Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rapture and Serenity

'Rapture & Serenity' 11x13" Soft Pastels on Wallis Museum Grade Paper

Early one evening my darling and I took supper on the patio. As we finished I took note of the fringe of white fire that the late day sun was striking in the edges of the Sieryu maple. The Buddleia was still in bloom, and despite the contrast, her purpleness, and some lovely orangey glow was twinkling in her canopy. I ran for the camera and after snagging some shots, I continued to study the scene for the few minutes that it continued.
As you might expect, the photo darks were very dark, near black, but I knew they were not quite as inky as they appeared. There was a ‘smokiness’ to those darks in the real garden. As I prepared to paint I considered two conflicting strings of painterly advice I had picked up:
  • “Students go too dark too soon. It’s a common problem.”
  • “In pastels, if you don’t get your darks ‘dark enough’ early, there’s really no going back to fix it late in the game.”
Hmm. Definitely some serious darks here, and some serious brights. I decide to set the darks at absolute and layer in lighter values of color as needed for texture until I found that ‘smokiness’, whatever that was. It went slowly for me. Long periods of looking and thinking between small bits of painting. I tried a blue in the darks to push them back…but ouch! It was all wrong. Broke the warmth of the scene. In brushing it off, I found my way back in. The brushed out areas left a dark haze, but some tint of light was shining through from the white paper. There was that suggestion of smoke! I do love how the process of painting can be a continual puzzling out of problems, approaches, fixes, and yes, that sweet rush when some little thing works.

March 2011
I renamed this piece and post 'Rapture and Serenity' after cropping it hard on the left and studying it some more. I just couldn't escape the sensation of 'standing in the presence of God.' Here it is cropped and framed for printing on greeting card stock.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Following My Joy: Year One in Review

"Vocation is Where Your Deep Joy Meets the World's Deep Need."

This quote from Oprah, made many years ago, has long been my mantra. It has guided me to make career choices that were intimidating in scope and demand. Each has become a foundation block on which the next choice was laid.

It’s been very nearly 12 months now since I ‘got serious’ about my development as an artist.(30 months since I first dabbled at painting.)  This week two of my paintings were accepted to a local all-media juried art show.

Immediately I needed to design business cards with a brief artist statement. I found the experience surprisingly ‘focusing’. Crafting a message that communicated my media, subjects, passion, and status in such a compact space brought me to a laser focus on the artist I WANT to be. It also sharpened my expectations for my blog and my painting efforts.

I am pleased with what I accomplished this year:
  • Joined two artists groups and volunteered to help with a group art show,
  • Attended a 3-day pastel workshop, studied artist DVD’s, and solicited a professional critique
  • Attended several art shows and a couple museums
  • Changed to sanded paper, purchased more pastels, tried new techniques
  • Subscribed to and consumed several blogs and magazines for artists, art business, and artist websites,
  • Studied everything I could find about painting in pastels and otherwise,
  • Learned how to use Photoshop and Illustrator,
  • Hunted for photo ops and possible painting subjects,
  • Tracked my painting and ‘art related’ hours (which average 15-20 hours a week above my day job)
  • Submitted my work to a local juried show and got accepted
And yet…I am disappointed:
  • I didn’t paint nearly enough
  • I STILL struggle to settle on a subject, interpretation, and style.
  • My dithering has made for inconsistent quality in the little production time I had
  • I don’t have enough good work to make a website feasible, which leaves me with only a blog to put on the business card.
There is now a large disparity between the me I see on the business cards and the me I see in the blog.
I suppose these disappointments are a good thing, they show me what needs to improve over the next year.
And so concludes year one of the pursuit of my vocation.