Sunday, October 30, 2011

Time Out

It appears I am not alone.
In last week’s post, I mentioned the difference between the way Handsome Husband and I organize our days.  He lives by his list, making notes, checking them off with a satisfying flourish, and generally parading through his day like a man who knows where he’s going.

And then there was me, trying to corral my day, finally coming to the conclusion that making concise lists is – for me anyway – like herding cats. It just doesn’t work very well.
Accomplished artists Vickie, Karine and Hannah agreed.  We check, uncheck, recheck, and re-recheck , then double-check the recheck until we’re dizzy.  I have a solution.
 The Time Out.

In sports the time out is used to re-group, rest, and re-figure the direction of the team.  The players stand around sloshing water in their mouths and catching their breath while the coaches ponder their next move.  After a short time has elapsed the players get their orders and go back onto the playing field with renewed spirit.  Or something like that.

With kids, the time out lands them in a corner on a hard seat.  Focus and self control are the goals.

If you think you're being ignored, you're right.

And so it is with creative work. Whether it’s a day, a week, or sometimes several months, any kind of creative work needs time to rest, a siesta from the over stimulated eyes and minds of its maker; a breather, an interlude from being re-stitched, under-poked or overworked by artists who are simply too close to their projects to see clearly.
Funny, much art improves by being left alone. Sometimes flaws become more apparent after a time of idle repose so that some tough love can be applied.  Hopefully it’s the loveliness that becomes even more obvious so that finishing touches can be completed without all the un-checking and re-doing.  Regardless, it’s the time out that clears the air. 

After a long time out, © 2011 Patricia Scarborough, Sandhills Shoreline, 14 x 11 pastel 

In preparing for two fast-approaching exhibits, I unearthed a painting I had put away in frustration quite some time ago.  After seeing it with fresh eyes it was obvious that all that was needed was a quick stroke of pastel and ‘voila’, it was ready to be photographed and framed. Once.

Others that I had hastily finished and framed, documented, re-framed, re-documented, etc. are now being given their time out in hopes of a clearer perspective.

So I’m adding to my list by adding . . . nothing.  Space.  Time Out. 

Paintings in Time Out. Stacked up ready for delivery to Prairie Winds Art Center in Grand Island, Ne. for a November exhibit titled Nature's Bounty, with Harry Adams and Dee Rodgers.  Opening reception is Friday, November 4th from 6-8pm.

Then it's  quick dash out the door and down the highway to the Museum of Nebraska Art's Kaleidoscope of Art event on Saturday and Sunday.

Put them on your list.  I'll see you there.  Check.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Keeping it in Balance

In the time honored tradition of Opposites Attract, HH and I have spent quite a lot of time over the years coming to terms with our differences.

This has been especially interesting since my foray into art as a full time endeavor. 

In HH’s profession time, and keeping track of it, is very important. His day is divided between appointments, paperwork, meetings and other duties. Managing the clock efficiently allows for more appointments, more paperwork, more meetings and more duties. Checking these items off the list is proof of a successful day.

Time, to this artist, is a very different animal. It neither starts, nor ends; it just is. More often than not, I don’t actually finish a task. I make headway, I made advances, I may even make progress, but my work is not conducive to being confined to a list.

HH is an impressive list maker. I’m learning.  Where he starts the day with a dozen or so entries on his to-do list, mine often starts with this entry: “make list for day”. 

HH feels a sense of control when he ends his day with his long list check-marked and scratched out. Certain items of mine can be checked off a list, certainly. Prepare panels. Check.  Buy frame. Check.  Put painting in frame. Check.  Add hanging wire. Check. 

My daily goals don’t always translate into a useable list.  For instance, Monday’s list: “Paint”. Tuesday’s list:  “Keep painting”. Wednesday: “Paint again”.  In the interest of saving trees, I can keep that one in my head.

The work of laying paint onto a canvas doesn’t translate into timeframes or check marks. I have finished paintings, signed them, and framed them. Check it off the list.  A short time later I see something that could be tweaked.  Uncheck.   Take out of frame. Is that a re-check, or an un-check?  Fix the painting. Recheck.  Re-frame, re-re-check. Or is that un-check?

I’ve learned to set a timer to help me keep track of my time.  Ding! Time for lunch.  Ding!  Go to the dentist.  Ding!  Write your blog. (What?  It’s Sunday already?)

Of course, my day starts off with a plan, just like his.  I plan to work on a painting.  From there things follow a different path - if there is a path at all. Mostly the plan goes like this: I will work on the painting on my easel.  I will work on it until I am satisfied, or so miserable I quit.  Or, I will take advantage of unexpected beautiful sunny weather and paint outside. Or take advantage of unexpected cloudy weather and photograph artwork.  Or, if it’s raining and the painting on my easel is not going well, I will frame, or inventory…or…

He has a fairly tight rein on his calendar; I have a first class pilot’s license in flying by the seat of my pants. 

He sets his calendar, I set a timer.

He puts on aftershave, I wipe off paint.

He puts on a tie, I tie on an apron.

He takes a break from paperwork to stare into space. I take a break from staring into space to catch up on paperwork.

He gets a regular paycheck. I get irregular paychecks.  I think. It’s been awhile.

Somehow, despite our differences, we belong to the same mutual admiration society.

I admire his ability to determine what needs to be done.  He appreciates my ability to be flexible.

I admire his ability to focus, he is learning to let go of details. 

I’m so very glad he can do math.  So is he. He leaves the final decision on clothes matching to me.

I have learned that being an artist isn’t just about color and paint.  HH has been very gracious in helping me understand and use calendars and lists to keep my schedule straight and my studio time productive.

He has learned that being successful isn’t just about checking off the task list.  He now takes time to stop and watch trees turn color and butterflies hatch.  (Just between you and me, I think he’s got that on a list somewhere.)

He’s less schedule oriented, I’m less open-ended.  He’s willing to take the road less travelled, and I’ve learned to mind the clock.

One of these days he’ll get me to use a Franklin Planner, and maybe I’ll get him to leave his at home.

We'll both add that to our lists.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Vaughan Chapter Two

Being a plein air painter in Nebraska is a little like playing dodge ball.  It can be miserable, but when you realize you’ve made it to the end in one piece, it is oh so sweet.  So it was with our V…Vaughan workshop at David City last week. 

V... Vaughan completes her demo as the sun goes down on our first day in David City. 

Under V…’s expert tutelage our task was to experience the beautiful Nebraska landscape first hand, focusing on the earliest and latest parts of the day.  Our hosts from Bone CreekMuseum of Agrarian Art (a tiny gem of an art museum) had located several wonderful spots from which we would work and I was excited to scout out new territory.

For six weeks, six weeks, the weather in Nebraska had been particularly beautiful.  Our skies were intensely blue, the temperature was, balmy and winds unusually calm.  It looked like the perfect time to paint outdoors.

First light on the second morning. The day started beautifully.

But this is Nebraska - where the weather changes before the weatherman can finish his sentence and it’s not unheard of to watch the thermometer drop 40 degrees in a few short hours.

A few moments later the temps drop, the clouds roll in. We perservere.

Despite the constant threat of inclement weather  V… was intent on giving us our money’s worth.  She was unfazed by whirling winds, cooling temps and light going flatter than an old  grape soda. V…’s brush found rich tones of purple, olive and indigo to describe rolling hills and autumn trees and she shared with us how to translate what we were seeing into paint.  Her ability to coax a painting to completion quickly and confidently was inspiring.

We gather to review the days' work.

My goal in for any workshop is to take home one or two bits of information that I can apply to my own style and working methods.  V… managed to shoehorn 5 or 6 major "aha’s" between my ears. That's quite an accomplishment. I'm looking forward to including these gems into my studio work - just as soon as I get the grass, gravel, foxtails and mud picked out of my equipment.

Huge thanks to V…, to the folks at Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian Art, and to all the workshop participants who made the weekend so special.  V…’s recent exhibit, Passing America: The Great Plains, will be on exhibit at the Great Plains Art Museum in Lincoln, Ne., through December 11, 2011.

On the last afternoon, the sun shone brightly and we were visited by a herd of beautiful British Whites from the Bohaty farm, cattle whose only desire was to pose for our group.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Plein Air Experience

Greetings Dear Reader-

 I'm in the middle of a V...Vaughan plein air painting workshop in David City, Ne., and right now I'm just plain pooped.  I'll share some quick images with you, with the promise to post more next week.

Painters get up bright and early to greet the sun. 

My usual I'm outstanding in my field.

Participants gather for a quick demo by V...

Next week I'll be back on schedule, I promise.  Until then ...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Go Play

Greetings Dear Reader-

This may be a terrible blow to you, but I'm taking the week off from blogging.  The weather has been amazingly wonderful for the last week of September in Nebraska and I've spent as much time outdoors as possible rather than in my studio thinking of clever things to share with you.

I know it's impossible, but I feel a need to soak up as much blue sky and sunshine as possible.  It's one thing to stay inside because I want to (to paint, to read, to do whatever it is I do inside) but it's another thing entirely to stay inside because it's 30 degrees with heavy grey skies.  That will come all too soon.

So, before I actually end up writing a blog telling you how I'm not going to write a blog, I'll leave you with a recent painting.  It may not be quite done, it'll have to lean against the wall awhile before I'll know for sure. I'll come back to it in a few days, when the skies cloud over and the temperatures drop, and there's no more playing outside.

©2011 Patricia Scarborough  30x40 oil