Saturday, January 30, 2010

Okay...I Did

I'm calling her done.

Uptown Girl
12" X 6" X 3/8", acrylic on board
© 2009, Lisa Walsh

Thanks to Billy Joel for the title idea for this one, although I'm pretty sure he didn't have a giraffe in mind when he wrote the song.  Anyway, I had waaaaaaay too much fun with this one, and I discovered the joy of scumbling.  I can honestly say that I don't think I ever scumbled before, but it worked beautifully for the background.  I shall now scumble with abandon.  Woo-hoo!  A new skill to add to the artistic toolbox.  This was so much fun, I'm going to do another small one for the silent auction.  Then I may have to do a few larger ones.  For the moment, Giraffes have usurped Rust as my Subject of Obsession.  I think I may be suffering from Artistic ADD.

My Muse refuses to go on Ritalin.  To impressionability, and beyond!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Okay, If I Must.....

Giraffes rule!  That may be an odd way to start an art post, but bear with me, there is a point.  They're one of my favorite critters in the animal kingdom.  Think of the logistics of your average, everyday, run-of-the-mill giraffe.  First of all, obviously, is the eye straining, neck cramp inducing, oxygen-is-thinner-way-up-there height, making me wonder what would happen if a giraffe were to suffer from vertigo.   Then there's the bizarre, wedge-shaped body, the seemingly slow but ground-eating gait, the pizza pan sized hooves, and the gorgeous jigsaw puzzle-like spots. 

Giraffes in general have basically calm and inoffensive personalities, but each giraffe seems to harbor their own "Inner Comedian".  Their long, angular faces and ridiculously long tongues make them the animal kingdom's award winning Masters of the Goofy Face.

Baby giraffes possess an even more exponential cute factor, compounded by their quizzical, perpetually perplexed expression that doesn't begin to dissipate until they reach their first year.  Perhaps this is a form of passive protection, for what predator could gaze on that face and not stop and go "Awwwwwwww", thus alerting the giraffes to their nefarious presence.  The giraffes then have the choice of sniffing derisively at the predator and sauntering away in the other direction, or, if they're in a bit of a giraffe-y snit, promptly kicking said predator's ass.

So anyway...there is a reason I composed this particular giraffe ode this morning.  A friend at work will be attending the International Association of Giraffe Care Professionals conference next month (no, I am not making that up), and she asked if I would be willing to donate some giraffe art for their silent auction, with the proceeds benefiting the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.

Srsly?  A favorite creature, a totally fun subject and a great cause?  It took me all of a nanosecond to agree to do it.  Here's the progress so far:

My Muse is sticking her neck out to support a cause (go ahead and groan...I did).  To jocularity, and beyond!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Finishing Touches

I debated titling this one 'Audacious Weed with Hupmobile', but went with my first thought.

Out To Pasture
10" X 8", acrylic on paper
© 2010, Lisa Walsh

I may yet change my's open to debate.  The biggest challenge with this piece was trying to make the weed the focal point, particularly when that huge honkin' headlight just screams for attention.  So I used muted colors and a softer focus in the headlight, pure color and sharper edges on the weed.  It makes a sort of triangular composition, hopefully one that works well.  And I found that I'm enthralled with rust.  Rust is colorful!  Rust is fun!  To sate this urge to paint rust, I'll either have to take a trip to the local junkyard, un-rusted camera in tow, or hunt up rustable household items, fling them out into the yard, and let nature take it's course.

My Muse is stopping to smell the wildflowers.  To proportionality, and beyond!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Starting the Car

Here's the progress so far on this ol' girl.  The intrepid researchers at WetCanvas discovered that this is a 1931 Hupmobile Model U. No joke.  There really were such things as Hupmobiles. This particular Hupmobile, as the story goes, was last driven in 1946, and now is spending it's retirement years in Palmer, Alaska. 

So far, this one has been a total hoot to paint.  Maybe it's the subject matter, maybe it's the colors (who knew rusty metal would be so much fun to paint), maybe it's just getting the time to do some studio work, but sometimes the planets align, and everything falls into place.  I'm just enjoying the ride.

My Muse has buckled up.  To corrodibility, and beyond!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Learning Art in a Vacuum

Happy New Year, everyone!  I'm sitting here in my studio, having just arrived home after a white-knuckle drive in the falling snow to deliver yet another one of our dogs to the veterinary surgeon.  Yep, we discovered that Dana has a CCL (Canine Cruciate Ligiment) injury, and she'll be having surgery today.  My personal belief is that the vet hospital should start a FSC (Frequent Surgery Club) so we could get a discount.  Some lucky veterinary surgeon will probably be vacationing in the south of France thanks to the fact that all of our dogs are reaching geriatric age at approximately the same time.  I could go on and on about this right now, but I prefer that this remains an art blog and not a blog about The Rants of a Newly Impoverished Dog Owner.

As I began prepping for the next painting challenge, I got to thinking about how I'm "teaching" myself to paint, and realized that my contact with other artists is, at least for now, purely on da Interwebs.  I'm not taking any art classes, I'm not part of an art league, I'm not going to galleries or existence is working full time, home and family, friends, cohorts, and dogs.  Then there's keeping up with this blog, squishing paint on canvas, looking for challenges, following and submitting to forums, and reading and commenting on other blogs. Jeez...who has time for anything else?

I have learned quite a bit from books, so much so that I am practically family to the staff of the local library.  ("Oh, hi Lisa.  I see you're checking out the book on composition again....")  Then I trudge out of the library under the weight of a half a ton of books ( feels that way), get home, sit down, and begin to assault my brain cells with artistic information.  I sometimes imagine my brain as a huge file room (no digital storage in my head), suddenly inundated with a tidal wave of new compositional knowledge, focal point data, and color mixing intelligence.  All of the Administrative Assistant Brain Cells are desperately trying to organize and file the vast array of incoming information, while the Head Of The Archives Brain Cell (sounding suspiciously like Scotty from Star Trek) is screaming "She can't take anymore, Cap'n!  She's gonna blow!"

Needless to say, not all of the information undergoes cerebral retention the first time around.  Or even the second.  Or third.  But...enough assorted bits and pieces stick to make for an interesting internal dialogue while I'm painting:
"Okay....warmer colors are supposed to advance, and cooler colors recede.  But this object in the front is blue, and the one in the back is yellow.  How am I supposed to make the blue thing advance?  Will greater detail trump the warm/cool thing?  I can make the blue thingy more intense, but then I have to do the same thing to the green thingamabob next to it, which will then make it stand out too much against the red doohickey.  Hey...where did this spot on the rug come from?  Darn dogs....."

That's where taking a class and having an instructor answer such queries could make things a bit easier.  Lacking the instructor, I'll just try the Shot In The Dark method: Try something, it doesn't work, paint over it.  Try it again, curse, paint over it again.  Try it again, pitch a fit, toss out the paper in frustration and start over.  Eventually the Administrative Assistant Brain Cells are able to access the necessary information, or at least some viable suggestions, and the blue thingy advances.  Ta-daaaaa!  One little lesson learned, and it only took twenty-seven tries!  On to the next problem thingy.

There are many, many, oh so many fantastic artists out there on da Interwebs, and from them I glean both inspiration and information.  Look how he uses color.  Look at the way she shapes objects with brushstrokes.  Look how he frames his work.  Little by little, bit by bit, iotas of information get filed away, each to (hopefully) be applied to future works.

There are times that I would like to have a syllabus for Everything I Need To Know About Painting.  Then at least I could try to learn things in somewhat of a logical order.  Instead, I'm at the whim of my Short Attention Span.  I'll try to work on a concept, then something catches my eye and I try that, then I wind up going off in a multitude of directions until I refocus.  That's where I think being surrounded by real, live, in-the-flesh artists could be a benefit.  I picture it like a large school of artistic anchovies, moving fluidly in unison toward a goal: "Okay everyone, we're all going to head that direction and learn about atmospheric perspective together.  Ready??? GO!!"  We would all experience and debate and learn the concept, and fluidly progress logically to the next.  But swimming alone I progress a bit, then flounder, then progress, then flounder.  Then it's time to reach for a cyber-lifeline, and I hop onto a blog or forum.  All of the artists I have been in touch with are a wonderfully helpful and supportive bunch, willing to pass on knowledge and provide helpful suggestions and gentle critiques. Their help has been immeasurable.

What's your experience?  Do you find that you work better solo, or do you like the support and inspiration of a group of artists?

And now that I'm thinking about this, if a group of lions is called a pride, what would you call a group of artists?  A palette?  A sketch?  An inspiration? Oooo, this could be fun!  We're an imaginitive bunch, send me some of your creative suggestions!

But I digress... 

Time to put an end to this post before I go off on a tangent again.  This is the next challenge, courtesy of the Acrylics forum on Wet Canvas:

What a great old car, I love this!  It needs to be cropped, but an obvious composition doesn't jump out at me.  I find myself drawn to the reflected color on the door of the car, and particularly to the audacious little flowering weed standing proudly in front of the shadow of the fender.  I think that's a great place to start this little lesson.  Maybe I'll learn an iota or two.

My Muse is running the Brain Cells through their warm-ups.  To unsociability, and beyond!