The Artist must struggle

My struggle is to preserve that abstract flash – like something you caught out of the corner of your eye, but in the picture you can look at it directly. (Andrew Wyeth)

All artists struggle with their art…. that is, if they are challenging themselves.  Its part of the process. I struggle often, mainly when it comes to my style.   You see my style was developed by allowing myself to look for cues as I painted, which would give me direction.  Using this method I have found I’ll often use colors not usually planned or sometimes I’ll add or take something out of the painting.  Waiting for the painting to give me direction is sometimes like waiting for your cat to eat one of the four or fives types of food you put out for her.  You may be waiting awhile.  Allowing the painting to develop en route so to speak is easy unless you find yourself in a creative block

Creative blocks are  sometime also part of the struggle. Nothing new and, it sometimes means a change in your style or a new direction.  You may have to just” go with it” even if you hate it.  Who knows, It could be a break thru.    Rather than following an outlined plan. I’ll have a concept in mind, an idea or something I want to explore. Usually this is incorporated in a series.

when I start a new painting, I try to develop a composition and choose some color families then I decide the medium & thats it, I start. This can lead to a lot of painting and repainting, and this alone can make you feel lost. When I get stuck, there are several things I do to help break out of these doldrums. One is to paint other paintings while leaving your “Problem Child” out and in front of you…. say on an easel.  Another is to draw in your sketchbook, even if its only doodles.  If you paint, try doing something else some crafts or perhaps write a short story or go for a long walk taking your camera along.  It seems anything creative can jump-start that spark.   So if your struggling with your next painting or any creative endeavor, remember your not alone and perhaps you’ll find just what you need to be on your way and that day is worth the struggle.

“Bold Lilly” Watercolor on gessoed masonite $50.00 USD 8″ by 8″ (inches)

What a great day! The sun was out it was like 65 degrees, Roo (my grandson) and I went out in the yard and played with the dogs, we sang, threw rocks basked in the winter warmth and ate Mickey Ds. I stayed up till three am last night so I painted a couple of small paintings, this is one of them.

I used to have lilies in my pond but my Koi are large now and they think I’m putting those beautiful flowers in there for them to munch. So now unless I protect them by cordoning off a corner they get devoured in about five minutes.  But I can still have them anytime I want, I just have to get out the paint brushes.  Isn’t it wonderful to have an imagination?

“Incognito” A quick look at how Glazing can change a watercolor

This is a painting that is ready to be glazed.  It is completely dry  (more than 24 hours)  and will accept a new layer of paint very well.

The final finished painting is at the bottom of this post.

This is how the painting looks before I have glazed it.  Take a look at the painting and you will be able to see how different a painting can look after glazes have been applied.

You may also see area or shapes of some things which haven’t been painted yet.   Some direct painting or glazing with the same color will also need to be done to bring the values in line.  Values are difficult to determine unless you can see how  all the various colors and glazes effect each other.   Often an artist should go back and take a look at anything that has been changed just to make sure that anything that needs tweeking gets tweeked.   This means perhaps darkening an area previously thought to be OK.

Above you will see a section of the painting.  Look at the light green leaf here in the middle, I will glaze over some burn’t senna and  then some green and  last some pink which should push the leaf back a bit and look  like a shadow.

You can see this in the next photo below.

Under the bright orange leaf there is also an area which is not defined, look at this area and see how it will be redefined by direct painting & glazing. This photo above shows how I changed the shape of this area (under the large orange leaf).

Next look at the photo below… there was a very light  shape which was only painted a light grey blue but was left mostly white.  You can also see the blue leaf’s edges (in the corner) was given a blue and purple glaze .

 Here is the that same area and you can see it has been painted around (negatively painted ) also a few direct touches help to bring a little critter to life.
Below in the next shot there is an area of the painting I had to grey up a bit while defining the finger like shape.  I glazed over this area with Phatho blue.
Then I decided to scumble in some Andrews Turquoise and some Cerulean blue  Both are a bit opaque and can be layered rather then glazed. Opaque paint will sit on top of the first layer of paint, in this case the dark blue paint.
  This is the right hand lower corner of the painting, You can see I put in various colors as glazes to give the butterfly shape some dimension and I also added some colors to his body for a little more emphasis. 
 Here is the final painting.  Notice I also painted the little vine like branches again so they would stand out against the background.  I also glazed the big brown leaf at the right hand bottom corner with bright red so it looks a bit brighter.  These things are subtle but often these little tweeks are all a painting needs.

Living Jewels #19 19 by 33 inches Watercolor $1800.00

This painting is NOT a daily painting but a part of a series called  “Living Jewels” .  I thought it would be nice for those folks who see my daily paintings to see some of my more challenging and artistically complicated watercolors of which I’m known for.

As many of you know I have a koi pond and I love them as pets. Well pets might be the wrong word but I am their care taker. I love watching them because they comfort me and while sitting or standing by the water’s edge, listening to the water fall, I feel a sense of overwhelming serenity like no other thing I’ve ever experienced. Some folks say it meditative, others say its similar to watching a BIG fire on a snowy night.  Seeing how much I love Koi you might think it strange that I would eat fish but I don’t think its odd at all but of course I wouldn’t eat my own Koi.
Don’t get me wrong I love all animals and of course fish too and yes I eat both fish & meat.   I came to terms with that decision many years ago.  I decided that I can’t be vegetarian on the grounds of cruelty unless I also gave up using all animal products. This included everything from Jello to  thousands of  leather products  like shoes, belts, & furniture just to name a few. Don’t forget  feathers, fur  and lots of health products.  Knowing it would be too difficult to eliminate all these things I choose to eat meat and fish.  I do find it interesting that so many vegetarians eat fish and will not eat meat. A vegetarian diet is a very healthy way to go and it’s good for most people.

If healthful living is the reason for you to be a vegetarian, I agree with it 100%.   But…. Vegetarians who feel its unfair and cruel to animals to be used as food but think its not cruel to fish bothers me.  Its difficult to know what is right, but I have been around fish for awhile and from my experience as a angler and as a pond enthusiast I think they feel pain.  I didn’t always think this and my opinion evolved form fishing with barbs to catch and release to not fishing at all.

I was indoctrinated in the catch-and-release ethic that was growing around 1990. (The idea of catch-and-release has been promoted by the conservation group Trout Unlimited and other fish sporting groups since the 1950s, yet there are still many parts of the country where fishermen think it’s ridiculous.

Back when I started fishing, most folks I met on the banks or out on the lake liked to catch their daily limit of fish and eat them.) I did too on occasion but as I started to really watch the fish and fell in love with them, I wanted to learn ways to avoid hurting them, to catch and release the fish properly. Usually I would use a net with a soft mesh rather than the BIG string like net so as not to pull off any scales.   I would wet my hands before handling any fish (so as not to take off the protective slime coat), then gently  I removed the barbless hook from its mouth, and swish it back and forth in the water only letting go when it appears it had its bearings (though fish usually just flit away at the earliest opportunity). Like many fishermen/anglers, I had the experience of catching the same fish twice, and it bothered me to see them thrash about but using my softer technique it appeared as if really I wasn’t hurting them; it was as though we were wrestling. After several years of this type of fishing with my husband  I decided to do a bit of research and found that the latest studies indicate fish feel pain but can tolerate being caught and released. and their movements are not knee jerk reactions.
Research studies backed up the my intuition that catch-and-release worked. Generally, if you don’t deep-hook a fish, exhaust them on the line, hold them out of the water too long, or bash them on the head, they have a good chance of living to fight another day.

Most fishermen will admit fish caught and placed in a boats holding tank don’t seem happy thrashing about in the water, and some fish make an unpleasant croaking sound when you’re trying to get the hook out. Seeing them gasping for air, it’s hard not to feel like a jerk sometimes.

Finally  the 2003 Edinburgh study confirmed that trout have polymodal nociceptors around their face and head—i.e., they have the ability to detect painful stimuli with their nervous system. After reading a bit more I found I would rather keep fish in a pond then try to  catch them for sport or food.

All dogs go to Heaven # 35 6 inches by six inches

This little painting is painted in watercolor and would make you or a friend a great gift.

As a kid people would say to me that they took their dog out to the country to live on a farm where there was lots of room to run.  Maybe this was the farm. 

“Pretty Eyes” Koi painting 8″ by 10″ on gessoed masonite $99.00

In several places  on this painting…the paint is thick and it has a tendency to reflect back to the camera lens. You will see this reflection mostly on the reddish orange fish.  In person it does look like this it looks like the thinner paint.

I love painting these Koi just a bit animated or you might say with personality…  Koi speak volumes while looking back at me while I peer down at them thru the water.  It’s amazing how many actually do look up at me.   

All dogs go to heaven #21 4 X6 inch water color on 300 lb paper $30.00

This painting is  actually slightly lighter than it’s shown here.  If you are interested in purchasing this great little painting, I would be happy to take a better picture. Also… You should know that you can easily find lots of really nice inexpensive frames with a mat included for these small paintings because 4 by 6 is usually the same size as a standard photograph.   A good idea for small paintings is to form a grouping.  Sometimes a small painting can’t carry off a larger wall space but several small paintings can. Put together a few paintings to form a small grouping..  say three and space them in a way that is pleasing to you.  You’ll be surprised how great they look in the nooks and crannies of your home.  I even have several small paintings behind the bathroom door hanging on the wall… you do not see them( till your a captive audience if you know what I mean) closes the door and these paintings never fail to get great comments.