The problem with Christmas commissions is that I can not share them at the time of creation – and then I sometimes forget! So here is a catch-up on last year.
This was a gift to my first born niece (of 27 nieces and nephews). I hope to do one for each of them as they start their own home. This is the home she grew up in and one of my most favorite bulbs.
And pets! Always pets. I think of painting in oils in miniature as similar to sculpting – a little nudge of the paint here and a little one there to create that expression around the eyes. I remember a lot of nudging on this little girl.
This beauty went together in one sitting – a rare and wonderful experience.
I painted 9 last year (I will write up another post for the 9th). I keep my counts low so I can spend quality energy on them. When I was younger, I would paint many, but the images were quick and not personal (traditional New England horse and sleigh or barns and snow scenes.) This type takes far more time and the quality is crucial to preserve those memories.
So, no, I do not advertise on Etsy and other spaces.
The others created in 2018 can be found here:
- Hummingbird – a commission from the photographer
- Jack – an adorable little white dog
- A new home
- A couple of impressionistic kitties
Still looking for someone who has experience creating reverse glass painting with ink and oils. Also found some old photos, which make for a great TBT (throw back Thursday).
Close up of one (date is 1993). I placed them with a shadow box type of backing so that the oil was not up against the matte board. This added shadows and depth.
Have you ever run across something from your childhood that strikes a long forgotten emotional cord? That is what happened today when I came across these 2 paintings tucked among my stashed art resources such as frames and canvases.
As I stared at them I felt nostalgia, puzzlement, as well as deep pleasure of a found treasure. At the same time I was thinking, “What in the world did I save paint-by-numbers for?” Then I saw the initials.
No – that is not e.e.cummings, but these are the initials of my beloved uncle who introduced me to his writings!
Then the memories came flooding back of these hanging on my grandmother’s wall all my growing up years, painted by her son when he was still a young sprite battling polio in the 1950s or early 60s.
My uncle was one of the major influences in my very early artistic endeavors. What a precious find.
So what if they are paint-by-number; there is such a funky charm, as well as deep connected-ness to sweet memories and tender relationships held within these youthful, exploratory strokes. What a treasure.
I will hang them in my new art studio.
“We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”
― E.E. Cummings
In the early 1980s I began painting Christmas ornaments using oil paints and tiny brushes (sometimes my own hair or a cat whisker was used to make the smallest of lines.)
Most of the time I was painting people’s homes or farmsteads, but occasionally I would do a humorous ornament for my family. This was for my brother, Stephen, who really did not like school.
(PS. No, I did not sell trademarked images. This was for fun. I was a huge Garfield fan.)
Here is one that I did for myself simply because I enjoyed the image. I still own this one.
The one class that is doing the most personal good is Advanced Illustration. Jacob opted to give us an oil painting project for the first 6-7 weeks and I lost myself in it.
Currently the class project is not finished, but I am gaining so much from it that I am not willing to rush the process. I am trying all sorts of new techniques and exploring my paradigms – only that I might break them. It is a painful, yet thrilling prospect!
Project: A poster for a musical band or singer.
My Choice: Fernando Ortega
Jacob pushed me to stick with my own style and work within it so that I am not fighting the issue of “style”. I can play with style once I master the art.
He taught this class on a very individual basis (a philosophy I wholeheartedly embrace), working with the needs of each student. We, as his students, are soaking up the experience he has garnered through years at various universities around the country. I don’t know about the others, but I feel very blessed when I get a teacher like that and I just want to be a sponge!
We identified my particular need to be to get back into my creative groove… to feel it… to allow it to flow. Jacob explained that he did not want me fighting “style” as I was learning a new technique and finding my comfort zone. I consciously placed my training into his experienced artist’s hands and went into a free-fall. Like going backwards off a building and trusting the ropes to catch you.
I ended up choosing a simple visual of a guitar player. Fernando is a gospel-folk singer and I once saw him on stage in Muncie. He sat on a stool strumming his guitar and talking with us on an almost personal level. I loved it.
My brother, Ron, was a willing model (I am very grateful to my family!!!), and after a couple of photo shoots, I found the right pose that pleased both Jacob and I.
Jacob then had us prep a masonite board (18×24) with gesso and paint a background wash in raw umber.
At one point I realized (and was told by Jacob) that I had a section out of perspective. The trick was to look at it in a mirror and immediately the gaffe was obvious. I then discovered that sandpaper can do interesting things to the underpainting… so I began playing with that as well as scratching off paint with my pallet knife. Who knows what is going to happen by the time this is finished! It became fun to see what could be produced with that technique.
Painting is the one place that is all my own. It is personal and private and I have found that place once again. It has been a bit scary because I can sometimes lose myself in its vast loneliness… but then I find myself once again, in a space so full and persistent it can be overwhelming. I am once again walking those hallowed halls of my inner being that belongs to only myself and my God. It is intense.
Sometimes I pause at the threshold and can go no further for fear of what is there, then I realize that fear is not an option I want to entertain. I gird up my courage and take that step, overcoming my own trepidation and embracing a willingness to lose myself. I can only enter if there is a willingness to allow something bigger than my left brain to consume me and to trust that it won’t annihilate me in the process.
It is not a place of comfort, nor of ease, as boundaries are stretched and perceptions challenged; yet within that space there is a comfort beyond explaining. The world disappears and I am somewhere raw and open, in a space where there is no hiding. An honest place.
Work in progress.
For our 3rd and last painting we were permitted to choose items with color from home. I chose my 1000 year old ancient pottery that I have wanted to paint for years. These are a couple of items I have been restoring and never finished. I sort of like them that way.
1st step was to draw large charcoal drawings from different angles and identifying the values. I chose to go with this setup, which was at my home studio where I had good lighting.
Next, block it out on the canvas with the water soluble oils we were using for class. I could have stopped here. I really liked the colors. The black was made by mixing phthalo blue and burnt sienna, giving it a really funky blue/brown look when creating the grays.
We let that layer dry and then the fun part. Putting color onto the canvas. I love painting!
In the classroom lab I chose to arrange them on a table at the back of the room so I had some space around me and could be comfortable. It also meant I did not have any lighting to speak of, but that was fine. This was a truly pleasurable experience.
This final photo was taken on my cell phone because the teacher asked to keep this one and hang it on the wall at school. I am not finished with it yet, but the teacher felt it was done and told me to stop. The details that I want to cleanup and finish will drive me nutty for the next 3 months as I see it hanging there, but overall I like it.
One thing I learned was that I can paint faster than I thought! This process was done over 4 weeks in the classroom, but it took me a couple of weeks just to get used to the setup as well as letting layers dry. The total hours in this project was, at most, 7.