Monday, August 17, 2009

I started this what?

Lets start at the very beginning.....ahh...I'm apparently channeling my inner Julie Andrews. I have had an art Muse for as long as I can recall, although this usually benign Muse sometimes got me into trouble. As a kid, if paper wasn't within easy reach, any flat surface would work as a canvas for my inspirations: the walls, blank book pages, even the underside of the family room coffee table. I had quite the Sistine Chapel-ish mural of a farm going on under that table until I was caught at it one day.

I had the typical girlish obsession with Anything Equine, which started at birth and continues to this day. I had at my personal disposal, thanks to my sisters who had come before me, quite the grade school reading level library of horse books. My very favorite was the Illustrated Junior Library's version of Anna Sewell's Black Beauty, with wonderful illustrations by Fritz Eichenberg. I worshipped that book. I memorized that book and the illustrations. And among it's blank pages, you would find this:

Horse, age 3 (my age, not the horse)

Apparently this particular horse had a glandular problem, but you get the idea. From there, I went on to the unbridled creativity of Paint by Numbers (horses of course. Although I do remember taking a creative leap and painting a deer....once). After dabbling in these for a time, I took yet another creative leap, burst from the restraints of Paint by Numbers, and began to create works like these:

Horse, age 6 (my age, not....oh, you get the idea)

Note that it looks suspiciously like a Paint by Number horse (sans outlines and numbers), but we all have to draw our inspirations from somewhere, don't we? From then on, the sky was the limit! Finally forgoing the equine theme, I discovered landscapes at around age 10:

On canvas, no less! And even forays into other media, like scratchboard:

Okay, we're back to the animal theme, but at least it's not a horse. And from there, you ask? Numerous other works, continued artistic advances, study at an illustrious art school, graduation, a career that feeds the soul of my little art Muse?


During this formative juncture, the powers that be kept insinuating that art was no way to Make A Living. And that you had to Go Into Business if you were to make any sort of decent livable wage. And I bought into that particular theory, even though I humored my Muse by looking into the programs at the School of the Art Institute and the American Academy of Art, and by taking some drawing and commercial art classes at the local community college. But that's as far as it went. By this point, I think my Muse had had enough of this nonsense, packed her bags and took off on a long vacation.

So I Went Into Business. And after being an uninspired office worker for several years, I swore my brain was turning into an unintelligible lump of mush and slowly leaking out of my ears. To stem the flow before my cranium was devoid of any gray matter whatsoever, a change of career was in order. Remember the animal-themed art? Well, I followed that particular thread of interest, gave up my computer and desk for a uniform and a shovel, and became a zookeeper. And what were the first animals under my care? Why, horses, of course! Go figure.

That career choice continues to this day. After settling into the routine for several years, I found that my Muse had finally returned from her state of self-exile, and was bitching about being ignored for so long. Taking the hint, I once again picked up my art supplies, found inspiration in the creatures around me, and produced works like this:

and this:

While being technically accurate for the most part, they still had the aura of Paint by Numbers. This needed to stop. So I began to haunt the local library, borrow a few art books, and browse through them casually. The Color Wheel? Bah. A value plan? Who needs it. Hue and intensity, warm and cool color relationships, simultaneous contrast? Just a lot of hooey. wrong I was. Anything produced during this period of artistic denial was so foul it would burn the retinas out of your eyes if you were to even glimpse it. I could clearly picture my Muse putting her face in her hands, shaking her head and sighing.

Enter the Interwebs. What did we do before it? What a fabulous way to discover some incredible artists! Like Karin Jurick and Carol Marine, who can take the most everyday things and scenes, and turn them into a feast for the eyes. The beautiful still lifes of Jeffrey Hayes, the delightful whimsy of Brenda York, and soooo many others. Ahhhh, Inspiration! I had found nirvana. My Muse sat up and poured herself a cup of coffee.

And we finally arrive at the Here And Now. For about the last year I have buried myself in art books, magazines, materials, websites, artist's demonstrations, and anything else I could get my greedy little paws on . I'm starting to get it now. Value plans. Color schemes. Composition. Warm and cool. I find it fascinating. A pat on the head from my Muse. But the more I know, the less I know, if you know what I mean.

I really have not developed an Overall Self-Teaching Plan as of yet, and because of this, this blog may at times seem like artistic schizophrenia. I believe that will just add to the fun. I'll probably go with what strikes my fancy at the moment... an idea, concept, method.. learn by doing, and post what happens. Hopefully the results won't have you covering your eyes or reaching for the Mind Bleach. That said, artistic pointers, comments and constructive criticism are always welcome.

My Muse is amused. To creativity, and beyond!