Friday, February 26, 2016

Bugs, Shirts, and What My Gallery Space Looks Like

mixed media on cradled wood
4 x 6 inch

This has been a blazing and creative week.  I worked on a small commission piece for a friend and painted small works to take to the gallery for Final Friday tonight.  Caterpillar and Ladybug are two of those small works.

mixed media on cradled wood
4 x 6 inch

Creme Shirts One, Two, Three
and Four

I worked a lot in my sketchbooks last week and several of my pages were simply clothing.  I loved painting them so much, I decided to do a small series of shirts, which also went to the gallery.  You will likely see more of these.  

my space at Tessera Fine Art Gallery

Tonight is Final Friday here in Wichita and this is what my space looks like as I type this.  Readings at the Dusty Bookshelf  (upper right and photo below) has a new frame.  It was in a black frame, but I like this one better.

Readings at the Dusty Bookshelf in a new frame.

I painted Readings...nearly three years ago, but it stayed in our home for quite some time before I first showed it anywhere.  It was inspired by a really atmospheric bookstore called The Dusty Bookshelf in Manhattan, Kansas.  My only regret about this painting is that I didn't paint the store cat that lives there.  Truth be told, I never even thought of it.  Atmosphere was my ultimate focus at the time I painted it.

I am still on a mission painting faces.  I have a new project in mind which I will share more with you as things unfold.  This was what actually took most of my time this week!  Let's just say the words technical difficulties and leave it at that for now. :)

Happy weekend to you all and thank you tons for all your comments on Between Green Thread and Broccoli in the last post.  Your positive feedback made me so happy.  

♥ Lisa

Friday, February 19, 2016

Between Green Thread and Broccoli and the Poem That Inspired It

Between Green Thread and Broccoli
mixed media on cradled board
16 x 20 inch

A while back I was visiting Sharmon Davidson's blog where she had posted one of her wonderful collage works, and with it there was a poem by Tony Hoagland called The Word.  I was immediately drawn to the poem and looked up Tony Hoagland to read more of his work.  There is a style to his writing that resonates with me and I found myself returning to read The Word a few more times which led to an idea for a painting.  I jotted down a sketch and some thoughts to go with it then set it aside, not feeling sure if it was something I truly wanted to paint.   But the idea and the poem stayed with me.

Below are some closeups and the words of the entire poem.  You can see bits and pieces in my painting that derived from the poetry, and there were so many other elements I wanted to add.  However, I worried it would be too busy and decided to keep the composition simple.  


The Word
by Tony Hoagland

Down near the bottom
of the crossed-out list
of things you have to do today,

between "green thread"

and "broccoli," you find
that you have penciled "sunlight."

Resting on the page, the word

is beautiful. It touches you
as if you had a friend

and sunlight were a present

he had sent from someplace distant
as this morning—to cheer you up,

and to remind you that,

among your duties, pleasure
is a thing

that also needs accomplishing.

Do you remember?
that time and light are kinds

of love, and love

is no less practical
than a coffee grinder

or a safe spare tire?

Tomorrow you may be utterly
without a clue,

but today you get a telegram

from the heart in exile,
proclaiming that the kingdom

still exists,

the king and queen alive, 
still speaking to their children,

—to any one among them

who can find the time
to sit out in the sun and listen.


I hope you enjoy the painting and especially the beautiful words of Mr. Hoagland.  I don't know about you, but it inspires me to remember not to get so busy that I forget to enjoy all the pleasures that are so easy to take for sunlight.

I want to thank you all for your wonderful comments on Tahmoor's Table in the last post.  I read every word and really appreciate the comments particularly about the changed face.  I am trying to push myself a bit artistically without completely changing the way I normally paint things.  I have had my sleeves rolled up these last two weeks painting in sketchbooks...everything from faces to clothing to table settings...and enjoying the sunshine.  

See you soon.

♥ Lisa

Friday, February 5, 2016

Tahmoor's Table: the Inspiration, the Process and the Changed Face

Tahmoor's Table
mixed media on cradled panel
16 x 20 inch

Last month I did a series of very small paintings inspired by Picasso.  I decided to do a larger painting of the one I called "Amy" because I loved the posture or pose of her which was quite exaggerated in comparison to Picasso's "The Ascetic", where the whole concept came from.

After beginning my larger painting, the blank space behind her seemed too big and too plain.  I considered many options like a window or just a simple pattern, and when I saw Carolyn Plochmann's lace cover in her painting "Something Finely Made" I knew a lace curtain was what I wanted to do.  It offered the challenge of trying something new (painting lace) and also provided the background I was looking for.

I used molding paste to create the larger flowers you see in the lace and when they were just too bumpy, I sanded them down quite a bit.  I used acrylic paint and colored pencils and ink washes to achieve the look and was pretty happy with the result.

 On the table I used some loosely-done fracturing marks I learned from Julie Ford Oliver's online tutorial and workshop.  I loved how it created movement all over the tabletop.

The bird was more hallow and ghostly-looking at first.  I had planned to leave it that way, but once I started to think of a name for the piece I stumbled onto some interesting knowledge.  I was searching for names that begin with "T" since "T...'s Table" seemed an appropriate name for the piece.  When reading about the name "Tahmoor" I read that its origin came from the Bronzewing Pigeon which are a group of pigeons native to Australia.  So I added some color to the wing and changed the beak to make it look more like a Bronzewing, and now the name Tahmoor was perfect!   How's that for a complicated, round about way of naming a painting?  Whoever said being an artist was simple?  :)


The flowers were a happy turnout as well.  I think painting flowers can be difficult and I am ever-searching for new ways to paint them.  These were at first big blue blobs and they looked like Dr. Seuss' Truffula Trees.  But after playing around with some chunky brushstrokes, the result was exactly the happy flower I had in mind.  I mixed a lot of gel medium into the paint to give it a nice, buttery texture.

The trickiest part was her face.  I am trying to get away from hard lines and my figures tend to have them, especially around the nose, eyes and brow.  There isn't anything wrong with hard lines really, I just want to learn and explore more with with how I paint faces on my characters. After conversing with Julie about my dilemma, she suggested I look at photos converted to black and white in order to discover value changes.  I looked at a lot of art online this way and then put my own painted face in black and white to see the "trouble areas", then went from there.  I used a lot of light skin tones to sort of smoosh out the hard lines and that did it.  It transformed her face by flattening the bridge of her nose and making the eyes quite smaller, but that was okay with me.  

Here's the original face in color...

close up of previous face with harder lines

And here they are side by side in black and white.  You can see a lot more light and dark contrasts in the original face vs the final outcome, especially if you squint.  A brilliant suggestion on Julie's part.  I had heard this suggestion before, but never took the time to do it.  

in black and white
Left:  before  Right:  after

I began painting faces in my sketchbook this week  and also started a new 16 x 20 inch painting.   I can tell you quite honestly, that painting and drawing faces with hard lines is deeply ingrained in me.  It just comes so naturally to do them that way, so I don't know if I will ever be able to change it without A LOT of practice and effort on my part.  Plus, I am not 100% sure I want to change when I look at the before and after side by side.   The "before" face feels a little more like "home" to me.  More comfortable.  More familiar.  That feels silly to say, but do you know what I mean?  I have been thinking a lot about this lately, on whether or not to tweak my style a bit or to just not worry about it and paint away.  To me, tweaking means growing as an artist and I definitely want to grow.  What do you think?

I am babbling now, so off I go to paint more faces.  Who knows what will come next?

Thank you SO much for all your wonderful comments in the last post about my show at City Arts.  It's still up and running until February 20 and I've had a lot of great feedback on the show.  If you live in Wichita or close, I hope you will get by to see it!

Happy Weekend everyone!

♥ Lisa