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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cat on a Hot Color Palette

"Cat Pose 1"
5 x 8 in
Chalk pastel and watercolor on paper
Click here to view Etsy listing
"Cat Pose 2"
5 x 8 in
Chalk and watercolor on paper
Click here to view Etsy listing

Another heat wave in San Diego county... at this point, I've accepted the fact that I'm going to be hot and miserable until my second child arrives.  So, in between painting sessions on a bigger acrylic piece, I took the time to play with some hot colors and loose cat figures.  We have a couple of cats who are quite, ahem, large, and when they pose I like to take pictures of their forms for later exercises.

I don't use this color scheme often, but I always like it in other artists' works.  There were originally four pieces, but two were duds so I decided to toss them.  It was just a play session, so having a couple of decent mini-paintings come out was nice.  Actually, to have anything artistic to show after these last eight months or so is a pleasant surprise, since in addition to physical discomfort I've had a lot of trouble tapping into right brain mode.  I'm sure it has to do with all the hormone changes, and hope that annoying symptom will go away too in the next few months. 

Knowing when to toss a painting is hard, because as an artist, it's always tempting to find something to change in order to save it.  One clear sign I need to put something into the fail pile is when the materials no longer support the intention of the piece.  In this case, I wanted to have a bright background with soft, smeared pastel on the watercolor.  In the two failures (which were of the same pose), I had done too much blending and covering, and it was starting to look like mud.  Strathmore watercolor paper isn't the toughest when it comes to chalk pastel, so I knew I had to let those attempts go.

I put most of my bright-colored animal art on Etsy, so if you like these, please check out my Etsy store:

For more bright colors, stop by my new "Pitchers and Pots" gallery on my fine art website:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Keep the Mess, Reach Success

"Almond Blossoms"
9 x 12 Chalk Pastel on Paper
Click here to view large or purchase
There are times when it's hard to work in the face of a mess.  When faithfully making daily paintings, I had a little monthly ritual that consisted of collecting all of the works I'd completed for the month and packing them away.  It gave me a chance to clear my mind and start fresh.

These days, I have to work in small spurts on several projects at a time.  When my energy is low (which is most of the time, as I have a baby due next month), the task of cleaning everything up and putting it away each time I work becomes a little daunting.  So, I've decided that it's ok to leave the painting messes out for a while until a piece is finished.  This means having several stations to work, with materials ready and works in progress displayed where I can see them throughout the day. 

The pieces I'm sharing today took longer than planned to complete, as I kept getting discouraged with some of their details.  Leaving them in plain sight at all times gave me the chance to take a fresh look at them each day, and work out some of the problems in small sessions until the paintings were up to my expectations. 
"Patchwork Hills"
9 x 12 Chalk pastel on paper
Click here to view large or purchase

Artists are (obviously!) visual people who benefit from seeing their own work constantly.  This might make it difficult to maintain a consistent work flow if we don't have the luxury of a studio.  Fortunately, sharing living and work space doesn't have to mean repeatedly taking out and putting away materials or living in a perpetual hazard zone.  I have pets and a small child to worry about, so with their basic safety in mind, I clean up anything that could pose a danger to them (paint water, paints, etc).  I then arrange the materials so they are available but not edible and leave them where I can sit for a while and work. 

The important thing is that the paintings continue to progress and eventually get done.  If you get frustrated with your workspace, ask yourself what you want to accomplish in that space and how you can arrange it so you can meet your goals.  For me, it's being able to work whenever I get a few minutes of quiet and energy, so I've learned to live with a little bit of artist mess to meet that need.

I recently wrote an art article that was published on Empty Easel for artists who have blogs.  You can read it here:

If you like the colors in the works posted above, visit my Plein Air gallery here.