Artist Residency: Day 9

For the 9th day of my in-studio artist residency, I approached the studio with a sense of urgency — I had to complete these next two paintings by tonight in order to achieve my goal of 6 paintings, because tomorrow, my artist residency ends. Tomorrow my life returns to the usual obligations, tasks and distractions. I have today…I have right now.

So without hesitation, I jumped into my painting apron, and started right away on touching up the drips on the autumn rain painting — using a fan brush to feather out some of the hard lines as the colors had dripped side by side.

IMG_1315I needed to start in on my 6th canvas, so I moved the spring rain painting, which was mostly dry to the touch (albeit a little sticky), to the drying rack to join its friends winter and summer rains. I began added paint daubs in sunrise colors to this newly blank canvas — oranges, golds, reds, and dark deep purples and ultramarine blue.

It came time to start the “smear campaign” on the sunset painting, as the paint daubs from yesterday were still wet. I dribbled stand oil lightly all over the canvas with a palette knife, then lightly pressed into the painting and dragged downward in vertical lines from top to bottom, cleaning the palette knife in between.

IMG_1305Then I moved to the sunrise rain painting, added stand oil in light drips across its surface all the way from top to bottom. I left the stand oil to drip while I grabbed a quick lunch and finished writing and publishing yesterday’s blog post, then I went to work feathering out the drips on the sunrise and sunset canvases.

I think that sometimes an idea turns out just the way you had envisioned it, and sometimes it doesn’t. The colors looked great for the sunrise rain painting when I had blended in all the colors together using a dry brush technique before applying the stand oil. After a few hours, the stand oil had dragged the navy/ultramarine blue color all the way from the top down to the yellow at the bottom, causing the colors IMG_1313to run muddy, and dark, looking murky and dirty — which is not the effect that I had hoped to achieve. It this were a clay creation, I would have rolled it up into a ball and started kneading it all over — but it is a painting. So the next best option I had was to apply odorless mineral spirits to a rag, and rub away some of the dark muddy paint mixing, much like an eraser. Once those dark drip lines were gone, I was much happier with the outcome. Instead of trying to re-drip the stand oil on this particular canvas, I will instead wait for this layer to dry, then I will apply thicker paint dubs in this colors, and then apply the stand oil and smear. The viscosity of the stand oil has generally keep the colors from mixing in a dark, murky tone.

As this artist residency draws to a close, I have mixed feelings. I’m joyful and blessed that I’ve been able to spend 9-10 days intentionally in my studio to produce the beginning of a solid body of work. I’m thankful for the lessons that I’ve learned in making sure that my paints are taken care of, that my brushes are cleaned each night, and the discipline it’s taken to write a blog post at the end of each day to keep people apprised of the most recent day’s developments. I’m also feeling a little resentful that I can’t always spend this amount of time in the studio every day — I wish I could, and I hope to, at some point. But for the current time, being involved in a variety of different organizations, projects and being part of a community are all good tradeoffs for now. I will schedule another in-studio artist residency at some point again in the next year, as I found that it has reinvigorated my artwork in a way never before experienced — I felt like I was in art school again, working on something every day with a deadline and a fervor of eagerness to create. I’m going to hold on to these inspirational feelings and turn them into motivational actions to be more intentional in my daily art creation going back into my “regular” life.

Thank you for following along with my adventure here on this blog, and thank you for the many words of support and encouragement that I have received along this journey from the people in the blogosphere, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and from my community of friends, family and colleagues. Thank you for supporting and encouraging my art-making.

Artist Residency: Day 8

Day 8 of my in-studio artist residency brought with it a new burst of energy — realizing that my residency is winding down, but knowing that I still have at least two paintings to still make. I shifted my work plan to make sure that I would have enough time in these last two days to finish strong..

My first order of action was to add more paint daubs to the autumn rain painting on the easel, working in more golds and yellow-greens, sap green and some alizarin crimson re, followed by adding in blue gray daubs to the top quarter of the canvas, where the sky will be implied.

IMG_1234Once all the daubs were on and it felt ready, I began smearing the autumn rain colors down the canvas from top to bottom using a combination of palette knife and fan brush. Instead of obsessing over exactly how perfectly I wanted the colors to blend together as they dripped, I chose to walk away from the canvas for a bit, work on something else, and then return after the stand oil drips had dropped a little more, revealing which colors would stand out in the process.

I checked on the winter rain painting, and finding that it was dry enough to a light touch, I moved it from its easel to the drying rack to join its friend, summer rain. This opened up a new easel, upon which I put a blank canvas and started to work on a 5th painting.

I had to take a pause to revisit my sketchbook for the color studies and concepts that I had wanted to explore in this rain series, settling upon a sunset rain to be my next project. So I mixed up warm yellows, golds, pinks and purples and started daubing the canvas.


During a brief break for lunch and tea, I read an inspiring quote in Professional Artist magazine:

Inspiration is not like free-floating music that one can suddenly tune into — rather it is the result of sustained activity and strong intentions.
–Eric Maisel

This struck me because as many artists, I wish something would just *inspire* me with a marvelous idea — but it’s through constantly working through your artwork that a muse will come. This is how I’ve felt this week, as I’ve been working through the ideas I have for the abstracted rainy moments series.

IMG_1250I revisited the autumn rain painting, noticed how some of the drops had continued their drip, and used a large brush and fan brush to feather the surface and blend the colors together in areas where the surface needed a little adjustment.

Today, I made a resolution that I will finish 6 paintings during my artist residency this week (God-willing, of course), since I was already so very close. Time to continue the sustained push towards the finish line.

I finished applying more paint daubs to the sunset rain canvas, filled up the canvas, and have it ready to start applying the stand oil smearing technique tomorrow.

Phase 5 of Abstract Painting Process


In this phase, now I take my brush and go back and fill in some of the negative spaces created by the lines I’ve made in previous layers, lightening and darkening up some areas to suit the visual idea that I am pursuing while I am making this particular painting.

Phase III of Abstract Painting Process

Phase III of Abstract Painting Process

In Phase III, I have added a third color, with small shapes and filling in a few of the negative spaces created by the lines after the paint’s watery texture caused some of the yellow to drip down the canvas.

Art is an action…

r-letterArt is an action…

…art MOVES people.


Recessions, Depressions and Art

I don’t think that one can make it through any given day in this year of 2009 without at least hearing the words “recession,” “depression,” or “economic crisis.” These words are all on the news, they are in our conversations, and they embed themselves as fears deep within our hearts. We hear these words and perhaps are dragged down with the doom and gloom that they connotate. In the current “economic crisis,” I believe that it could be possible that an artist may begin to doubt their relevance in the culture or economy of the times. While healthcare and technology projected as the growing industry, let us not forget the relevance of art in these times. I am reminded of how it was through the circumstances tailing The Great Depression which aided the validation of the abstract artist and brought New York City to rival Paris as a hub of art culture.r-letter1

The emergence of the New York School came from the endorsement of abstract art by the United States government, by way of the WPA, the Works Progress Administration, affectionately called “The Project” by the artists, which was in charge of creating jobs and enhancing American culture during the Depression. When an artist for the WPA received a government check for painting murals around New York City, he was not just getting enough for his bread and milk, but it “brought to the artist for the first time in America the realization that he was not a solitary worker…[that] he was no longer…talking to himself.” This quote by Edward Bruce reflected how art became a public service, and how it endowed artists with a sense of purpose for their art. Their expression of angst, subjective existential crisis, or of political reaction mirrored the attitudes of their public counterparts.

Were it not for the pioneers in Greenwich Village who dared to depart from cubism and classical depiction painting, the art world may still be looking to Paris as its center. Motherwell, Pollock, Hofman, deKooning, Rosenberg, Rothko and all those associated with the abstract expressionist art scene in New York City revolutionized the meaning of paint application, expression, subjective reality, color and surface texture of paintings, now not only considered pictures, but “events.” Stretching the mind of the American viewers and stretching even further the European mind to take seriously the frantic paint-drips, blobs, splatters, strokes and attitudes embodied in the work of these artists. As Hans Hofmann said, “A work of art can never be the imitation of life but only, and on the contrary, the generation of life.”


“Why Abstract Art?” Part III: Abstract Purpose

What is the purpose of abstract art, you ask? There are many. Abstraction can be Continue reading

“Why Abstract Art?” Part II: Abstract Process

The long and expressive strokes of the “action-painter,” as such type of expressive Continue reading

An Artist’s Struggle

The artist strives to create in her hands what is beautiful in her mind, to convey the perfect idea to the perfect form. The struggle between the ideal and the real is fought continually, as the artist attempts to defy reality, to go against what is normal and average. Along the idea’s journey to completion, it must first pass through her heart, evoking the true passion and vitality that brings the idea to life, before it can be transferred from the brain to hand. It is the artist that takes what is inside her, and externalizes it in the form of an original work of art. The struggle between mind and matter is a perpetual battle that rages during the discourse of transferring an abstract mental image into a concrete, tangible piece.

Frustration ensues the inability to accomplish the task perfectly, when the form matches not the function, when the piece laughs in the artist’s face and screams, “Ha!” It is then that the artist must undertake the challenge, now more than ever, to overcome the barriers that keep her from creating perfection; to balance the form and the idea with the media that stands in between the former and the latter. The artist must mold and sculpt the idea as much as the media itself, until one compromises with the other, and the two may merge into that which is aesthetically pleasing and visually harmonious.

Like the lover and the beloved, an artist must love her creation, since it proceeded from her very own. It is this love, this passion, this will to overcome, this urge for perfection that drives the artist to continue viewing an imperfect world through an idealistic perspective, and is inspired to capture that in her work and continue in her upward struggle toward perfection.