Fighting Feathered Distractions

My easel is positioned next to a north facing window, providing beautiful natural light and a view of the Hungerford’s parking lot, loading docks, East Main Street, an Albert Paley metal sculpture, and lots of little spots that are home to a variety of birds.

A few months ago, a bird flying back and forth in front of the window caught my curiosity. It was a pigeon gathering debris blown up from the parking lot, that collects in the corners on the roof outside my window. Back and forth, trip after trip, the pigeon flew over to an old exhaust pipe located in the roof over the loading docks. I was surprised by the continued diligence of this one pigeon. I reminded myself, slow and steady, the work gets done.

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Last week I noticed two juvenile pigeons hanging around on the roof, by the opening of the exhaust pipe, where that dedicated adult pigeon built her nest. This is when it all began! A growing distraction, and as the distraction grew, so did the story I was creating about the two little pigeons on a roof, visible from my studio window.

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One morning there was a large group of pigeons were gathered on the roof, near Larry and Moe. (They both have names now.) “The whole family must be over meeting their newest members.”

Larry and Moe have been stretching their wings more and more each day, I’m wondering as I say goodbye and head out of the studio today, if they will be gone on Monday? If so, I think will miss them a little, but will be much less distracted!

Why? Drilling Down to the Find the Answer

Why do I paint? Why do I get up and go to the studio every day? Why do, I do what I do? They all seem like innocent questions, but in truth, I’ve had a hard time getting to the real…or...honest answer.

First answers to come to mind were the standard “I paint because I love it” or “I paint because I need to” and many of the other common answers we’ve all heard to the question of Why? These standard answers have been recited so many times, by so many artists, that they have almost become a cliché. And what do they really say anyway? You need to…well I need to eat, sleep, and work to live…well, so does everyone else. So, do I need to paint to live? Well maybe not for my very existence, but to have a life? Definitely.

Backing up a little, I began to ponder the question because it has been talked about in an “art business” forum I follow. It has been proposed that “If you find your why, then you will know what to do”, “you will know how to talk to people about your art”, “you’ll know how to connect with people”.

Really? Ok, I’m on board, let’s find my Why?

Stretching to expand beyond the obvious answers, I encountered the “arty” answers (and yes I am making air quotes as I say “arty”). Those are the ones I read and think, what the hell, I don’t understand any of it? Or, the ones filled with such big words, I need a dictionary to understand them. Those weren’t quite the right answers either.

Other artists started to post their why’s to the group and they were beautiful, inspiring…in fact I wanted their whys to be my why…I tried them on…they didn’t fit!

It would have been easy to accept one of the clichés or to adopt another’s motivation. But if I wanted to be honest, authentic to me, I needed to get to the root of my Why? It’s been much, much, harder to answer such a seemingly simple question of Why? than I ever thought it would be.

Then I found it!

Just the other day, I was feeling a little sad, a little depressed, doubting everything, and totally unmotivated. I thought I might as well get something crossed off the old to do list. I sat down and painted 1” squares of color, adding white to create a 5-step value scale. The purpose is to see how the colors tint out and learn more about their properties – transparent or opaque, how intense the color is, that sort of thing.

I didn’t spend long at it, it’s not like an all-day thing, but all in all, a couple of hours. Cleaning up, I caught myself humming along to the music. In that moment, my Why? gelled. It might be one of the cliché answers, but I DO paint to be happy! Painting those stupid little squares of color, made me happy, it totally changed my mood, it was my light in the sea of darkness. And, as I thought of it more, I realized, it is about the actual process of painting and not the finished artwork.

I paint because without it, I’m a negative, angry, depressed, fun sucking person that no one would want to be around. (I might have exaggerated a little.) Painting is my happy drug, my positivity giver, my ……light in the darkness.

I often wondered why I feel disconnected from finished work. I’ve looked at finished work and thought “I don’t remember how I did that.” I know other artists that have trouble letting go of paintings to sell, but I don’t seem to.  I paint intuitively, so I thought it must just be because I tend to zone out while painting that I feel detached from the finished artwork. But I’m now wondering if it’s because it IS the process of painting I need, not the end product, and if that’s the cause of the removed feelings? Make sense?

Getting back to the original point – pondering the big question of Why? and how knowing the answer is supposed to help to connect with people and potential buyers? Yea…I don’t see how that’s going to work for me…maybe in leading art therapy sessions. :)

But, it was good! I find the answers to my Why? I have learned how important painting is to nurture my soul and how vital painting is to remain happy and staying positive in life. In the end, that’s all a girl can ask for!

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Red or Blue?

If you are on Facebook, then I’m sure you’ve seen it, the meme showing two pills, a red one and a blue one. Take the red one and you jump to 45 get 50 million dollars, take the blue one and restart your life at 10 years old with all the knowledge you currently have.

I’ve seen it pop up a couple of times before but this last time…I found myself contemplating the question. Red or Blue? Which choice would I make?

See, lately I’ve been feeling…well…old! Instead of thinking of all the things I want to do in my life – thoughts have been more along the lines of…please god, 20 more years isn’t going to be enough. In twenty years, I’ll be the age my Dad was when he passed.

Our lives have shifted from thinking about a limitless future, to thoughts of making it till retirement, making responsible, well thought out (too well thought out) life choices so we hopefully will be ok in retirement.

I feel like the spontaneity and jubilance of youth has given way to practicality and caution.

And it’s not just thinking about the future, but the internal breakdown of the body that’s started. It’s the visible wrinkles, spots, and chin hair that greet me in the mirror each morning, or the audible creeks and groans I hear whenever I stand up.

I remember being told at 40, “You’ll be needing glasses now”. I felt pretty cocky because that wasn’t what happened…at 40…or 41…or 44. This year though – suddenly, I can’t read shit. I have so many readers scattered around the place, I think they are spontaneously reproducing. I carry a pair in my purse so I can read menus, there is a pair by the bed so I can read my phone, a pair on the desk, a pair in the medicine cabinet so I can pull those chin hairs, and so on. I gave up on plucking my own eyebrows, how can I pluck when I can’t see them without the glasses and the darn glasses are in the way. So once a month, I pay a gal, much younger than I, to take care of my eyebrows. There are glasses by the computer and another pair by the painting easel. And why do I have so many pairs? Because I walk away with them, set them down and can’t remember where they are next time I need a pair. And I just refuse to get a chain so they hang around my neck. I’m middle aged, not grandma aged…yet. Although, peering over the top of the readers to see the TV, sometimes makes me feel like an elderly lady, all be it a pretty hip one. Hip, is that still considered a cool word?

My husband is the same way, we both lost our close sight this year. So now we’re that couple, sitting at the restaurant, passing a pair of readers back and forth, taking turns reading the menu.

I can say one thing I’ve taken from all this getting older crap, each day is precious, so I’m trying to make the most of each one I get.

So, which would you take? The red, or the blue?

No Jewelry for this Girl

Who needs flowers and jewelry - just get this girl art supplies! It's so exciting to get new canvas boards, tubes of paint and a free thank you gift of a sketchbook is a wonderful surprise. And, having to order replacement supplies is good because that mean I've been painting quite a bit. Which I have with three shows back to back this spring.

The only bad thing when ordering supplies is the sticker shock as to how quickly those tubes of paint add up. It's hard not to think "That's a car payment!". There are a few tubes I just can't bring myself to purchase no matter how pretty the color, Cobalt Violet for example is over $50!

I really have to try not to think of the paint as being to 'precious' or I get stingy with it and that affects the success of a painting. I tell myself, have to have it to use it – plus the sticker shock wears off when the paint arrives and all I want to do is squeeze it out and paint!

So lucky to be able to do what I love. Thank you! Couldn't do it with out you.

Why are Giclée Prints the Best?

Ever seen the term “Giclée Print” and wondered “What the heck it that, and what makes it so special?” Ok, your first question was probably more like “How the hell do I pronounce that?” It’s works best to impersonate a little French dude – zhee-klay!

Giclée (zhee-klay) is a French word, and according to Wikipedia “…was adopted by Jack Duganne, a printmaker working at Nash Editions. He wanted a name for the new type of prints they were producing on the Iris printer, a large-format, high-resolution industrial prepress proofing inkjet printer they had adapted for fine-art printing.”

So Why Are Giclée Prints Better (and more expensive)?
Giclée print is a term that has come to signify the highest advancement in printmaking technology. The giclée printing process provides the best color accuracy and fade resistance of any other means of fine are reproduction available today.

The original artwork is digitally scanned at the highest resolution possible to capture the details and color subtleties of the original. My artwork is scanned between 1200 and 1600 pixels per inch. That's 92,160,000 pixels in a small 6 x 6 inch scan – WOW! Never thought about it that way before.

The digital scan is then printed with archival quality inks onto an archival substrate such as cotton paper, canvas and other types of photo papers. These professional inkjet printers are special in that they use between 8 and 12 different colored ink cartridges and have fine print heads that deliver tiny little dots of each colored ink. As a result they print quite a bit slower that the typical inkjet printer.

Giclées are much more expensive on a per-print basis than the traditional four color printing process, costing up to 10 times as much.

I'm an Epson girl and use their products for the giclée reproductions of my artwork, so I know a little more about them then others. Epson’s UltraChrome archival quality inks have been tested by Wilhem Imaging Research to last over 200 years in color print permanence and over 300 years in black and white print permanence. Epson creates a specialty line of papers that are specially made to be archival by being acid and lignin free (won't yellow over time). I just lover their products.CLICK HERE to watch a short video on how Legacy paper by Epson is made for the fine art print market. It's a great behind the scenes look at the whole process of paper making.

So in a nutshell, giclée prints are the next best thing to owning an original painting.