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Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Complement 1 a : something that fills up, completes, or makes perfect b : the quantity, number, or assortment required to make a thing complete  

In Betty Edwards, A Course in Mastering the art of mixing colors, she states, " In this book, I am following Goethe's thought that the response of delight elicited by certain color harmonies may be linked to a phenomenon called "after-images," which suggests that the human brain longs for balanced relationships across  the three attributes of color.

Friday, March 12, 2010


     I am being haunted by the image of a doing a certain painting....I'm going to have to go through the motions of activity to get it going though.....First, it's big.  I want to do it as a 4' by 5' horizontal and it's a group of young adults.....Lots of figures and faces and I'll have to do it as realistically as I can.  There's no sunlight, it's inside and there's no garden! which is a switch up for me and frankly not that much color which is also different for me.  Most of the responses I get to my paintings are about the color and the subject and I'm deviating from both......I'm going to do it though.  It's also a personal painting....
     Today I stretch the canvas.  I buy my canvas from Dick Blick on a roll and I had the stretcher bars built already by my friend, Jan.  I recently learned a new trick about stretching the canvas which is to first anchor it at all four sides (8 staples) then begin balancing the opposite sides and work my way to the edges......remove the 8 staples and finish up with the corners......this painting won't be framed so the stretching of the corners is important.  Below are two stretchers that are due to become paintings soon!
The one on the left is 48 x 60 and the other is 40 x 60.  Great sizes! Can't wait.  Working big has a way of being cathartic and serves as an amazing teacher!  Every large painting I've completed has taken me in a somewhat new direction.  

Friday, March 5, 2010


I'm showing two photos of this painting taken 3 hours apart.  (I love my new iphone!) I photograph everything so easily....

This is a painting I worked on this week.  I did it from a photograph that I took a few years ago of one of Josh's friends and her little son, Dominic..I began it about two weeks ago by first toning the canvas either veridian or thalo green with turpentine....can't remember which...I like the effect of the fleshier cadmium reds and oranges over the green.  Just going directly for the flesh over a white canvas just doesn't work..It has to have something to vibrate against.  Thalo blue would be good too.  The Old masters used the verdaccio effect of an earth green or green oxide  mixed with black and painted all the values as an underpainting first.. I like doing that as well but it often inhibits my looseness and my feeling of intuitiveness that can come at the end of the painting.
Anyway........after the turp thalo I drew in the figures with burnt umber and tried to hit all the values.  I intended on getting to it right away but couldn't so when I went back in to add the color the umber was dry which was fine.
I started with the background......then the clothing, then worked on the flesh...The one on the left was after working for two weeks.   It seemed adequate but didn't give that feeling of accomplishment that I like to get so I started out making a few fixes with the values and drawing part until I warmed up and then got bolder with tackling some of the imaginary garden I installed in the back ground.  I  originally had this set up in my back yard on Orchard Ave and I frequently return to the feeling of that garden.   I used medium (neo meglyp) and some glazing to warm it up and eventually working with bold yellows, (Love Indian yellow and alizarin or grumbacher red) oranges, reds and greens as well as dipping into the scrapings,(mud) to neutralize part of it created the effect of the painting on the right...I think I came in from the studio around 6:45 PM.  I'm pretty sure it's done now, though sometimes after it dries I see some areas to wake up again.  Hopefully it will dry, I'll paint some medium over it to even out the glare and finally put a varnish on it when it's dry.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Am I an artist?

My first day:
I’m not sure I know enough about anything to write a blog…but here goes. I must admit also that I am reading (read already) The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubins and March is the month to do something for your work. I‘ve been meaning to write a blog (and make a book on Blurb of all my paintings) because I want to add another little link to my web page that says Subscribe to Sally’s blog….So realizing that blogs are free and that I can erase it at anytime and make it go away I’m giving it a go…I’m thinking I need to write about how to paint, how to mix colors, how to stretch a canvas (and I just might at some point) but I do have a lot to say first about the art soul and its plight to stay invigorated and alive in the world today.

Let me start my first edition with just a basic fact: Artists are simply a kind of human. Like retrievers, hounds, watch dogs, water dogs, etc…...there are kinds of people. Of course among those, there are some who become artists and then alas those that don’t and live lives that are always presented with the giant question mark…what is this thing I crave and need…why am I never happy? Imagine the watchdog with nothing to watch...the labrador with nothing to retrieve ...does the word neurotic come up...we all know neurotic dogs, don't we?

An unfulfilled artist’s life is full of anxiety and obsessiveness and that obsessiveness is a barrier like iron bars and is hardly ever good.

Now let me admit that I do think there are many many many meanings of the word artist……..You can’t use the word without qualifying the nature of the artist. Of course there’s the disciplined procedural artist like Michaelangelo, Leonardo, etc. who makes his drawings, grinds his paints, meticulously organizes and manages the studio and just generally has good studio habits…There’s the crafts person who is meticulous about the finished product. There’s the poet/philosopher whose eyes fill with the stars of the universe when he or she starts to talk. There’s the wild eyed Vincent and Jackson who are compelled to slop paint around and behold voila! Something splendiferous! There is the procedural explorer who is on a quest to uncover a truth very much like Lewis and Clark, Magellan, and all those guys who just knew they had to do something different and metaphorically cast away from the land they knew as familiar in search of the unfamiliar. Then there’s the pure hearted amish quilter who wears black and gray all day and exhibits her joy and soaring spirit through the breathtaking quilts that are carefully composed and meticulously crafted.
There’s the egotistical, megalomaniac hare who thinks the world revolves on his or her axis and then of course the flip side of that, the unsure unpresumptuous and polite, good citizen tortoise who plods through life and wakes up one day to discover that he/she has in fact created a substantial body of work.

I can’t fail to mention the builder, the knitter, sewer, designer, the baker and the interior designer, storyteller/writer and entrepreneur……….life for them is amplified when the materials are in their hands, when the deal is in the works…the birds sound sweeter, they love more, they are riding on a flying carpet when allowed to devote a good block of time with their beloved medium….next to and immersed in their material of choice. Just envision the Pointer getting to finally point, the bloodhound following a scent and the retriever in the water! What joy to see them fulfill their destiny!

Anyway the point I make is that I think an artist is a type of person. Generally they know who they are….(or at least they know who they aren’t)…..and when they don’t get the opportunity to learn, produce, and fulfill their vision (and sometimes there is no vision, it’s just a desire to go in a direction and be surprised) ugly things happen…when our great powers of perception, discrimination, and editing are not actively employed in making a creation or breathing life into a project we use it anyway and it shows up as bitchiness, control, criticism, know it all-ism, whining, and of course the poor me syndrome, etc…Our art project becomes our spouse, our child, our neighbor, etc and it’s always bad….we are critically remaking them when we should be doing our own thing….

Watch out for the signs....When you are using your critical powers to create something, you are usually too exhausted and spent to do anything but enjoy those whose lives brush up against yours. I make the case for art by saying that not only do you owe it to yourself to become who you're supposed to be but also you could perhaps even say you might owe it to your family and loved ones just to give them a break….

Taking art seriously is not easy...It’s the gate you must open first and probably the hardest lock to break. By the time we’re adults we’ve thrown away the key. I've got something to say about that too! Funny how this works. Maybe I'll talk about that next.

By the way as I write I do know that I am making mistakes. I use the ....... way too much and syntax is hard when you 're just following a stream of consciousness writing. If I take time to make this into a term paper I'm going to be exhausted and have no energy left for painting. Sooooooooooooo that's the way it is, Lilly Tomlin style, as in "and that's the truth..."

Now I must put on some shoes and make a latte with two tablespoons of starbucks coffee in 6 oz of water and half a cup of hot milk whisked until frothy and work up my enthusiasm to go finish something I’ve started…or and take a peek to see if anything ridiculous or wonderful happened in politics today.