Sunday, September 11, 2011


# 6 - Draw a Well Loved Object or Childhood Toy
#211 - Draw or Paint an Object "In the Style of" an Old Master or Notable Painter

I recently followed a thread on the Every Day Matters list which asked where inspiration might come from. I didn't jump in then because I wasn't feeling very inspired at the time. Tonight, however, I seem to have successfully courted the muse, and now I wish to share my process. How did the idea for this particular illustration come about?

The train of thought began awhile ago, when I became obsessed with the idea of atelier classes. Suddenly I decided it wasn't good enough to procrastinate on the completion of my own paintings in my own style -- I wanted to sign up for intense training in sight line drawing and various obsolete oil glazing techniques, so that I could never quite get around to finishing paintings that looked more like those of the masters. To this end, I called for information on an ongoing atelier workshop, and learned that the next session would focus on the style of Gustav Klimt.

Being an insecure sort, I rushed out to buy a Klimt coffee table book so that I could bone up on his style ahead of time. Then two things happened: first, I read enough about the artist's personal life that I became disillusioned with the man himself, and second, I talked myself out of taking the workshop, supposedly because I disapproved of the way he expected his sister-in-law to take care of all his domestic needs, and allowed his studio models to bear his progeny without benefit of marriage. The cur! (OK, you probably have figured out by now that the real reason I didn't show up for the workshop was because, well, I'm an insecure sort.)

I did fall in love (again) with the painting "Goldfish", and at one point I gessoed an elongated scrap of plyboard with the intention of someday creating a derivative piece. I meant to use my figure drawing CD program for reference, but my studio monitor went dead. Then my eyes stumbled across these lovelies (I'm keeping them around for a future art doll project) and suddenly it hit me - who needs naked women when you have naked trolls? Whence cometh my inspiration, ta-da...

Monday, January 31, 2011

A Complete and Total Cop-out!

# 305 - Draw Something Huge

I painted another mandala last week. This one is really huge, so it (sort of?) meets the challenge. Unfortunately, it is SO huge that even when I lie on my back, on the floor, in the center of the labyrinth gazebo, I cannot fit it all into the viewfinder. It is a real painted mandala, you just have to trust me!
It began with a gallon of really good, expensive brand name paint setting on the "oops" shelf at Home Depot. It called out to me. Seriously, it did! It said "Hey, you there in the marathon t-shirt! I know I am a very intense, dramatic color that you would normally have no interest in, but if you buy me, I will look wonderful in your gazebo!" I didn't believe it (him?), but on the other hand I'd never been propositioned by an inanimate object in exactly this manner before, so for five bucks, how could I refuse?

It took more than a year to get a round tuit, but now it's done and it looks pretty darned good, if I do say so myself. So you just have to look at this little slice, shot from the side, and pretend you are there, looking up to the ceiling. The very top is white and (reminiscent of exercises I endured in Color Theory 101, many decades ago) it deepens in concentric rings to a dark, dark teal. (Again, you must trust me on this because the photo doesn't accurately depict the depth of the darkest hue.) Now my ceiling sports a giant mandala that resembles a skylight during the day, and by night, when the hanging candlelabrum is lit, sets the gazebo aglow!
And now I've met my intention of posting four times in the month of January, as well. I'm bending the rules to get it done, I know. I am currently working on a 'real' drawing to be posted next week, but then again, you must trust me on this!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Process, Awaiting Product

A joyful and prosperous 2011 to all! I know, I'm a little late with that greeting. I'm actually having a very productive and creative start to the year, but I've been neglecting drawing challenges, and this blog.

To jumpstart a return I decided to share my process of making affirmation mandalas. This is difficult for me, as it exposes all the 'herky-jerky motions' going into a painting when I only want to show the finished product, and then only if I like it. But, anyway, here goes...
My affirmation for 2011 is "I Choose Happiness." Now I am documenting that intent with a mandala painting. I write it into a 36-degree angle, one half of 72 degrees, or a 5 radial design, because the number 5 is related to playfulness. I like playfulness. It makes me happy!
(Continued below)

As Idle Hands Are the Devil's Playground...

I could use PhotoShop or any number of grapics programs to do this step, but I can't figure out an easy way to transfer the pattern without using a printer, and it will go on a gessoed plyboard. So, I trace the radial ten times, flopping every other radial as a mirror image.

I do so love busywork - it keeps me off the street, as they say. (Who are "they," do you know? I think I saw one of "them" yesterday in the...) Ooops, my mind tends to wander as I trace. Which brings me to another point. As I work on this piece, my intention is to stay on point. That is, try to keep my monkeymind on the affirmation itself. Think positive! Think happy! Nail that emotion to the board by being in it as I work!

Now, notice how the capitol 'I' makes an intricate flower design in the center? That will be my focus on the next step, to follow.

(Continued below)

Ugh! Don't like it yet...

Using thin acrylic washes, I begin picking out color fields and patterns. I work from the center out. I must admit that normally by this stage I find something about the design I really like, but this time I haven't, yet.

It's the colors. I think I'm forcing something, here. For "happy" I wanted to use pure, bright colors (not my usual pallet) AND I read somewhere that orange symbolizes that emotion, especially when paired with turquoise. A stretch for me, but I'm determined to make that work. Stay tuned, should you find this process of interest. I promise the final product will be more aesthetically pleasing, or I shall not be happy! And then, what would be the point? :)


Friday, December 10, 2010

Tiny Miracles

#250 - Draw Something You Got For Free

I've been engaged in an experiment for the last two weeks, called "Miracle Walks."
I leave the house for my morning run (OK, so I changed that part a little, but I have to get a run in, and I'm so slow it's almost like walking anyhow...) and I set the intention to find a miracle along the way.

On the first day I had an idea that I might find something fantastic, or at least useful, and draw it for the challenge listed above. I always pick things up along the way, cans for deposit fees, found objects for my recycled art, coins, etc. This wasn't really anything out of the ordinary for me, but I thought by starting with small miracles I would be assured of success. I was wrong. I found nothing. I did see a rubber slipper along the side of the road, but there was only one slipper and I have two feet, so it wasn't of any value. I came home empty handed, carrying only resentment that those people who litter the street with footwear are never considerate enough to pitch both halves of the pair out their car window.

Day two, I again left the house stating my intention to find a miracle. Again, the only thing I saw was that stupid lone slipper. As I passed it, I was feeling a little guilty. Maybe I really should pick it up just for the sake of community service. Or might it be re purposed somehow? I was becoming obsessed with the darned thing.

Day three, same intention, same results. Not even so much as a soda can; pickings were really slim! On my last mile, I again saw the slipper. I almost kept going, but reluctantly stopped to scoop it into my bag. I was just picking up my pace again when I saw -- the other slipper! OK, I know what you're thinking. That's not much of a miracle, it was there all along and I just didn't see it until the third day. You are probably right, but yet, it was there in plain sight, not hidden by weeds or camouflaged by its color, less than four yards away from its mate. And I have an eagle eye when I'm out treasure hunting. It is (to me, at least) a puzzlement!

One day during the next week I woke up with the feeling I'd just had a very important dream, but try as I might, I could not remember any part of it. I did remember a scrap of music, though. It was a sweet, bluesy tune, I knew it was fairly contemporary and sung by a man, but I couldn't come up with the name. All through my morning "miracle" run, that music kept playing in my head, an annoying loop that just wouldn't quit. And the only words I'd matched to it were - "Tragedy... somethingsomethingsomething" I really wanted to find the lyrics, because I thought they held the clue to the message from my dream that I'd forgotten. A google search later yielded no answers.
By the next morning I'd forgotten all about it, until the rhythm of running brought that @*$# music back into my head. I completed my run and emptied my goody bag -- about a dollars' worth of cans and bottles, some beads, and a CD. I had intended to paint a mandala on the CD, but on closer inspection it was in perfect shape, shiny as a new penny, seemingly not a scratch on it. Then I read the titles, the artist... Continuum, by John Mayer... a shiver was travelling up my spine. There it was, sure enough, on track #4. Gravity!
I dusted it off and it played beautifully (except for one track I had no interest in.) My "message" was clear as glass, and I quote: "Oooh twice as much -- ain't twice as good -- and it can't sustain like one half could." Get it? My message from the Universe was, stop carting home all this junk, for gosh sakes! I think that's absolute proof that God has a crackerjack sense of humor :)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Pickers and Hoarders and Reality TV

#30, Draw a Chair;
#182, Draw a Truck;
#206, Draw something that is familar to you that is called something else in another region

I am on the glitzy side, the touristy side, the fussy and pretty side, of our wonderful island. DH and I woke up in a nice hotel. It's a special weekend away for us. It is a dry, hot day under cloudless Kona skies, so instead of hanging out by the pool or on the seashore sipping Mai Tai's , I am doing what, exactly? Well, I'm hangin' out in a scrapyard, of course! Hubby is digging through some shipping containers full of old marine hardware, and I, after oggling some really cool vintage autos, decaying Art Deco hotel furniture and old neon signs - I am lounging in the shade of an old tractor trailer and sketching a scene of someone else's hoarded junk. This is bliss!

I have a new favorite TV show. When I first stumbled upon it, I must admit, I was drawn in by the background scenery of fields and farmsteads. Immediately I thought - "that looks like home!" And it was. The show is set in LeClaire, Iowa; a river town I used to gaze upon from my bedroom window vantage point in Rapids City, Illinois - directly across the Mississippi. A lifetime ago - I used to live there! But the appeal of the show is about something else.
I come from a long line of auction, yard sale and dumpster diving collectors. Now, thanks to the History Channel, I know there is a word for us; "pickers." We hunt, we buy, we store, (hoard?) and hopefully eventually use, refurbish and/or resell. You can have your boutiques, fashion houses and upscale shopping. We "pickers" love nothing more than a collection of, well, this.
I'm in Hawaii. I'm in a junkyard. I'm in heaven. (Oh, and #206? Some call them Snow Cones or Shaved "with-a-D" Ice, but if you live here, you know they are and will always be "Shave Ice!"