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Gearing Up and Down

How do I begin a new year’s worth of paintings? Previously I have kept sketchbooks of thumbnail images –basically small inch by inch sized sketches or thoughts of an idea. I don’t work out details in this it is just a nugget of an idea on design, subject, or a color note. Because I always have a sketchbook going–too many to count in my studio–it has been a bit difficult to keep track of images that I’ve wanted to explore further.

My answer? Thumbnail pages. I went through my recent year of so sketchbooks and took a photo of each little drawing–over 200 plus–then using Adobe Bridge software brought them all into the program to create a 12 page pdf. I then put a symbol in color near each little picture–c=couples, f=fisherman, etc. Then cut them all apart and regrouped them according to my symbol system. Now I can review similar ideas on one page like shown above. The little black and white is a what I use to refer to to design a new painting–see lower right.

A bit of time to do this–about 6 hours of searching through sketchbooks, photoing, then computer work. But now I have at a glance what I need to gear up for the mountain of work ahead of me this year. Now to get down to business…

Lesson learned: Be prepared.

 

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Time to Play

Testing a process

Working with hard molding paste, drawing into it, letting it dry overnight, then beginning a teal-colored underpainting. 8×8’s on cradled panels.

I find it is important to have time to play with materials and motifs that I have been working with for a while. Despite having done over a hundred paintings of all sizes, I continue to find new ways to use the images that I find so appealing. I have been able to do this because I give myself ‘play time’. Meaning studio hours devoted to working with materials in a different way–either applying it in a new way, scraping or drawing into it in a new way, or mixing materials to see if I can slightly shift the outcome. I’m not looking for wholesale changes just a slight step to the side or forward that feels connected in some way to previous steps. This way I won’t lose my way. Sort of like artistic breadcrumbs.

(Paintings shown are on my website, ‘Through and Through’ and ‘Sharing’, 8×8. 

Lesson learned:  Baby steps count big.

The Art of a Merry Christmas

Christmas card 2017 bubbles website card sm

Hope you have the important gifts of life which I think are family, friends, faith and fellowship. Our ever changing world provides so many opportunities to renew ourselves for the better, rethink habits that are not helpful,  and to reinvigorate our sense of what it means to be a good person. I’ll be reaching out this year to make someone else’s life better. Hope you’ll resolve to do the same. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Lesson learned: Listen to new perspectives.

Thanksgiving For So Much

17736 We're Home acryl pan 8x8 sm

We’re Home, acrylic on panel, 8×8. Available at Copley Society of Art, Boston

I’m thankful for so much in my life that a little post will never convey the appreciation, gratitude, and love I have for all those who I call family. You know who you are :). All of you who believed in me and my work when I was still unsure about it; all of you who are related one way or another; all those who feel related to me in soul and spirit; and all those who feel my artwork has provided a thread of connection from my life to theirs. I hope you each have a wonderful time with family–disconnecting from digital unreality–to connecting with those who matter with a hug, handshake or kiss. Happy Thanksgiving.

Lesson learned: Thank those who matter.   

The Big Day

17675 The Big Day acryl canv 18x18 sm

The Big Day, acrylic on canvas, 18×18. 

This recent painting was inspired partially by the wedding of my granddaughter combined with a sense of how I feel about marrying my husband more than 20 years ago. Just a sweet feeling of the joy of the day and being able to share it with someone I truly love. I’m not one to let my emotions out easily but in this case it has turned into a bit of a series of works that lets me bring some of these memorable moments to life.

My ongoing series of fishermen and women and their families have been a way for me to present sentiments such as togetherness, love, support, family, constancy, persistence, fun, optimism and faith. It is an authentic-to-me way of adding figurative/people into my work which I have been searching for for years.

I allow real life situations to provide a moment–it just nudges me with a notion of ‘hey, that might make a good way to imagine a relationship’ and away I go. Pick up a sketchbook and draft some designs, then on to a quick watercolor sketch of a composition.

IMG_0785

Sample rough sketch of idea

Once I decide on a design I move quickly to develop a painting and usually paint it in one sitting–or standing. I like the process of committing to an idea and working it through in a day or so. Then I might rework areas after a good night’s sleep. If I feel something is not quite right I wait a few days, stare at it from my old stuffed rocking chair in the studio. I’ll make the adjustments and then it is done. And I move on to another idea.

Here are two other paintings in the series of relationship paintings:

The big day continues to be the best day of my life. I hope you’ve experienced one that stays with you forever, too.

Read about the details on these pieces on my website at www.anntrainordomingue.com

Lesson learned: It’s never too late to have a Big Day. In life, in art. 


NOTE: OPEN STUDIO 2017, NOVEMBER 4 & 5, 10-4. Details/directions on website.

Windows of Story Island

 

17701 Windows on Story Island acryl canv 36x36

Windows on Story Island, acrylic on canvas, 36×36

This painting began as a series of 8 rectangles each containing an image inspired by visits to Monhegan Island, Maine. The colors were quite intense and rich–see below.

Story Island process

Original look at the painting process 36×36, acrylic on canvas, Story Island. Large photo above is final image.

I made individual paintings based on a few of the squares but was still not entirely happy with the overall large painting–too much going on, not enough integration, too many ideas. So simplification became the mantra for a revision.

As time goes by and I learn and incorporate new aspects of artmaking into my work I discover things that will help improve or change some of my earlier works. this is a good example of this process.

I began by eliminating areas of the painting that I was no longer happy with–whether it be color, shapes, subject. And then began thinking of the concept of ‘windows’ looking at several views at once which was the original concept for this painting. There I found my answer to simplify the concept and quiet to overall tonality into a more thought-provoking piece. It might not suit everyone who sees it, but as I look through the windows, it now suits me just fine.

Lesson learned: I own the images I create and have the right to modify as I wish. Just because it is on my website, has been at a gallery, has been seen by others, has been loved by others–I feel good about continuing my art journey, modifying my travel plans as I go along.

It Takes More Than a Village

17624 It Takes a Village acryl canv 30x30 sm

It Takes a Village, 30×30, acrylic on canvas.

‘It Takes a Village,’  a few words from an African proverb, was the inspiration for developing this new series of work. The first in the series is shown above–an imagined area of a small fishing village where activity is the norm and people know each other. By the sound of voices, dogs barking, children playing, and engines running. Subtle sounds of life happening as it does day after day in small American villages all over our country.

sketch for It Takes a Village

Preliminary drawing to design the square canvas shape.

I have taken this theme and worked to bring aspects of different villages in New England together in individual paintings. One painting may have a cupola from Monhegan or Portland and a fish shack from Kittery or Camden, or a beautiful home in Goffstown to a Victorian era mansion in Laconia or New Boston or Cape Cod. There are many ideas rolling around in my head to create new ‘villages’ this summer. Stay tuned.

IMG_9347

Drawn line using fluid acrylic with red wash under painting.

Lesson learned: A pair of historic fishing shacks on Monhegan Island, Maine has proven to contain a watershed of ideas for my art journey. Little did I know my first painting trip there in 2003 would offer such a huge amount of inspiration and direction. A big thank you to Stan Moeller a wonderful plein air painter from Kittery Maine was the instructor who opened the door to plein air painting and studio painting. www.anntrainordomingue.com

Birdbrain Idea, Yes

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So this little gem was drawn by my 6 year old granddaughter and pinned to my studio wall. These eyes have been staring at me for a few months as if to say ‘hey, why not use me in your paintings?’ or ‘you use so many fish how about giving us birds a chance?’ So I’ve been listening and adding a bit more wild life into my work–humans and birds and fish. Covering most bases with an occasional dog making a cameo. I’m learning to always consider new things in my work–careful not to throw myself offtrack–but to think of how an innocent little drawing can breath new life into my work. Thank you Gwendolyn. Love, Grannie.

Here are a few more birds that have made in onto my canvases lately.

Lesson learned: When developing new work, let something new in.

 

Solo show opens tomorrow at Kennedy Gallery, Portsmouth, NH

Exhibit on til April 30th. Hope you’ll stop in to see over 20 new paintings.

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Cultural Conversations

 

17618 Woven Into Life mixed media acrylic 12x12 sm

Woven Into Life, mixed media acrylic, 12×12 

Its amazing how many things in the news, on television, on websites, on social media feeds, in email, on tablets, and on our phones seem so much more important than things that really matter. Like face to face conversations, talking out loud not in the silence of a phone text, listening to the tone of voice in a conversation can be more meaningful than a long winded conversation. And when looking at artwork a quiet thought about what the artist was intending can be an interesting way to spend a moment or two.

In our digital impersonal age I try to remember to be sure to communicate with family, friends, and strangers in the old-fashioned way. With a smile and a hello, it surprises me how many people don’t expect you to say hello today. But they reply in kind and usually continue the conversation even if it is small talk. Small talk can lead to bigger and better things. And interacting with the thought process of an artist can yield something that matters as well.

Lesson learned: I asked a collector what drew him to this piece of art and he responded with something I didn’t intend in this piece. I intended a couple inside their ‘home’ awaiting the birth of their child and how wonderful and amazing it is. He recognized that too but also more importantly was the dark-skinned ethnicity of the male figure exemplifying a broader world view was what touched him. I just never know. I’m sure the impending birth of another grandchild this week has prompted this post.

 

Jo LB MAC Blog

2017 -> Visual Research Journal with spelling mistakes and links to image sources

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