“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.
I took photography in college but now I mostly snap pics on my IPhone. I can compose my shots in the camera giving me good reference to paint from later. Painting outdoors is great, but as I’m painting one thing I see a dozen more things around me I want to paint.
I have friends who are photographers and who are generous enough to allow me to use their photos from time to time as reference for my paintings. They have more patience than I do to get some fantastic shots. This “White Iris” was shot by my friend, Deb Drew Brown, which I turned into paint.
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.
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…”
My birdfeeders in my city neighborhood attract a lot of brown Sparrows with a few Blue Jays, Cardinals, Woodpeckers, and when I’m lucky, the brilliant yellow Goldfinch.
My photographer friend, Deb Drew Brown has a backyard that is much more woodsy that attracts a larger variety of birds. She has given me permission to paint from some of her photos including this Baltimore Oriole snacking on an orange on the railing of her deck. This is a brilliant delight against the neutral background of the Michigan winters.
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?