Saturday, January 10, 2009

Castle painting update (excerpt from 1000 Markets blog)

close detail of painting with castleThis morning I shut my puter off and settled down to a 3 hour painting session. Keeping in mind that this is basically an underpainting, I'm really satisfied with today's progress. The roof for the coach house was mostly done yesterday but it seemed to be floating in all that white canvas, so first order of business was to get the correct values painted around it. 

One of the harder things to learn as a painter was how to get the correct values in color. Red, for example, seems bright but it really is a very dark color, especially if it is set next to a light color like yellow. For years I had a hard time with greens...there are a lot of green shades and they lean towards one of the primary colors, either red, blue or yellow. Put the wrong shade in the wrong place and it totally throws off the perspective.

When painting trees you don't really just lay a shape down, you break it into dark, mid and light tones and then go back with a highlight to pick out a few bright spots. If you look at trees in a painting up close, you are just going to see blobs of color with no rhyme or reason, it's not until you stand back that it all melds together. Brighter greens, with more yellows and oranges will come forward, cooler greens with more blue will recede. They get hazier in the distance also. 

The part that I've actually had the most fun with is the coach house roof. Except for the bridge house roof, all the roof tops are a slate gray color. Yet, there is no true gray whatsoever in this roof. A true gray is just a mixture of black and white. But gray can be any color that has been toned down to be a neutral color. You can tone down colors with a complementary color (green with red, violet with yellow, orange with blue) or you can add a slight touch of black to it.

The roof is mostly a grayed blue and mauve, with white added to one of those colors for highlights. It's fun to paint with colors for gray, it seems to be so much more alive than a dead flat gray. 

I'll be doing a lot more to the bridge house later, for now I have the values close enough to paint around it. It needs some detail work (and brick straightening lol) but if I try to do too much now it may be overly detailed and become the focal point instead of the figure on the bike.

I won't get back to this until Tuesday, but plan to carry the painting to the right now. Sorry for all the skewed perspective on this photo but I was trying to grab a picture before the light changed, a storm is heading in :)

Check out the beaded lily to see the series she has started; she asked several artists from The Wearable Art Market to put together something that featured our hands and today she started with mine :) Hope you enjoy it! 

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Time Management and Art Deadlines

I have a deadline coming up for an art show and an uncompleted painting. I know that the only way to get it done is to keep it a priority and four days a week I sit down first thing in the morning and get to work on it. It's important to do this even on the days I have other things to do, because if I start making excuses and procrastinating I will never make the deadline.

I used to push through 6 or 7 days of working but found that pushing that hard would actually cause more harm than good. Life is about balance, when it leans too far in one direction one of two things will happen. Pushing will tire you out and keep the brain from functioning at optimal level. When tired, a lot of mistakes get made, which cost extra time to fix. On the other hand, procrastinating will take away the momentum needed to complete a project. If you don't keep the muse happy she'll go where she's needed :)

The downside of a push like this is that it does sometimes seem like all work and no play. When you are doing art for yourself it's more like playing, you can enjoy the moment. I find myself missing the other art I've been sculptures or concept jewelry is even being attempted right now because I need to focus on the deadline, but I do miss it. Normally I would be able to allow paint drying periods to be time for working on multiple products, I'm doing my first layer of paint in paintstiks this time so that I can get overnight drying and keep working.

Today was my chore day..housework, bill paying etc. A day away from the work of my art, but not exactly a day off either. And yet, I found myself itching to be painting, so the work schedule I've set up for myself is doing it's job :)

On another note, I want to thank Mem's Pocket Palette  for the lovely and unexpected feature she did for my shop at 1000 Markets today. I hope that you'll take a moment to go visit her shop there, I am totally in love with her Nesting bowl and get a giggle from her Ol' Folk collections every time I see them. Thanks, Mem!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A little progress on current painting

Well, I've close to a quarter of the canvas covered now :D The trouble is that every time I sit down to paint I'm spending a lot of time going back and making small adjustments to areas that have dried. When people say that paintings look like a photo they don't realize that rarely does the painting look like the actual photo(s) used for reference. Since paints do not have the infinitesimal variances that nature's color spectrum has, they cannot begin to come close to the actual colors. Not only does a painter need to approximate those shades, they have to make them work as a painting, and paintings have different rules than nature. A photo also cannot truly capture the colors correctly and photos tend to take darker areas and turn them into black holes and also wash out bright colors. So really, painting from a photo reference is like a fine tuned dance where you have to anticipate your partner's every move or fall flat on your face. :D Painting is completely an illusion. How else do you make something three dimensional work on a two dimensional plane? Luckily, like magicians, painters have their own bag of tricks. There are techniques to make certain areas come closer or further; warms advance, cools recede, perspective and size relationships also come into play. The focal area needs less detailed areas around it so it will stand out. Certain colors next to each other will make one jump forward. Painting a large scene is a lot harder than doing a single subject, the figure on the Harley is only 7 by 3 1/2 inches and it's too detailed and small to be able use large brushes and sweeping strokes. Even though I've pretty much abstracted the engine, each stroke counts and one stroke at the wrong angle or value ruins the whole effect. This is also an overcast day painting, when there is strong light it's easy to use shadows and sharp light contrast to define areas. Here the differences in values are sometimes just a slight, subtle shift. Value is really much more important than color to making a painting work. After I have finished each session I have to stand way back from the painting and see how it all works together, and then fine tune the painting so it's cohesive overall. That involves a dab here, step back, another dab there, step back again, more dabs, until finally you step back and it all makes sense together. I enjoy a challenge, and I learn from each painting I do, but it sure would be nice if one day I've painted it all and therefore instinctively know exactly what tone and what color will work the first try, no matter what the subject. I think the pigs are scheduled for flying maneuvers that day too :D

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Two lovely features done on my art!

Yesterday I found out that my baby chimp sculpture pendant was featured in Moods and Appetites  . Since Japanese art was the inspiration for my foray into the world of sculpture , I was double excited to see my work along side of two very famous historical Japanese artists. 

I love Katrina's approach to blogging, she has a very interesting way of tying historical and modern art together in an informational format.

I spent hours there last night checking out all the wonderful links she has too.

Today I was doubly blessed to find yet another lovely feature on my Nine Dragons Sculpture Art store at 1000 Markets. 

 For the love of beads is a blog written by a fellow 1000 Markets artisan, Mallory, of Rosebud's Lampwork Beads. Mallory is a wonderful glass artisan herself (I'm in lust with her glass vessels and can't wait to own one) and I love her sidekick, Spike :)

Thank you Mallory and Katrina, you've gotten my New Year off to a wonderful beginning! 


Sunday, January 4, 2009

thebeadedlily - Wearable Art Market Featured Artist

Today it is my pleasure to share the gorgeous beadwork of my fellow Wearable Art Market member, Sarah Kelley aka thebeadedlily.

I've chosen these two pieces to showcase her work because they are my favorite, although just by the teeniest margin. I also think that they are very representative of her artistic vision of tying her own work to the works of the past.

This first beaded cuff is titled Hamunaptra. The focal scarab grabs the eye immediately but it's easy to see and feel the Egyptian connection in the pattern and choice of colors for the beads.

One of the things I like most about some of Sarah's work is her use of different sized beads to tell a story, something I rarely did in my beading days, counting on pattern for my story. Her approach is much more innovative and exciting :)

This second cuff is a more traditional bead piece but I adore her use of the bone beads as an edging. 

Hands Against Time  is photographed against an art background from Dawn of Art: The Chauvet Cave. Note the color similarities, which act as a connection point between past and present.

These are just two of her cuffs, so be sure to visit her shop at 1000 Markets to see more of her exciting beadwork, and while you're there, check out her primitive metal series and stringing too.


Artistic Resolutions for the New Year

Last night I found myself painting at one in the morning and realized that I need to make a New Year's resolution to bring more balance into my life. 

It seems that every year I set goals for what I'd like to accomplish and then push myself to exhaustion trying to meet them. This year I have the same type of artistic goals and have even added more responsibilities on top of it. 

And it's not that these things are unreachable, I just don't seem to know when to stop. 

This doesn't seem to be an issue in the summer as much as it is during the winter months. In the spring I just have to hear the birds singing and I'm ready to go take a break outside and just enjoy the ambience. But during the dark and cold days of winter I have no distractions. I'd love to be able to just sit and relax but I can't just sit there and stare at a wall. But working until the wee hours of the morning is neither good for my health nor my art. So, what to do?

Well, I'm going to take my weekends off and not work on work. Five days a week is plenty of work time, considering I have a home to take care of too. I won't commit myself to not using the time to catch up on computer work, but I will save as much time as I can to just rest up. I'm also going to give myself a curfew. No work after 8 pm. If I want to play, perhaps just experiment with some techniques, then that is a bit different and might be a way to relax without boredom. 

It seems strange to make a resolution to do less, and to have an artistic resolution that really has nothing to do with art goals, but I'm thinking that after a certain point I'm just spinning my wheels or sliding backwards anyways. 

Perhaps by being good to myself, I might actually get more accomplished in the long run, and I think that might work as a worthy New Year's resolution after all!