Friday, January 30, 2009

Three More Oils

Oil on Panel

Oil on Panel

The Future
Oil on Panel

Charcoal Drawings 9 - 10

Charcoal on Paper

First time drawing again for a while, feels good!

I didn't get to finish this one, unfortunately. I thought I'd post it anyway - it was a great pose, very challenging!

I'm looking for female models in the Tahoe area - either portrait or full body. No cash involved I'm afraid, but I'll exchange your time for a free portrait in charcoal. Email me at for more details.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Group Critique at The Rock

Mixed Media Artist Carol Sesko hosted a group critique last week at The Rock in Truckee, where she is currently exhibiting her paintings. It was my second critique with Carol, and I loved it. It's soooo helpful to be amongst creative people for a couple of hours, talking about your processes, hopes and fears, marketing, exhibitions, techniques...and so much more.

What's interesting is the diversity of our output doesn't make a spot of difference when we're discussing the emotional and practical aspects of making a career in art. We had a poet, a few painters of different styles, a couple of mixed media artists, and an illustrator.

The format went as follows: we each bring a piece of work to show the group, which we might need help or encouragement with. Each member introduces their work, and the group gives feedback. That's it. And it's great.

This blog actually helps me to organise my thoughts about my practice, more so than a private journal, because I have to consider my audience, as well as dig into my own soul to provide some sort of context to my work. I know a lot of artists don't agree with talking about the 'craft' of art, but I've found the internet to be immensely helpful in improving my technique and studio practice.

I've become especially fond of YouTube artists demos. The main thing I've learnt from that is that it's OK for a painting to go through a period of looking a bit crappy, because you work through that, and your 'ugly duckling' can become a swan if you stand back enough, evaluate your painting, correct the mistakes, be willing to wipe it down, and have faith in your ability to make it the best painting you've ever done.

Something which came up in the critique which was a relief to me (to know that others share my slightly schitzoid tendancies), was that looking at other people's work, often we go home and try out their style. If that happens often enough, it gets really confusing, and suddenly you don't know who you are any more. I wrote about that recently on this blog, illustrating it with my unmovable image of Derek Zoolander looking in the mirror going, "Who am I?"

The conclusion I've come to, is that if you're not disciplined enough to maintain your style in the face of all the other exciting styles out there, just incorperate a little tiny bit into your work, and see where that goes. You can't not have influences, we don't live in isolation from the world, history, other artists, etc., so I think if you're particularly chameleonic, (like me) the best you can do is try and stay true to yourself - having learnt from others, and absorbed the best and most relevant lessons to you, go back to the drawing board, and forget everything.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Vienna influence

Oil on Panel

I was really trying to capture the delicateness of this model - she's tiny. I've been lucky enough to have two models with this kind of girl-woman physique. I've also been reading a great book I scored from a hidden second-hand book store on the art of Vienna at the time of Klimt, Schiele and Kokashka - some of my favourite artists. I think some of the emotional weightinness of those artists came through, which I'm happy about. I'm intrigued by the somewhat abstract narrative which emerges when I let myself go in a painting. If I don't try too hard, and just focus on a strong image, allsorts of things come out.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Another Portrait

Oil on Panel

I'm really into this format - widescreen!

I've been reading a useful book: The Simple Secret to Better Painting: How to immediately improve your art with this one rule of composition by Greg Albert.

The rule is short and sweet: Never make any two intervals the same. The rule refers to composition, value, marks, everything - and is incredibly effective. It has really made me think about what I do (I've been doing a lot of thinking lately), and has helped me solve some of the issues I've been scratching my head over in my work.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Four great arty stores in Truckee

I love this place - it's an artist run gallery in Truckee, California. It's a hip, happening place full of creative energy and very well made objets d'rte. I have a few little paintings there too! check them out:

And this little gem is right next door! They sell gorgeous jewelry and clothes, as well as some very unexpected arty items (I got my husband a great Christmas pressie there)...brilliant place.

A fine place to discover handcrafted goods from all over the country. Many of our artisans specialize in sustainable, recycled, and all natural materials.

Organic skin care products, recycled metal & glass work, furnishings made from FSC certified & reclaimed wood, finely crafted jewelry, vintage findings, and healthy gifts for kids. Just some of the fun you will find at The Feather's Edge.

Located in the Downtown area of Truckee, California, Fair & Green's goal is to be a center for responsible consumerism by providing unique, quality products of a fair trade, organic and/or ecologically sound nature.

Fair & Green looks to serve consumers who want to look beyond the chain stores and who are looking to make a purchase that help people sustain a better life through Fair Trade. In addition, Fair & Green will strive to educate their customers on Fair Trade and Green Trade practices.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Finding yourself

I had one of those eureka! moments watching Finding Neverland the other night. I often get inspired by particularly 'painterly' films, like The Piano, and Girl with a Pearl Earring. This is inspired by a still from Neverland, of lovely Kate Winslett. I got my sketchbook out as soon as the film ended, excited and impatient to capture the image with seemed to be a crystallisation of what I've been restlessly striving for.

I've been struggling with this concept I have for portraits of women - they've just been coming out crap. I think I was confused about what I wanted to achieve - I wanted 'feminine' and I painted 'girly'. I want to paint something which speaks about women as people - emotionally and psychologically different from men, but also I want to capture something of the human condition, in an unspoken narrative.

I've also been stuggling with my 'style', such as it isn't. I've had this rather unappealing image of myself as Derek Zoolander standing in front of a mirror, going "Who am I?"

I want to paint loosely, and then I get all uptight because I'm all excited about ideas, and forget to let it flow. The studies came out great, nice and loose, lots of energy and clean paint - and then when I try and transfer that to the real thing...well, not good. Maybe I shouldn't do studies, I never used to. Maybe all the energy is spent after I've painted it once. I have learnt a lot though, about colours and the type of space I want to create, so all is not lost.

Anyway, I'm really happy with this Kate Winslett painting, and I think it's opened the door to a lot more. Yay!