Who am I?

Who am I as an artist?

As soon as I start asking this question I know I am stuck. I begin questioning in circles. Why do I want to be an artist? What kind of art do I really love? How do I find out what my inner voice is saying?

I have just realized that these questions never get me anywhere. Because I love so many things, so many different kinds of paintings by other artists I love and want to be able to do.

Who I am as an artist is who I am as a person, and sometimes it is very hard to put that into words, and I don’t think it is really necessary to do so. What I do and what I love defines me more than what I decide about myself. So when I come to the questions, who am I as an artist? What should I paint? Really all I have to do is put those questions aside, not think about them just for now, and while I mull over that just create anything I feel like and do it. That last bit is key, and perhaps if I take out the phrase ‘I feel like’ it will illustrate better what I mean. ‘Just create anything, and do it now.’ It takes away the pressure of finding out exactly what I like (what defines me) and gives me freedom to experiment with anything and maybe I will like it and maybe I wont. I don’t have to define who I am before I actually know, and it is not even necessary to know just to be.

 

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That slow stage of a painting…

  I have been working on one painting since the beginning of the month, so three weeks now, and I am at that point where I don’t know how to move forward, inspiration is lacking, but I know that there is so much to improve on it. It is a portrait from a photo of myself. It is quite large for me, 24 inches square, and so far the painting has gone really well and I have been excited about how good it looks. Hmm, that could be the problem, I’m getting to the stage where I think it might be good, and so I’m too scared to paint on it in case I mess it up! I know that that mind set doesn’t get you anywhere. I need to push beyond my comfort zone in order to improve.

   It also doesn’t help that I haven’t painted it for a few days. Today is full of pregnancy related appointments and bottling peaches before they go bad. I just have enough time to write this and then scurry off to a midwife appointment. Also, sharing work space with very busy husband completing his final year of an engineering degree, means I don’t get to paint during the weekend. Which is fine with me as there are many other things I got to catch up on. (Lots of baby sewing this last weekend).

   But this week, my main goal is to get this painting finished finally. Last year I bought Ceaser Santos’ instructional video on portrait painting, so while painting each stage of this I have been going through all nineteen hours of watching him paint a portrait and teach. It has been very helpful, I am learning so much, but the learning curve from seeing what he dose to putting it into practice in my own painting is very very steep!

  Here are a few progression photos up to what it looks like now. I’m hoping to get this finished by the end of the week!

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The under drawing. I spent quite some time getting this as accurate as possible in charcoal. Then I sprayed fixative over the top and began painting over it.
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How it looked somewhere halfway through painting. I had some vague ideas for fancy hair which I later painted out.

 

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How the painting looks today. After spending a day on the hair, the face suddenly looks really badly painted again!

Just looking at the painting now in the image on the screen, I’m thinking of what I need to do to improve it. The face is looking too saturated and red without enough contrasting cool colours.  Many of the shapes and values need refining, so I really need to pay attention to the drawing and the value structure as I paint.

Well, time to go, and I’ll let you know how this painting goes. Hopefully I’ll have the finished thing to show you soon!

There is Hope where there is a Butterfly

Sometimes the day feels like it should be all over already, sometimes drawing seems like the thing I would least like to do, but then I draw anyway and the rhythm of the pen, the contrast of the black against white soothes me and comforts me and brings a feeling of rest again. So even if I have only time for a scratchy little pen drawing, I know that it will be worth it to me.

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Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.’

– Pablo Picasso

Speed Drawing Video

    I recently filmed a video of myself drawing, sped it up and uploaded it to my You Tube Channel. I used to do a few of these videos, but I hadn’t done it for years, so it was fun to get back to doing something creative like that. The filming went okay, but editing the video took twice as long. I don’t have a video editor on my computer so after wasting time on a free video editor I downloaded, I ended up just using the video editor on YouTube.

 

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   For the drawing I did a copy of a painting by Lord Frederic Leighton called ‘Study of a Lady’. Leighton is one of my favorite artists from the 19th century. He painted about the time of the pre-raphaelites, and became president of the Royal Academy in England. I read lots about him last year from the books in the library and really admire him for his intense study of nature and the craft of painting.

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  ‘Art is the utterance of our delight in the phenomena of Life and Nature and an endeavour to communicate to others and perpetuate that delight.’

  -Lord Leighton

Christchurch Art Show

Last week I heard back from the show organizers that I have been accepted for the 2017 Christchurch Art Show! It is pretty exciting, and I’m going to have to get very organized very soon. The show is in mid June so technically I have three months to paint and prepare, but I am expecting a baby to arrive in a little over a month, so I would like to get all the painting done before then!

So I have been trying to concentrate most of my time on painting these days and it has been good. I showed you a glimpse of what I am currently working on in my post last Friday. And I hope to write a post all about that soon. I haven’t started that painting of the roses yet, I took so long to get organized and begin that the inspiration waned and at the same time I got very inspired to paint a portrait and so I just went with it, and it has turned out pretty good so far. Maybe I will do the roses painting next, but maybe I won’t also.

Last year I entered some work into the Christchurch Art Show but didn’t have my own panel so I only had two works hanging at one time. This time I have a panel all to myself which costs a lot more, but I think it will be worth it. So I will need more paintings especially as the show runs on a cash and carry basis, meaning if someone buys a piece they take it away then and there and the space needs to be replaced with new work. So that means I need to take about twice as much work than I can display at one time.

Here is a link to the website. On the front page is a video of the show opening last year. At about 20 seconds in you will see a couple dancing, that is Caleb and me! It was fun, good live music, lots of cheese and nibbles at the opening evening, and a real diversity of art. It is good to see a show so broad in it’s range of styles, subject, and media. Something for everyone, and lots get sold.

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Musing on Change with Rasberry Leaf Tea

For me art, gardening, my family/friends, my unborn baby, my lifestyle, are all so connected in my life that it is difficult when I write these posts to just write about art and leave the rest out. No, I’d rather take the name of lifestyle blogger… maybe…

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This is a picture of my present palette I am using to work on a large portrait. I’ve spent about ten hours on it so far and only feel just halfway through. It’s a really exciting painting and I’m taking my time on it and really paying as much attention as I can as I paint. I’m pushing myself, and it is exhausting, but it feels good.

I’ve been getting so much inspiration and motivation lately to paint and create and get out and do. The beginning of my pregnancy was definitely not like this, I remember wondering if I would have to put art aside for awhile when I had a baby, and maybe for years until my child(ren) was all grown up and I had time again. But I have since realized that for me painting is not just a hobby it is part of me now. I wouldn’t know what to do if I had to stop. If you meet my dad who lives and breathes boats you would know where I get this ability to be obsessed with one thing! Even my Mum is obsessed with her writing. It is a useful trait, and I think it intensifies with indulgence!… So I know having a baby won’t stop me from creating and still striving to reach my goals–from being obsessed.

‘Ah, but you just wait until you actually have the baby’, I can hear you say! ‘You will have no time, you will be a sleepless wreck, you will not have time to blow your nose!’ Yes, I know. That’s okay. I am perfectly prepared to feel like I am done with art for a time, that I can only be a mother now because it is the most all consuming thing in the world. I am not afraid of feeling that, because I am so looking forward to having our baby and living and breathing baby for a time. And I know that a baby will not stop my creativity, and that as soon as I have time and energy again, I will be back again full of new inspiration. It may take me in new directions, new themes, new mediums, but I’m okay with that. I am open to having my life changed, to being completely out of control, and like a flower in the wind who will bend but will not break. It is a beautiful thing to be able to let go and to believe and to love freely. ….These are my ideals…. I should apply them more to my art…

Here is a quick peak at a detail of the painting I am working on. Oil on canvas, 24 x 24 inches, so a little larger than life size.

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‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.’
-Aristotle

Some Art Inspiration

Starting of as an artist in rural Northland, New Zealand, I have never had any sort of art community that wasn’t on the internet. In fact it wasn’t until I moved to Christchurch last year that I realized that that was a possibility for me at all. Being an artist is a lonely job, and I like being alone, but we all need inspiration, all need a push and understanding from those doing a similar thing with similar challenges.  I am beginning to meet artist’s in Christchurch and am looking forward to knowing them further.

But in this post I want to share with you all the places I go most regularly to for inspiration on the internet. These are the artists that make my day whenever they post something new on facebook, youtube, or a podcast. Here they are in no particular order.

Podcasts:  Great to listen to while creating!

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Suggested Donation Podcast:   This podcast I discovered somehow about a year ago and have almost listened to every podcast twice over now. They are two professional traditional artists in New York. They talk with many of the best classical, representational, realistic, post contemporary, or what you will, artists who are at the top of their game and going further. The talks are unscripted, hilarious, and inspiring. I would recommend anyone at all connected to the arts to listen even if you aren’t a painter.

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The Studio:    A podcast hosted by artist Danny Grant in Texas. He interviews a number of really good representational artists and focuses on what life is really like as an artist. He asks what their daily routines look like and how their studio is set up. As well as diving into whatever interesting topic comes up in the conversation. Always inspiring and interesting to listen to.

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The Sculptures Funeral:    This is a podcast hosted by a sculpture living in Florence, Italy.  ‘Where all the great artists are dead, and I don’t feel so well myself.’ It is about sculptors and for sculptors but I find it interesting as a painter because he talks a lot about the history of sculpture which is closely linked to painting. He also interviews sculptors that are the best of today.

You Tube:  Inspiring and instructional

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Jennifer Marie:   The artist I follow most on YouTube, I watch every single video and am always inspired by her journey. She is an art student enrolled in the Ravenswood Atelier in Chicago. She shares her experience learning traditional drawing and painting skills in regular weekly videos documenting her progress and sharing what she has learned. I am always inspired by her passion and enthusiasm for learning and improving her skills.

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Jeff Watts:    Founder of Watts Atelier, he is an inspiring talker, especially when it comes to the subject of training. He is a superb draftsman and the channel is full of inspiring and instructional videos.

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Lena Danya:   Very inspiring girl who creates beauty, is passionate about her work and sharing beautiful things. I love to watch her videos about her artistic journey and tours of her studio.

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Bobby Chiu:    More for digital artists and those in the gaming/movie/illustration field. But I find many of the interviews and ‘Little plant people’ talks very inspiring. I find the artists in this area are extremely hard working and focused on being at the top of their game because the industry is so competitive and you can’t get away with not being the best as you can in fine art.

The Banishment of Beauty   Interesting talk put together by artist Scott Burdick

Thoughts on art with Michelle Dunaway and Susan Lyon   An inspiring talk between two of  my art heroines.

Websites:

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Art Renewal Centre:   A website of an organization dedicated to reviving realism in art. The site is full of resources and high resolution images of the work of the masters past and present. A map of all the ateliers and traditional art schools over the world, and a whole lot more to explore. I go there when I’m really dry for inspiration and I always find myself inspired again and discover something new.

And for now I will leave it at that. As you know the internet is full of a million things to inspire and instruct, but it dose get a bit overwhelming sometimes. Another time I will list some of my favorite blogs. I leave you with a recent drawing of the things at the end of my bookshelf in a peaceful corner of my childhood room.

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Miss Marion

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Last week, while I was waiting for a canvas to dry so I could start on a large painting, I pulled out one of my tiny panels and painted my first painting in my new studio. Which is at the desk at the end of the RV we are living in now. I wanted to paint a portrait, which I often want to do but don’t do much because all the faces I have available to me most of the time are photos. I don’t like to use photos as reference most of the time, my ideal is to paint from life all of the time. The subject of photos and art will take a whole post on it’s own, I’ll write that sometime. But I do use photos now and then, they can be very useful tools if used correctly. Though I am still learning what ‘correctly’ means which is why I usually stick to painting from life.

As I said, I wanted to paint a face so I jumped on that inspiration and looked through my reference photos I have taken of friends and family for possible paintings. I decided on a photo of my friend Marion whose face some of you may recognize by now from my work.

I completed the painting in about four hours over two days. Here is a photo of the painting midway through along with my pallet which I had stuck to the drawing board alongside the painting.

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I did have some difficulty towards the end of the painting with my brushes. My smallest was all frayed and unpredictable which was frustrating for doing details. Though at the same time I think it was good practice for me to not be so fussy with details and loosen up. I had to repaint details in the eyes so often that I became more confident with the brush and not so scared of loosing something I liked,  I learnt that I could get it back again and that it might look even better done over again. But I’m definitely going to be buying some new brushes soon!

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