Weekend Work…

My new job has been keeping me very busy but this Labor Day holiday gave me some time in the studio.

I’m going to make an effort to draw this week, whether it’s on my lunch break or just after school. This statement here will hopefully hold me to it despite the fatigue I will undoubtedly feel. Don’t get me wrong, I’m LOVING the job… it’s just that hanging out with ten year olds all day tuckers me out, as I’m sure you can imagine. hee hee. I’m hoping I’ll get more used to this energy demand as time goes on. I’m feeling very inspired from this new change in my life and I know it will show through in my artwork this autumn.

studio set-up today... lots of beverages
on the desk… lots of beverages

 

cat cartoons
cat cartoons

New Academic Space

I finally got around to cleaning, lowering, and changing the angle of my drafting table in the studio. The result is a large space to pile my books and notes, sketching, reading light, beverage, computer and cats. I also imagine this will be a better place to work on watercolor painting – safe from oil paint residue.

I expect much mind expansion as a result.

ps. Can you see one of the reasons I named my cat Dragon?

pps. Please excuse my ill-fitting old t-shirt and zebra-print chair-fur-control-system

Dragon inspects new studio "thinking" space
Dragon inspects new studio “thinking” space

Three finished paintings

Today I finished up the my latest piece for the Quilted Landscape series:

Against Pillows, oil/canvas, 18 x 18"
Against Pillows, oil/canvas, 18 x 18″, $200

I also touched up two new pieces for the Southwest series. These were done 90% en plein air (outdoors) around Portales, New Mexico this spring.

Southwest House, oil/canvas, 8 x 10"
Southwest House, oil/canvas, 8 x 10″, $150
Backyard Fence, oil/canvas, 8 x 10"
Backyard Fence, oil/canvas, 8 x 10″, $150

Day in Santa Fe

I just got back from a mini vacation with my husband to the Santa Fe region of New Mexico.

The view from our balcony was stunning and my favourite part of the trip was watching the light change on the mountains:

Working on the balcony
Drawing on the balcony
Balcony View, ink in sketchbook
Balcony View, ink in sketchbook

We did some exploring in the town when we weren’t reading by the pool and enjoyed some delicious coffee and tea at the Station Cafe:

Cafe table at the Station
Cafe table at the Station

My favourite piece from the trip:

Sundown on the Mountains, Santa Fe, Watercolor and ink in sketchbook, 3.5 x 5.5"
Sundown on the Mountains, Santa Fe, Watercolor and ink in sketchbook, 3.5 x 5.5″ $50 unframed

My Traveling Studio

It’s been a few filled-to-the-brim art weeks… so much so that I haven’t had the energy or will to post about my progress on the blog by the time evening rolls around. Sorry!

The activity responsible for all the successful art-making? Morning sketching.

I’ve been spending every weekday morning after Spanish class driving around town and sketching from the comfort of the car.  Drawing from life brings me such a feeling of safety and contentment. And, I believe I need those feelings before I can feel inspired. Sooo… naturally, all these mornings drawing have led to many afternoons in the real studio oil painting. Hopefully I will share my oil painting progress with you soon!

Here’s a fun pic of my morning studio – the precious Mazda – complete with audiobook cds and a pear for a snack! Also note that my water dish for making watercolors is a tennis ball canister. Nice and tall to hold lots of water and yet narrow enough to fit the cup-holder well.

Traveling studio
Traveling studio

Illustration in the studio

I’m working on illustrations for a biology textbook today, while the kitten is  hard at work grooming.

Can you see the beetle on the computer screen? I totally took a picture of that beast yesterday… it was very dead and preserved nicely in the ENMU biology lair of course… but it was still fantastically cool.

It’s the good life.

Yes, that is a drafting table to the right… I just haven’t quite made the transition to drawing on it full-time yet… it takes some getting used to after more than 25 years drawing on flat surfaces. That, and who could kick that adorable kitten off the drafting chair? Not me, no.

Illustration in the studio
Illustration in the studio

Blanket Landscape Study 1

I don’t know if you realized, but I went missing for a few weeks! I had my brother-in-law and his new wife visit us in the middle of their Southwest USA Road trip extraordinaire! We enjoyed dining on a balcony overlooking the plaza in Santa Fe while a mariachi band played and people strolled with dogs and lazed with family on the grass. We then drove south to Cloudcroft, New Mexico where we camped for two days in the wooded mountains. A day trip to White Sands National Monument provided many beautiful photographs and I came home inspired anew.

Back at home I struggled to get myself back in the studio. It is so easy when one is sans-structure to find a million other things to keep oneself busy. Cleaning, cooking, and recovering from a five-day bout of poison ivy or poison oak or poison something (argh!!) filled my time.

I finally realized that it was the big half-finished canvas that was keeping me out of the studio (see Quilted Lake post). A project of that kind is daunting to me and can freeze me up if not completed within a few days of commencing. It’s not that I don’t want to be painting, it’s just hard to find that freshness that the work had in the beginning.

I did some research on the web and discovered there is a term for the way I like to paint. “alla prima”:

Wet-on-wet, or alla prima (Italian, meaning at first attempt), is a painting technique, used mostly in oil painting in which layers of wet paint are applied to previous layers of wet paint. This technique requires a fast way of working, because the work has to be finished before the first layers have dried. It may also be referred to as ‘direct painting’ or the French term au premier coup (at first stroke).

Thank you Wikipedia.

I know you’re probably shaking your head at me because someone who did a Bachelor of Fine Arts should really have already been familiar with the term, but somehow I missed that one… whoops.

Anyway, learning this term somehow brought validity to my preferred painting habits and I’ve plotted a way to keep myself painting, and ENJOYING painting in the near future.

In terms of today’s work, I feel that my recent traveling and sight-seeing has informed my painting and that the landscape is finding its way into my small world in the studio.

That’s all I’m going to say for now and before I sign off I will give you the option of seeing images of:

a) the gorgeous desert area in Southwestern NM called White Sands

b) the evils of poisonous plants

c) today’s painting progress

JUST KIDDING! I’ll pick for you and I’m picking “a” and “c”. Count yourself lucky.

White Sands National Monument
White Sands National Monument
Blanket Landscape Study 1, oil/canvas, 8 x 10"
Blanket Landscape Study 1, oil/canvas, 8 x 10″

Quilt and Lamp

I think vacation is the best recipe for making art. I’ve been back for four days now and I’m spending every minute that my body will allow in the studio. That said, yesterday was spent groaning around the house and podcasting… the aftermath of my first ever tennis lesson and two days painting. Yowch!

Since my second ever tennis lesson is this evening, I thought I better get back to painting today so that Friday can be spent grumbling around the house some more. Ha!

Here is my first finished piece this summer, although technically it is still Spring until tomorrow… I took the reference photo at my friend’s house this past year. It’s so cozy! The perfect painting to work on while the desert gets hit with heavy downpour after heavy downpour.

I have more photos from my friend’s place that will be used as reference material for more paintings soon…

Quilt and Lamp, oil/canvas, 16 x 20"
Quilt and Lamp, oil/canvas, 16 x 20″