Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Another journal study while getting sleepy...

A photo of our trip a couple of years ago to Los Alamos has been wandering around, on the floor, picked up, on top of the dog crate and on the nightstand. Okay, while journaling before sleep, why not Caran d'Ache the darn thing?

The crayons were starting to build up and would not allow any more layers, so I started scratching into them with my fingernails. I like this effect.

Still musing about which image to submit to the portrait competition. Go ahead. Tell me what you think. It's okay if one is preferred over another. I'm inviting criticism! I'm thinking that portrait #1 is probably the one I should send in.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Portrait #3

This is a painting I made from a 1920s photo of my grandparents' wedding day. I thought this pose looked a bit like the painting, American Gothic. They really were standing out in the middle of a field in Texas that day.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Portrait #2

Little King of Everything
And...another self portrait. When I was a little girl living in California, my mother, war bride from London, made a Queen of England Halloween costume for me. I was very proud of it. As I grew older, I realized that the boys seemed to be treated with more respect and privilege. This was very disconcerting and I became a tomboy in response. A few years ago, I did a bunch of genealogy research and learned that my family is both British and Native American, plus the usual mixture! (We're talking Heinz 57!) This painting is a commentary on my genetic history and how I feel sometimes as a woman. I was always green with envy that my older brother got to go places and do things I could not...Please scroll down for the first portrait.

Warning: Landscape Intermission

She Learned Obedience Suffering  Melinda S. Esparza). Here is the first portrait I am thinking of submitting to the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery's portrait competition. Yes, I know. It is a radical break from the entire flow of previous posts. However, I really want to submit something. Only one submission per artist is allowed, and I can't make up my mind. 

I do have a super real painting I could offer, but psychological themes are more my thing. This is a self portrait, a self narrative, that refers to the way I felt after a traumatic brain injury years ago. Life became so simple for a long while, like a dog's life. 

I read a scripture once that said, must paraphrase: Jesus learned obedience through suffering. This was a puzzlement. Why would he have to learn obedience? Was it his humanity that needed the lesson? What about the rest of us? Having a tragedy, or even many for that matter, is a brutal way to learn discipline, humility...any number of things. I don't have the answer. I do know that we sometimes receive comfort, sometimes clues, and, there often seems to be an angel or two to guide us forward. National Portrait Gallery

Friday, July 25, 2008

Windy Point Revised and Revised Again

Something bothered me about this Windy Point study. For one thing, I didn't think the composition was strong enough. But, it has been so helpful working out paint issues that I have added manzanita and touched up other areas. It won't make it into any catalogues any time soon, but, well...that's not the point. Catalogues are for another day. I'll continue to work on it a little.

The following painting is now available on ebay! It's my first offering and I hope you'll visit.

This got me to thinking about another painting I did before my recent study of landscape painting. Here's a painting I did from a photo of the hills south of Sonoita as we were on the way to Patagonia. I opened the photo in Photoshop and set up my pochade in the relative comfort and light of the computer screen.
Feeling a bit ambiguous today. There is a big deadline that is nagging at me, too. I've got three portraits that I'm considering for submission. I'll post them and see if I get any votes.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Windy Point, Mount Lemmon

Spurred to post after a weekend and one sleepless night, I've got a study of Windy Point on Mount Lemmon. I think I need to go back into this and finish the right foreground by adding in some manzanita. The first hour was pretty rough going. I almost tossed this. But, using a palette knife, I put down a bunch of paint and that seemed to clear the way to go forward. I learned a lot from this process. I used a fairly limited palette and went back in today and added some glazing. The lookout from Windy Point is spectacular during the monsoon season. This day delivered some exceptional colors and light. The crowds were polite, the dogs obedient, but the public restrooms reminded us of unpleasant and occasional wafts of our humanity...

Friday, July 18, 2008

And...I'm done

I found a couple of other landscape artists on the internet that also have been moved to paint the Sonoita area: Herb Wood; Roderica Tilley, watercolorist. I do wonder how many there are.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sonoita oil study

Robert Henri said, "Don't worry about your originality. You could not get rid of it even if you wanted to," from The Artist's Mentor.

This study was a lot of fun. I had a 5" x 7" panel with a red ground on it. This is the same view as the other studies except this one is worked with Artisan Water Mixable Oils. The question I ask myself a lot is why paint and why paint a particular scene?

Sometimes it's because the shapes and angles just feel interesting. Sometimes there is a personal connection, or the weather is so phenomenal, that it is inviting. This series contains all of the above as well as a desire to learn from the materials. Well then, sometimes I'm avoiding that monster 5' x 4' canvas of the Grand Canyon I've not worked on in a month. © Melinda S. Esparza

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sonoita and Oracle Studies

Here's a quote that I think of often. It probably is the way most artists feel: "I worked in between carpools and buying food and cooking and whatever else I had to do. I lived an outside life, but really I was living an inside life." --Anne Truitt from The Artist's Mentor.
Caran d'Ache water soluble crayons are quite the challenge. I think I'll go back to working in oil for awhile. I've got two more studies today. I started by thinking that I'd try to work with the crayons like a watercolor, but that didn't work. Maybe it was the watercolor paper. Maybe, if I'd wanted a watercolor, I should have gone ahead and used watercolor! 

Included in this set, is a study of the Oracle area view of Mt. Lemmon that I did a month ago. Comparing it to the Sonoita Hill study I made today, there really is a different approach. Caran d'Ache is very tricky indeed. Approximately 5" x 6." © Melinda S. Esparza

Monday, July 14, 2008

self portrait study

I received a DVD about Fritz Scholder's life and work. I thought it would be a good time to do a self portrait. I took some photos and then did two studies from those with Caran d'Ache. I don't really like either one, but felt that it would be a useful and humbling experience.

Oh, yeah, it's that. Yikes, they are the most difficult. There is a likeness, but this isn't the way I paint. It's very strange. I think I'll have to try one in oil next. One of Fritz Scholder's self portraits was an outline of his hair and just a nearly flat surface of one hue for his face. I see why.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I like to grow hybrid sunflowers each year. Here is a small journal study of the first flower. The hybrid is called Chianti. Some of the flowers are almost black.

Journal study

Here is a view of the Sonoita Hills from a photo I took last year. Sonoita, Arizona is about 45 miles southeast of Tucson. There is quite an uproar going on right now about a Canadian mining company that is determined to begin mining in these hills within the next couple of years. This view is very popular with plein air painters. 
App. 2" x 3," on Moleskine paper.

Journal studies

One study was from a photo of the San Est├ęban del Rey Mission. I don't even know where it is right now (in the Acoma Pueblo, N. M.), but enjoyed the architecture and the way the Caran d'Ache behaves on the journal paper. Leaving blank spaces seems to create a kind of sparkle to the image. © Melinda S. Esparza

Friday, July 11, 2008

Making a Mark

This was becoming fun--making marks, experimenting in a really safe place. A few months went by. I bought some Caran d'Ache from a dear artist who later became a friend. Imaginary landscapes, real from photo or whatever came to mind, also surfaced. Caran d'Ache water soluble crayons are a fantastic way to feel painterly in a small or restricted space. Now I carry them in my bag with a few Q-tips. One can use the crayons with or without water, but when a Q-tip dipped in a small amount of water is used, the work becomes a small oil painting. Moistening the Q-tip with one's own saliva is not recommended...think Van Gogh. Oh, okay, be a little wild sometimes. © Melinda S. Esparza

I found the following from poet, Robert Creeley, 1967:
"I Keep to Myself Such Measures..."

I keep to myself such
measures as I care for,
daily the rocks
accumulate position.

There is nothing
but what thinking makes
it less tangible. The mind,
fast as it goes, loses

pace, puts in place of it
like rocks simple markers,
for a way only to
hopefully come back to

where it cannot. All
forgets. My mind sinks.
I hold in both hands such weight
it is my only description.

Several landscapes followed. And so did the rain! Reminds me of the song by Ladysmith Black Mambazo: Rain, Rain, Beautiful Rain.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Book

A couple of years ago, I persuaded my husband to read The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron, to me. At first the very idea of reading about being an artist so frightened me that I had to turn away as he read the words. Why are we so blocked sometimes? Why do we slink into a corner when it comes to creativity? Well, there are as many answers as there are artists. Sometimes the answers change from day to day.
The book slowly eased the critical self in me and I began to draw every night before going to sleep. The ink pen I was using would occasionally misbehave, so I would make scratchy lines in an attempt to fix it. The lines started to take shape. They became things. Things without judgement. Items free to wander the page--belonging everywhere. These things didn't have to have frames. And, they didn't have to be great.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A Thank You

Dear Kathyrn Law,
Thank you so very much for your generosity of spirit and your encouragement to other artists. It is because of you that I decided to take this step. After visiting other artists that you've linked to your blogspot, it looks like a really great group of talented people. You truly do have one of the most wonderful blogs I've ever seen.

Sanity, Clarity, Painterly

Dreaming on a monsoonal day, waiting for the next storm to wash the desert clean--maybe to clear minds and hearts of frustrations and limits, I watch as clouds build, fall apart, re-form, with more clarity and strength. This reminds me of painting. Looking at all of the wonderful artists' blogs today inspired me to begin. Here I go. This reclusive painter, printmaker, mailart fumbler, and occasional poet, will make a line and then try to cross it. Perhaps to make something worth remembering.