“Untitled”

Creating a piece of art is not enough if you put it out into the world. A titled is required. Some artists think the art should speak for itself and “Untitled” is sufficient. Most viewers would like more. They would like to gain a little insight from the title. What was the artist thinking when they created this piece?

More likely, what was the artist thinking when they created this title?

Obvious titles such as “Apples in a Bowl” at least allow a way to inventory the work. I am guilty all too often of taking this easy way out. Other options are to pick a small, bright spot in the work, or the focal point.

Some artists look to poetry, songs, quotes, religion, books, or humor to find their titles. If you paint a lake you might avoid the name of the lake or you may turn off potential buyers because it’s not their lake.

Every once in awhile when I come up with my concept for the piece, I come up with the title at the same time. That’s the best. I feel like I’m on a first name basis with my art before I’ve even painted it. How can that not turn out good?

After much soul searching and staring at my new painting I came up with “Ethereal Glow” for the title. I didn’t want to be obvious—”Fish in Pond”, Koi and Goldfish”, or “Sunlit something”. They certainly did glow in the sun, and looked somewhat heavenly as they swam in and out of the green and blue depths. What do you think?

etheral-glow
“Ethereal Glow” 6×8″ oil on panel

Available at http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/643073

Thank You for Patronizing Me…Wait…What?

Webster defines patron as “a person who gives money and support to and artist, organization, etc.” and patronize as “to give money or support to (someone or something)” OR “to talk to (someone) in a way that shows you believe you are more intelligent or better than other people.”

My niece came over to buy a painting of mine (what higher compliment is there than a relative parting with their hard earned money to buy my art?) she saw on Facebook and as she was leaving I said, “Thank you for patronizing me.” Y e a h…somehow it didn’t sound quite right. We just laughed.

Now the holidays are over, that rush of relatives is warm memory, Michigan grayness settles back in and its time for a cup of tea. Maybe today a bit of honey and lemon will be just fine.

honey-lemon
Honey & Lemon, oil on panel, 6×8″

Available at Dailypaintworks on auction: http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/637275

The UNDO Command – Oh Technology

Long ago when I learned to use a computer I quickly got used to the UNDO command. My thumb and middle finger became ingrained in this keyboard motion and I found my fingers repeating this motion in spite of myself whenever I make a mistake whether I was on a computer or not!

There is no such command in painting. I think I’m done with a painting but…maybe…that one area might look better if it were a bit lighter…noooooo. It doesn’t. UNDO. UNDO. UNDO. Sigh…

If the paint underneath was dry I might be able to wipe it off, but that is not the case. So I scrape it off and repaint, telling myself how stupid I am. But, frustrating as it may be, it always turns out better than it was to begin with. Wow. And I’m happy again.

A friend of mine confessed that her thumb and finger try to expand pictures in magazines to make them bigger. Ha!

Oh, technology.

kayak-the-river
“Kayak the River” 6×8″ oil available at MICA Gallery

Nature is Overwhelming

One of the biggest challenges for plein air painters (painting outdoors) is the vastness of what we are looking at. Trying to get the huge outdoors and fit it on our teeny, tiny, little canvas can stop an artist in our tracks so to speak.

All the advice, tips, and rules I hear from experienced painters seem to leave me when I am out there enjoying the wonders of nature. “Paint what you love.” “Look for the big shapes.” “See the darks and lights.”

Ever since I saw my first Monet painting I wanted to paint water lilies. We were at a beautiful garden with a pond with the most perfect water lilies you can imagine. I was so excited.

By the end of my painting session I was so disappointed. I had wanted to paint water lilies. Here is a sketch of what I did. I went home and scraped it off.

waterlily sketch

Luckily I took lots of photos and when I enlarged the photo and painted in my studio, I actually painted water lilies.

Now I am happy.

painting of water lilies

“Water Lilies”, 6×8″ oil on panel available at:

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/597815

Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

Cutting Tulips

I was listening to a podcast by the Savvy Painter, Antrese Wood, where she interviews successful artists (http://www.savvypainter.com), and the artist was saying he works on 40 to 50 canvases at a time.

Holy moly!

Well my studio isn’t big enough to do that, but I’ve been working on one piece at a time. Working small and in oil, wet on wet, it generally requires finishing a painting in one session.

Lately though, some of the techniques I want to use haven’t been working and it would seem the paint needs to dry before I apply the next layer. So working on more than one piece would be beneficial.

Also, a fellow artist point out to me that if you are having a problem with a painting and getting frustrated, setting it aside and working on another can 1) build your confidence back up, and 2) going back to the first painting later you may see the problem in a new light and it has solved itself.

Indeed it seems to be working. I started this tulip painting, and then started a beach scene. Came back and finished the tulips and started 2 more beach scenes. Solving problems in one saves time with the next and letting areas dry for a certain texture is working well. I like it.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Yard of Tulips

“Field of Tulips”, 8×10″ oil, available at http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/560288

After I took that e-Course in the winter I wanted to make sure I embedded the lessons in my memory, and since the subject matter we painted was basically florals, I painted several more flower still lifes. I’m quite happy with the results.

Then the weather got nice and plein air painting started (painting outdoors) and I was back out in the landscape. I’m always rusty at first and this year was no different. But going out each week helps and I’m getting better.

In the meantime, back in the studio I remembered some photos I took of a house nearby that has it’s whole front yard filled with tulips! Maybe this would be my happy medium. This could be a nice transition between flowers and the landscape. It was very fun to paint.

What do you think?

Florals:

Finally, Plein Air Painting Weather!

I am a fair weather painter. I admire those who bundle up in the winter and brave the cold and snow, but for me, the sun and wind and bugs are challenge enough.

I learned to paint “in the open air” while living in California. When I moved back to Michigan I was honestly surprised to find artists painting en plein air. Ha! So we go out together (safer) after being cooped up in our studios all winter to be enthralled, overwhelmed, and challenged by nature.

The first week I came home and immediately wiped off all the paint. The second week was not too bad—won’t win any prizes; probably won’t sell; but is worth studying to see what I learned for next time.

Third week went better. We were serenaded by birds and frogs; there was a creek and a nice breeze. I was happier with the result. Loose, painterly, almost abstract. Available at http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/557386

Tree Reflections

This week the group opted to paint in the local town. Just when I was getting back into the landscape (after my flower series) we have buildings! Another learning experience; not a keeper. And so it goes…

Absolute Gallery

In the heart of Old Town Lansing, Michigan, Absolute Gallery supports local artists as well as offering custom framing and an array of handpicked craft and gift items. Everywhere you look you will find something of interest. They offer innovative live programs from time to time too.

Visit 307 East Grand River Ave., Lansing, to see these pieces I just delivered and now available.

What should I paint?

Apples and White Pitcher

Apples and White Pitcher, 10×8 oil

People think it’s great that an artist gets to paint all day, and it is. But every day I have to find something to paint. For years I painted landscapes. A couple of years ago I ventured into the still life.

Successful artists tell you to “paint what you love”, “paint what you are passionate about”.

I love a dynamic sky, flowers, and birds. I hadn’t really painted flowers or birds until this last year or two. The online class I just completed (see previous blogs) was all flowers and it was great. Eager to continue with flowers I looked into my photo reference files (we are just coming out of winter here in Michigan). My spring flowers are just beginning to peek out of the dirt, but it will be a few weeks before I have anything to paint from my garden.

I started with an Iris, then a garden scene on a 6×6″ panel—maybe too small for such a large subject.

Iris    Flower Path 2

I saw some paintings by Cezanne of some apples and got inspired. I bought some apples and set up a still life with a white pitcher on a sunny day and painted this 10×8″ oil.

Using what I learned in class I noticed old habits trying to resurface and I kept thinking of shortcuts that might be easier. I only have to step back and look to see those sabotaging thoughts aren’t working. Stepping back from the work is one of the most important parts of painting…

…So is deciding what to paint, at least for me.

And One For Good Measure

pots on ledge

We got a bonus lesson in week 6, one last photo to paint and to learn the methods of our instructor. I was feeling pretty confident with most of it, applying the techniques I’ve been learning throughout the course.

Then I got to this mass of greenery from the overhanging tree.

First my strokes were too blocky. Wiped that out. Then they were too spikey. Wiped that out. Third time’s the charm? I am happy with the result now. Hey, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

Here is my “pots on a ledge” bonus painting. #DreamLovePaint

The course is over. Now I have to find something new to paint—out there on my own again.