I suppose every artist has a bucket list of what they’d like to paint someday. This painting was like getting two of those red stick Tetris pieces back to back and clearing out 8 rows’ worth of things I wanted to paint.
I finished this piece back in May. The total time was about 48 hours from start to completion. I was sorry to see it end. Really had fun with this one! Not once did I ever feel aggravated with it or want to chuck it into a dark corner.
Between then and now, I've been occupied with the world of commercial leases (something I have no prior experience with!) It really makes my head spin but I have to put up with it in order to move into a new teaching location. Hopefully I'll be back to painting something soon!
The first happy thing that happened:
Last Saturday (Feb. 28th) was the Imagine Show held at the Texas State University campus in Round Rock, TX. That evening there was a slight fog, drizzle, wet roads, cold temperatures. I'm very scared of driving and I almost didn't go due to my fear of the roads. My mom kept me company though so that I wouldn't freak out. When we arrived at the building, we entered through the wrong entrance and were mistaken for performers (heh). I finally located my two paintings towards the very end of a side wing. At that point, I knew I didn't have a chance at winning. I mean, I KNEW I didn't have a chance at winning. I was talking to my mom about how great everyone else's art is while results were being announced. But then...I won 1st place in the 2D category for my self-portrait!
Judge Dan Sutherland's comments: I was impressed with this work for its focus on the small but personally significant gesture of cutting ones hair. Hair, which is so often tied to beauty, gender roles and tradition, can represent years of dutiful maintenance. The attention to the trembling but determined hand bearing scissors is an interesting focus.
The second happy thing that happened:
My painting A Small Space for Warmth was featured as a Daily Deviation on DeviantArt on Tuesday, Mar. 3rd! That was the evening I started feeling sick so I was completely unaware for a few days until earlier today when I visited DeviantArt and found a string of comments and notifications. Thank you to EuphoniousCacophony for suggesting my art for consideration and Agaave for choosing to feature it!
They wrote: A Small Space of Warmth is a beautifully painted, peaceful scene, where snow glimmers in iridescent hues and trees have fascinating shapes. Icy environment combined with the concept of warm nest under the snow creates an enchanting contrast between cold and warm and makes the scene absorbing.
HERE is the Daily Deviation page from Tue. 3/3/15.
The truth is, I've been really down recently due to some things going on in my private life so the timing for these two happy things couldn't have come at a more helpful time to cheer me up and cheer me on.
As far as being sick goes, these two days have been very kind to me. I'm feverish and achy enough where I definitely had to take off from work, but not so horribly bad that I was immobile or vomiting. Even the congestion has been moderate and I could sleep to my heart's content without coughing or breathing problems.
So how have I been spending my "pleasant" sick time thus far?
- The number one priority is SLEEP. I've been sleeping and half-sleeping and thinking about sleeping when I'm awake. At first I slept because my head and body both hurt. Then I slept some more just because it was so nice getting to sleep as much as I wanted.
- For nourishment I've had mom's homemade chicken soup for 2 days.
- I almost finished reading a book. (Quantum Man: Richard Feynman's Life in Science by Lawrence M. Krauss. ) Still have 50 pages or so left. Even though much of the physics in it is not fully clear to me, I feel some connection to the way that Feynman works. Throughout the book, he's described as having an intuitive approach where he can picture the answer and arrive at the answer in his own way, but then has to go back and figure out how to have that make sense in acceptable science jargon. When I'm painting. I have an image in mind of where I'm going and I somehow try to arrive there. Along the way, I don't think about it very technically. After I've put my brushes down, someone might say to me, "I see you used warm vs cool colors there." Then I do go back and put some thought into what I did in art terms in order to communicate with other people about it. But, on my own, my mind is usually quiet while I'm painting and I just do what feels intuitively right to me.
- I also experimented with drawing on a wood panel while resting in bed. Oil painting is too physically taxing in my current state but gimme a pen, a handful of color pencils plus a couple pillows to prop me up and I'm a happy gal.
Why has this painting been so fun?!? With many paintings I hit a wall at some point and encounter a stretch of time when I just don't want to work on it. I haven't felt like that at all with this piece. In fact, I'm more and more eager to paint it. EVERY day if possible. (It's not possible.) My mom said to me the other day, "What's so special about that? Why would you want to paint that?" She's in favor of me switching to topics that are proven to sell well in Texas (i.e. cowboys, horses, etc.) But "sellability" is secondary to me right now. I just want to paint whatever strikes my fancy. Usually my choices of subject matter are targeting things I've been wanting to test my abilities on such as how to do the subtle shifts in white in a snow scene or finding out what my take on a self-portrait would look like. On this piece, I mainly wanted to practice high key painting and also tackle the huge number of objects.
Here is a peek at a few other things on my mental list of what I want to try to paint (aka my painting bucket list):
- something that has very muted colors (I tend to go vibrant)
- something that is on a very extra long thin canvas because coming up with the composition and subject matter would be challenging
- something that uses gold leaf (at least once in my life!)
This latest update is after 3 more sessions of painting (2 hours each). I'm in an experimental stage right now. The first shelf I painted is the one above the drawer. It obviously looks the closest to completion. However, I may have unintentionally used too much blue and that's not the balance that I want. I want the image to be filled with shelves and shelves of objects but still feel simple for the eye to grasp. To do that, my composition is very simply organized into an orange zone which is bright and a blue zone which is dark. If I continue what I did for that bottom shelf for the rest of the shelves, then the oranges and blues will be too evenly distributed throughout the painting and it may start to look too cluttered/busy. The background will lose the simplicity of having that unified block of orange. At that point, the lady will no longer stand out as clearly either. So on the 2 other left shelves, I changed my approach. I started by painting everything with light and dark values using yellow, orange, and white only. Next time I will slowly add in only small amounts of blue and other colors to control it carefully. Hopefully that will stay closer to my original intention. I don't know yet if I need to do a major repaint of that earliest shelf...
Was just notified that some of my work has been accepted into the Imagine 2015 show! The opening night is at the end of this month. It is a very well-attended event with 3 floors of artwork and a great opportunity for me to meet artists + art enthusiasts from the area. If anyone is free that evening, do consider coming by to say hi! There will be refreshments, entertainment, a silent auction, and a viewer's choice award. I'll be there along with my "Missing Rider" and "Self-Portrait with Scissors" paintings. (Click the image below to visit the event's website.) And click HERE for an article which describes the event.
The last few years I used electronic planning for my schedule and to-dos. I still keep track of some major tasks that way, but this year I've returned to good ol' paper planning. Actually, it's more like a planner, journal, and scrapbook condensed into one book. (I mean, who in the world has time to keep one of each?) When I want to record something quickly, I stick on a particular color or pattern of tape across a time slot to mean something (dark green for shopping, purple for art-related tasks, fork and spoon tape for meals, etc.). Sometimes I have time for more than just sticking on tape and I get fancier with it. I have tons of stickers on hand for my art student kids anyway so some of those get incorporated too. It's totally colorful and juvenile. I love it.
It’s hard to make myself stop painting when it’s progressing smoothly and this was one of those days. In the past, I could easily do art for 6 to 8 hours continuously because I would enter a zone in which those human needs such as food, sleep, and bathroom breaks all vanished. But as my teaching hours increased, the chances to do my “art marathons” became rare. Although I really enjoy my job, I do miss getting to draw or paint for as many hours as I want whenever I want. What I have time for these days is usually 1.5 to 3 hour blocks of time at the most, unless I decide to stop sleeping.
In today’s session, I primarily finished sketching in the shelves on the right but you can also see that I’ve already begun painting a couple of the objects. (I’m going to make all those vases shine like *bling* *bling* *bling* *bling* *bling*!)
These careful clippings are the work of my grandmother. From newspapers, magazines, advertisements, she gathered them and folded them into a large yellow envelope kept inside her desk. On the envelope is a single column of handwritten Chinese characters: "art reference materials for Haohao". (Haohao is my nickname in Chinese.) Sadly, it is very hard for me to read the articles. My Chinese reading skills are fairly low, having lived in the U.S. from the age of 5. At least images have no language barrier and I am able to look at all she wanted to show me.
In the middle right of this photo, you can see that two of the images are the same. I think they are advertisements that ran in the paper for a collection of painted plates, but the dates on the papers are different. Perhaps the image caught my grandmother's eye on one day, slipped her mind, and caught her eye again in the same newspaper a week or so later as if it were meeting her for the first time. She turned 90 last fall so her mind is understandably foggy every now and then, but both times she thought of her granddaughter and diligently stored them away.
Today, it really dawned on me HOW MANY OBJECTS are in this one painting! But with it came another realization: it's not beyond what I'm capable of handling. Folks, I think I have January-itis. It's that beginning of the year optimism when I think I can do anything and everything. Let's hope it lasts.
- distributed more blackness between objects in the bottom 1/3 of the picture
- added in part of a chair that’s on the right edge
- after that, just settled into plowing through as many shelf object outlines as I could manage before I ran out of time for the day
Kathryn the person is pretty honest most of the time but Kathryn the artist is a liar. It's not very often that I present the facts as they are. What I'm usually putting on canvas is a tall tale. Some evidence of my guilt:
My latest painting, my first "baby" of 2015. Yup, something new but about somethings old. My starting point is an antique shop that I trailed my aunt and uncle into while visiting them in Shanghai last summer but I'm freely changing the color scheme.
I have an art buddy, Negina. We meet up regularly to keep each other from slacking off on our paintings. I started this painting while she's out traveling so she hasn't seen it yet. She's going to poke fun at me for painting "women pondering" again. I do seem to paint that often...But, no. What I most wanted to paint here was not my aunt but the THINGS! That beautiful abundance of THINGS! I was drawn to the organized clutter in this photo in the same way that I'm drawn to the wonderful works of Manabu Ikeda.