Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘#Artist Mary Chamie’

Art is my muse. From art, I receive an endless supply of inspiration.
While I like to think that I an in charge of the creative process and am inspiring the painting, I am finding instead that the creative process of art is actually inspiring me.

Here is an example.

The idea of painting a bird series started when I was doing a small watercolor on one of those commercially produced blank watercolor cards that I planned to send to a friend (Perspective 1). Unexpectedly, this small watercolor painting on a greeting card became a source of inspiration for an exploratory series of paintings experimenting with alternative media.

At first I asked, how might this painting have looked if I had used oils instead of watercolors?

Perspective 1: Watercolor and ink, 4” x 6”

When I first noticed the birds, they were running as a glorious team in front of ocean waves softly rolling into the beach, the birds hurriedly capturing their meal of tiny fishes and bugs from the sand as the waves rushed back to the sea.

It was a few hours before winter sunset on the Abacos islands. The birds and I were standing on the beach in the sharp shadows and strongly contrasting light of early dusk. As I stepped closer to them, the birds fearlessly continued to shift back and forth with the waves, their legs moving quickly and in unison. It was fascinating to watch them perform with such measured uniformity of step. When I walked a bit too close for their comfort they started to skitter away.

And it is that particular moment, when they shifted their attention, that I wanted to paint.

Perspective 2: Oil painting, 22” x 28”

After completing the small watercolor sketch (Perspective 1), I decided to try again in oils on canvas, this time with greater attention to the late afternoon ocean colors, but still using a similar structure for the painting, resulting in Perspective 2. This oil painting reflected more stillness with most of the movement being from the waves washing against the shore while the birds stayed in position enjoying feeding time while small waves washed over them.

I decided to try the painting again and increase the commotion in the picture.

Wet- on- wet background in watercolor

To do this, I started by preparing a background of wet-on-wet watercolors on paper. Once this dried, I then watercolored over it and also used ink to complete the painting. The resultant painting called Perspective 3 is below. It did have the desired feel of commotion while also adding new lines and shades of interpretation.

.

Perspective 3: Watercolor on paper, 8” x 11”

Moving on, I tried again, this time asking, can I replicate this painting using a digital arts package such as Procreate?

I started by using a photo of the same wet-on-wet watercolor background that was used for painting Perspective 3 and super-imposed graphics over it. The birds were superimposed over the photo as were shades of color and selected lines. This was experimental on my part and was a first attempt at actually using digital arts for a painting . Here is what happened (Perspective 4).

Perspective 4: Digital Art using Procreate on an I-Pad

It struck me as odd that the only way I could produce Perspective 4 was to print it out, or I would have no physical evidence of my art piece. But that is the nature of digital design.

I also did one piece that was digital only, just for fun and it is Perspective 5. This time I focused attention to the birds’ positioning, letting the motion be implied by the waves .

Perspective 5: Digital Art

Finally, I returned to the physicality of oil paints and canvas and tried the same idea as an abstraction and this is what happened.

I continued to keep a similar structure in my mind while attempting to tell the story of the birds through color variations, brush movements and paint textures. My goal was to leave the feeling of moving water and birds without actually painting them as objects, resulting in Perspective 6.

This was also a challenge for me as I have struggled to reach all the way to abstraction and beyond impressionism. This time I think I made it.


Perspective 6: Oil painting on canvas,” 22’ x 28”

What did I learn from all these variations on the same painting?

What I learned is that the perspective that I take affects the outcome more that I ever might expect, even when the goal or intention of the painting is roughly the same.

As an analogy, if I were writing a story and I choose to write it in the first person, or the third person, it changes the orientation of the story. If I choose this actor or that actor to play the part in a play, or make a remark, the perspective of the story subtly shifts. If I choose these words over others, the entire mood of the short story may change.

The resultant stories that we tell or write have their own lives, independent of the writer’s or the story teller’s original intention. This is true, as well for art.

I believe that this is why it feels so daring to paint and why sometimes people may initially shy away from trying it. It is because each piece of art has a life of its own. It is because of what we may reveal in the process and may not necessarily expect. Perhaps we don’t even initially know this is going to be the painting we have in mind. But now that it is completed we see it as a real and independent construct that may, perhaps, be scrutinized by others, reinterpreted and possibly shared in new ways.

It is very daring to go through this creative endeavor, almost always resulting in further development and inspiration.

Art remains my muse.

Read Full Post »

I call this oil painting “Beginnings”.

It went through several iterations and is part of a project that I am working on.

Beginnings, in oils on canvas, 22” x 28”

There is a feeling of satisfaction and a type of introspection going on in my head when doing a creative study such as this as I freely put up the colors and textures where I want them, adding them with a joyous sort of freedom.

This is the first abstract I have tried that I sense is complete. It is a complete thought, an idea that I envisioned using a brush and some paints.

I don’t want to touch it.

No mini maneuvering would improve it for me. It is a new beginning, unexplained and free.

Read Full Post »

Water color collage
Cut up pieces of watercolor art glued on poster board

Some time ago when the Global Pandemic was first announced and before there were Covid vaccines, we were in our home for long periods of time. I started taking some zoom art classes. One very enjoyable zoom class was conducted by the artist Poca Kim and was offered through the Oregon Society of Artists.

Painted over with acrylic

Through our zoom meetings, Poca Kim introduced me to the idea of cutting up old watercolor and acrylic paintings to inspire new paintings. I made a number of collages using old paintings that I had no intention of using. I imagined myself peering into cities from what might be a prison, but also might be tree trunks.

At the time that I did these collages, I thought that I was viewing the city from the perspective of the safety of nature. Looking back on these photos, I now see that I was also indirectly messaging the idea of viewing the world from a sort of prison-like setting of a Global Pandemic.

Much like a diary, old paintings tell stories too.

Read Full Post »

Haystack Reflections, water color, 8″ by 11″

Water color of a monstrous rock that juts out along the Oregon Coast, near Cannon Beach, a popular place for photographs.

Haystack Rock monumentally interrupts the horizon while proving irresistible to soaring birds and crashing waves. It is an awesome place.

The number of reflections that play off of it feel infinite, whether it is bathed in sunshine or covered by fog.

Haystack Rock, personal photo

Read Full Post »

This painting of the birds went through a number of transitions.  Each painting that I did on the way, holds personal meaning for me.

I like to paint something using different perspectives, over a period of time. Depending upon my mood and what medium I am using, a painting may be completed in a few minutes.  At other times, it may result in a long and more “drawn out” relationship with the subject that has many layers and glazes of paint.  

In this water color and ink painting shown immediately below, my relationship with these birds started out in a rather carefree manner.  It was a small painting, only 4″ x 6″, and I wanted it to be an inspiration for a larger painting on the same subject.  I did this watercolor and ink in a matter of a few minutes.

The Birds (Watercolor and ink)

What is it about this tiny watercolor painting that feels so big and bold?  It is actually a very small painting, but I feel that it has the sense of being large. I like the way that the reflections and shadows of the birds dance around in the swirling sand and water. The birds’ dark shadows disrupt the soft  blue, reflective water as ocean waves press and pull the birds inward and outward, while they scurry around and search for food.

When I paint them again, this time in mostly transparent oils, using a much larger canvas, the mood changes.  The birds become steadier, and more firmly geometrically situated, implying a kind of calligraphy on the canvas.

(Oil)

If I had all the canvas and space in the world, I would not continually paint over what I have painted, but would keep each stage as a chapter of a “book painting”.

(Oil)

Moving from moody and earth toned, I start adding brighter oil colors to the proposed calligraphy of birds.

As this process progresses, the version of the painting becomes less calligraphic, but instead allows each bird and wave to be individually reflected upon.

In the end, I chose to leave the final painting lighter, softer, and less moody than how I started, mainly by smoothing out the ocean water’s movements and lightening it up through a series of tonal washers, or glazes. In the finished painting, the beach was a softer, lighter color of browns than the dark brown birds with their white bellies, offering some contrast between them, but not creating strong calligraphic marks as I initially had. Here is the result.

The Birds (Oil)

This dialogue between the birds and me has been prolonged through quiet moments of shifting dispositions and is now turning into several months of visitation. Our conversation is so interesting that I am sure we could continue this dialogue for several months more. However, I am getting restless.

It is now time to move on, to try new ways of thinking with paint.

What did I learn from this painting? I learned that the quick movements of inspiration are hard to keep. But perhaps they are not for keeping. What they do instead, is attract the painter to the idea of the painting. One might stop there. Or one may press forward and consider the depth of the attraction, sometimes realizing that at the end of the painting, there is a relationship over time rather than a single result.

My painting are already abstract, but I hope to play with abstraction even more. The aim is to keep the thought, without committing completely to the shapes, of reality.

Read Full Post »

When I was a child, some of the first things I thought to draw were pictures of the sky. It would seem that clouds were the easiest thing to draw in the world. I took my crayon, put up a white oblong shape, perhaps with the yellow sun peeking out, and was done. Voila! I had painted a cloud.

Clouds over Water, oil painting

Now that I am an adult, painting clouds as part of a painting exercise for an art course, I am amazed how elusive, expressive and complicated they are. Where does a cloud begin, and when does it end? How does the sky manage to peek through the clouds in such soft and unimaginably subtle ways? Do I ever really paint a cloud, or rather an allusion to one?

The more I paint them, the more amazed I am with the ephemeral nature of clouds.

Clouds over Island Sunrise, Oil painting

It is a challenge to use less and less color in a painting, yet still have the colors of the atmosphere roaring through, bouncing everywhere, not respecting boundaries. I think this happens often because of our focus on light streams and reflection, in addition to shape.

This seems to be true, even when painting clouds from the light of the moon.

Clouds in Moon Light, Oil Painting
Clouds in Moon Light, Water Color, Ink and Gesso

Now that this idea of painting clouds has become part of my daily art routine, I expect to see many new ways to relate to them with canvas, brushes and paint. Once discovered, never forgotten.

The above paintings were completed this year, during the period of time that I have been taking the art classes of Michael Orwick, offered through the Oregon Society of Artists.

Read Full Post »

These are my notes for paintings that I am working on in an art course on The Value of Design taught by Michael Orwick through the Oregon Society of Artists

I started this fourth week by finishing off a painting of the Oregon mountains, using a tonalist style. I liked working on tonalism and decided to continue using this style for our next assignment.

Our goal is that by the end of the fourth week of this class to complete a painting while going through all of the steps we have learned thus far.

For this assignment, I choose a landscape photo that I had taken while in Afghanistan for my next painting.

In May 2003, I led a United Nations statistical mission to Afghanistan in order to review a proposal for a census program for the war-torn country. Our team worked on this project for several weeks. The team was comprised of national statisticians from a number of countries, staying in a relatively secure location, but still very aware that we were in areas where heavy fighting occurs. It was a complicated mission, with difficult decisions, yet we could not but look up from our work and around at the ancient beauty of this city, this country, gateway to Europe and Asia. Kabul is a city of many languages, many ethnic groups, many years of sophisticated history.

It is worth noting that the earliest example of an oil painting was found in Afghanistan in caves near the ancient Buddhas that were recently destroyed by the Taliban. Scientists confirmed that some of the paintings were completed in as early as the fifth century, long before any other civilizations used oils for painting. The art history of Afghanistan is long and fascinating.

Looking up into the foothills surrounding Kabul, I cannot tell where the housing stops, and the hills begin. The soft tonal colors of the boulders up on the foothills mix with the angular shapes of homes. Higher homes have been hastily built as safe havens from street fighting occurring below. They are built at times without the privilege of electricity or septics, some with only walls up, windows and doors still hollowed out. Homes, to hide in, to tuck away in, as war and street-fighting have torn at this nation.

Our class has been discussing the art of tonalism, and since I wanted to paint a landscape, I decided to try working on a picture of an Afghani settlement in the foothills of Kabul. The soft pastels that of Afghanistan’s hills and valleys are often dotted with the bright blues of women’s robes (burkahs) as the women often wear them when walking outdoors in public. Soft greens of trees and fields are seen in the valleys of the Hindu Kush Mountains, often cut by a moving mountain stream flowing through. If one sees soft beige, slight pinks and purples, the observer is probably looking slightly upward at the foothills and the homes made out of a combination of handmade bricks, soft grey-brown mud, and some cement often sheltered by grey and purple foothills. The shockingly high mountains are differentiated mainly through varying shades of white snow, which I was not going to depict in this painting.

In a previous blog where I sketched out my plan, I decided to name this painting “Upwards”. I chose that title because upwards seemed to be where everybody was going. I thought I should photograph the two distinct kinds of urban settlements we mainly saw. There were those that were settled into the valley, and those headed “upwards”. We needed to learn as much as we could about Afghani settlements, as census-taking, world-wide, still includes the ancient science and art of counting and recording characteristics of every household and individual in a country.

I started with a copy of the uncut, unedited photo that I used for my inspiration for the painting, I do not plan to follow the photo in its entirety, but wish to use it as a reminder of how I felt at the time. My husband Joseph and I had lived in parts of south and western Asia for a number of years, and this place felt familiar, and welcoming to me. It is an amazing amalgam of a number of nearby cultures from the ancient lands of Persia to the Bay of Bengal.

In the process of deciding what aspect of these settlements to paint, I played around with photo cropping and sketching in order to see the big shapes and values better. I also hoped to highlight an Afghani woman walking with a child, her bright blue burkah flowing around her. It is always such a contrast with the softer colors of the streets.

Had I chosen to paint the entire photo, I would have used a diamond shape as my big shape, as seen in the slide show above. But instead, I placed the woman and the little boy off to the side, letting the light come to them. This made the larger shape of the painting more like a Z.

The spilled water on the road was a challenge and I wondered how to include it pouring down the open gutters and into the street, leaving reflections of nearby buildings, rather than the usual flowing rivers that slip through natural landscape paintings.

I started by sketching a variety of scenes, from a simple notan to short sketches of what I hoped to paint. From these sketches, I began to see a clear pattern of shadows highlighting hill homes and big boulders that cover the sides of the hills. I feel that it is important to simply this picture while still keeping the feeling of what it was like to be there.

At some level, I liked it so much I didn’t feel like adding any more paint. But, given that this is a learning device, once it was dry, I proceeded to the next step of adding oil colors over the sketch. I am hoping also, to keep the wood grain of my birch wood canvas showing in the painting, when it is useful to the scene.

Using the method we had earlier learned of placing transparent paint onto the canvas and then using rags or paper towels to remove some of the paint to leave big shapes and values, I ended up this this sketch for my intended oil painting.

“Upwards” oil painting,

This is as far as I got with the idea this week. No doubt, I will work on it some more after it is completely dry. I am interested in trying out various glazings, perhaps an earth red and a mixed blue-grey, to soften some of the bright pink hues of the foothills.

Read Full Post »

This is the second week of our course work held with Michael Orwick on The Value of Design offered by the Oregon Society of Artists. We are still focused on design and are now using a minimal set of oil colors. Our attention this week is on values, that is the lights and darks that will be used in our paintings. Our emphasis is not color. I used four recommended oil colors, that is Earth Red, Ultramarine Blue, Titanium White and also used some Indian Yellow in the preparations of the following “underpainting” to show my intended values.

Oil on composite board

For the first painting above, I used a small piece of composite board, 8″ x 10″. My goal was to show the moonlight and how it is reflecting on the ocean in front of our winter place. The light of the moon strikes the water in the early evening.

Ink, gesso and brush followed by oil paints, 16″ x 20″ wooden birch board

In this second painting, I used a two-part approach on a wooden birch board. First, I sketched the setting using black ink and a brush. Then I gessoed in the light. Once I thought I had what I wanted, I used oils to suggest additional values that I would like to paint in to the picture. This is closer to my more natural way of thinking of paintings.

The earlier ink and gesso looked like this.

Oil on Birch Wood Panel, 12 X 12″

The third design, shown above, is based on the Afghanistan photo and focuses on light and structure while using what is a rather complicated photograph of a settlement in Kabul for my inspiration. In this case, I started with earth red and added blues, as needed. It will be fun to consider how I will paint over this to emphasize the necessary details without overburdening the painting.

Oils, 16″x20″ birch panel

This fourth painting, based on a photo that I took while hiking Mt. Hood, Oregon, is the one that started out as an H design and is now modified in a larger U-shape to focus almost exclusively on the light and shadows of the background mountains, while still hopefully implying that the observer is tucked away into the woods and hills, looking out at the mountains.

This painting has frustrated me the most. I may still ditch it, but am following through for now since I am doing this for a class session and am supposed to be learning from it. My frustration stems from not being perfectly happy with the design. I prefer, in many ways, an earlier sketch that I made and may go back and paint it from this other perspective. Or maybe I will end up doing both?

Earlier sketch of the same place done with ink and gesso, on paper.

In all fairness, however, I would like to add that I do not think that the design that I am painting is necessarily the problem. I may have to go back and capture the light better, like I was doing when I started off. I lost some of the spirit of the painting when I moved to “adding” colors while shaping the mountains. Below shows how my underpainting started off, prior to my adding and painting in earth red. I prefer this to the final underpainting that I made. Perhaps Michael might help me figure out where I fell off the rails with this one?

Earlier design using subtraction method, supplemented with gesso for light.

To summarize, I experimented with several things while working on my underpainting and emphasizing value and structure.

  • I changed the emphasis on the oil colors chosen for the value paintings, to see whether it will help me focus on the values rather than the colors;
  • In some cases I used what Michael Orwick calls a subtraction method of taking paint away to set values; in others, I used addition by adding values to base paint, putting in darks and lights as needed. Although both ways are effective, I personally found the subtraction method more interesting;
  • In the case of the bridge painting, I experimented with using ink to sketch the drawing and gesso to define the light, then painted oils over this design, using additional oils both brushed and rubbed on to the surface, as needed. I really enjoyed working on this as a way of emphasizing light and reflection.
  • Fourth, and finally, I am doing several paintings at once to encourage me to keep looking at the design and to not get too involved in finishing the painting.

It is helping me to go slowly through these exercises and to remind myself what I am doing at this point of the painting. I am focused on structure and value. This approach is a bit like doing physical exercise, where it is usually helpful to take some time out and consider one’s physical positions while doing the exercise, rather than simply aiming to finish, come hell or high water.

In all, I am finding this to be a whole lot of fun.

End of second week.

Read Full Post »