Monday, December 31, 2012

FILM26: Zee End

X, Y and Z
Zounds!  An entire year has rolled by.  Its hard to believe that a little idea like using film photography and following the alphabet- a letter every two weeks, would be such a buoyant factor in my year.  I shared this journey of FILM26 with 5 very special women, all of whom are remarkable photographers.  I am grateful to them for the support and camaraderie through the year.  I know for a fact that I would never would had made it through on my own.  It goes to show the importance of a speaking and sharing goals out loud with others and following through with the support of friends.  The commitment we made to each other was held together with rolls of film and letter inspired photos. It was enough, it was plenty to see us all through the year.

A journey doesn't have to be alone, sometimes its better shared.  Sometimes, the act of just telling someone else what you want to do - dare I say... speaking your dreams, makes all the difference.  Its out there.  Its spoken... its out loud.   There's something about the spoken version of a dream, that makes it more tangible and more obtainable. 

The idea of working on the skill of seeing the world in a different light, and being able to tune-in on a more regular basis was the foundation for this project.  Seeing the world through a camera lens is a wonderful way to approach honing these skills.  Seeing the world through a film camera lens - even better.  With film, you have 24 frames to shoot.  Each is meaningful and must be framed, composed and really planned.  Its not like the digital cameras where the shots are endless and you can snap away in hopes of getting one good photo.  You have 24 tries with no immediate feedback.  You must pay attention to what you are doing. 

Me and Z

Me and Y
Me and X
I completed the year with 26 encaustic letter tiles, 26+ photos of me with the letter tiles and lots of 4x6 photo prints.  I won't be continuing this project into 2013.  I am happy with my take away and what I learned in 2012.   Its a nice feeling to know that in the end, I can say "mission accomplished" with a smile.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Travels, Progress and Happy New Year

I don't know how you feel about things, but 2012 whizzed by for me.  Its been a year full of wonders and progress.  Sometimes, we have no idea how far we have travelled, until we pause and take a look back.  I mean really look back to where it is that we started.  Look to the point where we took our first steps in the direction in which our hearts told us to go. 
This is my first wax portrait that I did.  And really, there weren't many before her regardless of medium.  I painted animals as a kid, not people, not portraits.  Yet, lately this past year there has been a compelling desire to learn to paint portraits.  No explanation, no reason - just got it in my head and had to go that way, that direction.  It was the same for me, when I just had to learn how to do encaustic painting.

encaustic and paper on birch
I honestly, have no idea where this road is taking me - nor do I really care.  All I know is this is the way I need to focus what I am doing right now.   I know I am on a ride, where I'm not exactly sure where the next stop lies, nor if its a long ways down this road, or perhaps I get on to something new tomorrow.  But, what I do know is that its right for the moment.  The road has taken a twist with the addition of oil paints.  But, I know, it will all come together some how, some way.

oil on paper
While, not every painting is perfect - the progress is forward even if in bits and pieces.  2012 has been this way for me.  Its been a piecing together of wonderful progress -  one painting, one face at a time.  And, I know it isn't just me - I've seen it in many other's work this year and its been fun to share your progress with you.  Thank you all for your support through 2012.  I am so looking forward to what 2013 has in store for all of us.  Wishing you all a very creative and Happy New Year!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Breaks, Water Soluble Oil Paint and More Faces

This past week I've been working more with the water soluble oil paints. I'm figuring them out. I'm also getting a better feel for painting faces and the ability to see in terms of values. Taking the time to stop the norm for me and settle in to learning and studying is a great break and a beneficial one.
My break is coming to an end and Christmas is just around the corner. Wishing you all Happy Holidays to you and your families.
Have a Merry one!

Friday, December 14, 2012

New, Painting with Water Soluble Oil Paints, Values and Shapes

I've been playing with a new medium this week - water soluble oil paints.  At the same time, I am working on my skills - not just portraits, but what I am really working on is seeing values and painting shapes.  I'm beginning to see things differently.
You tube is a bonanza of painting information.  Tons of lessons there for whatever you want to learn in regard to painting and drawing.  I love the idea that there are artists in the world that are willing to share what they know.  
I'm liking these water soluble oils.  They are like butter.   Mind you, I haven't painted with regular oils, so I have no comparison.   Its totally new to me to be able to blend and mix colors on the paper.  It doesn't work that way in wax.  My first tendency is to not use enough paint.  For some reason that is difficult to use enough paint - why is that?  Its not like I don't have enough, yet I don't use enough.  I'm also learning that I must be more patient.  I tend to not be careful enough with my colors and mix a bit of mud.  I came back the second day on this one, which was good for her eye, but not for her nose..  Will share more next week!  Happy Friday

Friday, December 7, 2012

Faces in Wax, Trying New and Being a Beginner

Swimmer (detail)
encaustic on birch 12x24

Here's one of the complete swimmers from this post.  She is finally done.  I've been working on my getting the faces better - new colors, new thoughts.  That in itself takes time.  When I say that, what it really means is slowing down and taking the time in a more methodical way.  Its easy to put paint on a painting - but it takes thoughtfulness to put paint on a painting in a way that brings life straight from the brush to the surface on which you work.  It doesn't matter what the subject matter is - but I find there is a huge difference in the works where it seems as if the artist is one with the brush and each stroke is added lovingly to complete the picture. 
I'm going to be away from my wax studio for a couple of weeks.  Instead of just shutting down, like I have in the past, I'm actually going to embark on a new journey - even if for only a couple of weeks.  As, I said, I am going to work on my faces and practice while I am away.  I'm also, going to attempt a run at water soluble oil paints.  I'm really looking forward to it... going in with a little apprehension, in that as much fun as it is to be a beginner, its not fun either.  I figured the more practice I get in mixing colors and painting faces - the better.  If any of you have great tips and tricks for working with water soluble oil paints - do share, really.  I need all the help I can get.  I'll be here next week and show you what I've been up to.  Paint on!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Confidence, Cures for Being an Amature, and Paint it Like You Mean It

encaustic on birch 6x6
I was cruising around youtube the other day and I came across this guy.  I liked what he had to say - so I am sharing it here.

I know that I get a wee tentative when I paint.  I'm always questioning myself if this is right, or that is the right shape or color - or whatever.   I'm hesitant about brush strokes.  I don't use enough paint.  In doing that I have a lot of rework, because I don't believe in my decisions, and many of my paintings look kinda wishy-washy.  These are not the ones you see here.  They are the ones that get scraped back and end up in my recycled wax box. :)  I'm not this way in my real life, so why am I this way when I paint?  Not sure, but I know its time turn the corner and to walk the walk. 

In painting - lets just put it this way and cut to the chase - paint it like you mean it - really.  Be decisive, be confident.   In the end, its art. Its your interpretation.  Its how you see it.  Paint on!  Happy Friday everyone!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Orange on Monday, Books and the Red Breasted Nuthatch

the Nuthatch
detail from a larger painting
The Reader
Sometimes things have a funny way of coming together.   I've been wanting a reference book on birds.  I've been thinking on it pretty hard, actually.  But, for whatever reason, I haven't had time to stop at Barnes and Nobel to look there for what I was thinking I was wanting. 
On the way home last week, I did stop... finally.  But not at B&N.  I made a stop at a Goodwill store that I pass by regularly.  No reason, to stop there - other than to look through their books.  There it was - Book of North American Birds.  A beautiful book that had been passed on - unused. 
There were some other books that I couldn't pass up.  One is a first edition, signed by the author 1918.  Another is a home handyman guide that has pressed flowers between the pages.  The last, another that had news clippings tucked into the pages - all dated from the 50's.  Then to top it off... I received a $2 bill in change.  So, proof in the pudding - yes... thoughts become things.

This sweet little birdie is a red breasted nuthatch.  I don't see them where I live.  Yet, he just had to be part of this larger painting that you can see here.  His sweet little belly is orange even though he is called red breasted.  Orange is my favorite color and favorite color is also the color prompt at Fearless and Fly.  I actually believe its the happiest color going.  How can one not smile, while thinking of orange?  Oranges, orange popcicles, orange sunrises and sunsets.  See what I mean?

Today I am also linking in with Mandarin Orange Monday.  Thanks to Lori at LoriKart for hosting.  You can see what others are up to on this Monday, by hitting the button below.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Giving Thanks, Encaustic Portrait, The Reader

The Reader
encaustic on birch 18x24
Its Thanksgiving in the US.  Yesterday, actually.  It is the day that families gather, a large meal is shared and for one day we all give thanks for the wonderful things that have gone throughout the year.  Today, thank you to those of you who provide great inspiration in your artwork every Friday.  Thank you also, for your kind comments that help fuel the fire in us all and keep us going creatively.  Its been a good year.
I thought it would be fun to show you the process of creating the painting above.  She is the painting that I talked about in this post - she is the "another version" of the portrait there.  Needless to say she is dramatically different then her beginnings. 

She started like a Picasso on a panel made with Flora Bowley's style.  She then got mad, lost weight, then gained weight, she even looked like she ate something sour...  I got kinda frustrated at her at one point and decided to melt her hair.  That was the tipping point when my husband decided she was "way to scary" and that he didn't like her.  It was about Halloween.  So she sat for a few weeks, until it came to me what to do to set her right, soften her and make her way less scary.  Over the past two days she went from sour grapes in the bottom right corner to The Reader, above. 
She needs a few corrections here and there, but for the most part, she is done.  I'll work a little more on her fingers and finalize her hair and I see now, I need to fix the corner of her mouth..  but, I am promising myself I will not fall into the spin cycle.  
Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Friday.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Spin Cycle, Practice and Face Painting

I've been practicing.  I feel that I know enough to be dangerous, but not enough to bring it home over the finish line.  I'm pretty good up to the 80-85% mark, then I'm a little wobbly after that.  So, I decided to try some warm ups this week and focus on trying to keep a fresh look + trying some other head positions.  I'm a little unsure on using warms and cools in colors and how the shadows actually fall.  As I go through this realm of unsurity, before I know it I've dropped into the endless spin cycle - making corrections here, then there, and then another round, again and again.  So, these studies have rules... fast (or at least faster), few corrections and decisive strokes with fresh color.

I'm still working on the swimmers from last week.  I was actually kinda hoping to be done with them by now.  I can say one is done.  I have declared her complete.  I had really thought that two were done.  But, now that I have revisited, I think there are a few more corrections to do.  This thought process, by the way, is actually the kiss of death because opens the door to fall into the dreaded spin cycle. When I get to that spot where I'm so close to being done.... just like 10-15% left to go... I start over working things and over thinking, and over analyzing.   I make a correction here, that throws things off and leads to a correction there and before you know it - I have made a lot of little corrections.   In wax, like any other paint - mud is inevitable when we churn and aren't decisive in our choices of color and stroke.  Colors build up and layers build up that end up losing the fresh clarity of confidence.  So, in between the spin cycle of working on the swimmers, I'm doing these small studies.  They are an attempt to get over the finish line with clear colors and confidence without the churn of overworking things.   Practice, practice, practice... its true.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Elles: Pompidou at SAM, Women in Art and Seattle Shopping

I went to the Elles: Pompidou exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum, yesterday.  It is a gathering more than 130 works of art by 75 Women artists that rocked the art world from 1907-2007.  It was not only paintings, but video, sculpture, photography and installations.   I can't say that every piece there resonated with me, nor can I say that I really loved any one piece.  Yet, the thought that some of this art was produced in the 1950's and it is still compelling today is remarkable.  These women walked up to the edge, looked over, and with no fear they leaped.  They put themselves out there in ways that were remarkable for the times.  They created daring and creative works that challenged the stereotype of the art world.  They showed humor, sensuality and innovation through modern and contemporary art.  I left there not sure whether I liked it, or didn't like it.  But I do know that I keep thinking about it and the amazing courage these women artists demonstrated. They pushed the envelope of women in art in a provocative and thought provoking way.  There was no internet, no connectivity, no social media in their time.  They just did what they did.  They were compelled to make a statement for women through art and they broke the trail for the rest of us to follow.
Artists include Sonia Delaunay, Frida Kahlo, Dora Maar, Diane Arbus, Marina Abramović, Louise Bourgeois, Atsuko Tanaka, Cindy Sherman, Sophie Calle, Hannah Wilke, Nan Goldin and Tania Bruguera, among others.

If you are up for a bit of shopping after leaving the SAM, there are some stops that make the day complete.  I love beautiful paper as much as I love beautiful fabric.  Often, I have no idea what to do with it, but I love looking.  de Medici Ming is a sweet find in Seattle.  If you love fine papers you need to go here.  Its across University Street towards the south of the SAM.  Its a tiny little place, but packed with pure paper goodness.  After you leave paper heaven, continue heading south to Spring street.  On the corner you will find Watson Kennedy.  Its no wonder they won an award for outstanding visual retailing.  Plan an hour here.  It will take you that long to make one lap through and see all the eye candy.  Gifts galore and amazing merchandise to fill your senses.  Next door you will find Far4, which is a unique small little boutique with interesting selection of porcelain pieces as well as a collection of local artist's work and beautiful glass pieces.  The sweet white pomegranate above is from their fruit and vegetable collection.

Also, one of my favorite local encaustic artists, Stephanie Hargrave is showing for the month of November at the Partrica Rovzar Gallery.  The gallery on the corner of University Street and Second, across from the SAM.

Hungry?  TASTE, the restaurant at the SAM is the perfect choice. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Style Observations, Variations and Arriving in the Middle

The Swimmers Series
Encaustic on 4 12x24 Birch Panels

The joy of being an Artist is when we go off on a tangent and paint several of something - its a series.  I've been working on these 4 this week.  They are actually 4 separate paintings.  Its been an interesting process to work up four similar paintings together.  I've never done this before.  I have lots of open paintings in various stages in my studio (seven to be exact), but I've not worked four of the same before in variation.  I decided to give it a try based on some of the comments from last week, where my fellow PPFrs, actually do work up variations of one subject.
What's been interesting is how these swimmers have morphed.  The boy on the left was the first one.  He is fresh, kinda rustic and not overworked... at all.  They've been worked simultaneously and all started out looking kinda  like him.  The next girl until about an hour ago, had a similar look to her friend on the left.  Then she morphed and skewed away from that style crossed over to be more like the others.  The next girl, she has had 5 different faces and two different bodies.  I had a body that I liked, but after the first face went awry, I couldn't get a replacement face to work.  I learned that face and body are a unit.  Either they work as a whole together or I need to start over in total not in parts.  What's interesting is that she has looked like the same girl in the face every time.  I guess she wanted to show up regardless of what body she was on. 

The boy on the far right had gotten a bit overworked in the face, but his hands are still at a good stage... so, what to do - based on the learning's of the girl to his left, do I keep working the face and risk overworking it or do I start all over again?  Needless to say... he is sitting for the moment, while I decide what to do.  I'm actually a salvager, so I'm sure I'll take at least one more run at him to keep those hands.  My favorite is the boy on the far left and I've been reluctant to work on him at all and just leaving him as he originally showed up.   He is actually based on the style of a German artist. 

This has been such an interesting lesson in style and how it seems I want or need to paint.  The more I try to duplicate the style of the one on the left - the more they end up away from that and settling into, I guess where they should be.  They are teaching me that my style and voice show through.  And no matter if I try to paint in someone else's style, my own style is going to find a way to override.  I used to find this kind of frustrating.  I haven't been a fan of this style I have.  But, the more I paint, the more the style is refining and becoming something I do like. I have to thank Flora Bowley for helping to free up my thinking.  Finally, I'm at the point where  I am embracing my style rather than fighting it.  It's taken a while, I don't know if any of you have found this to be true on your artful journey.

This foursome isn't meant to be too realistic, because for me that adds too much pressure and a load of expectations.  So here they are... in the middle.  They still need some work to be finished up.  I need to figure out the bodies.  So more work, more discovery, more learning.   Happy Friday! 

Monday, November 5, 2012

FILM26:: W is for......

Welcome to November and the letter W for FILM26.
I have my letter tile photos complete, but alas... I'm a little behind on the W photos as my muse.   I'll be playing a bit of catch up over the next letters and weeks as I wrap up this project.  So, stay tuned for more letter photos before the end of the year.
Me and W
I didn't forget about V... I just got a bit behind.

Me and V
And.. for those of you who are interested..  the 21 Day Meditiation challenge over at Deepak Chopra's place started today.  Its not too late to join in.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Portrait Painting, Baby Steps and Conga LInes

Baby steps can sometimes seem like a penance that we have to pay, a necessary discipline in getting from A to B.  Yes, forward progress but slow going with these little tiny steps.  It seems to take forever to get where we are going.  Where's the leaps and bounds?

So what if we shake this concept?  What if we re-frame baby steps as dance steps in life's conga line?  A place where we can shake and move our bodies to the beat of the music, dance all night and have fun following the line and where it leads.

Conga lines are fun.  They are fueled with joy and music and yes, little steps in rhythm to the beat.  There are whoops and hollers, bodies swaying and lots of color and awesome music.
What if we view baby steps in this way rather than as... well, baby steps. 

I haven't done a portrait for a while and was wanting to give it a try with my new painting technique.  Here's the first run at it.  For some reason when it comes to faces I have trouble with adding drama.  I get all worried and fearful of dark darks and light lights.  I stall and always back pedal to some medium ground.  Yet, I so admire the high drama portraits like those of Jeff Schaller

I don't know what I am looking for in this regard to make it more like hot chili peppers rather than plain white rice.  But, I'm taking another run at this same girl and am currently working on another version of this portrait- which I am trying really hard to be brave and add drama.  She's not ready to show yet but I feel I am making progress toward some unknown goal of - "the perfect style".  baby steps in the right direction - or perhaps fun hip hop, conga steps that lead to some big drama, changes, and abandon to the wind and courage in creativity.  Hmmmmm.. do you hear the music?  do you sense a hand reaching out for you join in?  I do.  I'm up and I'm in the conga line dancing my baby steps and having fun as I follow where ever this line leads me.

Thoughts and prayers for those that have been affected by Sandy. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pandora, Brain Breaks, and Racoons

Into the Night
encaustic on birch 10x22
As an artist, I have noticed that I seem "in tune" with all kinds of external stimuli.  My senses seem to be on task all day long.  It sometimes feels a bit like dodge ball - being bombarded by incoming at all times.  A dance to the left, a dance to the right... by the end of the day my brain can feel a little overwhelmed. 
So I wanted to share some things today that I have recently found that allow my brain to quiet down and take a break from the whirl of stuff that flies about all day.

I have found two radio "stations" on Pandora that offer really great studio/art music.  I tried to listen while driving and it really didn't do anything for me.  I tend to like modern music that I can sing along to when driving.   But, for studio time, this kind of electronica music seems to help me find that art zone.  One is Plej  and the other is Zero 7.  Similar kinds of music, but something about the beat that works for me.  You can search on Pandora in the new station option and find them there.  For more studio music, I've discovered Kyrstyn Pixton - I stream off her website.  I also love Mumford & Sons.  Their new album Babel is on my wish list.  What do you listen to during your creative time?

Also, Deepak Chopra is offering another free 21 Day Meditation challenge, starting Nov 5.  I did this a few months ago and really loved it.  Just 15 minutes in duration and it comes in your email each day.  This is a new theme from the one I did before, so I am looking forward to it. 

Also, for you budding writers out there..  National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) starts on Nov. 1.  Its a challenge to write a book/novel of 50,000 words in the month of November.  There are 1000's of participants nation/world wide.  I'm actually going to take a run at it.  You can follow my word count on the right bar of my blog.  I am MarjiT, so if you sign up - be sure to send me a NaNo mail so we can urge each other on.  50K words is a lot, not sure I'll be a winner - but I'll try.  I figure its my chance to get writing an e-course or maybe that storyline that has been circling my brain for a while.  This seems a little anti-brain quieting - but I see it as a opportunity to brain dump all those thoughts and words that need to get out.  I'm going to have to find a way to balance it with painting time - but the two seem to compliment each other for me. 

Thanks to all that visit here and those that leave comments.  The inspiration that you provide to me is beyond words.  It's Friday and you know what that means....  it's Party Time.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Muscle Cars, Confidence and Creativity

encaustic 13x24
For some reason the animals show up in my intuitive paintings.  Here is another one - and to think I have never been to Africa.  Maybe they just need a voice.

My Grandma drove a muscle car.  It was a '69 Mercury Cougar - green with black interior that would burn your legs on a hot day.  It had a push button AM radio.  She wore big rings that rattled on the steering wheel as she rumbled through town.  She was fiercely independent and well before her time.  She had red hair, wore high waisted bell bottoms and read Prevention magazine way before the health food craze.  She ground up egg shells for calcium, she could recite poetry from memory, she wore a beret.  She always looked her best, dressed smart, and wouldn't be caught dead without lipstick.  She was one amazing lady.

She was also very creative.  In the early 70's, she self published a book by using a paper cutter, a xerox machine and a stapler.  It was a huge research undertaking of the Indian Place Names and their meanings for the Olympic Peninsula in the state of Washington.  My Dad did the cover artwork for her and sold the book in his gallery for $1 a copy.  It sold out, many times over.

She taught me to knit, tat and crochet.  She sewed her own clothes and she crocheted beautiful afghans which she donated.  She did almost all of her home handiwork.

But, if you asked her, she would never have called herself creative and never thought of herself as an artist.  Why is someone who is so full of creative fire so afraid of saying I am creative?  Why so often do creative people lack confidence in their talent, their art?  Its a good question i think.  One that is deeply personal to each of us.

I think that often the creative spirit in us gets wounded deeply along the journey.  There is an incident or a person that tripped things up along the way.  Somewhere, somehow the creative spirit got wounded and shrunk away deep into the soul where it is afraid to come out for fear of being wounded again.  Sometimes, all it takes is one negative comment to shut down the creative spirit.  Its easier to hide than to face fear.

Yet, I believe that the creative inside really can't hide.  It just isn't capable of hiding.  Take the case of my Grandma.  It must find an outlet of some kind even if we don't care or want to acknowledge it as creativity.  "A rose by any other name, is still a rose".
Its time to come out and recognize the things we do on a daily basis, as simple as they seem, are creative and are a creative outlet.   So no more hiding out - call yourself creative.  Recognize your art in all the things you do.  Call yourself an artist, because you are.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Wrapping up with Flora Bowley, Hare Brained and Ira Glass

Vegetable Dreams
encaustic 20x30

And.. actually before this - it was a portrait.  It was a face with long flowing hair that was to be a mermaid with a underwater background.  It was one of those panels in my studio that lost its way.  It has become one more layer and makes a richer deeper painting to think that a mermaid lives under Vegetable Dreams :)
I seem to be hare brained at the moment - in a good way. 
I've spent the past 5 weeks Blooming True with Flora Bowley.  Its been an amazing journey for me and I have shared some thoughts and some of my intuitive paintings over this time.  After this process, I am not sure if I can go back to the way I was painting - at least not for a while.   For me, the journey has been fun and full of unexpected twists and turns that have helped me discover or uncover new desires in my artwork.  I'm finding color - real awesome color.  I'm finding BIG - painting BIG is fun.  I'm finding a joy in painting animals.
I do have to say that it saddens me a little to understand that some of my classmates are not experiencing the joy that I am finding in this process.  There is frustration and disappointment with results.  Art is so very personal and so very easy to self critique and compare - especially in classroom situations.  The intuitive painting process is not easy.  Its not.  It requires an open mind, open heart, the ability to really let go of everything you've been taught about structure, planning, and rules.  It is much harder than it sounds because our inner critic makes it so.  Its a little easier for me because I have had no formal training to undo.
I feel they are a little too hard on themselves, especially at this point in the game.  We are all learning and in the early stages of getting this process which is so very different than I know I have ever tried.  It takes time, patience, practice and kindness.  This prompted me to pull out one of my favorite quotes that I felt was a fitting reminder to all of us who do creative work.
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”  Ira Glass

Fight On! - and remember to be kind to yourself.  Use kind words when thinking about and making your creative work.  Thoughts become things - really.  Realize that not every single thing you make is gallery quality.   But that's OK - because we make art for ourselves.  I have 6 other panels that are in various stages in my studio right now.  Some of them are the ugliest ducklings ever  - but I have faith they will grow into beautiful swans.

Monday, October 8, 2012

FILM26: U is for..

Its time for the letter U over at FILM26.  U was almost my undoing... but I pulled through.  Five letters left until the end of our journey.  The scary part about that thought is it means just 12 weeks until the end of the year.  This time of year picks up speed for me.  Its like a downhill ski slope into the New Year.  I'm ready, but at the same time, I'm not ready.  

 Summer has been lingering here in Seattle.  Its actually been unbelievable.  I think it makes it harder to believe that we are closing in on the Holiday season. 
 Yet, I'm going to appreciate the last of our late summer here.  I know I will be handing out candy for Halloween, all too soon.  But, for now I will take in the bliss of the sunshine and shoot some film.
Me and U

Friday, October 5, 2012

U2, Bravery, and Hares

encaustic 30x30

I'm ready for shuffle
I'm ready for the deal
I'm ready to let go of the steering wheel.
I'm ready
 - Bono (U2-Zoo Station) - you can listen here

We're talking about Bravery in week 4 of my painting class.  This is a favorite song of mine from the Achtung Baby album.  It seemed to work here.  When you are brave, its OK to let go of the steering wheel and face the unknown.  I'm ready, ready for what's next.

I have written about bravery in the past.  Yet, I think being brave is one of those topics that can be revisited often.  Its one that if we allow ourselves to be comfortable in how things are going, it gets harder and harder to be brave.  The farther we get away from the edge where it takes a brave act to cross over, the farther we get from our authentic selves.  Being brave is not backing away from fears, but moving into them and beyond.  When you actually do move through the fear and break out the other side, the opportunity comes for your authentic self to shine.  Being brave opens the door to an aliveness inside.  It stirs things up, gets the juices flowing, ignites a fire.  Being brave is about moving outside of the comfort zone.  It means, trying something new, doing that thing that I don't really want to do or I'm afraid to do, or facing conflict or going into the studio without a plan.  I believe being brave puts you in a position to find how far you can push yourself and then reveals how strong you really are. Its surprising and uplifting to realize the power that we hold inside.  

Its a brave act to paint intuitively.  It is starting with nothing and embracing mystery.  Its trusting the process and just knowing that in the end, a painting will emerge out of the layers.  Its a brave act to keep going, keep layering even if the painting isn't cooperating at all.  Its brave to "just know" and believe.  Its a brave act to paint BIG, especially from where I started.

This hare painting is a brave act for me.  Its not like any other painting I have done.  Yet, it is so much me.   Where do the ideas come from?  When does it seem right to paint a hare and an upside down hare?  I can't explain it.  Did I see the hare within the layers and build from there?  No, not from an image within the painting, but in my mind's eye, yes.  I just knew I wanted to paint a hare in the lower left of the painting in just this way.  I followed the thread and this is where this painting wanted to go.  So, I'm not necessarily looking for an image to emerge from the layers of the painting, rather it is just a feeling as to which direction to go.  As I do the layers, and let go of the steering wheel, its allowing the door to open to something I would never have considered before.  Its then taking that something and running with it and following its lead.

I'm actually looking forward to seeing what the next painting brings.  It is a beautiful way to paint by just playing and letting things go without thinking.  Its a way to let myself just dream up something without worrying about it.  If it doesn't work out, its just one more layer.   I can say, that I was not expecting the deer or the hares to show up, I wasn't expecting to paint animals, I wasn't expecting how joyful bright colors are to paint with or how wonderful it is to paint BIG... so mystery is kinda fun.  And... painting animals goes all the way back to my roots as a kid.  Its where I started and now I'm returning home.  At least for now.

Friday.. you know what that means - Party Time!!

PS - If you are interested... This is what the Hare Totem means:
Hares are connected to both the earth element and to the lunar energies of the moon. The gestation period of a hare is 28 days, the same time as the moon. Hares are quick with the ability to twist and turn. As a totem or power animal the hare teaches us to aim for our dreams and not let anything get in our path.  The hare is an independent, solitary animal that often lives alone. In modern society the loners of the world are often frowned upon, but history has proved these types of people to be invaluable and they should feel a sense of pride within themselves.

Unlike rabbits, hares cannot be tamed (although there is a domesticated rabbit which has the name hare, but is in fact a rabbit). They have a wild nature to them. They are the totem of people who like to run free.

Hares have been associated with magic and the ability to walk between worlds and connect to the other world. The hare is a totem of mystery and misunderstanding.

The hare is often seen as a trickster and to many people the trickster is seen as a negative trait. The trickster though may simply do things different to the norm. They may be the individual who stands out from the crowd and does things their way. The trickster is the one who will break rules and rebel; they are the sort of people that can create great changes within society. As with all attitude, the clue is how you use your power – the trickster archetypal can be cunning or foolish. They can be a power for good or a symbol of disruption. Tricksters often have two spirits that they present to the world. [They] can also be the hero. . . .
- Samantha Grayson

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Thinking BIG and being BRAVE, thanks to Flora Bowley

love in the layers
Notes on thinking BIG and being BRAVE.

Since I've been taking Flora Bowley's intuitive painting course, I've started to think BIG.  In the beginning of my encaustic career, I painted 3x3 paintings.  I was terrified of thinking about anything bigger than that.  It was overwhelming to imagine painting big.  Over time, I grew to like 5x5, then 8x8 and graduated to10x10.  I settled in on the latter two and have painted in that size for a while.  The biggest I had ever painted was 24x30.  Now that was big... and terrifying.. and there is only one.  I easily slid back into the smaller realm, the comfort zone. 
During the spring, Dick Blick had a sale on Ampersand Encaustic panels.  I bought 4 large 30x30 squares, 4 24x24 squares and 4 18x24.  Why?  No clue.  The prices were great and I guess I was dreaming that someday I would overcome small.  They sat in the garage in boxes - It was too much for me to think about what and how I would go about using such large white panels.  I knew there were there, ready for someday.  It was a small victory in and of itself that they were even in my possession. 
Flora wants her students to paint BIG - like 40x60 or 48 square.  The thought is to give lots of space to create, play and just explore.  I prepped a 24x24 panel with the initial layers of clear wax to start.  Definitely outside of the comfortable 10x10 size.  I did decide to pull out a 30x30, and I prepped that one too.  As of today, I have completed two 30x30 panels with paintings that make me smile.  The 24x24 panel is ready to go, but unused.. why?  It's too small.  At this point, I can't think about small, I want BIG, BIGGER.  Its so much easier to get some detail, add lots of color and interest.  I used to want smooth paintings... now I want ones with all the crags and crevices, pits and holes that make wax painting so luscious.  Starting with a large white blank panel - bring it!  The process of layering in color and marks to cover all that white is so fun.  I'm ready to get started on the next one.  No plan, no problem.  The painting is not going in a direction I like - no worry, it becomes another layer.  Its a way different way of thinking for me.  I like it.
We're visiting BRAVERY this week in class.  Yep, BIG is BRAVE.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Inspiration, Vade Mecum and Intuitive Art

Vade Mecum
encaustic 30x30
Inspiration in our lives.  This is what we are visiting this week in my intuitive painting class.  So what inspires me? 
  1. laughter
  2. sunrise
  3. nature
  4. the color orange
  5. my Mom
  6. older people out enjoying life
  7. beauty in words
  8. creating something from the heart
  9. magic moments
  10. so many more...
Number 8 and number 9 need a little more explination.

For me, number 8 is not necessarily creating art.  There is so much more to creating from the heart, at least I believe so.  For me, its things like:
Making my husband's lunch in the morning.  Sending a "thinking of you " text to a friend.  Writing thoughtful words.  Sharing a smile.
You've seen it - the way the light shines in just the right way, there is a certain radience to it that lights up an object in a delightful way.  My Dad called these magic moments. He had honed his senses to see these things in life - the magic moments.  He would stop and pause, and watch that split second when the light on an object was perfection.  He would stand and stare, taking it in and remembering the detail of it.  He logged hunderds of magic moments into his mind where they would stay until needed for inspiration.

I also find inspiration in collecting things that catch my eye.  I have little piles that have come from pockets, stashes of colorful things, cards. pages torn from magazines, 1000s of photos in Picasa.  I have the need to touch fabrics and objects.  I take artist dates to Anthropolgie and I think I touch just about everything in that store.  I have to.. its in my wiring, the curiosity and the need to connect with things that inspire me.  I often pick up things, touch things, thumb through books and pause to look at something without thinking - it just happens. When we draw inspiration from our lives.. its not just the tangible things that we can lay hand to. Sometimes its the words of friends, its the steam curling from a bowl of hot soup, a smile, the way the flavor of dark chocolate dances on your tounge. The thing about finding inspriation in our everyday life is to notice it.   It's the ability to feel that little flutter of the heart when something inspiring lights up the moment and we learn to recognize it and take a mental or physical note of it. There is no telling when that glimmer of inspiration might circle back and be the thread that leads to something new. 

The deer painting above is my first intuitive piece.  He just showed up during my last painting session.  I had kept a photo of a deer - one of my things I collected somewhere along the way.  His image kept dancing across my mind.  So, here he is.  Several layers of playful color introduced over the past couple of weeks in Flora Bowley's class resulted in this painting.  He was painted with no thought, no sketch.. freehand with only a notion that he was what needed to be on this panel.  When I started to paint him, I kept telling myself - don't think, just paint.   I did spiral out to clean up a few mistakes - like an oversized ear, but really, he is pretty much how he came to be.  There was a point that I just knew, I was finished - no more.   I have a feeling he is here to guide me on my way to new destinations of colorful art - thus his name Vade Mecum.
It's Party Time - YAY!

Monday, September 24, 2012

FILM26 - The Letter T

T is for...
Me and T
 I set off on a photo journey.  I have my favorite haunts.  One is the docks at the top of South Lake Union.  I was taking photos and having a grand time, when a gentleman approached me.  He was a little suspect of me snapping photos on his dock and a little gruff. 
 He was curious to know a little bit more about my antics.  I probably looked a little out of place as I wasn't dressed like a dock hand.  When I told him I was shooting a photo project, he lightened up a little.  We chatted a bit and I managed to get him to laugh a little.  He left me with a warning to be careful and not fall from the dock.  I'm really hoping that I didn't look like the type that would blunder over the edge and into the water.
 I hit my other favorite place to take photos - which is Capital Hill.  Its a big difference from the docks for sure.  I do love wandering the streets there snap happy.
 I did manage to get to Fremont area.. another place I like to wander.  I even stumbled on the Theo Chocolate factory there.  I opened the door of their retail store..  The smell of Heaven wafted out at me..  chocolate - mmmmm.  I'll go back for a tour someday soon - very soon.  No photos there, sorry.  But, I found this nifty stop sign in the hood.
 I have terrible luck with Impossible Project film.  I don't know enough about Polaroid to know if its actually the film or the camera.  This is the second Polaroid box camera that I own, and both have this same issue with the film. 

That's a wrap for the letter T.  Need to start leaning my brain on U.  See you all in a couple of weeks.  Film only film :)
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