Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Splendid post from Jon Morrow on Copyblogger

Just wanted to point to a wonderful post from Jon Morrow on Copyblogger today. Jon had a lot to overcome but he had a mother who wouldn't give up. Read it and be inspired!

Friday, December 18, 2009

High horizon paintings

I seem to always gravitate to high horizon abstracted paintings for some reason. So I decided to do an exercise where I make a warm up painting on a piece of 140# cold press water color paper which I tear into 8x8 pieces. I can only take 30 minutes on each one. So I've turned to my small supply of pastels to do the warm ups. Doing my usual acrylic painting would take too long to dry between coats. I do many, many layers when I paint and that's why I need at least three pieces in the works. Pastel is so quick and I love the intense colors. I don't love the dust and the need to fix them with a spray. I really don't like the need to frame them either. Some of the paintings below have some acrylic on them but it's mainly pastels.
How do you like the bunny switch plate?

I needed some sort of a color framework to start with and I had recently purchased the Goof Proof color wheel from Bob Burridge. In his mainly monthly newsletters he gives an example of how to use it. So I made a list of examples and when I'm done with the list I'll venture out into other combinations. I seldom use blue and looking at the wall where I hung the paintings I can see a lot of blue. So it's a good exercise in using different colors and finding out how much can be accomplished in 30 minutes too. And pastels are so instant!

Monday, December 7, 2009

New paintings

Here are five new paintings recently delivered to Art on the Boulevard in Vancouver WA.

They are all 16X16 inches and painted over either gold or copper gilding with acrylic paints. There just isn't anything like the glow one gets when painting over metal leaf. I started with the most transparent paints and toward the end, if needed, I used more opaque paints. These five pieces were in process for many weeks and then were on hold as I worked on a large commission. Sometimes a painting needs to be put aside for a week or two and then placed around the house in different places with different types of lighting. Once I've studied them for a time I can then proceed to the last steps and feel that it's a finished painting and no further study is needed.

I plan on doing more work on metal leaf now and am working toward a more simplified look. It remains to be seen if I can do simplified.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

45 Life Lessons and five to grow on

I'm really going to get off my blog bookmarks very soon but first wanted to tell you about this list of 45 Life Lessons by Regina Brett who writes for the Plain Dealer. Many of them resonated for me and are gentle reminders to remember to be mindful and that everything changes. And if not now then when?

Advanced Style

I know I've mentioned this blog before I'm sure. It is written by a young man who lives in New York City and works in a museum. He especially admires elders he sees on the streets who make an effort to dress up before going out. He seems to like women who wear large glasses, bright lip stick and unusual and sometimes vintage outfits. The whole blog is a pick me up every time I go there. Now he's started showing videos and I enjoyed listening to Debra talking about her life and style as her responsibilities to a family are no longer at the top of her list.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A wonderful blog

Go to Rag and Bone's blog and click on the You Tube featuring Maeve Clancy on November 6th. Then come back and scroll down further to see art created inside toilet paper tubes. Just amazing. Scroll down further and see more outlandish paper art. What a great blog!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Timely book about overeating

I've found an interesting book on a blog I subscribed to before my October trip. I subscribed or bookmarked many blogs related to Paris well before leaving. Paris Breakfasts was a very good source of information and she also does watercolors of Paris related subjects. It seems a little strange to talk about overeating on a blog that mainly features desserts but it is very timely. I think the author (a medical doctor with good credentials) has focused on something very important for us to know. The book is now on my Christmas list and I'll post a review after I read it.

I'm back to painting today after some time off for Thanksgiving festivities and a superb meal prepared by my daughter and her husband. I NEED to read this book now!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

More about the October trip

Kew gardens

I hadn't traveled to Europe in seven years and felt as if I needed to do research about what I was going to see, air travel in general and especially anything about French culture. I did spend way too much time on the internet--no surprise there.

I do wish I had taken some kind of a small computer with me because accessing the computers in the hotel wasn't easy. I did go to an internet cafe in Paris and it was interesting to figure out the French keyboard. Maybe a better description would be extremely frustrating. Then disinfected my hands because the keyboard was filthy. But I was able to send off my very brief email and read some email. I took two "thumb drives" or whatever they're called. One for a Mac and one for a pc but didn't use them.

Even after much study and working out how to unlock my cell phone it was useless in both countries. I'll do something different next time. Actually, I didn't miss using it.

I learned so much about travel, France and myself on this trip. While I was part of a group I spent a fair amount of time on my own because some of the group sites I had seen before especially in London. For example, I spent the whole day at Kew Botanical gardens near Richmond. The weather was mild and a little sunshine. I took the trolley ride around since it's almost 400 acres. I climbed the 218 steps to the tree top feature because the elevator wasn't working. Great views and I saw many planes taking off from Gatwick airport.

I bought three different purses before the trip and had a great purse that was sort of like a messenger bag. I also bought three or four new pairs of shoes to try out before the trip. I walked four or five mornings a week well ahead of the trip and so glad I did because there were miles of stairs and miles and miles of walking.

The other thing I'm so glad I did ahead of time was taking a French language class. It was a short class but I learned what I needed in the way of polite phrases, asking and receiving directions and other tourist related words. I had no trouble with the language at all because so many people spoke some English. It's probably is different outside Paris.

We had wonderful weather the whole time with no rain. The last two days in Paris were colder and I wore my coat rather than carrying it over my arm.

I wish I had taken more photos of the people in the streets and stores, the store fronts and how they merchandize their wares. I took 200 photos. I was impressed with how the men and women dressed.

Two very large (multi-buildings) department stores were such fun to stroll around in one day. The food halls or gourmet areas especially were over flowing with abundance every place I looked. Here is a blog I read about France and especially watch the video at the bottom. When it finishes click on some of the other videos of their animated Christmas windows. Wow! I saw the decorations over the sidewalks but I wasn't there in the evenings.

Do I want to go back to Paris? You bet!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Back from the trip to London and Paris

Here is a photo of the shoes I wore on my trip.
I'm back from my amazing trip and recovered (mainly) from the miserable cold I had when I returned. I didn't leave the house for eight days.

I've painted the last two days after at least two months of not painting and really enjoying it so much. I guess I didn't forget all I know about painting during the time off although I wondered once in a while.

I hadn't traveled for so long (14 nights) or so far in at least seven years so the preparation went on way too long. I learned a few things about what to take or not take, how to pack better and how to deal with airports. Flying is no problem, it's just the airports that are difficult.

I bought three or four new pairs of shoes before the trip and took three pairs with me. They all worked fine but one pair was a stand out and I'll never travel again without them. My feet were tired at the end of the day but never painful.

I'm not a big fan of Nike shoes and usually buy New Balance. Our local area has two shoe stores that have you stand on a foot pad and then a screen shows which areas of the foot take most of the weight and then they match you to a pair of insoles. I wasn't convinced this was really true and have to say I'm a believer now after many miles and many stairs on a daily basis.

One member of our group logged 58 miles on his pedometer with only about five or six days into the trip.

I'm glad to be home and painting again. I'll post some photos after I've worked on some of the paintings in progress.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

New painting

Here is a new painting. The colors in this photo are not quite right but close.

So many things have been happening lately it's been difficult to feel even slightly caught up or current.

We've had a death in the family. While it was not unexpected it has taken a toll in time and thinking about the past. All the usual thoughts about am I/we using our time on the planet in thoughtful or fulfilling ways?

My focus for some time is my trip to England and France which is only about week away now. I'm probably over thinking the whole thing. Lots of reading of books and tour books, marking places on the maps and generally spending way too much time on the computer. Gathering web sites, doing research is the fun part. Narrowing it down to useable bits is the hard part. I'll load a USB flash thing and also have files to print out. I'll only need twice the time and money to do what I've planned!

So I'll be posting again the first week in November.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Make progress with your painting

This is a photo of a back water on the Metolius river. I liked the bright green color.

I'm leaving for a trip in less than four weeks and I've been walking every other morning for about 45 minutes. Now I've bumped it up to everyday if it isn't pouring rain. I find I need to lay out my clothes the night before and get out the door as quickly as possible. If I wait for later in the day it just will not happen. So I'm walking in the dark for a while and I'm not thinking, I'm just putting one foot in front of the other and before long I'm back home again.

I read an article about doing something like this for painting. Don't stop painting even for a short time. So I won't tell you any more about the article by Keith Bond when he says it so well in his post on Fine Arts View.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Currently in the studio

Today is nice rainy day and a good day to work on my three current paintings in progress. I have a 36x36 commission, a 24x24 experiment and a gilded 36x36 piece to work on back and forth. Totally different color palettes. Just the way I like to work. While one dries there is always another one to work on since I tend to work in multiple layers. Trying to push a painting before it's dry is a big mistake. Why this has taken me so long to learn I'll never understand.

Here's blog I subscribe to by Tony Moffitt. His latest one titled "Position, position, position" is very thought provoking. Are galleries disappearing quickly? Some in our local area have changed or closed but I don't think they will ever go away. Or at least I sure hope not! So his cautionary post about positioning yourself in a world without galleries is timely and thought provoking if nothing else.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Travels and sketching

I just returned from trip to Black Butte Ranch near Sisters Oregon. Several artists stayed at the home of one of our fellow artists.

The weather was perfect. The surrounding mountains were beautiful. What a perfect place to sketch. I don't have pictures of the sketches but I will post some photos.

The community where we stayed is very well kept and has two golf courses. The house we stayed in was on a golf course and we had fun watching the golfers play and look around for lost balls. There are many miles of bike paths and most of us did a fair amount of walking.

We also took a walk along the Metolius river and spent time checking out the stores is Sisters.

In case I ever forget what a wonderfully varied place Oregon is I just need to head east over the mountains or west to the coast. What a great place to live. But don't tell anyone. Oh, the secrets out already?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

More Macarons!

Here is the latest post by Paris Breakfasts with more beautiful shots of macarons in Paris shops. I've read that shop keepers do not want people to photograph their offerings. How this blogger does it I'll never understand.

We need a taste from all the shops, right?

And here is a blog by Fanny who is a food product designer who secretly wants to be a pasty chef and her experience about working at Herme making macarons.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Putting emotion in your art

I recently read a very good article by Keith Bond in Clint Watson's Fineartviews newsletter. His main point is if we want to paint with true emotion we have to write about out painting. There are several suggestions in the article but the one that struck me as the most helpful and important was journaling about what we do. Putting it into words makes it so much more real and explainable to ourselves as well as others.

Monday, August 24, 2009

New brushes

Recently I bought four new brushes from ASW. I never buy brushes on line because I need to touch them in person. However, the prices were so good I couldn't help myself. The sale was only for a few days. I have been looking for a new 2" wash brush for a while and thought the top brush the Creative Mark wash brush would be a good one. Turn out it's my least favorite one. The two middle ones, a size 20 Pro Stroke and the 2" Qualita Colada Wash by Creative Mark are much better than I thought they would be. But my favorite is the smaller 1" Ebony Splendor 392 Wash by Creative Mark. I would buy this brush again and will look at the various sizes they carry.

So my brush buying was a success for three out of four brushes all made by Creative Mark.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Abstract art at the Saatchi gallery

Here is a short video of people looking at abstract art at the Saatchi gallery in London.

Some are students who are sketching and taking photos. Others just look tired or bemused. It appears they might be asking themselves which gallery, museum or country they're today.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

French macarons

I want to introduce a blog called Paris Breakfasts written by a watercolor artist who travels to Paris several times a year. She blogs often about Paris with copious amounts of photos. I don't know how she finds time to sleep while she's in Paris! One of her obsessions is the macaron cookie. The top and bottom is created from meringue and the centers are a type of frosting. This is the bare bones description because they come in so many colors and flavors. Cruise through her past blogs and you'll learn so much about the macarons as well as other wonderful pastry and chocolate shops.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Movie review: Food, Inc.

Here is a review of the movie Food, Inc. which I think should be seen by everyone who eats food. It's showing at some locations in the Portland Oregon area currently.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

How to sustain your creativity

Here is an article from Empty Easel's weekly newsletter. It talks about a new approach to sustaining our creativity especially when we are being too hard on ourselves. When we're saying things about "I just need to do it!" Or "what's wrong with me that I'm not more organized and working in the studio?" Do we need more structure, more goals, firmer intentions or just more time?

According to the author of "Standing at Water's Edge: Moving Past Fears, Blocks, and Pitfalls to Discover the Power of Creative Immersion", Dr. Anne Paris, it's more about healthy interpersonal relationships. We're at our best when interconnected to others. So again, this just solidifies my feeling that groups of people and especially groups of artists are very important to all of us in more ways than we realize.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Winsor and Newton new acrylic paints

I've never used the W&N brand of acrylic paints but their watercolors are wonderful to use. The main benefit is the color is the same whether wet or dry. Their longer open time would take some getting used to.

Here is their main web site. And here is the color chart. I like the broad range of the red colors. Also take a look at this site for a review.

The W&N web site says Art Media in the Portland area carries the new brand but I haven't looked for them yet.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Catching up

The flowers below are just starting to bloom in the 105 degree heat and are blooming all at once. The scent in the backyard is just luscious.

Not much happening on the art side of my life right now. My husband has had two emergency admissions to the hospital since 7-19 with only one day in between admissions. Maybe we'll return to what passes for normal soon. Here's hoping!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Bastille Day Celebration

Last Saturday, July 11th, my daughter and I went to the Bastille Day celebration in Jamison Square which is in Portland's Pearl District. It was a lovely day with sun in the afternoon. We ate lunch at Fenouil which is right on the square. Their large windows can be raised up so the interior becomes part of the whole outdoor eating area as well.

Lots of children playing in the fountain. Nice size mellow crowd. French food booths that were overrun with customers. A fencing demo with French commentary. I've had four French lessons now and occasionally could pick a word here and there that sounded familiar. Lots going on and we really enjoyed the waiters race.

What's going on in the studio? Not much right now but it's always on my mind and I have five 16x16 pieces to finish up and will post photos when they're done. What I'm really interested in doing is working on the 36x36 piece that is totally gilded with gold leaf. Just having a busy time with other things right now.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Crisis of confidence

Above are two pictures from Hilda Kluger's lilac garden in Woodland WA taken this spring.

I know many artist read the Robert Genn twice weekly art newsletter. A few newsletters ago he published a letter from artist Bela Fidel who works in a very diverse style using several different mediums. She wrote about the difficulty of "tearing" new work out of herself. The ideas don't flow anymore but still she must produce.

Here is part of what Robert said in his letter: "Evolving artists often encounter a "crisis of belief." This means a failure of belief in the possibility of one's art connecting and being worthwhile, as well as belief in oneself as a creative dynamo. This crisis, which can lead to inertia and outright failure, is the penalty that comes with knowledge and understanding. It was ever thus, and it's part of the evolution of cultures."

Does this crisis of confidence in being an artist affect all artists? I've certainly spent a fair amount of time in this state. It's very uncomfortable and I don't know what the cure is except to give it some time to pass. I have very little encouragement in my life as an artist. It's always been something I did only on my own and for myself. So I've dealt with the "crisis" by myself as well. It helps to read upbeat writing about artists and how they cope. It all just makes me wonder why I or any other artist keep making art. I know I'll never stop and I'm not in the midst of any sort of crisis at the moment. I am, however, avoiding finishing up work on seven canvases. The finish is always the worst part of it for me--the final 10 percent.

I'm not depressed or discouraged right now. I'm just watching myself avoid painting and finding lots of other things to do. I know I'll get back to my paintings because I won't start anything new until I've finished the started or nearly finished ones. The ideas for new paintings are still coming into my mind and the impulse for something new is still healthy and "on point". I am very patient with my process. Like I have a choice? OK, enough introspection for today!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sketching, drawing class

Saturday (6-27-09) I met some friends at the marina near where the Jazz Festival in Portland is held each year to do some sketching. I've never explored the area and have to say it is beautiful. A small lush garden with lily ponds and a paved trail that goes all the way to the Sellwood bridge. Not to mention views of the Marquam and Hawthorne bridges.

We had lunch at a grill right on the water. Once when a large boat or ship went by the server came by and told everyone to pick up their purses in case the water came all the way to where we were sitting on the dock. They have a very nice seating area inside too. Very good food!

I'm starting a drawing class on July 6th and I'm sure I'll improve with some help. In the meantime, I'm posting one of my drawings. This is part of what this blog is about----taking chances and sticking my neck out!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Women's Art Show at the Pompidou Center

I posted in an earlier post about the women's show at the Pompidou Center. 

Here is a review of the show. Sounds most interesting and runs through May 2010.

I believe male artist's couldn't have made their art without a woman in the house doing all the work around maintaining a structure for him and the family. Women were too busy to think about making art! Well, it's one explanation about why there are fewer women artists represented in the art museums.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Economical art show

I want to point you to a very good artist's newsletter which sends an email every Sunday morning with the week's topics. It's called Empty Easel and it's a very good source of information written clearly by the author and several guest writers. This Sunday I especially enjoyed reading about "How to Plan and Prepare a Solo Art Show on a Shoestring Budget" by Robb Scott. Some really good ideas here so go read his other topics too. 

I know there is a world of information out there in the arts field and I try to limit how much time I spend on the internet and how many sites I bookmark or subscribe to on a regular basis. But Empty Easel is one of the good ones I read weekly.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Last week end

This last week end was full of events for the Rose Festival in Portland Oregon. Did I go to the Rose Parade? Or the Waterfront Park fun center? Or do anything related to the Rose Festival? No. I went to the Japanese Garden where they had a show called "Parallel Worlds" which runs through June 28th. They also had a show of unusual Ikebana floral arrangements. Not the small, stylish and refined Ikebana I've seen before but huge arrangements with tree like branches. Very unusual and wish I had taken pictures. The day was cool and misty but not really raining. The Rose Gardens were beautiful even with the hard rain storm we had on Thursday. I also visited Powell's book store so it was a full day and I had a wonderful time.

As far as art related activities, I've spent several hours cleaning my studio. I've even scraped up most of the paint from the floor. Now it's time to get this room dirty and messy again!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Artist stereotypes

It seems like about the time I'm thinking of an art focused topic Robert Genn writes about it in his newsletter! Today's letter is about stereotypes. We all use stereotypes sometimes to make sense of our lives and our place in the over all picture. I've seen several topics on the web relating to the low number of women artists shown in various museums and galleries especially in the past. And it's true so this isn't a stereotypical statement about women artists.

What about the starving artist? The unreliable or flaky artist? Do you have to be a little crazy to be an artist? I can only speak for the artists I know and I can say they are dedicated, hard working and fully functioning members of society. And mostly well balanced! 

Scroll down and read Allan O'Marra's post about how he thinks Robert is making it sound too easy and doing a snow job on other artists. I don't think Robert's newsletters have ever made being a successful artist sound simple or easy. But that's why I always read the responses to his newsletters---there's always another idea out there to think about.

Be sure to read the post by Janice Slattery about her group of artists sharing encouragement. Here is the gallery where the group shows: La Habra Art Gallery.

Earlier I posted about when to know if a painting is finished and some tips to figure it out. One of the important things I didn't add was the support, encouragement and help of my critique group. So thank you to Collin, Marge, Nikki, Leslie and Ann. You are so appreciated!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Stendhal Syndrome

Here is an article I found about Stendhal Syndrome. I didn't know such a syndrome existed.

by Clint Watson 

In the July/August Issue of Art of the West Magazine, Tom Tierney and Allan Duerr wonder in their column "Straight Talk" why some people respond to art so strongly while others seem impervious to art's spiritual effects upon one's soul.  As I pondered their questions, I remembered reading about an obscure psychosomatic "illness" regarding cases of people who exhibit extreme sensitivity to beautiful art.  The phenomenon is called "Stendhal syndrome."

Stendhal syndrome is a psychosomatic "illness" that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to art.  

Marie-Henri Beyle, the French author known as Stendhal (his pen name), visited Florence in 1817. His book, Naples and Florence: A Journey from Milan to Reggio, describes his experience of the "illness."  He actually became dizzy and confused by the majestic beauty of Florentine art. According to an Italian psychiatrist, Graziella Magherini, it happens all the time.  Magherini observed and described more than 100 similar cases among tourists and visitors in Florence. Apparently Sensitive tourists enter the Uffizi, stand in front of  paintings by Brunelleschi or Botticelli, and simply keel over.   
I've seen similar effects upon visitors to art exhibitions that I've attended.  People stand in front of paintings gaping, weeping, or laughing.  Stendhal syndrome illustrates the amazing power that artists wield when they concern themselves with painting or sculpting, rather than making ridiculous splashes or preposterous gimmicks. 

Speaking of splashes and gimmicks, I have to wonder if anyone has ever fainted in front of an Andy Warhol or a Jackson Pollock?  How many tourists have collapsed in tears in the MOMA?  How many have been elated to spiritual highs by the geometric shapes of a Mondrian?  Although to be fair, I have to admit that the apparent appeal and popularity of Warhol, Pollock, Mondrian, Picasso and other modernists does leave me in a state of confusion, but that's not quite the same thing as keeling over from the sheer beauty of their works....

As Allan and Tom point out in their column, those of us who are art lovers "...respond to art because it feeds our souls and, simply put, makes our world a better place."  If being a person who responds strongly to art makes me ill, then I don't want to be well brother!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Women's art show at the Pompidou Center

"The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity." Ellen Parr

Here is a link to an article about a show featuring only women artists at the Pompidou Center in Paris. The show ends August 10th.

And from Making a Mark I found this blog about making color charts to better understand the paints we use.

Hope everyone is having a good Memorial Day holiday.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Gilding & gold leaf


I recently bought 10 new canvases. I didn't need them but they were on sale. I have five 16x16 and five 36x36. Even though they say they are triple gessoed I always do one or two more coats of gesso. My favorite gesso is Utrecht's Professional grade gesso. Then I covered them with gold leaf. The bottom picture is before cleaning and the top photo is after gently cleaning with an old T-shirt on a small sponge.

There are several types of adhesives to use and my favorites are either Duo Embellishing Adhesive by USArtQuest or gold leaf adhesive size by Old World Art. I've also used matt or gloss medium but you need to be sure it is kept semi-wet because once it dries the leaf won't stick too well. The very worst thing to use is spray adhesive. It is bad for you and the environment and besides it doesn't work well at all. Nasty, nasty useless stuff in my opinion. 

Now it's ready to be painted on and may bead up a bit with the first coat but keep going and the paint will stick very well. I start with the most transparent paints available. Later the more opaque colors can be added when I'm sure I want to really cover the gold leaf. Why gold leaf a canvas if you cover the whole thing with opaque paint?

I recently drove between Vancouver and Seattle which takes about 2 1/2 hours. This is the perfect time of year to drive as far as the scenery goes. The deciduous trees are turning from the very palest greens to more mature greens which creates a wonderful contrast between the evergreens which are sort of black green and the newer greens seen in the spring. I saw blue-purple lupines, California poppies, burgundy grasses, pale yellow mustard plants and the deeper yellow Scotch Broom. Wonderful blue skies and good views of Mt. Rainier too. 

Thursday, May 14, 2009

When is a painting finished?

This is a question much weightier artists have addressed over and over in books or on the internet. I don't have the answer except to say---it depends---on the artist. When a painting is leaving the ugly adolescent realm and starting to be it's own special piece is when I turn to some tricks or tests. 

The two 12x24 pieces I posted here are approaching this stage of development. 
These two paintings are on at least their fourth go round with me. If they don't come into their own soon they will be the first canvases I've destroyed which gives me a lot of freedom really. I'm working with lots of alcohol now and digging into very old layers.

Tips on finishing:
1. Look at the painting in all four directions rotating it and squinting or take your glasses off.
2. Check out light and dark using a piece of red plexiglass.
3. Do you have different sizes of general shapes?
4. Do you have or want a center of interest?
5. Do you need neutrals to rest the eye? I have a hard time using neutrals at all!
6. If on paper using mat board "Ls" is helpful. Wish I could crop canvases sometimes.
7. Simplify. Major problem for me.
8. Put in a darker room and see it out of the corner of the eye. You'll see things you didn't see before. What about working in the dark?
9. Check it out in a mirror.
10. Take a photo and see it on the computer in color, black and white and sepia. Make larger or smaller. Try way smaller too.
11. Wait a few days and look again. Or a few months!

If I think of other things that have helped me in the past I'll post them later. I'll be gone for a few days.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Artist interview with Leslie Zemenek

Today's post is an interview with an artist from Victoria BC.

On the easel
Leslie's new studio

Leslie, to get started would you please describe your current studio and since
it's a newer studio you might discuss what plans you have for developing
it in the future.

After three moves in an 18 month period, I finally have a stable home
and with that a new studio. At 450 square feet, it also doubles as a
home office for other ventures. About 2/3 of the space is dedicated
studio. The room has built-in cabinets and a kitchenette with sink,
small fridge and even more cabinets. There's also a full bathroom. Just
outside the door is the laundry room, so I have plenty of sources of water.

When I moved in, all the walls in the home were painted a dull pink
beige, much like the color that used to be called "Flesh" in the 64
piece Crayola Crayons box. It sucked up all the light, so the first
thing I did was paint the studio walls a bright white. As I sit in the
room, I'm feeling a need for a little more color, so my next step will
be to paint the trim around the windows and doors a nice deep hue. I'm
still undecided as to color. There is a large picture window that looks
out on the garden. Since that wall has no room for hanging art, I plan
to do some painting and doodling directly on the wall. I also want to
stencil some of my favorite quotes funning along the wall just under the

Other necessary upgrades include better lighting and more electrical
outlets. I suspect that as I use the space I will discover other things
I can tweak to make it more efficient, comfortable and mine.

What is your favorite reaction that anyone has ever had to your work?

Although this rarely results in a sale, I'm always pleased when people
find it difficult to look at my work for more than a second. I'm not
talking about the "nice, but not my cup of tea" look. I'm talking about
a reaction of palpable discomfort. I believe art should evoke emotion.
Even though my subject matter is not particularly disturbing, it is
thought provoking and is likely to either evoke excitement or unease.
Whenever I see people who look anxiously away after a moment's glance at
my work, I know it's doing it's job.

What was the most deflating? What would you really like for people to
say about your art?
I'm pretty resilient when it comes to my work, I know it's not for
everyone, so I can't say I've ever felt deflated by anyone's reaction.
I'd say I'm more disappointed when people don't take the time to
actually "feel" or "experience" the work. It doesn't matter if they like
it or not, just that they take it in and allow it to speak to them,
positively or negatively. I'm unhappy that so many people seem to prefer
view art that is predictable, kind of like the visual equivalent of Muzak.

When you are working in your studio do you think about your audience
and their reaction to the work? And if yes, who do you imagine your
audience to be? 

When I'm in my studio I'm performing for an audience of one -- me!

If you could go anywhere-any country-for inspiration, where would you
go and why?

My list of places that I want to visit expands and changes constantly.
Right now that list includes Prague, Montreal, Greece, Morocco, and a
sail down the Nile.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Rather than choose a place, I am interested in living somewhere with a
particular kind of energy. When I find that place, I'll know it instantly.

Who are some artists who stir you soul and why? What is it,
specifically, about their work that draws you to it?

Like places on the globe, my list of artists whose work inspires me
grows and changes. One artist who has remained on my list since early
childhood is Marc Chagall. Maybe it's my Russian ancestry that connects
me to his work. But I think it's more than that. I love the mystery of
the stories told visually in his work, I love his colors and gestures.
His work never reminds me of the work of any other artist, and no other
artist's work reminds me of his.

Do you find titles to be integral to understanding a work of art?

I rant constantly about artists who call their works "Untitled" or even
"Untitled 206." I had a long discussion with a curator once who
explained to me the philosophy behind the lack of titles. Calling
something "Untitled," to me, indicates laziness or a lack of
imagination. If the artist felt strongly enough to communicate a vision
or idea in a visual manner, it shouldn't be a stretch to come up with a
title that expands upon that vision. A good title adds untold dimension
to the work.

Describe how you develop titles for your work.

The titles whisper themselves in my ear at some point during the
painting process, most often when I am about 2/3rd to 3/4ths of the way

Is an artist's statement really important or just something you do out
of obligation? What purpose does your statement serve?

Like a good title, I think an artist statement is another extremely
important way to communicate the artist's vision. I've heard some
artists argue that the art should speak for itself. Unfortunately I
think that in this age of YouTube, much of the general public isn't
"listening" on a soul level. A well crafted statement can help to spark
the dialogue between the observer and the art.

Does art serve a function beyond decorating walls?

A lot of art does just decorate walls. But that's not what I'm
interested in. Art should come from and speak to the soul.

Do you think artists are fundamentally different than other people? Why
or why not?

Yes and no. I believe everyone has the seed of an artist within, but
those who have cultivated that seed do approach life differently and
face different and more difficult challenges than those who don't. We
live in a world that values left brain processes. I can't prove it, but
my feeling is that this lopsided approach has caused a lot of the
world's problems. Artists and other right brain thinkers may very well
turn out to be tomorrow's superheroes.

Tell me about your favorite tools, type of paint, color palette or your
painting process.

I know a lot of people don't like them, but I keep my paints in a
Masterson Sta-Wet Palette. I am also lost without my spray bottle of
water. I actually don't mix a lot of color at once. If need be, I mix it
again. I don't mind if it isn't exactly the same as before, that adds to
the depth and richness of the paint.

My basic color palette consists of Quinacridone Burnt Orange, Permanent
Violet Dark, Payne's Gray, Pthalo Turquoise, Quinacridone Gold and
Cadmium Red Light. Instead of white I use a Liquitex color called
Parchment which is on the greenish side. I love it.

See more of Leslie's work here.

Thanks so much for answering my many, many questions. Later on, when you have your studio up and running I would love to post a photo or two. 

Friday, May 1, 2009

The next paintings

I have three paintings patiently waiting for me to continue with them. The two 12x24 pieces have previous paintings underneath what you see. One has silver leaf on part of it and the other has gold. Still not certain at this stage if they will be portrait or landscape. I've heard of people putting two hanging wires in each direction on the back so the owner of the painting can hang it which ever way they want. Sometimes, even in the later stages of a painting, I'll decide to change the orientation and wonder why I haven't seen it earlier.

The 24x30 painting has gold leaf over the whole canvas and I'm not sure where this painting will end up either! 

But they are all worthy of attention and time and will probably change a good deal before I think they're finished. Just a matter of finding the time which is always the way it seems to be around here. 

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Catching up

I was sure I posted about taking some time off while my daughter had surgery on April 15th but didn't find it. So that was why I haven't been posting. It was a doozy of a surgery--her 15th one. But she's home now and taking it very easy as she mends. At least I hope she's resting and relaxing!

I've posted some photos I took today of my yard. The taller lilies in the pots are long established and the shorter ones were just planted this year. They will look wonderful and smell even better about July.

Monday, April 13, 2009

More on giving galleries what they want

Photo in a collector's house

Alyson B. Stanfield posted today about submitting work to a gallery on Art Biz Coach. The article suggestions another way to approach a new gallery. See also an earlier post about the same topic on my blog here.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Three new abstract paintings

I've posted before about paintings in progress here and here

Today I'm posting the finished paintings from my own camera. The new paintings will be taken to the photographer later in the month and I'll post those photos when they're finished.

All paintings are 24X30. The first one is "Medial Moraine ", the second one is "The Blend" and last is "Sanctuary". "Sanctuary" is acrylic paint over a base of gold leaf.

My daughter is having surgery on Wednesday and things will be on hold for a while around here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Art Saves Lives!

I subscribe to an e-newsletter from Creative Catalyst. They make very good art instructional DVDs. Toward the bottom of yesterday's newsletter was the "Behind the Camera" column. It really struck me as a timely article and I want to share it.

After reading the column again I now understand why I had a dream about rattlesnakes last night!

"Painting requires a present moment state of mind. It's an attentiveness that is a mixture of training, intuition and inner listening. At its best, it is a conversation between the artist, the subject and the painting. At its very best, it is all absorbing.

Yesterday I took the day off to paint with a couple of friends. Both are dealing with serious health issues in their families. They have found that one of the very few ways they can find some small relief from the stress in their lives is to paint. Thank goodness they have art to turn to. I was reminded of a once popular bumper sticker: "Art Saves Lives". I now have a better understanding of just what that means.

My mother's mentor, Lester Bonar, used to say, "Painting is like killing rattlesnakes. It takes your total attention." It is an intellectual and emotional dance. As our skill and understanding of design improve, we have more opportunity to express ourselves. Our art becomes less and less an evidence trail of our grappling with our medium. No matter how improved we may become, art can remain all absorbing.

As my friends go through their journey, I feel helpless to help. I hope they can continue to escape, even if only briefly, into the limitless pursuit of art."

Cheers, Lynn Powers

Saturday, April 4, 2009

How to get into a gallery & beach trip

I went to the Oregon coast with some friends where we rented a house and had a good time being together. However, the weather was cold and stormy and it was a make a fire in the fireplace and stay inside visit. I did go to Cannon Beach to see the galleries. I found being there on a Tuesday in the off season was not a good choice. Several restaurants were closed as well as a few galleries. If you want to go to Cannon Beach the first week end in May is a better choice as they have the Spring Opening then with lots of events in the galleries.

I've read a variety of books and blogs about how to get into a gallery. It isn't an easy task at the best of times and the rules have changed a little in the current economy. If you have suggestions or have something that worked for you, please let me know.

I've been reading the blogs from Joanne Mattera and Edward Winkleman for a while now and find their information to be excellent and thought provoking. Joanne wrote a blog about how not to approach a gallery and Edward wrote about her post and added some of his own thoughts. They are both good writers and state their opinions clearly and directly. Which I appreciate. 

Sunday, March 29, 2009

31 days to a better blog

If you're interested in knowing more about blogging you might want to think about this free 31 day course by problogger. This blog is always well written and full of good information. I've signed up.

I'm leaving for the coast today and will be gone for a few days. I'm taking my camera and sketching materials so I'll see what I accomplish.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Robert Genn newsletter

I read the Robert Genn newsletter twice a week when it arrives in my email. I haven't posted about it here on the blog because I assume other artists also read it. But the March 24th newsletter is so good I feel compelled to direct attention to it. It's about choices and how all artists have choices about how they start and finish a painting. There is no wrong way. 

The gist of this newsletter is in this paragraph:

"Today I spoke on the phone to several colleagues. We were talking about planning versus improvisation. While many fine artists plan everything in detail and then simply execute, others admit they don't know what they're doing from the get-go, but they start anyway and spend a lot of time fixing up. Both systems work. Just as some folks are happy and others are miserable, we can simply make choices. The nice thing about choices is that they can be changed."

I'm torn between planning and improvising on every painting I start. And I spend a fair amount of time fixing up along the way. There is no wrong way but sure wish there was an easier way!

And all the talk about how this applies to painters also applies to just living and breathing every day. Lessons are here to be learned every day and I need to remember there are always choices.  

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

More paintings in progress

I'm posting two of the three paintings I started earlier. This is the place where I have to seriously study them before going on. I'll put them in the living room for a few days. I'll squint at them, I'll look at them in a dark room, I'll turn them in all directions, I'll think about warm vs cool colors and it goes on and on. I have a whole list of things to do when I critique my own paintings. I also belong to a critique group and we meet this Saturday so I'll have some outside ideas too. Then I'll carve out the time to actually do the work!

So here they are in all their adolescent glory.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

New Art Book

I'm currently reading a new book by Mary Todd Beam "The Creative Edge" and want to share some of the information. Mary's first book "Celebrate Your Creative Self" was published in 2001 and I still refer to it.

I took a class from Mary several years ago and heartily recommend her as a teacher. 

Here is a quote from the introduction to the book which I especially liked: "I believe that artists are the visionaries of this world. They help us see and interpret this amazing experience of life. We spend our lifetimes struggling to do that special masterpiece and don't realize that WE are the masterpiece. Your paintings are your shadow. I value you, my dear fellow artists. I know you bring us a better vision of this world."

Mary shares her knowledge fully and there are several step by step techniques with photographs to help explain her process. 

I especially liked her examples of paintings from other artists who used her techniques. 

Both books are useful whether for a beginning or more experienced painter. Lots of good ideas and techniques to try out.

I give it five stars!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sorting and recycling

I've been sorting art books and magazines lately. My studio doesn't look any different but I know it's neater and easier to find what I'm looking for now. Some of the art books will go to Powell's books and the magazines will go to a local art group so they will be recycled. I've also generated paper, cardboard and foam core to recycle as best I can.

Speaking of recycling I want to tell you about a local Portland group who publishes a guide to sustainability. It's called Northwest Earth Institute. They say, "The Northwest Earth Institute is recognized as a national leader in the development of innovative programs that empower individuals and organizations to protect ecological systems." We meet every other week and discuss the current chapter of the workbook. There are web sites and references to material if one wants to know more. Some of the more interesting chapters focus on food, buying and creating green communities. Lots of ideas for making a difference in what each person can do in their own homes. 

Now I have to admit I just purchased two new art books. One by Mary Todd Beam and the other by Ann Baldwin. I'll post a review as soon as I read them. I've taken classes from both artists and really admire their skill as artists as well as teachers.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Message from the Universe

I receive messages from the Universe every week day. Yes, by email, not direct! So here is one I liked.

"I can imagine that from your perspective, it must seem like some truly awful things happen in time and space. So if you wouldn't mind, I'd like to weigh in.
Jan, you live in a world of illusions. A world that springs from a much deeper and far greater reality. And while at times the illusions are indeed ugly, with your physical senses you only see the tip of the iceberg. If you could see the whole, you'd discover that the unpleasantness was only the tiniest piece of a most spectacular puzzle that was created with order, intelligence, and absolute love. You'd see that contrary to appearances, in the grandest scheme of things, nothing is ever lost, no one becomes less, and setbacks are always temporary. And you'd understand that no matter what has happened, everyone lives again, everyone laughs again, and everyone loves again, even more richly than before."

Hubba, hubba -
The Universe

Friday, March 6, 2009

Paintings in process

I had some time yesterday to paint for a little while so here is what I have so far on the canvases I started February 13th. The colors aren't exactly right but it will give a feeling of what I've done so far. Sort of difficult to put unfinished pieces out "into the world" but here they are. So far. They will look much different before they're done!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Art show at Portland City Hall for March 2009

My critique group has art hanging in the office of Dan Saltzman for the month of March. It should brighten up this office at the Portland City Hall!

Here's a photo of one of the walls.