Tag Archives: acrylic painting

Downsizing

 When I fly, if I’m given the option to bring a carry-on bag rather than having to check a bag, the choice is simple.  It’s easy to maneuver my carry-on as I make my way through the airport.  I don’t have to wait at the baggage carousel, and I don’t need a bellman’s assistance when I reach my destination.  I pack less, and have less to unpack when I get home.  Sometimes it just makes sense to downsize.

On my Artist’s Journey, I have downsized for my current series.  I typically work on a canvas of at least 16×20 inches, but this week I’m painting on 8×8 inch canvases.  The small canvases are easy to transport back and forth to class, and as an added bonus, I’m using a lot less paint.  There are plenty of times when my work calls for a large canvas, but on this project, I’m enjoying the maneuverability and portability of my ‘carry-on’ canvases.

“Nap Time”–Acrylic on Canvas–1 of 4 from the series “Time”

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The American Gentleman

I’m working on a new series in acrylic, and I can’t think of a more suitable subject than my Boston Terriers, the breed commonly referred to as ‘The American Gentleman’.  I have three willing models lined up and ready to pose. I’ll be posting my progress along the way, and eventually, the finished paintings. 

“The American Gentleman”–Acrylic on Gessobord

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Time Crunch

While I consider myself to be a completely proficient multi-tasker, some days it is difficult for me to carve out time in my studio.  A growing number of obligations, interruptions, and procrastinations rudely barricade my studio door to prevent me from moving forward with my art.  At the end of any given day, I find myself wishing for more time.  Time is a fixed commodity.  It is the great equalizer.  We all have the exact same 24 hours in our days. What we do with those precious hours, in some ways, defines us.  And since I would like to be defined as an ‘artist’, I will push past my time-sapping nemeses and reclaim my studio.  There’s a blank canvas waiting patiently for some of my precious, priceless time.

“Goldfish”–Acrylic and Swarovski Crystals on Canvas

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To Boldly Go

One of my all-time favorite television shows is Star Trek.  I love the characters and the exotic planets they explore, but mostly, I admire the way the crew boldly goes where no one has gone before, not knowing what might lie ahead.  That takes guts.  Luckily, it’s just a TV show, so even if things go horribly wrong, all will be well in the end.

On my Artist’s Journey, I typically choose the safe route, the proven path, the road ‘more often’ traveled.  But today, I was an explorer.  I donned my uniform (aka:apron), set a course, and headed out into the unknown–warp 9.  Though I didn’t posses the bravery of Kirk or Picard, I did muster up enough courage to seek out new watercolor techniques.  Armed with a mister and a bottle of masking fluid, I decided to boldly go where I had not gone before.  I didn’t have the safety of an expensive starship to consider on my mission, but I did have a pricey sheet of watercolor paper that I certainly didn’t want to see get sucked into a black hole.  When I explore strange new worlds, I do so without an experienced crew or the support of Starfleet.  I don’t even have a script writer to ensure my safety.  I am on my own.  Sometimes I fail, but other times, I create something beautiful.

“To Boldly Go”–watercolor on Arches Aquarelle

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My Mother’s Jewelry Box

I’ve always been a big fan of sparkle and shine.  I have fond, vivid memories of gazing deep into the endless stair steps of my grandmother’s enormous emerald cut diamond ring.  As a child, I logged countless hours trying on pieces from my mother’s crystal-encrusted costume jewelry collection.  I spent my teenage years in the 1970’s draped in shiny, satiny polyester.  The eighties brought shimmer to my face courtesy of the flashy Ultima ll cosmetics line.  Even in the muted decade that followed, I still found ways to sparkle. I felt it was time for a more mature shine, so gold, platinum, and gemstones provided my twinkle in the 90’s. That being said, no one cheered louder than I when fashion’s sequins and glitter helped ring in the new century.  In my objective opinion, everything should sparkle.

Even on my Artist’s Journey, I try to sneak in a little sparkle and shine.  I have metallic paints that I often brush on my canvas ever so lightly to create a subtle glimmer.  But this week, I grew bold.  While digging through a craft bin in my studio, I came across some leftover Swarovski crystals just begging to be used.  Valencia College officially labels my Independent Study as “Mixed Media Exploration,”–which basically means ‘anything goes’– so I got out my tweezers and glue, and affixed the crystals to a previously painted piece.  The results were definitely not traditional. They may have been a little gaudy or garish by painterly standards, but I didn’t care.  For a few short hours, I was a young girl again, happily digging through my mother’s jewelry box.

“Something Fishy” (the ‘sparkle and shine’ edition)  Acrylic and Swarovski crystals on canvas

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Hold that plane!

There’s a sick feeling that comes from the realization that you’re late for your flight and traffic isn’t moving.  You can scold yourself for not leaving for the airport sooner, but that’s not going to speed up the endless line of cars ahead of you.  The best you can do is hope for the quick dispersion of the gridlock and the ability to make up some time.

On my Artist’s Journey, I am finally out of the gridlock and I’m speeding through my final project in painting class.  I should have started earlier, and there’s a strong possibility that I might have bitten off more than I can chew with this particular series.  So for the next three days, I will be skipping meals, forgoing sleep, and painting day and night in order to complete my work.  There’s no airline on Earth that will hold the plane for one lone artist who should have made sure to leave on time.

“Gold Rush”–one of three acrylic paintings in progress from the series “Colorblind”

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Get Inspired

I often hear artists pleading to their muses for inspiration. “What should I paint, write, sculpt?” But who really needs a muse when inspiration is all around us? Open your eyes, step outside, take a walk, call a friend, talk to a stranger–What makes you laugh, cry, feel? Inspiration is everywhere. It’s in the air you breathe, the night sky, your child’s laughter. Inspiration is waiting in your imagination, your thoughts, your dreams.

This week, my inspiration came from a simple pond. The koi swam gracefully as their vivid colors and patterns created a living mosaic that constantly changed like an animated kaleidoscope. I was captivated by the amazing colors, the reflections in the water, the awesome beauty of nature’s creations. I don’t have to look for inspiration–It always finds me.

“Sisters”–Acrylic on canvas

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My Day Off

All classes were cancelled on the west campus of Valencia College last Thursday.  For me, that meant an unexpected day off.  Whatever would I do with an entire day off?  As a wife and mother, I had an endless list to choose from: I could mop and vacuum, organize closets, clean out the fridge and pantry, dust, or do laundry–but the painter in me had a much shorter, completely different priority list:  Paint.

I certainly could have used the time to make corrections on my most recent series, but I had a hidden agenda.  I had spent the last seven weeks tethered to a syllabus that delegated every brush stroke.  On my day off, I just wanted to paint.  And that’s exactly what I did.

“Something Fishy”  Acrylic on canvas

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Getting Through Security

Even though I have absolutely nothing to hide, I get a little nervous every time I go through security at the airport. I’ve followed all the rules: my shoes are in the bin, all my liquids–under 3 oz. each–are labeled and stashed in a quart-size Ziploc bag, my laptop is out of my tote, and my boarding pass and ID are in hand, ready to be inspected. Still, it’s an uncomfortable experience. I hold my breath as I watch my carry-on travel down the conveyor belt into the x-ray eyes of the TSA agents.  There’s always that gut-wrenching fear that I’ve inadvertently done something wrong, and the realization that I could be singled out–pulled from the security line and publicly frisked like a common criminal.  I try to make eye contact with the TSA agent to assure him I’m a good person. Should I smile? Engage in a little small talk? Toss around some witty banter?  But in the end, I make the wise decision to remain stoic while total strangers analyze and evaluate me.  They glare, grimace, whisper, and point as they scrutinize my personal possessions.  On my Artist’s Journey, this same degrading experience is known as a ‘critique’.

Just like security, the ‘critique’ is a necessary evil to ensure a safe and successful journey. It keeps us in line, lets us know if we’re on track, and helps us see issues with our work.  In the studio, we don’t have TSA agents, conveyor belts, or x-ray machines, but we do have a large wall where we display our work while our classmates and professor critique it with trained eyes.  My work is always completed on time.  It’s neat and as accurate as I can manage.  I make sure to use the assigned medium and materials.  I have invested time, effort, and heart in my work, and it’s hard to see it judged.  I wince as my fellow artists dissect my color choices, technique, and style.  Some make harsh criticisms, while others make honest assessments.  Sometimes there is dead silence, and other times, there are genuine, heartfelt compliments.

Like any seasoned traveler, I follow the rules.  I show up on time, pin my work to the wall, and hope to sail through the critique so I can continue on my journey.  Just like in the security line, I resist the urge to soften any upcoming blows with conversation or a smile.  I stand tall, knowing I’ve done my personal best.  And if a few stinging criticisms and sideways glances are tossed in among a sprinkling of sincere compliments, it isn’t so bad.  Besides, there’s only one way to get on the plane that will carry me to my next destination, and that means going through security.  Even when there’s a long line, a quibbling TSA agent, or a problem with my luggage, I will survive the experience and get beyond the critique wall–for I know there’s an amazing adventure waiting on the other side.

 

My most recent series on the critique wall in the studio at Valencia College

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I’m Seeing Spots

Last week, I was an Italian pastry chef crafting an impasto piece, but this week, my journey took me to Paris, France to explore pointillism.  Pointillism, developed by French post-impressionist Georges Seurat, is a painting technique using tiny dots of pure color that, from a distance, blend in the viewer’s eye.  Sounds simple enough, right?  If there’s one thing I’ve learned this semester, it’s that ‘simple’ can be a very deceptive word.

Gone were the grand, glorious, sweeping brush strokes I had grown to love.  They were rudely pushed aside and replaced by short, staccato taps of brush on canvas.  Dots.  Yellow dots.  Red dots.  Blue dots.  Dots. Dots. Dots.  Then the dots became spots, and the spots became a confusing mess on my canvas.  I thought I was in Paris–The City of Light–The City of Love–But there was nothing ‘light’ or ‘lovely’ about my pointillism piece.

Somewhere, in the middle of all those spots, it hit me.  Much like my attempt at painting fabric, this was just another one of those bumps in the road.  I can’t expect to love every excursion or every meal on my journey.  And while the impasto piece was a decadent dark chocolate treat, my pointillism experience was one of those disagreeable bites that I tried to discreetly spit into my napkin.  I strive to be a polite guest, so “Goodbye, Paris”–I don’t want to wear out my welcome.  It’s time to grab my passport, and continue on to my next destination, but first I need to cleanse my palette, clear my head, and rub my eyes.  For some reason, I’m seeing spots…

 

“It’s a Squash…”  pointillism–acrylic on canvas

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