Artist Residency: Day 6

On day 6 of my artist residency, I think I reached that point, not of no return, but of obstacle and tiredness. I’ve been working so early and so late each day that I think that the physical wear and tear from these intense days is catching up with me, because today’s adventure hit a few roadblocks.

I began painting at 7am and worked on the next section of building up the texture with adding more paint daubs to the winter rain painting. Just as I was getting my groove, I almost forgot that I was scheduled to attend a seminar on online marketing for small businesses — a topic that is of interest to me and to communicating about my art and design business. The seminar was well attended and presented good information, but I couldn’t wait to return to the studio to keep painting!

After that event let out at noon, I returned to the studio, and continued to paint. A good friend of mine, who is also an artist, visited me in the studio for a couple hours along with her 4 week old baby. I could tell that she was an artist dedicated to her craft in how she cradled her baby in one hand as he slept, and continued drawing with the other hand. 

My friend and her little one left around 5pm, then I took a short dinner break and continued painting. I was just about to start smearing the pink-toned canvas with the pastel colors, but then in my clumsiness, my foot bumped the leg of the easel, and then this started a downward chain reaction — the painted wobbled, bumped the jar of paint thinner, which fell off the table and onto the floor, spilling all its contents. In my haste to try to catch the jar, I bumped the painting even more, causing it to fall off of the easel, and barrel towards the floor. I reached for it, smudging a big area of the blue-sky area of the painting, but the wet painted edge had already made contact with the wall and the carpet.

*** *** Breathe *** ***

(Just recalling the incident gets me all shaken up). I threw things out of the way and started to grab any rags or paper towels I could to be able to soak up as much of the spilled paint pigment & paint thinner as I could. I cannot express just how angry and frustrated I was that this all happened — and right as I was already feeling like I was a little bit behind on my projected work plan — now this was going to set me behind even more.

I had to walk away and calm down — so I went and put on an episode of Bob Ross’s The Joy of Painting, since I wasn’t feeling to joyful at that moment. After watching the making of some “happy trees,” I calmed down and returned to the mess (how can you not calm down after watching Bob Ross?)

With a clearer head and an action plan, I moved the canvas, secured it more tightly to the easel (this time with extra clamps) and proceeded to start the smearing from top to bottom with stand oil on the painting that had fallen. I cleaned up the smudges from my attempt to rescue the painting from its fallen demise.

My husband returned later with the Bissell spot cleaner and dove straight into scrubbing the spot for me — upon his insistence that he help me in this way. Grateful for his help with cleaning up the rest of what seemed a disaster, I said I’d give him a shout-out for being such an amazing husband: I have an amazing husband and he came to my rescue in my moment of need!

So the lessons here are:

  1. Get enough sleep each night
  2. Watch your feet
  3. Put a cover on your jar of paint thinner when it’s not in immediate use.
  4. Keep a spot cleaner and carpet stain-cleaning solution in your studio if you have a carpet.
  5. Start a fund to install easier to clean hard-surfaced floors.

A Productive Day in the Studio

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! 

This is the start of a painting.

This is the start of a painting.

Photo progression of the layers of paint used in the creation of this painting to be posted soon.

Photos from the Studio

My sister, Megan Brask, is a photographer and came by my painting studio for some inspiration one day. Here are some of the photos around my studio she took. More of her photography can be found at  http://www.facebook.com/meganbraskphotography

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