Last year I posted about a piece of glass I found at IKEA that I bought and used for a palette. Unfortunately what I soon found was that it scratched very easily, probably due to the fact that it wasn't tempered. The scratches were actually fairly easy to work around, though it made it a little harder to clean, and ... quite ugly. The top picture is from a few days ago.
The bottom picture includes my new PERFECT piece of glass! I got it locally, and it was super easy (which makes me feel silly for putting off for so long!). I got the clearest glass, which they call Starfire, 1/4" thick, tempered, 19"x48".
I decided to put paper underneath (for now). I prefer a white palette (so I can compare all my values to the lightest one). But recently when I painted on black gesso, I got a feel for what it's like comparing to dark values as well. So I also put a piece of black paper under one section. This is an experiment.
Last year I built myself a table in my studio. I had some vague ideas about how I might use it, but it's turned out to be INFINITELY useful! Like, it's pretty much constantly covered with multiple projects. Here I was shipping books and working on a sewing project.
I got the idea for the design on Pinterest - thank you Pinterest!. You can see a picture of a smaller version if you follow that link. I used two IKEA Kallax shelf units, with a piece of 3/4" baltic birch plywood underneath (with locking castors on the bottom) and another, bigger piece, on top. I glued a piece of formica to the surface for easy cleaning. I'm so glad I put wheels on the bottom, as I move it around all the time. I've decided from now on, everything in my studio should be on wheels!
I had to take a little break and do some non-painting stuff for a few days. Fortunately eggs last a while in the fridge, especially if they aren't for eating. : ) After this one I have 7 left.
Because I was a little rusty this morning, I forced myself to do something that I should REALLY be doing on a more regular basis. I divided a panel into 4 (3in. x 3in.) sections, chose an object, and painted it 4 times, doing some experimenting with each one. And guess what - I learned stuff! I was going to show you a picture, but I started worrying about what you might think about it. And that's not the point - the point is for me to experiment without any thought of it being "finished." Because I think we all need a safe space like that where fear is not allowed. It was just what I needed today.
I got a LOT of responses to my last post (thank you!). I loved reading them. Here's one I particularly enjoyed:
"Artists like to do art, and who cares how we do it - just so we enjoy the process: paint by numbers, Bob Ross, copying the masters, learning from you and countless others. I have been going to an art coffee group discussion for the last few years and what I have come to believe is there are no rules - you just get to enjoy the creative process however you want to and that is all there is to it."
There seems to be a general consensus that every artist finds their own balance with things - learning, finding inspiration, and solitary work. We make our own rules. And we might as well have fun doing it, right!?!
There’s an artist I’ve followed for many years whose work I love. He has some unusual techniques/results that are similar to what I’ve been after lately. I’ve been searching around online for any instruction or process videos, to no avail. So I mustered up some courage and emailed him to ask if he would ever consider creating something like that, and that I was sure many people, including me, would pay to see it.
He wrote me back right away, and said he understood this kind of thing was popular right now, but that he didn’t believe “in those things having any good for the art world in general.” He said he didn’t feel like he could contribute to something so “inherently wrong.”
He said, “If I can suggest anything which will definitely open up your mind and your process, it would be to lock yourself away in a cabin with art supplies, empty notebooks, and as many tools as you can gather, without any internet or outside influence beyond that of the voices of trusted family and friends ( aside from their input on art ) and just let yourself go for months at a time.. It’s more difficult to find trust in one’s own values, than it is to paint a masterpiece.”
In the weeks since, I have done a lot of thinking about this. My first (very emotional) reaction was defensiveness, because I myself wrote a book, teach workshops, and continue to put out online tutorials. Is what I’ve been doing all this time wrong? I am not convinced.
Then I thought of a (great!) book I read a few years ago, “Steal Like an Artist,” which basically says the exact opposite of what this guys suggests - that nothing is original and we should steal any and every idea we come across.
On the other hand, one thing I’ve realized about having gotten a (pardon me) sh*tty art education from my university, is that I was forced to teach myself. And in doing so, I came up with my own unique process. Yes, part of that came from looking at other people’s work and trying to figure out how they did it, but I was essentially alone in my studio, for years, toiling away, experimenting with one thing after another, finding my way. Would I be in the same place today if I’d had good instruction from one person from the beginning? Or would I be a version of them? OR, would I have borrowed little things from lots of people/places and recombined them into my own thing? Or did I do that anyway?
I haven’t come to any conclusions, but I do believe that every artist finds their own balance, naturally. I tend to look for inspiration when my own well runs dry. And I look for instruction when I’ve been trying something new and am frustrated with it, hoping to get a “been there, done that” perspective from someone else. But there are lots of extended periods where I’ve got tons of ideas popping into my head, and the things I try ARE working.
I’m not going to share the artist’s name who emailed me back, because he’s not a bad guy, just someone with a strong opinion. But I wanted to share this story because it gave ME a lot to think about, and I would love to hear how it gets your gears moving!
I thought I'd try the black gesso again, but this time with a still life. I like the tomatoes a little better on black. Though I believe they are trying to escape the cups - do they look a little drunk to you? Drunk with love, perhaps...