Sunday, January 30, 2011

Last Laugh?

Laughing Cheetahs, oil, 30"x 40"

Laughing Cheetahs? Hm-m-m... not so much... Or maybe so, in their own way. I imagine you're probably wondering what the heck I'm talking about. By all means, let me explain. This painting of orchids is derived from a photograph I took of one of my orchids in bloom. In the photograph, the centers of orchids look like laughing cheetahs, honest! But in my rendering, no matter how many times I painted the centers, because of the technique - using palette knives to paint with - every time the centers came out a confused, hot mess. All form was lost and they simply didn't work. Every time I scraped them back, I liked them better. So, I compromised by leaving the centers not so busy and full of "spots". I think it worked out. Sometimes the K.I.S.S. method works the best. And the "cheetahs" got the last laugh... ha,ha!

Friday, January 28, 2011

What a Tool I am...

Oops! I almost forgot! It's Blind Contour Friday, everybody! So here's my contribution today...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Double Trouble

I managed to do a couple sketches of Trouble today. This time I sat to her left - big mistake. Being right-handed I couldn't do the "hold her semi still with my left hand" trick. My left hand was always in the way. Doh! I managed to get an interesting quick gesture sketch done as she would walk away from me, to the end of the sofa, slightly hunched and waiting for my hand to scratch her. There would be a momentary pause that I quickly rendered. I then waited for her to do it again and tried to add her black fur in. She's a medium-haired cat, so she tends to look a bit fat when she's really not. Her profile sketch was trickier because of the problem I stated and plus, I had an odd angle that I was looking at her from. I never quite got the chin right. All in all though, she was happy for the company and I enjoyed the challenge.

Daily Sketches

Sunday was a lousy day. A migraine kept me on the sofa the whole damn day, into the night. As a matter of fact, I can still feel the remnants on the top of my skull. Ugh... I hate that! A perfectly good day ruined - lost, gone. Needless to say, no sketching was done. I did manage to finish a book very early on in the day, when I was still trying to deny that the headache I had was more in line with a migraine.

The two sketches here are from Friday (the apple) and Saturday (Bailey's eye). The apple I spent approximately 10 minutes on while my husband put the finishing touches on dinner. Bailey's eye was done moments before we left the house, to go to dinner at our friends' home.

Per usual, Bailey was staring at me, trying to get me to read his mind, so I figured I'd put his effort to good use. I actually had about a minute to get the basic drawing done and then spent the next couple minutes shading in the eye. I'm not sure if it took a whole five minutes, but it filled in the time before we left. Whatever it was that he was trying to get me to do with his "Wheaten mind meld" didn't work, but I do like how his eye turned out.

I have to admit limiting my sketching time to five minutes is a bit frustrating. I try to note the time when I start and limit myself, but as one can see, so far I'm spending more time sketching the object - unless it's an animal. In the case of Trouble and Bailey, I take what I can get! The animals tend to be quicker and looser and therefore, more exciting to see if I can actually pull it off. Therefore, living within a mile of the Detroit Zoo and having a membership, certainly brings about some fun ideas! I think I'll be going to the zoo soon. Penguins and polar bears, butterflies and birds... I wonder what else I'll find in the dead of winter. I'll let you know!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Five Minutes of Trouble

Another post this week! It's just that I've been trying some new things that I want to commit to, so I figure if I write about them, then I'll have to continue to do them, right? And, yes... Peggy Stermer-Cox inspired me on this idea, too. Between Peggy and Lauren Everett Finn, I'm constantly motivated to try new things!

My next adventure is five minute sketches. As I mentioned I was planning to use my friends' cat, Trouble, if she graced me with her presence when I was going to check on her. Well, "grace me" she did! Poor little thing is feeling kind of lonely. She met me in the kitchen and proceeded to purr and rub her head on my hand as I took my coat off. She followed me to the living room, purring all the way and we settled onto the sofa, me with one hand trying to get my sketchbook and pencils out and scratching Trouble's head with the other. She was definitely going to get her money's worth out of my visit. There was no way she was going to let me stop petting her and scratching her head!

After about ten minutes of pure delight on her part, for the human touch, she slowed down enough with her twisting and nudging at my hand to continue scratching her head, for me to actually get my small sketchbook balanced on my right knee. So with my left hand scratching the back of her neck, keeping her semi still, I quickly got out my 4H pencil and started to sketch out her general profile. I soon realized this may not even be a 5 minute sketch so I'd better hustle! I took out my 3B pencil and used it to block in her black fur. Five minutes? Maybe... but it was fun trying to sketch a live cat, in motion.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Blind" Leading the "Blind"

Today I post my first blind contour drawing! It's so much fun to do this type of drawing. You know, right off the bat, it's going to turn out as some strange wiggley line drawing. You just hope you can recognize some sort of reference to the object you've decided to draw. As I stated yesterday, Peggy Stermer-Cox is my inspiration for my participation in Blind Contour Friday.

So here it is, my "Rock 'n Roll Chicken alarm clock. "Wow... yeah... Hey, Baby wake up. Come 'n dance with me... Wow...yeah...Hey, Baby wake up. Come 'n dance with me..." Haha!

Double Your Pleasure?

Two, two, two posts in one (week, that is.)! Okay, so maybe that's a bad take-off on the DoubleMint gum commercial from way back, but that's what popped into my head, so your stuck with it. (no pun intended... gum? stuck? got it?) I hadn't planned to post every week, let alone twice in one week, but I've been inspired by a couple of bloggers, Peggy Stermer-Cox for one, that I'm going to try for once a week from now on. It's all part of my plan to live the "artist's life".

So what has Peggy written about that inspired me? Well, I've been following her blog for a while and I'm always intrigued by "Blind Contour Friday" drawings. I haven't done those in years - not since high school, and that was a life-time ago! I've been itching to try it again and yesterday I finally sat down and did my first one. Fun, fun, fun! I'll be posting it tomorrow - on Friday.

I also was intrigued by her post "It Starts With Five Minutes", where she takes 5 minutes to do a quick sketch. I had promised myself to start doing a pencil sketch every day this year and here it was the 19th of January and I'd only done one! After reading her posting, I said, "I've got 5 minutes! I can certainly do something in five minutes and not get bogged down in it..." Of course, by the time I actually sat down and did my sketch, I couldn't remember the time limit and thought it was 15! So my first sketch I worked on for 15 minutes, not 5. Oh well, my bad... I figured I better include a photo of the goofy thing I was sketching. I don't know exactly what it is. I bought it in an antique store. I'm a sucker for hand-carved anything! I use it to hold a couple pens or pencils because that's all it can hold. It's about the size of a hand grenade. The photo is actually taken from a better perspective than the angle I was viewing it, but you get the idea.

I haven't done my 5 minute sketch yet today because I'm going to do it when I go over to friends' house to check on their cat - they're out of town. Depending on whether Trouble graces me with her presence today while I'm there, I may (I hope, I hope, I hope!) start a sketchbook dedicated to just her.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Alright... Who did this?

I'm sitting here waiting for paint to dry - literally. Since I've decided to blog very other Monday, which would be tomorrow (I set this goal on the 3rd of January) and I really don't want to get into something else in the studio today until I get the present task at hand completed, I decided to do my posting now...

Something I've been thinking about today is my signature - the one I use on my artwork. I don't remember if I've ever addressed this on my blog before or not and I'm not going to look through the archives to see if I have... so, here's my wacky thoughts about my signature, no one else's - just mine.

I've rarely, and I mean rarely, signed murals. I usually only do it when the client absolutely insists, and even then I've talked my way out of it a few times. Why? Okay, get ready to enter my weird and wacky world... Because the signature turns it into a "painting". Huh...? Wha...? Told you it was weird and wacky. You see, many of my murals are entire environments - when you enter the room, you enter a "place" . It may be artificial, but for the time you're in the room, it's a "place" where a playful porpoise peeks through a porthole or a fairy princess and her unicorn watch over the little girl as she sleeps at night. See what I mean...?

Okay... so that's why I don't like to sign murals. It breaks the moment of magic. But if you insist, I mean really insist, and I can find a place to hide the signature, I'll do it.

Now, for my easel work, that's a different kind of wacky. Years and years ago, I used to sign my name with a small "L" (lower case "l"), just "lois". I got this idea from a movie I saw with Ida Lupino. All I remember now is that she was an artist who signed her name, "rae". Why? I don't remember. I just liked the idea and besides, at that time I hated the capitol, cursive letter "L".

Plus, my most awesome artist aunt, ena grant, signed her name that way, too. In my world, my ena was my idol, my bestest, best-ever anything, ever. If I recall correctly, she said she signed her name that way because she was not more important than her artwork. A thought that I admired very much because it makes perfect sense to me.

I can always put my name on the back of a canvas, I don't need to authenticate it by signing the front. But, I had developed a signature for my artwork over the years, it's kind of a monogram - an "L" and a "P" that swirl together. I would still try to make it as unobtrusive as possible, sometimes "hiding" it. Today, though, I got to thinking (as I was deciding whether or not to sign a drawing...) why not just go back to "lois"? Since I've been married twice, my surname has changed 3 times in my lifetime so far, but I've always been "lois".
I'm not distinguished by my maiden name and the marital surnames only distinguish me as the mother of each daughter from each marriage or the wives I've been. But I've always been "lois"... "lois" is who I am and who I'll always be. I guess that settles it.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Rut roh...

Stuffed 4: 5" x 7", oil on panel

Stuffed 4 is complete! I know this photo isn't the best, but it made me laugh when I saw it because the camera "fish-eyed" a bit causing the edges to bow, which really made it look like Dumbo was pushing the limits of the box.

I'm also not sure what I'm going to call this painting, but "Rut, roh" came to mind since he does look a bit concerned about the space he's in. In all, these paintings have been fun to execute - yeah, yeah... there was some frustration with my Chinese doll, but it got worked out sufficiently. Painting such a small panel is definitely a challenge and trompe l'oeil has always fascinated me since I was a child. I don't really want to paint in a photo-realist way, that's too tight for me. I'm not disciplined or driven enough to attempt it. I like to fool the eye just for a moment, yet look like a painting. Does that make sense?

I do intend to keep on stuffing things into the cigar box and see what I can come up with. For now, though, I have to move on to some pieces I want to do. As "Aw -nald" said in The Terminator: "I'll be back..."

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Mojo Moving Quotes

Hm-m-m... As we can all see, the quote above my profile pic is one that I'm quite fond of and have used to spur me on my artistic quest every now and then:
"How does one become a butterfly?" "You must want to fly so much you are willing to give up being a caterpillar."
But, in "cleaning up" my desktop, I ran across another quote that has given me something else to ponder:
"There's nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly."
-Buckminster Fuller
So, I guess when the two quotes are read together, what becomes clear is, just because you want to be a butterfly, doesn't mean you're going to be a butterfly.

As Jim Rohn says:
"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going."

Which brings me to my all-time favorite quote:
"Do or do not. There is no try."