For quite awhile, I have been using Square to accept online payments and send invoices. I am happy to announce that I now have an online store where you can securely and easily purchase many items including my Birmingham notecards, Alabama art, and custom commissions. Visit my online Square store today by following the link below!
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I tried to avoid the steady gaze. It seemed like the brown eyes pierced into my very soul, asking questions, surveying my existence. So contemplative, so knowing. I unwittingly mixed in a little introspective therapist into the pastels I applied, and I had to giggle a little when I stood back to survey the finished product. He’s very regal, very convicting, on his leather couch, eliciting introspection as he silently listens.
While drawing this winter, I listened to Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey, a fascinating book in bite-sized pieces detailing the routines and habits of around 160 artists, musicians, writers, and great thinkers. Along the way, as I layered fur and leather, I thought about my own daily habits, my own rituals to entice and encourage my artistic creativity.
I have to say, after listening to over 100 stories of artists’ bad habits – alcoholism, substance abuse, and some really weird rituals – I feel a little bit better about myself. They do take a lot of afternoon naps, though; I wish I could incorporate that into my life. What a lovely habit.
I began to worry, as I have joked in the past, based on the biographies of great artists such as Van Gogh, Degas and the like, that I will never be a very successful artist unless I have more problems, more existential throes, more drama. Luckily, after I finished Daily Rituals, I listened to Elizabeth’s Gilbert’s Big Magic. Speaking on the same subject – these crazy artists literally killing themselves over their creativity, living in the bowels of anxiety and personal torture – she gives a different view:
On these grounds, naturally I am tempted to make the case for drinking myself to death as a creative exercise, but that would be self-destructive.
Creativity resides in making the choices that make you happy, and anyone who tells you otherwise — your inner critic, your outer critics — is fooling you. Originality is out, authenticity is in.
Whew. That’s good news. As I finish up “Bogie” the dog, I relax a bit, look him in the eyes and say “thanks.” We made it out together. He seems relaxed.
I woke up this morning to a dark blue sky streaked with gray clouds. Yawning, I made my way to a cup of coffee and settled in my chair in a quiet den. I felt clouded and sleepy, like the early morning sky. Struggling to wake, hoping to sweep away weary expectations, I leaned back and looked out the window. The rising sun sent a gentle light through the stripes of dreary January clouds, a hope-filled breakthrough. Light is always brighter than darkness.
Sometimes you are fortunate to capture these moments in life, to notice them like the morning sun, when love and light shines through. A gift from a friend, a warm fire to welcome you home, a hug from a child. I’m sure you can think of many others. I know I can.
Simple, everyday moments, like a father gently preparing his daughter for a performance, carefully drawing lines and arranging her hair. His hand placed tenderly on her cheek, her eyes closed in trust and rest. I was fortunate enough to be able to preserve this moment for a family, with a watercolor on canvas.
I love to watch for the light. You never know when it will shine through.
One of the main reasons I began using pastels was to loosen up.
In high school and early college, I was the queen of minute detail. I loved teeny tiny brushes and sharp pencils. I had a huge callous on my right middle finger from squeezing the pencil so hard to get every last dot on paper.
I still love detail, as I adjust the picture next to me to the best angle and spell check myself as I type. I’m sure it drives my husband crazy, as I settle in on the couch each night, needing the correct lamps turned on, my blanket just so…the list goes on. I will spare you, even though he is trapped. I attribute this desire for order and quirky detail to my father (hi dad!), who must have his lunch of a sandwich and chips on a paper plate every day, with a Mountain Dew of course.
But I digress. My oldest daughter, to whom (poor thing) I’ve passed much of this down, calls us “noticers.” We notice things. I’m good with that.
But when it comes to art, it can be FRUSTRATING. Especially on a portrait. Sometimes you just have to let go; you have to loosen up. So I grab a big piece of chalk. Still getting good detail, the large pieces keep me from over-detailing, from stressing and focusing on minutiae. It has helped me take the leap from tight drawing to something closer to my favorite style of Impressionism.
Using big pastels is like having a third child.
You have to loosen up, or you won’t survive. It just won’t work. You have to learn and train yourself to go with the flow, to notice the important things and pass over the stressors and tiny dots that just distract. You can more easily see the beauty that stands out, and enjoy it, record it, embrace it.
Sometimes it’s so hard to choose a piece of art for a friend! Or you want to commission a portrait for a family member, but you’re not sure which photo they would like. If you’re stuck, I have an option for you:
Gift Cards for artwork!
Gift cards can be purchased in any amount and are redeemable for commissioned or available pastel paintings of chosen value. From pastel portraits, to ink doodles, to watercolors…so many options available for your friend or family member to choose from!
Gift cards will be written for the amount paid & purchase intention noted (ex: 5×7 framed pastel; 8×10 unframed portrait, etc.). Gift cards will be signed by the artist for authenticity. Those receiving gift cards may upgrade to higher-priced artwork by paying the balance.
While we’re on the subject of portraits, this was a fun one…
A Mother’s Day gift, some sweet daughters wanted to give their mother a portrait of their grandmother. Working from an old black and white photo, we created a color portrait to bring out the beautiful auburn hair and red lips of this lovely lady. Here are some progress pictures of this watercolor commission:
Recently I had the great pleasure to do three precious portraits of baby brothers. They are such cute little babies, I just kept staring at them while they rested on my art desk!
Here’s a peek at my portrait process:
There’s always that middle point, when I begin to cover the bright colors, when I panic. And babies especially make me sweat, with their smooth little faces. You have to be so careful to keep all shadows and lines subtle, to keep their chubby cheeks chubby and their newness young.
Introducing three cute little buddies, and a huge thanks for this fun commission!
This Christmas, I was honored to draw a very old cottage located in Americus, Georgia.It was an old civil war doctor’s office that was moved and restored into a one bedroom cottage.
It’s so fun to be a part of meaningful and lasting gifts!
Twas the weeks before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring not even a mouse…
My blog site was quiet over Christmas. But this was only a trick. A facade, if you will.
I was quite the busy bee, but all my art had to stay hushed so as not to ruin Christmas surprises. I had lots of commissions, lots of gifts to create. Over the next few days I’ll catch you up on a few of the pieces that found new homes for Christmas!
Below is one of the first pieces this “commission season”…a very large, majestic white lab. Can I even tell you how much I enjoyed this piece?
Art desk scrubbed, pastels ready, paper cut, charcoal in hand, reference propped at just the right angle…
Deep, contemplative breath in, nervous exhale as I prepare to begin another portrait.
Grasping for my inner creative, I look at the photo reference, with the jet black backdrop behind this cute chubby baby, and I try to envision the finished product. I used to aim to be a camera: copy the image as exactly as possible. With some experience and years of art behind me, this is no longer my goal. I now try to take an image and “make it sing,” however that translates on paper.
I sketch out the sweet little boy; feel pretty good about feature placement. Now it’s time for the dreaded background. In my mind’s eye, I see a light, wispy something or other, which is not much help. Instead of agonizing over it, I just jump in.
Working on a deadline, I don’t have time to mess around.
The joy of being back at my art desk after a few busy weeks, mixed with determination to get the portrait finished, ended up surprising me with yet another evolution of my art.
I’ve found over the years, that even though you are creating art with your own hand, your own head and your own heart, the results can sometimes surprise you. Though you may have drawn something in the same way many, many times, all of a sudden the finished product is something unexpectedly and delightfully different.
With this portrait, I unknowingly used a lighter, looser hand, less defined edges, and worked the color and texture of my pastel card into the painting. I was (thankfully) quite happy with this new result, and am very glad that the new owners are as well!