I spent a lot of time looking at abstract and figurative art lately, deciding to do more paintings so I can learn more about composition. Pinterest is a great resource. I find that all good work starts with good composition….and there is so much nice work that could be great with better composition. When you see 100 paintings, 3 or 4 will stand out and it is usually the composition that makes that happen.

There are so may rules for this, the rule of thirds, the golden mean and so on. But the artists eye, even untrained, is the best decision maker. I was looking at a lot of landscape paintings and drawings and photographs…Nature is amazing but the artist is better…all the artistic compositions were focused and were better than the photographs. I did not realize this at first but was making little thumbnail sketches of my research and realized how much better the sketches of actual painting and drawings were than those of photos…sort of a shock but artists eliminated the unessential and moved things a bit for a better composition.

My work has been non-objective for about 40 years, even when it was dealing with ancient images it was not real subject oriented. So composition is really crucial for good imagery. I make lots of transparencies for my printmaking and hang them up so I can live with them a while before making etching plates. There are so many variables in printing, color of ink, type of paper, humidity the day you work and so on. After doing this work for so long I have a pretty good handle on simplifying work to produce good compositions.

I am not as focused lately as I would like.
There has been a lot of upheaval in my life the last few years, losing my sweet husband of 48 years and all the care that entailed. Maybe that is why I am looking at painting now…sort of a new venture or sideline. I am a lousy painter, but if there is one thing I know is that art is a learned skill and nothing is a substitute for doing more work to get more skilled. I see a little improvement, but not a huge amount.

I might work smaller with my printmaking, large work is expensive and tiring to produce. Small compositions are actually harder as you have little space to fix a composition if it is not resolved.

I took a weekend class at the coast with 5 other really nice ladies who are all on their way to becoming good painters. Some need to go farther than others…I think fear of making “good” work holds us all back. We can only measure ourselves against our own improvement, are we doing better work than we were a year ago? Otherwise we are all up against Michelangelo…so hard to beat that competition. I am going back next weekend for more struggle and the instructor said make the paintings like the prints….so typical to fall back on what you know and do well. I am not a realistic artist so hard to teach me what makes a good painting…but it really should be the same even if the subject matter is abstract. I will do more research…and report back.

I spent money at the coast at JoAnns Fabric on canvas paper…should have brought more stuff to the beach with me as did bring panels but hated to use them as thought I was making pretty horrible work. We stayed in a b & b with a studio so had a lot of fun making a mess. Then decided I needed to draw on the work and all I had was a china marker, which was not so great over acrylic. So I trekked north to Astoria and bought some oil pastels at the only art store on the North Oregon coast. It was pretty complete but is the only one for at least 75 miles…so no wonder it was busy. Bet they do a great business…I was surprised there was not a store in Lincoln City…at any rate had a nice day both going south and north. I am always confused about where the towns are on the coast, know basically that Astoria it north, Cannon Beach is south and Newport is even further south…sort of vague on where all the rest of the little towns are as I have not really been out there in 5 or 6 years, even though it is only 70 miles from my home. So today I am going to fool around with the oil pastels over the acrylic and see what happens.

Well, the result was pretty awful…..I must be a slow learner.

I do think coming to the coast was a good idea…I have spent time I would never have spent at home looking on the internet for ideas and think I have some good ones for support for my prints. I will probably use wood but differently that I first planned. More of a collage of shapes so I want to buy a scroll saw. I asked a friend for advice and he has one he will sell me cheap, so maybe a good thing. We will see. I want to make my work more three dimensional.

I worked on printing a woodblock for a print exchange and realized the registration was in the wrong place…irritating as I now have to fix that…makes we wonder how I could have been so careless.
I am glad to be home and sure hate this heat…100 degrees is way too hot for any of us.