Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Racial Tensions are created not Born

"Celebration" 20 x 16 acrylic on gesso board
I’m always attracted to scenes comprised of people; especially of other cultures and races. I find people of color to be interesting and attractive; they manage to tell the most amazing stories like my latest painting, above, “Celebration."

How many times do you take photos of friends and family at special events or significant occasions? Most of us enjoy celebrating birthdays, graduations, promotions, weddings, engagements, births and deaths with our favorite people. The photos save the memories and document the life processes of the past. Sharing special times with those you care about creates bonds of love.

"Tansy's Pride" 9 x 12 Pastel on Bristol
Painting an intimate scene that reminds others of those joyful times gives me pleasure. If my artwork can help bridge the gap between racism and understanding then I am fulfilled. 

Each culture and people we come to know adds to our knowledge. Seeing people in new ways may eventually bring acceptance. We humans are more alike than we are different.

Creating meaningful relationships between people is a slow process. If I can help others see similarities rather than differences, I have achieved my goal.

Hatred is not born, it is taught and nurtured. Children show us the meaning of acceptance when they play. They make friends easily and seem to take people at face value in non-judgmental ways.

"With these Hands Hope" 16 x 20 mixed-media/canvas
Oppression and discrimination are learned traits that fester in a climate of fear. Why do some people think they are better than others or that white skin is somehow purer or better than colored skin? Why do some people think they are spiritually or religiously better than anyone else? Most likely they were shown this through ignorance and example; but in the eyes of God we are all equal.

I may not agree with everyone I meet, but I can certainly accept their uniqueness and the value that they bring into the world. My religion and my faith bring me joy and salvation, but someone else may have their own set of beliefs that I must respect and acknowledge.

When you judge others, you lose sight of your own faults and failings. Being self centered or allowing our own feelings and opinions to get in the way puts up a barrier that is difficult to remove. You come across as arrogant, unapproachable, and rigid.

"Fish Market" 24 x 18 acrylic on canvas
Everyone on this earth has their own perspective based on their environment, upbringing and life experiences. Rather than quarrel and try to disprove “the other guy,” we should listen and hope for understanding. We will never all agree. But we can become peacemakers, and listen with our hearts.

If other people are unwilling to meet you half-way or they become aggressive toward you and invade your space, you have every right to defend yourself. Better to “agree to disagree” than to come to blows. Don’t marginalize your own principles and beliefs out of fear or to assuage someone else’s anger. Stop this kind of behavior before it escalates. Get help if necessary. Walk away!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Living Waters Undulate, Inundate, and Facinate Artists

"Skudeneshavn Norway" 20 x 16 Oil on canvas
It’s always hard to get ahead of the curve. Just when you think you’re pulling forward, someone or something pulls the plug on you.  Last week it was a leaky roof. Our place is about 17 years old, and one by one, the houses around us have been getting new tile roofs. Now it’s our turn.

Once the water gets through, however minimal, the damage above has already occurred and wood rot begins. We’ve repaired three fascias’ already, and there may be more. But that’s “water under the bridge.” (I couldn’t resist).

When our family lived in Kansas City, we battled water continually. Except for a bedroom for our teenage son, the leaky parts of the basement had prevented us from refurbishing it.

Finally we found a solution to the crack that ran diagonally down one wall. A friend who repaired swimming pools slathered it with a rubber adhesive that sealed any leaks. We were ecstatic.
"Arabesque" 18 x 14 Oil on canvas
After several dry months went by, we painted and laid carpet in our new family room. The children and their friends finally had a place to hang out. And then the spring rains started up with a vengeance. We held our breath, but the patch held.

The rains continued; one of the heaviest downpours in K.C. history. The front window well filled and flooded into the basement, and then another and another. We started a bucket brigade, but couldn’t keep up with the water filling the wells back up again.

We ended up taking out our soggy new carpet and replacing it with area rugs that could be rolled up in a hurry and put away. We dug trenches around the wells and added pipes to draw the water away. We slanted the front yard so the water wouldn’t come towards the house. Alas, nothing worked. A hard rain could still wipe us out in a matter of minutes simply by filling up the window wells.

"Egret Reflections" SOLD/Prints available.
Water is one of the necessities of life we cannot live without. We fear it. We’re drawn to its sparkling surfaces and its shadowy depths. Without water we would perish; and yet, we have difficulty controlling its unpredictable movements and enormous strength.

Recent flooding this summer in the Midwest brought back so many memories. Artists try to capture the violence and beauty of water; its serenity and peace.

How do you make reflections both in the water and on top of it? Small wavelets on the surface create white netting in the sunlight. Depth changes color. Clarity demands a different technique to indicate a translucence that depicts the sandy or rocky bottom below. 

Painting water requires practice. Once you get the hang of it, brushing on water is fun and addictive. 

Water droplets seem almost impossible until you realize that you have to get away from the canvas before they appear realistic. When you learn how to make them, you have to learn when to stop. Too many of them may give your canvas the look of poke a dots.

"Kelly's Rose" (A rose heavy with rain water) 16 x 12 Acrylic on Panel
It is easy to get carried away as you get better and better at painting lakes, seas, oceans, rivers and puddles. Samples of my own work throughout this blog illustrate how you get better at painting water with practice.

“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.”
Joseph Chilton Pearce

I chose the following three artists to demonstrate their personal techniques for water paintings done in acrylics.

Marion Boddy-Evans shows you how to paint water droplets 

Lori McNee has the best suggestions for painting different types of water 

Mark Waller shows you the fine details and colors that make up the ocean’s surface.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

How you Look at Clouds may determine how you Paint them

"Vikeholmen Lighthouse , Skudeneshavn, Norway"  Acrylic on canvas
I once heard that unless your clouds are the center of interest, don’t paint what you see – paint what people expect and want to see clouds look like. In other words, don’t allow the clouds to “steal the show.”

I’ve had to work at clouds. Landscapes sometimes overwhelm me. I always do better focusing on portraits and close-ups of details. But I want to do better. I love to study cloud formations and enjoy their beauty.

What do you see in the shapes of clouds? I see teddy bears and turtles, and fat round babies. I see enormous faces from different places. My imagination depends on what kind of day it is.

Judy Collins saw things in the clouds around her (inspired by Joni Mitchell’s words):

“Bows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere, I've looked at clouds that way
But now they only block the sun they rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done, but clouds got in my way

I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It's cloud's illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all.”

If you want to catch Collins singing, watch this video. 

Is there a right and a wrong way to paint clouds? Some people think so. I did not get into a juried show once because the judge did not like my clouds. I've since tried to improve upon them.

"Beach Buddies II" 20 x 16 oil on canvas
Two different artists below show you two very different techniques. One starts with the “lights” and makes small circles, adding the darks later. The other starts with the darkest darks making odd rather than defined shapes. Both agree that the results should suggest transparency.

Tim Gagnon likes to create fluffy cumulus clouds.

Mark Waller, the artist below, believes that clouds should be made up of random shapes. Like Gagnon, he believes that paint should be applied gently and loosely. “Little circles” should come after not first, and be defined by the dark straight edged underpinnings.

"Vikeholmen Lighthouse, Skudeneshavn, Norway" a close-up view 20 x 16 acrylic on canvas

Thursday, September 1, 2016

An Artist must have "True Grit" and Know how to Use It!

My husband and I were searching for a movie on Xfinity; a cheap vintage one.  We settled for a 1969 John Wayne movie “True Grit” because my husband had never seen it. We were delighted and pleased with our choice. Good old fashioned values, humor, and the simplicity and perfection of John Wayne. What more could you want?

Curious afterward about the meaning of “grit” I discovered that it referred to courage, resolve, and strength of character; a perfect description of the main character who was determined to do something important for her family and for her dead father. Her quest was difficult and unpleasant, but she met each obstacle unafraid and with true grit.

That word grit stuck in my craw for days afterward. Another definition was “loose particles of sand, stone, salt, etc.” Things I had already used in some of my paintings along with paste and fiber. My purpose was to add texture and interest.

In my mixed-media painting “Broken” I used a fibrous paste to create the texture of a cement wall, and added shapes and symbols popular in the Sixties to look like graffiti. In addition I dipped a torn newspaper article of recent disaster into liquid paste and applied it in appropriate places. 

My drawing of mother and child was left untouched until acrylic color had been added over the background and then wiped off to reveal the symbols. The figures were then painted in oil.

“Moonlight Magic” began as an experiment in texture and various colors that were mixed with fibrous paste. When it was dry I began applying various shades of blue, wiping off raised parts with a cloth to allow some of the under painting to show through. 

I had no idea what the finished canvas would look like, but I kept moving and adding paint until I had the look I wanted. Raised areas defined the final color and design.

“Auburn Nights” (shown in my last blog) was the re-purposing of an old oil canvas I was dissatisfied with and had put aside. 

Wanting to engage in frugality and needing a rough surface to define the windy unpredictability of fall weather, I painted over the canvas in reds and browns. This is a simple canvas and didn’t take long to finish. 

I did most of this painting free-hand with brush and paint. I decided that if it wasn’t perfect, I would not go back over it, but let the canvas speak for itself. I think the texture beneath the surface added to the feeling I was trying to create.

“Queen of Diamonds” is a statement in textures, shapes, and angles mixed with a bit of realism. I knew from the first that I wanted a Harlequin theme to highlight and accent the figure as center of interest. Whether I was successful or not remains in the eyes of the beholder.

A Studio Silver Creek artist shows you step by step how to create a textured background using paste and shapes: 

Watching Michael Lang paint is a religious experience. When he starts slapping on simple inexpensive acrylics you’re never sure what it’s going to look like, but he does. His technique is hypnotizing. Using a combination of brushes, cloths, fingers, a squeeze bottle of white paint and a spray bottle of water, he dips and dabs until his masterpiece is finished.