You might be asking yourself what has cooking got to do with art?
Paintings can so easily have a little too much time on them becoming overworked and a little laboured. I thought a good analogy might be the outcome of cooking a Victoria Sponge cake .
If you slightly over cook one of these cakes it smells slightly over-cooked when it comes out of the oven, it is slightly over-coloured with a bit of a crisp edge on the outside edges and it loses some of its subtle cakey fragrance to a more caramelised finish (to be polite). But if you slightly undercook it, it will be moist and tasty, has a full buttery flavour, and on the downside it might lack a little colour. Which is best? Definitely the latter for the tastiest cake.
Catching the cake at it’s optimum moment is possible with practice but there is little variation from one cake to the next so eventually a plan for timing and temperature will make it perfect. Obviously this is very different to the variations that are possible from one painting to the next. But the idea of relating over-cooking and under-cooking a sponge cake to painting is purely for the reason that stopping a bit before the optimum moment will allow a painting to look more vibrant, spontaneous, and more intuitive rather than laboured and probably a bit muddied. It might not be perfect but it is likely to be a better finish. Just like the cake.
Trying to under-work a painting is soooooo hard by comparison to overworking. Over-cooking or overworking it is easy. It is easy for me to see bits of my paintings that might be improved and therefore I could keep picking at it. So today I am trying very hard to not do any more to this painting of a Springer Spaniel.
What could be done to try to prevent getting to the over-painting stage? I wonder if in the back of my mind I think people who look at this picture might find fault for me not “tidying ” everything up, and somehow I have to let go of this idea at an opportune moment. Perhaps the questions I should be asking myself are: How happy am I about the painting? Can I get away with finishing it at this moment?
I am tempted to keep going on this painting, but I think I might get away with stopping right now. So hands off, let’s clean the brushes and here is Fred smiling.
It is strange how your mind and thoughts can dance around a subject or a project and produce means or obstacles, pathways to enable action or absolute resistance. One minute you have one mind set, then suddenly you can see things quite differently and are able then to make a change or take an action that you had not considered before.
This process is no doubt with us more often than we realise, but for me produces itself very readily in the light of day when considering the redesign of my website. I have had a website for many years and it was pretty clunky for quite some time at the outset. But the amount of times I thought I had reached an optimal design moment were many. Time passed, my mind shifted, and suddenly it would be made quite clear to me that improvements would yet again have to be made. In a way it is a little like producing a painting, you think no more can be done, you put the thing away. Then some other time you stumble across the same painting and you can see straight away how to make it so much better.
In all the years I have been painting I could never for one moment have envisaged making miniature paintings sized at just 3.5 inches by 2.5 inches but found myself having an eureka moment (a sudden shift in thinking!) nearly a year ago after tightening up my painting style, and acquiring reading glasses. Since then I have produced several ACEO paintings each week featuring funny character animals or more realistic style animals too. They have been listed and sold each week on ebay in a special category for ACEO art cards.
A year hence, and I have been wondering how to develop my art further, today a new possibility has surfaced in my mind relating to pets and in particular dogs. Here is a taster of my current work in progress…..more to follow 🙂
I really do wonder why my brain cannot follow through in the first instance? I am sure there is a good answer for this which at this time is unbeknown to me.
It is of concern that whilst my mind can play tricks on me and can often ensure that I avoid action or end up procrastinating for what amounts to be in reality no-good-reason at all, but I am grateful that at other times it can reveal fresh ideas, shifts and visions so that even I can surprise myself with brand new possibilities.
It happens so often, that artists actually stop working on a painting sometime after the vital moment when they should have stopped. Spotting the optimum time to stop working on a piece is just so difficult as unless you could see into the future the you cannot anticipate whether your next few painting decisions will better or possibly worsen the painting’s outcome. For this reason a good many paintings are over-worked and without a lot of experience this optimum moment can pass you by before you know it.
This is a painting I have been working on today. It takes some concentration to be disciplined in the craft and it is best to work when feeling energised. Once an artist tires and concentration waivers then sloppy decisions and actions are made leading to frustration and disappointment in the outcome.
I liken this process to swimming. Whilst striving to get one’s swimming stroke right you need concentration, some discipline and energy. Once the energy is depleted you fall back on old sloppy habits, inefficiency and then more tiredness is the outcome. My painting and my swimming can go the same way. This painting of a wolf is unfinished in my opinion. It is just a matter of how far past the optimum point I persist…..
Despite the fact that I live in a smallish town in the Cotswolds UK there is a significant population of artists. I nearly said thriving artists. They are thriving as far as their art might be concerned but I doubt that they are thriving as far as their contribution to their cost of living. There just has to be another job in the mix to enable most artists to “indulge” themselves their creativity. I digress…..
Stroud in the Cotswold Hills (UK) is a town of artists and creativity, music and alternative therapies, alternative remedies and alternative people. We have Open Art Studios in May and festivals of Music in the Summer and all sorts in between. Our Museum is the best ever for a small town, and within the same building is an exibition room which celebrates art of all varieties. We are lucky enough that the local Museum is currently hosting a selection of art from Matisse. Cut-outs (collage shapes cut with a scissors) was Matisse’ form of art which he made during the 1950’s.
To be honest, this work which must have been quite a revelation in that era does not do alot for me. But it must have been quite a development for that time and the evolution of different creative expressions have enabled us to have the freedom to create across all sorts of media and mix them up too, the ultimate in this being Mixed Media.
Still, even if Matisse is not your bag it is good to be in the presence of original art and have feelings toward different styles and media from the art world. You might want to buy only what you like, but witnessing and processing what art history and contemporary art has to offer will help develop your own view about your art and your art process and where it sits on the spectrum of creative expression.
My artist friend here is using her creative expression to mimic the art!
When you see artists exhibiting their wares at Christmas Fayres or in the high street hoping to catch customers in the festive season spare a thought not just for the hard work and creativity that goes into their craft. Some time will have been spent agonising over pricing before an attempt at selling either original work or prints. Framing is a conundrum, customers like to buy items ready to hang but how do you choose a frame that works with the image and works for the customers taste.
With prints and cards there is plenty to frustrate the eager artist. Enduring a fickle printer is a test of patience when it starts spitting out blank paper or prints which are off centre, the wrong size or the wrong colours and then horrors of horrors sometimes it will not work at all.
Mounting the image is an issue of its own, lining up the print and taping the print, mount and backing board together in a professional looking way before putting into a celophane bag. By the end of it all the place is littered with off cuts, cut fingers, bits of tape everywhere, torn up prints and hopefully the printer has not been despatched out of the window.
You may have guessed that I have just completed a printing session ready for a Christmas Fayre at Horseworld Rescue Centre, Bristol, UK next weekend. Leaflets, notices and business cards are ready printed too. Just need to pack a blanket, hot water bottle and a flask.
Oh and in case you were wondering the printer is still where it should be, in the studio… 🙂
I was approached by a poet writing a children’s book using a poem she created about a bright red bird. She sent me some stanza’s of the said poem and wondered if I might be inspired to create ACEOs with her poem in mind.
The poem “Santa’s Songbird” is about a blessed Red Cardinal, a North American bird rather like the Green Finches of the UK but with feathers of a vibrant red colour.
And so here he is, in all his glory.
A horse decorated in the style of North American Indian tribes.
Evidence seems to suggest that elephants do not like small animals running frantically around their feet particularly as they cannot see them properly. Naturally in the wild quick moving small animals like snakes are a danger and so elephants would try to get away from them as quickly as they could. This may be the reason that elephants appear to be afraid of mice.
An ancient fable tells the story of a duel between an elephant and a mouse for the position of king among the animals. The elephant sat and laughed at the mouse until the mouse climbed into his ear (or in another story his trunk) and nipped him hard and drove him mad until the elephant ultimately admitted defeat.
I like my elephant and mouse to be friends, so here they are.
The cat has been spooked, but there is something spooky about his shadow!
Remember these guys…..? Black Beauty himself and the cast from the TV Series from the 1970’s.
As a child I would draw horses all the time.
I was completely mad about them.
I knew all sorts of facts about horses, their kit, how to keep them, their breeds and colours. But there was no chance of owning one myself or of even being taught to ride. Instead I read a lot of horse books from the library and drew them prolifically.
Champion the Wonder Horse, White Horses, Follyfoot and Black Beauty were among my favourite TV programmes. I bought the Black Beauty LP and used to play it on our old single deck before I went to school. I even made up words to the theme tune, I was too embarrassed to sing them in front of my friend so I did so from behind the toilet cubicle door at school. Strange days.
Today I started a new set of ACEOs with a Horse theme, here are the first two.
Dapples & Tassels, and Feathers & Forelocks.