Sunday, May 31, 2009

Oil Painting MWR Competition

The Army came out with these blond desert boots and the ACUs several years after I retired. I was never issued them and never wore them. I still have my old black spit shine boots but the layer of dust on them has to be 10 years old. I sketched them once but never finished the painting. I loved the sketch and decided to keep it as is. So when the MWR competition caught my eye I figured it would be a great reason to finally try my hand at putting the blond boots on canvas.

They really are intimidating because of the fuzzy texture of the suede heal and toe. Shiny is easier or at least I have painted plenty of shiny objects. One night last week, I stopped at one of the many pawn shops that litter the Ft Knox landscape and found the cheapest pair of used boots. Luck was with me and I found a pair for 10 dollars. I figured it was going to cost me at least double that so I was happy. They were broke-in and perfect for my still life.

I looked through our well-stocked spare room of everything military and selected a helmet with goggles and a few smaller items and started the composition. I have painted with a few "naturals" who could set a still life up in 10 minutes. For me it's always an hour or more. There were several ways that looked good but I ended up taking the helmet out. It just looked too typical and staged. So I decided to just paint the boots making them the main focus. Because I have 20 years experience taking my boots off nightly, I am familiar with every possible combination of two boots landing in a corner. This really helped me to visualize the composition.

Painting is one of my favorite things to do. Making neat plies of paint I set the oil out by value starting with white and working left to right until I ended up with ultramarine blue. Adding clove oil to the paint always reminds me of painting in Mason Michigan with Natalie Hause in the one room school house. We painted together for over four years and I picked her brain every Thursday. She so so talented and I treasure those days. I wanted to paint more than I ever wanted to do anything else in my life. It was frustrating because I would take lessons from painters who were self taught. This is not a bad thing it just wasn't my thing. Natalie taught us to mix colors from the color wheel, not buy all the colors ready mixed in a tube. She insisted on painting from life, no photos so we could see the colors on and around the object. We learned to draw using our paintbrush measuring the known to find the unknown. Over the years I struggled to finish a painting in the 4 secessions but eventually was able to finish a painting in 4 settings with using all the steps. I still hear her voice when I paint and am trying to figure out what is wrong. "Check your drawing", "If something looks wrong check the direction of your stroke, Does the value look wrong? check the color behind your object..... highlights have a shape a value a hue... anyway she was the real deal and I am so lucky to have found her and been able to work so closely with her for so long.

It was about stage 3 when I began to dislike the painting. It just looked immature. I struggle like most artist and started feeling in over my head. Those boots were hard. As always when I returned to my studio the next morning I thought the painting had enough merit to continue on. I did go back to my drawing and found two areas that were wrong. Once I corrected the drawing I began to flow with the painting. At a certain point the painting becomes fun. My favorite part is when all the construction is done and I look for detail in the colors placing them so they define the object.

I may paint the boots one more time before entering them. The first time I paint some thing it is more a study of the object and its complexities. I like this painting and have learned so much I know the second time I will be able to really rock it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

How I Got Here

The Mayan calendar, i ching chronology, and our upcoming universe alignment all forced me to learn more about 2012. I was born in 1956 and I will be 56 in 2012. Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, and countless others throughout history have left us warnings and hints about the relevance of 2012. The sea floor bears witness to the earths magnetism reversing numerous times. Above ground rocks show as they cooled that north has rotated so perhaps we are coming to a point in our planets history where a magnetic reversal is eminent.

As I tried to wrap my head around all these implications I found myself for the first time really exploring my own mortality. I have always found comfort in understanding the cycle of nature when loved ones passed. I grieve, but understand we are just passing through nothing is permanent. Life on earth is so fragile and it wouldn't take much to alter the conditions necessary to sustain the current species. The elimination of the gulf stream, another massive asteroid hit, or the elimination of the protective magnetic shield are so real a possibility I find it hard to believe we are still here.

Maybe the earth would be a better place without humans, but since many of my friends and most of my relatives are humans I would hate to see the good ones perish. But would they? Are we just on earth? I'm getting ahead of myself. So all these dooms day thoughts filled my head and I began to take stock of my life. In many aspects my life is filled with good and great things. I live in America where women have about as much freedom as your going to find. My career has provided me with anything I wanted and certainly with more than what I needed. There are very few things I've ever wanted and not been able to have. I am lucky and have been blessed. Add hard work and my age to the equation and the result is quite impressive. My art studio has all the tool and supplies to support the many hobbies and skills I have both studied and shared through teaching over the years. I have an impressive group of friends that are so diverse and amazing I don't know what they see in me. I have an adequate amount of money from my first career and a stable and rewarding second career. Although my parents are long gone and a few relatives who choose to be gone, the rest of my family, which includes friends who have become family, are very close to me and the bond is unshakable. My husband and two animals comprise my immediate family. Really compared to so many on this planet in this century my life is amazing.

And yet, when I took stock of these things I found that I was OK with 2012 ending the world. Or this world. Or just my world. Somewhere in the course of acquiring all these possessions, skills, accomplishments, and friends I was without passion for life. I was bored by the idea that my life could last another 40 years. I'm not saying I welcomed death or wanted to hasten it, I just found myself ambivalent about it. I found this disheartening. My desire to learn to oil paint consumed me once and now with a studio of my dreams I lacked the passion to do it justice. What happened to the spirit that once pushed me to excel in so many aspects of my life. Am I only passionate when faced with adversity? Because I chose not to have children am I lacking the desire to survive.

I came to realize my life was all about me and I really wasn't that fulfilling to myself. I came to realize its not all about me and there is more to life than just oneself. Maybe 2012 wont end the world maybe it will just end the excessive years. Abundant food, inhabitable climate, and leisure endeavors could all come to an end replaced by daily survival in a hostile world. I also did the math and in under four years life as I know it could be over.

Looking back on my life instead of forward I realized how much of it was not just lost but wasted and looking forward I clearly saw changes were needed. So just after Christmas last year I made a few changes that would free me to make even more. I began reading and researching anything written about how the universe worked, earth history, psychic references and predictions, new age and eastern philosophy's. The need to become more spiritual came to the surface but my disappointment with Christian censorship, chauvinism and greed had pushed me away from the church. During my years in Asia I enjoyed visiting Buddhist temples and was a fan of their lack of dogma. Thanks to the ice storm I devoured a stack of books about Buddhism that inspired me. During the same period I began reading most of Sylvia Brown's books about life on the other side. By the time the ice melted and the first flowers announced spring, I had reconnected with the true message of Christ and began meditating embarking on a journey towards enlightenment, fulfillment and service to God. No kidding.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

May 2009

I'm not sure why it took me so long to create a blog. I will try to use it wisely.