Once all the artwork was loaded onto my site and dressed up with clever posts, I checked my "things to do" list and realized I had plenty of time to pencil in an anxiety attack, a little one. What do I do now? How do I get nice folks to read my blog? I felt like I had dragged all the paintings out onto the grass in the front yard, and nobody driving past was even slowing down to take a peek, never mind getting out of their cars to see if I was hurt, or more importantly, to tell me how awesome I am. That is, after all, one of my primary personal blog goals. So I started doing some research on how to drive traffic to my site, and I don't like any of the professional suggestions on how to get this accomplished. At this preliminary stage, blogging sounds alot like dating, and I sucked at that; all the initial inquiries, compliments and hand-holding. So tedious. Quite frankly, I'm not enthusiastic about stalking vibrant, successful blogs and commenting on how vibrant and successful they are, just so I can trick people into linking to my blog of loneliness and hysterical despair. Would you want to link to that? Faced with the crushing realization that acquiring readers would entail more effort on my part, I transformed into 'brat mode' and instantly became the saddest girl in the world. By the way, this saddest girl in the world routine happens very quickly and never lasts long; rest assured, by the end of this entry, I am happy again. C'mon champ, every single thing about blogging thus far has been fun, and you know it! I've learned alot of cool stuff, and I'm confident that I'll figure out how to make new friends and become even more popular at parties, as if that's possible! In the meanwhile, I've got a great idea... I'll just keep making more art and enjoy where it takes me.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Illustration Friday entry (Hoard)
There's alot of action going on inside a beehive. It's an elaborate structure where they work hard and discuss the issues, raise children and prepare meals, as well as keep the queen in the lifestyle to which she has become accustomed. Just like at our house. Wouldn't it make sense if the Beehive was about something relevant, like team spirit or community service or even the benefit of a tightly-knit family? Then I could tell a cute story about how my husband and I helped some cheerleaders who were stranded on the highway change a tire on Christmas... Sorry, I can't do it. The Beehive is about frosting and how excellent is in on cake. It's about how those two things together look so delicious that I can't pass a bakery without going in. Decorative cupcakes are excellent also and did provide some incentive for the Beehive, but mostly, it was just cake and frosting. And sprinkles.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Oh, my goodness. This was a tough one to write about! Absolutely nothing noteworthy came to mind as I was preparing my blog post for Taylor. Granted, something's not quite right about her, but I'm certain that's part of her charm. I feel like that about myself most of the time, for heavensake. By all means, she fits in quite nicely with the rest of this collection. Taylor is based on three separate guitar ideas that seemed too boring and predictable to paint independent of one another. Together, however, they make for an interesting, somewhat abstract little ditty that was really fun to do. This particular painting was also part of a group experiment, trying to keep four pieces happening at the same time. That approach doesn't always work for me; I become more emotionally invested in one piece over the others, I get distracted and find it difficult to keep the energy levels consistent. I can't help it - I love, love, love intimacy! I mean, look how close we've gotten in the brief time we know each other, right? I just wouldn't want it any other way.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
When I first took up with the new paints, I'd convinced myself that because I was using supernatural, science fiction acrylics, I could do magical things without practice. Instant ability and excellent technique would fly out the end of my brush and onto the canvas, to the amazement and delight of everyone in the universe. Of course, things didn't work out that way; they never do, but I'm always surprised. Leah was, without a doubt, a burning desire. In the initial version, she was standing next to a lamp and end table; simple enough. Inexplicably, I chose colors one might think to involve in a painting depicting a homicide: blood red, avocado and beige, and I just kept hammering at them until Leah's living room resembled a crime scene investigation. After three violent attempts at rearranging the furniture, I removed it completely and installed a window with a dreadful view of the projects. Even if she wanted to climb out of her apartment to get help, she'd fall to her death first. What was wrong with me? Why was I so unwilling to give this poor child a chance at survival? I decided to 'take a break', which usually means throw everything in the garbage. Instead, I traced what was left of Leah onto a piece of watercolor paper and put it on a shelf in the closet ontop of where we keep the board games. Three months later, feeling a bit more confident after Leafy and Sparkle came out okay, I tried again and here she is.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Let's discuss my fascination with hair and makeup, shall we? I love both and do neither. I can't figure hair out. I've been shaving my head for years and years; I have a very nicely shaped head with no visible scars, and I think I wear it well. Some nights I have dreams that I have long, luxurious hair, and I wake up a little sad. Today I wore just the hood of my sweatjacket and pretended it was hair for a couple of minutes; that was fun. Cosmetics are another interesting curiosity. Now don't get me wrong; I so enjoy being a girl! But at this point in my life, where do I go that I need to be all made up? I drop the boys off to school, I go to the grocery store, Blockbuster and the gym. Sparkle definitely basks in her girlishness. Next year, when I return to my career as a corporate mermaid, I might just mix things up a bit and pursue the kind of naturally glamorous look that Sparkle pulls off so easily; a little lipstick and maybe some loose pink curls...
Yes, I know; Leafy only has three legs. Believe me, I agonized over it and made several unsuccessful attempts to remedy the situation. I couldn't figure out how to squeeze a fourth leg in behind the branch without it looking too busy. Let's face it - life in the rainforest is treacherous enough. As delicacies go, frog legs are supposed to be delicious; Leafy is probably better off without one. As the painting came together, I kinda got used to it. I also scattered a few colorful flowers about in the foreground to distract from his obvious deformity. Let me know what you think; trust me, I can take it.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
I worked on Woofy and Mittens as a set. Series work seems compelling; I do intend to try it sometime and see what I can come up with. I kept these two really simple so I could concentrate on practicing with the new paints. I had some trouble with the background colors; heavy body white was leaving streaks because I wasn't mixing thoroughly. I used this stuff called gesso medium as a thinner, which made for a shiny finish. It wasn't a particularly unpleasant look, so I kept it consistent in both pieces. Original Woofy and Mittens belonged to Judy and I when we were babies. They are made from some nuclear disaster-resistent rubbery plastic. From a child's perspective, an empty bottle of heavy duty detergent might make for a more suitable plaything. I can't imagine we actually ever amused ourselves with this dog and cat combo, but we must have because Mittens' eye has been busted out for as long as I can remember, and they both have ink all over their faces (I blame myself.) I'll admit, Woofy and Mittens are a spooky looking heirloom, but I really like them. They are, without a doubt, part of my life's rich pageant.
I shouldn't have read so much; it threw me off a little bit. I was Blinded with Science; listen to the names of these "fun and essential" colors: Quinacridone Magenta, Burnt Umber, Yellow Light Hansa, Cerulean Blue Hue, Phthalo Green and Naphthol Crimson. Oh yeah, don't forget Dioxazine Purple. Throw a little description about high viscosity, flexibility and resistance to chemicals, abrasion and ultraviolet radiation, and I was paralyzed with fear! Painting sounded alot like space travel. In addition to Dr. Frankenstein's awesome party colors and in preparation for my trip into the unknown, I bought some round brushes in different sizes and these little air-tight containers in which to store mixed paints. Then, I put all my reading material away and just got started. The Light is Green, indeed! What a difference serious supplies and quality tools make.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Who knew my complicated relationship with craft paint would end with a cow, some popcorn and a big soda? Not me, that's for sure. When Mooovie Time was finished, David took the big tupperware full of junky paints out to the garage, and I never saw it again. I went looking for it about a week later, when I was struggling with the learning curve of my acrylic starter set. I knew craft paint was gone forever, and I was definitely ready for better supplies, but I was feeling panicky and incompetent. I couldn't help reminiscing about all the wonderful things we'd created together. All's well that ends well, I suppose, and it did end well; craft paint and I had a nice long run, with no regrets. Now, on with the show!
Hoofing marks the realization that almost everything I paint involves circles. Check for yourself, if you don't believe me. As shapes go, circles are satisfying, and they keep dropping in on my artwork, unannounced. They symbolize harmony, wholeness and the non-linear nature of life and time; the four seasons, for example - birth, life, aging and death. Of course, somewhere in the middle of all that spiritual stuff, we throw a big piece of cardboard on the ground, crank up some Grand Master Flash and BREAKDANCE! Yeah!
I am officially through trying to be cool. Perhaps the closest I've ever actually come to being cool is somewhat damp, at best. I have no idea how to hold a cigarette properly, I can barely ride a bicycle and I generally stay away from shoes with heels. Being me requires so much concentration on my part that I don't need to be taking any big risks or getting too distracted from the world at large. Interestingly enough, What It Is came from me so effortlessly that I must consider the possibility that I may very well be cooler than I think.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Illustration Friday entry (Punchline)
Kids do love puppets, especially contentious ones that carry on as outrageously as Punch and Judy. Punch is a deformed, wife-beating, child-murdering psychopath who commits appalling acts of cruelty and violence on all those around him. Judy is his long suffering, hysterical wife; she is so shrill and annoying, one can almost condone the immeasurable brutality of the treatment she receives at her husband's hands. These two are perfect examples of people behaving badly, and so am I. Punch and Judy was purchased by a woman who saw my work when I entered an art show at the Kinnelon Library last year. She thought it would be great for her baby granddaughter's nursery. I said okay and took her money.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Space Boy was a little rebound painting that lifted my spirits and helped ease the pain after the plug was pulled on Robot #1, the most valuable lesson I've learned thus far on knowing when to call it quits. Robot #1 was phenomenal, a large canvas board of a one-wheeled robot with claw hands and a fish bowl in his belly. What a super duper interesting piece. All the colors I chose were perfect with lots of contrast, and the black outlines made everything look intense. I was so in love with this painting; we were together for a very long time. Curse you, expired pumpkin craft paint! You ruined everything with your gloppy, unpredictable nastiness, and I will never forgive you. Consumed with grief, I purchased a big tube of Liquitex Titanium White when I went to the art supply store to buy the frame for Space Boy. It would be another seven months before I actually used the stuff for the first time.
Lots of really nice things got accomplished in 2007, and Magic Bus is one of them. Another big piece with lots of color; no major issues to speak of as far as craft paint goes. In the back of my mind and deep down in my heart, I knew the next logical step was real acrylics. However, I was enjoying enough success with what materials were available, so why rock the boat? As a spirited optimist, I respect the necessity for change in my life as I continue to grow and become more excellent, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. If given a choice (like that's gonna happen), I prefer drastic over subtle change any day. Drastic change happens quickly and requires snap decision-making. Yikes! I've left the house without my pants. This is a drastic change from how I usually appear outside the home. Better go back in and put on some pants. See what I mean? Problem solved, almost immediately. Subtle change is a much bigger pill to swallow because it requires discipline and commitment; it gradually challenges the present, motivates you to consider the possibilities and envision the outcome. After all that, you actually have to make sensible choices and work toward improving the situation; it sounds exhausting, and it is. Most times, you have no idea you're even signing up for subtle change - it's that sneaky! It often takes so long that you don't even recognize when there's been a payoff; all you know is that you're cranky and uncomfortable forever and can't put your finger on what's wrong. Of course, subtle change does eventually occur just as you're getting used to the adjustments made to your life, only now you can drive and play piano and speak Spanish.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Prom Night is my favorite painting; it represents the sweet awkwardness of a first date 'good night' kiss. This piece is all about romance, fun and flaws; short skirts, big feet and fabulous accessories! When I look at Prom Night, I feel confident in my ability to create lovely artwork.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
In strict accordance with Rory and Desmond's sophisticated classification of all living creatures, animals can either be wet or dry. Spotty is a celebration of two excellent dry animals - zebra and giraffe. Did you know there's a place in California called Spots and Stripes Ranch that breeds zebras with horses and donkeys? Not sure why folks feel compelled to encourage these animals to date, beyond the obvious - it looks really neat! It'd be terrific if they came up with a zorse that could figure out the Tassimo machine and make everybody cappuccinos or a zonkey that remembers to tape your show when you go to stained glass class. Anyway, spending the summer with a hot glue gun made me realize how much I really love to paint. Everything about this piece came together so nicely, and I was thoroughly satisfied with the end result.
After my Prismacolor fling, craft paint and I tried to make it work but things were never the same again. I was gone too long, many of the Apple Barrel colors had dried up or separated; it was impossible to pick up where we had left off. I was sad and confused, terrified of premium acrylics. Nonetheless, we stuck it out and muscled through UFO together. Craft paint and I broke up that summer, and I spent July and August making silk flower wreaths and a few new hats.
Colored pencils and I carried on a brief, shameless affair right under the nose of faithful yet tiresome tub of craft paints. Colored pencils was quite a catch - a simple yet vibrant companion, ready for a good time at a moment's notice. I was swept up in the thrill of a new relationship, and who could blame me? Since we first got together, craft paint had easily put on 30 pounds and could no longer leave the closet without assistance. His performance was drab and unreliable. Looking back on it now, it's easy to see that our relationship was doomed from the start. Deep in denial, we'd gotten too comfortable blaming one another for our inadequacies. Colored pencils made me feel smart and attractive; we went to the shore on vacation and spent many wonderful evenings together. Punky and Chinese Dragon are the offspring of our lively indiscretion. Although we made a handsome couple, ultimately colored pencils and I drifted apart; we're still on good terms but "just friends".
Friday, May 16, 2008
Dynamite is scaled back considerably size-wise, much more manageable. I know, let's try blending again; maybe I could crack the blending code with a smaller piece. I wanted so badly to express depth and dimension in my paintings and couldn't figure out how to do it. I'd open a couple books and read some step-by-step explanations; hey, that sounds reasonable. Look at a few more pictures, buy a new little brush here and there; hmm, this may help. Both alack and alas; my limitations are astounding! Grrr and double drat! But fear not, friends. I'm pretty sure I've never let a little mental paralysis stand in the way of my creative happiness, I think. Instead, I tried breaking up my simple subjects into separate units using slightly different colors where I thought light and dark might hit, then pulling them together with complementary outlines. Pleased with the results yet still reeling with frustration, I decided to take a break from painting and bought some colored pencils.
Two Boys came about after I saw some lovely watercolors (I think) where the subjects had no faces, and I really liked how it looked. Having a few completed pieces under my belt, I started to see how art recreates itself over and over again, each time somebody puts their own spin on something that already exists. Also, how one's work starts to look familiar - the subtlety of style recognition is intense. It's like how everyone learns penmanship, but each person's handwriting is different. I was able to reassure myself that I wasn't just rhyming and stealing. Although I constantly compare my work to other folks' product, I guess I began developing an appreciation for personal honesty and accountability and figuring out my place. Reason #6,112 why art is so awesome... Who knew I'd be learning how to become more virtuous? For me, just copying stuff seems like a ripoff, although I guess that's how I started drawing when I was a kid. I remember I sketched this elaborate KISS album cover to show Eric Cappelli in sixth grade and when I did, his response was "Wow, you traced this! Could you make me one?" Ackh! Now not only did I have to prove my love in a way that compromised my artistic integrity, but I also had to invent a xerox machine. That's just great... Two Boys is a big piece. I don't like working too big just yet; the space is daunting, and the canvas gets to feeling flimsy if it's not pulled tight enough. As well, if you don't bring enough action, it could be boring. Admittedly, I was so bored during Two Boys that I tried blending the background colors and flesh tones with my craft paints; what an exercise in futility. Most confounding, however, is that my love/hate relationship with the cheap stuff continues for another two years - just in case you're wondering when this agony ends.