Thursday, May 22, 2014

Beautiful Day for Plein Air

After buying some calla lilies from the local garden store I thought  they'd make a wonderful painting. So I packed up my supplies and went outdoors for my first plein air painting. It was a lot of fun despite the troubles I had with the wind. After the first time the flowers blew over I wasn't quite able to get them back in the right position. Oh well. At some point it became very clear that this wasn't going very well. I didn't care as long as the music was good and the wine was cold. It made me realize that I really need to work more on my quick drawing skills. Long ago I put down the daily sketch book in order to spend more time painting. I think it's time to get back to it. (Note to self- buy a new "cool" sketch book, one that is separate from the sketches I do for paintings.)

My painting is a scraper. One I'm not ready to show. My husband says he likes it. (How would I ever get by without his constant support and encouragement?) I also realize that this plein air is going to take some practice and some instruction. It's time to watch all those plein air demos I have on my Pinterest boards. Anyway, I'm keeping the painting for awhile as something to look back on when I want to see what progress I've made. I'm planning on spending today doing what I love; gardening and painting. Does it get any better than this?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Cooper, my Studio Manager, Hard at Work Today

Say hello to Cooper. He's my Wonder Sheltie; he's always there by my side and a darn good studio manager. Cooper makes sure I get down to work.

Cooper takes a short 45 minute break. Keeping me on track is hard work.

No Loafing allowed!!!! Cooper makes sure I can't leave the studio without him knowing it.

Starting a New Painting on a Rainy Day

Working on a commission and starting a new painting.
 That's my kind of day! Let it rain all it wants to.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Jeff Perry's Commencement Speech and Thoughts About Art

Last weekend we celebrated my daughter, Samantha's graduation from Illinois State University. She graduated with a degree in graphic arts. She the perfect blend of my husband's architectural talents along with my artistic talents. She's got the best of both of us.

I was delightfully surprised by how entertaining the two hour long graduation ceremony was. I guess that comes from being a school of the Arts. My own graduation was such a snoozer that I got up in the middle of it and told my parents to leave, promising to meet them back at my apartment. (But that was Liberal Arts and Sciences.)  ISU's speakers were sincere and interesting, the music was great, including a performance of the song Spring  Awakening, even the graduates names were pronounced in such a theatrical way, often including nicknames, that it was entertaining.

The commencement speaker, actor Jeff Perry of ABC's series Scandal was wonderful. He spoke about the graduates of the arts as being "built for doing dangerous and reckless things." I loved listening to the passion he has for the arts and the energy in the room as these young people were about to" explode on out of here." He spoke about his own life struggles and sprinkled his speech with several quotes, including one from Oscar Wilde, "Be Yourself- everyone else is  already taken."

 The quote that resonated  the most with me was from Martha Graham; dancer, choreographer, and teacher:

"There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all of time. This expression is unique, and if you block it it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channels open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware, directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channels open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever, at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest, that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others."

At a time when I have so many other artists, visible on social media, to compare myself with this is comforting. It reminds me it doesn't matter how many "likes" one artist has or how many people follow your blog or even how many paintings you sell. What matters is that you evolve into your true self, you  morph into the artist you are meant be regardless of all that is going on around you. I am not suggesting that you do not be allow yourself to be affected by what's around you, "stay open to the channels", just don't "become" someone else that you are not. And it helps to know that the drive that pushes us forward always wanting  more, better, always challenging is a good thing not our enemy, embrace it.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Pajama Gardening and Painting.

Such a strange thing to want - a rainy day. But, here I am glad it's raining today. Today I paint and pack.

With the weather finally getting warmer I've been planting in the garden each day. I discovered pajama gardening a few years ago. I get up do a few chores, eat breakfast then go outside and garden in my pajamas. (I have a six foot privacy fence in the back yard.) There are two benefits to gardening in your PJ's besides the obvious that's it's comfortable. It's a way to get outside before the heat of the day and it saves time as you just need to shower once in the day. Of course, I just go in the back yard - although I do see a lot of people out shopping in their PJ's. I love gardening and I won't be able to stop until the yard is set. It will take awhile as it's a slow process to get rid of all that grass that loves to grow in the flower beds. I consider it a part of my art because most of my garden series flowers came out of my own backyard. In fact, Margo's poppies is the only painting not from my back yard.

The afternoons have been for painting. Also, a slow process for me. I think I'm finally done with the Iris paining. Last Tuesday night, our art guild had artist Tom Heflin in to critique our paintings. I was excited to have his feedback. I was also very nervous. It's been about twenty years since I sat through a critique. I had to give to give myself one of those talks after the voice in my head said, "what if he hates it?" I had to tell myself it doesn't matter what other people think because I paint for myself and am not willing to ever do it part time again. I guess that voice will always be there and that's okay - normal probably. anyway, Tom suggested that I continue to darken the background and the leaves. I have been and I think I'm done.

Tomorrow my daughter graduates from ISU with a degree in graphic design. I am very excited and proud. No painting tomorrow.