Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Perfect Studio

How I envie those artists with studios larger than my house! I imagine myself in those glossy art magazine photos of huge gleaming studios with views of expansive vistas. The great works of art I could make in such a setting!

I'm currently working under unusual conditions in a corner of a tiny bedroom. If I step back, I'm likely to step on the cat who lives there. Yet I've managed to complete three paintings and even made a breakthrough discovery in one.

Toes in the Sand ©Theresa Grillo Laird - oil on canvas- 18x24

So, what makes a perfect studio?... the artist within it. More specifically, the mindset of the artist within it. If you can find within you the focus to keep working no matter what the obstacles, any "studio" is the perfect studio.

And yes, I'm still working towards that big beautiful hardwood floored gallery/studio high in the mountains overlooking the coast!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

There's Something About Warm Colors

 When I was in Kindergarden I thought something was wrong with me because my favorite color was orange when everyone else's was either red or blue. For a while, I even hid my color preference from my classmates. But those sunny colors wouldn't stay repressed. There is something about warm colors that makes me smile. They are "feel good" colors.

Sunset Over the Bayou - 30x40 oil on birch panel
contact me if interested in this painting

Yellow is now the color that sends me scurrying through art bins looking for every variety and shade. Yellow is also the color that there is the most difference in from brand to brand. One company's Cadmium Yellow Light is another brand's Cadmium Yellow Medium.

One of my favorite yellows is Old Holland Red Gold Lake. Straight from the tube it's a slightly dark subdued orange red. Depending on what colors you place around it, it can look screaming red. But when you start to add white, it changes until it becomes a very soft light yellow.

I love how it modifies greens. They turn olive without getting dark and murky. As an orange, it seems richer than cadmium orange.

It certainly isn't an essential color for anyone's palette but it's one I never get tired of. What is your favorite painting color?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

How To Survive Artistic Rejection

Let me tell you about my first artistic triumph.

I was about 5 or 6 at the time. Turning the corner one day, I came upon my little brother happily drawing in crayon on the whitewashed surface of the back of our house. My first reaction was to gleefully tell him how much trouble he was going to be in. But then, I picked up a dark blue crayon, and joined him.  I can still feel the delicious drag of that crayon through the thick white powder.

I don't know what suddenly seized me- I knew nothing about portraits- but I turned to my brother and said "look at me so I can draw you". He cheerfully obliged and I began drawing. And boy, did I nail it!
That drawing had everything- his square face, and half moon eyes, curly hair and a striped tee shirt on his sturdy little body. Everything just appeared under my hand, perfect and utterly effortless. I was so excited I had to shout!
 "Ma! Ma! Come look at this!"

I'm sure I don't need to tell you how my creation was received.

The odd thing was that I knew I had discovered something absolutely amazing about the act of creating that no degree of disapproval could take away. I also knew the drawing was good even if no one else could see it.

And so I learned the first important lesson of my young art life: When in your heart of hearts you know you've found something good and you know you're right, it gives you a strength way beyond the actions of the most formidable critic.

Of course over time, with finer tuned eyes, I saw that blue stick figure with it's square head and fusilli hair for what it was. But I never forgot that I could count on whatever it was that resided within me, that had guided my hand and fueled my soul that day.

What is a Plein Air Painting?

"Plein Air" simply translated, means painted while out in the open air.

Artists have always painted and sketched outdoors but these works were traditionally thought of as studies for larger studio work. The French Impressionists were among the first to present their outdoor works as finished pieces. Their aim was to portray modern life in all it's immediacy.

I am a plein air painter... or so I thought. I've been painting outdoors for years. So, lately I've been surprised by a new and more rigid definition of plein air and by the vehemence of those who insist on only this definition. Plein air "purists" maintain that a work has to be completed rapidly outdoors with little or no revision back in the studio.
It's interesting that past artists both here and abroad who made the plein air movement popular, never imposed that condition on themselves. They didn't find it necessary to place limitations on their working method in order to feel that their outdoor work was valid. The point was to produce the best work possible.

The plein air movement is stronger than ever today. There are legions of artists who can paint a scene in 2 hours or less and some people would argue that this ability is a sign of their talent. Often, the results are beautiful. But equally often I'm left wishing for those further touches of paint that earlier artists had no problem adding if it aided their painting. I think the unique and recognizable styles of these earlier artists is partly due to the fact that they painted as well as they could indoors and out with no thought to what critics might say about how they arrived at their results.

What do you think determines what a plein air painting is??
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