Friday, 29 April 2011

How does Working Work Best for You?

Today I have been in the studio from nine in the morning until two in the afternoon. During that time I took breaks and an hour for lunch. Since leaving the studio I had a bath in which I was reading Mail Art (do you read in the bath?) and getting inspired to try some. After that I came upstairs and have been sewing on the overtunic.

I realize that I don't post the way that I actually create. I have been saving up photos of painting in the studio, and different stages of my refashioning so that I can put all the painting photos in one post and the refashioning in another. So I can list all the steps in order and make it 'coherent'. But that isn't how I work.

In the past I have forced myself to stay in the studio working from 9am to 4pm. Sometimes it went well, other times it was torturous. Other artist friends talk of how they get into the 'zone' and time just disappears as they create. I used to wonder what was wrong with me. Time never disappears for me. I can be having a good time creating, I can be having a difficult time creating, but time is always there, ticking away.

I no longer think this means something is lacking in me. People are just different. We are wired differently and what works for one doesn't necessarily work for another. What works best for me is jumping around. I have about six paintings on the go at the same time plus a couple of drawings in the studio. They are at different stages. In the house I have 4 art journals going, and three refashioning projects. What works for me is a few hours on this, 30 minutes on that, 20 minutes catching up on emails, a snack, and another hour art journaling. All with breaks and changes. I am not sure, but I think I end up getting about the same amount done as when I used to force myself to stick to one thing.

And I am a lot happier.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

What a Difference Space can Make

Do you remember in my last post, where I said that I want to set up my desk so that I can use watercolours? Well, here is the before shot.

I am not a big slob, but I am not what you would call tidy or organised. Creative always seems to slide into disarray. I don't mind some chaos, but I do notice that the space I can actually work in tends to get smaller and smaller.
Here is the after! ta dah! I know it looks tidier and all that is very good but to be honest it won't stay like that for long. (the funny thing is that it still doesn't look all that, not like the pretty pictures in other art blogs with a rainbow of pens in spray painted jars and so on.) What does get me excited is that I brought up my watercolours from the studio and I can easily use them here, at my desk.

And that means - more drawing!
That is what I am excited about. How much difference it makes if I set things up so it is easy to be creative.
Since I bought this table and put the sewing machine under the window, it is much more conducive to me doing the refashioning. This kind of setting up is important. Not that you need to do it before you are creative - that can be another form of procrastination - but it is a form of honouring your creativity.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

In the Spirit of Drawing More

It isn't a recent drawing, but I added some colour yesterday. Is she wearing a tutu?

I want to set up my computer desk differently so it is easy to use my watercolours. I am not sure how I will do that yet.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

I Want to Draw More

You know, just fooling around.

I call this one Jacquie and the Beanstalk.

Are You Willing to Risk your Painting?

If a painting is going okay, are you willing to risk losing it to make it better? Do you remember me blogging this underpainting? If not, you can go back to the original post.

This painting was going okay. Pleasant enough. I didn't really think about it until I showed an artist friend my paintings in progress. His felt that the composition wasn't as strong as in my smaller works.

I immediately saw what he was seeing. Damn.
His advice was to stick with the smaller size.

But I wanted to try something different. What if I made the composition tighter, as if it were a smaller work?
Since I had done the underpainting in acrylic, this was definitely doable. I just had to redraw and repaint.
You can see that I am still struggling with working in acrylics.
All I am trying to do is create the new composition and get the drawing basically right. The fact that it looks all splotchy doesn't matter. This figure will eventually be covered in several layers of oil paint.
Now I put the vines in to see how the dark values in the leaves work against her figure. This is all compositional stuff. Where the figure is in relation to the support, how the values (light and dark) work in the painting, and the basic colours. All compositional stuff.
This is how far I will take the acrylic underpainting. It gives me the basic idea. My next step will be taking it into the oils.

I feel the new composition is a stronger statement. Whether that is better or not is a matter of opinion. Maybe it will be a little intimidating in the larger size? My other paintings are tiny, 9" x 12". This one is 15" x 20". It is a very different experience.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Inspiration for Refashion Projects

I had to start out with this photo just because it was so funny. I went shopping yesterday with a friend and we were having some fun in David Jones. You know, trying on the stuff you would never wear. I mean, you just don't know do you? There might be an alternate personality in there just waiting to be expressed.

Aren't these little hats hilarious? I get really tempted to wear stuff like this just because I think it is funny. Sometimes no one else gets the joke and then I feel self-conscious. But I am sure you guys will get it.
These bags are made from flannel. Cuddle your bag. I liked them but $300??? That is why they have locks on them. They looked like pretty simple construction.
Hey, here I am looking all glam. Two women walked by and told me how great I looked. I teased them about working for the store.
I don't feel very comfortable in ruffles, but I thought it kind of suited me.
Here is an interesting idea for a refashion. It looks quite simple. I am going to put it in my notebook as a starting point. I know it looks a bit like a rug - hey maybe I can find a thrifted rug to make one!
So now we are back at my place. This is my refashion table with my current projects. The dyed shirt up in the left, a thrifted shirt that I cut off the sleeves and collar. The denim purse up in the right corner. And my Laura Ashley dress.
I forgot to take a photo before, so I am holding up the sleeve so you can see. aeiii! Laura Ashley dress all the way. I guess it is actually an 80's Laura Ashley dress, the ones they sell now are quite different. The ones I remember have poofy sleeves and lace collars.
Here I have cut off the lacy collar and the sleeves. I am thinking jumper - pinafore to my fellow Australians. I will cut the neckline lower.
And here is my project with the thrifted man's shirt. I have cut in the armholes, lowered the neckline and turned it around so the buttons will go up the back. I want to make it into a kind of overtunic.
Here is the initial inspiration (another dressing room shot). I have two choices of fabric for the gathered part.
Which one do you think I should use? The diamond shapes on the left or the flower pattern from an old dress?

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Another Good Thing about Art Journaling

Part of what I love about Art Journaling is that you can try out stuff, even get it out of your system if necessary, haha.

When I did this page, I was fascinated by the whole drawing/painting/photographing dolls thing. I don't know why, well maybe I do. Dolls were a big part of my make believe play as a kid, they were magic stuff. They felt like real little people and we would go on adventures. So I guess it was about feeling some of the excitement I felt then.

Anyway, I felt this fascination but another part of me was groaning, "Oh Zom, you're not going to start painting dolls are you?" There are quite a few people painting dolls, and while that wouldn't stop me if I really needed to paint dolls, I wasn't comfortable with it.

So, ta dah, in comes the art journal. I can draw dolls to my heart's content and no one will see or know. (I know, I know, you are seeing and you know but that is different.)

Now it isn't that I will only allow myself to make them in my art journal, that could easily be just the beginning. It is more of a see-where-this-goes thing. I know better than to ignore or reject my muse, but that doesn't mean every inspiration gets its own painting series right away. It has to prove itself, show a little staying power.
I drew a few dolls. I photocopied my drawings and collaged them onto other pages and changed them around with paint and pens. I, well, played with my dolls in my art journal.

Then, much to my relief, I just naturally kind of lost interest and went onto other things.
Maybe I just had a bit more doll play to get out.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Rainforest Walk

My husband and I live on 80 acres of rainforest that we share with 5 other households. It is a beautiful place. Some people call it paradise.
I don't. Not because I don't love it, but because we have lived here 13 years and I am better acquainted. It is wild and enchanting, but if it is paradise it is one with poisonous snakes, deadly spiders, ants that sting, leeches, and ticks. It is a place where you keep your eyes open.
This morning a few of us met with a man who is helping us regenerate the property. We met up for a walk to see what he has accomplished. Like many places in the world this apparently wild forest has been mistreated through ignorance. There is a huge problem with introduced weeds that take over from the native plants.

We have already planted over 10,000 native trees. It is a huge undertaking.
I don't go into the forest often, and seldom alone. People do go in, it isn't that dangerous, but I feel more relaxed when with other people. I enjoy it on its edges where we live.
Today it was wonderful to go for a good walk. We have had a lot of rain but I didn't get any leeches and wasn't bothered by mosquitos. It was lovely.
There was a lot of climbing up and down hills.

Colour Matters

Remember these? Dyed them with a gorgeous blue dye. The topstitching all came out white, so I had to pick most of it out.
I am very happy with them now. I cut off the blue top on the left and made it a bit shorter. It is amazing what dye can do.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

An Underpainting, Beginning a Painting

I have begun another painting. This photo is where is where I have left her in the studio. It is really just an underpainting, most of it will be painted over with several layers.

Below is how I got to this point.
I am experimenting with doing my underpainting in acrylics. I am hoping this will get the whole process going much more quickly. Here I have drawn out the painting, just enough to indicate placement, and put down the first coat of ochre yellow.
Some printing with leaves. The top leaves are printed with gesso. Some more colour into the background.
Drawing in the figure a bit, to see how she looks against the background.
Seeing that, I decide to make the background darker. I am not worried about how she looks at this point. I know the drawing is off, but there is plenty of time to correct it.
Bringing in some flesh tones so I can see how the warmth works with the background. Sorry about how the light is changing the colours, it makes it kind of confusing to see the changes.
Bringing in more darks into her so I can see how the tones are going to work. Tones are how dark or light colours are.
To really see what is happening tonally, I decided that I needed to put the vine in. That is because you really need the darkest and lightest parts of the painting to be able to gauge the tones.

It felt awkward working with acrylics. They feel different to oils, my usual medium. My drawing was awkward because of this. But like I said, it doesn't matter because I have plenty of time to correct it.

I am happy with how quickly I got to this point.

Monday, 4 April 2011

You don't Have to be an Artist to Make Art

Okay, at the risk of swimming against the tide and making a lot of people angry, I gotta say it. Everyone in Not an artist.
Please just hear me out.

Everyone is not an artist and we are not doing people a favour by saying they are.

Being an artist is more of a vocation than a career. The artist is driven to create. It is hard work. For most artists it is solitary work. Days, weeks, months of being alone in the studio. Often no one else sees your work for months on end, and it is not uncommon that few people care about your work. The pay can be nonexistent. It is facing insecurity, inner demons, self-doubt regularly. It can be wondering why you are spending your time doing something for little or no pay that hardly anyone cares about.

It may not be like this for every artist, but in my experience it is for the majority. With that said, I love being an artist. It is the joy and love affair of my life. I would not trade it for anything.

But you can understand why it might not be a fit for everyone.

The good news is: You don't have to be an artist to make art.
Maybe even better, you don't have to make Art to be creative. And I deeply believe Everyone has the capacity to be Creative.

You don't even need to figure out whether you are an artist or not. You can just be as creative as you want and see how it goes and grows.

When I was twenty-nine I asked myself what I would regret if I died tomorrow. The answer was immediate. That I hadn't painted and drawn more. At this point, I didn't know I was an artist. I had a creative background, but I kind of figured that since I wasn't a genius I wasn't an artist. But I decided to give myself some time to paint and draw and just see what happened.

I went to community college and took some painting courses. Then I went onto university. I watered the seed of my creativity. To make a long story short, that seed turned out to be an oak tree. And now I have no other choice.
But what if that seed had grown into a delicate rose bush instead? How beautiful is that? Maybe me creating on the weekends or the monthly art retreat. Sweetening my life with creativity while I enjoy an alternate career.
Or perhaps painting wasn't really my thing and I became a crafter. Making beautiful quilts and weaving cloth? Or being creative with my children and cooking beautiful meals? There is room for it all.

People don't say 'everyone is a musician'. Good thing, because believe me, I am not. Of course I can make music but it isn't the same thing is it?

One of the reasons it worries me is that it subtly reinforces the belief that only artists make art. Anyone can make art. Anyone can dance, sing, create, cook, and hopefully balance their books. It doesn't make them a dancer, singer, chef, or accountant. Give some credit to the people who dedicate years or their lifetime to an artform or profession, and take the pressure off people who want to paint for fun and self-expression.

And, just to add something else to the discussion, you don't have to be a genius to be an artist. You don't even have to be good at making art.