I just got back from an almost 4-week run away from home trip. It's the first time I've ever done that. I remembered who I was and am - for that matter - on this trip. I felt like I could breathe again and hear my own voice once more. My original idea was to escape to my sister's place at the lake and just paint. Then we thought "hey, let's invite the oldest sister along". And, of course, she thought that was a great idea. Then she took it a step further and said "hey, why don't we go hiking?" We all thought that, too, was a great idea. And so we all made it happen. So, in that trip we had 3 travel days, 4 days of hiking, 7 days of full family at the lake, and only one week of actual painting time. I had a lot of breathing time, exercise time, writing about art, brainstorming about art, and discovering gouache paint. I created 4 small gouache paintings for my sister's lake house and started 2 - 9"x12" portraits.
I never realized until this trip that in order to become more clear headed about what I'm doing, it's necessary to get completely away from where I am and what I am doing and how I am living day to day. I know that to say this is one thing and to have the ability to do this is something else altogether. And, until now, I just haven't had to ability to do it.
We hiked on the Appalachain Trail two separate days. One hike was 12 miles and the second one was 14+ miles. We hiked in Pisgah National Park up to Looking Glass and back - amazing views up there. And we hiked another trail that was difficult in elevation, lacked trail markings, and included humidity, and an abundance of gnats that decided my sweaty face was the perfect target for their little bodies. But, we did it and made it through together. I learned that my mind and body are at peace in these hills and on these trails.
The lake was where I painted and wrote and brainstormed. But I also tried to learn to ski (failed beautifully), saw beautiful sunsets on the lake, enjoyed an amazing fireworks show, participated in - and lost - a corn hole competition, was a part of the 4th of July boat parade (big water guns are fun - we need more for next year), laughed a lot and got a little pissed off with my family ("you're not the boss of me"), and just floated and chatted and laughed some more. And napped. Let's not overlook the importance of that.
I know, I know, this blog isn't really about art. But, in a way, it is. I needed this. I needed to recharge. I need to plunge into something where all my focus was on one task - the hike and rest. That has made a great difference for me indeed. My mind is clearer. And I will go back to my studio feeling refreshed. And grateful. So grateful.
The Baton Rouge Botanic Gardens Foundation hosted a 3-day Invitational Plein Air Event called "Painting in the Gardens" this past week at the Independence Park Botanic Gardens. 35+ Artists were invited to participate and, wow, what a turnout. I painted all three days, BUT, I did it early in the mornings - like 6:30 am early. I knew how hot it was going to be and those little gnats and black flies have made an appearance sooner than I'd hoped. So, there I was with my bug spray and plein air set up ready to go each day. I created 4 paintings over the 3 days and 2 of them sold at the reception which was held in the gorgeorus Baton Rouge Main Library. The conference room has all glass windows where you can see out into the gardens where we painted. A perfect backdrop for an art reception. Many thanks for the people that came up with this great idea because not only does it benefit the artists, it benefits the community at large. A portion of the proceeds of all sales from this event will be used to purchase new plants for these gardens. AND, at last count, 26 paintings sold! What a great contribution by the Foundation and these artists, all working together, giving back to the community where we live, thrive, and paint.
To continue to follow along with these plein air painters, you can start by checking out two FB feeds @NanciCharpentierArt AND @BatonRougePleinAir. Each week the Baton Rouge Plein Air group paints at a different location in and around the Baton Rouge area on Thursday mornings.
Busy Weekend...Part II
The Baton Rouge Art League members are so generous in their support of the arts. I have been invited again to show one painting at their Art Exhibit and Reception at the LSU Rural Life Museum Saturday evening.
It's a great opportunity for 150 or so artists to showcase their works all in one place. I love this event because I meet new artists every year and get to chat with those that I paint with all the time.
Some background on this painting is that the inspiration piece (bottom image), "I Think I'm In Love", is a plein air piece I did out in a field in St. Amant last October in a gorgeous field of yellow flowers. It was a great day with my friends all painting together. I wanted to take that painting and create a larger piece from it. I had this 20" x 40" canvas in my studio and my mind kept going to back to it to go larger and this is the painting. The title is from a Carole King song titled "Gotta Get Through Another Day" and this verse just hit me when I was painting this piece. I love her music.
(BTW - I just sold "I Think I'm In Love" last week.)
"Corn Yellow Silk and Golden Sunlight I Remember"
Oil on Gallery Wrapped Linen
20" x 40"
First event is Thursday, April 5th. The Opening Reception for Associated Women in the Arts Annual Exhibition is at the Old State Capital in downtown Baton Rouge. This is a great exhibit as it showcases the artist's process from conception to finished piece. All original works including studies, sketches, and more hang alongside the final finished "studio" painting and all pieces can be purchased. Some of the studies as well as the finished paintings were executed en plein air (outdoors). The large painting (shown at the bottom) along with the black and white study are in this show. The concept originated with a group of AWA plein air painters in hopes that we could share more of our process with you.
Come meet all the artists. Talk to us and ask us more about our passion.
Reception is 5p.m. - 7 p.m., Old State Capital, Senate Chamber.
I'll share my other event with you tomorrow. See you then!
As part of my Portrait Painting Project in February (and on into March), I painted these fraternal twins. I loved spending a couple of hours with them playing in their backyard and taking tons of photos of them. Zoey was a little resistant on the smiling part but I somehow managed to get a little smile out of her. Zaine on the other hand was quite the ham. We share pictures of puppies, giggling, and played (well, they played) on the trampoline.
Thanks to their mom and dad, Heather and Juan, for allowing me the privilege to paint these beautiful babies - well, they're 3 years old now are they still babies? Yes, they are. I know this because my 17 and 19 year olds are still my babies.
This is the largest of the portraits I've painted thus far. It's a 12" x 12" oil on linen panel.
I started this painting - well, let me rephrase that - I started painting Daniel in early January. I have painted him three times. Make that four times. It's just that this painting, the one you see here, is one I've worked on twice so I think that makes it four times.
Anyway, the first painting I did that I told you I WAS NOT posting was the first one I painted of him. This one, well, I'm happier with.
And each time I came to the easel to paint Daniel the song that came to my head repeatedly was "Wild Montana Skies" by John Denver. A singer and a songwriter that Daniel's mother has loved as I do. And, Daniel, right now is out in Montana hiking and working and living and breathing in the crisp cold air of the mountains. And I am jealous and happy all at the same time.
I'm leaving you here with the refrain from that song:
"Oh Montana, give this child a home
Give him the love of a good family and a woman of his own
Give him a fire in his heart, give him a light in his eyes
Give him the wild wind for a brother and the wild Montana skies"
If you've been following along all during the month of January you know that I set out to paint 30 paintings in 30 days. This morphed over the month into drawing and painting almost every day. Initially when I set out to do this challenge the practical side of me said, you can't have everyday for painting, what about that husband and those two kids you've got. Oh yeah, them. So, the weekends were for family and I chose to paint for about 4 hours a day. I suppose I knew at the beginning it would be 30 days minus 8 days which brings me down to 22 actual painting (and drawing) days. And, by the way, laundry was washed, people were fed, bills were paid, and a house was painted in the middle of all of this (yes, I paint walls, too). Not too bad.
So, where did I get and what did I accomplish?
Well, I managed to get my large and a little obnoxious and funny family to go along with my plan from the get go. All these faces you've seen are of my nieces and nephews and my own two kids. And there's many more to go. AND, I know that some of my peeps are out there still waiting to see their faces pop up in my IG feed. Just stay in line and I'll get to you people!
As for the work, I created 10 drawings. I completed 7 paintings. I attempted 3 additional paintings but scraped them down or wiped them away completely. So, in total, I created 20 pieces and 3 were deemed terrible. Good riddance to those.
Next step~ well, that's the Portrait Painting Project that I've already started. I asked for volunteers to be a part of the project and I'm in the process of going out and photographing non-family - although they all sort of feel like family to me. Which is pretty great. I'll start painting their portraits begining next week. Can't wait.
So, stick around and keep following me here on the blog and through my IG @NanciTheArtist.
One more day. That's it. One more day in the 30 day challenge. Hard to believe I'm near the end of the month. I have learned alot and I haven't learned all there is to know.
This painting was a hard fought battle between me and the paint. There's a lot of paint on this one today. I started last Thursday and left town for three days to paint the inside of a house in another state. I finally got back to it today and I thought "oh no, not again" thinking it wasn't going to work and I'd have to wipe it out and start all over. Well, I perservered and am happy.
There a ton of glare on this photo and I'll upload a better one once I get it. But here it is.
And, I'm happy to say that this beautiful baby boy's painting will be heading home to his Momma and Daddy. When Momma likes it, you know it's a good day.
Oh boy I am so tired. It's been a long week and we're only at Wednesday. I made an effort to get in the studio. I worked on one of my earlier paintings and, again, it was not successful. I tried to figure it out and I think I've got it. The lighting of the subject has to be right. Also, when using photography there needs to be an understanding that photographs will flatten and skew angles and edges so it's so important to keep that in mind when using photos as reference material. I should probably be working directly from models but I am not. This is the route I'm taking right now and I'm seeing how far I can push myself.
I've worked on a total of 9 paintings since the beginning of this month. Only 6 of those do I consider successful. I've also completed 10 drawings. I'm learning a lot about what elements of painting work and which ones don't work. And then there's those moments when you stand right in front of the canvas and say "I can't remember what colors to mix today."
There are only 6 days left in the month. I am hoping that I can manage to paint with some success at least two more. That's a stretch considering I have to go and paint a house - a real house - this weekend. That takes out 3 days from my next 6.
So, for today, I am posting the drawing of this cutie pie. I asked him if he would smile for the camera and his reply was simply "no".
Today was the day of extreme distractions. I brought it on myself. There were good distractions and bad distractions and no, I can't share them with you because they are very personal.
I worked diligently to get out of my own head and just focus on the painting, once I finally got back into the studio this afternoon. (See the first photo above). But, it just didn't work. I started out okay but I knew the longer I painted that it wasn't what I wanted. So, I wiped away the painting. I just had to do it. (You can see below what it looked like when I'd had enough!) Now all that's left is a white canvas and a fresh beginning.
This is the longest period of time that I have ever spent just focused on one thing, one subject matter. I think maybe I hit a brick wall. I'm not sure. Tomorrow I go back to the routine that's been working for me, and I will work toward eliminating distractions. Wish me luck!
Painting dogs, children, trees, clouds, roads, flowers, flowers, and more flowers all in hot southern Louisiana!