In the spirit of the exciting events launching this week, I'd like to introduce my Patreon site!
Imagine your favorite artists making a living doing what they do best… because of you! Patreon is a platform that allows creative people, like me, to build a community and share their skills while getting paid.
I have always loved sharing what I do - having blogged about it for over a decade now! This platform means I can share video tutorials and behind the scenes access to my subscribers. Other "rewards" include live broadcasts of painting demos, Q&A, downloads, tips and tricks, coffee house chats, and a chance to own a small work or more - for a monthly subscription. Your support, like the patrons of old, helps me thrive artistically as well as practically!
I hesitate to show this one. The one on the left is my work on day 1. The light was gone and we had a TONAL scene to paint. I hate tonal. But I have to say, I understand it a lot better now. Quang's gorgeous painting - done earlier in the day - was tonal really. There are some spots of light but for the most part, the model and setting are in shade. This is what tonal can be. Still full of color.
I think I always assumed "tonal" meant grey or brown, without color. But Van Gogh was a tonal painter. He ultimately didn't care about depth or modeling. He placed tones against one another - in beautiful color. Another tonalist (and another of my favs) - Degas.
So this is a scene I will try again with color. Maybe then I can do more than paint just light and shadow.
Just before Christmas I had a surprise invite from Quang Ho to attend a workshop he threw together for January in Pasadena. It was an opportunity I could not pass up. I'd been wanting to work with him for years but he isn't teaching much anymore. Though his videos are an excellent resource as well, and having watched them, I was somewhat prepared for his style and methods. Quang is so well-read and thoughtful. He truly is a master artist. He can put a painting together so poetically. And he can explain how and why.
Making it work for myself though... that will take many more years. ;-)
I've put together some photos from my trip below. I got in on Thursday with time to explore the area and I have to say, I am proud of myself for navigating over to the coast and back through Hollywood and Beverly Hills to make it to the observatory for sunset. I'll show you my work during the workshop in the coming days.
I worked on this painting several times. After the first pass, it was nearer the image on the right, but I felt that the shadow side was not dark enough so I did a glaze over the left side buildings. Then it all seemed too magenta and green - and both colors were on the acidic side. The people all seemed too separate, too contrived.
I had seen a painting by Jim Beckner (or was it Kevin Weckbach? - both exceptionally talented artists) and it had stuck with me. My piece was just so average, so segmented, and the colors were way off. So I loaded my brush with lots of blues and scrubbed out the figures and the side - connecting them through the shadows. I pulled my brush through various cools on my palette and scrubbed those over the blues. I painted over the tree and connected those colors and I painted OUTSIDE THE LINES! A dab here, a stroke there. I had fun! So much fun. That was an eye opening experience and it made me want to revisit more work and get more loose and playful.
I'm always saying I want to loosen up - yet I fail so often. I get stuck in that rendering mode. Its the graphic design background - the design and color blocks and neatness carrying over. I need to break those barriers more often.
This weekend, I watched the bio/documentary of Gloria Vanderbilt and, while I've been fascinated by her history and the whole "robber baron" era of our country, I had no idea she was an artist. It seems that art was the one stable thing in her life and through it she has interpreted and documented decades of memories.
I was particularly moved because the stories are sometimes so sad, but so beautifully rendered. It makes me think about the work I put together. It is definitely not documentary in the same way. I paint scenes from places I've been, but I don't put my memories in them.
The other thing that I have been thinking about a lot is my level of invention. It is something I am struggling with. Gloria was creating things based solely on her memories and drawing without reference it seemed. I really need to push past rendering everything! What am I so afraid of?!
BUT, as I need to keep reminding myself, if I have even half the career she has had, I have a long time to work! Can you believe she is nearly 92?
I'm trying to get motivated. So I set up a still life outside and had a friend (V....) over to lunch with me. We visited and ate al fresco and then I painted the remains of our feast for about an hour. The sun moves surprisingly fast even in that time.
But will I follow through?
I was really very saddened to hear of Ken Auster's passing this weekend. I hadn't known he was sick... of course, I am not closely acquainted, so why would I? The world has lost a great artist - and a generous, inspiring teacher. Luckily we have his videos to continue to learn from him.
I had the opportunity to learn with him in New York City eight years ago. EIGHT years ago. That really got me thinking this weekend. The workshop was wonderful. But how have I incorporated what I learned into my work? How have I grown? Have I painted with passion?
No. Sometimes. I don't know. To be honest, I worry way too much about what galleries want, or what might sell. I worry the paintings into lifeless, "pretty" scenes perhaps, but without allowing myself any expression. Then I worry that I don't have any thing to say after all. Its a vicious cycle.
I think I need to look long and hard at what I want to do with my art. I second guess myself too much. I have a wonderfully supportive husband who encourages me to paint, as much as I can, to become a better painter. But I still feel like painting is a reward when I've done my chores. It has to be the focus of my day and I have to let go of my fears and paint from the heart.
If you can, please look at Ken's work, read his story, watch his videos and learn as much about painting with passion as you can. He inspired me so much, though I was probably just one of thousands of his students. His passing reminds me that I don't want to waste more time with self doubt, worry and too much left brain interference. Wish me luck. Or better yet, peace.
I was very saddened to hear of the great David Bowie's passing on Monday. He was a true artist in every sense of the word and I think we can all take a lesson from him about fear and growth. Why does it seem that those two words are bedmates? Am I the only one? We so often let fear keep us from changing.Over decades Bowie changed his style, his persona, his sound, his discipline... he wanted to try it all and did so with an open heart and without apologizing or explaining himself. Time was all we needed to see his genius.
There are a few fine artists today that I see doing the same thing - embracing change and boldly following their hearts and the urge to live a fully creative life. Quang Ho certainly comes to mind. From highly-rendered classical realism to abstract; animals to still life, he follows his muse. I want to be one of those artists. Time will tell of course.
Now is the time to consider such things as I look back this year at 10 years of blogging. Ten years of committing to work very regularly - which we all know is the only way to really grow as an artist. The miles of canvas on your brush builds skill and confidence, And with confidence you can take the new path and see where it leads.
Maybe at this time of year, it would be a good idea for us all to look back and really consider all we have done and learned. If you are like me, you often forget how you met challenges and changed. I remember the first time I painted a demo for an art club. Now I'm comfortable with that. I used to paint landscapes. That morphed into city and restaurant scenes utilizing photos after my daughter was born. Those subjects are still present but my focus is narrowing in on the figure more specifically and working from life more often. I'm facing some decisions in how I market my work, I'm starting to use new means to communicate and stay au courant and looking for new partners to show my work. Its going to be a fun year. A little scary, but fun. :-)
A Painter's Journal
Chasing the light. Capturing life. Rendering it in paint.
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