Friday, November 27, 2009

Carbohydrate Overload

I really intended to get this finished yesterday, before the start of the bacchanalian feast known here in the U.S. as "Thanksgiving".  It's our day to surround ourselves with loved ones (or family, as the case may be), give thanks for what we have (or gripe about what we don't), and eat to the point where we collapse on the couch in a self-induced coma of gluttony.   It's also the annual economic boon to turkey farmers, wineries, and antacid manufacturers everywhere.

I have much to be thankful for, far too many things to list here without making your eyes glaze over, and making your index finger click the 'back' button on your browser.  To be succinct, I am eternally grateful for Net, my ever supportive "partner in crime", our health, our wonderful friends and family, our cuddly and adorable pets, and a place to call home.  Im also eternally grateful and thankful for the people who chose to read, follow, and comment on this blog, your support and interaction is invaluable to me.  And to the fellow artists I've had the priveledge to get to know the past year, both in person, on the blogs, and on the forums, you are an inspiration, and your encouragement helps keep this little art dream alive.  'Nuff said.

So as you can see,  Right Brain won out, and another Chuck piece was the result.  I'm not confident enough yet to put down thick strokes of pure color.  I'm also quite nearsighted, so I have a habit of sitting way too close to the easel, even with my glasses on.  The colors look quite individual when your nose is mere inches away from the canvas, but back up a little, and it all blends in together.  Another bad habit I'm going to have to overcome.

Ground Chuck
7" X 5", acrylic on Canson paper
©2009, Lisa Walsh

Now I need to shift gears a bit.  At our annual Zoo Holiday party this year, my co-workers and I have the chance to display our artistic side. It may be paintings, drawings, stories, poems, crafts, or whatever creative bent we may have.  For me, it'll be paintings of wildlife, and the occasion to have my art publicly viewed.  In person.  For the first time.  I'm not freaking out about this.  Yet.

My Muse is putting away the Chucks.  To opportunity, and beyond!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Skipping Out On My Own Class

My impatience (maybe it's ADD?) kicked in again.  I was fully planning on doing more timed exercises....really I was.  But I've had that 'California colorist' palette simmering in the back of my brain for days now, and, as it is for most of my obsessive thoughts, it won't go away and leave me alone until I do something with it.  So I spent several days studying the paintings of Beverly Wilson, because I really like her palette and painting style.  What colors does she use (hmmm...looks like cad yellow, cad orange, ultramarine blue, magenta....darn, I don't have any magenta, pyrrole crimson will have to do), how does she use them, where does she use them in relation to other colors, etc., etc., etc.  Armed with just enough information to make myself think I could try it, I photographed my trusty chili-red Converse All Star shoe, and got to work.

Colorist Chuck
7" X 5', acrylic on Canson paper
©2009, Lisa Walsh

It was a bit mind boggling to try and switch from painting based mainly on color value to painting based more on color temperature.  I think I nearly gave myself a cerebral hemorrhage.  By the time I finished the shoe, and began doing the shadow, my brain cells curled into a ball and gave up.  At that point, I really didn't have a clue as to what to use for the shadow colors, so I splashed on some of the colors I used in the shoe, put down my brush and backed slowly away from the easel.  Fear not, no shoes were harmed in the making of this painting. 

My left brain says I should be a responsible adult, buckle down and get back to the timed painting exercises.  My right brain is stuck on the Chucks.  Stay tuned to see who wins.

My Muse is holding a kitchen timer in one hand, and a chili-red Chuck in the other.  To immaturity, and beyond!

Friday, November 20, 2009


After a brief hiatus, enjoying sun, sand, surf and Scuba in the Florida Keys, I decided that when I got home, I was going to quit whining and procrastinating, and challenge myself.  (Is it legal to put that many commas in a single sentence?)  I based it on Katharine Cartwright's Twenty Minute Challenge.  I won't be submitting this one to the challenge, however, because...well.....I cheated.  Usually I get lost in a painting;  planning, drawing, painting then painting again, tweaking and fussing, doing and re-doing.  I never put myself under a time restraint before, so I decided to give myself some wiggle room on the first one. I did do a starting sketch, rather than just jumping into the painting (I don't trust my drawing skills to produce something recognizable in that short a period of time), and I gave myself thirty minutes instead of twenty to complete the painting.

The time constraint really made me think about what I was going to do before I put brush to paper.  Plan the colors, plan the procedure (ok...background first, then foreground, then shadow, then shoe, and finally the laces), get ready, get set.....GO!

I wasn't going to name these little exercise pieces, but I couldn't help being a smart aleck with the title. :-P

Up Chuck
7" X 5", acrylic on Canson paper
© 2009, Lisa Walsh

I gotta admit, it was fun.  The paint had to go on quick, thick and opaque to cover the black gesso background.  No muss, no fuss, no smoothing or blending or glazing, just lots o' paint from palette to paper, as fast as my little half-inch brush could pick it up.  Under normal circumstances, would I still be fiddling with this?  You betcha.  But I'm liking the lessons learned from this little study, so there will be more in the coming days.

My Muse is wiping sweat from my brow.  To brevity, and beyond!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Walk This Way

This is my latest entry into Karin Jurick's Different Strokes challenge.  I loved the overhead perspective which created an abstract feel to the figures.

Walking in Rhythm
10" x 8", acrylic on Canson Acrylic paper
©2009 by Lisa Walsh

I tend to have total brain blocks when trying to name a painting.  I'll think, and ponder, and finally agonize, hoping that a witty and appropriate title will suddenly pop into my head.  I usually wind up disappointed, with a splitting headache.   To make this ever so much easier on myself (and since I'm running low on Aleve), I decided to use popular song titles to name the works.  'Walking In Rhythm' was a 1975 hit by The Blackbyrds.

My Muse is out for a stroll.  To musicality, and beyond!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wheel of (mis)Fortune

Does anyone else here collect color wheels?



Am I alone in this obsession?

As I stumble along trying to teach myself the many nuances of color use and theory, I have amassed a fairly sizeable collection of color wheels: The Quiller Wheel, the Artell Wheel, Nita Leland's Color Wheel, Harley Brown and Margaret Kessler's versions of the Munsell Color Wheel, Bruce MacEvoy's Handprint Color Wheel, just to name a few.

And. Every. Single. One. Is. Different.

Some slightly different.  Some majorly different.  And it initially drove me crazy.  Why wasn't there ONE darn color wheel?

When I first started this little artistic expedition, I was turning out little works that couldn't possibly be called art that even the dogs refused to look at.  I knew I needed help, and lots of it, and I wanted to find some answers.  Being impatient when it comes to these things, I wanted sinple, straightforward answers on how to improve my artwork.  I wanted to create good art NOW.   I wanted to find a book or a class that would say "Here.  Here's everything you need to know.  Here's the steps you take to create the perfect composition.  Here's the colors you should use on your palette, and how you should use them.  Here's how to create great art.  Start at Step 1, and go on from there."

Phooey.  I never did find that book, and never will, but I read many, many good ones in the interim.   It's taken a few years just to start figuring out some of the answers to some of the questions.  Just figuring out the difference between the typical triadic color wheel, and the Munsell version of the color wheel gives me a small personal thrill.  So I read, and I research, and I study, and I practice, and I busily collect the basic tools and rules, and file them away under "Things I Think I've Figgered Out".

A lot if it is about how very personal art is.  How we do it.  How we view it.  Our preference of mediums, supports, subjects, and styles.  Some painters use the three primary colors and white as their palette, some use more than fifty different colors.  Even if we all used the exact same palette in the exact same medium, our art would still be individual. It's whatever works for each artist, however they get there, whatever diverse and different paths they take. With every piece, a little bit of each artist is transformed into the physical world. Understanding this, and seeing that little bit of each artist makes the viewing that much more interesting. I always thought it would be interesting to be a traditional animation artist. Wouldn't it be fascinating to see characters you've drawn on paper actually come to life on a screen, complete with voices and personalities, lives and adventures?  It has a certain draw to it (no pun intended).

OK, I'm done waxing philosophic.  While exploring the Interwebs, I came upon two artists who use their respective palettes brilliantly. Mario Mirkovich creates incredible, classically composed landscapes with beautiful colors. Beverly Wilson also creates incredible landscapes and figures, in the style of the "California Colorists".  What fabulous stuff!  Give me a few seconds to put my eyes back in my skull and stop drooling all over my keyboard.  I would love to experiment with the "California Colorist" colors, it's a beautifully luminous palette.

Another favorite artist, Katharine Cartwright (check out her "Eggshell" series) is starting a new blog called "The Twenty Minute Challenge".  In this challenge, you start with a blank piece of paper, set a timer for twenty minutes, and draw or paint something in your surroundings.  It has to be painted from life, and when the timer goes off, it's done.  No going back.  Sounds like a great exercise for those of us who have short attention spans, and need to learn how to make every brushstroke count.  I know that doing "exercises" like these could help me tremendously, but I find myself whining and making excuses not to do them.  Time to suck it up, take twenty minutes, and maybe even learn a thing or two.

My Muse is digging through the kitchen junk drawer trying to find the timer.  To achievability, and beyond!