8/28/2010

"Fall" Work In Progess, part 2

I decided after transferring the drawing to a large board that I needed some more elements like birds and blowing leaves. So on a separate piece of tracing paper I drew out some leaves and birds, then transferred them to the drawing using Saral Wax Free transfer paper.
Btw, I highly recommend Saral brand Wax Free transfer paper. I've been using it for years - I discovered it back when I painted background environments for Lucky Charms and Trix cereal commercials. I needed a way to transfer the layout drawings very accurately on to a board before I began painting. I initially used regular transfer paper but quickly learned that the waxy surface of the transferred lines resist paint.

After I finished the transfer and was happy with the drawing, I moved on to a value sketch and a color sketch. The light pattern in this painting is important in portraying a sense of mood and time of year in this series, so I felt it necessary to fully work out a value sketch before jumping into the final. The planes here are simple: Foreground, Midground, and Background (sky), which are painted in three separate layers on top of my line drawing in Photoshop.After I spent some time experimenting with shadow patterns and values, I messed around with a color scheme, which I painted in new layers on top of the value sketch. I decided on mixtures of three hues: yellow, orange and lavender. I also kept the color very saturated in the foreground to reflect a certain emotional tone I am aiming for in this series.
This is a rough color sketch, so i omitted any details, wanting to concentrate only on the color scheme and figuring out my palette. To go any further would not serve me well because I would burn out on the idea and not feel as excited about finishing the final.

Next, I'll begin on the final painting. I will post the next steps as soon as I can!

8/24/2010

"Fall" work in progress

I am working on a series of four paintings, emblems of the Seasons, as I envision them. I sketched out all four earlier this year and finally have the time to resume completing the series. These paintings are entirely from imagination, a skill I have always admired in others, and lately have explored more fully myself (and not for portfolio pieces aimed at gaining a job). I really enjoy aspects of designing a picture that I cannot get from posing a model and painting him or her from life. In addition to that, I have this desire to attempt to make beautiful pictures that are pretty, simple, sometimes fantasy, playful in proportion and design, interpretive, and entirely my own.

In addition to this series, I am also working on a series of Elements paintings. I also have planned two small self published books, which I've designed but need to illustrate. I have no idea how long it will take, given that I have a full time job - but I'll just work, work, work until they are done.

Here is the beginning of "Fall": I coated a piece of cold press illustration board with three thin coats of acrylic gesso, let dry, and am now in the process of transferring the drawing (enlarged from my sketch) on to the board via Saral wax free transfer paper. Since the sketch is so small, I am also drawing out details on top of the transfer, making my drawing exactly as I want it. I've added an expression to the drawing as well, which was not present in the original sketch. Next step will be a small color sketch before painting the larger piece seen here. Stay tuned! (may take about a week)


8/03/2010

something a little different


I made this at a class last year. The class, described as "Mother Winter" came accompanied with a photo of a wooden artists manikin and a glass dome attached underneath with a brief description stating something about making 'Mother Winter' - I was intrigued. The class was created by Ulla Milbrath, who instructed us one Saturday afternoon at Castle in the Air in Berkeley, CA. Quite possibly the first store I've ever regarded as a miracle.

Here you can find my figure and a few of the other students interpretations


We spent all day in the second floor workshop of Castle in the Air, all women, contriving our interpretation of the phrase "Mother Winter", crafting with bits and pieces from Ulla's vast closet of paper, clippings, fabrics. We learned new techniques with fabric stiffener, starching and paper molding. Ulla provided sculpted faces that she pressed from a mold she made in preparation of this class. We each painted our own, and applied them to our figures. Each student's Mother Winter figure was distinct; we each had our own projection of this layered archetype.

At the time I made this, I was thinking a lot about an idea I kept sketching, botanicals used as adornment on a face or head, but also to describe a feeling:

The idea is certainly nothing new, many artists have used the theme of objects in the hair, morphing gracefully into something else. In fact, the idea goes back quite far. Check out the book Natural Fashion: Tribal Decoration from Africa:
Beautiful, inspiring, primal. Decoration, adornment, survival, expression, self...



There is something about crafting with women. Why do I find this activity so calming? Maybe it is a distant memory whispering in my ear about our hunter gatherer days, days when we made baskets and pottery or sewed clothing by hand for our families and ourselves, when our 'crafts' meant a means to survival and we did it together. But that seems too distant. More likely, crafting reminds me of something much more intimate: drawing on the floor whilst my mother endlessly sewed, knitted, paper mache'd, painted, molded, quilled, folded, embroidered, quilted creations for holidays, sheer whimsy, and quite possibly her sanity while we moved about the country in a lonely existence, as all military families do. And to think my mother did this growing up and then into marriage and motherhood. Crafting has a purpose. Looking at the cross stitch embroidered pillows and dolls my mother made as a child in the military, I can see this activity has a purpose far beyond frivolous decoration.
How else do we deal with the roller coaster of life, but create? And when we create together we enjoy some sort of primal connection. We have something to make, to talk about, to play with, to have fun with that has nothing to do with anything but exploration of our own creativity. We all enter with our minds engrossed in our daily lives and by the end of the day escape into the art of 'make', giving birth to something new and whole, something tangible that draws from bits and pieces of imagery and textures that our senses regard as important, creating a symphony of Who We Are.
It is the grand culmination of sharing, exploring, thinking, and expression. Although this habit of crafting is is not directly or obviously related to painting, my job, sketching, or the like, making frivolous, decorative things, sometimes it just feels good. It just does.