Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"Solitude" - why it will never be complete

"A painting is never finished - it simply stops in interesting places." - Paul Gardner

As I mentioned in my previous blog, the time finally came for me to start a new portfolio. I felt I should jump back to some of the “basics”. So I decided to go through Painting 101; get the feel of the brushes, the paints and the canvas. Keep in mind, this “class” took place in my home…. for free… by myself. Youtube can be a great site for learning new painting techniques by the way. For a warm up piece I envisioned an organic painting with neutral tones. Below is my initial sketch for the idea. 
I was leaning towards a flat graphic style rather than realistic. From the start, I had some concerns about the piece. Something emphasized over and over in college was to push yourself beyond your boundaries… your comfort zone… create something unique. For me, this was a little Pottery Barn-ish but I still liked the idea. And again, this was just to get my creative vision going. I finished my first draft and wasn’t all that happy. My tree looked a little too flat against the texture of the border.
 I dove right into creating some texture on the tree. Below is the 2nd draft. A little tweak here and there and I’d be done.

It still wasn’t quite right so I went back adding even more texture to the tree and I changed some of the border. This is what’s great about canvas… just keep adding to it. Or if you totally hate the piece, start completely over! Paint the canvas with gesso and you’re ready to start a new vision. 

I finally finished my 3rd draft and started to feel better about it. One more round and it would be complete, right?
I let the painting sit for a few days. Sometimes walking away from your piece will give you time to think about it and you’ll feel like you’re getting a fresh view when you come back to it. But something STILL wasn’t quite right. Sure, the few who saw it said it looked great but there was something bothering me. I threw it up on a wall and took a quick picture wanting to post the work on Facebook and have my friends and family critic. Was I barking up the wrong tree (no pun intended) or was I headed in the right direction for an awesome art piece? 

Well, if you’ve read my bio you know Bob Ross is my hero! I always take a deep breath when I make a mistake or my piece is not working out quite right and think to myself, if Bob Ross were here he would say there are no mistakes, only happy accidents. Taking this pic was my happy accident. There wasn’t necessarily a mistake made but in my rush to take the picture my painting suddenly had some added lighting. The yellow in the top corner was not the paint, it was from the light in my hallway…. But I loved the effect. And as some of my friends pointed out, it looked intentional because the highlights on the branches reflected the light perfectly. 

So after some feedback, I decided to go back at it. I created some balance by making the trunk bigger; added in the lighting effect; and added in one last leaf falling from the tree. My sister had this great idea and mentioned it would add to the solitude theme. This would be my last revision….

Or so I thought. Here I am with my “finished” piece… for now. The leaf needs to be larger considering you can barely see it in this photo. I think the tree could use some more texture through the larger branches. I could go on and on about tweaks I should or could make. 

Now go full circle back to beginning of this blog and reread the quote... Maybe one day I’ll go back and make a few adjustments, which will no doubt cause me to make further changes. And that’s the beauty of art. It never has to end. For now it’s just stopping in an interesting place.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Quotes to live by

“The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning.” – Ivy Baker Priest

I found this quote shortly after I started throwing around the idea of creating a website and blogging about my newest artwork. It seemed fitting considering the past year and how I decided to start creating new work and even try to sell some. As an artist your life should be your inspiration but at the same time that life can get in the way.

Rewind to a year ago and you’ll find me working my typical Monday – Friday, 8-5 job. Having recently purchased my first home my afternoons and weekends were filled with cleaning, painting, decorating and trying to figure out the basics of lawn care. :/ I learned the only green thumb I’ll ever have is one I’ve accidentally painted. I led a normal life for a late twenty-year-old, in my opinion. 

Needless to say, art was on the back-burner. Who would have time to create artwork when tasked with everyday cleaning, painting, ripping out a moldy bathroom, trying to install a French drain in the backyard? Well, looking back now… the ‘who would have time’ should have been ‘I could have made time’. Doing artwork is my meditation and during all of those tasks I needed to take the time to relax. (A shameless tag, check out my bio page at for more on my ‘meditation’.)

Skip to 9 months ago and all hell had broken loose in my life. Up seemed like down, left was usually right. If I had read the quote above back then… well let’s just say you would have either found me laughing hysterically or found me curled up under my desk bawling my eyes out in the fetal position. What can I say, I’m a woman and in stressful situations my emotions run amuck.

“The world is round and the place which may seem like the end” was definitely feeling like just that. The End. That’s where the quote stops. Period. The rest of my life I would be stuck in that one spot. What happened, you may ask? For the purpose of this blog, the Who, What, When, Where and Why don’t really matter anymore. The more precise question should be ‘What was destroyed?’ and the answer…. almost my entire art portfolio. I had the majority of my work literally ripped to pieces. 

So where do you go from there? Do you recreate them? Nope, we all know there’s no way to exactly recreate a piece of work and knowing myself all too well I’d always look at the new piece and wish I had the original. Do you throw the ruined pieces out? Nope, too painful to even think about! They’re still sitting in the back of my guestroom closet. I can’t even keep it out in the open. My stomach lurches every time I catch a glimpse of the portfolio and think about my poor, helpless art sitting inside of it. All the pride, the hours, the money, the aches and pains from sitting so long to complete them, Gone! So, what do you do? Well, if you’re lucky enough like me, you have a few amazing people in your life who pick you up… from under the desk, wipe your tears away and inspire you to create more. 

I’ve always told myself everything in life happens for a reason. Ivy Baker Priest's quote fits right in with my philosophy. And while I’d rather my portfolio had not been ruined, it was a kick in the butt to get my creative juices flowing again and start rebuilding my portfolio. So the place I’m in now that once seemed like the end is “only the beginning” ….

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Stay tuned for my first blog... I'll be discussing my latest painting and a quote to remember.

"A painting is never finished - it simply stops in interesting places." -Paul Gardner