I know it's not actually Autumn yet, but school has started and that means Fall to me! The kids went back to school this week, and I finally had the house to myself on Friday. It was a stressful whirlwind winding up with back to school shopping and stress about my youngest starting Junior High (I can't believe my youngest is in Junior High and my oldest is a Sophomore in High School. How did that happen? I still feel like I'm 16 inside my head.)
Once Friday rolled around, I wasn't sure if I'd be able to get into the studio as I was hoping. I always have problems with that transition from hazy, lazy days of Summer to scheduled and busy Autumn. I spent some time bulk baking healthy meals - which I should take this time to say I have been doing much better with my nutrition and fitness, and have managed to shed six pounds over the past four weeks... Only 38 lbs left to go. *sigh* It'll happen. Just, grr. And for the record, I actually am a certified personal trainer too (long story), so I actually know what I'm doing. It doesn't mean I don't think ice cream is the most amazing food ever, and have my own issues though. Knowing what I need to know only serves to make me feel more guilty when I don't make the right choices. Go figure! But for the last four weeks, I've been doing very well! I mention the weight loss because it actually impacts my art. Mostly because I eat out of anxiety about my art, if you can believe it.
I get all wound up in the details, worried over not being good enough, not spending my time wisely, etc. Suddenly, I think eating something I shouldn't (usually chocolate) sounds like a good, and soothing idea. Once I munch on junk, I can suddenly face my easel once again. Yes, I'm aware that's an irrational behavior pattern. I can't explain it. Food is my soother, and it actually worked (even though it resulted in unhappy side effects.) So, given that, it's a good thing I've got it back under control and I'm losing weight again.
Once upon a time, I used to be over 230 lbs (this was in the first year of my marriage, before kids, and so on.) I learned a lot over the years to get healthy (and lost all the weight), and I still am. I've even run a marathon, and several half-marathons.
However, in the past year I have gained steadily. I'm over behaving like that, and I'm back on track. Part of the process is about learning how to get down to business in my studio without relying on food as a crutch (no matter how irrational that sounds, it really is a hurdle for me.) I went into a tailspin for over a year, and I'm not sure why. I'm pulling out of that tailspin, and again I'm not sure why. I'm just really grateful I'm finally pulling out of it!
Even though I thought I would accomplish nothing this week with everything going on, I closed out Friday working on my Queen of Hearts canvas. I'm a freehand artist, and I don't like plotting out the composition beforehand. I rather like working through it, building it as I see it in my head or piece by piece making it all fit together.
I started with my main subject, my evil Queen of Hearts (although I really think of her as the Red Queen, maybe simply because it's easier to say?) on a 16x20 stretched canvas, fine tooth:
I really like the idea of the flamingos being loyal to my Red Queen. Why else would they stick around, when we all know flamingos can fly away? And really, they are a rather bizarre bird. The more photographs I study, the creepier their faces are to me.
Then I realized that I really wanted the White Rabbit to be in this painting too. After all, he is one of her loyal subjects that she relies upon. I already finished his big painting a long time ago (which you can see here, including a time-lapse video of my painting him.)
I decided he should be hiding out in the garden behind the queen. He is a bit nervous, after all. I was amazed at how fast and easy it was to sketch him out. Considering every element in this new painting, the white rabbit was the fastest and easiest to draw. Developing him as a character really did help, and it was a relief to see that recreating the character was not a problem at all. I've been told I should look at illustrating children's books, but I don't know anything about getting into that field, and I also worried about recreating the same characters for a book repeatedly. I now know without a doubt it would be incredibly easy for me - something I had always been pessimistic about. Of course, I still have no idea how to get into that field, but at least my own personal insecurities have been laid to rest on that front.
Lastly, I built up the garden. Now, because I paint a bit on the fly, I only plot out where I want basic elements to go. The main focus of my painting I sketch out in detail because I need the structure (faces, main characters), but many of the elements are left more to the organic flow of the painting when I create.
I sketched in some roses on the garden rose hedge arch that frames the entire piece, but I stopped because that's one of the organic parts that will flow as I come to it (probably as the last element of the painting, as I tend to work from back to front.) What appears to be a horizon line is actually a standing rose hedge line. In both rode hedge cases, they will be white-painted-red roses with the emphasis on the detail in the arch.
Everything will have a bright a floral tilt, but I decided that the flowers wouldn't dare have tea behind the queen's back. So, it'll simply be more of a pretty English garden. I have a couple hedgehogs hiding out as well. I thought about including some card henchmen, but while I tried to experiment with the concept of card guards, they came out far more cartoon than I would like. I simply don't have a good grasp of how I'd like them to look without flashbacks of Disney card bridges coming to mind, and I don't feel like taking my cues from them. I adore Disney, but I want to find my own way with these characters.
So, my sketching of my Red Queen is done! I get to finally start painting her this coming week and I'm excited!
If you are on holiday this weekend (it's Labor Day weekend here in the US) I hope you enjoy your time off. If you are just on a normal schedule, I hope it's a lovely weekend as well! I'm taking the weekend off, determined to run my studio more like a normal business now that the kids are in school. I don't have to strive to steal every minute I can here and there.
Today we went to a local nursery and bought shrubs for our landscaping. Unfortunately, after we had paid for our shrubs, someone stole one before we could get them loaded. I was really surprised, because we live in the boonies. I'd like to think it was just a mistake, but it doesn't look that way. Shrub-theft, who would have thought? Luckily we received a replacement! So, I'll be digging holes this weekend, and the back to painting on Tuesday!