June 19, 2011 - A Kind of Freedom

... because you know things can't get any worse.
The Freshman, TriStar Pictures (1990)

Last month, I was lucky enough to be a guest at a Santa Rita Art League meeting.  The featured demonstration was "New Paintings from Old," by artist Jean Makela.

Parenthetically, I love hanging with my mother's Arizona artist posse. Many of them are retired from lifelong art careers and now feel completely free to paint how they want, when they want, and as they want. Accordingly - and this is a best-kept collectors' secret - you will find some really, really good work quietly tumbleweeding around in Green Valley, Arizona.

Ms. Makela shared a number of techniques for re-working unsuccessful pieces.  Accordingly, I recently was emboldened to atack an old watercolor. Here is the "before":

It's painted on yupo and was stored in a plastic bag for too long. When I extracted it for more work, the yupo refused to accept any additional paint.

After some head-scratching, I remembered Ms. Makela's advice and laid out some collage papers:

Then (feeling a wee bit like my toddler at Craft Time), I got busy with scissors and matte medium. The cuts were exacting.  Over two days, I spent about three hours laying in the papers:

Now they are Happy Fish. And, more importantly, they are Finished Fish.  The "Fast Four" will be available for sale this fall.  Many thanks to Jean Makela for this successful marine salvage idea!

June 10, 2011 - How Long Did That Take You?

Happiness lies in being privileged to work hard for long hours in doing whatever you think is worth doing.
- Robert A. Heinlein

For artists, it's a standing joke, a tongue-in-cheek, a roll-of-the-eyes and a pain-in-the-other-anatomy question:  "How long did that painting take you?"

Some artists answer, "A lifetime."

Some artists answer, "A lifetime," with additional flair. (See, e.g., blog entries and commentary by Martha Marshall, El Prado Gallery, and Elizabeth Berrien.)

Some artists - perhaps those more tolerant of a prospective client wondering what bang he is getting for his buck - answer in terms of days or hours.

My answer: ""How long did that take me? Probably way too long."

Today's Open Studio was sparsely populated, because most of the artists were preparing for the upcoming ASLD Summer Art Market.

Those of us who are not spending the weekend fielding interesting questions - see supra - were comparing notes on our home studios.

I confessed that my studio is the dining room table, and that I work an hour each morning.

"An hour each morning?" a colleague asked with raised eyebrow, just to be sure she'd gotten it right.

"Well . . . uh, yes . . . see, that's all I can really guarantee before the spouse, dog, and toddler wake up."

"An hour."

"But it's a good hour," I backpaddled. "I set up the night before, and then I get right to work after walking the dog in the morning, and by the time everybody wakes up, maybe I get something done."

So right now, yes, if I tell you a painting took me 18 days, it probably did. Let's see, at minimum wage, that's . . . 8 hours per day . . .hmmm . . . times 18 days . . . well, feel free to email me.  We can deal.