Painting from Photos

Painting from photos has never been a strong interest of mine.

I am about feeling what I see and trying to capture that feeling on a two dimensional surface with mark making, color, expression, etc. Working from photos gets me caught up in working too tight and too realistic (if that could ever be said of my work). That being said, however, the time has come for me to embrace this idea to help me live my dream of traveling and creating art. After spending last summer in Spain with our family and another family, I realized having my own creative time on vacation is not quite in the cards. Then this spring, traveling to Italy for the purpose of painting and drawing, I learned it's more about creating small pieces of work, taking lots of photos and then working back in the studio with those and the memories.

So, I am really trying to embrace that challenge, pull out my sketchbooks and my photos and try to recreate something that captures the essence of my travel. As I am writing this, I am still working on embracing this idea, so I don't have much to show but I figured, if I write about it, I will be more likely to take it seriously and continue trying. So here is what I have done thus far. A few from Italy and one from Spain. I have lots more ideas, now I just need to make the time! 

Painting in Italy

Rome, Chiusi, Florence, Cinque Terre, two weeks of traveling and painting with friends. Amazing! 

There is really so much I could share but since this is my painting blog, I thought it might be fun to share some pages in my sketchbook (putting aside my ego because these are truly just sketches and I am a bit rusty). 

But before I get to the sketches, I wanted to share the breakdown of the trip:

Days 1-3 – Explored Rome with two painting friends Suzanne Yurdin and Kathy Dansie. My first time traveling with fellow artists and how wonderful it was to share the desire to just sit and sketch. Finding cafes to drink some wine, aperol spritzes, or coffee and eat the most mouth watering food while trying to capture the experience in our sketchbooks. Delightful. Soul enriching. Pure joy. 

Days 4-11 – A week at the painting workshop at Artists in Italy in the hills of Chuisi with the amazing artist, teacher and art historian, Julian Hyzler. Not only is my sketchbook filled with italian scenes, but facts and stories that Julian shared with us. He would take us to towns where all we wanted to do was sit and sketch but the fear of missing out on his wisdom kept us all by his side. His captivating storytelling is not to be missed!

Days 12-17 – Travelled through breathtaking Tuscany and Cinque Terre with my super fun sister and friend, meeting all sorts of other adventurous travelers and pushing my body to it's physical limitations on some of the most gorgeous hikes I have ever taken. 

Even though I took over 1,200 photos I still feel like I couldn't capture the country as I saw it. Looking through my sketches and paintings immediately return me to the sights, sounds, smells, of a country I truly love, so much more vividly than a photo ever could. I cannot wait to get back!  

(if you click on the photos, they will enlarge and you can see them uncropped)

 
 

Working from the Model

Working from the model is an immediate throw back to college days at the studio, drawing and painting Ellen, the infamous model at Miami of Ohio. It was never about getting it "right", rather about capturing the gesture, her movement, her body's connection to the space surrounding her. Somehow, I was able to do that, and loved it. Every model I have had since then, I compare to her and only a few come close. My daughter being one of them. 

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Thursdays are the days I religiously paint with a group of amazing women artists. In need of breaking up the still life routine, I suggested to my daughter that she might like to come and model (clothed, of course!). At 14, there's limited ways to make money, so she was game. She came with a big bag of clothes and spent the day changing up the outfits (what 14 year old girl doesn't like to do that!?). With each wardrobe change, she took on a new persona and gave us something fun and interesting to paint from. She was patient, attentive and able to sit still for such long periods of time waiting for us to capture what we saw. Although she is quite different from Ellen, she has that same special twinkle and magnetism that captures my attention as an artist. And watching her shine and inspire of others, makes me a proud mama.

 Quick gestural painting

Quick gestural painting

 Charcoal sketch

Charcoal sketch

 Avery Seated

Avery Seated

 Admiring all the works of the various artists

Admiring all the works of the various artists

 
 
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Alchemical Vessel 2018 - Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery

I am so honored to be a participating artist for the Alchemical Vessel 2018 fundraising event for Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery. This is the first year I was nominated and it could not have been better timing. Here is my story:

I forced myself to start this painting a few days after the loss of a dear friend. I did not want to paint this painting. I did not want to feel this grief. I did not know how to take this grief and connect with others who have suffered loss or may be dealing with their own mortality. I just didn’t. I just couldn’t. But I needed to. 

Instead of coming up with an “idea”, I decided I would just start. I picked up the sphere, the circle of wholeness, of eternity, of everlasting love and started to write. I wrote stream of consciousness, no thinking, just pouring. Pouring out of emotions, raw, fragile, true, the secret thoughts inside my own head, the feelings I was experiencing, the grief, the anger, the confusion. I wanted this emotion to be the background of whatever came to be on this surface, even if it was not to be seen. I sealed it in. 

Then I began painting. 

Usually when I start a painting, I attack the surface with bold expressive brush strokes, but here I found myself treating the surface tentatively, in an effort to preserve the precious words, knowing that in time they would be smoothed over inside my own body, inside my own mind. Eventually, I let go. I worked to build up layers, an interconnected history of trial and error, of beauty and struggle, of losing and finding. These are the moments in our lives, a layering of experiences, both good and bad, that no matter how hard we try to preserve or bury them, they are still there creating who we are as a person, bringing out the strength and beauty in each of us. 

ps: the title of this painting is Missing You with an alternative title It's Not Dark! because he used to tease me that all my paintings were dark and depressing, but now my life is full of color, which I know he was happy about. 

Missing You (It's Not Dark!)
Acrylic, oil pastel and graphite on wood

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Art Commission

You can't wait for them to come to you, you need to find them!

I found that out several months ago when I became determined to pay for an upcoming trip to Italy. Feeling guilty that I was traveling with painting friends rather than any of my family members (although now I get to travel with my sister…yay!) I become determined to pay for the trip through the sale of my artwork — it was going to be an art related trip after all. So, sitting down at my trusted laptop, I reached out to local designers, developers, builders, and art consultants and was amazed by the encouraging responses. Not only did many people reply with such kind words about my work, but the timing was just about perfect when I reached a builder who was considering original artwork for a new apartment building in SW DC.

 They arrived!! 

They arrived!! 

A few emails, a phone call, a meeting, a site visit, and finally a contract, it was time to get started. Three large paintings on canvas— one 70”x70” and two 60”x94”— my biggest paintings yet! I have always wanted to paint large and after my amazing time at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, I was convinced that was what I was supposed to be doing. So, I quickly realized that I will need to stretch my own canvases (which I love doing) and found Upper Canada Stretchers, ordered all the supplies and was excited to get started.

The frames were quite easy to construct and I was lucky enough to enlist my super talented friend, Laurie Breen to assist me in the stretching part. Thank goodness. Not to boast, but we did an amazing job! So, three coats of gesso later, I was ready to go!

 Upper Canada Stretchers made them super easy to build.

Upper Canada Stretchers made them super easy to build.

 First frame built!

First frame built!

 Laurie, me and let's get started! 

Laurie, me and let's get started! 

 

How do you start on such large paintings? Just START! My favorite part!

 Setup for something to work from.   

Setup for something to work from.

 

 Making a mess.   

Making a mess.

 

The client had given me an interior design rendering to use as a guide for the color palette so I set up a still life with similar colors from which to work. I knew I wouldn't actually be painting a still life but I needed some forms and connections to work from. After the first visit from the client to see the 70”x70”, I was freed – no longer did I need to stick to the palette. A little conflicted with that news (sometimes it’s actually nice to have parameters) but I forged ahead, loving every second.

Seriously.
Loving.
Every
.
Second.

So much painting, so much movement, so much thinking, painting, flipping, looking, meditating, and more painting. What could be more fun?!

By now my studio now had all three canvases up on the walls, covering 75% of my wall space. Did I mention these were WAY too big to go on an easel? I thought it was challenging rotating the large square piece but now I had two that were 60”x94” that were 10 lbs heavier and they were infinitely harder to manage! Yes, I can see why a studio mate would be nice. Lucky for me, Studio 3807 has their studio next door and my trusted neighbor was kind enough to help me when I swallowed my pride and asked for it. So painting, painting, painting continued to fill my days for the next two months, with some welcome interruptions of graphics responsibilities.

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As these paintings began to emerge, it was fascinating seeing how the abstraction of the city became apparent. Somehow harbors, boats, sidewalks, trees, buildings, cranes, bridges, streets, telephone poles, wires, chaos all started appearing without me consciously painting them. Not only did I see that imagery but others who came to the studio did as well. Is that a boat? Are those monuments? Is that the bridge in Georgetown? Is that a crane in SE? Is that the waterfront? Are those office buildings? Sure! If that is what you see, then that is what it is. I love to engage people’s imagination and see how the history inside of them affects what they see in my abstract paintings. They are left loose for a reason.

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So, the day came when they were approved, packaged up and off they went to the client. I was sad but excited to see them go, and I cannot wait to see them in their new home at 301 M Street, SW in February! I will finally be able to get some distance on them! I hope others enjoy them as much as I enjoyed painting them.

 I don't often look this tiny!

I don't often look this tiny!

Harbor
Acrylic on canvas
60"x94"

Intersection
Acrylic on canvas
0"x94"

Fresh Outlook
Acrylic on canvas
70"x70"

 
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Saturday Morninngs

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Saturday mornings from 10:00am – 1:00pm are a sacred for me, the time carved out to be part of an amazing and inspirational group of artists at Red Dirt for what Margaret Boozer has coined “Saturday Seminar”.  Artists currently at Red Dirt or those have a connection from  the past, come together in the studio (the old Firehouse in Mount Rainer) and we toss around ideas and work towards greater accomplishments in our professional practice (or eat really good food, drink coffee and share current cultural events that inspire us). 

So why am I sitting at home this Saturday morning rather than being there?
Good question!
Motherhood took priority today :)

But before my mommy responsibility, I had an hour of time to spare. So instead of pissing it away (cleaning or sleeping or snuggling my dog or eating) I decided to make my own Saturday Seminar all by myself, a time to focus on something that will help me improve my art and myself. So, after two years of saying I want to write a blog yet made excuse after excuse how I cannot write, how I cannot come up with anything folks would be interested in reading, how it takes so much time, etc, etc, I decided to take action and come up with painting blog post ideas.

After a quick search of the best Art Blogs to read daily (as inspiration), I discovered Smartblogger.com's Headline Hacks - A Cheat Sheet for Writing Blog Posts which kickstarted my brainstorming. (Sometimes i just need someone to tell me what to do!) I am not saying they are all brilliant post ideas or even worth writing about, or even anything I have the expertise to write about, but it was a fantastic exercise to realize there are things that would be fun to write about and perhaps some that may even interest people.

So here they are, in the order they were vomited out! Very little editing. They may be for the artist reader, they my be for the fans, they may be for me alone. It doesn’t matter, it's me moving forward, and for that, I am thankful.

 Any suggestions on which to write first? (See, I am still looking for someone to tell me what to do!)

  1. How to understand abstract art
  2. How to hang a painting
  3. How to choose a painting
  4. How to start a painting
  5. How do you know when a painting is done
  6. How to find inspiration
  7. How to choose a color palette
  8. How to choose a format
  9. How to transform a small painting into a large one
  10. You bought an unframed painting, now what do you do
  11. Why original art is important
  12. How to make a first impression
  13. How to make a decision on what to paint
  14. How to be productive when I would rather be (sleeping, exercising, eating, snuggling my dog, on and on and on)
  15. How to be a “real” artist
  16. How to be inspired
  17. How to be courageous when some of a painting is working and some is not
  18. How to make drastic changes without ruining a potential masterpiece
  19. How to communicate without using words
  20. How to fall in love with a painting and make it work in your home
  21. How to love a [blue] painting and hang it in a [green] room
  22. How to take time to paint and keep up with social media
  23. How I got started as an artist
  24. How to use magnets and postcards as gifts
  25. How to talk about your art
  26. How to create smaller priced items to make your art accessible to all
  27. How much I love my studio at Red Dirt!
  28. How to paint a painting in 5 minutes
  29. How to get inspired in 5 minutes (gestures)
  30. How to activate the right side of my brain in 5 minutes
  31. How to post on social media in 5 minutes
  32. How to prepare your canvas in 5 minutes
  33. What do the first 5 minutes when I get to my studio look like?
  34. 5 ways to start a canvas
  35. 5 ways to start an abstract painting
  36. How to get started when you really don’t want to
  37. How to get a website up quickly
  38. How to be an artist and think like a business person
  39. How to decide if you want to be an artist
  40. The Top 10 classic and contemporary artists who inspire me
  41. The Top 10 excuses I have for not painting
  42. The Top 10 negative comments that plague my brain
  43. The Top 10 things I love about my family
  44. The Top 10 things I love about my dog
  45. The Top 10 things I wish I knew 10 years ago
  46. The Top 10 artists I wish I would have known personally
  47. The Top 10 artists I wish I had on speed dial
  48. The Top 10 reasons people don’t spend money on real art
  49. The Top 10 reasons artists need support
  50. The Top 10 reasons artists don’t make art
  51. The Top 10 reasons artists need to be good business people
  52. The Top 10 museums I want to visit (again)
  53. The Top 10 DC visual artists who should be famous!
  54. The Top 10 things I see and wish I could paint at that very moment.
  55. 4 steps to mounting a painting on paper
  56. 5 steps to prepare a canvas for painting
  57. 5 Tips for staying sane when your painting is crap
  58. 5 Tips for showcasing your work on social media
  59. 5 Tips for viewing art you may not understand
  60. 5 mind blowing facts people should know about viewing art
  61. 5 shocking facts about art funding cuts
  62. 5 heart warming facts about art in hospitals
  63. 5 Quotes from famous artists that will put it into perspective
  64. A paintbrush that will change your life, (okay, maybe not yours, but MINE!)
  65. 5 Things you would never have known about me
  66. 5 Things you didn’t know about art and your brain
  67. 5 things you didn’t know about the quality of paint
  68. 5 things you didn’t know that are stressful for artists
  69. 5 things you didn’t know about art and healing
  70. 5 things I try to remember when everything seems to be going wrong with my painting
  71. 5 Things you should understand about my paintings
  72. Warning: It was a bad painting day!
  73. Warning: This may come off as boastful!
  74. Why buying original art is better than a print.
  75. What is the best way to support an artist.
  76. How to get a website up quickly
  77. Why a well designed website is important for an artist
  78. How to get started when you really don’t want to
  79. How to be an artist and think like a business person
  80. How to decide if you want to be an artist
  81. 3 things I would say to new artists

phew, you are done!                                                               

 

Fun with Littles

In an effort to try and understand color, simplification (while keeping things interesting), and composition, I decided to work small for a day. I started off by taking a large painting on paper that was not working, and cut it up into small squares (5"x5" and 8"x8"). Using the old painting as an underpainting, I chose my palette, and got to work. Sometimes I enjoy having multiple paintings going on at once to keep me moving fast and to keep from thinking too analytically, but this time, I wanted to be thoughtful with what was already going on underneath and think about how I would relate it to the new painting on top. I also looked at Leah ThiessenJenny Nelson and of course, my true idol, Richard Diebenkorn, for inspiration. They are my go to at the moment.

 

Biggest Painting Yet

Time to undertake my biggest yet! Joyce McCarten gave me a large (40"x50") piece of paper to paint on months ago. I spent many days staring at it in my living room, then completely intimidated by it, and no place to paint on it, I shuffled it around in our basement, trying to keep it from getting destroyed. It made it's way to my new space and a few days ago I got started! It is a physical workout just to get the paint to cover the surface! Not sure how this is going to go, but it certainly allows you to free up your thinking of WHAT you are looking at and painting. You are so close to the surface to get the paint on there and with the shapes and ideas being so large, I just have to PAINT, get color, line, form, down and then step WAY back to see what is going on. I am loving the challenge! I feel like DeKooning for some reason, even though I have no idea about the way he tackles a painting, but the energy and the large strokes of color and shapes gives me a whole new understanding of the abstract expressionists who worked large. 

More time has now passed and I love my painting and now I think it is DONE! I know some folks may some suggestions on how to change it, but I am so proud of myself for getting this far, being brave, being bold, keeping it alive and all working together. I can wait to start another larger one!

Finished a Painting

I just feel so grateful to be painting everyday, SO GRATEFUL! I finished a painting, Roses, which had me struggling with the muddy colors and weak composition — I talked to myself, decided I would make bold new decisions and jump in with no fear.

Now, because I have a studio and have made the time to paint, I can follow through with my instincts and stay in the painting zone. I find as I try and resolve these paintings, I don’t want to abandon some sort of representation — something for people to grab onto. We shall see if that continues to be my thoughts as time goes on. I am quite pleased with this finished painting.

So Much I Want to Do

I am wanting to document in writing what I have done throughout each day in the studio, but I am finding I have so much I want to do, it so hard to take the time to write at the end of the day. I want to paint up until the very last minute before I have to pack up and head home. 

On Wednesday I worked on an abstract that didn't quite feel finished. I am still trying to understand abstract and what I want to do with it, so I brought it to my mentor, Joyce McCarten, and she suggested just leaving it and moving on. "You will just have a stack of those as you are working through towards some thing new." Good thinking. It is quite challenging to know when to stop. I got extremely frustrated with color on Wednesday so today I plan on looking at Gauguin for inspiration. Since I am not a "paint from the tube" kind of gal, my colors sometimes can get too muddy for my liking, so I am hoping he has something to teach me that I can understand.

I feel like I have so much I want to do and it feels like the day is over already – luckily it is only 9:30am! 

Artist in Residence

Well, here we go! I am sitting in my temporary studio space as an Artist in Residence at Gateway Arts Center. I am not sure what to do but I am so happy to be here! Thank you to Laurie Breen for introducing me to this possibility many months ago. I sincerely have no vision of where this will take me and my art, but I plan to work hard, work through discouraging feelings, push myself from trying to capture the scene to capture the feeling of the scene. 

What do I have to say with my art? Ideas floating around in my head...Chaos vs. calm. Feel it where it's crazy, feel it where it's relaxed. Feel the negative, focus on the negative, the negative can be the calm, the quiet. Do I like the rest in life or do I like the chaos? The chaos helps the "rest" stand out. The rest is color, the chaos is line/shape, and up against each other, what do they create? Could you appreciate one without the other? Do people look for those opposing things in life, or do they just appear? Do we notice them through the day? A clash with a child then a quiet hug.  

I plan to work on copying masters, copying contemporary works, trying to understand their approach and their thoughts as they work through their struggles. 

So enough thinking and talking, let's get started! 

(Here is a map in case you are curious where the heck I am)

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Artomatic 2015!

There is a first time for everything, so HELLO Artomatic 2015! In an effort to try and get comfortable displaying my paintings, I decided to take part in Arrtomatic this year. So come have a look.

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If you don't know Artomatic, you are not alone, as a matter of fact, I barely know much about it. What I can tell you is that it is like a pop up art show in an office space that (I think) is slated for renovation. And this year, the show is in Hyattsville, but don't let that scare you away! It's close to the New Carrolton Metro and and a quick shot off of 50 or 495. 

The space is enormous and filled with artists of all different disciplines scattered throughout the five story building. Be sure to head to the 4th floor to see my paintings around the corner from the bar. Yep, they have alcohol!! So, if you are looking for a fun and unique place for a happy hour, or in the weekend quandary of what is fun to do with kids in DC, head over to Artomatic 2015 at 8200 Corporate Drive, Hyattsville, MD., there is something for everyone!

 My cute installer! 

My cute installer! 

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