Saturday, November 11, 2017

On Breaking the Rules

I have wonderful memories of rainy days from my early childhood.  

On these days, when we were more or less housebound, my mother would draw paper dolls on the cardboard backs of those lined paper pads (money for "extras" such as store-bought paper dolls was hard to come by), cut them out, and with crayons in hand, my younger sisters and I would design costumes for the dolls, using the little line drawings in the dictionary we owned as inspiration. I remember drawing a Native American girl in her "Pocahontas outfit," as well as a member of a harem in hers.

Although we used the lined paper from the writing pads to create our designs, we were a bit excessive in our choice of colors, since one extravagant purchase Mom insisted upon was a box of 72 Crayola crayons.  Such great colors -- such great fun; we never knew what we were missing by not having store-bought paper dolls - plus we learned a little history along the way.  Mom had inherited her artistic talents from her father, my grandfather, who loved to paint.  And my artistic capabilities were fostered directly from Mom's loving encouragement of my own budding talents.

When I was in fourth grade, our local newspaper in southeastern Iowa ran a city-wide art contest for children.  Mom encouraged me to enter, and so I did.  The grand prize was a $10 gift certificate at the local Army-Navy store.  Wow!  Ten dollars back then (1961) was a fortune.  If I won, I would be able to buy Christmas presents for my whole family!  

The challenge was to draw ads found in the local paper - or so I thought.  I set about drawing three or four ads, which I thought were pretty good, and Mom helped me get them sent off to the paper before the deadline. Imagine my surprise when I learned that I had won the contest!  We were in utter disbelief when we read the letter telling me about my award.  My parents, my siblings, my grandparents would all have a gift from me that Christmas.  I was pumped!!

However, the letter also detailed the fact that the challenge in the contest was not about drawing the ads, but rather about tracing them.  I had not traced the ads as the instructions specified; mine were actual free-hand drawings and much larger than the ads themselves.  Apparently the judges were very impressed by my drawing skills, and I had ten dollars to prove it!  In other words, I had won this art contest by not following the rules.  Even way back then I was a renegade of sorts, and I guess that experience set the stage for the iconoclastic artist I have become. 

Now, having learned the "rules" of art, I feel justified in breaking them whenever my "maverick" streak starts to show!  I have become an incurable experimenter as an artist, since doing so allows me to set my own "rules," according to my lights.  It's also about always learning
and keeping it fun!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

One of my favorite art instructors, David Limrite, had a great blog piece today -- his thoughts on overworking a painting.  I share it with you here.

10 Thoughts On Overworking
Overworking a painting!
It doesn’t matter how experienced an artist you are. We have all overworked paintings and we will most certainly overwork some more. Overworking is a natural part of creating. Overworking happens. It is not, however, something to get upset about. If you overwork a painting, will it really matter five years from now? Probably not. Overworking is still frustrating.
With that said, here are 10 thoughts on overworking:
1. Apply a brushstroke of paint and leave it alone.
2. Make one or two paint strokes, stop, scoop up some fresh paint on your brush, and make another one or two strokes. Repeat. Do not make too many brush strokes before you stop to reload. Stopping often, even for just a couple seconds, gives you lots of opportunities to assess how things are going.
3. Get into a rhythm of working hard for 30 minutes and then taking a 5 minute break. Don’t work for 2 hours straight before stepping back to check things out.
4. Start a painting using as big a brush as you feel comfortable with. Or, better yet, use a brush that is bigger than you are comfortable with. Use this brush as far into the painting as you can. Move to smaller brushes only when absolutely necessary.
5. Keep your brush off of the surface of your painting more than on.
6. Work as far back from your painting surface as you can. Even if you have to slightly lean in a bit to make a paint stroke. There is a reason why brushes have long handles.Try holding the brush as far back on the handle as you can.
7. Do something unexpected to your painting. Often.
8. Focus on process not product. Detach from the outcome if you can.
9. Orchestrate a good balance of busy and simple areas in the finished painting.
10. Establish 2 or 3 goals for your painting. These goals will do three things for you. They will provide a place for you to begin, keep you focused if you get off track, and most importantly, let you know when you are finished. The painting is finished once you have accomplished your goals. Examples of goals could include interesting brushwork, good value contrast and effective figure ground relationships. Just to name a few.
Bonus tip: Constantly simplify and edit while you are painting. All the way to the finish.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Art of Cursive Handwriting Is Making a Comeback!!!

Cursive document and pencils.So heartened to see this report.  I've always been against eliminating teaching cursive writing to students.  Playing with different ways to make cursive letters was, for me at least, an avenue for artistic expression and for developing my individuality.  As I and many others have always suspected, it engages the brain in a way that fosters other cognitive skills, which research now shows to be true.

Check out this article.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Central Coast Watercolor Society's Spring 2017 newsletter will feature an interview with me.  It's a little embarrassing or weird to think that three pages of the newsletter will be devoted to me. 

That said, I am so honored by this feature and grateful to Dail Schroeder for her work on it.

If you are interested, you  can access it here.

I ran across this piece from Artwork Archive, an online service for artists where I can keep a gallery of my art inventory, notes about my paintings, a record of exhibitions and competitions--and where I can easily generate certificates of authenticity when needed.  Plus they send a weekly reminder of art-related dates and deadlines that I need to attend to that week.  I love Artwork Archive!

They also publish interesting art-related articles.  I ran across this one today on why we need art in our homes:

Check it out!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Brave Brushstrokes

One of my favorite artists and teachers, David Limrite, frequently blogs about helpful things for artists to think about. 

His recent blog on "brave brushstrokes" struck a chord with me; it makes me want to race out to my studio and follow his example. 

by David Limrite

Check it out:

~ Mari

Keep painting!  Paint in your mind when no canvas is available, and in your dreams when you are asleep...

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Abstract Floral Series
A Peek into My Process

I hate to waste paint, so when I have some left over, I use it to paint a variety of backgrounds/underpaintings.  In 2016,  I decided to do something with stash of underpaintings and unfinished beginnings.  Always yearning for spring, I thought, why not a series of florals?  Although I had painted many "realistic" florals when I first returned to painting, I decided on abstracts this time around.

Here are three phases of my process in Abstract Floral I:

1)  Sketch done with white pastel. on painted background.
2) Negative painting around sketched shapes.
3) Adding color and texture.  And to complete the painting, I added in some leaves.
I love using this really fun approach.  I may even try a simplified version of negative painting with my Open Studios visitors this year!