Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sneak Peak Sunday....

My current project-in-progress (well, one of them anyway)- recognize this one?
(hint: Check out my last blog post

Monday, October 19, 2009

Going for 100

This post is a bit of a non sequitur, but by posting it here I make it real, so here goes.

Something in the October issue of The Pastel Journal caught my eye - it was an article entitled 'Going for 100' by pastelist Marla Baggetta about her self-challenge to paint the same small landscape 100 times. I am focusing more on scratchboard and whiteboard these days than the pastels, but the basic concept applies regardless of your medium. It's not a new idea - on WetCanvas there are very often challenges such as '100 x in 100 days' ranging from subjects, subject groups, media, etc. People often do similar challenges without the time limit.

The reasons for such a project are many - for many animal artists it is a way to explore a range of species or breeds, giving you a framework to systematically study their differences. For some it is a way to stretch their knowledge of a particular subject - to capture it from different angles, maybe even in different media. Marla Baggetta's goal was as a practice in gesture painting. She limited herself by time and size so that each painting was spontaneous. Her rationale was that if I know I'm doing 100 versions of this same scene I will mentally relax. Some of them will be crappy, some of them will be great (refer to my previous blog entry about the paralyzing effects of worrying about perfection). Also, by using the exact same scene for all of the paintings she was able to put away worries about subject, composition, etc and focus on the subtleties of colour and value instead. This, in turn, led to taking more chances and working sometimes outside of her 'box'.

I've been intrigued by this idea for some time and it falls on my perpetual 'someday I'll do that' list. Well, fellow procrastinators out there know that particular list rarely ever gets accomplished. Unless you say you're going to do it in your blog and newsletter... then you have enough external pressure to fuel you (right? Hm, we'll see I guess).

So... I'm officially announcing my self-imposed 100 Dog Challenge. My personal goals are to explore some breeds that I may not otherwise ever 'get around to', to shift my focus away from the end product (like Marla Baggetta said - not all of these are going to be masterpieces), to loosen up with my sketching and to produce 100 dog sketches!

1) 100 dogs, any media on paper is acceptable

2) Limit to roughly 1hr/piece (ie I will try to not spend more than 1 hour on each one - this promotes the 'gesture drawing' component of this project, this is not a hard and fast rule)

3) No time limit to complete this project (between my other art commitments and full-time job I think that would be a bit too much)

4) I will only include sketches from this post onward (no cheating here :D)

5) I will post all of the sketches (even the ugly ones) here on the blog as they are completed

And to show that I'm really serious about this, here's my first sketch:

Jazz (9 x 12" graphite on paper)

This is a beautiful doggie I met at the Basalt Sunday Market. I loved the way the light caught his face as he sniffed the air. It took a bit more than an hour (closer to 1.5 hours - see, there I go breaking the rules already!). I might turn this one into a whiteboard, if I do I'll be sure to post it in a future entry.

So welcome along for my 100 dogs journey! I hope you enjoy the art - comments are always welcome!! Let's see what 100 dogs does for me, and if any of you are artistically inclined I encourage you to consider your own 'Going for 100' challenge!

And in other news...

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~ Pam

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Inspiration is for Amateurs

"Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just show up and get to work."

- Chuck Close

I came across that quote on and it clicked. So often my art starts to lag, and almost invariably that correlates to my own mental state, a state which I am increasingly learning to associate with 'waiting for inspiration'.

What it really consists of is self-doubt... I start to get all kinds of ideas of things I want to do, I look at other people's art (which is, in itself, a great way to get inspired), but then I start overthinking it. I think 'if I want to do that, I should really plan it out perfectly so it comes together well' and 'I have all these reference shots of the cats, but if I could only catch this one in that angle of sunlight - maybe I'll wait until I can get some morning sunlight shots'. And before you know it three weeks has passed and I've talked myself out of starting the project before I take blade to board (or pastel to paper, or whatever medium I'm avoiding at the time).

The idea behind the quote above is that sitting, waiting or planning for perfection is all well and good - but if you are trying to be a professional artist (ie. if you want to make any money from your art) that's just not good enough. Few people would produce enough to be viable (okay, *I* would not produce enough). But more than that.. focusing on perfection is stifling. First you limit what you are willing to try, then you limit yourself more. You stay in your safety zone because you know you can produce something of a certain calibre. But if you do this for any length of time you don't grow as an artist. You stagnate. And the worst part of it is that stagnant art is very obvious - and not all that appealing. It's a bad vicious cycle.

But it's such an insidious cycle - one I've fallen prey to many times. Knowing that I'm susceptible to this I've taken the title quote, printed it out in big font and stuck it above my drafting table - so each time I'm sitting staring at a blank board (canvas, paper, etc) waiting for inspiration I can hear Chuck telling me to get off my keister and just do SOMETHING. In really dire straits just grab the nearest object and make it into a still life - I know in the past I've surprised myself with how much I like some of the most unlikely subject matter once I got working with it (I recall a particular cupcake a year or so ago...). It may not turn out to be the primo best work that I've done, but then again it might.... and at the very least I'll learn something from it!


In other news...

If you've been following my erratic blogging efforts you'll know that I've been attending the Basalt Sunday Market with a little booth for the past month (really it's been a fair amount of work, being the first time I've set up a booth or sold prints - that is my excuse for the aforementioned erratic-ness of the blogging).

Each week I set up my easel and work on a piece - the board that I've been working on is a 16 x 20" scratchboard that I posted a teaser detail of a few weeks ago. Sandy was close with her guess - at least the textures were right! Here's an update:

This is Ben - the Belgian draft horse that I had in vet school. When I moved we had to sell Ben, he went to live on a big Belgian farm and finally decided he was okay with the harness after all (thanks for the bruises, Ben!).

Even on a 16 x 20" board this doesn't come close to his real size - in reality his head was the length of my arm, meaning that if he was nuzzling my armpit I could just reach his poll (the very top of his head between his ears) with my outstretched fingers! Any horsey people out there can see how I used the 'natural' approach to grooming :D

And a close-up detail of his muzzle (so soft!):

Anyone who is in the Basalt area this weekend (Sunday, Oct 4th) stop on by and see "Ben" (the scratchboard) in real life! This is the last week for the market, after this I'll be working in the studio and working on that whole discipline thing I recall mentioning some time ago! ;)

~~ Pam ~~