As part of my in-studio artist residency, I wanted to plan a few field trips out of studio to spark some creativity with a change of location, and going to art museums always helps to get that going — art museums help to remind me why it is that I paint. Why do art? Why live art? Because. Art. Continue reading
This is a guest blog post by Jim S. about his perspective and experience commissioning a painting as a gift for his wife.
Every home deserves great art. After living in an apartment we bought our first home and naturally wanted to make it our own. So after a year of settling in and renovating every wall in the building, it was time to put something beautiful on the walls that wasn’t put on with a roller. Continue reading
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I was honored and humbled to be recognized by Art League Rhode Island at its Annual Meeting with the 2016 Founder’s Award for exemplary volunteer service in recognition of my role on the #communications committee as project manager & webmaster for the Art League’s new website. Thank you, ArtLeagueRI for this award — I aim to live up to this level of service in future years ahead.
About Art League Rhode Island:
The Art League of Rhode Island (ALRI) was formed based on a shared vision to encourage and foster artistic recognition and growth among Rhode Island Artists. ALRI was incorporated with a goal to contribute, encourage, and promote integrity and excellence in the arts in Rhode Island. The Art League of Rhode Island numbers among its founding members some of Rhode Island’s most prominent artists working in a wide range of media from painting to furniture making.
As my life has gotten much busier in the last couple weeks of my studio sabbatical in March, and has accelerated much through April, I’ve (unfortunately) relied upon my studio to become the dumping spot for unsorted mail, random scraps of unfiled paper, paid and unpaid bills, and miscellaneous boxes that have somehow accumulated from other places. It had gotten to a point in which I kept the doors closed so that guests would not be able to see the so-called “creative mess” behind them. There are messes, and there are creative messes, and this certainly was not one of the latter. The busy-ness of my life had crept not only into my studio time, but also into the physical studio itself.
Something had to change.
I have a commission to work on, but I just could not get started while standing in the smallest clearing in my studio space. I brought out the trashbags, the shredder, and armed myself with some extra shelving units so that I could create spaces where things could be put back into their respective places.
Over the course of a solid two days’ work, I made a clear dent in the Clutter Monster that had taken up residence in my studio.
Any time I clean the studio, it’s on one of three levels:
- Level 1: Surface Clean: throw things into drawers and make piles that look neat enough to be barely presentable to a visitor
- Level 2: “Presentable”: Throw out some stuff, clean one or or two surfaces, but those things thrown into drawers and cabinets remain covered.
- Level 3: Operation Deep Clean & Move Things Around: Make a thorough sorting, throwing out, filing, and reorganizing of the entire space, including moving furniture — and yes — finally clearing out the drawers and cabinets stuffed from Level 1
While it took a considerable amount of time to clean, I feel so much better, so much more creative. It also gave me enough space to clearly look at my studio and reevaluate how the space was working for the types of projects I currently work on. Previously, most of my paintings were between 10×10-16×20, easy enough to store in portfolios or a small rack I have. Now that my next series will be a bit larger (I’m thinking 30″ x 40″), I need to develop a system of storage that works best for bigger paintings.
I moved a center working table by just rotating it 45 degrees from being square with the walls to being on a diagonal — and I might as well have completely renovated the whole space! That one simple change helped to make the space feel larger, and helped to add to a better flow in the space.
I also added some adjustable table legs from Ikea to an existing tabletop to create an area for photographing small works and packing and shipping orders from my Etsy shop, while doubling as storage for unused, blank 30×40 canvas underneath. I added a shelving ridge on one clear wall to serve as a “critique” area upon which any finished or in-progress painting can rest and be viewed from a distance for evaluating the next step in its painting progress. It’s an idea I’ve wanted to implement before, but I didn’t have the clear space at that point yet to make it happen.
I wish I had some “before” photos to show you exactly how it started out, but I’ll just let you imagine how the whole desk space in the photo below was covered in up to three inches in random papers, magazines, receipts and miscellany. Now, every time I look at the surface, I breathe in a deep sigh of contented relief and here the choir chime “Ahhhhhh.”
Now to develop a system that keeps the studio exactly the way I want it to remain…
Since starting off the New Year with commencing a Studio Sabbatical, I have found it a bit more challenging to get into the studio as often as I intend. With that, I spent the entire day today in the studio, and once I was in there, I knew that it was where I belonged. When I do clear the time to dedicate to being in the studio from sunrise to sundown, I am tired but invigorated from the experience.
I have been working on a series of small studies in working out a particular painting technique that I last used several years ago before I make the final painting for a commission inspired by “Autumn Rain,” an oil painting with the feel of looking out a rainy window in October.
In the first study, the painting was created entirely using a palette knife to add thick daubs of paint, then using a palette knife with stand oil to smear the colors together down the length of the painting. After that point, gravity takes over and the very viscous stand oil continues to drip slowly down the canvas. In the first study, I found that the paint daubs weren’t grounded well enough in the canvas, so the stand oil just continued to pull down the paint over time, exposing the substrate, and marblizing the paint at the bottom.
In the second study, I decided that the paint needed to be more solidly grounded into the canvas, so instead of applying the paint daubs with a palette knife, I used a round brush, rubbing in thick paint on the canvas, followed by smearing the painting with stand oil on a palette knife. I was pleased with the outcome of this study, until I came back the next day to find that most of the stand oil had continued to drop downward, but did not hold the color of the paint, leaving a sheer gloss over the uncovered paint daubs. My evaluation after these first two studies is that I used too much stand oil, and that I should instead use more brushwork in lieu of the palette knife.
I was finally pleased with the outcome of trying a third technique. Using a thin round brush, I applied the vibrant paint colors of autumn as though I was painting the foliage just outside my window, blending the colors and layering each color. Then rather than using a palette knife to apply the stand oil, using a fan brush I lightly applied the stand oil to the foliage, using a lot less oil than the previous two studies. I guess the third time’s the charm!
Now after working on these 8×10 studies, it’s time to get to painting the 18×24 master painting!
With the new year of 2016, I am starting a Studio Sabbatical January 1st – March 31. It is my intent to set aside this duration of time to return to work in my studio with more focus, regularity, and intentionality. Through re-allocating a shift in time lost to my busy schedule, I aim to work out some new concepts that I’ve had in the back of my mind and sketchbook for a while. I look forward to working out these concepts on canvas and in mixed media. It is my intent to continue this conversation and share my process and ideas through more documentation, blog posts, and social media.
There’s nothing quite like having a leaky roof in the art studio a few days before a major art festival to dampen the evening. Nothing that a few towels and several strategically placed buckets can’t help.
After adding some darker neutrals to add some contrast and depth to the painting, I go back in with a lighter lilac mixed color and sprout some energetic bursts around some of the curves in the forms. There’s still even more to do that I have ideas to add to this painting!
As I continued working on this painting, to balance out the lighter, bold colors I’ve chosen, there comes a point when I must introduce a darker neutral to balance the overall distribution of values and hues in the painting. In this (Phase 7) I have added some textured darker-brown areas, lending themselves to aid in grounding the painting.
The other day, I was in my studio, painting away. Sometimes when I paint, I just dabble my brush in the paint and apply a few brustrokes every few minutes, as I stop to pause often to consider the direction that I will take the painting in. Although, to be fair, there are many times that my painting takes me somewhere else instead. Today was one of those days that my painting took me somewhere. Instead of where I thought I was taking it.
This is the best time for painting…because I become so absorbed in the act of applying paint to brush and brush to canvas that I forget to breathe. Literally. I only realize that I have not breathed in a regular fashion when I finally step back from the painting and inhale a long, deep breathe, and exhale long and deeply. It’s as though my body, mind and whole being become so engaged and focused on the brushwork at hand that one breath could render my hand slightly off the line I’m creating.
It might sound strange, but I am glad when I get to the place that I forget to breathe while painting. It is a signal to me that sometimes in the act of artistic creation, the act of exhaling the work I’m rendering is more crucial than inhaling the oxygen my body needs.
Now back to breathing.
While I work on an abstract painting, either large or small, I will rotate and flip it around to view what the visual weight and balance is of each color and series of shapes and lines. In this particular Phase 6 of this series, I have also added in some more yellow-greens that I’ve mixed with a greater proportion of liquin, so that the layers appear more translucent, to be able to view the paint layers beneath.