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!
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...
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.