Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Powering Through Artistic Paralysis

Last week I started this piece. It was quite different and exciting, but I painted myself into a center (not a corner:)). This was a painting that just flowed out of my brush without much planning. As you can see, I got to a point where I couldn't figure out how to resolve the area around the heron. Every time I looked at the overpowering white amidst the colorful painted areas, I just was paralysed with the fear of ruining something that I liked. I tried out certain ideas with pieces of paper, just to cover the glaring white, but I really couldn't get a clear vision of the completed piece, thus postponed working on it.

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Yesterday I returned to the studio with determination to finish the painting. I started with extending the rock pattern from one side to the other, behind the heron, connecting the sides. Then I wet the upper portion and softened the edge so I could continue the petroglyph wall to the heron. I suggested petroglyphs and let it fade out. I decided to put water below and indicate water with some flowing symbols, and make the enclosed blue areas into puddles with circular marks.

I'm not sure where it came from, but it seems to have some power.

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Food Web, 15 x 22

Monday, November 14, 2011

Celebrating Grandparents Day

We were invited to Vancouver to celebrate Grandparents Day last Friday with our granddaughter Marin. We arrived at 11:00 to take her out to lunch.

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Mimi (me) and Marin at Burgerville.

When we returned to the classroom, Marin's super organized teacher had a project for Grandparents to do with the students.

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Marin's teacher giving instructions.

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Marin with a question.

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Dabbadoo (Mike) and Marin working on their project.

The grandparents then left for coffee and cookies before heading to the auditorium for a Veterans Day program.

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"See you later."

We spent 2 nights at my sister Barbara's house and enjoyed her company as well as visiting with our nieces and nephews and their offspring. After returning to Eugene Saturday night, we had dinner with more family before heading up the McKenzie Highway.

We have driven rural forested roads for nearly 40 years, and this was our first head-on collision with a deer. The doe jumped out into the road from a brushy area, smack dab in front of the car. There was no time to swerve. The deer was dead on impact and our car suffered some external damage. It was lucky that we were in the 4-Runner--a higher vehicle. Mike and I are fine, but the accident shook us up a bit.

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And since I hate to end my entry on a sour note, here are a couple of photos of my lovely zygocactus truncatus, aka Thanksgiving cactus. Just in case you think I don't learn anything while blogging, I did a little reading and found out these plants are native to Brazil where they grow off of trees. Wouldn't that be a sight to see them blooming there!

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sticking with a Painting and a Theme

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Convocation, 22 x 18 inches

This is truly a mixed media piece that was born out of my dedication to a theme/series and experimentation.  My goal was to use a low horizon vertical composition  because I find that a visually delicious format.

I started with pasting a few pieces of rice paper on the rocky area with gesso. (Something that is new to me.) Next I put on color in the background and rocks and grasses with transparent watercolor, my most familiar medium. 

As soon as that was dry, I experimented with tinted gesso to create the upper background. Prior to putting that on, I'd notched an old credit card in preparation to scrape through the opaque gesso while it was wet. You can see that method reveals some of the transparent watercolor underneath. When I left the studio at the end of the day, I thought the two portions of the painting (watercolor on the bottom with opaque gesso on the top) was a disaster, but that was Thursday and yesterday was another day.

When I went out to the studio yesterday, I faced trashing the painting or trying more experimentation and chose the latter. I thought creating a window effect would unify everything, so I taped a pleasing sized paper to protect the inner part of the painting and used my mouth atomizer to spray a darker blue-green, trying to use gradation--darker at the bottom, lighter at the top. 

The painting was shaping up, but the top was too vacant. The question was how to make it interesting, yet tie the whole piece together. I'd recently carved a stamp of petroglyph images (Native American rock carvings) on a rectangular stamp. That was cool, but too big, so I carved on the edge which was about 3/4 inch x 4 inches. Again using petroglyph images. After stamping with acrylic paint on a sample sheet, I recarved the edges to be irregular and more stone-like. Then I cavalierly plopped the stamp on the top of the painting.

When I stepped back, I realized that the stamp was WAY off center! Had I measured--no. I immediately took a wet cloth to the paper to remove the acrylic before it dried. That's when I messed up the surface in that area. Geez, just when I was beginning to like the painting. 

So that's when the dark rectangle at the top came into being. I did that with more atomizer spraying. The smudging was a brilliant mistake, because my cover-up created a lovely showcase for the stamp. I used a little bit of stamping on the rock to add more unity.

Up until this point, the herons had not been painted. I often leave the detailed work to the last. Why paint something detailed and lovely, only to ruin the rest of the painting? So I painted the birds in watercolor, used pen and ink to add some line and calligraphy work to the piece. I'm glad I kept going. I learned a lot, built confidence in my ability to problem-solve and ended up with a pleasing painting, don't you think?

A question to my fellow artists.  Is putting natural colored rice paper on your surface as a preparation to paint considered "collage"?