Who can explain a creative drought? Even as I sit here and try to think of clever words to type, my mind is blank, so perhaps I'm not totally out of this wilderness of unspiration. Artistically, I've been at a complete loss of what to do. That's not normal for me.
So, it was incredibly confirming, when, after not painting for a year, that this painting that was barely dry off the easel, was accepted into the Eighth Annual Juried Exhibition for Archway Gallery! The juror was John Runnels, seen here with me in this photo. The show will be in the gallery until August 3.
The Amazing Reese was graciously taking photos, an inordinate amount of photos -- this one is my favorite.
After months of inactivity in the studio, I did it -- I spent the afternoon painting. Since starting painting 12-ish years ago, I've never gone this long without painting, or writing. Suffice it to say, it's been a weird stage/place to be. Hopefully, this is the start of a new beginning, a renewed focus, and inspiration to continue toward a pursuit in the arts. This took heart, hands, intellect, and all of the bravery in my soul just squeeze paint on the palette. Phew. What a day!
The subject matter was chosen because it affects no one but me if it's a lousy painting. #selfieportrait
When the Amazing Reese and I first got married, when we were just baby adults, way back in 1984, our family car was a 1950 Chevrolet panel wagon named Lucille, christened after BB King's famous guitar. I loved her.
Lucille was faithful in spurts. Not withstanding the rusted out floorboard, which we covered with newspapers, she did get us from Colorado to California to Texas, but she preferred cold weather, and she really needed a push to get started, preferably a small hill so that we could give her a few good tries before reaching the bottom of the slope. It's neither cold nor hilly in Houston, so, not too long after we moved to here, we sold her. From that day till this, I've missed her. My one consolation is, as silly as it sounds, that the famous monster truck Grave Digger is actually the reincarnated Lucille.
For almost as long as I've lived in Houston, there has been an Art Car Parade. We've attended many, many parades, volunteered in a few, but what I've wanted for years was have/create an art car of my own. It's been on my bucket list for some time now.
Last week while checking my twitter feed one evening, I saw this:
What? Is it really true? Is someone really giving away a car? All these
years of wondering if I'd ever actually have an opportunity to create an
art car of my own, and this one is falling in my lap? YES! YES! YES!
Arranging for a tow truck felt like planning a surprise party. To add to the fun, the tow truck driver couldn't have been more delighted. All the way home, people would nod or wave to him from the streets and he would honk his horn and wave back. Reese and I were both giggly on the way home, and a little horrified that our "new" car was going to fall off the end of the tow truck bed. (Roads in Houston are a bit bumpy, to say the least.)
We are SO pleased to announce that we are now the proud "almost" owners (still have to sign the papers) of a 1980 Buick stretch limousine, affectionately named Lucille Two, in honor of our 1950 Chevrolet Panel Wagon, and a gentle nod to Lucille Two (Lucille Austero) in Arrested Development.
She's parked in our driveway RIGHT NOW!!!
Lucille Two, being a 1980 vehicle, needs quite a bit of TLC. The Amazing Reese has already started the process of changing/replacing various fluids and we did crank her up for a few minutes, but she's not quite ready for the open road -- not even close. For one thing, she needs new tires.
Then, we need to figure out how to do body work. We're clueless, but ready to learn. Reese thinks with all this work ahead of us that she won't be ready for the 2016 Art Car Parade, but I'm ever hopeful. *fingers crossed*
This painting first began churning around in the the cavernous spaces of my brain back in 2009. Some paintings are like that -- I think and think about them, sometimes dreaming about how to convey what will go on the canvas without getting overly bogged in details, instead to focus on the big picture and (perhaps) a smaller message, if that makes any sense. For this one, however, it wasn't until last summer that I actually put brush to canvas and started on it. Started is the key word in that last sentence, because it was left VERY unfinished. It languished on the floor of the art studio for the last year collecting dust. It got shuffled around the studio, finally, firmly wedged between a pile of paintings stacked against the wall. Recently, someone reminded me of it, and last week or so, it got put it back on the easel just to see if any inspiration would unclog the enormous mental block experienced every time I glanced at it. This process took several attempts at painting something, then wiping it off, painting something, and wiping it off again. This is about the fourth attempt at the background and thankfully, it was a successful one, if not exhausting. I'm VERY pleased with how the background completes and complements this painting, and brings out the clear green of the eyes. And good grief, it's so much better than the other three attempts.
Portrait of a Homeless Man -- Louis is 20" x 16", oil on linen.
This is the commissioned portrait I've been working toward completing for the last few weeks. It's done. All I need to do to "finish" it is paint the edges black and sign it. It's a 16" x 20" oil on linen.
It's been an inordinately long time since I posted, for reasons not fully understood, even by me. Hence, the silence. My creativity seems to have slipped into a black hole -- a vortex of vagueness and emptiness. Well, maybe not emptiness so much as a deep earthen cavern where one stumbles in the darkness and where the damp coldness chokes any spark of light. It has been excruciatingly difficult to find creativity. Sustaining it has been nigh to impossible. That said, I am working on a commission, a portrait, that is slowly evolving into the likeness of the person, but the work has been long and hard. This struggle is probably a normal part of any creative person's process.....though blessings of creativity in my past have FAR far far exceeded this present drought.
The drought seems to be confined only to the creative aspect of my life. It is all encompassing -- writing, painting, cooking, gardening, playing music -- all has suffered. I can pull an occasional rabbit out of the hat, but mostly, the tricks are old, tired, and exposed.
This isn't a complaint -- honestly -- it's just an attempt at an explanation. Only my creative life has been disrupted -- I'm more stunned than anything, surprised that the normally fertile soil of my brain is such a parched desert of a landscape. Hopefully, just explaining this vacuous mind suck will revive
something.....anything to reconnect my normally creative mind and hands to my heart, soul, and
spirit. And hopefully, soon, I will find beauty in this desert.
Next Saturday, November 22, I'll be one of the participating artists in Art Crawl Houston 2014. The Art Crawl itself touts 170 participating artists this year in 21 different locations.
My work will show in the Houston Foundry at 1712 Burnett.The event runs
from 10am until 9pm, which is an extremely long day. The Amazing Reese
and I are planning on being there from 10-ish until around 4 -- during
which time we would love to greet and visit our dear friends and
patrons. For the grown ups, there will be a keg of delicious Saint Arnold beer and other light refreshments. There will also be an activity station set up to help keep the younger patrons attentive.
Sometimes creativity is hard to come by -- like for the last month and a half. That's how long it's been since I painted anything. This painting has been on the back burner for a while and certainly isn't finished. It will likely be Monday or Tuesday before I can work on it again, which is just fine with me -- it will give me time to figure out how to paint the background. That looks like it's going to be complicated.
This portrait came about because Reese came home from work early enough to pose for me while the light was still good in the studio. The easel
and palette were ready because I had already started another painting. It was in early enough stages that it didn't really matter if work continued on it that day. I sure didn't want to pass up the opportunity to
paint a live model and especially Reese - I've been thinking about it for quite a while, but we
seem to always have other priorities when it comes down to finding the
Reese was uncomfortable in the chair in the studio, so he brought in a chair from our bedroom and got nice and comfy. Sitting in a chair for a couple of hours without falling asleep was a real challenge for him, especially since he had had such a big night at work the day before. His face is normally very expressive which isn't conducive for live model sittings -- he did wiggle a bit and change his position slightly throughout the process -- but that's to be expected with any live model and all in all, he was awesome. We entertained ourselves by listening to a few podcasts of This American Life.
The opening reception for the Visual Arts Alliance Open Exhibition was absolutely wonderful. The show is beautifully curated in a super groovy space, the mezzanine lobby of a big office building in downtown Houston. (Three Allen Center, 333 Clay Street).
The entire show is strong, with artists from seven states represented in it. 587 artworks
were submitted and only 58 pieces were selected, so I'm very pleased to have had "Tree at Menil Collection" chosen from
such a large pool of entries.
It was fun to see guests and other artists study my piece.
More people attended than I had expected, especially considering that the opening was on Friday night of Memorial holiday weekend. The show is on view until July 11th, so, especially for those who work downtown, swing by the show. It's well worth the effort.
There was an awesome coolness to the venue -- the natural light, the
wide lobby, plenty of space to see everything, yet it still felt
As ever, the Amazing Reese was my most excellent strong man husband and supporter. These type of events are far from his favorite activity, but to his everlasting credit, that's a real genuine smile on his face.
Just a reminder for those who would like to join the Amazing Reese and me -- the opening reception for Visual Arts Alliance Open Juried Exhibition is May 25th from 6-8pm on the mezzanine lobby of Three Allen Center, 333 Clay Street, Houston, Texas 77002. This painting, Tree at Menil Collection, will be on view until July 11th.
I'm very happy to announce that this painting, Tree at Menil Collection, was selected by juror,Clint Willour, for Visual Arts Alliance 31st Juried Open Exhibition. The congratulatory notification said that out of 587 artworks entered by 152 artists, the juror chose 37% of works submitted by 29% of the artists submitting. (Somebody had fun with math coming up with those statistics.)
Please join me and the other artists whose work was selected at the opening reception next month, on May 25th, from 6-8pm in the lobby of Three Allen Center in downtown Houston.
Sometimes, it's such a struggle to find time for working in the studio. The last few weeks have been quite full of everything and anything except for painting. Thankfully, today it finally happened. I painted. Hallelujah.
This is a 12" x 14" oil on wood that I actually painted last week. The flowers are from the camellia bush that came with the house when we bought it 16 years ago. It is growing in a very unlikely location - I often wonder how it survives year after year, though to my delight, it does. This is the latest it has ever bloomed - must have something to do with our unusually cold and prolonged winter.
The Amazing Reese and I had a simple Valentine's day, yes, full of love and
contentment, but simple. We happily rented a redbox movie, Austenland -- very cute,
and surprisingly enough, got McDonald's to go. I can't remember the last time we
had McDonald's. I'm pretty sure it was years ago when we were on the
hunt for the teeny beanie baby surprise in McDonald's happy meals. With four
young daughters, we had a lot of happy meals in a relatively short
amount of time, and I think we just sort of burned out on McD's. Last
night, Reese and I were both so hungry that we scarfed down our burgers, after
which we reasoned that if we were both that hungry that it took us 2 1/2
minutes to eat, then we didn't deserve to eat at a fancy restaurant for
Valentine's day. Last year, we went to Brennan's -- my absolute
favorite restaurant of all time -- and had lousy service. Brennan's is still my favorite restaurant, and we've gone there in the past for lunch on Valentine's day with great success, it's just that they were much
too busy last year during dinner service to pay us any attention. So, I guess in typical over
compensating fashion, we went in the complete opposite direction this
year. It worked just fine for us, plus the burgers and fries paired
really well with a nice bottle of red wine. Long, rambling story, but there
Besides figuring out what to paint, which is an enormous undertaking, the next biggest challenge is, besides covering the entire canvas with paint that resembles the vision I have in my head, cleaning my paintbrushes. Last week, because I was trying to work through several paintings, cleaning paint brushes got to be very cumbersome, and the painting that I did on Thursday, the Tree in Landscape, was done entirely with a palette knife, which, of course, made cleaning the brushes that day super easy, as there were none to clean.
Today, I started out with the palette knives just putting colors where I wanted them to be. Then I worked for a while with a few round tip paint brushes. I usually love using the round tip brushes because they so easily swirl and twirl the paint, which is what I like to see in my work. However, today it all seemed so tedious. So I started painting with my fingertips. It immediately reminded me of being four years old and in kindergarten again. The control achieved with my fingertips was pretty much exactly what I wanted to accomplish with this painting. There are a few tweaks here and there that will likely be made, and clean up is easily done.
One of my biggest challenges as an artist is trying, for the life of me, to figure out what to paint. Especially with my newish self imposed painting a day challenge (I didn't paint yesterday), today was no exception. I searched the house and yard (in between all the rain) for a considerable amount of time, just looking. The best idea I had was to paint a still life -- too shloshy to paint outdoors. (Is shloshy a word?) Often, with a still life, I rearrange some furniture and arrange the items just so to get the composition and lighting correct. But the day was getting away from me, so I grabbed this estate sale vase from a shelf, and placed it on this particular window sill in the art studio directly in front of the easel that looks out to the neighbor's brick wall. Without a ruler as a guide because that would have entailed another search and rescue mission to who knows what corner of the house to find it, this is eyeballing the angles. This is 12" x 14 1/2" oil on canvas.
On another note, with all of this shloshy weather (there's that word again), poor, sweet, adorable pet Tilly didn't get a walk. She's a little (a lot) on the wiggly side.
Well, I'm not quite finished with this one -- still have a lot of details to suss out -- but the gist of the image is done. It's a sketch I started over a year ago -- just haven't been inclined to work on it until now. It's 16" x 20" oil on linen, but remember, it's not finished....I don't think. We'll see.
As a family plus one Spaniard, the only time we made the journey to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico was in 2006. All seven of us piled into the Suburban and drove for two days to get there. We rented a little house on the hill and immersed ourselves in all things Mexico. We shopped in the local market everyday. We walked everywhere. We ate the best, real, authentic Mexican food I've ever eaten in my entire life. By the end of our week, I was even dreaming in Spanish. I loved it!
Window in San Miguel is very typical of the type of architecture that is all over the town. This painting is from a photo that I took on one of our many walks. Maybe we'll go back there some day. I hope so. It's an absolutely charming place.