Thursday, February 6, 2014

Signature Style

Poniesdevon Rufty Tufty, Commission, Work in Progress

If you're in the northern hemisphere, I bet it's cold where you are.  I know it's cold where I am. We've had glimpses of beautiful weather (for which I am grateful!), but this week has been COLD, and getting colder.  Right at this moment it's 27.  Yeah, you northerners (and I am a Yankee myself) might not think that's cold, but it's cold enough.

My hubby, bless him, is a rural letter carrier for USPS.  He got up this morning with an awful headache and not feeling well at all, and off he went to bring the mail, cold or no cold.  I hear a lot of people complain about their mail carriers, but you know what, thank them once in a while.  It's not the easiest thing in the world.  Anyway, Russ got up at 5something am, and off he went to work.

And I thought, I sure am glad I don't have to do that.  So honey, you're the best, just wanted you to know.  Thank you for doing what you do.

Cause I don't have to.  So I thought, the least, the VERY least I can do, is get my non-9-to-5 self into the studio today and do some work.  So I did.

(For the record, I do have a "day job" typing medical transcription, and I also make jewelry, but all in all it is pretty cushy and I can do it in my jammies and I am spoiled rotten).  Oh, and I did some hard core cross training today -- I am serious about this getting in shape thing, for once!

I listened to last week's Artists Helping Artists podcast while I worked on Tufty's background.  This episode was one of those gems that you MUST listen to if you make art.  It was about Developing Your Signature Style.  I've only been at this for 3 years, and only seriously for one of them, so it's a subject near and dear to my heart.

One of the points that was made was that your painting should tell a story.  So I thought... hmm... what if I did an ACTUAL story with each painting?  But maybe that defeats the purpose.  Maybe people want to come up with their own story when they look at a painting.  What do you think?  Then again, just writing the story doesn't mean I have to share or publish the story... but in my writer's brain I think it might help the process.

Hope that wherever you are, you are safe and warm, and appreciating the fact that you are safe and warm.  As for me, I am about to head into the cold to feed the horses.  Be well! :)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I'll Draw... Wait No

Drawing turned into...

Life has a way of getting in the way.  I really need a better routine.  This year I started doing yoga/ta'i chi every day and meditating afterward, which has been awesome once I do it, but I get up and lie in bed going "Ugh... I don't wanna get up cause then I have to exercise...."   and waste a bunch of time.   Darn you, Facebook.  Plan B is get up and plan my day, journal about ideas I have or stuff I wanna do, and get myself fired up, THEN exercise.  And stay the heck away from my smart phone and tablet, cause they eat my day before it starts.  *sigh*   Please tell me I'm not the only one.

So once I got through that stuff, and breakfast, I went to the studio.  I thought I'd do some warm-up drawing, but you know what, I really don't like drawing.  I scribbled a little, said "the heck with this, I want to paint" and sketched a painting on this little canvas (5x7).  It's a little Arab mare that belongs to the same friend who owns the donkeys I drew a few weeks ago.  What can I say, I'm partial to Arabs.  One of these days I really need to get around to painting my adorable little Arab, Storm.   Pony break!

Storm, running up the hill to see me

*snuggle snuggle snuggle carrot*               Okay, back on topic.

Anyway, after I sketched that one I worked on the Tufty painting and got that huuuge dress and the pony and a little bit of skin (crap!  Just noticed I missed her feet...) roughed in. 

I'm gonna have to break up all that blue.  Hmm.

Today's work on Tufty

More Tufty videos for you tomorrow, and a little more detail on the painting.  Have a beautiful Tuesday, and stay warm!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Poniesdevon Rufty Tufty

Sketched in on the canvas
 Buoyed by the awesome experience I had this morning with dropping off the painting for Georgie's mom, I headed back to the studio today to start painting another beloved critter... this is Poniesdevon Rufty Tufty ("Tufty"), whose owner Philippa has spent bunches of time working with.  He's awesome!

Background roughed in
And, he's on Facebook and Youtube if you'd like to follow the antics of him, his cohort pony Blue, Arab friend Satin (whom I'd love to paint, too!), and his mom Philippa.  Check him out... naughty ponies make me laugh so much!  :) 

Blessed Indeed

A candle for Georgie & all the animals who touched my life and moved on
Today I had the privilege of taking the painting of Georgie to her mom.  We met at the coffee shop in town, and I gave it to her, and she teared up instantly - today is the one-year anniversary of Georgie's crossing the rainbow bridge.  I thought maybe I shouldn't have chosen a public place to do that.  But she brought pictures of Georgie and her sister, who has also crossed, and in each one of them I saw 2 beautiful dogs full of personality, with laughing eyes and comical ears, and Iris told me stories about the ways Georgie took care of her, and still is.  Then we talked about crafting, art, ex husbands, life, and animals and the way they pass out of our lives too soon, and I showed her pics of my babies, and I told her that I would light a candle today for Georgie too.  When we parted, she hugged me and tearfully said, "You are so blessed." 

Before I moved to Tennessee, for 15 years, I was a vet tech.  I don't know how many animals I held gently as they took their last breath, or how many owners' hands I held when they were gone, or how many I stroked and said goodbye to after they were gone, because I loved them, too, having watched them battle cancer, or given them fluids for kidney failure week after week, or helped do physical therapy on... some I'd even go to their houses to help their owners care for them.  Georgie had to go this way too, in a vet clinic instead of at home, with a needle instead of a simple quiet passing.  Iris told me about how hard it was, so much harder, she said, than when God takes them.  And I know.  I know much too well.

I left Iris, and stepped out into the gorgeous bright blue day.  My heart is so full right now.  It took me 3+ months to get this painting done, but as I walked into the light, my heart singing, wondering what on EARTH took me so long,  I realized something.  This might be the thing, the very thing, that I am meant to do.  I will be 43 in a few weeks, and I say, only half joking, that I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.  Sometimes I think I know, but sometimes that's really just a fit of obsession with a thing, which I am prone to.  

Maybe I'm wrong this time too, but in all my obsessions there is creativity, and deep spirituality, and animals.  Always those things.  I feel I have found the place that they intersect, the place where I can be who I am (so much an introvert, an obsessive creative) and still reach out and touch people, and animals.  

So here's a candle for you, sweet Georgie.  And also for Pepper, the childhood dog who was my best friend when I had none.  For Bella, my beautiful girl.  For Midnight, the horse who waited to say goodbye to Brandon and other people she cared about before she was ready to go.  For Simon, the macaw who always knew how to make me smile.   For Peanut, the chatty little parrotlet.  For Tiki, the lovebird who could talk.  For Gizmo, the lovebird who showed me how much personality can be packed into an ounce of feathers.  For Pixel, the cat who used to "zoom" around the house, complete with sound effects, and who disappeared.  For Banjo, Abbie and Rio, whom I had to abandon.  For the horses I loved as a child, when I thought owning one was an impossible dream.  And for each creature who left this world held in my arms.  My heartfelt thanks for each thing you taught me and each smile you gave me.

I'd lost my art "mojo" big time but today, Iris, you gave it back to me.  Thank you and Georgie, SO MUCH. You're so right.   I am blessed indeed.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Rainbow Bridge

Georgie - A commission.  For a custom portrait of your pet/horse, click the photo

Yay, I got Ms. Georgie done in time for the anniversary of her crossing.  I really enjoyed painting her, when I finally got my butt in gear and made myself do get into the studio and paint.  Hopefully I can keep the momentum going this week (and forever, but I know that's not realistic.

  Honestly, it's really too gorgeous a day to be inside.  It's 50 something degrees and look at that sky... after the cold spell we've had, what I'd really like to do is go play with my horses, but I really don't have time today.  Figures, the same thing happened the last warm day we had, and the weather man says cold again tomorrow.  Ah well, spring soon.  Maybe some plein air painting in my future.

So instead, I got out my pencils and did a rough sketch  (very rough... sketching is not my thing, something I'd like to change...) of superpony Poniesdevon Rufty Tufty ("Tufty") and his rider/trainer Philippa Davies, whose adventures you can follow on Facebook (click his name).  Not only does he rear on command, but he's learning capriole and other cool stuff.  I'll share  more as I work on his painting.  Here's the sketch:

I'm hoping to make this as magical as I think it has the potential to be.. we'll see how it goes!  The background in the photo is a beach.  Really a gorgeous photo, I'm so lucky that my Kate's Horse Edits contest winners had such awesome stuff to work with!

The BEST news is that maybe I have my mojo back, or at least my work ethic.  I'm hoping that I can get into the studio at least =almost= every day this week, even if I do nothing more than a henna design or a few scribbly sketches for practice.  Or a little altar painting. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Where Inspiration Lives

Saturdays aren't always delicious, but this one was.  I got up (lateish for me), I exercised (this is a new daily thing), I spent a few hours editing my jewelry photos while my hubby hung out with me and read stuff from the news site he was browsing.  He had a union meeting to go to this evening, so I headed to the farm by myself to feed the horses.  Yesterday I had to break ice off the pond, which is something I truly hate doing, so today, instead, I just brought water.

"V" is a big, gorgeous black mare my friend owns, whom no one has been able to touch for years.  Every day, when I feed her, I'd do a little more.  Pause so she had to stand near me.  Then, offer the bucket I was carrying so she could eat out of it while I was holding it.  Then, I'd offer for her to sniff my hand (no way!).  The other day I offered feed in my gloved hand but she spooked.  Tonight was the first time she took grain out of my hand and acted like it was no big deal.  It was a BIG DEAL to me, but I didn't tell her that.

"V" this summer, running with Abbey & Storm behind  

My horses and I do something I call "no agenda time" which means I just hang out with them... no riding, no training (well, technically it's part of training, but they don't know).  They followed me to this gigantic, ancient pear tree in their pasture, which has huge roots for me to sit on.  Abbey, my mustang, came to me and nuzzled my hands. Everything was colored in shades of pink and purple, even my dirty horse.  But oh, the sky.

January Sunset

The landscape is pretty drab in January and I eat up every bit of beauty I can find.  Might have to paint this.  With a horse in it :)  (they were behind me).

Anyway, after the sun had set I stood to go, but lingered a while.  A huge shape floated into the treetops of the big pear tree (the one whose branches are in the top of this photo) -- a great horned owl.  I sat and watched him for several minutes before he spotted what he was looking for and swooped away.  The painting of an owl is in my future, too.  Couldn't get a picture in the dusk.

Then, I came home and painted.  I am not normally an evening painter, so it felt a little weird, painting by entirely artificial light.  But, I made some good progress on Georgie, whom I think I will have done tomorrow.

Georgie - getting close to done :)

And now it's dark, and the house is quiet.  I'm counting blessings, and there are a lot of them... some curled at my feet or in my lap, some out in the pasture in the dark, some that come and go, and one on his way home.  Life is good.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Confession Time

Sometimes, art isn't about inspiration 24/7, or wild passion to get the next thing on canvas.  Sometimes it's about dragging yourself to the studio when it's soooo hard to do.

I'm so blocked.  I think it's because I volunteered to do 3 custom paintings, one in September and 2 in November, and they have piled up, and I am NEVER DOING THAT AGAIN.  Never, ever more than one at a time. 

And, I got busy with making jewelry for the holidays and I'm just way, way out of the painting groove.   I haven't been able to drag myself to the canvas for this 30 paintings in 30 days challenge.  *sigh*  Another part of it is that I cleaned the house for Christmas because we had it here for the first time ever (yay!) and partof that invoved shoving all of the crap in the rest of the house into my studio, so it's awful cluttered mojo reflects mine.  Gotta fix that.  Spring, hurry up and get here, I desperately need a purge and yard sale.

But about these three donation paintings:  don't get me wrong.  I'm actually excited about the three subjects I'm painting.  One is a beloved dog who passed away last year, and the others are adorable ponies that I think will be actually quite cool.  It's just that, it feels like ages before I get to paint something I want to paint, just 'cause.  Of course, the longer I put off doing these, the longer that age gets.  And I'm just not painting.  

Anyway.  Monday is the one year anniversary of Georgie's crossing the rainbow bridge and I really want to get this painting to her mama by then, so I did some work on it today.  I actually sat with Georgie's picture in front of me when I meditated today because I wanted to get a feel for who she is.  I love her smiling eyes and I imagine her tail was just as happy, and I imagine she loved a good belly rub.  I never met her but I used to be a vet tech and she has "sweet dog" written all over her.  Also, "huggable."   

So, Georgie, I hope that there are lots of turtles for you to find and lots of hugs and belly rubs on the other side.  And I hope my efforts here and the memory of your smiling eyes and adorably crooked ears will give your mama some comfort.

Still, obviously, a work in progress.   But she should be done in the next day or two.

In other news, I got Stephanie Pui-Mun Law's Dreamscape Myth & Magic for Christmas and I am very much looking forward to painting some dragons and other mythical goodness (unicorns maybe?).  I'm torn.  I have decided I much prefer my oils to watercolors, and I'm wondering if I can adapt some of her watercolor techniques to this media.  Can I get excited about art again?  Like my inspiration Julia Cameron says, sometimes you just have to show up at the page/canvas and let the divine work through you, however it chooses to do so. 

So yay, I showed up today.  Here's to many more days of showing up.

By the way, please don't take my foot-dragging as reluctance to do commission work :)  I'd love to paint your beloved pup, horse, cat, bird, or whatever, too, whether they're here with you or gone to greener pastures.  I have a few beloveds I still need to paint for myself.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year, New Challenges

January means another Artists Helping Artists 30 Paintings in 30 Days challenge.  I waffled a lot about whether I want to do it... I have other stuff I've been focusing on, but I really want to get back into the studio too.   I have 3 custom order prizes I need to do, which are not one-day projects, and I also want to work on my drawing skills, so ultimately my pledge to myself was to get into the studio every day, whether I finish something or not.  So there may be a few works in progress in my uploads this month.  I also want to rework my Henna designs book, so a few of my posts may be henna.

Today I worked on a drawing of my a pair of donkeys my friend Lauren rescued.  I love seeing her posts about them and I fell in love with this picture.  I may paint it later this month.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Georgie (rough)

This painting was a prize to benefit White County Friends of Animals.  The winner, Iris, asked me to paint her beloved Georgie, who crossed the Rainbow Bridge last year, with angel wings, and a turtle friend (she loved turtles).  Here's the sketch.

I got her roughed in (very rough... she looks like a body builder!) with acrylic, and I will do the next layer in oils in a day or two.