2nd Set of Secret Garden: Peacock

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5×7″ study for Secret Garden Series

You simply can’t have an imaginary garden without a peacock. You just can’t!  One of our local farms has peacocks roaming freely.  I can’t help but follow them around. They intrigue me to no end. Gosh darn it, they are exotic looking and so much fun to paint!

Below are two different studies I have completed.  Newest to the left.

peacocks

I like the change of venue for the peacock,  but the Egyptian scarab is just too blatant.  I have started a third series of sketches and wound up changing it entirely.  I do like the blue and white wall painting though. Something like that will resurface in the new one.  That, and I’m adding a Siamese cat. Because let’s face it, I kind of have an Asian animal theme going on, so why not!

2nd Set of Secret Garden : Foxes

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For those of you not following my story, here it is.  As an artist, I decided to take on a year long project.  I’m titling it My Secret Garden Series.  Reason being, I’ve slowly deduced over many months and years that I have a great love of nature, gardening, animals, the mystical, the symbolic, color and fabric design.  How could I wrap them all into one project?  I came up with the concept of a secret garden where nothing has to necessarily be real. I could use my imagination.

For the past decade I have been painting still lives and landscapes based on real life. So this is a big leap for me.  I’m “making stuff up”.  The challenge is that the options are limitless.  I’m staring at a blank piece of paper.  What animals will I choose?  What flowers?  What architecture is in the background? Can I find a way to incorporate patterns?  What’s the story behind the image? 

The answer is I don’t know.  So I am slowing down and taking the time to answer the questions.

I like to paint large.  Generally no smaller than 24 x 36 inches.  This is because with watercolor, it allows each subject some space for me to really play with the water and paint.  You get more of those “happy accidents”.  So another challenge for me is that I am creating small thumbnail paintings.  My first painting attempts were 8×10 inches and now my second attempts are even smaller, 5×7 inches.  I could just do a ton of fast sketches in a sketchbook, but instead, I am taking my time, thinking things through and completing each little painting start to finish.

My thought is that it may be fun to sell them on Etsy when I’m done. The other idea I love is that they are telling a story.  With each attempt, I can see my thoughts and the changes occurring which will eventually lead me to my final paintings.  I’m creating a history.

OK. With all that out of the way, let’s start talking about my new secret garden studies and the changes I have made from the initial studies.  The picture below has my new sketch on the top and the initial sketch down below.

foxes

I had absolutely no idea what to draw initially, so what came out – is what came out.  But after analyzing my original painting I thought to myself Mailboxes?  That isn’t too mysterious or secret-garden like.  I need to change the background.

For my second attempt I was very focused on changing the background.  And so I did.  What I see though, is in focusing so hard on changing that, I  completely forgot about the garden part.  So when I attempt a third round of sketches, I would like to have way more wild-life and vegetation and not so much focus on the “where”.  I feel like I got really “tight” in the second renderings, so I also need to focus in on loosening up my style for the third time around.

I wanted to address my self-critiquing.

  I hear from a lot of people that it makes them feel uncomfortable.  I guess the feeling is that I am being hard on myself and not appreciating the good that has come from my hands?  The word would be self-deprecation.  I just wanted to argue this is not my intention.  In art school we’d start every session over-analyzing each other’s work.  Artists thankfully are not robots, so nothing is perfect.  Considerations about line, composition, color and style are vital to improvement.  If my vase is lop-sided and that’s not on purpose, I’d thank some one for telling me.  Some days you just don’t see it.

Anyways, the reason I am blogging about my own analysis is not to throw a pity-party.  I want to share my thought process.  There are a hundred thoughts.  A hundred considerations.  Each artist comes at art making with different perspectives.  I’m simply trying to push myself harder and further.  You’d expect that from an athlete, so let it be ok for an artist too.  (It’s OK. I’m pretty tough.  I can take it ;)

For the next few days I will post my second attempts.  So stay tuned… Thanks!

Duck and Raccoon

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Here are two more 8 x 10″ watercolor studies for the My Secret Garden series I am working on.

Neither of these made the cut. I liked the animals, but the backgrounds didn’t do anything.  One of them looks like the siding on the back of a house and the other is a door to the universe?  Plus, they are also too cute-sy.  I would much rather “mysterious”. 

Yeah, I have already made the changes necessary in the new sketches I am working up.  There will be a duck and a raccoon, but they will be in much different habitats :)

An Artist’s Journey -Creating My Own Fantasy

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For the next couple days I am going to share what I have been working on since September. The photo above shows the “concepts” for a painting series I am working towards. It is going to be a series of 8 large paintings called My Secret Garden.

This is a very big deal for me. For almost seven years now I have been floating and experimenting without direction. I’ve asked so many questions of myself: Who am I as an artist? What is my style? What do kind of art do I want to make? Who am I making it for? What is the message I want to communicate?

The universe is kind of cruel like that. The more important something is to you, the more time it takes to get to the answer. I’m not a very patient person, so this journey has been brutal.

I’ve dug deep.

When I first started on this personal journey, I did not have the answers. I’ve tried everything: quilting, polymer clay, jewelry, wood crafts, painting with acrylic, watercolor and goauche, printmaking, teaching, graphic design, and pottery to name a few. I haven’t been able to commit. I like them all yet I’ve always felt like I’ve been getting nowhere.

Seven years later. I’m feeling a bit older, more mature, I don’t know that I can sustain that crazy chaotic creative energy anymore. I’m tired. What took me so long to figure out is that I had to try everything and that this is ok. It’s the type of learner I am ; an experiential learner. I’m the kind of kid that has to touch the stove to learn what hot means. I can’t take anyone’s word for it –ever. I’ve beaten myself up for this because it has taken so much time, but in trying so many things I have figured out what feels right and what doesn’t.

Another concept that has plagued me is the for who? Do I paint subject matter that suits me? What does suit me? What do I like? Do I try to figure out what’s trending? What other people might want? Go where the money seems to be? I’ve spent so many hours trying to figure out the balance between my own personal interests and making others happy.

So this September my soul said ENOUGH. Time to answer the questions. You are ready.

The seed had been planted in this painting I had done in the spring:

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This painting came from my stream of consciousness. I started with one blackbird, then a flower, then another, then another. The painting isn’t of something real. It is a fantasy. It comes from my own world that contains the things I love. In painting this, the answers came.

I LOVE color.

I LOVE flowers and gardening.

I LOVE the animals I find in my backyard.

I do 100% what I LOVE because there in lies my uniqueness.

When I stop apologizing for such simple concepts, beautiful things begin to arise.

This September I felt the strongest sense of clarity I have ever experienced. I now can answer the question – what do I like. I decided to be as disciplined as possible and create a vision through art that represents my LOVEs.

The discipline part will come from the many stages. I usually paint something and never think about it again. For this project I am asking myself to research, sketch, try things out, analyze what works for me and what failed, and do it again.

My thought is to create these small 8×10’s (which I just completed). Analyze them. Try it again. Fix the colors. Fix the contrast. Fix the layout. Then I am going to do 8 more small studies again. In hopes of creating a stronger vision before I embark on 8 LARGE watercolor paintings. I won’t be done then, because when I am through with those, I am going to do the entire series again but in a more abstract style.

8-8×10’s studies

8-5×7’s studies

8- 20×24’s finals

8-16×20’s abstracts

That’s a doozy right?

What you will see through the coming months is the same concept -but in a metamorphosis. What I like will stay. What I hate will go. The end product should be as strong as I am currently capable and in my wake I will leave evidence of my process.

There are a few more things that I love which I will incorporate in the larger paintings as well. These small studies were just too small to add this type of detail. However, I also plan on incorporating my great LOVE of fabric and mysticism. I am fascinated with the symbols of all cultures and what they have come to mean. So, I plan on hiding intriguing things throughout the paintings.

This is a big undertaking for me. It is the journey I have created for myself. It’s the path I’m choosing to take and I actually have the answers. Boy does that feel good!

WATERCOLOR – BACKYARD ANIMALS – GARDEN FLOWERS – FABRIC – MYSTICISM

My other hope is to put on my big-girl-pants and try selling this work online. Through Etsy or something. In the past, I haven’t felt “good enough” or “ready”. But it stops here. It’s time. And hopefully after all of this work I plan on doing, my art will be something I am proud of and ready to share.

I hope so. Because on a soul level, it will be the first time I feel like I’m sharing a real piece of –well, –me.