Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Poetic Journey - Little Coyote

Little Coyote

A stream crosses my backyard
In a land 
Which holds water prescious
The Little Coyote
Blesses me.

In the hot August days
It sneaks at the bottom of its bed
Calling me to its banks
To see if it is still there
It lingers
Its pace downhill slowed.

Winter it hides
Under layers of ice and snow
But come spring
It crests
Filling bank to bank
Speeding toward its big brother.

I beg it to stay
Please little Coyote
Stay full til June
To July and the monsoon rains
hold tight to your banks
Stay in my yard.

J. Binford-Bell  -- April 2010

Nicholas V at Intelliblog also has a poem for us. Do you? Leave a comment.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Milestone for Me

Reverence for the Dawn
26 x 62 Mixed Media on Canvas

This painting has been an adventure. And a definite learning experience. I normally work 4 to 5 much smaller paintings at a time. This allows me to utilize paints I mix up on several projects. And it allows me to compensate for the needed drying time before but another color up against a particularly vivid one. But this painting was big enough that working on more than just it was next to impossible. It just took too much space.

I did have one smaller painting I was working on. It was my test subject. I had done a smaller study first - 10 x 24. But once I began on the large canvas I decided I wanted to do somethings a bit different. I would test a color or technique out on the companion piece I was working on but have not finished. I don't think you can do a 10 x 24 and a 26 x 62 and have them be exactly alike. A small place of uniform color would look flat on the proportionally bigger space. The larger painting required some subtle variations in big blocks of color. And much more detail work in areas like the stream. And yet the paintings should have the same feel.

10 x 24 Mixed Media on Canvas

Here are the two together. I am happy to say I like the bigger one better. I didn't think when I began this project I would be able to say that.

There was a time when watercolor was done on paper that the size of the painting was limited to the size of the pressed sheet. Watercolor canvas has changed that. It is rather exciting.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Poetic Journey - Needed Space

Working on my large canvas has not only taken some creative arrangement of space it has also taken some extra dishes and tools. The little seven hole porcelain dishes by the frog dish are what I usually use to mix paints. But for the sky I took a little baking dish to mix enough red. And my sushi set offered up sauce trays.

My water dishes have always been eclectic. I pick them up from potters I know. Ceramic is nice and weighted and does not tobble if I bump the table. And porcelain ceramics for paint mixing always clean up nicely with no residue. I hate plastic palettes.

Today I was able to work on the canvas in a vertical position for the detail. With the large washes the canvas had to be flat. I usually do detail flat too but the size of this canvas has made it easier to do the fine brush lines upright. I don't have an easel so I creatively propped it on a flat file drawer. All this led to a contemplation of space when I took a lunch break.

Room to breathe
Through space
Time in mind.

To know
One must lose 
In space
From nothingness.

of emptiness
From nothing
To space.

Like clouds
In a once empty sky
On a bare spring stalk

At last filling

J. Binford-Bell April 2010

I have been missing the last few weeks on our Poetic Journey. Sorry but I needed space to create. Join me if you have a poem to share.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Busy Time in Studio

It has been a busy time for me both in the studio and in personal life. Amazing how many things have to be done before going on a vacation. Been a while since a road trip so I have been taking breaks from painting to gather the necessary things together, make lists, and prepare my home to have a house sitter for two weeks.

And I have been trying to finish the commission before I leave. So why am I working on three paintings instead of just one? The little red sky canyon painting in the front is actually my test piece. If I want to try out a color to be used in the large work I try it there first. Also tested a new technique for the sky on it which I then rejected. Not in this photo is a small clayboard that I use to test newly mixed paints on and/or glazes. The aspen painting in the background is a work I have not finished and am trying to before leaving.

I have one of my two major summer fairs within a month after my return from vacation and much of that month will be spent framing the pieces I have already finished and stored in the flat files. The aspens is a departure from my usual subject matter and for forthcoming exhibits I need to have one or two other pieces to put with it. So that is also on my agenda upon return.

Speaking of agendas, as president of the Moreno Valley Arts Council there are summer venue issues to handle and so I am busy with e-mails back and forth between other board members and the executive director. At the time I planned my two week escape life looked a lot more open and relaxed. But the closer I get the more compressed time has become and the longer the todo lists. Today I am dropping everything else but the painting. The large piece is named Reverence and it requires some focus from this point out - maybe even reverence.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Gallery Game

I have been represented by a local gallery since before I switched from sculpture to painting. Since then as we know the economy has tanked and I was just grateful the gallery I am in survives. And getting my studio built so I can have events here and sell from home is also nice.

But it occurred to me after doing new inventory for the summer fairs that new galleries to carry my work would be nice. About that time an invitation to show in the Old Pass Gallery in Raton came about. But I would like to find a gallery in Albuquerque an/or Santa Fe to represent me. There was a time when you just did a few of the big name shows and received invites from galleries. Obviously the economy has changed all that. Too many starving artists an too many galleries closing their doors. Some of my friends have even lost work they had in galleries that went belly up without warning.

For years I did freelance writing and before you submitted a piece you wrote off for writers' guidelines.With those in hand you could make judgments about which piece to submit to which periodical. I thought maybe galleries would have such things but no it seems. And each seems to want to be approached differently. And as an artist I am probably just as picky. Before I turn over thousands in inventory I want to know if it will survive and if I would feel comfortable having my work there. So yesterday I did a level one survey of Canyon Road in Santa Fe. Hey, why not begin at the top?

I had developed a short list based on ads in the Art Collectors Magazine and whether a gallery represented artists I liked or not. My work does not belong next to cattle drive images. You cannot walk in looking like an artist on the first pass. You need to look like a patron or possible patron to find out how your potential market would be treated. The list got shorter. I now totally understand why sidewalks were invented in Paris and used as an art market. Canyon Road does not even have sidewalks and the parking lots are few and far between.

Any tips out here from other artists looking for venues?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cats in the Studio

I am a pet person and my fur kids have been in the studio from the very beginning. In fact the cat ladder was one of the first pieces of studio furniture I made and before the finishing was even done. Making Willow a ladder was one way of keeping her off my ladder I was using for painting and trimming. And the theory was it would give her a place to watch the action without being in the paints.

But yesterday as I was transferring the sketch for the 26 x 63 commission to canvas Willow pounced up on top of the table I had the canvas on and right onto the canvas with muddy paws. Bad Cat! But it raised an interesting issue. Prior to this one large painting drying canvases have fit in flat files out of danger. There is no flat file big enough for this painting so I am going to have to close the door.

Something tells me Willow is not going to like this. I have other cats and two dogs and when I am in the studio working they are all there sunning themselves on the warm tile floor or the studio chairs or window sills. And perhaps that can continue. But at the end of work while this painting is in process they are all going to have to leave with me. Aaah the things we do for our art.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Advantages of Stretching

Put together the stretcher bars for two new paintings. One is a commission and the other inspired by the comment that my subjects look good in long thin proportions. The larger one will be horizontal but I am interested in trying a large vertical one and have just the subject for it, but also an idea for a horizontal theme.

When I last fall decided to buy the tools to stretch my own canvases the money I would save was the most motivating aspect. That and the larger pre-stretched canvases I was purchasing often were warped. The first stretching I did was with smaller sizes and not much off of what would be considered standard proportions. Making my own frames contributed to a total sense of freedom in width and height. And the rest is history. Especially when the off-standard shapes began to sell.

I have been working on fair inventory. My first fair is not until June. Second in July. I am also really promoting my studio this summer. And still debating spending the money for a pricey holiday fair. I have until July 15th to make that decision. The economy had many artists pulling back from expensive fairs, but reports from some of the early venues are looking up. Still for the moment most of my stretching is in size and shape.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

And so today I begin

This 10 x 24 inch study is to become a 26 x 62 finished painting. And as Linus from Peanuts said, "There is no heavier burden than great potential."

I have the canvas and the stretcher bars but first I have to enlarge the sketch. Today out comes the original sketch and the butcher paper. I will tape butcher paper together and trim to the finished size and then start folding. Rather like a huge origami project both the original sketch of the 10 x 24 and the blank paper for the new sketch will be folded and halves and half again and then in quarters.and quarters again - horizontal and vertical. Both will then be unfolded and flattened out. The creases will serve as markers for placement of the features of the canyon walls enlarged 260% or at least so my proportional scale informs me.

All this goes to show that artists are not merely creative beings that paint willy nilly. We have to be draftsmen, problem solvers and, heaven forbid, have a passing knowledge of math and geometry. We will see just how well I solve this problem! Biggest problem I foresee at this point - a table big enough to draw on. Might just have to clean all the junk off the dining room table.

I am constantly challenged by flat surfaces. The taunt me into filling them so they are no longer flat.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

What Color is Teal?

I seriously cannot believe I am having this discussion with myself. I had a high school art teacher that became the reason I majored in math that constantly ranted about the names of colors. What color is puce he would shout at us. Per Wiki--

Puce (often misspelled as "puse","peuse" or "peuce") is a color that is defined as ranging from reddish-brown to purplish-brown, with the latter being the more widely-accepted definition found in reputable sources. Puce is a shade of red. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) dates the use of "puce" (in couleur puce) from 1787. The first recorded use of puce as a color name in French was in the 1300s. [1]The word comes from French; puce literally means "flea", as the usual flea coloration is either dark reddish-brown or dark purplish-brown; specifically, it is the color of the belly of a flea.

Mr. Ben Featherston wanted to give all colors a number ascending (tints) or descending (shades) from its primary or secondary color on the color wheel. To be totally fair to a man that frequently was not let me say the names of colors become decidedly confusing after you leave your box of crayons behind. I always had the box of 84. Never less. Largely because it included the crayons mahogany and teal. Today I am dealing with Viridian green  hue and cerulean blue deep in an effort to approximate teal - a medium greenish-blue color - so named because of Teal ducks which there are more than one species ergo more than one color of teal.

That is all the bad news. Generally I oblivious to the names of colors until they become favorites like Prussian Blue or Crimson Lake or Payne's gray. Then a customer wants a painting with teal blue to go with her walls. Then the question becomes - her teal blue, my teal blue, Crayola's teal blue, house paint teal blue, the teal blue of the Baikal Teal Duck or the Green Winged Teal Duck - well, you get the point.

What color is teal?