Monday, February 23, 2009

Thankful Things

We're having another sunny day after several days of snow and wind, and it is much, much appreciated!

Speaking of things to be thankful for, our family has a lot to be thankful for on this joyful Monday morning. Last week my almost 95 year old mother was rushed to Emergency with an obstructed bowel. Since I'm the designated family member with medical powers of attorney, I spent much of two days on the phone with other family members, particularly my two sisters, and in consultation with her doctors. Together we elected to go ahead with the risky surgery despite Mother's frail condition and hope for the best. It really was her only option.

To our immense relief, she came through the surgery with flying colors and continues to do well in the ICU. Of course, she's not in the clear yet, but for now we are grateful for her progress.

Since I have nothing new to share (I've been working on tax reports when I haven't been on the phone), today's painting is an older one that I revised a year or so ago. It's very different from my usual artwork but is a technique that I learned in art school as an exercise in composition, lost and found edges, color use and you-name-it. I've done several of these over the years, and this is the latest. Whether I continue to explore this technique remains to be seen.

This is one of those paintings that needs to be seen in person to be appreciated. It just doesn't photograph all that well because the background is composed of multiple layers of color in pastel, and the camera tends to emphasize one color over others. Attempts to do color correction in Photoshop have had limited success. It really has that soft, subtle color and feeling of well-worn jeans and is just a fun piece with lots to look at. One day soon I need to frame it and take it to the gallery/shop that has some of my artwork.

So I thought I would tout "Dressage Clinic II" in my blog today and give it some well deserved attention. It is a mixed media (pastel, colored pencil) on paper, 16x20 inches and is for sale on my website . The reference photos were taken at a dressage clinic at Bay Harbor Equestrian Center about ten years ago, and the clinician was olympic medal winner Steffen Peters.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Winter Storm Musings

Good morning, everyone! At least it's morning for the next two minutes.

We're under a winter storm watch today with roaring winds and snow going sideways and bitter cold temperatures. Just the kind of day when you're glad if you can stay inside where it's cozy and warm.

Today's image is a cloud study I did for my hunter pace painting a couple of years ago. It will have to do because I don't have anything new to show you. Besides, it turned out really well, and I really like it.

I've just about come to the inevitable conclusion that the dead of winter (January and February) are just not ever going to be productive months for artwork. Every year I think I'll get a lot done during this period, but it rarely happens. What with all the year end business stuff to take care of which is swiftly followed by preparing stuff to send to the accountants for income taxes, there's little time left. Between my husband's business, my art business and my mother's tax stuff, there is just a LOT to do during this time.

Yesterday I spent journaling about this and other issues which brought me to this realization. Frankly, it's a relief to admit this to myself and stop stressing over not creating and not having anything new to post to my blog and website. Besides, it saves me from wracking my brain trying to think of clever, witty things to say on the blog.

Another outcome of the journaling was that I reaffirmed in my mind what I've been feeling in my gut for months now. I need to become a hermit and just concentrate on rediscovering the joy of painting and drawing without the stresses of any kind of marketing or peer pressures. So, that's what I'm going to do and not worry about not entering any AAEA shows for yet another year or not placing any print ads for the third year in a row.

I'm now working with a long distance mentor, and I hope to begin working soon with a local mentor with classical training. That is a pretty exciting prospect! I have ideas for studies to do and for quick, one day works of art that I will share with you if they aren't too awful.

All that will probably have to wait until the tax stuff is taken care of, but I will allow some time each week for artwork regardless. After all, one has to address the spiritual side of oneself as well as the mundane and practical.

And, finally, a big congratulations to those equine artist bloggers who were awarded blog awards by their peers. Sadly, I wasn't among them which probably is an indication that I need to make some changes in what and how I post.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Will It Sell, and Should I Care?

Up until now I've been subject to an affliction that plagues many an artist; the notion that each work of art we begin must be marketable in some way. This notion has its down side because it can severely limit what we choose to paint or draw and how we go about the whole creation process. It can also paralyze us with fear that we're going to ruin whatever piece of artwork we're currently working on.

Many of us aspiring artists fall into this trap in the early stages of our careers; at the point when we decide that we've become good enough to actually be able to sell our art. Then the pressure is on to make every piece good enough to sell. That pressure becomes stifling of our spontaneity and creativity. Sometimes we paint what we think will sell and not what we're passionate about or what truly inspires us. Our growth as artists can come to a standstill.

That's the point I've found myself at, and now I'm struggling to free myself of those market-driven decisions. It's hard to eliminate them altogether, so I've come to a compromise of sorts. For instance, I know that Friesians are a very popular breed right now and that I only have one image to offer for sale. With that in mind, I decided to do a Friesian for my next art project. Going through Friesian images in my reference photos, a couple of photos caught my eye, and I chose one to work from and began a sketch. You can see it above.

But, another photo also spoke to me, and I kept coming back to it. It may not be something that will appeal to the average horse lover, but it has lots of Art Appeal for an artist. I took that photo out of the box as well and have even toned a canvas for it. I'm even excited at the prospect of beginning the painting and trying a new technique! Just to be sure that I don't put too much pressure on myself, I chose a cheap canvas board. This one will also be a study, and if it turns out well, I would like to do a larger version.

Do I have you in suspense yet to see what I'm so enthused about? Well, you'll just have to wait.

In the meantime, I'll develop this drawing to the point where it can go onto canvas. Because the head angle is tricky, I decided to do a drawing first rather than draw directly on the canvas as I did for "Winter Scotch". It needs a lot of work yet. The proportions are a little cock eyed, and I'm still debating whether or not to add a foal to the image or leave it as is. I'll decide that once the drawing is refined.

"Untitled" above depicts the Friesian mare, Alpie, that I photographed for a portrait several years ago. That portrait became the print, "Forever Friesian".

Will this image be marketable? I don't know, and I'm working hard not to care. For now, it's about enjoying the process of creation and letting the muse take me where ever it will.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Winter Scotch - Finishing The Horse

I'm not a fan of getting older, but my body has other ideas. Since the beginning of the year, I've been exercising regularly which is something I haven't done for a long time. One day I do leg exercises and the next I do shoulder and neck exercises. These were all prescribed by the physical therapist for various injuries and the arthritis I have in my neck and shoulders. Unfortunately, this week I suffered a setback when my shoulders and neck pretty much seized up, and I could barely lift hand to mouth to feed myself. (that might be a good thing if it weren't so painful!) Lifting my saddle around to clean it was just too painful to even contemplate, so it still sits in the laundry room in pieces as does the bridle.

Clearly, a change in strategy is in order.

My horse is advancing in years also and has been lame in the hind end for over a month now. He had his second chiropractic adjustment on Friday and will soon be going on a joint supplement. I ordered a quarter sheet from Dover last week which I hope will help him to warm up safely when we ride which I should be doing more often, for his benefit and mine. He's now wearing his winter blanket since we've had so much sub and near zero weather of late, and I'm sure he appreciates that immensely, even though he gets it dirty by taking his morning roll in the arena after his breakfast grain. He'll be 24 on April 15.

Several years ago I decided that when Scottie can no longer be ridden, I will quit riding. At this point, I'm not sure which of us will give out first!

Yesterday, I was recovered enough to work on this painting again and managed to pretty much finish the horse last night. Although he could use some adjustments, I'm so happy with how he turned out that I'm debating whether or not to just finish up the background and call the painting finished. The horse looks just like Scottie, and this painting will remain in my collection no matter what.

It's time to start thinking of what to work on next.