DAY #255 – LAYING DOWN THE UNDER-PAINTING

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OK. Making a little progress here.

I’m glad to have today’s photo because the paper I’m working on is so large it is hard to gain perspective. It measures 37″ x 57″. I now see that I’d like to lose the skirt and drop the black down to create a dress.

My plan is to paint an under-painting and then I am going to create hand-made stamps to create a top layer.  I will make stamps of eyes, nose, mouth, hair, plus fabric patterns for all the garments.  I may even create a wallpaper for the background.  I love making stamps and I love the print-like quality they can bring to artwork. I’ve never done this before, so I can’t say with any accuracy how well it will turn out.  Either way, I will enjoy the ride and call it one big “experiment”!

Here is the progression thus far:

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The subject matter is a commentary on my life.  The many things I am juggling at once during this 365 challenge.  It’s kinda funny, so far to me, it looks like a cross between a Hindu deity and Charlie’s Angels!

It will take some time to iron out the kinks, but at least I feel like I made a little headway today!

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DAY # 254 – ADVENTURES WITH COUSIN SABINA

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Who is Sabina you ask?

Well that’s a good question.  Sabina’s great-grandfather and my great-grandfather were brothers in a very small village in Italy.  Times were tough and the brothers both left their village to find work.  One sailed to America…we all know the Ellis Island story and the other crossed over into Germany and settled there.  My father has always wanted to go back to the “old country” to trace his roots.  In searching for relatives from the old village in Italy, this missing set of relatives emerged.  Sabina is my Italian long-lost cousin from Germany!

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What’s fun is that she is my age, loves art and definitely looks like family.  She is here for three weeks and every other day or so, we take a touristy road trip. So that is Sabina.

Now where was I….Oh yeah…

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Another day, another adventure.  I was trying very hard to work on my big painting this week, but family comes first!  I still have over 100 days left in my 365…there’s plenty of time!

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DAY #253 – FULLY ARMED

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I am making the perfect piece of artwork for this week! Check yesterday’s post for the concept.

The gist is, as usual, I feel like I’m trying to do a hundred things at once!

I started off the day of course preparing breakfast and lunches for the kids…racing to get them on the bus and then settled in to work on some “creative” volunteer work.

Last year I created an invitation for my kids school fundraiser. #253 - Fully Armed (8) It’s a fairly formal food tasting set in one of the most beautiful farms in our area.  They liked it enough to ask me to use it again for this year. To save on postage and change it up a little, I converted the image into a 5×7 card.  I also found 100% recycled envelopes made from brown paper bags.  The school has an environmental focus which I thought tied in nicely and the event is in the autumn which makes me think of brown leaves and harvest colors.  I created three different color invites:

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I also made flyers in the three same colors to match.  Now they just have to pick a color and we’ll get rolling…

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Next, I moved on to that giant piece of paper on my floor…

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I am telling you my cat, like many cats, loves to sit on my papers, punch the keys on my keyboard, and jump on my bladder when I wake up every morning!  How do they know the exact ways to get our attention??? sneaky little devils!

Today I sketched all the parts of my drawing.

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which was a lot of arms!

I was able to fit almost everything from my sketch except for the vacuum.  No room.  I picked a feather duster instead.  It symbolizes cleaning right?  I’m so allergic to dust. Ugh.

Sketching all those arms took me 4 hours…

…I then took a break to sit on the phone for an hour with customer service… fixed the problem though…

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Then I decided to block in the background of my painting.  I got a third of the way there, but then it was school pick up time…

I should have added an arm with keys in it, for my chauffeur business!

…got the kids…made snacks…started to prep dinner…ate…read bedtime stories…

which puts me at 9pm Blog-Time (aka. try to form a thought even though my brain is officially fried!).

Yep.  That sums it up.  I mention this because the rest of the week looks like it will be just as crazy.  My darling cousin Sabina is here from Germany and we plan on hitting a few more museums, maybe do some art, maybe make some jewelry, maybe go see the Newport Mansions…plus soccer practice…plus school volunteer meetings…plus dentist appointments…school, sleep, eat, clean, make art, entertain, sleep, cook, get on that mountain of laundry…sleep oh I’d like to sleep…maybe go for a hike on Friday, pack lunches, force dirty kids to shower, weed, exercise, empty dishwasher, fill out school forms, pay bills, sleep, sleep, slee………….

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… I’m done. Goodnight!

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DAY #252- DEVELOPING THE CONCEPT

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Sorry, nothing visually impressive today.

Instead, today was a formulating day. I was attempting to develop a concept.

You see, SOUTH COUNTY ART SUPPLY was so helpful in special ordering me this GIANT roll of watercolor paper

#252- DEVELOPING CONCEPT (8)Thank you South County Art Supply

It’s like 5 feet x 25 feet.  It’s giant.  It comes in a big roll.

Notice the pencil in the photo above.  It gives you an idea of it’s size. I cut off a piece today that measures 4 feet x 5 feet.

I got this giant paper because I wanted to work large, but when the day came (today), I had no idea what I wanted to do with it.  I just hate that!  So, I sat around doodling and looking at some of my inspiration files… and then I decided I’d kind of go with what I know.

I thought about the concept of attempting many things at once:

ART + SOCIAL LIFE + SOCCER PRACTICE + LAUNDRY + COOKING + CLEANING

Yeah, I ran out of room for sleeping.  Such is my life.

That made me think of that famous Seinfeld episode where they scream “SERENITY NOW!!!”

Hence the Namaste position in the center.

Serenity = Finding peace in an absolutely crazy time in my life

So that’s the concept, but really I am just looking for an excuse to play with pattern and color.

The technical focus of this piece will be to use hand-made stamps and hand-cut stencils and templates.  I like the look of a print but with each area of the painting subject to change, overlapping and interweaving.  If this doesn’t make sense, follow the rest of the week and I’ll show you the ideas I have bundled up in my head.

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I began cutting out certain elements today and roughly sketched out the entire woman.  Like the boobs? hee hee hee:)

I then forced my poor daughter to be my reference model.  I needed all different hand & arm positions.

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Tomorrow I should be ready to sketch out all the arms and get started on all the different stamps I will need to create for this piece.

You know, for many years I suffered from a serious anxiety disorder.  It crippled my art making.  In fact for almost a decade I didn’t create a thing.

I mention this because my chronic problem would be that I would get an idea, I’d work on it for about a day, I would look at it and think “this is ridiculous” or “why in the hell do you need to put this out into the world”….crazy critical thinking…I’d become paralyzed and walk away…never to complete anything.

Today’s concept is giving me this vibe.  It feels absolutely ridiculous.  I have no idea why a 5 foot homage to my life needs to come into the world.  In fact, it really could be a serious flop.

That is why this 365 is so special to me.  I have created this strict code for my practice.  I can’t say something stinks until I’ve actually accomplished it.  Whenever I hear the domineering negative critic, I sound a bell off in my head that says -JUST DO IT!!!

Even if I fail, I will learn.  The alternative produces nothing.

Producing SOMETHING/ANYTHING is better than nothing. I don’t want to look at another decade of NOTHING.

It’s empty.

So, I shall plug ahead.  I will experiment, I will mess up a bit, I will learn, and at the very least, there will be an “Ah-ha  moment” which will lead me to my next experiment.

Doing what I have already done no longer interests me.  Experimenting with different mediums and concepts will open my mind.  This is what I seek in being creative.

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#230- BLACK-EYED SUSIE

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Today we dropped the kids off to their grandparents.  This is what we found in my son’s suitcase:

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I’m telling you, living with this kid is like having your own comedy show 24/7!

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We met my in-laws at a special little performance for the deaf in New London, CT.

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My mother-in-law is a sign language interpreter and is always tuning us in to the deaf culture.  Thank you Janet, if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t know much at all.  It’s awesome to watch her fully communicate with the deaf.  It’s like being in a foreign country where everyone is speaking around you, yet you have no idea what they are saying.  Yet with an interpreter, she both signs and speaks, so we get in on the conversation. Of course, it’s always the other way around, they are the minority in a sea of the hearing. It’s cool when you can gain insight into how that feels.  The performance was geared towards children.  It taught sign language through an interpreter, but really, it was quite simply a wonderful little show for families.  The young actors were so gifted in facial animation that just the simplest gesture conjured up an entire plot.  They did famous fables such as ” No one believes a liar even when they are telling the truth”, 2013-08-18 13.19.45“Look before you leap”, “Slow and steady wins the race” and “too much of anything can leave one with a feeling of regret”.  It was very creative and informative .  We all had fun using the sign for “applause” which is sort of like waving your hands in the air while twinkling your fingers.

2013-08-18 14.18.08I haven’t ever really done much in New London, CT.  You can tell they are trying to revive the old town center through the arts.  There were cute restaurants, art galleries and theatre attractions.  All a great formula for attracting tourists, like me!

So the point of sharing my little outing, is that we didn’t get home until quite late.

I only started my art for today around 5:30.  I picked my flowers, sketched with pencil, and began to watercolor.  It’s kind of funny, but if you look at the sketch closely, you can see where I added the letters “G” everywhere.  It’s my own kind of paint-by-numbers technique.  I had letter “Y”s in there too.  I lightly code my drawing so I don’t make the mistake of painting a petal where a leaf should be and vise versa.  G= green and Y= yellow.  I’m a dork, I know, but I have made this mistake so many times, So I’ll stick to what works for me!

This will be painting #7 in my windowsill series.  I’m already thinking of some fun and funky framing ideas.  They are quite traditional, but they won’t be when I’m done with them!

So, tomorrow I wake up to a quite house.  I will make up for not finishing today’s painting as well as create a few more bud vases in the next day or so.  I have in my head a sweet little kitchen nook with all my favorite garden flowers…might as well plug along before everything in my garden is toast!

So as always, I shall see you tomorrow!

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DAY #205 – SAIL AWAY ON THE BLOCK ISLAND FERRY

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Today I decided to return to the Block Island Old Harbor series I am creating.

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So far I’ve done the Old harbor Inn

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and The Star Department Store…

Next, the Block Island Ferry.

After that, I will do the National Hotel and The Surf Hotel.  The whole harbor is a gem of Victorian buildings from the turn of the century.  It’s also where I vacation every year with my best friends which makes it quite sentimental.

Today was sketch day.

You start with nothing and hopefully an image begins to emerge.  My first sketch wound up flowing off the sides of my paper in two directions.  I taped some paper together and kept going.  I then had a preliminary drawing but it was on three pieces of paper!   I took a piece of over-sized tracing paper and traced my ferry-boat onto it.

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But now my ferry-boat was heading in the wrong direction. I flipped the piece of paper over again and traced it one last time.

I now had a tracing of my ferry-boat on both sides of my tracing paper.

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Next came the scribbling.

If you rub your pencil over your existing pencil lines, you can transfer a graphite image to a new piece of paper.

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Now I have a pencil drawing of my ferry-boat, in the correct direction and eraser free.

tomorrow I can finish adding more details in pencil before I transition over to pen.

This way takes quite a few steps, but you are able to edit and make corrections on scrap paper before moving to good paper.  I thought I was going to be using a 16 x 16″ piece of cold press watercolor paper, but it wound up, I needed a 16 x 20″ piece.  You may not have much to show for day one, but there is quite a bit of math, proportion, and calculation that goes into a drawing.

OK.  Off to bed.

It’s nice to know what I’ll be working on tomorrow. Takes a little stress off!

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#175 – HOBE COTTAGE FLOWER GARDEN – BLOCK ISLAND

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Greetings from Block Island!

Late last night I said I’d blog this morning and I didn’t and now somehow it’s late at night again.   I’m sorry about that.  I have learned not to make any promises, since I barely seem to have any control over my circumstances these days.  I’ve just gotta go with the flow or suffer the consequences!

I did finish last night’s painting though:

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It’s a view from Mansion Beach.

I’ve taken a whole bunch of photos of our journey around the island the past two days.  I’m trying to download them as we speak, but I’m having difficulty with the really bad internet connection here.  I keep blogging and downloading and the system keeps failing.  So I’m learning to hit the “save” button a lot and I’m figuring out I need to make things quick!

I’ve  also figured out that I am most likely going to do pen and ink contour drawings and quick studies while on this trip.  I am taking tons of photographs that I plan on using for more serious pieces when I get home.  I can’t hold my family captive while I paint all day, nor do I have the right materials to do so anyhoo.

So from here on out, I’ll share some gorgeous photos of one of our favorite locations in the world, but don’t tell anyone about it, it will ruin what’s great about this place!

Here’s my posse heading out on the Block Island Ferry!

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A view from my cottage:

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Views from my friend’s cottage:

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Views from Snake Beach:

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If you can’t tell, what’s great about Block Island is that it’s quiet and filled with nature.  High season isn’t very quiet, this is why we either go very early in the summer or in the fall. But if you catch it right, you feel like you’ve been transported to a simpler time in this country.  One of farms and rolling countryside.

Taking in all this beauty replenishes my soul.

I’m already looking forward to tomorrow!

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#172 – HEY GRANNY

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Man oh man, I was super frustrated yesterday.

I had one of those days where I couldn’t get my mind to meet up with my hands.  My expectations of what I wanted my painting to look like and that which actually manifested, were not simpatico.  Now that the crazy critical energy has passed, I look back at yesterdays work and it’s not bad at all.  It’s not what I envisioned, but it’s its own thing.

So after a day of experimenting and a lot of frustration, today I found solace in something very traditional, a still life.

Still lives always bring me comfort.  There is a formula, there is a beginning and an end.  They nurture, soothe me and give me a rest before I get up the courage to experiment with something I don’t know again.

I was also very angry that yesterday’s painting didn’t have the translucency I was going for, so today I picked something I could swirl around and where I could take advantage of the white in the paper. Apples are perfect for this.  Painting them felt great.

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The sketching part is always difficult.  I spend a lot of time in front of a mirror looking at the painting’s reflection.  If the ellipses and circles in your drawing are off, the reflection will tell you.  I then have to take out the vacuum for the tremendous amount of eraser shred all over the room and then finally, I can get to the part I like, painting!

I am on Day #172 of my 365 day creativity challenge and I think I can safely say watercolors are the most comfortable medium for me thus far.  I didn’t know that 172 days ago.  Right there this journey of exploration has been worth it.  But I think the act of taking risks and experimenting with the unknown and then retreating back to that which is familiar is the right way to go.

stretch…grow…rest…stretch….grow…rest…

I can definitely see how my energy goes in waves just like that:

experiment….learn….go back to what I know….experiment….learn….go back to what I know….

The rides a little bumpy at times, but I feel just as invigorated as I did on January 1st.  Ultimately for any frustration I may feel, I over-all feel wonderful.

I’m still totally digging this challenge!

So, here’s the progression of this painting so far.  It’s a 16×20 watercolor on 140LB cold press paper:

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I should be able to finish this tomorrow I hope!

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#161 – VIEW OF NEWPORT BRIDGE FROM JAMESTOWN RI

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Well it’s half of a painting anyway!

Today I started an acrylic painting on a 24″ x 24″ gessoed wooden panel.

It’s funny, yesterday, when I was creating postcards for a fundraiser, I didn’t have any real inspiration, so I blindly filled some cards with watercolor spots in hopes that I could find some sort of inspiration from looking at them. This was one of them:

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A view of the Newport Bridge came to mind.  It is one of my favorite scenic areas in my region.  Whereas this postcard is in no way accurate, it did remind me of a spot on Jamestown Island.  This spot is so pretty to me,  it actually makes me stop my car and pull over any time I see it!  I was looking around online to see if anyone had photographed my spot, but I couldn’t find any photos.  The photos I took simply don’t do it justice, but I’ll post them anyway so I can better explain the area.

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What I love about this spot, is the juxtaposition of a modern man-made bridge against the rustic charm of a farm.  A person might pull over just to view the quaintness of this cattle farm, but the giant bridge that looks like it is just popping right out of the woods?  I think it’s pretty darn cool.

In the autumn this farm field is filled with large rolled haystacks, I will have to try to revisit it.

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So, in my painting, I am sort of moving things around.  To the left, I am going to add a tree in the foreground.  I like being there peeking under the trees.  I am also adding the tiny barn, but I made it closer to the foreground than in reality.  Both the tree and the barn aren’t where they are supposed to be, but they will be where I can enjoy them both at once!

The painting is a lot more serious than I planned on.  I thought I might have gone more bright and funky.  Instead tranquil came out.  Must be what my soul wanted to express.  That is what this spot symbolizes for me. I can almost picture myself sitting along this roadside right now!

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#140 – GAINING PERSPECTIVE

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Ahh, perspective drawing.  Is there anything in this world I find more frustrating?

Without a proper foundation all else is lost.   Meaning: It doesn’t matter how great a painter you are if your ellipses are off!

Most people can’t put their finger on it, but they know something about a painting is just sorta well -OFF!

It’s usually the perspective.

The question is are you viewing something from above, below or directly in front of you?  With most paintings, it’s all three and if any are off, it will be the first thing people notice.

A really good rendering takes me hours.  I find it so difficult.  Ya know it’s probably like starting a new exercise routine.  You simply can’t do it at first because your muscles aren’t strong enough.  Well pretty much the same thing with drawing.  Your muscles are week and the more you practice the better you get. I think I sprained my muscles today!  I had to take out my vacuum because I had so many eraser shreds!  Some days I’d like to just cheat.  There are many ways to get around drawing, but I know the only person I’d be cheating is myself, so, I suffered through it today and I am sure I am now a little bit better than I was 4 hours ago!  I once read a book on Van Gogh that said he would sometimes do 20-50 sketches a day….over and over and over again…strengthening those muscles. Of course he was also most likely suffering from a bi-polar disorder and obsessive compulsiveness….there is always that  :)

So I did my perspective drawing and then I added the necessary details:

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I had about 30 minutes left from that point, so I decided to try something different:

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I usually create one shadow at a time.  For instance, I would only do the lemon.  I would start with a medium tone yellow and water it down for the light areas and add a dark purple for the shaded areas. Then I would start and finish the lime, then maybe move to the pitcher and work on it start to finish…one area at a time until I completed the painting..

So applying shadows to the entire painting is a different approach for me.  I think in one way it helps to establish lights and darks throughout the whole painting, but I usually use different colors for every single shadow in a painting.  I’m not sure if uniformity (meaning all blue in this case) is good or bad…I will soon learn tomorrow.

The rest of the painting should move fairly quickly from here, it’s  just the foundation drawing which sucks up a lot of my time.  When I was doing a painting a day, I wasn’t spending enough time on composition.  We shall see by the finished product if one can tell a difference in my work.

Wish me luck! I hope this experiment of technique works!

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