Thursday, November 30, 2006

the road less travelled

To those of you who don't know this already, I have worked my way from realism to abstraction. I did not simply pick up a brush one day and start painting whatever came to me. That might work for some artists, but it wasn't good enough for me. I have a degree in art. I studied art history, drawing, design, color theory, painting and sculpture. I have been drawing from the human figure for almost 15 years. I think there is a notion running rampant out there that painters who work abstractly do so only because they cannot draw. I am here to tell you that is NOT true. Maybe for SOME artists it is true. It is not true for me.

There is also a segment of the population who think that abstract art is easier than realistic art, and that anyone could paint an abstract. I suppose you might as well say anyone could paint a landscape, the figure or even a still life. That does not mean anyone can do it well. The same is true for abstract art. In fact, after having explored still life, portraits and the landscape, I have discovered that painting abstractly is by FAR the most challenging. If I am painting a bowl of fruit, for example, I have the fruit right there in front of me. I know what I am trying to achieve. I know what I want the painting to look like. There is the fruit right there. That is what I want the painting to look like. There are all kinds of guidelines to follow, from years and years of art history. The path is well defined. Now, in contrast, if I am painting something completely out of my mind, NOT trying to make it look like fruit, or a person, or a landscape, I do not know exactly where I am going. There is not much of a path. The way is not clear. There is much more mystery; there are fewer rules to follow. It is so easy to create a horrible abstract painting!!! It is difficult to produce an abstract that has harmony, a solid composition, and beauty. For me, this is the challenge I find fascinating. This less familiar path is the path I want to travel.

Monday, November 27, 2006


Monday is supposed to be a "day off" - whatever that means. When you work for yourself, it means another day just like any other day, where you try to get done as much as you possibly can! I did get a framing order called in, and that was a major load off my mind. I really hate pretty much everything about framing, except for the end result. As soon as I am rich enough, I will just pay someone whatever it costs to take care of it for me. YUCK!

I did get to go up to the college in Buena Vista and use the printmaking press today!!! Yay! I really LOVE LOVE LOVE it! Why do I love it so much? Well, it's fast and it's fun. I had a rather short day, but better short than not at all, right? Right! I am posting one that I did today, but not my favorite one. That one is top secret, and I will probably hide it away until I do one I like even better. The one I am posting is still a good one. There is always a chance I will rework this a little bit with pastel. Although, maybe not. I really like this one.

I did rework a few of my other monotypes yesterday. I liked what I did, but I don't have one with me to show you. So I guess you just have to wait.

I am not going to write much today, since I am tired. I guess I wore myself out. There will be more to come, so stay tuned.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

the juggling act

Here is another watercolor from this past summer (early fall). This one is a little bit bigger - just under 8" square. Hopefully, you can see that I worked on it more than the one I posted yesterday. The composition is strong, and I like the transparencies. The other part about it that I am happy with is the balance of light and dark areas. I am enjoying the square format. Traditionally, canvas and paper are more rectangular. As much as I enjoy the rectangle, the square format seems to provide me with a freedom from the idea that a painting should be a figure (usually vertical, especially for portraits) or a landscape, which is typically horizontal. (I am generalizing here, of course.) The square is a departure from these preconceptions, and has provided me with interesting compositions.

This particular painting pleases me in the way that there seems to be motion without feeling unsettled. Because the elements seem to converge in one area which is close to the center, my eye is drawn there. There, my eye finds rest. I think it works well.

This is a painting which I have considered blowing up bigger, maybe in oil. There are always so many ideas for new paintings. My hope is that I find time to paint them all. I had the gallery open today, and so I did not get to paint. I have been painting on Sundays, and keeping the gallery closed. Today, with the holiday, I had traffic all day, and several people asked me if the gallery was open tomorrow. I told them "no", but now I am feeling that old pressure to be open, since there are people in town. The problem is, if I open the doors, I will not get to focus on painting. I will be focusing on people coming in. I guess the question is: "do I try to make sales, or do I make art?!" I know I'd much rather make art, even though my checking account is depleting. I will wait to see how I feel tomorrow, and then I will decide.

I never realized owning my own gallery would be such a juggling act.

Friday, November 24, 2006

big art, small art

Thanksgiving has come and gone. One day off has a way of going by very quickly! I am staring at my brushes, and the big oil painting on my easel that needs finishing. I would like to get to it right away, but you know I am paying bills, doing paperwork, and trying to sell art to people who come in. So it must wait. This is a painting that I have reworked 3 or 4 times now. I think it is close to being finished, but it ISN'T finished yet. It still needs resolution.

The watercolor I am posting today is a recent painting (from late summer). I like the looseness of it, and I find the color combination appealing. I have always liked the look of watercolor and ink together. It is small, measuring just under 6" square. I have been told that some artists who work big are not able to work small, and vice versa. I have always enjoyed both. There is a time when the intimacy of small work pulls me in. Then, there are those days when nothing will satisfy like a huge painting. In a big painting, a line is the result of whole arm movements - even body movements. The act of painting is almost a dance with a brush to record it. It is unlike a small painting, where a line is a result of a finger or wrist movement. Sometimes, I find that I can work out composition problems in a smaller work and then blow it up big. I will continue to work both ways, no doubt.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

thoughts of art

I did end up going up to print monotypes today with my friend, Carla Sonheim. It was fun!!! It is energizing to go up with someone else, and see other techniques and ideas, and just to have someone to talk to. I wonder if non-artists realize how much time artists actually spend alone, in the studio, creating art. I decided as long as I am here in Salida, surrounded by artists, I am going to take any chances I can to collaborate, to work with other artists, to fuel the fires, etc. that I possibly can. I feel lucky to know so many talented people, and I want to see them, to watch them create, to be inspired by them (and hopefully inspire them!), and to really seize the opportunities I can to immerse myself in this hot-bed of creativity. It is such an exciting thing. Carla is certainly on the top of my list of people who inspire me.

I had a pretty good day. It is interesting how I am not always as happy about the work at first. I seem to have to go home, or go away from it, and then pull it out later to look at it before I really see something I like in it. One thing I learned today is that I am thinking I no longer want to bottom weight any of my work. (For those who don't know, a bottom weight is when you put more empty space underneath a piece of art than at the top. Your eye seems to balance this out for some reason. It works if you are doing something like a landscape... but with my work, I no longer think it applies. It is too limiting.) I think I know which end I want at the top, and then when I get a second look, I realize it is almost always as interesting, if not more interesting with the part I put on top, at the bottom. (or even on the side!) And vise-versa. If this makes any sense. I like to turn my art around and around. It changes my whole perception of the composition, the strength of the individual elements, and even the meaning of the piece. Just to turn it around!! Does this mean that I am just a rebel?? I suppose. But I don't really mind being a rebel, as long as it means I am doing my OWN art. Creativity is destroyed by conformity.

There is more that I have to say about abstract art, and why I am so obsessed with it, but now is not the time. You have to wait if you want to hear more about that.

I mentioned my dog and the eating of mice rice last time, so I don't want to leave those of you who are interested hanging. I am hoping that two little turds are not an indication of a mouse problem. I prefer to remain optimistic. The mouse was just visiting. I haven't seen it, or any indication, other than the two damning brown rice. Which were, incidentally, eaten by my beloved dog. It's one of those things you try to forget about. Except this morning, when it was too early to wake up, and a warm, wet tongue licked my face, ...suddenly I was reminded of the mouse turds. Well, let me tell you right now that a thought like that can jolt you out of bed in SECONDS!!! No kidding. I bolted like a colt at the sound of a car backfiring. Wet, turd tongue. Yuck. I think I prefer the alarm clock after all. I mean, I love my dog, but come ON!!! Why can't he be the exception to the rules of dogs and unbridled ickiness??? !!! Really.

Well, that is enough of that. I am a professional here. No point in getting off the subject. Which, now that I think about it, was art. Where was I??? Oh, something about conformity. I have never been very good at conforming. I will say that in my own mind, abstract art is the rock and roll of painting. Realism, if done well, is probably classical. Surrealism, well, if pressed, I would say it is the elevator, easy listening of the art world. I mean, it is slick and refined, but if you spend any time at all with it, it has an underlying creepiness that makes me turn the dial. This is my opinion, only. The thing that I love about art, as music, is that there is a song, a style, a painting, out there for everyone. My likes are only MINE. I do not expect, and I hope hope hope, that you have the nerve to disagree. That means you know who you are, and aren't afraid of it. That is what makes it truly intriguing. I will say that it is good for a person to expose themself to something they thought they didn't like, really to spend time with it, and allow themselves to get to know it. Then, if you still don't like it, you can come up with reasons why, and you won't be afraid to say it. If you find yourself surprised, you have learned something, and grown. Art is like people, you have to spend time with it, to really get to know it.

Just so you know, the image I am including with this post is a monotype from a couple of weeks ago. It is not from today. Today's monotypes have to be looked at and thought about before I can expose them to the public eye. I just wanted you to have an image. I do like this one.

Monday, November 20, 2006

cleaning and a dog

I spent the day cleaning house today. Now, all I can smell is bleach. I must have gotten some on my clothes or something. Yuck. I used to clean house all the time - no kidding - every week. Then, I realized it was one of the things I used as an excuse not to do my art. So my once perpetually clean house has become more like a home for dust bunnies. I get a lot more art done now! One thing I've realized for sure is that cleaning is totally overrated. I wouldn't mind having a housekeeper - I mean, is there anyone out there who DOESN'T want a housekeeper? I am just glad I stopped my obsession for a clean house before my entire life passed me by.

My dog, Pono, who is my sweet love dog, is very fuzzy. So cleaning now is sort of like chasing clumps of wispy dog fur around. No matter how many rooms you chase the fur from, there seems to always be more fur. Despite this irritation, I must say I wouldn't trade my dog in for anything. He is good for me. He makes me laugh, out loud, at least once a day. I have read that pet owners are a lot less stressed out than those people who remain pet-less. (In fact, I just read that today in Jane magazine.) So think what a basket case I would be were it not for Mr. Pono!

Right now he is on the futon behind me, licking his foot. Oh, for the life of a dog! I mean, I realize that not all dogs have a life like Pono has, but Pono has it pretty good. If I didn't have to eat dog food, I might consider trading him places. For one thing, I think he sleeps about 15 hours a day (or more!) I like sleeping. This is something I could get into. He gets a hike every morning, for at least an hour, if not longer. And if he wants his tummy rubbed, all he has to do is roll over on his back when someone is looking at him, and there ya go. Not bad! I have to say I have had a much harder time getting a tummy rub. I guess people just don't walk up to complete strangers and rub their tummies. I've seen them do it to strange dogs, though.

I have a photo for you, so you can see Pono and I together. This is for those of you who have not met my Pono. (Or me, for that matter.) Doesn't it look like love? If you are contemplating getting a pet, I am here to tell you that it is well worth it!

I don't have thoughts about art today. Only dogs. One dog in particular. By the way, the word "pono" is a Hawaiian word. It means "goodness; to be just or upright." We got Pono from the pound, and when we named him, I told him he had a big name to live up to. Luckily for us, he has done a pretty amazing job in that department. Other than the two little mice rice I saw him eat this morning, he is pretty good. (More on the mice rice later.)

Tomorrow is printmaking day. So perhaps later this week I will have some new monotypes to post. Stay tuned! Not all days are "dog days".

Friday, November 17, 2006

Thank you, artists of Salida

As promised, I have a new monotype for you to enjoy. Thank you, Alyson, for your helpful suggestion! I did remember my camera today, but scanning is so much easier. This is a small monotype, and the printed image is only 5 x 7". It is one that I did the last time I went up to CMC to use the printmaking press. It is a favorite of mine, because I like how the colors came out: so rich and velvety. I also think the composition is quite strong, and the round forms in the center become almost figurative for me. I could use a little help with the title, if you have any suggestions. Tell me what you think!
I am in the gallery, again today. I am working on the postcards for my final party at Cool Mountain Art. I would like to get these postcards sent out, so that I can focus on all the other things I need to do like ordering framing, beginning the dreaded packing, and of course the marketing of my art.
The idea of moving has totally overwhelmed me, and I am finding that I am freaked out today. Hopefully, it is just a phase that will pass, because I don't like how stressed I feel about it! I know I will survive it all, but it is always hard to leave friends, and I am going to miss this art community! I have never had so many artist friends in my life. It has been a priviledge for me to be part of such an exciting group of talented people. Mahalo, Salida.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Gallery Sitting

Another day of sitting in my gallery, Cool Mountain Art. One would think that with the upcoming holidays, things would be picking up around here. However, I have been here since about 11:15 this morning and I have only had 2 people come in. They were artists. I do actually like it that artists come in. It is fun to meet other artists, and to talk to them. I even have artists who buy my work - a huge compliment!! But these two were not the buying sort. The good news is that I am getting a lot of work done.
I have just made an appointment to go up to AVAC and use the printmaking press next Tuesday. Hooray! I am actually ready to go up there right now, but I do have other business to take care of. I forgot my camera today, so I can't put up another picture of a monotype. I do have one of my new favorite oil paintings to post. The thing you can't see in this photo is that the painting is continued around the edges of the canvas, which is deep, and it looks really cool hanging flat against the wall. I will find a photo of the edges so you can see that, too.
I will have to burn the midnight oil now, if I expect to have a new body of work before we move. I thought I would have about 6 months to create more work, but it is now looking like that might not be the case. We might end up listing our house right away, and if it sells quickly, we will move quickly!!! eeeks!
For those who don't know, my husband, who is a pilot, just got a new job and we are moving near LA. Somewhere. Don't know where yet. I've never been there, so

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


My new favorite thing is printmaking. I am doing monotypes, thanks to Sallyann Paschall. I am going to post a couple of the first monotypes I did so you can see. There will be more coming, as soon as I can figure out how to take a halfway decent photograph. Repeat after me: "painter, not photographer!" That's my excuse, anyway.

I have already managed to drive myself crazy with this blogging thing. I managed to merge my blog account with my husband's gmail account. So this is actually the second blog that I've created. At least this one is linked to MY gmail account. Is there a point in life when computers DON'T make you want to break things??? I am going to pretend that there is.

Not to jump around, but the thing I am enjoying most about printmaking is that it is so quick!!! I am not a fast painter. Most of the paintings I do involve many hours, days and weeks of work, contemplation, and reworking. But the monotype process has allowed me to do at least one, if not two, finished pieces in an hour!! unreal! Every time I pull the paper up off the plate, there is this moment of excitement: what will it look like? Some of the time I know what it will do when I roll it through the press, but there is still so much unexpectedness in the results. I love that! I hope I can get up to the press (it's The Arkansas Valley Art Center's new press at CMC) soon.

More photos will be coming.