Saturday, September 29, 2012

"Sea Oats" Painting Revisions

     "Sea Oats", a 12" x 16" acrylic painting, is still a work in progress, but I think some current revisions have improved it. The newer version seen above now hangs on the studio wall for consideration. This piece will be part of a special exhibit I will have at Paddiwhack Gallery in Gainesville, Florida in less than a month. In spite of some on-going personal obstacles to getting maximum work done right now, I am determined to complete this painting and one larger piece in time to hang in Paddiwhack's honored front nook for a six week mini-show with other recent works. A previous post showed you the first exhibit I brought to this amazing store back in the spring of 2011.

     Some of you were very complimentary about the earlier version of "Sea Oats" I showed you awhile ago--seen below--but it wasn't quite satisfactory for me. It was too "pink" for my taste (others will differ on palette preferences, of course) and lacked punch. My mentor, Linda Blondheim, agreed, calling it a "pretty enough" picture, but also feeling that it was somewhat bland. 

     So, having added more tonal contrast, a more interesting sky, and more variation in the tones of the grasses and sea oats on the dune, I am happier with the piece. I have also reduced the power of the pink areas, substituting some quiet golden glow. Still am considering some minor adjustments, and may (or may not) change the placement of the birds (which will be sharpened a bit once their location is definite). Since I have signed up for one more week of Linda Blondheim's excellent e-critique, we will see what she thinks of this work once I have one other, larger piece ready for her assessment as well. She is a super teacher and guide and always understands that I may or may not include all her suggested revisions in the final form. As I have confessed to you before, I always have trouble knowing when a painting is finished (or finished enough, given that one could continue revising indefinitely--a process that eventually begins to detract from the vitality and impact of a work). So, Linda's assessment is also tremendously helpful in making that decision to sign a painting, give it a protective coat of medium, and consider it ready for prime time.
Question of the day: In any undertaking, do you agree that the assessment and revision process is almost as significant as the original concept for a good outcome?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Favorite Paintings from 2007 and 2008

     Thinking back on the relatively few years I have been painting, I browsed the photo file, viewing earlier works, and spent some time feeling grateful for this rewarding pursuit. A few favorite early paintings stood out, although each and every piece has some interesting features, and each represents creative learning and growing experiences.

     About nine years ago, a week-long painting course at the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina awakened a whole new pleasurable undertaking for me. I had expected to relax, stretch my mostly analytical mind beyond its comfort level, have fun making some messes, and come home refreshed. Well, with an excellent teacher, all my expectations were met--except one. The paintings were not total messes at all. Not that they were great art, but they were pleasing to me beyond anything I had ever thought possible.

     Since then, I have learned much more and refined my painting skills with occasional local classes, guidance from my painting mentor, Linda Blondheim, and lots of practice. Painting is a whole new, unexpected source of joy.

     So, as I looked back, I  found three photos to show you, each representing a particularly pleasing achievement for me. Each work has elements I would do differently today, but they were the best I could do at the time, and that's good enough. No need to be overly self-critical about them (or to whine to you about the short-comings I see in them now). 

     It's interesting how differently artists view their own earlier work. In one painting class, a very good teacher said that she sometimes cringed when she saw some of the paintings she had sold years ago. She was somewhat ashamed of those earlier works. That seems a pity; clearly they appealed to the buyers (and probably to others). Further, regardless of other peoples' opinions, they represent a stage in her creative journey which contributed to where she is now. Linda Blondheim's attitude strikes me as healthier and more self-affirming; she enjoys looking back and values every one of her paintings, convinced that each was the best she could do at the time.

     So, without apologies, here are three personal favorites from 2007 and 2008. For each, clicking on the link will pull up an earlier post describing their creation in more detail. "Look to the Hills", an 18" x 24" landscape, interprets a meaningful visit to a retreat center in Warwick, New York. The 12" x 16" marsh scene recalls a delightful day kayaking with my husband and one son (and later became an engagement gift for our son and his fiancee). The 9" x 12" "Magnolia on Purple" was based on photos of magnolia blossoms on some neighbors' trees. Each work brought frustration as I confronted its challenges, and each was a significant learning adventure. 

     Life's journey is always surprising--what if I had listened to my conviction that I had zero artistic ability?--what if I had never tried painting? By the way, I also value other less successful (or even totally bungled) ventures along my journey for the contribution they have made to the person I am today.
Question of the day: What surprising discovery have you made about your own abilities?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Wisconsin Family Reunion--Precious, Fun Time

     A couple of weeks ago, we returned home from a super time with my husband's extended family in Wisconsin. Among the many highlights of our family reunion (great food, a warm loving circle around the fire ring after sunset, spending extended time together), were the times on the water at one family's cottage on a lake in the Fox River chain of lakes. 

     The reunion planning began with a suggestion from one of our wonderful daughters-in-law. Although many of my husband's family members live in or near central Wisconsin, we and our two sons and their wives are the exception, living in Florida and Georgia. Thus, it has been difficult for the daughters-in-law to get to know our son's extended family. Ashley and Sumry treasured the time with my family in the Smoky Mountains last summer (my family is quite spread out over a number of states) and one suggested a family reunion with Mark's family. They were excited to have several days to grow closer to all their husbands' extended family members, one bunch each summer. 

     I intentionally chose photos that don't show faces clearly as the purpose of this blog has never been to reveal family details. I hope you can still see the family love and joy as we play. The sunset photos show our wonderful "kids". Both our sons were thrilled to get up on water skis (it's been many years since their last time) and to have successful runs, one on a slalom ski and one on two skis. Irma, the wonder dog (seen in the tubing photo of hubby, a brother, and a third, unseen reveler) served as primary spotter (backed up by a human assistant). She knows all the signals skiers and tubers use and barked the news to the skipper every time. 

     Mark and I have enjoyed many family times in Wisconsin, but this year was even richer and more precious because it was the first time in many years that our sons were able to join us and the first time ever for our sweet "daughters". Absolutely priceless!

Question of the day: Have recent gatherings added to your precious memories of family or friends?