Affirmation

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At the beginning of this year I joined the Art Association of Newfoundland and Labrador.  For me it has been a significant step in defining myself as having a place among the people in this province who seek to express themselves in artistic ways.  It has been a very positive experience, with opportunities to take workshops and socialize with artists who love what they do, and are willing to share their expertise and experience.  I was afraid, as a self-taught artist, I would not be taken seriously but I have not run into any form of disregard.  Everyone has just been helpful.

This fall I decided to take part in the Fall Art Exhibit, so with the help of a neighbour and friend, who is a long time member, we selected some of my work that she thought would fit well into the exhibition.  My husband framed them for me.  As they are not gallery wraps, but are painted right around the edge of the back stapled canvases, I didn’t want to lose the details.

FramedThe three pieces are, from left to right:

Frozen Ghost, Dragon’s Teeth at Madrocks, and A Year in a Gaudy Hamlet

Filled with excitement and trepidation, I dropped off my pieces on Wednesday, and walked in to the opening on Friday evening.  Would my work measure up?   There they hung, among some of the other beautiful pieces!  And they didn’t look out of place at all!  Can you find the Dragon’s Teeth in this picture?  It was so lovely to see so many people there, sharing a love of art and appreciating everyone’s work.  And stunning work was on every wall!  Gorgeous subjects: horses, boats, boots, waves, flowers;  Unique techniques:  glasswork, scratchboard, rope frames, multimedia flowers;  All sizes:  from tiny 6×6 to huge 36 x 48 and more.

Exhibit

As a member of the Association we were invited to take part in a collage project.  One large photo was cut into 60 small 3 inch x 2 inch pieces and each person taking part was given one to reproduce in acrylic on an 8 x 10 canvas board.  No one knew the overall picture, and we were admonished not to go looking – just to paint what we saw.  Toward the end a couple of people were unable to complete their pieces, so a few of us did an extra board.  The completed collage was unveiled at the Exhibition Opening, and while you can see it above, there is a clearer picture below.  I think it is absolutely marvelous to see the photo, taken from the St. John’s waterfront, done in this way.  And it fascinates me how differently the colours were interpreted, particularly the blues.

Collage

I’ve titled this post “Affirmation” because of the acceptance and the positive comments I received on my work.  Visitors could have walked right by my pieces, but they didn’t, and they spoke to me about them without knowing they were mine.  None of the pieces were up for sale, as I’m not ready to let my art babies out into the world yet, but there were queries, and some offers and I promised that the next exhibit I take part in, I will paint pieces for sale.  That’s exciting.

So if there is a moral to this story, it is to put yourself, and your work, out there.  It’s one thing to know how you feel about it.  It is quite another to get the opinions of others.  And yes, I know that sometimes people won’t like my work, but that’s ok too.  They may well have some interesting perspectives that I can learn something from.

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Happenstance 

I am a teacher. 3rd generation.  If you were to ask me why I did it my stock answer would be, “for the light-bulbs.”  What I meant by that was the moment you could see understanding dawn in a student’s eyes. Or the moment when passion or love of a subject took over.  I’m retired now and that is why I have the time to indulge myself in my own learning. Last summer someone turned on a light bulb for me. It wasn’t a quick flick of a switch, but a slow charging of a battery.

Laura, from Create Art Every Day, liked one of my posts and so I went to visit her at a time when she was posting a small watercolour every day, and I was impressed. No I didn’t hop right to it. I’m more comfortable with acrylics and watercolour intimidates me. But I did use my Crayola watercolour pencils to capture the visit of a colourful arachnid to my peony. See Inspired By A Visitor.  And that was all. For about 6 months.

After Christmas I took on two goals:  

  1. Continue writing a journal.  I do a good job of a travel journal, but usually not of a more continuous variety.
  2. Learn to draw; at least a little.

I can paint, but I have never considered myself able to draw. So I bought a couple of books at a second hand store, and started following Shoo Rayner and Cathy Johnson on Youtube.  Cathy had this lovely tutorial on making folded sketchbooks from single sheets of paper-much less intimidating than a fancy new sketchbook. 20170404_204040Each night I would sit and write in my journal, and then try to sketch one small thing. Not every night, mind you, but most nights.

And black and white is pretty dull, but I had an old Prang kid’s watercolour set. Well, the rest is history.

 

 

 

 

I now have quite a collection. All small, about double ATC size, but I’ve so enjoyed it. I’m learning every day; watercolour no longer intimidates me.

Here’s a little selection of the progression

Back Deck Visitor

Back Deck Visitor – One of the first

Sketch 2

Snow Day – Under Covers

 

 

 

 

 

 

More recent sketches are definitely cleaner looking.

We have a holiday coming up, and I look forward to taking a little kit with me and adding some visuals to my travel journal. Thank You to, Danny Gregory, Liz Steel,  Koosje Koene and so many more for all the many hours of free instruction they have provided.  And thank you, Laura, for your advice and encouragement.  It may have only been a moment but we never know what little thing we do that influences someone else.  Be well.

Monika

Struggling with Workflow

Does anyone else struggle with workflow?  I so often feel like I’m fighting my paint and supplies and organization.  Do I paint flat on my drafting table, or do I paint on the table easel?  Or do I paint at the French easel?  Do I set the clean brushes to the left  and the paint to the right or vice versa.
Right now the table looks a bit messier
than the photo in20160712_200323 yesterday’s post (which dated from February).  Paint and water to the right of me, and brushes and rags to the left of me.  Light over my left shoulder.  When I paint on paper I tape it to the hard-surfaced placemat, scored at Pipers for $1.
20160712_201109I watch many artists on Youtube and always pay attention to their workflow.  Clive uses large buckets of water, Nagualero uses a small washpot, Cinnamon uses a beer cup, Jane uses a pickle jar.  (There are links to all these people in yesterday’s post.)  I like my brushes clean so I use a jar for prewash and a commercial wash container with two sections for further wash and super clean water.  See – I’m a clean brush fanatic.  And I have a pad of paper towel with an absorbent pad beneath to dry off the brush right away.
 Acrylics carry the challenge of drying quickly, so I’ve tried all sorts of pallettes.
Plain disposable paper pallets. tin foil, peel off acrylic pallettes, wet pallets, well pallettes with paint I have “globalized” according to a method by David Jansen (no I didn’t use their products).  Globalizing has real potential, and is essentially adding a retarder to the paint.  I’ve used home made wet pallettes and commercial ones.  Didn’t find that there was much difference, although the commercial paper that goes in the top of a wet pallette is less prone to wrinkling than wax paper or parchment paper.  None of it really has felt comfortable to me.  I always seem to feel I’m fighting the paints.  Don’t mist and they dry, mist and some get runny.  And all of this results in me wasting time messing with the workflow when I want to be painting.  I just can’t seem to settle.
I would like a pallette where I can globalize my most commonly used paints and keep them stored, and sealed, but have a flat, damp surface so I can blend and add less commonly 20160712_201021used colours.  The watercolour pallette on the left has potential, It is my newest acquisition (thank you 50% off coupon at Michaels).  Perhaps it will be my solution, but it is rather small and the blending surface is smooth but not damp.  I had such hopes for the round well pallette, which was a gift from my husband when I started this journey, but there is no mixing and blending space.  Perhaps some day I’ll design my own with a sealable set of wells (6 – 8) and a wet pallette space all in one.
That’s my grumbling for today.  I would love to hear about your experiences, and your suggestions would be welcome.
Next time, let’s talk about portability.