Monday, March 26, 2012

Bearing Witness: Painting in Progress

© 2012, R.L. Delight, Painting in progress.

Here is the painting I mentioned I have been working on, still in progress. It has taken me a while as I had to work up the composition from the sketch I had in my sketchbook and then I had to figure out how to do it. This is up to the point of the color block in but I realized the values of the beach and some areas on the figure are not even close. I need to work on those next. This is the first time I have worked completely from an idea I had in my head. It has been an interesting challenge.
This particular painting is very personal. I have had the sketch for it in my notebook even before I went to art school. I know the title but I am going to hold off on that until it is finished. I was browsing through a list of "local" calls for entries when I came across one that I knew I wanted to enter.
The name of the exhibit is: Bearing Witness: Healing Pregnancy Loss and Infertility Through the Arts.
The issue of pregnancy loss and infertility have long been a thread throughout my adult life. My husband and I started on this journey about 28 years ago. I am not going to go into details here but I will say it hasn't been an easy journey even though our life has gone on and has been quite good.
This is a subject not talked about. I have had some pretty stupid things said to me, the worst being by an incredibly insensitive female OB/GYN who quite frankly did not know what the heck she was talking about. I have many stories about the journey and I know others who have had the same experience probably do too.
I may not have living children but I have lost children and I am a mother. The painting is missing a crucial piece at this point, the image of the children. They will be going in. They might be on the other side but they are there.
I am aware that it is always hard to know what to say to women who have experienced miscarriage or infertility, or in my case, both. I have learned through experience that comforting words are hard to come by and the only thing a person can really say is "I am sorry for your loss." Just that, nothing else. It means a great deal.
There are so many rites of passage around motherhood as it is a fundamental part of being a female human. When you do not have children, you are more or less locked out of those rites. I have not had many women friends my age. I didn't avoid them but I just never had much in common with them as most of them have children and that is their focus is until the kids leave home, and rightly so. This issue goes far beyond the physical loss, it affects a woman for the duration of her life in so many ways. I am interested to see how the other artists interpret this journey. I have been on it a long time.
I will be working hard to get the painting finished this week. It has a ways to go but I will be focusing on it exclusively.
On a bit of a lighter note, I had a fantastic weekend. My husband and I joined with Sedona Fire, talented musical friends who write and perform beautiful music and we had our first performance with them this weekend. My husband plays trumpet/coronet, and I play the cello. I started playing the cello as an adult so this was my first public performance. It was a blast and the audience was warm and welcoming. If you click on the name above the link will take you to their website. If you click on the music tab you can hear samples of their music and buy their first CD too. We are working hard on the music and hope to join them on the next CD.
Life is good. I hope it is for you all too no matter what path your journey takes.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Four Freedoms

Beach Scene © 2012, R.L. Delight

I am working in the studio but am not to a point in any of the projects I am working on at the moment where I am ready to post about them. So today, I thought I would talk a little bit about one of the art books I am reading. I am reading Norman Rockwell, Illustrator by Arthur L. Guptill.
My father first showed me Norman Rockwell's illustrations when I was a child. It was love at first sight. This particular book was mentioned on another artist's blog and I checked it out of our local library. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is curious about Norman Rockwell, the artist, and his thoughts and methods behind the work he did.
Of the many stories and paintings mentioned in the book, I was most moved by Rockwell's Four Freedoms paintings based on Franklin Roosevelt's speech of the same name. The paintings are beautiful and given what is happening in the U.S. and around the world to our basic rights and freedoms, they are hauntingly still appropriate today. In fact, I would say that these freedoms are disappearing which is rather frightening. 

Basically the Four Freedoms are:
-Freedom of Speech
-Freedom of Worship (in whatever way)
-Freedom from Want
-Freedom from Fear

The link to a bit of background on the illustrations and to see images of the paintings themselves is here.
I would love to post the pictures of the Four Freedoms myself but I have not found any good images that are easy to use under the copyright rules. 
I think it would be an interesting artist challenge for all those so inclined to paint, draw, weave, or create in some manner new interpretations of the Four Freedoms. They are so badly needed in this world today and I fear they are greatly endangered. 
What do you think?

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Road bed at Hug Point, OR, © 2012 R.L. Delight
Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage. -Brené Brown
I woke up this morning knowing what I was going to write about in this post. I was very relieved because, until this morning, I wasn't exactly sure! I'm not quite ready to talk about the current project on the easel as it is deeply personal and is taking all the courage I have to work on it. I will be talking about the work very soon though and I have been taking pictures of the work in progress to put into a nice video slide show.
The work has been a struggle. It isn't a struggle because of the technical aspect, which is indeed stretching my skills, but because of the emotional aspect. You see, it is taking "all the courage I have to work on it" because it is a subject that leaves me deeply vulnerable, on many levels.
I have a renewed respect for the many artists out there that I particularly admire. I knew their work took skill to create but I didn't realize just how much courage it took, not just to create it, but to finish it and then put it out into the world. 
Never being one to ease into the waters of uncertainty little by little, I have jumped into the deep end in a couple areas in my life, not just art. I have to admit, I find it rather exhilarating even though I am no adrenaline junkie. I even don't mind failing since I learn so much each time. That doesn't mean that it isn't painful or that it gets any easier. I will sprinkle talk about the other things I have jumped into here and there in future posts.
I think the reason I woke up with this post in my mind this morning is because of the TED video of Brené Brown I viewed yesterday. She so very articulately put into words for me why I was having such an emotional struggle getting this work done. If you haven't viewed her video on vulnerability from last year, take a look at it first (use the search bar at and then the current one above. Now that I recognize what is behind the struggle, I am quietly gathering my courage and continuing on.
The picture above is the old roadbed at Hug Point, a place I have talked about a time or two in previous posts. In the past, it took an act of courage to travel that road depending on the weather and tides, a different kind of courage than the one I need, but courage none-the-less.
I will finish with one more quote from Brené's TED talk:
Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change. -Brené Brown
Wishing you all a day of beauty...and courage.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Climbing Out of Mudholes is Invigorating!

© 2012, R.L. Delight
Like so many places recently, we have had another bout of winter weather here on the coast. The winds came shrieking in at 70 mph plus then suddenly died. Then it began to snow. The snow caught us all by surprise and in a couple of hours we had a couple of inches of heavy slushy cold snow covering everything. Above is our little one-and-only main street that literally ends at the ocean, with a bit of remaining snow to be seen.
Great weather to be in the studio. In fact, knowing that spring, with all its distractions and additional work around house and yard is coming, I was in a bit of a fever to take advantage of the stormy weather. Unfortunately, my art muse, daemon, spirit guide, or whatever one chooses to call such a force, decided otherwise. I diligently set up a quick still life and ended up wiping the whole mess off the panel a couple hours later. I worked on my composition but couldn't seem to make that leap from sketchbook to canvas. I felt like everywhere I turned I was stumbling over something. Perhaps it is the time change we impose upon ourselves for no good reason that I can think of. Perhaps I am just in one of those spots that I am beginning to understand all creatives land in once in a while.
Ah, but to get out and move forward. I guess I could say that has been my accomplishment these past couple of days! All that reading, both of books and blogs, does pay off. I recognized what I was facing and I knew what to do: put my head down and press forward anyway.
So today after working at it the past couple of days and while still feeling the uncomfortable effects of the time change and the wild swings in weather and lunar influences, I finally broke free. It took a day or two but at least I might have wiggled out from under a little! The composition I worked on made that leap from sketchbook to canvas. Finally! I can see the next step now. I wisely backed off the mess on the panel and spent a bit of time snuggled up with hot chocolate almond milk researching art techniques. Patience was rewarded by several serendipitous posts and articles that pointed me to just where I needed to go.
I wonder if the process smooths out as one gains experience? I know from reading the blogs of artists who have been working for years that these spots happen. I think as one gains experience, the transition in and out gets faster, probably not easier though but that is OK, as long as one keeps pressing on.
I could continue rambling on this topic but I think you all get the idea. I found many wonderful things to inspire me but I will share this particular link with everyone. I have mentioned the War of Art by Steven Pressfield a few times before, which I highly recommend reading by the way. I re-read it frequently but I also enjoy his blog. He had a good post the other day with a message I have heard over and over again and necessarily so. Here is the link to it: Good Reads: Working on Two Tracks.  He is a writer of course but what he writes about on the subject of creativity applies to us all.
So here I leave you, climbing out of a mucky mess and hopefully on to a good streak of forward momentum...until the next mud hole happens!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Trouble with Tilly

I had a wonderful day of rest and reflection on Thursday and was back in the studio on Friday cleaning up and turning things around for my next few compositions. I am starting work on a painting I am calling The Silent Ones. I will be filling in the details as it develops over the next couple of weeks. It is a composition I have had in my sketchbook for a few years now. Part of the composition involves a figure bending down and reaching toward a reflection in the water. When I was at one of the life drawing sessions, I asked the model to take the pose I had in mind so I could sketch the mechanics of what is going on in the body when in the particular pose. The model was a trooper and managed to hold the pose for nearly five minutes while I sketched like mad!
I had my husband take a few pictures of me on site, and clothed, in the same pose for photo reference. I know that I will have to do most of this painting using the photo reference as my guide. I am a little nervous about that as most of my experience is in drawing from life and I am not sure how to translate some of the challenges that painting from a photo reference presents. Fortunately, Terry Strickland recently posted a wonderful pro's and con's list on working from photos here. I found it very helpful and the timing was perfect for me! I have read about the problems with working from photos in various articles but thought her post put it succinctly and addressed some of the solutions.
I had one more trick to try to make the pose as much from life as possible...Tilly. Tilly is what was often referred to in the past as a lay figure, or what we would now call a drawing manikin. Tilly is sort of life size. I say sort of because she is not entirely an exact replica of a woman. She is about a foot taller than my 5'2" self and weighs in about 35 pounds. She has articulated joints that can be posed in many positions. James Gurney did an interesting series of posts on the historical use of lay figures starting here.
Alas, Tilly is not going to work out. I spent most of the day wrestling with her. She was most uncooperative and she even lost her head at one point. I was tempted to take a picture of her sprawled on the floor, headless, but restrained myself. Here is a picture of her striking the pose, or part of the pose I was trying to get her to model:
She is wearing my pants and jacket. Her hips are a bit wider than mine and her rear end is well, flat. Would it seem a trifle silly to admit that made me smile? I almost got her in the position I needed, the torso that is. I just couldn't get quite the right twist and light angle in the small space I have. The head and neck area has a lot of limitations. We are far more flexible in that area than a manikin can ever be and I couldn't get the angle I needed. The feet and legs I gave up on entirely and are not even close.
When I knew we would be moving out here to a relatively isolated location, I used some of the money I had planned to spend on tuition and got a few things I thought I might need in the studio. Tilly was one of them. She has yet to earn her keep so I am doubting the wisdom of such a purchase but perhaps in the future.
Well, to wrap up a bit of a lengthy post, I decided Tilly wasn't going to work out for this painting. I got her standing quietly in her corner and, exhausted and sweaty from lugging her around, decided to call it a day, but one final photo:
Tilly (left) and a tired and disheveled me.
By the way, Tilly is named after a lighthouse that stands out to sea on the northern Oregon coast. The lighthouse is officially called the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse but the nickname is Terrible Tilly due to the rather extreme and horrific conditions there. To give you an idea:
Image from:

If you are curious, the very informative site from where I got this image is here at Lighthouse Friends and has the story and history behind the lighthouse.
A bit of interesting history from our neck of the woods.
Back to work in the studio tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Manzanita Teatime

© 2012 R.L. Delight, Manzanita Teatime, 12"x9", oil on canvas
I finally got this painting finished. Well, as finished as I intend to make it! While there is definitely room for improvement, I am satisfied with the painting. In spite of the challenges, I did enjoy painting it but I am also ready to move on. I took this picture minutes after I had finished so when it is a bit dryer, I will take another one with some better lighting.
I am going to change things up again. As I mentioned in a previous post, I will be giving daily painting another try. I have learned a few more things and will see how it goes. I am also working on a larger piece for a special event. I will have more about that as it develops.
I will not be online tomorrow so any comments on this post (always appreciated!) will be delayed by a day. Tomorrow is my father's birthday. He would have been 72. He has been gone for four years now and I miss him dreadfully. I am going to take the day off for rest and remembrance, beach walks, working on music, and other uplifting activities. I will be back in the studio on Friday rested up and ready to get started on the next project or two...or three!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Palette, Progress, and the Changes in the Wind

© 2012 R.L. Delight, palette

Kind of an awkward title I know but pretty much describes this post. First up, palette. I worked on the white table cloth in the painting this particular morning and thought it would be interesting to see what goes into the white in this particular painting. I mentioned on the previous post that I had read about a technique I wanted to try in the A History of American Tonalism: 1880-1920. I am not sure if this is a good place to use it but I wanted to try it. It involves laying down a warm undertone and painting a cool complimentary color into it. I tried that on the white cloth. I am not sure I like it here but it isn't so bad that I will take it out. Here is the painting still in progress:

© 2012 R.L. Delight, painting in progress, oil
Of course, it will take practice but I kind of like it as the table cloth glows in certain areas, which was the point. I have more work to do on the driftwood, float, and candy as well as a bit more on the background and then highlights. I really am anxious to get this off my easel and out of the way. I will be going back to daily painting in the morning and working on larger paintings in the afternoon.
Finally, the "changes in the wind". I am sure many, if not all, of you have heard of Pinterest, both the controversy and the excitement of using it. I will be joining in the next day or two in spite of a few reservations but, I had a bit of work to do. I went through my website and Facebook page and put copyright text either on the picture, in the title description, or both. I really didn't want to put a watermark of sorts on my pictures as I feel it can be distracting but I feel at this time it is the prudent thing to do. I don't mind having my work shared or "pinned" at all but I do want the proper credit! Not everyone is aware of giving the proper credit, although they should be. I always do my best to credit and provide links back to the original source too. It takes a tiny bit more time but I feel it is the right and respectful thing to do.
I would love to hear what you all think of the whole Pinterest thing. Please do leave a comment and let me know what you think. The best information I have read so far has been on a recent post (3/2/12) from Alyson B. Stanfield's Art Biz Blog. Click on the link and take a look for yourself!
Oh! I just noticed my wee skeleton model peeking through the easel in the top photo. Do you see him?
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