Wednesday, May 15, 2013
12x16" oil on linen
Remember when you planned to study for a test and you blew it off until it was too late but told yourself... I got this! Well clearly, I ain't got this. I so should have started last week, I so could have had fun with this. But, I can go back to it when everything dries.
In case it's not obvious, this months' challenge subject was "rodents", chosen by group leader Diana. A fun one I think. These "mice" reside on one of my end tables, standing watch over a framed photo of Tim and I. I saw them in a Pottery Barn catalog as decoration for Halloween. I thought they were adorable and bought them for everyday use. I have no idea why they spend their day looking at a photo of us, but they haven't complained so far.
Also, I am a sucker for anything with feet—bowls, cups, creamers, condiment holders, pajamas. I saw these online and couldn't resist. I think they'll look better when their done. The reflections really aren't working yet. And, I finally decided to use a less toothy surface but wasn't all that thrilled with this linen. But, I didn't let the first layer dry before trying to finish up, so when I go back to it later I'll be able to tell.
And without further ado, more rodents...
Of Mice and Lego Men
5x7" oil on hardboard
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin
and please welcome our newest member, the very talented Julie Ford Oliver...
Mr. Beaver at Home
6x8" oil on Ray Mar canvas board
© Julie Ford Oliver 2013
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Catherine (detail) 18x24" oil on canvas
Finally! I know I said that already. This is the commission that Tim brought home for a co-worker for me to do maybe as long as a year before he left us. Thank you Helena for being so kind, patient and understanding and giving me as much time as I needed to complete this.
I had done a pastel painting of Catherine's sister eons ago and their father wanted a portrait of Catherine as well. The other portrait, painted on 18x24" pastel paper was difficult to match on canvas and in oil. I painted the canvas black and then sort of matched the Canson paper the other portrait is painted on. When doing portraits in pastel, I often left the paper as background, an effect I really liked.
I did the first portrait so long ago that this little girl is all grown up, married and just produced a little girl of her own. Celestial speed up indeed!
Sunday, April 28, 2013
48x36" oil on heavyweight canvas WIP
When I began this painting I wasn't sure about the possibility of translating the subtle melange of color on the boys coats since they were lit from the front and totally in shadow behind, save the bits of light caught on their surrounding fur. I was mistaken! This view, as it turns out, is much more interesting a view, in terms of painting it, than the original which had them in full sunlight! So many colors...lavenders, teals, ochers...and so, so, inspiring! I think I've gone a bit bushy for Pug coats so I might calm them down a bit, but I'll see how it goes.
I'm not sure where it will end up but I thought I'd post it at this stage because I just know that Tim would be adamant that I stop now. The road is much lighter in the reference and I'm still undecided how to treat it as it looks completely different than the road in the first painting, but again, I'll see.
What is interesting is that I'm being patient and building up layers and trying different techniques with my big furry brushes. Standing up close it seems ridiculous to just start smushing a somewhat dry brush about but when I step back and squint, sometimes it works!
Apologies for their little bums, but from the leash point of view....well...there they are!
Thursday, April 25, 2013
This drawing is so old, it was done for the sleeve of an album! A vinyl album!! Waaaaay before it was cool to buy vinyl again! Found it among the stuff from the "art closet".
I was part of an ad agency started by one of my fellow designers at work, and a band that was popular in our area asked him to design the album art. I was tapped to do the illustrations. I remember being terrified...gee what a surprise...but was surprisingly satisfied with the results. There are about five other drawings that might or might not be safely hidden away somewhere but I remember this being one of my favorites. Clearly, the problem with hands is present...his head dwarfs his digits...but I like the overall feeling and line quality.
I'm finding a new state of mind evolving from the practice of showing up for work each day in the studio. It's so weird having something you wished for most of your life but only because something else you wished for most of your life is gone. And I don't mean that in any maudlin, tragic way. Tim might not be visible, but I trust my instincts, he is here...he is most definitely here.
This studio space is doing a lot for my confidence in surprising ways. I find that I'm much neater and respectful of my space and supplies. I try to get all my chores done before it's time to report to the studio and if I don't they're done afterward. I show up showered, shiny and ready to work. I work for four to five hours and actually take brakes to refresh the senses. I wash brushes and put things away only at the proper quitting time. And so far, once a week the space is properly cleaned, from dusting to washing the floor. Who knows? Someday I might become a real professional!
I'm also devoting time to really learning to play guitar better. Admittedly, I'm one of those hackers. However, learning just enough to impress is no longer working for me thank goodness. I've spent a fortune on DVD, CD and online lessons, why not take advantage of them instead of hiring someone to come and show me how well I might be able to play one day if I work at it?
I'm finding that in both creative endeavors, concentrating on the art and the music and not the personality making them is keeping all the old voices and doubts very quiet. And oddly enough, after a day creating, practicing and reading, when I walk through the house that sense of sadness is gone. I feel Tim so much closer on the days that I contribute to the fullness of my life than on the days when I'm choking the life out of the remote and wondering why I didn't stock up on pistachio nuts and white wine. Have you tried Cupcake Wine by the way? Two words. Angel Food. I'll say no more.
Got another "Morning Walk" almost done. Stuck on the road again. In this reference shot the road looks so different. I'm wondering if I should attempt to translate what I see or fall back to the treatment of the road on the first painting. We'll see. Also finally finishing up a commission that's been here so long the client gave Tim the reference to bring home almost two years ago!
How wonderful would it be if he were here to take it back?
Monday, April 15, 2013
Friday, April 5, 2013
18x24" pastel on Canson Paper
I found this in the art closet along with some other oldies that I threatened to post when I found that scratch board from back in the day. My name was Walker back then (you remember trial husband) and the date says '92, however I thought it was much earlier than that. Tim and I were transferred into the same art department that year but it was toward the end of the year that we started seeing one another. So I guess it's correct.
I worked in pastels exclusively then. And while I really enjoyed working with them, I longed to make the transition to oil which wouldn't happen for another 12 years. My friend decided to manage my "career" and put me in a booth at a fair in the Planting Fields located in a very beautiful section of the North Shore of Long Island. I did this painting for that. It was my first public outing. The hands are a little hinky but I remember feeling they turned out well. I've progressed I guess because I'm not at all happy with that claw the little boy is using to maneuver his little blue truck about.
I had a decent amount of traffic for that weekend, but nothing sold. Easily discouraged I packed it in and didn't work again until Tim and I fell in love and began trying to impress each other with our respective skills later that year. He'd never used the medium before and his first portrait was very impressive.
That was the beginning of our..."oh yeah! well check this out" period, which was great fun. Its so funny how time changes everything. Back then the television was never turned on, we were drawing and painting all the time. Towards the end, worn down by work and the usual life challenges, the telly was on constantly and the last thing he felt like doing after a day of creating rush campaigns and the like at work was to come home and paint.
It's been a strange week. I'm still working every day but I'm discovering that grief, for me at this stage, is not unlike a migraine. You're going along and then one day you wake up in excruciating pain, unable to function and the next day it's gone. I had a two day grief migraine this week. Must be a reaction to getting back to work, like on some level I felt guilty for enjoying myself I guess. There should be a little grief handbook that tells you what to expect. Like... "at the fourteen month mark you will suffer from intermittent periods of feeling like it just happened". I mean before that I honestly felt, you know this really sucks like nothing has ever sucked before but I think I can do this. And I know I still can because Tim is always here to help me.
The new space is really helping my desire to create. I'm very fortunate to be able to have this light filled, inviting space to work in. Given my druthers I'd work in a closet lit with one lone candle if I could have my best friend back but since I can't, I'm going to continue to be positive and grateful and work through the setbacks and keep going. I have no choice.
I know he would insist on that.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
48x36" oil on heavyweight canvas
So, looks familiar right? When I posted this last June, I always had plans to revisit it. I rushed through it back then for two reasons. I always rush through a painting (in the process of correcting that) and I just wanted to see if posting a painting I was really proud of would help the grieving process. (My sweet Tim had only been gone 4 months at the time.)
It did as it turns out. Tim's message was to keep working and now that I've actually been in the studio consistently for a week straight, showing up on time and leaving on time, I can see how much it helps my state of mind, so much more than my previous sporadic visits. Right again dude! I talk to him more, I'm actually walking around the place humming and the Raz and Blu are thrilled that mommy is becoming much more patient.
I've been studying the work of so many artists online whose work I admire and I realized that I leave a lot of unfinished thoughts...or brushstrokes. I decided to really take my time...in the bright light of the new studio, music playing, the pups curled up snoring near my feet and Tim chirping away over my shoulder. "Don't touch it!!! You'll overwork it! Leave it alone!" Sorry sweetheart.
I found the warm spots were much to hot and their legs and hind parts were unfinished. Some shadows too dark and cool and some highlights too light and warm. There's still tons of work to do on the leash, rings and connectors. Taking my time, studying the reference, even trying out new methods to achieve the result I'm looking for are improving the creative process in ways I didn't expect.
When Tim would use a brush to do quick character studies, he would often load a toothbrush with ink and splatter it in certain places on the paper for effect. I decided to load up a brush with thinned titanium white paint and flick the bright reflective particles that seem to be everywhere embedded in the pavement and I think it works. I had a really good time with this painting and I'm still not done, but when I am it will be the first painting that I've actually really totally finished!
I'm thrilled with the road. Can I say that? Not too arrogant? In my original post I was tickled that splashing in the road took only minutes and I thought it read okay but I think the darker, more detailed version anchors the boys more solidly. They seem to fit better into their surroundings. I want to feel that I can walk over and scoop them from the canvas, hear their panting and little toenails on the pavement. Not yet but I'm getting there.
There's another waiting in the wings. Maybe I'll actually do a series this time. Another reason for posting this is so that I didn't have to see that pile of dirty tissues every time I log in to my blog. And thank you so much for your kind words, the thank you's are on their way, but I'm not feelin' those clouds, at all. Just one of those things I guess.
I hope Tim approves of the new version.