Friday, March 22, 2019

A New Blog

I used to blog a lot. I had two other popular blogs back in the day and I eventually shut them down. Thinking it over, I think it really did have a lot to do with Facebook. When I finally did join, 10 years ago, I felt like I was crossing a line I had been fighting for a long time... but everyone was vanishing!

It's hard to remember, but Facebook used to be about people. Actual people posted about their days and what was going on, and it was interesting to check in with folks and say "Hi! Me too!" or whatnot. Then Facebook lost it's ever-loving marbles and turned into an advertising machine. More, memes and political posts became how people chose to check in with one another.

People stopped talking to each other, or about themselves.

Facebook became funny cats and anti-whatevers jammed in between ads all over the place. I don't know how you all feel, but when I go on Facebook now I feel like I'm walking down the Vegas Strip. Everyone is selling something, stuff is flashing in your face, you can't hear the person you're with because everyone is talking - not even caring if anyone else is listening. Ugh.

I miss the days of blogging.

I went out there and looked around in the blogosphere and it is pretty quiet. The majority of blogs out there are about business and marketing, or trying to become mini-Buzzfeeds. The people are missing. *sigh* Remember people? Even the art bloggers have slowly drifted off.

I drifted for a bit too.

Well, it turns out I wasn't the only one feeling this way. A resurgence has started to trickle in with people starting back up blogs (or starting new ones.) I decided to join in, and while I will still have this as my primary art blog, for more general content about life and other things I will be here: http://lifeartchocolate.com (it redirects to https://lifechocolate.art.blog/ if that one doesn't work. Still working out the kinks with this.) I'll touch briefly on art there, but mostly it'll be about my life and thoughts. NO business, selling, opinions masquerading as a news story, etc.

Just me.

So if you're interested, I'm over there now too with the intention to post at least once a week.

And now, back to my regularly scheduled programming! I sat with a blank canvas a couple days ago, wanting to just play. I didn't know how it would go - maybe abstract? But I ended up with this:

"Winter Still", 8x10, acrylic on canvas panel. Available

It's interesting that no direction led me back to something that is far closer to my old style. Hmm. Still, it was nice to finish another piece!

Hope everyone else is up to all sorts of creative things!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Art of LIAFCOL

Not every sketch, canvas, idea deserves the same amount of time in your studio. Yet, when you work professionally in the arts, I think here is a sort of pressure to make every moment count. A sketch? Well, hopefully you're using it as a study or set-up for the next piece you're doing (and maybe someone will want to even buy the concept sketch.) A painting study? Well, could you work a bit longer on it and make it better, more finished (I know it's just a study, but... shouldn't you?)

No. You shouldn't. *I* shouldn't.

But getting my brain wrapped around that fact is incredibly hard for some reason.

I used to think it was because I sell my work, file business taxes, marketing, etc. I'm a full on business (I know people think artists just sit around and create and that's all there is to it, but that's only a part of the business - with BUSINESS being the much harder part of the equation!) I have a business degree, and I actually use it. However, while having that business sense and know-how is helpful, I think it also brings along a sense of obligation to every stroke of my brush. All activity should be in the pursuit of finished product.

And that's just wrong. Not to mention, it's unfair to me as an artist!

With the commissions cleared from my schedule and shows pared down to the bare minimum, I've been able to play with different subject matter and techniques. I'm happy about that, but I'm also trying hard to do better with the art of LIAFCOL! (That's "Leave it ALONE, for Crying Out Loud!!!)

Not every piece should be "done". Not every painting will be sell-worthy, and shouldn't be because that shouldn't be the goal of every painting. Painting as a business has an obligation to sell, but painting as a complete business has an obligation for the artist (supplier) to grow and develop.

We do not learn by doing everything perfectly.

We learn by making mistakes, or half attempts, or just trying one little thing and getting it right (or wrong, and wrong again, and wrong AGAIN! Then right somehow... maybe) so we can add it to our toolboxes and use it on a piece that will be "product" one day.

But I haven't been letting myself do that. I see every canvas as a challenge to finish it, and finish it correctly. How shortsighted and silly of me, really! Or really, not silly enough. I need more silly, more relaxed, more "huh, tried that... didn't work out... moving on!" in my art-life.

So along with exercise, my goal is to work more on LIAFCOL this year!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Chocolate and Wonderland and On!

I had to go and check my blog to see what I had and hadn't posted, and found that I just hadn't posted. UGH! Well, I have actually gotten some art done, so let me hit that right now!

The first painting I completed for 2019 is one that I had been dragging my heels on for a while. I have been wanting to close out Alice for a long time, but I had a special collector who wanted two last pieces done. The biggie is Queen Alice:

Queen Alice, 18x24, acrylic on stretched canvas. (sold)
 And then a small little piece for her collection of the drink and cakes from Wonderland. Forgive the photo, I only snapped this one with my phone - I don't know why I didn't get a proper scan - but perhaps it was because I knew I wasn't going to offer prints of it or anything, and it was just quickly on its way to its owner:

Drink me/Eat me, 8x10, acrylic on stretched canvas
 The reason I found this one so hard was because in order for it to fit the collection, I needed to paint in my old style. But artists evolve, and I definitely have. Here is most of the Alice series I did (missing only a couple little pieces):


 My figures changed, my colors changed, etc. I didn't realize how MUCH until I was working on Queen Alice, and I just found it so hard to switch back. Still, I was happy to complete this series and leave Alice behind!

My next deadline was for a group show and the theme was "children's story reimagined". I chose the 12 Dancing Princesses. My take on it was that the princesses were often portrayed as unfeeling and awful creatures delighting in tricking everyone while they danced the night away. BUT... how happy and delighted would YOU be to be forced to dance every night, ALL night, until you had worn clean through your brand new dancing shoes?

People, there is no amount of coffee in the world that would help that situation. So, I painted five of them (because 12 in one painting looks more like a pile-up at a football game) quite exhausted, in the underground jeweled forest:


"After the Dance" 14x18, acrylic on stretched canvas. (sold, prints available)

I think it's clear that my Alice painting mind-set had a bit of influence over this piece. Somewhere in between my old style and my current one.
I then was free of obligations, having said no to commissions and such so I could clear the decks, my mind, whatever else, and just PAINT for a while. It was around Valentine's Day, so I painted some small chocolates:


"Chocolates and Strawberries" 4x6 inches, acrylic on canvas panel. Available

"Truffles" 4x6 inches, acrylic on canvas panel. Available

I knew from years past that I enjoy painting chocolate. It's so easy to make them look real (when they're square. The truffles were a nightmare.) However, I had such awful cravings! I ate boxes and boxes of strawberries after the top one. I also went out and bought a ton of clearance Valentine's Day chocolate to take my own reference photos (these were referenced from Pixabay.)

Do you know what multiple pounds of chocolate smells like under studio lights when you're snapping pictures? I think I gained five pounds just because of the aroma. Good grief!

Yeah, and then I ate them. *head*desk* Not helping me lose the 20lbs I have gained since I moved back to Vermont! Although, I feel like I could kinda get away with the strawberries. They're healthy! Oh sure, I know, I know... moderation is the key. *dramatic sigh*

I really liked painting the chocolates, and I have good reference photos, but I realized I'm kind of in the mood to do more still-lifes, so I bought some other produce and used some left over wine, and snapped a bunch of photos I plan on using soon as well. I've been thinking about that though.

While I am enjoying doing basic still-life paintings, I want to add a few elements that make them more *me*, and not just any old still-life. If you have any suggestions, let me know! At the moment, I'm contemplating small animals (Duckling? Bunny? I thought of a mouse, but people get freaked out by mice by food, so maybe not. Chipmunk, maybe?)

Lastly, this week I finished this piece:

"Tempus" 11x14, acrylic on gallery deep wooden panel
I started this piece while staying in a hotel room during a family crisis a year ago. I set it aside and occasionally worked on it, but I never had a good vision with it. Over the last week, I picked it back up again and finally settled on this. It's strange that I finished it a year later, and being able to reflect on my life then and now. I won't say everything is better, because it's not. Life is forever changed.

But I'm here. Time did pass. Things have changed. And that means something!

Moving forward, I'm hoping to start producing more. But then, that's always my goal! PAINT FASTER!!! And better. Always trying to improve my techniques! I need to switch back over into my oils, but I think I've been waiting on the warmer weather so I can have the windows open.

Oh, lastly, I turned 44 in February.


That's me, on my birthday, just like I do every year. Next year, if life is good to me and my family and they're healthy and I am too, I should be an "empty nester". It'll be an interesting phase in my life! Gotta get there first, though!

Off to paint! I think I'm in the mood for landscape experimentation at the moment!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Hello 2019!

I have to admit that I sat down to write out a post several times over the past months, and I just couldn't do it. I think part of the reason behind that was that every time I posted, something else would go wildly wrong, and it all just became too overwhelming.

I think a lot of people had a rough, or even awful 2018. I didn't see any posts on social media expressing how much they didn't want to see 2018 go, and rather it was a lot more "don't let the door hit you on the way out, 2018!"

As always, I use the end of the year to review. Some years, I feel pretty good about my year even with the knocks. This year, like so many other people, I was just over it.

At the tail end of the year, I tried to knock out some challenge paintings... that I then went and got too complicated with and only managed two of the 12 I should have done. One is a raccoon, and even though the prompt was "cookie", I'm pretty sure I channeled my own issues which led to me gaining 15 lbs since I moved back to Vermont...


"MY Cookie" 6x8 inches, acrylic on canvas panel (available)
Do you see it? I totally see it.

Man, I wish my pants fit right now. I'm trying to tell myself that making my jeans tight just made them into compression stockings... right? *sigh* I need a button that let's me zip my mouth shut. I still haven't hopped back onto the healthy eating train either. I was going to, I totally was going to! And then I tried to give up coffee, my son blew out his knee trying yoga with me, and... cookie.

The other painting prompt was "Ribbon":

Red Ribbon, 5x7 inches, acrylic on canvas panel, Available

Earlier, I got this one done for a deadline that I actually missed... but I liked him so much I had to finish him anyway. He's my "Twitterphant"!

"Twitterphant" 5x7 inches, acrylic on canvas panel, Available

And then lastly, working with Thrice Fiction, I was given a story by someone I think Christmas doesn't bring good feelings for (that's putting it mildly.) I'm a holiday freak, as I'm sure you all know, so this was actually a challenge. I read the story to my kids and we came up with a zombie hand, but festive-style!


Zombie Christmas Tree, 5x7, Acrylic... my son is thinking of keeping it
I have to say I LOVE painting twinkle lights. There's something about being able to use paint to make you think something is glowing in real life. It's funny, because it's just paint... but your brain says "those are lights, and they are on" - I've never been able to paint a candle with the same effect, but I have seen it in some paintings and always marveled over it. I CAN pull it off with twinkle lights, though! HA! (Mental note: practice painting more candles this year.)

I'm kicking myself for missing the holiday season and having a reason to paint twinkle lights. Maybe Christmas 2019 will let me go wild with the lights in all the paintings! Here's hoping I get a chance to actually get a shot at that!

As always, I put together my painting quilt. This is EVERY single painting of 2019. I wish I had done more, but the ones I did, not so bad! My color choices continued to shift to more earthy (natural) tones, and I'm really enjoying that.



I have goals for 2019... not the least of which is to fit into my clothing again. I know, I know... no cookie. Sigh. 

I plan on painting. As always, that is my goal. My hope is to rebuild and bulk up my portfolio and start laying down artistic roots once again now that I am back in Vermont and it really feels like home. This year has the potential to yield big and wonderful things, and I truly hope that is what is actually in store for me.

I really hope you all had a decent 2018, but if not, at least it's over. I hope 2019 is a great year for everyone!