Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Weeks of Learning

I've said a million times that I never thought I would do any sort of art besides writing. Every day I look forward to the next time I will have time to grip a brush and smear my creativity onto a canvas, to learn something new and most of all share my art with people.

Over the past few months I've followed tutorials. I've refrained from posting on my blog as I've been working on a painting for eight weeks now. This painting was one that was started for a painting course at the Boston Center for Adult Education. The painting style of the teacher there and the tutorials that I have completed online are very different. With the BCAE course, I find that you paint exactly what you see and do not paint the entire background compared to a "paint and sip" where you do. It broke me out of my comfort zone and I had a tough go of it. However, this was the only new thing I was taught in the class. Everything else I would either read about or watch YouTube videos for. The theory of painting, according to the instructor, is to learn by doing. 

For the first class she wanted us to select a painting we really liked and wouldn't mind trying to replicate. I had a problem with this at first. I didn't think that artists painted other artists' paintings. Isn't that considered forgery? Well, Picasso said it best, "Good artists copy, great artists steal." Had I realized this, I may have chosen something different. I wound up selecting a photograph of geraniums in a small blue pitcher, with a rag, and plastic mesh shopping bag.

I liked the colors. They were not ones I usually worked with and I had a hard time painting flowers to begin with, I thought it was a good choice. The teacher would have rather me choose a painting. I can see why now. It is so that one could learn the techniques that a master painter used. She said it would be ok for the class. I thought it would be a two week painting and then I'd move on to something else. Yeah right. 

The instructor told us to do an initial outline of the painting. We could draw it and then paint (I should have done this) or we could just start painting. Either way the pencil would be covered with paint. I just started painting. As I started the teacher noticed that I was going to begin with the background first. The cabinets and wall and the surface underneath. She said that this is not what artists do, this is what paint and sips do and that they are only good at one thing and that is to getting people to paint. Instead she told me that the an artist only paints what they see. Meaning literally just that. According to Cinnamon Cooney, the Art Sherpa, this is exactly what they did because of lighting issues. It's not like today where we can just snap a photo.

So when I painted only the outlines of what I saw after much time without glasses and squinting, here is what I came up with. 

The first class was not a success for me. I looked at big globs of paint and felt discouraged.

I felt worse during the second week. 

It wasn't until the third week that I felt more comfortable with being in this class. I painted a leaf in the middle of the flowers and all of the sudden excitement breathed through and I was willing to let go and just follow the process. 

I was still doing tutorials on the side. I felt like I still needed some fun things to do and that this was how I would be calm at home and I'd leave the other painting for class. Other students took their work home and some even finished them which did put me on edge. But when I think about it, I knew that other students (most of them) did not have children. Who can paint when you have a little one running around, who is just so adorable, and makes you want to squeeze hug her every second? 

Here are what my paintings looked like over the last few weeks. 

And the week after.

And after...

And here is the one after I learned through a tutorial that sometimes it is a good idea to grey your greens with... Red!

The last week I really had a problem with the rag. I didn't like it. I thought it would be easy. It turns out fabric is very hard to paint. Many artists struggle with it. I can see why now. I watched a few you tube videos on how to do it, sketched it out and read books. To be honest, if I had started with the rag inprobably would have chosen something different. Here is the final painting. 

The picture doesn't do it justice. It really doesn't. This painting is the result of eight weeks of hard work and perseverance. I learned to be so patient throughout the process. It really was worth it. I also learned that the end result is never permanent and that I can change it whenever I want. As one could tell, I did change it several times. 

Painting applies to every day life. You can change anything you want. Nothing is set in smears. What used to be in a painting doesn't always have to stay there just like life. 

I hope you enjoyed this! 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Waiting for Spring

I'm waiting for this winter to be over. I always embrace my home (as I am lucky to have it) and I love to be surrounded by my family, but there is a time when one must find ways to break free from the routine snow storms and work. Over the snowiest season I've ever seen, I found I was able to do that by painting. 

I wish I could say the same for my writing but this past season has not allowed me to be so fortunate. My morning writing sessions were blotted out by horrendous commutes resulting in sporadic journal entries and zero stories. This morning I wrote as much as I could. Unfortunately when the ink is dry for a period of time it takes effort to get my mind flowing. 

For now, I will share my paintings and crochet projects that I've done over the last few months. 

This painting is called "A Rest Between Cycles". I painted it because Michael's was having a contest to win a trip to Paris. I'm happy with it. I started drawing it in pencil. 

I painted a tutorial of a fruity drink while I was wishing I was in Costa Rica. 

I did another sort of tutorial of a couple in the rain. The silhouettes for the tutorial, it turned out, were a template, which I did not have. So, I drew mine in pencil from scratch and filled in the figures. I love it. So didn't Emil's brother, who asked me for it. I gave it to him after seeing how happy it made him.

Then I've been working on hats. I made this black one for my friend at work. 

My sister liked it so much, she asked me for one. I'm now mailing her this green one.

It's been a fun creative winter but I'm looking forward to warmer weather and more outdoor time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Apples and Oranges

A few weeks ago, I created a few still life paintings. One of them came out pretty good (except for a few minor flaws) and the other one was OK but not perfect. There are always going to be issues with the things that I create and I realize that. What one pictures in their mind is not always what comes out on the canvas.  It's disheartening at times to look at a canvas and not see what you expected. Here is a picture of the still life I tried to create:

Here is what I painted. The colors are wrong. The orange slices are not bright enough or even positioned accurately, the background is too dark, the shadows are all messed up.

What I was expecting was that when I looked at it, I'd have this taste of juicy orange slices in my mouth, yet all I tasted was rinds. What happened (besides putting too much white)?  Discouraged, I put it aside and resolved to hold off on painting. "Maybe, I'm not any good at it," I thought. Except I don't think I'm horrible. Being good is not really why I paint in the first place. I paint because it is relaxing and takes my mind off of things. It lets me focus on one thing for one moment rather than on many things at once. So why should I quit?

I let these feelings sit with me a few days. As I looked at the world around me, the universe unfolded it's message to me giving me reasons to not quit. One answer came in the form of a comment on a YouTube video. A few weeks ago, I entered a contest by commenting on an instructional video about how and why to use gesso. Until that point, I had heard about gesso but wasn't sure about what it was for. Because of this instructional video, I can go into the many different ways to use it but I will spare everyone the details and just tell you that gesso can be used as painter's white out.  I forgot about the contest, so I was surprised to learn that I won a huge tub of gesso! So, lesson number one is one can always start over.

Lesson number two came in the form of a Brain Pickings post about Henri Matisse. Again, I knew of him, I'd seen some of his images, but I didn't know much about him. After reading the post, I found out that he started painting in his 40's and was pretty much ridiculed by the art community. It wasn't until he was much older that he received true recognition for his work. For me, again it isn't about recognition, it's about creating for me which is what Matisse wound up doing.

Lesson number three only occurs to me now. With all of the flaws that are in my painting, I failed to see what I did right. The orange slices are odd looking but one can tell what they are. The apple is round and has similar shading to what is in the picture. After showing my painting to a few people, I felt less disappointed. Many people had the impression that while there were some things wrong with it, they could do no better. Therefore, I must be more objective.

Here are the links to the above pages I've mentioned. Happy writing, painting and creating!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Still Painting

It's been a crazy week. I'm creating a lot lately. I am crocheting scarves, hats and mittens, painting various different types of paintings and writing short stories.  I've got such a creative bug in me at the moment that the cleaning one vanished. Something has to give, let's be honest. Cleaning can always wait. Nobody can do absolutely everything even though some people try to portray themselves that way. All I can say is that I'm having such a good time doing creating and having fun. That is what life should be made up of, right?

Here is a picture of me wearing my new cowl neck scarf. It is made with a popcorn stitch. It took me two to three weeks to crochet. I love it as it is so soft and warm. It keeps that cold office air off of my neck.

Over the past year, I've taken painting tutorials to learn how to paint. The two paintings below are tutorials that can be found under Cinnamon Cooney's Hart Party on YouTube. Two weekends ago, I managed to do this cute little guy in two hours. 

This painting took me a while. I'm confident I could do a larger version at a quicker speed. I enjoyed this one immensely as it requires some of the same techniques that Van Gogh used called "stippling" which is a term that reminds me of a musical term called "staccato" which means brief sounds detached from other notes in a piece of music. In other words the painting strokes are short and detached from the other strokes. It's interesting how art, music and literature tend to overlap.

The picture below is a photograph that I took because I wanted to better my still life paintings and I figured what better objects can I paint other than fruit?

Here is the painting. I had no tutorial on this one. This was done from what the picture looked like. There are elements of the painting I don't like. The white smudging above the bananas was not supposed to come out that way. But what I do like is how the fruit came out. I think that this is one of the better still life's I've done despite the white marks. It is a real confidence booster when you are able to do something you couldn't only a year before.


At the moment, I am working on another still life. The new one has a wine bottle with wine in a crystal glass. I will post it when it is done. I hope this inspires people to do things that they would not have tried before.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Losing My Spark?

About a year ago, I read an article about a producer (and I can't remember which one) who said that people lose their creative edge as they get older and that this was the reason why he hires people who are under the age of thirty. I disagree with that person seeing that I am in my thirties and I believe that I still possess creative edge. Subsequently, I scoured the internet looking for other writers who became famous in their thirties. I found a long list of people who sold their novels in their 30's. I even read a piece about debut authors who published novels after their 40's. These people haven't lost their creative edge. I felt a little relieved. There are thousands of articles out there that claim that you can regain your creativity and passion, but there are also thousands of articles claiming that certain diets make you lose weight. 

Recently, I put a not so great poem on here. At the time, I thought, "this is pretty good," until a close friend pointed out some flaws. I realized pretty quickly that I shouldn't be posting poetry or prose I wrote the same day. I should have waited, put in a drawer for a week and then re-evaluated it. I wrote it on a whim to prove to myself that I could still write in meter, something that I used to love to do as a teenager in high school. In college, I learned more about it. I've read Mary Oliver's book, "A Poetry Handbook" over and over again to make sure that I grasp some of the principles that make poetry great, my poem was anything but.

Because my friendship with this person is profound and will forever be unchanging, I also discussed the fact that I do not have a high readership on this blog. So this someone decided to be blunt about my blog. What they said was this: It is not controversial enough. It has all the ingredients of what kind of person I am or what I'm interested in, but "nothing of interest for anyone else". I thought, well maybe this person is right. Maybe I don't provide enough opinion in my pieces. But then... this individual continued to tell me that I "lost" my spark. I asked why they thought that this was so to which they replied, "Well, it's because you aren't the same person as you were as when I met you. You've changed. I blame myself for it but the person who used to push herself to write back then is not the same person. You are different." 

As one could imagine, the conversation got me very upset. Not only had I been shown a flaw in my poem, told that my blog was useless drivel, but now I heard that my passion went out for milk and never came back. This person, who was supposed to be my source of inspiration, delivered me a cauliflower ear. Over the last few months I've made writing a morning habit. I hadn't thought that it was as inconsequential as making a bunny ear while tying my shoes.

So my question is, to those few readers out in the void, can you regain your spark? Does age have anything to do with losing your creative edge? Can I catch it (like Peter Pan catches his shadow)? Or is it gone forever?

(Image of Disney's Peter Pan)

Friday, January 2, 2015

A Poem for Today

Here is a poem for today. Because why not? I just feel like it. Considering that I've been reading poetry off and on for a few days, I decided to write one. Let me know if you like it.

"Phone Call"

by Elizabeth Lombard

Greeted by a loud hostile voice,
I hide my thoughts behind my teeth.
I wince at the abrasive noise
the silence the click bequeathed.

My delicate ears invaded
my belly's butterflies revived
while the life of the screen faded
only the dead numbers survived.

I'm left without any answers
my consciousness has kicked in
my fingers nimble, like dancers
dial the mad the caller again.