Saturday, March 29, 2008

"The Green Team" Revisited - Oil Painting in Progress

After what seemed like a million and one distractions this week, I finally made it into the studio and resumed work on this oil painting of two Belgian draft horses. The horse on the right had been a virtual ghost horse for the past two years while his companion had taken on life in full color. Painting that second horse really changed the look of the painting, and I'm pretty well pleased with the way it turned out. I especially love the wrinkles on his huge neck as he turns his head to look at the viewer.

My biggest fear all week was that I might have forgotten how to paint. Other than to glaze a layer of pink (yes Pink!) over this second horse last fall, I hadn't picked up a paint brush in over a year. Not to worry; it was as if I had been painting daily ever since. What a relief that was and what a joy to mush oils around on the palette and brush away with near abandon!

So, let's give a cheer for Brad (I've named him Brad because he's so handsome!) who has now joined the world of Living Color! And, let's give another cheer for me who has become unstuck from my funk of last year and has now joined the world of the Creatively Alive!

Hip Hip Hooray!!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The End of a Long Dry Spell

Last week marked the end of a long dry spell. I sold a small pastel, the first original that I've sold in quite a long time.

I also finished the last of the taxes and sent them off to the respective accountants; both ours and my mother's. A huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders, and slowly I'm working my way back into the studio which is cluttered with new art supplies. Finishing the taxes was the last of the really big obligations still hanging over me, and I'm renewing my resolve to devote time to painting every day or at least for so many hours per week. The schedule which works best is yet to be determined so things may be a little unsettled at first, but once I begin painting, it will be far easier to keep the momentum going.

I've decided to work on my Belgian team painting first in order to get a feel for handling the brush and paints again before moving over to The Peppermint Kid. After a day or so of painting, it will need to sit and dry anyway, so that will work out well.

Above is the small pastel that sold last week, "Bullet In Motion". It will be a gift so I can't tell any details, but I'm happy that it's found a good home. It's actually a mixed media on suede matboard. I used charcoal, conte crayon and pastel on this wonderful surface.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

"Piling On" on the Field of Art

To tell you the truth, 2007 was a difficult year. Nothing really tragic happened, but somehow I struggled through the whole year never quite understanding why until I did my annual year end assessment in January. That’s when I realized that one by one the setbacks and disappointments had piled on one another, never giving me a chance to recover in between.

2006 had been a difficult year, too. My 92 year old mother declined rapidly and had to be put in a nursing home. We three sisters had to clean out her apartment and dispose of her worldly possessions which felt like we were erasing what was left of our parents’ lives. My computer hard drive died and I was forced to upgrade the operating system on the new drive and upgrade all my software. I haven’t yet had the time to learn it all again and can’t yet properly print my reproductions and business cards.

Wisely, I made the decision in early 2007 to cut back on marketing and showing in order to build up new inventory of artwork, but that never happened. Starting in January the piling on began. I learned about a local equine art show that I wasn’t invited to enter. It seems there were politics involved, and the curator only invited her “friends”. Next, I lost my only gallery because I hadn’t provided him with anything new for quite a while. But the biggest blow to my ego and self esteem happened a few months later when I lost a portrait commission because I’d taken so long to get to it. It was mortifying; something that had never happened before.

The final piling on was like a three hundred pound linebacker landing on top of the heap. In fact, I wrote about it back in January, but it is still a sore issue. In July I was contacted by a licensing agent who was wildly enthusiastic about my art and made big promises about making me into the next Chris Cummings of the licensing world. It seems she knew far less about equine art licensing than she let on, and I was never able to pin her down as to which of my images I should send her for the big branding promotion she promised. I finally sent her some images and waited and waited. Finally she informed me that the images weren’t suitable and that I hadn’t sent enough to launch a branding campaign. A short time later she rudely cancelled the contract, by email no less, blaming me for her failures. After all the time I’d spent doing research on licensed horse images and my own sales records and planning out paintings for licensing, I was both humiliated and furious. Now I’m glad to be rid of her; a person I wouldn’t want to do business with anyway.

There were a number of other setbacks over the year but these are the major ones, all art related. Confidence in the quality of my art and in my ability to succeed as an artist was shaken at the beginning of the year and never had a chance to recover. Is it any wonder that I found it so difficult to paint in 2007? We artists are such sensitive souls that it doesn’t take much to throw us off track and shake our confidence.

So far the good news is that 2008 is perking along much better. The tax materials are now at the accountant’s and off my long To Do list. I ordered some new art supplies and new canvases and am really liking the looks of the Masterpiece Belgian linens. A new canvas is waiting for the Bard portrait, and by tomorrow my mother’s taxes should be done, and I will at long last be free to paint again. I can’t wait!!

The painting above is an old pastel dog portrait which has always been one of my favorites. I’d like to add some dog paintings to my portfolio again, and “Casey” is a reminder of that.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A Case of the What Ifs

The other day I got the bug to "do something" with my website. It started out innocently enough. I was just going to get rid of some broken links to a stats program I'd tried a few years ago and do a few other little maintenance things but then got a case of the What Ifs. That's always dangerous and sure to lead you astray from whatever urgent project is on the schedule for that day.

I've been wanting to redo my website for a long time but just couldn't spare the time to learn Deamweaver and do a proper job of it. I'm still stuck in the Dark Ages of website design, you see, with my wimpy little Home Page WYSIWYG program that only runs in OS 9, so my options are currently very limited, along with my knowledge of all the new cool stuff for making a website look sophisticated and professional.

At any rate, when the What If's struck I wondered What If I changed the table color to white instead of the teal green (that I love) in order to give the website a fresher, brighter look. So I did it. Hours and hours later, I had completely redesigned the Horse Paintings page and a couple of others and stumbled off to bed.

Of course, this morning the new design didn't look as hot as it had yesterday, and of course I couldn't leave it that way without trying out a few other What If ideas. So I did.

I think I'm happy with it now. For the time being. Until the What Ifs strike again. The main pages are done, and with the new design set, I can revise the rest of the pages one or two at a time. It's not fancy; it still looks kind of old fashioned by today's standards, but it will do until I can learn Dreamweaver.

Here is the Horse Paintings page newly spiffed up for the world to see. I hope.

Today's image is one I took at the Horse Shows By The Bay Dressage Show in Traverse City last summer. It's a definite future painting, and on a cold, blustery day in March, it reminds me of how hot and dusty it was that August day.