Monday, October 20, 2014

A Quick Look At The San Diego Artwalk 2010

I thought I'd take a quick video of what it's like as an artist at the San Diego Art Walk. Here it is. 
 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Heart Paintings

Do you love hearts? They you will love this video of some of my heart paintings.

More paintings can be found on our Etsy Shop at: https://www.etsy.com/shop/michellegart


Tips on How To Hang Art

Clients are always asking me how to hang the art in their home. I decided to show how I hang art at one of my galleries when I have multiple pieces of art, large and small. 

 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

How To Paint To Paint A Painting? Step Four: Decide On The Background


Some artists really struggle with creating a background for their piece if they are doing any kind of portrait. 

An artist needs to know before or at the start of their painting what the background is. If they don’t, the rest of the painting can look very imbalanced. Art needs to be created simultaneously.  Often an artist will struggle with one piece of their canvas.  And be frustrated that this one section is not perfect. But when an artist makes sure to pay attention to all parts of the canvas, equally, a lot of that frustration will vanish.  As each piece ads to the other parts of the image.  And the entire piece begins to flow.

I have been painting long enough that I have a general idea of the types of backgrounds that work well with my subject matter.  And so I now tend to stick to background choices that have worked for me in other pieces.  There are two reasons for this. 1) Once something is working there is no need to stop using it.  2) This way people can put more than one piece of my art together in a consistent way on their walls.

That said, there are invariably pieces which are new, or where I am trying a new color palette or subject matter, and I need to figure out the background.  This can be a trial and error process. And can be one of the most frustrating parts to creating a new painting.

And even once a background is determined, there can still be issues with where to put the color transition, or how much of a color value you wish to create in the background.  Changing where a color variation occurs by even an inch can at times make a big difference in the overall composition of the painting.  The other key piece to background creation is bringing color through the painting. This is another reason for painting all pieces of the painting in sync with one another.  You may not know it, but often an artist will bring some of the foreground color into the background, and vice versa in very subtle ways.  This helps the eye take in the entire piece and feel it flow.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

How To Paint A Painting? Step Three: Set the Intention




Setting the intention for a piece of art is something that makes a big difference to not just the ease of creation but the essence of a piece. If I forget to set an intention, or I’m unclear about my intention or forget what the intention is half way through the piece, this is where I will find myself struggling with a painting.

And invariable, I just must simply ask myself, what was the intention? What are you trying to convey? WHY did you decide to paint this painting?  Once I remind myself of these answers, the painting always begins to work itself out and convey that emotion to the viewer.

And to help myself remember what my focus is for each piece, I also write a word or phrase on the back of each piece to remind myself of the intention. 

Below if a interview from the RAW Artist show, where I discuss intention in the creation process. Towards the end of the interview, we were discussing my intention when creating this male figurative piece titled Mmmmmm.


For you artists out there – do you set an intention to your piece before you begin? Why or why not?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

How To Paint a Painting? Step Two: Prepping The Canvas



I used a blue color wash on this painting, which gives it a blue feel even after layers of paint have been added.
The second step in painting is preparing the surface to be painted. Normally for me this means deciding on the size and shape of a gallery-wrapped canvas. And then preparing the canvas for paint. 

The first step is determining how big and what size the painting should be. Over the years I have come up with a standard set of canvas sizes that I like to use, for example 24 x 24 and 18 x 36. But at times an image will strike me as needing to be painted and it will take a while to determine what size the image will scale to. This requires math and a ruler to determine the scale of the current image and then translating that into the size of the canvas to use. Yes! Artists use math! For example, a 4 x 6 picture could work well on a 24 x 36 (scale of 6), or 16 x 24 (scale of 4). 

Once I have the correct size of canvas to paint on, I then add a layer of gesso, which is very white, heavy paint to the canvas. While the canvas I buy has a layer of paint, it helps to add additional lays prior to painting. It also helps me feel that I own every inch of the canvas at the start of the process. Some artists create many layers of gesso on their canvas and sand down each layer so that the canvas is like glass. I like to work with a slightly textured surface, so I do not sand anything down. But that is a personal preference. 

Gessoing the canvas is probably the messiest part of the creation process. It is messy because I am covering every inch of the painting, including all the sides of the canvas. I always end up with white gesso all over myself and my studio floor. (Which is why I always do this process on a drop cloth.) 

After the gesso dries I may or may not add a light wash of color to the entire canvas as well. The advantage to adding a wash of color, is if the color is the same as your subject matter you have now saved yourself some time with establishing the middle shade for your art. The possible downside to creating a wash of color, is the entire painting now has that color as an undertone. Which will give your painting a different look than starting from white. Lately I have been forgoing a color wash on my more realistic figurative works, but I continue to use color wash in my abstract figurative paintings. 

 The last step in preparing the canvas for paint is sketching out the image onto the canvas. Normally this process goes smoothly. But occasionally, once an image is sketched out I decide that I don’t like how it is centered, or I think that a different shape or size of canvas would look better. Sometimes this means erasing my sketch and starting over, and sometimes I find it faster to simply re-gesso the canvas. After I am done grumbling to myself about waiting till I finished the process to figure this out, the end result and changes do make a difference to the overall presentation and the image I’m wishing to evoke. 

Because this process works well for an assembly line process, I tend to gesso and sketch multiple paintings at once. Taking me approximately 1/2 a day complete this process.
For Step one see How To Paint A Painting? Step One: Deciding What To Paint

Saturday, September 15, 2012

How To Paint A Painting? Step One: Deciding What To Paint

Finished Painting Titled: Classic 
Often people wonder how long it takes to take a painting and what the step are involved in the process. And the answer to how long it takes to paint any painting is a lifetime. In that every painting we have completed follows on the learnings we have learned in our past paintings. No painting would be possible without the skill and knowledge learned through the previous years of painting. And while the actual physical time it takes to create a work of art varies, and is in some ways unpredictable. I hope in this series of articles to show the steps involved in the creative process.A few of which I think most people are unaware of. 

Before an artist puts paint to canvas, there is an important first step that occurs, and that is deciding what to paint. This might seem easy, but in reality it is often one of the most time consuming parts of creating. 

For me, because I paint a painting over a series of weeks and months, and my best creative time is at night, I work off photographs. When I get the urge to paint a new group of paintings, I will look at my existing photographs taken in my studio. If nothing is speaking to me, I will then setup a photo shoot. I do this in my studio so that I can control the light and the environment. My work intentionally has a side that is more well lit, and one that is not. And during the photo shoot we will play with how close and how far away the model is to the light source, and the angle of the camera, to change the intensity and the variety of shadows on the human body. Using a tri-pod, a digital camera and a model, I take up to 500 shots before I am done. 

The next day I comb through the 500 shots and delete any that don’t work for me, that I don’t like, that are blurry because the model moved in the low light setting, or that are under lit. I also delete anything that is very similar to another shot that is a slightly better angle or better shadow play on the subject. This process generally nets me about 200 photos to continue combing through. 


Original Unaltered Model Photo
Sometimes because of the angle of the camera when I took the shot, the shot will look better when cropped. So this is where I being to digitally crop photos and possibly play with the lighting of the image. Once I’m done with this process, I have approximately 50-80 pictures that feel interesting enough for me to print. 

I then print these photos so that I have a visual, tangible image to work with. These are the group of images I will then work off of whenever I am looking for inspiration, or decide to paint from. 

In terms of looking through my now set of prints to determine what inspires me, often there is a feeling I am wishing to evoke. Or I have been told by clients I wish you would do this or this. Or this type of pose would finish the story of these three other paintings, etc. So my selection of what to paint is often a combination of the story and emotions I wish to tell with the new group of paintings, combined with the feedback I hear from those viewing my art about the story they would wish to see completed. 

 When I do a commission of someone, the process is the same but on a slightly smaller scale, as we generally have more of a focus for the photo shoot. I take pictures in a variety of settings if the client isn’t entirely sure what type of pose they are looking for, and then initially comb through 100-200 pictures together (to delete any immediately that the client might not be comfortable with). And then discuss which images they might like. I will then do the fine tuning of images, and return with anywhere from 2-5 images for the client to look through and then decide on a final image to sign off on. 

All in all this process can take anywhere between 20 and 40 hours. And isn’t something most people think about when they ask about painting. 

 If an artist is working off a still painting, or a live model, the process is a little different. In that there is setup time for the still. Or setup time for the model, followed by many breaks the model needs to take. But in general, there is always going to be time and thought put into what someone is painting and why. And the story they are wishing to convey through their art.
For Step 1 see How To Paint a Painting? Step Two: Prepping The Canvas