Artist Critique Group

If you read my blog with any kind of regularity, you know that I sometimes think a painting is finished, live with it awhile and then decide that it has some kind of major problem. I have just come to the point on the painting below that it is time to just stop and take a long look at it before proceeding.

Ann Hart Marquis painting for artist critique group

Untitled- Ireland, acrylic on canvas, 24x30x1.5 inches. ©Ann Hart Marquis

Fortunately, next week I start an abstract painting class where I can work on what I want including getting feedback from the teacher Janet Bothne. If I feel stuck or think that I don’t know what to do next, I can get advice. So this class sounds perfect for me.

In addition, this class includes a critique time with the whole class where I can get or give feedback. I have been looking for an artist critique group for several years. I am excited about the idea that other people will be giving me opinions about my work.

I have friends who do not like to have their work critiqued. According to artist and blogger Sharon Hicks,Some artists cringe at the mere thought of having their work critiqued. The very word ‘critique’ is based on the word ‘criticism’, and in our culture that word has taken on a negative connotation, since to criticize something usually means to point out its faults.”

According to the dictionary, however, the word critic derives from the idea of someone who judges, evaluates, or analyzes literary or artistic works, dramatic or musical performances. To me this is a neutral statement. Ideally a critic can give both positive and negative responses. It relates to the idea of useful criticism.

For me, good and useful criticism  serves one purpose: to give the creator of the work more perspective and help them make their next set of choices. I like the idea of having a set of choices.

I am also open to critique right now. If anyone has ideas of where this painting needs to go next, I would be delighted to hear them.

My Artist Muse

Yesterday I finished a painting that I had been working on for some time. So today the question was what should I paint next? I have been primarily working on medium-large canvases, 24×30-inches. It takes me about a week to finish this size painting if I get to the studio almost every day.

Today I felt some pressure to think of what I wanted to paint next. It does not work very well if I am feeling pressure when I paint. And I had no inspiration for the next painting.

So instead of starting on another large canvas that would take some planning, or at least giving some thought to an image, I followed by friend Dotty’s example to do a small format painting in a day. It actually took me less than an hour and I am happy with the results.

Ann Hart Marquis-How artist muse helped create My Mind's Desire

My Mind’s Desire, acrylic on canvas panel, 8×6-inches.

There was certainly no pressure involved. My process included finding a sample of coarse molding paste, letting it dry, having some lunch, then going back to my canvas. I then applied random paints that were in the same palette as my last painting and very loosely applying them.

So this brings me to thinking again about inspiration, motivation and the muse. By the way, I don’t think I have an artistic muse. Unless I think of the word as a verb: chew over, contemplate, excogitate, meditate, mull, mull over, ponder, reflect, ruminate, speculate, think over.

 I do sometimes need to wait for inspiration. I have been thinking a lot about how I get inspired to paint a certain scene. I think that it comes down to thinking about a place I have been or perhaps looking at a photo of a place that brings forth some kind of feeling in me.

It also may involve including some sort of paint or medium that I have not used for a long time or maybe never—like coarse molding paste.

So I have been contemplating, mulling over and reflecting what I will do next. It may be a larger version of the one above. I am still pondering, but with no pressure.

Do you ever feel pressure to be creative? Do you have a muse?

Painting Series

Painting  series is something I started doing about 5 years ago. It took me a long time to realize the significance of doing a series instead of random subjects that appealed to me.

Before that, in my mind I was painting series because I was painting landscapes. All different kinds of landscapes with different colors, sizes and sometimes style.

I have learned that if you make art for yourself and no one else, then you can paint whatever you want. If you make art to sell or gain the attention of collectors or galleries and you’re interested in having people appreciate and understand what you are trying to convey, it is better to let others see where your attention lies.

According to Alan Bamberger at Art Business.com, “the easiest way to do that is to work in series– to create unified, cohesive, coherent, related bodies of work. Many artists aren’t fully aware of the advantages to creating multiple works of art around the same idea, theme, philosophy, concept, topic or subject matter. Instead they produce what I call “onesies.”

painting study of western Ireland

Ireland study, acrylic on canvas, 8×10 inches.

I have learned that painting  series is a way of exploring several different variations of an idea or theme. There are many benefits to creating a group of similar-styled artworks. Related paintings look a lot better on a website or in an exhibit rather than a mixture of different looking artworks. I did my first painting of Ireland last week and it was posted on my last post. Above is another study I just did for my second painting in the series.

However, it can also be challenging to work in a series. I started a series several months ago, sold one, painted a second and then went to Ireland which completely consumed all of my attention. I want to work on a series of Ireland. So now I have one painting that I did for a previous series that goes with nothing. I think that is the nature of creativity. Our attentions can change.

But I have made a commitment to myself to finish my Ireland series. I have never felt as strongly about a series. It will be interesting to me to see how many I will do.

Black Gesso Drama

At the beginning of last week, I had been back from Ireland for about two weeks. I was anxious to get started on a series of my experiences, but I couldn’t quite get to any concepts that called to me.

Also, right after I got back, my classes at the University of New Mexico started, including one new class involving texture and different mediums.

Black Gesso

One of the products that I wanted students to try was black gesso. I hadn’t used it for quite a while, but I thought the students would find it interesting. After demonstrating the use of black gesso, I realized that it was just what I could use to represent the enigmatic energy and mystery that I felt in Ireland as illustrated in the photograph, below.

photo showing how black gesso could enhance this photo

Down Patrick Head, County Mayo, Ireland. Photo by Tim Anderson

Here is a little description of black gesso: Historically, it is for oil painting. It was traditionally used to prepare or prime a surface so oil paint would adhere to it. It is made from a combination of paint pigment, chalk, and glue binder. Gesso would protect the canvas fibers, provide a nice surface to work with and give a little flexibility so the canvas wouldn’t crack if it was rolled.

Acrylic gesso doesn’t contain glue. Acrylic paints are non-corrosive and stable over time, so you don’t need to worry about the paint damaging the canvas, and therefore, you don’t need the glue in the mix. So in making black gesso for acrylics, out went the glue.

painting showing how black gesso adds mystery to an image.

The Mystery of Time, acrylic on canvas, 24x30x1.5 inches.

I use gesso on all of my canvases before I paint. It makes the canvas ready to accept acrylic paint. Without gesso, paint can soak into the weave of the canvas.

So this past Monday I began a canvas prepared with black gesso. I wanted to use it to let it show through in random places. I liked the effect. So off I went getting a feel for how to represent the beauty and power of the Atlantic Ocean, the breathtaking cliffs and all of those shades of green that I saw. The above painting is the result-the first in a series.

I would love your critique.

Irish Color

We just got back from Ireland. I am full of images of Irish color, cliffs, water, trees and too many other sights to name. I just soaked it all in. Although I didn’t take my paints, one of the things on which I concentrated was color. It was indeed so green. They were vivid, intense greens.

photo describing Irish Green

Irish Green

I have a tendency to paint with a more muted palette, so I am not sure yet how I will translate these images onto the canvas. I plan to start trying this week.

picture of Irish Green

Irish Green

If I was still at a place where I wanted to paint landscape, Ireland was the place to see. But I am an abstract landscape painter, so it is all a mystery to me at this time because I haven’t started to think about mixing paint. There is still a part of me that is processing all that I experienced there.

photo showing Irish Yellow Green

Irish Yellow Green

Ireland was magical and spiritual for me. Part of the reason that I found it so compelling was the beauty, but since we visited many megalithic sites, I was captivated by the mysteries of how and where people lived and expressed their creativity 5-6 thousand years ago.

photo showing Irish Red color.

Irish Red

Ireland is also being overwhelmed with invasive rhododendrons. Since they are so lovely, people don’t seem to mind these invaders.

photo of Irish Rhododendrons

Irish Rhododendrons

So you may be able to tell that I have no idea what I will paint when I am completely back from Ireland.