Monday, February 23, 2015

Day 14 - 21

Its been ten days since my last post and I'm sorry I didn't get to it Friday, but Ive been lucky to paint the paintings so blogging was secondary.  I even had to skip a few days and ask for grace, due to an upper respiratory infection that sent me to urgent care with a fever.  Even after the z-pack, its still taken this long for me to get my energy back.  So I am two day's behind on my paintings, which I plan to catch up in this, the final week.

This had been good for me to get the juices flowing again and to become reacquainted with my passion.  I must admit, when I opened my long neglected pallet, there was mold on two of the paints and the rest were dry as bone.  I've never had them mold before, but I have an airtight palette to keep the paints moist in between use.  I've just never gone long enough for them to MOLD!

And I've learned a few things: 1) Do not paint something that does not inspire you.  It will show in the work  2) I love to paint the figure and portrait above almost all else  3) I love architecture too and 3) a regular habit of painting keeps you motivated.  This has motivated me to continue to keep my sketchbook handy and I am going to try to work in a few paintings a week at least.

And now, on to the sketches:
These are numbered by the order, not the day anymore!

 Day 14

I did peruse my photos on Friday before the week and pulled out some inspiration.  This was a great little church in Spain I've been meaning to sketch. As I've said, I've been fortunate to have a father with wanderlust who has taken his family all over the world.  I wouldn't have ever seen and done what I have had he not made it possible.  Anyway, this was one of the many photos of churches I want to sketch.  While I would prefer to sketch on site, sometimes a photo works too!  This is quick, sloppy and wonky, but I like it!  Thanks dad!

day 15

Another photo I took years ago.  As you can see, its a beach photo.  Its been so darn cold, I felt like it might warm me up.  It didn't!  I loved how the sun hit the figures, but all I had was a grainy black and white on copy paper from another attempt.  This one is better.  

Day 16 

A  friend emailed me a picture of her daughter in this chair.  I loved the angle and the foreshortening.  I love that the leg is larger and the head is small as it recedes.  I love the yellow chair.  And I finally did sand in a way I liked.  Also a beach scene.  I somehow feel colder!  But I love the painting. 

Day 17

Also from a photo (obviously) of trumpet vine.  I love the graceful curve of the vine and the shapes of the flowers and buds.  I love the shape of the leaves, but didn't have time to include them.  Another day another painting!

Day 18

A simple pen and watercolor of some summer zinnias.  Are you seeing a theme here? ( summer-warm weather) Ha!  I'm not a fan of this but some days if you make art at all, even bad art, its still a good day!

Day 19 & 20

From a photo.  I started this before and never got in there to finish since its so detailed.  I lost interest.  I have to admit, I dont like the left page at all.  Its how it looks in the photo, but I find the green and white overhangs and the rock building much more interesting.  It was also raining so there are no shadows and light.  I counted this as two days since it took much longer and spans two pages.  

Day 21

And my last offering.  I feed the birds all year.  Among my favorites are the Junco's.  I love thier dark tops and white undersides.  They also feed on the ground, so I snapped shots against the snow.  Simple and fun. 

So, that completes 21 days.  Going to try to do 28 for all of February.  I went the the grocery and have some inspritation I can work from!  Stay tuned!  

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Days 6-13

Day 6

So I write the dates on the pages as I go and I notice I went out of order.  This is day six, which I've already explained so let's do day four, which I completely missed!  

Day four was a group of pears.  I love to draw and paint pairs.  They have such great forms and color.  These are not my favorite example, and I went back in with a pen because I wasn't crazy about them.  I don't think it helped.  Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn't.  But I did a painting and I lived to paint another day.  See, failing won't kill you!  

So, let's try day 7.  

I think the hardest thing about this is finding inspiration.  If I'm not inspired, chances are the painting will fall flat. Two years ago, I prepared a weeks worth of inspiration on a Sunday and knew I had something to work with.  This time I haven't had time to do that and I've been scrambling.  Going thru photos takes time but I did stumble across this photo of my dads dog "Whiskers".  She is his best friend and I wanted to do a painting of her for his birthday this month, so this was a perfect subject for a small study.  This, I was happy with.  The key was to quit while I was ahead! 

Day 8

More from photos shot by Lake Michigan two summers ago.  I like to take shots of people to work on my fast drawing skills.  I include the drawing above because I liked it better before I added paint.  The background needs to worked out in this and I was in a hurry.  In the photo there are stairs and lots going on.  I need to think about how to simplify and still keep it interesting.  The blue water and sand add nothing here.  And that we will revisit later, because I like the gesture of the ladies resting.

Day 9

Some days I spend the day hunting for subjects.  As I went about my day, I kept hoping something would present itself as it often does. It was probably 5 pm when I finally grabbed a couple of pine cones in sheer desperation!  As I started I thought to myself that I might have picked something a little less complicated!  But once the zen state of concentration sets in and that love of drawing shapes- I can go on for hours!  I really love organic shapes and nature always inspires.  Making sure to keep it simple and find shapes and values I loved how it turned out!

Day 10

Spurred on by the success of the pine cones, I decided to try s portrait.  I was watching TV and paused a show with a subject I liked. Aside from her forehead being too short (you wouldn't notice if you didn't see the subject) and how much I overworked it, I liked it.  Enough to post it and not embarrass myself!  

Day 11

It's was my anniversary and we had a very long appointment that day, so I was behind the eight ball once again.  So when will I learn?  Hopefully I will find time to gather my inspiration this weekend.  This scrambling is killing me! Ha!  So here are my winter salt and pepper shakers.  Might make a good christmas card next year if I get a better photo. 

Day 12

My daughter brought some beautiful tulips over for our 35th wedding anniversary.  Tulips look easy.  I paint them every year and curse repeatedly.  They are a simple form, but for some reason they give me fits.  I went back in later in the day and punched up the color because it was really pale. I liked it well enough to post them.  Another thing I'm finding is that my pallet has been dried out and the paint is watered down from trying to reconstitute it.  At this stage of the game I need to empty my pallet and get some juicy wet color back on it!  If your paintings are wishy washy, use fresh undiluted paint!

And last Day 13-- as in Friday the 13th.

As I posted yesterday's painting on facebook I noticed a friends post with some pictures of her daughter dancing.  I was amazed at the shots she got.  This one is Isabella mid air--and I was hooked!  What a challenge, especially on a small format.  There are some issues, but overall, I'm loving it!  Thank you for being a muse Isabella!  

And that's this weeks offerings.  There were a couple of times I thought, "eh, no one will miss it if I don't get to it today" and you might not.  But it's been good for me to make time again for some creativity.  And I've learned something. You've heard someone say "I'm just not feeling it"? Well it's so true.  I need to be inspired.  Don't we all?  

Have a great week

Saturday, February 7, 2015

I will fix it!

To those of you subscribed to my blogs by email, I'm not sure why we keep getting their promo each time I post a blog.  Please bear with me as I contact them and try to correct this issue. 
I'm sorry for the inconvenience. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Days 2-5

First, let me state that it is not leap year.  Therefore I will not be doing 29 paintings.  Oh, what's one more you say?  One too many for me right now!  Is that why I picked February to do this, because it has two/three fewer days? Naw, I was just really busy in January.  Turns out I'm quite busy in February as well! But I'm committed (or should be) and will do my best to make it through.  

So I don't bombard people's inboxes, I've chosen to only send out only one email a week featuring that weeks paintings.  Should you be breathlessly anticipating each day's offering, you may see it daily on my facebook page-- Michelle Morris Art. 

Day two-
I like doing quick sketches of subjects I may want to paint bigger at a later date.  This is where I work out color and composition issues.  These sketches are rough, a little like shorthand.  But it's here I get a feel for the finished work and can play around with ideas without committing.  Sometimes working quick helps me keep from overthinking things, which always leads me to create a stuffy overworked painting. I often like the sketch better than the finished product for that very reason.  My goal is to achieve a balance between the loose spontaneity of the sketch and the well planned carefully executed painting. I see things I like in this one, and things I will change. And that's exactly their purpose!  Quick studies are a valuable tool in my toolbox! Since this is 28 different paintings I won't revisit this one until later. 

Day 3
Two things I remembered while painting this: 1) paperwhites are delicate and beautiful 2) they give me a headache! Since I have a short memory for bad stuff (which is good!) I forget the headache part and buy them every year!  I put them in the garage to relieve my head where there been blooming since early January.  So I brought them in for this little sketch. 
I enjoy painting white flowers, since there is so much you can do with them.  White is never really all white and there are endless colors that exists in the subtle shadows of form. I'd also forgotten how much I love Cerulean blue.  I love it's grainy texture and how it moves with the water. And, of course, I love the color. 
Day three:check! 

Day four 

I started out trying a small portrait study of my son in law.  Handsome guy.  When I was done it looked like he had been beaten in the face--I'm out of practice!!  That would never do!  So I threw together a quick study of some delphiniums from my many, many, did I mention many?- flower photos.  It'll have to do! Day four- check! 

Day five
Today was another very busy day.  I need to go through and make an inspiration list!  Anyway, I did this from an old photo.  It may be a future painting.  I thought I'd like the red shirt, but since this was a color study, I may do another with a blue shirt and black pants just to see what I think.  The lighting is the star, so I don't want bold color to overtake it.  But I do like this, so we'll think on it.  Again, that's the beauty of small studies.  They help me see the finished product. 

Thanks for reading!  See you next week!  

Sunday, February 1, 2015

February Fun

Part of who I am is encourager.  I like to encourage people. Especially to encourage people to do art.  These last two years, I've been on the receiving end of the encouragement.  I've had so much support and encouragement to get back to making art.  While I'm not able to do what I was doing before, I'm motivated to try to do a sketch every day this month.  No promises.  The world has not ended since I quit painting.  But I do miss it. It's fun! 
So here is the first of 29, I hope. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Skating On Thin Ice

Each year I paint a painting for my Christmas cards.  This little guy is from a figurine a friend gave me.  I think it's so cute.  While I was painting it I thought about how little art I've been able to do. This little painting reminds me a little of the last two years!  Sometimes life seems slippery and you really struggle to keep your balance and stay standing.  Sometimes you fall. And baby, that ice is hard! But you get back up and keep struggling to stay upright. Somewhere along the way, someone got the idea to put thin blades on shoes, creating ice skates.  Ice skates make traveling on the ice easier.  Once you get the hang of it!  After you learn the skills it takes to skate with blades, it becomes a graceful way to move on the slick ice.  The blade cuts into the ice allowing the skate to gra
sp the ice.  Once the skater learns the skills required to maneuver, skating becomes a vehicle for movement. Beyond just movement, it can also be used as expression with the beauty of a fluid and graceful dance.
Life is like a frozen pond at times. Sometimes it's though to navigate.  You have to learn new ways to deal with things.  It becomes slippery and how to remain on your feet is unclear.  So you find some skates. Then you learn to navigate the ice and acquire new skills that help you maneuver the once treacherous ice. Things might not be any less slippery, but you learn to work with what you got and make the most of the ice.  I read that ice skating is the fastest way to move--but without will struggle.  So the very ice that slows your progress can become the thing that speeds it, once you learn to work with what you've got! Art is like this too. Once you have the skills needed, you are able to express yourself.  Your medium becomes a vehicle for a fluid dance of expression.  That's not to say there are not hours or practice you must put in to get to that place.  But each hour of practice brings you closer to gestalt.  That state where all the skills become automatic and you can concentrate on the concept and not the process. And that's when the magic happens!
Art (and life) can find you on slippery ice.  A place of uncertainty or fear.  Buy some skates! Learn a new skill or take that skill further. You will fall. You will hurt when you fall.  But you need to get up and try again! Don't let the fall keep you down. Let failure be your teacher!  Be kind to yourself too. Perfection can be our enemy.  I think you should strive to some standard, but Sometimes it's enough to stand on the ice that day.
I guess my message is:  when art, or life, finds you on ice---learn to skate!
Wishing all a Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with art!  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Time, Life & Art


To all of you who look forward to a little art inspiration in you inbox, thank you for reading.  But it's hard to write about art when you're not doing any! (Well, that depends on how you classify "doing art" which I will talk about later) So I thought I'd revisit the theme of  "What do you do when your life crowds out your art?" 

Jobs, family & other obligations take up lots of time.  You busily go through your days, that turn into weeks and then years, of no art.  And you are left wondering, is it really important to me?  Because if it was, I would MAKE time for it.  And that's true.  

And it's not.  (It's scary, but that's pretty much how I view all of life!). If only life were all about intention, priorities, will.  I don't know about you, but my life is more complicated than that. I have good intentions, priorities and a fair amount of willpower.  Yet I remain 20 pounds overweight, have a list of unread books and exotic places I've not made it to yet, I'm not a millionaire and have quite a few lofty goals that may never see completion. That's my reality. 

I admire others who can focus to achieve.  Like a laser, they focus their beam of intention to their latest goal.  Nothing deters and eventually they reach their objective.  Then, they find a new focus and off they go.  Achieving the achievable.   And we applaud wildly.  Bravo!  Because we wish we could or would do that.  Achieve the achievable.  And if it's so achievable, why don't we achieve more?  Could it be that that laser focus, that beam of intention -- is NARROW?  They focus.  All else is an unnecessary distraction.  That's the key. A narrow focus. (and all else hinders)

I've realized that while admirable, I have a wider lens.  Yes, I have passion and focus but I'm easily distracted. I have many interests and I view life as a pleasant stroll with detours. Those detours are what makes it interesting!  I'm sure I'm ADHD and that that explains a lot.  I have accepted my inability to stay with a thing for more than two hours without complete tedium setting in.  Can I push through that?  Yes, when I have to.  Another key. When I have to.

Art is not a "have to" for most of us.  After I stopped teaching to care for my dad, I mourned like I had lost a friend.  I love teaching.  And because I was teaching, I was making art because it was required.  When I didn't "have to" anymore, I found I didn't.  Worse yet, I didn't "feel" like making art.  Letting go of all that I was doing before gave me the time and space to do other more important things that needed to be done.  I couldn't do it all.  Something had to give.  I tried.  Unfortunately, in the end it was the art.  Or at least the kind of art I was used to making.

For a while, I just felt very sorry for myself.  Who was I without my art?  I thought it was so much a part of my being, my identity.  Still, if found I really didn't do it when I had the time!  It seemed like an all or nothing proposition for me. Either I was a working artist producing framed paintings for shows and such, or I wasn't one. As though I needed to sacrifice my art because I didn't have the time "to do it right".  I was making excuses.  I wanted to do it my way or basically not at all. I'm complicated. :)  and honestly, I just didn't want the pressure of deadlines. So I resisted art entirely.  For some reason, I thought that meant forever and that I wasn't really an artist anymore. I lacked dedication.  Not hard core. I should push thru.  Use the art to heal. Blah, blah. 

Then one day I picked up a pencil and I doodled a bit on my "to do" list. It took five minutes, but Something in me shifted.  A couple of days later, I doodled on a napkin in a restaurant.  And a few days later, on the church bulletin. (Yes, I was listening to the sermon!)  it was through those small doodles that I realized that being creative is like breathing.  I didn't stop being a creative being because I stopped producing.  Does that make sense? 
I'm still a creative being even tho I don't have time for large finished works.  I was still creating paintings in my mind, admiring others work, appreciating the long evening light on the trees and the cast shadows that would be a perfect landscape...if I still painted. (Can you hear the violins?) 

One day I realized I might want to make art that day.  Then I thought "darn, that means I have to drag all this stuff out and clean off my studio table and..." So I didn't.  A few days later I wanted to again, but it seemed like just to much effort, so I didn't.  But I had the desire.  And little by little, I've been feeding that flame again.  My art has changed in the last two years.  In the next few blogs I thought I'd share my thoughts on how to make art when you have no time to make art.  How to make art when your life and circumstances crowd out your desire and need to make art.  I'd like to look at how you find time or focus on art when your life is so full of other things, important things. Let's make art a part of your life, not something on your bucket list. No an all or nothing proposition. Something to feed your spirit and heal your soul.  And about making art that is personal and meaningful without a huge time investment. Art that enriches your soul, but does not add to your "to do" list.  Art that heals, stimulates, energizes, and takes you places.  Art that is flexible and goes where you do.

No matter where you are in life, I'm finding you can always take your art.  Art and life are not separate --and both are a journey.  Slow down and take the time to enjoy the whole of it.  Those detours off the main path may lead to great adventures.  Be open to distraction and allow yourself to go off course.  Who knows what you may find off the beaten path?  The path is over rated!