Friday, July 2, 2010

"Yellow Glads"

"Yellow Glads" -- oil on canvas -- 30x40" -- Margie Guyot

Lately I've fallen in love with fabric folds.  As soon as I finished painting "The Blue Bowl" (see earlier post), I threw this vintage tablecloth onto the table and loved the way it landed!  The local grocery store had gladiolas on sale cheap, so I bought 2 bunches.

There are 2 young, frisky cats in the studio and I knew they would rip the glads to shreds if I left them on the table overnight.  Each afternoon I'd lock up the glads in a back room.  The tablecloth would be completely rearranged each morning.  

I knew from past experience that I'd have to paint the blooms in first.  Especially now, in summer, because I'm always getting interrupted by band rehearsals, gardening, etc.  So after struggling to draw in the basic composition (which always involves many wipe-outs), I painted the flowers. 

Some artists take a photo, then project it onto the canvas and trace.  Certainly, it's quicker and a good tool for some subjects, but I know I can draw complicated subjects -- as long as I don't go into a panic.  I think that's the difference between a beginner and an experienced artist.  The beginner freaks out at the difficulty.  The experienced artist knows it's just a big puzzle.  It's endless comparison of the objects: is this one bigger/smaller?  Is it in the middle?  Is it one-quarter of the way over?  A painting is a big puzzle, solved.  You just learn to control your panic and keep at it.  And, what the heck -- TV's lousy, the Malls are an hour's drive away, my closets are too full already.  So I may as well stay in the studio and figure it out!

A few years ago I had taken a workshop with a well-known artist and she said, "Obviously, painting (landscapes) is easy for you."  I told her NO -- it ISN'T easy for me.   It's hard.  I set up, look at it and think Good God!  This is going to be TOUGH!    The trick is I'd learned how to shut up the little voice inside that says it looks awful!  "Drawing On the Right Side of the Brain" by Betty Edwards is where I learned to really SEE.  If you get her book and do the exercises, you'll learn how to shut out all the negative -- and really see.  That book changed my life.

I'd finished most of the painting and worried about what to do with the bottom.  If I left it empty, it just seemed to look so sterile, so lifeless.  I decided to paint in a portrait of my favorite cat, Elvis.  He watches me like a hawk all the time.  If I walk out to the mailbox, he follows me.  If I drive to a band rehearsal, he sits in the driveway, with a sad, worried look on his face.  He's my little pal!

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