Thursday, July 29, 2010

Creation and Destruction

For the first time in many weeks I was able to drag myself into the studio and work on a painting yesterday. It shouldn’t be that hard to get myself in there, but somehow it always is unless I’m already immersed in a new painting. Just like going to the barn, I procrastinate and find more urgent things to do but always enjoy myself once I’m there. But, that’s a topic for another day.

I’ve had an inquiry about the Belgian painting and need to get it finished, but I also need to warm up for it by working on less crucial works. So, I decided to take one of my more successful quickie paintings from last winter and rework it to more completion. This, you may remember, is Yuri the German Shepherd who lives at the barn where I board my horse. 

The basic painting was okay, but I never liked the background. The dog needed more finishing as well, giving him more depth and a hair coat. After about four more hours of painting on this little 8x10 inch canvas board, this is what I came up with (Above). It still needs work, namely a toned down background and a few corrections here and there, but those will have to wait until it’s dry again.

Here are the two versions together so that you can see the difference.

On the other end of the creative spectrum, I made the big decision to destroy a few of my less successful works. Some had been hanging around for years with no one expressing any interest in them, and others were works that were just not very good. This may seem like a really drastic step to take, but I found it incredibly freeing. For one thing, I no longer have to look at these failures and wonder what on earth I’m going to do with them for the rest of eternity. For another, it frees up storage space for new works of art. And thirdly I don’t have reminders hanging around of my current failures or of how less skilled I was in the past.

Now, mind you, there are still a few older paintings hanging around that I will keep for a while longer because they represent milestones in my artistic advancement.

Yesterday I visited my hairdresser who also happens to be a neighbor and friend. She clued me in on why none of the neighbors visited during the studio tour. It seems that my own sign which I put out two days ahead of the event gave them the impression that I was going to have regular Sunday open studio hours from now on, and they planned to visit on another Sunday. None of them were aware of the studio tour, which is a good indication that advertising for the event needs to be improved next year.

It was nice to find out that my neighbors weren’t ignoring me after all and is incentive to do something on my own this fall. Now I can look forward to that and concentrate on getting new paintings done.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

My First Ever Studio Tour!

Gosh, where shall I begin? It’s been almost a month since I last posted and a week has passed since the studio tour. I guess the tour is as good a place to start as any.

Last Sunday I was part of a studio tour put on by Parkside Arts Council which featured the studios of Antrim County artists. It was the first annual event, so one could expect problems, and there were a few of those.

I spent most of my time leading up to the tour with finishing the flower beds so that the yard would look nice and cleaning the house. I never did get a chance to work on any art for the event, but now the flower beds are all set for the really hot weather which we’re bound to get now.

In the last few days there was a frenzy of printing reproductions, framing paintings and putting together packs of notecards. We did the setup the day before, and I think it turned out quite well. I had to haul a lot of clutter out of the library, which is adjacent to the studio, to make room to display art, and that resulted in a nice open display area where people could linger over the art.

We didn’t have a very big turnout (maps to the studios needed improvement), and my biggest disappointment was that none of my neighbors came. But I still enjoyed meeting the visitors and telling them a bit about myself and my working process. I didn’t sell anything, but now more people know of my existence and will hopefully spread the word. I would definitely like to do this again!

Here are some of the photos I took of my studio and the tour setup.

Our house is a split level, and this is the entryway. My studio is upstairs, so we blocked off the downstairs with a display wall. All of the art on this wall was not for sale.

This is the library (because it's full of books and sounds high falutin') Both framed prints and originals are hung on the display panels with more in the print rack. On top of the flat files were cookies and apples for snacks. The cookies were popular. On the coffee table I had copies of a book I illustrated and the Mural Mosaic book from the mural project that I participated in two years ago.

This is my small card rack. I also had business cards here. The painting on the wall is a pastel I did many years ago of my kids when they were small.

Here are three originals hanging on the wall of the library.

This is my working space in the studio. When I work, the easel is pulled more perpendicular to the window. It faces north so has excellent light. I put a dried up palette on the easel and had some brushes laid out on the taboret. The reference photo and a color study are propped up on the big taboret.

It was hot and muggy the day of the tour, so I turned off the lights in between visitors. The studio can get very hot with three banks of fluorescent lights on the ceiling.

My drawing table is folded up against this wall of the studio. I love that table! The white taboret next to it holds drawing supplies and utensils. The blue taboret holds painting supplies. The boxes above the TV are full of reference photos, and I hang paintings to dry on the pegboard or store them there until framed.

This is my desk. It's usually covered with piles of paper. For the tour, I cleared it off a little and put two open anatomy books on it. I sometimes use anatomy books as I paint or draw, and I wanted to show that. The two drawer units were bought used. They're very deep, and half of the top lifts up to get at the contents more easily. Of course, usually there's too much stuff on the desk to take advantage of that! I have drawing boards and table easels stashed in the space between the desk and the wall. That big white board is the original one that came with my drawing table. We put a smaller one on it since I didn't need all that space and it would have crowded the studio too much. It's also very heavy!

This may be one of the neatest parts of my studio! My husband built these shelves into this nook in the wall. The vertical shelves hold matboard, large canvases, illustration board and old unframed paintings. The horizontal ones have more canvases on them, glass, drawing pads and other odds and ends. I also store works in progress here - the dry ones like drawings and pastels - where they're protected. At the other end of this wall is another nook with built in shelves. I keep framed paintings and prints there and other art and non art stuff. Behind the door is a closet for more art storage. My french easel and photography lights are in here along with empty frames, painting supplies, mannikins, portfolios and lots of other stuff. 

Over the years the studio has developed into a very functional area although it's not that large. The window looks out on our lake, and the room is pleasant to work in at any time of year; day or night. It's too crowded to have both the easel in its working spot and the drawing table set up, but I rarely need to do that anyway.

I had lots of compliments on my studio space from the artists who visited during the tour. Of course they complimented the artwork too! I'm ready for my next open studio event. Perhaps this fall during the color season?