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3 Things to Refresh Artistic Direction August 19, 2013

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It’s been a long Spring and Summer…I’ve overcome some roadblocks in my painting, learned some new techniques to play with, and I’ve gained confidence in my work…enough that I have set out on a new direction towards getting my work beyond the local arena.

First of all, taking a REALLY GOOD BREAK from everything helped. It is good to step back from time to time and to reassess what is working, what is not, and what needs to be changed so it can. I’ve done some of that. Here’s three things that will force you to change your perspective and maybe your direction; you might not like them and I hope they don’t happen to you, but they will make you look again at where and what you are doing and to perhaps become more clear about where you want to end up.

1.  Have Your Major Gallery Close Their Doors:

Yup, that will force change on you. It did me and it was the best thing that ever happened. It doesn’t mean you won’t be upset, have doubts about your work, and want to dive into a large black hole. But when you crawl back up out of it you can and hopefully will look at things with a new perspective and realize how important it is to keep going. You are an artist and there will be more galleries. Count on it.

2.  Your Health Changes:

Yup, that works too. When you spend more time in bed being forced to rest and heal, you spend time thinking (at least I do!). I didn’t think about what I was going to paint next, I thought about if I would ever paint at all again! I thought about if I had wasted time and efforts and what it all meant. It meant that I still had plenty of opportunities ahead of me to move into the direction I had wanted to go towards in the first place because they were still out there to explore. And I also realized that I had allowed too many distractions to get in the way of personal development.  I vowed to change that once my I had recovered from being ill, and I did.

3.  Drop Your Ego on Fixed/Rigid Thinking About Your Place in the Art World:

Okay, that was a tougher one! I realized through the above two experiences that I was just another artist in a big artsy world. I care about what I do and I want to share my work with others who will enjoy it and possibly pay to have it! However, I also had to realize that there were both better and worse artists than me AND that no-body really cares how I do what I do. This might sound negative, but it is entirely the opposite. Reality dictates that most people think about themselves first, and this is a good thing in the right places. Its not a good thing when that’s all they think about! So to change my perspective on my position, I took a very good, intense, grueling workshop from a very good European instructor who made me work very hard. It also had the advantage that I was able to let my years of experience and skill take a backseat (in a way) to a new learning process that challenged my skills and patience. It worked! Paint because you love to…not for anything else. Don’t compromise yourself either because there’s no winners when we do that.

4. Now the Good News! (You didn’t expect a #4, did you?)

The bottom line is that while it is important to set goals, work towards them, and hopefully reach them, life is going to throw you a few curve-balls on occasion. You can either avoid getting hit (which is difficult because we don’t have control over everything external that happens to us), or you can accept the changes and make new choices because of them. I realized (on some of my worse days) I was resisting enjoying what I enjoyed….and nothing else other than my own mind was behind it. Knowing that I did not have control over the events, I realized that I did have control over what I did with ‘ me’ in the event and after the event! I could make choices to move forward. I did.

We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but we have today to do our best. This IS a choice. We can come from any direction, but we will always end up ‘here.’ ‘Here’ is where you are now, and will be again and again. How do I want ‘here’ to look? That is what holds the answer. Opportunity is always there. We just have to be aware and open to see and hear it. Don’t give up when it looks dark, because it isn’t going to stay that way.

'The Last Chapter' - my work in progress

‘The Last Chapter’ – my work in progress

Doing What Comes Naturally March 15, 2013

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Proud Woman, 14inx20in, oil on Belgian Linen (Mar. 4, 2013)Since having four solo shows and five group shows in the past five years, I have decided I needed to take a break! An artist can’t just stop painting…that won’t happen with me, but I felt there was a call-back to what I used to do.

Portraiture and figurative (narrative) works were my first love and seemed to come naturally to me. It had been over 10 years since I did the last figurative painting and I felt a need to rediscover doing them. I decided last Spring that it would be in my best interests to connect with a mentor who was really good in this area to work with me. I contacted an artist friend of mine who runs an art school locally and we made arrangements to meet once a week for the next year. I have been doing a lot of studies under his guidance. It felt good to draw again, first with graphite and charcoal, then moved into drawing with paint. In the Fall last year I finally began to paint the portraits in full color.

I can honestly say that it isn’t easy. There is a lot to consider and I was grateful for my many years in art school to have done lots and lots of figurative work. I remembered anatomy and the structure of the human form…this came back to me quite quickly. However, I had not done anything at that time with oil paint as I was only working with water media.

My skill painting the portrait and figure is coming along. I’m not where I want to be with them yet but that is part of the process; persevering, working at the same subject matter, learning new ways to explore this genre, and to continue to get down into the nitty gritty of it all – all of these matter. And there can be a lot of frustration. So while I still continue to work at landscape painting for the galleries that carry that work from me, I need to fill my own cup with what moves ALL of me. This painting is called “Proud Woman” – 18in x 14in, oil on Belgian Linen panel. Salut!

Catching a Few Rays November 30, 2012

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Winter in the prairies in Canada has its own beauty as do all seasons. However, there is something really quite special about being able to catch the light reflecting off the snow on a sunny winter day. It is often quite breathtaking. Here is my recent painting of one of those times. This is taken close to our river valley. We have a lot of parks with walkways where people can stroll along for miles. Mill Creek is my favorite. I grew up as a child, playing in the wooded areas just behind our house. This area was my playground and I knew every nook and cranny of it for a few miles around. Mill Creek is pretty much dried up in most areas now, but there is still a trickle of water that finds its way through the lower areas. Enjoy the winter no matter what it brings. It is a season of slowing down, relaxing more, breathing in the beauty of seeing the pristine sparkle of freshly fallen snow, and eating a little more rich foods. Have a Merry Christmas as well!

Catching a Few Rays, 22in x 28in, oil on canvas

Catching a Few Rays, 22in x 28in, oil on canvas

Places in the Summer Sun July 15, 2012

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Cool Water 1

 My newest show ‘Places in the Summer Sun’ will be featured at the Art Beat Gallery this August. I have painted several locations capturing impressions of the height of the season’s light during summer. These paintings are showing a new turn in my artistic development. I had always been attracted to pattern created by light/dark, cool/warm contrasts. In my years as an artist, I had tried many different ways to capture what I was seeing and in the process had tried to emulate other great painters’ styles. Well, this works to a degree but it just wasn’t satisfactory.

In my journey, what I have learned is that passion, perseverance, and not giving up even when the going is very frustrating is worth the effort to stay the whole way. My work has, I feel, now become my own voice. In other words, I am now singing my own song. I have learned from many great artists and all have contributed to my skills and development. I no longer paint pictures of nice places, etc. I paint from my heart. I let the painting tell me what it needs to say. This is my expression of what I see. I am fully engaged with my creative process utilizing everything I know to this point in my journey, how to get that painting the way it needs to be stated. These new pieces in my show are the result of my  believing in what I know to be true for me.

A Short Note May 19, 2012

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Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl EarringI’ve just returned from Europe and have been freshly inspired by all the wonderful art and paintings I saw. It is overwhelming in some ways, simply because there was so much to take in. However, since I am currently painting like my hair is on fire for my upcoming exhibition in August, and for a new gallery, current work I have done is still on the easel and/or drying. As I get closer to the opening day, I will post some of these paintings into my gallery sections.

What I did discover in Europe was how well preserved many of the famous paintings were. The art museums that own them have gone to great lengths to recover, through careful cleaning and specially finishing the surfaces of many of them, the original state these paintings would have looked upon completion. For example, the saturation of Vermeer’s ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ was outstanding in its freshness, color intensity, and emotional appeal. It could have been painted yesterday. It was certainly one of my favorites in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The brillance and skill of these artists such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Eyck, and so many more of the Dutch and Flemish masters in particular, still defines, to me, the importance of classical training. Their understanding of all the elements of what makes a great painting is still the standard we use today. Viewing their work has re-inspired my direction and the seriousness of how I wish to pursue my own work. I can say with certainty that I wlll be re-acqainting myself with these great works over and over again.