31 July to 4 August 2017 were the best days of summer. That's a big, bold statement to make, especially since there is still a month left of break, but I will make that big, bold statement confidently because I know these days were the best.
I attended an adult education class through Tyler's Continuing Education program - Painting with the Masters. The instructor, Kathleen Eastwood, is the same person I was studying under in the spring. Our class consisted of 5 painters and ran from 9:30 to 3:30 daily. We took over a fantastic studio space and worked within three palettes on four pieces (plus some smaller things to get us going).
I'm proud of the work I did during this intense week. Time devoted just to art is really important for me as a person - it allows me to get out of my head and be present in the moment. It is also really inspiring to be around other artists who are working in different styles and from different backgrounds.
Still Life - old master's palette, traditional underpainting, glazes
We also worked on a still life in the style of the Impressionists - it gave me fits thanks to the reflective objects. Something about this approach was the trickiest for me. The idea is to avoid mixing all the colors and let the brush work create the illusion of mixed color. I struggled with this approach in our previous session - maybe because both involved reflective object hell... I didn't work on this piece much beyond the initial afternoon but I kind of wish I had.
Working from the figure - short poses (10-20 minutes), get loose, bold color choices
Long Figure Pose - stay loose, bold color choices, ahhhhh green gold
The modern palette - the best colors in the box, staying loose
To wrap up the final day, I worked on a food piece - just to have the eyes of Kathleen on me while I worked on a piece in the same vein as my "What's For Lunch?" series. It was really helpful to have her there to remind me to stay loose and to avoid over working areas. Here's the little piece I did in the final 1.5 hours of our week...
Identifying as an Artist/Educator is a trendy - but strange - thing. I may be wrong, but I think that a ton of people in this field are claiming this identity without truly embodying the parts. If I am to dissect that term, it means that I am first an artist and second, an educator. And yet - the only part of that job title that pays me is the second part.
When you don't rely on half of your career identity to pay your bills, it can be difficult to justify the need to nourish that half of yourself.
I used to be an art teacher; I was ok at that job and my middle school students were acceptably served. At some point, this was not enough and something had to change for me to feel good about what I did every day and who I was as a professional.
Deciding to define one's self as an Artist (even if it is as an Artist/Educator) is a bold and scary declaration. There is weight attached to declaring yourself an Artist - and it isn't all good weight. Despite the weight, I've decided to carry this identity and to devote equal effort (ok, maybe more goes to Artist than Educator) to both halves of this career identity.
If I'm an Artist, I have to make art. But, if I make art and no one sees it, does that still make me an "Artist"?
I signed up for a formal painting class at Tyler. The class starts in February and only runs for 5 weeks - one day a week for 3 hours each session. Even though I feel mostly confident about my painting skills (OK, mostly meh, but I get by with what I know!), I really want to learn how to do things "right" - underpainting, grounds, mediums - all the traditional techniques for using oils that I do not know and do not use in my work. As I read over the materials list, I saw a simple, obvious phrase - "stretched canvas" - which set me into a tizzy. The horror!
I realize this may sound a bit ridiculous and even somewhat dramatic, but... I HATE STRETCHED CANVAS. It bounces. It stays wet too long. It allows the paint to move too much. It is just not what I like to paint on! I like solidity, stability; I LIKE WOOD.
Today's "mess" is my first attempt at painting on canvas in about 5 years. I thought it might be a good idea to practice a bit on this dreadful painting surface before the first class so I won't look like some dope who has never painted before when I go to class. It is almost like the canvas KNEW I didn't like it, and as such, kept making my life miserable. From the first line I drew, something was off. And, let's be honest - when the composition is off, the whole thing is doomed before it begins. Below is the journey this painting has gone through today. At this moment, the painting has a fourth present sketched in the upper right corner which may or may not be added.
I kept trying to make the image better but at this point, I feel like this was an experiment and won't ever be a finished painting. I'm ok with that for now, but don't be surprised if tomorrow I post another set of images as I continue to poke at this mess.
Painting in series is the only way that I can develop a consistent routine or artistic practice. I used the kachina to develop a routine in 2013 and ever since then, the only times that I have been productive are when I find a subject to repeatedly paint. Lenox birds, glass bunnies, dead rabbits, and the same farm, over and over again, have served as my muses.
The idea of painting ribbons or bows from packages came to me in 2013 but I didn't follow through on the impulse due to other obligations that needed to be completed. I saved several bows but didn't paint any of them until a few days ago. The results are below; they aren't the worst but this subject calls me to continue the exploration.
I realize that other artists have tackled this subject and have made a great portfolio of work by doing so. Still life is like that though - so many artists paint the same subjects in an attempt to find their own voice within the creation of the objects. I hope that my voice comes through within these pieces and is seen as an interesting take on the familiar object.
There comes a point in all our lives when work takes on too large a part of life. That has been my experience of late. The only saving grace in my current state of being over worked is that art is a part of work. I hate when the only art I make is sample art for middle school lessons, but at the same time, I am thankful that my job allows for me to make something - even when that something is less than my usual effort.
The two photos I've included in this post represent a watercolor still life I worked on during a few class periods while the student teacher instructed the class and a collage sample inspired by the donut painting I made a few months ago. The still life was created using water color and was primarily done to support the VIP (high school senior classroom volunteer) who was working on her own watercolor still life at the time. She is a really great kid - hopes to be an art educator when she "grows up" and I believe she will be amazing! Her portfolio is a bit small at the moment so we are working on quick projects that can boost her numbers and her "wow" factor.
The only thing I enjoy about Facebook is finding out about "things" - which usually means concerts but in this case means a call for donut art! Federal Donuts in Philadelphia put out a call for art for a book about their amazing donuts. I can't resist their donuts and I couldn't resist this call. Here's my attempt - wish me luck!
The trend of "paint night" fascinates me! I've been desperately wanting to go to one for almost a year - no one would go with me though! Last week, the ladies from the gym went to Sadie's Cafe and I tagged along to see what the hype was all about.
One of the first things the instructor said was "you can follow along or do your own thing! This is your painting!" This made my night - I didn't really like the image they were teaching...
What I liked most was the fact that all these women who don't feel comfortable creating had a blast. Art making doesn't have to produce museum quality work - it just has to produce a smile in the heart of the creator.
During my undergraduate studies, I spent a great deal of time in the painting studio working with traditional oils. Teaching middle school art for the past 12 years has taken me away from those roots. This "one a day" project is aimed at re-inspiring that creativity and technique.
Other "one a day" painting blogs to check out:
Kellie Marian Hill
The usual Subjects