Monday, October 27, 2014

Artist and Muse.....

Muse: a woman, or a force personified as a woman, who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist.

That is the dictionary's definition of a muse. 

Throughout time there have been many famous artists, such as Pablo Picasso, Amadeo Modigliani, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and even Andrew Wyeth, who have made history with their muses.  The most famous of muse and artist collaborations are probably the ones we read about that involve a romantic, or sexual involvement, because those are the hot blooded, fiery exchanges we all love to believe in, or fantasize about.  

I believe that every artist has many muses throughout the course of their career. be they male or female.  Being a female artist, my muses are also usually female.  I don't paint men, but I am influenced by them, and they may be a source of inspiration, that I then incorporate into my paintings of women. 

"Icing Tips", (Amy cropped)

I often ask for advice, or suggestions from the men in my life, and a painting coming to fruition sometimes comes not from anything tangible, but from something deep that inspires me. And if I am extremely lucky that inspiration will manifest itself through my use of paint on canvas, into a successful painting.

"Dia de los Muertos", (Harmony cropped)

I would even say that my dad was my muse for my "Dia de los Muertos" painting, because although my "physical" muse was my model Harmony, my dad's life (and death) was my inspiration for the painting.  Harmony was able to personify the feeling into something meaningful that I could paint.

I feel each portrait or figure I paint is a self portrait of sorts, and I have been greatly influenced by my female models, and their effect on me.  Each model brings something different to a photo shoot, and how they personally interpret my ideas.  It is really incredible to work with the same model over the course of a few years, where we create a bond, and settle into an ease of working together, and become a team.  I try to evoke the feeling out of my model, so she will look how I feel, or how I imagine, and want my painting to make people who view the painting to feel.

"When You Read My Mind", (Harmony cropped)

A model does not always become a muse, but the few that I have felt were my muse, become much more to me than just a model.  My first muse was my daughter, Leah, whom I have painted at least 20 times.  Painting Leah drew my first attention from galleries, who were interested in my figurative work, and secured me a spot in my first gallery in San Francisco.  Painting Harmony has enhanced my career, and Amy is now becoming my current muse, as I am painting my third painting of her as I write this.

When I was painting my daughter, (which I plan to do again soon) I would look for the moment when she was unaware of her expression, when her "guard" was down, and I could feel a deeper connection to her, and that is what I would photograph and paint.

"If Only", (Leah cropped)

Some of my work is light and humorous, but my favorite paintings are the ones where I can feel some emotion by looking at my model/muse's face.  When I look at one of my paintings, it takes me back to what was happening in my life when the piece was painted, and the emotions I was feeling at the time....kind of like seeing an old photograph....

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Painting continues....

After a wonderful vacation, and gallery opening in WY, (which I will post about soon) I am back in Albuquerque, painting.  As I continue to explore this new surface, Ampersand's Gessobord, the struggle with the way the board accepts the paint is still confounding me....This surface needs quite a bit of paint, to move across the surface, and every single brushstroke I place, needs to be smoothed with a soft brush, or a fan brush.

I have to keep reminding myself that this is my first layer of paint, and in my "rush" to have the image look like what I am painting, it usually does take me (at least) two passes to complete a painting. 

What I love about this surface is that the skin seems to look like skin, and the smoothness is beautiful!  I will continue to push and pull the lights and darks, and am planning a wonderful background!  Many hours of painting are ahead of me on this painting, but I will continue to post for those of you who are interested.....

Thursday, October 2, 2014


I am thankful every single day that my "job" is making art, and being able to paint whatever my heart desires!  Yesterday, while starting a new painting, I was so immersed in the building of paint, and pushing and pulling the darks and lights, it seemed almost like sculpting with paint. I truly feel that watching the 2 dimensional surface become a 3 dimensional image is one of my greatest pleasures.

First day of painting on Gessobord
Because I am still exploring different grounds, that may make the gold and silver leaf "better", I am painting on Gessobord, by Ampersand.  I have painted on gessoed board before, but I would usually gesso the final layer with clear gesso because I found it had a little more tooth for the paint to grab onto.  This gessobord (that's how they spell it) is very smooth and "slick", and it doesn't accept paint like canvas does. 

I am not used to it, but there is an undeniable smoothness, that I forgot I liked.  The paint feels like the texture of suede, with no weave of the canvas to deal with, but you have to be careful of the brushstrokes, and I remember having to leave the first layer of paint to dry, before you can get a "grip" with the second layer.

Three of the same images....but different...(the big painting is covered with plastic)
The image I am painting is one I have painted before, but this time I am cropping Harmony, and planning a different background.  Having the finished painting in front of me to look at while I paint, has been kind of different......I never paint the exact same image the exact same way.  In fact, as I look at the previous painting in progress, (on canvas) it is quite different.  I am liking the one on canvas, so far, but to be sure, I will eventually get the new one to the same likeness.  I would love to work on the face on the gessobord some more, but the paint is already tacky, and I know that I better not touch it until it is dry.....I will see if I can stay true to that  I will continue to post photos of this painting as it progresses.  (The eyes and mouth seem much better on the canvas image.)

Painting is not always easy, and there is always something to be learned, but at the end of the day, making art is always, always an escape I can count on to take me where I want to go....