Thursday, May 27, 2010

Dog Days-Got It! SOLD

copyright Hannah Phelps
oil on canvas, 8" x 8"

"Just...One...More...Stroke...And...I...AHHHHH! Got it!" 

This is Striper experiencing that blissful moment of achieving a goal. The thrill of the chase is so much fun that he is going to take the ball back to shore to experience it all over again right away! 

Dogs fetching tennis balls is one of the simplest illustrations of the old "the joy is in the journey" principle. The fuzzy little ball becomes the holy grail of any big dream and the swim out to get it is the challenge that builds strength and skills for the next quest.  

When the dog can see the ball bobbing on the surface, they make straight for it and their strokes are sure and strong. Sometimes, they don't know exactly where it is, so they slow down and swim a more circuitous route until they catch a glimpse of it before speeding towards the prize. No matter what, the dogs are wet and happy.

And either way, when they return to shore, they beg you to start the whole thing over again by throwing the ball away from them as far as you can.

What is your tennis ball? Can you see it clearly? Does it only appear occasionally on the crest of a wave? Maybe the current swept it out of sight...are you going to search for it? 

When you finally sink your teeth into your trophy, enjoy it fully before climbing out of the water. 

Then go after next one.

This Painting has SOLD!

Don't forget about the Unleashed fundraiser for the Animal Rescue League of NH! See you at McGowan Fine Art on June 25 for the reception!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Beach Weather

copyright Hannah Phelps

Quiet Beach
oil on panel on wood supports, 4" x 4"

The weather here promises that summer is coming soon! 

It is too nice out to spend too much time on the computer, so just enjoy this beach view and get ready for some sun!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Dog Days-Dog in a Ball

copyright Hannah Phelps
oil on canvas, 6" x 9"

I am really looking forward to the upcoming Unleashed exhibit at McGowan Fine Art in Concord, NH! If you recall, it will be a fundraiser for the Animal Rescue League on NH. The opening is June 25th!

Here is Hatrick again in a copy of a smaller sketch I posted a few months ago. The original is not for sale for a couple of reasons. First of all, it is on canvas board which can be fun to work with but isn't a highly archival material. Secondly, I really like the painting and I am proud that I was able to complete a nice likeness of my Hattie from life.

Painting great work to keep doesn't pay the art supply bills however, so I decided to copy the little painting (on professional quality canvas) just to see what would happen. What are sketches for but practice and reference for more paintings anyway?

I will link back to the post of the original painting, but before I do, I urge you to take this opportunity to do something I couldn't while I painted it: Judge this work for itself, by itself.

The point of copying is to reproduce the original, isn't it? Well, it is at the beginning of the exercise. Whether an artist is copying another piece of art, a scene in front of them or an idea in her mind, eventually she must drop her original expectations and enjoy the current work for what it has become.

When I get frustrated with a plein air painting that isn't holding its own against the subject before me or a painting from references like this one, I know that it is time to stop. I leave the scene and hang the painting somewhere I will see it casually throughout the day.

One of my painting teachers called this "letting the painting sneak up on you," which seems silly, but that is what these works seem to do. I invite you to try it with a piece you have been struggling with. All of a sudden, you will see a great painting out of the corner of your eye and realize it was the same picture you hated last week. You haven't touched it, but it is now being judged without its inspiration next to it and you can see that you really created something wonderful after all.

Maybe this doesn't look exactly like the first painting, but it doesn't have to anymore. It is its own piece, and I kind of like it.

This painting will be available in June 2010!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

5 Quick Creativity Workouts for Tight Schedules

copyright Hannah Phelps
Rainy Appledore Wave
oil on canvas, 11" x 14"

It happens to all of us - without warning, our days fill to the brim with activities that take us out of the studio. When we do grab a few spare minutes, we feel disconnected from our artist selves and recapturing the creative spirit eludes us. If your schedule seems out of your control, keep your art muscles supple and loose with these five fast drills:

1. Take Photos.

Taking  a camera, even a point and shoot, out for a short walk will help keep your artist eye from hibernating. Discovering interesting compositions of shape and color looking through the viewfinder will help loosen up a tight creative brain even if you never take a picture.

2. Open a Book.

You may not have the time to read right now, but you can look at images by your favorite artists. Keep a sketchbook and pencil next to you to note any quick inspirations that may strike. Or just rip the paper to bookmark anything you find exciting. 

When you have more time but need a small push, look at your notes or saved pages for an easy starting point.

3. Play with Color.

Like crunches for our tummies, artists all know creating color charts is good for us, but we rarely want to do them. When you feel too drained to create anything from scratch, allow the rigid little squares comfort and guide you. 

Challenge yourself to a formal color wheel or just crack open old tubes of paint you haven't used in a while. Experiment with a new tube you bought but haven't tried yet. At least the brush (or pencil or pastel or crayon etc.) is in your hand and your vision is filled with color.

 copyright Hannah Phelps
Detail of a Color Chart
oil on canvas, each square is approx. 1 inch

Never done a color chart? Stede Barber describes one method in his post "How to Make a Simple Color Chart."

4. Make a Date.

Don't have time now? Schedule something for next week or next month! Call an artist friend and agree to paint together, set up a still-life and draw or even critique what you have been able to do. 

The commitment to make art at least once this month will help relax you.  Making the date might even motivate you to squeeze in a little work beforehand!

5. The "Woodbury" Assignment.

If you have a bit more time and want a more intense challenge, this next one is perfect: 

American artist Charles Woodbury used to tell his landscape painting students to paint the same scene nine times in one week at different times of day. NINE PAINTINGS?! I know this sounds like ludicrous advice in a time crunch, but bear with me. 

Woodbury advised that you "paint as if you've been sent for" and give yourself only about a half hour to fill the canvas with the essence of the place. Whenever I have challenged myself to this task, I have found it energizing and liberating. As a matter of fact, I completed the painting at the top of this post during this exercise a few years ago.

Turn it into a simpler exercise by drawing or even writing. Set a timer for 30 minutes or less and see how much information you can record on your canvas or paper. And you need not go outside-set up a still life near a window for changing light and moods. Or imagine challenging yourself to nine abstract pieces in one week based on one word, poem, color, conversation... the possibilities are endless!

Remember that just as small obstacles can pile up and block us, successive tiny achievements become stepping stones to accomplishing huge goals. These exercises may not produce instant masterpieces, but practicing your art consistently ensures you'll be warmed up and ready to create when you get the chance.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Dog Days-Sunrise Shake - SOLD

copyright Hannah Phelps
oil on canvas, 6" x 9"

Unleashed: A Benefit for the Animal Rescue, is just around the corner! Don't forget to mark June 25th on your calendars for the opening reception at McGowan Fine Art in Concord, NH!

I have wanted to paint this image for years. The upcoming show pushed me into just attacking it and I am so happy I did! I am very pleased with this fun little painting of an extremely happy Golden shaking off an early swim at the beach.

Our model this week is my Winnie, who also appears in The Other Golden Swimming Phelps, Buddy System, and To Each His Ball and some paintings in the Dogscape Collection on my website.

In the limited time I have before the animal exhibit, I will be painting dogs madly, so stayed tuned for more Goldens coming soon!

This painting has SOLD!