This is really hard work. Maybe the hardest art growth I have experienced to date.
Some of the practice work.
Confucius had said something to the effect that, we must not fear slowly moving forward but fear instead, standing still. I am really hoping this learning process can be considered moving forward toward a better place. The process is certainly daunting. I am burning through small canvases at a fairly good clip in an attempt to feel the relaxing of some deeply ingrained habits. None of these paintings are what I consider done but I am declaring them not worth finishing and stopping before I dig in and get trapped into fixing them.
I am sure that the action of pushing paint around with larger brushes has redeeming worth. I am even sure it will have a positive effect on my style, eventually. The advise is sound. It is just really hard to intentionally work outside my comfort zone.
So, what makes it hard? I am not having fun. My up-tight, detailed style was a source of zen like enjoyment that relieved daily stress, captured realistic light, and clarified my fractured thoughts. I keep hoping for that moment when I will suddenly ‘get.it’ and the epiphany will allow me to reach the turning point and begin to marry my new and old styles. I have no idea where this is all going.
I feel like I am in school again, but I am not one of the smart kids in class.
In the last several years I felt my work had been improving in many ways because I had begun to see a polishing of color and medium handling, but there was a tension and tightness that was holding my work back. I thought maybe quick studies would help me loosen up but I wasn’t sure how to do them, really. I just tried to work faster and simpler. Last year I had done a couple quick studies while we were set up in living history camps and felt like they helped.
Stepping into the real world of Plein Aire.
One of the artists I met in Kalamazoo spent some time in my booth talking about my work and gave me some good advice. He asked me if I had tried Plein Aire and I told him I had, a couple of times, but really didn’t feel like I had figured it out yet. He proceeded to give me some tips and tricks on paint handling, color, contrast and materials. He got tough, in a kind, mentoring way, and told me to use bigger brushes. There were quite a few other valuable pointers that I absorbed happily and took home to process over these last couple days.
The painting here is the first practicing byproduct of that processing. BIGGER brushes. I started with a darker ground and painted with a one inch brush. It was actually hard, and fun, and exciting. There is still a long evolution ahead of me but I can foresee a point in the future when I blend the looseness of Plein Aire with the detail of illustration.
This will be a process of self discovery that should be fun and fruitful If you have a mind to, check back and see where this walk takes me.
The new displays showcasing my work.
The Oshkosh show was the inaugural setup for the new display panels, print bin, and service desk and I couldn’t be happier. By Kalamazoo, I knew how they went up and could celebrate the fact the panels were light and easy to carry into the venue, and hanging my work was faster than ever.
Close to done with the harvest landscape.
I began this painting of harvest time in the Midwest while I was at the Oshkosh show. This picture was taken on Sunday of the Kalamazoo show and seeing this, I can tell I am just about done. I love painting at these shows but it takes me so much time that I am rarely done in one, or two events.
The weekend in Kalamazoo turned out to be a great opportunity for visiting friends and building networking inroads, and of course I got to spend two days sitting and painting for the public. As it turned out, I had the opportunity to talk with several other artists and the wonderful conversations were exactly what I needed to take my work to the next level. Criticism, when it is done constructively, can be powerful. I am excited.
Almost ready to pack for the show.
This next weekend I’ll be headed up to Oshkosh, Wisconsin with my mobile gallery. I am gathering some prints and some old favorite originals. I’ll also be bringing along some of my new landscapes for your enjoyment.
The Echoes of the Past Trade Fair is here: Sunnyview Exposition Center and Winnebago Fairgrounds at 500 East County Road Y in Oshkosh, Wisconsin 54901.
The last couple of years my work has been evolving. I am glad for that because it reflects continual personal growth. I believe that whatever you choose to do in your life you should continually try to improve; to grow and evolve. There is no nirvana in life, be it with your job, hobby, relationship, or passion. I have always considered myself an illustrator of life and certainly have been known to have long, heated conversations about where the transitional line between fine art and illustration might be…. if there is actually one.
The quiet morning moment when morning light reaches the pine forest floor.
An active part in this evolution has been long drives with my husband, soaking in wonderful images, and taking photographs to use in future paintings. I love sponging (a term I use that means to learn, stretch, grow and absorb new things) and these drives are wonderful; saturated in visual richness and important stimuli for later time at the easel. One of the subtle impacts these outings and the photos I have been gathering through the last two years has had, has been the drift from painting people in historical story venues to the geographical settings themselves. The land, the time of day, the light, and the texture of the moment have begun to drive the images. The challenges of capturing these moments set in more demanding settings has been exhilarating and motivating. The stories are less blatant and allow the viewer to bring more of their personal stories to the image.
I hope you are enjoying the evolution.
I enjoyed painting so much this last weekend and it was especially fulfilling to complete the work before end of day on Sunday.
Done and framed.
The picture here, like all of the pictures of my paintings that I post on this website, are merely raw shots with my phone and do not do the works justice. I just enjoy sharing them.
In this spirit of the romantic historical fiction of the “Outlander” series, I decided to paint from a photograph I took of my husband as he walked one morning through the grasses near one of our encampments. He was wearing a great kilt.
This painting will probably stay in my personal collection.
Sometimes it feels like our days are so full of all of our life obligations, commitments, projects and chores that there is no time left open for pleasure choices. When we do see a moment and decide to go for the fun, we feel guilty that we chose to put pleasure over ,,, housework, for example. Well today I need to remember that painting is more than a guilty pleasure for me, it is a commitment. I am off to the easel.
Being in a position to paint while talking to the public is such a joy it’s hard to explain. I get to paint, true fun to be sure, but to also talk about the history of women in the arts, my tools, my thinking process, and the joys of being a librarian and researching all of the details necessary to portray my persona in history. It is wonderful. The perfect storm.
I am in Platteville, Wisconsin this weekend working in the field, in another time period.
Fellow reenactor stopped for a visit and agreed to pose.
It is always a great day when I can carve out time to paint and when that is a whole Saturday I am elated. The first part of the day I was able to bring out the painting of the late afternoon sun that I had started in the spring.
Finally capturing the hidden light source.
For a number of reasons, most related to being too busy or having priorities determined by other parts of my life, this work has leaned in a corner for most of the summer. I knew it was close to done but there were things that felt awkward in parts of the image and my distractions had made it hard to pinpoint the problems. Yesterday, I had the time to implement the sub processing that had been going on [a large portion of any creative work goes on in the mind without touching the materials] and complete it.
Soft blended light of diffused early morning light over water.
The rest of the day I spent completing a panorama format landscape I started after I got back from a trip to north shore Superior in early August. I had been able to work on the sky in small increments (after work some evenings), but a nice, long stretch made it possible to gain inertia in a way I couldn’t have predicted. The paint just flew and my mind kept pace. It was pure pleasure.
Undivided time to paint for long stretches is such a rare blessing and I am thankful. I look forward to the time in my life when these kinds of days are more the norm and less the exception.
I hope you enjoy seeing the new work. Unfortunately, the little thumbnails I post here or the larger pictures in the galleries, both taken by my phone, cannot do the originals justice.