I found teaching about a subject I am passion about to be very rewarding. I learned a lot during the lesson planning as well as from my students. The lessons we learned covered a broad spectrum- from making a workbook in Adobe InDesign and designing slides for the presentation in Keynote to the challenges and benefits of painting a subject more than once. Choosing a subject that reflected the group’s area of interest and included lessons in composition, color mixing, and perspective was challenging. I painted from one reference photo 4 times to achieve the perfect size, aspect ratio, and appropriate difficulty and timing for a beginners class. I learned from the experience the importance of value sketches. Familiarity with the subject allows me to create more energetic and expressive brush strokes and the appearance of a more spontaneous reaction to the subject that drew my eye initially.
If this inspires you to give oil painting a go, I’ll be teaching the same workshop again March 30, 31 and April 1.Learn more here.
Life Gets In the Way Sometimes
The second week of January was filled with distractions, cause you know, life gets in the way, sometimes. We packed up our apartment in Knoxville and gave up our lease. A difficult decision to make, I am so relieved to have all of my belongings in one central location, to live, really live, in one house. During the process, John was having dental procedures finished, I launched my new website Artrepreneur Outliner, and we discovered halfway through packing we would need to leave our RV in Tennessee until spring. Leaving the RV meant we needed to reconfigure our packing and only take what would fit in an SUV. So, not all my belonging are together yet, but soon. It was a bittersweet drive back to Tubac. Hard to leave the family we enjoyed so much time with over the holidays, but anxious to get back into a routine.
Needless to say, my painting time was cut a little short. I did, however, complete these three little studies.
Setting Alternative Goals
This time when life got in my way I set an alternative goal. Unable to paint on the road with all my supplies packed deep below the clothes in the SUV. I had planned to supplement with sketching in the car as we rode across the country since the goal of the #30 in30 painting challenge is to create every day for 30 days. Since Sadie found my lap to be her favorite spot in the car, that never happened. Sometimes life gets in the way.
I really want to make sketching part of my daily practice, though I find it easy to put it on the back burner and let the day slip away without one single sketch. Listening to podcasts is one of the ways I stay motivated and inspired. It’s something I cherish about my drives to and from CrossFit, my 5 am workout. This time John listened along, preferring the interviews which Eric Rhodes conducts with artists on the Plein Air Podcast, it was really fun to hear his insights. Three episodes in a row that we listened to, stated, sketching as being the number one thing you can do to improve your painting. Using thumbnail sketches for composition, drawing skills are key to the successful rendering of the subject and it is a way of seeing through an artist’s eyes. The three interviews I highly recommend Charlie Hunter, Jim Wodark, and Stephanie Birdsall.
On our second day home I had a bit of a breakdown. I hadn’t accomplished much for the #30 in 30 painting challenge, my blog had been neglected, and I wanted to visit with my friends, enjoy the sunshine in the Arizona sky, my easel was calling me, we had no food in the house, a huge stack of mail to address, bills that needed paying and I couldn’t even start a load of laundry because I couldn’t open the drawer with the detergent for the moving boxes stacked in the way.
An overwhelming feeling of the things that need to be done, the things I want to get done, and the time I wish I could invent, crippled me. John sat me down and said, “OK…What all are you trying to accomplish
- What has to be done right away?
- What are the things preventing you from completing these tasks
- What can I do to help you?
Just the act of stating everything out loud that was rushing through my head gave me more clarity. Paying attention to the dates for deadlines and activities really made the priorities have an obvious order.
Voicing the things that were in my way, in this case quite literally, help me make a plan of action, set some things aside and make quick actionable steps for the others. Knowing that he was willing to help, was the final step in eliminating the paralyzing mind freeze I was experiencing. Delegating, and letting go of the responsibilities that he was capable of accomplishing was such a relief.
Setting Your Intentions
My intentions for the next few days clear, I crawled into bed early, for a good nights rest. The next morning I woke up with a plan of attack and a fresh free mind to tackle the molehill that looked like a mountain the day before.
We’ve only been home 4 days but I have been able to nearly completed two paintings. I am painting for a couple of juried show deadlines so I’m thrilled to be back in my garage studio, with the incredible light open spaces like the southwest brings. I’ve sold a painting. Written this and another blog post, opened a door for my Artrepreneur Outliner project in my community. Spent some much needed time with my wonderful friends and family. I completed a 10 module training course, in which I am very excited about, but you’ll have to wait for an announcement to share in my excitement.. I happily cooked healthy dinners in my wonderful kitchen, thanks to my sweet husband’s generous offer to run the many errands that accompany a return home after 12 weeks.
Next Time How Will You, Cope When Life Gets in the Way?
My hope is that you’ll stop and really look at what’s most important, and give those things priority. From that list of priorities create a timeline and strategy to accomplish these goals. Enlist the help of others, whether that’s a loved one who volunteers or a service you can hire, delegate. Lastly, give yourself a break if the closet is a mess for a few days it will be okay, if you can’t participate in every activity that comes your way, they’ll be another time.
For me, I’ll create every day I am able to physically walk into my studio, and not stress about the days that other things take priority.
In other news, I’ll be teaching a beginners’ oil painting workshop in a couple weeks. Tubac Art Academy will be hosting the three-day event. Structured for beginners’ the class will focus on the basic of oil painting. Breaking down the fundamentals of oil painting into manageable blocks. Students will learn about surfaces, brushes, mediums, palette and easels types, paint mixing, drawing with paint, values (light/dark), composition and color theory. When and how to use the tools of the trade.
If you or someone you know has been contemplating adding a creative practice to your life, this class will truly be a benefit to your pursuit. Oil paints are lustrous, rich and juicy, the gold standard of mediums throughout the history of art. They can also be intimidating, with their many pigments, oils, varnishes, turpentine, and brushes. Students will receive individual attention at every step along the way, leaving with a basic knowledge of the materials and techniques used in oil painting as well a completed painting or two.
Recap of Week One January 2017 30 in 30 painting challenge
I recently took an online course with Dreama Tolle Perry. Her process incorporates a technique which is new to me, and I love it! Using only transparent colors in the underpainting and finishing Alla Prima her art has become iconic for her use of joyful color. I highly recommend her online course. Following her process has brought a new depth of color to my artwork.
This week’s work has brought me much joy! I am currently painting in the dining room of our apartment in Knoxville, TN. Not my dream studio space although the light on a sunny day is quite wonderful. Unfortunately, yesterday’s snow was the first sunny day of the week. The dreary weather and constant construction just outside the apartment have made being joyful a bit of a struggle. I am ready to be back in my desert studio in Arizona. The juicy colors have brought a ray of sunshine to the space!
This is my third attempt at a #30in30paintingchallenge! I am more organized than the last go around, thanks to my #30in30 Artrepreneur Outliner kit for Evernote. We are however moving out of the apartment and traveling across the country, yet again, in the motorhome, this month. That week may need to be about drawing, rather than pulling out the oil painting materials, sketching is an area I need to concentrate on anyways!. Those wonderful little thumbnails I see so many plein air painters begin with just don’t come naturally to me.
Come February, I am teaching an oil painting class for beginners at The Tubac Art Academy. This is the reason you’ll see some duplicates of the same subjects in my daily paintings this month. I am narrowing down my choices of subject matter I’ll use in the demonstrations. The Rockin Red and Desert blossoms, for example, are from the same reference photo. I am looking for a subject with dynamic color combinations and a simple organic subject, which will appeal to many. Any suggestions would be welcomed!!
The 47th annual TCA Member’s Juried Show
I experienced something wonderful.
Cruz, the Puma is the result of a plein painting trip to the area near the Sonoran Desert Museum and Old Tucson in preparation for PACE 2016. The plan was to paint until the desert museum opened and then meet friends to tour the grounds and have lunch. Fortuitously my friends plans changed, though I was disappointed not to have their company, I experienced something wonderful.
I had all day to watch and observe the wildlife at whatever pace I chose. There is something incredibly centering about doing your own thing in your own time not concerned for others preferences and needs, just to feed your soul, in your way. So many times we spread ourselves to thin trying to please those around us that we lose the very essence of what makes us, us. Encourage you to put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others. You’ll have so much more to give.
As I took photos with paintings in mind, bebopping here and there, out of order, waiting as long as it took to get the perfect shots, I felt my creativity well filling. I had had the best time, but I was getting tired but the one animal I really wanted to capture. The mountain lion had been busy flirting with visitors in the window earlier in the day. I went back again to the beginning of the two mile path to visit him one more time.
This time he was on the opposite side of the habitat area, looking for a spot to lounge, preferably with a good view. As I watched him search for the perfect spot, I found my perfect spot, set up my tripod, out of the way of other visitors but with a great vantage point. I enjoyed hearing children ask questions about the big cat, the volunteers telling stories about Cruz and about Strawberry the black bear next door, and I waited.
Cruz found his spot, vacillating between napping and watching, from his cool perch inside the rock face atop a boulder warm form the sun. I snap shots for 20-25 minutes then, as I was looking through the lens, Cruz looked right at me. I felt the connection with this beautiful creature as our eyes met and our souls spoke.
Cruz and Strawberry
the Finishing of Cruz
Though I was quite happy with the rubout stage, I didn’t feel it was finished. I wanted to see it in full color, wanted to convey the excellent natural camouflage Cruz found in his habitat. Pumas are hunters after all.
A little More about Mountain Lions
Fun facts from the Desert Museum:
- Mountain lions are not true lions and cannot roar;
- they hold the Guinness record for animal with the most names — with over 40 names in English alone;
- Proportionally they have the largest hind legs in the cat family.
Artwork, See It In Person
As with most art, a camera the best photographic skills cannot compare to viewing it in person. This painting is quite difficult to capture with photography, the true beauty in the layers can only be seen in person.
What Sorolla whispered to me.
Joaquin Sorolla whispered some truths to me during a recent visit to his home studio-museum in Madrid, Spain. I would like to share these truths with you.
Have you ever been taught something only to find out it was false or self-serving?
Whether you are on a self-guided journey as I am or you attended a well-known school of art, it’s nice to know the principles you’ve been learning are valid. I have been so very fortunate to learn a great deal from one particularly great teacher. I have also attended many workshops and the same core teachings have been expressed from all sources. While some artists find more importance in one principle or another, the basics are mostly the same. Each artist uses those basics to create their unique style. It’s funny how many times we need to hear it before we take it to heart.
While visiting Sorolla’s home and studio, these three ideas were reiterated in a powerful way in my mental library:
1: Paint With Your Whole Body
Quick, deliberate strokes made with complete confidence read with an energetic vibrancy that transforms a rendered image into a work of art. I was ever so self-conscious as I found myself holding an imaginary brush and imitating the gestures required to make certain strokes that were so obviously fired with passion. Sorolla knew his drawing sensibilities were strong, so he was able to place the marks just where he intended them to fall.
2: Light Does Not Come Only From White
Juxtaposed colors and temperatures vibrate with light. Hard and soft edges along with “lost and found” edges create form. This is one of the concepts my mentor, Lou Maestas, has pounded into my head. I totally understand, in theory. My challenge is seeing which two complementary colors the light is reflecting in a given area. I am not sure if this is the artist’s interpretation, a result of the surrounding local color, or my poor squinting skills. To see Sorolla’s works up close, then to stand back and observe the overall effect of juxtaposed complementary color, and to hear Henri’s words in my subconscious, I can recognize that luminosity is found in color not white.
What a treat to see how effective this technique can be. The white of Cotilde Garcia del Castillo’s dress with its high key mixes of pinks and greens next to blues and oranges reads as nothing but white.
3: There is No Need to Paint to full Completion
Once the story is told, is it really necessary to say more?
We all know that person- they start a story with so much enthusiasm you can’t help but be drawn in, then they embellish it with a backstory and you’re even more intrigued, but then there is a backstory to the backstory and an association that needs explanation by means of another association, and soon you are no longer listening but wondering, “will the ever stop talking?”
Many of Sorolla’s works -in fact, two of my favorite- were not painted to completion. I had to hear it on the audio guide before I even noticed that his wife’s face is basically still in the “mud face” stage in “Mi mujer y Mis Hijos.” There are parts of the child’s hand that are little more than a placement sketch. There are sections inside the focal point area that are incomplete. I was so drawn into the scene that the lack of these details was lost on me.
WHILE IT WASN’T COMPLETE, IT WAS FINISHED
Each child’s individual characteristics and personality were expressed. The oldest poised and confident, the obvious leader. The middle child pushing to be seen and heard. The younger girl is also checking to see that they are all together. The baby, a free-spirit, unencumbered by things like clothes. All followed by a devoted and beautiful mother.
When we settled into our hotel room later that afternoon, I did some research on Jaquin Sorolla y Bastide, specifically his painting methods and theories.
One very interesting observation is about value choices in his paintings. Sorolla kept at least two full steps between value changes of the shadows and the passages of light. That insight gives me something to ponder and to strive for.
I found this article particularly fascinating study of Sorolla’s techniques and methods:
Was it A Crazy Choice?
It’s kind of crazy to think I chose one painter’s individual museum over seeing the world famous Museo de Prado on my visit to Madrid. I did so because I love Sorolla’s work, particularly his loose and expressive strokes, accurate rendering, and, of course, treatment of the light. The ability to capture light evades most artists, even though it is commonly our ultimate goal. What better way to break down the elusive task than to study from the master himself?
Beginning in October, the 18 paintings I completed in the September #30paintingsin30days! will be up for auction to the highest bidder.
The paintings were inspired by a recent trip along Offa’s Dyke path following the borders of Wales and England from the south coast to the northern coast of Wales.
This means there’s a great opportunity for collectors to either add to their collection, or perhaps get started collecting. I’m offering these small painting on an art auction website, www.dailypaintworks.com it easy to bid and easy to pay through PayPal .
Uplifting to my Soul
Why the rules of #30in30paintingchallenge! Rule!
Choose your Battles
Offa’s Dyke Path Sensory Stories
What I am Trying to Say
The windswept landscape of Wales is a study in repetition. Patterns formed by the wind, angles created by the wind and forms made by the force of the wind.