Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Bouncing Baby Girl

Today is one of those blog posts about my little farm rather in addition to art.   To me, all aspects of my life are tangled up so much that they all seem related.   This last week was hard, I lost my best dairy goat during labor.  Also lost 2 newborns, one from each of the 2 does I have/had.   

The good part is I have 2 boys from the momma I still have, and one small but perfect girl from the one I lost.   She will be bottled for months, but she is healthy and very bouncy!    Baby goats are a cross between a puppy and bunny!
Meet Triskit, the little girl from my best doe, NillaWafer.  One day old here. 

Art-wise, I went out painting a couple times, this spring weather is just too much for me to ignore and stay inside, even in my little haven of a studio.   This first one, a friend dropped by and we went to an old farmstead.   That's the kind of drop in's I like!!   We had a grand time, she made a painting of the house, which was very difficult.  I wussed out and just did the little road leading to the back fields. 
 And this is just across the section from my house, within a mile of my front door.   I've gone here several times and dont' feel I've gotten my fill yet, just something about it 'draws' me there, oh , aren't I funny?!
 Both these little pieces are done on sanded paper pieces cut from larger paintings, mounted onto board.   And of course, both are for sale!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Dust Bunnies

No, the kind that may or may not reside under the bed, but the dust that collects under my drawing board on my easel.   
It is just a way of life when working in pastel.   But, this dust is pastel and I hate to waste anything.  It also contains enough of the binder that holds this colored dust into sticks to paint with.   So I collect it in a jar, where it makes a neutral mix of some sort, depending on what paintings were done lately.  

I put this into a mortar and use the pestle to be sure there are no bigger bits, and mix with distilled water....
I wanted this mix to have more blue in it, and lightened, so I added a chunk of pastel and ground it up within the muddy mix.   Also a good time to use those tiny bits that are too small to paint with.  

Oh, and you should use gloves when doing this...
With the extra chunks to change the hues, I made 4 full sized sticks of greyed neutral pastels.  Third from the left is the mix straight from the collection jar, the second from left had violet added, the end 2 have blue added.    When they are no longer cold to the touch, they are then dry and ready to use.    

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Free Use Photos

There are tons of online photos that are free to use, no strings attached.  Many are really great photos too!    Seems like a great place to get reference to paint from, right?  No worries about lighting, you get a bazillion choices for each subject, just pop em up on the good ol monitor and paint away!    Eh, wait up, maybe not.

First, even tho that freebie photo looks perfect, one of the first things many learn is photos LIE.  oh yes, they do.   Darks are often black holes, lights are washy and weak.   Perspective is usually distorted, I can't count how many paintings of horses or dogs I see that the heads are HUGE, with teensy little bodies.   And it wasn't something done as an expressive intent, its just the artist copied too closely.   I have fallen in this trap countless times but have learned to avoid it by now.   
The paint horse on the far left isn't that much smaller than the sorrel in front, but in this keystoned photo, he looks like a little pony.   Painting it this way would be a huge mistake.

Part of why some art grabs you by the heart strings is somewhere in the paint is emotion.  That emotion might be love, humor, rage, or quietness.   Its not *in* the paint--paint is just a concoction with pigment that clings to a surface.    In my case, pastel is pigment with just enough binder to hold it into a stick form.  

So how does this emotion thing work?   It comes from the hand that paints it.   If you weren't at the place, smelling the breeze, hearing the birds, even dodging the cars, you lose a big part of art.   Not only in the painting itself but sadder yet, in the experience of being in the moment, being an artist.   Don't cheat yourself out of this!

Richard Schmid has some great advice in his Alla Prima book about using photos.   "...never use other people's photos.  You need your own experience of the real thing to give an authentic look to your painting.   Use your photos as soon as possible after you take them so that your memory of the subject is fresh"   And since it came from Master Richard, you know its true!   

Plein air is one of the best teachers, so even if you use photos, you learn where the lie is and fix it.   I do use other's photos they supply when painting a pet that is gone, or is too far away for taking my own photos.  But, I have painted enough of them I can see the flaws and holes and work around it.

This was from a trail ride, the flowers were a long ways from the water, and there was no path from the far edge up the hill.  But these things were in the area--in taking the photo, I made mental notes of these other elements that would take it from boring to charming.
So don't cheat yourself of the experience even if you use photos.   Thats' missing half the fun!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

An Artist Just Paints All Day

Preliminary sketch of Spook,who has crossed the Rainbow Bridge

Well, that's what many believe and most artists wish were true, but boy is that ever wrong!!

Today, this week in fact, this artist hasn't touched a drawing, pencil or pastel in an artsy way whatsoever.  So what did I do all week you ask?

  • Updated my website
  • Got a new email for my art site
  • Signed up for Fed Ex online to ship from home
  • Shipped out a large painting
  • Checked the supply list to a workshop I've signed up for
  • Checked supplies to fill that list
  • Several correspondences with new and previous client,
  • Started a new Facebook page just for my art
  • Cleaned the studio (just a little!)
  • Bought some supplies in a bigger town while on a trip with Daughter
  • Cut a mat, chop a frame and frame the painting
  • Taught a class of 12 teenagers

That's besides the stuff everybody's gotta do like bills, housework, cooking and being a mom and wife and caretaker of my animals.

So sometimes, sure, an artist has the luxury of spending a ton of time on a painting, fully immersed and zoned out to the world and its great!   But, other times its just plain old icky work!   And like many artists, I have to do all those jobs myself.

Today I do want to give a huge shout out Thank You to godaddy--this site has real people to answer the phone and the kindest fella, Michael, walked me thru a lot of the website updates.    I highly recommend this site for domain names, websites and email that is all connected, making things easier.   
The final painting still on the easel with the printed photo.   The owner told me the horse was black, so I had to rely my own knowledge of horse colors as the photo shows too much red/rusty tones.