Friday, September 28, 2012

10 Favorite Art Critiques from Family and Friends

I'VE BEEN an artist for 40 years. It's the only job I've ever had and now it's the only job I'm qualified to do. I work hard – I go to the studio 7 days a week. Over the years I've eliminated any activity not as fun as painting (everything).

THE HARDEST challenge over the years was finding my style. You know – that way of painting that excites every part of your being – that leaves behind all other less authentic ways of expressing yourself. I don't have a name for my style. My hero and artist advocate, Robert Genn, suggested "a unique form of realism" and "designs of nature". And I've used "colorist". I don't know.

AND LET me tell you- it's a great feeling to know you are on the right path. However, halfway through patting myself on the back, I realized that many of the people close to me – family and friends – weren't exactly on board. Some feel I've made a wrong turn and, apparently, some feel that all I need is a honest word to get me back on course. I thought I would share my favorites with you.

1. Is this a Paint-by-Number? (Ouch).

2. I can't wait 'till you stop painting like this.

3. I like your OLD art.

4. I can see why you paint like this – it's faster and you can make more money.

5. You're definitely getting better. Hang in there.

6. But your watercolors were so good.

7. Would you mind changing some colors so it matches the other art on my wall?

8. It looks like a coloring book.

9. I guess you need to get it out of your system. It'll pass.

10. My favorite. A woman held a piece of art in her hands. I asked if she wanted to buy it.  She handed it to me and said, "No- I don't like your art anymore."

Monday, September 24, 2012

#74 Pirate and June

9x12 acrylic, 3/4 painted edge, $100.

June Finds Friends

JUNE 2012. That's her name. Tiny little thing.

I'M NOT really a cat person, but I live in the country and I need mouse catchers. And I love black and white- in fact that's the only color cat I've had in 40 years. And people know that. So I get a call, and I bring home this new addition to the family. Drag out the cat litter box, situate the household. Discovered hundreds of fleas, so I had to give her a bath. I held her in one hand and lowered her into warm water. The water turned red instantly. It took me an hour to pick them all out.

SHE cried for days. So I introduced her to Navarre, my great Dane. 180 pounds... but loves cats. The feeling was reciprocated. As long as Navarre was in sight, she seemed happy. I couldn't leave them together without supervision, though, she weighed about a pound. So I crated her at night – facing Navarre, and we all got some sleep.

DID I mention that my 2 other male cats wanted nothing to do with her? 2y (rhymes with gooey) is 13 years old, and I would love for him to share some of his stalking techniques with June. He's a master. Pirate is only 2, but with a broken hip. Neither of these guys want anything to do with a kitten.

2Y played "Not the Mom" for a week. Wouldn't even look at her. And Pirate was nowhere in sight. Did June cave? No way.

EVENTUALLY, 2y looked at June, then even let her touch him. Now he plays just like a kitten again. Oh, and Pirate came around too.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Bearly Asleep

LAST NIGHT, at 2:00am, I jumped awake to the sound of Navarre's barking. He's a 180-pound Great Dane with some health issues, so he's been sleeping in the porch instead of in the house. The problem is, because of the easy access to the yard, he now has the urge to chase animals of the night. Not far – and only for as long as it takes to wake me.

IT WAS a bear last night. Navarre and I have an agreement. If he hears a bear in the trash can, he barks. Then I reach for my truck keys in bed and honk the horn, which scares off the bear. It works most nights. But last night Navarre chased him and I had to get dressed to get him back to the house.

AND  I can't go back to sleep. No problem. I just start working. I finished 3 paintings actually, and at 6:00 went back to bed.

Cochon, my daughter's dog.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ten-minute Rule

I LIVE by a 10-minute rule. I started doing it about 35 years ago, when I was still a new mom and a new artist. There were so many things to remember, and so many things to do. I couldn't slow down – I didn't want to slow down. But I wanted to quit kicking myself every time I did a stupid thing or said something I regretted.

LIKE the time I bought a new black velvet gown and thought I looked great in it – until my 6-year old daughter informed me that I had it on backwards.

OR THE 1st time I made pesto from my garden and accidentally picked sage instead of basil, not realizing my mistake until serving dinner to eight women.

OH, THE LIST goes on and on. Believe me. And these are the funny ones. There were many times I could have been kinder, more frugal, a better parent. One time my daughter Renny kept asking me to bake her a cake and I kept waving her away – I'm painting! Turns out it was her birthday.

I DON'T believe in guilt. But there was often a  nagging feeling I shouldn't let myself off the hook quite so easily. One day, reading a book, I learned about the 10-minute Rule. It's a 2-part rule.

1. If there's nothing you can do: You are allowed 10 minutes to wallow in any negative emotion (anger, embarrassment, jealousy, you know them) . After 10 minutes is up- forget and move on. Period.

2. If there is something you can do (like apologizing, or re-doing the background on a painting): You must make a firm appointment in your head to do so, and then you can wallow for 10 minutes. Period.

IT TAKES practice. And it gets easier. There are times now when I don't even need the 10 minutes. But then I really mess up again, and I want to kick myself. But I don't. Instead, I remember my kids looking at an imaginary watch on their wrist, rolling their eyes and saying, "Oh Mom, You are way over your 10 minutes."

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ethan and Family 2: Black Lines

THE HARDEST part of any painting is getting the images that capture personality, energy, and story. Once I have the images I can work with the composition, playing with the juxtapositions of hard/soft, straight/curved, dark/light, and playful/serious. I'm loving this one. It's a little top-left heavy right now, but I will solve that when I put in the background colors.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Ethan and Family 1: Drawing

ORANGE is painted for my ground color. Then I trace drawing onto canvas.

Friday, September 7, 2012


Oh, I was so happy to finish this painting. The paint just flew off the brush – I could see the finished image before I started. What fun. It is painted with acrylic on canvas, 24x48, priced at $900.