"God's art [Creation] speaks of Himself, reflecting who He is and what He is like."
Francis Chan

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Micah with Guitar

  This is one of two projects that I have been working on over the past week or so.  About three years ago I  took a photo of my son, Micah, playing his guitar.  I was enamored with the way the light just skimmed him here and there.  I filed it away in my ' will paint one day' file and last week the day came!  I always have admired Caravaggio's paintings and the way he used that object-coming-out-of-the-darkness look in many of his paintings. (The formal  term is  "chiaroscuro", but who can remember that, right?)  I especially like David with the Head of Goliath which is such an amazing example of this. It's almost like the figure melts into the darkness.  So cool.  So when I took the picture of my son, I thought of Caravaggio.  Micah was wearing this black shirt and it was almost like his torso didn't exist, nor one side of his face.  It was a great chance to try my hand at chiaroscuro (other wise known as object-coming-out-of-the-darkness!)

    As a teenager, Micah taught himself to play guitar.  He could often be found sitting just like he is in this painting, quietly plucking away.  He began writing his own songs and got quite good at guitar. He is a junior in college now so he no longer lives at home.  I so miss hearing him playing and singing!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Difficult Task


  So, I decided to join in on an online art challenge at Calypso Moon Artist Movement.  For those of you not familiar with online art challenges - they basically are call outs to artists online to submit a work of art that meets specific requirements (all of the same subject, using limited palettes, all the same theme, etc.)   This one was a challenge to do a self-portrait.  Now most of you know that I have become sort of set on learning to do better portraits - but a self portrait?  Yikes.  I became instantly overwhelmed.  The one saving grace I had was that part of the challenge required that lots of color be used, and not just typical skin tone types of colors, but blues, greens, violets - all the unexpected colors.  This intrigued me.  I had  enjoyed following the self-challenge of a great artist that I ran into in "Blogville" named Carol Nelson, who did a hundred portraits in a hundred days using a Fauvism style of painting (lots of color, used in unusual ways) for the challenge. (The link provided, by the way, was her portratit of my daughter Tori - number 24.)   It seemed like fun. 'I can do this' I thought...
        ....Wow, self- portraits are hard.  I had not anticipated the introspection that it required.  It is just like painting someone close to you that you really know well.  You think you know what they look like - so you tend to paint what you think should be there.  But painting requires you to really look with  new eyes at something as if you've never seen it before, and paint what you see.  In other words, I would love to have painted Julia Roberts - but darn it, the face I had to paint was Julia Kulish!  
   Isn't  this what we as humans tend to do on a spiritual level too, with our own hearts?  We tend to see ourselves as being basically good people, even caring, giving, honest, kind (you fill in the blank...).  then one day we get a small glimpse of who we really are.  Maybe  we hear something hurtful come out of our mouths towards another person, or we see our haughty attitudes repeated in our children, or maybe, as is often the case for me, we read a scripture in the Bible that causes us to compare our goodness in the light of a holy God.  Then suddenly we see our hearts and lives for what they are - all of the faults and failures - so in need of help.
  So as I said, self portraiture causes lots of introspection.  When your talking about your own face it gets quite tricky.  Questions arise like - "When did I get so old?" Revelations are made - "Hmm, my nose is wider than I thought." Old events are revisited  - "Do I want to include that huge scar I have on my neck from the cancer scare a few years back? Wow, remember that strange and scary time period?"  (Yes, I did include it by the way- it is a part of me now, after all.)
   One thing I will say is that I absolutely loved painting in the Fauvist style.  I love bright colors, after all. The more, the better.  I chose a lot of purples, blues and,  my favorite all time paint color, magenta.  The thing I liked about the Fauvism effect is that it made me look like I had that fresh " I just got up and put make up on "  look.  (You know, instead of the "I'm forty one years old, so although I put make up on a half hour ago, I now look like I'm in dire need of cucumber slices on my eyelids and a good afternoon nap" look!)
"For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Hebrews 4:12

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Red Scarf

I am taking a little break from florals to jump back in to portraits.  Ever in the learning process, I have been reading a lot about mixing skin tones - so of course I wanted to put to practice some of  the things I have been learning about.  I have been particularly fascinated lately with the different tones you find in various ethnicity's.  
The oil I ended up with might ring a bell with some of you, as I did attempt this one a while back in Priorities, as a small study.  I am finally getting back to it after hanging it in may art corner (I would love to say art studio  - but what can I say, we have a house full of kids, at this point I only get a corner!) for months, making changes in my mind.  
I originally saw a picture of this young Indian woman in a magazine ad.  Two things fascinate me about it: one, the eyes.  One word comes to mind when I see them, and that is need.  She is a girl in need, and it feels like she almost is pleading with us, the viewer, to meet those needs in some way.  Secondly, I love the curves that form from the red scarf and the way the light hits it.  

  On another note - I want to invite all of you locals out to the Lowe's Art and Environmental Center in Marion, Iowa this Sunday for the Swamp Fox Festival Art Sale.  It is from 12 to 7 pm at the Lowe's park just North West of Lin Mar High School. Once again, mention my Art Speaking blog or Facebook page and I will be happy to let you choose from one of five note card designs to take home with you.  Hope to see you there!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Plein Air

   Last Saturday afternoon I set out from my house loaded with my french easel, paint palette, sun hat, and small stool and  trudged my way down to the end of our property for a little plein air adventure.  We only live on two acres, but it felt a lot longer with all of that stuff and I thought to myself that I really needed to be better organized!  But it was well worth the effort.  We live next to a farmer's field that alternates yearly between corn (it is Iowa after all) and soybeans.  Now I know I am an Iowa girl - but corn definitely plays second fiddle in my mind to soybeans because of the amazing colors the soybean fields turn in September. They absolutely glow with a zillion (yes, really, that many!) colors of greens, golds and then finally caramel.  I am thrilled each spring when I see that the tiny sprouts in our next door field are soy beans because I know how wonderful the view will be in September.  Plus, my kids, from the youngest of ages, all know that this time of year means mom will ask them to notice and name all of the colors that they see in any soybean field that we happen to pass by in the car during this time of year.  Even Sophie, at two (almost three) is catching on.  We were driving in the car the other day and she belts out, "Look at those awesome fields - lots of colors!!"  (I start 'em young, what can I say!)
  So I have been itching to get out there and paint the field next door.  I sort of jumped the gun a bit.  The weather was to die for on Saturday and I could wait no longer.  So the field got painted before it had totally turned gold.  But I used the carmel field across the highway, that had turned,  for color ideas and the view of the next door field.  I had a blast.  I lost all sense of time, only thinking about it when some of the kids came down to check on me or when friends would honk their horns to me on the highway as they passed (small town neighbors are the best!).
  I walked away (lugging my stuff back up to the house - why did everything seem heavier after three hours?), happy with my painting and totally refreshed in my spirit.

Close up view
More close ups

My field - almost ready to turn...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Little Something For Shelby

24x30 oil

     I stepped out of my box a little bit, away from the dark backgrounds to something a little more cheery.  This was again at the suggestion of one of my faithful art critics - my sixteen year old, Shelby.  Some of you may recall back in February when she informed me that all of my paintings were beginning to look the same to her and she suggested I try something a little "happier" in tone.  The end result,  "Beauty in the Ordinary" ended up being a favorite with many people who have seen it.  So when she hinted again that maybe something new would be nice, I thought I would b wise to grab the brighter colored paint.

  I had so much fun painting this!  It made me feel light hearted just looking at the canvas.  I have grown to love poppies and nothing is happier than poppies set in front of a blue sky.  I kept thinking that it looked like a group of friends gathering together to share the latest goings-on in each of their lives - thus the name -"Fellowship".

    I am thrilled to say that Shelby loved it  - so much so, it is now the background of her cell phone screen. You don't get a bigger thumbs up from a teenager than that!  It only makes sense that she would like it - the brightness and happiness fits her personality to a tee.  She has always been a joy to be around - happy, fun, with a great sense of humor.  When she was little she had white blond hair (it is still quite light) and my nick name for her has always been "Sunshine coming in the room".  I know - it's a mouth full - but it couldn't fit her any better.  She walks into a room and the whole place lights up.
So I value her honest critiquing and will always be quick to respond when she lets me know things are getting a bit to heavy. Time to pull out the sunshine.  Thanks, Shelby...


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