Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Breaking Through the Blocks

There is this thing that happens to all artists when creative periods ebb and flow. We  get a bit panicky, we want to rush to create a huge body of work and we lose the focus of the experience for the perception of success in having a quantity. Art is one of those things, like wine, craft beer, catching fish that can not be rushed. And forget the hand painted mass production. If one painting takes 40 hours and you need one hundred to make a profit that is 100 weeks of the same painting. No one has the werewithall for that!

The problem of ebb and flow doesn't just affect the quantity of works. It affect each individual piece. That is some thing that I had not thought possible since I love to paint as much as I do. I know that there is the period between works when the energy has ebbed and starting again is hard. But to have the excitement dissipate mid-work.... that is newer to me. With moving and taking on a new position at work I thought that my dry spell was just because I needed some inspiration. Which I did. I thought it was because all of my creative wells had been neglected... which they were. So I did what I always do. I stuck my head in some books and got myself motivated again.

Or so I thought. I had a stack of periodicals to help me jump start some ideas over at the geeks blog. And then I found a travel magazine that hit on almost all of my interests. And I thought.... I have to paint that. So I started.

And got stuck. It is a new technique. I have paints that I haven't worked with as often as I would have liked since my preferred blend was accidentally left behind in the move. And I was breaking open a pad of watercolor paper that I had not really used a lot. It pills, sadly and that has cause a bit of frustration as I am unsure how to correct for it or incorporate the pilled area into the texture that I am looking for. So I have set it aside so that I can let my subconscious brain have a go at the problem solving.

And I stepped away from the work to do something entirely different. It is a glorious season for photography as you have seen. And anywhere the boyfriend and I go I have my camera with me. There are day trips almost once a week where we explore his old haunts and I am able to go back and take pictures of places that mean something to the family. But I still can't figure out this piece. I am stuck somewhere that I don't know how to navigate.

So I painted something else in a different style from one of our day trips.

And one day while waiting for schedules to gel and deadlines to happen I popped into the library for some instruction and inspiration.

I found a few volumes of Splash. And in volume 2 I found a few answers to the dilemma at hand.

  • Step away from the work and get outside
  • paint something else and let your subconscious work on the problems. 
  • seek advice
And that is just a bit of the advice from artists who have been featured in the yearly anthology have offered for encouraging breakthroughs. But the biggest help is knowing that the kind of struggle that I am going through in this piece means that there is a breakthrough waiting for me on the other side, perhaps a quantum leap in understanding or skill if I will only be patient with the process. 


is the confounding bit of art taken from a NatGeo travel mag with a new technique for me.

With some distance I can see a lot of places where this is working. And still a few places where I am terrified to continue for fear of losing the strength of the line in the underpainting, which was all done in Prussian Blue. The book called for Cobalt but I don't have any in my stash. Indanthrene might have been better but it stains too so I don't know about that anymore.

In a few days I'll be able to sit and paint again.... waiting for the rain to go away and the road tripping to be done for a bit. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

It's been ages, I know

Or how I spent my Summer vacation...

I have not fallen off the planet or been abducted by aliens. In fact, very little that interesting has happened at all. I've been gone because I got a promotion at work and I have been dead to the world tired at the end of every day. It would seem there is little rest to be had for creatives with full time jobs. I have also moved and it is taking some getting used to with this new place and new roommates.

And yes, there is still the boyfriend. He is a very supportive chap and it is hard to not be creative around him. We just see very little of each other and now with Summer here... FINALLY... we are more active outdoors. That is not to say that painting isn't happening. It's just taking longer to get it done.

This is the view from the back porch. It's an incredible view, and an incredible smell with an atmospheric texture that makes my skin happy. It's a very surreal thing. And such fun to be on the porch painting... without getting sunburned if I can manage it.

And this is the reason there is so little going on inside with paints. I really want to be out in this and all kinds of scenic places that the boyfriend knows of. We've been bike riding in Leelanau county, I've been introduced to the wonderful past-time of fishing, we've toured the old farmstead that belonged to my father's family and cruised through the interior roads to find some amazing vistas such as these....

The Empire Bluffs slide into Lake Michigan with a pretty little lake on a channel inlet hiding some where in the mid ground of the picture.

We used to swim in that channel lake every Friday evening and Saturdays if there was not football or baseball at the Civic Center. We could be out there on the dunes for hours, long into the wee hours of the night when you could see the entire sky overflowing with the milky way.

How can you not be out in this?

Uncle Ole Thoreson's farm at Port Oneida.
Part of a Scandanavian settlement, the Oneida community
thrived for many years with the farms shipping their produce
to Chicago and Wisconsin and sometimes to NYC.  A land
dispute with the state and a local resort took the land out of
the family. Currently it is part of the Historical Society's
Renewal Project for the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
For several years it had been an artist's retreat.

This is one of the Manitou Islands as seen from the bluffs of the Pierce Stocking Scenic drive. Its rather hazy this year since the water is so cold. The sun starts steaming things up around 1pm so it always looks like it is raining in the distance.

This is one of the few surviving orchards on Stoney Point near Suttons Bay. The BF took me out on the boat to shoot some amazing pictures. And i got to drive for a bit! Pilot. Steer....

It always amazes me that we get to live in a place like this. And it frustrates me that I let weird things like depression, anxiety and borrowed neurosis keep me away from these scenes which do so much to elevate the spirit.

We had the dog out on the boat with us and he was all nose in the wind ears flapping while I sat in the seat behind him nose in the wind and hair flailing myself. The smells..... the color of the water.... I've never seen water so deep to look like a puddle of spilled metallic indigo ink. I lived in Marquette for a while but never saw Superior's blue from the surface like I did this past weekend with just Grand Traverse Bay under the hull. Astounding.
As you head out of Suttons Bay for the larger Grand Traverse Bay you come upon the many points jutting into the water. See what I mean about the blue? To the left is points Omena and Northport and to the left is the point of the Old Mission Peninsula. My boyfriend's friends tease him for saying he lives on a lake and that it is similar to Oceanic experiences. They think that he means that it is a lake like the 4 square mile inland lakes everyone has. This is, in fact, considered an inland sea. It is huge and it defines a good part of the culture of our communities. The only thing that I don't notice its influence is in the culinary arts. And that would be in large part to the destruction of invasive species that have been here for the last 35 years.

A view from a farm in the leelanau penisula. The layers are incredible, vineyards, lake leelanau, the rest of the penisula's finger, then lake michigan cuts between the colorful hills and the blue ones in the background. The blue in the background is the Manitous. I love my panoramic camera setting. Have I mentioned that yet?

And this is the view of my father's farm from the old apple orchard. You see Stoney Point in the mid ground, Old Mission is hazy in the background.

And this is how I am spending my Summer. What are you doing?

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