Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"Little Girl! Get away from that goat!...

...They are vile and dirty beasts that cannot be trusted. They eat lots of garbage and frequently enjoy regurgitating it too, and you sweet thing, do NOT belong in this scene."

That's what I'm thinking now, every time at look at this unfinished painting. I started it weeks ago, with the idea of combining mythical images of the goat god Pan, and a witch named Baba Yaga, with ordinary figures -namely a goat and a girl -in an effort to create a sort of visual commentary, and give life to some really cool stuff I've been reading. The symbolism of Pan represents overt sexuality, lusty playfulness, but trouble. Baba Yaga is a folklore witch that assists children on their journey through the woods, but only if they satisfy her demands. If they don't, she eats them. The girl represents innocence and curiosity, all too willing to befriend the goat, who's alter ego is Pan. The perspective of the mountainous background, copied from a once favorite photo, was lost in this, and the Pan figure just didn't, the mountains wound up flat, and Pan got painted out. Baba never made it in, but her skull lanterns (that will guide our girlie on her journey) might. Currently, the story is much more interesting to me than the actual painting, and I'm hoping to find a way to overcome the fact that the whole spirit with which I began this  - is gone.

Have you ever stopped a work because you weren't 'feeling' it anymore? Did you abandon it, or did you find a way to still get your initial intentions across?

Can you say gesso?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

the flaming snake lady

About a month before Christmas, I went to Home Depot, and bought myself an 8X8 sheet of plywood. I then had the guy cut it into three pieces; two 2X2's and one 4X4. I then excitedly went and got myself a huge jug of gesso and, once home, covered all those boards with it. Viola! instant BIG painting surfaces. Buying canvas this large is very cost prohibitive, and I have been dreaming about putting some if my big ideas onto big spaces.
This one is a fave that I've had the idea for since spring of 2008. I got the idea primarily from a lyric, which, as it turns out,  I didn't hear quite right. (more on that in another post) No matter, because I like my version better, and the image just came to me.

Of course, I am encountering a myriad of - never painted this large, so it's difficult maneuvering myself around the piece as I'm painting (would help if I had a real easel...), two - the wood is not the most forgiving of grounds; paint skips, grain shows through, etc...but I've learned that I'll need to use more gesso and sand more vigilantly next time, and three - acrylic dries fast! even when you put additives in it. That creates all kinds of issues with blending colors, etc...More as it progresses, but here are some additional shots of flaming snake lady....(and that is not going to be the title of this piece...).

The color goddesses were present on Wednesday night when I did the initial color overlays...unfortunately, the camera gremlins will not allow me to get a shot with out the damned flash showing up in my photo!

This is an example of the wood grain showing through, and when I photographed this last night, it was annoying me. Now that it has had time to dry, I'm beginning to think that the grain may actually enhance the painting in some areas, like in these flames. 

So, I'm re-learning allot about painting in general and am excited to be painting this big. I'll keep on posting as the pieces progress. Have you ever created a work this large? What other issues are related to work this big?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

two new figures

So, I added two figures to my unfinished mermaid collage, and no, it makes no sense (in terms of composition and perspective), but these ladies needed to be here . This mixed media piece is now 'experimental'...wasn't sure how it was going, just kinda rolled with it, and it probably still isn't finished yet - BUT I did get to play around with textures on canvas, and as you know, I really like the theme. I'm finding, like so many things in my life, sometimes I just have to let it go, not analyze, and just 'see'.

My biggest lament is the shiny canvas from glue from my previous cut paper waves. Might have to cover that up with paint somehow..we'll see!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Re-thinking Inspiration

Every person I talk to about creative inspiration has a different take on it. Some believe it is obtained by nothing but good and steady habits -old fashioned hard work. Some believe it is a soul spark - when things outside of ourselves allow us to conjure the art that enables us to express how we feel. I think it is a combination of those things, and yet even more than that.

In my brain and in my heart, each of my life's lessons takes a shape - often words begin it, and images complete it. These experiences, or the realization of the experience as a life lesson, may drive me to paint a picture, write a poem, plant a garden, cook an elegant meal, rearrange the furniture, sing a song, play a game or contemplate natural  beauty. Clarissa Pinkola Estes describes this phenomenon of creativity beautifully, and for me quite accurately, in her book Women Who Run With the Wolves, when she says, " It is the love of something, having so much love for something - whether a person, a word, an image, an idea, the land, or humanity - that all that can be done with the overflow is to create. It is not a matter of wanting to, not a singular act of will; one solely must."

I found an open window as a door closed. I discovered jewels amongst the rocks. I continued loving through the hurt, and discovered more love on the other side of it. I'm learning to focus and find intuitive inspiration in order to leave the land of creative vulnerability.



Thursday, January 7, 2010

same eyes, new visions

Did you ever see something in a way that you have never seen it before, and it’s like a lightbulb coming on in your head?  What you’re looking at could be something that you take for granted everyday, like an old candy dish, that, when moved out of the dark spot in one room & into a bright spot in another, suddenly looks shinier, more stylish, maybe even a different color? Or, it could be something you never tire of looking at, like watching your kids use their imagination while playing together, but suddenly you recognize things you never focused on before – like personality traits of future adults. I recently had the good fortune of ‘seeing’ old artwork in a new way, and then, resurrecting it. My eyes (and brain) were open that day.


I was inspired to make these volcanoes from old drawings I had found in a college-era sketch book of mine. Back in the day, a friend and I had some really cool and creative ideas about writing children’s books, and these paintings come from sketches associated with one of them called “Volcano Village”.  The top painting is acrylic paint on a 5"X7" canvas board, and the colored pencil drawing is a small 2 ½” by 3 ½” – ACEO size (art card editions and originals).

Not too long ago, I wouldn’t have reworked old sketches. I can just hear my internal censor now - saying things like…”it’s not authentic enough…’s cheating….been there, done that…” etc. But now I know that’s rubbish! Bringing back good ideas is always a good idea, especially since they originated from me in the first place. What do you think? Ever re-worked a creative endeavor? How different, or same, was it from what you originally started with?

jumping back into the water

Well, I’ve finally got my hallway back after a clearing out the last of the Christmas decorations, and rearranging all my art stuff back where it belongs. The hallway used to be my kid’s playroom when they were wee bambinos, and I claimed it as ‘mine’ about 18 months ago. It is actually much wider than a standard hallway, and makes for a nice work area (except it is carpeted, so I really must be careful when painting in there, and the ceiling slopes downward toward the front of the house, so a standard easel can’t fit very well…) and despite all the adjustments I make to work in there, it is the only spot in my entire house that is just for me - so I love it, quirks and all.

When de-cluttering it, I found my mermaid artwork. This was a favorite theme in the summer of 2008, and I explored the topic through reading all about them, and getting information on famous mermaid paintings. I did some mixed media stuff and a watercolor, but like so many of my works that I started around that time, I moved on to other things before I finished them. Allot of what I started was a prelude to my daughter’s journal cover, which is here too. 

So, one of my projects for 2010 will be to finish these swimming beauties. As I mentioned in my very first post, I’d like to show the works in progress, and then as finished pieces. The two that I’m hoping to get done are my watercolor and my mixed media painting. 

It bears noting that this ceramic creation- another mermaid work of art – was purchased at the annual Beach Plum Festival at Island Beach State Park, (by artist Linda J.King) in 2007, but it continues to give me a bit of creative inspiration each day…because this little mermaid has become the pull chain decoration on my nightstand lamp!

Monday, January 4, 2010

a few of my favorite things...

...when I decorate my house for expanding angel collection ( and someone's lost wineglass), my superfly martini mermaid ornament, and the glass ball arrangement that dresses my front window.

be a dog

In this hustle bustle time of the holidays that we all (hopefully) just survived, I often find that in addition to the friendly banter that includes the “how’s your family?” “how’s your job?” and “What’ re you doing to celebrate the holidays?” line of chat, I tend to be a bit more open to, and for, others.  I think that in addition to a constant reflection of the year that is almost over, and anticipating the new one ahead, I feel a sort of openness to people. Maybe it’s just the basic desire to ‘be nice’ around the holidays…ya know - go the extra mile, smile instead of snarl, bite your tongue, smile and nod…that kind of thing. But maybe also, this “good will toward humans” feeling lends itself to being more ‘real’. Probably the best way for me to describe this, is when I ask someone “How are you?” and they honestly tell me more than I expected - they give more than the ‘pat’ answer, they shine a light on how they really live their life, tell me what they’re feeling about something that’s happening with them – a connection that didn’t exist before is created, and the person makes themselves more visible to me as an individual. That’s a pretty cool thing. It is always refreshing to me when people can ‘let go’ a little more than usual for the holidays, in an effort to enjoy what I think most of us recognize as a potentially joyful season.

The flip side of this is anticipating reciprocity. I ask you a question or two and listen; you ask me one or two - and listen. But, that doesn’t always happen. Some folks, whether it’s holiday time or not, are either not socially equipped for that kind of give & take, or just can’t get past their own ‘stuff’ to really give a damn one way or another (no matter how much they protest to the contrary). When this happened to me, oh- about mid way into the ‘holiday’ season - I admit I was pissed, and upset. So ok, “que sera sera”, it’s the holidays, whatever. BUT when the same people continually act as though I’ve never told them more than my opinion of frosted flakes vs. cheerios, as I listen to their current life drama for the umpteenth time??? Give me a break. But, oh yeah!…it’s the holidays, and I’m gonna take it in stride, because as someone reminded me not too long ago, “you never really know what people have going on in their lives”, no matter what they tell you. So true. Could be worse than I imagine, could be better than they’re making it out to be, but in any event I’ll just try and be a friend - a good, loyal, faithful, listening, advising or warning (if asked), ‘man’s best friend’, dog-friend. I know who mine are, and I am thankful for them. I’m grateful too, that I realized the importance of ‘being a dog’ before I launched into what may have come across as a selfish, egocentric, and needy rant for mutual understanding and caring in a friendship or two (even though I truly believe that I deserve those things in my relationships).

I guess the old cliché is true - you can’t teach old dog new tricks, and I surely know you can’t change people. I’m starting to think acceptance gets easier as we age. Either that, or my self image is no longer tied to what other people do or don’t do; say or don’t say – no matter how much I care about them. You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but you can depend on an old dog trained well.