Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Intermission is Over.

Life interrupts the goals I make for myself.  I have no choice but to regroup and make adjustments to the way I thought things would work.  Isn't that the way goals work?  Those idealistic dreams I form in my head, like a movie playing out, watching how it could fall into place.  If you look at the time that has passed since my previous post, it's been a looonnnggg time.  It's been so long that I figure just making this quick post will be a relearning experience...remembering how this dad blamed thing works.  I am no experienced blogger.  I am a wife and mom desiring to keep alive my creative spark.  I am trying to save time to just paint an inspiring subject.  I want to take hold of the small windows of time that afford quiet solitude (even if singers and songwriters are blaring on Pandora) to dip the brushes into the brilliant pools of pigment on my palette and transfer that to paper.

Seashells with Journaling.  Copyright Christy Sheeler 2012

I would love an entire day but the       odds are slim.  I feel the pull of
responsibility.  I feel the guilt over
laundry not being completed, kitchen counters holding clutter, floors not mopped yet.  I know without a doubt that if I should GO and do those tasks I will be so drained of desire to be creative in the end...that I will decide it's not worth it anymore, the drafting table will sit ignored again. 

Well, actually it's sitting ignored right now as I type this.  Fifteen feet away, at my back, waiting.  So why am I here and not there?  Over a month ago I sat down to add an entry and it was coming along

wonderfully.  I spent several hours without realizing it.  I had a lot to share and felt such a sense of accomplishment.  And I didn't save it as I went along.  Do you see it coming?  I clicked where I shouldn't without having saved first.  Gone.  All of it gone.  There was no, "are you sure you want to do this?  You're work will be lost.  Click cancel now."  Out of frustration, I just got up and walked away.  So I've felt like this is admitting defeat, not trying again and getting SOMETHING new posted.  There are several steps I am taking to be more purposeful in my desire to make art.  I take my camera with me every time our family heads out in the car.  The worst feelings occur when I am seeing a beautiful landscape play out across the Montana prairie and my camera is at home.  It takes only a few moments to pack up the camera bag as I leave the house.  I cleaned my art room area to make it function better.  We found a great old drop-leaf table for $50 just perfect for extra work space.

 I took stock of what supplies I have on hand, which supplies are still usable and which are unfortunately not at their best.  The pigment tubes are in great shape.  I have several tubes of antwerp blue and new gamboge.  Apparently, when I had the opportunity to pick up tubes at art supply stores, these colors were first on my mind.  I wasn't correct in thinking I needed more.  The watercolor paper has been a subject of great contention because it's lost its sizing over the years.  The paper has not always been stored in the best conditions.  This has been a lesson for me and I will protect the paper so much better now.  You must keep your paper wrapped in plastic to keep it from having the adjust so easily to the moisture in the room.  It must stay dry and out of the open air.  Buy only as much as you will use in a few months time.  Use it up.  Don't be stingy.  Start another painting.  I am trying methods of using these watercolor papers with gesso or aquapasto medium mixed in with watercolor pigment. 

Mountain View in New Mexico Watercolor
Copyright Christy Sheeler 2013
There's this funny little blossoming effect that occurs on the paper when it's wet that can't be removed or controlled. I am not admitting defeat, just finding another way to be successful in using the damaged paper. The painting at right was inspired by a New Mexico view while driving through the mountains north of Santa Fe. The area of paper where the sky has been painted is affected by loss of sizing. I painted in a mix of gesso and watercolor pigment to remedy the effect. I enjoyed the process but I may try this again to see how I can vary the expression.  I have this feeling I didn't achieve what I was after.

The photo (right) is Lake McDonald boat dock at Apgar Village.  Glacier National Park is just a few hours from home and one of my most inspiring sources for art references.  The kids throw rocks into the water while I take 10 minutes to snap photos.  My husband snaps photos at the same time...with his own angles and vantage points.  I'm in progress of sketching this on watercolor paper.  It's been a while since I've chosen a subject with details that need to be right...the angles on the boats and the shape of the motors, the lines need to feel right.

(Saving for the third time now...  :D)  This photo (left) was taken while we had ice cream at The Main Drive-In.  Our little town has a wonderful little drive-in for the classic ice cream and burgers & fries that are so perfect for summer.  They open in March and close in September.  The things that my kids will do without complaining or arguing when the prize is ice cream?!  I believe in positive reinforcement.  Mom gets some too, right???  So now it's March and we anticipate a short little walk over to grab ice cream when they have their spring opening.  On the evening that this photo was taken I just loved the peeling paint and the angles of the roof lines.  The sky was a vibrant blue setting off the full moon.  The view is toward the east so there may have been a sunset at my back.  I've been using Picasa to edit my photos so they are more usable as art references.  The light may not always be most effective on any given day but i can adjust the settings to make it easy to plan my vision for a piece of art.  The filters can help me set off the main subject of the image, where I want the viewers eye drawn.

 The sunflowers that I'd planted in the spring turned out to be a fantastic photo opportunity all summer and into the fall.  These two photos show how much the birds loved them for the place to perch but also to harvest seeds for a tasty meal.  I have taken so many photos of them...I'm their mysterious stalker with my camera.  Clean windows really help the effort.  The birds are not so apt to stay around when I sneak outside.  I was sure I was undetectable but their they flew back to the lilac bush to seek safety.  Before the sunflowers petals dried and their heads drooped so heavily, there were beautiful yellow, oranges and reds framing their seeded faces.  The butterfly that came to feed there was sharing space with many busy bees.  My husband was sweet enough to set up a tall ladder 5 feet away.  The neighbors should know by now that they will see odd happenings like me at the top of that ladder snapping away with my camera for 30 minutes at a time.  These strange sights are my normal!

I'm training myself to do a better job of building my art reference photo stash.  The Montana winters are long but I've got more photos than I know what to do with.  I keep the bird feeders filled all winter long so even while the flowers are gone, the birds are not.  They bring such beauty and entertainment as I'm going along in my daily activities.  I don't care if the seeds bring weeds.  The view of them outside the window is worth it.  Wildflowers are weeds, too.  I love wildflowers and so I see beauty in the weeds.

Sparrow on Fence Original Watercolor
Copyright Christy Sheeler 2012

 This painting was inspired by those little feathered visitors.  A soft golden wash was laid down under the wings before I masked out the lines of the feathers.  The fence boards have a soft base wash of cerulean blue.  When the other pigments were laid on top, the feeling of weathered wood is achieved. I'm still deciding whether I'm satisfied with the background.  I may try acetate to play with changes that I don't have to commit to  right away.

Last fall I returned to teaching watercolor to adults through the adult education program.  It was much more successful than my first experience more than 10 years ago.  I have taught art lessons to children many a time so I've developed my strategies where the project helps apply new skills.  Teaching adults is now such a rewarding part of my creative life.  It can at times threaten to take over all other areas of my life.  I want so much to feel successful and not frantic that my prep time can be what takes up my own time for painting my own projects.  There is so much joy in hearing someone else say how much they enjoy the time spent painting.  They come with apprehension and they definitely are concerned about making mistakes.  My planning and goals are all geared toward others having a better feel for watercolor painting, not so intimidated but better acquainted.  They are able to predict what the pigment and water will do.  They feel so much less helpless.  They now feel successful and excited to start another painting.  They relax and soak up the therapy that can happen when you are pleased with the process.  What good can the finished product be if the journey was not a pleasure? 

The spring workshop of 8 weeks will conclude next week.  That's right.  The fall workshop went so well, my nerves and fears were replaced with anticipation for the spring workshop.  These two images show the techniques we covered during the early weeks of the workshops.  They form a valuable foundation for enjoying watercolor.  I know there are videos on YouTube that cover these and more.  The spring workshop was more challenging with higher enrollment of 14 or more, the participants missing several sessions and wanting to have handouts for missed projects, new sign-ups past the first 2's all a learning process.  I'll have some stipulations for the next session.  And now I am more seriously planning a return to hosting private lessons at home.  We are considering the ways we could make it work smoothly, how it would work for our family's needs.

So now (after I click save one last time) I have conquered and have one more post successfully added.  I have no idea how many will find or read this...if you do, please add a comment even if just to say you were here.  Sign in my guestbook, so to speak.  I still am not sure why I feel the need to share.  To be able to journal my artist journey, to be developing my artistic vision, to share my struggles to maintain this frame of see this artist's creative passion grow and not fade.  Okay, now my laundry does need my attention, the kitchen needs a cleaning...AND I am going to get somewhere with painting shooting stars wildflowers...there's another painting affected by sizing problems before it's even begun.  Update to come!

Note: All images property of Christy Sheeler. Copyright 2012-1013
Please do not use without permission.

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