Saturday, January 23, 2010

Love what you do

Approaching storm, south Lido Beach
North Siesta Key Beach, in progress

There's a commercial now for Blackberrys that uses three different scenarios of people overcoming obstacles, a musician, a clothing designer, and a young couple. In the end they are all triumphant and the slogan is "Love what you do." I found my ADD mind saying,"Do what you love." We all know you can't always do that. Sometimes you have to do things you don't really love or like because that's just the way it is. But you can love WHAT you do. Painting is like that. If you don't really care about what you are painting, it shows. When you paint what gives you chill bumps, other people can feel it too.

People have asked me if I find it difficult to sell a painting if I really like it. When I am working on a painting or a series of a subject, I live with that image. It is the last thing I think about at night and the first thing I think about in the morning. What does it need to communicate my idea? What is my next step? How much more work is left? Then, wah-la, it is finished. The point is made. I am onto the next image. Painting is really more about loving the process than loving the product. Once the painting is complete, it is ready for someone else to love. I have a "new baby" to care for.

I have to go now, I hear one calling...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Paint the whole world on an 8 x 10

You know who you are! You go outside with your paints and easel and BAM! Everywhere you look it is beautiful. Great light, great sky, glowing colors... it looks so good you just want to paint it all! But wait! You have to put it on an 8 x 10! What's a painter to do?

First, what attracts you most? What do you really want to paint? The sky? The trees? The grass? The water? The alligator? (no, really!) With your idea in mind, use a viewfinder, even cheaper, use your fingers and make a viewfinder, a keyhole, if you will and look JUST at the area you want to paint. Forget the lovely flowers on your left or the white bird- an egret?- that keeps strutting in front of you sticking his neck WAY out. Go away, distraction! The light will change in less than 2 hours and you have to get to work!

Make a sketch if you can, of just the large shapes. OK- you are going to put that on your canvas. Draw with charcoal or thinned paint. Go for the big blocks of local color. Here's your mantra for the day: SQUINT! Reduce the landscape into large masses of values and color. Get the essence, not the entirety ( I made that up!) Sure, it looks simple. The guy behind you is thinking, "I can do that". Yes, he can. That's why he is watching you and not painting himself. He "thinks" he can. He hasn't tried it.

Wow- that part took almost an hour. You still have to make it look like a landscape. Put in your lights. Put in your darkest darks. Hmmm, all you have to do now is tweek the midtones and then a few highlights- a tiny dab of sunlight here and there.

Time is growing short. The light has started creeping onto areas that were dark before. The shadows are much shorter. You are getting warm. A bee lands in your paint. Of course, he is in your most expensive imported white paint. You can paint around him. Naw, better flick him out. He looks like a ghost bee now on the ground. Maybe he can rub off the paint in the grass. Why did he want to dive in it in the first place??

You hear a rustling behind you. The looker is back. "Hmmm," he says,"I can see what you are painting now. Not bad." Thanks, you mumble, scraping off your palette. Note to self: in a little more than 2 hours, I painted "my world". Here's my world and welcome to it....

Sunday, January 10, 2010

F-f-f-un Painting in F-F-F-Florida

Painting at the Myaaka River
Marc Hanson's Demo at the Beach

That's not snow you see there, it's sand, but we look like we could be painting at the Antarctic! Marc brought the cold weather from Minnesota with him so we could experience his same painting conditions. All week in SW Florida it has been 20 - 30 degrees colder than normal. Factor in the wind from the gulf and it feels even colder. Susie Covert called us the "Guerrilla Girls" for braving the out of doors.
Marc was here for a one week workshop in plein air painting through the M Gallery. He has a show there this month also. This was not a workshop for true beginners. We dove right in to working with value, composition, and brushstrokes. Marc kept us working with a timer. Some pressure, huh? Actually, it really kept you thinking about the painting. After all, "our job is to create a good painting" one of the many reminders Marc gave us. His other often quote was,"It is getting warmer, don't you think?" Not! At least it was a way to paint like the midwesterners without having to be there!

The teacher in me was really pleased at Marc's presentations and demeanor. He really tried to encourage us to think about what we were expressing and not just paint what was there. Jack Beal used to call it, "See, Put." You are in control, not the weather, not the paints, not the brushes, etc. My favorite painting of the week was at night- eeks- on a dock looking across the water. Talk about shivering! It was pretty amazing to watch and listen to him talk about keeping the values close. I like my painting looking across at the skyline and can't wait to try more- when it warms up, of course!

It's a wienie bit chilly out this am. After it warms up some, I will retrieve my paintings from the trunk of the car and try shooting a few to post. Marc gave us some advice on that too. Hope I can retain all this knowledge when I am out painting later this week. I am inside with my watercolors right now. Ahhh- it's warm here in the kitchen....

Now go play with some paint!