Yesterday was “Groundhog Day” in the United States, and those who are enduring a long harsh winter may be wanting to get a jump on Spring. There’s not a finer way to do that than to experiment with an Abstracted Floral!
My painting above “Wild Daffodil” was inspired by fields of daffodils that dot the countryside in Oregon. You can see where abandoned home sites were by scanning the beautiful green fields for waves of bright yellow, naturalized daffodils. The cheerful yellow always seems at odds with the fact that a home once stood there and now is gone.
I love the flowers that come from the fields – they are often tattered by weather, and many have grown away from their cultivated lineage to be wild, multi-petaled and blowzy. This painting would brighten up a bedroom, office, library, dining or living room. I love the drama that the dark background adds.
I used an app called IArtView to show how this work would look in a couple of different settings. A wonderful feature is you can also upload a photo of your wall and visualize how it would look in your home! Try it out!
Inspiration for Abstract Floral Paintings
If you’re looking for other floral inspiration, check out my Pinterest board. You’ll find interesting abstractions by some of the following 6 talented artists:
Jimmy Wright: This artist emphasizes the fluidity and motion of petals, and comes up with some pretty unusual and subtle color emphasis too.
Winifred Nicholson: I love the unified color in this simplified still life. You can almost smell the lily of the valley.
Jake Muirhead: Converting a colorful Iris to black and white, Jake also adds drama and personality using line and simplifying the setting.
Scott Conary: Scott’s textural paint application and emphasis on pure vs. subdued color make me want to touch his work. They also touch me!
Ophelia Pang uses bold and repeated shapes to create entertaining and playful abstractions.
As procrastinators go, I would rate my ability to ‘do it later’ as above average. That doesn’t mean that I don’t aspire to become a better procrastinator. This trait is vital to my success as an artist. You may be wondering: ‘Is she serious?!’
Yes! Let me explain. Artists must wear many ‘hats’ to sustain their small business. Marketing, networking, framing, presentation, book-keeping, graphic design, reproductions, and (in my case) teaching. I forgot to mention one other very important thing: making the art! It is easy to lose sight of the importance of regular studio time when faced with that long list of business oriented work. Add in household duties or a small farm, as I do, and you have many choices for how to spend the few productive hours in a day.
One way that I cope is to joke with myself about being a ‘good procrastinator.’ I’ve even set goals to become better at procrastination. I’m not talking about wasting my time… I’m just choosing to put off things that can wait till less productive hours. For example, I can do laundry in the evening when my brain is fried. Or I might postpone writing a blog post until I’ve finished new work. Another great way to procrastinate is to put off running errands until you can consolidate several into one trip. This is especially beneficial for those of us who live far from a Metro area.
In all seriousness, I like to enter my studio with the goal of just fooling around for a little while. Giving myself strict productivity goals often seems to backfire. Forcing productivity turns off the part of my brain that just wants to play with color. Being responsible is not for day-dreamers like me. (At least not while I’m in the studio.) I love Mary Oliver’s take on the Artist’s Task – part of the collection of essays in Upstream. Read her view on solitude and responsibility here. Un-interrupted by my more responsible self, I’m free to chase ideas to my heart’s content.
I’m not good enough at procrastination to go full blown ‘Instant Gratification Monkey’ like Tim Urban. If you haven’t seen his TED talk, do yourself a favor and hop on over to take a listen. This is the self-defeating phenomenon described in Steven Pressfield’s War of Art – when someone is resisting doing the difficult thing. Ultimately I’m trying to fool myself out of ‘resistance.’ If I can trick my mind into feeling like I’m playing hooky from important jobs, then the artwork becomes the instant gratification!
Are You Procrastinators?
When do you procrastinate? Does it help you or hurt you? How? I’m fascinated by how each of us self-manage. If I were a negative person, I’d be beating myself up right now. I’ve started 6 blog posts today, and finished only one of them. However, I choose to look at the glass as half-full. I have the start of 6 fabulous essays ready to be fleshed out. I’m excited to add to the ideas that came up while I wrote this post.
I’ve put off the real reason for this post long enough! I’ve been in the studio and here is the latest and greatest. This new abstraction was inspired by a memory of chasing the cows when I was a kid. Our fences on the farm were more like suggestions. The cows frequently escaped their pasture and wandered around. This summer day, it was my designated job to get them back into the pasture. We had seen the herd near a slough in the center of a large field – probably 200 acres. Normally I’d do this job on foot, but I was getting older and smarter, so I took my horse! I was about 11 years old, and riding bareback.
As I approached the slough, the scent of wild mint wafted through the warm air and I felt happy. Suddenly, the neighbor’s giant Polled Hereford bull ambled out of the thicket of brush and lily pads. Fear and panic surged through me as I quickly decided that even on horseback I didn’t want to tangle with this creature. I did not hesitate: I escaped with my horse and called for reinforcements.
Trying to paint this memory, I knew that I wanted the peaceful and fragrant greens, contrasted by the sinister blacks and bolts of red fear. I tried to channel both the peace and the fear – thinking about a poem by Jane Hirshfield titled “Each Moment a White Bull Steps Shining into the World.”
Give it a read, then let me know your thoughts about the poem, the painting or procrastination. I hope your New Year’s resolution involves hanging out with procrastinators like me! Finally, don’t wait: tomorrow is the final day to enter my giveaway! Click here to enter: http://rutharmitage.com/solstice-giveaway/
Happy Solstice! Thank you for being a loyal visitor to my site. I’ve been reviewing how my blog and website have grown since I began in 2007. This month my site had almost 80,000 visitors. That’s a far cry from my humble beginning when I had a modest 371 visitors – my whole first year’s traffic totaled 3,738 visitors. Persistence has paid off! So thank you for reading, visiting and sharing this little slice of the internet.
I wish I could send every one of you a gift, but I do want to treat one special reader with the gifts pictured above. First, you’ll love the DVD of Carla O’Connor’s design process in Gouache – opaque watercolor. Carla is one of my favorite artists and teachers and Creative Catalyst Productions are always top notch. Even if you’re not an artist, it is fascinating to see how someone puts their paintings together. Next, I’m including a small 8″x8″ print of one of my cold wax paintings titled “New Green.” It is printed on a cradled panel and ready to hang or frame as you see fit. Finally, I’m tucking in a box set of 8 notecards featuring my artwork – 2 of each design. If you are the lucky winner, I’ll notify you via email and send this off to you anywhere in the continental US.
Enter below, and share this post with your favorite social media. I truly appreciate your support.
They say Change is inevitable but Growth is Intentional. I have a few new pieces for Portland Open Studios, getting them framed up this week! Please plan to visit me October 14-15 or 21-22, 2017 from 10-5. My studio is #7 on the tour in Community 1. There are several other great artists showing in our area! You can download the free app with addresses, or the paid phone app that shows 3 images per artist. Here is the link! Or you can purchase the tour book, which also includes a directory of teaching artists. Only $15. I have several available here at the studio. Here is a link for a map to my studio from points North. And this link provides a map to the studio from points South.
This week will be my first try at framing an oversized work myself (Fishing in the Dark – below.) Wish me luck! My least favorite part is placing plexiglass over the mat and painting without getting any dust or specks on it! Difficult! If anyone has any tips or tricks for this, I’m more than willing to listen.
I adore this change in the seasons and cooler, crisp fall temperatures here. My mom reminded me that each fall and spring, during the Big CLEAN, her mother would rearrange all the artwork in the house. It is amazing how changing the position of a painting lets you see it with new eyes. I’ve been doing a bit of that myself… getting ready for the Portland Open Studios tour. I think this year I will re-hang work in other rooms of my house too. I’ve had to do that unintentionally, since I robbed our powder room for the Local 14 show last weekend. I didn’t get all my paintings packed up and have to go back for them! OOPS! So I put Orchard’s Edge in the powder room instead of “Autumn Tilling.” I like how it looks!
Complex Vs. Simple
Orchard’s Edge is an homage to this fall weather, the neutrals, and subtle colors of grasses against the backdrop of a dark orchard. I have been thinking about my parents’ farm and what it will look like when the hazelnut trees are grown up. I don’t like to think about how that change will look. But I have to accept it. As a painter, it is difficult to abstract something like an orchard. I chose to represent it as the dark band at the top of the painting. The next band represents grasses, and the bottom area represents water. Attempting a banded composition like this requires an artist to find exciting ways to break up all the stripes and make each one interesting, to hold the viewers eye.
I have been finding that many viewers prefer a calmer composition like this to the more complicated, active compositions of a painting like “Seismic Shift.” Just like some people prefer seafood and others prefer steak… What is your preference? Do you prefer simple or complex paintings? Leave me a comment.
“Beauty is the only thing that time cannot harm. Philosophies fall away like sand, creeds follow one another, but what is beautiful is a joy for all seasons, a possession for all eternity.”
This weekend I’m participating as a guest of the Local14 Art Show! Tonight is the gala 50th Anniversary Opening reception, from 6-9 pm. $10 admission gets you a great night out with catering by Elephant’s Deliand first access to the bounty of wonderful art presented. The show is open September 28 – October 1 at the Left Bank Annex in NE Portland.
There are 2 levels to this great industrial space, so don’t miss exploring all the show has to offer. You can use the bucket style elevator or the stairs to move between levels. There is so much to see, you’ll want to spend some time here! I’ve created a special box set of 4×6″ notecards for this show and Portland Open Studios. Each set contains 2 each of 4 different designs. I can’t wait for you to see them! They’ll be on the small pedestal you see in the photo above.
50 Years of History
Local 14 began 50 years ago when 14 women artists decided to host a show in a garage in Lake Oswego. ‘Local’ is an acronym for Lake Oswego Crafts and Arts League, and 14 denotes the original 14 members. The group uses this show to raise funds for arts scholarships for deserving college students. This year, they have awarded $10,000 in scholarships to 4 deserving students. The scholarship winners will have work on display during the show.
What You’ll See:
I’m excited to be one of 15 former members participating in this show to celebrate their 50th Anniversary. This location is great for all the available space. It has allowed more art from more artists than ever before. You’ll find a juried selection of jewelry, paintings, ceramics, wearables, mixed media art, photography, basketry, printmaking, sculpture and garden art, glass and woodworkingl
I love this essay by one of the greatest poets of our time: Mary Oliver. It reminds me that I MUST ignore the trivial, everyday, monotonous tasks sometimes in order to accomplish what makes me an artist.
As Mary says: “My loyalty is to the inner vision, whenever and howsoever it may arrive. If I have a meeting with you at three o’clock, rejoice if I am late. Rejoice even more if I do not arrive at all.”
I must paint. Recently I’ve started heading to the studio first thing in the morning. The other tasks eventually get finished in odd moments. My first priority must be to paint, or else what is it all for?
A Giveaway for Loyal Readers
I’d love to give you an opportunity to see the great artists and studios on the tour this year. You can enter to win a free tour guide below. Best of luck to you!