Third Note to Self (Friday Debrief)

It’s been a busy, productive week. So busy that I didn’t do a “regular” post this week. I’m only here for my debrief. I’ve been working on the picture above, whimsically begun, based upon some little drawings and a dream. It measures about 38 x 40. Dimensions are not exact yet because it’s unstretched. The canvas is very rough and thus very well suited for dragged colors. It’s experimental. We’ll see what direction it takes.

I’ve been making little drawings to think about what the dream lake of shining light and clouds should look like.

Preexisting paintings have been coming along too. The suite of paintings of “hills,” all based the same composition photo collage, slowly evolve. Each one has a reference drawing that treats the motif a little differently.

The second hills picture is the one I’ve worked on the most this week. The painting measures 36 x 48 and the drawing (in neopastel below) measures about 22 x 30.

I began exploring a new motif. So far the images are not clicking. But it has been interesting to be back in R&D mode using neopastel. The two drawings are in the 18 x 24ish range, below.

Some of the color difference in the drawings comes from the radically different paper colors. The one above is drawn on a fairly dark maroon colored paper. The one below, on the contrary, is drawn on bright cream.

Maybe it was using neopastel again that got me thinking even more about dry pastel again. They can be really impractical in my small studio. But I have wanted to use them so much. I decided to just do it. Had to rearrange things a little bit, but that reorganization was more easily accomplished than I had expected. So I have done one small pastel (12 x 18) and started a second one. Below.

These pastels are made on sanded paper (UArt 500 grade) and I love the surface. What a delight it is to work in this medium. And the colors have a marvelous intensity.

I’ve decided to make dry pastel a staple. Since I’m doing paintings from drawings now, it would be simply crazy to eliminate a medium that I adore. So I have figured out a way to control the dusty pigment. I think another version of the “hills” theme would work nicely in pastel. I fished out a larger sheet of UArt 500 grade. Making this next pastel is near the top of the “To Do” list.

I took these photos. That’s a significant factor in one’s time management. Also took some photos that are not included at this post. It was a good photography session. Beautiful light outside.

A squirrel visited the window sill. Should have grabbed the camera, but don’t even think about such things. For some experiences words seem like the proper medium. The squirrel and I had something like a little conversation while he sat on my window sill. He was certainly aware of me and somewhat curious too.

Since the last debrief I also worked some on the two paintings below. Sometimes hopping from picture to picture is the way to get things done. Sometimes you have to be a bee.

The first measures 36 x 48 and the mountain below measures 30 x 40. The goal for the second painting is to bring it closer to its reference drawing. So I reworked it to make it less painterly and more linear. I think there’s more in that direction I would still like to do.

I got a lot done. I’m calling this week a great success! If you have enjoyed hearing me talk to myself in my Friday review, please share the post with your friends. Or feel free to leave a comment. And thank you for reading and sharing my art adventure.

Mountainous

The earth has a slow process for creating mountains. My process is relatively slow too, but not as slow as Mother Nature’s process. The mountains I make on the canvas seem to emerge slowly, however I can happily report that so far none of them takes millions of years. That’s good news since I’m not convinced my patience would ever stretch to accommodate that timespan.

My mountains emerge across weeks of time. They begin usually as images I find and manipulate in photographic form, which afterwards get translated into a variety of drawings, and from the drawings at last a painting begins. The acrylic painting above measures 30 x 40 inches and began as quite a small drawing in color pencils (below). My mountain’s got a little tweaking still, but that’s all and it will be ready for installation.

How about you? How’s your patience managing? Does your patience keep pace with the demands made of it?

Paper Horse

Paper Horse

Still life is a contemplative kind of painting.  When you think about it, what does a still life offer?  It’s simply a set of objects to gaze upon.  Sometimes the objects may have clear symbolic meanings, but often — perhaps most of the time — the objects are just themselves. They might not even be fully themselves, depending upon how they’ve been painted.  In the still lifes of my hero Matisse, sometimes the objects are caricatures of themselves, sometimes they are almost cartoon versions of things — bounded by heavy contour lines, generalized into broad colors.

To place overmuch attention to the acquisition of things is called “materialism,” in our culture (which has some uneasy feelings about its various economic successes).  And yet we live in a world of objects, and we build our human nests (after a fashion) and fill them with things we think we need or that we cherish. And so still life painting puts the focus squarely upon the things.  It offers up the quiet drama of things — or possibly a vision of sentimental attachments — or reflections of private life.

The paper horse was something I rediscovered while cleaning the attic, a relic of my daughter’s childhood when we routinely made things from paper.  I brought it down and it almost instantly landed on the still life table.  All the objects have some bit of sentimental energy in them (for me, possibly visible to the viewer too).  But the objects on the table also seem to insist upon their abstract presence.  They are simply and frankly things.  Bound to the table by gravity, visible by the light they reflect, they simply are.  So they hang there in space like planets revolving around a star or like the particles that physicists tell us make up the physical cosmos.

They have an abstract beingness.  They just are.  They are stuff.  And what do artists do?  They look at stuff and copy it into pictures.

Paper Horse measures 48 x 36 inches, is painted in acrylic paint on canvas.

 

Fun & Work

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Behind the finished paintings are lots and lots of drawings and sketches and what not.  It’s all fun, except for when it’s not.  But even when it’s not fun — if not fun in the right now — it’s fun later.  I don’t think that has anything to do with art — that’s more about just living.  Eckhart Tolle has some interesting ideas on the subject ….

What I mean, though, is that in my paintings I have ideas about what I want, but I don’t always know how to get there.  In my indecisive states, I turn to my tools and make lots of trials.  Since I often paint from life, it means sitting in front of the things and simply making color/drawing decisions.

Let’s put this here.   Could as easily start with it being there, but here seems good.  What if it’s this big. Okay, if it’s this big then that thingy is that big.  (I think.)  I believe it’s this color.  Oops, no it’s more a fill-in-the-blank (cooler, darker, lighter, warmer, bluer, etc.) And so on, and so on.

I have begun thinking of them as rehearsals.  Sometimes they’re even casting calls.  Sometimes an object just isn’t working out … (So sorry, seashell, you’ve been great in other pictures but … um … you’re just not right for this one.  Sorry.  I’ll call you!)

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Anyway, there are many versions of things.  They end up in all stages of finish or unfinish.  They help me think.

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Butterfly Emblem

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I got a little crazy and painted something really big — or certainly big relative to the size of my studio.  I don’t know what it is exactly.  It was supposed to be a duck pond, but then this butterfly showed up.  Sometimes you just go with the flow.

Notwithstanding its whimsical nature, I made lots of preliminary drawings for it because I just love to draw.  And the drawings become like rehearsals.  So for instance, the right hand abstract panel was rehearsed a few times.  Here’s one of the versions:

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It ends up being a separate painting on its own, which is vertical here but could as easily be horizontal.  It lacks an solid up or down.  It’s 36 x 18 inches.

I made a lot of drawings too.  Some of them were studies for the flowers in the central flower panel.

Butterfly Emblem needs a little tiny bit of tweaking before it finds a new home.  If you are interested in having its new home be your home — send me a message!

September Show

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My still life table has been a busy setting lately and this painting above, called “Food for Thought” will appear in an upcoming Art League exhibit.  It’s an acrylic painting and measures 36 x 18 inches.  I have been painting a lot!

The painting has a cousin, a small work 20 x 16 inches that features the same compotier.

compotier yellow cloth

That September show will be at the Torpedo Factory in Old Town Alexandria, VA beginning September 10th and lasting through October 6th.

empty bowls

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I like empty bowls —  and the air that floats inside their curved interior surfaces and those photons of light that bounce against the wall of the bowl and fall out into the universe.  I like doing posts in themes.  A recent instagram post is dedicated to the motif of an empty bowl.   Two of the bowls used in the still lifes are made of papier-mâché.  The third is a little Chinese teacup.  I have three mediums represented, watercolor, oil and acrylic paint.

Come visit …

https://www.instagram.com/alethamkuschan/

gallery visit / it finally stopped raining

 

dark flowersAnd thus I was able to photograph my painting.

Currently it hangs in the May exhibit at the Torpedo Factory in Old Town Alexandria.  Very pretty light in the gallery today though there were areas of flooded streets just outside the building.  Mother Nature dropped A LOT of rain on the Washington DC region.

Capricious Mother Nature.

Here’s a view of the installation:

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reinterpretation — riffing on the pattern

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Years ago I bought a beautiful table cloth at the Smithsonian institution.  It has one pattern on one side and another on the inside so it’s a versatile still life cloth.  As with anything else that an artist paints it gets interpreted.  The pattern of the real life cloth doesn’t exactly match the pattern of the cloth in the picture.  It’s like jazz — it gets improvised.

And in that strategy the artist finds a great deal to explore and enjoy.  This particular cloth has a great melody.  I never get tired of looking at it, thinking about it, painting it.  Thank you, textile artist, whoever you are who created my still life drapery.

bowl of fruits

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I’m working on another large still life.  Almost everything is inside the painting already, and yet the painting isn’t its things only; thus there’s still a lot of painting to paint.  I add colors without a plan, thinking “this might look interesting here.”

Almost everything is there and yet it still seems to have more potential than I quite know what to do with.