November 17th, 2013
Schoharie Valley Farm (Watercolor)
I was determined to post something every day last week here on my blog and before I knew it the week was gone and I’d only posted three times. I don’t think I wasted a lot of time but the week flew by without so much as a word from me here on this blog.
Working full-time in order to support myself takes up the lions share of my week, particularly with my long commute to and fro. Once I get home most days I’m pretty tried of being on the computer so I avoid even turning on the computer and I can see that kind of behavior is counterproductive if I expect to share any kind of chatter, ramblings or profound wisdom here on my blog.
Anyhow… I did paint with the Amsterdam art group last week and I must admit I don’t know how I would have gotten restarted without them. I usually paint alone here at home and at times it becomes difficult to stay motivated. I know being around like-minded people – no matter what your interest – is a sure fire way to learn, grow and stay inspired. I have learned volumes over these last few weeks with my Amsterdam art group and have also gained some courage from these ladies and gentlemen. While our fall session will be ending soon I will take with me a new found enthusiasm and lots of ideas.
If you are an artist who is struggling to create, I would strongly suggest finding other artists in your community and getting together from time-to-time to share and inspire each other. Great benefits will be gained for anyone willing to partake.
November 10th, 2013
“Fungi” (Hand-painted Note Card)
Now that I’ve got myself back on track and am painting on a regular basis (more or less) I’m determined to finish some “stuff” I’ve got laying around. This little mushroom trio was painted on some blank note card stock. The paper is a Strathmore Cold Press, 140 lb. (pretty sure) purchased in a box with envelopes, providing a perfect place to practice all kinds of new things.
This Strathmore paper has very different properties than the Arches 140 lb. Cold Press I typically use. This paper doesn’t absorb paint the way Arches does and so it lends itself to pushing the paint around on the paper even after the paint has dried completely. At first I was a little put off by that “new feature” and I wasn’t at all sure I liked it. But now that I’ve had a chance to play around a bit I can see that for some subjects that kind of flexibility can be quite useful. The glazing technique I use most often isn’t easily achievable with this paper so I had to figure out another way to get what I wanted.
Another option with this paper is to use acrylic paints that dry quickly and make the absorption properties a non-issue. I’ve painted several note cards using the acrylics and found it great fun as well. There are so many things to learn and explore with exciting discoveries around every corner. I’m determined to try new things in an effort to do better work. This new paper is just the tip of the iceberg.
In the end it was fun doing something new, exploring another way and just having fun with Fungi. I would definitely recommend changing things up once in a while. Trying new techniques and supplies can add spice to your usual style and bring about discoveries about yourself and your art. What I discovered about myself is that I need to be more open about trying new things whether it is in the art arena or the life arena. Being open to other ideas, listening intently, observing with keen awareness and then choosing what works for each one of us is a great way to grow as an artist as well as growing into the person God had planned all along.
November 9th, 2013
“Autumn Palette” Watercolor (4.5″ x 7″)
I admit that for me most of the time making art is a complicated and fear-filled process. Nearly every time I sit to paint or draw I am filled with self-doubt. In spite of the fact that I’ve painted lots and lots of things over the years I’ve never developed a comfortable confidence. I know that if I painted more often that ever elusive confidence would begin to take form inside of me. I wonder sometimes if it is the drama of uncertainty that I am addicted to and then I dismiss that notion because drama is the last thing I crave in my life these days.
Instead, these days I crave a simple life but life doesn’t always lend itself to simplicity. Life is complicated, messy and filled with responsibility. Even if I could pare my existence down to the bare minimum there would still be a life that needed living. Let’s imagine for a minute getting rid of all our earthly possessions – everything gone – what then?
The truth for me is that running from my complicated, messy and responsibility-filled life is not the answer. The answer for me is to accept each challenge with gratitude and perform each responsibility with integrity. I admit that I do not always do either but I know that I should and when I do I feel better about things and I move through my life with a more peaceful confidence. Ultimately I know that confidence filters into all our daily happenings – including painting.
So I suppose the simple answer for me is to live life with integrity, work when work needs doing, pay bills when bills need paying, clean the house, do the laundry and paint as often as I can. And when I don’t I will try the next day and then the next until eventually this commitment to simply living life in all it’s complicated messiness brings less fear and more empowerment.
November 8th, 2013
We got our first snow last Sunday and our second snow just this morning. To be fair my house is situated on what is considered a “high elevation” and at over 1200 feet elevation there’s snow at my house when just a mile or so down the road there’s nothing. As soon as I caught glimpse of the snow sticking to the ground and the trees I pulled on my warm stuff and when for a walk.
Oh my, it was so peaceful and quiet that I could hear the snow falling on the ground (big flakes on the autumn leaves). I admit that I’m prepared to pull inside and to inside things like building a roaring fire in my wood stove and nesting. As I looked back over this past year I can see that I didn’t paint as much as I would have liked but I suppose (to quote my son, Jonathan), I was living life and that is saying a mouthful.
Now that I’m back to it I’m feeling hopeful and optimistic. Who knows which kind of artful masterpieces will come! Who knows!
November 1st, 2013
“Up the Road a Piece” (Watercolor)
[Click on this image for a closer look]
I know that I’m pushing winter by painting this winter landscape but I find the shades of gray in winter interesting, a feast for the eyes. This scene is, indeed, “Up the Road a Piece” from my home. I live on a dead end road and if you walk up a slight hill you can go into the woods to enjoy nature and when you look off to the west just before entering “the woods” this is what you’ll see. In spring, summer, autumn and winter this is a beautiful spot.
“Up the Road a Piece” is a watercolor painted on Arches 300 lb. paper and is larger – at 16 inches x 8 inches – than most of my paintings. It’s a milestone for me to push outside my comfort zone and I hope to continue the trend of change and experimentation without leaving behind the miniature artwork that I truly enjoy doing.
I finished this painting after getting some feedback from the artists in my painting group. I have found that painting in a group, getting feedback and, most importantly, listening to the feedback you receive, can take you a long way to improving your work. I suppose listening and gleaning your truth is wisdom that can be applied to everything we do and it’s been in that “listening thing” that I’ve found myself to be substandard.
Most of the days of my life I have barreled ahead with my own agenda and even when mammoth obstacles were presented I pushed on. I admit to getting myself into lots of trouble and a great distance grew between me and my God. It has taken me a very long time to control my emotional impulses and reactions that got me into such trouble. Nowadays I move forward slowly, observing my emotions, listening to the counsel of trusted friends and family and then I ponder and wait on God.
I consider myself blessed that while I wait for God that I can paint, draw and experiment with all kinds of creative mediums that feed the spirit and nourish the soul.
October 29th, 2013
“In The Pink” (Watercolor)
There’s nothing better for a creative soul than exercising one’s gifts and now that winter is pushing its way in I feel I’ve been given permission to pull inside to sit and create. Another thing that has helped restart my engine is meeting with a group of painters (watercolor, oils and mix-media artists) once a week to paint and share. I’ve been meeting with this group in the spring and fall for nearly two years now and I gain so much more than I give by participating. Since I’m more inclined to prefer painting alone it was a push at first to join a painting group and I’m still trying to get my footing and remember everyone’s name.
“In The Pink” is a watercolor started last week while painting with my group and completed tonight here at home. This technique was a wet-on-wet, painted in layers as the paper dried and once the paper was dry I reapplied more water and started glazing one layer over the previous. Layer upon layer I built this painting. I admit to not being the greatest floral painter but this technique allows freedom of style and the freedom to choose a palette of lively colors! It was great fun and I’m happy with the results even though I wish I could paint flowers in a more realistic way. For now though this is where I am and I’m just happy to be putting paint on paper again!
October 25th, 2013
One of Mum & Pa’s kitties – Jerry. He loves to sleep in the sink and get his fresh water there too! What a character.
I am overwhelmed with gratitude that our Lord would gift us with a healing, but we have been gifted and I am humbled.
Yesterday we found out that my mother’s (Mumzie) PET scan revealed that her cancer is GONE! Mum has one more chemo treatment left, which she will need to go through but knowing that through God’s grace and the healing hands of her doctors the cancer is gone it is easier to face that last treatment.
I will report more later. For now I give thanks to God.
October 17th, 2013
Freedom Bouquet, Watercolor Sketch
I’m back… and painting again… finally. I’m back…. and ready to write again… finally.
There are many reasons for my absence from writing here on this wide open, public forum. Truthfully, I think life became too busy with family, home and work responsibilities. Mostly though Mumzie’s cancer diagnosis and chemo treatments have kept all of us on an emotional roller coaster ride. Mum is more than half way through her chemo and she handling it all with such courage and strength. Her hair has become quite thin with her soft pink scalp showing through; and her energy level is depleted but we are praying all these treatments will ultimately bring a healing to her weary body. So it was in the midst of our family’s latest battle with cancer that I realized I just needed to step away and regroup. I’ve been regrouping.
Luckily my Thursday night painting group has started up again and as usual I’ve found my art to be just the tonic to soothe my frazzled emotions. The simple act of putting paint to paper brings a peacefulness deep inside me that I am at a loss for words to explain. When I showed up tonight I was prepared to paint my usual “safe landscape” and that’s when one of my fellow artists encouraged me to try something new.
This “something new” ended up being a wet-on-wet floral technique accomplished by splashing paint around, sprit-zing with a spray bottle, spattering, mixing huge puddles of all kinds of fun color and using all kinds of unusual tools (a straw, skewers and Q-tips) without using any photo reference! This whole thing was way out of my comfort zone but I admit it was great fun and totally freeing!
I wonder sometimes why I stray so far from the things that provide me the most comfort and enjoyment and maybe one day I will figure it out. But in the meantime I’m just glad to be back getting myself reacquainted with my art. Oh Art… how I’ve missed you dear friend!
September 16th, 2013
Stage 1 – Underpainting
Setting Sun (Watercolor Sketch)
It’s been a long time coming but I’m beginning to paint again and it feels good. The summer and its busy days seemed somehow to rob me (by my choice) of any and all time for painting or drawing. What with working, my gardens and a multitude of other projects to finish around the house the summer flew by. But now as the days and nights become cooler I can feel the seasons beginning to change and with that change comes permission to hunker down, stay inside and set up my art table.
I’d originally hoped that my studio would be ready before winter but I fear there is no time and not enough resources to finish this season. I’m surprised to discover that not finishing my studio this season is fine with me because I have the perfect spot set up in my living room (I’ll show you later) and on the weekends when I can stoke up a fire in the wood stove I’ll be in the studio then – so long as it isn’t bitter cold outside.
I’ve learned a lot about being patient with life as I’ve gotten older. I remember when I was young I was always in a such a hurry for everything. I wanted this or wanted that and I, of course, would impulsively purchase that what-not I could not live without. What I learned from doing so was that debt mounds up quickly and then enslaves you for many years to come. I also learned that “can’t live without it do-dad” could indeed have been lived without.
Tonight as I write this I checked the temperature and it’s 46 degrees Fahrenheit outside (brrrrr), but I’m not worried about it. I welcome the cold for now although I’m certain to be sick of it by January. The thing is today is what I have and today I’m beginning to paint again, I’m hunkered down and I’m blessed with a nice place to live and a way to provide for myself. All those things and more are blessings in my life so I dare not complain about something so out of my control as the temperature (but you know I will).
September 10th, 2013
I can feel a new life unfolding. I don’t know where I’m headed but what I do know is that I’ll try to do my best along the way.
There’s someone else in my life who has set foot on a new path. My granddaughter, Grace, started her first day of school – kindergarten – just a few days ago. I remember when I was a kid the first day of school was exciting stuff. With my loose leaf paper, new notebook and sharpened pencils I was ready to do my best. That first day of school came with hope and a clean slate.
Of course, it didn’t take long for my enthusiasm to wane after realizing that consistent effort and a willing spirit was the requirement and those things could only come from me. That’s when my determination would go on the skids and I’d be back to doing battle with myself once again. Now that 54 years has passed since my first day of school I’ve learned lessons about perseverance, stumbling and getting back up again. I know that it is in the stumbling while sometimes traveling on rocky paths and in the getting back up and trying again that a strong character is built.
So, I’m sending my blessing to Grace as she begins her new career as a student in life. Put those pencils and paper to good use. Pay attention and grab every opportunity to learn something new! That’s my motto these days but above all stay open to the guidance from God as you wind down life’s highway.