Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Round Flowers: Stuck for Awhile

Partial view of a painting in progress; temporarily named Round Flowers
I've been asked to document some paintings as they progress so that you can see what changes come about as layers are added and sanded down. Although it may be more wise to post them in retrospect, I'll take my chances and start with this image, a partial view of a 40" x 66" painting. I say "take my chances" because I'm currently at a loss as to where this will go next! There's a good chance that most of what you see will barely be visible in the end, if at all.

This is a nice example to demonstrate the endless decisions that are made during my creative process. Yes, sometimes I do start out with a layout/design in mind. Interestingly, it does give me a starting point, but often changes drastically before the piece is done. Sometimes I just start laying down paint to see where it takes me. That was the case with this particular piece.

As you may imagine, this approach often creates dilemmas. For example, I am pleased with the white circles and drips that suggest flowers and stems. But now I need to decide how much presence they can still have when the whole piece is complete. Sometimes a successful area will get covered up to make it all work. But these predicaments are what makes the process both challenging and rewarding. If I'm not learning something as I go, I lose interest pretty quickly.

This process relies heavily on the ability to sense when a painting is "done". Sometimes I'll have to step back for a few days or even weeks to see everything with fresh eyes. Then I may decide it is indeed done or that it may only need work in a certain area. Or I may have even lost enough momentum that I decide to change the majority of the work and what had been a potentially finished piece becomes a background layer in the next step of the process.

I think I'll be setting this one aside for now. ;-)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Watching Shadows on the Wall

© 2011 Rebecca Lambing
Finally, after over a week of fighting an awful virus that just didn't want to give up, I've re-entered the world again! As fate would have it, my daughter was sick at the same time so I wasn't needed to drive her to all of her obligations. Everything was put on complete hold for both of us. We even missed the undoubtedly adorable trick-or-treaters on our doorstep at Halloween.

It's difficult for me to stop everything and just take care of myself (don't think I'm alone there!). But sometimes there's really no choice. Lying horizontal for days I thought of all the things I wanted to be doing... all the things I wanted to feel well enough to be doing! Instead I mostly just "watched the shadows on the wall". (Also, the Food Network, which helped us to keep up our appetites. If only we could have eaten some of those America's Top Chef creations - yum!)

The image here is a shadow treat I discovered before my eyes. I love the table itself, but what looks like a contour drawing that the shadow creates is even more striking! It's difficult to tell what is sitting on the table, so I'll have to explain. The solid spot is a carved wooden buddha. It's sitting on a handmade doily that was crocheted around and connecting small plastic rings. Does it look like a vase of whimsically drawn flowers to you? That's what I see. The most interesting part to me is how the table appears upside down and the vase of flowers does not. It's actually that tension that makes this composition work beautifully. If the vase were facing the other direction the whole photograph would look upside down. If the table was switched to be coming from the bottom of the picture it would not look nearly as intriguing.

I guess that's what can keep life interesting. The contrasts. The unexpected. Finding the good in what was otherwise a forgotten day. ;-)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Wind-up Ballerina Sketch

I've spent more time adding to my sketchbook lately! Due primarily to a renewed commitment, I've been able to draw most days while my daughter is in her dance classes... which is five days a week.

I'm not getting any errands run, but sitting in my car in the parking lot for an hour or more has become the perfect time for me to doodle and sketch. Since the dance studio is in an industrial area, the majority of my drawings come strictly from imagination.

My sketchbook is really a place for brainstorming, experimenting, and just plain practice and brushing up on skills. I usually like to draw with permanent ink to gain confidence with the lines and not rely on an eraser. As you may imagine, this doesn't always result in perfectly presentable drawings. So I don't know how often I'll share these with you! This one was memorable for me, though, because Hannah got her pointe shoes and had her first class en pointe this week! She was very excited! Just like any art form, she's had to work hard to get this far and will need to continue to apply herself to further her talent and skills. But it's her passion, so she's loving it. Passions seem to work that way. ;-)

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Beauty in the Everyday

A fun shadow on an all-white support
One of my favorite perks of being an artist is noticing the chance happenings in the world around us and being able to appreciate them. The surprise visual on the left came about when I set a large panel outside on my back deck this week to help the layer of white gesso cure (and to get it out of the way). The shadow of the patio umbrella created a design on the surface that could uniquely inspire a painting of its own. I have other plans for this one, though. Yes... back to work! ;-)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Eat, Pray, Love, Create

It can be wonderful when everything in the universe lines up right and the work just flows. The art imagined in my mind comes to physical reality with little effort, as if it were intended to exist at that moment and I’m just the conduit. Yes, that actually does happen sometimes. An example is one of my first tree paintings. On that particular day I felt like working in a different room than the dining room that I normally painted in at the time. For whatever reason (the new setting, the lighter-colored and brighter room) I felt incredibly inspired. The painting came together from start to finish in a short afternoon. It has an energy many people can feel. And it is that energy that seemed to work through me to bring it to life on the canvas that day. Interestingly, it’s the only painting in my home that has always hung in the same place. (I tire of my surroundings and like to move things around a lot). It seems to like it there… I mean, I seem to like it there.

Today my mind has too many distractions to connect to that energy, or anything resembling it for that matter. If this all sounds crazy to you (or crazy interesting), take a look at this video of a talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love.

At least as a visual artist if I ever get to catch that creative energy by the tail, most won’t recognize that everything’s backwards! I’m always motivated by her talk.

Now, back to work. ;-)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Crazy for Fall Color!

"Autumn Tree", 8"x8"x2", acrylic on cradled panel
The beautiful fall weather we've been enjoying in the Bay Area has coincided with a productive time for me. Here is one of my latest paintings. As many trees as I've painted, none have so obviously radiated the bright colors of fall.

The visual texture that reads as leaves makes me think of the sound of the wind through the trees on a crisp autumn day. Even though the "leaves" look like they'd be rough to the touch, the whole painting is actually very smooth when you run your hand over it.

I'm enjoying seeing what emerges from my work lately. It's interesting that it is so often trees that find their way forward!

Now, back to work. ;-)

Saturday, April 30, 2011

“Visions of Childhood” Art Exhibit

May 12-July 8, 2011
Avenue 25 Gallery
San Mateo, California

Artists’ Reception:
May 14 from 2:00-4:00 p.m.

Detail, “See What I Made!”