A Patchwork Fall

A Patchwork Fall
"A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art." ~Paul Cezanne~

October 3, 2019

Lovely Lines

Once upon a time, I used to take ballet lessons (for about 10 years). I quit when I was 14 and realized that my body type (and my love of food and Dr. Pepper) wasn't conducive to being a ballerina. But, I still love watching performances, love the the dance and the beautiful and graceful lines of the dancers, who create art with their body movement.

I stumbled across this video on YouTube and thought it was worth sharing.  Hope you enjoy!




















Click the picture above or Click here to watch

August 9, 2019

FRIDAY FEATURE - My Favorite Basics

Updated from a previous post...

I was once asked about the brand of paint I use and whether I prefer cold water or hot water to paint. Both were interesting questions and I didn't have an immediate answer for that customer - though I should have! 

Over the last couple of years, I have made an effort to become more aware of the supplies I use to create my artwork, and why I prefer some brands over others. This has been a good exercise for me as well as arming me with the sure knowledge of the answers to those questions should they arise again sometime in the future!



"A Patchwork Fall" - watercolor ©Jennifer Love













I once ran out of Ultramarine Blue paint in my palette and had to replace it with a tube from a brand I don't normally use. While the color match is pretty similar, the properties of the paint differ quite a bit in use. It helped me realize why I seek out my preferred brand of paint. :)

As to the cold vs. hot water, I generally use cold tap water. Over time it becomes room temperature, until I dump the basin out and start with fresh water. I haven't really experimented with hot to see if that makes a difference in dissolving the paint or how the paint goes onto the paper, but for my purposes, I don't think the temperature of the water makes as much difference as the dilution level I am trying to achieve with the paint.


"Peaceful Daisies" - watercolor  ©Jennifer Love







It's important to note that every artist has their own preferences, and there is no "right" or "wrong" answer to the choice of paint and supplies. We have all used various brands and quality of paint, and decided what we like the best. And maybe some don't have a preference. 

But, for those who are interested, here are my supplies and materials preferences. 

I love M. Graham watercolor paint. These are professional grade paints and are archival. These paints are little bit hard to find these days in a craft store or art supply store, but I tend to order mine online - usually through Blick Art Supplies (the company that recently purchased Utrecht). 


Image source: public domain.
Copyright belongs to respective photographer,
company, or graphic designer.












M. Graham makes their paint in small batches using pure gum arabic and natural blackberry honey. These paints don't dry up in the tube - even those I've had in my box for years! They also re-wet very easily on the palette and I usually don't experience the "grainy" consistency that comes with rewetting some colors in other brands I have tried. The colors are brilliant, they dry nicely, and are represented well both wet and dry.


"Flutter" - watercolor ©Jennifer Love












For watercolor paper, I prefer Arches 140 lb Cold Press, or sometimes 300 lb Cold Press. Again, these are professional-grade, archival papers. There is a smooth side and a rough side, but I prefer to use the rough side to add more texture to my painting. 

Here is the description of Arches' paper-making process on the Blick website.

"Arches watercolor papers are mouldmade in France, with 100% cotton fiber content. They are acid-free, pH-neutral, gelatin-sized, and air dried. Sheets have two natural deckle edges, two torn deckle edges, and are watermarked and embossed."

So, if you happen to see embossing or a watermark on one of your watercolor paintings that says "Arches," know that it is not a bad thing! You actually have a painting that is created on high-quality paper and happened to get the watermark to prove it!


"Kokopelli Weave" - watercolor  ©Jennifer Love












I do still use other brands of paper from time to time, and will use up whatever art supplies I have been given or purchased to try (waste not, want not!). But, when it comes to making a painting I want to enter into a competition or hope to sell in a gallery setting, it is almost always on Arches! 

When it comes to brushes, I have a variety - from inexpensive craft store brushes, to high-end sable. However, I have found that I am pretty rough on my brushes and they wear out - and the expensive ones don't seem to last much longer that the cheaper brushes. So, I have ultimately found that I like Blick (formerly Utrecht) store brand brushes. They are affordable, durable, and form a nice point for quite a long time before they wear out on me. I love my Round #20, #18, #10 and #8 brushes. Even though I have a huge variety of other sizes and shapes, I rarely venture beyond these four. They tend to serve my needs very well.  I don't use flat brushes all that much - occasionally for washes or wetting down my paper - so, I am less picky about the brand of flat brush. But, I really like the Blick store brand in general. Some watercolorists I know really like hake brushes for wetting paper down and for soft edges, but I haven't found much use for them yet in my work.



My brushes












My brushes









And, finally, the palette. Some artists like to make their own palette (to save money or to customize the wells). Others (like me) buy their palette. I am into whatever is most useful to me, easy, and convenient - so I have more time to paint! I like the Robert E. Wood palette. It comes with a lid, which is nice. I tuck the lid underneath the palette when I am using it, raising the palette up slightly like a pedestal. (Somehow, I just find it easier to paint like that!) There are several wells to organize your paint, and two large sections for mixing. Plus, you can use the lid for extra mixing space or paint color as needed. It is also reasonably priced at less than $15. I actually have two of these, but only one in use at any given time. :)

My palette is organized with similar colors grouped together. I try to have a warm and a cool of each primary color, and generally mix my secondaries, though not always. The colors I use most often are Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Red Light, Cadmium Yellow, Hansa Yellow, Cobalt Teal (special color), and Quinacridone Rose (special color). Also, rather than pure black, I prefer Sepia for my "black" when needed; and I rarely use pure white, though I have some if needed. There are other colors on my palette, of course, but those are the colors I use the most.


See the lid tucked nicely underneath?










Extra little wells in the lid if you need more mixing 
space or need to put other paint colors on.













So, there you have it! My favorite basics.  What are your favorites?

As always, thanks for stopping by my blog! :)


June 28, 2019

Tenacity

Do you know how to ride a bike? Did you ever have to pick yourself up, dust off your bruised and bloodied knees and try again? I still have gravel in my knees from many a crash in my youth. But, it is also a badge of honor! Proof that the effort I made to learn and improve paid off! And, now that I have the skill, I will never forget, no matter how long it’s been since I got on a bike.

Learning to ride a bike is a good metaphor for our art pursuits. Being an artist requires tenacity. It requires dusting ourselves off and trying again. It sometimes even requires my blood, sweat, and tears (literally)! But, over the years, I have learned not to take rejection too personally (although it still stings), and I have persevered - and this is something all artists must do! 

In 2003, when I joined the Utah Watercolor Society (UWS), I was anxious to “get going” with my art. I had no idea how competitive the art world was! I made slides of all my best pieces of artwork. I set up a studio corner in the dining room of my new house. I entered all the shows UWS offered (as well as several others across the country). I applied to all the art festivals I could find. I sent out envelope after envelope of slides full of my work. And, in return, I received envelope after envelope of rejection letters. For years!  

It took me two years to be accepted into my first UWS exhibition. YEARS! Two years after that to get into a Spring Exhibition (that counted towards my Signature membership). A significant amount of time after that before I got accepted to another UWS exhibition. Eventually, sporadically, I would get accepted to an exhibition here and there, both UWS and others. I made it my goal to work for UWS Signature Membership. It took me fourteen years to achieve it!  (Granted, there were a few years there where I wasn't trying - as I took time off for life events like marriage and babies...)


Self doubt, self criticism, and worry are common for us as artists. Continued rejection letters can either spur an artist on to continue to improve and continue to try or…to give up. Some artists are so afraid of rejection that they are afraid to try! Our egos are fragile. But what will you achieve if you don't try?

Wayne Gretzky (one of the greatest hockey players of all time) famously said, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." It's true in hockey, it's true in life, and it's true in art! I encourage you to try, and then keep trying!

Whenever the doubt starts to creep in, you can remember Wayne Gretzky...and you can think of Stephen King. (What?!) Yes, Stephen King! 

King is one of the most successful and prolific writers of our time. And yet…Stephen King started collecting rejection letters at an early age. He put them on a nail on the wall. By the time he was 14 years old, he had accumulated so many rejection letters, he had to replace the nail with a spike. Right before he published his first book, Carrie, he had decided to quit. His wife fished the manuscript out of the trash and encouraged him to keep trying. What if he had given up…right before the novel that turned the tide in his career? What if he hadn’t continued to write, to learn, to improve his skills…spurred on by each rejection letter? Whenever the doubts come, and as all the rejections continue to pile up, I remember Stephen King, and I persevere.













Sure, it still stings when a painting I love is declined for an exhibition, or when an art festival I have applied to does not accept me, or when a gallery does not want to represent my work. But, only for a minute. Then I bandage my bruised ego, I go back to my studio, and I keep trying. Like riding a bike, my balance gets better every time, my skill improves with practice, and I can go faster and farther the more I practice!

As always, thanks for stopping by my blog. :) 


June 12, 2019

New Studio and KonMari

Roses, Peonies, Iris












Summer is here! We had a wet, wet, wet spring (an unusual amount of rain for Utah). But, thanks to all that water, I have some beautiful flowers in my yard.

This year has also been my personal project push to finish the KonMari tidying and decluttering method to my home. I started KonMari in 2015 (long before the Netflix special)...but, I paused in the middle due to life commitments. (I accepted the nomination to V.P of the Utah Watercolor Society 2016-2017, then President 2017-2018, then Past President 2018-2019). 

With the 2019 UWS year closing out at the end of May, I decided I would push through to finish the tidying event in my home that had been on hiatus since 2016. I know, I know...that's not what the book says to do. "Tidy all at once, quickly, in one go." But, life happens!

So January 2019 came, and I said to my husband "We're going to get this done!" and we jumped back in to the Komono (miscellaneous) categories and just kept pushing through a little at a time, culminating in a huge yard sale this past weekend, and then two van loads full of donation items to the local Deseret Industries donation center after the yard sale was over Saturday.

Yard Sale







First van load headed to donation center





Admittedly, I have been a bit of a vegetable since Saturday after we got all the leftover stuff loaded up and hauled away and put away the tables, etc. But...there is light at the end of the tunnel now! My miscellaneous categories are done, and all I have left are Sentimental items and I will have finished my KonMari event. In the meantime, my house is so much less cluttered now and I can start envisioning a home for everything and everything in its home. (Like that's going to happen with two kids in the household! Ha Ha!). But seriously, my kitchen cupboards are awesome and I can walk through the basement without feeling like I am in a labyrinth!

During these past two months, we have also been moving my art studio from an upstairs bedroom that has been serving as studio/office to a downstairs room that will be a fully dedicated studio. I am so excited about this!! The combination studio/office space served mostly functionally for me for a couple of years, but I found that my painting and work surfaces always got overrun with "office" things (mail to be sorted, items that needed to be put away, etc.). Every time I wanted to paint, I would have to spend 20-30 minutes just clearing the space so I could work. No more! Now, my studio is dedicated space and there will be no filing encroaching on my work surfaces. Woot! My new studio room also has great natural light with a North facing window and an East facing window (not as good as the North and West that were in the upstairs room, but a close second) plus it is a larger room. 

My new studio used to be what we called the "junk room." It was the place where all things were stashed when we didn't know where to put it. Maybe, if our house were Hogwarts, it would be the Room of Requirement! Does your house have a room like this? 


"Junk Room" BEFORE
We actually did start our KonMari miscellaneous categories in 2016 and this room was one that we treated as a category unto itself because there were so many different things in here! My friend and her husband even came over for a few hours one Saturday to help me sort through things and move furniture around...and we made great headway in clearing out the room to be functional as a storage area, but there were still several items that were boxed up that needed to be joy checked later.


"Junk Room" AFTER (from junk room to storage room)










Preparing the storage room to become studio











All of the studio furniture is now moved down to the new studio and it is functional, though I still need to find a home for a few things that are boxed up on the floor. But, I have already created a small painting for the Utah Watercolor Society Small Works Exhibition that is coming up in July ("My Summer Rose" pictured below).
Work table

Stacking files & light table



















"My Summer Rose" - watercolor - ©Jennifer Love











We are also moving the office downstairs (though NOT into my studio!) and my oldest son will be moving into the upstairs bedroom so each boy can have their own room. No more blaming the messy room on the other child! 

As I now have a functional studio again, and now that I am at the end of my KonMari decluttering journey, I will be able to get back into the schedule of painting regularly this summer and hope to be posting many new paintings and blog posts for you along the way!  

As always, thanks for stopping by my blog! 

May 10, 2019

Have you ever met a Troll?

Background image source: Death to Stock Photos







Have you ever encountered a Troll?

When we post artwork online, sometimes we get hurtful or controversial comments intended to start an argumentative dialogue. These people are "Trolls." Sometimes we even meet Trolls face-to-face!

This happened to me when I posted a copy of my painting "Kokopelli Conga" on Google+. 
"Kokopelli Conga" | Watercolor | Jennifer Love

















I very quickly received a comment from a Google+ user (not someone in my circles) saying that he didn't think he would consider my painting to be "Art" but maybe "art" and asking what did I think? Basically, he was telling me I'm not really an artist and my painting is not worthy to be called Art.

Ouch.


Well, after my initial reaction of hurt feelings from criticism without any constructive advice or suggestions, I realized what this user was about and what he was trying to do. My first "troll." First, I decided not to bother responding at all. Second, I blocked this user from my profile.  

Even though our initial reaction might be to respond with angry or defensive words when an online troll attacks, if we take a minute to think things over, we realize that this is exactly what they are looking for. These people are looking to create contention in our lives, to make us question our art, question our abilities, and hurt our feelings. 

Nobody has the right to tell you that the work you produce is not "Art." If you spend your valuable time creating it, you use the best quality materials you have available, and you do the best quality work you can do, then what you have created is Art.  
And...by the way, that very same painting ("Kokopelli Conga") was later juried into a competitive exhibition by a national and international-award-winning watercolor artist.

Additionally, many people have opinions on what constitutes Decorative Art vs. Fine Art, and many believe that people creating art to make a living and for sale to homeowners aren't really creating "Fine Art" - that Fine Art is only found in museum collections.

"Quickly" | watercolor | Jennifer Love















Gallery owner Jason Horesj recently wrote a great blog post about this very topic on
Red Dot Blog.

His post is very insightful, but I especially appreciate the definitions he includes about Fine Art vs Decorative Art - pulled directly from the dictionary.

    Decorative Art

noun
1. art that is meant to be useful as well as beautiful, as ceramics, furniture, jewelry, and textiles.

2. Usually, decorative arts. any of the arts, as ceramics or jewelry making, whose works are created to be useful.

3. works of decorative art collectively.

Fine Art

noun
1. a visual art considered to have been created primarily for aesthetic purposes and judged for its beauty and meaningfulness, specifically, painting, sculpture, drawing, watercolor, graphics, and architecture.
No matter what your skill level, the art you are creating is Fine Art. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise! Go forward...be brave...keep creating...and ignore the Trolls of the world!

As always, thank you for stopping by my blog!

May 3, 2019

Recreating the "Magic"

"Inspiration is for amateurs!"  Have you heard or seen this quote? I have many times, and I believe it as well - in a sense. If we are to be professional artists, that means we show up to work as any other professional would. Some days you have a successful and productive day, others...not so much. But, you plug away at it no matter what if you want to create that paycheck!




But, setting that attitude aside for a moment...sometimes artists are also inspired! When we are, we have to act on our inspiration, immediately if possible. And, a lot of times, that inspiration results in something magical. A painting that you truly love, where all the techniques and color harmony and everything just came together. Sometimes it is just a happy accident, when you are experimenting with new ideas and techniques.

The question is...once you've created the magic...can you recreate it? What if you did that magical painting on inferior quality materials because you were just experimenting. Or, what if it was larger or smaller than you really wanted. What if you decide you want to do an entire series of the same design. Are you able to recreate the magic? 

I pondered on this question for a while (a couple of years, in fact) because I wasn't sure I'd be able recreate the magic discovered in a painting I really loved.

In recent years, as my work evolved into creating woven paintings, I find I have to use tracing paper to copy my design and then transfer it to another sheet of watercolor paper so that I can create two of the "same" painting in order to weave them together. Suddenly, I find that my fear of not being able to recreate the "magic" of a sketch has drastically decreased, as I am not expecting myself to freehand draw that exact same composition over and over. I can work off the original design that I drew the first time. And, while each subsequent painting is never exactly the same, I have found that the more I work with mingling my colors, and as I continue to learn how my paint and paper behave at different moisture levels and drying techniques, my fear of recreating the "magic" of color and texture decreases even more. The result? I am loving each new painting I create.

Loving your work is a good thing! Love the process, and love the outcome (even if it ends up being a painting you wouldn't send to a gallery for sale)! If you are always creating with love, your paintings will be infused with that energy. Every time, you will be creating magic!

Inspiration is certainly helpful for us when we are excited to try a new subject matter, design, or technique. So, in that way, inspiration is not for amateurs. But, don't let inspiration dictate your work pace or create fear in the process. Don't fear that you can't recreate the magic of a painting you loved because you don't feel that same flash of inspiration that you felt the first time. Show up every day, or every week, or every month (whatever your schedule is), and just create. Then, repeat, repeat, repeat. After a while, you will find that you are, in fact, recreating the magic every time!


Mountain Fall | watercolor | ©Jennifer Love












A Patchwork Fall | Watercolor | ©Jennifer Love












Fallen 1 | Watercolor | ©Jennifer Love










Fallen 2 | Watercolor | ©Jennifer Love










Fallen 3 | Watercolor | ©Jennifer Love










Fallen 4 | Watercolor | ©Jennifer Love










Fallen 5 | Watercolor | ©Jennifer Love











How are you inspired? How do you keep yourself coming back to the studio even when you aren't feeling inspired? How do you "recreate the magic?" I would love to hear your thoughts. 

As always, thanks for stopping by my blog! :)

April 19, 2019

Want to know how to properly hang artwork in your home?

Xanadu Gallery has published a great guide to hanging artwork in your home or office!

How to Hang a Painting | A Free Guide From Xanadu Gallery



"Fallen 4" | watercolor | ©Jennifer Love

Click here to read the Red Dot blog post.

Click here to download the PDF.











Guide to hanging artwork information published here by permission.

April 12, 2019

Right Brain? Left Brain? ... Let's Rid Ourselves of the Labels and the Preconceived Notions!

Background image source: Death to Stock Photos








Are you a Right Brain or a Left Brain...a "numbers person" or a "creative sort"?

Why should we have to choose? Why do we need to define ourselves as an "analytical thinker" or a "creative thinker"? Why can't a person be both? Has anyone heard of Leonardo DaVinci - one of the most important historical figures to contribute to both science and to art? Anyone remember a theoretical physicist named Albert Einstein - who also happened to be a violinist and a pianist?


Image sources: Public domain.
Copyright belongs to photographers/designers/image owners















Image sources: Public domain.
Copyright belongs to photographers/designers/image owners












I happen to work in a very analytical profession. Mot of my days are spent analyzing data and trying to interpret that data into useful reports to help inform the business decisions of our organization. I am good at what I do and have improved my analytical skills as my career has progressed. But, it is my ability to look at data creatively that has helped the most in my analytical job. Not just pulling the numbers, but also interpreting what they mean and how that information might help in facing challenges or continuing success.

In fact, a "numbers person" would not be the first thing that comes to mind were I to describe myself to others. I am a mother. I am a wife. I am an artist. I like to have fun, I like to organize, and I like to make things. I am also a researcher. Analyzing data is something I do, not who I am. Pigeonholing me into the "left brain" or "numbers person" box is inaccurate. Outside the media business world, I am a painter and the owner of my own home-based art business. I am the President of a watercolor society with 300+ members. I am a marketer, promoter, event planner, social coordinator, referee, and household Co-CEO. Just as in my profession, these activities all employ both creative and analytical thinking.

The general instinct to classify people as left-brain or right-brain thinkers, either logical and analytical or artistic and emotion-driven is frustrating. People are all of these things to some degree. Some may lean one way more than another, but our brains are complex. Some people lean equally to analytics and emotion. All the parts work together to create the whole person. 


Image source: Death to Stock Photos
I once had an art teacher in high school with whom I was discussing a grade. He had allowed me to do some extra credit work to bring my grade up for an assignment I had missed, but then neglected to give me the credit for the extra work. I happened to be an A grade student. When I went to discuss my grade with him, he asked to see my report card. Then he said to me "Oh...you're one of those." Now, I don't remember a lot about high school, but I do remember this comment and his implications that went with it. If I was "one of those" then I couldn't be a true artist. It was the first time it had been brought to my attention that somehow society believes I must be ruled by creative-thinking or logical-thinking, but I couldn't be equally influenced by both. 

We need to rid ourselves of the notion that we must be one or the other. The world is full of DaVincis and Einsteins who show us that people can be analytical and creative. In fact, I believe that using both logic and creativity at all times and in all our pursuits heightens our success in both types of endeavors.

An article in ScienceDaily talks about STEM studies and the relation of creative thinking to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. 


"Creative thinking and problem solving are essential in the practice of math and science," he said. "Incorporating art into math and science will not only help students become more creative and better problem solvers, it will help them understand math and science better."

Here is another article from Harvard Medical School proposing that people being either "right-brained" or "left-brained" may be a myth. Linking certain traits to one side of the brain or other might be inaccurate as people use both sides of their brains. 


"...the evidence discounting the left/right brain concept is accumulating. According to a 2013 study from the University of Utah, brain scans demonstrate that activity is similar on both sides of the brain regardless of one's personality."

And, now that I've presented you with the analytical research, here is some "emotional" evidence. Along with using analytics in my life, I also create and engage my artistic and emotional brain functions. These are photos of some of my paintings on display at a local art fundraiser and also of my hallway linen/supply closet that I organized using the logical, yet emotional, #konmari method. Let me propose this: creative thinking is an absolutely necessary component in closet organization!

















So, the next time you look at someone who is good at math and analytics and think that this must be their passion and/or it's the only way their brain works... Or, the next time you see a paint-splattered, hair-frazzled artist in colorful, mismatched socks and think that they must be unable to keep track of their business operations and household checking...think again.

Think about yourself. Do you want to be defined by only one thing that you happen to be good at? I would guess not. We are all guilty of assuming we know about a person when we only know them in one aspect of their life. Maybe that is human nature. Or maybe it originates from this societal tendency to categorize the Right Brains from the Left Braing, and to somehow make a person feel they must be one or the other. It's time to change that!

Let's rid ourselves of the Left Brain/Right Brain labels and preconceived notions! The world needs creative thinkers and analysts - and there is also room for those who can do both!


As always, thanks for stopping by my blog.

Note: Opinions expressed are my own. 

Image sources: Death to Stock Photos or public domain. Copyright belongs to image owners/photographers/designers