Saturday, November 28, 2015

30 hours. What would you do with it?

If there's any complaint common to most of us, it's that there's not enough time. Not enough time to make art, run your art business and run your life. For the past couple of years, my own daily art practice has been interrupted with time consuming family needs. In trying to get a handle on such an unpredictable schedule, I recently calculated how much time I actually have to devote to art. Since about 30 hours a week of relief is currently in place, that's a good number to start with. 

Needless to say, these hours will have to be used wisely. It almost makes me wish I was a faster painter, but thinking and sensing my way though a painting is as much a part of the end result as any component.

It will be fun and a challenge to figure out how to carve up the 30 hours. In the past few years I've entered competitions, tried for grants, taught classes and attempted to start an art residency program. But now everything that isn't exactly in line with the goals nearest my heart, has to be discarded.  I'll probably use 20 hours to paint and 10 for business. It probably should be closer to half and half but I need to get enough paintings done for the coming year. All I know for sure us that I'll have to maintain a sharp focus. 

What would you do with big dreams and a small time budget? What would you do with 30 hours?

Saturday, November 21, 2015

What do you do with those paintings that don't work?

©Theresa Grillo Laird, A Soft Light, oil, 12 x 16"

Let's face it. Paintings pile up, and they're not all good. In fact, if your're trying something new- a new palette, a new working method, plein air instead of studio work- you probably have a lot of paintings that aren't that good. You might even have paintings from a while ago in a different style than you're now working in. Or maybe you did as well as you could at that point, but now you have greater skill. So what do you do with all these paintings that are not quite good enough to see the light of day?

First off, don't through them out. If you don't have storage space, try painting on pieces of canvas or linen taped to foam-core. If the painting is a keeper, you can always glue it to a panel.
Pieces that didn't work often have something within them that did work. These pieces can be kept as part of your reference material. They can also serve as a record of where you've come from and can silence the voices that tell you you aren't making progress.

Plein air pieces are generally ones that you don't have a big time investment in. If they have no record of anything you might want to refer to later, they can just be played with. The painting above is an example. It bears very little resemblance to the original scene. The time of day was changed as well as the width of the stream and the background.

With those paintings that you did as well as you could with at the time, it's fun to look back at them and realize that you now know how to solve the problem you were having. If you feel like working on them again, go ahead! Take a quick photo of the before, then have at it!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Standing with France

an early painting by Alson Clark in France 

I was going to write this post about what to do with paintings you're less than happy with. But the horror in Paris on November 13 makes it necessary to pause in solidarity with the grieving people of France.

As artists, we're a world wide community connected, through art, with even the past and future artists. We are -all of us- also one one body of humanity on this earth. Friday's acts of savagery are against all of us who seek to live in peace and with respect for each other despite our differences.

The first thing I did on September 11 2001 after the attack on our country, was call my family members.In a world that had suddenly changed so drastically, the comfort and familiarity of family seemed the only antidote to the madness. In the weeks afterwards when the World Trade Center continued to burn, I found myself in a state of mind where painting was impossible. Creating art seemed like a trivial pursuit when so many people were dealing with overwhelming loss. It took 3 months to pick up a brush again. Later I learned that many artists had the same reaction.

Years ago, in elementary school, there was a children's magazine put out by National Geographic. I looked forward to each new edition fascinated by the articles and pictures of children in other parts of the world and eager to see how their lives compared to my own. What a joyous way to view the world recognizing the differences in other cultures but looking for the common ground! Its hard to understand how people who foster divisiveness and who promote rigid ideologies can wish to deny their own children this same joy. And how do the rest of us deal with people who can't grasp that we're all in this boat together?

My thoughts and prayers are with the people of France.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Greater Gulf Coast Arts Festival

It's that time of year again for The Greater Gulf Coast Art Festival! I always make a point of seeing the show. The artists come from all over the US and it's interesting to see what's going on in other parts of the country. Sometimes you see something that gives you ideas to use in your own art. 

The show is exceptionally good this year. For me, the last 2 or 3 years of the festival  have been disappointing. There seemed to be fewer and fewer paintings each year and more and of the kind of thing that might have commercial application. But this year, it looks like an art festival with a lot of paintings and other creations that look fresh from the studio.

I enjoyed the work of artist David Skinner.Though he lives now in North Carolina, he grew up in California and knew many of my favorite places to paint on the coast.

I loved this work by Amy Lennard Gmelin. Each of these stone portals hold a candle or plant or some small item. The focus on the solitary element nestled in warmly colored stone seems like the perfect thing to create your own meditative environment.

With a steady rain falling now, I hope the show doesn't get rained out for it's last day on Sunday. If you're anywhere near Pensacola, it's worth a look.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Lost the Ability to Paint?

Sailing Lessons ©2015 Theresa Grillo Laird - 9x12 - oil on panel
contact artist to purchase this plein air piece

It happens to everyone at some time or another. Sometimes when trying something new, sometimes for no reason at all, you run into a period where your paintings just don't work. The harder you try the worse they get, until in a panic you start to think that you've completely lost the ability to paint.  

The only way past this paralyzing fear is to push through it, and even that doesn't work sometimes. Then you're left trying one solution after another, each not working and each telling you more insistently that you can't paint. 

When I find myself in this dark place, my path out is to go blank in my thinking and feelings so all the voices and agitation are silenced. In that empty space, you just proceed. And before long you'll have the proof before you that all isn't lost!
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