Friday, August 26, 2011

My En Plein Air days

Although I’m a studio painter today, back in the early 1990’s I went through a phase for about 2-3 years where I was a Plein air painter,  keeping the trunk  of my car always packed with my easel and oils and ready to go explore new and beautiful places!   By the way, En plein air, is the French language translates to "in the open air".  I just LOVED painting outdoors, and in California where the weather is almost always mild, I could paint almost every day of the year. There’s nothing like working in the natural light and nature, but it also forced me to paint fast before the sun moved too much and changed all the colors and shadows around me that I was painting. So, my paintings back then were a lot more loosely painted, more impressionistically, than what you see today.  In my plein air paintings, I couldn’t give much thought to them and went with my feeling and skills that were in me and translated it to the paintings.
I’d get intimately involved in my surroundings and experience of everything that day, so each painting I created, I would have a special memory behind it of what I was up to on that day; what critter may have crossed my path or have seen in the distance, or person(s) I was painting with, what my mood and feelings were, what was going on in my life with family, friends, loves, or even my cat at that time, all which affect what I create.  So much is wrapped up inside my paintings, for me.  I know this is what had made it hard parting with them when they had sold.

Below is one at the Carpinteria Bluffs off of Ballard Street, in Carpinteria, Caliornia.  You can see the phone pole in the distance and there’s a railroad track which parallels the bluffs.  I’ve done many paintings all around this site.

Here I am painting in the Cow Pastures up in the hills off of Cathedral Oaks Road in Santa Barbara.  It was an over-cast, kind of gloomy and serene day, which I believe I was able to translate into the series below.

Here are the cow pastures below, and there were a couple cows around but I left them out because they wouldn't sit still. I did this series of three all in one day. 

This one is looking in the opposite direction down to our beautiful coastal town, Santa Barbara.

The clouds and mist was really rolling in. It really did feel and look like it was going to thunder storm, but it never did.

I do miss Plein air painting and when I have more leisure time again someday, I still have my outdoor easel waiting for me.  It is so cherished, the whole experience and the life of leisure as it felt at the time.  I can't help thinking that this is how it must have felt for some of the French Impressionist painters such as Monet, Pissarro and Renoir as they paintied outdoors back in those days.  It was quite a romantic experience and way of life.

Friday, August 19, 2011

My very first Art Show, circa 1990

The year was about 1990 when I had my very first art show in Rockport, Massachuetts where I was living at the time. It was in a little harbor and port called Rockynook.  I have so many fond memories of living there.  It felt like I had gone back in time a hundred years because almost everything is so old and traditional, all over the east coast for that matter, compared to my hometown, Santa Barbara.  But I loved it there in so many ways and in spite of the frigid cold winters,  I lasted nine years back there, which is a long time for a California girl.  

Without further ado, here I am at my very first art show. Notice the subject matter I used to paint of New England compared to what I paint now.  Back then it was lots of lighthouses, tug boats and country type subjects. I also notice that even back then I was attracted to painting architecture like I do today!

Just so you can get a feel for my surroundings, look at this wonderful tranquil place.

Below, you will see that I was very influenced by my surroundings in what I painted at the time.  All were done in pastel, which was my medium. I couldn't tell you how many boats and lighthouses I painted but it was many of them.

And last but not least, below is my very first painting I ever sold.  And surprisingly it was not of a lighthouse for tugboat!  It was from my pure imagination.  To this day whenever I look at it I’m looking for some little critter to come out of one of the bushes or something.  I don’t remember what inspired me or what I was thinking, but I believe it just came out intuitively and through my feelings.  I sold it for $250, which was not bad for back then and for my first painting.  I remember being very attached to it getting very emotional parting with it. I didn’t even have my signature on it, which never dawned on me to even sign any of them. My customer kindly reminded me to sign it and off it went, with only this picture to remember it by.  That’s how clueless I was, but I was still in the learning stage of a lot of things in not only developing my skills as an artist but also learning the art biz.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

First Recorded Drawings

I may as well start by showing you my first (recorded) drawings and get that out of the way. Actually, looking at them now I find them cute and endearing.  I approximate the time of somewhere between 1977 and 1980 because I remember giving these little pencil drawings to my dad before I lived on the  East Coast in the early eighty’s.  To this day they are still on his walls nicely framed because that’s what parents do.  I’ve noticed that even back then I was drawn (pun intended) towards architectural and straight line drawing.  I'm glad that over the years I’ve loosened up and paint nature and many other curvy things, and I can't imagine not using color so I'm sure these were some of  my last black and white drawings. If you haven’t been to my website to see where I am now, you need to in order to see how I’ve evolved, although if you do the math, it’s taken me many years!

I especially like the old fancy car (don’t recall the model).  Don't ask why I drew that couch, chairs, TV, etc. Maybe I was just working on my drawing skills.

And the one below, I was obviously already living on the East Coast when I did this one, and actually there’s a little one just below it too. They were done in my pastel days.  For the first 10 years of painting pastels were my choice of mediums.

Living  in Rockport, Massachusetts I painted mainly lighthouses,  tugboats and other  New England subjects which you will see in my post coming up, along with my very first art show!.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Nautical Prism and its evolution

Walking along the seashore in Gloucester, Massachusetts back in 1987  with camera in hand, I discovered an inlet that lead me back to a secluded mysterious cove.  In this cove were these old rustic boats huddled together against the dock, beckoning me to take their picture.

Here is the original photograph (with paint all over it, not knowing I'd ever use it again!) which was the inspiration for what is today my signature piece.  Who would have known?

Years later in 1993 when I came back to my native land, Santa Barbara, from the east coast,  I dug out this picture (the one above with the paint all over it) and decided to paint it, using my “artistic license” to bring those old dilapidated boats back to life.  There happened to be an Art Exhibition called Semana Nautica, with the theme of everything nautical and this painting was perfect. So I entered my painting not knowing that it was also an art competition.  After dropping off the painting  I was in the middle of moving, did some traveling and was unable to be reached by the exhibition committee.  When they finally reached me they congratulated me and I asked "what for, in which I was informed that I was the first place winner and they were trying to contact me.  There was a crowd of about a couple hundred  applauding while looking for me.
Although I was absent in receiving my ribbon, money prize and my 15 minutes of fame, I had gained further recognition and a further demand for this painting.  The original sold immediately and over the years has still remained my signature piece.  After years of it's popularity with the boats tied up to the dock, it had evolved to another painting without the dock.

Here's is my first version which won the award.

Below is my most current version of Nautical Prism which leaves more to the viewer's imagination.  All the boats seemed to be floating to some unknown mysterious place that depending on who's viewing them, will have their own story.  This painting remains today one of my most liked, especially for both male and females.  I jokingly call it my unisex painting, because most of the time when there is a couple deciding on a painting together, it's usually one person isn't as crazy about a painting as the other one is.  But this painting almost always appeals to both of them.

Taking the leap into Blog World

So, here I am starting my very first blog!  And, thank you for being here.   When Facebook first came out I was very apprehensive about it, but now love it, as I have reconnected with long lost friends and also have been keeping connected to others that I couldn't possibly do otherwise. Facebook has also been a good way show my paintings, but not about me and what drives me to paint. Facebook has been a great segway for me to take this leap, but I still need courage like never before, so please bear with me as I get used to this.

Having gone through many thoughts on how to approach my blog, on how to write it and in what order, I've decided to just go with what inspires me on the day that I post, yet trying to keep it somewhat in chronological order of my life from my mere beginnings as a budding artist to where I am now as a "seasoned" one.

In preparation for all this, last night I took out all my old boxes of yellowed photos and an album about 7inches thick with pages back to back of all my past paintings before I got a digital camera about 10 years ago. For the first time really,  I looked at how many paintings that I actually documented. I have hundreds of pictures of my paintings, some taken from one of those old Polaroid cameras. Remember those?  Looking at all that I've created looked somewhat scary to me, like I'm an obsessed woman!  And I just might be.  I didn’t even have the photos in front of me that are stored in my computer of my paintings from the last 10 years since I went digital. Okay, I think I made my point.  

It showed me just how much I've evolved and improved as an artist over the years.  It has also been a confirmation to me that I’m in my true calling, which I never had a doubt about that anyway.  Sometimes I will bump into someone who hadn’t seen me in a long time and they’ll ask if I’m still painting. To me that question is like, “Do you still brush your teeth?”  I do feel blessed to have this passion which feeds my soul and gives me so much pleasure. It's a form of meditation for me and I lose track of time. Please, time goes fast enough!

In the beginning when I started selling my paintings it was mostly about my enjoyment and goals of success.  I was clueless at first to the fact that over the next 20 plus years so many of my customers have expressed to me their joy, inspirations and healing from my work.  Now that's been the most gratifying of all.