Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Donny ~ Sketch

Donny is one of three cats belonging to Marcia Van Osten who is another crazy cat lover like myself. He's a beautiful all white Persian with incredible blue eyes but like many white haired, blue-eyed cats Donny is deaf. It's an unfortunate but not uncommon genetic issue that many of these cats share. He lost his litter mate and best buddy, Marie to illness a few years ago and has since become Marcia's constant ankle hugger, bedmate, etc.

Marcia has been kind enough to let me use one of her many photos of Donny as reference. I chose a great shot of him perched atop his cat condo. He looks for all the world like he's sitting on a pedestal so I thought I would give Donny a proper pedestal. The detail work is patterned after the Greek Ionic style and I think it suits him purrfectly.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Daisytown Peeper Quartet ~ sketch

I kinda like this palette so far. It's a smidgeon of Pyrrol red(poured) with Quin. red, Quin. gold and streaks of a green I mixed up applied with a brush. I glazed over the green with Quin. red to tone it down. I drew a little daisy with soft pastel on my trial sample to see how well the palette worked with my subject.

This is my current working title until something better comes to mind. I finally completed the sketch after adjusting the tall daisy on the right three times. At first it looked too imposing so I reduced the size of the flower. Too small.:( Then I enlarged it slightly and still too small. Wrong, wrong, wrong.}:( Spent all afternoon tweaking this flower until I felt it meshed with the rest of the composition only to find I had returned it to the original size! Apparently it just needed some refining. Oh well...I don't ordinarily work this large (full sheet) plus this is a compilation of five+ photos so I'm discovering all kinds of challenges I've never faced before.

At the moment the plan is to use Arches HP w/c paper for this project. I'll be saving the white daisies and frogs with frisket film and will probably be doing some pouring of paint unless I can find a really big brush. Hotpress can be so tricky to work with but frisket film works best on this surface. Even though the setting is in a garden I want to avoid using a lot of green this time so I've been experimenting with various reds. With the green frogs I want to be careful not to let it become Christmas-y looking, though.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Subconscious Painting

Last night I felt compelled to work on something creative but nothing I had in the works interested me. I picked up a piece of scrap w/c paper, a cheap brush and some ink and simply began doodling. I added color with leftover watercolor paint on my palette. I vaguely remember thinking the results looked like some of Myrna Wacknov's work. It was then left to dry and forgotten about. A few hours later I looked again at my doodle and realized I had painted a self portrait of sorts. The pose I rendered was the exact position I was in while doodling...head cocked at an angle, side of chin propped on back of bent hand, expression the same. Oddly, I've always felt that my ears stick out but not to the degree that I had painted them...thank God. Wish I had those voluptuous lips, though.

In reviewing this event today it made me think of free association. Free association is a psychiatric tool that is attributed to Sigmund Freud and is commonly used by therapists to help their patients figure out what's happening on a subconscious level. The basic premise as put forth by Ludwig Börne, who(according to Wiki) influenced Freud's conclusions...'write down, without any falsification or hypocrisy, everything that comes into your head'. I've used this technique with my journaling to figure out what's bugging me when the cause was not obvious and have had great success with it. The premise as Freud worded it(according to Wiki)...'where there is a creative mind, Reason - so it seems to me - relaxes its watch upon the gates, and the ideas rush in pell-mell'. My next thought... so why not use it as a tool for artistic creativity? A way to break artist's block or to become a more personally expressive artist?

A further search turned up this site:

Theory of Subconscious Painting by Louise von Wrangell

"At a subconscious level we already know everything. Knowledge from the subconscious comes through the medium into the painting. The subconscious image interacts with the subconscious of the observer which enables each viewer to see his/her own painting in your painting." (an interesting theory to say the least)

In classical painting:

The act of creation begins with the object.
The observed object is transposed into the painting.
The artist is bound to reality by line and color.

In subconscious painting:

The act of creation begins randomly. The artist is free of reality.
The work is observed by the creator, and from that observation comes forth the subject of the painting.
The act of creation ends with the object.


Conclusion: Whether I agree with Ms. Von Wrangell's theories or not, I believe the use of free association can be an extremely useful tool to artists and their creative process.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Wildflowers ~ Complete

I just completed this painting and I'm pretty happy with the results. I held myself in check for fear I would add too much or try to go for unneeded detail. After removing the drawing gum it was exciting to see the white Queen Anne's Lace come to life.

Thanks to one of the members on my garden forum I now know this plant is called Bladder campion. It's a very common wildflower in my area and I remember enjoying popping the bladders when I was a kid. They make a satisfying little *snap* when pinched, rather like bubble wrap.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Weeds or Wildflowers?

My main subjects are the three Queen Anne's Lace blooms which I masked prior to painting with Pebeo drawing gum. I've yet to ID the little flowers also masked in the lower right corner. The two objects that look like large Q-tips are some field grasses I added to the bouquet for a vertical element. I want to keep the background loose and juicy to contrast with the tighter style of the main subjects.

It's the August blooming lull in my gardens so I went 'weed' picking. The weeds are blooming just fine through all the dry days and overly hot temps we've been experiencing this year while their more gentrified and hybridized cousins (that have received special treatment all summer long, I might add) are done for the season. What I came home with was a lovely bouquet more than suitable for a painting.

Even though everything I picked was very familiar to me by sight I did not know the proper names of most so I did an online search..'native weeds of Michigan', then 'native wildflowers of Michigan'. The same plants came up in both searches which begs the question...what distinguishes a weed from a wildflower?

I recall a quote I read somewhere in the past that stated, "A weed is a plant out of place." I discovered this quote didn't come from a gardener but from the lead character in a book by Jim Thompson titled, 'The Killer Inside Me'. The lead character is Lou Ford, a laid back, rather slow small town sheriff in Texas who is also a psychotic killer in his off hours. Haven't read the book but I did see the movie and it was chilling...but I digress.

On a happier note I also discovered a book written by Aliki, (author of 50 children's books) titled, 'A Weed is a Flower, The Life of George Washington Carver'.

Conclusion: Whether a plant is a weed or a flower lies in it's nature and in the eyes and mind of the beholder.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Sizing Up A Comp ~ Part 3

The past few days I've been slooowly adding things to this composition. I compare prepping a comp for a full sheet painting to giving birth. Committing to a full sheet is a huge deal to me as all my supplies are precious. Wish that wasn't the case but it is. I want to take the utmost care in planning with the hope that the outcome will be a success and I will be rewarded with something of which I can be proud.

Taking my time and looking at each addition to see if it works in the overall scheme of things is crucial. The tall daisy on the right needed some tweaking. That long straight stem was too harsh and looked like the mast on a sailboat listing in the wind...with a flower on top. I softened the angle by curving it slightly. I also added another large daisy bloom in the lower left corner in hopes that would create depth. Surprisingly both large daisies look about the same size in the image even though one is over three inches wider than the other. Camera distortion maybe?

It has become obvious to me this will be a WIP for awhile so I'll probably start working on some other, smaller projects just to keep my brushes wet.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Sizing Up a Comp ~ part 2

I've added another frog to the picture and put a blossom on the end of that big stem on the right. I took numerous photos of my own shasta daisies and will continue to refer to them when adding additional daisies. The way it's going this will turn out to be a full sheet when completed.

Conclusion: This project was taking too long, using up too much tracing paper and looks like a crazy quilt. I finally broke down and called our local print shop. Kwikie Print has become Village Graphics(not sure when that happened..I need to pay more attention when I'm in town) and they now offer more services including enlargement of drawings. My tracing paper quilting days are over!