Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thank You for Believing in Me

When you add one of my drawings, paintings, or prints for your collection, or commission a portrait, you are not just buying a piece of my work.  You are saying to me "I believe in your talent, and your potential".  Your purchase does not just cover the cost of producing that particular piece, but helps support my studio space, telling me "Go! Create more!"  Every purchase, big or small, also helps support another aspect of growing as an artist: entering juried exhibitions. Entering shows are costly, but to be selected as a finalist could mean incredible exposure for my work.  

So...Thank You.  Thank you for every kind word on my blog, every link you have share on FB, every RT on Twitter, every post you StumbleUpon, every purchase you have made, because your belief in me, and my Work, is what I am truly Thankful For.

Happy Thanksgiving :)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Capturing the Conversation on Canvas

A few weeks back I worked with a new (to me) model, (E.) and thought she was fantastic.  She had wonderful gesture poses and great stage presence - she reminded me a lot of one of my other favorite models (C.).  In fact half way thru out modeling session I started thinking "I have to get E. and C. together!"

So I scheduled both of these lovely ladies for a special Sunday afternoon modeling session.  I had in my mind that I wanted them in some light slip dresses, so I brought in two with similar colors, but not too "matchy".  After a few 5 minute warm-up poses, they settled into this conversational pose on the couch.

I was painting over an old painting - which I love doing because there's already some color and texture on the surface to play with.

I tried to keep it loose and blocked in the larges shapes of light and shadow, focusing on getting the right proportions and relationship between the two girls.

After blocking in some cool grays and dark browns, I moved into fleshy oranges.

The light changed a little as the afternoon went on, but luckily it was an overcast day and there wasn't a strong window light that dramatically moved across the room.

I'm very happy with the pose - the two girls were chatting the entire time, so the painting captured that energy - they were amazing at holding the pose but also engaging with each other - and I think that translated onto the canvas.  The model on the left feels like she is just sitting down, not stagnant and posed.

While there are some color adjustments to be made, I don't want to get much tighter with this piece.  I love the atmosphere and painterly quality.  I will post the final result...soon? we'll see!

Watercolor Figure Drawings from the Live Model

New watercolor sketches from our last Wednesday evening figure drawing group.  I was working on Wallis paper, which is lightly sanded, but also primed so it can accept washes of watercolor - up to a limit. (The paper is also a light creamy color...the photos came out a bit cool) If it becomes to wet the surface will start to crumble (in my experience).  For these two drawings I used watercolor pencil, one color at a time, and lightly brushed the lines with a damp flat brush.

The palette below is a little different for me - I tend to use brighter colors, but this time I used a steel blue (almost a silver) followed by yellow ochre and then a dark brown.  I like the warmth the classic feel of the colors.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Flourless Almond and Chocolate Chip Cookies

I got to spoil my younger brother for a few weeks while he was in town for some job training.  By spoil - I mean cook lots and lots of yummy gluten-free meals.  With vegetables - LOTS of vegetables.  Which spoiled me because no one in my household eats veggies except for me.

Anyway.  Thanks to the discovery of Almond Meal at Trader Joe's and the need to cook Gluten free deserts, I came across this great recipe for Flourless Chocolate Chip cookies.

The recipe was super easy to try, and not too threatening - you are only making a dozen cookies, so experimenting is easy to do.

The first batch was very good - and made according to the recipe.  They were especially good right after they cooled off.  Which is another plus - make a quick batch right before dinner for a warm, delicious desert.

The next time I tried the recipe I added 1 tbs of flax seed.  This made the cookies a little puffier and added the benefits of ground flax seed.  Very yummy.

I had a full 6 weeks to feed my brother so I tried the recipe a couple more times, and after reading the notes on the original blog I followed one of the suggestions in the comments - add 1 cup of coconut.  This was so good and nearly doubled the yield of cookies.  The sweetness of the coconut and texture balanced very nicely with the almond meal.

1 cup almond meal
14 cup sugar
12 tsp baking soda
Variations: Add 1 tbs ground flax seed, and/or 1 cup coconut
1 Preheat oven to 350 and grease 1 cookie sheet.
2 Stir together almond meal, sugar (I use 1/4 cup loosely packed brown sugar) and baking soda in a large bowl.
3 Add beaten egg, chocolate chips and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
4 Place dough balls one inch apart on cookie sheet . You should be able to fit all 15 on the single cookie sheet.
5 Bake until puffed and golden, about 10 minutes.
6 Cool cookies on baking sheet about 2 minutes and then transfer to paper towels or rack to cool.
7 Note: I personally avoid artificial sweeteners, so I don't know how they would taste made with splenda.
14 cup chocolate chips (mini chips work)
1 tsp vanilla extract

I have no cookie pictures so I'll just show you my Brand New Nephew!

Isn't he cute :) Just born yesterday!  I can't wait to meet him...and make him and his daddy some Almond cookies.

Friday, November 11, 2011

New Watercolor Figure Paintings

My favorite night of the week is Wednesday, when I get to draw and paint from the live model.  But really, it has become much more than just a night to draw.  The artists who participate in these weekly sessions are truly kind and generous people, who form a diverse group of artists of a variety of skill levels and styles.  And among all of this, there is no competition, pressure, or inclination to be anything but Who You Are.  It thrills me to see such a broad range of interpretation when it comes to drawing the live model - precise and tight, loose and quick, abstract and gutsy.  And it's not just me who thinks this.  So many of the wonderful models that work with us remark about how enjoyable it is to work with our group - the camaraderie is palpable, but they are also there to work, which makes it so successful.  It's not just a drawing group anymore - it's a circle of friends.

But I have been really slacking with showing you my weekly drawings!  So in an attempt to get back on track, a few of my sketches from this past Wednesday...

A 25 minute watercolor on Wallis paper (using watercolor pencil and softening the lines with a damp brush)

We have worked with this lovely model several times in the past but this was our first time where she had this adorable pixie haircut.  I am now wondering if I should chop my hair - she looked so cute!

Also on Wallis paper, I started with a watercolor wash then added layers of pastel on top.  

I didn't want to over-work the pastel, so for the last 20 minutes of the pose I worked on another watercolor on Wallis, using a red watercolor pencil and a damp brush to soften the lines.   It's tricky to know what to define and what to leave loose - I added and subtracted information from her face several times.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Forced to look at myself

My 36th birthday is approaching way too quickly.  This year keeps pressing upon me like some terrible deadline.  Even my clocks are against me - it seems like I'm always catching "11:21" on the clock, it's way of saying "You can't escape it!"

I'm totally steeped in self-evaluation lately.  Partly because I have just finished this self-portrait in oil.

And partly because I am having to justify keeping my studio space.  No one is asking me to give it up - DH is totally supportive, my studio partner and I are totally sympatico - but my sales on-line have slowed down and I am having a difficult time allowing myself to see myself as being worthy of this beautiful space.

I think part of the problem is that I have a difficult time accepting my self-worth, as an Artist and as a teacher. I have always had this problem.  It mostly manifests itself in my pricing.  I am constantly hearing from other artists "you are pricing your work too low!  Do you know how much other artist's are charging for custom portrait work? For original paintings?!?"  

And in some ways they are right.  I found some of my portrait pricing lists from years ago - almost a decade - and I am not charging much more now than I did way back then.  And I KNOW my work has improved.  I KNOW that my work is worth more, because of the finished product and the years of study and practice that have gone into making a great portrait.

But here's where it gets tricky. Every time I feel like "I'm worth it", something else, or someone else, steps up to tell me otherwise.  When I got a nice present from my mother as a child, which was rare because there were six of us, I would often be made fun of by my older sibling, especially in front of other people  - "Oh my GAWD is she spoiled or WHAT?"  And I would sit there and think to myself "I get straight A's, cook dinner and clean all the time, and I pay for all my own stuff all the buys me one present and I'm spoiled?"  

I can't bring myself to buy a single article of clothing that isn't marked down 75% off...who am I to spend money like that on clothes?  The guilt that I feel with spending money is almost as great as when I get paid for my work.  Guilt.  I feel badly taking money, I feel even worse spending money.  I get physically sick when I go shopping.  Even to the grocery store.

There are things that I am certain of.  I am a much calmer, happier mom right now with my studio being out of the house.  To be able to work on my art and not be thinking about the sink full of dishes or the dirty laundry has mentally put me in a better place.

I am a good teacher.  I know what I'm doing.  I know how to verbalize instructions and how to fix a painting or drawing.  I love watching students accomplish new things - it brings me great joy.

I know I am a capable Artist.  I know I can accomplish great things.  

But this inner conflict has been plaguing me all year.  One sibling called me spoiled again, in a very public way, and I can't get past it.  I have gotten to the point where I barely even speak around my family, for fear that they will think I'm spoiled for talking about myself.  I fear that every time I open my mouth it will only be to provide them with another opportunity to attack me.  

So where do I go from here?  I'm committing to another 6 months in my studio - that's already a certainty, I can pay that right now.  But in order for me to stay in that space, I need to accept my own self-worth and evaluate everything - from the prices of my custom portraits to the cost of lessons.  If I can't make the money on my own to keep the space, then I don't want to stay there...I don't want to be spoiled. 

I had a visitor to my studio over the weekend, and when she walked up to my self portrait she said "You are very self aware".  Let's hope that can translate into self-worth as well.