Is it November 30th already? Hard to believe. I think November was the shortest month of the year for me. I've been very busy this year. Busy with family. Busy with art. It's been intentional. I set out at the beginning of this year to be more engaged with my life as a whole. I took a greater interest in the business of being creative. I enrolled in an online workshop with a wonderful artist and mentor and she has helped my brain morph in ways I didn't think it could and surely didn't expect. Through the workshop I've met artists from around the states and even one in England (hey, Laura!). It's a whole new network of friends and artists that have allowed and encouraged me to grow as an artist. And they continue to do so. The biggest part of this is the learning how to help myself learn to lean in to what I'm doing and discover and explore more in my work.
Most of my painting this year has focused on painting from life. I have sought opportunities to paint outdoors more regularly and the benefits from that were, too, unexpected. I didn't realize how many people love the arts, love to paint, write, create, and enjoy watching me and my friends paint on site. To engage with people while I paint has been pretty great. A lot of my creative time is spent inside my studio space in my own house so to get outside once a week has been a pleasant break and opportunity for me.
Some of you may know that I have been creating a lot of work this year on paper. In fact, about 99% of my work this year has been in oils on Arches Oil Paper. Aside from being a practical surface to work on when painting plein air, I love the matte appearance of the paint. I have learned it's nuances and how to prep the surface to achieve certain effects. I haven't fully explored it yet, but will continue to do so. I have also explored the idea of keeping things somewhat more simple in these plein air pieces. If you don't know, typically a plein air session will last about 2-3 hours at most. So I usually work small (9" x 11") and try to record as much information as I can as to color and value and composition. In other words, putting down on paper in paint my "impression" of what is in front of me. And lucky for me I have several friends who love to paint with me.
As I continue with my art, I started participating in arts festivals. My first was in St. Francisville in October at the Yellow Leaf Arts Festival. I shared a booth with my friend, Donna, and she taught me how to get started. (Thanks, Donna!) I have also been juried into The Big Easel which is a one day art event (Saturday, April 14th) in Lafayette, Louisiana. I can't wait. I am also looking forward to the Jackson Assembly Art Show the weekend of March 24-25, 2018 in Jackson, Louisiana. And, I am in the process of finalizing plans to show my work with Theater Baton Rouge in March 2018. I'll send out details once I have that put together.
As for the painting and my national group of painters aka "new artist bffs", we have put together a 30 in 30 Painting Event. We will be painting together - in our own studios. The gist of this event is that some artists have chosen to do 30 paintings in the 30 days, some will paint for 30 days straight during this time, and so on. I will be painting during the 30 days but will maintain my weekends for family time. So you will get about 20-25 days of painting from me. We have set up a blog site where our works will be posted, hopefully each day, so that you can keep track of all of us. I hope you will join us for this virtual event. We are pretty excited about it. At the end of December I will post an update and reminder about the 30 in 30.
So, now that December is upon us, my wish for you is that you have a wonderful holiday season. My wish is for us to keep the balance between the things we love which are family and friends and being creative. Realize that the season of "giving" is more than about getting something for someone. I believe it's the thought in the gift we give, whether the gift is tangible or not. Kindness and understanding and forgiveness are gifts, too. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Holidays to all of you!
We are only 5 days from the "official start of Spring". Can you believe it? I can't but that's because we didn't really have a winter this year. I mean, we had three days of it in January but that's it. (Does that even count???)
As a painter, the official start of Spring is one of my favorite times of the year. When the daylight savings time changes back to me having more daylight toward the end of my day rather than the beginning, I can paint longer hours. Of course, there's probably going to be fewer dinners prepared at the same time. Oh well. As my sister says, "Suck it up, Buttercup". Working longer in my studio with natural light is what I love best and my favorite way to work. (Of course, it could be that I don't like taking the time to do a lighting set up in the studio.) Lazy? I think not. "Using natural resources" at my disposal is a better way for me to see this. Hah!
I also wanted to share what I experienced this weekend. This past Saturday I attended a lecture at the Burden Conference Center. Marc Chatov, the judge for the Brush with Burden Juried Exhibition, took a couple of hours to talk about his work, which focuses primarily on still life and contemporary portraiture. He also talked extensively about his family lineage in the arts which includes dance, music, and painting among other things. His father and uncle, both renowed artists, came to the United States in 1922 to escape the Russian Revolution. His mother was Irish, a dancer, and a Powers Girl model in NYC. Their stories are so fascinating. I'm kind of a geek when it comes to art history and when I'm able to sit and listen to someone talk about it and he was there for part of the history - that's pretty cool. Yes, I bought the book, too.
Bonus on top of that - well, I got a pretty red ribbon for my painting "Be Nice or Leave". I was baffled and humbled by receiving 2nd place. I had considered not even entering this painting in the show. But I did and am grateful that I made that leap of faith. The show will be up at the Orangerie through March 20th if you want to go see it. More information on the Orangerie can be found at www.lsu.edu/botanic-gardens/rentals/orangerie.php.
By the way, the pic of me with my painting is my official dorky look - which is apparently what I look like when I'm giddy with happiness in finding out I won something. It's a good kind of dorky though, don't you think? I hope I have more like that in the future.
And if you want more info on Marc Chatov, his website is www.chatovstudio.com.
Now, go outside and smell the flowers!
Talk about a throwback for this photo. I had to go back 10 years to find this one. But I have to say this image comes to my mind over and over again when I'm trying to decide what to do with my day. Because this about sums up a lot of what I need to do during the day - I mean, add a stack of bills and several loads of wash, two stinking dogs, kids' stuff, cooking (I DO NOT cook everyday - I'll own that) and on and on, and you've got my day. I have repeatedly asked, Should I go paint? No. Should I go paint now? No. What about now? Oh, wait, I wasted all of my day deciding I shouldn't go paint. Notice I didn't ask did I have time to paint. It was "should I paint".
This past December I spent my time painting and finishing two commissions. Once those were done I told myself, okay, now I can really focus on family and family time with the whole, big, entire family for the two weeks and then some around Christmas. But a strange thing happened. Once that was over and done, I was enjoying not being so crazy with trying to fit in 100 things that I just quit working out and I stopped painting. Good or bad, well, I'm trying to figure that out. (Christmas Food Tip #1: All the weight that you gain eating all that good family food does NOT come off as fast as it goes on.)
That being said, what I didn't stop doing was writing (I keep an art diary/sketchbook with me at all times) and researching (online) and reading (art books and magazines) and taking photos (love my new iPad dear husband got me for Christmas). I've got all kinds of ideas of things to paint. Only problem is when I finally started to paint, well, it didn't go as planned. I felt so forced but I stuck with it. I would force myself up into the studio to paint, hating - well, getting aggravated with it more and more each day. Why do we do this to ourselves? Oh yeah, now I know. I heard on a podcast or in a book somewhere that we can't wait for inspiration to show up, we have to show up and then inspiration will find us in front of our easel already painting. So, I kept at it.
I just could not get motivated by this painting - it's not a bad start but finally - thank goodness -the big bright lightbulb came on and shown brightly, "hellooo - you know, you can take painting and put it away and start something else!" Duh! Why didn't I think of that two weeks ago! So, for now, it feels nice to be back a comfort zone. I cut a new canvas. Started painting. And am satisfied once more.
I feel like I got my "mojo" back. And, it's a completely different subject matter. Happy me. Happy painting. Happy little flowers. Yes, if you're wondering, I'll probably go back to that other painting. But not today.
Even with all of that, I still feel like a guilty mom every, single, time I go up to that easel. You know why? Cause most of the time I feel so spoiled being able to spend my time (hours a day) in front of the easel. I am lucky - well, not lucky. I've been given a gift of this time and opportunity and I shouldn't waste it vacuuming up dog hair. So, please, do yourself a favor and don't look down when you come to my house. I'm painting (with a guilty conscience cause I just can't help myself).
Painting dogs, children, trees, clouds, roads, flowers, flowers, and more flowers all in hot southern Louisiana!