Sunday, February 15, 2015

Etched Squares, Fussy Design

Last year I etched pieces of silver nickel sheet not knowing how I would use the metal,
but knowing that I would eventually come up with a plan.
One plan that I eventually thought of was to make earrings that used negative space as a primary part of the design.
I rarely draw my ideas;
I see the idea in my mind, sit down at my workbench
and start cutting/sawing/drilling.
A collection of small squares were cut
and central
(actually, close-to-central)
circles were cut out to create that negative space.
All squares were filed and sanded before being drilled for the connection that I was imagining for the earwire.
The connection was to be balled copper wire formed into an arc.
To do this, I first balled one end of the wire,
threaded the wire through one of the drilled holes and back out through another.
The unfinished end of the wire was then balled and the remaining wire was shaped into an arc.
Turns out that the plan imagined in my mind was much easier to do than the plan executed at my workbench.
Even though I was working with segments of wire cut to the same length,
it was difficult for me to end up with matching arcs.
The second balled end would be a smidge too large or a smidge too small.
It was also frustrating to shape the arc.
I tried shaping before balling the wire, but then annealing happened and misshaping happened and frustration happened.
Shaping after balling the wire meant I couldn't fit my preferred tools in the available space.
I made the above pairs of earrings at least a year ago and I apparently chose to forget about the reasons why I abandoned that design.
I still had some of the squares in one of my workbench stashes...
and made this pair of earrings last week.
I think they're lovely, especially the wire-wrapped, blue chalcedony briolettes that dangle below.
But making the copper arc reminded me why I chose to stop making this fussy design.
I still had some of the negative space squares
and decided they needed to become something else. 
They became this bracelet
featuring a central, bezel-set labradorite  cabochon.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Trying to Finish a Painting

So this is how it happens...
for me, when I'm working at a painting.
Around two years ago, I started a painting that was based on an image from one of my old issues of National Geographic.
I was drawn to the geometry of the various fields and how, aside from a central building, the landscape colors were shades of yellow and green.
I had been painting for a few months when I began this, 
and my lack of confidence led me to make this rigid recreation of the photographic image.
And what was with my foreground field....
it's falling off the canvas!
I felt frustrated because I didn't know how to improve it.
I set it aside.
Months later, I came back to the painting thinking that my skills had developed enough to address the problems.
I was wrong.
I did adjust some of the colors to create a greater sense of depth, and I toned the building which was feeling conspicuously out of place.
Building still out of place and foreground field still weird.
I set it aside.
Months later, I came back to the painting.
I did make some changes that I feel were in the right direction, like the adjustments to the large yellow field in the background.
the foreground field still felt like it wanted to slide off the canvas.
The building continued to irritate me, so I began to obliterate it.
What was I doing with the cypress trees around my pesky building?!
I turned them into gigantor trees.
I set it aside.
The painting has been hanging in my hallway for almost a year, and last week I looked at it and said,
"All right, you and I are finishing this battle once and for all."
This time I stopped looking at the National Geographic photo and changed some of the colors according to what I intuitively wanted instead of what a picture was dictating. 
I reigned in the cypress and blurred the background.
That pesky building?
I think it's done.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Painting Small Studies

I don't know how this happened,
but there is a great art supply store nearby that I was completely unaware of...
until last week.
Going to an art supply store is my personal version of being a kid in a candy store...
well, so are book stores, hardware stores and fabric stores.
Walking into Artist & Craftsman Supply on Market Street in Philadelphia, I thought,
"Oh no...this could be trouble."
Being surrounded by a wonderful variety of  supplies is painfully tempting, but I stuck to my intended shopping list.
I was very proud of myself when I left the store with a small bag holding three tubes of oil paint and a collection of 6" x 6" masonite boards.
My plan is to do a series of quick paintings with hopes of developing my intuitive reaction to the paint and the subject. 
The limited size of a 6" x 6" panel might keep me from being overly involved and overly attached to each painting...maybe a good thing.
The panels were covered with an acrylic gesso.
Two coatings of gesso were needed to properly prepare the boards.
I chose to do no sanding, preferring instead to allow some of the gesso brush strokes to be revealed in the eventual painting.
Once the gesso was completely dried, I toned the surfaces and purposely chose a couple of bold colors that might push my comfort zone. 
After a day of drying, I started with one of the burnt sienna boards (top row) and chose a picture from my 'Images for Art' file.
I like how pieces of the burnt sienna can be seen, bringing a warmth to the painting that suggests the golden light of a sunset.
It was late last night when I stopped working on the above painting.
I needed to clean up, but my frugal nature wouldn't let me toss away all of the paint that was still on the palette.
Instead, I used some of the leftover paint on one of the turquoise boards.
Same image for inspiration, same paint mixes, but such a different mood.
More work will be done, but I like where this second panel is going.