Studio Junk Drawer: January 2014

I haven’t done a “real” blog post in awhile here because I have been posting stuff on my Tumblr blog. But New Year, new plans so I’ll post here from time to time when it makes sense. Or I feel like it. You know how fickle us artists are! 😛 This post is a collection of bits and bobs, none worthy of their own blog post but which I wanted to share. I stole the idea for the title from a friend of mine who blogs about gaming 🙂 Thanks, Jester.

Out With Acrylics, In With Oils. Back in October I posted about my exploration of acrylic paints for plein air and studio work. I was quite enthusiastic at the start but over time, the plastic feel and fast drying (despite the use of various retarding mediums, water spritzers, Stay-Wet Palette, etc.) became more frustrating. Then a friend loaned me some oil paints to try and everything I had come to hate about acrylics was no longer a problem with oils. My only concern was drying time since I don’t have a lot of room to store drying paintings in my studio space or home. Enter mediums which as I discovered can allow oil paintings to be dry to the touch within a few days to a week. I can live with that. Also, reading James Gurney‘s book Imaginative Realism: How To Paint What Doesn’t Exist (fabulous book by one of my favorite artists), I saw a photo of a slanted wall with small ledges that he uses to store drying or in-process works. I can install something similar in the spare bedroom next to the studio will address the wet works storage issue nicely! So, I sold all of my acrylics stuff on ebay and reinvested that money (and more, isn’t it always MORE?!) in oils. Having painted a few studies with the oils to get used to them, I can say that I really do love the feel and working qualities so look for more work in that medium from me this year. Below is one of the studies I painted in oils.

Sheep Study


Plein Air Ready. I’ve been tinkering with plein air oil painting gear over the last couple of months and finally have a good “grab and go” setup. Everything revolves around a Craftech Sienna medium pochade box with glass palette. That, the tripod, paint, wet panel carrier (which I made from foam core, duct tape, and square dowels) and all other gear fit nicely into a Creativo backpack. It’s not exactly light — maybe 25 lbs — but the pack distributes the weight well and is comfortable enough that I am sure it will do fine for short hikes (especially as I get fitter which is also part of this year’s Big Plan). Most importantly, it’s easy to set up and break down, and with everything in one pack it is also easy to transport. I’m looking forward to doing a lot of plein air painting this year.

2014 Goals. My art goals this year are to produce a DVD on painting dog portraits in watercolor, paint 150 oil studies (both plein air and in the studio), continue to do portrait commissions, and exhibit works in 3 or 4 local shows. I have other painting goals as well but those mainly involve kitchen cabinets, interior stairs, pasture fencing and over 1,000 square feet of decking around the house 🙂 On a personal level, I am highly focused on weight loss and fitness this year (no more excuses!) as well as aiming to ride several days a week once the weather turns the corner enough that it will actually be enjoyable (I do not enjoy being outside in frigid weather). I have that beautiful, wonderfully trained mule standing in my pasture and it’s time we renewed our partnership and went on some trail adventures together again.

Branding and Career Musings. I’ve been catching up on episodes of Leslie Saeta’s wonderful Artists Helping Artists podcast and thinking a lot about branding, image, community building, and selling my work online. I revamped this Web site late last year but there is much more to be done to address my artistic growth and interests…which is not ALL about dogs all the time because my interests are much more varied than that. So I will be pecking away at refining my “brand” and presence this year. Yet, while I take my art seriously, this IS a retirement career of sorts and is just one income stream that does not have to pay a mortgage or put food on the table. That is a double-edged sword, though…it’s nice not to be pressured but on the other hand it’s easy to slack off when there is no pressure. I DO feel pressure of a sort though, and that is time pressure. As a late starter, I feel that my window for achieving some measure of success and recognition (the definition of which I’m not exactly sure of) is somewhat narrow and that I better not be burning daylight while trying to achieve my goals! So while I may seem driven, it is not the same kind of driven that a serious artist in their 20’s or 30’s would (or should) be engaged in.

New Studio Assistants. I asked for a parakeet for Christmas to live in the studio and keep me company. Enter Pickle, a sweet little green and blue ‘keet. My husband bought another for himself also but since he’s at work all day long, his bird Killer seemed lonely. So we agreed the two birds should live together. While this somewhat complicates their taming, they are happy and are fun to have in the studio with their chatter and play all day long. When I’m sitting at my desk for long periods, they are allowed out of the cage onto their DIY playground, shown below. Of course, now I have to vacuum in the studio every day because boy are they messy! But that’s okay…it’s worth it for the entertainment value and company they provide.

Pickle and Killer

That’s it for this month’s junk drawer. There’s probably stuff I forgot but I’ll leave it for the next junk drawer post. Meanwhile, sign up for my newsletter which shares new work and announces happenings related to my art life. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the signup form.

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