I needed another try at avocados. They have become my favorite fruit (or are they considered a vegetable?) since I started the whole healthy foods thing in January. So here they are, presented with the fresh garlic and a lime, ready to be turned into my now favorite snack: guacamole! Sorry chocolate... I had to kick you out and I don't really miss you. Much.
I am one of nine artists participating in the Beancreek Area Artists Exhibit at the newly restored Opera House, 105 East Main St., in Fayette. The show runs from June 2-July 2, 2012. The opening reception is June 2, 2012 from 6-9:00 PM and if you are in the area you're invited to stop in and view the shows and meet the artists.
Many thanks to Kristin Michalkiewicz and the Fayette Arts Council for organizing this event and inviting me to be a part of it.
Last week I talked about putting people into your landscape, and painting from life, which was a new experience for me. This week I worked on a very different kind of painting. I live in a rural area and although I'm a city girl I have grown to love it over time. Family farms
are still a way of life around here. Farmers raise cows, chickens, pigs,
and yes-- horses! I'm a portrait and wildlife painter for the most part, so I
have a certain affinity for animals. They are beautiful and whenever
possible I will include them in my pastoral landscapes. This painting is
a hybrid. I used a picture that I took of a farm I drive by often for
the background and the horse lives at an
historic village near my home where he pulls carriages. I took his picture the last time I
visited and I knew he would look awesome with this backdrop.
I have wanted to paint this barn for a long time and I have lots of pictures of it. What I didn't know when I started the painting was how much it needed to be placed in a 'context'. So what initially in my mind was to be a painting of a beautiful farm became a painting all about a horse. That's OK, because I've learned to live with this inner voice that pops up at some really opportune moments to tell me what I need to paint.
I switch back and forth between pastels and oils for my portrait work. These are the two mediums I am most familiar with and I enjoy working with the most. Occasionally I'll do a charcoal or pencil drawing and I have been know to create murals with acrylics but I love these mediums the best. Pastels are a more delicate medium but I can get more done in a shorter period of time than if I used oil paint, which is helpful if you are working from the live model and you are not sure if you'll get another chance to see the person. That's the case here, where I attend a weekly portrait group and I am never sure if i will be able to show up the following week. I think it's important to work from life as often as possible, especially if you plan to work from photographs at any point. The life sessions will inform your view of color and help when you have to make it up from those flat photographs.
Anyway, we originally had a different guy scheduled but he didn't show so this is Jake, a young guy who showed up to draw with us but who was promptly hired as a new model for $15 an hour! He has a very nice sensitive face and he was a pleasure to draw, paint whatever!
My second challenge at the Sauder Village paintout: a painting of someone who was actually moving-- and an hour and 15 minutes time to do it in. I always work better with a deadline so I looked at my watch and asked the man if he was going to be stirring the kettle of soap mush for awhile. He said he woudl be there until 3:00 PM. I needed to head back to the Museum for the critique by 2:30 PM so I decided to give it a try. I love trying new things anyway and I had never painted painted anyone outside before or anyone who was moving. On top of this I had a curious audience of four children who talked to me the whole time I worked on the painting. THAT doesn't bother me; in fact I enjoy showing kids what is possible with paint and of course their generous praise is always gratifying.
Challenges I faced with this painting included smoke blowing into my face, a constantly moving model, smoldering and sometimes crackling fire and figuring out how to paint the steam as it roiled off the soap. I enjoyed every minute though. A small painting that captures the movement well and it will serve nicely as a reference for a larger piece.
Saturday I coordinated a paintout at historic Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio. The weather cooperated-- mild and mid 70s and most of the painters left with at least one good painting. Everyone who came was delighted with the relaxed atmosphere and the charming costumed workers and volunteers. I found my first painting challenging-- to say the least! Sometimes I am the girl who goes to the banquet and wants to eat everything in site! I spotted the General Store and to me it embodied everything about this quaint little village so I wanted to paint it! Half way into the painting I realized I had bitten off more than I could chew. I am really throwing out the food analogies tonight! Must be hungry. I wanted to be done by 12:30pm so I could eat lunch so I really sped up the process and finished the piece in lightning quick time. The ornaments hanging on the porch become paint blobs and pretty much all detail was subjugated. I wanted to move on to something else.
This painting has been in my "wait box" for almost a year. The WAIT BOX is a box where I keep paintings that have potential but are not quite ready for prime time. Let me explain: when I finish a painting I am usually either happy with it and ready to frame it and sell it or dissatisfied and ready to pitch it or re-use the canvas. If you follow this blog you know I am not afraid to paint over my mistakes. Good results are often easier to obtain with a nice colored ground already in place. Or maybe that's just what I think. I don't know. It works for me -- sometimes. There are a few paintings-- and for the most part they are plein air pieces that are done outside and with less than lovely colors---that I like but I know they need something more. This piece always had nice color and a good mood but something was missing. Last week I realized the missing piece was a cow. There she is and now I like the painting and it really represents the way I felt about this beautiful, bucolic area in the hills of Penn Valley.
Last fall a few of us went to the fair and did some plain air panting. It was very, very hot, but other that we had a good time. My friend, Ruth Ann, even sold her painting! Most paintings start with an idea. I wanted to do a painting of some female plein air painters -- that was my idea. I had a picture form when we painted at the fair in September so I pulled it out. Unfortunately there was a huge rope in front of one of the women so I had to use some guesswork to get her face in accurately. This made it more challenging but also forced me to lose detail, which is always a good idea when you are painting impressionistically.
I took just a couple pictures of the beginning process to show how this painting is all about the design and really not much about the people. Although they're both nice gals. :)
We have our model pose for four weeks so sometimes you end up doing 2-3 versions of the same person. Meti is very beautiful and exotic so I don't mind in her case. She is able to hold a pleasant expression and her silk scarf is fun to paint. On other occasions we have had the same person for five weeks and by the 4th and 5th week attendance is way down as we are all tired of painting and drawing that person. With Meti - it is different. She is truly different and inspiring. I see this common reaction to her among the other artists who attend my group as well.
In any case I decided to do a drawing of Meti last week. I rarely draw anything anymore except for layouts or thumbnails to decide on a composition. So this was a relaxing day, just sketching values in and trying to get a likeness. The charcoal pencil is slower than painting but easier to control.
When I was finished with my drawing I used the drawing plus a photo I took of her to create a small 8" x 10" painting at home. This piece had a quite different feel to it than the first one I did because I concentrated on creating a good composition from the very beginning. It also doesn't really look like Meti but at this point I was more concerned with capturing the light and shadow than I was in getting a likeness.
This is a good example of why we need to paint or draw things that inspire us. Inspiration equals motivation and motivation gets the concept off the ground.
I think we're probably all familiar with the expression, "Feast or Famine", which in any business, including art sales, means people are either buying a lot or they're buying nothing. I wish sales would happen at a steady pace instead of all at once but I'm truly grateful for any sales in this economy. People are thinking twice before they spend their money on non-essentials, and you really can't blame them after what has happened in this global economy for the past few years.
As a self-representing artist, I am particularly vulnerable to the ups and downs of this business climate. Last week I realized that I hadn't had a sale in over two weeks. I had been pretty steady up to this point so it was noticeable when things slowed down. At the same time, I realized I had a large inventory of paintings that I hadn't listed on eBay, Etsy or Bonanza yet. I forced myself to sit down and write listings and upload images until I had almost 50 auctions or buy it nows listed. Then I framed many of the prints I had ordered the previous week and drove them to the gallery and the doctor's office where I sell and display.
Sometimes things just pay off.... last week I sold five paintings and three prints. I have not had a week like this since I began selling on line in 2004. I was so busy dealing with clients, packaging paintings, running to the gallery to get a painting I had sold on line etc.... that I had no time to paint. "Feast or Famine" as the saying goes. What I did realize is that I am responsible for my own success. I can get lazy and bury myself in my studio during all my free time or I can take action and create a boom. I don't really understand all the logistics to selling on line. But it seems as if when you make one sale, it multiplies. In my case, two clients returned immediately and made additional purchases or bids on paintings. This tells me they were happy with my work. That gives me more incentive to paint. Which is where I am headed now.
I'm hoping the blog won't be such an empty looking place this week.