—Artists have relied on commissions for income throughout the history of art. It’s a sale before you’ve done the painting. What could be better? Well…
Hopefully the client has chosen you because they like your art style. But still they have the final say on how the painting comes out. And if it’s a portrait the pressure is great, even if it is a pet portrait. They know the person or pet intimately and you don’t.
Ideally you get paid half upfront so if they don’t like it in the end at least you get paid for materials and some of your time. And showing the client a sketch before painting can be helpful.
I was painting a pet portrait with added sunflowers for my neighbor for her daughter and the fact that she is a friend made it a bit more scary because I wanted to do a really good job. When I emailed them a photo she said there was something wrong with the eyes. My heart sank.
This was not a technical term I could deal with. But she sent me another photo and I could see a difference. She had said he looked angry and I could see in this new photo the eyes were softer.
The joy of oil paint (which stays wet forever in my house) is that it is easily changeable. I worked on it some more and in the end, mother and daughter had tears of delight and sadness (at the loss of Chauncey).
I haven’t done these online art challenges. I’ve seen quite a few of them over the years and frankly I shake my head when I see people have postedsomething they’ve scribbled off stating they were too tired and that’s all they could manage.
Really I should give them credit. THEY were at least trying to do it where I was not. They just lost steam and well, were hanging on.
I am in a group now where a challenge was issued to paint, draw, or sketch everyday for 30 days. We do not have to complete a painting, just work on it.
Generally I do paint every day, but there are times I take a day off, when life gets in the way, or if I need to take care of studio business or marketing.So this IS a stretch because not only do we have to paint or draw, but we have to take a photo and post it to our Facebook group each day. And when I finish a piece, the next day I have to think, “what am I going to do today?”
I am enjoying the challenge—even when I end up posting late at night. The group is very encouraging and I’m certainly getting a lot done. Here is a piece I finished on day 21, “Garlic $1″, oil, 6×8”.
So where are the charities for the starving artists? This is the season for giving after all. Maybe they wouldn’t mind getting clothes with a little paint on them.
I have a rule: I only have so many hangers so if I buy new clothes, something has to go. I open the door to my closet and all the hangers start shaking a bit. It was time to find clothes I don’t wear.
I am a painter so everything I own has paint on it. Even if I am dressed to go out or in my PJs I can’t resist going into my studio to look at my work in progress. Somehow the simple act of walking into my studio equals getting paint on myself somewhere.
Cadmium lemon yellow: no matter where I put it I stick my hand in it. I have moved it several times—still I stick some part of me in it. One time I didn’t notice I had it all over my hand and I stuck my hand in the pocket of my sweatshirt. THEN I put my hand on the chair, next to my leg and got paint on my jeans as well. And somehow it got all the way up to my elbow. My record is 3 seconds of being in the studio before getting paint on me.
So I have a lot of painting clothes. But I need to find a charity that will accept some nice clothes that are a just a little creative.
In my previous blogs I’ve talked about my struggles this year with my art. And while I’ve always found painting to be a stress reliever I do go through the typical stages most artists go through in the creation of the painting: beginning confidence; why do I think I can paint?; I’m a genius; I’ve just ruined it; okay, I’m happy now.
Recently I’ve experienced something new. A kind of zen or bliss while I’m painting. Even if it’s just a practice piece as when our portrait group meets twice a month to paint from a model.
Maybe I’ve finally released the need for creating the “Masterpiece”. Musicians practice much more than they perform. Singers, actors, athletes, all spend a lot of time practicing. Artist often have a mindset that each piece they create should be a masterpiece, or at least salable. Maybe it’s because practice piles up in the corner :-).
So letting go of the “product” has put me in a new state of mind and I have found my bliss!
Last year was great—I had two successful solo shows, I painted almost every day, and I sold more art than the year before. So I took December off to enjoy the holidays with family and friends, and spent time to read about art and research artists I admire.
It was my intention to get back to painting full time in January, but I found all the information I acquired was confusing. Each artist takes a different approach: one tones their canvas, another does not; they all use different palettes of color; some draw first, others block in shapes. I wanted to try something new but didn’t know where to start. So I didn’t.
January turned into February turned into March and so on. Luckily I have artist friends who have gone through this or know artist who have gone through it (some for much longer), so I felt I would recover.
In May I went on a plein air painting retreat for four days, painting all day with other artists and that finally jump-started my shift back into the mind-set I needed to paint again. Whew!
I’ve learned a great deal this year, and I’ve wiped off as many canvasses as I’ve kept. And that’s a good thing.
I just came back from Chicago where I am again renewed after visiting the special exhibit of John Singer Sargent at the Art Institute. Hopefully I can channel some of his genius into my work (if only!).
Yes, a difficult year, but a year of growth. Who said it’d be easy after all?
I’ve read about artists experiencing creative block, where they didn’t know what to paint or what to do with their art next. In December I thought maybe that’s what I was going through. But really I had all sorts of ideas that I wanted to paint I just didn’t want to paint them. I was having more of an ambition block.
I had two solo shows last year, my first solo shows, which are a lot of work. Then there was a plethora of holiday shows to prepare, enter, deliver, and track.
December would’ve been a nice time to be on a tropical island relaxing in the sand, sun, and turquoise waters. Instead I chose holiday shopping and gatherings with family and friends.
I’ve read about how artists handle their creative blocks but I just didn’t WANT to paint. So I continued to look at art, read about art, I watched some instructional videos from artists whose art I admire, and just absorbed some good vibes.
Now in the New Year I am processing all that and working out what I learned, and I must say, I’m doing as much wiping out as I am painting!
Like anything it’s hard to break old habits. I find myself saying, “That’s not what I want”, and so I wipe it out and have another go at it. And I’ve gone back to standing instead of sitting while I paint so I can back up more often to look at my painting. That helps a great deal. Then I put in on my shelf in the living room so I can glance at it the rest of the day for further contemplation.
So here is “Nature Trail”, 8×6″ oil on panel, which I have painted, wiped out, and repainted each area several times. It’s a process. And I think I’m done.
Master Gardener, Patty Thayer, has turned her yard into a garden wonderland, with paths, plants, and colorful flowers at every turn. A large deck plus small spots to sit provide areas to relax and refresh. The garden is embellished by the work of Artist Blacksmith, Doug Thayer (Patty’s husband).
Our plein air painting group was invited to paint in their garden again this year. Deciding what to paint is the most difficult part. The flowers were incredible, blooming everywhere. I chose the steps to the deck where this ceramic blue lantern joined in the color celebration.
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.” —William Shakespeare
To enjoy the fragrance as well as to get lost in these shapes and colors is almost more joy than my brush can handle. Indeed the looking and seeing is a big part of painting for me. The name of the thing—not at all.
Getting it from my head into paint…well… that’s a whole ‘nother challenge.
If ever there were a flower bursting with joy it would be the peonies growing behind my deck. When I first moved into this house they were growing on the side of the house. Who could see them there? I moved them right outside my back deck where I can see them from my desk and they have flourished.
I have invited other artists over to paint them, as I just had to share their beauty. I feel like there is a garden party the whole time they are in bloom. I cannot paint them enough.
The first time I drove past the Fleetwood Diner in a non-descript part of town my head would’ve flown off had it not been attached by my neck. It stands out like a full moon in a clear night sky. Hence the immediate U-turn.
It’s everything you’d want in a diner including great food, especially their popular dish—Hippie Hash!
After my first painting, a 5×7″ acrylic, I knew I had to go back—AT NIGHT— to take more pictures to really get that shine through the glass bricks and that glow of the neon lights—not an easy task.
My second painting, 12×24″ acrylic, I worked to capture the neon and the mystery of the Fleetwood in the late summer evening.