Saturday, March 17, 2018

Next - What should I paint next? The problem of artistic overwhelm...



My biggest question right now is...HOW do I choose what to paint next??? I'm realizing that I don't have much of a system for how I choose next projects. Usually for me, it's just an emotional, deadline driven choice and I'd like to change that. Do you face artistic overwhelm - where you have so many unfinished paintings to do you don't know where to start? Or you have so many cool ideas but you can't decide what to work on next?? Or you get so inspired and spend too much time looking at Pinterest and Instagram photos that you are too tired to paint? Those are currently my problems.

I do have several projects that aren't quite done that I could be working on - I call them UFOs - Unfinished Objects! Every time I take a class the paintings aren't finished by the end of the class and they seem to hang around for a while before I get at them again. Lost mojo.

Two UFO's from classes I took that aren't finished yet :-/ One will take maybe an hour - the other will take probably another 20 hours to finish...

I do not like particularly like painting to a deadline for exhibits. It always seems that having that pressure means something about the painting not go well. This causes frustration and panic as you stress out about having to meet that deadline and have a painting that is your BEST work. If your painting needs to be framed, you have to leave time for that too! I do have some paintings that are started that are in that state of...it didn't work out the way I expected...what do I do next on those paintings??

I do take a lot of my own photos for reference and usually do paint from photos. On recent trips out west and to the east coast in Canada, we went to zoos, and scenic sights. I love flowers so we spend time in gardens when we come across them. Both Paul and I enjoy happily clicking away together. Aren't digital cameras awesome!!! We also go over to Stratford regularly in the summer and I know I have quite a few really neat photos of the scenery and wildlife by the river that I'd love to paint sometime.

I go to a local Sketchclub  that has outings every Wednesday morning during the year. We either sketch on location or at the local art center. These outings to many of the local tourist sites, museums or gardens. provide me with many photo opportunities as well as enjoying the sketching time. So I have files and files of photos from the past 10+ years. I could spend some time going through those photos looking for possibilities that I was excited about at the time but I've forgotten about. Those photos are backed up to my ipad and I keep looking at them thinking...yes... I'd like to paint that one! Like most artists, I have a huge computer file system of reference photos built up.

I also have spent a LOT of time on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram following, and saving photos of paintings by artists whose work I really am attracted to. I've watched a ton of Youtube videos that inspire me to try new things. Then there are all my painting books and magazines I've collected over the years that have inspired me with new techniques I'd like to try on some of my own photos.

Then there are also the Decorative painting patterns and courses by wonderful painting teachers and designers that I'd love to do - but if I work on those, I won't get my own originals done.

Can you say artistic overwhelm...??? I definitely need some blinders or some kind of system to figure out what's next...and to cut back on the choices. Too many ideas is a real problem!

We were down to Niagara on the Lake recently and Edward Spera, a phenomenal wildlife artist who has a gallery there, has a system for choosing his next paintings. He chooses photos he is inspired to work on and he posts them in his gallery as his next dozen paintings. When someone likes the photos and purchases the painting BEFORE it's painted, then he will start it. I'm so not there yet! He's booked up years in advance. I DO like the idea of having a board in my studio with photos posted of the next in line painting possibilities.

There was another artist in Goderich this summer - Elizabeth Van den Broeck  who prints out the photos she has decided she'd like to paint. She designed a handout for her students that she uses to choose what size of canvas would be best for the parts of the photo she's going to paint.  She often pastes the photos on the work page and does thumbnail sketches on it to work out a value scale and composition study. Then she will post these photo pages up on the walls in her studio. The one that inspires her most is what she paints next. I thought that might work for me.

Sometimes I sit down with a notebook and make a list of all the photos that I do have printed off from trips and outings and think about what media I'd like to use to paint that photo. but its all in my head. I think I need to work some things out on paper first. There are a lot of choices to make before you actually start a painting. I usually make those decisions on the fly, but I think that is sometimes why I will get stuck part way through a painting project. I come to a spot where I don't know exactly what to do next...either that or there is some technical painting skill that I am missing and I'm just not ready to commit to the next step yet. In that case taking a step back and looking at the painting for a while will often help me get perspective so I go on to the next step.

In planning a painting to exhibit or to teach there are a lot of things to think about...

  • Since I use acrylic, watercolour, oils and some coloured pencil I often look at a photo reference and know what my first choice of medium would be for painting that subject.
  • Can I just paint exactly as it is in the photo? Or do I need to make colour and composition changes to make it an eye catching painting?
  • What skills would be great to teach while doing this subject?
  • What is the theme of the exhibit that is coming up? Which painting possibilities would fit that theme?
  • If it's a juried show, and the jurors love abstracts then pretty much I know that the realism that I lean toward may not make the cut. How can I paint so that my chances of my work being curated into this show will be better?
  • What do I have TIME to paint? Picking something that's going to take 40+ hours to paint over the Christmas season is just plain unrealistic! 
  • And finally, what am I most excited about painting?

    I think my next step in this process of deciding what's next is to print out smaller copies of some of the photos I'd like to paint from. Then I will make a template and tape the photos on it. I will figure out the size I'd like to paint, the surface I'd like to paint on, the media I'd like to use, the changes I'd like to make - like cropping and colour choices. I'll make all these notes on the page and then hang it up on the walls in my studio. Maybe then I'll be able to tell what painting is calling out my name the most.                         

    How do YOU choose what painting to do next? I'd love some tips for getting this process more simplified so I can cut out some of the overwhelm and get some sort of system going forward.

    Thursday, March 15, 2018

    My studio assistant turns 4!


     4 years ago on March 15, 2014 I got a new painting studio assistant! I fell in love with those great big brown eyes. Here is Mocha before...
















    and after. He still loves coming down to my studio - but usually he's coming down to tell me I have to go upstairs to let him out LOL. Sweetest company ever though :-)

    Friday, February 02, 2018

    Some exciting new paint products released at Creativation recently

    WOW! So many new paints are coming this spring! DecoArt will soon be releasing these new products that were unveiled at Creativation in Phoenix in January. Why do I like DecoArt paints and use them for all my paintings? DecoArt paint products are second to none! They use top quality colour pigments and they are long lasting quality paints - not just craft paints. DecoArt has been around for YEARS! And they keep on improving every year. Watch this video by Mark Montano. He will inspire you to explore your creative genius and give lots of ideas how to use these brand new paints.


    Here are some exciting NEW things to try:

    DecoArt Pouring medium
    This medium is all you need to add to your paint the get awesome marbled paint effects. No more running to the hardware store to get silicone! There are SO many people pouring paint these days and it's really fun - if a bit messy! Just search for acrylic pouring videos on Youtube to see how much fun this can be. You add the pouring medium to any DecoArt paint colours - two or three is best - and stir. Then pour the paint onto canvas or wood. Tip it to let the colours mingle and run together. You should have the surface in a tray because the paint will drip over the sides to coat the whole thing. As it dries, little cells form and it adds more interest to the marbled pattern that forms. Let me know if you'd like to try it in the studio and I'll let you know when the product becomes available to us in Canada - should be sometime this spring.

    Clear Pouring Topcoat
    They've made a really neat high-gloss laquer finish. It's super shiny - like epoxy without the mixing! This would be perfect for a finish coat on hand-painted jewelery, or a wood box where you've used the pouring medium on the outside. I have some small painted necklace patterns that I want to try this on. You can also paint it over journal pages. It can be used on almost anything. Doesn't yellow, no bubbles! Pour it on and let it dry.

    DecoArt Stylin'
    Got shoes you love but they are a colour you don't wear much? Paint them the colour you want! You can refresh your belts, purses, paint on leather, vinyl binders etc. Make accessories match that dress for the wedding and save buying new shoes and stuff to go with. Or paint a cute design on some inexpensive runners for your kids. I can't wait to try this one too. I have a belt that could use a refresh! I've also seen people paint designs (landscapes) on skates and boots as well. This paint won't crack and peel off. I can't wait to try this product too.

    Americana Decor Texture
    This paint comes with texture mixed in already. Really thick and great for doing palette knife painting with texture. I think it will be great to try with stencils. Just tape the stencil to the item you're painting and use a palette knife to smooth the heavy body texture paint over the design. Lift off carefully and voila! A raised design to pretty up the cover of a journal or add some interest to an old dresser.

    Matte Metallic paint
    Metallics are on trend right now. DecoArt already has a super great line of shiny metallic paints but now they have added matte metallics. So, paint that looks like brushed silver and brushed rose gold. I think I'll rose gold a bunch of pots and boxes around my house when I get my hands on this paint! Can't wait!. I bet it will look great for lettering on signs too! You can count on me adding this to everything! I've got a bunch of ideas already!

    Extreme Sheen Metallics
    These metallics are extra shiny. Got some frames in the house that could use some refreshing? Wipe some on and wipe off. Betcha it would look cool to do up some older carved frames and update them. Or maybe paint some pots to look like brass or copper. Matching pots on the deck this summer. Did you know you can paint on a silver tea service. This metallic wouldn't tarnish!! I have a galvanized lettered sign I might like to make a different colour. Hmmm! Wheels are turning

    AND

    Americana Premium Tube Acrylics
    These ones I already have a whole set of! Michaels carries them and I got them when they first came out - on sale!! Who doesn't like to save money?  It's a medium bodied paint - a little thicker than Decoart's regular Americana paints. Some of the colours are transparent so they are great for doing glazes. They don't have as many colours in the line - and you really don't need to buy one of every colour because it's easy to mix whatever colour you want if you have taken a colour class to learn how. It's pretty easy!!  I like these for art journaling, and painting landscapes that have a little texture. I love the colours - the pigment is very strong and these are artist grade paints. Very similar to Liquitex Basics or Golden paints but less expensive!

    Americana Decor Curb Appeal
    This paint came out last year. We haven't seen it up here in Canada, but in the states there was a huge trend of people painting their doors in bright colours. You can also paint planters to match and boxes and lawn chairs. Colour co-ordinate your house! And it's great for outdoors! OR indoors! I did see extra bright coloured doors inside houses in one of the decorating magazines I glanced at recently. One lady painted a heron on her patio door and then decorated her deck with a beach scene to go with! Pick a theme and use your doors as a canvas - why not? Or even paint a simple floral garden design on a fence. That should keep you busy all summer!

    Americana Home Decor paints
    Some of these are already here in Michaels. Chalk paints that are way more affordable for painting over that old dresser or tray that's chipped. You can use these paints and stains for outdoor window boxes, mailboxes. Paint your furniture inside. I have a scratched coffee table I'll be doing over sometime soon! Redo your kitchen cupboards!! Endless ways to use the variety of paint types in this Home Decor line.

    Americana paints
    There are 15 new colours I will be trying to get my hands on too. They look soft and pastelly - Beautiful.

    Why aren't there pictures? You'll have to watch the videos. I have not yet got these but I'll be first in line to get some as soon as they reach our Canadian crafting shops!

    What new paint will you try first? Make a list of home DIY and refresh projects! Can't wait for spring!



    Friday, September 22, 2017

    Day?? 30 in 30 challenge

    What is it??? Working on a coloured pencil course by a friend of mine ...deadline approaching! Yikes! Stay tuned for progress!  (Sort of fell off the 30 in 30 wagon - jumping back on :-)  )

    Wednesday, September 20, 2017

    Day 20 of the 30 in 30 challenge


    It's a GLAD DAY!!  I've been working on this for a while. This is from a photo I took at a friend's garden on a sketchclub outing. Gladiolas were her father's favorite flowers. I made her a painting that is very similar ;-) I'm including the reference photo. You will notice I changed the colour a bit. I've done a LOT of orange paintings and I much prefer the pinky tones. Artistic license!
    Not sure if it's done yet. When you take a photo of your painting you see all kinds of things you might like to change LOL!


    Friday, September 15, 2017

    Day 15 of 30 in 30 challenge


    I think it's the 15th day of the 30 in 30 challenge - and I haven't posted for a couple of days because...life... but here's my latest 30 in 30 painting. This took me 2 studio sessions.  I may still do some tweaking here or there but this is all for tonight! Anybody want to give him a name??? #30in30

    Tuesday, September 12, 2017

    Day 11 30 in 30 challenge


    I know it's hardly fall yet, but by the time I teach this painting at ByDesign it will be late November and people will be looking forward to snow for Christmas. Don't the little cardinals just cheer up this winter scene?  This is my day 11 painting for the 30 in 30 challenge Snow scene with cardinals.

    Monday, September 11, 2017

    Day 10 30 in 30 challenge


    Today I spent most of my day getting ready for the new class I hope to be teaching at ByDesign Academy. There's so much preparation to do to teach a class. There are price lists to figure out and instructions to write. And after that's all done I painted another two beginner paintings for the teens to do. Day 10's painting is a still life with sunflowers in a blue jar.

    Sunday, September 10, 2017

    Day 9 30 in 30 challenge


    So this weekend has been quite full! We were with our grandkids on Saturday and Sunday has just flown by. I have been working on two different paintings, but neither of them have been going as planned. This happens at times... One is a coloured pencil iris that is very overworked right now and I intend to start it over again - I just ordered a new set of Polychromos Coloured pencils and I can't wait to use them for my flowers! I also will be using a different kind of paper for the iris painting because the paper I used isn't as good for building up layers - which you have to do in order to blend the colours together well.

    The other painting I have been working on is of some hydrangea petals in watercolour. It was fun because Hudson (3 years old) pulled up a stool beside Grandma to watch me paint. He was fascinated watching me put on the initial wash. Maybe he'll take painting lessons from Grandma in the future!

    I just love the varied shades of blue and purple and cream and pink. But alas, I tried it on a new type of watercolour paper and it's not taking the paint as well as what I normally use - so I will be starting that one over again this week as well.

    Good news is that Paul will be away tomorrow so I will be able to spend most of my time painting without distraction except from my doggie who likes to play a LOT! And Tuesday I will have quite a bit of time on my hands as Paul will be having a surgery in the morning and likely sleeping off anaesthetic in the afternoon and evening. Painting really helps me to keep occupied when life doesn't always go the way you hoped! It's great therapy for what ails 'ya.

    I decided to post a photo of a watercolour painting that I have done recently. This one is of Chinese Lanterns - these are very interesting flowers - the pods dry to a vibrant orange colour around this time of year and you often can find them as dried flowers at the market. I haven't seen any in gardens lately. I understand they are quite invasive and they spread all over. I painted this (adding my own touches) from a step by step article in an art magazine a number of years back - the Leisure Painter. I love this magazine. It's truly one for beginners and has so many step by step tutorials. It's on my "have to buy" list every month. I have QUITE a stack saved up!

    Friday, September 08, 2017

    Day 8 30 in 30 challenge


    Nuthatch
    Colored Pencil
    Look at this!! I'm actually posting a finished painting on the proper day :-) This is a coloured pencil painting that I did in an online course. Actually the background is done with pan pastel so it's officially a mixed media painting. The design is by Patsy Deal. I love doing birds and wildlife so I enjoyed this piece. 

    Thursday, September 07, 2017

    Day 7 30 in 30 challenge

    Three amigos
    Acrylics
    6x6
    personal collection

    So a lot of my paintings take more than a day to paint so I'm posting one I painted a while ago. I found these cute baby swans on one of our regular jaunts to the beautiful park in Stratford Ontario. I think I have more swan pictures than any other kind of photos - including the cute squirrels and birds in my back yard!! 

    Day 6 30 in 30 challenge


    Sooo... pressing on today with getting samples ready for my upcoming ByDesign painting class for teens... I painted this simple canvas art bag for them to carry their stuff back and forth to classes. They will learn the basics of painting on fabric as well as mixing paints to learn the colour wheel. I love creating lessons where the object painted on is useful!

    Wednesday, September 06, 2017

    Day 5 of 30 Old Roses still life



    In the fall I will be teaching a teen art class for ByDesign Academy in Bloomingdale. This will be one of the projects in the 8 week course to be held on Tuesday nights. If you know of a teenager who loves art and who wants to learn to paint with acrylics, please let them know about my classes.

    Stay tuned to see more painting projects I'm working on for this course.

    Tuesday, September 05, 2017

    Day 4 of 30 in 30 challenge


    This old barn is falling down more and more every time I go by it. It was the perfect subject for a pen and ink drawing. I did some oil rouging on it to add in the colour. 



    Monday, September 04, 2017

    Day 3 of 30 in 30 challenge - Scratchart Chrysanthemum in progress



    This is my progress on Day three's #30in30 project. I'm doing scratchart on an 8x10 Ampersand Scratchart Board. It's coming along nicely I'm pleased so far :-)  SO. MANY. PETALS!!!

    I have already worked on this for 2 evenings and an afternoon (while listening to netflix) This is a first layer of scratching and I will spend some time after the first layer is done just going over the hilights, evening out the tone and making sure that the darks are still dark. 

    Scratchboard is a hardboard support evenly covered with white kaolin clay and then sprayed with India ink. So when you use the tip of an exacto knife (or other scratchboard tools) you scrape off the black ink and reveal the white layer underneath. What you are watching for is changes in value (the lights and darks) of the petals in this case - and you can see that better by working from a greyscale photo of your object. You can enhance the tiny scratches by adding glazes of colour using acrylic inks. I'm not sure if I will do that yet. I really enjoy just leaving them in black and white for added drama! 

    Scratchart is so repetitive that if I'm the least little bit tired, it can just about put me to sleep especially at night! Soooo relaxing. It's something I can work on while I'm listening or talking to someone - which is good - cause we are off today to visit some really close friends - who love to watch me work while we visit. Have Scratchboard...will travel.

    Some other day this month I will show you progress on this board. I plan to do an elephant and a zebra later on. 

    Do you have any photos with high contrast that might look good when done in black and white? Send them to me (with your written permission) for consideration for future projects. #alwayslookingfortheperfectreferencephoto



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