Monday, February 19, 2018

Sasha Perspective on Traveling Writing

Sometimes in my traveling, I can’t find the right words to describe what I see. It’s rather ironic that a person who works with words has such trouble coming up with good descriptions. 

Then again, maybe it’s because I’ve not traveled a lot in my life. I am not familiar with other places. I spend time researching histories of sites visited, but to research types of landscape or architecture adds to time-consuming work when I just want to write.

I am not out to present a text/technical book. I write from a personal perspective with those bits of researched historical facts inserted. My books are not just about sites visited. The trips are not just about physical places. They’re about the total experience of traveling, and that includes all the emotional aspects of the journey, too.

I don’t want to separate myself from my emotions. I spent too many years hiding who I really am. I refuse to live that way now, and that is reinforced in my quest to live whole-heartedly. To share a traveling adventure means my readers get the whole package; the exciting times, the stressful moments, and the downright scared occasions. 

This is me, living whole-heartedly, and being a happier person because of it.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Attempting to get on track

Although I’m not supposed to be thinking about the pictures of the Wichita trip, I never printed them out, so I do think about them. Should I print them all? What’s the sense of having these photos if I don’t have them where I can see them? I put a lot of work into taking the pictures and editing them. Is that all for naught? My mind gets stuck on this stuff.
Black Water, Mo., the day I'm supposed to be writing about
But I have the book to finish writing and that’s what I need to focus on. However, my writing time turned into photo printing, then looking for information I misplaced. My hour to work on the book turned into two hours. 
And of course, there were kitty and gray rat distractions. Now I have to get on with finishing this week’s InterTown work … and I haven’t even had breakfast!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Over Thinking and Stressing

I’m back to working on my book on the Wichita trip from 2016. Sometimes my mind just goes ‘round and ‘round and I can’t get clarity. 

Annette Vogel and I are going to be publishing a few books. We’ll be working with a local printing company. She’s more of a graphic-design person and I’m the writer. She writes, too. We’re working on a book together, plus we’ll both have personal books.

With her help and patience, I’m getting a better understanding of the publishing and printing aspects. I’ve also given up trying to do it all myself. Layout and getting the manuscript print-ready stresses me out. I just want to write and have photos. So, to partner with someone who is good at what I am not, is such a relief!

I kept trying to force the idea that I want lots of pictures in my book and couldn’t understand why, with all this modern technology, I can’t have it that way. A couple friends who’ve been in the printing business had explained it, but the other day with Annette explaining it again, and I finally “got it!” (Sometimes I need to be told something more than once for it to sink in.) 

Basically, it’s about printing plates which may have 16 or 32 pages on each plate and the pages may not necessarily be in order. To have color on one page, would mean paying for color on the other 15 or 31 pages whichever the size of the plate, and that means lots of financial cost. So, even with technology and printers using computers, the plates still retain the way ink is used.

My dream of printing a book with color photos placed where they go in the story is broken.  I’m sad, but I have to face reality. I’ll still be able to do e-books that way, though. 

I am stepping back and returning to basics. The stress over how to fit in all the photos was keeping me from the actual writing of the book. Annette said the pictures is jumping too far ahead. Photos will come later. “Write the book first!” she said.

Right now, my goal is to get the first draft written. I have 11 of the 16 regular chapters done. The obstacle, for me, is that I had almost the entire 12th chapter done, but somehow it got lost. I need to get over the mental hurdle of having to rewrite the entire chapter. Just do it!

Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Upside-Down Ice Cream Cones and Lollipops

Yesterday I talked about my revelation about the roundness of the canopies of deciduous trees versus the pointiness of evergreens. It wasn’t anything new to me, of course, just that it hit me in a new way giving me a moment of little-girl-joy. Seeing it in a different light helped me through a “stuck” part in one of my latest paintings.

Later, when I was telling my friend, Clare, she said, “Evergreens are upside-down ice cream cones.” Once again, the light bulb came on. Yes! I can see that. And if evergreens are upside-down ice cream cones, then deciduous trees are lollipops!

Finessing the trees before moving on to grasses and water
It’s funny, I can read how-tos and art-related articles, and logically understand a process or someone else’s way of doing something, but it’s not until I am at the easel working and finessing my own style and technique that those tips or directions set in. Sometimes it’s a couple months later that something will click in my brain and I’ll remember what I read or heard. Then I’ll work it into my painting style. It’s like I can’t just take someone else’s way of doing it. I have to discover it for myself, in my own way and time. (That reading, or comment probably stews in my brain and at the right time, will come out.)

Since getting into pastels, I’ve been blocking in more when doing the preliminary work, but with natural landscapes, I wasn’t thinking about actual hard shapes, just a roughing in. And, too, maybe it’s the writer in me that just seeing a picture of how someone blocks in didn’t mean much, but now having descriptive words helps me see better.

I believe, too, that the universe (angels, spirit, muse, God) sends messages. It comes through to me sending me into what I call little-girl-joy of new discovery. Yet, often it’s not new, just that my brain processes it in a new way. I get that vision of my little-girl-self running home crying out with joy, “Mama, mama, look what I found!” I’m dancing inside myself with discovery.

This type of joy makes me want to jump up and get right back in the studio. It makes me want to paint or write. It fires my soul. I love that I get the messages this way instead of the old critical, negative way that came across making me feel stupid that I didn’t get it before this.

The work is a continuous journey with each piece giving me a variety of challenges. I am constantly learning, and maybe, as a writer and an artist, somehow the two have to crossover. Sometimes I can’t find the words to describe a scene I’m writing about, and sometimes I can’t really see what I’m painting without words to describe it. I am determined to find my way. 

It can be frustrating, but there’s excitement, too. I love it!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Joy of Discovery While Knowing I’ve Always Known It

This morning while journaling and writing about the progress made on my paintings yesterday, I realized something important. In one photograph, deciduous and evergreen trees were kind of mixed. I realized the deciduous have a more rounded canopy and the evergreens have pointy tops.

The little girl part of me is dancing with the excitement of discovery. This is so exciting! Why didn’t I notice this before? 

The adult logical mind brushes it off sarcastically with, “Of course, I know that about trees!” And I do know that. After all, I’m a nature-lover and I’ve been painting landscapes for years. So, how do I explain this child-like joy of discovery feeling? 

Work in process; getting the trees right is taking time
Maybe the joy is because, for some reason, the tops of those trees jumped out at me from that photo, when normally in a scene like this, I wouldn’t pay that much attention. Maybe it’s because the universe decided I needed a little child-like joy after intense stress the past few days. Maybe it’s telling me that, in this picture, I need to highlight this area as a bit of focal point. Or maybe this is, literally, an instance where my brain just acknowledged seeing “the forest through the trees.” And maybe it’s my logical mind describing in words what my eyes are seeing.

I often “just” paint the trees, especially the trees that are kind of the background landscape. My mind kind of goes numb, and I just dab away. These areas are often the parts of the painting when I say the painting paints itself. 

And maybe I can just sit back and relish in the excitement of a little-girl feeling of discovery and be happy. 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Breakthrough in Thinking about my Art

My mind is churning around art this morning after another successful Weekly Wednesday Wine-fest (WWW). (Big drinkers we are, she has one glass of wine, and I, two). WWW is an opportunity for two friends and artists to get together to talk about art and life, and the most intriguing aspect of our friendship is that we are totally opposites in our techniques, styles, and processes. Yet we have the most amazing conversations and are very supportive of one other.

I had printed photos I’d taken the past two months from which I plan to do paintings and she brought over her work sketch book of how she works with photos in her painting process. We often talk of composition, values (which I still struggle to fully understand as an artist), colors, etc. We may be opposites in how we work, but what we love to paint is similar in the types of landscapes and such.

After all these years of doing art work, I still always question, always seek to learn and evolve. My journey with art isn’t just about technique and style. My entire soul gets involved. Emotions ramble (or is it rumble? Ha ha.) throughout the process. It’s like I become part of whatever I am working on and it becomes part of me so that I am thinking about it even when I’m not at the easel. It sometimes comes through when I’m meditating, or I’ll wake in the night with a slight memory of dreaming about it.

“I take photos and paint scenes, based on what I like; what catches my attention. If I’m intrigued by the view, I believe others will be, too.” – Sasha Wolfe. 

Work in process ... still lots to do
I paint scenes that intrigue me, often using multiple photographs of a landscape to capture various nuances and angles of the area. My mind is flooded with emotions which is a mish-mash of visual colors, textures, and words. It’s weird because I don’t get clear visions and sometimes there are no words to fully describe what I am feeling/seeing. (This is the first time I’ve been able to put this into words!) It’s only when I stand at the easel with brush or pastel in hand that I start seeing clearly … And at that point, there are times when it feels like something else takes over.

However, it’s not perfect, not constant. There’s always the ups and downs, ins and outs. The emotions ebb and flow. I’m excited by the work, then discouraged feeling I’ve done something wrong. I walk away, then go back. Eventually I reach the point where I have to stop. It has to be finished. The painting tells me it is done, even if I keep finding something to “fix.” I have to let go. It’s time to move on to another painting.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Finding my Way as an Artist

I find scenes I want to draw and paint. I take multiple photos to catch different angles. I don’t “think” too much about it in the moment. I am just excited with the view and I snap away. Too often it’s a quick stop because I’m heading somewhere else, so I don’t take my time and totally “feel” the area.

“Feel the area” means sitting for a little while and catching the nuances, the smells, noticing little quirks or paying enough attention to light. And light is soooo important! But for some reason, it’s not the light that catches my attention. My delight is in the beauty of the landscape. I know light is something I need to consider in creating a good picture, but every time I am so caught up in the view of trees, water, mountains, sky, and other vegetation, I totally forget about the light in the moment of taking the photographs.

I took multiple photos along this scene to do a panoramic painting.
I was traveling with someone and we were in a hurry, so there
wasn't any time to contemplate the scene. I just snapped photos.
What am I saying here? After years of being an artist, dabbling in numerous mediums and creating by my own rules, I am now taking a closer look at honing my skills. Maybe it’s because pastels work differently from the oils, acrylics, and charcoal I’ve used in the past. I’m fascinated by the various types and textures of pastels and the wonderful array of colors. However, they are giving me multiple challenges which I find intriguing and exciting.

There are also the challenges of learning on my own and not taking classes. There are new discoveries to make in order to create a beautiful painting. I talk to other artists (most don’t work in pastel, but all have insights) and I read books and websites on pastel painting. I process conversations and readings choosing aspects that will help me in my style. I feel I am building my own separate pathway across the pond.

Last night’s reading, in a book by Richard McKinley, talked about how a plein air sketch captures the essence of the scene the way the eye does (and a photograph does not). I don’t know that I’ve ever thought of the “essence of a scene” in words and sketching. I know I feel it, but outside of excitement, I’ve not considered artistic description.

Is this part of where artistic intuition comes in? I’m often told I have that. I use photographs as a guide to create the scene, but often, once I get background down and an idea where shapes go, I just dive in and start painting. Yes, I’ll refer to the photo, from time to time, but there reaches a point where the picture is telling me what it wants.

I’m not perfect. I get stuck. I walk away, sometimes for days, before the painting calls me back. I’ll take photos of my progress to post on FB and ironically, it’s often after I post an in-process photo, that I’ll notice some nuance I have to add to the painting. Why didn’t I see that in real-time with the painting? Perhaps it’s one of those mysteries.

This entire process is also teaching me to see differently. I’d noticed years back that when I was taking a photograph with the intent to do a charcoal drawing, I’d look at it with different eyes than if I was just taking a photo of a pretty scene. That is also translating to pastels and further as I look at the photo with different eyes than I look at the painting. It’s like I’m having to learn to see in new ways. (And I still don’t have the words to fully describe and understand that … yet.)