Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Eyes Have It

Today's painting for the 30/30 challenge is a study in composition and shape.  Again, I started out thinking I would do the entire head of my little Cavalier, Charlie.  But when I laid it out on the 3 x 3 inch canvas, I decided it was just another head shot, and wanted to make it more interesting.  I was intrigued by the way his eye seemed to echo one side of his nose, and how the shape of the red-brown fur around his eye was almost the inverse of the white on his nose and face.  I think my recent interest in Zentangles influenced this piece as well. As I painted, I completely forgot about it being my dog's face and immersed myself in the shapes. Imagine folding the piece in half:  the parts would almost fit over one another. This was a fun piece to paint!

After I warmed up with the daily painting, I moved on to one of my commissions.  Still a lot of fine tuning to do on this one, but here's "Hope."

And you know, it's not too early to be thinking about Christmas...so if you'd like to commission a portrait for that special someone, or as a gift to yourself (hey, why not???), just send me a note! I have gift certificates available, too. I also have a couple of special projects in the works. I'll be posting details soon, so be sure to check back!  

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Basket of Fruit and a Jazzy Zen Cat!

Now I'm two days behind in the September 30/30 challenge, but I'm not giving up!  Unfortunately, I will end up even further (farther?) behind this weekend, as I see no, or very little, painting time until Monday!  Ah well....that's why it's a challenge, right?  So I did this mini-painting while sitting the gallery yesterday.

 And then, instead of painting another daily piece, I ended up playing with Zentangles(r).  I intended to just work with shapes, black and white, etc, but then I saw a photo of this cat and decided to see what I could come up with.  It ended up being the cover of a blank notecard.  I'm calling it "Jazzy Zen Cat." I know, I probably should have done another painting instead of the Zentangle, but this is considered art too!  In fact, I just received a set of Sakura pens and some samples of the Zentangle paper...can't wait to try them out.  So off I go!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Eye on the Prize: PAD #4

Well, for me it's day #4 in the Painting a Day challenge because, as usual, I'm running behind.  Maybe I'll catch up tomorrow...in the meantime, this painting, titled "Eye on the Prize" is in acrylics, on a 3" x 3" canvas. I started out trying to fit the entire horse's head on the canvas, but again, I gradually made the image bigger, focusing more on the horse's eye. I made several attempts to correct the size, but kept making the image bigger, until I finally quit struggling and let the painting go where "it" wanted to.  I actually like this composition, and as I painted, I realized that my recent discovery of Zentangles (R) was playing a role here because I was focusing more on the shapes rather than the horse itself.  Next time, I might even make the shapes more defined, creating a real abstraction.  That, for me, would be wonderful as I have always had difficulty painting abstracts.  I always try to make them look like something.  So we'll see how it goes!  Check back tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

September Painting a Day Challenge: Day #3

Here's the 3rd in this month's challenge.  I decided to take a break from painting pets...this sort of reminds me of a materials pattern...something you'd make a tablecloth out of maybe?  I'm trying not to rush these little pieces, but when the day is ending and I realize I haven't done the day's challenge....I become very impatient to finish--or start!  But, these daily paintings do offer an opportunity to learn.  By working small, I am having to face my personal issue with space, and having a daily deadline also forces me to choose simpler subjects, sometimes whatever happens to be in front of me, and get right to the important stuff of composition and color.
 One thing I have become aware of is, over the past couple of years, I have moved from large paintings to smaller ones....and I'm wanting to grab a HUGE canvas and really loosen up, with big brushes, large, loose arm movement....so don't be surprised to see a very large painting in the not-too-distant future.

And here's a slightly different subject:  had lunch with a friend of mine a couple of weeks ago and she introduced me to the wonderful world of Zentangles®.  Here is the definition of Zentangles, along with a link to their site:  "The Zentangle® Method is an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns. It was created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. "Zentangle" is a registered trademark of Zentangle, Inc. Learn more at zentangle.com."

After sharing her beautiful Zentangle-inspired art with me, my friend gifted me with a lovely sketchbook, a couple of gel pens, and several pieces of paper--and I am now in love, and addicted to, the art of Zentangle. Here are a few I created over the past week.They are more Zentangle inspired than official Zentangles, but I am loving this technique.  It's a great way to warm up before tackling a commissioned painting or just to loosen up and get centered.

So...if you are so inclined, visit the Zentangle site and have fun!  And off I go now to paint...and play.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A New Month and a New Challenge

The last time I tried to do a Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days Challenge, it was back in January, and I didn't quite make it. Ended up completing about half. I was disappointed in myself for not finishing the challenge, so when I saw another one for September, I decided to jump right in. And then, I started thinking: maybe I'm putting too much pressure on myself. Even working small, painting one piece a day is a lot of work. I've taken on other daily challenges: a photograph a day, a poem a day -- and failed miserably. I'm good for about a week, maybe two, and then I get distracted, or bored, and move on to something else. Maybe it's the long term commitment that scares me, although thirty days is hardly long term. I'm one of those folks who usually works better with a deadline. So why do I fail at these one-a-day challenges?  Beats me, but I have decided that, this time, I'm really going to do it.  YEAH!

BUT....there are some days when I should just stay out of the studio, and today was one of those days.  I decided to paint a seagull from a photo I took when I was back in New York.  Talk about trying to fit a square peg in a round hole! Or should I say, a rectangle in a square.  You'd think, with all my artistic experience, that space and placement wouldn't be a big deal for me any longer. Wrong!  I really am spatially challenged.  So there I was, trying to squeeze this oblong seagull into a perfect square.  I started over at least three times, and each time, ended up making the gull larger until I cut off its tail feathers and half of its beak. I considered giving up, which would place me one day behind already.  So I forged on, determined to complete Day Two of the Thirty Day Challenge because I'm not a quitter!  The result:  not one of my better pieces, but it's done.  And when I realized it wasn't going to fit on the square canvas, I decided to focus on color and lighting instead.  I was a little more successful with that.

So what have I learned?  Well, I'm still spatially challenged.  But, I completed the daily painting.  Two days down, 28 more to go. Stay tuned....

And here's Day One's painting:

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Michael has Left the Building...

...and he has taken the dragon with him!  My latest commission was a real challenge for me because it involved imagination, but also some knowledge of the story of Michael the archangel and the 7-headed dragon.  The client didn't want me to follow the story exactly, which made it a little easier. But it has been a long time since I created a dragon, and I was a little rusty. I did a lot of research, both on dragons, and archangels, and my client did as well. I borrowed some of the background for the dragon from Raphael's version.

Michael was a little easier for me as he was more in keeping with my specialty, portraits.  My client didn't want the typical image of Michael that you see in Raphael's depiction or that of many other artists.  She had very specific ideas, the main one being she wanted him in Medieval-style armor, descending from Heaven rather than fighting the dragon on the ground, as I had him doing in my original sketch.  I borrowed Michael's  pose from a version by Esther Sanz. So above, right, is the final image.

This was one of the most intense commissions I've ever had.  At times I felt completely out of my realm and overwhelmed by the enormity of the project.  I believe there was some divine intervention, however, when my darling studio cat, Gracie, decided to leap onto my palette, which skidded out from under her, knocked over the water bucket, sending the bucket, brushes and water crashing to the floor.  Although none of the dirty water landed on the painting, it did splash everywhere else, including all the drawers of my caddy, so not only did I have to stop to mop the floor, I also had to remove everything from the drawers and dry them.  I know God was watching over either me, the cat or both!

And now I move on...here's what's currently on the easel:  This is Tara, a beautiful yellow lab.  It feels good to get back to painting pets!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Through the Looking Glass

Portrait of Stephanie Allison
In my continued quest to learn all I can about art marketing, I've come across TONS of information. But the one that peaked my interest the most (well, at this time, anyway) suggested posting earlier artworks--I'm talking like back in the stone age when I first picked up a paint brush.  Well I can't go back THAT far because, silly me, I didn't keep any refrigerator art from my school days (and neither, apparently, did my mother) but I did head down to the studio/basement/garage and started pulling out old portfolios and files, canvases that were stacked along the wall--and discovered a small treasure trove of old work, student work, canvases I'd started and, for various reasons, either lost interest in or got stuck and quit.  Not only did I find paintings I'd literally forgotten about, but with each new discovery, I became inspired again.

I found an early self-portrait (above left), which not only made me laugh, but also reminded me of those early painting days. Back then, I didn't think as much about what I was doing.  I just jumped right down the rabbit hole and did it! And I think jumping in without a lot of thought isn't necessarily a bad thing. For me, anyway, because I have a tendency to over-think things and then I get so wrapped up in the thinking that I lose interest in the painting. I'm not saying there's no value in art education, workshops, etc.  I've benefited from all that. But I think you can spend way too much time analyzing, planning and critiquing, and before you know it you've lost all the emotion and freshness, as well as maybe some of the joy of painting.

Where Shall I Go
Watercolor Collage
by Stephanie Allison
Which brings me to why taking a step back and rummaging through earlier art is beneficial to your art marketing:  it's easier to sell artwork you are passionate about.  If you are brimming with enthusiasm over something you've created, your potential customers will feel that joy as well.  Sometimes (and I am guilty of this) we spend too much time painting what we THINK will sell, and pay no attention to what has actually SOLD and, more importantly, why.  So looking through my old stuff helped me see what I was passionate about and what I'm still passionate about. Digging through the bones of earlier artwork also showed me how I've grown as an artist--where I've been, and where I want to go.

Now I may have arrived late at this revelation, but I suspect I'm not the only one.  Lesson learned:  stepping through the looking glass into the past can re-ignite a lost or buried creative spark.  It has for me!