Monday, April 29, 2013

The Abstraction of Glass

If you are familiar with my work then you know I am drawn to color, lots and lots of color. After finishing up the painting "Reflections in Creation" see below, I tackled painting number two as part of my entries for the The Watercolor and Graphic Arts Society show. So many ideas of subject matter came to mind but the concepts of abstract, glass, and the use of fluid acrylics just became a combination that was difficult to resist.  

Fluid acrylics, especially Golden's, will perform almost as well as watercolors and create stunning 'bloom' effects when color is floated in wet in wet. This technique was especially important as I worked at keeping the reflections in the piece, "The Abstraction of Glass" flowing and luminous. The composition is minimal, a total juxtaposition between the complexity of reflections, and that is what I loved about it. It reads as an orb to some, an empty glass to others, but totally abstract in nature as well. 

For the background, I glazed about 20 layers of very thin, watery acrylic in Titanium and Pistachio over a base of teal/phtalo green shade using a sponge and for the final layer, used saran wrap. The texture that resulted gives contrast while adding interest as a subtle element as well. 

Two glass paintings, totally different in composition, but equally similar in expressing reflections and color. I learned a lot between these two, such as how challenging  it is to paint large through chronic back pain, how patience and planning can go a long way in the success of a piece, and how working slowly over time actually aids in the strength of the finished piece. Although I do miss my mixed media work, it felt really good to get back to watercolors and fluid acrylic work. If you are in Mobile or live on the Eastern Shore, you can see these two paintings at The Eastern Shore Art Center during Artwalk, and I would love to see you as well. 

You can view my entire Watercolor Gallery on my website too! 

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Challenge of Drawing Perspective and Perfection

I am just going to say it, drawing the correct perspective and proportions is a pain in the butt! With that said, it is also a vital one to the artist if one is to master the skill of drawing to make things look the way they are. To a painter who works in realism, this is essential, to an abstract painter, not so much. Regardless of genre though, learning to sketch and improve your drawing skills is one of the first and best tools to add to your 'tool box.' 

As a kid, drawing came naturally to me. I didn't become an artist until my mid 30's, but the ability to see shapes and get a 'likeness' was something I at least wasn't afraid of, so going forth into sketching was something I found fun, my only problem was, I taught myself to draw from pictures, not from real life. Place a photo in front of me and I can draw it lickety split. Place an object in front of me and I am dumbfounded, or at least I used to be. 

(This is my version of George Washington when I was in second grade, notice I received a B-! ) 
Seriously, who grades art? 

My brain really sees well in 2-D, but I so wanted to teach myself to use it in 3-D because I knew if I wanted my paintings to improve I needed to practice my drawing skills. A few months ago I drew my first still life, then I painted it, and I LOVED that process. It wasn't that I loved the sketching per se, that was cool, but I loved that I gave myself permission not to seek perfection in the process, just to let the process be what it was, and learn from it. That is so difficult for beginning artists, they want to paint like the pictures they see in books, they want to paint like that NOW, but they struggle to understand that those paintings were birthed from often years of practice, practice, and more practice. 

This morning I began a sketch of the edge of my Golden paint box and one of my 4" by 4" collages. It was a simple sketch for the most part, but as soon as my pencil touched the page that voice in my head started saying, "Your doing it wrong." That voice wasn't the voice I needed to listen to. I needed to listen to the one that gently said, "Look at the line again Ardith, it is shorter and closer to the edge of the bottle. Find a reference point to make a marker, sketch from there." Two voices, but one nudging me to quit and fail, the other nudging me to learn and progress. The artist must learn to silence the negative and turn up the volume of the 'teaching voice.' 

Although there are things I see that I could have changed, improved on, or spaced out differently, I am pleased with the sketch. It is a learning process, it is not perfect and I don't expect that it ever will be. Yes, I could have sketched from the cropped photo you see here and gotten a much more accurate likeness, but I would have missed the train my eye and brain to see things as they are, not as I think them to be. 

If you are new to sketching, new to art, or just learning to draw, be gentle on yourself. Turn off the voice of negativity, don't compare your work to others, and learn to listen to the teacher voice that nudges you forward rather than back. I like to tell my beginning students that we all are on a bus ride together. Some are just getting on the bus at the first stop, others have been on a while, have gotten off a time a two to pick up new skills and gotten back on with 'heavier luggage." Other artists have ridden the journey many times, and picked up so many skills that their luggage got to be too heavy, so they bought themselves their own buses and started to pick up new artists to join them on their journey. Where you are on the journey is important, but the realization that we are all on it together is key!

If you really want to spend some time improving your drawing/sketching skills but don't have access to classes Youtube is where you need to head. There are TONS of videos to teach you, but one of my first and favorites is by artist Larry Gluck, because he explains things so simply and is easy to follow. 

Look forward to seeing some of your sketches! 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Art Journal Page - Walk Into The Light

I am so excited to be taking Juliana Coles 'FieldNotes' workshop!  I chose a 1962 book for my journal practice, "Perspectives on the Arts" which has a marvelous section in it about the Dadaist and their profound impact on art and society. 

Because the book I chose is rather large, 144 pages, I am choosing to fill it with my workshop practice and my daily journal practice and so far, I am loving the thought of combining the two. Today's page has lots of internal meaning for me, is a sketch of my kitchudio, and a few other unexpected life fragments between walking into the light or living in shadows.

There is a combination of collage, photo transfers, markers, acrylic paints, and graphite on today's page. Makes me want to dive right in! 

My next entry was all about Marcel Duchamp and his take on Nothingness. Gave me a lot to consider and I really took my time sketching my view along with thinking through what all he meant by that. His viewpoint has inspired me to study the Dadaists at length. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Altering A Book Alters The Soul

There are days and then there are days. For the record I live a tremendously blessed life with gobs of gratitude and a heart for others. With that said, today was one of those days where I just wanted to throw eggs at the "ignorant establishment" (fill in the phrase as you wish, :) 

Without boring you with the details of the idiocy of the mail that was opened, the phone call that was placed, the arguing that ensued, and the total lack of comprehension by someone, let's just say I am frustrated....beyond frustrated, ready to throw rotten many targets. Instead, since I am not prone to actual egg throwing, I grabbed my new art journal, a 1962 book called, "Perspectives On The Arts" and took out my frustration on two pages. Then it hit me. 

(I added the collage elements of the eyeball and the skeletal arm)

No matter what happens in my station in life, be it losing every monetary thing I have to an organization or government that wishes to tax or bill the crap out of me, they cannot take my creativity from me. They cannot take the God given ability I posses to look at a blade of grass and see a universe, a raindrop and see within myself, or at a whisper and hear a symphony. That realization was profound today, it helped lift my spirits, it helped change my point of view, and I am sure it helped lower my blood pressure. 

There are so many things each of us must deal with in life, many unpleasant, but the more I connect with the creative placed within my spirit, the more I realize the world will not end and pigs won't fly. Art journaling, the act of altering a book be it blank or printed, with words, marks, images, and paint, alters the soul. It makes me wish it was mandatory for every student in every grade through college to keep an art journal of some sort. The world might be a much more palatable place on days like today if so. 

This page was made with acrylic fluids, heavy body, inks, oil pastels, markers, and graphite. The words on the left, which I simply wrote as a train of consciousness, reads as follows: 

I am torn today by the need, the MUST, to create from my very core. The world bombards us with what must be paid, be surrendered, be handed back without the notion of what impact this has on those doing the giving. Takers, they can suck the life out of the ordinary, but Creatives....they fight back with the power of the pen, the brush, the dance, the random thought that turns a whisper into a symphony within the creative being which cannot, which WILL not be contained. The act of creating is fundamental to sanity, for they cannot take that from us, for a whisper, a thought, a prayer, an idea transforms the soul. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Watercolor Travel Palette

Watercolors can be really expensive, especially if you use professional grade paints such as Holbein, Daniel Smith, or Windsor Newton. I have palettes at home because I use tube paints and had previously used a Van Gogh travel palette with pans which I had for eons and loved, but I really missed my favorite paints which I had at home. I had priced out travel palettes and to purchase them ready made was way too costly, so I started searching for travel kits I could fill with tube paints and even those were costly. Along comes my stroll through the sewing aisle at a local craft store and low and behold I spied a bobbin thread holder with 25 sections, just deep enough for tube paints for $5. Because I plan to travel and sketch with these a lot I will allow them to dry out a bit but I am really stoked to start using a much more varied palette in my sketchbook! 

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Journey of Painting Glass

I am a collector. There are baskets of doll parts around the house, inside the gumball machine, inside the glass jars on my dining room table to keep the seashells company, and then there are my glass spheres that live within all of my weirdness, each beside a natural light source, and glow with life at unsuspecting moments. These spheres are where my Ardithian imagination gets its ideas, and I could live in them if I was able....they just magically draw me in. 

Painting glass is no small feat, especially with watercolors. In fact, I have only painted 3 glass paintings in the past 10 years, not because I dislike them, but because they are such a challenge that my back and neck scream with rebellion at the mere thought of me thinking about it. That was until a few weeks ago when I had to choose one of two subjects to paint for an upcoming show. The glass called out to me, and I decided it was time to let the paint flow again. 

Oh, the stinky frisket! 

The challenge is exactly what I remember, not painting the glass but painting the reflections in the glass. So far, I am pleased with my progress but the soul in me that loves slinging paint, making marks, and being loose with acrylic is cringing with all of the tight control necessary for this type of painting. I wish I had the physical ability to paint huge pieces, crawling up on a ladder to paint the tops of things, and getting down on the floor to paint low, but for today, I will be content with painting 'fairly large' for me. 

There are still many layers and glazes that will come for this piece, and I look forward to seeing it come to fruition. My mixed media spirit does as well, :) 

The pic above shows the addition of the dark values, or at least some of them. 

Love mixing yellow and deep violet to create darks. 

4/20th added more darks, more glazes, working on capturing the values I am looking for! 

Finally, after weeks of working on this piece with a bad back and all I am done. There are things I would have done differently had I been physically able, but considering how challenging it was with my back, I am thrilled with how it turned out. 

"The Reflections in Creation"
20" by 30"