Monday, March 28, 2011

Winds of Change? or Nuclear Meltdown Anxiety...


Another day of wind, chilly temp, wind-chill factor and strong sunlight.

I've been reading the news; I'm feeling a vague yet disturbing sense of alarm and anguish at the spreading radiation from the disaster in Japan.  I read that 'Tiny' amounts of radiation have been found Las Vegas and in rain in Massachusetts.  My sister lives in MA.  I live in CT.  I'm skeptical, hoping that indeed the amount is 'tiny' but I'm somewhat doubtful that this is true.   Thoughts of what might be in the today's wind, yesterday's rain & spreading rapidly around the world is making me feel uneasy.   And sad.  And angry.

In the past few hours, while I've been pondering my nuclear- meltdown-anxiety, I've also been focussed on transferring my original graph-paper drawing to Watercolor paper.  I used a fine-point purple Sharpie to trace the original drawing onto graph paper, a #6 lead pencil to darken the lines on the back of the tracing and a ball point pen to draw over the purple lines onto the watercolor paper.  

Let the painting begin.  There's little fear of nuclear meltdown in the world of  my work.  


Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Meditational Aspect...


So far, no word that either of my paintings have been sold....  

Today is sunny, windy and even though the temp is a few degrees abaout freezing, it feels as if it's a few degrees below.  My space heater is turned  somewhat higher than usual.  I'm bundled up in all kinds of warm clothing, Fat Albert & his hot computer-frying butt is sleeping in my lap,  still, I feel cold.  It's the wind, I'm sure; it's a stiff Wind & penetrating.  Well, it is March and March is known for wind, so here we are....  Wind.  Did I mention that the sun was nice?  And the spring shadows crossing the back yard?   And how glad I am to see the last of the snow?
I drove by the farm yesterday on my way to my mom's for lunch.  Spring is coming to the farm.  2 weeks ago, snow covered the fields and the orchards seemed to still be sleeping.  Yesterday, barely a trace of snow and the monotonous grays and tinted gray-whites have been replaced by fields of monotonous Yellow Ochre and barely-there hints of green.  Something puzzled me about the appearance of the orchard against the sky and closest to the road until it suddenly dawned on me that the trees had all been pruned in the 2 weeks since I've been there -- that's why they looked so breathtaking stark against the sky & even more sculpted than usual.  The trees were furry with suckers all fall and winter but by yesterday, all the suckers had been removed, stacked in neat and orderly piles at the base of each tree.  A massive bonsai project.... 


Yesterday was a day much like today; similar sun, temp and wind.  I stopped by the side of the orchard on my way home but only for a photo op.  The wind was chilly & penetrating yesterday, as well.  I'm eager to be able to get back to painting outside but it's not quite time.  

While I was photographing I was thinking about what it was I wanted from what it was I was seeing; that's the only note-taking I did.  As I photographed I thought about Composition and all the Scales & Tools I've been taught to use since way back when.  I tried to store as much of the thought as possible in my all too mortal memory bank.  The photograph that struck my fancy as having Compositional interest, that might be fun and convey some Personal/Universal meaning to which we can all relate, was this one I've been working on all morning.  Yesterday, while arranging the image in my mind for a photo, I also thought about how I could eventually arrange the image to fit on a piece of WC paper and then make that into a painting for my calendar; what did I want it to say to others about us and our experience of Spring and Orchards and our Sensations and how do I go about doing that given the parameters/boundaries that are mine to deal with.  And so on....

This morning, after reading the news on the Internet and writing/venting/responding....the last word I typed was OUTRAGED!!!! -- in the Comment box, my thoughts on a disturbing article about how people on Social Security can't expect a Cost of Living increase any time soon -- if ever,  I turned my attention to taking the 1st steps to planning my next painting for my calendar.  It was a good step to take and a really good thing that I had all that thought about the image stored in my memory and that there's much I can do to begin a painting without even thinking about it.  My mind was wild from having read any of the news, never-mind that one article.  The moment I got out the graph paper, ruler, pencil -- the Tools -- my mind and blood pressure began to settle down as my hand and pencil drew lines and shapes on a grid.  Soon, the world of News and woes slipped away.  

This morning's work was a good Meditation.  After a few hours of work on this drawing, my mind felt peaceful, orderly -- calm.  This is one of the most wonderful things that happens for me when engaged in a Drawing. Meditation.  I endorse highly the practice of the Art of Drawing.  

v. med·i·tat·ed, med·i·tat·ing, med·i·tates
1. To reflect on; contemplate.
2. To plan in the mind; intend: (meditated a visit to her daughter....)

Buddhism & Hinduism To train, calm, or empty the mind, often by achieving an altered state, as by focusing on a single object.
To engage in devotional contemplation, especially prayer.

To think or reflect, especially in a calm and deliberate manner. 

Latin:  meditatio : practice, preparation, getting ready / consideration, pondering....


Saturday, March 26, 2011

On the Beach

On the Beach:  I've been in a low-down funk.  Big-time Blues.  Winter...The Economy & my lack of employment, friends in peril...the Earthquake, Tsunami & Nuclear Melt-down in Japan...Some of my old Baggage....

The Earthquake and Tsunami were bad enough.  My heart has been aching for the souls who were swept away that day and for the lives that have been set in chaos.  The Meltdown and Radiation have been bringing up fears in me that have been sleeping or buried for a long time.

When I was a kid in school we'd have Air Raid Drills where we had to crouch under our desks and wait for the All Clear.  Adults in my life would talk about the chaos of nuclear/atomic disaster.  By the time I was in 6th grade, I was a skeptic --
One who instinctively or habitually doubts, questions, or disagrees with assertions or generally accepted conclusions..  I called the Fire Drills Crouch -Under- Your- Desk- and- Kiss- Your- Ass- Goodbye.  I was a prolific reader and had, by then, read a book by an English author named Nevil Shute called On the Beach.  The book was later made into a movie.  I found the book horrifying, yet inspirational.  What I've been remembering this past week is that the characters in the book all knew that it was only going to be a matter of time before the cloud of radiation killed them and the story was about what they did with the time they had, before they all met on a beach in Australia and joined together to die.

I was terrified as a kid by the thought of nuclear devastation.  I love this Earth, this World and want to treat it well and to see it treated well.  But whatever power had established the reality of this fear was bigger than I so I drew comfort in deciding what I would do until the time I went to join the  others On the Beach.  

I'd forgotten about this until this past week; the reminder gave me comfort and after a few dark nights of the soul, I'm back on my beach....

As far as Art and Painting go, this has been a week that has produced more thought than action.

A week ago, I entered 2 paintings in a show at my art association.  On one painting, the larger one, I set the sale price as the same amount as my Rent.  On the other, I established the sale price according to what I'll need for Utilities and Groceries.  One of the people in Receiving somewhat scoffed at my pricing, raised her eyebrows, her upturned her lips held a faint sneer.  I could only imagine the criticism going on in her mind....  I explained that I had nothing to lose and might as well ask for what I want and need.  She shook her head as if in disbelief that I could do something so ridiculous.  The look on her face, to me, was judgemental and critical -- negative.  I tried to remember her face and hoped that the next time we met she'd be laughing out the other side & that I'd be laughing and whoo-hooing on my way to the bank. 

This past Monday, I practiced my calligraphy for a few hours.  My 'hand' (like a trumpeter or clarinetist's 'lip') is getting stronger.  Perhaps someday soon I'll be ready to tackle the job of addressing a big pile of wedding invitations.

Painting; I slapped paint on paper, watched it dry.  I started loose and wet and ended up working in lots of color, then watched it dry again.  I scratched paint out, I distressed the paper with sharp objects, I splattered, I used a variety of brushes.  I'm not showing any because they look like tear-covered vomit.  The work I did felt like weeping, like vomiting and after a day of illness, I felt purged and weak.  I'm feeling much better, now.  

Albert, my cat, slept on the keyboard of my computer and eventually, due to a combination of his heat and the computer heat, fried the hard drive on the computer while he warmed his big butt.  This happened when the rest of my life was turning to shit, the day my car was towed to the garage for repairs, the day I was told I didn't have enough students to hold a class, and now, no computer-- all factored-in to my lowering sense of desolation,  bitterness and fear.  But, he's a cat and I knew I should have checked to make sure that the lid to the computer was completely down -- as I've been doing for the past year -- before I left for the day.  I have no excuse or reason except distraction.  (Note to self....)

Or maybe the Universe is telling me something....

I spent the next day in bed and later on, walked it off and worked it out for an hour at the gym.


In the moment, Now, I'm grateful for Enough, to be here, to be me.  I'm grateful that I bought the little Netbook last year that I'm now using.  Holding a brand new computer in Reserve turned out to be an enormous Gift and I bow my head in gratitude.   My mechanic gave me a break on the repair to my car; didn't charge for the tow, got a discount on the new starter from the supplier & passed the savings onto me.  My car shouldn't have needed a new starter as the one that died was only 2 1/2 years old.   I'm grateful to my previous mechanic for sending me to this guy and for the trust I have in both.  There's nothing I can do about not having the interest in and commitment to a class to teach at the moment or the income I won't be receiving.  Another class is scheduled for April and in the mean-time, maybe I'll sell a painting....

"When the Teacher is ready, the Students will Appear."

Friday, March 4, 2011

Calendar page for 2012: July

1)  Sketch from last summer

2) Photo taken from where I was sitting when I did the above sketch

3) Drawing on Graph Paper, rule of 3rds marked out

4) Tracing paper taped to watercolor paper

5) First sky wash

6) Middle ground done, foreground washed in

7) Foreground using Viridian base and greater amounts of greens added in

8) Details and Finished

I’ve been working on paintings for a calendar I’d like to publish in time for 2012.  So far, I have a good working plan and 6 paintings for 6 of the months.    This morning I finished #7, July.

The Photos:

1. Somewhat finished sketch from last August

2. Photo taken from where I was sitting when I did the sketch/painting last August

3.  Scene drawn on 5 ½" x 7 ½" graph paper

4. Drawing traced from graph paper w/fine point marker

    a.  After I removed the tracing from the graph paper drawing, I turned it over and with a #6 pencil, went over the lines I’d traced in marker. #6 lead is very dark.  When I was done going over all the lines, I taped the tracing paper to the watercolor paper and went over the marker lines to transfer the drawing to the watercolor paper.

5. - 8.  The painting in process and finished.

The 1st wash of the sky was done on very wet paper that had light tints of Cad Yellow at the treeline and Cad Orange, blending into Cad Red at the top.  While the paper was still wet, I started working in increasingly thicker amounts of Cindre Blue and toward the horizon, Cindre blue with a tiny amount of Cad Yellow.  While the paper was still wet, worked in increasingly heavier amounts of Ultramarine Blue.  My main pigments in the background and foreground were Ultramarine Blue, Cad yellow and Cad red.  I gave the sky another wash of Cindre Blue and Yellow, pure Cindre Blue toward the top of the image.  In the foreground, I began with a more saturated tint of Viridian (Green) over a previous tint of Cad Yellow and worked greens made of UB, CY and CR.  In places where I needed a cooler green, (shadow lh foreground) I used Prussian Blue, Aureolin Yellow and a hint of Alizarin Crimson. 

And now, off to go grocery shopping and maybe get a little sunshine. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Framing Winter Blues

Part of this morning’s work was to find a frame for this painting.  Another thing was to find the brochure for the show and the exact date for receiving this painting.  March 12, next week and not March 19 as I’d been thinking all along.  Good thing I looked.

As I’m presently low on funds, I won’t be making a new matte or frame for this painting.  I’ve decided to use a matte and frame from a painting already in a matte and frame.  I’m decommissioning the former painting and replacing it with Winter Blues.  

Six years ago, my sister and I made many frames for a series of my work that I showed in a friend’s gallery in NYC.  They were cheap and simple to make and relatively easy to finish.  After she and I built the frames, I finished them.  I used Acrylic pigment and Gesso.  I primed them all in 2 coats of Gesso, the 2nd coat having the base color in it as well.  My 3rd coat was comprised of polyurethane, water and pigment so I could faux grain it, the last layer was thicker paint and poly/water, often spattered on the frame with an old brush or a swan feather I found near a pond.  I call them my ‘Jackson Pollock’ frames because there was a lot of physical energy and paint applied fast and loose and with a variety of tools and methods in the final finish.  There were some random results in the finish I really liked.  There were 30 or so frames and each one is unique.   I actually had fun finishing these frames.  

Now that I have the painting temporarily taped to the glass,  I find that I like the way this frame looks with this painting and I also feel that I don’t want to refinish the frame but leave it as it is.  Seeing how the painting needs to be ready next week, not the 2 more weeks I thought, it seems a no-brainer.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

An Arrangement of Pigment on a Flat Surface.

The Plastic, the psychological, the process....  

And here we are.  And not one Q-tip necessary.

I’m so finished with this painting that it’s signed and the masking tape removed.  I’ve called it Winter Blues, for a variety of reasons. I’m pleased with the painting and the process I went through to make this image, in my mind, in my experiments in the final painting and the final result. To me, it expresses what I wanted to say about a particularly colorful and joyful moment on a cold and blue day in the horrific Winter of 2011.  

Next task, Framing.  Stay tuned....