Friday, November 23, 2012

The Power of the Creative Carrot

Who loves color? 30x40 acrylic on gallery canvas--SOLD--Thank you!
Happy Thanksgiving week everyone! Next Friday is the opening of my Spirits Bright holiday show at 910 Arts and I’m just about ready. Twenty paintings (gulp) didn’t sound like very many when we started to think about having a show back in the summer…No biggie, that’s just 1 or 2 small paintings a week…Right?

But as with any large creative project it usually (always?) takes more time than you think. Plus most of my paintings are oil so there’s  extra varnishing and framing time you need to account for. (FYI, my favorite quick “go to” varnish for oil and/or acrylic paintings is Kamar spray by Krylon.)

For those of you who like to make lists, goals, etc. I think you’ll agree that it can be  helpful to have rewards and incentives tied to milestones. I had an art instructor once who always splurged on a fancy cocktail dress each time she got into a gallery. For me, I prefer to have an “internal” and an “external” reward. In the case of achieving my 20 painting goal, my internal goal (or emotional goal if you will) was giving myself the permission and freedom to create ANY painting I wanted.

Any subject (or no subject at all), any medium, any size, favorite colors, etc. For example, when faced with what color to use in the background above I first choose black for the contrast--but it didn't feel quite right. So asked not what was the "correct" choice but what was my favorite color? And the answer was any blue green “sea tone” so I went with that instead.

To start, I grabbed a nice roomy 30 x 40 canvas, some acrylics (since I’d mostly been working in oils and smaller and some inexpensive big acrylic brushes. And then I asked again: What’s the painting I want? What shapes do I like? Not what color is academically or theoretically correct for this spot but what color do I simply like better? Without those usual pressures this painting emerged fairly quickly. For me this was the perfect reward.  So the next time you need a motivational creative carrot just do what you want to do to do. Holiday Cheers everyone!

Friday, November 9, 2012

When Vincet met Eva: The Story of an Abstract Painting

"Your Gypsy Soul" 20 x 20 oil on gallery wrap canvas
This painting will be a the Spirits Bright Show: Nov. 30-Jan.5--SOLD

My life and art have not been separated. They have been together. Eva Hesse

Still, there is a calm, pure harmony, and music inside of me. Vincent van Gogh

Happy Friday! I’m sometimes asked by my representational artist friends and students what sparks an abstract painting like this one. It’s a good question. For me, the inspiration for an abstract work can come from just about anywhere—one interesting shape, a pattern, a texture, or maybe even a single color, etc.

In this case of this particular painting I’d been thinking about creating a non-representational painting inspired by two different artists. With the “Becoming Van Gogh” exhibit currently at the Denver Art Museum, Van Gogh was an obvious choice. Because I’d have the rare chance to study his paintings in detail for color, brushwork, etc.
Eva Hesse Sculpture
For the other painting, I recently came across the work of the late Eva Hesse. Some you may know her for her experimental sculptures. Sadly, she had a very brief art career and passed away in her early thirties in 1970. While Hesse’s body of work is not extensive I found myself drawn to several of her abstract expressionism paintings. One painting really resonated with me like a song stuck in my head.

Perhaps because I could relate to her square composition and organic shapes which is combination that I’ve often used. Though, Hesse’s palette is more earthy and muted than I would typically work with.

After seeing the incredible Van Gogh show a few weeks ago, I knew immediately which painting I’d use for inspiration—The Courtesan (after Eisen). This is one of Van Gogh’s graphic Japanese print inspired paintings from 1887.  You can see I “borrowed” several aspects for my abstract oil painting including Van Gogh’s particular color combinations (reds, greens, yellows, ochres, blacks, and turquoise).

You may also spot hints of the vertical bamboo shapes, the blush horizontal slashes of the pond, and a lily pad. By the way, the title “Your Gypsy Soul” is from Van Morrison’s Moondance which I realized as I was writing this was released in 1970 the year Eva Hesse died. Don’t you love art karma?

New Digital Art Magazine: Artists on Art
For those of you who enjoy reading magazines on your “digital devices” I just subscribed to this beautifully designed quarterly art magazine that I can’t wait to read this weekend.  Artists on Art is described as: Master Artists & connoisseurs share their ideas and techniques through in-depth, interactive articles.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Tangled up in Blue

"Tangle up in Blue" oil on 16 x16 gallery wrap canvas
This painting will be featured at the 910 Arts "Spirits Bright" Show Nov. 30-Jan. 7

Happy Fall Friday all!  For my “Tangled up In Blue” oil painting, I abstracted this close up photo I took look down at the pathway in Wash Park near my studio. (One of the things I miss most as my broken toe recovers is taking pics in the park as the season changes.)  Natural elements likes leaves, pebbles, twigs, etc.  provide me with all sorts of shape, color and texture inspiration for abstract paintings like this.
This might make a good painting...

My other inspiration for this painting was exploring a range of blues which I used to balance the primarily warmer leaves.  For me, I find I can get the blue range I want (in oil paint) with just 2 key blues: Ultramarine (which tends to lean blue violet) and Pthalo (or Thalo ) blue which tends to lean to the blue green.

The good news about these two "workhorse" blues as many of you know is that they are quite affordable pigments compared to genuine cobalt or cerulean. Also, while I usually use the standard 37ml size tubes, for larger paintings I don't mind using big tubes (200ml vs. 37 ml.) of student grade ultramarine and thalo (Winton, Dalery Rowney, Gamblin Sketch). The large student tubes of these 2 blues are usually still single pigments so I find they compare quite favorably to the pro lines. Briefly, here's a short article about pro vs. student paints. 

Note you would likely see a difference with student grade cobalt or cerulean. These are usually hues" or "mixes" of several pigments such as ultramarine and white to keep the cost lower. And because they are often multiple pigments they can cause mixing headaches so I tend to avoid them.

Speaking of thalo, we’ve all heard the caveat about thalo taking over a painting, your palette, your clothes, your home…At this point, I’m sometimes asked why use thalo at at all? Simply, because I love teals, turquoise, emeralds, mint, limes—And I need thalo for those mixes. Here’s painter Kathleen Hebert’s  view on why she loves thalo.

Before I go I wanted to give a shout out to any of my East Coast readers and followers who may be dealing with the storm this week. For those of you who’d like to help out with Hurricane relief DPW is generously hosting a Hurricane Sandy art fundraiser where you may donate a painting or buy a wonderful piece of art,  You don’t need to be a DPW member to participate. Thanks and have a wonderful weekend!