Friday, September 16, 2011

A Studio Filled with Potential!

Taking a look around my studio today, I counted twelve works in progress, or paintings that I've started within the past two months or so, and have yet to finish. Three of them were started just this week, and two of those were started yesterday! I'm not going to share pictures of every single unfinished painting; some have more potential than others. Some will be finished very soon because I'm excited about them; others may never see completion but will instead get sanded off and painted over.

As a 20-something, my life is in a stage of constant change. During this decade, there are so many things that happen: we graduate college, get married, buy a house, have kids, change jobs once or more, and essentially leave all of our childhood familiarities for the new and different. If I look back at the past three years since leaving my home state and moving to Texas, it's quite remarkable to see how much my artwork has progressed. Just look at some of my past blog posts -- you'll see the difference, too!

What's my point in telling you this? Well, each painting is an opportunity to learn something new, to experiment or try something different. The goal is to take my artwork to the next level and make each painting better than the last. As long as I keep this goal in the back of my mind, I can't fail. Some paintings might turn out better than others, but at least I'll have painted with intention. We think that painting is supposed to be relaxing... but that is the difference between a hobbyist and a true painter! When I "check out" during a painting, that's when I start to fail. Instead, my mind has to be utterly focused on the task at hand, without distraction. How many of us spend our time picking away at our work, or as some describe it, "licking the canvas?" How many of us actually try (and I say try because with the exception of a very few, this is impossible to perfect...) to make every single brush stroke count? As painters, we should be absolutely exhausted at the end of the day!

Well, that's what happened to me yesterday. I began two new paintings, employing some of the methods I learned at my latest workshop with Clayton Beck. I decided to go with the flow on these, and allow my style to change somewhat if it serves the painting better.

The first is a huge canvas (54" x 36") of a full-length girl, seated on a wooden chest in front of a bookshelf. The shelf is filled with old classics, art books, and various objects, including a stem of orchids, a brass pitcher, and a bust of Michelangelo's "David." The girl is holding a note and appears deep in thought. The painting is still untitled. I'm leaving her expression and pose up to interpretation, but am still working on  story line of my own. Anyway... it took me literally all afternoon to block this in. I only used white, terra rosa, and ultramarine blue for the block-in, and limited my values, especially on the figure. In the next painting session, I hope to begin developing the values more, while incorporating accurate color temperature. The light source is very warm, which is somewhat different from the usual daylight bulbs that I work with. I believe the warm lighting appropriately creates a more intimate atmosphere for this setting.

Here she is: the first image is the scene as it's set up in my studio. The second is my painting on the easel from the actual vantage point that I decided on (I'm doing this thing from life). I had to sketch the image on with charcoal before starting any of the painting. It was just too large to try eye-balling! Click the image to see larger:

I began a second painting yesterday, some time in the evening after my husband got off of work. I have been badgering him for months now about modeling for me. We've been married for three years and he's never modeled for a portrait! Finally, last night, he was willing to sit for at least the start of one. My idea with this portrait was to bring out his wonderful quality of being a good problem-solver... and that will actually be the title of the painting: "The Problem Solver." He'll be holding a rubik's cube and looking out directly at the viewer. That's just his personality: direct, bold, strong. And since it would take me forever to solve a rubik's cube, I have to brag on my husband just a little - he can solve it in about two minutes!

Since the model lives with me (ha!), I am doing this portrait completely from life. I was only able work on it for about 40 minutes, but here is what I accomplished during that time (the dimensions are 24" x 24"):

More progress pictures to come. I'm very excited about all my projects, even if a dozen seems like an overwhelming number! I love what I do, and feel privileged every day to come into my studio and paint. I hope those of you reading this are also inspired to do what you love, and do it to the best of your ability. :-)

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