Monthly Archives: January 2013

Background Check

As a traveler, I enjoy visiting other countries.  That requires a passport, and a passport requires a background check.  Background checks are a necessity in today’s world.  Even my painting professor suggests I address the ‘background’ of a painting before I get too far into my work.  This week, however, I ignored her advice. I painted my subject first without any concern over how my color choices might be affected by the addition of a strong hue in my background. It was a bad decision.  My leaves, which initially seemed to glow against the stark white canvas, became muted once they were surrounded the Ultramarine sky, and their stems all but disappeared into the blue.  With acrylic, I do have the luxury of painting over bad decisions, but this week, time just didn’t permit a do-over.  Lesson learned?  Yes.  From now on there will be a thorough background check on every canvas that tries to gain entry into my studio.

“Striptease” (take two)–Acrylic on Canvas


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“Striptease”–watercolor on Arches Aquarelle


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The Hammer

This morning I stopped for a red light at a busy intersection.  A rusted-out car pulled up in the lane next to me. The driver put his car in park and opened his door.  As he got out of his car, I instinctively locked my doors.  My pulse quickened as I waited for his next move.  Surely this unscrupulous character was planning to yank open my passenger side door and steal my purse, my car—maybe even me. But the man walked up to the work truck ahead of him in line and lifted a forgotten hammer from the driver’s rear bumper. He raised it in the air so the truck driver could see it in his rear view mirror, then he placed it in the back of the truck.  This man, who looked a little rough around the edges, wasn’t trying to carjack me, he was going out of his way to do a kind deed for a stranger.  I felt ashamed of myself.  I had judged someone based on the way he looked.  I had judged someone due to my own irrational fear.  I had judged someone unfairly.

On my Artist’s Journey, I try to see the beauty in nature, people, or even in ordinary objects, yet fear prevented me from seeing the beauty in an unsolicited act of kindness.  In the future I will look a little closer, because sometimes  beauty is hard to see.  When you do find it—even in something as simple as a hammer—it’s breathtaking.

“Hammer”–ink and watercolor–from my sketchbook


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Memory Lane

This week on my Artist’s Journey, I am struggling with a project.  It just isn’t working and I feel stuck–emotionally stranded at the easel.  I have missed my connection and I’m trapped in my studio, waiting for the next plane to Technique Town.  This unexpected delay has resulted in anxiety and frustration as my painting is due in class on Tuesday.

Just as I keep photo albums that detail my real life travels, I have archives in my studio that tell the ongoing story of my Artist’s Journey.  Looking through my old work reminds me how far I’ve come and often restores my confidence.  Sometimes I need to step back, retrace my steps, and find that occasionally elusive inspiration that will allow me to get back on track.  I pride myself on being prompt and timely, so I’m hoping a trip down Memory Lane will give me the push I need to re-book the next leg of my journey.  I plan to arrive at my destination on time, with my finished painting in hand.  

“I Dream of Riding in Cars”–Graphite on Arches Cover–from my archives


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We all know that oxygen is vital to our survival, but how often do we thank a tree?  They breathe out the very element we need to breathe in, and in exchange, we provide them with the carbon dioxide they require for photosynthesis.  The connection is clear, and couldn’t have been more beautifully designed.

“Striptease”–work in progress–watercolor on Arches Aquarelle


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Hands Down

I’m starting Spring Semester by examining the physical interpretation of ‘connection,’ and I can’t think of a more appropriate subject than the human hand.  Our hands connect us to each other and the world around us.  We use our hands to explore, create, and communicate.  A simple hand gesture can express excitement, approval, or rage.  The touch of a hand can deliver pleasure, comfort, or pain.  The more I think about it, the more I am amazed by the incredible, versatile hand.

“Thumb War”–  pen and watercolor


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Today I closed the last drawer on my newly organized filing cabinet.  An unfulfilled New Year’s Resolution for years, my Frankenstein could no longer be ignored.  I am proud to say I won the battle, and the only casualty was my over-heated paper shredder.

I realize now that while the filing cabinet may have been my Frankenstein, the real enemies were fear, procrastination, and doubt. Fortunately, a healthy armament of drive and determination helped me to succeed.  If I put this much energy and focus into my Artist’s Journey, I wonder where it will take me.

“Victory!”  pen and watercolor–from my sketchbook



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I am currently dealing with a monster in my studio.  Built over the past several years through carefully crafted procrastination, this four-drawer Frankenstein is more commonly referred to as a ‘filing cabinet’.  Stuffed full of unnecessary documents and bulging in protest, he is pressing against the closet doors that have kept him hidden from the rest of the world.  It is crucial that I reign him back in before he bursts out of his prison and literally explodes all over my art studio.  I created him, so armed with only a paper shredder, I must destroy him.  And so begins the first of my New Year’s Resolutions.  If you don’t hear from me soon, you will know that I have been defeated, and the monster has won.  I’m off to the battlefield!

“Buried” –from my sketchbook– pen and watercolor


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