Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Colored Pencil Work in Progress (or the most boring title for a blog post ever)

untitled colored pencil work in progress 8" x 10"
Prismacolor on bristol

I've been working on and off on this colored pencil piece since July of last year. Why has it taken me so long you ask? Because I am very impatient and sometimes I just get frustrated with how long colored pencil takes me.

I look at how much work I've gotten done in the last hour and realize that I could have accomplished the same thing with my watercolors and a hair dryer in about ten minutes. Which then makes me put this colored pencil piece away and go work on my speedier watercolors.

But still, there's something about colored pencils that appeals to me. A lot. I don't know if it's because it's more similar to drawing, one of my major loves in my art life. Or if it's because looking at a box of colored pencils with hundreds of color choices feels like the best grown up 'coloring' experience ever.

Probably both, but maybe a little more with that last one. I still look for excuses to color with my kids in their coloring books. So fun. :)

So, now that I've played around with acrylics and colored pencil I think I'm ready to get back at home with my watercolors. I kinda miss them. I have a couple of paintings that I'm REALLY excited about that I can't wait to get started on. I think that's one of the best thing about the whole painting process. The anticipation of getting started on your next great project. Don't you think?

See you next week everybody!


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

One Year Old. . . And Fear, my Arch Nemesis

"One Year Old'
10" x 10" acrylic on canvas

Here's my sweet middle child again when he was just a year old. I've been diving through older photos lately, searching for fresh material to paint and came across this one. I just can't get over those full cheeks and that awe struck expression. It brought back so many memories of when he was this age and how it felt to hold him warm and cuddly on my lap, his head resting against my shoulder and chubby arms wrapped around my neck. One of the best times of my life. :)

And this portrait was so much fun. Switching from my preferred medium to something else is one sure fire way to beat artist's block for me. Painting with acrylics is a totally different experience than painting with watercolors. It feels more therapeutic to me right now, the buttery feeling of the paint on the canvas is just awesome.


Oh, how I loathe thee.

You sneak up on me when I least expect it.

A spider cutting across the floor right after I've mopped it. You're cruel too, see?

Using all that sneakiness and cruelty, made me a little bit blind to your tricks. I'm not ashamed to admit that it took me longer this time to see you for what you really are.

You were the reason I had a nasty case of artist's block.

You were the whisper in my ear every time I sat down to paint. Telling me that I couldn't do it. That I would only fail, again.

"Why even bother?" you said. "It won't be what you expect it to be. You can't do it. You will fail."

I believed you.

Until one day, I had this thought. Who cares?

So what if I fail. Isn't that part of the game anyway? Failure is to be expected, planned for, maybe even praised. Failure has come to be my greatest teacher. Not the cool, fun teacher who lets you watch movies and turn in your homework late, but the teacher who actually helps you LEARN something.

 Failure is nothing to be afraid of Nemesis. Failure is my friend. :)

But Fear? Well, you're just an annoyance. A stumbling block. I'm done with you.

Take that!

Come back later with your super villain costume on and I just might take you seriously.

But, propably not. :)


So, my good friends, tell me, how do you beat the Fear of failure?

P.S. A quick apology to all those who've sent me emails that I haven't responded to yet. It's not because I don't love and appreciate them, and it's not that I don't plan on answering them, I do. I've just fallen behind on that and I have to ask you to forgive me and be patient with me. I'm getting there, I haven't forgotten you, I promise. And if it's been a while since I've visited your blog I'm sorry about that too, I'm working on it, promise! :) Are we still friends? Pretty please? ;););) (that's me batting my eyes at you)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Study in Black and White

"Chauncy" Giant Schnauzer
10" x 14" gouache

"There's no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face." ~ Bern Williams

"The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too."  ~Samuel Butler

I had been wanting to do a painting of our dog Chauncy for a long time. I'd done a sketch of him in this pose before, but I wanted to give it a try with paint too.

This also happened to be right in the middle of my block period, and I thought that a simple study in black and white might help me get over it.

It was a quick painting, I pretty much just left each stroke where I put it the first time (which really is what I've come to want with every painting I do lately). And I'm pretty happy with the result.

Special thanks and a hearty round of applause to all you out there who sounded off with ways to help me get through the block! You are all rock stars at the height of awesomeness. :) Thank you. :) For real. :D

I took your advice and stepped back from painting for a while. My kids were on spring break last week so I took the opportunity to play and hang out with them. This included picnics at the park, staying up late and watching movies and eating too much candy (I still maintain that there is no such thing as too much candy), going to the library and coming home with loads of good books, playing lots and lots of Wii games, and also getting my fanny kicked at laser tag.

Not by my sweet boys, heavens no. But by a pack of pre teen boys.

This has led me to believe that teenage boys with laser guns are heartless little beasts.

But I digress. . . back to beating the block: I didn't notice a real change until yesterday. My two older boys were at school and my youngest had finally went down for a nap. Huzzah!!

I sat at my desk with my colored pencils out in front of me, picked them up without procrastinating, and started to work. It was wonderful! I felt that joy again, that rush of creating something, and I knew that I was one step closer to pushing that block away.

Creativity really does ebb and flo doesn't it? We just have to remind ourselves of that when we're in the middle of one of those ebb times, or be lucky enough to be reminded of it by our fellow artists who are right there with us in the trenches of Making Art and Being Creative.

See you next week everyone!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My Middle Child, and Artist's Block

My Middle Child
10" x 14"

My sweet boy. My middle child.

 As different as my children are from one another they all have one thing in common, gigantically pure hearts. But of the three, this boy, has something else too. He has such a huge light inside that he's always, always willing to share with others. He has an almost infinite capacity to love and accept others, even those who are different. Sometimes drastically so.

And, he's always SO happy. Even when he's in trouble .

Which reminds me of something else that he has. An almost infinite capacity for mischief. Maybe that's to help balance out all that pure, tenderhearted sweetness.

I have to confess that during my two months away from the computer I did not do as much painting as I usually do. At first I told myself I was taking a well deserved break, that I'd get right back to painting later that night, or the next day, or the next day, or the next day.

But I didn't.

Staying away from painting slowly became a habit. One that I'm still working to break.

This painting was a struggle. And I can't really say why, it's a simple, straightforward pose, with beautiful lighting featuring one of my three favorite subjects.


I don't get it.

Ok, that's not entirely true. I know that it has something to do (probably a lot more than something) with my lack of painting time. My brushes started to feel like foreign objects in my hand, not the well known companions they had come to be.

 And even when I did make myself sit down and paint I found myself just sitting there. Staring off into space, cleaning my palette, organizing my brushes, anything but painting. 

It was frustrating. Still is.

When my computer crashed I was teetering on the edge of something that I'm not sure what to call. I was feeling massively burned out and exhausted with painting. It had become a chore, not a passion. And I hated that.

But lately, I'm starting to feel differently. I set the watercolors and paintbrushes aside and pulled out my colored pencils (which for some reason always seem to make me feel better). I'm working on a piece that I've set aside for months, and so far so good.

I'll let you know how it goes. Don't you be worried about me. I'm not giving up. I know this will pass because I ain't no quitter. 

Ever felt like this before? What do you to break through the block?

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