Thursday, January 31, 2013

On the Path

January is coming to a close today, and I feel like it's the beginning of a huge kick-off for me. Likely, I would have felt this way if I had gotten my act together and sketched out my goals and broken them down in December like I was supposed to!

With February starting tomorrow, that brings with it the need to complete two abstract works, one Alice series work, and two paintings for my calendar I am planning to release for 2014. After thinking it over, and my recent leanings towards fairies, I think I am going to combine my 6-8 fairy painting goal with my calendar and do 12 fairies instead for it. It actually reduces the painting goal I set for me to produce this year, but I think it may very well lead to more.

I've been drawn (pun intended) to fairy and fantasy work since I was in high school, but I always sort of played with it in the background. After doing some research, I realize that there is interest in this sort of thing, and since I enjoy it, I'm going to allow myself to play with the idea of doing a lot more with the fantasy realm in general. I am still a series worker, but I'm already committed (happily) to doing the fairytale series, and preferably only one per year. Last year got muddled and Alice ended up extending over this year as well, but I believe I'll be able to finish it out and then keep it to one fairytale per year in a complete series for that aspect of my work.

The fairies and mermaids and such are just fun right now. But they're fun with possibly a point, and I'm going to explore that now! As a matter of fact, today my goal it to sketch out a new, larger watercolor of a fairy and her peacock that I wanted to do since I started on that commission from my last post. I'm very excited to finally be getting to it, and if it turns out, it will be one of the pages in my calendar! I'm hoping to have the sketch to share with you tomorrow, and I'm actually going to start sharing in  progress pictures too.

It's a dark, rainy, windy day here and I fully intent to spend it with my pencils and watercolors!

In other news, I finished the contest winner's little 5x7 custom painting:

Little Path, 5x7 Acrylic on canvas panel
The request was a red headed boy from behind (approximately seven years old) running into an enchanted forest. I admit, I had to think that one over for a while, because my head just couldn't come up with anything. Finally, I just sketched out the boy running, and laid in whatever came to mind after that. I was worried that the effect was jumbled (owed to the lack of planning on my part and just randomly putting things in) but I think it works. I was a little worried it was too "girly" but hopefully it turned out OK. It's missing my swirls, but they just didn't seem to fit anywhere in the painting. Maybe boys just don't have swirls, and that would have put it way into girl-territory?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Of A Feather

I finished my commission piece, and I have to say that while I started out rather ambivalent about it, by the end I was happy with it!

"Flight" Acrylic, 8x10 on stretched canvas. Original sold, prints available here.

The fairy took a great deal less time than I thought. I really was surprised at how quickly it went, once the bird was painted. It was all those feathers that got me initially. Sometimes I get a little too caught in the details and trying to put in fine lines in a smaller piece like this one, when I need to let go and let there be a suggestion of the lines. They don't have to exist, if the brain will fill it in for us.

Also, it took a while to reconcile the wings. Peacocks are just incredibly lovely birds with the most amazing tail-feathers in probably all of the animal kingdom... who knew their wings were UGLY!? I went through photo after photo completely shocked that this sapphire gem of a bird is hiding these rather dowdy feathers. No wonder they don't fly very often! It must really prick their egos to know they aren't perfect all over! I spiced them up with iridescent bronze, copper, and gold. It helped. Now it's not so dowdy.

I was happy with the mood too. I was going for, sort of an urgent, they're going somewhere, sort of thing. Maybe even running, and that's why she's looking behind her. It just sort of fell that way, I didn't plan it, but it's what I have been feeling lately on a personal level, so it makes sense that it would show up in my sketch I suppose!

I believe this year will have several fairies in it. I want them to be a bit bigger and more the focus though, and I'll likely explore that in watercolors to start with as well. But that will have to wait, because I have the contest winner's painting up next, as well as starting in on the Caterpillar for my Alice in Wonderland Series. February is going to be a big month with lots of paintings!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Finally, Goals

I finally have my goals written out! It's a relief to have my whole year planned out a bit now. It looks like it'll be a bit crazy for the next six months, but then it'll level out a bit more. I actually think I'm going to be more productive with these goals in place than if I didn't have something telling me I needed to complete six paintings in a month. It also means that I know I can't take any more commissions until August, or thereabouts, if I'm going to get all this done!

I've set goals to finish out my Alice In Wonderland Series, as well as opening up a new art series that might be fairy-like, although I'm not sure. I'm also going to experiment with some dragons. These last two will most likely be in watercolor because I'm so obsessed with them right now, but we'll see what happens. I also have set specific goals for abstract paintings this year, an additional 12 paintings specifically designed for a fun calendar, and to get some of my older prints rereleased (my goal is to have two calendars to offer for 2014: one abstract, one with paintings for a calendar in mind, and if I'm lucky enough to complete Alice early enough - that too for a third, but Alice will likely take me right through December and have to be offered in 2015.)

I also decided to only do one art show this year. I feel like I still need to build back up my body of work. When I purged a lot of the old work from my site and offerings, it left a gaping hole. I removed most of it because I felt I had grown beyond it, or it wasn't the direction I was moving in now. A lot of the paintings were actually abstracts, which is part of why I'm bringing back some of my old prints and may even list some of the older paintings for sale once again, depending on how I feel about them. Bringing back my abstract painting brought back some of the balance I had been missing, and I plan on continuing to go forward, but I think it's important for me to also include what was before now if it fits. Anyway, moving forward also means I need to build up more of a body of work that supports what I do as a whole. The abstracts will coalesce nicely, and finishing Alice out will complete that.

I have figured out that I am a series worker. Some artists, they have a theme or genre that they work in exclusively. As a matter of fact, all the advice out there suggests you find one thing and focus on being the best in that one thing, and selling that one thing in art. I see that it works, as there are many successful artists that only do houses, or children, or flowers. For me, however, I would be monumentally unhappy only painting one thing for the rest of my career. I have a friend who derives great joy from painting his stylized barns and cows, and he can paint them for the rest of his life in bliss. For me, that would cause tears.

Instead, I believe that working hard on a series or two each year and finishing them out will make me happy and bring the challenge and change that I personally need, without shooting myself in the foot by doing all sorts of themes and genres. If I complete enough of them to be a set, a series, I feel I can build my body of work that way. Yes, it may take longer and it may turn off some retailers and  other potential partners because they're not always going to get the same thing from me over and over, but I've never fit in anyway. Why should art be any different?

This is what makes me happy, this is what will make me excited to get out of bed every day and go into my studio. If I stay true to my course, it will work out somehow in the end. I wouldn't trade painting in series and different styles for monumental success, because for me personally it would bring unhappiness.

And in the end? Happiness is what matters, not the money.

Here is the commission I'm working on right now:

It's in acrylic, 8x10 on stretched canvas. I tried not using iridescent paints on the peacock, and then I realized that I was being stupid. If ever there was a time to give into my addiction to the iridescent paint, it is with a subject that is actually iridescent in real life. Yes, I actually smacked myself upside the head on that one.

It was funny, because I have been struggling with this painting. I sketched it out, but wasn't overly thrilled with it. But I couldn't think of anything better (an alternative I have in my mind is actually going to be a watercolor, and will be very different.) I procrastinated, but finally put the sky and moon in and I wasn't sure how I felt about it. Then I started working on the bird's head, and I thought it was all going wrong... and then suddenly it clicked. It's starting to come together and I'm really starting to like it. I think maybe it was simply the challenge of having never painted a peacock before coupled with it being a commission that was causing me such strife. I'm happy to say I'm past the strife and enjoying it now!

I haven't decided what color my fairy's hair should be yet. A peacock's wings are actually full of coppers and browns and yellows, so I don't want her hair to get lost in the wings, but that doesn't leave a lot of choices, unless I choose something wild. She is a fairy, after all. She could, conceivably  have blue hair to match the peacock. It's just an idea I'm playing with. I'm also playing with echoing the peacock tail feather design in her wings (they'll be curling up underneath them when I paint them in.) I rather like the idea of the fairy being a little peacock-like herself, but I haven't really decided yet. Perhaps coppery hair, but bright peacock blue like wings would create the division needed. Hmm...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Organizational Freedom

When I envision my perfect studio, well one that isn't a thriving shop somewhere, I think of a lovely large and long room that has double glass-paned doors that come off the living room. Those doors can be shut and I can still see the house, or open and life can flow in and out as needed. I see a sink, a long table, counters, shelves, multiple easels, windows. Oh, it would be fabulous. The space to spread out and the ability to continue to stay organized.

I have long come to terms with the fact that running your passion as a business requires a level of organization and planning. I've done well with it in the past, but lately I just sort of let everything slip. I got off track during the holidays and never quite reigned myself back in. I think it's kind of like dieting, and allowing yourself all those goodies over the holidays, but forgetting to get back to healthy eating in January. Whoops.

So here I sit, at the end of January (almost) working out my goals for 2013 that should have been worked out in 2012. I start with what seems like a simple question, but is actually the hardest: What do I want to have accomplished by December 31st 2013? I'm making my list right now, and I think I'm pretty close to being done with it. Once I have all those answers lined up, I can set deadlines on some of them (like all calendar work needs to be done by October so I can get them printed.) Then I can divide the work up by the months and deadlines accordingly. I'm not dividing down by week until I get to the week before the next month, so if there is something carrying over I can make room for it without it all stacking up behind me like a derailed freight train!

I'm excited to get this done so I can feel like I'm back on track once again. I have a real need to get my body of work back up to levels it's supposed to be at, and this is the way to do it. Beyond that, however, I realize that organizing my business goals like this allows me room. It's like a messy closet; if you get it organized and put in some storage and shelving, you realize you can actually fit more stuff into the space! I'm making room for the occasional commission, but more than that - I am making room to play.

I'm scheduling in my play. I know that seems like it would take the play out of playing, but I don't think it will. For example, this year I am going to experiment with dragons. I used to paint them (long ago, art school long ago!) While working through my Alice series, I realized that my Jabberwocky is on the dragonish side of things, and it led to wanting to include a few to see how I like them. Play.

I realize that I need to paint as if nothing will sell. I need to paint for me, with no other goal than to please myself. My best work, my very best, is that which I paint with no goal in mind other than to create. If I allow myself to create something with the thought in my mind "no one will want this, and that will be OK. I'm going to make this for me. If someone likes it later, that's fine, but it's perfectly fine if this doesn't sell" then I set myself free.

So, even though I'm creating a pretty heavy schedule of what I need to get done this year, it's really all about setting myself free!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Stress and Art

This past week was a very stressful one for me. It started out rough and it finished even harder. I thought it was bad up until Thursday when I got a call from my credit card saying someone was trying to access my information (not make fraud charges, but actually access my information with what the card company assumed is my social security number) and that they felt a case of identity theft was in progress. I spent the rest of the day running around and making phone calls and putting alerts on my credit and all that. Fun.

Then on Friday there were several more big things, and well... Blah! I hope a cruise shows up in my mailbox to make up for all of this! Or a winning lotto ticket! Of course, I'd actually have to make the effort to go out and play, so there's that.

Anyway, with life stress banging down my door and plenty of art stress to go around with the commissions hanging over my head, I did that rainbow picture and I enjoyed it so much that when everything blew up again on Friday, I put down my commission work and made another little one:

"Emmy" 4x6" Watercolor, exclusively in my Etsy Shop
A friend said her hair is like an Andees Mint. So now I'm craving those. Maybe I was when I painted her too?

Anyway, I'm so enjoying the watercolors that I plan on making a painting I had intended to be in acrylic, in watercolors instead. I'm looking forward to it... but I can't do it until I clear out the backlog of commissions I have. I decided I'm taking too many to get my normal work done right now too, so I set a new limit for myself, and I hope that will help me get focused back on my normal work. I haven't completed anything from my Alice series and here we are in the home stretch of January. Unacceptable! Plus I needed to paint one painting per month for a new calendar this year (which needs to be done by October, actually, so that breaks down to almost two paintings a month) and I haven't done either of those.

I think the biggest thing I put off or forgot to do (no, put off... if I'm being honest, I think it's put off) is to make my big goal of what do I want to have completed by December 31st 2013? And then broken that down into monthly increments, and possibly into weekly ones as each month hits in order to make it a weekly goal and move me forward in a way I SHOULD be moving. Willy-nilly leads to disorder and chaos, and while I love a little chaos, this isn't working.

So, today I'm working out what my end-game for this year should be and breaking it down from there! I've decided to do art shows again this year, which will be an older newer experience. It's been a while (several years.) I don't know if it's worth my time or not... but I'll never know if I' don't give it a go!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Little Rainbow

I'm participating in an Art Swap, and while I was excited to do this, I found myself buried under life and commissions and well, let's face it - my Alice series hasn't moved in months now! I have a huge one planned and it's time to get that one sketched out too!

The problem with all that wonderful stuff going on (busy in the studio is always a good thing!) is that I don't get to play as much. I was casting about this morning, wishing I could play instead of work. Work was just getting muddy with the paint, it simply wasn't working. It was time to play. I remembered I was running out of time on the art swap, so I pulled out my watercolors and just had fun! This is the result:

"Rainbow" 4x6" watercolor

She's little. She's rainbow. And she is exactly what I wanted to do. I have mentioned in the past that figuring out skin tone with the watercolors has simply been addicting for me, because I love the way it makes the skin just glow! I've been dying to paint another face, and so... I did! And it made me happy!

A happy art day is always a good art day!

I plan on doing many more girls, as a sort of break between the more heavy duty paintings that I need to knock out. Not everything needs to be so serious and dedicated. It feels like a little mini-art-vacation, and one I desperately needed!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Being Mom

The hardest job I have ever had is that of being a parent (and that includes my brief stint as a waitress at IHOP when I was 16, working the all night shift when the drunken folks would wander in searching for pancakes, and belching their way through the early morning hours in the only 24-hour place they could stumble to.) No, I can't think of another job quite as terrifying, difficult, amazing, rewarding, sleep-depriving, over-taxing, wonderful, like being a parent.

I was recently explaining to my daughter, who happens to be my first born of two, that there are two times in a parent's job that are just absolutely terrifying. The first is when the child is a baby, because their whole world depends on you. This incredibly fragile being is all yours, and the entire weight of this little soul is on your shoulders. If they hurt, they can't tell you why, and you basically have to be on guard at all times and psychic to boot. Sure, they're cute and that totally makes up for it, but there is a very real state of constant worry that goes along with this stage, no matter how wonderful they are. Once your child is old enough to start communicating, it gets better... well, right up until that first day of school, but other than that it is pretty much just smooth sailing.

And then the teen years hit.

Oh sure, the teen years are plastered across the television as some sort of rebellious and slightly psychotic stage (and to be fair, I was that kid *ahem* - my daughter isn't, but I'm not telling her that was until she's all grown up! Admit to nothing!) but that's not what makes them hard. The hardest part of having a teenager is knowing that you have to let them go.

A child starts off completely dependent upon you, and somewhere in the years that zoom by faster than you ever imagined, you have to teach them to fly all by themselves. It's hard to let go, but you must or you will cripple your child as an adult. At the same time, you can't completely let go because they are not adults yet. So this growing up, growing away, becoming true individuals with their own destiny is a sort of slow, wobbly, and sometimes tearful process.

I am blessed that my daughter is not like me, in that she is currently the well balanced, beautiful, popular, good head on her shoulders type of girl. She's amazing. I'm no less amazed at who she is now than when she took her first steps. But all that amazement doesn't lessen the natural pain that comes with letting my little bird soar a little higher each day.

My daughter will be 15 in June, and she is more than I ever imagined she would be. She is my everything, and I will enjoy seeing who she turns out to be as an adult. I'll cherish the time I have to guide her, and then my heart will break when I finally let go, even though it's the right thing to do. My heart has been breaking a bit with the transition that has become evident just in the past year, and that is the entire story behind my latest painting:

"Phase" by Kyra Wilson16x20, acrylic on stretched canvas (iridescent paint on the moon and hair)

I am the firm base from which my daughter comes. She is my moon soaring into the sky to become who she is meant to be, and to shine.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Friday! (and a giveaway!)

The first Friday of 2013, and I'm welcoming it with a giveaway! Well, OK, it's actually because my Facebook Art Page is finally up to 300 likes, but it IS still Friday... Anyway... *ahem*

It's time to give away the free 5x7 painting!!!

Who's eligible? ANYONE! There are two ways to earn entries. First, like this facebook fan page, the second is to tweet the giveaway (which is optional.) The raffle is open from today until Monday at midnight, and I will announce the winner on Tuesday! Shipping is included if you are in the US or Canada, and if you are outside of those areas there will just be a small shipping fee just to offset the cost. 

You will get to choose either a 5x7 Acrylic canvas panel painting, or a watercolor painting. You get to then choose the kind of painting or elements you'd like to see (no portraits), and then I get to run with the idea and you get to own the result!

If you have questions, please ask! 

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

Moving on, Cosmo came home yesterday. I admit, seeing him without his leg was shocking even though I was prepared for it. He was much perkier than I thought he would be, and the vet apparently commented on it to my husband that he actually does seem happier. His leg must have really been hurting him more than we even thought. I'm hoping once he's all healed up he'll be back to his old self!

Cosmo, just happy to be home and snacking already!

The good news is that I'm feeling like the fires are back to building up and I'm ready to go! I want to knock out this fairy/peacock commission, get this new abstract finished (and there is another one half completed that I'd like to get done) and then I plan on diving back into my Alice series, I think with perhaps a much bigger piece (24x36?) This means I need to hit my sketchbook because I simply haven't settled on what I want my Cheshire Cat and Caterpillar to look like yet, but I have a good idea about my Queen of Hearts and other characters. I think it's time for a large composition featuring a lot of elements (but I don't want it to get too busy either...)  

So, lots percolating, even if nothing is getting done in the physical realm. It'll come! 

My husband is still home, so I haven't accomplished anything in the studio. I'm hoping I will but I wonder if it's going to take until Monday. I should be able to sketch out my commission piece without much of a problem, but for some reason disappearing off into my studio to paint is near impossible with other people in the house! (But he's cute, so it's OK *wink*)

Thursday, January 3, 2013


I thought that Wednesday was going to be all about getting back to normal. Kids off to school, people back to work... ME back to work.

Instead, I was surprised to find out (or be reminded, I am a teeeeeensy bit scatterbrained sometimes) that my husband actually has the rest of the week off. I admit, I didn't handle that bit of news with grace. Instead, I think I sat there blinking owlishly at him for ten minutes and saying repeatedly "You do? You... have today off? Wait, you do? The whole week? You do? Vacation?"

Not that I don't love spending time with him, because I do. He's my very best friend in the whole world. It's just that I thought all the normal cogs of the year would fall into place on January 2nd. I had a painting percolating in my head that I finally had started in on but couldn't maintain focus with because of all the constant interruptions (teenagers are fun) and "should do's" running through my head. After all, if the family is home mom SHOULD be entertaining them, right?

So, my abstract/surreal will have to wait until I get some alone time. Some non-husband-vacation-time where even sneaking off to write a blog is a trick! Here it sits:

General concept just barely mapped out. Abstracts are a bit more free in their plotting!
This one is an 18x24 canvas - room to play!
And some color. A tiny tiny start. I'm definitely going heavy on the blues in this one instead of the purples that I love so much. It's simply meant to be blue!
I also have a couple of commissions that need to be worked on as well. In particular a concept for a peacock, a fairy, and a key - all together somehow - is in process. It's slowly coming together in my mind. I have figured out that I used to use sketchbooks to figure out how I wanted a composition laid out, but I got better at it inside my head and stopped using the sketchbooks. I somehow managed to create a mental blackboard to work with. Now I don't feel so bad not using my sketchbooks as I used to! I need to start playing with them in new ways, though!

Another reason I wanted to get into my studio is that one of my dogs (we have three) had his leg amputated on Wednesday. Cosmo has bone cancer, and it's only a matter of time. However, in the area of pain management and quality of life, this was necessary.

This is Cosmo this Christmas, having snagged the new Labrador, Lily's bed.

They don't expect Cosmo to live out the year, which weighs heavy on me. I only lost my Labrador, Max, in April.

My studio is therapeutic for me, and it would have been nice to have been painting while waiting for the call from the vet letting us know he did well during his surgery (he did just fine by the way, and we get to take him home in the afternoon on Thursday.)

So that is where things stand, and where I sit; caught between loving the company, surprise vacation time, and a little sadness thrown in for good measure.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Picture Quilt

I was poking around online yesterday and I noticed some people had pieced together pictures from their past year. Most people were putting in life events (parties, graduations, etc) and some other artists had thrown together their paintings from the year. I loved that idea, but I thought that I wouldn't have enough. After all, I only really threw myself whole-heartedly into my studio around May (before that it was really sporadic while I was trying to balance my photography bookings with painting), and what with having kids and Summer break happening close after that, I figured I hadn't done much this year.

I feel like I haven't worked hard enough in 2012. That I was lazy. I should have done more.

Still, I figured it'd be nice to see. Maybe I wouldn't have much, but I'd have something to look at and say "That was the art of Kyra Wilson in 2012." So, I started pulling pictures from my files.

I ran out of room.

This is not everything, but I gave up after I finally got something cohesive to come together:

It's not as easy as it looks. It turned into one giant jigsaw puzzle, and if you look closely, you will see that some of the paintings got cropped funny (some square paintings are cut down all the way to tiny little rectangles! But it was the only way to fill the space up!) I didn't have a ton of left over paintings, but it was nice to see that I did actually have enough.

It's interesting to kind of look at my work like this. I have a lot of styles I work in, but the surreal/abstract is certainly under represented. As I said in previous posts, I'm remedying that this year. I may have to make different picture quilts next year based on style. As a matter of fact, I aim to...

I better get to work!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

To all my art friends and collectors; here's to a new year filled with wonderful things that don't exist yet... but will!