Thursday, March 28, 2013

monsters under my bed

22 x 30, Sumi and charcoal on BFK
The feelings of desperation and unhappiness are more useful to an artist than the feeling of contentment, because desperation and unhappiness stretch your whole sensibility.   
Francis Bacon (1909 -- 1992)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

kitchen's full

Company of Women, 22 x 30, acrylic
When I was growing up, holidays were bustling times with lots of people and lots of food.  Prior to sitting down at the table to eat, the group was often divided by sex. The men were out in the garage looking at the newest car, or in the den watching the football/baseball/basketball game.

The generations of women crowded in the kitchen. Sometimes there was room for little girls, too. We watched the rolling of dough, the snapping of beans, the give and take of advice and community. I loved those times when I got to wear an apron and help. Participating in the company of women made me feel grown up and special.

The grandmothers have long passed away. Some of the mothers, too. The little girls have grown up and some of us have families of our own. And I am a grandmother now.

But inside the heart of this grandmother is still the little girl with flour on her fingers, trying to pinch pinwheels from the leftover pie crust.

Cat Stevens "Oh Very Young."

Thursday, March 14, 2013

practice, etudes and figure drawing

Jennifer, 90 second gesture drawings
Practice makes a lot of sense to me. When I was just seven years old, I started a lifelong love affair with piano and practice was required. It's funny, I always enjoyed practicing. I liked the discipline of it. I liked the alone time. I liked figuring things out, spotting the hard parts, making notes along the way to guide me and to make it flow.

As I advanced in my piano skills, my practice pieces changed. At my peak, I was practicing with pieces like this Chopin Etude (Op 10 No. 4). It was a sure way to limber up creaky fingers and get blood moving!

With art, practice looks different from scales, arpeggios, and etudes. Practice in art for me looks like lots of figure drawing and figure painting. Each session seems to limber up my creaky observation skills and to get the blood moving toward interesting, dynamic, and more accurate drawings.

Jennifer, 90 second gesture drawings

Looking at these drawings today, I can see that I need to sort out the proportions of the model's behind. With music, I could slow things down, make notes of better fingering solutions, and isolate the trouble area for more practice. With drawing, I will not be able to slow things down, but I can use more sight-size measuring to increase my accuracy.

Jennifer, 90 second gesture drawings
Figure drawings are the etudes of art practice.

Friday, March 8, 2013

painting in the sunshine

Although at 58 degrees it wasn't especially warm, it was still delightful to get out in the sunshine and paint en plein air. In just about another week, these trees will be covered in light pink blossoms.

The Beatles "Good Day Sunshine."

Monday, March 4, 2013

oil in the studio

Mum, 12 x 9, oil
A rainy day last week provided the perfect opportunity to have a friend join me at my studio to paint a still life. You can see Roxanne Clingman's beautiful painting here.

I only recently got back from a road trip to California. The travel time inspired my enthusiasm to practice more with oil paint and put to work the good instruction I have received from Thomas Kitts, Eric Jacobsen, and Elio Camacho.

Speaking of California, I completely enjoyed my time at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. I saw paintings by early California plein air and Impressionist painters, including work by William Wendt and Collin Campbell Cooper. Just around the block from the museum, at a small art gallery, I was thrilled to see work by Joseph Goldyne. Seeing good art makes me even more excited about making art myself.

Music to paint by on a rainy day: Erik Satie "Gymnopedie #1."