies to work out.
I wonder what This Little Piggy shall do next?

Mommy, Why do you paint?

August 18, 2012

Reflection of who am I.
Most mornings I wake sore muscled and wonder what the day has in store.
Will it be grocery day or laundry day? What will I make for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner?  Will my 5yr old eat it today?  Will I have a chance to paint something today?  What am I doing with my career?
“Mommy, you have a job. You paint.”  (the voice in the car seat behind me).

Occasionally, I manage to escape and adventure into our wonderful hill country to paint what I find.  This summer has been a bit more problematic so there has been a lot less painting.  Only to realize the summer is fast coming to an end and my little boy will be starting school this year.  I know that I have been blessed to spend a great summer with him and remembered to include trips to feed the ducks, walk where dinosaurs may have walked,  climb big rocks and see small mountains that are now dormant / extinct volcanoes.
I have still managed to be somewhat productive and score an occasional painting.  I have even shared the process more this summer with my son.

Little helper toning canvas.

Teaching him is always a new challenge for both of us.  He can often see it in the simpler form faster than I, since he has different expectations.

Painting his waterfalls and lava!

Yet, each day I wonder, what am I doing?  How am I going to get to a point where I filled valued as an artist (before I kick the bucket)?  So I keep practicing what I know…painting. Values, colors, compositions, drawing.  more practice.  All the while hunting for jobs to help cover our bills, that will work with my skill sets and mommy schedule.  Some day, I will get to teach the art of painting shapes & forms to reflect what we see and feel.

Then, there in the dark is the universal question through the voice of a 5yr old whom is wiser than he knows sometimes.  The same child that struggles to eat veggies and share his toys asks:
“Mommy, Why do you paint?”
~Because, Mommy, needs to paint what she see and how it makes her feel in the colors.  It’s what I know I need to do.  (I follow the colors in the light and dark).
“Ok. Mommy. I think the next time you go I want to go too.”

Clarity.  My son’s reflection of who I am as an artist already is pretty awesome.
Learning to accept the good I have acquired is harder… That I can paint, and to enjoy that part as my life with my family life.
~yes, it’s time to share and enjoy the painting adventures too.

Catching Painted Skies

July 13, 2012

Catching painted skies!
Well it has been a busy summer thus far.  Already into July here in Texas, and I’ve found little time for my blog.  But with the summer adventures come summer fireworks and we have been lucky to welcome summer storms and much-needed rain.

sweeping storm reference.

I get to welcome the added advantage of ever-changing skies.   The skies change rapidly in color and shape as the winds sweep the fronts along.  So one should always be ready with the friendly camera, timing and a bit of luck to catch rapid changes.   Add in the cooling temps and rhythm of spattering rain you have all the ingredients for great paintings.  Not to mention any excuse to paint purple skies is a welcome playful palette.
Love it!

Storm front at Sunset.

Last week brought unplanned packing and traveling. But I remembered my clever Easy-L paint box and was able to pop in a few paintings even while on the road.  Don’t get me wrong, it was not as easy or stress free as it should be.  But I did manage to find a southern window, added a spectrum lamp small adjustable office chair (from the office) and started about to mixing my limited palette.  5 values of gray, + cerulean, alizarin, cadmium red light, lemon yellow, and violet mixture for my shadows.

I focused on the simple movement and shapes of the clouds for the first 5×7. I intentionally minimized the warmer landmass to balance against the vast cooler sky mass.

Storm Sweeper. 5×7 2012_07_07

In the second 5×7, I was working on layering and rolling the edges and shadows of the clouds.   The challenge was moving from warm sun kissed edges of sunset to the softer violets in the underside.

Sky Fish, Sunset Storm. 5×7. #2012_07_08

It’s funny what the eyes record and the brain registers.  Some where along the way it evolved in a credible Sky Fish painting.

 

Today’s left overs – Cascarones!

Well what’s left from our weekend adventures.  My backyard is littered with a menagerie of colorful confetti.   At least I will have color back there when the sunflowers fade for the summer.

But it does make for fun painting.
So here is tonight’s play in paint and color.

Cascarones for Annie! 5x7 #2012.04.10

The confetti eggs are very vibrant but the challenge in painting them is figuring out a composition to feature the confetti inside.  I intentionally featured the traditional cardboard egg crate too.   Good thing I got pictures because I expect the last dozen will be cracked open tomorrow after school.

Yesterday’s Eggs!

April 9, 2012

What does one do with all the leftover eggs after the Easter egg hunt?
Well, paint them of course.

One of the reasons kids love to decorate and dye eggs are for all the colors that can be created with just a few dyes.
Then even more fun to hide, hunt crack and eat them.

Course I like to dye and decorate them too. But it’s more fun to paint them.
So here is today’s daily fun paint adventure with our leftover eggs.

Yesterday's Eggs 5x7 #2012.04.09

Definitely challenging trying to model the elliptical egg shapes as they overlap and their local colors reflect against one another.  The glass dish added another level of interest trying to depict it’s soft curves and reflections with out over painting it.

April Flowers

April 6, 2012

Wow, the Spring flowers are so vivid this year.  Which is quite amazing since we are still suffering from a severe drought here in Texas.

But I can still appreciate the wild flowers that pop up in my own backyard.  Still no private collection of Blue bonnets but quite a lot of wild Black-eyed Susan’s this year.
So before I push on though my spring I grabbed a few to paint.  This is my result.

Black Eyed Susans_5x7_#2012.04.06.

I intentionally went for a complimentary balance of Red-orange and Blue-violet and focused on a warm light cool shadow composition.
Not so bad for a morning with laundry, dishes and a 5 year old asking where the toy of the moment is.
Back to the Mommy mode.