Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Satisfied Yesterday, Not Satisfied Today, Kept Going

This morning shoveling 4 inches of newly fallen snow took precedence over painting. Deer tracks meandered along the brook. I took photos once the deck was cleaned off.

The snow lay in puffy mounds over rocks and ice in the brook. The edges of the ice cliffs showing below the snow look like teeth biting at the water or chandelier crystals. I waited for the sun to light up the crystals, but there are too many trees. The water is now about 6 inches lower than the ice layer and gurgles and ripples.

I managed to get in the studio after a short rest and warm-up after the stint outside in the frigid air. I always think the painting will get easier with each one, but no; each picture presents its own challenges. Maybe I’m just too fussy.

Today I was discouraged with yesterday’s work. The other day someone suggested I add peach and then I read that the right color peach makes all the difference. I don’t think I have the right color peach and when I went to the Blick website … peach is not a color name used in pastels. (I think I’ll have to bring my trays of pastels to the computer so I can compare what I have to what’s available.)

Close up view of "Mountain Sunset"
For today, I ended up wiping the entire horizon of the mountains and below and starting over. Gosh, I feel I waste so much pastel, and I’ve rubbed the paper so much … I considered giving up but kept going. This painting keeps talking to me.

Photo taken from 5 feet away.
It wasn’t until I started adding the foreground trees that I finally felt relief. The scene was coming together! I went back over smoothing/blurring lines instead of having sharper spaces. I haven’t signed it yet, but I’m thinking … I’ll have to look at it for a couple of days. I’m sure there will be a couple of places to touch up.

I made an appointment to drop off four paintings for matting and framing next week. I want this one to be one of the four.

But I’m ready to move on to another.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Interruptions and Distractions
This morning I woke with the thought that if I’m going to trace the flower shapes on the BF Rives paper, I should do it with the paper flat and not on the easel. This will be my second floral pastel painting and I’m not comfortable getting flowers in proper perspective freehand. (I do all my other work freehand.) 

There was a pinkish tinge to the landscape outside around sunrise time, but the overcast moved in before I saw any sun. Snowflakes began softly floating down. Weather Underground predicted snow to start around 3 p.m. with 5-8 inches total. The flurries continued off and on and soon the deck was dotted with white specks. At least it wasn’t mounting up, yet.

I got my regular morning routine completed and went to get the items needed for this project … 

But I got distracted and began rearranging the big shelf unit in the back room with all the art and photography supplies such as backing boards, bigger mats, foam core and foam storage/carry pouches, etc. Then I went in the studio to get something and got distracted by the painting.

"Mountain Sunset" 9 1/4 x 15 inches 
I worked for an hour on the pastel … kept walking away because I’d been on my feet for a long time. Every time I got to the door and turned around, I’d see something I wanted to fix and go back to the easel.

Then I decided to put some Velcro on the bottom of the foam mats I stand on. They keep sliding when I move and bunch up. I’ve tripped a number of times (luckily haven’t fallen). I’m hoping the Velcro will keep the mats in place. Pele tried to help. It doesn’t make it easy to lift the corner of the mat with a heavy kitty on it.

I was interrupted on this project by someone ringing the doorbell. Delivery received, I returned to the studio and instead of finishing the Velcro project, I worked on the painting again. Nooo! Walk away! I’ve done enough for the day and have been on my feet too long.

I’m pleased to get more work done. I’d love to have this ready to take to the framer on Friday. I still have a lot to do, though.

I took a progress photo. The actual painting looks a lot better than this photo … and looks better from at least 5 feet away, of course.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Is it Time to Take a Break and Work on Another?

I had a good day yesterday in spite of the struggles with the painting. I'm beginning to think it's because of the dramatic dark gray/black overcast of the sky and the bright orange and yellow of the sunset breaking through. It's making the blending of the soft pastels look muddy. I can't spray a workable fixative because it's too cold outside and I won't spray that stuff in the house ... but I'm tempted. 

My big revelation about painting is realizing how my hand seems to take on a mind of its own the minute I pick up a pastel and step up to the easel. It doesn't matter if I'm looking at the photo and my brain is saying, "The line needs to go ...," my hand does its own thing. It's like my hand isn't even connected to my brain. 

This just affirms my intent of using the photo for a guideline only. I don’t want to do an exact replica. But I have to say, yesterday felt weirder than usual. Yeah, I've been working this way for a while, but this time, it just seemed to punch me in the face. No matter how I tried to make it look similar to the photo, it just wouldn't happen. 

Another example of this interesting mind-disconnect was when my sister-in-law called in the afternoon to comment on the progress photo I posted. It seems I sometimes do my best painting when I’m distracted by chatting on the phone. My mind is on our conversations while my hand … just works. I was pleased the little progress made while we talked.

Definitely looks better from a distance
However, the stint in the studio this morning had me at crash and burn again. I just can’t get the pastels to behave as they normally do ... or I would have them do. I love the buttery softness of Sennelier pastels but maybe for this picture they are too soft. I can’t add defining lines in harder pastel or pastel pencils. I’m wiping off more than usual and feel I’m wasting the pastels – along with breathing in excess pastel dust. I’m trying hard not to be angry with myself.

I ended 2018 on such a high painting-wise. I expected to continue the upward spring. But 2019 is off to a rocky start. The first painting had me wiping all the pastel off after the first week and starting over. That one is actually coming along good now. Am I going to have to do the same with this one? I’m considering it.

Better when viewed from a distance.
Still a long ways to go.
The funny thing is, when I just went back in the studio to take photos to show my progress/not progress, it didn’t look too bad. Then again, the paintings often do look better from a distance. I’m not giving up, but maybe I should work on one of the others while I’m still feeling frustrated with this one. (And why I have multiple paintings in process at the same time.)

There are lessons to be learned here, and I’ll figure them out.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Unforeseen Challenges

A couple of sunset photo postings on Facebook a week or so ago had me asking for permission to use the photos for paintings, with credit to the photographers, of course. This is a deviation for me as I am usually adamant about using my own photos, but every once in a while, someone else’s will intrigue me ... and I never get sunrise or sunset pictures any more.

In the "hate-it" stage.
I currently have four in-process paintings on the easels, each a different type of scene. When I get to the “hate-it” stage of one, I’ll work on another until I can go back. This current one is the third for 2019 and I’ve titled it “Mountain Sunset.”

Although I’ve done lots of skies, this is my first sunset. I thought it’d be easy and fun. I love doing skies! However, this has been giving me grief from the get-go. I think it’s because I’m used to blending blues and whites of sky and this is darks and orange shades … blending makes it muddy-looking.

More progress
Yesterday, I absolutely hated the progress, but I went back in the studio today for another go at it. I tied a bandana over my nose and mouth because I’m creating so much pastel dust. The layering just isn’t going smoothly. I’m wiping off as much as I put on.

But I’ll get there. It’s all about the journey which entails learning to do it my way! I’ll figure this one out. 
And it looks good when I stand back.

It’s an intriguing scene and when done, it will be beautiful!