Monday, September 26, 2011

Getting Unstuck

I have been struggling a bit these past few weeks. Not struggling with ideas but struggling more with how to proceed. There are many reasons why I wish I was able to continue with school. One of the blessings of being at school was the issue of how to proceed was pretty much laid out for students. I am finding that sort of guidance was a luxury! Fortunately for me, I was old enough to realize that while I was in school and took advantage of it. I also took notice of what the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year students were working on knowing that I would have to do this on my own.
I am starting in on my third year, the second without formal instruction, and I am sort of stuck with how to proceed. Oh, I know that I need to continue to work on life drawing, color studies, and what little cast drawing I am able to do. I would like to start in on portrait painting and am not sure how to get on with that. I also want to start working on my own compositions.
Well, perhaps I just outlined how to proceed!
I believe I will do something that I don't usually do. I am thinking that I need to spend a little time writing this out with more detail and setting down some specifics on paper. Not a lot of time, but perhaps an afternoon. If you all will indulge me,  I will report on the outcome of this on my next post. In the meantime, I certainly am open to suggestions. So many of you have been generous in that way and it is much appreciated. I will definitely pay that forward when I am able.
Timing can be pretty amazing. I have to give a shout out for a post that artist Crystal Cook posted not too long ago. I follow her on Facebook and thought I had her blog on my blog roll and link in my list. I was surprised to find I didn't! I am going to remedy that after posting. Her post is titled: Ten Hard Earned Truths Every Artist Must Learn. Click on the title to go to her post. I had to agree with every one of them, specially number 5!
Finally, here is a sketch from yesterday's life drawing group:
"Sophia" 20 minute sketch. Conte pencil on prepared watercolor paper.
Sundays have turned into wonderfully busy days with life drawing in the morning and attending a musical jam session with my husband in the evening. I am getting my long neglected cello back on line and also playing the bodhran.
I am going to go to my favorite cafe in our little town here and do that writing I just assigned myself this very afternoon. It is a perfect windy, rainy, fall day to just that.
Until next post, -Renee

Monday, September 12, 2011

Changing a Challenging Challenge

Ahem... A while ago I put up a challenge for my 50th birthday coming in the year 2012. At the time, I had just started painting with oil and was intrigued with the "painting a day" idea. I thought I would challenge myself to paint 50 paintings. Well, I have decided to revise that challenge! I picked the number 50 for obvious reasons. I actually could paint 50 quick paintings but I want them to be paintings that not only have meaning to me but represent my best effort at the time. At this stage in my development, I don't have the speed and skill to paint 50 with that criteria in mind. I have decided that painting my best is more important to me than painting 50 paintings. I don't regret throwing that number out there though! I am still thinking that I would like to have a showing of some sort but I believe I will make it local and invite my artist friends to participate. I would also like to have a portion of the proceeds go to a worthy organization such as our local United Paws of Tillamook.
I am thinking over if I want to add a number of paintings to the challenge. I could do 5 paintings, one for each decade. Perhaps I will just not focus on a certain number but focus instead on joyful meaningful work. I must admit I like that better. Any thoughts?
After taking a couple of days off to rest and sort of catch up on the work of everyday living, I got back to the studio and finished my seal painting. I have named it "Newly Borne" and here it is:
Newly Borne (oil, 9X12)
This is my first formal painting of the sea. I am still learning how to paint the ocean and I am fascinated with it. I used my own photo reference to paint the newborn seal and an oil sketch I did that day as a reference for the waves and color. I was glad I did the grisaille first as I would have been lost without the tones already mapped out. I am pleased with the learning experience I had from painting this piece.
Life drawing yesterday was quite interesting. I am still processing the recent workshop I attended. I definitely see its influence in my work.
I would like to take a moment to thank all of you who commented on my recent posts during the workshop. I am going to try to update the Blogger and see if that will allow me to comment on my own posts again!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Liberace Workshop-Day 5 and Final Day

Well, it is amazing how fast a five day workshop goes by. As I anticipated, today was a struggle. I would say it was the hardest day for me as I was sailing off into completely new territory. If I had more time I probably would have had better results but ironically, sometimes it can be better to not have more time. Here is my final painting:
This is not a finished piece even though I am through working on it. Some people not only finished but did two. That's OK, everyone is at different skill levels and I took my time so I could learn. The proportions are off but the instructor said I did a good job on the shadows and lights. Other students had better painting techniques but struggled with their shadows and lights so everyone had a learning curve or area of challenge of some sort!
I am still pretty new to oil painting and have never mixed skin tones. The little paint spots on the right are tests of color. I filled up the side and wiped it clean several times.
I put up work like this on my blog for a reason. My intent on starting my blog was to show that people with determination and willingness to work very hard (good teachers help too) can become a skilled artist. I still have a ways to go and as you can see from above I sometime make a mess. It is a glorious mess that represents perseverance in the face of frustration and a willingness to fail beautifully, not just once but over and over again.
We decided to head home a day early instead of staying an extra day as originally planned. I will take a few days off to catch up on the house-holdy stuff and rest a bit before heading back to the studio. I have some art research to do and new things to try. I plan to be back to post the Sunday after Labor Day here in the U.S.
Finally, thank you Mena for the wonderful comment and the encouragement. A link to Mena's work has been on the sidebar in the 'Artist's who inspire' section for a while now. Check it out!
Looking forward to being by the wild and beautiful sea tomorrow.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Liberace Workshop-Day 3 and 4

We all had a wonderful relaxing dinner hosted by Cary and her husband of WIFAS last night. I think my favorite moment is when dark fell and many of us were sitting around a bonfire. I looked across the fire and saw a weary or pensive teacher staring into the fire with his two young daughters sitting on each knee. It would make a lovely picture!
I will start with the two oil sketches from yesterday. The first was about 45 minutes (in 15 minute segments). This is really the first time I have tried to do a formal grisaille in oil of the human figure.
The second one was done in the 3 hour afternoon session. It was a bit challenging as I was on the side and the cloth the model was sitting on that had the position taped to kept slipping around so that the model's position kept changing. I loved this particular gesture so I nailed it there even though the model's position changed. Not the model's fault.

Today we all changed positions and switched models. We will be doing this same pose tomorrow too. I am hoping I will get a chance to paint it in color as I have never done that. I might just focus on the pose and technique and stick to the same colors as above. I am painting on a gesso board that has been toned medium gray. It is smaller than I am used to and the surface is fairly smooth, something I am not used to either. I did pick up a few techniques on working on this support though so it is worth trying out in this circumstance. Here is today's work:
I am making rather a mess out of the paint. It is streaky and a bit busy. I am hoping I will be able to correct that tomorrow. The paint is just burnt umber with a touch of burnt sienna. The light part is just the areas with the paint removed or rubbed out. This is a challenging pose for the model to hold as it is very tiring. Toward the end of the day, he would sit down during the break and doze off. He has been a very patient and obliging model.
In between and during us painting, Rob Liberace was painting a couple of demos. The last one is a portrait on copper. It is looking really interesting and I think I might want to try that myself sometime. We are able to see how he handles the challenges of working on copper. That is a bit of a bonus as it wasn't in the workshop description.
One of many things I really like about Robert Liberace as a teacher is that he has a wonderful curiosity and willingness to explore. He is generous about sharing the knowledge he gains. I would say the workshop is worth every penny it costs on just that alone. Of course, we also get good instruction and some feedback. I think all of my workshop mates would agree that we can't get enough feedback but that is because there are so many of us and only one of him. His classes and workshops are in high demand. I was lucky to get in which is why I signed up months ahead of time. I can understand why they enroll as many people in the workshop as they can.
Tomorrow is the last day of the workshop. I will have more to post of course.
I am not able to answer comments for some reason. I am still having trouble with Blogger. I will answer Theresa's question here about taking photos for reference. There is an understandable policy that no photos of the models are allowed. Even if we would never post them online, you never know if your computer might get stolen or the info falls into the wrong hands. If I were a model, I would not want any photos taken either. Photo references have their drawbacks too but that is a topic for another post. Theresa, thanks for asking! And thanks to everyone for their interest.

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