Monday, November 29, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fossicking Friday 19 November 2010

I have divided this week's fossicking into 3 rough sections - stuff you can read, stuff to look at, and stuff to do, have fun!


Now this is something really worth reading. Alyson Stanfield's artbizblog is always jam packed full of excellent advice, but this post on Just starting your art career is invaluable. If you are unsure about how to get started as an artist, click on this link and make notes.

And here is some more info for your art career: How to write an Artist's Resume or CV by Katherine Tyrell of Making a Mark.

The Little Book of Procrastination Remedies by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits. Hands up who does not need procrastination remedies!!


Susan Abbott!!! What a fabulous artist - spent much too much time 'paging' through her travel journals and looking at the Dream Tables Paintings! Absolutely LOVE them - I see she has a blog , so I am following that too! Found her in the Watercolour Artist magazine - such a good read. (Lucky me I borrow copies from the library and then make copious notes!)

Laurel Daniel Oil Paintings. I love these plein air morning paintings! Such beautiful light!

teesha's circus: journal pages. Always a visual delight!

Take a look at these coloured pencil works by Cecile Baird. The light is so beautiful, it's difficult to believe that they are done in pencil.

Not painting, but this YOU HAVE TO SEE: MousesHouses.


If you liked fossicking this week, you may want to peek at  some previous Fossicking Posts:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Studio in My Pocket

Well, not really in my pocket ...

We went camping a couple of weeks ago, I took some great photos, and I took along a tiny, portable studio. Enough stuff to paint or draw on the run.

I like my travelling 'studio' to be compact and organised, so I packed my equipment into a tiny lunch box.

Here you can see the lunch box, pens, watercolour pencils and my paint box. There are two paintbrushes in the paintbox. There is my sketchbook, and two beautiful leaves that I found. I love to paint leaves. Oh, and that is a mini water container, in the front.

Look how everything packs neatly into the little lunch box, and on the right, I have even  squashed in my wallet and cell phone - nifty!

I packed this little back full of stones and leaves to bring home. It would have been nice to have a few zip-lock bags.

I have been quite extravagant with this travelling studio, I have packed a large set of paints and 24 coloured pencils, but there are plenty of compact painting materials suitable for travelling (or to keep in your hand bag or glove compartment.)

Take a look at this great  video on the Pocket box by Guerilla Painter. I'd love to have one of those!

I have a new sketchbook, a birthday present from good-painting-friend-Judy, and it is an unusual format. It does not fit into my lunch box, so I have bought a 'sketchbag' from a second-hand shop to hold all my supplies. I have done a drawing of it in my new sketchbook:

I can now grab my sketchbag and run - oh - better remember to put in some zip-lock bags!

Do you have a studio in your pocket?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sketchbook Pages 15 November 2010

I started a new sketchbook this week end, with the intention to use it often and post the pages here for you to see. It's part of my new philosophy - to make what art I can - during this busy stage of my family life.

I love sketchbooks (and notebooks and journals!) I could look at them all day! 

If you want to look all day, Here is a link to some images of sketchbooks. If you want to look AND read all day (and a bit longer) this link will take you a great sketchbook guide. I love the internet!

Are you keeping a sketchbook??

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Land Art

Land Art (or Earthworks) is an art movement that emerged in the late 1960's and early 1970's where the natural objects of the environment (sticks, stones, sand, rocks, leaves etc.) were used to make art works in that environment. The work was usually left to erode or decay in it's own time.

So, this is not really land art, but some pictures taken on a little beach where we spent an afternoon . I am fascinated by the way people leave little structures and formations behind on a beach. Evidence of our fundamental desire to create!

This was a tiny beach, but I found a few examples of 'land art'.

This structure is like a little shelter. Cleo (my daughter) is on the top - she made some adaptations of her own to the entrance

I loved this little formation - the pink stones were attached to the sticks with some mud

Another structure that I found on this tiny stretch of beach. Notice how these formations are usually circles!

My husband and daughter's addition to the earthworks on the beach (with no prompting by me!) They made a mound of stones, covered it with sand, left for lunch and it had been broken apart by the time they returned

My own addition, with apologies to Richard Long and Robert Smithson. I did not leave this on the beach though, I felt that there were many other creative possibilities with those stones, so brought them (and a few more) home in a bag.

My earthwork, in the landscape

Here are some images of 'real' Land Art, one of my favourite art movements of all time.

For other Beach Art, click here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Why Painting is Like Golf...Part 1

My husband plays golf, and in his library of golf instruction manuals is a little gem that I have read from cover to cover... more than once.

The book is about playing golf well and the author David Graham, has an impressive golf record with many wins, including: an Australian Open , a PGA title, a US Open title and career earning of over 4 million dollars. (I have never heard of him). It is called: Mental Toughness Training for Golf.

I have no intention of taking up golf -  I did try to play on one occasion many many years ago - but frankly, I can't see the appeal. I am certainly not short of reading material, I very seldom read a book a second time, so what is it that appeals to me about this innocuous little book.

Let me take you through it:

Chapter 1: Learning from My Personal Struggle 

 Skip that for now - move on. 

Chapter 2: Why is Golf So Hard?

Bear with me you non-golfers - this will all make sense in a bit... 

Graham says
"What makes golf so challenging, so maddeningly difficult? How can the game turn you inside out emotionally, make you feel euphoric one minute and completely frustrated the next? Why is it so easy on some days and impossible on others?"
Sound familiar?

You're getting this now, aren't you?....For 'Golf' substitute 'Painting' ...

Why is Painting so hard, so challenging, so maddeningly difficult? How can you feel euphoric one minute and completely frustrated the next...
"The answer, I feel, lies in the nature of the game. It is impossible to master...As I see it, amateurs would benefit by understanding how difficult the game is. It is hard for them to accept bad shots, tough luck, slumps and the slowness with which they improve. They get discouraged. They scold themselves. They take it out on family and friends. Sometimes they quit playing altogether." 

Can you see why I was hooked?

Graham says that it is important to

  • recognise the inherent difficulty of golf (in our case, painting) and to learn how to respond with enthusiasm and determination. 
  • When you can identify the different ways that golf (painting) works on you emotionally and psychologically, then you can move on to the more advanced techniques for acquiring mental toughness that he discusses in the book.

So, difficulty number one:

Golf is time consuming - uh, I mean - Painting is time consuming

And because it takes so much time, there is plenty of time to think, and not all of that thinking is productive or helpful. So here are 4 strategies to manage that time - straight from the golf pro:

1. Keep your emotions in check

The first pitfall related to time, is the tendency to experience extreme highs and lows. Ideally you should remain on an even keel regardless of how the painting session is going. Don't get despondent if the brush strokes won't fall in the right place, or the colours are getting muddy - chin up! Keep going. Sometimes you need to work through a difficult patch to get to a better place.

2. Maintain your inner rhythm

Golfers (and other professional athletes ) have pre-shot routines, deliberate repetitive actions that they perform each time they are about to make a shot. The pre-shot routine sharpens focus, enhances rhythm and loosens tension in the body. 

Now it may seem silly to suggest that an artist should adopt a pre-shot routine, but chances are that you already have one without realising it. I find that setting my paints out not only prepares my equipment for painting, but it prepares my mind for the task at hand too. It is one of the small repetitive actions that I take to help me get my creative juices flowing.

In her excellent book The Creative Habit, acclaimed choreographer, Twyla Tharp talks about the importance of establishing 'rituals of preparation':
"It's vital to establish some rituals - automatic, but decisive patterns of behaviour - at the beginning of the creative process, when you are most at peril of turning back, chickening out, giving up, or going the wrong way."
A pre-shot routine - a creative ritual, removes the question - Why am I doing this? It reminds me that I am doing the right thing - I know what I am doing, I have done this before - and it helps to establish the inner rhythm essential to start creating.

3. Don't try to concentrate for the entire round

When we take up painting, we imagine that we will spend many hours in front of the easel knocking out our masterpieces. In reality, it is difficult to sit and paint for long periods of time and not feel fidgety, irritable and bored.  There must be artists with excellent powers of concentration who can paint for hours, but the rest of us need to take breaks (and eat snacks).

Break your paintings sessions up into manageable amounts of time, and take a break, a coffee or a walk between these. Start with short bursts of painting and work up to longer sessions when you have built up your painting stamina. If the task seems manageable, it will feel less like a chore and be much more enjoyable.

4. Expel negative thoughts
    Because painting is time consuming, and as novice painters, we tend to paint as many bad paintings as we do good ones, there is a lot of free time for negative thoughts to creep in. Managing this is difficult, and even experienced painters struggle to be positive about their work all of the time. You can't prevent negative thoughts but you need to have an overall positive attitude that will help to expel those negative thoughts when they pop up.

    Setting a positive mood might require a little self trickery, but it might be a good idea to repeating positive statements in your 'pre-shot routine'. "Gosh I feel good today."..."I love these new brushes."... "That is a fabulous still life that I have set up." Positive statements, even if you don't mean them, have a way of making you feel upbeat and confident.

    David Graham says
    "In all the years I have played with Jack Nicklaus, the cruellest thing I ever heard him say to himself was, "Oh, Jack!" He knew he could do better and he resolved to give himself a chance to do better. He didn't resign himself to feeling badly about himself or his game."

    And so, to summarise:

    • Painting is difficult.
    • Novice or beginner painters would be better off knowing that painting is a difficult skill to master.
    • One difficulty is that painting is time consuming allowing too much time to think.
    • Combat this with 4 strategies:
    1. Keep your emotions in check
    2. Maintain an inner rhythm with a creative 'pre-shot routine'
    3. Don't try to concentrate for the whole session
    4. Expel negative thoughts

    Who would have thought that painters could learn so much from GOLF!

    Watch out for Why Painting is Like Golf...Part 2 where we will be looking at: The Elements of Mental Toughness.

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    Add These 10 Art Word to Your Vocabulary

    • Found Object: A non-art object that is displayed as art, for example Marcel Duchamp's Fountain. or Picasso's Bull's Head.  It can also refer to an object such as a shell or stone or plastic toy that is inserted into a painting or sculpture, becoming an intrinsic part of that art work. Click to see images using found objects.

    • Contour: refers essentially to an outline that defines the boundaries of an object in a drawing or painting. Contour drawing has increased in popularity in the teaching of drawing, perhaps as a result of Betty Edwards exercises in the famous book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.

    • Alla Prima: From the Italian meaning 'at once', refers to painting directly onto the canvas or board without previous drawing or underpainting. To complete a painting in one session. Here are some tips on mastering alla prima oil painting.

    • Plein Air: From the French meaning 'open air', this means to paint out of doors with the intention of capturing the direct quality of light of the outdoor experience. Painting en plein air was made famous by the Impressionists

      • Abstract: This is word that is often incorrectly used when referring to paintings. An abstract painting is non-representational. That is, it is composed of colours and shapes that do not represent anything in the real world.We can however talk of a subject as being abstracted, and this is where the artist has broken away from pictorial conventions and has distorted his subject in some way. Mark Rothko's paintings are abstract, while Frans Marc's horses are abstracted.

      • Trompe L' oeil: French, meaning to deceive the eye. This is more than realism, it is an attempt by the artist to fool the viewer into thinking that what he is looking at is not a painting, but the real thing. It is popular with mural painters and sidewalk chalk artists.

      • Imprimatura: (Italian) This is the first tinted layer of paint applied to the ground of a painting. It is most often used to refer to classical painting techniques, where the underpainting is allowed to dry, and then layers of glaze are applied over that.

      • Oeuvre: French, meaning work. This is the total output of an artist - his whole body of work

      • Foreshortening: The attempt to make an object recede in space on a 2 dimensional surface. For example the Dead Christ by Andrea Mantegna is dramatically foreshortened.

      • Impasto: A term used to describe paint that has been applied in thick heavy opaque strokes, either with a brush or a palette knife. Lucien Freud's portrait of the Queen is a good example of an impasto painting.