Monday, February 20, 2017

On Being An Artist....


"Steppin' Out", 9x12" acrylic on paper
$150 unframed

Today I thought I would write a bit about my journey as an artist. I hope you will find it interesting and inspiring! I posted it some of it on my Facebook page, so some of you may have seen it there.

I have decided to go back to doing some figurative work, revisiting an idea I explored almost two decades ago. I have begun again to go to live model drawing, weekly since June, skipping the summer months, and boy was I ever rusty! I had never been taught how to draw the figure or portraits (even in art school), so my learning has been up to me. It is exhilarating, depressing and exhausting, but I know my efforts will pay off if I stick to it. The internet has become a fantastic tool to learn just about anything by, often at little cost compared to live workshops or classes, and learning to draw is right up there. 12 years ago when I began to work with the figure, there was hardly anything online (heck was there even internet back then :)?) Learning figure drawing from books is a very difficult way to learn for a visual learner like me!

While I was looking for great figure drawing lessons, I came across two videos that I think are valuable to watch, not just for artists, but for everyone. The first is found here, called "How NOT To Be An Artist". Pretty funny and right on. The other is a video on "How To Practice -Improve your Art Skills (or any skills) the Smart Way". Find it here. Please let me know what you think of these when you are finished watching them!

Now, I am pretty insecure showing anyone my efforts thus far, but hopefully will begin to do so more as I become more comfortable with the process. I am showing you one of my latest explorations above -done from a 2 minute sketch done on a painted background I had from an old Jane Davies class, and then painted. I love how the background shows through -I used to do something similar, but in an entirely different way. 

Here is one of my old figure paintings. The figure was done from a photo rather than from life, and that is NOT what I want to do now!

"Too Loose", 12x12" acrylic and collage, 2002

My favourite thing is to combine what I have already 'mastered' with the new thing -always a challenge that allows me to continue to grow as an artist. So I want to PAINT the figure as well -Oil, acrylic, collage, watercolour, pastel -media that I have learned to use, by putting in all the hours and hours of hard work described in the video above. Oh, and there is abstracted realism, which I find fascinating and WAY more difficult and visually interesting than pure realism IMHO.

Never satisfied with copying anything, I need to find my OWN way to express what I see and feel. Now that significantly ups the stakes, as not only do I need to learn HOW to do something, I need to learn how it looks MY way. Of course that means LOTS of work, trial and error, and the subsequent MOUNTAIN of failures. Not for the faint of ❤️.

I have the following quote stuck to my studio door that you may feel inspiring:




Wish me luck (and sanity).

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Winter Brings New Directions!




"Rae Glacier Abstraction ii", 30x40" acrylic on gallery canvas
$2100

I just love the winter time when it is too cold or miserable to venture outside to paint, as that gives me prolonged studio time to explore ideas away from the actual scene I am trying to interpret.

This is a much larger version of an original 11x14" acrylic and collage painting I did in 2007 during a Gerald Brommer workshop on Line And Shape (see image below). Wow, that was 10 years ago almost to the date!! I always say, and seldom do myself, that it is a great idea to revisit old ideas and to see how far your art has advanced in the interim. At the time I did several quick pencil sketches of PARTS of a photo I took of a hike we were on, and explored each of them in abstraction, choosing to focus on only parts of the scene in each one. I have been interested in adding line as a major element in my work for years, while continuing my interest in shape as a dominant element, which is why I just loved Brommer's workshop! By the way he is an incredible teacher of PAINTING IDEAS, and I highly recommend advanced artists to take a workshop or two with him. He is in his 80's now, so do it quickly if you can :).

In this current attempt, I wanted to focus on texture as well as abstract shape, so I kept the colour more muted. I also kept the element of line as a less dominant element, although it is still present. If you blare all the elements of design the result is a train wreck!
Firstly I drew the large shapes from the original painting onto the canvas with a large sharpie marker, gridding them up so that I maintained the composition. Then I spent some time texturing the large canvas using soft gel, self leveling gel, clear tar gel and gesso, and pressing different textures into the wet mediums and scraping with palette knives, sponges and brushes.
While that was still wet, I flowed on india ink and acrylic inks and let them do their thing.
When all that had dried, I played with the shapes I had drawn, trying to incorporate the random colour and texture that had happened, while still keeping to the spirit of the original.
I found it very useful to have this compositional 'playground' to play within, knowing that if I followed that, I would have a strong painting. Please click on the top image to see it larger and in more detail.

Original "Rae Glacier Abstraction", 11x14" ink, acrylic and collage. Tertiary triadic colour scheme (BV, YO, YG).

For interest sake, and because I hope that my posts will be educational, fun and inspirational for you, I will post the other paintings I did in this series at the time. They are all done on 1/4 sheets of watercolour paper using sharpie markers, india ink, watercolour and acrylic. Obviously the colour schemes are made up -the bottom 4 are all based on analogous colour schemes (another thing I was exploring at the time!) All are sold, so I am REALLY glad I had taken good photos of them :)


This is the first one in the series. Just watercolour and ink.
I think this was the second one. This one has random collage papers placed on a line drawing and then acrylic and watercolour was added, and more line. Some of the lines became trees and rocks. I was going for a V composition which framed everything else.

This is the third one, getting even looser. Here you can see the edges of the random collage papers, some of which were incorporated as objects and some just left to just be.

This was the last one. I wanted to keep the strong abstraction in the cruciform design, yet see how true I could get to representing what was actually in the photo -well, sort of! This was a  really valuable lesson for me!
 Enjoy and please feel free to SHARE!!

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