last post of 2016

I  re-joined Instagram last year  and posted a countdown to Christmas, a digital advent calendar. So I thought I would do a repeat performance this year.  I was going to try to do an original piece of art for each day but I failed on the first day. The simple felt angel expanded into a piece that was at least 3 times bigger, sparkling with sequins, lace  and  beads. In my mind’s eye, I would have liked to have made it huge but in practice, a lap size was achievable. The 2nd piece was simpler but just as big. I did find out that my ability with the sewing machine was seriously lacking with not a single  non wiggling line.  With the third and last piece, I just went overboard with the sequins, beads and collage. In my head, I saw a Christmas tree competing with the stars of the Universe as I remembered my feelings from childhood. Again I would love to have made it HUGE but even this size took several days to complete. The Christmas tree and the Angels WERE Christmas to me plus the nativity scene at the school play. I always wanted to be an angel but alas it was never to be. I was going to do a nativity scene but failed miserably but I know what I want to achieve so maybe that will be big one next year!  Below are the pictures I posted each day. It was surprisingly hard to post every day.

In the end, December wasn’t as productive as I would have like it. October and November flew by in haze of non activity or nearly. I managed to attend 4 paint out events and 1 open competition in San Angelo. I wasn’t planning to paint at San Angelo as I am not really in the competitions as I know I am unlikely to win anything. I realised quite late in life that one of the reasons I fail to do a lot of things is because I hate being a loser. I know you should just enjoy joining in but doesn’t help with the disappointment as you are passed over again ūüė¶  I will do it again next year.

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My entry.

There was an entry submitted competition which lasted a week and an open quick draw competition on the closing Saturday for other artists.  It was really interesting to see the work of the accepted artists and the quick draw contestants which made me realise how far I have to go with plein air painting. The only issue I had with the competition is that it was judged by one artist, rather than a panel.  Also after a morning of painting the lure of cooked food was torture as it was only for the accepted competition artists, not us lowly plebs (we had paid $10, so it not as if we just turned up). We had to wait for the lone judge to make up his mind before we could eat, so it was the middle of the afternoon before we ate. I was starving!

Apart from my Advent project and the plein air I haven’t really done much. I had started a still life  (which I mentioned in my last post) but quickly abandoned it.  Currently I am working on and hoping to complete the following still life painting  I found the hand-made rag doll in a junk shop in San Angelo.

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This will be the last painting for a while as I decided to sign up for an online embroidery course organised by The Embroiderers’ Guild UK.  I am going to start with the beginners course as although I have embroidered and beaded for several years, I am basically working in the dark as I do it (much as I am with painting to be honest, not a lot of teaching done in college in the late 70’s). I thought going through a structured course I might be able to extend my range to fuller extend. Life is a little distracting at home at the moment but come 6th Jan, my time is pretty much going to be  working full-time in this new direction.

I also got 2 books from Gordon this Christmas which I might work through as it should complement the embroidery course.

I already read Liz Steel’s blog ( my husband didn’t know this ūüôā )

Well this is my last post of this year.  I hope I will be more frequent next year with regular updates on my progress on the new course.

Happy 2017 (if that is possible) 

The New Year is a knocking

and although I have been working on my painting for the last week, I did not finish as I planned. I have been working on this painting off and on since October and it has been through many changes. The latest occurred today. The day I thought I would be finished but the Buddha was just not working. So I scrapped away the paint,  I start again, scrap again and again. Problem was I was just repeating my previous mistakes, so this last time I decided on a radical change and I think it might just work. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

this is how it looked at the end of the day on Saturday

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this is how it looked at the end of today.

By the end of tomorrow who know where it will stand. I will not say it will be finished tomorrow but I think it’s closer than it ever has been.

This year has been much more successful than normal for me. I decided right at the beginning of the year, I would focus on painting and drawing, no bead embroidery.

I attended several life drawing classes which in the end I decided was not the direction I wanted to go. Having spend my formative years at Camberwell, I have this need for the model to be placed properly after breaks, not the haphazard way they seem to do here. ¬†Also the¬†room was too dark (no natural light whatsoever) and relied too much on artificial light (usually one or 2 spotlights).¬† That is something else I realised I need, natural light or at least good light. My work is progressing away from the purely observational stance I was trying as I realise I am not a ‘tidy’ artist, smudges abound in my drawing and paintings and to be honest, I am just not that talented in that way, much as I wish I was. However, the one thing I still need is good light as the colours just go haywire otherwise. Next year, I need to investigate into getting better light for my studio, as sometimes I do think about working up in the studio in the evening, then I go up to be confronted with the dullness and orangeness of the lighting which just saps any energy or enthusiasm I have.

I have also worked in oils, water-soluble oils and acrylics. ¬†My favourite medium is acrylics but oils weren’t as difficult as I remembered. I am not so sure about the water-soluble oils but that might be more to with the brand I am using which seems to have a very limited colour range and very tacky to handle. I have also worked a little on my understanding on how to mix colours. That might seem like an obvious issue and how in decades of mixing colours, have I not worked that one out. Simple, I guessed and hoped for the best!

So next year, I hope to continue with the progress I have been making this year and not give into the depression I get about my work. I have no excuses but myself.

I am working on this

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and not very well. In fact it would be more like working on avoiding this painting. I am just not happy with it but I am loath to give up on it. I will give it another week and see what develops as I think I have found a solution.

I have worked on it since this image and  the little daisy flowers and stars have gone.  In the original form, it was just a green ground in the front but it just seem too much.  But the small daisies and  beads I had in my stash, seemed too small so I scrapped them.

To be honest I placed the Buddha too centrally and the green cloth too high up.  So on Friday, I went to the local Hobby Lobby and looked for inspiration which I found in the scrap-book aisles. Paper flowers.   It seems to work but will my painting skills be up to it.  I have been working in the water solvable oil paints I got a few months back.  I am not keen on them. I think I will stick to acrylics from now on.

Once I have finished this painting, I am going to stop doing the fixed still life format and draw things around the house that inspire my interest and then translate them into a painted image. This will give me more flexibility to maneuver the objects and create a more dynamic image.  I am looking forward to shaking things up and hopefully I will not be avoiding the studio so much.

Battling with drawing

Drawing has always been a struggle for me and the older I get the harder it gets. My eyes no longer focus as well as they did (my right eye has never focused as it’s lazy LOL) and if I concentrate too much, I get a headache.

 

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This was the first drawing of doing this setup which was piece of fabric from Ikea and ¬†part of my grand daughters tea set. Originally I was going to paint it but looking at the complexity of the fabric design I decided to draw it first. ¬†My other motivation being the fact I have a stack of drawing paper from when I first arrived in the US. I ordered a 100 sheets 36″ x 24″ but ended up getting 3 reams instead by mistake. Contacted the seller and they said keep it as it too expensive to return. ¬†I was only charged for the 100 sheets so it was a bonus for me or so I thought. ¬† I still have about 2.5 reams left!

 

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So this is my second drawing as  I was not happy with the first drawing as the angles seemed wrong. Well I never did manage to get them right as you can see from the drawing below.   The table I was using was well below my eye level so I was looking down on the set up.  Ignoring the maxim of never erasing your drawing marks, I continued to make the same mistakes time after time.  Surprising even though I studied at Camberwell for nearly 3 yrs (foundation and Saturday morning classes) I never learnt how to use a plumb line, pencil or whatever to gauge proportion or angles.  I am trying to teach myself that now, carefully drawing a mark for where my foot is position whilst I draw and trying to remember not to move my head too much. I am pretty sure I will not continue to do that but it might give me more of an idea how to assess these things instead of blindly blundering into the subject as per my normal method.

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So I have spent the past week drawing this whilst reading numerous books about drawing. ¬†Hasn’t helped! ¬†Eventually I would love to have the freedom to use the drawings as basis for painting so I am not restricted to setting up a still life. I have a long way to go.

So its back to the drawing board again but this time I also plan to paint the still life.  Once the cooler weather comes in the Fall, I will go out and draw from life but at the moment with temperature in the 100f/38c plus range, I will contend myself with still life set ups and looking at objects around the house.

 

 

 

 

Yellow figure with floral background

This is the painting I have been working on for quite a while. Most of the time was spent on drawing the floral fabric in the background. I began by thinking I could do my normal procedure of painting and drawing at the same time until I realised I would go cross-eyed and lost doing this. ¬†As I started drawing the flowers I considered the fabric I had placed the figurine on, a green fabric, it just didn’t seem right. Searching through my fabric stash I came across this old favourite. It was a remnant from a duvet cover I had made for one of the kids years ago.

At the moment, I am considering this finished as I found I was fiddling with it and I know once I get to that stage, I will not improve what I have. I might go back to it later, once I have had time to absorb it. Now it time to go onto the next project.

 

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I think I am beginning to identify which direction I am going. ¬†I am going to continue to do ‘still life’ but it is not going to be fruit in a bowl or flowers. I might include those subjects eventually as fruit in particular is part of my life but not something I particularly relate to. Fabric and pattern will have a strong influence and I seem to prefer single objects to groups of objects although I have a couple of knick knack type things I like to group together. ¬†I am not ready to move away from the arranged subject yet but I don’t discount the possibility that I will in the future.

This painting is done on a prepared 16×18 canvas, using oil paints. This is also a big change as I have used acrylics since my time at BAA so it was a bit daunting to say the least, ¬†but as I was using fairly thin layers of paint, it should be OK. ¬†If I continue to use oils, I will need to read up and talk to other artists on how they use them.

On the whole I was happy with this still life.  Like exercise,(another area of my life that I am trying to improve), the more you do it, the more comfortable you feel with your progress.

Per the image, the red is not quite as red as it appears, apart from that it seems from this screen to be fairly accurate.