Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Yeah, well, maybe it was a good idea after all, Elise.

Here I am at the end of this back-to-college thing.  I just remembered to check the college website to see what my final grade is.  I've been so busy being concerned about my kids' grades and getting them through their final days of school and final exams I forgot about mine until I sat down here to write this blog.  Oh yeah, I've been thinking about heading to the beach, too.  That's enough to help you forget a lot of stuff you should be thinking of.

I made an "A".  Yes, yes I did.  I finally figured out that the way to make an "A" is not to necessarily be the best in your class.  You just have to show up and do the work, and then, do it in the way that your professor explains and teaches you to do it. Then, the work progresses and improves. I know some of those kids didn't get "A"s because they just didn't show up to do the work. For whatever reason, it wasn't something they wanted to do. They were satisfied with the fact that they might get a "B", "C", or "D" in the class as long as it was passing. I don't think they get it.

The one thing I learned - well, there were many things I learned - is that full maturity doesn't set in once you reach age 18, 19, 20, or even 21 for a lot of people. I can see more clearly now that about myself when I see that some of these students are okay with mediocre. I was okay with it for a long time. I'm not okay with that anymore - except when it comes to house cleaning, of course.

I learned so much through all of this. Discipline is something I have to force upon myself. If I want to be better at this art thing, I have to be disciplined. Creativity is not something that just happens. We have to work about being open-minded about it. We have to find the methods that help our creativity flow.  Sometimes it comes from reading a book, sometimes it's being open to our dreams (the ones we have when we sleep), many times it comes from just looking at what other people create and how they create it. For me, a great resource will come from an artist directly when they can tell you how they go through their creative process. Most times, it's not what I would do, but it at least gives me a jumping off point.

This class this past semester was the perfect setting for all of those things to coalesce for me. It was a creative environment with a professor whose work I had seen several times before but didn't understand, and as a result didn't appreciate as fully as I do now. No two students handled their creative process the same nor did they create the same or similar results as each another. I saw progress in most of their work.  I also saw those lacking in direction and understanding as to who they were as a person and what they really wanted to convey in their work. One guy's work was, for me, a  little on the bizarre side.  It was narrative and figurative in nature.  But as I took the time to really see what he took of himself and from what must have been a painful experience and he incorporated that into his work, I was very moved. It was emotional. The technique was not the best I had seen, but clearly he poured his heart into these pieces. In the end, I think art must move us emotional. He was the most successful of all of us in making that happen.

Although I did not take photos of his work, with the permission of my classmates, I did take photos of some of the other work that was part of our "self-directed" works.

The left piece was her first self-portrait. These are rather large, probably about 30 x 40" in size. The second piece really was so much better. The jump in her ability from one piece to the next was clear.  I really love her technique and her ability. The artists she has been inspired by are also those that I am inspired by.  I loved watching her work and the way she handles the paint on her canvases. She will be a great colorist some day. I can't wait to see what is in store for her next.

These paintings were done by Little (I am assuming that's how her name is spelled because I never asked). They are all self-portraits. Her idea behind the work is to capture an ability or capability in her or a trait that she would love to have and capture that in her painting. A stronger woman, perhaps, likened to a greek or roman goddess. Finding her inner strength and portraying that in these characters. We talked to her about taking these further in trying to make larger pieces with the full figure and all the accessors or these goddess / warrior-type women would carry with them in order to fully get the message across. She is also a writer and that is where she derives some of her inspiration and creativity.

Laura's work, and she had many pieces, were all worked with acrylic house paint. She liked the shininess of the paint and used a very limited color palette in these pieces. She explained that these poses were to express some sort of relationship with God. Poses of contemplation.  During the critique several people mentioned her trying different color palette to mimic the mood a little more.  I think she truly loves painting and really is trying to find her way in using the paint as an expressive tool of how she personal feels.

Adrianna (again, can't be sure I'm spelling that name right) - was a prolific painter. Every time she came to class she had another painting completed and was starting on another. She works very quickly and with a LOT of paint.  She loves working with palette knives and with large brushes. She was inspired by Michael Secor and other artists that deal with man-made structures such as piers, docks, bridges and overpasses. She has really become more disciplined in how she sees what she wants to paint and how she puts it down. She thinks a little more about the overall composition and use of colors. She has sold several of her pieces already and entered several shows. I have no doubt that she will be able to success in this art business because she has no fear of failure. That's just what I think from what I have seen over the past five months of listening to her talk and watching her paint.  

These paintings are the title pages for comic strips. This girl is really into comics and her stories. I'm of the opinion that she is more of a digital artist rather than a painter. I give her great credit for taking the ideas she has and putting them down in paint. I know this class was probably a challenge for her. I hope that with the critiques from her classmates, she will become a better comic strip/graphic novelist. The class really had some great ideas for different mediums to use to get her message across in a graphic form. We had another student in class that shared her love of graphic novels and all things related, but she gave up on the physical painting aspect of the class. Personally, I think this other student gave up when it got to hard and she reverted back to her digital art. This was an advanced painting class, not a digital art class. For this student, whose work is show above, who used the painting and continued to try and make her work better, I give her more credit as an artist.  

The three pictures shown above were all paintings by Katie Naquin. She was in last semester's class (figure drawing) with me as well.  Her idea developed from finding a happy place from her childhood.  Her recollection was that of her childhood and playing in the rain. This series of six paintings were to take different activities taking place in the rain. She used oil paint as well as oil paint sticks. I really like how different she worked with the oils and came up with a unique style. These pieces, for me are more thoughtful in design and execution. The class, of course, was able to give positive critique and I can't wait to see if she takes their advice on some of it. She is also a motivated painter in that she has her own website, teaches painting classes, makes and sells her own canvases. She is head of the Painters' League at school and is very interested in traveling to art galleries in this city and elsewhere. She didn't mind me mentioning all these things about her in this blog.  If you want to see what else she has done, her website is www.wallscantalkgallery.com.

These two photos are by Michelle Marks.  She is also from my class last semester. She has an artist's soul and wants so desperately to make that show up in her work. I think her mind and her hands are having difficulty communicating. I don't mean this in a negative way. I believe, she, like me, knows what she wants to do, but just can't necessarily make it happen in the way she envisions it. She has incorporated the elements of sculpture and mixed it with her painting and come up with these pieces show above. She has used bedsheets and other found materials. She also used varnishes and like materials to give the fabric stiffness and structure. Some of the pieces were unfinished and she was still working through her mental block. I'm hoping that after her critique she was able to take the suggestions and comments and finish these pieces.  It will be interesting to see how she develops as an artist.  She just needs to show up and do the work.  If she does that, she will be great.

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I have the advantage over the other photos in this blog because I have taken the critique and advice and finished my pieces.  The top piece is "Wonderment".  The second is titled "Deception".  And, the third is "Snare".  I struggled with these pieces because of the subject matter.  I wanted to capture the essence of who this child is.  I truly feel my painting technique has improved and I hope it keeps improving.

I finally felt, as I came to the end of the semester, that I reached a point where I knew what I had to do and where I need to go with my painting.  I realized that I am a meticulous painter and I will never be the fastest painter in the room.  I do know, that I have a pace that works for me and that pace gets more comfortable each time I put a brush in my hand.  I know that each time I do, now, the work will improve.

I am on a break from painting for a week or so.  I will be drawing instead, brainstorming.  I have entered these last three pieces into an art show and will find out in late June whether the jurors have chosen any of my pieces for the juried show in July.  Two years ago I tried to get in but didn't.  We'll see what happens this time.  If not, well, I'll do as I've done and keep painting for myself.

I think I will continue to blog.  I'm not sure if I should continue it here until this titled blog.  Blogging and painting have truly helped me get a sense of where I am, where I've been and where I need to go.  As for the classes, Elise Toup's advice to take these classes was probably the best art advice I've ever been given.  I did something that was uncomfortable and worked my way through it and came out much better on the other side.  This holds true for my artwork but also for my personal life.  For that, I can't thank her enough.  She is something special and I'm not sure she realizes that I hold her in such high esteem.  There are other people out there, too, that don't realize what a positive impact they have made on me and my painting - Debbie, you are one of those people, too.  My professors from these two semesters and definitely those "kids" in my classes are on the list.  People open doors for you sometimes not know what they are doing.

Yeah, it was a good idea after all, Elise.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Paint like you have to feed your kids.

Yep, that's what she said. My sister. This is her advice to me. She's one of my two favorite sisters, by the way. I'm not sure what I would do without either of them. Sometimes referred to by their husbands as "Joan 2" and "Joan 3" - Joan being my mother's name. I suppose they've been Joan 2 and Joan 3 to me, too, over the years in all aspects of my life. They are the ones I go to often when there are trials and tribulations in my life and when there are joys and down right funny things in my life I need to share.  As an aside, sister #2 sent me a card a few years ago that says, "I'm smiling because you are my sister...  I'm laughing because there is nothing you can do about it."  Funny girl.

Sharing my art with them is no different than all the other things I share with them. When I come up with ideas, when I start a painting, when I'm in the middle of the painting and can't move forward, when they are finished, when my sister takes a look at tree bark and sees a "boobie" instead (yes, she did not know what I was painting and assumed it was a woman's body in profile) - I share all these things with them.  

So the other night while I was talking on the phone with one of my favorite sisters, she gave me the advice, "Paint like you have to feed your kids". This statement, perhaps, needs some explanation.  

Last month, because of a dear painting friend of mine, I was able to receive an invitation to show at the Baton Rouge Art League's 57th Annual Art Exhibition. I had heard about this and heard great things about it. However, I surely did not know what to expect. It was held at the Rural Life Museum Visitors' Center. It was basically a two day show with the exhibition and reception on Saturday night and then the paintings were on display through most of Sunday. The event was a great event and the Art League did a wonderful job of it.  We really enjoyed it.  And so, by the time my parents, my husband and I left Saturday night, several paintings were already sold. There were well over 120 paintings there on display. My piece that I entered was the painting "Daylillies".  It's a 9" x 14" x 2" oil painting on birch wood panel that my husband constructed for me.    

It didn't sell.  Needless to say, I was disappointed.  Why didn't it sell?  I don't know the answer to that and I probably never will.  And, so, frustrated I will stay for awhile.

When it didn't sell, I shared this frustration with my sister.  That's when she said, "you need to paint like you need to feed your kids." Well, now how do I interpret that?  

Perhaps one painting not selling is no big deal, but I recently had a two month show in New Orleans in which I put in seven pieces and none of them sold.  Not much else sold in that show either, for that matter.  

Here I am, taking a college class trying to improve and make better the way I come up with ideas and execute those ideas through painting. I've paid money and invested time into my paintings and classes.  For what?  Why do I continue to do this? What is the point?  Is it for the shear joy of it? Yes, I suppose it is.  It's also because I can do it, mostly because of talent, time and circumstances.  The crazy thing is, though, I also do it in hopes it will bring joy to other people.  Yet, I feel, it doesn't seem to be doing that.  My gauge, whether right or wrong, it whether someone not only WANTS to buy my paintings but DOES buy my paintings. I haven't had much luck. I haven't even said that out loud except in my own home in front of my family. It is a bothersome thing.

I asked a classmate yesterday, "what do you do when you enter a show with art you feel is some of your best and no one buys it?"  "Do you change the way you paint?"  "What do you do - how do you deal with it?"  Her reply was, "usually there are a lot of fleur de lis paintings and those are what sell because that's what people want on their walls.  Does she change her subject matter?  No. She doesn't.  She keeps painting what she paints and continuously tries to improve what she wants to paint. She believes the right buyer will eventually come along because she needs to paint what inspires her.  That is most important to her.

So with that and with what my sister said I suppose I have choices to make.  If I paint like I need to feed my kids, I can approach that in a couple of different ways.  I can paint "fleur de lis" paintings or similarly conceptual paintings since that seems to be the "thing" right now.  I can continue painting what I paint and reduce my prices (I had one person in particular suggest that).  Their advice was, "something is only worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it."  True, but I have a method in my pricing that I have determined is appropriate through talking with other painters and researching artwork locally and nationally.  I know that I am well within the range of what I should be pricing my pieces, and, in fact, am pricing slightly below the value of my work considering materials, time, talent and effort. Or, the other option is that I can continue on the path that I am on and hope that some day, someone will buy another painting from me.

I think I choose the last option.  I think the market is overwhelmed with "fleur de lis" paintings and the like.  It's really not what I want to do right now.  Further, I will not change the way I price my paintings because in that, I have researched and been reasonable in how I go about doing this. 

And so, I go on.  And now here is where I show you what I have continued to work on in class and at home.  These are paintings I love and am inspired to paint.

(Image removed)

My butterfly painting isn't complete as I am still adjusting and adding as I go.

Then there's this one that I've been really focusing on lately more than the others.  The hair is still wet with paint from yesterday but I really love it.  I still have more to do here as well.

(Image removed)

And, finally, I have a finished piece from this semester of class.  It's my abstract piece and here it is.

In the end, I suppose, if all else fails with my choosing to continuing down this path, there will be a time that will come when my children will have to pack up all my belongings and donate or sell them.  If at that time, I have continued to hold on to and accumulate all the paintings I will have painted over the span of my life, they may be able to sell them so they can feed their own kids.  Or not.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

March Madness

Yes.  We all know what that means.  Well, I should hope we all know what that means.  It means I don't get the big TV during madness - I mean, March.  It all ended last night with an SEC team winning it all.  Go Kentucky!

My March madness has had a different fever though.  It was one of a chaotic existence with lots of stress thrown in.  I am so grateful for the spring break that my kids now how.  I still have class this week but they don't so all in all everything is so much easier for all of us.  I'm actually thinking about taking a nap, but I won't.  I will paint.

Two weeks have passed and I am now on to another painting.  As usual, this does not mean that the last one is finished because it's not.  These are my "self-directed" works.  I am still toying with the idea for the third painting.  I'm not sure what I will do with it but I have several compositions I am working with right now.

I did get to class today.  I'll be honest, I don't look forward to it as I first did.  I suppose it's because I barely have had time to work on my paintings without constant interruption.  Also, I've been working on my new vegetable garden.  My husband built four 4' x 12' x 12" beds and I helped put all the dirt in them and planted all the vegetables.  That was time consuming.

I think it will be worth it in the end - that is, until all the birds and squirrels get to it!

Anyway, I am back to class this week.  I missed all last week because allergy season knocked me on my butt.  I was dealing with fever and a chest cough all week.  I finally felt better by Friday.  The professor informed us if we don't show up, it's a zero!  So I showed up today - late.  The son had an eye appointment.  Another interruption.  I can't seem to win when I'm already behind.  Did that make sense?  Probably not.  I also haven't had a chance to run in almost two weeks.  Right now if I have to make a choice between painting and running, I have to choose painting. I have deadlines to deal with.  I hope to get back to running this week, too.  We'll see.

As for an update on my latest paintings here is the butterfly painting - not finished.

The image is a little blurry but hopefully you can get the gist of the painting.  I'm thinking of adding more monarchs but a little further in the distance in the upper left hand corner.  I really need to work on the one in his hand because I intend for that to be the focal piece.  It's weird how paintings develop from an initial idea into something you really weren't thinking of at all when you first started out.  This is what this process has been like for me.

The second painting in this series is this dragonfly painting here.  It sort of developed that way as well.  It's a photo of my son that I've been wanting to paint but wasn't sure how to go about it.  It's taken on, just as the one above has, a more surreal environment.  He does has a great sense of adventure and appreciate for animals, insects, and the world outside and I wanted to bring that sense into these paintings.

I've been working on this one for the last two weeks.  I wish the image was better so you could see the detail on the dragonflies.  I am working on his face and arm right now trying to make that "right" and "believable".  It is so very difficult.  The professor told me today it takes a lot of practice to make that right.  She repeated it twice so I know I've got lots of practicing to do!

Funny part about these paintings is that today since my son had an eye appointment, I brought him with me to class.  Several people said, "Hey, I recognize you!"  He loved it.  He told one girl, "That's me in my mom's painting."  She said, "I know."

He is part of my March madness.  This boy makes me crazy and he keeps me sane.  Painting these images of him helps me further define my self.  I am in these paintings as much as he is.  For that I am ever grateful.  So I thank God for this thing called "March Madness".

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wingin' it...

Okay.  I'm blogging but I really don't have any idea what I will blog about today.  I am supposed to be painting right now but I am waiting for the gesso to dry on the new board I built today.  I have to put two more coats on it and sand in between each coat before I even get to start painting.  Yes, I am supposed to have started on this new painting already this week, however I haven't.  So there.

Wow - I really don't know what to say about this feeling of wanting to paint and feeling bad about being behind on my work, but there's a part of me that doesn't feel bad about it at all.  I actually woke up yesterday morning around 3:00 am with a migraine that didn't go away until about 3:00 pm.  I brought my kid to school, visited my parents, and then came home to bed.  I stayed there until noon.  Why is it that when you don't feel well everyone needs to call your house AND when they can't get you on your house phone line they call your cell phone?  Anyway, I finally felt better by 3:00 but by then I was off bringing kids here and there and no painting or board building was accomplished.

So, here I am between coats of gesso typing.

I do have funny reality check story that I do want to share and it happened last night. As I've told you all before, other than the professor, I am the oldest one in my class. I am the mom in the classroom. I've also mentioned how part of what I love about this class is that there are all these "kids" with these great ideas and ideals about how things should be and what they will be in their futures and what good or great art is and can be. I love having that influence me and the way I work. But last night I was invited to attend a meeting for the Associated Women in the Arts which is an art association for women in our area (do you like my explanation for it even though the name of the association is very clear - yeah.) Anyway, I got to go last night and it was a great meeting. I was impressed by how efficiently the meeting ran. Everyone was so pleasant and I really enjoyed talking to a lot of the women there. There was also an artist, a member, too, that did a talk plus a demo with a slide show of her work. She was one the cover of Country Roads Magazine and here is the link for that. (http://countryroadsmagazine.com/2010/issue-november-2010). They put in a lot of information together in a short amount of time. I really liked that. Anyway, back to my point about being around young people. To tie all of this together, I go into the meeting last night and - just so you know, I am not a member but I have applied for membership - at least 2 to 3 people there made the comment that "we needed some young blood in here". Yeah, funny I know.  Me, young.  Laugh all you want.  My daughter told me this morning when I related this story to her, "Wow, there must be some really old people in that group." Thanks, dear.  I love you, too. Okay, I laughed, too. But, after I heard these comments last night the thought occurred to me, what would happen if we mixed these so-called "old" people with the college-aged "young" people. That could be a very interesting situation, indeed!

Perhaps we separate ourselves too much.  Old people hang out together, middle-aged people hang out together and young people stick to their own kind.  What would happen it we all went out to a bar together and had a few drinks?  Or, what if we all set up our studios in the same building?  What do you think the students at college would do if all these women in this association showed up in one of their classes one day to paint?  How would we react?  How would these "kids" react?  My guess is that if we open up our minds, and I think this is hard to do no matter your age, we might learn and appreciate a lot more of what the world has to offer.  I think these kids can remind us of what is possible and what our dreams really were all about.  I also know that as we age, we learn a lot of hard lessons and great stories that can be shared with those about to embark into the "real" world of job, money, career and family.

Yep, I like my class a lot.  I like the people I've met.  I like that they've only been around for about 20 years.  I've been here more than twice that amount of time.  I still have a lot to learn.  They've taught me that.

Well, back to the gesso because I can't wait to get back to class tomorrow and paint.

Monday, March 5, 2012

It's Monday. What did you get done today?

Alright.  So it's Monday once again.  I am not typing my blog today - well, I am now, but not when I initially wrote it.  I wrote it out in my sketchbook for school as I sat in carpool line.  I wanted to be typing and thinking of all of these things at the same time as I have found that when I do that I save much time.  But today, I wanted to use the quiet time at home to paint on my next class assignment, the narrative piece.  As is usual in my life, I find it hard to find blocks of time to dedicate toward painting.  My husband has said "enough already" on my constant complaining that I don't have time to get everything done.  But once again, I was all set to go last Friday to paint for about four hours when I got a phone call.  Stupid me answered the call because that's what I do.  Yes, I have caller ID but I thought that she was calling about one thing and it ended up being something else.  That something else ended up taking up about 3 and a half hours of my morning on Friday.  Basically, it was my cousin's wife who is also the same person that did our landscaping on our house when we built several years ago.  My husband and I recently decided that after six years of abuse and neglect toward our gardens it was time to call her back in.  I thought she was calling to set an appointment for next week but turns out it she had an opening right then and there.  Me - I say, "sure, come on by".  I think, it can't take too long to go around the yard and show her what needs to be done.  Wrong.  I didn't take into account how long family visits can take.  The yard part was only about 20 minutes of the discussion.  Everything else was about fishing, family, food, children, in-laws and on and on.  We could have talked longer but we didn't.  I'm really not sure how we didn't go on.

So, since I lost so much time in the morning and in order to make up for that time lost, I brought all my materials with me to carpool line, the same one I was sitting in when I wrote this blog, and worked out of my car.  I opened the back hatch of the car and laid out my work there and put together the composition for this narrative piece.  I felt like I had accomplished something.  Since I was productive there I thought writing my blog in carpool line today would make me feel better about myself and what I can get accomplished in a day.

As I blog here today, I think of all the things I want to talk about.  I should, of course, update you on where I've been and where I'm going.  Already this semester has had a still life, an abstract, and a landscape painting.

Here's the still life.  Still not completed, but close.

My abstract piece.  I think it's complete.  The professor suggested I turn it and turn it and see if there was anything I should do to it.  I still don't know what that might be.

Here is the landscape piece.  The first photo includes some of the underpainting (the bottom portion of the painting is still just the underpainting).  The top has the second layer begun.

This photo shows some of the progression of the painting.  It's a painting of a dirt work site located not too far from home.  The light blue portion is actually back hoes and bull dozers.  

I really don't know where this will end up.  I have agreed to make it a continual work in progress since I am working in acrylics, which is something I haven't worked with in two years.  It is giving me fits.  Also, I am attempting to copy the style of a grad student that is showing his work near campus.  His name is Michael Secor.  If you get the chance, go by Highland Coffee on Chimes Street or the music building on campus to see his work.  Apparently, a student in class emailed him on his prices for his work and they are great prices for some really great art.  For those of you who haven't figured it out yet, art work by undergrad students and grad students is probably one of the best deals you can find when it comes to buying original art at great prices.  Just go out and find out where these people are and where they are having their shows.  Show up and buy the work.  

The present painting in the works is my narrative.  The professors list of artists to be inspired by is as follows:  1. Fra Angelico; 2. Artemisia Gentelischi; 3. Neo Rauch; 4. Phillip Guston; 5. Paula Rego; 6. Eric Fischl; 7. Amy Cutler; 8. Frida Kahlo; 9. Dana Schutz; and 10. Walton Ford.

I am taking my inspiration from Walton Ford.  You can see a lecture he did out at Louisiana State University last week by logging on to the Art and Design's website and look for their lecture series.  He does watercolors that take John James Audubon to a whole other level.  Another place to see him talk is LPB's Art21 video resource.  He talks about his work and his inspiration and technique.  Amazing what he can do with his imagination and some watercolors.  Specifically, his painting "Falling Bough" is my inspiration for this next piece.

I am thinking of calling this next piece "Wonderment" but I'm not absolutely sure yet.  I want to finish it before I title it.

This one will NOT be for sale.  I love it so much already and it already has a place in my home waiting for it.  My muse is none other than my beautiful son.  This is from a photo I took of him several years ago and added to it.  Alone, the photo was okay but I wanted to take it further.  I feel like I am on the right path.  I will add more than what's show here.  I will show again once it's closer to completion.

I thought about telling you the story of my painting but I will leave that for the viewer to decide first on their own.  Yes, I've already told one or two of you what it's about.  I think I will hold off until others tell me what they will see when it's finished.

The second half of the semester will include 2 to 4 pieces of self-directed works.  I will use this narrative as a "jumping off" point for those paintings.  I have ideas and I hope they work out.

So, although it is Monday, a day we don't typically look forward to, I feel that I am once again whole, that I had accomplished something good today and made progress.  Class is tomorrow and it will be interesting to see what others say about this painting.

One more carpool drive on the list for this evening... here I go again.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Perhaps things look better without my glasses.

I showed up in class without my reading glasses.  Ever since I turned 40 I have had the increasing need for reading glasses.  I now have four pairs scattered around my house.  I usually have one on me or near me at all times - except for this morning at class.  In order to cut down on the weight of materials I bring to class each week I have started bringing my canvases to class ahead of time when I'm in the area.  I have also decided to not bring a purse.  That means I only carry keys, wallet, phone and glasses.  Well, today, only keys, wallet, and phone.  No glasses.  I thought, "oh thank God it is abstract day".  It probably doesn't matter what I do on this, it's supposed to be abstract.  Finally, I was right.

I have this piece that is a collage and alteration of images that I found.  It's my reference material for my abstract piece.  I really worked on the board ahead of time to make it a good quality surface (um, my husband helped a little bit - okay - a lot - he did the cutting and construction of it according to my instructions).  Anyway, I really want to have fun with this piece.  I just jumped right in and the two hours of actual paint time in class passed quickly.

As I said last time, the professor gave us a number of artists to reference when making our collaged images.  Those artists are:

- Julie Mehretu
- Hans Hoffman
- Willem de Kooning
- Elizabeth Murray
- Joan Mitchell
- Braque
- Matthew Ritchie
- Katarina Gross
- Al Held
- Cristi Rinklin

I really like de Kooning and knew a little about Joan Mitchell, both Abstract Expressionists.  I am inspired by them although I am sure I will never be able to paint like them.  I was able to see a retrospective of de Kooning's work in New York last November and it was amazing.  I, being frugal about paint usage, am still bothered by the amount of paint these people used.  de Kooning usual went with house paint that was cheap and easy to acquire back when he was young and very poor.  Jackson Pollack did too.  But, it still bothers me, probably because I don't use the cheap and easy kind.

Matthew Ritchie has some amazing work.  He does not only paintings by drawings and sculpture as well and they all tie into each other.

Elizabeth Murray - wellll, she didn't do too much for me.  Not my thing at all.

Katarina Gross - she does these hugh abstract installations and uses lots of air brush in her work.  It's definitely worth looking at.

Anyway, I decided my inspirations would come from de Kooning, of course, and Joan Mitchell and Hans Hoffman (he was actually an instructor as well as a painter for a long time and Joan Mitchell actually took one - only one - of his classes.  They knew each other and in an interview with Mitchell she said she ran into Hoffman at the park while she was walking her dog at 9:00 in the morning and he told her, you should be painting right now." I liked that.)

My image/inspiration is taken from a still photo of some performance art by Kate Gilmore.  She has her own website and has both images and videos of her work.  The image that first caught my eye was in the Whitney Biennial Catalog and was of a piece of sheetrock that she had painted pink on one side and grey on the other and she has kicked her shoe through the standing sheetrock while wearing a dress and high heeled shoes.  The shards of the sheetrock and the shapes of the shards and the shapes of the shadows of the shards was really beautiful.  The first thing I thought of was "frustration".  I immediately thought of one of my children.  He deals with frustration a lot.  In turn, I deal with frustration a lot.  Many times I feel like punching a hole in the wall because of my frustration, but I wanted to make something beautiful out of it.  That's what I am attempting on this piece.

As I paint and draw, I struggle to find meaning in my work.  Mostly I make "pretty pictures".  I think I'm pretty good at that. But I've always wanted to make it meaningful as well.  Usual the subject matter has some meaning to me and there's often some story behind it.  But, this time, this piece will relate to something much deeper and stronger for me.

So today I started on this piece - without my glasses!  I love it so far.  It is so cool!  The colors may be a little difficult to discern because some of them are so light.  I haven't even completely covered the surface but I don't think it will take nearly as long at the first painting.  But I can't want to continue working on it.  I will definitely work on it tomorrow and Saturday and Sunday.  I was thinking as I was painting that maybe all things look better when they are out of focus.  As I've said before, I know it's better when my husband doesn't wear his glasses, because when that happens I'm 5'8" and 120 pounds!  And perhaps, for me, too, things will continue to look better without my glasses.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

And so we begin again.

Well, here I am now in to the second week of class at college. This semester it's Painting III.  That's Painting 3 for those of you that don't understand the roman numeral system. It's an advanced painting class. I believe there are only juniors and seniors in this class. There are a number of students that are working on their "senior project". I haven't quite figured out what that is yet but I think it's something you do in your last year before you graduate and I am sure it incorporates a "body of work" for these students to present at a gallery show.

I am, of course, the oldest in the class again. This time I think the professor and I are about the same age. It's when I exceed their age, that I'm going to have to rethink this endeavor!

But for now, here I am at college taking a painting class. It's a whole different animal this time around.  I walked into class the first day and didn't feel too intimidated. Well, before I left the house as a frazzled mess maybe I did, but I blame that on the kids and having to wake up at 5:30 every morning.

This time when I walked up to the building I saw one of the girls from last semester. She was taking the class, too. Then I walked into class and there I saw another girl from last semester - the one that I talked about in a former blog who initiated the conversation about process versus product. I was glad to see both of them because they were a couple of the students that I had started forming a friendship with.  See them both really made the day and semester start off sooo much better for me.

The class only lasted an hour. Typically, it's a three hour class. The professor mainly covered the syllabus and talked about how we're going to move through the class.

For the first half of the semester we will work on four different pieces: still life, abstract/collage, landscape, and figurative. Every two weeks we work on one of these.  She, the professor, shows us the work of various artists that we are to reference in our work in either their approach or technique. We have to explain which artist we chose and why we chose them. It's working out that we are all working independently of one another and so, as we work on this still life painting, each and every one of the them is so completely different from the others.

I have chosen to do a still life of my daughter's nail polishes. No, I do not wear bright yellow and green nail polishes! And so, I set them up on a table (my daddy made for me) outdoors in the 9:00 am sunlight with the landscape far off in the background. I took a close up photos of them (we have to work from photographs in this class for this painting) and adjusted the composition until I found one that I liked.

Here is what I've done so far on this painting. It's not complete. It is due next Tuesday but doesn't have to be finished by then. It's just that we have to be close and we have to be ready to start on the next piece by then.   

Okay, so I told you she gave us a list of artists to be guided by and showed us their work.  I'm going to give you that list here. I fully expect each and every one of you to take the time to research them and decide what you like and don't like. Which artist are you drawn to and why do you think that? I choose Wayne Thiebaud for his composition and set ups, plus his colors. I also choose Libby Johnson for her juxtaposition of landscape with still life objects. Plus, Libby is a great local artist and I have been lucky enough to see her work, take a workshop from her and, I must add, she first introduced me to Elise Toups who got me in to this in the first place! Another thing, it was in Libby's workshop that I took a few years ago that I first saw Thiebaud's artwork. I painted a reproduction of his California Cakes.  So much fun!

The artists are: 
Emily Evelyth - don't look at these unless you've had a healthy meal and want to now indulge.  Her pieces are hugh!

Alice Neel:  So irreverent at times but honest in her work. She had few still life pieces. I was able to see an exhibit of her work in Houston about 1 1/2 ago. To see her work is great. I laughed and smiled the whole time.

Cezanne:  A master.

Phillip Guston:  I wasn't turned on by his work but others may be. He liked to use a lot of reds in his work.  He's a 20th century artist and liked to simplify things.

Wayne Thiebaud:  I've already talked about him. He's a contemporary artist and simply and orderly in her still life work. He has a good bit of figurative which I just love as well as some landscape work.

Van Gogh:  He's amazing.  To see one of his paintings in person is an overwhelming experience.  I saw one of his pieces at the Houston museum and then others at MoMA in New York. No photo in the work does justice to the lushness of his paint and paintstrokes.

Antonio Lopez Garcia:  I had never heard of him until now. I think I like his work. It's intimidated and beautiful.

Gaugin:  Another master.

Janet Fish:  Fun and beautiful.

Libby Johnson:  I've already told you about her. She paints beautifully.

John Norris:  Very playful in his compositions.  He received his undergraduate in Louisiana and now works at Arkansas State.  So, very contemporary. I really like his work and how it's developed in just these few years.

Okay - so next blog I'll list the artists that we have to reference with our abstract pieces. I think this is enough information for now in one blog. I really, really need to paint. 

I mean really, I finally have a quiet house and plenty of time to paint today.