Saturday, April 28, 2012

Carousel Dreaming

How fascinating to stumble across old drawings tucked away from the past! 

This happened to me as I was cleaning out a file cabinet recently, and lo and behold I discovered some demonstration drawings I had done for a children's drawing class I was teaching a loooonnnng time ago, in 1987! 

They were learning to draw the basic line shapes, and how to combine those elements into images. 

You'll notice the two keys to good design being used:
variation and repetition 

To teach them this, I used simple elements like circles, triangles, spirals, curves lines, dots, squares, etc.

When I found this drawing, I stopped and looked... remembering. And could see that more of me was revealed in that simple drawing that I had realized at the time.

Here is it, a little faded, since it was done with inexpensive colored markers on cheap school paper.  I wonder if anyone can identify with the longing in the carousel horse's dreaming??

(can click to enlarge)

Happy drawing,


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Overcoming The Ugly Stage

I can't speak for any other artist, but one thing in common that almost every art project that I've done has had is: a phase during the process when it just looks ugly.

That's where what I see on the canvas doesn't match what's in my imagination. Not by a long shot. In fact, I've long given it an official name: The Ugly Stage. 

Don't believe me? Here are some examples from my archives... I'll give one shot of The Ugly Stage, and then the finished painting: (can click pics to enlarge)









What's the antidote for getting past The Ugly Stage without dumping all your paints in the trash in frustration??


That's it, really. No magic, no big deep esoteric formula. 

Just believe in yourself. 
Believe in the process. 
Believe that if you don't give up, you'll see progress. 
Trust in your process. 

It's so easy to doubt yourself during The Ugly Stage. Don't Listen!! 

Believe in yourself, in your potential.

Oh sure, there are times I DO say "oops, that was a learning experience!" That's part of the fun of learning and trying new things, new ideas and techniques.  But most of the time, for me I find it's simply The Ugly Stage.

So... I stubbornly refuse to give up, and keep going with my initial concept in my mind, believing that it will appear. 

I don't usually totally meet the expectations of my Imagination... but I keep trying. The payoff is when once in a great while, something actually exceeds my expectations, and I almost have tears of joy.

Such is the case with my current project. I'm not at liberty yet to share it... it's a commission. I know, I know! In my last post I said I didn't enjoy commission work! What can I say? When along comes a project that calls to your heart... the only answer to give is... Yes. :-}

Happy painting, even through the Ugly Stages,


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Commission Work: Love it or Hate it?

Today I was thinking about commission art work. First, let me just admit that it's not usually my favorite thing to do nowadays. There, I said it.

Some artists enjoy it. Some of us find it... constraining. And maybe even sometimes a little intimidating and/or frustrating, if the client seems hard to please.

I remember once doing what I felt was a fantastic job on a pastel portrait of a young girl. I still remember it like yesterday: she had sunlit black hair, wore a blue dress with white trim, and was grinning broadly. I proudly presented the finished portrait to the Grandma who had commissioned it... and she asked me to change the highlights in the hair. Okay, no problem (though I thought they were bold, matching the photo).

Next... she didn't like the dress. Fixed it.

Next... I don't remember, cuz I politely aplogized, took it home and threw it in the trash! What can I say... I was young. :-}

Just for fun, I dug out an OLD album with a crummy, faded photo of that portrait. Honestly, it really did look just like her! Well, I thought so, anyway. (can click pics to enlarge) 

See, the Grandma had wanted it done from a photograph so it could be a surprise. You know how THAT goes sometimes... photos "lie". And Grandma insisted it didn't look like the little girl. Yet... it looked like the photo! Sigh... 

Here are some others I did back then, and at least these people were happy with their commissioned portraits (sorry for the fading and skewed colors, they are quite old photos):

Next time, I'll share one commission assignment that WAS one of my all time favorite works!

In the meantime, I'd be curious to hear how others feel about commission work, if you'd like to share.

Happy painting (even if it is on commission),


Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The Birth of Timebird

My sister, Karen, is a writer. She wrangles her words over at KarenElizabethBrown, her writer's blog. 

Recently Karen joined a crazy fun challenge called the A to Z Challenge, where one must write a post for 26 days straight, using the corresponding letter of the alphabet as the base of the topic.

I was happy to be able to help out on "A" day by lending some images demonstrating the process by which a painting comes to life, and Karen used this as a great analogy for the writing process.

What intrigued me was a comment a reader left, describing the process as a "painting being born". Being born! I loved that... the idea of a "birth".

I don't know about other artists, but I suspect most of us feel very much that way... it's our "baby"!

So... I thought you might enjoy seeing another birth! I hope you enjoy the peek behind the curtain. :-) 

I don't have sketches from the very beginning, but you can see some of the process below, including my expensive pencil holder--the spam can! :-D

 (Can click any pic to enlarge)

Here's my set up with the Caran d'Ache Neocolor II's used plus some watercolor pencils, on black illustration board.

At one point, I ran it through photoshop, to check values, and adjusted as needed.

 At this stage, there is no water yet. Just the neocolor II's and WC pencils.

 Almost ready for water.

 Starting to carefully brush on water.

 More water, more neocolor II highlights and color adjustments.

 Final color tweaks and all done... Timebird is born!

Happy painting,