Sunday, April 21, 2013

What Makes You Tick?

Last night I hosted a ladies night at my studio. We did Nia. Nia is a form of dance which I've been practicing, (yes it's a practice much like yoga), for about six years now. Nia changed my life. I inspires and nourishes me, mind, body and soul. It makes me tick!

I was so happy to have so many lovely dancers in my place last night. Several of my nia instructors where there as well as nia buddies from my usual dance venue. Then there were the new friends to meet!

We started around 7:30 and as we danced the sunlight left the room and was replaced by candlelight. We got to hoot and holler and giggle and get sweaty. After, there was chocolate fondue and wine. A perfect ending to the evening.

I feel so grateful to have had nia in my place. It felt like it was blessed!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Lovely Surprise

This weekend I took a needed break from my studio. I loved the opportunity to sit quietly, do very little but watch and listen...look at the trees, smell the smells, simply stop. This is hard for me, but very enriching and energizing. I need to take more time for this.

I stopped in my studio on my return to check in and look around, with the intent to take in last weeks work and let the studio back in.

I walked through the darkened workshop space and clicked on the light to the painting studio and was so surprised and delighted! I'd remembered that my studio manager, Jo Hermans had asked if she could use the studio while I was away for the weekend,but honestly I didn't expect that she would have completed so many fully realized works. I had told her, "absolutely, go for it". She did four canvases; each a gritty viscal and evocative, emotionally energetic pieces. They are wonderful.

Acrylic on canvas by Jo Hermans
Jo, has a degree in art, but hasn't had brush in hand for some time. It made me wonder about all the hidden artists out there, ready, yearning to bust out.

I gave her access to a fully equipped and ready studio space, with all the materials and inspiration one could really want. She also had a very private space and permission to do whatever was inside, no judgement, no boundaries, no limitations. She used it. It made me proud of her and so, so happy that I could give this to her.

Any one else??? Now that I see this, it is really inspiring to me. If you have a studio and know an aspiring artist, please share. You will be happy you did.

As always, happy painting!!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Keep It Simple

Easier said than done! So much of painting is being able to see it simply, then paint it simply. Whenever we get mired in the thick of it, going back to the simplest solution seems the way to head. But painting is complex, which by the way is the beauty of it; the mix of boldness and nuance, intensity and subtly. This is what is most attractive and challenging about the activity. So, how do we tease out the important bits, get them down and succinctly
Making anything simple is an art in itself. I am easily overwhelmed by tasks, and tend to make things harder than they need to be. This even extends to my studio set-up. For years I had the table that my pastel palette rests on, pushed against the wall making it two long steps from my easel. Finally the day came when it dawned on my that it would be infinitesimally easier if I just pulled the table towards the easel! We fall into routine and habit that could be making things harder, not easier. Challenging these habits is a good thing. I try to remember that I want to make poems, not novels.
The same goes for the painting process. Are there habits and biases that are making things harder? Ideas, like ‘it’s not ok to use black’ or ‘you should always start with the darkest darks’ or ‘you should work top to bottom in pastel’. You have to figure out what makes it simple for YOU. Adopting another artist’s method without really checking out whether this is for you is folly. Trying new stuff on for size, sure, but don't do it blindly.

_MG_0237 . stoola
Even starting can get you down. Choosing from the myriad of materials available then amassing them, deciding what to paint, especially if you have lots of ideas and then carving out time to get going.
For me, I try to make sure I know why I am painting something, first and foremost. Is it the color, gesture, mood that has me enchanted? What do I want to say with the work? Then I can always point back to that simple idea when I get stuck. When breaking down the components of a painting, I start with the biggest and easiest shapes and block those in quickly. Simple to complex. This way I get to see how the whole is working really fast and I build on what is working. I try not to get stuck on what isn’t resolved yet. I can work on something a long time and get that done eventually. I can also paint over something multiple times, so getting it right the first time isn’t my primary objective.
Holding the idea that something is hard to do, sets you up for procrastination and avoidance of it. Better to dive in and figure it out than not do it at all. Just keep painting. Believe it is simple, see it simple. KEEP IT SIMPLE!!! SO SIMPLE!!!
Happy, happy painting!!!