Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Painting Myself Out Of a Corner

As the year draws to a close, the challenge for the Different Strokes blog was a portrait.  Not a self-portrait, but a portrait of another artist. This year, 180 artists participated in this annual Artist Portrait Swap for Karin Jurick's blog, where artists send in a photo of themselves, and another artist gets the photo to paint.

True confession time, here.  I don't do portraits.  I don't like to do portraits.  I normally wouldn't touch a portrait with a ten-foot paintbrush.

But that's what challenges are all about, right?  Stretching your artistic boundaries?  Climbing every mountain?  Boldly going where you haven't gone, and never wanted to go, before?   So once I pressed the little 'send' button on my email, and my photo went off into Karin's mailbox, I had no choice but to climb the mountain.

7" X 5", acrylic on gessoed acrylic paper
© 2009, Lisa Walsh

Meet Elisha Fields, one of the artists that participated in the challenge. 

Normally a painting this size would take me a few hours.  I agonized over this one for two days.  I mixed and tried I-don't-know-how-many batches of "skin" color; as a result she went from looking like she was seasick one minute to looking like a Cirque du Soleil acrobat the next.  When I finally got the poor woman to the point where she didn't appear to be suffering from some rare eight-syllable skin disease, I moved on. Then there were several wardrobe color changes, each worse than the last, until a nice, muted, complementary ensemble seemed to do the trick.  Finally a nice, cool background, and it was time to put the brush down and back away from the easel.

Would I do this again next year?  You betcha.  Hopefully I'll learn a few things in the next 365 days, making the trip into unknown artistic territory a little easier.

What artistic challenges have you taken on?

A very safe and Happy New Year to everyone!

My Muse is breathing a sigh of relief.  To unfamiliarity, and beyond!

Friday, December 25, 2009

To all of you....

...from all of us.

May your day be Merry and Bright, Happy and Joyous, Peaceful and Calm, Safe and Sound.

My Muse is decorating cookies.  To festivity, and beyond!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Crawling From the Wreckage

I'm baaaaaack.  Thanks to everyone who kept checking in during my self-imposed Oh My Gawd I Have To Get These Paintings Done Right Now I Have No Time To Do Anything Else hiatus from this blog.  I was ensconced in marathon painting sessions, which seemed to be akin to extended sessions in an isolation tank, trying to finish two works before the party deadline.  I did.  The results were bloodshot eyes, a sore back, having an image of the seat of my office chair nearly permanently imprinted on my backside, and a stiffened right hand that still appears to be holding an invisible brush.

The other results were these:

Hungry Eyes
14" X 11", acrylic on cradled hardboard panel
©2009, Lisa Walsh

24" X 18", acrylic on cradled hardboard panel
© 2009, Lisa Walsh

I dipped into the 80's pop charts to name these, hits by Eric Carmen and Fleetwood Mac seemed appropriate if not very imaginative titles.  Both pieces gave me fits for various reasons.   I went through a massive bout of Hue Schizophrenia with the elephant; painting a layer, not liking the color, then repainting the layer, not liking the color...etc., etc., etc.  I won't even bother to post progress would take another whole blog to do so.  When all was said and done, I was satisfied with the way they turned out.  Not thrilled. Not even particularly happy.  I think I was much happier that I was able to get them done, so I could release myself from my ten-day personal exile in the studio.  Don't get me wrong, I love Studio Exile time.  But every once in a while it's good to get out and interact with the world at large.

And the best result of all?  After seeing my work at the party, one of the elephant keepers actually wants to buy the elephant painting.



OMG, wow!

That's what it's all about, isn't it?  Using your heart and mind and talents to create something, and then someone else comes along, and it speaks to them, and they like it so much they want to have it for their very own.

Huh.  Whaddaya know.  Maybe I can actually do this artist thing.  For real. 

I hope, I hope, I hope, I hope......

My Muse can't stop smiling.  To believability, and beyond!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Artistic and Physical Steps

A quick update from the art front:

Another layer of color, and another isolation coat.

And from the canine front:

My dear 'FrankenDog' is able to shuffle around with our assistance and the aid of a  supportive sling.  At times I feel like I have a very large, mostly furry, and definitely indignant purse hanging from the straps over my arm as we stroll around the yard.

My Muse is putting one foot in front of the other.  To increased mobility, and beyond!

Saturday, December 5, 2009


See?  There was a Snow leopard under there.

I want a deep, refractive look to this piece, especially the eyes, so I'm doing several thin isolation coats between layers.  It's a beautiful effect, but it means waiting for the isolation coat to dry.  So while that's going on, I'm prepping the second painting I want to complete for the party, and tending to my recovering dog.  Kie's home and resting, albeit not so comfortably.  Back surgery's a bitch, I can personally attest to that.  Right now I have to hold onto the belief that 'Time heals all wounds', and that she'll feel better quickly.   I feel like a pinball, bouncing back and forth from one painting, to another painting, to being Kie's nurse and physical therapist.  She is giving her best, doing everything she is physically capable of doing at this point, despite the pain.  I admire her grit and heart.  We both have lots more to do.

My Muse is task scheduling.  To tenacity, and beyond.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Lions and Tigers and Bears (and leopards and dogs), Oh My!

Snow Leopards, in this case.  Several years ago, I took a photograph of a Snow Leopard that I really liked.  I have painted several renditions of it, none of which I will post here, for fear of being laughed right off of Blogger.  Hopefully I've learned a thing or two since then, so I'll make another attempt, this time publicly.  Come on along and see how this turns out.

Here's the initial sketch.  It's a direct transfer onto black gessoed hardboard.  I was trying to outline large value changes in what was a mass of small value changes.  It was like trying to outline single drops of water in an ocean.  Yes, I know it looks like I threw spaghetti onto a black background.  There's a Snow leopard in there me.

Snows are absolutely beautiful cats, covered in lush, oh-so-soft warm grey fur.  Grey?  Bah!  I'm shooting for an analogous complementary color scheme, with burnt sienna on one side, and a range from purple to blue to teal on the other.

I'd like to complete two paintings before the party on the 16th.  Two things are going to make that goal a little hard to accomplish.  One is a malevolent little cold virus that's making my head feel like a brick.  I'm trying desparately not to cough while I'm painting, lest the leopard develop stripes instead of it's usual spots.  You should probably disinfect your computer screen after reading this.

The second thing is, well, breaking my heart.  My beautiful, beloved ten-year old English Shepherd, Kieran, had to undergo spinal surgery.  She's coming home today, and will require constant care.  Every inch of our tile and hardwood floors are now covered with carpet remnants, throw rugs and spare bath mats so she will be able to get around, with assistance, without having her rear legs slide out from under her.  The next six weeks will determine whether she is able to fully recover.

If the only thing I accomplish in the next two weeks is helping her start to walk again, I will be overjoyed.  Some things in life are just more important.  Please send some hopes and good doggie wishes, willya?  We all would appreciate it.

My Muse is fluffing up the dog beds.  To mobility, and beyond!