I cannot begin to tell you how happy I am that 2020 is OVER!! I think we all just about reached our limits with everything that happened. I don’t know about you but I am tired. It feels like my big excitement in life right now is a trip to the grocery store. I miss going to museums and gallery shows…and having shows!
I will say that 2020 brought about a lot of introspection…for everyone. I’ve seen a lot of my loved ones go through a lot of changes lately. And I’m no exception. I have found that in my quest for quiet and serene, I want to minimalize – minimalize the marks, minimalize the colors – my eyes crave slow marks and simple palettes. Weird since we’ve all been in lockdown right? You’d think I’d be dying for color and frantic energy.
I am digging even deeper into my question of calm and serene now. This photo is a recent inspiration. Imagine how peaceful it is down there. Having said that, what is quiet or calmness really? Is it a color? Can it be a smell? What about a consistent noise or complete lack thereof? There are so many answers to these questions as we all have our own idea of what quiet means to us. For some, it might be a babbling brook or the chirping of birds. For others it might mean completely and total silence or the consistent roar of ocean waves. It will be impossible for me to create quiet for every single person, but I can create it for myself and hope that others will resonate. I have locked myself away in my studio and have begun experimenting with new ways to make my materials feel serene. I hope you can be patient while I am on this journey.
I probably should have provided a video for this, and maybe someday I will, but it will take weeks to make this video because of the time spent making a painting. Not that it’s physically some long, involved process, but sometimes it’s a long mental/emotional one. So how do I paint what I paint? When I first started painting, my process was to choose a positive word/feeling, really focus on it – do whatever I could to get into that feeling place – and then paint. This is where all of my big oil paintings came from. Now some time has passed, I’ve stopped using oil paint, switched to acrylics, and have a different intention with my work.
I should note that MY definition of process and style are almost interchangeable.
Angelique’s Dictionary: process (prō-, -səs) noun : the steps (or decisions) I make that lead to a finished painting that come from my personal preferences.
style (stī(-ə) noun: my personal preferences
These can be in any order, but it becomes my style because I repeat these decisions/steps in every work, over and over and over using my preferences.
The Style: If we were both asked to paint an apple, you would paint it very differently to me, even if we were given the exact same materials. Maybe you would collage it. Maybe you would abstract it. Maybe you would turn it into pop art. YOUR preferences/decisions determine your style. That’s it. There’s no secret club that artists belong to that hands out a style. There’s no style fairy that visits you while you sleep and infuses your body with style dust. The fastest way to get there is to look at a LOT of paintings. You are going to find there are things you LOVE immediately. They make you feel something exciting. It could be the color palette. Or maybe you like drips or texture or minimal paint strokes. Maybe you like ink instead of thick paint. Every time you see a work that makes your heart jump, identify what specifically you are drooling over and write it down. Keep a list – this will help you if you get stuck too.
The How: I follow my preferences.
Remember from my previous post that there is always an overall intention to MY paintings. (this is one of my preferences. You don’t have to have one)
I found that one of the many things I love in artwork is texture. I LOVE texture. I want people to want to run their hand across my painting. I begin every single painting with very heavy gesso. (like in the first photo above). I use a plastic bag, a comb, a palette knife, a toothpick… all kinds of stuff really to create texture in the gesso. I really like lines of all sizes and thickness, (another preference of mine) so a lot of those went in there. Then I let it dry for a couple of days. I never use a hair dryer to speed it up (another preference).
Now it’s time to PLAY! This particular painting that I am showing in the photos was inspired by one of my favorite artists who uses pink and green a LOT in her work. I had never made a pink and green painting so I thought why not start off that way? I grabbed some green and some pink and started applying it. I had never, until this painting, (this will probably sound shocking to many of you) applied paint using a wet paint brush, so I tried it here. I let the paint mingle. I grabbed a toothpick and pulled the paint along into all of the texture I had created. Because I had a wet brush, I did a wash. I watched what was happening on the canvas and if something looked interesting, I did more of it. if two colors mixed together and I liked it, I tried to create more of it. This layer is really anything goes. I know it’s not a finished product, I know it’s about getting color on the canvas in interesting ways and just following what feels good/fun. BUT, paint is always applied based on my preferences. Unless I’ve seen some new way to do something and I want to try that, this is where I do it.
After that layer has dried, I take a good look at it and decide what parts I like and don’t like and let that inform my next steps. I felt everything was too linear at this stage (the photo that’s missing, sorry!). I really like the mixture of straight lines and organic shapes and I liked the wash I had done and wondered “what if I added an organic shape with more intense color?” I immediately remembered that I had magenta acrylic ink and poured it directly on the canvas. It comes with a little eye dropper and I thought it would be fun to draw with it so I did that too. I’m constantly asking myself questions. Although sometimes the painting talks and says “put this here.” I LOVE when that happens. Another preference of mine is to not force or push things. If I am out of questions/ideas (or I really needed to wait for things to dry before I could continue), I walked away and let it dry. Some artists believe in pushing through – and that works for them – my preference is to leave it and come back with fresh eyes another day.
The above continues until I feel (and this is the key word here, it really is about how it feels) like I have enough color and a balance of shapes on the canvas and now it’s screaming at me. Now it’s not about just throwing paint at the canvas and making a mess because things will come through the layers (things peeking through layers of paint is another of my preferences/loves)
Now that I feel like my painting is sufficiently noisy and there are areas that I really like (these are those detail areas that you have to be up close to the painting to see) it’s time to start quieting it down. White is my preferred quiet color. Another preference of mine is applying the paint thickly and scraping it back with a catalyst wedge.
I add and subtract paint, letting areas come through. Add some white, add some color. Add some more white, add some more color. It’s a dance of back and forth, layer after layer, preference after preference, until I have what I’ve decided is a finished painting! *can you see why I haven’t filmed this? I don’t paint in a way that happens in one session. I can spend weeks asking “what if” questions to move a painting forward, sometimes only making ONE mark on the canvas and I step away.*
I will make another blog post to talk about how I decide when a painting is finished. I do hope my process/style definitions and description have helped you! I know that I felt like an artistic failure/imposter when I thought that I didn’t have my style and felt like it might never come. Once I understood that no one would love the EXACT same things that I love in painting, I never worried again. Not to be repetitive, but I know a lot of new artists struggle with this. So here is my perfect analogy: You and I could go to the grocery store and buy the same ingredients, but the way you and I would cook things, and the order we ate them in throughout the week would always be different. So go look at a lot of art, figure out what is exciting to you, try it out in a new painting and you might find that it becomes part of your style!
I think it’s safe to say that just about every artist dreams of hanging in a museum. I know I have. That’s certainly not my main focus for painting, but I’m not going to lie. It’s a really, REALLY nice pat on the back. I had quite a proud day! Followed by another proud day. Followed by an evening staring at a painting that I’ve been working on for weeks and feeling like a loser because it is missing something and I just have no clue what! 😛 😛 Such is the life of an artist and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
This particular exhibit at the Art Museum of South Texas – https://www.artmuseumofsouthtexas.org/exhibitions/creative-distancing – is both physical and virtual, meaning you can go into the museum and watch this exhibit being shown on one of the museum walls, or you can simply watch the video in the comfort of your home on YouTube. My painting, Contented Moments (available in my “Small” paintings section) is the one that was submitted and accepted. The call was for work created during Covid to show how it has impacted life. Actually, Covid amplified everything I’m creating right now. I was already focused on creating works that were calm and serene. Covid amplified my need for quiet. Since I work from home – and now everyone else was home too – my world got really really noisy. I found myself so irritated and frustrated. So I started painting what I wanted to feel/hear. Contented Moments was the first.
If you are in the Corpus Christi area, please do go check out the exhibit and support the museum. But if you can’t, my painting is at 19:22. (I can’t embed the video as it is not mine)
So, I hope you enjoy the video and see some other art that is inspiring to you. I think I might just have a glass of champagne to continue the celebrations and go update my resume. With the world the way it is right now, we need all the reasons to celebrate that we can get, right?
Hi everyone! And happy Friday to you. It’s Friday, June 12 and I decided it was as good of a time as any to write my very first blog post! It made the most sense to talk to you about WHY I paint what I paint although I’m not sure if I’m telling you or reminding myself 😉
When I decided to start painting I absolutely knew that I wanted to paint abstract. I adore a good abstract painting! Why? The artist is creating something from a non-tangible place – an idea or concept, a feeling, a memory. The painting is something that has never existed before and will never exist again. Even if the artist wanted to, they will never be able to create an exact replica. The paint will move differently, the artist’s mood is different, the humidity in the air is different – which means every single piece of art is original and unique. I LOVE the challenge of facing a blank canvas and creating something brand new every single time.
Abstract also allows for incredible freedom – freedom I’ve never felt in any other area of my life because there are NO rules. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are principals. But principles are not the same as rules. Principles are suggestions. Suggestions are helpful. I use these suggestions when I am stuck. But no rules. And I LOVE that!!!
So why is someone who loves challenges and no rules painting such tranquil works? You would think I would be going nuts with color and collage, putting anything that felt like fun on the canvas. Well….I feel like the world has become outrageously noisy. Everyone is screaming for attention on tv, in music, on social media, anywhere they think they might get attention. And I get it, so many people feel like they are not being heard. Some people believe that art is meant to question and provoke, like what I call “shock art.” But I believe that certain spaces should allow for quiet. For introspection. A respite from the screaming world outside. Creating a painting that lets the viewers’ eyes rest and take a deep, cleansing breath is what I am currently interested in creating.
I know I love seeing an artist’s process or learning the inspiration behind a painting, or even just seeing their works in progress. While I do have Instagram and share my day to day life in my stories, I will go into more detail and share all of the above here in this diary.