Thursday, May 17, 2012

Spin Cycle - Picture, Painter, Artist

Most of you know I paint pictures. My progression as an artist (and I use that term loosely) has evolved from dabbler to something else. I would hesitate to call myself a real artist because I equate that term with Van Gogh, Monet, and Picasso, yet I create art. The Free Online Dictionary defines as artist as:

art·ist  (√§rtst)
1. One, such as a painter, sculptor, or writer, who is able by virtue of imagination and talent or skill to create works of aesthetic value, especially in the fine arts.
2. A person whose work shows exceptional creative ability or skill: You are an artist in the kitchen.
3. One, such as an actor or singer, who works in the performing arts.
4. One who is adept at an activity, especially one involving trickery or deceit: a con artist.

Using this definition I am an artist but I didn't start out that way.
I can't say I'm a natural artist though there must be some natural creative talent there.
I'm not a trained or skilled artist since I've never had an art class since elementary school.
I could be a con artist since what I seem to have done is convince people that I am an artist. This was wholly unintentional, I swear! 

I started out drawing with pastels about 4 1/2 years ago. I decided one day that I needed a hobby or something to do while on business trips. So I went out and bought a set each of soft and oil pastels. I figured out right off that oil pastels were not for me but the soft pastels were just what I was looking for. They were like drawing with chalk. I figured that if a six year could draw with chalk so could I. What I liked most about them was that I could blend colors and erase them if I screwed up; which was often at first.

I went through a period where I drew nothing but lighthouses. I must have drawn 7 or 8 lighthouse drawings. I'm not sure why I chose lighthouses. Maybe because they were architectural, gave me a chance to work on perspective and because they are romantic. For whatever reason, I went through a lighthouse period. I once likened it to Degas' ballerinas and wondered when it would go from quaint, to weird, to just plain creepy.

Obviously, I still like this one since it hangs in my office. In a frame, of course.

I moved on to watercolours. Could I have picked the hardest medium ever? The only thing I can say about watercolours is that they are portable and versatile. They are my go-to travel paints and practice paints. I also use watercolour pencils to sketch out subjects on canvas to paint later in oils. At last count I have three sets of watercolour pencils, two travel sets of paints, and a plethora of tubes of paint. All for someone who really hates to watercolour. Weird, huh?

Bill Evans

I swore at the time that I painted this Bill Evans (from a CD cover that my son had) that I would never do another person again. Yeah, never say never. I think that this was the beginning of defining my style but I could be wrong. I frequently am. My son doesn't have this hanging in his room right now and I'm not sure if I'm going to let him take it off to school. I like it more and more everyday.

Then I progressed to oil paintings and found my medium of choice. There is just so much that can be done with them. I can be uber creative. I can paint seriously good paintings or seriously bad. Many a canvas has been painted over or just plain thrown in the trash and many of others hang in other people's homes.

Title: Total lack of perspective

When I painted this I was in my "give away paintings" stage. I believe Keely has this one. You know now that I think about it, I haven't had a painting giveaway in a while. Maybe, I should. What do ya'll think?

Then out of the blue I painted this:

Titled: Whatever Jen wants it to be.
Jen's husband John posted this painting on his Facebook page and I KNEW I had to paint it. I was compelled. I was driven. I was, probably the best word is, crazed. Those are some of the only words for how I felt about this photograph. I just knew I had to paint it. After many email conversations with Jen I started in. By the time I was halfway done I was told by JR that we were going to keep it. He had fallen in love with it (FYI, Jen, he still wants it back). There was some heated discussions between him and I that resulted in me sending the painting off to Jen. I'd promised, plus she was willing to pay for a couple of tickets to Disney World and a chance to meet face-to-face. THAT was a deal that I couldn't pass up.

After that I've done several paintings of people and every single time I am amazed that I can actually paint people and that the paintings I do for others are liked by them. It sometimes, okay almost all the time, baffles me.

Now, I am at a crossroads, do I continue doing this on a quasi professional basis? Commission and gifts only or do I go for the gusto and start an Etsy shop? Do I try to make a little money to offset the cost for doing gifts for friends and family? The paintings on commission on the blog thing really doesn't actual pay for itself, if I were to calculate my time, supplies and shipping. And, that is not even including the angst I go through every damn time about whether the painting is true to the subject or whether the person that commissioned me to paint it will like it. Since, the people that commission me are blog friends that I want to stay as blog friends and maybe real life friends. Do I want to start doing this on a more professional basis only to put myself through that whole thing every time.

See I can't make this decision on my own. I need you all!


PS: I'm calling this my Spin for the week. There are other Spinners talking about pictures. Head over to Gretchen's place to find them.

Second Blooming


  1. As the recipient of one of your lovely paintings (and thinking of commissioning you to paint another from a photograph of The World's Cutest Grandson), I say: DO THE ETSY SHOP. You've got talent, m'dear - there's nothing wrong with capitalizing (pun definitely intended) on it.

    1. You know I loved doing G's last painting. Send a photo soon so I can get started.

  2. Most colleges have a gallery of sorts.
    Why don't you put together a collection of twenty or so over an 18 month period. Set yourself the time for it will school you. But doing that will do something else. It will allow the painting to develop, season as it were. What you're about now cannot do that for you haven't one idea, one goal, one essay. You are learning and re-learning with each canvas. It's a bit like a driver driving a totally different car each day. Basically, you have an eye, but you are playing safe out of necessity. To continue the driving analogy, you are braking earlier than you would had you greater grasp of a single style.

    BTW, unless you are going into the mind a bit like Francis Bacon, the bigger the studio the better.

    1. Vince, I've been asked to contribute to a couple of shows at some local galleries but have been hesitant. Maybe, I'll take them up on their offer next time.

    2. Frankly don't.
      You are at a crossroads and you know this. If you contribute one or two it will always be at good amateur level. You need that cold gut twisting fear to kick your butt through the barrier. Then you can quit calling yourself an Artist and call yourself a Painter.

    3. Well, I think you are good enough.

  3. I vote Etsy shop too. Why not? You can still do your commissioned pieces. I'm want to own a Michele!

    You are linked!

  4. I third the motion for an Etsy shop. Go for it! :) You are an artist - most definitely a painter. I used to do chalk pastels once-upon-a-time, I thought about getting back into it, but don't have the passion that you do. :) And I still need to find that elusive picture of Princess Nagger I want to commission you to do - I want to own a Michele, too! :)

  5. While reading this, I was thinking, "oh heavens yes, she needs to open an Etsy for her paintings", then I scrolled down to our treasured "Once Upon A Sprite" and my heart skipped. I cannot tell you over and over, and thank you, JR, for not trying to repo it, I WOULD fight you over it, how much I absolutely love our painting! Every time I look at it, I see my daughter, an exact representation of the picture John took, just now immortalized really. Michele, you have such a gift for this, you bring everything to life, as the owner of two of your paintings, and one day, hopefully another, I will always proudly display them. I have such love for your talent and YOU!

    1. I think JR has finally resigned himself to never having the "Once upon a Sprite" painting back. Maybe, we'll come down to let him visit the painting.

      The next painting I'm bring to your house personally!

  6. Yes, this is huge crossroads you've cruised into. You put a lot of time into library-land things, and starting up an art gallery, whether it's as Vince suggests, or on the Etsy innertubes would be tantamount to taking on another full time job - along with the meatless recipe masterpieces, the wading pool herb gardening (still the darnedest clever thing you've come up with!) and whatever else you've got going. You've got talent oozing out all over the place. Choose wisely, grasshopper. In the meantime, i will continue to enjoy my Michele landscape from the early give away painting period.

    1. You really need another one. I think I've gotten better.

  7. I remember seeing the one of Sprite and loving it. You are quite talented! I'll bet you can swing continuing to do commissioned art and open an etsy shop, and I predict you will do very well!

  8. I agree with Julie...moving to commercial will take time, but you are full of energy so I'm sure you will be able to do it you really want too.


  9. I believe that those who are involved in the arts are artists. I know I'm not good at painting, but can truly see the artistry in your creations. Congratulations on finding a most unique muse.

  10. Whatever you decide to do, do it because it's what makes you happy and because you enjoy it! I had a neighbor come over and tell me I was working too hard while planting my flower garden...but to me, it wasn't work. It was relaxing...I enjoy gardening. I'm sure you feel the same way about painting!