My reward for doing hard things

My days (when not at the day job/when I don’t have other boring grown-up appointments) generally start with 2 hours of charcoal drawing and 2-4 hours of oil painting (consisting of masters studies/experimenting with techniques/ commissions/juried show pieces).

I love charcoal drawing and I love oils. However, it’s very focused technical work. After 3-4 hours of analytical work my brain is toast. That’s when I know it’s time to bust out my watercolors (or gouache).

Yes, I still have to use my brain to do a watercolor piece. But I try to just make something simple, small, and experimental. I also know very little about water-based medium so the pressures off to be a pro. I paint a flower or a woodland creature and just try to have fun. (And Painting on paper makes my bad ones very disposable!)

But it’s still creative and my hand and brain still have to communicate!

What’s your creative reward for doing hard things? (You know, aside from things like tv and ice cream. Though I’m a fan of those too!)

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A Move & a Masters’ Study

I just moved (from LA to the San Francisco area) and boy did that slow down my art-making! It’s not a good excuse but it happens to me every time. As a way to make painting seem fun and manageable after the emotional and physical ordeal that is moving, I pulled out a little series of masters studies that I started ages ago.

The best things about this project:

-I already started it (there was less to do)

-They are tiny (and seem less scary)

-As masters studies they don’t require a high degree of creativity

-The excitement of looking at Masters to choose from is highly motivating

-As a selection of different artists, the project allows me to switch rapidly between styles (which keeps me excited)

And it worked! I feel enthused about finding my own style and growing as an artist. And I’m excited to visit new galleries and meet the local artists I might learn from!

Here’s my little master’s study sampling project so far (Masters: Sargent, Liepke, Sargent, Burdick, Anderson, and Zorn) I still need to add that little Sargent face on the upper left. Compositionally this was a weird way to lay it out, but I have a better idea of how to handle that next time. And the important thing is… I painted!

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I love painting. It’s the worst.

Yeah, so I love painting. It’s the best. Sorta.

When I’m painting for a long stretch of time (you’re supposed to frequently take a step back from a painting… but I get lazy, so this may be part of the problem) and I walk away from a painting I am always shocked to see it again. Sometimes it’s a good shock, like: “Oh wow, I’m awesome.” But usually it’s more of a: “Wait… WHAT. I’ve been working on this for x hours and it’s not good at all. I’m a failure!”

And sometimes I switch back and forth between believing I’m awesome and believing I’m  failure quite rapidly. It’s truly a dizzying experience.

However, a few things seem to calm me down:

  1. I remember that I’m still learning.
  2. I remember that I’m still learning. AAANND that my learning time (& budget) has been fairly restricted this past year, so I may be learning slower than I have in years past. And that’s ok. Because generally, I’m still headed up the mountain.
  3. A good cup of coffee.
  4. Posting a painting on social media and having friends and family say nice things about it (even though they aren’t artists, it feels good. And that helps a lot.)

 

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Instagramentry

Well, I’ve been working the good ol’ day job pretty regularly for the past couple of months, which means my painting & drawing time has been less than ideal! But I did manage to whip up this fun little photo entry for an Instagram contest in a desperate attempt to win some amazing brushes from Rosemary & Co. (The BEST brushes). Fingers crossed!