Monthly Archives: September 2018

Instructed and Inspired by My Medium

No1 and No2 - both in progress

Still plodding along with the still life.  When I used the wrong mixture for glazing and had to set aside the oil version (on the right) back in August, I expected that it wouldn’t be dry enough to paint the next layer until Christmas.  But it surprised me, and it appears that only a couple months was necessary.  In the meantime, I started on the acrylic version of the same still life (on the left) and it has been going well… mostly.  I’ve experienced some frustrations with the paint drying too fast on the canvas.  (That’s situational irony, right?  My 9th grade English teacher really tried, but I’ve always been a little unclear on that.)

So it wasn’t the subject matter that drove me to give up temporarily on the first canvas, it was the medium.  And while working on the second canvas, the medium is making me itch to go back to work on the first canvas.  I’m learning a lot, and relearning some too, about my mediums.  (Or media, if you prefer–both plurals are correct in an art context; I checked.)  That was pretty much the goal of this project–to learn the properties and possibilities of my materials.

So, even though I’m not finished with either version, I’m already thinking about Still Life with Hydrangea No. 3. I’ve got a whole room full of art supplies.  I could do watercolor next.  Or gouache.  Or ink.  Or watercolor over ink.  Or pastels.  Or charcoal.  Or colored pencil.  Maybe Crayola crayons will suit my mood?

OH, HOLD THE PHONE!  I just recalled that single sheet of art paper that I bought on clearance this summer.  (Only 15¢–I’ll never get out of an art supply store that cheaply again.)  That paper is a rich muted red and that would be the perfect support for a pastel painting of that still life!  I think it maybe the time is approaching to try out that box of pastels.

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Going over to The Dark Side

StillLifeWithHydrangea2-underpainting-SMALL

I’ve got a fair amount finished on the underpainting of the second version of my still life.  It’s feeling very dark.  Rembrandt dark.  That was the plan though; keeping the rest of the painting dark and softened in detail, so the central focal point of light effects on the small pitcher will “pop.”  But I’m used to using all the vibrant colors that acrylics are known for.  This is new territory for me.

Yesterday I was working on the wood grain of the table that the objects are sitting on.  I was using the finest of brushes with very few hairs and highly thinned paint mixed with gesso.  It was tedious, but I think it’s working.  The paint was so thin, it might as well have been watercolors; and the canvas was so absorbent with eight layers of gesso, it might as well have been paper.  Quite a mixture of techniques will go into this one.

I discovered it’s really difficult to not keep painting those super-fine lines over and over in the same spot when I intend to paint new lines next to the previous ones.  It seemed to be the same problem I’ve had with target shooting, so I employed the same principles to correct my “aim.”  (Dad would be proud.)

Time to Put My Work “Out There.”

FramngTools

More art tools … or, more precisely, framer’s tools.  But most artists get good at framing too, because doing it yourself saves a bundle.  Also, a lot of us wouldn’t let a professional framer touch our work, because our work is like our babies or a piece of our own souls.  (Or we’re just control freaks.)

I just used these to frame “Bridesmaid in Pink,” (see my Gallery page) which I am about to enter in the 40th Annual Elkhart Juried Art Show at the Midwest Museum of American Art.  If I get it finished soon, and if I can find a frame within my (currently very tight) budget, then I will also enter the still life painting that I’m working on.

One of my favorite Youtube art teachers, Stefan Baumann, says artists need to put their work out there for the world to see, even if they’re not trying to sell it, because it keeps them motivated.  It also gives you the opportunity to see your work on a gallery wall next to other artists, which let’s you see how far you’ve come as an artist… or how far you need to go to achieve the level of art you are going for.

A fascinating portraitist whose blog I just discovered, Gwenn Seemel, provided the encouragement (in a video she shared) to get me over the dread of having to talk to people at an art event, should my work be accepted for the show… or even win something.  It’s not that I don’t like people, I’m just one of those awkward introverts who has a knack for saying the wrong thing.  That’s why I like blogging; I can edit the awkward out before I click “Publish” and put my words go “out there.”

They begin accepting submissions for the exhibit this week.  Wish me luck!

Still Life Revisited

Henry and Canvases

So that still life is still sitting on a closet shelf drying…or not drying.  The fingerprints just keep adding up.  I’ve been mulling over what to paint next while I put coat after coat of gesso on the next canvases.  (As soon as I make a sale, I’m going to start buying better canvases that are actually ready to use.)  I decided on … the still life.

Lots of famous artists painted the same subject many times.  Monet painted those haystacks so often that the farmers got annoyed and tore them down, just so he’d go away.  I’m making a few small tweaks to the composition and this time I’m using acrylics.  Maybe I’ll do another in watercolors or pastels.

My little supervisor in the tuxedo apurrrrrrrooves of that plan.  So far, I have the object outlines re-drawn.  I was kind of wishing I had traced it the first time, then I could trace it again.  Oh well, it’s like I always tell the students at school when they forget to save their work on the computer — it’s faster when you do it the second time.

That second canvas in the background is bigger, and I have plans for it too — inspired by looking out the window at the full moon last week as the sun was rising at the opposite end of the sky behind me.  More on that to come.