Monday, June 29, 2009

Chasing My Own Light

Jim Brandenburg set a challenge for himself in the mid-nineties: take only one photograph each day for ninety days.
The so what here is that Jim Brandenburg is one of the best photographers in the world. Working for National Geographic, it is not unusual for those who chronicle events visually to take upwards of 1000 rolls of film to produce just twenty or so images for their articles. For Jim to limit himself to one, one photograph each day for 90 days is remarkable, scary, and fairly gutsy. The result of this deeply personal challenge is "Chased by the Light", an exquisite book published by Northword Press in 1998.
I set a challenge for myself in March of 2009 to paint daily for 100 days. Like Brandenburg, I had my reasons. Unlike Brandenburg, I'm still a novice at oil painting and had alot to learn. During a pleasant conversation recently about the process of daily painting, my friend Jack dashed off to retrieve a book he thought I'd enjoy. The book he shared with me is Brandenburg's.

Day 2 Early March 2009

I allowed myself a break recently in my 100 daily paintings due to many committments that were piling up. I could have crammed a painting in each day, but didn't want to reduce the project into an assembly-line slop-and-go sort of thing. I've had a chance see the images that were selected each day of Brandenburg's project, and had the honor of reading his thoughts, his convictions as he trekked the forest of northern Minnesota on his quest.
I know now that I'll see the last 27 days of my goal differently. I look forward to investing myself just a bit more deeply than I had before. I'll honor the act of recording daily, when it had become a bit of a chore before my break.

Day 65 At Last 2009

Thanks to Jack for sharing this beautiful book. Thanks to Jim Brandenburg for sharing his thoughts along with some achingly beautiful images.
I'll be back at my 100's on July 6th. The break has been refreshing, and also helped me realize how much I enjoyed that challenge. Who knows? Maybe 100 won't be enough.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Do You Want to be a Duck?

Y'know how Mom always admonished you to hang out with the right kind of people? Well, I know where you can find some folks who would make her grin from ear to ear.

I had the distinct pleasure of hanging out under the Graham Gallery tent at the Cottonwood Festival in Hastings, Ne, the last couple of days.

Angela Graham, gallery owner, has, over the years, managed to surround herself with a group of truly delightful, kind, funny and incredibly talented people. Bunches of of them gathered this weekend at the park, some to share their artwork with the public and some to hang out and help.

Daniel Keys shares a story for Fine Art Views about a duck for (this will all make sense in a moment) who thought he was a chicken. Something about the egg falling out of the nest and being added to a hen's nest by a well meaning farmer. The duck hatches and thinks it's a chicken because that's who he is surrounded by. Of course he never learns to fly, or swim, or quack very well, or any of the other ducky things he should be doing because he's not hangin' with other ducks.

The point is that in order to be the best person - or duck - that you can be, you should surround yourself with the right kind of du-er-people. Or artists.

Three years ago I managed to walk into a gallery run by a kind, patient, intelligent, honest woman. She has surrounded herself with kind, patient, charmingly goofy and intelligent people, who in turn have surrounded themselves with the same. And I got to hang out with them for the weekend. I feel smarter already.

After hanging with my peeps (sorry!) I start my week challenged to think more deeply about what I do and why I do it. I'm excited to try some new ideas on new surfaces thanks to the kindness of new friends who were encouraging and helpful.
I am ready, stronger and fearless to move forward artistically thanks to support from this new flock of mine.

I got me a flock Mom can brag to the neighbors about.

Who's in your flock?
Yellow Leaves on Blue Water 2009 Sold!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Time Out

Day 65 At Last 2009 7 x 5 oil

It started with a wedding.

Our nephew married his childhood sweetheart this past weekend, and we were delighted to share in this event with them. (Congratulations Brett & Libby!) Of course, as we watched them take their vows outside under a beautiful windless sky we remembered our own wedding, and the many years since. 'Twas lovely.

Handsome Husband and I really wanted to relax and enjoy our combined families during this occasion. He works hard, and I've been painting alot. So I did it. I used all the knowledge I've gathered since I was a little kid on the playground.

I called a time out.

My schedule is full and I want very much to enjoy each and every event I've got lined up. Each obligation is very important to me and I know I am blessed to be able to list these activities on my calendar. And sometimes you've gotta call time out!

Under normal circumstances I would call a halt to a self-induced frenzy right after I went under for the third time. Remember that cartoon? The cartoon character goes underwater, and eventually a fist pops up with three fingers extended. Then it sinks. Again the fist breaks the surface, with only two fingers extended. Again it rises above the waves, just one finger waving before the hand sinks slowly for the last time. It's funny in cartoon-land, but frustrating and annoying when you're a grownup and know better. (Kids, guess what?! You can still learn new tricks when you're over the hill!!)

Leaves on Blue Water 2009 24 x 18 pastel

I'm hitting the pause button on my Off The Highway project because I'm not willing to settle. I managed to make it to Day 72 without a hitch. When the calendar pages flipped over from May to June, and soon to July, I could see that something was going to have to give, and the daily painting was that thing. Working on that project has been exciting, exhilarating and amazing, and also time consuming because I can't just slop through it. I could probably have whipped through 15 paintings today to complete my obligation for the blog for the next three weeks, and you may have never known the difference (ouch) but I just couldn't do that. So I'm doing the grownup thing and calling a time out.

Day 58 Young Cottonwoods 2009 5 x 7 oil

It's a swswsw kinda thing.

So, if you're in central Nebraska, stop by Brickyard Park in Hastings and visit the Cottonwood Festival June 20-22, or skip over to Kearney and see the huge exhibit hosted by the Association of Nebraska Art Clubs at their annual conference and exhibit June 17-21, or head down the interstate to Noyes Gallery in Lincoln and join Jason, Lucy, Marge, Lynn and me on July 3rd for our opening reception for "Artwards" (on exhibit for the month of July) , or mosey over to Geneva and join Max & me for an opening reception on July 2nd for "Homegrown"( two days only, July 3rd & 4th).

My Off The Highway project begins again July 6th. Time in.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Some Will . . . Some Won't

A fundamental law of thinkers-outside-the-box reared its head in my skull a few weeks ago, and it's been burbling around there ever since. This idea has given me comfort lately, and I'm relieved. It's probably a mantra of every teenaged girl since the beginning of time, but gets silenced as being part of the Cool Kids becomes more important.

It's the SWSWSW principle.

I've been really getting into a groove of painting since Mavis and I have been working on this 100 paintings in 100 days project. Every Monday through Friday we've agreed to produce a 5 x 7 painting and share it with the world. This is different than painting every day. Painting every day is tough enough, but our intention is to actually finish a painting every day of the work week.

For those of you who are mathematically challenged, this means that we'll have 100 completed paintings in 100 days.

It seems to me that if a painter, or sculptor or whomever produced 100 whatevers, a fella would notice a change in styles or subjects or something as the artist/creator tried to find 100 ways of doing what they do. This kind of work is open to experimenting both for fun and to keep from getting bored. It's happening to me, and quite frankly it gave me the shivers at first.

I've been told that I have a distinctive style (which I take as a compliment). My patrons have told me that if they walk into a room full of paintings, they can pick mine out fairly quickly. Here's where the shivers start.

I'm changing.
Day 71 Heavy Weather 2009 5 x 7 pastel
Banner Image Day 72 Goldenrod Morning 2009 5 x 7 pastel
Painting every day has loosened something in my brain. I find that I'm painting more from memory, or from an idea, than I ever have. I'm not so much interested in creating an exact replica of an actual 'thing' as I am trying to share with you a feeling that I had.

And it worried me a bit.

Gosh, what will They think? Will They know it's me? Will They still want to be my friend?


In sales and marketing circles, that means: Some Will, Some Won't, So What?

Some will appreciate what I've created. Some won't get it. Really, So What?

Here's So What: I have 30 more paintings to go in this series. I'll paint some zingers, I'll certainly paint a few dogs. I'll learn a heck of alot more taking risks and playing around with ideas than if I play it safe hoping to be part of the Cool Kids. Where did that ever get me?

The pressure is off. I'm doing this for me, you're just invited along for kicks and giggles.

That's What.

Some Will, Some Won't, So What? So What about you?