suffering and the art of the suck

i think the most important lesson I've learned so far in the past 12 months is that sometimes art, in its process, looks really, really, really crappy.  shitty even.  until it doesn't.  until that happens, i tolerate the awful until it become unbearable. then i close up my paints, clean out my brushes, and walk away for a while.

it always looks horrible close up during.  i finally know why paint brushes can come in such long lengths - so you can back up as far as possible from a painting which, for me, looks really, just, well, awful close up.

case and point: the current work.  a friend send me a link to a fundraiser to end homelessness.  a local nonprofit invites local artists to submit works to be auctioned off.  "we respectfully ask that the work be worth at least $25"

the theme is to be, what makes home home?  

i had just recently been moved one morning to photograph my bad right after i got out of it, and i thought i'd try to paint this.

first the underpainting:

gaa! underpainting is THE big awful.  on the other hand, it does have a kind of modernist feel to it.  
or maybe just a tacky 70s/80s feel.  
blacklight poster, anyone?
i also have learned that once i do my initial sketch from a photograph, put that photograph the f*** away, or i'll make myself crazy trying to catch every single detail. 

several passes later, i'm at this point, working in values, 
"pushing and pulling" the values, as it were.  

third pass.  okay.  those are actually starting to look like sheet wrinkles.  
next steps: i need those sheets to be a bit lighter in value.
 and i need the quilt at the foot of the bed to look less fuzzy and more quilty.
some tones mixed with zinc white should help.  
now i need that fan to look more like a fan.  And, I think I need a shadow on the side of the bed where the nightstand blocks the light.  It's early morning, and the sun is lower, so there needs to be more shadow overall.  

Gaa!  That's too dark.  But I'm happy with the depth of the top of the nightstand.

Okay, now the wrinkles are starting to look like whitecaps.  

Now I think I'm finally happy with the bed.  I think the shadow on the side of the bed, and the directionality of the light, is clearer.  
Next plans:  make the dresser a little darker and more neutral (brown) and fix the fan.  Also, the shadow next to the window frame is a bit too dramatic.  

and now I think it's done.  even though the fan is crooked and off center.  



prickly stuff

I have fallen behind on my blogging because blogger isn't terribly mac friendly.  I tried downloading an app called "Blogo" on the mac.  It sucks.  I wrote the developers and told them so.  There's a decent little IOS app on my iPhone, but I suck on those tiny little keyboards.  Don't even get me started on the autocorrect debacle.  

Seriously?  Acrid lickers? No, autocorrect, clearly I meant acrylics.  Dude.  Seriously.  

Now, for a while I've had an idea in my head of something I wanted to create.  A canvas divided into fourths, with a closeup of a cactus in each.  This past week I finally started working on it.

I have no shortage of cactus pictures, or pictures of things close up - it's one of my favorite subjects.  

Internal questions: 

1) I'd like to line between the quarters to be sharper.

2) What will go in the fourth quarter?

2) The cholla flowers need to be pinker.  

In unrelated news that you don't care about, I'm signed up for a 10K today.  It's in an hour.  It's 103 degrees outside.  F*** that.  I'm going to stay in, where it's cool, and paint  

(Later) Finished work:



small metals

I'm taking a class in small metals, which includes making jewelry.

Project 1: "Cold Connections" project.  We were to design, make a model of, and build an item using metal.  Cold Connections refers to the lack of soldering, mainly.  It involves rivets and tabs.  

My project is a little decorative/artsy item that will have a small spinner inside it.  The spinner can be turned to indicate the weather outside.  

After my initial model, I spent more time working on the design, including sketches.  I decided to do away with the tabs holding on the top piece, and include it in the spacers and rivets.  I had to design the axis on which the weather elements will turn - it will include  

Sawing, let me tell you, is a bitch.  Behind, a saw blade:

I broke about ten of these little bastards while cutting out my pieces. 


After cutting out the pieces, my next step was to drill holes.  This involes a drill and hopefully, not turning your piece into a ninja star as it catches on the bit and begins spinning wildly with it.  

then filing.  Lots of filing.

And then sand.  And sand.  And sand.  

Next, I started drawing in some design for the pieces - they'll be painted with an etching solution that does not react to the sharpie--it will etch around it.  

So what have I learned so far?

1) Small metals and jewelry making requires a precision that doesn't come naturally to me . I'm an impressionist.  

2) Maybe I can be really good at making myself some trinkets, and gifts for others.

3) It's hard physical work.  Trying not to break those tiny, thin saw blades is a nightmare.

4) I do feel pretty badass handling an acetylene torch.  

Maybe I need to use more organic forms in my work.  When I said 'circles are hard' out loud several veterans laughed.  Apparently, they're hard for everyone.  



In April and May, I took a portrait class.  I feel like I made some really good progress.

Here are my beginning portraits, prior to and at the very start of class:


Here are my portraits at the end of class:

You can see more of my portrait work here.


school days.

I recently enrolled at a local community college whom, I'm told, has a decent art program.  I'm enough of a nerd that depth matters to me, so I decided to take full-on college-level art classes.  In doing so, several interesting things happened:

1.  I had to apply to go to college as an undergraduate.  I already have a college degree in fact a graduate degree, so this was fun.  It was online.  A few days later, a 19-year-old called me and welcomed me to the college.
"So, like, have you scheduled your Acuplacer Test yet?"
"My what?"
"Your Acuplacer test.  Have you, like, scheduled it?"
"Yeah . Um....I'm not going to take your test."

She was flustered.  "Oh.  Um.  Well, oh..."
I rescued her.  "I already have a college degree."

She was happy to have been spared the inevitable confrontation and replied, happily, "you probably don't need to take the Acuplacer then."

"No.  I don't think so."

2.  I'm old.  Like, really old.  My first class will be a level 1 small metals and bench methods class, scheduled at night, and by 9 pm I have a headache.  I'm also hangry, and we can't eat in the workshop.  After class, few things are open.  If I haul ass, I can get to the Golden Pride on Central, and make a lot of bad choices owing to--you guessed it--my fatigue and hunger.

(Golden Pride fried chicken is my crack.  My kryptonite.)  

I even did an entire journal entry about it.

3.  I'm old, part 2. I am easily the oldest person in the room. I'm pretty sure I'm older than the teacher.  Geh.
(Me, feeling old)

4.  Finally, for some reason, I'm way busier than I was when I was in school and had kids at home.  Do it while you're young, kiddos.

I'm hoping to start putting up some photos of what I'm working on in this class.


Back to the easel.

I spent most of December making and selling earrings and cards, and now I'm ready to go back to drawing and painting.

This drawing is just one of a series of line drawings I did for a coloring book I put together.  Most of the pages are scenes from trail races, but this was a special page for a special recipient, my beloved.

This drawing is from a photograph of a man fly fishing in the Utah wilderness I chose to leave out the fisherman. This was done on cold press watercolor paper, with sepia ink pen.

This started out as watercolor of a view off the La Luz trail, and sepia pen was added to make the mountainside more rugged. This is a departure for me in that I've started playing with negative space, and letting the paper be the highlights.

Finally, as a first in my new resolution to do a daily as well as a journal entry: this is just watercolor on cold press.

I'm really feeling that a combination of pen and ink and watercolor will be me, at least for now.

For the spring I'll be taking my first watercolor class at the art league, and a portrait drawing class as well. I can't wait! I'm stoked!



It's been a while since I posted anything. 

I recently visited New York, where I ran the NYC marathon. 

It provided inspiration for this post election journal entry. 

I did this one sitting in Liberty State Park in New Jersey. 

Even though I haven't posted I have uploaded journal pages to my Instagram account (mistypilgrim)

While I was away...

I completed a four week class on pastels, and designed and sold some earrings. I saved the first $10 bill I got from that!

Most excitedly, I'm taking a weekend workshop in steampunk  sculpture soon, and a watercolor class soon after that. 


Tree of Life

Way, way up at the top of a ridge line between two nearby canyons is a tree, pretty much by itself.  It's only about 2 miles from my house, and there are three ways to make the 1200 foot climb up over boulders and through scraping bushes. 

Ever so often I make the trek up to this tree and put my hands on it.  It often nasty and windy and cold up there, or there's a hot, drying wind blowing, and this tree is growing.  It's twisted, and gnarled, and weathered.  Touching it reminds me of how much tougher I am than I think I am.
There's quite a view from up there. 

(I feel pretty badass by the time I've made the trek.)


First day of fall!


Wednesday may have been the first official day of fall on the calendar, but today was the actual first day that it felt like fall. I was supposed to get up and do a long hike to get some time on my feet.  Instead, I padded around my house in clothing that was fuzzy and soft. After the sun came up, I went outside and did some pruning.



I debated on whether not to put this on my blog. It's not a terribly flattering picture of my day, or my coworker. She is normally a pretty pleasant person, but for the past several days she has been furious about some changes that of been made.

Friday was a particularly difficult day.   I came to work pretty happy about the fact that it was Friday, but by the end of the day I was exhausted listening to her ranting about the new changes. I was also surprised, because usually she Rants about something and then it's over. This just went on, and on, and on…

Later on, after I was done journaling about this, I remembered that earlier in the week she had had to put her dog to sleep, and then I felt bad. She's probably grieving, and that's why she was so much angrier than usual. 


Journal Workshop test pages.

It is suggested that we test products, and techniques, take notes, and learn from this. 

A daily entry: my homage to fried chicken. 


Workbook: Artists Journal Workshop

Im currently reading this book on kindle:

I originally started reading this for traveling, but then I immediately saw the benefits, at least for me:
  1. Experimenting with different media and mixed media, on a small scale 
  2. Experimenting with different techniques. 
  3. Daily painting exercises. 
Below are some entries from this week: 

Title page:

Of course, I have off days: 

I'm going to enjoy these daily exercises. For now, I'm using colored pencil, watercolor pencil, and micron pen, because they're portable and allow me to work on this in the same room as my husband, instead of locking myself away in my art room.