While making a concerted effort last week to work more in my sketchbooks – they are invaluable tools for artists: they help one learn to see, think, play, practice and hone… I could go on but it could turn into an inarticulate ramble so I will move on to my point.
I discovered that I have been really wanting to make a “Portrait of Portales”. A collection of drawings or paintings that describe the personality and character of my town.
This is a project I sort-of began over a year ago with small, “en plein air” oil paintings done from my car, of scenes around town. Let me jog your memory with a photo-collage:
Grated, the above could really be paintings of anywhere in New Mexico, so common are the scenes of yellowed grasses, cows and crumbling adobe structures. Many of my new works will be specifically Portales, its stores, real estate, lawns, animals, abandoned buildings and neglected alleys. And as the title of this post suggests, they are being worked in my sketchbooks.
So now I’m back to venturing around town in my little mazda, and at the risk of looking like a creep-o or a cop on a stake-out, parking and sketching from the car. It really does make me feel like a cop… or okay, more like Stephanie Plum…
It is SO MUCH FUN and really IS showing me more about where I live. Nothing makes me appreciate a place more than painting it. Here are some examples of my work so far. I will share more detailed/close-up pictures of them in the future. For now you just get a taste:
Hello again! It has been a productive week in the studio, what with finishing Quilted Lake and now getting to complete a second painting.
This one was started a while back and wasn’t working for me so it was set aside and stared at it with a gloomy expression for a few months. In that time ideas popped up and swam around with all the other detritus in my brain until finally something more solid was able to form…
I knew I had a few pictures somewhere of an outdoor cat named “Butters” sitting on our neighbor’s roof. I had taken them over two years ago when we lived in a different neighborhood and Butters and I spent a lot of time together. (Some of you already know of Butters. I’ve posted some photos of him on this blog before. I pretended he was mine, but he was owned/fed by some people a few houses down. I’m not sure how much affection they gave him though because he would come running down the road when he heard my car or bike and demand pats.)
I dug around a bit on my computer and found the photos I remembered. Then I did more digging around and found about five or six other photographs to use as resources to invent this landscape as it had formed in my mind.
Here are some process pictures from yesterday and today:
I am happy to say today is the last day of work on Quilted Lake. I’m pleased with the outcome and eager to move onto creating the paintings that have been accumulating inside me. If it weren’t for my tennis club meeting in an hour I’d start another painting right now! I’ve got some serves and volleys inside me too though, and they need to come out just as badly as the paintings.
I hope everyone enjoyed their labor day weekend and that you all have a great short week!
In case you’re wondering why I’m calling these still-lives landscapes, I just think it doesn’t hurt to look at things in different ways. Yes, I am painting little piles of fabric in my studio, but I’m shading slopes and folds and peaks in the same way I would paint hills and valleys and sunlight…
I haven’t painted as much still-lives as I have landscapes, portraits and nature scenes… but looking at these little piles of things in my studio as if they were enormous worlds in themselves is providing endless inspiration for me. For instance, this little stack reminded me of a mini-version of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I wanted to name it “Leaning Tower of Fabric” but am saving that name for a higher, more “leany” tower which I may paint tomorrow…
Today’s painting took me a bit longer than I’d hoped but it was still lots of fun. I’m new to quilting and it’s neat that without even having “quilted” this funky quilt top I made, I can immortalize it in paint.
This photo gives you an idea of how I set up my still-lives. It also gives you a better idea of the scale difference between my daily “studies” and my bigger piece, “Quilted Lake”.