Saturday, September 29, 2012

There is No Blue

Summer Siren--16x16 oil on canvas

There is no blue without yellow and orange.  Vincent van Gogh

It’s kind of ironic that only a few posts ago I mentioned how enjoyable and valuable it is to work on smaller daily paintings.  Another reason I enjoy working on smaller paintings is that they keep me engaged and and humming along in a contented painting rhythm. Mmm...Also, I know collectors enjoy the smaller paintings and I greatly appreciate all the sales and support I’ve had on DPW this summer. Thank you all!

But in the last couple of weeks, I’ve challenged myself to begin working on some larger oil paintings in preparation for a group show later this fall. As many of you may know, it can be rather daunting  to “go big” and still have a successful painting. On the positive side, though, I’ve found working in a larger space offers room to move around and play with shapes and colors. Maybe take more risks. Try new things such as texture variety. 

Today’s posting is a 16x16 oil painting of a flowering canna plant from the gardens in Washington Park near my Denver studio. How can an artist resist that powerful red-orange vs. blue-green color combination that was also one of Van Gogh's favorites?   

Speaking of Van Gogh, I can’t wait to see the long awaited "Becoming Van Gogh" collection coming to the Denver Art Museum next month. Several years ago I was lucky enough to be in Chicago for the Gaugin Van Gogh exhibit and it was fantastic.  

In fact, I was so excited when I was buying my tickets on line last Friday, I ran from my laptop to get my credit card and ran smack into a large piece of furniture. There was kind of crunching popping sound and then searing pain. 

Long story short, I’m now recovering from a badly broken “ring toe” on my right foot. For those of you keeping track--Yes this is the second bad "flip flop" injury I've sustained. You'd think I'd learn but I really don't like painting in shoes/socks. Anyway, though, as long as I keep my foot elevated by my easel I can still paint. And on that note—the show must go on so back to the easel. Hope your week is filled with fall color!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Days Like This

"Good Day Sunshine" 8x8 oil on linen panel

You can't use up creativity.
The more you use, the more you have.
Maya Angelou

Happy September all!  One of my favorite Van Morrison’s songs is “Days Like This.” I couldn’t help but think of this song while painting this sunflower.  Particularly the lines: When everything falls into place like the flick of a switch. And: When all the parts of the puzzle start to look like they fit--Then I must remember there’ll be days like this…

It’s not uncommon to have a frustrating creative slump—it’s part of being an artist. But on the flip side, it sure is a blessing to have a day when everything just seems to go your way in the studio.

The light in the studio is perfection. There’s no noisy neighbor mowing.  The oil paint is just right—not too thick, not too thin. You don't need to correct your drawing.  You mix that strange violet in the very first try.  Ahh, you’re in the ZONE…

There’s only one tiny problem with the ZONE. It never seems to last as long as we’d like. Why can’t every painting day be like this? What’s the secret? The answer is likely different for all of us since the ZONE is so personal. But, in general, I think of the ZONE as a numbers game--You can’t win if you don’t play. The more I “train” as a painter, for example, the more likely I’ll find myself in this sweet spot of creative energy.

Also, I think we are more in control of our creative environment than we think we are. I’ve read successful athletes employ a variety of techniques to help keep them sharp. One should be pretty easy for all us painters and that’s visualization—What does your perfect painting day look like?

Another is taking proactive steps to control any behaviors that may keep you outside of the ZONE. Such as negative thinking, fear, anxiety, etc.  Thankfully, I’m at the stage in my art career where I don’t have much fear, but I do tend to juggle many projects. I like to remind myself I’m not alone trying to balance my creative life. Just Google “Art and Fear” and you’ll find dozens of books, articles, etc.on the topic.

Finally, there’s a reason the Nike slogan Just do it is so powerful. It works. When it comes to finding your ZONE I think it’s better to be doing rather than thinking about doing. And I promise the more you do the more you’ll have days like this.