As I mentioned before, I’ve begun a new fixation with pears. They have shown up in some my paintings over the past couple of years, but this time they’re the main attraction. I’ve been buying pears each time I go to the grocery store, and then I’ll come home and set them up on my kitchen table. I’ll draw directly from observation, as well as take a ton of digital photos. These photos were the source for this new set of drawings. I took some photos during the day, and some at night, trying to create the right groupings, lighting and composition.
As much of my other work, these explore family relationships. However, instead of using people, I put pears as stand-ins for myself and others. (The titles give a clue to what’s going on in each composition). It’s funny that even my kids know which pear specifically represents them without me telling them. Now I have dozens (maybe hundreds) of new reference photos, with all kinds of “people” in them, so there’s no telling how many drawings and paintings I’ll do in this series.
Through this process, I’ve discovered a renewed interest in drawing, specifically in charcoal. I enjoy working really loose, and gradually building up rich, dark values. Working in monochrome has been liberating, as I don’t have to worry about color. It has been a good diversion from painting. As I started back on some of my paintings today, I had a fresher outlook. I found that my mind had shifted into a different kind of art-making, and helped me get back to painting with a new perspective. Plus I think I came out with some interesting drawings, and I’m inspired to do even more.
I had a lot of fun playing around with a new media today. Since I’ve noticed a lot of pears showing up in my work, I bought a bunch of fresh pears at the grocery store last night. I thought it might inspire me. Add the pears with several brand new bottles of brightly colored ink that have been awaiting the right day, and the inspiration was born!
Here’s one of the first sketches I made with charcoal. I added color with the ink, diluting it like watercolor. Once it was dry, I used oil pastels, and later chalk pastels to outline, highlight, shade and add definition.
After doing a few of these, I started to loosen up a bit. I kept the washes pretty light and loose, adding salt for texture. Here are some of the looser ones.
I have to include these two (below) because they made me laugh. Some of the ink took quite a long time to dry, and when I moved the paper, the ink ran. I knew that would happen, but I just wanted to play around and see what came of it. The pears grew appendages.
When my daughter got home from school, she saw my “models” (to use her terminology) on the table. She, too, thought they looked a lot like people. She had an acorn and put it on the stem of one of the pears, telling me to make it look like a head. So here’s the result of our creative collaboration.
These are all relatively small, done on 9 x 12″ watercolor paper.
It has finally cooled off here– no more 100 degree heat. The mornings are a little chilly, and the afternoons are warm with a cool breeze. Amazing what that can do for your outlook. Perfect weather to make some art!
Within the past few weeks, I’ve completed about two dozen new works of art, from tiny 4 x 4″ works, to larger paintings and mixed media pieces. Some of them I started several months ago, and others I started and finished within a couple of days. I wanted to share a couple of the “before” and “after” pics with you.
Here’s a photo of some ‘works-in-progress’ that I posted on my Facebook page back in July. I had been having fun layering paint, spraying the wet paint and watching it run. I didn’t really know where I was going with these paintings, but I like to work on top of a layered background anyway, so at least I had a starting point.
And here’s how they ended up–
This painting, “Home” started out as the painting on the far left (above). As you can see, not much of the original underpainting is left, and the canvas was turned horizontally rather than vertically. The layered underpainting did help create a jumping off point. I started scraping layers of paint on top of it, and added layers of glazes for depth. I was encouraged by my friend Robyn to do a larger version of ‘Home,’ as the first one was just 6 x 12.” So this canvas seemed to be a good fit.I changed up the colors a bit, but I’m really pleased with how it came out.
This one started out as the painting in the center (top photo). Again, not much of the original layers are showing. I absolutely love the deep turquoise blue. I don’t think the photo shows the colors very well — I may have to get one of my professional photo friends to help me out with a better shot. It’s got a nice, glossy varnish on top that brings out the juicy colors. I did a little writing in charcoal between the layers of paint, and that’s where this painting gets it’s title, “Give Yourself Freedom.” I think I was listening to a Tivo’d episode of Oprah late one night, and got inspired by that phrase, which struck a chord with me, because I think much of what holds me back is not restrictions given by anyone else but myself. Just in case you can’t tell, the white spot on the canvas is actually a keyboard piece that says ‘enter.’
As far as the third painting from the studio shot (the one with the figure in the top photo), it’s still a work in progress. I think I’ve almost worked it to death. We’ll see if it survives or gets reincarnated.
(Update: The third painting did, in fact, get reincarnated – only the bird survived. It is now “The Progression of Things.”
So, as I briefly mentioned in my last post, I’ve started playing around with text a little bit more in my work. I’ve already been using text for a while, but mostly through collage only. I recently came across some old keyboards and thought some of the keys might make some interesting additions to my work.
The above image is a piece of art that I just finished, titled “Home.” I’ve had it in the works for a while, layering on color and washes, creating texture and depth. I thought it looked like a landscape or seascape, until I added the pears (a symbol I’ve used in other works). Suddenly it became a still life. The pears are collaged from wallpaper (another domestic reference), but I painted on top of them so much, you can’t see much of the original. I found the perfect text for this one: “Home.” I even left the key messy with paint, to reflect my lived-in, imperfect, but creative home. I’m trying to remind myself that it’s ok if things aren’t perfect, that just makes them more interesting.
The computer keys are a fun element to add into my work, adding a little bit of three-diminsionality, but also contributing to the meaning of the art. Here’s a tiny work that I did recently, only 4 x 4″, titled “Down.” A reminder to sit down and enjoy life once in a while. Breathe.