Thursday, July 29, 2010

Weekly Roundup

Another stormy gray day. Told you the weather has been bi-polar. Working hard on my motivation, might just dive into color exercises and sketches this weekend. Overall, not been a bad week, could have been more productive, but I've had a social life *gasp!* Having a couple of glasses of wine and staying out until 11pm tends to significantly decrease the desire to get up at 5am to workout. Here's how this week looked:

1) Exercise: 4 out of 5 days. I am totally going to pat myself on the back for this. Like I said, I've been going out, so to get up and still sweat it out has not been easy. Like Tony Horton says, I'm trying to "Bring It!"

2) 36 Hours of work Sat-Friday: Yeah, I could have done much better on this. Duly noted. Monday and Sunday wound up being totally wasted day
s. Sunday was gorgeous so I spent the day at the pool (sinful!) and Monday was gross, so I wound up going shopping to track down some things for doing still life setups when its rainy.
*** Note on working hours: I only count the hours that I am physically in the studio doing art-oriented work. With to all the office jobs that I've had (or witnessed), you always have an additional 1-2 hours a day of "breaks," "email time," "talk to co-worker time," that goes under your 8-9 hour day. I'm just counting the actual work time, so it'll always be a bit lower. ***

3) Eating right: Soooo much better. It took me about a week to really break the cycle of eating badly and just reaching for the chips, or the awful snack. I prefer eating well, but sometimes it gets really hard to do that. Especially when my husband is in the house - he loooves bad snack food like chips. Hopefully I can keep this up when he gets back. I feel so much better.

Thursday Funday?

It was totally gorgeous today. The weather has been totally bi-polar. Monday was stormy, Tuesday gorgeous, Wednesday stormy, etc. I got two paintings done, but I didn't feel particularly productive. I kept getting distracted by the sun. I need to work on my focus. It didn't help that I hit a roadblock of sorts with the Red Jumbu fruit. It is really a very difficult fruit to paint. Apples, oranges, lemons and pears are so much more recognizable forms, so as a painter you can be nice and loose and more abstract. Since these are a kind of strange shape - pearish, but not really - I find that it is difficult as a viewer of my own paintings to be able to identify what they are. In any case, below you will see the one that stymied me at the end of the day.

Sometimes it is just better to walk away and do something else. I chose to go ahead and do some other sketches, some color exercises, some reading. Giving my brain another area to focus on keeps me motivated and helps me from getting bogged down in difficulties. Then I can come back the next day refreshed and tackle the problem anew. Anywho - 2 paintings and 6 hours down!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Red Jambu Fruit

Today has been another gray, nasty day. Thank goodness I finally gave in to clip lights and doing small still life studies. This is just getting ridiculous. So much for trying to paint in natural light. No outside painter would want to capture this lighting, that is for sure. In any case, I've been plugging along with the paintings.

I found some really interesting fruit in the grocery store this afternoon. This is called Red Jambu, and I think it is also known as the Rose Apple. It tastes a lot like a pear, but I think the one I tried wasn't quite ripe yet. It was pretty tasty nevertheless.

I find it so easy to get caught up in doing things the way I used to do them, and I've gotten used to living here, so I have to remind myself how different Singapore is from the US. Whenever I'm trying to figure out what to paint, I really should just go to the market in the morning. There is such an incredibly different array of food available, if I look past what I am used to. I think I'm going to continue this theme. Maybe it will get me out of this funk that the weather has created. I like having something to look forward to and for which to plan.

Three more paintings down, another 7 hours completed!

Monday, July 26, 2010

New Goals in Art

So I started this adventure about two weeks ago, or 15 days(ish). I just realized that when I started, I was 100 days away from my 27th birthday, October 21st. My big goal is to work towards completing 10,000 hours of painting, but assuming that I work 40 hours per week every week, it will take 5 years to complete that goal. So, in order to make my bigger goal more manageable, I'm going to have small(er) challenges along the way. My current goal is to complete 100 paintings by the time I turn 27.

I've currently done about 20 paintings in the last 15 days or so, and I am already seeing so much improvement in my work. I'm figuring out how to work with the
paint, how to mix the colors, how to work with color relationships. Yesterday was totally frustrating, I wound scraping down everything I tried to do. How infuriating is that? But today I came back with a positive attitude and I've done 5 small paintings, and I feel like I am really getting the hang of it. The best part of all of this is that mess ups and mistakes are okay, they are part of the learning process.

In any case, I started out the day with my block study, and I moved on into some fruit and vegetables in order to have something else to focus on and paint. I really enjoyed the other objects.

By the way, I really need to work on my photography. I didn't realize what awful, horrific glare I was picking up with this. Sheesh.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Week Roundup

I woke up today and have not managed to get myself out of a funk. The cloudy, gray days are starting to stack up. This is supposed to be the dry season - can I please have some sun? Thanks. Okay, enough griping. I'm going to talk about only good things right now. Here is what I accomplished this week:

1) Exercised 4 out of 5 days - Let me tell you how sore I am. P90X is not for the faint of heart. My arms are just about dead. I think that working out so intensely has a lot to do with my fatigue. But I am getting a great sense of accomplishment from doing it, so now is not the time to give up.
2) 30 Hours of art from Monday - Friday. My goal was closer to 32 hours, but I've been dealing with a lot of rain, which makes it kind of difficult to paint due to lighting conditions. Sigh.
3) Getting a grasp on saturated color - just looking at my progress from the first block study I did until the one I did this afternoon makes me SO happy. I need a progress report to keep on trucking!
4) Worked on my first landscape study - (see yesterday's post) There are still some things that I want to change about this, but overall, I think it is coming along and not an awful first attempt.
5) Eating right - Less partying! I'm going to pat myself on the back for that one. I've been a very good girl and been eating the right way. I feel better - now the weight just needs to follow suit!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Rainy Day

Good day today. I finally feel like I am getting into a groove. Thankfully everyone is out of town this weekend so I'm not going to have to choose between going out and my little routine. I finally am feeling great, eating well, exercising and painting. Today I will probably manage to get in 6-7 hours, which totally makes me stoked. The break in the middle of the day came from trekking up to the grocery store. Gotta eat, right? It was a totally rainy, ugly day, so the lighting was pretty awful. Instead I spent the day working on a study for a larger painting. This is a scene of Mt. Savage in Colorado. This shows the evolution of my design (the first two are below, last one I did today is above). I still need to work on it, and I can see the following things that need to change:

1) The water is too busy and generally too light in value
- Once this is fixed, I think a lot of things will fall into place. The water is wayyy too light.
2) The far shore is kind of bugging me. I think I like the far shore the best in the first study I did when it was flat.
3) The rocks, ugh. PITA. Just not working for me, the best version of them has been the second one. Perhaps the shadow needs to come up just a bit, have some more definition in it?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


The past couple of days I haven't felt like I got as many paintings done - I've been shooting for 3 per day. I'm still averaging right around an hour to do one. The largest part of my whole process is just sketching in the shapes. That alone probably takes 20-25 minutes. I've been experimenting with the sketch in process and then how to proceed with colors from there. All of the tutorials and such talk about putting in your darkest dark first, then your lightest light. I'm not quite there yet, as I am still working on getting the relationships correct within each object. I more or less have value down, but it is taking me a lot longer to develop the correct color and temperature relationships between the planes.

But finally, with this last piece (I think I am on 10 or 12) I finally feel like I am starting to get it. The shadows seem to be working correctly, my saturation seems to be pretty good - overall, I'm pretty happy with how I ended today.

6 More hours down

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mind Contortions in Color Theory

Well lovely, I just lost a post. Love it. Color theory is giving me a headache. I submitted a couple of my color block studies to be critiqued, and I realized I did them completely wrong. There was a whole section of knowledge that I *sort of* knew, but didn't have perfected. Now that I've gone back and found that information and spent the better part of 4 hours reading and processing it, I spent the afternoon working on fixing it and really getting a grasp on it. It is going to continue to take a while, but I think I am on my way at least. Here are two blocks I did in overcast conditions. The light was really coming from the side, not the top because it came through a window and it was indirect, overcast conditions.

Weekend = Fail, Monday = Success

Oh yes, I did not do the 6.25 hours of work, nor did I work out yesterday. Fail. Thank you staying out until 4am. I totally succumbed to peer pressure and wound up in a Saturday night time warp. Whoops. Then I couldn't sleep, so I wound up just having a headache from only getting 3 hours of sleep, but not being able to sleep. I will say - I did spend about 2.5 hours working on compositional (Notan) studies. So it wasn't a complete waste, just not the super productive day I had hoped for.

Today, however, went much better. Got up at 6am, kicked my own butt working out, and was in the studio by 9am. I kept running into an energy wall, but that is as much because I got up and worked out at 6am as anything else. It takes me a couple of weeks to get used to that schedule.

Anywho, it has just been an ugly gray day. No rain, just gray and cloudy. This made for some great overcast studies for my block studies. After lunch I started a bright sunlight study, but then the sun hid behind the clouds, over and over and over again. While I waited for the sun, I began to make small canvas carriers so that I can go outside and paint en plein aire soon. The sun FINALLY came back out again, but man! This weather is such torture. Hope you enjoy today's work!

Total Hours Today = 5.5

Friday, July 16, 2010


I dropped my husband off at the airport last night. It is always so bittersweet to do that. We started out long distance, so both of us kind of feel like a significant portion of our relationship has been spent picking each other up and dropping each other off at the airport. There is nothing so amazing as walking out from your gate and seeing the expectant face of your loved one waiting for you.

In any case, I have the next two weeks to do nothing but what I want to do. I won't have to worry about cooking dinner, laundry, cleaning, stopping my day at 5pm, etc. Wow, that sounds cold. Trust me, I'd much rather not have a lonely bed at night and my buddy to hang out with. But, I'm trying to be positive and instead of moping around and being lonely (or going out every night and drinking with friends), I want to take these two weeks and accomplish a couple of things:

1) 100 hours of art - Over the next 16 days, that means I would have to spend 6.25 hours per day on nothing but art. If I'm not sketching, painting, or drawing, I better be reading, studying, experimenting, or prepping. I got a little burnt out at the end of the Spring semester, but time to get back on the horse - corporate jobs are 8 hours a day, and those are horrific. Ugh. Give me a paintbrush any day.

2) Exercise every day - I've started to get better and last week I managed 3x per week. Just need to get into the habit of getting up early and doing it. Last summer when I was doing bootcamp @ 5:30am it sucked waking up, but I felt so much better. Just need to start getting into the habit again.

3) Eat healthy - With my husband out of town, I can forgo buying chips and other tasty treats that create a minefield in the pantry. I'm hoping that if I take two weeks and really focus on eating right for myself, I can carry over some of those habits when he gets back.

I'm going to check in daily and report on my progress. Hell, maybe I'll even start talking about trying to get back in shape too. This blog is kind of turning into a yay motivation thing. I need some accountability and I'm terrified of not having structure. This is me trying to implement deadlines and goals and structure into my life. Hopefully the tricks will work!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

7 Hours in Heaven

Today has been a busy day. Busy, but wonderful.

I started working in color for the first time since January. Pure heaven. I did get to work some in color for my Color Theory this spring, but painting color swatches over and over is nothing compared to painting objects in color.

Here are the first three that I did, and my seven hours of work today. Eventually I'm supposed to get these down to about 20 minute exercises. That would be nice. I'm averaging about an hour on each one, but then I sit down and analyze what I needed to do differently if I did it again.

Monday, July 12, 2010

13 down, 9,987 to go

That number seems like so little. Thirteen hours? That's it?

I must preface all of this with the fact that I have probably spent, oh, 1,000-2,000 hours since I was 15 doing art that I am not counting. Heck, this past semester of working on my MFA, I was averaging 30 hours a week for a solid 15 weeks, which means a minimum
of 450 hours. And I did see a ton of improvement just in that one semester in my drawing abilities. Plus, all those hours that I have from high school and college have given me a leg up when it comes to pure knowledge about value and color theory. Half of art is learning how to "see," the other half is learning how to execute on what you see. I'm working very much on the execution right now.

But all that aside, I digress. About the past 13 hours:

I've spent a huge amount of time over the weekend painting wooden blocks in order to start doing small still life studies for color. I count the painting of the blocks because I was mixing colors, but I didn't count the six hours of shopping for the blocks. I
just have to love Singapore sometimes. Six hours of my life spent shopping for toy blocks. Such experiences, although I admit it was fun to wander around toy shops for several hours, get frustrating. In the US I could just go to a store that I knew definitely had them, and then I could be home again in an hour, tops. But, I can paint all day here, so gotta give a little, right?

But just in practicing over the past week I am already seeing an improvement in how I am handling the paint. I just finished this 5x7 black and white 7-value study for an assignment, and I really like how it turned out. Anytime that I can see a small leap forward, I call it a win. So I finish today happy and motivated, and almost ready to work on color, YES!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

"This is not the end.

It is not even the beginning of the end.  But it is perhaps, the end of the beginning." - Winston Churchill

What do you want?  What makes you truly happy?  What is your purpose?  Are you tired of your cubicle, of your throwaway lifestyle, of owning things that have no meani
ng to you?

Very few people find out what their passion is.  Even fewer will ever pursue it.  One day I went home in tears because I hated my job, and my future husband looked at me and asked me questions similar to the ones above.  What makes me truly happy?  Really?  

If you could do one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Sounds like a silly question from a high school guidance counselor, huh.  Well, I've found my passion, art.  The only thing getting in between me and doing what I love was myself.  Ego, confidence, the fear of failure - these are the things that stood and sometimes
 still stand in my way.  

Well, that and 10,000 hours.  I've made the decision, I've taken the leap.  I have some basic skills with art, but thanks to Malcolm Gladwell and Outliers, I know that the only other thing in between myself and my dreams is practice, lots of practice.  Gladwell's book talks about the theory that the difference between those who are just "good" at something like music, versus those who are "great" and on the professional level, is about 10,000 hours of practice.  The good people probably practiced 2,000-5,000.  The same was true for the Beatles, Bill Gates,
 and some of the best soccer players in the world.  

I want to be a professional.    

This blog is the chronicle of my journey, my quest to be a skilled, successful artist with a strong following.  I hope to show that art is wonderful, art is beautiful, but that it, just like every other skill, takes lots of time, practice and hard work.  Oh, and along the way, you'll get to see all of the awful artwork that I create along the way of making the good and great artwork I eventually want to sell.  


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