Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Choosing what goes into an exhibit or not ....

This was the piece the owner of the gallery choose for the postcard invitation to my solo exhibit.  I sent him several digitals to choose from.  There are many accidents in this one, that came together well.  I was showing a friend how I painted water.  Then I got carried away with the paint.  We were at a pond camp, and painting without stop for a couple of days.  It was her first experience with oils. 

The exhibit will be hung tomorrow ... I've been into the gallery a few times in the past week, but have no idea how I'm going to put this all together.  I have several different styles, none that fit any category.  Many artists have a "body" of work.  I have almost 50 pieces ready to hang, some of them fit together, some do not.  It's all the experimentation that thrills me.  I've curated many exhibits, but never of my own work, except the display at the "sunshine" art festivals.  I've always let someone else do it.  I have enlisted the help of a good friend, with a great eye for placement and flow.  We've worked together several times.  I'm so grateful he has agreed to help out. 

Getting ready is so much work.  Framing, wrapping for transport etc.  The hardest part was deciding what to take and what to leave home.  Then there's the pricing.  Most of them already had prices, and I left them alone even though the gallery will take a percentage.  The economy isn't very healthy where I live and I face the age old dilemma of ... if you price low, your work isn't valuable, if you price high ... regular people can't afford it.  Keeping my goal of sharing my work, and having original art in regular places like homes and businesses, I've decided to price fairly low. 

I am looking forward to visiting with friends, and seeing so much of my work hung in one place.  The reception's this Friday evening and Saturday ... an artist's work is never done. 

I've been reading several blogs that the author is wondering why they're writing.  I write to share my process, excitement when something new comes along, it's like wanting to tell Mom or Dad or Grandma what's going on.  Problem is, I don't have a Mom, Dad or Grandma any more.  So I write a bit ... knowing a few people might read it.  It's the connections made that make it worth it.  Even one!

That thought brings me to visual conversation.  I've written about that process before.  The energy generated is terrific.  I think it is because you know someone is going to view your art work and respond to it with work of their own.  Once the circle begins, it ripples into your entire life.  It definitely helped me through some difficult times. 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Day's End ... recycled plexiglass

There were several frames with no glare Plexiglas glazing I used to cart around to the outdoor shows.  Eventually the Plexiglas would get scratched, and there were some pieces I sold without the frame. 

This piece is a piece of painted Plexiglas, no glare (scratched) side as the back, and you look through the shiny side at the image on the paint.  There is no "painting."  I put a piece of gray colored mat board behind the plexi for color and protection, and back into the frame it went.  This is one that I have kept for myself, it looks great in my living room.  It's the last one I have.  I did several ... I painted the "main" image and then poured on the background.  Lots of surprises.  I was reminded this past week while putting inventory together for my show, how much fun it was.  And, the marvelous results. 

I had several of my sheet canvas oils mounted on a backing so I could frame them without a mat and/or glazing for my upcoming solo show. Thinking about what needed was the reminder of the scratched Plexiglas.  I placed the frame order this afternoon.  Just simple silver and gold metal frames.  The discount warehouse where I get my frames had some beautiful gold wood frames that were 18 x 24, I needed three, and they were only $8 on sale.  That was an on the spot decision.  I had planned on using gold metal.  There are more framing options with sheet canvas, you don't need a rabbit as deep.  I've committed to the show now ... as 37 of the pieces I've chosen were not framed.  I only show so much outdoors, and interchange frames each season.  It's a whim, and you never know what some one will be attracted to. 

On another note, the second exhibit where I work a few days a week, is hung and the reception is over.  All the arrangements made my last two weeks a bit crazy.  I receipted new work, checked out work that left, but this time I did it taking a few minutes here and there out of my regular workday.  That meant shorter lunch breaks, and no other breaks during the day.  It took another morning to curate and hang everything.  Three of the exhibiting artists were on hand to help out.  We arranged the show by "committee."  Every piece has a space that shows it off.  All four of us agreed on each placement.  The reception was sparsely attended, but I hope that as the exhibits are publicized in the future, this will improve.  We don't have a budget for advertising either and rely on the goodwill of the local radio stations and newspapers.  There were a few first time exhibitors.  There's no jury, no fee and no commission.  This is not a gallery space, the lighting is poor, but it is a space to display the work of local artists.  The employees that work in the building appreciate it.  It's a non-profit service organization and there's no money for decorations of any sort.  This time there were 21 artists participating. 

I've probably written about art in everyday places before, but I think it's important.  People need to see how energizing it is.  The title of the current exhibit is "Comfort, Woe and Wonder."  The interpretations had many surprises.  I choose the title as a lead in to the services offered by the organization, but artistically it could be anything.  There are oils, watercolors, pastels, graphite, charcoal and glazed earthenware.  There is even a recycled antique mill window, which was part of a large project a couple of years ago.  That's another story for another day.  We'll do it all again at the end of February, or the beginning of March.  I need to come up with a title for the next exhibit soon, and get a call for artists out.  Does anyone remember an exhibit title they especially liked that is very open to interpretation but is catchy for press releases?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Finishing a piece after years

I had a silver frame, double mat and the wrong painting in it.  I used the frame so I could hang the piece in a juried show a couple of years ago.  It's been sitting around gathering dust and dog hair. 

I've recently been going through my work and deciding what I will include in my upcoming exhibit.  (What I'll pay out cash for frames, etc.) so they can be hung. 

I came accross this piece I'd done a few years ago, when I was working on a fabric washed in acrylic that was mold and rot proof with oils.  It acted like unprimed canvas with the paints and I liked that.  I did several pieces, but got tired of stretching the fabric, and returned to the customary canvas. 

To fit into the frame I already have, the edges needed to be painted out.  That was my project for the afternoon.  Everything event has a reason, and today I realized how much I missed working with the fabric.  I have a couple of rolls of it ... I bought it at a fabric warehouse.  The painting on my previous post would have been fun to do on it.  I did call it done with a few minor adjustments.  I am pleased with that one. 

Just thinking for a minute that I would try the same type of scene on fabric, reminded me that nothing I do can be recreated by me.  I have no formula paintings.  I have a color formula, I only use three primaries and white ... that's enough color on the pallette for me.  I've been using same three colors for years, only once in awhile adding some other primary to the mix.  Today I learned that is a good thing, painting those edges was easy.  The same colors were already on my pallette. 

I haven't titled this piece yet, because I frankly don't know what it is.  I think it has something to do with the sound of the ocean.  That makes me think, I haven't been to the ocean yet this year and it's only an hour and a half drive from home.  Oh, I've been close, but always in a bay situation.  It smells good, but there's no sound or grand movement.  Maybe that's why I pulled this out of the stack of rejects, and considered it again when looking for something to put in a perfectly good frame.  It's small enough, 18 x 24, so won't stretch it but will put it in the mat and under no glare plexiglass. 

I thought the larger pieces would take a lot of time ... but I will share I painted very little of my previous post with a brush.  Most of it was done with a rag.  I find I like the method, and will be experimenting to see what I can do. 

My social life is beginning to interfere with painting time ... or looking at another way, it makes my painting and creating time precious.  I know I need to have the painting time ... it makes me feel great.  Some people get a natural high from running or exercise, in the studio is where I find mine. 

My thanks for the comments on my last post ... I'm so inspired by all the blogs I follow on an irregular basis.  I am beginning to enjoy my reading more and more each day. 

Thanks Susan, for getting me started. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A weekend of progress

I've finally gotten back to painting.  When I do pick up a brush, I don't know why I avoided it.  It's been months since I've been interested in spending much time in the studio.  Here is an in progress work I began on Friday.  It's 30 x 30 in oil.  It's always a question - what do I what to paint - this began with the bluish background and developed from there.  I'm not sure where I'll take in from here, it could be finished.  This isn't a real place, but the scene is an easy memory to recall.  I've seen many versions in many places, and needed a place to escape.  It is unusual for me to paint landscapes of any type, even imaginary ones.  I'll let this dry for a few days or more and get back to it.  There are some messy parts that need to be defined.

My friends have been out plein aire, but I find the studio more comfortable.  I have other outside activities.  And ... I finally cleaned up my work space.  I'd been avoiding painting, and preferred to read all about what others were doing.  I'm not sure what will come next, but I have plenty of canvas and paint. 

I'm slowly getting ready for my December show.  Have begun the process of what to frame and what to leave behind.  Of course I have a budget too, and am happy most of my latest pieces have been done on gallery wrapped canvas.  All I have to do is attach the eye screws and wire, and I can hang it. 

The exhibit where I work will come down at the end of October.  I plan to take pictures of it before it does, and then get some "before" pictures before the next exhibit is hung.  I'm looking forward to seeing new works and curating the exhibit.  I also have the opportunity to see many of the artists I have come to know over time, and have short visits.  The weather in Maine has definitely turned towards fall, but we had some glorious days of summer in September.  This has been one of the most pleasant summers I remember since moving here well over 30 years ago. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

End of Season

The summer show season is over and I breathe a sigh of relief.  I still haven't completely cleaned out my car, but that can wait.  I need to clean a space in the garage for my tent and sides first. 

I've posted this piece, title Indigo Rhythm, 24 x 18 on sheet canvas because it was the center of my summer display and I sold it at the last show.  Many people had commented on how much they liked it, it drew attention for sure.  A couple had come by and I guess I didn't notice them ... after awhile, I can't remember who was in my space or not.  They said ... We really like this one.  Used to such comments, I replied .. Thank you.  Then they said they REALLY liked it.  I still didn't get it.  They then said they'd been by before and wanted to buy it.  I got it then and said ... let me get a bag, and off it went.

An artist's work is never done.  I need to create something as attention getting for the future.  I know this will never be repeated.  I've tried on occasion to duplicate something, and have always failed miserably.  I have to assume it's because I never set out with an intention but let the images flow. 

I may now have the energy to clean my studio, and actually get back to working.  I solved the problem of moving the vaccum cleaner from floor to floor by taking some of the cash from this sale and purchasing a machine for my studio, that will remain in my studio.  I got a good one, and tried it out this afternoon.  I didn't get all the cobwebs, and didn't try to pick up and order things, but got the worst of the dog hair sucked up.  I have an English Setter that is joined to my hip when I'm home, and he sheds, and sheds, and sheds, and sheds.  Too many of my paintings get so full of dog hair, I spend almost as much time picking it out as painting. 

I can relax ... I've reviewed my inventory and have enough to put on a good show in December, as long as I frame several more pieces that are in my portfolios.  I've hung almost everything hangable in the front entryway of my house ... I have a nice long wall open to a wide staircase with a picture rail.  It's a lot, but I like looking at my work everyday.  I have a few other pieces hung around the house but also have work by other artists. 

I've been to a Touch Drawing Circle, and although I haven't used that process in a couple of years, it felt so good to roll out the paint, lay the tissue paper, and then draw.  The images in several are worth enhancing, so I've brought out my pastels, and will set them with oils.  It's like looking for images in the clouds, and always a surprise, as more come to light as you work on the piece.  It's relaxing and thought provoking, sometimes wondering where the image came from ... of course, it's always from within the drawer. 

I painted a piece while at the ocean once.  I was more interested in the sound of the waves at high tide than the actual landscape.  I finished it in the studio and titled it ... High Tide.  On a subsequent visit to the same location, I took another path to the ocean and there was my painting ... a different view painted before I saw it.  The same thing happened this weekend ... I'd painted the river view from my bedroom window, but left out the trees that would have been in the foreground.  We had to fix a retaining wall in the yard, and the trees had to go.  There was my painting.  Our view is clear now.  I liked the trees, but also like this new view that's all open.  Change is good, even if you don't want it.  I'd thought the trees were  beautiful and they were, planted by a bird several years ago.  Nice Paper White Birches.  If it's meant to be, more will grow and the view will change again. 

Before my mind wanders any further ... and this gets to be a novel ... I have a supper to fix.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Creating with instinct

I've been working very little recently.  Between the sunshine art shows every weekend, a regular day job work schedule, etc., I haven't taken the opportunity.  There are so many images I see in my head, but they haven't made it to a canvas yet.  A dear friend when asked if she was painting, would reply no ... but I'm "arting" all the time.  So, I've been "arting" for a month or so.  I do admire the people that take the time to paint everyday ... there are times I do ... yet an oil painting a day is just not possible for me.  Some of them take months, and a few have taken years.  I usually work on pieces at least four times, and some have taken over 30.  Some are done immediately. 

This image I call "The Dancer."  She's on a piece of canvas 24" x 18".  She's been in several juried exhibits, and she's currently in a frame in my front entryway.  Stacked up with all the pieces I don't travel with.  I have a small gallery right in my home, and a sign in front of the house.  I put a flag out when I'm home and am willing to have people stop.  Most of the time, I use appointments.  Most of the summer, a person couldn't get through the front door, there are too many "things" in the way.  I live in the middle of nowhere, so it's rare someone does.  It does make me feel like I am doing a bit of marketing.  Not very effective, but something.  It also helps to generate energy to keep my home in order.  For appointments, the back door works fine. 

This weekend is my last outdoor show, and I'm looking forward to the close of the season.  It's been profitable, but not as profitable as years past. 

I used to use my husband's vehicle to travel to the shows.  It was a large SUV.  One day, after loading the vehicle the evening before, I got ready to go and it wouldn't start.  It was upsetting to say the least.  I stood in the garage in a panic ... and my husband said, you'll have to take your own car.  Now, I drive a little Mazda, which is now eleven years old.  It was incredible, but we did get the tent, racks and paintings into the car.  There was barely enough room for the driver.  As I was unloading everything, I tried to remember how it had been packed.  At the end of the day, I would have to load it again.  And, that evening we were attending a 70th birthday party and there would have to be room for a passenger.  I was meeting my husband at the party. 

That day that started out in a panic, had a silver lining.  I learned I could use my own car.  That meant, I didn't have to unload the car as soon as I got home, when I was exhausted because my husband would need his vehicle in the morning.  We were farming at the time, and our fields were up to ten miles from the barns.  Plus, there were places my car was not equipped to go on the property.  His day began at 3:30 and I wasn't going to put if off till "morning."

My little car has been through a lot, but is comfortable and still runs okay.  I know I will be shopping in the next year or so for a replacement.  I'm not looking forward to that.  I like small cars, ones that can do a u-turn anywhere.  They're also easy to park.  I'll also be deciding when I go shopping, if I'll be doing the outdoor shows in the future.  They're a lot of work at the beginning and the end of the day.  I do like talking about my work with passersby.  I've collected some words I heard with reference to my work.  I wrote a post about "Visual Conversation" recently ... explaining the process.  Part of my artist's statement says ... my goal is to engage friends and strangers in a visual conversation with my work.  I've been successful.  Some of the words were .... ancient, spiritual, ethereal, luminescent, organic, beautiful (I hear that a lot), original, soulful, frightening, dark, different, visceral and magnificent.  That's a pretty broad range.  Those are the people that talk to me.  Some simply stare for awhile, look at everything, smile and say "Thank you."  As my work is "different" there are also a lot of people that can't walk by my space fast enough. 

I never know what will attract someone.  The first image I ever posted here has gone off to a new home.  I finally titled it "Mary."  I was reading a book about Mary Magdalene at the time, and there were a lot of Marys referenced there.  It made for interesting conversations.  I also carried a piece that is a realistic rendition of the view from by bedroom window.  It's the Androscoggin River, looking downstream.  The piece is 24x18 and would probably be better as 18 x 18, but then I'd have to restretch the canvas.  I'm too lazy.  My goal here was to see if I could capture the movement and currents of the water.  This isn't the best digital, but it was the one I found in my unorganized "picture" files in my new computer. 

I do love waking up to the view every morning.  Doesn't matter what the season is.  I love a water view, and rivers are interesting.  They're always changing.  We have heron, Canadian geese, eagles, hawks, a lost loon, otters, beavers, moose, deer and one day, an escaped tame elk in my horses pasture. 

That's enough storytelling for the day ... I get going and my mind wanders ...

I've been visiting blogs, I'm always inspired!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

This image is in progress ... the digital is not the best, but close enough.  I created a "start" and the mare was simply in the paint.  Horses are not one of my subjects, and this was a surprise to me.  Not a woman to be found.  Finding an image (or not) in an initial application of paint is part of my process. 

I have three more "sunshine" artshows to do this summer.  I've cut it to four from ten last year.  I don't mind the visiting with the public, talking about my work, visiting with neighbor artists etc.  It is the setup and takedown that wear me out.  I keep my tent, sidewalls and racks in my car, but always bring the paintings inside.  I don't take a lot of work, only what will fit in my little car.  I may do a few more next summer, I may do none.  I do have a day job that provides an income.

I can now focus on my solo exhibit in December.  I have a large enough inventory of work, but it's not framed.  I did move to gallery wrapped canvas, so frames aren't an issue unless I want them to be.  The pieces I keep in my home, I frame sometimes.  I do find painting the sides of the canvas a chore.  I finished off two today that I never got to before the first show.  I can't keep all of my work, and a few years ago I got tired of running it to galleries and switching out the ones that didn't sell ... and the galleries always made more money than I did. 

Creating images is part of who I am, I've learned not to attach any economic limitations.  Plain and simple, I don't do it for money.  Money's nice, but not the objective.  I've relaxed into creating.  I can let it flow. 

I just hung one of the pieces completed today to dry ... and I hung it sideways in my studio.  There's an image I hadn't seen in the paint, and I'm contemplating painting a piece from that one.  I do paint from my own images ... I never know what will appear.  Above is the second horse that's made an appearance since I've been painting.  I need to think about why now?

I can't paint every day ... I'm too tired after work and there are other things in life that get in the way ... like visiting grandchildren.  And ... sigh ... keeping the house in order and making food.  I haven't had the energy to clean my studio in months, but a feeling better recently and may get to it soon.  After the last show in August ... September perhaps, unless I have a high energy day in between. 

I owned a marvelous horse for over 25 years.  I took care of him till he died.  He was a Chestnut, and a Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse Cross.  That animal could dance!  He was very athletic, and his only vice was the fact he would not walk accross a culvert.  He had to jump every one.  Just rambling here, time to stop typing. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


"Elise" (24 x 18 oil) is one of my favorite pieces.  She evolved from a full figure into a portrait.  There are times the paint and canvas have their own plans.  She was done a few years ago, and I no longer own her.  I liked the piece enough that I use the image as my desktop on both by personal and business computers. 

Process is most important to me, not product.  Yet, here is a product that evolved from moving, pushing, spreading, spilling and pulling the paint around.  Playing with a brush and color without a definite destination in mind is the way I work.  I let the paint and image speak to me, and listen with an open mind.  Then my hands execute instructions. 

The title came from nowhere.  I don't know anyone named Elise.  I do like the name ...

Titles are always difficult.  I no longer give titles to my work unless I feel strongly the piece would be enhanced.  Yet, how can words enhance a visual image?  People are always asking me what the title is.  Does it matter?  I like "untitled."  Or, one year I gave each painting a number ... like cattle on a large dairy farm.  One piece was "No. 32" and the lady that bought it wanted to know what it meant.  I did tell her the truth and said I was tired of thinking of titles for pieces and numbered them instead.  I did assign them random numbers, so perhaps the title did mean something.  How does  "No. 3,658" sound?  Pricing too ... why even numbers?  I like $2,345.  Or, $543.  It doesn't take that much cash to make change, and most people pay by check or credit card anyway.  If the piece is in a gallery, it's not the artist's problem. 

I've decided to put a price on the pieces I'm not attached to, and leave it at that.  There are some I keep around for several years.  Then there are some, I don't care if I ever see them again.  "Elise" was one I do wish I had kept.  I needed cash at the time and she paid a lot of bills.

"How much time will I save by not writing or typing titles, explaining them, etc.?  I think a title prejudices a viewer.  I like my work to be enjoyed, and the viewer can react and put themselves, or their own story, into the piece.  I don't want to try to define my work with words for the public.  I'd prefer to put my energy into painting.

I had my first "sunshine art" show last Saturday.  I didn't take much work and didn't sell anything.  Lots of compliments, great conversation (I like to converse with the public that likes and appreciates my work) but all of that does not put food on the table. I did enjoy the day, hot as it was.  I like seeing  the public's reactions to my art.  You're always wondering how people will react to work, especially if it is new.  I have good part-time enployment, and am grateful for that.  Unemployment is very high, and I am fortunate to have found a perfect position to supplement my artistic income. 

The title of this blog is "Visual Conversation."  And, here I sit typing away words.  I guess we can't live without words.  I do think visual communication is deeper, and natural. 

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Where the "Start" Ended

I'm calling this piece finished.  I had a difficult time getting a decent digital of it, due to reflections and my lack of knowledge of the digital camera.  Sometime I should sit with the owner's manual and figure out all the settings.  It's not really that complicated. 

There is a lot of detail that can't  be seen in this little image, but one can get the idea.  I see something different each time I look.  This is also a piece that works whichever way you hang it. 

I've delayed really working by painting the sides of several gallery wrapped canvases, and now by arraging this post.  Time's up, I have two pieces to work on today.  My first show sale is in two weeks.  It may be pushing it to have the ones I side painted today completely dry, but it should work.  Once I have an inventory, I usually don't add to it until the next year.  This year is an exception.  I think I mentioned I have a solo show coming up in October, but to my pleasure, it's been changed to the month of December.  I thought about painting things I "thought" would sell ... and changed my mind.  I'll keep on painting what I want to. 

Some pieces I keep for awhile, some I give away, and the rest I cart around and have fun talking to people at shows.  I know my work only appeals to a small percentage of the population.  I've found those that stop and look, and talk, are people I really like.  Go figure.  They've already met me through my work, and feel comfortable enough to be friendly.  Time's up again.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


This piece is not new.  My studio is in the basement, and I'd hung it at the bottom of the stairs.  I titled it "Baggage" and it's purpose was to absorb any baggage in my life before I entered my creative space.  It's a 30 x 40 stretched canvas.  It was the first large canvas I stretched myself.  Experimenting with different methods of applying paint and medium was the goal when it was created.  After a couple of years, I decided to add a frame.  I purchased a thin metal shadow box frame and learned the lesson that canvases you stretch yourself aren't necessarily square, and you're better off with a frame that can hide the fact.  I didn't have the funds to purchase another, so made it work.  I framed it so it could be exhibited in a juried show.  When it returned home from that show, it found a place in my living room.  The reason I'm posting this today is I've lent it out for an exhibition where I work.  I work in the fiscal department of a non-profit social service agency, and was depressed by the state of the building.  There were no funds for anything other than basic maintenance.  The agency had purchased an antique school building from a town for $1.00.  I think the town got the better deal.  There was no color, nothing on the walls.  Blank space.  I started talking about inviting local artists to exhibit their work.  I finally managed to get one other person excited about the possibility and it spread to one other.  We went through all the channels, wrote up a proposal, got approval, and I'm pleased to say the building was transformed yesterday, when two old friends and I curated and hung 47 pieces by 20 local artists.  There was a call for artists, on a first come first to exhibit basis, inviting them to exhibit one to three pieces, no jury, no fee.  The space is not a gallery, has no special lights, the invitation was meant to allow the energy of original art transform a building and offer artists an open opportunity to exhibit.  The exhibit will hang until October, when we hope to repeat the process.  The goal is to have three exhibits a year. 

There is a reception scheduled for next Thursday evening.  The exhibit reception will also mark the 45th anniversay of the agency.  I am energized, sore and tired at the same time.  We didn't know what the artists would bring.  We had a collection of different sizes, medium, subject, style, and color to arrange.  We found the almost perfect place for each piece.  The quality of all the work is incredible.  Visitors, partners in service, executives, and employees frequent the building, so the exposure for the artists is reasonable.  Not great, but reasonable. 

I believe it is very important for artists to share their work, close up and personal.  The public needs to see art in everyday places, not just in museums, galleries, and libraries.  Art should be everywhere, sharing it's energy.  There may not be an economic factor in simply "putting it out there."  However, the benefits to society cannot be counted.  Everyone wins.  Art takes two people, one to create and another to see. 

I thank everyone that takes the time to post and write about their work in this venue.  Sharing is the key to creativity.  All that said, I will now turn my focus to my own work with joy. 

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Start Over

Last Sunday I worked on a start all afternoon, and wiped it all off on Monday.  There are times I feel it is okay to do that.  I'm not compelled to work with something I'm not attracted to.  I was feeling frustrated and threw the paint on this canvas, stabbed it with my brush, pulled it around, had my rag handy and was wiping paint off as fast as it was being applied.  When I was done, I stood the piece on a shelf and walked away.  When I returned to the studio, the paint had been thin and wet enough (oil mixed with paint thinner) some of it dripped through the painting and I had a puddle of indigo on the shelf.  I could have wiped it all off at that point, but there is something here that fascinates me.  I don't know what it is yet.  I've been looking at this piece for a week now.  It's almost dry enough to work on, but I'll wait until I have a longer block of time.  My obligations at my paying job kept me out of the studio the latter part of the week, and a family visit for the weekend did the same. 

I was excited by a previous start I posted, now I wish I had it back.  I developed the painting too soon.  Patience is what I don't always have.  The painting that did result from that one is beginning to grow on me.  There are no mistakes, I need to remember that. 

This start has water, wind, plant life, sky,earth and human elements in it.  I will bring it into what it is, and will abstain from forcing images into the paint.  There are enough there to keep me busy and content for several hours of painting. 

Monday, May 31, 2010

Visual Conversation

I named this blog "Visual Conversation."  I've never written about the process.

It started about eight or nine years ago ... time flies ... with my friend Marni Lawson.  She  is an artist and was then residing in Temple, Maine.  We'd come to know each other gradually over several years.  One day, I asked her to engage in a creative experiment.  The process was ... I I took an original piece of Marni's work and created a response.  I returned her work along with my response and Marni responded to my work.  We never talked about the pieces.  There were no rules on size or medium.  There were no wrong answers.  The shared energy was tremendous.  All possibilities were in front of us.  We had two "conversations" going at the same time, so each of us always had a piece to respond to.  The original "Conversations" generated forty pieces each and took over a year to complete.

We wanted to share the process, and conversed with other artists.  Other artists began their own conversations.  The image above was a part of a short conversation I had with the late artist Susan Pomeroy.  I now call it "Memories of the Future."  It hangs in my dining room. 

We shared the process with all age levels of students to see if it worked the same for others.  It did!  Elementary school children created responses on their computers with a paint program.  They also learned how to use the computer program.  Middle school students were quickly grabbing art supplies to begin a response.  It held the undivided attention of pre-schoolers with crayons and paper.  I borrowed the art class at the local "alternative" high school.  I brought fifteen of my matted and packaged original paintings in a pillowcase.  The students all choose one blind, and got right to work.  That was amazing.  Paint conversations was all the "bad" boys wanted to do in school.  It kept them there.  I returned to the class several times to paint with them.  I cannot describe the energy.  

Marni and I decided to call the process ... BEYOND WORDS, A VISUAL CONVERSATION.

The term "visual conversation" has been part of my artist's statement for so long, it seemed appropriate.  A book we shared about the formation of ice crystals exposed to positive and negative energy ... I do not remember the title or author of the book, was published by Beyond Words Publishing Company. 

To see some of Marni's work, visit http://www.marnilawsonwatercolors.com/

From Marni's Website:

"It (Visual Conversation) is not about our artwork but about the energy that is created through sharing, non-verbally, with another human being.  We envision responses in movement and dance as well.  Others are responding with words to our images.  we believe that this process opens RECEPTIVE  channels that open your mind to new ways of thinking and processing information.   Ask another, and try it  yourself."


Success or Failure

Here is that "start" I posted a day or two ago.  I kept some of the elements but lost some too.  I'm not sure which version I like the best.  This piece ... I think it works no matter which way it ends up being hung.  Left is the same position as the start ... on the right another view.  I do like using a square canvas ... when a piece turns out like this one ... it can also be hung on the diagonal.  I see different images in each view.  Directly above is yet another possibility.  I'm not used to this blogging tool, and the pictures keep slipping around.  I can't seem to keep them in any order, so will skip the last view. 

I was tempted to bring each section of the painting to a representational state.  My goal is to engage the viewer and let them define or not define the images.  The little digitals do not show the subtle details.  The changing light of the studio change the image.  I succeeded.  I failed to keep the essence of the start.  I painted the start with my fingers and a rag.  It was a very satisfying experience.  I enjoyed creating the final image, and as process is more important than product ... the one element lacking was excitement seeing images take shape ... there is something foreign to me in this latest effort.  I believe all of my work is a self portrait, and like touch drawings, I'll know what it is in due time.

I've had my seat outside in sun, watched and heard the Canadian geese land on the river, the goose families multiply each year, heard the song of the loon, and all the other birdsong.  With that inspiration, I'll spend some time in the studio.

Friday, May 28, 2010

A Start

The weather was perfect today.  Bright and clear, mild breeze and not too warm or humid.  Perfect day to be painting outside.  I choose to remain in the studio, as I rarely paint what I see, and I was too lazy to pack the paints up, and walk or drive to another location.

This is a "start" and I don't know where it's going to go.  It should be an interesting journey.  This is after the first round of applying paint.  18 x 24 wrapped canvas.  The afternoon slipped by quickly.  I need long stretches of time to immerse myself in my work.  An hour here and there doesn't work for me.  I have the next several days ... don't have to be back to my day job (we all have to eat) until Thursday and the house is clean enough. 

Now that I've committed myself to my own process, I don't have studio avoidance syndrome.  I can't wait to get there!   Should be a great summer for artwork. 


I have decided this piece is done for the moment.  I was not happy with it as I painted, but I kept at it.  I have another started, but it's still too wet to work.

It's 18 x 18 on gallery wrapped canvas.  I've never destroyed work, but this is on a recycled canvas.  I had three pieces I was not interested in pursuing any further.  They were on wrapped canvas ... I paid good money for the support and was not going to waste it.  I had some gold gesso from Daniel Smith so I made them into blanks. 

I've used all three now and the only supplies I had left were three 18 x 24 canvases, and a full roll of primed canvas.  That's been sitting in the corner of the studio for several years now.  I don't like to stretch canvas.  I was saving those three because I thought I was going to do some "Old Masters Style" paintings.  I don't enjoy that process ... so why was I considering it?  It wasn't even a personal challenge.  Why did I keep saving the canvases for when I was in the mood and had the time?

I do enjoy the process above, and of a prior post and that is why I work.  I committed myself to doing what I enjoy.  Just ordered a dozed 18 x 18 canvases and a few 30 x 30.  I'm traveling my own path into the unknown.  As I was applying the gesso to the 18 x 24s, I was thinking of that roll in the corner.  When I work large I don't stretch the canvas, just tack it to the wall.  That way, I'm free to create as large or small a piece as I wish.  Sometimes it is confining to have the size predetermined.  I'm thinking of tacking a large piece up, and seeing what happens.  Might take me all summer, but there's no rush.

Happy Holiday Weekend!

Friday, May 21, 2010

"Double Talk" is a Touch Drawing.  The history of the process of Touch Drawing can be read at http://www.touchdrawing.com.  I was introduced to the process by Helen Warren.  I've integrated the process into all of my work.  "Double Talk" is oil on tissue paper mounted on cotton canvas.  Yes ... tissue paper.  I don't remember the exact size, it is approximately 12 x 18.  It was accepted into several juried shows.  It was also part of my portable exhibit.  It was hung living room for years, I wanted a change, so decided I could part with it.  It didn't sell, and after a show in South Portland, I decided to put it back in the living room.  A young man had been interested at that show, but didn't commit to purchasing it.  I got a call the next morning, and he had decided he had to have it.  He arrived with cash and drove for 3 hours to get what he could have had the day before. 

Helen Warren also has information about Touch Drawing on her website http://creativespiral.net/
Helen is a wonderful facilitator for individual creative process, and I studied with her for years.  She didn't like to be called a teacher.  I agree, it's one thing to teach technical rules etc., but you cannot teach creativity.  Everyone is creative.  It takes a special person to bring that out in people.

My current painting is too wet to continue today.  It's at the stage where I don't know what it will be, just know I have to keep going with it.  I spend as much time sitting with my pieces in progress as painting them.  I'm using a square format at the moment, and look at all angles, including the diagonal.  I derive great pleasure simply moving paint, and watching colors interact. 

For a couple of years I was forcing realism and representation on canvas.  I'm now relaxing and enjoying working.  That is a good thing because I have a solo show scheduled for October, and I don't have a large enough body of work in my inventory.  I have to solve that, and there's only one way.  Paint. 

I've been inspired while following several blogs, and reading.  So much to see, time flies.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Painting Progress

Completed - Phase 1 and 2 below
I don't have a title yet, but I think this piece is about finished.  Oh ... varnish, paint the sides of the canvas ... all of that will get done.  Out of the realism phase almost.  I'm not that great with a digital camera, but did take pictures of the progress of this piece.  I started it last Sunday, sat with it Wednesday, painted some on Friday, Saturday, and except for a few details, complete.  I can now move on to another.  I found while getting the pictures from my camera, looking at the digital images would be another way to envision the final piece.  This time, I simply kept going with the paint.

Phase 1

Phase 2

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Beginning again

I did figure out why my computer was translating my words to Hindi ... I did find the settings for following that would show the followed blog who I was ... now to the business of figuring the rest out ...

Susan Roux, friend and inspiration, convinced me this activity would be fun, uplifting and fill my need to connect socially with artists.  People that understand the challenges of being an artist, be it creative process (my favorite subject), technique, marketing, storage of inventory, working with galleries, hanging solo shows, what is the best paint, etc ... and the list goes on.

Years ago I began painting to make decorations for the walls of my home ... not having money at the time to purchase.  It didn't take long for the joy of painting to become addictive.

The world disappears, time doesn't exist and all my aches and pains are not felt.  As I am a different person each day, new mood, activity, etc., my work is related but not all the same style.  I'm always pushing the envelope to create an image that exists only on my support.  I do stick with oil paint, but apply it to canvas, fabric, wood, plexi, paper and even tissue paper. 

This is a recent image that evolved from the paint.  First, I put the wrong color blue on my pallette, and decided to go with it.  I don't know who she is, have never met her, but she's hanging in my studio and talks to me. 

Most of my work is not as developed as this piece.  I took a course in the Old Masters Style of painting a couple of years ago, and ended up in a rut.  I appreciate realistic paintings, but don't enjoy doing them.  I proved I can do it, and that was enough.  Many of the techniques I like and use. 

Susan was questioning "Is Art Dying" the other day.  It was also a question about what is art. 

Art is in the eye of the beholder.  It takes two people to create a work of art ... one to make it, and one to see it.

For the rest of today, I'm returning to making. 

अ Beginning

Where to begin? My wish is to connect with artists with common or uncommon ideas. I started this process a few days ago. I believe I have the "kinks" worked out of the profile, URL, etc.