Wednesday, June 20, 2007

is the theme of this week's Illustration Friday (I'm very very late getting to it.) This painting is only tangentially related to the concept of rejection. It's mostly about newness: it is a marvel to see young children and babies experiencing the world for the first time. It is not all wonder and delight, but it is all interesting.

This is my friend Kelly and her young son H. They were visiting me and had stopped at a farm stand and brought peaches as a gift. We cut some up, they were lusciously ripe, and Kelly gave a piece to H...his very first experience with a peach. There was something so beautiful to me in the way she was watching him quietly, to see if he'd like it. And also in the way H took this dripping, tender and velvety morsel, then ruminated over it, tasting it carefully. We waited. He rejected it. Then Kelly took another piece and carefully peeled off the fuzzy, powdery skin. This time: acceptance!

Strange Fruit, oil on canvas, 30 x 44 inches

Saturday, June 9, 2007

is the theme of this week's Illustration Friday. I was initally stumped. I don't have a lot to do with suits as a general rule, business suits that is. Then my mind relaxed and my thoughts widened and I realized Oh yeah: suits of armor, lawsuits, suits of cards and... bathing suits! And I had done this piece just days before. How I enjoyed painting the red stripes on the little guy's bathing suit!

Some back story: I'm in a group of local artists that meets once a month for mutual encouragement and critique. The last meeting was a few days ago, and I decided to bring in a print-out of this piece and a couple of others like it. As soon as I stood up and cheerfully announced "I'm doing some illustration now!" I realized I'd made a big mistake. The pieces circulated to awkward silence. Finally someone cleared their throat and asked "Why are you doing this?" People then started chiming in with suggestions for alternate ways for me to make money: teaching, web design etc. ANYTHING, it seemed, except illustration! I was taken aback, didn't say much, and resumed my seat quickly.

Later I spoke with a friend who is in the group. "Is the work really THAT bad?" My friend said "No no! You've got it all wrong. It wasn't the quality of the work the others were objecting to: it was the fact that you used the dread word Illustration!" Her insight shocked me, but mulling it over, I suspect she is right. I myself don't think that way: fine art v. commercial art. It is ALL just art to me! So it never occurred to me that other artists would have any issue with it either. But these, apparently, did.

Before the art group debacle, I'd queried a little children's magazine and yesterday I got back an e-mail from the art director telling me they love my work and are going to find an article for me to illustrate in an upcoming issue! It is not a sure thing, or even that big of a thing, but I'm thrilled. The praise felt like balm to my wounded confidence! Has anyone else ever run into similar peer issues working in both "fine" and "commercial" art? It just seems so silly to me...!

Little Lake, micron ink pen, watercolor, Photoshop "neatening".

Saturday, June 2, 2007

is the theme this week at Illustration Friday. Last week it took me so long to get it together that I missed joining in the fun, and I can see there is a danger for me with this theme as well. But for different reasons! Last week I didn't instantly get in the Cars groove because I have about zero interest in anything automotive. (I did eventually complete the assignment though!) This week I have almost too many thoughts and ideas on the subject.

I can see myself over-thinking this all the way till next I am just going to enter a painting I did a few years ago called In the Chestnut Grove. I started the painting while on an artist's residency. I got to stay in a small secluded house/studio on the grounds of a wealthy estate, and do whatever I wanted. Which of course, for me was read, draw and paint 24/7. I also cooked myself lovely little meals and took leisurely swims in the estate swimming pool. It was literally heaven on earth. My family and a few friends came out from time to time to pose for me and partake of my temporary good fortune. This is my friend Katie and her little daughter H who were amazingly obliging about posing. I did another painting of Katie that I think was more successful than this one...but it's darker. I think this attempt, despite its flaws, caught a tiny glimpse of a mother's paradise: a golden afternoon in a beautiful grove of trees with one's beloved child...

In the Chestnut Grove, oil on canvas, 16 x 20 inches, 2005

Friday, June 1, 2007

Last week's Illustration Friday theme was Car. I groaned when I saw that, and since I was busy with the big holiday weekend, I made no attempt to try it. I am notoriously uninterested in automotive subjects. My sons love to tease me by asking me the make and model of various cars we've just seen. They want to hear me say "Um, I think it was a blue one. Right?"

But then just a few days ago I looked out my window and there was my little two-year-old neighbor going for a drive down the sidewalk in his shiny new pedal car. I raced outside with camera in hand. "Hey, honey, what kind of car is that?" I asked, snapping away. Little guy replied "Mine!"

Micron pen on paper, with watercolor, and photoshop "neatening"