Monday, March 2, 2015
When someone recently asked me, "How do you decide what you are going to paint?" I realized that I hadn't really ever thought much about it. The simple answer, is intuition.
When I make the decision to show up, (to be creative) I'll always feel a pull towards one thing or another. That thing could be "gesso a bunch of canvases" or "draw this outline" or "make a piece based on tonal variation" or "work on drawing the figure". As the results of these efforts as well as the creative process itself is often pleasing to me, (sometimes eliciting a much needed emotional release of some sort) I've come to trust this way of working. This means often working on many pieces at a time - though if I have to complete something for an exhibition, I am able to focus my efforts as needed.
If the question is based on design, I'd say that I work in a spontaneous, yet informed manner. I've drawn and painted literally thousands of mandalas over the years and from those studies, I believe that I have developed an individual artistic language. Certain shapes, forms and colors will resonate more than others and I feel an intuitive pull to repeat them. (I suppose this is one way an individual artist develops their style.) I also spend a fair amount of time looking at art and design (modern: late 1880s through the 1960s, and also primitive mark making from a variety of cultures and wisdom traditions) and allow myself to play with any individual elements as they inspire me.
If the question is about what to paint first or next within a specific design, as in, why am I working on one area of a piece over another, I'll often work on what I "see" first. Sometimes that means sitting and staring at a piece until I understand what I need to do, or else it means taking risks, (and painting over them if it doesn't work out) or it could mean taking a photo of a piece and test painting it on my iPad before committing paint to canvas.
The center of this piece will be bright red- but first, I paint a few coats of red mixed with white to make the semi transparent red POP ovet top of the black gesso. PS: This piece will be hung on a diagonal when complete.
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
A short while back, I was asked if I would be interested in being interviewed about my art by WLVT, my local PBS station, It would be a segment for their Emmy award winning show, FOCUS which showcases the people, places and issues of the Greater Lehigh Valley and surrounding areas.
The night before the interview, I had panic attacks. Why? Because as much as I enjoy public speaking, there is something about having someone record your words and then edit them to their personal vision. It's just, scary. You have to trust they have your best interest at heart. Luckily, these folks were all for having me do take after take after take and I am proud of the finished piece.
In general, television cameras unnerve me. I mean, will you just look at this thing? It's HUGE. It reminded me of the Alien monster and I kept waiting for the thing to open up and for a mini mouth to start screaming at me.
Luckily, I wouldn't be speaking to the camera in this interview. Speaking to the camera is hard. I've done it and no sir, I don't like it.
This is how close the host, Brittany Garzillo, would be sitting across from me during the interview.
Seriously. Our knees were almost touching. I only had to look at her (and not the camera) when I was speaking which made the whole experience a whole lot easier. Not to mention, Brittany and her cameraman Jeff were extremely kind during this entire process.
These are Brittany's notes from the interview. It was interesting to have her ask so many questions and then to see how they would decided to tell my story in the finished segment.
Since I don't have cable, I had to wait patiently for a week before the segment was available to be viewed online. I was hearing positive feedback from people who'd seen it, but was nervous to finally see it for myself. I think I did ok.
After the seated interview, I created this piece from start to finish while I was asked additional questions.
Jeff shooting cutaways and insert footage.
It was a lot easier for me to talk while I was working on this piece.
After working on the demo piece, they wanted to film me painting.
The camera lens was so close to me at times that I could feel the cameraman's body heat. I know for sure that I ruined a few takes because I kept bursting out laughing over this. It was like, "Don't look at the camera... don't look at the camera..." You know how the optometrist does that thing where they bring that little thing where it's almost touching your eyeball? It was like that.
I am really painting here - it's not just for show. Thankful that Brittany used my phone to take pictures for me.
At times, Jeff had the camera lens almost touching the right side of my canvas. That's when I'd laugh.
By this point, I've begun to relax and feel pretty good about the experience.
Here I am explaining to Brittany about how I've created thousands of mandalas in small sketchbooks like this one.
More insert shots before we go out into the hall outside my studio to do a walking shot. It didn't go very well. I'd touch my chest while talking and screw up the sound. Or I'd say something amazing but wasn't looking in the right direction and then couldn't remember what I'd said before, to be able to say it again. They were so patient with me...
Before heading downstairs, I wanted to use the restroom and made SURE that they removed the mike because I've seen the Naked Gun...
Brittany and I try another walking shot downstairs in the lobby in front of my featured artist wall. This time, the footage makes it into the segment. It might be that I'm not very coordinated, or that I haven't had much practice, but I found it to be quite challenging to speak while having to take physical direction. (Speak this, look here, walk now, look at Brittany)
Another insert shot.
Jeff filming my work that was hanging in the stairwell. We shot for four hours and I was completely exhausted by the time it was over.
At the end of the day, I am really proud of this piece because I think it honestly depicts why I do what I do. I create to better know myself and to ultimately know what's bigger than me.
Want to know a secret? I almost turned down the interview. The potential for the opportunity was mentioned to me twice in person by the Director of Public Relations for ArtsQuest and if I'd had to give him an answer on the spot, I probably would have said no. When the spot was officially offered to me, it came via e-mail. So I at least had a little bit of breathing room before answering him. What ultimately convinced me to do it, was overall a big part of why I have a studio in the first place.
When I was a little girl, I never knew it was possible to be an artist. It never occurred to me that that was even a possibility. As much as I'd loved art, I thought that was only something for other people to do. So nowadays, I often leave the door open when I work in my studio because I want to make sure if another little girl comes along and doesn't realize that she too can be an artist, that I have the opportunity to talk to her about it. Filming this video is an extension of that thought.
Please watch the video and enjoy.
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
If you ever needed evidence that control is an illusion, try working with watercolor paints. These are a few tonal studies that I was working on the other day.
I began drawing mandalas and experimenting with different art supplies at the beginning of 2007. The painting below is from March of 2007.
Student grade watercolor sets like this Winsor and Newton Cotman Water Colour Sketchers' Pocket Box are fairly inexpensive and is almost identical to the set I used to create the image above.
I believe that it's all fun and games for anyone who wants to play with watercolor paints - until they decide they that want to make the paint actually look like something. That's when all hell breaks loose - unless you are my friend Andrew Kish, an amazing watercolorist who makes everything look easy.
Seriously though, there is a lot to learn with regards to watercolor paints. To me, the most challenging aspect is knowing how much water to mix with the paint (or load into the brush) to get consistent results. The fact that wet watercolor paint dries significantly lighter is something that drives me bonkers. (The acrylic paints I work with tend to dry the same color as when wet.)
Some paints are permanent, others fugitive. Some are more transparent that others, etc. Artist grade paints cost more and are typically purchased by the tube or in cake form. They contain more pigment than binder and mixing colors are a little less challenging than with student grade paints. I personally like the brands Holbein and Daniel Smith. The website Handprint contains a tremendous amount of information about watercolor paint. If you are new to the medium, I suggest starting there.
Over the years, I've mostly moved away from watercolor and work primarily with acrylic paint. Similar to the studies in the image at the top, the image below depicts one that I did with acrylic paint earlier this year. One of the reasons that I moved towards acrylic was the opacity of the medium - I could work with it over black if I wanted to. (And I wanted to.)
There was another route that I could have chosen instead of acrylic, and that is gouache. (pronounced "gwash") Gouache is an opaque watercolor which has a matte finish when dry. I've since acquired a few tubes but haven't made a concentrated effort to work with them. I think part of me prefers the permanent nature of acrylic paint.
In the end, if you are looking for an immediately accessible and fairly inexpensive way to create expressive art, by all means, grab yourself a set of watercolor paints. If you'd like to become a realist and get more serious about the medium, it wouldn't be a bad idea to work with a teacher that has a style you would like to emulate.