Welp, 2014 hasn’t lessened my stress load but I’ve seized the new year with fervor and ambition. Artist Mia Bergeron’s most recent blog post has given me a lot to think about recently. I am both very private and very much an introvert. If I didn’t love Chipotle so much I would probably be a recluse (Seriously. Whenever Bryan and I have to pay a bill we mournfully enumerate how much Chipotle we could have eaten for that amount). Being an artist is both incredible and wretched. I think the job description defines a very sensitive type of person. Mia is fearless in her portrayal of the artist’s angst. She says it the way it is, and in the process of her reflection she’s given me a lot to think about and relate to, and has driven me to do more, especially when I don’t feel like it.
One of her goals is to stay in the studio an hour longer than is comfortable. For me this feels so big, because I am already emotionally and mentally drained before I go into the studio. It’s hard to keep up the momentum when I don’t have a lot to begin with. This month I’ve gritted my teeth and committed to it though, staying longer or going in when I’m plumb tuckered. And I’ve been pleasantly encouraged by the change in my work.
Recently I have focused on painting petite still lifes. I’ve been wanting more life experience and there’s a lot less pressure painting a piece of fruit or a teacup than a portrait. This focus has also given me more practice working on ABS and understanding how to use it. I’ve also played around with brushwork, edges, and gutsier paint which is HUGE for me. I am usually obsessed with creating a glossy smooth surface and there would be days I would spend more time trying to remove a hair or piece of lint or fingerprint from a painting than well, painting. It was Bill who reminded me art buyers buy art for those bits of painting debris. It says this was created by another human being. Something you would certainly never see in a print.
Here’s a demonstration of a recent painting I completed.
This is the ABS panel adhered to 1/2″ Gatorfoam. I barely used any Oleogel when laying in the drawing, mostly just the Transparent Red Oxide with a large hog bristle.
This is my first pass with color which took about fifteen minutes. I got Michael Harding Oils for Christmas (woot!) and this is my first painting using them. I think they’re going to take some getting used to, though. The colors feel so saturated and luminous, which of course is awesome. I just don’t know how to handle the awesomeness yet.
This stage is where things get ugly and rather embarrassing. It’s like the pimply brace-faced middle school kid. It’s just a phase, but whenever someone wants to see my progress IT NEVER FAILS THIS IS THE STAGE THEY COME IN TO SEE. And, like the middle school youth, they will always see the awkward phase and never the final version. So keep in mind I’m baring my process to you. No judging until you see the swan.
I used a soft dry sable to pounce at the painting, softening edges and redefining forms. I drape a stack of shop towels on my thigh to wipe my brush and not muddy my paint (a Bill Whitaker trick).
I do steps #2 and #3 again. Rinse and repeat. Each time my paint gets thicker, my strokes smaller, and my pouncing barely touching the surface of the painting.
And here’s the finished piece. The middle pear was distracting so I took it out. The pair of pears compliment each other much more nicely, I think.
Here’s a sampling of some of my other petite still lifes. I’ve decided to not focus so much on what I should do when I paint but to embrace what I naturally want to do. For me that means softness to the extreme and no hard or defining edges.