Gem of the Moon 6×6 acrylic 2011
It used to be a real problem for me to paint a series of related images. For some reason I thought I had already done a painting in a subject and felt I needed to move on to something else.–to flowers to semi abstract to drawing to painting to landscape to seascape to farmland to animals to children to still life, and on and on. Until I finally accepted the advice of a non-artist friend to ‘just do another one similar but different’.
Seemed so simple.
Heading In and Out acrylic 36×36 2014
I was of the mind that I should do something very different than my most recent work. The general public doesn’t know you did that earlier version and you will not be making an exact copy of it again. As a creative person I should just be able to shift aspects from size, to color combination, to content and create a new art piece based on an earlier one’. At last the definition of working in a series made sense to me.
Right at Home acrylic 18×18 2017
I now thread my way to the next piece–moving just a little forward, sometimes sideways from my current work to make progress toward something different yet connected by threads of color, forms, subject, painting style or line work. It is amazing how the words of Robert Henri, an American artist and member of the Ashcan School in NYC, born in 1865– “Don’t worry about your originality. You couldn’t get rid of it even if you wanted to. It will stick with you and show up for better or worse in spite of all you or anyone else can do.”
Just Ask acrylic 10×10 2018
After having done many hundreds of paintings in my lifetime I now can see the thread of ideas and style begun many years ago. I continue patching new pieces of my story to my already established quilt of my painting life.
Lesson learned: Pickup where you left off and take a small step.
If you are in Portsmouth NH over April, please stop by my solo show ‘Undercurrents’ new works for 2019 at Kennedy Gallery on Market Street, Portsmouth. http://www.kennedygalleryandframing.com Thank you! –Ann
thumbnails photos from my sketchbooks
1″ x 1″ thumbnail
14×14 final watercolor
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.
As artists we are always on the look out for things that capture our attention. We may not know what we are going to do with that little tidbit at the moment but we file it away for future use. And yes, we forget about them sometimes. But as an individual artist we tend to notice similar things, over and over. And therein lies the key.
Very coarsely-painted beginning
Not sure who said it but “notice what you notice” is such a great statement. Especially if you are an artist looking for direction. Randomness is not an asset when it comes to defining who you are as an artist. Maybe at a later more experienced point it will be, but not at the outset. Looking intensely at a series of photos you’ve taken, making notes of what interests you in the landscape or people-scapes around you. Look for the pattern created when you go out for a walk–are you looking at minute details of flowers, or rolling hillsides, or how the light shines through the woods. The sooner you find your personal pattern, the more directed you can be in your artistic development.
Using the rough sketch to develop painting design further
For me, the coastal waterfront and all its details have been at the very top of my list. Early on impressive sunrises and sunsets were at the very top. I loved them, but did not necessarily want to paint about them. So many people were already doing that. I wanted to paint about things differently and add something that gave the viewer more information about the things I find important.
A red-colored work boat in Provincetown harbor provided the needed intensity to dive into this subject in various ways and create some final paintings. Even after many years I am still intrigued by this working pier in Provincetown. The activity, the aged boats that still work every day, the people who go out on the sea day after day–I admire them for their bravery. I once thought I would like that life but have since come to my senses. Seasickness and I are companions unfortunately but I still love being on the water when I can. So even a landlubber can have great appreciation for things connected to the sea. I have plans to explore this motif and weave in some themes of connectedness, friendship and awe. To be continued…
Closeup look at detail of a 24×24 painting depicting the simple drama of red against blues.