Monday, October 28, 2013

Echoes of Creation {thoughts on the purposes of painting}

As I make decisions about my life, my activities, and my goals, I tend to think about the big, overwhelming questions: why? to what end? for what purpose? It can tend to make me a bit of a minimalist, needing good justifications for the things that fill up my life. So, as I've been giving new time and effort to making marks in oil paint on bits of board and canvas I've also been wondering about the purpose of painting, and of art in general.

At the very least, it seems to me that there is a two-fold goodness to creating excellent paintings. The act of creating is good in itself and the act of contemplating the world through an artist's eyes is also very good.

For me, the process of painting involves the thought and learning, the logical building blocks of value, structure, perspective, color and composition, AND the emotional, physical, soulful responsiveness to a moment, a place, a shadow cast in just a certain way. And it results in a growing ability to know the world that God has made. As my technical skill (hopefully) improves, my sensitivity to the world and my ability to communicate these moments should improve as well. So far so good!

When a painting strikes you and causes you to stop and look and feel, it has changed you and provided a moment of reflection and respite. As you sit on the couch, step through the door,  or walk down the hall, a painting can suddenly arrest you with the loneliness of a windswept hillside,  the sweetness of sun-ripened fruit, or the subtlety of two colors mingling and separating.

The distinctly unique mark of the artist reminds the viewer that this object was created, this thing depicted was felt and known and re-made by a person. The painting is a communication and every brushstroke and color choice speaks of making. In it one might hear the echoes of the greater creation and the ultimate Creator and one might experience how good it is for the human soul to slow down and feel and know the world and its maker. Pretty good stuff.

So that's some of why I paint and why I want to improve and why it is good to appreciate good art. Whew, now I need a nap.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Latest Paintings {Pears and Pilgrimage}

I usually produce a couple of paintings a week, hoping the old adage, "practice makes perfect" (or better?), will produce some evidence in my work. In the last few days I've done two paintings, this group of pears and the landscape below.

I painted the pears in watercolor, outside. Outdoor painting is particularly challenging because the light is constantly changing. I'm working on blocking in the shadows quickly so that I'm not chasing the sun as I paint.

The landscape below is based on a photo I took years ago while hiking in France. It's a view of the little mountain village, Saint Savior, from the GR5 hiking trail in the Alps.  In this one I'm working on creating an interesting design that repeatedly leads the eye back into the painting.

I've toned the canvas with a wash of cadmium yellow deep and rose madder. The design is sketched in with raw umber.  You can see my pencil drawing on the left where I worked out some of the composition problems and value structures.

Here's the painting half finished. On the right is the old washed out photo (before digital!). I prefer to work from mediocre, washed out, or overcast photos for painting. I think it keeps me from trying to copy and forces me to use what I know about light and color rather than relying on the inadequate information provided by the photo.

And here's the finished painting. It's big!--30x34, painted in oil.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Working Studio {or, where I've been this summer}

After a long and winding road finishing this space and a quick summer 
attempting to recover from that project, the studio is finally in working order and I am using it daily. 

I didn't get any pictures of the beautiful butcher block counter, farm sink, and custom designed laundry area, but I will post those when I take them. Thank you so much for all you did to make this a beautiful and functional space, Mom and Alan!

I've been studying and drawing and painting (and teaching) this summer. And I'm keeping up with the laundry better too! I am so grateful for this place to work and to those who have encouraged me 
in these efforts, most notably my dear husband, Scott.

Here are a few of my most recent paintings.

Trees in Shadow, 16 x 20, oil on stretched canvas

Fallen Branch, 8 x 10, oil on linen board

Afternoon on the Trail, 5 x 7, oil on linen board

Trees in Meadow, 9 x 11, oil on canvas board


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Studio Sneak Peek

This weekend Scott's mom and stepdad came to visit and to work 
on a little project about which I am super-excited. We are converting our detached garage 
into an art studio and Alan is generously doing much of the labor to make my dream studio a reality.

This weekend he framed the ceiling and partition wall (to divide the studio side of the garage 
from the storage side), cut and installed a window, and added a door.  
{Thank you, Alan!}

Over the next month or so we'll be finishing up the electrical work, sheetrock, floor, counter and trim. We plan to install an Ikea counter and sink, epoxy the concrete floor, and I have all kinds of dreams about storage and functional design. Follow my "dream studio" board on Pinterest (see the sidebar) if you want a glimpse 
of that obsession.

The room is taking shape and I can't wait to start using it!

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