Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Step #4 An Artist's Process for a Large Painting

Well, along with the 6'x9' painting I'm working on, I asked them if they'd like to have some of my students' work to brighten up the entire place.  They have 4,500 square feet of space with charcoal carpet and grey walls.  Sooo...

I had a lot of wood cut into twelve inch squares.  These they can arrange singly, in pairs, trios, or even big blocks of nine.  Kids from my three older classes are participating, so that'll mean we'll end up with 36 finished pieces.  This week I've had them sanding.  And sanding.  And sanding.  And gessoing.  One of my students said, 'This doesn't feel like art...'  I had to chuckle at that one.  Would that I was like Peter Max, having assistants stretch and prepare canvas, choose paint, trace projections, lay out brushes.... oh!  I'm dreaming!  I informed my disillusioned student and his comrades that yes, indeed, art in the making takes a lot of prep work and planning.
Speaking of prep work, this morning I went and bought a lot of paint.  I needed to get some of the squares finished to inspire my students next week.  I finished two nice squares, and painted three together to be hung as a vertical triptych.  Oh, yeah, and a really horrible one which I will either overpaint or burn.  And I will never show it to you!  Never!

They asked for my big painting to be partially abstract, and the paintings they had pulled off my blog were mostly abstract as well, so I'm going to have my kids work a lot in exploring color and follow the same tangent.  Today my son Grant and I enjoyed each other's company as we threw a lot of paint around.

Grant likes to make art with spray paint.  He makes a lot of stencils and does quite a bit of layering.  Here he is with a base coat on one of his pieces.  We make a pretty good pair as we paint, appreciate and critique each other's work.  We're both painfully honest, which helps each of us a lot.

 This photo is called 'find the purse.'  For five or six years I've had this black leather purse in my closet because I was simply tired of it.  Noting the $300.00 purses at the mall with bright designs on them, I thought, 'I can do that.'  So, I did.  Better.  Thought I'd pop it down on the tarp for a few new colors as long as we were throwing paint around.  Oh, and yeah... the watering can.  Just had to find one more thing to paint and it just happened to be sitting there.  I know, it looks like an Easter egg.  So be it.  It'll probably get another coat another time.

Yep.  Yours truly.  The painted woman.  I came to the conclusion long ago that if you spend all your time worrying about drips and splatters of paint, your artwork will come to nothing, so I come out sometimes looking pretty painted, too.  The art is first, and whatever everything else looks like, it doesn't matter.  Just come and stand next to me the next time I paint.  And hold still.

My big painting is, well, resting right now.  Tonight I was given a mission - to go purchase the wood for reinforcement.  My friend is going to come over Saturday morning and knock that out, so next week I'll finally be laying down some colors.  Can't forget all that prep work!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Artist Doors at Anadarko

The doors that myself and a small number of artists painted for Habitat for Humanity's fundraiser are still touring Montgomery County.  Here's mine with three others in the entry of Anadarko.

Last week they just moved all the doors again - this time to Wood Forest banks.  Mine is in the Wood Forest bank in Sterling Ridge, others are in banks in Spring, Conroe and other parts of The Woodlands.

They will continue their tour (these doors really get around!) and the entire event will culminate at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott, where they will be auctioned off in their big gala to benefit Habitat for Humanity. 

Step #3 An Artist's Process for a Large Painting

Hello, wonderful people.  This morning in church I had a friend approach me after our orchestra finished playing.  He told me that you should never get this type of wood wet and that I never should have wiped it with a damp rag because it reacts with the glues and makes the wood warp!  Oh, brother!  Sooo... today's work was having my guys carry the wood back inside and lay it flat.  Steve's going to come over this week to add some strength to the back to prevent warpage and also make them easier to hang.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Step #2, An Artist's Process for a Large Painting

I forgot to mention that I told them I would do this as a triptych.  With a piece this size, that just adds to stability, and otherwise it's just too unwieldy to move around, or do practically anything!  We plan on butting them up right against each other.

Okay, here's part two.  These are 3/4" panels, and you're looking at the back of them right now.  I labeled each one 'Back' with an arrow pointing which way I want up.  I chose these sides to be the back because they're the knotty ones.

Because there are oils incorporated in the process of pressing this type of wood together, I needed to seal them, or the oils would eventually work their way out and damage the painting.  So... next step - seal it with an acrylic polymer.  Step #2 - done!  Sealed.  All edges, front and back.  Aren't they lovely?

Step 1, An Artist's Process for a Large Painting

I'm going to take you through the steps that I go through to paint a large painting.  This particular painting they wanted to be six feet by nine feet, and not on canvas. 

My first steps took about a day and included purchasing and cutting the wood panels, choosing the sealant, gesso and some of the paint.

Job #1 - sanding.  Got out my biking glasses because the stuff was flying everywhere and I was feeling kind of gritty.  The electric sander also allowed me to bevel the edges just a bit so they're nicely rounded instead of that sharp 90 degree angle.

Another sanding picture - done!  Then a wash down with a damp rag to remove all the wood dust.  Time for a break!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Big Commission

I just received notice that I got commissioned to paint a painting that's 6 feet by nine feet.  Yay!  An artist's dream!  Usually we're prohibited by painting this large for a number of reasons, namely, the cost of supplies and the lack of storage or hanging space. :)

Commission Work and Paintings for Sale

By the way, I've failed to mention it, but if you see work on my blog you want, it's most likely for sale if it's not gone already.  If I've already sold it or if you want something else entirely, let me know and I'll paint it for you.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Jackson Pollock vs. The Circuitous Path We Tread Together

This is a painting I just finished.  I am asking you something important, because I do not want to mislead you in any way.  If you're going to read this post - you're going to have to read the ENTIRE post.  The explanation is at the end, and you will absolutely not understand my thrust unless you commit to read to the end.  So - either make the commitment, or stop reading right now!

First, study my painting, then read my artist's statement below.

Cindy Johnson’s Painting,
The Circuitous Path We Tread Together
February, 2013       

“This piece, which I consider my greatest masterpiece, is representative of my paintings and an expression of my interconnection with and dependency upon the cosmos.  I consider it my signature and most important work.

It represents the whole of humanity, its origins and the inter-relationship and subtle connections between species.  Barely concealed beneath the three circles of life, you will find an almost-hidden starburst, expanding ever outward, symbolizing the vast expansion of our universe.  The circles pull us back from that expansion to consider our minute selves.

Into this work I have incorporated dirt, sticks and leaves, which speak to all of nature and remind us of the organic environment in which we live and the importance of mother earth to all of us.  The almost invisible particles of dirt add a subtle texture and remind us that we are small, insignificant parts of the whole. The bright, opposing colors represent the dynamism and opposite connectivity between humans, animals and the earth itself.

If you look closely at my work, you can see colors peeking through the orange paint where it has barely concealed the surface below.  This addresses the fragility of our environment and symbolizes how easily it can be upset.  The haphazard paint marks and remaining blue circles represent man’s creation and the damage he can so easily inflict upon defenseless and fragile nature.

As your eyes are drawn through the painting, you will see almost hidden cat hairs.  These nearly invisible hairs not only are a delight to the eye, but give the painting its glorious finish.  Only the seeker will discover this rare treat, which so many impatient and unfortunate beings will miss. They succinctly symbolize the animals from which we evolved and our relationship to them, and celebrate the essence of our inter-connectivity with all of life, indeed, all matter, both organic and inorganic.  NOT!!!

This painting actually has several layers.  The first was a sunflower I painted at the gallery while teaching ten women how to paint sunflowers at a painting party they hired us for.

The second layer was a paint-over of black I did outside so I could use the canvas again.  An unfortunate wind blew a bunch of twigs and leaves onto the wet canvas.  You can still see the faint “starburst” pattern, which is the whorl of the sunflower petals.

The third layer was another paint-over of orange, because I had orange out and like orange.  I was painting something else, actually a bamboo root, and decided to cover the canvas as well.

The fourth and final layer is the blue.  I am planning a project with my Art 1 kids and needed to paint some cans blue.  Because blue and orange are complimentary, I thought I’d do it on top of the orange canvas so that I wouldn’t paint my table.

Thus, The Circuitous Path We Tread Together was born.  I think I like it!

Now, to the crux of the matter.  For my higher-grade students last week I explained how unveilings and artists' statements go.  First, I explained viewpoint and stood up higher than them, uncovering my painting, which was higher yet - awe inspiring!  Then, nose in the air, I read them my statement, bowing at the end until they applauded.

After that, I asked how many of them believed my and were swayed by anything I said.  Most of them didn't believe me, but some did admit that they thought they knew me until they heard my speech.  We discussed discerning artists' statements and art in general.  I told them that if we indeed are believers in Christ, and have invited Him in to be the center of our lives, He has given us a gift - the Holy Spirit, who helps us to discern.  We need not be swayed by grandiose speech.  We need not feel stupid because we don't understand the spoutings of authoritarians. We need not be lead to believe any number of myths simply because they are well-polished, well-marketed, and presented with force and poise.  We have the Holy Spirit within us.

This leads us to the second part of my lesson. Jackson Pollock's Lavender Mist.  Jackson Pollock was an evolutionist.  Since he believed in evolution, he thought his paintings should evolve.  So, he laid down the canvas, put up scaffolding, hung buckets with ropes, and walked around pulling the ropes, spilling the paint, or just throwing the paint down. So, they evolved.
Here's where the questions arise.  Jackson Pollock, did your paintings evolve?  Who laid the canvas? Where did the colors of paint come from?  How did they get from bucket to canvas?  How is it that the paint spills are uniform, with a nice balance of paint and space?  A balance of color?  Are you leading me to believe that perhaps your studio exploded and these paintings came into existence?   Hmmmm....

Inevitably, one of my students will come to the conclusion that "Hey, he had to choose the paint!"  "Mrs. Johnson, he had to spill the paint and choose the colors..."  Turns out that yes, indeed, Mr. Pollock, you created them yourself.  You were the creator.  How about that.

Here is  Lavender Mist in all its glory.  Personally, Mr. Pollock, I like The Circuitous Path We Tread Together better.  

I'd love to hear from you guys to know which painting you prefer!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

My Eiffel Tower and Favorite Artists

Presenting.... la tour d'Eiffel!  I just finished this one last night, and, as usual - bright colors.

With this method of painting, I incorporated work with a big, 2" flat brush for the background, laying down two layers of pure color, one right over the top of the other, so the hues could glow right through each other. 

After a couple days' drying time, I drew in the Eiffel Tower (lightly, in yellow, students).  After that, I laid down the glues and greens of the Tower with a liner brush.  All of the background I painted with my fingers and hands.  It's a very rewarding way to paint, and I think leaves some nice effects. I also left my fingerprints in many places, so if anybody kidnaps me, you can always find my fingerprints in my paintings!

It was Matisse that talked about always being surprised when artists muddied the colors and preferred bright, unsullied color.  If I had to identify with any artist's color strategy, it would likely be Matisse.  I do really enjoy his work, and consider his "Woman in the Purple Coat," which our museum owns, actually partially mine.

Which brings me to consider... who are my favorite artists?  Okay...
Van Gogh - color - wonderful painterly style
Maxfield Parrish - glowing, lush paintings
Monet - shimmering, color
Bouguereau - unbelievable talent and perfection
Rembrandt - easily recognizable gorgeous work, all.
Tiffany (can I include stained glass?  yes.) layered colors of glory
Gustave Dore - incredible detail and mastery of, well, anything he touches
da Vinci - good at pretty much everything he does, yet unsatisfied with himself.  Didn't leave much, but what he left is breathtaking.  As an artist and a person, I identify most closely to da Vinci. 
Michelangelo - incredible bodies
Love M. C . Escher- fun, cerebral work

It will be difficult to name the top three - Parrish, Bouguereau and Monet, I guess.  Or I could say, 'whomever's art is in front of me at the moment.'

contemporary artists:
Janet Fish - oh, the colors!  They never end!  I never tire of looking at her gems!
Dale Chihuly - glowing, flowing color in glass.  Like a volcano of continually-erupting beauty.

I digress. 

Habitat for Humanity Artists' Doors

This week we had a wonderful evening at Habitat for Humanity's kickoff for their 'Doors to the Future' project.

It was a very special evening honoring many of those who had worked for this project, including the artists.

This picture shows us, the artists, in front of only three of the doors.  Some of the doors aren't quite done yet, and they're still kind of scattered abroad. There are twelve doors in all.

Habitat plans to tour the doors around the county in public places for two months.  Their final resting place will be at the Marriott Waterway, where there will be a big gala.  At that gala, they'll be auctioning off our doors to help raise money for the cause.

So far, it's been a fun and rewarding cause with which to be involved.

Villa Sport Art Sale

 These are pictures from a recent art sale we had.  Me, friends and fellow artists.