In my quest for constant and never ending improvement I sometimes get too much information in my head. One day, as I put brush to canvas, my head blew up.
It all started when I was unhappy that my painting had gotten too tight (it wasn’t that way in art school and college!). It may be skillful but not very expressive. So I looked to artist’s whose work I admire—old masters as well as currently working artist—to learn new techniques.
I took a workshop, watched some videos, a tutorial, read some books and magazines. After working for years with the colors I used in college I tried a whole new brighter palette and was I having some success. I learned some looser brushwork techniques. I keep going.
One artist uses more colors; one uses a limited palette; one uses 3 colors plus white. One tones their canvas, another does not. Etc.
One day painting, the information was all in conflict in my head. That was the day it all started swirling around and my head blew up. I had to stop, light a candle, meditate, and begin again.
Let’s just try ONE thing and see what happens. Let’s think about just this ONE thing and if it works, fine; if not, fine.
And “Fresh Flowers” came out way better than I expected. Not as loose as I’m working toward, but I pretty much like it. What do you think?
“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.
She came in as the younger, smaller cat in the house, but soon took over as the one in charge. The back of the couch is the highest point in the room that is comfortable. She can see the whole room, the other cat, me, and the backyard out the window across the room. She has great color, sort of black and brown, some rust and white, a pink nose and “odd socks” as I call them, meaning each paw is different.
Quite a demanding little kitty, she yells at me when she wants something, but if I whisper at her, she will whisper back. She is a great model and I could paint her all day long. Now that the springtime sun is making its way into our home, and sunbeam naps are on the schedule, a new painting is inevitable.
When we are quiet, when we observe, when we are still, we let it in. We let in nature, as it will begin to trust us. We let in beauty as we see more. We let in peace as we connect with the heartbeat of the universe.
Or, like this little kitty, well, he is trying to let in his next meal I suppose.
“Bluebird” is a song credited to Paul and Linda McCartney that was originally released on the Wings’ album Band on the Run.
These cute little guys don’t visit my yard. My sister is lucky. They even nest in her yard from time to time.
They’ve been used as symbols in songs by Paul McCartney, by David Bowie, by the Moody Blues, and Judy Garland’s “Over the Rainbow”. I remember a childhood rhyme that was something…”Bluebird, bluebird, in and out the window…”
I took photography in college so I know how to compose in the camera, which is an advantage when gathering photo references for my painting. I also am skilled on the computer so I can crop and make adjustments when necessary to enhance the photos.
Guest photos can also be delightful.
My cousin took a photo of 3 baby birds demanding to be fed and posted it on Facebook. I immediately asked her for permission to use it for a painting. I think I smiled the entire time I was painting.
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?