Wednesday, June 12, 2013

China Wall painting is finished.

I finished China Wall last week.  It's done in pastel on a piece of sanded paper, 19"x27", though the finished piece isn't that large.  The buyer will be able to decide where to crop it, as there are many options - I added rows of stones below which I haven't included in this crop because I prefer this composition, but the buyer can make his/her own decision about it!

This was a very interesting piece to create.  I had tried drawing stones before, but not in a long time, and I was gratified to find that I've increased my skills since I tried last time.  It was fun creating the illusion of the crumbling plaster wall, the wood over the window and the wood bars over the window.  The stones were clearly gathered from the surrounding mountains and had apparently been there for centuries.  This was certainly not new construction!

I took the liberty of adding the Chinese flag to the piece to add to the emotional resonance of the piece for me personally after my trip there.

This image was done from a photograph I took in the village of Cuandixia, a very small town built inbetween two ranges of mountains/hills.  It looks to be as old as the hills.  I've written extensively about it and my visit there in my blog previously if you're curious to learn more..

 Here are some details from the painting.  (Frustration alert!  I work so hard to arrange the pictures pleasantly on the blog, but the software is maddening!  I can't get the images to line up next to each other!  It makes me crazy!  Oh well - there are worse things!)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Zendoodle on Duralar

I've been working in the studio again lately.  It feels good!  Yesterday I did a fairly large Zendoodle on Duralar, a translucent material.  I worked with a grid-based doodle and manipulated it so it would appear to be three-dimensional, curving around. 

I drew the inked doodle on one side of the paper, and put color pencil on the other, helping create the illusion of 3-D even more.

Here's the doodle on different color backgrounds.  Which one do you like best?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Living Large - Painting with Joy!

Sometimes to get myself going, I'll paint "blow-out" pieces -  I put a canvas on the wall or huge paper on the floor, and just do whatever comes to me.  Last Saturday Chris helped me clean up the studio and staple a huge piece of canvas to the wall - 6'x10'.  Saturday night I became aware that I wanted to paint a lily, a Stargazer Lily, to be exact.  I don't question it when I get ideas like that.  I just feel grateful.  

After a busy few days, Wednesday evening I went to the store and bought some lilies.  Thursday morning I woke up excited for the first time in a while and went out to the studio after meditating and doing my Morning Pages.  I jumped right in.  First thing I did was put on Sanjay Mishra's album Meditation.  I picked up an Alizarin Crimson paint stick and danced with it on the canvas.  A reminder, "FAT, JUICY, LOOSE" scrawled itself across the top of the canvas.  Curves danced across the canvas as I moved my hips in time to the music, eyes closed.  I picked up the lily and drew it loosely on the canvas.  White paint stick.  More drawing.  Turpentine on large brush.  Smear/spread the paint.  Dance the rhythm of the flower.  Blend, smear, green/yellow in the center, crisp white edges rippling up and down.  Delicate soft leaves took form on canvas.
Wanting more, I went out to our garden to see if anything was blooming.  I discovered a tender yellow Columbine.  I broke it off its stem and brought it into the studio.  Trying not to follow the same procedure, wanting to keep things fresh, I want and meditated for a few moments to allow first thoughts to arise again.  Then I put charcoal to canvas, cadmium yellow paint stick, titanium white, turpentine.  Multicolor shadows to create the pockets in the petals.  I remind myself  "FAT, JUICY, LOOSE".  I dance somemore.  I see the Columbine like I've never noticed it before.  I scrawl around the flower to change the outline and give myself more crispness.  I remind myself "LOOSE."

At a loss, but wanting more, I remember our hydrangea bush which has inexplicably blossomed profusely this year without interference from the deer.  I rush out to pick one, finding one with barely open flowers, still greenish yellow in the center.  I have no idea how I'll draw this complicated flower - so many little parts - how to keep them all straight?  I draw first with charcoal, realize soon I've lost my place completely.  I pick up a paint stick and draw the same series of blooms.  Lose my place again.  Pick up the brush and paint each little flower before moving on to the next one.  Mostly I'm true to the bloom, though I imagine I faked it a little bit!
My stomach calls me into the house for lunch.  When I return, I plan to put another hydrangea in the other corner.  When I get back, the hydrangea has faded too much to use it again.  I pick another one, this one more developed, more purple.  I work on it til it's finished, again, trying to stay loose, trying not to copy what I did before, trying to keep it fresh and new. 

Yesterday I had writer's group in the studio.  My writing felt quite uninspired and trite.  After group, I had some lunch then got caught up watching Doc Martin and Downton Abbey - there's a VERY good reason we don't have cable TV!  It's addictive!  Finally around four I made it into the studio.  I needed another flower.  I got our one Sweet William from the garden.  Mom gave me the plant when we moved in here nine years ago.  She also gave me the hydrangea.  I like the idea of painting flowers from her garden which most likely came from my grandmother's garden too.   Not sure why, but I give these a bright yellow background.  I want to do more on the canvas, but it's dinner time.  I'm tired. 

This morning I felt excited to paint again.  But first I needed to get some latex gloves - I like to get messy, but it just isn't healthy to get oil paint all over my hands - so I ran some errands then came on out.  I picked our last Columbine because the previous one was most definitely wilted!  I placed it at the top of the canvas, only pratically on the canvas.  I'd still like to make it yellower, but the alizarin crimson writing "FAT, JUICY, LOOSE!" underneath it influenced the color.  I'll have to go back into it again once it's all the way dry.

I was wondering what else to include since we have no other flowers in our yard - the deer are voracious plant-eaters, and we have almost no sun, so we're very limited in what will grow here!  I remember the Periwinkle vine on the side of the studio.  The blooms are long-since past, but the vine is lovely.  I let it thread through the whole canvas.  Finally I connect the background, spreading color that is already there, adding others, blending, intuitively deciding what should go where - yellow here to balance yellow there, dark purple to offset the light or to create a shadow, alizarin crimson to tie it all together. 

Just as Chris arrives home from a Saturday at work, I notice one of the petals on the first lily I did is the wrong size.  I have to correct it.  He heads out to run an errand so I can finish.  I appreciate his understanding.  I correct the petal, add more background, take some pictures.  Feel finished - for now.  Tomorrow when I come back out, I'll take a look and see what might need to be tweaked.  It feels great for now!  I must remember to let myself PLAY.  It makes all the difference.

Chris suggested when I was feeling stuck that I think about what brings me joy.  That I remember to live LARGE.  To play.  To do what feels exciting and compelling.  That I forget about "should" and just ask, "I wonder what would happen if..."  I like the answer to those questions this time around.  I do believe it's the way to live.  And paint.  Now if only I can remember!