Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Mule Creek Ruin

This work week has been filled with drama and stress.  Fairly normal week.  I think I need my head examined.  So, I came out to the studio to look over projects past and future- just to get a chance to soak up some peace and quiet and hopefully find a bit of inspiration for what I'm trying to accomplish out here, which is learning to simplify my work.
Where this thing stood for nearly a year after I realized the black resist lines wouldn't hold the wet dyes back like I had hoped- so much for dropping in dyes. Nothing is ever REALLY as easy as it is in my imagination.

A little over a year ago I tried an experiment with the same goal in mind and really enjoyed the project.  You can read about its beginnings HERE.  Working with fabric medium, Jacquard Dyes and Derwent's Inktense pencils I thought I'd see what I could do with basic shapes and color on a piece of muslin bedsheet.  After quite a bit of trial and error, I came up with a piece I quite liked.  Since that time, I've tried to quilt it with no success.  The painted fabric is just too stiff to allow for hand-quilting, darn it.  I've set it aside until I can find a quilting foot for my old sewing machine.
Mule Creek Ruin with all the color on and pinned down, ready to quilt.  I used Derwent's Inktense pencils and sticks on it with fabric medium and gained a whole lot more control over the colors.   

I'm showing an unfinished project for a reason, however.  If I could see and express myself in basic shapes when I was using an unfamiliar medium, why do I struggle so to paint them in watercolor?  As I'm sitting across the room from this- whatever you call it- (textile?) piece, I'm trying to understand why I get so involved in minute detail when I am painting.  So far, I still have no idea.  But looking at it has calmed my heart a bit and helped me see that what I'm striving to do is possible.  And for tonight, that'll have to do.

Thanks for stopping by- Alice

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Soldiers In Copic

Our youngest son, Parker T. Webb, recently began a series that I just had to share here.  This morning I asked him some questions about what he was doing and why- he has refused to do 2-dimensional work for several years- and I wondered what inspired this sudden interest in drawing again.  His replies helped give me more depth to add to what I saw.

Dough Boy
Copic Markers and ink on Bristol Board

When I asked why this particular subject, Parker said, "I have always had a fascination with history and the World Wars in particular.  I saw a picture that made me want to draw these figures.  WWI history isn't very commonly shown, so I wanted to learn about it by drawing it."  He's always learned through drawing or sculpting.  Great technique, actually- processing information through creativity.
German, Warming By His Pipe
Copic markers and ink on Bristol Board

Then I asked him what he was thinking about as he worked, and his reply was interesting, coming from a modern day 23 year old. "I think about the men in the pictures and what they were feeling and seeing.  I think about what it must have been like going to live in the awful, muddy, war-torn trenches and how men were real men; not to say that there aren't any men today, but it took a lot for so many to answer the call to war.  I've been fascinated by the stories of bravery and mercy shown by both sides.  None of them wanted to be there, German, American or any other group.  They just did what they had to do."
I included this because, even though unfinished,  I can see his process in it.  Instead of working all over the paper in layers, he takes each section separately.  Like me! 

Another thing I wanted to know was why use Copic Markers for this set of drawings?  (I've been trying to talk him in to painting for years)  He told me he loves the control they give him and that he hates painting.  Sigh... I already KNEW that!  You know, considering this year is the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI, his timing is spot on and these drawing have made me want to take another look at the "War to End All Wars." Maybe I'll read All Quiet on the Western Front again, but Parker's drawings will have been my inspiration for it.

Thanks for stopping by- Alice

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Seeing Shapes

As you may have been able to tell, I get carried away with details.  After "Above The Little Colorado" I knew something had to change.  I've been studying and thinking about what I could do that would help me paint what I feel more than what I see when I work on a landscape painting.  I think I'm already doing that when my subject is cacti, but landscapes are almost overwhelming and I tend to get bogged down in the little things.  
This is a series of shapes with value, nothing more or less.  It worked.  I like it.  
The first attempt at this is above, "Towards the Gila."  I felt like I managed my goal fairly well, which was to see only shapes and use only light texture.  When I decided to try this I chose a small format and gave myself a limit of two hours from start to finish.  It was fun and I was anxious to try again, so today I set my timer, got out my little watercolor block and waded in. 

This is something that started out simple and quickly became a problem.  Darn it.  However, I did learn from it and I will try again! 
Using Higgins black ink I painted the cliff shadows before adding color.  The mountains/cliffs went fast and I was able to keep them simple. However- as usual- the vegetation got me.  Again.  More.  Still.  Rats.  The trees in the background on the right side drove me crazy. The trees in the background on the left happened like I wanted but it was the chamisa brush in the foreground that really tripped me up.  I've known for a long time that I wanted to create a 'shorthand' for vegetation, one that is simple and can represent brush without me getting me all tangled up in it.  Maynard Dixon had a bush shorthand style that I love.  It might be time to figure out mine.  

Thanks for stopping by! Alice

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

What's In It For Me?

This morning I had a conversation with my daughter, Katie Kellogg, about art.  This isn't unusual, we often discuss art, making art, the avant garde of the art world, materials, ideas and so many other fascinating (to us) topics.  She mentioned how we often value our work and our worth as artists on whether or not we can sell our work.  As though sales are the measure of success.  Don't get me wrong, sales are a measure, I just think they aren't the only measure, and perhaps not even the best measure. 
The first commission I ever did.  I realized with this piece that working with the price tag in the front of my mind made it a whole lot more difficult to do.

Why paint or create?  When many people's lives are as hectic has mine has become, is the only justification for taking time to create something because it might sell?  If it'll make me some money I can spare the time and energy?  I do this to myself, but I've also found that making something for money adds pressure to the act of creating.  The worry about whether it'll please someone takes a great deal of the enjoyment out of the process, as I wrote about HERE.   
This piece was a blast to make.  I had no firm palette chosen and just had fun with color.  I probably need to do that more often.

There are as many reasons to make things as there are makers, I suspect.  Expression, joy, communication, an overflowing of energy, sorrow, love in all of its many guises, even a compulsion from inside one's spirit that has to be obeyed can all be motives to create.  When one of these are my motive, I work better.  I get more satisfaction and I feel love for what I make more often.  And, when someone is touched by something I've made and offers to buy it, I am as thrilled that they liked something in my work as I am by the thought that they want to buy it.  I guess it's a balancing act.  I'd love to get to the point where I sell enough work to help pay the bills regularly.  I just don't want to make that the main focus of what I'm creating.  Is that even possible?  I hope so. 

Thanks for stopping by- Alice

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Towards The Gila

The Gila Wilderness is a rugged mountain range in Western New Mexico.  Few roads and steep, rocky slopes make it difficult to access, while the clear streams make getting into the wilderness worth it for many people.  This view is my favorite part of the drive home from Arizona's White Mountains.  The Gila comes into view just around a bend, framed perfectly in the distance.  I've always wanted to paint it.  
Towards The Gila
Watercolor on paper
7" x 10"

Lately I've been studying and thinking on how to get more emotion into my work and less concern for realistic detail and color.  I've spent hours pouring over the work of Maynard Dixon and Canada's Group of Seven, all of whose work I admire.  They erased all of the detail that didn't add to the composition they chose and painted shapes, arranged well.  I love the idea and want to pay more attention to shapes and less to minutiae for awhile.  Although all of the above mentioned artists painted in oils, I think I can get the same feeling with watercolors. Today was my first attempt.

Thanks for stopping by! Alice  

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Self Portrait

In the Font of Inspiration
If you were to ask me what I got for Christmas,  my reply would be, "Bronchitis."  And it wouldn't be a cheery reply either. You could go to another blog today- you know, where someone posts a great accomplishment or beautiful art work, but then you'd feel guilty. Or even inadequate. Better stay here with me. I'll make you feel better about yourself.

I've spent as much of the past 2 weeks hiding in my font of inspiration as I could manage. Boiling myself. The gas bill is going to be a whopper. However, around the coughing and moaning and general whining I have managed to catch an idea or two. Which I'll be sure to jump on soon. Really. My house looks like a hoarder got lost here sometime last spring. I'm going to get on that soon, too. See, what'd I tell you?  Don't you feel better already? 

Thanks for stopping by- and if you're still reading this, for sticking it out to the pitiful end- Alice