Living Room

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Living Room  18″ x 18″  watercolor

Now  can you see why I love watercolor?

It’s translucent.  I can create very light lights, very dark darks and very bright colors.  It’s been almost 3 years since I played with watercolor and now I’m remembering what I loved so much about it.

I’ll take you for a walk through the method of my madness:

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First I tackle what I see as easiest.  It calms my nerves because there are areas of a painting I have absolutely no idea how to tackle.  The couch and table are nice big blocks which define the space and allow me to avoid the bouquet which I am still really thinking about…

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Next, I go for the pillow and carpet in the back. There’s a lot of detail in these.  I will even go on to fix them later, but it still seems like tackling these are going to be a lot easier than tackling those flowers.

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Next, I tackle the houseplant.   Do you get the sense I might be avoiding something?  I lightly block out the vase and sketch the flowers in pencil more thoroughly because I know I’ve reached the point where I have to tackle the flowers whether I have a game plan or not.

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The thing I’m so freaked out about is how am I going to paint the green sedum plant? 

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Now, this might make sense only if you are a painter, but let me try to explain it to those of you who are not.

With acrylic and oil paints they are solid, opaque and you can paint many layers one a top of the other, building up your image.  So if I were using acrylics to paint sedum, first I would  paint a dark background of green, then I would add the medium tones of green as layers on top of that and finish with layers of a light green. The top layer would be composed of tons of tiny light green dots denoting seed heads.

However, with watercolor it is the complete opposite.  The whites and the lightest shades of the green would be created by the absence of paint.  Those areas of the painting are simply the whiteness of the paper, not white paint.  The entire time you are painting, you need to not paint where you want it white (i.e. the white pillow is mostly composed of leaving the paper free of paint.)  So, if I want really light green seed heads, I have to not paint there.  That now means I have to create dark areas and medium areas around every single seed head.  As you can surmise, that’s pretty difficult.  There are thousands of tiny seed heads!

This is what made me tackle the bouquet last.  The solution I came up with, was to simply tell the quivering little chicken in my brain to SHUT UP and dive in.  I didn’t have an answer, I’m not even sure how I did it, but I got the paint to closely resemble the green sedum plant the best I could.

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From there my anxiety quieted down.  The little chicken in my brain stopped screaming “the sky is falling!  The sky is falling!” and I was able to push on to the zinnias and vase.

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The final part for me, is going back through with a clean wet paint brush and “lifting” paint out of the areas I want the lightest. Lift means to pull up and remove the paint on your paper.  Take a look at the photo below.  Can you see how I create stronger contrast in the green houseplant and the pink flower petals? I lifted some of the paint out to make white reflections.

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With acrylic paints I would simply add some white paint to create highlights, but for water colors I removed the paint to reveal the white paper.

Totally,  different theories and applications.

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Painting can be like a large puzzle that hurts your brain to figure out.

But I have to say, that must be what keeps me coming back :)

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Backdrop

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For the past two weeks, I’ve been posting photos of my latest jewelry creations.

I wondered if any of you had noticed the backdrop?

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Did you guess right?

I found this crate of children’s blocks in a dumpster behind a kids consignment shop.

Yes. I was digging through a dumpster.

No. I have nothing else to say about that ;)

When I looked in the crate, these weren’t modern-day made-in-China building blocks.  Instantly, I could tell these were made by hand.  Each piece was not perfect.  You could tell which blocks were cut from the same piece of wood.  But my favorite attribute was the color/paint/patina.  These blocks have a wax finish, so as they have been played with and toppled about, they have gotten even prettier with age.

I mention this , because it’s darn hard to make jewelry photos look interesting.  I was hunting around the house for dishes and boxes.  I pulled out some fabric to try to create an interesting backdrop, but they were all boring.

Then I remembered the crate out in the garage. Blocks.

Blocks?  Could I?  Should I?  Hmm… they are just the right size for jewelry.  I can build with them which will allow my pictures to have visual depth.  This might just work…

Scroll back through my last few posts and take a closer look at the backgrounds.  Then look at the photo in this post where I scale back and you see the jewelry on my table in a pile of blocks.

I think I got some pretty cool effects.  All it took was thinking outside the box and a little dumpster diving.

You might want to try it.  Just sayin… :)

 

I Have my Evil Eye on You

I blame my morbid curiosity for the Illuminati on my children.  I don’t know why it has infiltrated the 5th grade, but the kids flash each other triangular hand signs and point out the countless eyes, pyramids and triangles throughout our daily lives.  Free Mason architecture is all throughout New England which just fuels their imagination. My son is always taking his magnifying glass to money and even our family photos have the four cousins creating a pyramid.  Each time the kids yell out “Illuminati Confirmed!”  They believe man.  They get it.  The world really is a conspiracy!  

Boy oh boy.  Lately, I almost want to go there and believe it with them.  Secret societies.  Big brother watching with it’s electric eye.  Those with power and wealth trying to keep “the man” down.  When one is feeling helpless, there is comfort in explanations, alternative fact/fake news or not :)

The flip side of the eye motif is the Evil Eye.  Many cultures have adorn themselves and their homes with eyes to watch over them, protect them and ward off evil.  Again, superstitious or not, it brings people comfort.

Myself, I think of it like that college anthropology major.  I’m simply fascinated by relics and humans attachment to them.  I love to study people. I love to study things.

My observation:  thousands of years ago until now, humans haven’t changed much.  We all seek comfort from the fears of the unknown.

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Creepy Crawlies

This post is devoted to all the strange animal findings I collected this trip.

A crab.  A deer head with antlers?  Owls & birds.  But my favorites are the insects.  Probably because I’m an avid gardener.  All the creepy crawlies are my friends.  Boy, do I miss them. Weird right?  I love digging in the earth. smelling it. Watching every inch of my yard teaming with life.  Our fence has carpenter bees boring throughout.  I know, I know, I’m supposed to get them exterminated, but it is amazing how they go into the hole and a couple of minutes later you can actually see them push the saw dust out.  If they were attacking my house, that would be one thing, but the fence is like a science channel show.  I love science channel shows! Here’s another one: I still remember watercolor painting outdoors sometime back and a baby praying mantis the size of a popcorn kernel was hanging out on my painting.  For at least two hours this tiny thing was running back and forth on the paper.  I couldn’t kill it.  I didn’t want to swat it away because how often does a praying mantis hang out on ones painting?  So I just worked around it.  Kind of laughing.  Totally amused.

Oh and birds.  The birds. Yeah, birds are my other FAVORITE.  I’m a little obsessed.  I nearly run myself off the road staring up at the hawks and blackbirds that seem to be in the sky every time I drive.  I guess I probably shouldn’t admit that one :)

In a nut shell, I love nature.  I love color. I definitely love sparkle.  Creating jewelry with the occasional grasshopper. Totally awesome!

 

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Flower Power

Flowers are so cliché.

I know, I know, but I just can’t help it!

I love them. They are such a wonderful way to use color and pattern. These pendants are jam-packed with rhinestones. Many of them vintage. When the stones get old they have this distressed patina to them which I actually like.  It reminds me of playing in my grandmother’s junk jewelry drawer when I was little. Everything seemed so fancy and sparkly in there. Most of her pieces were from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.  It’s a fond memory and clearly influences my jewelry work.

I just got the postcard for the show I’m in this weekend. It’s a cute card.

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It looks a little 1950’s inspired itself!

Flying High

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I’m continuing to work on my own stamps to create texture on my pottery.

This is a bird series. What is fun, is that every piece has a different pattern on its opposite side. I made a bunch of bird bodies, but I made the wings separate stamps. This way I can change the trajectory of the wings to simulate different flight poses.  Instead of only having three bird stamps, I will have six bird bodies and 12 different patterned wings to choose from.

I also made stamp pieces of a tree.  Each piece of the tree can be flipped to create more irregularity in my tree pattern.  I can stamp in many different variations of a tree depending on how many times I stamp them.  Little tree or big tree.

I am making some large bowls right now.  I’ll try using them and send some updates of how they work.

Have a great weekend everybody.  I hope you all get to do something creative :)

Little Field Study

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So let me quickly explain what “mixed media” means to those of you non-painters.

 When it comes to art galleries, museums and art publications, an artist needs to very specifically categorize their art. Here are some classic examples.  Oil painting, acrylic, pen and ink, gouache, watercolor, pastel, … you kind of catch my drift…

Well “mixed media” is the term the industry has coined for any artwork that uses more than one medium.  I don’t know where in my schooling I got this notion, but I was always made to feel like mixed media was a lower, non-purist, uneducated art form.  That’s pretty loaded huh?  Some artist/teacher/adult taught me that and like Adam, I bit that apple.  I think in art there is this “purist” thing which now that I am getting a little older, I would like to re-term an “ego” thing.  If you can put people and their work in a category, then you can compete against one another. Then you can have “the best” in show and don’t we all want to work so hard to compete with our peers to be the best???

Ugh, I’m exhausted with this premise and I’m only in my forties.

Now, when you go to art shows and you see “mixed media” near an artwork title, pretty much it’s a lump word that  means – more than one medium.  Think of all the categories above. If you simply add a tiny bit of charcoal to your acrylic painting, you are – mixed media.  If you add a tiny bit of gouache or acrylic to your watercolor painting – you are mixed media. God forbid you glue anything to your artwork, you are mixed media.  Of course any type of collageis – mixed media. This leaves all of these artists lumped into the “we don’t know what to do with you category”. For award giving,  “purists” are being compared apple, to apple, to apple, to apple…. For mixed media artists, award giving is comparing apple, to orange, to pineapple, to egg…. No one fits per say. Maybe that’s what gives the industry it’s uneasiness. I also  think there’s a rich vs. poor thing going on too.  Poor people can’t afford the best art supplies nor can they afford the proper education to know the rules. Great industry to be a part of right?

I mention this because for me, wanting to work in “mixed media” obviously has loaded negative connotations.  But guess what?  I LOVE MIXED MEDIA. I really love artworks that use ALL THE ART MEDIUMS ALL AT ONCE.  Why not?  Who says you can’t?  I want to use charcoal, paint, pencil, gold leaf, and spray paint all in one work of art.  Why is that such a bad thing?  Why do I feel like I will be judged poorly for doing so?

I think of the most famous mixed media artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat.  I am pretty sure he wasn’t thinking “Gee, what are the leaders of my industry going to think about my art and art practice? Hmmm?”  Nope. He was a street artist, a gritty-city graffiti artist who used whatever he found on the streets to get his vision across.  Racism, poverty, segregation, social inequality.  He was feeling it and he was expressing it.  When you look at his work, it is raw.  It is loaded with power, anger, inquisitiveness and humor.  Somehow mixing all the art mediums, packs this visual punch.  There’s so much to look at.  In this genre, there is a contemporary mixed media artist I love and admire, Mitsi B Kral. Click on her name to see her work.  Mitsi has these great YouTube videos.  When you watch her, you clearly see she doesn’t give a crap about being a “purist”.  She is just blasting music, scribbling, painting, gluing, spray painting, pretty much going nuts on a canvas. Her work again is raw and expresses so much emotion to me.

I love mixed media. It’s crazy and free.

But, Just when I think I am crazy and free, I find that really, I’m not.  I have all these rules in my head and I don’t even know where they came from. They’re clearly un-examined.  So for me, wanting to be wild and free at least when it comes to painting, is going to take a lot of practice.  First I have to challenge every preconception I have.  I have to undo every classicly-trained art lesson I’ve ever had. Dump all of it and try to uncover what’s under there.  What is my raw unexposed self?  Beats me.  What do I care so strongly about that I find ways to express it through my art and share it with the world? Beats me.  But it sure seems more interesting than painting a still life of some grapes.

So this is a little taste of the mental garbage rolling around in my head.  I am such an over-thinker/over-analyzer. My step-father used to ask me how I could even wake up every morning?  He’s got a good point.  Maybe if I go to a therapist, they can teach me how to stop over analyzing and then I will be the best painter in the world.  I’m thinking world-domination good! Mhew Ha Ha Ha Ha <- that’s an evil maniacal laugh by the way.

OK. I think I’m losing it. Something tells me I need to stop.  I should step away from the computer and simply just try to make a little more art.

OK… OK … I’m going… I’m going…

 

Second Field of Grass

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Yesterday, I mentioned I didn’t have the attention span for pointillism. When faced with painting tall grasses in this painting, I decided to take a different route. There are probably 30 layers, but instead of hand painting thousands of dabs of paint, I took my palette knife and scratched the paint off to create the line work. When you are standing in front of the painting it looks really life like. As if someone had just trampled through creating a path in the grass.

This technique didn’t drive me as crazy as the pointillism did. I will be adding it to my bag of tricks :)

Lotso-Pots

This week, I got to play with my new hand-made pottery stamps.  Way too fun.  Way too addicting.  Can’t wait to see how they come out.  Working with the stamps is firing off all sorts of ideas in my head!

Here’s a bunch of other things that have come out of the kiln:

I’m still painting too… will have some paintings to show hopefully next week.

As I like to think and say…

Keep on keepin’ on and bein’ creative!