Saturday, April 5, 2014

Lost Souls and Lost Direction

Lost Souls by J. Binford-Bell
30 x 24 Mixed Media on Canvas

Been reading the book "Starving" to Successful by Xanadu Gallery owner Jason Horejs as part of an e-course he is offering. I read chapter 3 last night which deals with "what to paint" and chapter 4 which is paint, paint, paint. I paraphrase a lot.

I think all artists go though thinking they could paint anything so please tell me what will sell. And a lot of gallery owners do that. If you are new to being represented by a gallery you can fall into the trap easily. It does not make for a happy relationship. And sometimes we put ourselves into that same tight fitting box. When I was doing fairs I sold churches. So I painted churches. The bigger the upcoming fair the more churches I painted. I got tired of churches and so did some of my regular customers.

Lost Souls is the second church (not on a Christmas ornament) I have painted in several years. Sacrifice, recently the subject of a blog here, was my first though it was technically to my way of thinking a ruin. And I have to admit I enjoy painting the mission churches so identified with New Mexico. There is so much symbolism in them and so much that can be added to that like open doors in this painting or lights behind the windows or not.

Horejs says you should paint what you are passionate about. When I got over church fatigue I had to admit I was passionate about them. No, I do not attend them. I do photograph them. I love their structure. And I also like ghosts and spirits which haunt them. But spirits are not easy to paint. When I first put them in they look like water. Don't tell anyone but they feel like water.

Spirits laid in
Painting around my spirits

The painting Sacrifice also had spirits. But I saw those as individuals. I wanted to make them seem as priests. I wanted the spirits in Lost Souls to be nameless and more formless.

Sacrifice by J. Binford-Bell

I quite frankly had problems with the spirits. It was a really delicate balance between form and lack of form. The mission I wanted to look very solid and earth bound so I accented the hard lines of the structure. But the spirits had to be more fluid. I added the two kneeling spooks in the front to anchor the flow of the spirits along the side of the church.

Spirits taking form - and two added

I wanted the spirits to be rising from the ground where they had been buried. But the "fish tail" toward the front of the painting had to go. It was to be a rock they were coming from. With watercolors it is hard to cover up mistakes. One of the pluses of using oil sticks is they do cover a lot. And two they add depth and texture.

Foreground detail added in but lots of work still to do. The stars are not in yet.

I am working bigger lately. Maybe that is another mistake artists make especially in a tight economy; we paint smaller because little paintings are more likely to sell. When I agreed to do the Trinidad show I knew I had enough paintings to fill the big gallery but most of them were smaller. I decided if I was going to paint pieces specifically for the show they had to be bigger.

I find taking progress photos of paintings, especially big ones, points out the areas that need fixed. It is for me not just a way to build interest on my Facebook page but a tool I use to finish a painting.

Almost but not quite

Fish tail is gone but the road and the shadow behind the spirits (yeah, maybe they do not cast shadows) needs to be fiddled with. My tow kneeling spirits are more defined.

This is the seventh painting I have done since the first of the year. To be a successful artist Horejs mentions in chapter four you have to paint lots. Lots more than you sell. You should not worry about inventory that does not fit on your studio walls. Since I have been actively preparing from my one woman show in July at the Gallery Main in Trinadad, Colorado I have seen the pluses of paint a lot. And I do not mean just a lot of churches for inventory at a fair. You become more familiar with your "tools" and with your medium and you build on that and take more risks. And I am having lots of fun.

I have already begun on another painting. Laid in the sky just yesterday. Yellow. It is a yellow sky.


  1. Hi, I just happened on your blog and find it absolutely beautiful! I love how you show your process and explain it too.
    Blessings, Jo


I appreciate all kind comments on my art and poetry.