And it was all yellow

"Ochre", a color study on three canvas panels

Day 308: Ochre

Today’s piece is a color study using only yellow ochre and white on a set of 3 canvases mom picked up for me awhile back (I suppose that means mom gets dibs on them then, eh? :)) during a canvas sale. (Btw, I love that my family does that.) These measure 4” x 12” each, so in theory they could be displayed in a variety of ways. I do like them side by side vertically though.

I’m gearing up to get all my remaining pieces on sale in my Etsy shop, and I’ll be sending out my very first newsletter soon. Gasp! I’ve only been meaning to do so for several years now. So if you’d like to get a quarterly type of newsletter from me with information on what’s happening with my new work, upcoming shows, available pieces, sales and whatnot, head over to MarianneBland.com, click portfolio, and sign up for the newsletter under the “contact” page. Or just leave me a note in the comments. I suppose that’s a bit easier. 🙂

From the side

Painting parade

"Felt", a 5x7" mixed media painting on canvas

Day 203: Felt

Attending the Social Media Club event was both inspiring and a gentle kick in the art pants. 🙂 An art publicist reiterated the importance of having your act together if you want to be a professional artist, which is something we artists have some trouble with (to put it mildly) from time to time. It reminded me that I need to redesign and update my portfolio site. I’ve been focused on the blog this year, and my other site hasn’t had much love. Poor guy. (Why have I personified my other website as a guy when I’m a girl? *Shrug*)

In fact, my to-do list on the art marketing end of things is getting pretty large. It feels mountainous. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered that ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. On the contrary, it’s more like a ducting system full of tribbles. (To continue the Star Trek references I’m clearly so fond of.) The more I wish an invisible art fairy would magically take care of it for me, the bigger it gets.

I love looking back in time at someone's handwriting in a vintage book.

So I just rewrote my “official” Artist Statement, the one that appears on my portfolio site, MarianneBland.com. After half a notebook full of drafts, I got something decent that helped me boil down why I do what I do and what it means to me. This is an exercise I recommend to all my artist brethren (and sisterthren?), partially because my inner sadist wants you to go through the frustration and suffering that I did, but also because it’s an important question to be able to answer. It will help give you some clarity.

Part of what I wrote was that I enjoy the subjective nature of text, and that’s part of the fun when I use words in a painting. I know they will resonate in different ways with different people, even if they technically have a certain definition. Today’s fragment of script written on this third German reader page says “felt himself”. Felt himself… what? I wondered. Felt himself fall in love? Felt himself get angry? Felt himself…up? My gutterbrain giggled furiously at that interpretation. I stuck with blue and yellow, so this one looks kind of cool with the others from the past couple of days.

It's too bad canvases are all edges and fragility. I'd love to give this trio a hug.

The little things

Day 200: Fulfilled

Ah, the little things. They can mean so much, or drive us bat-poop crazy. Take for example, the simple act of bagging groceries. I take it as a given that the majority of the human population is familiar with bread, bananas and tomatoes. I assume that most people understand that these items don’t hold up well to crushing. Yet every time I let it slide and don’t bag them myself or specifically remind the bagger not to murder my five-dollar-a-pound Heirlooms with my sharp-edged, heavy cartons of soy milk, I find them cowering sadly at the bottom of the bag when I get home. These bananas made a perilous journey from South America or somewhere. They managed to get all the way here without being bruised. That’s some serious kid glove treatment. For goodness sake, don’t put them next to the frozen stuff! They turn instantly black. Why does this require special training?! Where is this land, free of perishable food goods, that coincidentally raises all the grocery baggers of the world yet neglects to mention this? AAARRGGHH. /end rant

it's hard to see but the handwriting reads "was being fulfilled"

On the other hand, sometimes you’re walking into a store and you smile at a toddler, and the brightest, happiest, most unencumbered and freely joyful smile spreads across their face right back at you, and you can carry that light around in your heart for days. A happy little thing inspired today’s painting. I picked up this German reader from the 30’s at the thrift store awhile back. This particular page included a handwritten English translation note in pencil script that read “was being fulfilled”, which made me smile, along with a little doodle of an arrow shooting into the sky. I added some gold and yellow paint, traced the edges of the forms where the paper had bubbled up with blue pastel, dripped a little watercolor on and tied some dark blue embroidery floss around it. It feels a little like that toddler’s grin to me. 🙂

"Fulfilled", a mini painting on 5x7" canvas

Driving in the pocket

5x7 mixed media landscape on canvas panel

Day 173: Lonely Tree

I like to drive “in the pocket”. This is my perfect bubble of safety. Plenty of room to stop, see tire shrapnel on the horizon or dodge roadkill. Yesterday, driving down Highway 70 on the way home, there were times I couldn’t see anyone on my side of the road all the behind and in front of me- much more generous than the “pockets” I usually strive for. It occurred to me that the speed limit should essentially be negated at that point. I’d like to see that one in the DMV handbook. “Be sure to follow all posted speed limits, except when you’re the only car on the freeway for as far as the eye can see, at which point Autobahn rules apply. Have fun.”

Today is an early posting (possibly the earliest one yet, now that I think about it) because I’m headed into San Francisco today and won’t be back until midnight. I did another mixed media landscape panel with a mental image from yesterday’s trip. “Lonely Tree” is kept company by a page from Nancy Drew and a bit of sewing pattern. Plus there are some cows about to wander in from beyond the edge of the frame, so don’t worry. Lonely tree isn’t too lonely. 🙂

The case of the missing rest stop

5x7 mixed media landscape on canvas panel

Day 172: Strawhouse

Someday I may actually get the size of my bladder medically investigated. I don’t really think there are any issues, but I’m a big fan of water. If water had a facebook page, I would officially “like” it. Who am I kidding? I bet water does have a fan page. Sponsored by Aquafina or some crap. Let’s take a look… nope- it has two. Sigh. Man, sometimes our digital world just seems so absurd to me. Anyway, off topic.

The reason I mention my suspicion that I am hosting a toddler-sized bladder is that I drove up to visit my grandparents in Paradise today and by the time I got there, I could hardly walk. It’s a small town about an hour and a half from here. I know there are a lot of people who don’t have to tinkle within the span of any given hour and a half, let alone every time they seem to get in the car. It’s like my body knows I’m not going to be near a clean restroom any time soon, and panics, and becomes super effective at processing my water intake all of a sudden.

Is this why yellow figures predominantly into today’s painting? Perhaps. 😉 Actually, I forgot my camera today, so I did a really quick sketch of a scene I passed while driving in my notebook. This evening, I got out a canvas panel, laid down some text from a Nancy Drew book and a part of a sewing pattern, and took a stab at doing the landscape I’d remembered from today on top of the mixed media. I haven’t done this before, and I kind of like it. The sense of movement that I experienced looking at this scene while driving is present for me with the blurring, and I was able to use the cut-out form of the paper as a template for the blocks of color. I’ve been meaning to try some reduced palette work, and this is a start. Yay! And just under the gun for today’s deadline too… Whew!

P.S. Happy Birthday to my father in law, Bob!

Minutiae

Take the red painting and you stay in wonderland...

Day 155: Free association paintings

This morning when I woke up, I had a burning desire to paint windows for a few hours solid. Thankfully, since I have a pretty flexible schedule, I got my wish! 😉 I love the end result of my cityscapes, but working on them is draining. There is a point where I can put the photo away and finish without it, but that’s like the last 3-5% of it. Especially lately, since I’ve been really into these detailed images, in spite of myself. I don’t expect I’ll ever be a photorealist painter (because I would end up in the loony bin), but there’s a certain level of detail that has to be achieved for the perspective to be acceptable to my inner art teacher- who is a total bitch, by the way. She’s highly critical and always notices when I’m being lazy and don’t want to execute something as well as I could. And she never takes a day off either. Sheesh. 😉

Today I spent more time on this (although I’m sure it doesn’t look a whole lot different from yesterday yet. Sigh):

Why won't it just finish itself?

And busted out three mini mixed media paintings in a kind of “free association” clippings way. Some physics diagrams, dictionary words, patterns and random-ish text from Nancy Drew put together with a bit of color make for some interesting pocket-sized artwork.

Day 139: Color Fields

The muse of Rothko was chillin in my studio today.

If you’ve ever seen a piece by Mark Rothko, you’re familiar with color field painting. It’s just that- fields of color sharing space, vibrating in their color-filled glory on top of and next to other colors- simple, but lovely.

Today’s painting on wood is clearly Rothko-inspired (for a better visual of his works than the Wikipedia article I linked to above, do an image search on Google with “Rothko”, and you’ll see what I mean). Most people start off drawing in pencil, and the leap to color can be a scary one. After many years of mixing and mingling them, I still feel that color itself is enough to take center stage without any subject matter. If you were to try and paint an emotion, what do you think would end up on the canvas?

Detail of brushstrokes and dripwork. (I think I just made that up. Dripwork? Really? 🙂 )

For me, the best expression of an emotion is often pure color. And some of my favorites are the warm ones. Red, orange, yellow and purple just hum for me in this piece. I think it’s kind of striking.

In other news, my Sharks are down by 2 games. SADNESS. That is all.

Day 131: Locked in our laughter

Mini-painting with Capote text snippet

This snippet of text beckoned a bright and cheery color field. Orange, yellow, magenta and gold create a visual giggle on this mini-canvas. This giddy word selection was a result of the happy day we had. It started out with a big, healthy European style breakfast (rye toast, scrambled eggs with garlic and chile, ½ a grapefruit) including my new favorite thing, greek yogurt and honey with raspberries!!! and a sprinkle of ground flaxseed (all organic, of course). Then we went on a family walk, and the ever-reluctant Chester puppy was very well-behaved. Rob showed off his moves field-hockey-style on rollerblades with a stick and rubber ball (he has a great tush). That plus a nice shower, time in the studio, some groovy tunes and the lambic waiting for me in the fridge = a happy painting at the end of the day. 🙂

Day 113: Pods

I’m pretty sure that I couldn’t use acrylic paint without acrylic matte medium. It’s a clear extender for regular paint, which is really important if you want the paint to be anything other than globby and opaque. (Globby is a technical art term, btw 😉 )

You can use water, but if you use too much water, it will run. The thing about acrylic matte medium is that it dries clear. I ALWAYS get paint all over my hands (and usually on whatever clothing and floors/walls I’m near), medium notwithstanding. Sometimes I can’t tell if I’m scraping dry medium or dry skin off my oft-washed hands. It’s a little creepy.

I’m pleased that today’s painting, “Pods”, despite the potentially creepy title (i.e. facehugger hatching pods from Alien), is pretty cheery. I think it’s a great finish for this set of 4 organic abstracts. Coming soon to a card set near you! Okay, that doesn’t make perfect sense, but you get the picture. I’m making cards. Sigh. Happy Friday everyone!

Day 112: Rays

I’m currently working on both my daily pieces for the art project and a commission piece. The commission piece is large- 4 feet square- and it’s really awoken all the parts of my brain that remember painting murals. I’m going to be converting some of the mixed media and text-incorporation I’ve been doing on small scale pieces to this larger one. I’m thankful to be able to do it and I’m excited about it, because doing new things is what really keeps me going. I have to stress how valuable it is to an artist to keep MAKING things, and making different things at that. I often wonder if I’m going to settle into one kind of artmaking someday, where all my pieces will be successive permutations of one another.

For example, today’s piece, “Rays”, is the 3rd in a small series of these organic abstracts. I can’t imagine myself just making things that look like these forever, you know? I’d get bored with them eventually. But I like these three in a happy little bunch on the wall together, that’s for sure. And I think it’s a nice set of images to celebrate Earth Day. 🙂

Now that I’ve broken the barrier of my first prints, I’m starting to think about other options for bringing my artwork to different formats. Namely, I’m planning on making some card sets that I’ll have available sometime in May or June. So I’d love some feedback on how you feel about art cards/stationery. Do you use blank cards or custom stationery? Would you be more likely to just frame the cards as small format art? Are there any images from the art project you’d like to see in a card set specifically? Let me know in the comments! Thanks everyone.