Monday, August 25, 2008

First Day of School....

First day of school! Actually, to be more correct, it was the first day of school for Colin and Claire. My Kaitlyn started last week (Monday). So here are my babies. I find myself repeating that old
cliche, "Where has the time gone?" Gosh...Colin and Claire start their 8th grade year. This will be a fun year for them. Kaitie loved 8th grade. She had about the best teacher in the world. And now my twins have that same teacher. I wanted their year to be extra special and so I wrote an imploring letter to the principal last April. They started school together in Kindergarten. My son really needed his twin. Claire, on the other hand, was a free spirit. She still is. She is fiercely protective of her brother and kept an eye on him all through these years. I thought it would be nice if they ended their grade school experience together. I also pleaded for the same teacher Kaitie had. This woman can do no wrong in my book. She is fabulous. After I sent them off this AM, I had a crying break. I miss them all. Summer went by way to fast.
On an art note, I have another gallery show at Conscious Cup in November. This time it is a one person show (me). Hopefully I will be somewhat productive and complete 2-3 more works before then.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Claire: crayons added and background in progress 8-21-08

Quick update on m recent portrait. Depth added and background touches begun. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Next time I post her, she will be done :)


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Update: Photo of Claire

My "undaunted" art friend from the United Kingdom, left me a comment on my last entry. Thank you, thank you! You would think that I might share the photo that I was working from of my daughter Claire because I kept mentioning how much it looks like her. Duh. So here it is... What I have tried to do in order to better understand the placement of facial features, is work from whether photograph or the old master paintings such as the sketch I did of Frida Kahlo (July 3rd archive 2008). I discovered early on, that first--I do not like working from colored photos. I can't see the "lines" of the face and the true coloring throws me off. I guess that I would not do well working with a live model... Second---when I manipulate my photo in photoshop elements (version 6, and I am a big neophyte still having no idea what I am doing), I can change the colors and then go for the outline and shadows on the face much easier. Third---if I then sketch the face in my note book, I can then easily transfer the entire drawing or parts of it to my canvas using good old transfer paper (graphite paper). And well, for now anyway, that has served me well. So here is the original photo, the manipulated one, and my painting is just in the entry below (as it currently stand). I am painting the flesh tones from my memory rather than trying to get them perfect. That stresses me out too much and this work is representational anyway. I like working this way but it does take some time because each time I use photoshop, I seem to forget what filters I used and how to anchor the background etc.... One day I will go back to simply my own imagination.... Sigh


Monday, August 18, 2008

Claire in progress: 8-18-08

I worked a little further on this portrait that was started at the end of the "Faces" class taught by Paulette Insall. I think that it is really looking like my daughter. I know it does because everyone I show it to has commented on what a "nice" portrait of my daughter. I can't decide if I am pleased with those comments. I really don't know what I was after with this portrait. So as it is still in progress, I am going to withhold some of those thoughts and see where this painting takes me. My next steps include working with the Caran d"Ache crayons and I want to do something dimensional with the dress. I am also thinking ahead to the finishing bits. I see Claire everyday and one thing that I love about her is her smile. It is rarely toothy but I am blessed with seeing this little smile quite often. The smallest things make her happy, even things like butterflies and that big green katydid that we saw last night. She loves dance and her twin, her dogs and good books, many kinds of music and flowers....I am lucky.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Self Esteem Booster: StatCounter

As an artist, I love reading other artist's blogs. I have enjoyed
Rosa Murillo's blog for almost 2 years and I read her sage comments and advice on a regular basis. She is a good cyberspace friend and awesome artist. I also follow links to new art blogs on a regular basis. Some I book mark and others I visit once (usually because I just need more to read than the basic techniques used in creating a work). I have also found some non-art related blogs that are wonderful. I am sure that happens to a lot of faithful blog readers. I don't remember where, but I came across a blog by an artist who mentioned in the last line of a rather long entry that she uses a counter to record how many have visited her site. I had an A HA moment! Could it be that I was missing out on something? Duh...yea!

Here is the thing. I keep this blog for posterity sake, hoping my children, once grown, will get some additional insight about me. I can be impossible to live with, but I hope Kaitie, Colin and Claire, will see another side of their Mother that is more spontaneous, more loving, more artsy, and more..well just more. I hope they can realize and appreciate how proud I have been of them over the years. I keep my blog because I want to track my progress as an artist. However, I do hear that little voice in the back of my mind wondering if other artists will find some use from my words. Have you ever wondered if anyone but your cyber friends read your blog? Are we just a lost voice, too quiet for any one to hear in the vast network of cyberspace? For the longest time I really did not give it a thought. My words are my words...plain and simple. I have a few followers who comment on a regular basis and well that should be enough. But is it? When I read blogs such as Kelly Rae's, or Misty Mawn's, or Rosa's (see side bar), I am jealous...Jealous because their words are truly amazing, ringing with a pure resonance of love and life. Their sites are full of wonderful art and photos and thoughts... They are accomplished artists with a big following on line and in the real world... And here I sit, trying to be prolific, insightful, artistic...ha! I really should not feel like this if my blog is meant as a true diary. I should be thrilled that I have stumbled upon some wonderful art and worthwhile prose. I do get great pleasure in the blogs that I read. Somehow, though, I want this little space that I occupy in the universe to be more, to be a legacy. Is that nuts?

Back to the blog statistics. This little counter,, opened my eyes. You are out there, a lot of you, reading my words. That is most humbling. This little program is so cool. I can track the amount of hits to my blog site, whether you are returning, new, or unique visitors (based on cookies). I can track the number hits over time as well. Best of all, it is free. What this little StatCounter has done for me, you can't put a price on though...self esteem has grown 200% as I realize that others out there are discovering my words and art... What will I do with that info? Well for now...sit back, smile, and smell the roses (or yellow bromeliads).


Time Out for Fun

I have to say that this summer has been quite wonderful. I have had the best days driving my kids to and from dance camps and rehearsals. I say this without sarcasm, really! Just being there at the dance studio was calming. I would try to sneak peaks (parents are discouraged from watching the kids as we prove to be distractions) as my children worked through their moves. I watched as Colin took leaps and bounds (no pun intended) in his technique and posture. I watched as Claire grew more graceful by the moment. I watched as Kaitlyn came into her own. What more could a Mother ask for? Their summer workshop perfromance surpassed even my wildest imagination and I am so proud of them. One of my biggest thrills was watching as Colin and Claire took the stage together, along with their class, to do a crazy tango. It was priceless. Watching Kaitlyn shake her boodie in tiny boodie shorts and a sports bra made me cringe. She is fifteen and quite shapely and well while I loved the performance, being a Mom, I kept looking at all the teenage boys in the audience.... The last number of the night featured the Judith Svalander Dance Company members and my son. I about died. Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw. Colin kept up, every step, with the older girls and then some. I thought at the time, that he stole the number. Because I am his Mom, I figured I had the right to think that. Apparently, dozens of people thought the same. I was patted on the back by more people that I did not know. But the crowning moment was when Mrs Svalander, the ballet school owner and director, came over to hug me with tears in her eyes. Words can't describe how proud I am and was of Colin that night. I do wish I had pictures..... And so the dance camps all came to an end on August 2 with their performance.

We now have had several weeks off. This week my husband took off and we have been taking some wonderful day trips with the kids. They so need a break from dance. Colin and Claire danced 4 days a week for 6 weeks, approximately 5 hours per day. Kaitie danced 5 days a week about 6 hours a day. They are tired. These past couple of days have energized them. We hit the Brookfield Zoo and petted some sting rays...., Long Grove, and the Chicago Botanic Gardens, It has been so nice just to take some nice long walks all together. We need this week to recharge and get ready for school (next week for Kaitlyn and in 2 weeks for the twins) and Nutcracker season.

I leave you with a few pictures of backstage (Colin and Claire) , zoo visit, and the Botanic Gardens

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Underpainting, Claire Portrait 8-9-08

I had some time to work on my latest portrait. Not knowing where this will lead in terms of a title, I will call it Claire for now. It was difficult deciding how I wanted to depict her. I am still struggling with it. I have used an unrealistic flesh tone but I really like how this looks. It suites her. This is just the underpaint stage. I will complete the skin with Neocolor II crayons (Caran d' Ache). These crayons are very easy to blend and I almost like their effect better than the water soluble oil pastels. My little Claire has the most beautiful bronze tan right now so I may highlight her skin in bronze. Not sure yet. As I often do with my work, I let it unfold as I work on it. I often have an idea about how the work will like in the end but on these two portraits, they just happened. The portrait took front and center. I enjoyed the on line course with Paulette Insall. It is about the only way I can make the time for workshops anymore....

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Finished Portrait: Tell Tale Heart 8-7-08

All that is left is sealing the work and she is done. I think for an attempt at a more realistic portrait, she is OK. I did not have a clue on how to finish the painting after the portrait was done. I knew it needed something, but what? I came across a saying (not sure by whom) and thought I could tie that in with what I was feeling about Kaitie. The words are, "Feel not what your mind tells you, but what your heart tells you." It is something I have been trying to model for Kaitie for years. I hope that when I have moved on from this world, that Kaitie will look and that painting and understand. Needless to say this work will not be for sale.


Friday, August 01, 2008

Using the Crayons 8-1-08

The Caran d'Ache Neocolor II crayons I had purchased last December and have been using them on and off in my portraits for some time. I have also been an avid fan of the Portfolio water soluble oil pastels. This time around I used a bit different blending method and a different brush. I like the result. The crayons softened the look of the face. They definitely bended well. I tried the same brush and blending method with the oil pastels and it really did not work that well. I find with the oil pastels that I get really nice blending going on when I use a tiny amount of paint, usually white. All I used with the crayons was water and they blended nicely. What is nice about that is that the color stays true. So my face is basically done. I may go back in and touch up her neck, not sure yet. Then I will spray her with a workable fixative. I think I will probably outline her a bit more.. In the next lesson we will finish off the painting. I have a few ideas and can't wait to add those finishing touches.