Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ups and Downs

For those of you who are artists, you well know the ups and downs of critiques, acceptances and rejections. Sometimes they can come and go in a matter of hours, but it all boils down to being so easily swayed by someone else's opinion. And for me, no matter how hard I try to trust myself, enjoy my art as a healthy creative process, and acknowledge my own good taste, rejection is always hard.

Yesterday is a perfect example of how the emotional mood swing can make it's turnaround in a split second. I went to my critique group in the morning. That is always an upper, as getting together with other artists just doesn't happen enough for me.

When my turn to share came up, I first showed my whimsical pieces featuring sea lions. The Soloist was my one painting done for this past week.

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The Soloist, 15 x 12

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The Three Tenors, 15 x 21

Now these pieces are fun, and no doubt easy to relate to, but they do not take on my own voice like the quirkier mixed media pieces I've been working on recently.

The critique group had a few suggestions for strengthening these two pictures, and they had encouraging comments. However, I was holding my most personal card (or painting in this case for last.) I explained that it was too late to make changes to this piece since it was already matted and framed, but I certainly was anxious to hear their comments and reactions to . . .

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Ancient Voices, 14 x 22

Often the group has seen a painting more than once in the process of working toward the best it can be, but in this case it was fresh to them. And I couldn't have been more supported by the group's reaction to this work. My friend Sam gave me the best compliment one artist can get from another, "I hate you! Get it out of here!" which is right up there with, "I wish I'd painted that."

There is nothing to boost the ego of this artist like the acknowledgement from my artist friends that my work is exciting and that I am going in a unique creative direction. There was talk of entering this in competitions and holding on to it rather than selling it. ( I guess we like to hoard our best pieces!)

After the group meeting and for the rest of the day I was on a high remembering the kind words, encouragement and nurturing I'd received that morning. For me, I just have phrases floating around in my brain like, "my art is worthwhile," "I'm going in a good direction," "maybe a gallery will accept my art and represent me."

Those phrases were able to rise to the top for a few hours until I drove home and opened my email to find that both of my entries into the Living River Show were rejected! Bummer! And the phrases that quickly rose to the top of my mind? "I'm not THAT good ," "my art doesn't connect with others," "who am I kidding." So with several other entries out there, I am vulnerable to more highs and lows, or just lows, in the near future.

This coming week I'll be at an art workshop in Portland, so expect a review of that next weekend.

As I write this, my thoughts are with my friends in Hawaii, who are now waiting for a tsunami to hit. I'm hoping for everyone's safety and as little damage a possible. Aloha!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hawaii Watercolor Society Signature Membership

Today I received word that I have achieved signature membership with the Hawaii Watercolor Society. That means is that I have earned enough points through acceptance into various juried shows and awards with some of my paintings, to reach the level the HWS requires for signature membership. I can now put HWS behind my signature on paintings.

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This is my first signature membership into any society, so I am very happy. It is a great birthday present!

Here's the small sketch of the painting I'm working on this week--The Three Tenors.

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Week Five-One "Take Off" After Another

The small collage of a Great Blue Heron, "Take Off," has received a lot of positive comments. My critique group suggested that I try to enlarge the painting and use only transparent watercolor rather than collage. If the new painting is successful, it will be possible to enter it in competitions limited to transparent watercolors only.

I took this on as an interesting challenge. First I had to enlarge the original, which I did with the help of Kinkos. Then I had to trace the enlarged black and white image on to the watercolor paper. Then it was a matter of painting, carefully using the original as a reference.

So my painting of this week is unlike any I've done in the past--an exact copy of my own work!

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Original Take Off, 10 x 13

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Enlarged Take Off II, 21 x 29

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Three Tenors--Small to Large

Here's the inspiration. . .

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The 8 inch by 10 inch sketch. . .

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Three Tenors almost done. . .

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And finally with the lively red frosting (red water squiggles).

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The Three Tenors 14 x 21

This was a fun painting to do. After a string of paintings that seemed to have a lot of struggles and thinking involved, these guys were pretty straight forward. I edited the image from the photo, edited some from the sketch, but the large painting was easy.

I always like to think about the process itself. As I did with the Great Blue Heron large version, I was pretty much copying the small sketch of the Three Tenors to a larger piece of paper. For me, as the artist, I feel the second version always lacks a little zest that comes with the spontaneity of the first time I paint anything. Do you see that as a viewer?

The advantage of the second time I paint something, many of the original problems have been solved and the painting process is much more precise. The act of painting is less exciting, but the product is better planned.

How do fellow artists feel about painting something more than once? I'd love to hear other's viewpoints on this.

To address the one painting a week, I've done it if I can count my sketch as last week's and the large Three Tenors as this week's. And even though it's only Tuesday, I'm busy with other things this week and am not sure how much studio time I'll get.

However, I have been doing other art related things. I gave an hour art talk at Willamette Oaks Retirement Home yesterday. The audience had quite a bit of art experience, including one fellow who had made his living with art and continues to paint in watercolors. They generated several interesting discussions throughout my time there.

I've also been framing quite a few pieces in preparation for my gallery hunt. It is amazing how great a painting looks with a good presentation of matting and framing.

A Weekend in Newport

In case you've missed it, Newport is the Oregon Coast's cultural Mecca. Last weekend, a family group gathered in Newport to attend the Newport Symphony. My niece, Cathy, plays violin in the orchestra, which performs several times a year. This particular program included very modern music by a young American, Daniel Kellogg, a 33-year old, as well as Hayden and Sibelius. Musicians from all over the West Coast play in this orchestra and give wonderful performances. I particularly like the "talk" given a half hour before the performance where the conductor explains the program and includes background stories that help the listener get more involved with the music. If your lucky, you might catch a glimpse of actor David Ogden Stiers (Winchester in "Mash") who is the associate conductor of the orchestra.

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Our family star, Cathy.

We rented a great house in the Nye Beach neighborhood which had a wonderful view of the town below and ocean.

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It was a very relaxed weekend with lots of laughter, of course. There is nothing my family likes better than laughing at ourselves, the other guy, or even complete strangers.

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My sisters with their dueling cameras.

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Mike and nephew Dave google some bit of interest.

Sunday before we left, we had a great breakfast at The Coffee House on the Bay Front.

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It's the kind of place where you get food recommendations (home-made corn beef hash) from the locals and visit with your neighboring diners. This couple had spent several months in Sienna, Italy, giving us a common interest (travel to Italy) to talk about.

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After breakfast we took a stroll around the docks to settle the meal and look at the sea lions. These three have a future as a whimsical pattern painting titled "The Three Tenors."

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And speaking of paintings, I have an almost finished "Week Five" painting out in the studio. Luckily I have today to work on it to maintain my one painting a week goal.

This week I also invested both time and money in my second new year goal of getting into a gallery. I took several paintings down to the do it yourself part of Vistra Framing and chose mats and frames in preparation of having samples to show a gallery. My friend Cecile, who works there, will teach me some new tricks in putting them together next week.

I haven't put a date on it, but within the next month, I'll be putting my portfolio out there to galleries. Yikes!

Stay tuned for the completed "Week Five" painting soon to be posted.

I'm signing out with this cozy picture of My Funny Valentine, Mike.

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