Ramblings on Been There Done That

I have recently been working on the fifth iteration of a painting that has never been to my liking. I would show the progression to you from the first to the last evolution, but I am afraid that I would be embarrassed if I see the first couple tries were much better than the last. It has happened before. 

I get into these situations because I have not really done my homework. Just because I have reached a comfort zone in any of the many themes I have explored, does not mean that I will continue to be able to achieve the same emotional involvement I used to have.

Comfort zones involve the ability to do anything, not just painting, with less physical and mental effort.  But that doesn’t necessarily mean the quality of the work continues to meet my personal expectations.

We are not talking simply experience levels.  Creativity is different. If I intend to continue to paint a theme, I know I must change something. Change could involve my approach, my technique, maybe my canvas size, maybe even changing the medium.

But you all know what happens. By the time the public catches up with you, and trust me that takes a while and lots of pieces of art, boredom has already set in. The series continues in its same way because of many factors including (and quite high on the list), the ability to sell those works or to win awards with them.

I cannot criticize those artists who have to sell their work in order to continue to paint and make a living doing so. I have been there.

The problem – boring repetition, same ole color palettes, even same sizes all leads to worrying that you will never again do anything new and exciting. You remember how great it felt even when you were stumbling around learning how to paint. Then embarking on a newer series and seeing that evolve. Then after many years it seems the excitement well dries up.

People suggest changing media- try oils or go back to watercolor or what about ceramics, clay, 3D and sometimes it works for a little while. Great artists do it. Paul Simon cut Songs of the Capeman, Neil Diamond The Jazz Singer, McCartney an Oratorio.

I created a small 3D shoe series, some black and white paintings, and a few collages using computer parts. I will publish my cartoon series called Equal Time. I am now blogging as well (as you are now reading).

But there is a part of me that feels that there is something else -a painting something else- out there that I am meant to do. The activist in me wants to make a social or environmental statement, but my skin is too thin. So I hold back.

Well, take these thoughts and we can all stick them where the sun don’t shine. However, something positive is bound to happen. I have to make it happen. So l will persist. Stay tuned for how that something might happen. 

Not my mother's shoes

Celebrating the 5th Annual Art Show and Sale

5th Annual Art Show and Sale

Enjoy special pricing on my paintings for the 5th Annual Art Studio Show and Sale!!!

When:  Friday, November 8, 2019

Time:  5:30 – 7:30 PM

Where:  Associates in Dermatology office,  17 Manhattan Square, Hampton, Virginia (map / directions)

Come by, browse, shop and bring a friend. 

Buy a holiday gift. 

Munch on some delicious hors d’oeuvres. 

Drink a bit of wine.

There will be many paintings offered not to mention those hanging throughout the Associates in Dermatology offices.

See you at the 5th Annual Art Show and Sale!

How Do I Get My Painting Subjects

Ben Plays the Sax

Several years ago I wrote down my thoughts on my art process.  Much of it is still pertinent so I thought I would share them.   Since then, I have evolved some,  have made some changes,  and will share those thoughts later.

Many people have asked me how I paint my subjects and where do I get reference material.

Although it would be far easier to have a photo to copy, most of my work evolves from bits and pieces pulled together from a vast “morgue” of reference material that I have accumulated over the years. 

My Own Photos

The majority of the photography is my own. I took so many classes in photography at Thomas Nelsen Community College, I almost had to declare a major. After a masters degree in counseling from William and Mary, I did not need another degree.

Some of my music paintings are based on musicians of the past.  The subject matter is obviously culled from photos that have appeared in the media. But I am not a slave to any photos.  My work in its final versions bear very little resemblance to the material I use.

My Quick Drawings

I have the ability to draw well and fast.  I honed those skills during the 12 years I worked as a newspaper artist illustrator.  With the pressure of those incredible deadlines,  you either did the job fast or ( but there was no “or”)  the paper went to press without them.

My Process

I start with multiple photos usually laid out on my studio floor.  From there I develop a small color sketch.  Many of my music paintings are quite complex.  I am placing and rearranging the musicians until I am satisfied with the layout.

Then I introduce color. Many old photos are in sepia or black and white so the colors are selected by me.

The dancers series began when my husband and I took ballroom lessons for 3 years. We attended the dance parties and the ballroom exhibitions  (this was before the advent of digital cameras so I took lots of really bad photos and then I camcorded some dances). As I needed more info I would pause dance competitions on TV to see the moves I might want to paint.  An artist cannot take artistic liberty with dance positions. 

An art director once wanted to reverse a dance image for a magazine cover. Fortunately I got to review the changes first!   Because I cannot put the ladies right hand on the man’s left shoulder!  I can change attire and colors and design and exaggerate, but there are reality issues. Reality applies to musical instruments as well. I believe my work nudges abstraction, but always has a core based in reality.

My Color Choices

I do not use traditional color wheels.  I paint rather spontaneously and impulsively. An artist has to know the rules and then be comfortable breaking them for the goal of movement, power, and personal color.

My Methods

I have used latex gloves so I can paint with my fingers.  I have used sponges and old credit cards and modeling paste – whatever achieves the goal of painting something that excites me.

Post Holiday Letter 2016

The holidays have come and gone- almost- and the survivors go back to their version of normal.  With the prevalence of family photo Christmas cards I now see how wonderfully (as Garrison Kellor says) above average your family members are.  And there must not have been any disasters this year. They look too happy.  I am now aware of  many wonderful places there are in this world that you have  visited (though after you factor out the insecurities of actual traveling there and the adventure of global travel in the age of terrorism I am less in awe).

So backing up.   Holiday stress  all started before Halloween, way back in October.  And then adding in another stresser called President election campaigning 2016 which had started almost 2 years before.  As if the usual end of year holidays weren’t stressful enough.  Then we jump into the Christmas season.

I won’t get into the commercialization of Christmas (I say Christmas but you all know what I mean- the whole shebang. Everyone gets caught up in it ). In my family we also have November and December and January birthdays and anniversaries which only add to the excitement.

It is now written into our DNA that we have to buy presents (darn Magi, why didn’t they  just stay home) .  When did buying  more and more stuff before the old stuff was used up or broken become necessary to life in this country?  For the hard- to- buy -for we have thousands  of gift cards available. Encouraging us to buy more stuff we don’t need.  Is there a land of lost gift cards?

Anyway enough rant. Time for a new tradition- my post holiday letter.  I have in the past enjoyed writing my family’s Christmas letter. Tried to make them funny and surprising.  Do you remember Luke discovering the painless cure for male pattern baldness?

Celebration is not the word I would use to discuss my recent birthday unless  surviving is cause for celebration. All those infirmities we heard our aged folks talk about are now our main points of discussion. 

Oh well, my role models continue to be the 86 year old nun who still runs Ironman races and the 78 year old woman who is a weight lifting champion. No, I do not do those things, but they are still my role models.

You all want to know if I am still painting. Yes, I am not infirm and can still hold a brush. Don’t want to rest on my laurels. So prepare for something new. Sadly I never was asked to be in the Miami Basel Art Fair. I guess my non-socially significant dancers and musicians and figures are not edgy enough. Always wondered about the word edgy. Makes me feel insecure. But yes, I paint therefore I am. Descartes? And the best is still yet to come.

When you have few minutes during your online surfing, every once in a while, check out my website and Facebook. If I am a future Georgia O”Keefe you don’t want to miss out.

This year might be good for art sales – who knows how many people who are tired of hanging onto their money might be realizing insecurity is the new normal and thus buying something that makes you happy  is a good thing. I will be glad to oblige. I will even be offering the opportunity to purchase art that has been scanned and can be printed as giclees. Yes, a French word for high -end printing.  The finished product is amazing.  Stay tuned for more details on their availability

So long for now.  Have a happy, merry, joyful new year.

Lion Fish III

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