Friday, March 30, 2012


Close up from larger painting

Inspiration.  What's yours?  For me it's everywhere.  There are not enough days and never the energy to paint all the paintings in my head!  I see a potential painting daily if not hourly!

It wasn't always that way.  Inspiration used to visit on a whim.  If there was no way to take the inspiration to canvas or paper in that moment, the moment, and the inspiration passed.  Though not always forgotten, the initial excitement to act faded.  And more than not, nothing came of it.

Inspiration has to be nourished.  When I began to seize those moments and also learn to recreate them I found they visited with greater frequency.  Now I find inspiration in daily things and not just  those grander moments .  I see them in the light that hits something or just the color of the sky.  Now, the artists and the art I am most drawn to are those who paint common things and distill a scene to it's essence.  The common.

The One Sketch a Day journal has been inspiration for me.  Finding something to draw daily requires I draw what is at hand.  It's amazing what presents itself in the ordinary.  I fear I've been looking to far for inspiration in my painting when it's always been right under my nose!

Painting, drawing, writing, singing, cooking or whatever your art is-it should come from your heart.  From the things you love.  Which for me are often far and wide.  I love to travel.  I love to travel and PAINT even more!  But ordinary and close are where I spend most of my time.  To find the inspiration there makes me grateful for "the daily". 

Last week the Daffodils were blooming like crazy right here in my own back yard. I've planted many because they make me happy.  Gone so quickly and with other commitments I wasn't sure I'd get to them.   I will be heading out to teach a class at the Delaware Arts Castle on Flowers in Watercolor and I wanted fresh paintings to bring. (click the link! if you hurry you can still register!) .  Last year I tried to paint every type of flower as it bloomed in my yard.  The Daffodils never turned out.  For years I've painted them and was never really happy with them.  I'm pleased these at least resemble daffodils, even though I did them a little tighter than usual.  (I do that when I'm struggling!)  So from my own back yard I finally had a break through with the Daffodils.  Learning to keep at something and work from the ordinary has been my lesson for the week. Also I learned I'm grateful the deer don't like daffodils!

My challenge to all you creative's out there: find theinspiration in the common, the daily, the ordinary.  I hope it makes you happy and grateful.  It does me. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sketching Addiction

So how do you make a commitment to a sketch a day journal for an ENTIRE YEAR?  By now, as I said a few blogs back, most of us have given up our new years resolutions.  Let's face it, it's hard to stick to this stuff.    Our "beginnings" are usually good things.  I mean no one vows to drive on the wrong side of the road once a day, right?  These are good habits and intentions we have.  Things we are trying to cement into place to make our lives better.  So why don't they stick?

Why don't we just keep our resolutions?  Is it really that hard to change?  Well, yes.  Most of the time we just loose steam.  It seems less important than it did when we started.  Or, life gets in the way.  You only have time for so many things in a day and crowding one more thing in is just one too many!  In my life I know that if it does not flow easily into my routine it will not last long!  So I've learned that to effect any real change in my life I need to have a clear focus and make it as easy to do as possible! 

We know it takes 21 days to break or form a habit.  But what is a habit?  The definition of habit that applies to this is A: a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance  B: an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary.  and finally C:  addiction. 

And so A and B are what I'm talking about.  This little sketch book is maybe 5 x 8 with half page entries for each day.  Honey, that's a 5x4 inch space to sketch in--it wont take all day!!  We can fit this in our purse and take it with us.  My point is that it's easy to fit into my life from a size and time standpoint.  Now all it takes is the doing!  So in making it easy I will be more likely to do it and therefore establish a habit.  

Now while definition C has negative connotations, might I suggest that's what artists are?  Addicts.  Addicts in a good way.  Addicted to beauty.  Addicted to expression.  Addicted to the flow of watercolor pigment on the paper or feel of a brush in our hand.  Addicted to the potential of blank canvas or the smell of the oil paint.  We see the world as something to be embraced and recorded. 

So I hope this daily sketching habit becomes and addiction or "nearly or completely involuntary".    I've sketched daily for extended periods before but never a year.  I saw the value in just the short times I took the challenge and I'm excited to see how this changes me and my art.  I will have a visual record of a year-will there be recurring themes?  Will I see improvement in my drawing skill?  Will I find out something about myself on this journey?  I'm sure all of those are true and more. 
Robert Henri says you can't finish a thing you have not begun. I invite you to do it with us. Become a sketch addict!! 

Happy sketching! 

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Visual Journal

I love the promise of spring.  It's been such a mild winter and this past week has been so warm I have been out in it as much as I can.  Officially, the First Day of Spring (Spring Equinox) is on Tuesday, March 20, 2012.  But I'm here to say it has arrived early and I, for one, am all the happier to see it!!

Every spring brings with it the promise of renewal.  On my walk yesterday I was noticing all the tender buds in the understory that could still be damaged by cold temperatures.  They push forth and take the risk.  Sometimes warm temps coax them out early and they are bitten by frost.  I've lost a whole "crop" of lilac blooms to a cold snap!  That, to me, is a tragedy!

While walking and contemplating spring buds, my mind wandered to my best friend's daughter.  Missy is a very talented young woman I had the privilege to nurture in her art when I still lived close. I wondered as I walked that day if she still had the time and energy to do her own work.  An artist's work, you know?  The art that makes an artist happy, like a spring day--new each time full and of promise!  The art with all the possibilities and newness of the spring.  So I asked her if she found much time for it.  Of course, she doesn't.  Life is full and busy.  But in my head I knew I had to encourage her--heck-I have to encourage me-to do what is such a part of me but so easy to set aside.  So I asked her if she'd like to do a sketch a day journal with me this year.  She agreed and we started a yearly visual journal to sketch a small sketch each day.  Not a "have to" thing.  More like a place to nurture that part of ourselves.  A simple act to reinforce who we are and what we love. 
So here we go on a year long journey.  Daily short trips to ourselves. I'm excited!  Thanks for walking with me for the year Missy! 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Art at the Arnold 2012

Finished painting on Saturday

This is the third year I've participated in Art at the Arnold.  Every year it is an adventure all its own.  You would think by the third year I'd get in some kind of groove, wouldn't you? 

Art at the Arnold is, after all, a competition.  In keeping with that, you hope to do some of your best work.  It's a lot of pressure!  Not only can you tank in front of the public.  Them, I tell myself, you will never see again.  But bombing out in front of your peers?  Ouch.  So why, every year, do I pick the hardest model to paint?  The one I am least prepared to paint? (slow learner?) The one with the least clothes and most skin (I don't get a chance to paint many dark skinned people and hardly ever in watercolor) and overly developed musculature!  Why didn't I pick the beautifully lit blond haired blue eyed cheer leader or the female martial arts model in full white uniform?

closeup of the model I tried to paint
Friday was a disaster.  That and my experience last year gave me doubts.  I went home very discouraged.  God bless my supportive husband.  He let me get it all out.  Then he pointed out that I can actually paint and that I let my own thoughts derail me every year.  And he stood me up the next morning and marched me out!! 

So on the drive in I reminded myself of all I had in my corner.  I also reminded myself that tomorrow, no matter the outcome, the sun would still rise.  Sometimes I take all this so seriously.  And once again, I decided to enjoy my peeps and have fun!  That's the magic.  I mean, if it's no fun, what's the point?

I printed several photos with different subjects and decided to choose one that morning with fresh eyes.  I chose this photo reference for several reasons. To me, these ballroom dancers have so much fun.  And I LOVE to dance!  The bright pink scarf in contrast to the black and white.  The glasses, which up close were also checked.  I loved the pose.  Most of all, it was the skirt.  The checks, the blur and the twirl of it!! 

Many decisions are made during the painting process.  All my decisions were based on fun!  Keep the glasses?  It was harder because they are so small, but I think they add to the fun.  The colors in the background?  Obviously not in the photo, but bright, fun and complimentary to the scarf and tie.  I think the thing that made it for me is the skirt.  At one point, what I would do with the skirt was at issue.  Could I pull of the checks without it becoming too busy?  I knew I wanted to do the blur but I wondered if painting the skirt a solid would help me stick to my philosophy that less is more.   I conferred with friends and took the risk.  Saturday it paid off.   Friday it didn't. 

Not a winner this year.  Or maybe I am :) 


Thursday, March 1, 2012

What do Arnold Schwarzeneggar and Michelle Morris have in Common??

Ballroom Dancer from Art at the Arnold 2010

The Arnold sports festival is held in Columbus every year.  The festival has expanded into the world’s largest multi-sport fitness weekend since its 1989 beginning as The Arnold Classic as a one-day professional men’s bodybuilding competition.  It is an experience to say the least! 

This will be my third year to compete at the Arnold.   Didn't know I was that physically fit, did you??  Well, I'm not.  But I am competing in the "Art at the Arnold".  The 3rd Annual Art at the Arnold competition during the Arnold Sports Festival will again use this unique venue for artists to portray athletes and sports action on March 2-4 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center (GCCC).  The 3-day event allows artists to compete and entertain spectators by creating paintings from dozens of sports that range from archery to weightlifting. Artists will create their work in the open concourse between the GCCC and the Hyatt Regency Hotel. The exhibit will be March 4 on the second floor of the GCCC. (that's straight from the promo!)

There are so many talented artist's that participate, many of whom are my friends.  It's three days of intense work and long hours.  And it can be a lot of pressure.  But it is a huge amount of fun!  I am looking forward to finding a subject that inspires and hopefully create a piece I am proud to show on Sunday. 

If you get to the festival this weekend, drop by the concourse and say hello!  Wish me luck!