Can You Mix a Full Range of Greens with 4 Tubes? Color Mixing Art Tip

It is a luscious spring in Ireland. Before you is a stellar 180 degree panorama of rolling hills and vegetation. You are inspired to pull out your paints to capture this idyllic scene. You drag out the easel, get your canvas/paper secured, squeeze out your pigments and then the big question hits you, "What do I use to mix my greens?" Followed by a groan, "There are such subtle differences in the greens. Which colors do I use?"

Or let's say you return to your studio having had a great time at the farmer's market filling up your basket with fresh green peppers, cabbage, kale, green beans and lettuce. These nutritious and gleaming vegetables were hand picked specifically for a still life. Again, the question leaps up about which colors to use to mix your greens.

Do you dread mixing greens? Why do you think greens are so difficult to mix and convey accurately in painting?

In my "From Mud to Magic" color classes, I love to teach how to mix greens. Why? Because students unlock a mental and technical block to mixing green. It is also fun for me to see light bulbs turn on with smiles as the green 'problem' disappears.

Where to begin? First, remove ALL of the tubes of green from your palette because you are going to be using a yellow and a blue to mix your greens.

Second, now pick out a very lemon yellow tube of paint. This could be cadmium yellow light or aureolin or hansa yellow or simply lemon yellow. It is important that it is the one yellow you have that appears almost greenish. The other way to determine the correct yellow is to NOT choose a yellow with any orange or red in it, such as cadmium yellow.

Cool or green yellow sample

Third, for your blue, choose a blue with a lot of  green in it or a cool blue. This could be Prussian blue, thalo blue or Winsor blue. You do NOT want to choose a blue with red in it, such as French ultramarine blue. Another characteristic of your green-blue, is that it must be of a dark value. Hence, cerulean blue would not be a good choice because it does not create a dark value.

Cool or green blue sample

Fourth action is to begin mixing the yellow and blue in various ratios. In other words, add a little blue to a larger quantity of yellow, then add more blue, etc. Then mix an equal amount of yellow and blue to find the middle green. Below is an example if a green scale I mixed.

Yellow (cool) and blue (cool) make spring greens.

Why do you think the greens you have mixed are so bright and spring-like? When you mix a green-yellow with a green-blue you will notice that neither pigment is contaminated with red. Since red is the color complement/opposite of green, the lack of it creates a bright spring-like green. If you mix a green with a blue or yellow with some red in the pigment, the green will be dulled.

Now, how do you use these same two tubes of paint to generate warmer greens for your painting? Take out your orange tube of paint, such as cadmium red light or cadmium orange. Now mix a little of this orange with your original mixtures of greens. Below is an example of the greens I created after mixing a little orange. Aren't they nice warm greens? Notice that using a blue with a dark value allows you to mix dark greens. Can you begin to see why you do not need tubes of greens in your palette?

First mixtures of greens mixed with an orange.

To warm your original greens up even more, try mixing them with burnt sienna.

First mixtures of greens mixed with burnt sienna.

Do you see how easy this is to do? Which pigments do you use to mix your greens? Share your approach.

Here is an example of a green chart I created just using FOUR tubes of paint. I call them green chromatic scales because the steps in the color changes remind me of musical scales. Let's see you paint one using your own pigments. Enjoy!

Green chart showing mixtures using only 4 tubes of paint.

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How Do You Paint Your Canvas Edges? A Step-by-Step Demo

Have you noticed the increased popularity of wrapped canvases during the past couple of years? Though the deeper canvases, commonly called gallery wrapped canvases, are slightly more expensive for the artist, they do save us the expense of a frame. Also, as the styles of painting trend toward more abstract, mixed media and contemporary, the gallery wrapped - sometimes called 'gallery wrap' - canvas conveys a more modern design that works well.

During the past year I have learned that the expense is less, however, the time involved in 'framing' these canvases is no less than that of presenting the painting in a conventional frame. As I have wandered through galleries inspecting the painted edges of numerous paintings, I have been quite surprised by the wide range of care - from poor to exquisite - artists have taken in painting the edges of their gallery wrapped canvases.

After some  unsatisfactory research, I embarked on my own trial and error journey to figure out how to achieve the quality of presentation I wanted.  Because I do not like the manufactured texture of canvas, I gesso my canvases. After I applied the first layer of gesso with a brush and it has dried, I then paint the edges and overlap the front of the canvas with an acrylic middle-gray paint. See photo above. By the way, this middle gray makes it easier to paint the final color of the edges after the painting is finished, be it darker or lighter.

For this particular canvas, I wanted the edge to literally 'frame' the painting, so I wanted the gray to overlap the edge about 3/8th of an inch. To give my eye a guide, I drew a pencil line 5/16th of an inch from the edge using a favorite matting tool I have. See photo above. Why is the space wider than my desired 3/8th? Pencil lines do not always erase easily, so I wanted the line to get covered up with the next layer of gesso.

Slowly, I apply the tape - a thin tape made by Nichiban - just inside of the pencil line. Once I know it is nice and straight, I rub the tape down several times to make sure it has a good grip on the painted canvas.

To protect the outer edges from extraneous paint and finger prints, I tape it with a wider tape. I am sure masking tape would work for this task, but I forgot about using it. When the painting is about completed, all of this tape needs to be removed and I don't want the tape to take off any of the gray paint; this is why I use an artist tape or low tack tape.

To assure that no gesso or paint sneaks up under the tape, I apply a light layer of gesso where the tape meets the painted canvas. You could think of this as being a sealer. Once this dies, which does not take long, I then apply at least two layers of more gesso with large palette knives. These layers of gesso are due to my personal preference to create an organic texture and because I do not like to paint on the texture of canvas. Otherwise, if you do not want more gesso applied, proceed to paint!

By the way, I have used this process for both wrapped canvases and deep panel boards.

Once you reach the stage when you think it is a good time to remove the tape, do so v-e-r-y slowly and carefully, because you do not want to rip the tape or paint. I prefer to do this when the paint is dry. As you can see above, a tiny white edge may appear between the painting and the painted edge. It is up to the artist to decide whether he/she wants to do deal with this  line. My line is more evident because of the layers of paint I apply. An added feature with my work, is that the painted 'frame' is a different texture from my painting and creates a soft contrast.

Now, I must determine if this middle gray is appropriate for my painting. In this example, it is. I will then go around the edges to do any necessary touch-up.

This step-by-step process of painting the edges of your wrapped canvases will work if you only want to paint the sides of your canvas and not overlap onto the painting surface.

How do you paint the edges of your canvases? Do you take the image around the edges?

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Watch My Abstract Painting "Crenulated" Progress Step-by-Step

"Crenulated," 24x30x2 oil on canvas

"Crenulated," was inspired by a 150ft long, multi-colored, centuries old stone wall I saw in southern France. It is painting that will be a part of my Window Within a Window series.

1.  Before I applied paint, I had textured my 24x30 canvas with gesso. I used a large palette knife, about 8 inches long and 1 inch wide, and applied 3 layers allowing each layer to dry.

2.  Since I knew that I needed some dark crevices in the old stones, I added dark colors with a palette knife first. The circular shapes were created by applying paint to bubble wrap and then pressed onto the canvas. I felt I needed some different textures in those areas. I call this the 'toddler period' as I have lots of questions spinning in my head because there are many artistic decisions yet to be made. This kind of problem solving revs my engine.

3.  At this stage I began toning down the darker values as well as the round shapes, but I am not sure I like them. The wood beam also has less contrast and I am wondering what I might paint above it.

4.  I finally decided upon the landscape to paint within the window. Because this wall was inspired by a visit to southern France, a castle scene seemed appropriate.

Note that I have begun to add stones above the wooden beam and I could not resist putting that one stone out on the tip.

5.  Those implied stone steps going down to the right, now lead to an old castle window. Why? Oh, for a little humor and to entice the viewer to ask more questions. From a composition stand point, the larger window needed something from which to balance it.

6.  Glazing various colors like stained glass, serve to develop the background. I like the other 'window' created witnin the beam and add clouds up above it. I also carry the blue sky colors behind and up. This creates more depth and mystery in the painting. At this point, a title for this painting is alluding me, so for now I am just referring to it as my "Castle" painting.

You may not be able to see it, but I had to moved the castle from being smack in the middle of the hill in the landscape.  I am gradating my colors at this stage. With various layers of paint, I made the bottom corners darker and then gradated lighter tones toward the larger window. The upper part of the painting has fewer layers.

7.  What questions does this painting generate for you? I love painting my window concept series because windows tend to ask questions. What does crenulated mean? To find out, click here.

What additional questions do you have about my process? Please send me a message/question or comment. I love receiving feedback and hearing your reactions.

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Where is Your 50 Foot Voice?

Studio Sign for a Reminder

As a reminder, this sign is posted on my studio wall visible just beyond my easel; it has been there for months.  Then several weeks ago, a friend of my husband's walked in an wanted to know what it meant - what did yelling have to do with art?  Ever since then, Bob has been checking on my paintings to see if my "50 foot voice" is evident - which I think is pretty cool and I need that kind of support.  Since Bob is a regular contributor to my monthly newsletter, read past newsletters by clicking here, he decided to write about it in his article for the month of July.  I have copied it below.

Where is Your Fifty-Foot Voice? by Bob North, Husband of the Artist
"There is a sign in Carol's studio that says "where is your fifty foot voice?"  No, she's not practicing for American Idol, and this doesn't mean vocal projection or being heard at the back of the lecture hall.

It's all about the visual dimension, creating art that grabs your attention and starts speaking to the heart and the mind even before you can see the brushstrokes on the canvas.  At a distance, a painting is the sum of all the individual parts the human eye can't resolve.  How does the artist create this sense of voice at a distance?  Carol's recent use of the "window" - creating a sense of multiple paintings on one canvas - is one way.

The window creates an immediate sense of intrigue and mystery that asks you questions. What's going on in the painting? How are the windowed segments related to the rest of the composition?  Color is another means of getting your attention across the room.  It's not just bright and vibrant hues, but combinations, contrasts and color harmony.  You see much of this in her featured painting here, Breaking Free!.

"Breaking Free!" - 24x30x2 oil on board

Finally, it's a sense of depth that can compel you to walk up to the painting and see where a path leads.  That also happens with Breaking Free! when I want to go peek out that window at the landscape to catch a glimpse of who escaped. Oops! You may interpret the painting differently..?  We'll see a lot more of this effect in Carol's work soon and I will be making sure her 50 foot voice continues to show up."

Do you ever look at your work and ask yourself this question? Or how about, what am I trying to say? Why am I trying to say it?

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An Artist's Demo Inspires Me to Paint Patches

Last Saturday, the Saks Galleries of Denver, invited people to attend a demonstration by Michelle Torrez, a highly acclaimed artist. Her subjects are most often dancers or people moving, and her brush strokes are very expressive. Since Denver is only an hours drive away, I decided to take advantage of this opportunity.

"Patches" - 14x11 oil with brush

My preferred tool is the palette knife because I like the physicality of it, the ease of cleaning it and the textures I can achieve with it. Brushes are my secondary tool (and I hate cleaning them!).  Michelle used a 3/4" filbert brush for her demo on a small canvas - approximately 16x8.  Since our approaches are quite different, why did I want to watch Torrez paint?

Viewing how another artist paints has always been fascinating to me. I believe, Differences are what makes the world goes around, and I like to experience another perspective. There is always something to gain and life long learning is one of my values.

As a result of watching Torrez hold onto her brush at the very end of the brush and essentially dance across the canvas, I thought I should give it the old college try. Just as my ease of using the palette knife is due to painting only with the knife for an entire year (no brushes allowed!), I know I cannot pick up the brush and paint as Michelle paints. She is efficient with her tool much as a concert pianist moves her fingers up and down the key board.

I decided to try painting a portrait of Patches, a dog owned by a friend of ours. Granted the dog is not moving - I need photos of dogs running, jumping, toy in mouth, different angles, etc. - I figured it was a place to start.  It was important that I keep my hand off of my palette knife the entire time.

Below I show the painting stages of Patches:

Drawing of Patches on canvas

1. This is the drawing on a 14x11 canvas - which was not textured with gesso and I do that on almost all of my canvases. I used a pastel pencil.

I decided to paint a frame around Patches to give it a more contemporary design. There is no plan at this stage as to how well this will work or not; these are the kinds of challenges I like to present to myself.

First layer of paint

2. Here is the first layer of paint. Yellow was applied in most of the highlighted areas because it is a warm color. It is also a good base for the butterscotch hair color. Also, Patches' dog tag is bright yellow and I knew I had to incorporate this color in the painting. Purples were used because they are the opposite of yellow on the color wheel. I wanted to get the darkest darks - purple - painted at this stage.

I have been diligent in using a brush, but I am finding it difficult to hold it at its very tip.

You can see that I am experimenting with the color of the frame. As I started painting the frame, I decided that it would be fun to have some of Patches hair flow over the edge of the bottom. Who would have thought?

Second layer of paint

3. Because Patches is basically a light colored dog, I painted the immediate background a dark warm purple to make her pop. The entire eyeball is painted black and this is the ONLY place I use black in a painting. I much prefer to mix my blacks because those are richer colors.

Unlike Michelle, I am not able to use only one large brush on this small canvas. It will take practice and I think if I had a moving subject to paint, my strokes would be more gestural.

Patches still looks a little scary at this point! By the way, she is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

Making Patches feel more 3-D

4. In all of my pet portraits, I want you feel like you could go in and pet the animal, hence I want it to be as three-dimensional as possible. You can see various colors of "white" to give Patches a round head, nose, etc. I am staying away from the eyes because that is dessert for me!

The frame is a mix of many of the colors I have been using in my palette, but staying a mid-gray. I cannot seem to get an much paint on my brush as Torrez does. Hmmmm, what to do?

Patches eyes painted - I love painting a dog's eyes

5. Patches' eyes are nearly finished. Eyes to me are like marbles and that is what I think of as I paint them.

I am trying to incorporate many different colors into Patches' hair. Note that the shadows are a pale blue-purple versus a boring gray.

The yellow tag is bugging me because it is standing out too much even though I have softened the edges.  I need to integrate more yellow into the rest of the painting.

One of the key techniques I learned from Michelle, was watching her use hard and soft edges throughout her painting. I see that there are some edges I want to soften; this will also make Patches seem softer and more real because dogs are soft!

"Patches" finished and ready to be signed.

"Patches" is completed. The frame has more painterly strokes and I incorporated more colors in it as well as in her hair. Doesn't the frame also have a 'patchy' look? :) Yellow is integrated throughout but that is difficult to see in this digital image. I was going to paint cast shadows of Patches' hair hanging over the frame, but decided that that was not necessary.

The finished product is not a Michelle Torrez - and I don't want it to be - but I enjoyed the process and learned a lot.

Now I need to find out what Patches' mom thinks of the painting. She does not know that I am immortalizing her beloved pet.

Stay tuned...

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Humbled Artist: A Writer Responds to One of My Paintings

"Swinging in the WInd" 20x15 pastel

Recently, I received a wonderful gift in the mail from a friend and fan of mine. Unbeknown to me, he had written a story poem inspired by my painting "Swinging in the Wind," and sent it to me. As the recipient, I was humbled by his words - in fact I was moved to tears. Why?

When one of my images strikes another person's emotional or spiritual chord, my heart is rewarded. In this world of sound bites and texting, knowing that a visual creation can cause someone to pause and reflect, is deeply satisfying.  Making connections with our fellow humans is vital to humanity, our creativity, and is inspiring. Below is David's writing.

Memories: The Swing

by David Quammen (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

The climb up the hill was considerably more strenuous than it had been those many decades ago. As Jim neared the crest of the hill he could see the tree. His tree, or at least, in those years he thought of it as his tree. Another step toward the crest and he saw the branch of the tree on which the rope had been tied. One more step and the rope came into view.

His heartbeat, more noticeable as a result of the climb, calmed a bit when the swing came into view.

Reaching the crest, Jim approached the swing. Happy to see that it was still there.

Seeing the swing, being gently swayed by the Colorado breeze, flooded his mind with those long ago dreams and fantasies from his childhood.

As Jim neared the swing he noticed the rope was in good shape. Perhaps someone replaced the old rope.

Others must have used the swing. The old rope would have rotted over the years.

Jim's memory recalled the name 'Goodrich' which had been on the tire casing. On examination he found this was the original tire.

Pushing on the tire, it swung with ease. Would it hold him? Could he still sit in the tire?

With the weight of his body he pulled down on the tire. The branch bent, but did not appear to be overly stressed. Jim pulled as hard as he could downward. He thought the swing would hold his weight.

Knowing this would be his last trip to see this hallowed place of his childhood, he decided to take the risk and sit in the swing.

Carefully he put his head through the center of the tire, turned his body and clasping the top of the tire and rope, pulled himself up to where he could sit in the tire facing the valley below.

As he settled his body in the swing, the memory vault of his mind sprang open. Suddenly he was a child again. It was a summer day and he was swinging back and forth gazing into the valley below and the horizon beyond the mountain peaks.

A child's mind can instantly create thought and fantasies.

In the days of his youth Jim would think of the future. At times he would look deep into the valley, perhaps in search of pitfalls which may come his way.

Gazing, even staring at times, into the endless horizon beyond the mountain tops often brought to him a sense of hope, inspiration and belief that he could accomplish his goals, many of them yet to be revealed.

Then, as quickly as his earlier life had come to mind, he returned to the present.

With this change came thoughts of uncertainty for the future. Jim was old, days are numbered.

One more gently swing, then with his feet on the ground, removed his body from the swing.

With an affectionate touch to the tire, he released his hold, turned his back and began the walk to his car. As he began the descent he was compelled to look, once more, at this childhood scene burned deep in his heart.

The swing, swaying ever so lightly, again waiting patiently for the next child to ride the wind - and Dream.

Reflections of yesteryear accompanied Jim as he slowly made his way down hill to his car.

The long planned visit was over. A slow smile came across his face. For a brief period of time he had been returned to his days of youth.


Has a painting ever moved you to writing a response? Or has anyone written or composed music inspired by one of your creations?

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Paint it Red and Paint it Big!

"The Tango, From Inside Out" 24x36x2

  Years ago, while attending a workshop instructed by a well known artist, the class was talking about some tips on how to one's artwork accepted into juried shows. One statement from the instructor I will never forget, was "Paint it red and paint it big." Accordingly, this would potentially increase my probablity of being accepted into coveted art shows. Let me assure you, that this is no guarantee, but is does remind me that drama does attract more attention.

Because February is known as the red month, I thought I would try the "paint it red and paint it big," in my style of abstraction. Let me know your reactions by clicking here

It has been awhile since I have shown you the progressive stages of a painting, so the below images show you how this painting evolved and my inner thoughts as I created it.

"The Tango, From Inside Out," was a challenge from the start. I had an idea in my mind's eye of what I wanted to achieve, but I was not sure how to execute it. As I mentioned in my previous newsletter, the content I want to convey with my abstracts, is that life is full of layers and differences, but they can co-exist. Color harmony is always a part of my work as well as intrigue. For this painting, nterjecting the perceptual opposite of the red color I used - a bright lime green - was in my plan.

1. After texturing my 24 x 36 canvas with three layers of gesso using a large palette knife (which takes a couple of days to allow the gesso to dry), the above shows you my first layer of paint. This first layer had to dry before I could continue. By the way, I draw and free hand the straight edges.

2. The middle color of orange was then applied. I made sure it was the same value (same darkness) of the outlining red.


3. I must admit, that I was intimidated by my first layers of paint, and it took me a few days before I began applying, with a palette knife, these next colors you see - the greys and a few reds.





4. Again, with a palette knife, I began applying the darkest darks that were to be in the painting. I am primarially using the edge of the palette knife to get this effect.







5. At this point, I noticed that I had been leaving the middle of the painting alone - as if I had two paintings going on at the same time. Eventually, I figured out how to bridge the gap. The winding dark brown strand on the right is reminding me of a spinal chord for some reason. Executing how to capture an inner glow and conveying layers is still not quite clear to me.






6. Finally, I just dove in with a brush and began interweaving lines on top of the previous layers of paint. You can see the lime green has been added and I have also begun to articulate some geometric squares. At this stage, I go back and forth between a palette knife and brushes. The left side edge of the painting is bugging me - where the whites meet the red - and I am not sure what to do. I am liking the painting and I am now afraid I am going to ruin it. Life as an artist does cause us to shake in our boots. :)

7. I printed the prvious image (step 6) off of my printer and sketched in the parallel lines and then did the same on the painting that you see on the left here in step 7. The composition of the painting needed a few more obvious geometric forms. Note the 3 small rectangles to the center right. Small organic shapes have been painted with white, allowed to dry, then I calmed the white down with appropriate tones and colors.

8. "The Tango, From Inside Out," completed with the tiny centered red square gone because it was a bulls-eye. I subdued the bright greens and did a number of other finishing touches.

What do you see in the painting? People have told me that they see very different things, which is fun to hear.

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Why do Your Read/Subscribe to Art Magazines?

Various art magazines I have read over the years

Yesterday, I was quietly reading through a current art magazine while eating alone in a cozy delicatessen, and a stranger comes up and asks me, "Is that Southwest Art?" I responded affirmative, and then she inquired, "Do you think artists should paint to sell or paint what they want to paint?"

Dumbfounded by this question, it got me wondering how a simple art magazine could motivate someone to approach me and ask one of those questions that will haunt artists for eternity. After we both admitted that we were painters, she then mentioned that she thought SW Art was a good place to learn about what was selling in the marketplace. I had to admit, that that was not why I was reading the magazine.

After she left to attend to her sandwich, I had to reflect upon my reasons for continuing to allow art magazines to fill up my mail box. What are your reasons? Here are some of mine:

  • To keep informed of what other artists are creating
  • To read the life stories of other artists, their motivations, etc.
  • To read the words that writers and artists use in describing their work
  • For inspiration
  • For color ideas
  • For researching potential galleries
  • To find out about exhibitions to attend as well as to apply
  • To learn how artists are using the Internet and social media
  • To learn about various art business topics
  • To attempt to stay current on various topics

Earlier in my career, I subscribed to artist magazines that were  important for learning technical tips, such as:

  • Preparing the substrate for a particular medium (watercolor, pastel, oil, etc.)
  • Picking up application tips
  • Studio information
  • Instruction for specific subject matter, such as water, clouds, trees, etc.
  • Juried shows
  • Art organizations
  • Art supplies
  • Etcetera, etcetera,

Having a variety of magazines has been important to me, be it one that focuses on a region of the country or on collectors or techniques or trends or business topics.  I always glean something, even if it is just a quick scan.

Other reasons I peruse art magazines:

  • To evaluate my artwork in comparison to others
  • To follow other artists
  • To learn how I might be a featured artist in the future
  • To attract fellow artists to talk to me in a restaurant...??

What would you add to the list? Why to art magazines pile up in your studio/office? :) I am sure I have missed several other reasons. Are there non-art magazines that you find helpful/interesting? Why do non-artists read these magazines?

P.S. By the way, I did give her my opinion on what should motivate an artist to paint, but I will leave that for a later discussion.

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Is Creating Possible When an Emotional Crisis Crosses Your Path?

Last week I learned that my older, and only, sister is in the fourth stage of liver cancer (the survival rate of liver cancer is extremely low). This was unexpected news. Meanwhile, I had been in an intense stage of painting, creativity, challenging myself with my visual message, pushing my skills,  writing, increasing my visibility on the Internet, re-designing my blog, etc. In other words, I was humming along in my world, but a STOP SIGN popped up suddenly, and I was in an emotional fog. These events happen to all of us unexpectedly. How do we artists continue during these times? Can you paint? Be creative?

Pardon a detour: Why am I telling this story? Because I am inspired by Brene Brown's words I watched last Friday, in a TED video, entitled, "Embracing Vulnerability," (a 20 minute video I strongly recommend.) During her talk, she states, "Vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging and love." My interpretation - to be a whole and effective artist/person, I needed to be vulnerable. Pretending or denying my sister's illness would not be emotionally healthy. Hence, I decided I would accept her challenge and allow myself to be vulnerable about my grieving process and to share what I have learned regarding creativity/artmaking when an emotional crisis crosses my path.

I could not paint. Nada, nothing would flow. There are 3 paintings at critical stages, and I could not figure out where or what to paint on any of them. I even tried switching the paintings on my easel, but nothing stirred and I was frustrated.

One of my paintings 'in-waiting' on the easel

Knowing that I have a business to run, a job, just as I did when I worked for a corporation and I knew I had to keep working. Important decision making is difficult, so I have been doing things such as: cleaning, sorting, signing & varnishing paintings, updating my data bases, cleaning, painting edges of wrapped canvases, tossing, cleaning, prepping canvases, re-arranging the studio, etc., and researching liver cancer.

All of these tasks allowed me to feel my sadness and deep sense of helplessness, for the tears to flow and to take longer walks with my dog. After a couple of  days, I was compassionate with myself and stopped expecting any meaningful creativity. These were not activities of denial, but non-brain tasks that permitted me to still think about my sister, our relationship and her adult children (and to make phone calls) and wallow in my emotional fog. However, I missed a lot of other events during this time - such as sending out Valentine's cards,  not listening well to my husband, poor concentration, eating too much chocolate - but I believe that being vulnerable was and is necessary. To help with the processing of my sister's pending death (her health otherwise is not good which adds to the poor prognosis), I am going to collect photos of her and create a montage celebrating her life. I know this will be cathartic for me and her children may like it as well.

What happens to your creativity and artmaking when an emotional crisis comes into your life? Some artists paint or create about these emotions, but that has never been satisfying for me. Is it for you? Do you allow yourself to be vulnerable during these times of emotional upheavel?

PS I want to thank Beth Hayden, a blogging consultant, for sharing the Brene Brown link in her newsletter.

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Dog Portrait Painting Process of Tika - Completed!

"Tika the Gentle Giant "- 14x11 pastel

Say hello to Tika, the Gentle Giant. Can you sense her gentleness and the sense that she could get to know you real well if you spent some time with her? Toward the end of this painting, I felt as if Tika's spirit was in the studio and I liked that. As I think I stated before, I wish I could have known her while she was a live.

Kirsten and Joe asked me to make a few detail changes since you saw the last stage of the painting. These are most helpful and allowed me to make the finishing touches with little guess work. It is amazing how well we were able to do so over the phone and via email. Oh, the wonders of digital photography! (As you may or may not remember, they live in Minnesota and I in Colorado.)

Tika's Memory Portrait will now go and sit next to her "sister" PeeWee in my studio, whose portrait was completed about a month ago. In a couple of days, Skjonn will be my next black Labrador subject of Kirsten & Joe's family!

What do you think of Tika? Would you have liked to have met her?
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