Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Overcoming procrastion using charcoal drawing, my process....




During this self isolating period, I thought I was going to get a lot done, but due to the distraction of the bad news, I found it hard to concentrate and get into my groove with the type of paintings I had hoped to have time to do for years!  Time flies so fast, and though the isolation seems long, when we come out of it it will seem like a blip on the screen of life.  Still, I had to fight my own depression, and laziness, and finally get into the studio and do the real work of painting.  I finished my first oil painting that had already been started before the quarantine, but I felt like my progress was way too slow.      So I realized that one phase that didn't involve a lot of color mixing (decisions, decisions!), but was invaluable to getting started was committing to a sketch in charcoal on the canvas.  I had trouble settling on one idea, from my many references I have accumulated from my excursions to Talbot and Jeckyl Island bone yards.   So I pulled out all my prints of the photos, meditated on them for ages, then the cream would rise too the top.  I began to sort out the definitely nots from the maybes. I had already prestretched 10 canvases so I had them raring to go.  My strategy was to outflank my laziness and procrastination by limiting my choices.  I would only do charcoal work, no paint until I had thoroughly explored the designs in that medium.  Once I had a body of sketches worked out, the ice would theoretically be broken and I would be off and painting, with style.  Style is what develops when you do something often enough to do it genuinely the way you most like.
I like learning the twists and turns of the driftwood, which to me is energy and time itself, encapsulated yet still somehow in motion simultaneously.














Thursday, April 9, 2020

“Never let a crisis go to waste” Saul Alinsky.

Sunrise over Jeckyll Island
I wanted to reach out to everyone in the middle of this unusual time in which we are thrust.
This event, is a piece of history, and how we cope will test our discipline and character.
When this started, like many of you I swamped myself with coronavirus all day all the time, spent on Facebook, and Netflix or television, overeating and under exercising! It was not very productive and ultimately debilitating, and depressing.  All the things I thought I would get done I didn't. After wading thru that bad energy, I finally pulled myself up, and slowly, painfully began to paint. I applaud anyone who was able to get creative sooner, you are obviously of high energy and character. I am too sensitive to outside stimulation, and it caused me some great internal anxiety.  I am telling you this, because many of you are probably experiencing something similar.
This event has become a great disruption to the entire fabric of our lives.  Our habits and pleasures are completely upended.
I did learn however that there is a silver lining to this. I learned that the gift of time here is a blessing, a way to get to know our true selves. It has forced me to redevelop the lost art of introspection and meditation. It also taught me that I make a lot of excuses about time that simply aren't true, that fear and laziness are strong forces. It also made me appreciate the quiet power of time spent in my studio, the pleasure of slowly creating something new and of my self. Breaking from digital media, painting is much more rewarding. It pays dividends over and over for years to come, where much of the digital media we fill time with, is temporal stimulation, is easily forgotten and less satisfying, leading to poor self esteem due to time wasted.
I realized this space suit we call a body, needs care, attention, and has enemies, one a virus, but two our own self destructive natures. Our higher self can be reached through the various arts, which is inherently essential, though lately, not deemed officially so. Try getting through this without the arts! You soon find out how essential they are!!
I realized one day that there is a connection to this virus and art. It requires us to pay attention to detail. To see something unseen, or to see what is actually there, not just what we want to see or thought we saw. We have to make a connection to cause and effect, where we put our hands, and the consequences of those actions. Our connections to society at large has shown us how really connected we are. Like a virus, our ideas, good or bad, can spread, and take hold, influence or infect others. How we think or adhere to higher principles of truth and reality become extraordinarily relevant in this time. I have said to friends, my religion is the "Art of Appreciation". It is through really appreciating the many blessings all around us, a flower, a painting, a friend, light on a tree, a child, a parent, by not taking things for granted, we truly touch spirituality.
I am overcoming the effects of this virus, and have succeeded in mutating it into art, a series of efforts to regain my inner strength. I wish you similar luck with this challenge.
I normally work in acrylics, but this latest painting turned out to be a larger effort spanning four media, a watercolor sketch piece, a charcoal drawing on a canvas, starting with acrylic as a base coat, then oil painting as a top coat, each media having it's strength and it's weakness.  So I will share this experience with you now.
It has also been a time to appreciate "real reality" and how fragile real life can be.
So much digital around us, but we miss the real thing, the connection to loved ones and beloved places, like Jeckyll Island shown here at sunrise.  Please enjoy this virtual view of a recently forbidden beach!
I started this process with a trip to Jekyll Island on my last wedding anniversary.  I chose this piece to do as a demo in watercolor class, and decided I liked it as a watercolor but it would be just a study for a more serious oil in time. I Started it however, as an acrylic, during one of my acrylic demo classes at my barn studio.  I liked it as an acrylic, but wanted to see the creamier tones I could get in oils.  
So in this progression of shots you see the same subject rendered in three mediums.  I rarely do that, but it makes for a curious study!

The first is the watercolor version.




Above: The second is the acrylic version
The third is the oil version, and closeups below.