Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas- My Two Cents

Years ago, my husband's mom found a photo of a nativity set in a magazine and asked him to make her a copy of it. Awhile back, he made one for me. This evening I sat down across the room from it and found myself just looking at the characters. The way the light lay across the simple lines and curves of the shapes and made the colors of the wood stand out really moved me.  

The set, all put away

You know, society puts so much pressure on us over the "holidays." Ads offering financing for the perfect Christmas, diamonds, vacations- and don't forget that little something for yourself, you deserve it! Going to the store for a dozen eggs ends up being a bombardment of meaningless holiday music and pressure to buy, buy, buy. Get the perfect gifts- give the gift that says "I love you!" And while you're at it, don't forget the lights, candy, and stocking stuffers. As if you can buy love.

Soft light and simple lines
 Contrasted against all the glare and bling, a handmade, wooden nativity set might seem pretty plain. It doesn't have batteries or lights and it doesn't play music or move when you walk past. It quietly sits on my table, glowing with meaning. It reminds me that the Prince of Peace, the Light of the World came as a baby in a rustic stable. All the fuss and spending and pressure have nothing to do with His birth, life or teachings. In fact, I think they can be distractions that obscure the real messages.  The messages of peace on earth, goodwill towards men, love one another and for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, are all quietly embodied in my little, wooden nativity set. To me, this is what Christmas is about.

Merry Christmas, my friends.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Black Resist Surrenders

Today I was so excited to get home from work and start adding color to my composition that I didn't even have to debate myself on a hot caramel sundae at McDonalds.  The idea of the black resist keeping the colors in their boundaries was such a fun one that I had dreams of all sorts of fabric creations.  Till I started! Oh, my.  It may work on silk, and I intend to find out, but on cotton?  Not so good, Al.  
Turned upside-down to let the running color stay away from the lower area of the frame; note the dye running down the table.  My bathrobe may never recover...
Beginning with the leaf shapes, I started putting greens in.  It looked pretty great till I began the sky area.  Pretty quick, colors jumped the boundaries of the so-called resist and began to run together.  I turned the piece upside-down and sprayed with water till color was running off in streams, which is a cool look but not the one I was aiming for.  Not to mention what the wall and art table look like now.  It's a good thing I like eye-popping blues.
As it sits now.  Kind of cool.  Kind of not.  

Grabbing clean paper towels I decided to see how much color could be lifted.  Some, as you can see if you compare the lower photo with the upper one, but not enough to make much difference.  So, while the colors are vibrant and blend together in an attractive way, the black resist on cotton is a real disappointment.  Which is a bummer.  However, this story isn't over yet..

Thanks for stopping by! Alice

Monday, December 12, 2016

Mule Creek Ruin, Beginning

A couple of days ago I was playing around with a photograph of a scene I had printed off from my files.  The simple shapes I ended up with were so intriguing that I had to draw it out right away.  Just for fun, I drew it on a piece of bleached muslin fabric. 
Drawn out on bleached muslin, ready for the resist
Today I got up early and put a black resist on the piece before I had to run off to other obligations.  This way it will be dry by the time I have a chance to drop color into the shapes.  I used Jacquard's permanent black resist in applicator bottles with varying sizes of tips; thicker lines for the foreground and the thinnest lines for background and little details.  It was fun to use.   
All of the areas with thick and medium weight lines covered with Jacquard's black resist

The resist should hold the different dye colors behind the lines so that they won't run into each other. I figured this'd be a fun way to work out the composition for an oil painting of the same subject and play with more Dye-na-flow products all in one go.  It's a twofer.
The resist in place and drying for Mule Creek Ruin, 19" x 28" on bleached muslin
The shapes all drawn out with the black lines look like a page from a coloring book to me.  Which is what I liked about the whole thing in the first place.  Details eliminated and basic shapes left to create value and perspective.  Fun times in the studio, woo hoo!  

Thanks for stopping by- Alice

Friday, December 9, 2016

Simplifying a Subject

Do you see too much?  I do.  It's difficult for me to eliminate details, particularly in a landscape.  I was looking at Youtube videos and came across this idea- again.  I'd seen it years ago, but had forgotten all about it.  I'm fascinated with what it made and how much better I understand the composition.
A simple print from my desktop printer, outlined with a Sharpie to show the basic shapes

First, I printed out a photo of a place I have wanted to paint for years.  Then, using a Sharpie marker, I outlined the basic shapes, simplifying things like leaves or other busy areas.  It began to look like a block print, a look I admire.  By the time I'd gotten the basic shapes outlined, I could also see how the colors could be simplified in an effective, dramatic way.
The reverse side with light behind it.  Seeing the composition in reverse and with less color really helped me understand the basic shapes.  

Turning it to the reverse side and holding it up to a light gave me an even better idea of how the composition worked and how many details I could take out to make a stronger painting.  I can see that this will be a useful technique in the future.  In fact, I've been going through photos I've stored up thinking about them in this same way.  Without putting any paint down tonight I've spent time in the studio that will serve me well.  A good evening.

Thanks for stopping by!  Alice

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Taking Time Out, It Helps

While soaking in my font of ideas earlier tonight, I was pondering on life, stress and creativity.  Let's face it, I haven't exactly been overflowing with studio work recently.  I'm putting one foot in front of the other these days, but it's like hiking through very wet mud.  What I needed this evening was clarity.  It was time to hop off of the crazy train and take some time out for thinking.
I so admire this piece by Lawren S. Harris, a member of Canada's Group of Seven. He eliminated the details and painted what he felt, making this a painting that stirs my soul

As I pondered on the state of things, I realized that when I was painting on cotton fabric a couple of weeks ago I was excited about a project again.  It wasn't a technical challenge like the water in my recent Lake Powell  piece, (which for some reason had to be painted, but boy what a chore) rather it was a chance to see what the materials I was using would do on fabric.  Period.  No other reason.

As I look at art that moves me, I realize it's not terribly realistic or technically perfect.  There are so many beautiful paintings that are not merely careful interpretations of what the eye can see.  It has begun to occur to me that when one lets go of what is strictly visible and begins to express what is in the heart, the resulting creative work has more power.  And my work has lost the ability to move me.  No wonder I quit painting the past few weeks.  It's time to change something up.  To see with more than my eyes.  And I'm ready.

Thanks for stopping by!  Alice

Saturday, December 3, 2016

In Which I Spend a Whole Day on a Re-do

This past week I got a surprise in my email!  The painting, Inside Passage sold on my Etsy site.  It's always exciting when someone wants one of my paintings enough to spend money on it.  Then, before bedtime that evening, I went out to the studio to get it ready for shipment- and it was gone.  Really gone.  Not only that, but another painting was missing as well.  Surely I just misplaced them, or so we thought as we tore the newly put-together studio clear apart.  My husband and I spent two days looking for the paintings with no luck.  What a sick feeling.  
Inside Passage, Version 1
Sadly.. missing!
With a heavy heart I contacted the buyer and told her of my problem.  What a nice woman; she asked me to paint another one and she'd see if she liked it as much as the first.  I spent the whole day on a second version of the picture today.  I like it better, but am waiting to see if she does, too.  In the meantime, I'll just sit here and blog to dispel my nervous feelings.  
Inside Passage, Version 2

It was actually a fun sort of day.  Having to spend the day in the studio meant I couldn't worry about the kitchen floor which needs a good cleaning, not to mention the rest of the jobs that I would have done today.  So sorry, too bad, no housework today- I had an urgent problem to solve!  Oh that I had an ironclad excuse everyday, right?!  I will make a maddening prediction here: The missing paintings will surface right after I ship this one.  Isn't that they way things go?

Thanks for stopping by! Alice