Sunday, December 26, 2010

Year's End-What is your Challenge/Vision?

It seems appropriate that I am finishing up one challenge, the Sketchbook Project, and launching a new one, my Mid-Century Challenge at this time. This is my final post for 2010, unless something wildly exciting happens between now and Saturday. You never know...
Here are two oil sketches from my Sketchbook Project. I have two left to go and might even get a bonus two in before the week is out.
In between painting the sketches, I am working on my vision board for 2011. I have some big visions to put up!
If you have been reading these posts, you have probably seen the personal challenge I put up in the previous post. I have a few better ideas to add to phase 2 but I will mention those later.
I would like to ask all of you, What is your personal challenge for 2011? I would love to hear about it, big or small. If you got a challenge going, or are thinking of getting one going, please mention it in the comments section.
I would also love to see any vision boards you are willing to share. Please post a link in the comments section as well. I will be posting mine here to share with others.
One final note on the Sketchbook Project, I plan to put a slideshow of the pages on this blog. It will also be touring the country with the other entries. I will have more info on that later. I am also going to try to get a video, related to my sketchbook up, weather permitting. I haven't posted a slideshow or video on my blog before so we shall see how it works.
Have a wonderful and safe New Year! 2011 is going to be amazing (hopefully amazingly good), I just feel it in my bones.
See you all next year and don't be shy about sharing your challenges and visions!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Mid-Century Challenge

Well, as promised, this is my post about my personal challenge over the next 15 months. We had a busy Winter Solstice day in which the clothes dryer decided to have a melt-down just to keep things jolly. It has been dealt with, the feast has been made and appreciatively eaten and now it is back to work before the next wave of holiday making overtakes us. 
So, in the photo above is one of my favorite art quotes. Unfortunately, I have yet to find who to attribute the quote to. If anyone knows, I would appreciate the information. Behind the quote are several blank canvases. I thought my cast drawing study set-up in the background rounded out the picture nicely! 
Here , therefore, is the first phase of my challenge. In 15 months (starting with January) I will be having my 50th birthday. I know, I know, you are shocked. What is that? You think I only look 30-ish? You are so kind! Like many who reach such a milestone birthday, I wanted to do something special, something that would challenge me, add to the celebration, and enrich the lives of other beings. I would also add bring world peace and heal the environment but I have to save something for my 100th birthday! I have recently started running but I think running a marathon, while quite an accomplishment, has been done a few times. I am not particularly brave enough to jump out of a plane or go bungie jumping and those things don't really meet the "enriching lives beyond my own"criteria.
As you probably have already guessed, I decided to push myself a bit with an art challenge. I have decided to paint 50 pictures. Not just 50 crank-them-out-to-meet-the-numbers, but 50 paintings to the best of my ability at this time. Now, 50 is an arbitrary number so if I don't quite make it or, even better, paint more I won't be devastated.  I know that the moment you announce any kind of challenge that is for the purpose of bettering oneself or the world, all kinds of monsters rise up to stop you cold. I already know there are a few lurking along the way as I can see them from here.
I am sure you can see how this challenge will enrich myself, but other beings? I am planning to sell the paintings with a portion of the proceeds from each painting going to one or two causes, to be announced, that are important to me and the world. That is, proceeds from 49 of the paintings. The 5oth, which will be the best one of the lot (perhaps put that to a vote?) will be raffled off with all of the proceeds going to a cause. I am researching those causes now and will be announcing them when the decision is made. 
Now for phase two, the one that actually scares me the most not being the most social person in the world. I would like to have a party in Portland, Oregon to not only celebrate the completion of the challenge (and my 50th birthday) but to bring all the paintings together in a show of sorts and hopefully raise more money and awareness for the causes. Oh, and did I mention I would like to invite anyone who is willing to come? Now, before you all rush out and buy some party clothes, I have to be honest. I am fairly certain I can pull off phase one and not at all sure I can pull off phase two. 
With that admission, I am open to suggestions and even advice! I am thinking of selling the pieces online as well so that anyone who couldn't make it to Portland would have a chance to contribute to a good cause and get a piece of art too. 
That is the challenge in a nutshell. 15 months is both a long time and not much time, so I am sure that things will morph and change along the way. There is also a few petty details to take care of, such as finding a way to make an income and still continue to work on art. I will continue to study and create art. After all, I have turned my life, and that of my husband and dog, completely upside down to get this far and I can't stop now.
I am starting with small canvases, 9"X12", and a little bigger. I am aiming for 4 completed paintings a month plus getting in art study time. I know that some folks do the painting-a-day challenge but I want time to study and I am new at this. I could bang out a painting a day even at this point but it wouldn't be my best effort. I want to learn and grow too.
There will be more details to come in future posts. The challenge starts in less than two weeks! Gotta go finish up the Sketchbook Project! 
See you all on Sunday, 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sketchbook Project

The end of the year is fast approaching as is the deadline for the Sketchbook Project! For those not familiar with the Sketchbook Project you can find out about it here or click on the Sketchbook Project logo further on down the page. I have set my own personal deadline to be finished by the end of December. Before I get going about that and what is coming next here is one of my sketchbook pages.
This is a small oil sketch from a photo I took on one of my beach walks. Actually I guess one could say I used the photo for reference as much is not included and I changed a few things. When I first signed up for the project a couple of months ago I was very keen on moving onto color in oils as I hadn't got that far when I was in school. I took a bit of time upon receiving my sketchbook to experiment with what medium I was going to use and decided to fill my sketchbook with small oil sketches. I mean, why not combine my oil painting attempts with my sketchbook project?
Having little to no experience with oil painting at the time, I didn't realize how long even a small (about 5x8) painting would take. Some days I can only get one done and others about 3 (rarely). That is on the days I work on the project. Other days I work on my art studies.
It has been a good learning experience and, a heck of a lot of fun! I decided that I am going to combine the oil sketches (hope to have about 20 total) with some photography, quotes, and information.
We were allowed to pick a theme for our sketchbook, out of many. I decided to go with "Down Your Street." I interpreted that as down my street. Down my street (and everyone's really) lies the sea. The ocean is about 4 blocks down my street and a big presence in my life at this time. I walk on the beach daily, no matter what the weather. OK, sometimes I only walk about 50 feet but sand and rain being blown in my face at 50 mph hurts! The ocean is different every day. There is always something new to see. I often stand watching the shapes of the waves, the play of light and shadow, and try to describe the color of the ocean at that moment. The color fascinates me as it changes from moment to moment. Mornings on the beach when the sun comes out are breathtakingly beautiful.
There is a lot that breaks the heart too. I always encounter dead sea birds and other marine life. There is also a lot of plastic pollution. The garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean is now the size of Canada. Yes, that is what I said, Canada. I have that info from a Fabien Cousteau presentation given at TED.
I love the ocean as it is in my blood going several generations back. I was born by the sea and spent part of my childhood there. I have come full circle with our move to our current place. I do plan to use my future work to promote the cleanup and protection of our oceans. Our "one and only life support system."
I am learning how to paint seascapes or marine paintings. Since I prefer to draw and paint from life, I am also learning plein air painting. And, as promised, here is a picture of my first attempt completely unedited!
First, I have to add that I only had about 2 hours of daylight as this was in the afternoon and the tides were low enough. This was painted at the north end of Short Sands beach, which is just a very short drive up the road. Did I mention that this is my very first attempt, ever? That means I am working with new equipment and conditions as well. The painting is of one of the waterfalls that cascade onto the beach. I put this up here unedited for a couple of reasons. The first being that it shows my starting place. I know without a doubt that I am going to be improving quite a bit. Secondly, I want to show that we don't always start out as genius artists. It takes a lot of hard work. I figure that I will have the skills I want after about 4 more years of hard, consistent, daily, work. The work to build skill and growth will last the rest of my life.
I have a lot of work to do yet. I am still building my figure drawing skills so that I can paint the portraits of women I want to paint. I am not much into painting still life. I do love to look at still life paintings. However, it has its place in skill building so, I will be painting still life for study purposes.
That brings me to my final mention. I wrote a mention about a personal challenge in my last post. I will be posting on that in a few days, at the winter solstice, in a special post.
This is long enough. Sometimes it seems that I can't get everything in I want to say!
Look for my special post on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Winding Up the Year

Ah, Blogger is working again so I can get this post going!
I finished my first color study, at least as far as I plan to take it at this point. Here it is:
Again, I am having challenges getting a good digital picture with the correct color balance. I am not surprised when I realized that my camera is now 8 plus years old. My poor camera only has 3.2 mp and is literally falling apart bit by bit ( I have had to resort to glue a couple of times). It has been a good camera but I think I will need to replace it soon. I did do a little playing around with the lights and darks in Photoshop to get the photo to read more like the actual set up but I didn't tinker with any color correction although I probably should have. You get the general idea of the painting from here and, at this point, that is all that is needed. I would like to add that the paint that has white mixed into it reflects weirdly, and not true to color.
While I am saving up for a decent camera, I will use my husband's. He says it is "ours" but I found that only one person at a time can take pictures during those wonderful photo moments! We also have different photography needs, not to mention that we look at the world in different ways...
I have a couple of more oil sketches and my first plein air attempt which I will be sharing next week as well as a fun little side project.
As we are coming to the end of the year I, like many of you, will be taking a bit of time to reflect on the past year and think about what I want to accomplish in the next. I am putting together a personal challenge. I will be posting the details soon in a special post but here is a bit of the background for the challenge:  In 2012 I will have my 50th birthday (if the world does decide to end that year it will be extremely ironic!). I decided that I wanted to create a personal challenge for my 50th and have it benefit one or more of my favorite causes as well. I did the math and realized that starting this January, I will only have 15 months to complete said challenge! I will have to get busy!
That is all I am going to say on that now as I want to carefully think over the details before I put them out there publicly. I am hoping to get input and encouragement from all my friends as I think I am going to need it. Sometimes your friends have a way of taking things to a wonderful new level.
I had a wonderful morning at my local life drawing session. It is always a pleasure to spend time drawing with other artists. I want to finish up by mentioning a couple of new links in the "artists who inspire" section of my blog. First is Karen Martin Sampson who is from Vancouver Island, B.C. Her work is beautiful and inspiring. If you click on the Links on her web site you can find her blog. She is generous with her knowledge as well. Thank you Karen! A second link I would like to mention is for another artist I admire, Terry Strickland. Her blog posts often include video clips of her process. I hope to do that one day myself. I also have two other links that are important to me, Women Drawing Women, and Women Painting Women. I probably don't have to tell you that women artists are very much under-represented in our galleries and museums, not to mention history. I love to see how women interpret the female body and person. I find it is very different from the male perspective (anyone surprised?). I will be sharing more artists on my blog now and then in future posts.
Finally, a couple more changes I made to my blog. I have been on FaceBook for a while now and have just joined Twitter. If you use these social media platforms, please do look me up. Mention Art=Life in the message line of FaceBook to let me know who you are and I will be happy to add you as a friend.There are links to both FaceBook and Twitter in the side bar.
I would love to read your comments if you wish to use the comment link at the bottom of this post and you can also share the post on FaceBook and Twitter using the links below.
We have been having very wet and stormy weather here lately which will continue for the week. Perfect for working in the studio.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

December? What happend to June?

As always, December sneaks up on me. I know it is coming. I realize it will be here right after November but then BAM! Not only is it here, it flies by too. Well, December plays havoc with my schedule and I know I am not the only one it happens to. I am still working in the studio, it just gets weird in the hours around that time.
I did get to work one day on my color study. I still have a tiny bit left to do before I am ready to move on to another one. One of the variables that has made the time go wonky is the weather. The weather has been beautiful these past few days. Add that to minus tides and the fact that I now have my plein air setup all ready to go and I find my schedule getting kind of spontaneous. To catch the low tides which expose cliffs, caves, and beaches, and the lovely afternoon light, I found myself grabbing my easel and paints and heading out about 2 o'clock Friday afternoon to paint at a beach about 5 minutes up the road. I am not going to post the results of my very first plein air painting just yet. I think I will leave it for the next one. Hopefully I will have a bit more to show on that topic by then.
The bulk of my painting this week was working on oil sketches for the Sketchbook Project.
Here is a shot of one part of it.
These are sketches in oil. I am still basically a rank beginner but I must admit, I love it even more than I thought I would. Here is a close-up of one sketch which is roughly 5 X 8".
All of these were done from digital photos I took and then display on my computer screen. Not my favorite way of working which is why I am starting to go out to paint plein air. I really like working from life. The atmospheric effect of the light in this area is a bit tricky to catch. I am learning and studying so I will be improving.
I also attended the life drawing session this week. I really liked the model we had. He was tall and thin which made for rather graceful poses at times. This was my favorite one. This was a 30 minute pose and I wanted to get it as much info as possible because I liked the pose so much. Normally I hold myself back to work on gesture and proportions, angles and shapes before getting so much into tone and details.
Life drawing is a joy and one of the things I really miss from school is being able to do so much of it.
Finally, for my next color study I wanted to simplify the still life. I know my fellow students started out painting colored blocks. I finally was able to score a huge bag of cardboard blocks from the thrift store for $5. I am going to paint a few of them solid colors and use them in the next set up. Not terribly exciting but a a good exercise.
It will continue to be crazy busy for most of us in the next couple of weeks I am sure and my holidays tend to be more mellower than many folks. I will have more on the Sketchbook Project and my first plein air attempts next week.
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