Finding Inspiration for something new
While I've been teaching both weekly adult painting classes and children's art camps this summer, I've also been spending a lot time in the studio painting. In fact, I have really been on a roll for several weeks and, as a result, I have a new series of my large wildflowers that I'm pleased to now have available. As you'll see, even from photos, they are similar but different to my signature style. But still, you can tell they are mine.
I never know how or when I'll start a new series but it generally comes with some sort of inspiration. Our travels to higher elevations and mountainous areas of New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, for example, led to the Aspens series that I've enjoyed adding to off and on over the last few years. While we may not have Aspens or Pines where I live in the Texas Hill Country, they speak to my soul and painting them brings me joy as much as owning the work brightens the hearts and homes of my collectors.
With my teaching and studio schedule I've had, and David's job managing our gallery, we haven't had a chance to do much traveling this summer. But there have been many late evenings and early mornings that just stepping out on our deck is like taking a trip to an exotic location. You see, we have had some of the most spectacular sunsets and sunrises this summer. Every chance I get, I grab my camera and click, click, click to capture the moments... the color... the drama.
And that, my friends is the inspiration for this new series. However, there was something else that happened earlier this summer that also played a role in this new direction. And honestly, I'm still trying to understand exactly how and why, but I know it did.
Playing with a different medium
If you follow me at all, whether it be through my newsletters, Facebook posts or in person, you know that I started dabbling again with watercolor a few months back. That led to the creation of several small works that I like to call "studies." They ranged from still life scenes to landscapes and even some animals and a person! Most are really small for me, from 5x7 to 8x10 in size.
There was something about the process of painting with watercolor on small pads and blocks of paper that let me go both tighter with my style and expressive in the choice of colors. As I gained my confidence, I decided to challenge myself with a large painting on a full sheet of watercolor paper (22x30). With an entry in mind for the Texas Show at the New Braunfels Art League Gallery, I wanted to create a painting that captured the spirit of the theme. I started with a sunset, added a windmill and an oak tree and then decided it would not be Texas enough without some longhorn cattle. I completed the painting, which I titled "Texas Heritage Sunset," and was able to get it matted and framed just in time to enter it and a couple other paintings in the show the end of June.
And the winners are...
Lo and behold, I got a call to be sure to come to the reception because I had "won an award." It turned out that I won three. I had also entered one of my signature paintings of bluebonnets in the oil/acrylic category and it placed in the top 5 with an honorable mention. That painting also sold within a few weeks!
Meanwhile, "Texas Heritage Sunset," which measures 24x36 in the mat and frame, was awarded second place in water media by the show's judge. In addition, the representative for the show's sponsor, Capitol Wright Distributing, chose that same painting for the Sponsor's Choice Award.
This leads to that...new works!
Even as I played with the watercolor I was thinking about my next large canvases and what direction I might want to take. The images of the sunsets and sunrises kept coming back and I decided I needed to let that inspire me. Of course, there would still be wildflowers. But I wanted to let those colorful Texas skies dominate.
So far, I've created 6 paintings in the series, two 24x30, one 30x24, a 24x36, a 24x48 and a 36x36. They are shown below but you can also CLICK HERE to see these and my other newest additions.
I do hope that you've enjoyed reading a little about what goes on sometimes "behind the scenes" for an artist. Thanks for reading and for your continued interest in my life as an artist.
Thoughts about creativity
As an artist and like many of my artistic friends, I often find a way to weave creativity into my daily life. Whether or not it is through painting since creativity can take many forms. When I teach, I try to find creative ways to share my knowledge and passion for art with my students. When I'm trying to solve a problem around the house or studio, I look for creative, "thinking outside of the box" solutions. And while as an artist this comes almost naturally, I've found that being creative is more of a human trait that is common more often that not...just not always apparent.
Do you like to garden? Then I bet you find joy in creating interesting combinations with plants. Do you like to be organized? Then you are by all means creative! Are you an executive or team leader or teacher? Then creativity is part of your life regardless of how "left brain" you might be. Creativity is not just for artists. It's just that artists find a way to express it in more concrete ways and it is often plays such a huge role in our lives that we choose it as a way to make a living...or at least try to.
Since relocating my studio from a small room in downtown New Braunfels to charming, multi-room cottage in Wimberley, I've been spread my creative wings in new directions, while continuing to work on my contemporary wildflower series.
First, the building itself was like a blank canvas, inside and out. And at first, it was overwhelming. My last day in New Braunfels was January 31 and by the first of February, I was in the new space and had boxes everywhere. I was trying to decide how to best use the rooms for both teaching and working. It needed it to be efficient and happy. Yes, I needed to create a happy space for myself and my students. Once I began to unpack it seemed that everything found its home. I've continued to tweak here and there and always will. But for the most part, within a few months I was well settled into the new space. And it is happy!
Once I had the unpacking under control and classes were back in session, I started painting again. And it felt wonderful to create new paintings for my wildflower series from my new studio! But I was itching to be creative in other ways too.
I had a wooden birdhouse left over from several years back when my husband, David, and I were painting birdhouses and bird feeders to sell at craft shows and market days. I cleaned it up, gave it some coats of spray paint and began to glue stones and glass to it for decoration. Little did I know that it would be the beginning of a whole new "project." As I debated where it would go at the new studio, I decided that a little patio off a glass slider door would be the perfect place. There was already a glass-top table there with an old umbrella but otherwise it was a bare and sterile space that needed some color.
I had an old wooden rocker my sister had given me that was painted white and need some rehab. I did a little sanding and filling in on some of the rough edges and gave it some coats of spray paint that would compliment the colors on the birdhouse. Voilã! But that just was the beginning.
Now it needed some plants. Just two or three. Well, maybe a few more than that! And some really colorful planters to show them off. And some cool stuff hanging on the "walls" (wooden fence). Within a month, I turned an empty-and-boring patio space into a happy space, full of color and life. With the work on the patio mostly complete, I began adding to the front of the building, starting with some potted rosemary and a lovely little wind chime by the door.
Needless to say, that "blank canvas" building is anything but blank or boring now! And it is and will continue to be a work in progress. If and when you ever get to come visit me at my studio in Wimberley, I hope you'll enjoy the space as much as I do!