I think I can

"Hilltop", oil pastel drawing on paper

Day 317: Hilltop, a drawing

Several people who are close to me seem to all be going through some of life’s trials and tribulations. Though I’ve always enjoyed snarkiness and cynicism for the laughter factor, I am fundamentally an optimist. I try to help people see the bright side of things even when it’s hard, as they have done for me in the past. Today’s drawing is a steep hill bedecked with some pretty little red trees that I created as a kind of metaphor for the ‘uphill’ feeling of life’s challenges. Hang in there, guys. It can only be uphill for so long.


Doctor Pirate Alert!

5x7 and pretty as a popsicle.

Day 182: Pastel Hill #3

Sometimes the window in my studio can be a distraction. For instance, my neighbors across the street put some assorted freebies out on the curb yesterday. It isn’t the pile of stuff getting my attention; it’s the odd birds amongst the yard vultures. Two in particular stopped me in my painting tracks.

The first was a woman who, despite wearing spandex shorts and an ill-fitting tie-dyed tee undoubtedly curb-fished on an earlier occasion, pulled up inexplicably in a Mercedes SUV and removed almost all the items in a haste impressive for her diminutive size. The second was what I need only describe as a “doctor pirate”, and I’m certain you’ll envision what I witnessed. I’ll give you a moment….Are you picturing a dude in green scrubs with an eye patch? Yep. I swear on all that is holy, that’s exactly what I saw today. Doctor Blackbeard hunting for suburban treasure. Could I even make something like that up if I tried. No, dude! DOCTOR PIRATE.

Candy-colored triplets.

Anyway, I finished that linocut instructable I mentioned around the crack of midnight yesterday. It’s here. Check it out!

Today’s art is Pastel Hill #3, a third warm-toned cityscape (happily, pirate-free). I’m the proud mother of three darling little girls. It was a grueling 36 hours of labor, yes, but after popping out these lovelies, each prettier than the next, I’d say it was worth it. Wouldn’t you? 😉

I sure hope you guys aren't getting tired of these, because I'm not! 🙂 I am out of small canvases though. So there's that.

Sea of Pretty

Don't mind that black smudge on the wall behind the painting. It's a small studio. 😀

Day 180: Pastel Hill

I love being in San Francisco. I confess the mission district is my favorite. There’s so much vibrancy, so much color. I set up my pieces on the walls in City Art Gallery today for the July show, so I was in the area, admiring the murals and delicious paint colors of the buildings. A fuchsia thrift store here, a dark gray and yellow shop there, bright yellow, deep blue, sumptious coral… it’s a feast for artist eyes.

Getting there, on the other hand, is not pure joy. Coming from Sacramento, I take 80 straight through to the Bay Bridge, which was pretty light traffic until I hit the Berkeley interchange. It’s a seriously clogged vehicular artery. The fact that there’s a sign up saying “speed limit 65” is laughable; I’ve driven through there at almost every time of day when I was attending college in the area, and it’s always bumper to bumper. Why? IMHO, there isn’t enough signage.

Just couldn't put down the charcoal.

All of a sudden the freeways converge into a few lanes that are specifically allocated to split off into several new routes, only they neglect to put the sign up until the last minute, so unless you know exactly which of the 12 lanes you need to be in within the next quarter mile, it’s kind of a panic zone. I myself have been forced to do the quick multi-merge many a time, so I am always patient with the other freaked out drivers trying to make it over to the left lest they get stuck on the bay bridge for an hour. There’s certainly no uturn option there.

So I try to enjoy it, and today I really did. The cool bay air kissed me on the neck as my car creeped along, a refreshing change from the hot breath of Sacramento, the dusk blended luscious gold orange seamlessly into blue as lights twinkled in the hillside and I was grateful for the old romance of SF. Today’s painting (which I did when I got home this evening) reflects that in a warm, pastel-y palette of coral, gold, tan and blue. I know it’s still kind of bright, but I’m working on this refinement thing, okay? Cut me some slack. 😉

Pastel Hill- Cityscape of SF on 5x7" canvas in acrylic.

Day 63: Vancouver

Things I have discovered so far this year:

  1. I love having tea time!
  2. The TV channel ‘Current’ ROCKS (seriously, check it out).
  3. I can cook more than 5 meals with moderate success.
  4. I have video-making software on my computer. I’m a PC!
  5. I can make decent art even when I really, really, really don’t feel like it.

Today I really didn’t want to make anything. I’ve been working on art in the afternoons and evenings lately, which is ridiculous, because I should be getting into the studio in the mornings. But it’s mostly because I have no burning inspiration for short-term projects (as you may know, I’ve been completing all the art this year from start to finish in the same day), and I’m starting to get frustrated with myself. I have some ideas for pieces I want to do that I know will take more than one day, and I’ve got the time to produce more, but I’m not. I’m noticing that since I haven’t worked on any long-term projects free of that “do it NOW” stress in a couple months, burnout is setting in. I think once I start making work again that I can relax about, and know I don’t need to finish that day, the daily pieces will hopefully get better as well.

I was sitting on the couch with the pastels and my drawing pad waiting for lightning to strike in my creative brain when Rob’s dad called. I paused the TV, which was playing a show about shopping in Vancouver, and I noticed the scene was a picturesque but fairly detailed cityscape.

Something I’ve been thinking about doing for a long time is color blocking in paintings (laying out the large same-color areas in the background first) with my glasses off, which I tried in the past before to get contrast correct on figurative work, but I can’t see too far away from my face without them. So I used that technique to a degree to do this slightly abstracted pastel drawing of Vancouver… and I kind of like it.  🙂

Day 56

I am TRYing, but I still don’t understand the fascination with pastels. They are pretty much blunt edged, they get all smeary into other colors.. every time I use them, I feel like I’ve been handed a box of crayons. Actually, crayons are sharper. They come WITH a sharpener built-in. And I once made this totally badass drawing of a red bar candle with nothing but red crayon (yep, for the children’s menus), a ballpoint pen and a sharpie (and yep, I was totally doing that sketch at work). 

So, in this artist’s rendition of Roshambo (rock-paper-scissors), charcoal beats crayons, crayons beat pastels, and pastels beat.. I don’t know, pricking my finger and drawing in my own blood. Alright, I guess that wasn’t a very successful comparison. I am still sick, so I’m going to blame it on that. ANYWAY..

Today’s piece was inspired by an aerial shot of New York at dusk when it starts going into all blues. I was watching Cash Cab, this great trivia game show where taxi passengers in NY get to answer questions for money. And this awesome picture came on with all these fabulous Yves Klein-esque blues, so I paused the TV to sketch it, but it was live, not recorded, so the Langoliers were coming to eat it up and I had to draw it in real fast. I thought pastels would be appropriately haphazard as a medium, and here we are.

Someday when I grow up, I’m going to start painting with oils. Until then, I would love it if anyone has any photos they personally took of night scenes in New York or other cities with colorful streets to send to me. I would love some inspiration from you guys and gals, so bring it on! Post a photo to the Facebook fan page and I’ll check it out!

So today we’ve got a call for nightscape photos, and yesterday was the beginning of a reader haiku challenge to win a free print! Things are heating up in this art project thing, and it’s not just my fever! 😉

Day 53

“Wow.” I thought. “I am an uber-cliché right now.” I’m an out-of-work artist standing in the kitchen, literally staring at a pot of water and waiting for it to boil. Figuratively, I’m pretty much doing the same thing, checking my inbox every morning for some miraculous message with fabulous news.

I walked over to the counter and tore open a piece of mail from our Health Care Provider reminding me that our benefits ended when my job ended as I sniffled (how can a nose be stuffed up and runny at the same time?!), impressed at yet another cliché I was acting out- I get a cold for the first time in years right when I lose my health care. Hilarious.

Since when am I a character in some bad author’s novel? This is ridiculous!

Needless to say, being sick with a cold my husband gave me (who jokingly declared “sharesies!” when I woke up this morning sounding like an emphysema victim), I really didn’t feel like making art today… really. But I did anyway.

Today’s piece is an abstract in pastel on paper based on a blurry night photo of SF. It kind of looks like Easter Bunny vomit on black velvet, but at least it’s something, right? Right. And now back to the couch…

Day 20

There was a tornado warning in the BAY AREA today. It was raining so hard on the drive home that the sky merged with the freeway and all I could see was torrential downpour and tiny little bumps I was hoping were lane dividers. There were inches of water on the road and I couldn’t even tell how deep it was. Yet amidst all that craziness, I saw the brightest rainbow I have ever seen.

It was technicolor-dreamcoat fantastic. It was as if Rainbow Brite and Lite Brite got together and made a baby and that baby became the neon fabulousness of this double rainbow. It was so lovely that some people on the side of the road who had crashed into each other trying to make their cars swim through Highway 50 were admiring it.

In addition to being a promise from God that he won’t drown us like rats (even though it looks that way), I also took this glorious event as the following:

  • A definitive sign that God feels Prop 8 should be overturned (He did throw that thing smack in the middle of the state capital and all)
  • Inspiration for another adventure-in-pastel
  • Reassurance that my Radiohead “In Rainbows” CD will still play all the way through even though it got a little scratched up

Enjoy! Here’s hoping we see marriage equality for all in California in the very near future.

Day 19

It was raining so hard this morning that my windshield wipers couldn’t keep up. And despite my precautionary measures of stopping the squat routine early yesterday, I could barely walk today. You know when you’re playing Frankenstein with a kid and you walk with your legs all stiff not bending your knees? I was essentially waddling around like that. Without the zombie arms, of course. It was extremely gray, and another boring tally mark on the number-of-days-until-I-can-stop-going-into-the-office countdown.

When looking for inspiration tonight, I remembered my drive on Sunday, and the beautiful trees that herald my arrival to the bay area as I drive in on 680. They’re all artsy and bent to the side, Bonzai’d by the constant wind, that same wind that shoves my sedan around in little gusts, which I think is God keeping me awake on long trips. This is oil pastel on paper again, tiny and pretty and brightly colored, and a lot nicer than a bucket of rain in the face.

😉 P.S. I just added links to my Etsy shop and my pre-2010 art portfolio site on the right if you want to kill some time.

Day 18

Like many of you, I also resolved to get into shape this year. Usually I just ignore that plan altogether the second I come up with it in the first place, knowing it is destined to fail, but this year I thought ‘hey- I am doing this art thing every single day. What if I just make this exercising thing part of that? Like, I can’t go to bed unless I make art first, and I can’t make art unless I work out first. It’s so crazy, it just might work!’

So I got home and turned on the Wii and fired up the EA Sports Active for the first time. It has something called a “30-day challenge”. I figured that was a good plan for making a habit of something and picked it. Unfortunately, it was drastically mislabeled.

It purported to be a variety of introductory exercises, when really it should have been labeled “Death by Squats” or “All Squats All Day” or “An ode to Guantanamo Bay in Squats” or something like that.

I wanted to stick with it and finish, but then I thought, ‘What if my muscles rip off of my bones and I can’t make it to the cell phone for help? What if I get a thigh cramp in the middle of a sales call and start screaming Tourette’s-style right into the phone? What if they hurt so bad tomorrow that I go to the bathroom at work and I don’t have the strength to get back up and I’m totally trapped in the cold bathroom that smells like mildew and there aren’t any other women working that day and I get locked in there because my manager thinks I left?!?!’ So needless to say, I had to stop “Sadist Squats for Masochists” before any of that happened. I’ll try it again tomorrow- minus the damn squats, clearly.

I ended up doing another small, simplified landscape in oil pastel on paper today. This bright color geometric shape thing isn’t going away any time soon so I figured I’d just go with it.

Day 4

So it’s the new year. Nothing hammers it in like the first day back to work after attending a dry wedding on a Sunday. I’m seeing all the chipper resolutions out there and thinking of how many of my own resolutions I’ve given up on before I even wrote them down and secretly mocking those who plan to stick to theirs. Because I’m clearly a mean little person inside, that’s why.

Anywho, I was sitting on the couch trying to become magically inspired to make something, and I decided to hit up my favorite source of general inspiration- Etsy.com. This time, I swung over to the Vintage section and typed in the keyword “colorful”. Various geometric patterns and obnoxiously bright tones abounded. (Is that right? Abound-ed?) Combining that palette with the spirit of challenging one’s self in the new year, I whipped out the oil pastels.

Oil pastels have long been the bane of my art efforts. They smear and they’re hard to blend and they make me angry. Nonetheless, I used them for this small drawing on bristol paper, and I suppose it came out fine if I do say so myself, which I do.