Monday, December 10, 2012

Abundance and 96-100 in the 100 days creative challenge,

gold acrylic paint and pen on paper

Yesterday was my 100th day of my 100 creative works in 100 days challenge.

Woo hoo.

I actually did it. I didn't even cheat. I missed two months of painting and drawing because of my move, but I was able to get my grove back and restart my creativity. Maybe it's a good idea that I did commit to finishing this task, against the odds, because it meant my creativity didn't get lost in the many duties of moving. And life. Don't forget life.

This is a painting of a branch. In gold. I had extra gold paint on my palette from painting another picture, so i wanted to use the last of it, and I've always loved those twisty branches, so... No special meaning behind it.

Monster Plans
watercolor, pencil, pen on paper

These are plans for a horde of monsters I am going to make my son for Christmas. A kraken looks an awful lot like an octopus, and godzilla looks an awful lot like a T-rex. Interesting. The plan here is to use felt and cotton knit and buttons and embroidery floss.

I need to do less planning and more sewing though.

 this bowl is full of abundance
pencil, water color, ink wash and acrylic on paper

This is another empty/full bowl. This one  I designed with gold leaves and pomegranates to symbolize abundance. The bowl is marked with hatches, which to me always represents time. The background is a dark, deep brown, like fertile earth.

An incomplete symbology
ink and watercolor on paper

Speaking of symbols, here I drew out my own study sheet. I was just thinking about some of the symbols I seem to use over and over again. Sometimes when I paint, it's a kind of language, I paint stories... or parts of stories, and the symbols are part of the meaning making. 

Too many years reading and writing poetry. :)

Miniature doll in progress
paper clay, silver wire

And for my 100th work of art, I am posting a paperclay doll that I started. She's not done in the slightest, but I don't feel bad about using a WIP for my last entry. It's a new challenge for me and I have been wanting to try it for ages. Plus, I think it looks kind of cool unfinished, just the white paper clay and the silver wire.

It was even better before I dropped it while the clay was still damp and it landed face down on the floor. She got a little smooshed. Oops. I tried to fix her the best I could. I think when she's dry all the way, the paint will go a long way to making her look better. What I've seen of the tiny dolls people make, they don't have to have all the details in the clay. You can just give suggestions of the features, then when you paint her face, she gets her personality.

I intend to give her hands and feet attached to the wire, then wrap the exposed wire with florist tape, then make tiny clothes out of fabric. I do not know who she will be. She might be a woman from the 30s or 40s... as I think about the hair style that I kind of molded a bit already. We shall see. Whatever she develops into, that's part of the fun.

And I guess that's why I picked this piece for my last entry, instead of another piece that I completed... because where I'm going in my creativity is still unwritten.

I think I've entered some territory that is new to me, and have developed some techniques and ideas that are rather interesting. That's one of the best things about doing this challenge, watching how you develop as you go. It's such an extended project, one of small babysteps, that you can actually see the journey you make and you can see how one thing leads to the next.

And so now I'm done and I can relax on the posting, but I do hope that I can continue with my art work and see where it takes me next.

I do recommend this as a challenge for anyone. It is a challenging journey, but if you keep your daily goals small enough, it is not impossible. You'll notice that whenever I got behind in my count, my art work would get smaller and simpler, and that's okay, it still moves you forward. If 100 days is too long a challenge, you can do a month of art works, or  43 days. Or whatever number suits your life. It's committing to the creating that makes it worthwhile.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Re-Vision and the Past 93-95/100

acrylic on paper

I spent all morning and afternoon painting yesterday and then ran out of time to post. I am slowly catching up to my 100 works in 100 days goal. Of course, I've been neglecting other things. Well, life is about sacrifices isn't it?

I feel like today's post shows a departure for me. I'm not quite sure where it's going. Maybe it is more intentional and less improvisational. I'm okay with that, although it takes a lot longer to do. Thus all day painting and running out of time.

I did start with a symbol, the eye, one that has been a common refrain through out my artistic life. Mostly doodled on notebooks when I was a kid. I read somewhere that it was something about "being seen." I don't know. Maybe that's go something to do with where my head is at nowadays.

I know when I got intentional with it, I began to think about what I KNOW my life is about nowadays, and that is reviewing my life, my work and my goals, and revising and re-visioning it all. I kind of like that I am taking symbols from the past and rethinking them again. Or art supplies from the past and seeing what I can do with them. Or vintage photos from the past and recreating them from my perspective. (I found piles of photo albums from my own family, my ancestors. I should really try to incorporate them.)

this bowl is full of hope
acrylic and graphite on paper

I saw an illustration of a bowl somewhere and since then, I have been slightly obsessed with the symbolism of the bowl.

It is an empty receptacle. It holds whatever it is you put in it. It is also used to hold offerings, to other people, to the gods, to yourself. You can not fill the bowl unless it starts out empty. The emptiness of the bowl is what allows it to hold the gift, the sustenance.

I drew it in pencil and painted half of it. It is not unfinished. That was intentional. There's something about the bare bones of pencil drawing that I like. As if it is being created. It is also without color. It is work a day, functional, not really meant to be shown. It is what belongs underneath the surface.

I also wanted to show the marking lines for the words. This bowl is laid down to it's essence, this is what it is made of.

The inside of the bowl is the color of a spring sky. Hope. The outside is a pattern of pencil circles that remind me of stones.

The background is half painted with the swirls, kind of reminiscent of steam, or vines. Something growing, something rising. I painted it with titan buff, because I wanted it to still be white, but a white with color, as if it was hope alone that changed the plain white paper of the table to the color.

head of a girl 13 (tori amos)
ink wash on paper

I saw a High School picture of Tori Amos, and although she was not "quite" as vintage as the other photo sources I've been using, there was something about the loveliness, the imperfections, the romantic curly hair, the youth and hope of a girl who would become something powerful and darker as she grew... I just wanted to paint it.

And I wanted it to be pink and girly and dreamy.

She doesn't really look like her, but I wasn't really trying to make her look like Tori Amos. It was the feel that got me and the feel I was trying to convey. I thought a too-close portrait of Tori would be distracting.

Well that's what I did yesterday. Hopefully I will be able to paint some more today so I can keep my momentum going. I have four more days of my self imposed challenge, and only five more pieces to do.


Wednesday, December 05, 2012

But Wait, There's More, 85-92/100

 There's a light
acrylic and gel pen on paper

Spent yesterday and this morning trying some stuff. I had this page of dark blue, awaiting something or other. I think I managed something or other.

Be Present
acrylic on paper

Then I thought I'd try painting a bit of something around me. Sometimes, when I don't know what to paint, I remember that I can look outside of me and paint something in the real world, not just in my imagination.

But I added some imagination anyway. Scallops take a long time to paint, did you know that? They take a bit of attention. Sometimes painting almost feels like meditation.

Green Hand
acrylic on paper

 More scallops. Smaller. More attention. More hands.
Blue Chair
acrylic on paper

 Back to real life. Sometimes I like to practice my visual acuity, paint what I see. This turned out pretty well except I did not judge my paper very well and the chair ran off the edge of the page. :( Oh well. That's part of what you do when you paint. Composition. Maybe I'll try painting this lovely antique desk chair again, and this time have it stay on the page. I did like how I managed the cane back, though. And the dark and light of the shadows, that was nice. I love to watch the paint bleed into the water, I like the spontaneity it gives. It's lively.

one step at a time
acrylic on paper

One of the things I do when I paint is try to use all of my paint. I had a whole bunch on my palette, was I supposed to let it dry up and go on to the rest of my day?  I refused. Still didn't know what to paint though, so I wrote myself a message.

Upon retrospect, I think I should have tried the chair again, just to see what came of it.

but wait there's more
acrylic on paper

Maybe this is because of the extra paint I was still trying to get rid of.  Or maybe it's a message. Transitions are hard. Very often they feel like endings, deaths, losses. But there's always something beginning, being born, and gained. Kind of like that whole Aztec calendar thing. The world might end. Then it will begin again.

acrylic on paper

Or maybe because there was actually more painting coming. I'm feeling the scallops, and decided to go back to some past imagery from my 100 days. The silhouette.

acrylic on paper

And here was a tiny sketch that I started and never managed to finish. So I went back and painted it in and gave it some scallops, because why not? and I was feeling the scallops. It took most of the morning to do a lot of these paintings, although a couple of them were finished last night.

I am working hard on catching up. I have 4 more days and 8 more pieces to go. Almost there. I'd love to get back to the place where I can just post one piece a day. And I need to get started on Christmas, too. Phew.

Well like the drawing said, but wait, there's more. There's always more.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Belief is the Theme, 80-84/100

 Head of a Girl 12, red and sepia
ink on paper

I'm going backwards with this one. When I found my red ink, I started experimenting with it. I was not happy with my use of the medium until the last one I did, which was this one.

 "I draw my hand..."
ink on paper
text reads [I draw my hand to say to the world and myself, that I am the maker. I do. I create. In my hand I hold the power to guide my life. The hand is the tool of human agency. The hand allows us to create the the {sic} world that our big brains let us IMAGINE. That's right. The hand allows us to be human because it allows us to create. And because we can create, the mind is free to dream up all that is ever possible. Between the mind and the hand, we become creators, we become the heroes of our own stories-- Rowena Murillo]

Then I saw something where red was combined with black, and I said, aha. I will add my sepia ink to the red ink drawings and see what happens. It worked, with various levels of success. Here, adding the text gave meaning to the not very good sketch of the hand, turning a failing piece into a successful one.

ink on paper

Believe is the current theme. I actually liked this one the best, so I left it the way it was, without sepia ink.

believe that you can figure it out. And if you can't figure it out, you can figure out a way out of the mess. And if you can't figure a way out of the mess, maybe it wasn't that important to begin with. -RM
red and sepia ink on  paper

I liked this one the least, even with sepia ink. I had the medium all wrong.  The red was too heavy. My brush was too thick for what I was attempting, and my vision of what I wanted was not clear enough for me to even get close to it.  Oh well. I take it as a learning experience. Thus the added words. This piece is the one that isn't "that important to begin with."

Trust In You
acrylic on paper

This is the same theme, but different style and medium and technique. I do not know where the animal mask idea came from. It just came upon me and demanded to be painted.

Still behind on my 100 in 100 days goal, but if I do three a day, I will make it. I can do three a day. I hope.

Wish me luck.

Oh, and if you have any insight into what the final piece, Trust In You, actually means, I'd love to hear your interpretation. I think it's a deer. It might be a fox. I am not sure. But why is it a mask? And why is it combined with the words? And why on a black background? Anyone want to analyze it?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Revisiting and Working, 78 and 79/100

This Shore
acrylic on paper, moleskine

This is a revisitation of an idea from the beginning of the challenge.(The Other Side of the River). I just thought I'd see what would happen if I did it again, after playing with the ideas and colors for the last few months. It seems a little deeper, if less spontaneous.

Selfie (revised) Blue and Gold
ink and acrylic on paper

Here's another revisitation. I didn't like the ink wash self portrait I did yesterday, so as I had nothing to lose, I thought I'd see what would happen if I added paint to it. I stuck with the color scheme of prussian blue and quinacridone gold. Adding a touch of titan buff. I like the painting better now. I think I fixed the flaws. I'm kind of hard on my self portraits though. It's hard to deal with your vanity, looks wise and painting wise, and see the ways you fall short. But whatever, it's an exercise, right?

It's interesting how these portraits have gotten more realistic. I haven't really done representational art for a while, going with the more abstract or illustrative styles, but I spent many years painting and drawing real life, and it is kind of like getting back to my roots.

Do I know where I will go with this? Nope.

It's enough to do it, right now. It's enough to step out on the creative journey. I don't need answers yet, I just need to keep working.

Still 21 pieces to go before I finish my self challenge. It's about 2 pieces a day. I've caught up a bit. Just got to keep working, though.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Learning How To Say Yes 72-77/100 in 100 days

Yes (gold and silver)
pencil and acrylic

One of the things I have to practice is saying yes to life. My first impulse is always to say no. The farther out of my comfort zone things are, the more likely I am to say no, or just clam up and hide.
I've learned to get around this impulse. I make myself little reminders, like this painting of YES. Or I try to change my automatic internal dialogue into something more positive. I ask myself, what's the worst that could happen? I join blog challenges to do one brave thing a day. Sometimes, I just hold my breath and jump in.
Another thing I do to help myself learn to take chances and try new things and go for my goals, is to take baby steps. For instance, I wanted to do more portraits, try something new, really get into it. So I started small. The earlier recent portraits are an example. The first ones were a bit over 3"x5.5". Note paper size. And then I moved up to vintage book pages at about 4.5"x7". The scrap paper and left over book pages are not only small, but because they are "scrap" the stakes are lowered for me. This enables me to take chances, to risk things not working out... because it's just experimenting.

 Head of a Girl 9
ink on vintage Alice in Wonderland Page
Here my experiments get a bit larger. Practicing with the same image, trying new things, learning the technique, branching out.

 Head of a Girl 10
ink on paper, moleskine
Now on plain paper. This is not watercolor paper and it absorbed the ink strangely. Something I actually thought was interesting, so I decided to try something a bit more challenging

ink on paper, moleskine

I painted my daughter. I always find painting kids to be very challenging, because the features are so soft and rounded. But after experimenting with these vintage portraits and the ink, I went for it anyway.

I decided that I like the stronger shadows better. Gives me something else to grab onto with the sepia ink, but all in all, I don't think this is a bad attempt, for a first attempt. Usually, when I do portraits, I do myself... since I am always there and I don't complain when I model. And since the advent of digital photography, I don't even need a mirror, I can just snap a picture and paint it from my camera.

ink on peper

Like here. A painting of a snapshot. This is definitely not my best self portrait, but I'm okay with it. Remember, part of this whole series, aside from getting my numbers up on my 100 in 100 challenge, is to take baby steps towards the harder challenges. Experimenting. Trying new things. Lowering the stakes and the pressure that I put on myself to get things right, and be perfect.

The process of trying out new things with low stakes is also a process of being open to whatever comes... whether it is a surprising aspect of a medium or a new idea of what I might try next.

Head of a Girl 11
ink on paper

(does anyone else find it funny that my page sizes are going up in half inch increments?)

This last painting was done this morning when I had a brilliant idea to use acrylic on top of my ink paintings... except I liked how this turned out, with it's strong shadows and pretty girl, so much, that I didn't want to touch it with the experiment.

You see? I stopped the willingness to try new things because I got attached to this "perfection." Not that I think it's perfect, but that I didn't want to "ruin" it.

Luckily, with this series, I am gaining enough facility in the medium and style that I can paint another head of a girl and experiment with that one. Maybe I should go back to my usual head of a girl, so that I can feel more comfortable with trying something new without ruining the existing work.

Being an artist does not mean you are always confident in what you create. Taking chances is part of the territory. Every blank page is the chance to make a masterpiece or a disaster that will make you climb back into bed and hide under the covers.

Learning to get out there, becoming comfortable with the risk, trying things that you've never done before... facing your fears... this is part of being an artist. This is part of being a human, actually. It's a hard lesson, and sometimes you have to relearn it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pulling it Together 67-71/100

 Head of a Girl 8 (Tilly Losch)
ink on vintage Alice in Wonderland Page

Like I said before, I am trying to put my house together, trying to pull together all the pieces of myself and my art and make it whole again.

It's remarkable how confusing and disorganized things can get. Or sometimes maybe we just need a break. Maybe we just need to step back and get some distance so that we can look at things and say "yes, this is what I want," or "no, this is not where I want to go."

So sometimes it helps to stop the go go going and be silent, to see what once was there, what is there now, and what you want to be there.

Found Still Life
(flowers, pencil, miniature houses, toy leash, and vintage contact paper on the counter)

This one is a case of looking and seeing what is already there.

I looked down at the corner of my craft cabinet counter, and saw this little still life, just sitting there. I gasped and grabbed my camera and started snapping away. It's where I'd tossed a few things that I was done with, the little houses from yesterday, the handful of garden flowers that my daughter gave me, whose stems were too short for a vase, the yellow pencil, and the broken purple toy leash that I told my daughter I'd fix.

It's interesting, because although it took me a few tries to frame it right, and I did remove extraneous items away from the composition, when I tried to "make it right", when I took away the junky purple toy leash, the composition went flat.

It was there. And I needed to pay attention to it, to see it for what it was, a snap shot of life, color, line and texture. Movement in stillness and discards. There's something about those bleeding heart flowers that seem to me to be always moving, even when they are just sitting there, wilting.

"Day" Flying Girl Articulated Paper Doll
acrylic on paper, metal brads

And then, sometimes, you have to work and think about something, plan it out and put it together.

I've been thinking about making a Flying Girl Paper Doll for a while, but never got around to it, because I knew it would be a bit of work and commitment.  Sometimes life is like that. You take ideas from the past and finally sit down to work on them, make them into something, even if you're not sure that they really will work out.

Pen and watercolor on paper

Here's a sketch I made, without real plans, just allowing it to come to be, although, again, I am pulling on past sketches and motifs.  I don't think that everything is actually revealed, here, even though it's called reveal. Perhaps time will be the big reveal.

Belated Bunny with Big Legs
Repurposed velour, cotton knit, buttons, thread, polyfill

And here's the stuffed bunny I started almost three years ago and never got around to finishing. It went three years without eyes or legs.

Even now, my daughter tells me that the legs are wrong and I need to make them smaller. I guess she's right, they don't really fit this bunny.
Belated Bunny (detail)

But she's kinda cute anyway.

Well, I continue to try to pull together my house, and my art and my writing. I'm working on my synopsis for my novel and my query letter... something that has needed to be done for quite some time.

Like I said, sometimes it takes a commitment to pull together all the disparate efforts, all the history and the knowledge and the ideas. And sometimes it takes a re-commitment, after a period of silence.

We shall see.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Getting My Houses in Order, 61-66/100

Little Houses
paper clay, acrylic paint and ink
3/4"-1 1/4" tall

These took awhile to make. And my daughter instructed me in how to paint many of them. The gold paint was her idea, although I decided to use it also on the windows, to represent all the light and merry making going on inside of the little houses.

Yellow House

I have not decided what I will be doing with these little houses. My daughter says I should make teeny tiny people to go with them, but that would make them millimeters tall, since the largest house is only an inch and a quarter. 

Gold Roof house

 This one. One inch and a quarter.

And the gold roof. My daughter's idea. These are things that I am adding to my total of 100 works in 100 days, although they are not paintings. A lot of things go into being me, me as an artist. And a slight obsession with houses and miniatures are some of those things. And sometimes miniature houses.

I was thinking I should make some little set, a little diorama or something with them, putting them into tiny boxes. I don't know. It's an idea.

Gray House

Sorry about the photography. I am not quite set up for a photo studio. That's one of the things I want to set up in my work space, and I'm not sure quite how I'm going to do that.

 Blue House

This one reminds me a tiny bit of the house where I'm living now. I think that's why I painted it the blue-gray.

Little White House with Red Roof

This little house sometimes finds its way into my paintings. I have no reason why. You'll have to figure it out yourself.

White House with Gray Roof

With these houses, I am still behind in my challenge. There are 14 days left. I have 34 pieces left to do. That's about three a day.

This is indeed a challenge. A tighter one than I gave myself to begin with.

Oh well. I guess the whole commitment is about the COMMITMENT. Am I committed?  Yes I am committed.

It turns out I was not as committed to nanwrimo this year. I gave that one up as soon as I sat down in my new studio and thought about all of the very many things that I really wanted/needed to do, various other commitments that I needed to take care of to get my house in order.

One of the things I am committed to is to get an agent for my novel. I don't talk about my fiction writing in my blog very often. For some reason, it doesn't invite as much show and tell as the artwork does. So much of it is still in process and not ready to be shown.

The art is though? I can't explain.

Well, today I also did some work on querying and synopsis. I can't say even that is complete, but it's the process that is important. And it is, indeed, getting my house in order.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Experimenting. 49-60/100 in 100 days

ink on paper

I stopped pouting about being overwhelmed and behind and having so much to do and etcetera, and decided to pick up a paintbrush and dip it into some ink and paint on whatever came to hand... mostly old papers that I found in my boxes from three years ago.  
Imaginary Face 1
ink on paper

Experimenting with ink and brush. I found this too dark. The face was... well, an experiment.

Imaginary Face 2
ink on paper

Still too dark. Meh.
Face 3
ink on paper

Liking the light wash much better.

 Head of a Girl 1
ink on paper

Found a vintage painting by Martiros Saryan, to use as a reference. Liked the head tilt and the shadows. Continued experimenting.

 Head of a Girl 2
ink on paper

Found a photo reference (lost alas) for this head of a girl

 Head of a Girl 3
ink on vintage book paper

Really wanted to paint more of the first girl. Ran out of scrap grid papers though. Moved on to pieces torn from a book I altered, many years ago (10 years?). I do so love vintage book pages. And they go with the vintage image inspiration. And the sepia toned ink that is from a vintage circa 10 years ago.

Head of a Girl 4
ink on vintage book paper

Still loving her head tilt, and the line of the neck and the shoulder. Kind of like how each painting has her looking a little bit different.

 Head of a Girl 5
ink on vintage book paper

Wanted to try it with a different reference photo. Tried this one. Her name is Nita Naldi. You might recognize her from here. She's a femme fatale. Do you notice the title of the page is "Death?" Unintentional. It was just the scrap paper I had left over.
Man Reading on the Subway
ink on vintage paper

Saw another vintage photo source. Thought I'd try something different, something less girl-y. Shoot lost my photo source. Darn it.

Head of a Girl 6
acrylic and ink on paper

Back to my Head of a Girl. This time, I wondered what would happen if I played with some things. Color. Shape. Tilt of head remains, neck, shoulder, and the shadows. A little bit of the Leonor Fini influence.
Head of a Girl 7
acrylic and ink on paper

Another version of my head of a girl. I like her. She looks more fifties than thirties style. And reminds me also of this girl.

Here are a couple days of experimentation. I was having fun and I liked the way some of these turn out. I think sometimes you have to delve into an idea and see where it goes. Although, sometimes you also just have to lower stakes and try new things.  A little bit of both, maybe.

Let's see what I come up with next. I am not as far behind as I was last week. And I still have a few more days to catch up. Gotta keep moving.
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