I held a Pop-up Poolside Paintings Preview Party last weekend. What is this event? It is a combination of studio reception, part artist talk, and part just summertime fun! I thought up the idea a few months ago when I was thinking of combining two things I love to do –art and having people over for fun & food– as a milestone and celebration for completing 10 paintings in a new series on time. I will get things done if I make a deadline for myself, and having a party to invite people to in order to get paintings done seemed like a good and fun idea.
On August 20, I participated in the 2nd Annual Looff Arts Festival at Crescent Park in Riverside (East Providence), RI. It was my first time doing this particular outdoor show, but I had heard good things about it from the public and from other artists , so I wanted to give it a try and see how it went. I should have made my checklist before everything else. Continue reading
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.
I 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.
Then 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 to 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.
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.
Once 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.
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.
I 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.
I can’t believe it’s already day 7 of my artist residency — I’ve been doing this now for one full calendar week, and I still have 2 days left. I started off by checking on the surfaces of the summer, winter and spring paintings — to see that there are no marred areas of the surface, and to check to see how dry/wet the surface still is. When checking the surface, I found that a few tiny bugs were also appreciators of fine art — they had attached themselves and immersed themselves into the art.
I reworked some of the surface of the spring rain painting, adding in some brighter spring colors over the stand oil and blending it in with a mix of paint and stand oil with a fan brush. I’m pleased with how the drips are coming along.
Since I created the summer rain painting now 7 days ago, I thought it was just dry enough to move from my main canvas to the drying rack. I very carefully moved it from easel to drying rack, being careful of the pools of stand oil that had accumulated on the very bottom of the canvas, where the canvas rested on the easel base. Fortunately, even though it was sticky, it was no longer runny.
Now I had a blank easel upon which to add a new blank canvas. I put my fourth canvas up on the easel, and toned it with a golden yellow color. This next painting will bring the series around to its seasonal full-circle, back to Autumn Rain (the one that inspired the rest of this series).
While I waited for some of the paint to dry a bit more, I took some time to add the “Art in Interior Spaces” section to my website, a page that shows some simulations for how some of my paintings would look “living” in different types of spaces: living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, offices, etc.
Having put up 4 canvases for painting this week, it was time to buy more canvas! I took a trip to my local art store and found the 40″x30″ canvases on sale for 50% off! I was so excited about the sale and about the new canvas that I bought all 6 of that size left in stock. While I was there, I also picked up a new, sturdier portable easel that can handle tall paintings.
Upon my return from art-supply shopping bliss, I donned my painting apron and added paint daubs of yellow ochre, yellow-orange, orange-red, cadmium red and alizarin crimson in mixed hues to the autumn rain canvas.
Feeling productive for the day, and also wanting to catch up on the sleep that the lack thereof seemed to ruin yesterday, I cleaned my brushes and went to sleep a bit earlier than the nights prior (after watching a quick episode of Bob Ross on Netflix, of course).
I realized that today’s day 5 marks the halfway point in my in-studio artist residency. I’m glad that I’ve got a lot that I had planned out accomplished, and I still have much to go. While I was drinking my morning tea, when I briefly checked into the Internet, I realized that I was two days behind on publishing my blog posts, so I took a little bit of time to compose, edit and publish the blog posts for the most recent two days. Since I have had people following this artist residency progress, I want to be sure that I’m keeping all my work documented here in this blog.
I toned a third canvas, setting up a spare easel that had been folded up in a corner of my studio. This third canvas I toned using a pastel pink color. I began applying the first layer of paint daubs to the canvas in pastel pinks, lilac, yellow, orange and a mint green.
During my lunch break, I set up my living room to be a backdrop against which to take a few photos of art hanging in a living room. I should set up every room at some point to be the backdrop for a photo session, because that corner of my living room looks the neatest it’s been in a while. I will process the photos themselves tomorrow — I ran out of time before I had to get going to arrive at the art class that I’m teaching this summer to a children’s summer program.
Today’s art class encompassed using the pinch pot method of molding clay to make a small mug or bowl. Right after the class ended I had to take a quick trip to the store to get some more odorless mineral spirits, what I use for my paint thinner.
Upon returning, I used the photos of my artwork that I had processed from Monday’s photographing session of my paintings currently still in the studio to create images of examples of how my paintings would look hung in different spaces. These photos help to demonstrate how the colors and scale of the different paintings could appear in different setting, in different rooms. I took some time to show what the paintings could look like on the wall in a living room, or dining room, or kitchen.
I ended the day with painting more daubs on the pink toned canvas — ready to add more to it tomorrow (day 6)!
Day 4 of my in-studio artist residency started off mainly the same as some of the other days — waking up, having tea, reading, then starting in on painting at 7am. I have enjoyed starting this early, as I am the most productive during my painting blocks of 7am-Noon.
I’ve already got one canvas all painted and ready for small touch-ups. I thought, why not start a second canvas? I have one main big easel, and I have a second French easel in the other corner of my studio. I prepared a fresh 30″ x 40″ canvas, propped it up on the French easel, and began to tone the canvas with a pastel shade of purple, very lightly applying the paint.
When that was done, I returned to my main canvas for the yellow-green painting, and saw that the colors had moved south quite a bit overnight. To touch up the blending of the colors as they descended the canvas, I took a fan brush and applied a little more stand oil, very lightly, blending the colors in together so as to remove any hard lines or spots. Studying how the composition of the colors panned out, I directly applied a few paint spots, feathering in the color on stop and in the stand oil.
I worked mainly today on the purple-toned canvas. After toning the canvas, I applied paint daubs loosely with a large brush in hues of pastel whites, blues, lavenders and periwinkle and mint green. Over all these daubs I added even more white. I used a thick brush to later blend the colors into one another so that there wouldn’t a blank spot anywhere on the canvas. The intention of this next canvas is to reflect an impression of the colors of the New England winter experience.
After my lunch break, I lightly poured stand oil over all the wintery daubs of color, and then used a combination of palette knife and fan brush to run the colors together as I pulled the pigments down towards the bottom of the canvas. Like my other methods in this series, now it’s up to gravity and how the drips from the stand oil and pigment continue their journey of slipping slowly down the canvas surface.
In the evening, I took a good chunk of time to go through and process all the photos that I had photographed of my artwork the day before. Lots of tea, cropping and adjusting levels and lighting later, I had finished processing the artwork photos so that they’re ready to be added in to update my website in the near future.
Today was the first day of my artist residency of being fully in the studio without any interruptions — on the first day I had to run a program until noon, and then yesterday was an outdoor festival in which I had my art booth and painted live on site (read Day 2 post). So when I woke up this morning, I was beaming with excitement at the productive art-work day ahead!
After completing my morning tea, I neatened my studio and prepared for the photographer to come to my studio. I had made an appointment for a photo session for her to take photos of my studio of me painting-in-action. I had realized that I can take all the best photos in the world of my own paintings, but I’m usually not in them. It struck me that this artist residency week would be the perfect time to check that goal off my task list. After clearing off spaces and shoving random un-photographic things into cupboards with closing doors, I was ready.
If you haven’t gotten yourself intentionally photographed while in the middle of doing something you love, give it a try sometime. It made me feel both self-conscious and like a movie-star at the same time. I couldn’t be happier with my photographer, Tiffany Axtmann Photography — she not only snapped well-lit and expertly composed photos, but she went above and beyond the important details, like letting me know that I needed to shift my body posture, or if a hair was out of place. I gave her the freedom to objects and furniture around things in my studio in order to get the best shots possible, and she took command of the session in a way that enabled me to be confident in my poses, smiles, and painting. I can’t wait to see how the photos turned out! (Don’t worry, you’ll get to see them on my Facebook Page once they’re ready and throughout my website as I update the images on my website.
Since I had just finished getting photographed, I thought it was only appropriate that I put my inventory of paintings through the same rigmarole. It’s been my goal (for awhile now) to take new photographs of my paintings to update my website — so I decided to carpe the diem and got out my camera. I hung a white curtain as a backdrop over a wire grid wall that I used for hanging finished works for display, and rotated the whole configuration so that it would face the two windows with the most diffused sunlight pouring in. This process of bringing all my paintings out of their shelves and portfolios felt akin to cleaning my room eons ago — where I found find paintings that I had forgotten were at the back of the shelves or the bottom of a forgotten portfolio. Rediscovering some of these past paintings brought back memories. Photographed all my paintings today — CHECK!
During the portrait photo session, completed a decent portion of the yellow-green painting that I had worked on while at the Hunts Mills Festival (see progress here), adding in light blues and grays into the upper quarter of the canvas. After taking a short break for lunch (and having to drop off my husband’s car at the mechanic for an oil change), I began the next phase of this painting — the part where I lose creative control of the outcome.
The “abstracted rain” series that I’m working on (see here, here, and here for the process) involves painting daubs of oil paint all over the canvas, and then smearing the colors down the canvas with stand oil — and to a certain extent, the stand oil does what it wants. After I use a bristle brush to apply strong pressure to the canvas while dragging it and the stand oil down the canvas, I took a fan brush and lightly feather the “drips” up and down the canvas, to soften the edges, encourage other colors to blend that weren’t blending, and to ensure that the background canvas isn’t left exposed from a “hole” in the drips.
A few hours later, I was relatively pleased with the direction, viscosity and volume of the drip effect — now to leave it overnight and see how much further it migrates during the nighttime.
To continue being productive but also dedicating time to the studio, in the evening after dinner (and sneaking in a quick episode of Bob Ross’s “The Joy of Painting” on Netflix), my goal was to re-organize all my art and design digital file folders on my computer and make a backup. As a graphic designer, as well as a painter, I have backlogs of multiples of images files and digital folders that have experienced entropic decay since at least 2009. I took the next 4-5 hours to re-file, delete, and back-up all my art/design business digital files into a system that will now be much more efficient. This is especially good to have a new digital home for photos of the new paintings to have a place to live once I finish processing those images.
Then, it was late, and I realized that I need to get enough sleep in order to have energy to have as productive a day tomorrow as it had been today!
Today I took my artist residency outdoors, to the Hunts Mills Festival in East Providence. The early morning involved selecting what to bring to the festival, packing my vehicle, and running back into the studio multiple times to get things I had almost forgotten before leaving at 8:30am.
Arriving, I found my assigned 10’x10′ plot (booth #11, in fact), and set up my pop-up tent, table, Graphic Display Systems grid wall, and two plain air easels. The official festival itself wasn’t advertised as open to the public until noon, so I got an set myself up for painting the next canvas in my “Abstracted Rain” series that I’m focused on during my artist residency. I had toned the canvas yellow the night before, and so I went straight to work mixing the colors on my palette and applying thick daubs of paint in various yellow and green hues all over the canvas.
Once the festival officially opened, there was a fairly steady stream of people walking by the booth — many would pause and watch as I painted live. I think I need to make a screen printed shirt that says, “Artist At Work — You’re invited to come closer, you’re not bothering me, I promise.” There were many people that in the corner of my eye, I could tell that they wanted to come into the booth, or talk to me about the painting, then when I said, “Hello,” they said, “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t want to bother you.” Please bother me to ask me about my art — that’s what I’m here for! I thought to myself (maybe that should be what I screen print on the back of my painting shirt!)
Throughout the day, I enjoyed interacting with people that asked about the “free art” that I had invited them to receive in the mail from me. People were invited to take any of the cards that made up the painting that I had prepped yesterday, put their name and mailing address on the back, and then I would finish the painting with additional embellishments, and they would receive surprise piece of this art in the mail in 2-3 weeks! All the art in this fun project was offered 100% free, unless they wanted me to take care of framing it for them for $10 (which a few did!) I did this project as a fun way to engage people to think about art, and to bring some delight to a mailbox that is already full of bills and junk mail.
One of the highlights of my day at the festival was interacting with a couple from Seekonk. As I explained the “free art in your mailbox” idea and as she selected which piece she wanted, I noticed the husband looking intently two particular paintings. He asked a couple of questions, and after some conversation, he ended up buying the painting! Both he and she were a delight to talk to, and I look forward to meeting up with them again when their free art is ready for delivery.
At the end of the day, I was exhausted, but invigorated. It had been a good day, and the first outdoor festival in which I had participated in a few years. After unpacking the car, and putting things back in order in my studio (I have a photo session the next day!) I put up my feet, and relaxed the rest of the evening with watching some Bob Ross on Netflix.
Today I began my 10 day in-studio artist residency. The goal of these 10 days of dedication in my art studio without distraction is to produce 3-5 paintings, and to take care of some other tasks I need to dedicate time for my art business.
My first act in my artist residency, after cleaning the studio was to make a cup of tea — some of my most artistically inspired moments came after contemplating over a cup of tea. Then I got to work on finishing painting the edges of the commissioned painting that had just recently been revealed to its recipient (read more here about the story & the big reveal!) I deconstructed the special framing I had improvised for putting both panels of a diptych on the same easel and separated them for the first time since birth — since diptychs are, in many ways, like conjoined fraternal twins.
After completing the edges (which took about an hour more time than I had planned), I moved onto setting up my new guerrilla painter pochade paintbox. At an art event tomorrow I will be trying it out for the first time when painting plain air, so I wanted to give it a test run in the studio first to ensure that all the parts would fit together properly (they originally sent me two left-side panels, so the box wouldn’t close until they sent the right part). I began a multi-part painting that is going to be an interactive piece with the public tomorrow at the outdoor festival at which I’ll be hosting a booth of my art.
In preparation for starting my first 30″x40″ “abstracted rain” series painting, took the plastic off the canvas and mounted it to my French easel in the corner of my studio — it’s a lot larger on that particular easel than other canvases I typically use. I toned the canvas using a bright and warm shade of yellow. Tomorrow I will begin placing the paint daubs of the rain colors while I’m in my art booth from 8am to 5pm.
Overall, it was a productive start to what I am hoping to be a productive artist residency.
Once I got the technique that I wanted to implement, it was time to tackle the full 18″x24″ blank canvas that I had been saving for this very painting commission, a painting inspired by my original “Autumn Rain.”
I used a lot more brushwork than palette knife this time around, and I applied each color, layer by layer, starting with yellows, yellow ochre-oranges, oranges, orange-reds, cadmium red, alazarin crimson, followed by a few dabs of yellow-green. I’ve included a short GIF below to show you some of the process, layer by layer.
When all is said and done, I’m very pleased with how the final product came out. This will be the first in a series of this style with different colors and “moments,” all on the same scale as 18×24. I’ve had the idea of doing this as a series for a long time now, and I’m excited to finally get started on finishing it! The sketches have been in my sketchbook for a few years, and it will be nice to bring them into reality.
I’ve compiled some of the photos and tweets that I posted during my participation at Booth 85 at the Wickford Art Festival here in a summary recap, in as close to chronological as I can recall. I’m still processing entries for the Name the Painting Contest from the second day, and will post the entries very soon for voting for finalists. Continue reading
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.
In this second layer of paint I’ve applied to the canvas, I add sweeping darker blue graphic lines. These will be part of the framework that I will wrap the rest of the elements around and through.