Studio Updates for June

Here are some updates on what is happening in my studio this week!

Remember this painting? Finally finished! This painting has such a presence of love and intimacy, I love to imagine them whispering secrets together and pondering all that has happened and all that is to come. It sold on Facebook before I even got a chance to post it in my gallery...woo! As usually happens, someone just knew that this painting belonged to her. So grateful for the people who love my art and bring it into their homes. 

Still continuing on with my "Expressive Faces and Figures" class with Pauline Agnew. This class is rocking in my world. These are some color studies that I have been playing with. When I started out as an intuitive painter, I didn't really care much about mixing colors or do much thinking about color theory (yawn). I loved to just grab a color that called to me and go! I still operate on that instinct a lot and sometimes it really creates something unexpected and great. Lately though I am drawn in by the different shades and tones to be had when I blend and mix. Who knew what a luscious dark color you could get by mixing Ultramarine Blue and Van Dyck Brown Hue? Or that same blue mixed with Pyrrole Orange? Yum!  
 

More face practice...my favorite! These were created with vine charcoal on mixed media paper. Looking to find shapes and create contrast. My final paintings have rarely had this type of detail before, I am still playing around to see how this gets integrated into my bigger work. 
 

This is a light study using an old photo of Rembrandt's wife which I completely re-worked but tried to hold onto the classic "Rembrandt lighting".  Love how this study turned out! 

There are a few more pieces that I have been working on, mostly (you guessed it) face and lighting studies. I am looking forward to taking what I have learned here and integrating it into some larger paintings. I am always looking for that balance between following my intuition and impulses and thinking about what creates an exciting and beautiful piece of artwork. Shifting between developing skills and just letting loose! 

I am getting ready for the Lake Oswego Art Festival at the end of the month, hope to have several pieces ready to show. If you want to follow what I am up to in the studio (with some lovely Pacific Northwest scenery thrown into the mix!), you can always find me here on Instagram or here on Facebook. 


 

 

Elizabeth and Mary

Last weekend I got to attend a workshop in Seattle with Katie Kendrick. Here are a few photos of the piece I started (and am still working on!).

   

  

Starting off with water-soluble graphite and charcoal on canvas. I don't normally start a painting with any recognizable imagery, it was fun to try one like this. Just sketching and lines loosely pulled from some photographs. Add water and let the drips and smearing begin!

It was a tight squeeze in this class and this is a big 36" x 36" canvas, apologies for the camera angles! At this point, I am just starting to add color and still layering with more charcoal and graphite. These two figures wanted to stay, so I am trying to keep it loose here and follow my intuition as it leads me around the piece.

The third photo on the right above is where I left off when the weekend was over. As you can see, I have gessoed and covered over most of the figure on the right. I was really having trouble finding her spirit...so many attempted layers and so much scraping off! Also, I have a new puzzle to solve here: normally I work with lots of heavy layers and across the whole painting. One thing we were practicing here was following the intuitive hits and working on areas as we felt called to them. The figure on the left: boom. She appears quickly, it was relatively easy to 'finish' her. The layers are thin and translucent and I don't want to cover her up. Now...how to recreate that on the other figure...without loads of thick layers...it's bending my brain (in a good way). One good thing I have learned through experience: don't expect to finish paintings while at a workshop. Less pressure, more focus on learning skills. So this is how the painting traveled home. 

When I started back to work, I got out my sandpaper. As I was working with the piece, the story emerged. This happens so often...in the middle of deconstruction...revelation! Now I know who I am working with. I have spent a big part of the week with this painting. This happens occasionally, I get obsessed with one painting and need to follow it through until it is finished. Meanwhile, all the other pieces are sitting around in my studio waiting for my attention. I know many artists have several pieces going at once and I was always taught to move between them to keep it fresh. I agree with this in theory, but when one grabs me like this, then we are together until the end!

 The Gospel of Luke 1:46-55  Mary greets Elizabeth. "My soul glorifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God"

The Gospel of Luke 1:46-55  Mary greets Elizabeth. "My soul glorifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God"

Here is where the painting sits on this Friday afternoon. I know the story, I have the faces, now to figure out how to bring them home. 

Back in the Studio

Finally back in the studio after getting my website launched. I have been immersed in tons of sketching, palette studies and explorations.  

Sometimes my mind wants to go off about how these smaller works and studies on paper aren't very productive. Yes, yes... I hear that noise. But they actually DO teach me a great deal and what I learn eventually (we hope) shows up as better paintings.

That said, it is so important that I be able to leave my business/productivity/profitability brain upstairs in the office and allow the creativity and art to go where it wants to go. Nothing shuts down my artwork like the pressure of having to produce something. Awesome! For sale! Right away! It's a funky balancing act, being both a creative and an entrepreneur. Some days I get it all crossed up. Lately I have been just putting in the hours, studying, and following my Muse around the studio as I feel led.

Occasionally these studies actually turn into finished work and that is always an unexpected blessing!  Some of these smaller works on paper will soon be listed for sale on my site. Meanwhile, you can see some of them listed on my Facebook page here

Temple Guardian

Here is a quick look into how one of my paintings came to life. This piece started with a prayer about helping me find the strength to 'hold center'. I had been feeling pulled about in many different directions and was having trouble tapping into what I needed.
 

I normally start by writing my requests or thoughts or feelings on the canvas or board itself. On this piece they are also noted on the back of the board. Using paint, charcoal, and ink I started laying down fast layers. Wet paint into wet. Smearing. I love working on wood for this reason...it can really hold up to a lot of layers, deconstructing and rebuilding. Things were getting really messy and ugly at this point, and I was feeling even more frustrated so I took a paint rag and started wiping off my paints. (Using this method means I have to be willing to 'waste' a lot of paint sometimes).  Here's what the painting looked like after the big scrub-down.

  What a mess! But can you see the eye that has started to emerge?

 What a mess! But can you see the eye that has started to emerge?

There she is!  You can see some of my ascemic writing and mark making as well as some of the blocks of color. Once I found that black eye and could feel the big cat energy of the piece making itself felt, I knew where to go. From here it became a process of sitting with the painting, blocking in color, starting to outline the shapes. It is so tempting at this stage to get too tight and it is something I have to tend to in almost every painting. I can get caught in perfectionism and trying to capture a 'realistic' looking image instead of focusing on the spirit and aliveness in the painting.
 

 Coming to life!

Coming to life!

From here I might go look for images of the animal to find bits of detail that I want to include. (My Pinterest board for animals is here.)  Again, my work is to stay connected to what the painting wants to be and not get tied into too much realism.

In terms of the medicine of this piece, is there anything more 'centered' or strong than the energy of a tiger? I can feel such feminine strength radiating off this artmagic and I love having it hanging in my studio as a reminder about staying connected to my own sense of power and wildness.

This painting came together in about 3 days; most of these animal paintings work themselves out quickly. I always allow at least one day of hanging on the wall before I call something done. Often there is one last detail that really amps up the impact. You can see the finished painting in the "Sold Art" gallery.