Praise and success are a tricky thing for the artist. While everyone wants to be successful and praise is seductive, the nature of art is so subjective that there are many definitions of success. During the creative process, we run the risk of becoming perfectionistic if we allow thoughts of success to overpower the idea at hand. We all know that perfectionism is fear, and bold creations cannot thrive in an atmosphere of fear.
“We must do our work for its own sake, not for fortune or attention or applause.” – Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
I have been re-reading “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. I find it difficult to maintain a regular studio routine during the holidays. Well, let’s be honest here. I always find it hard to maintain a regular studio routine. That’s what the book is about. I’ve been trying to balance making time for artwork with preparing for the Christmas holidays. At times like this I’m thankful to have a dedicated studio space where I can retreat, even for short periods.
Another reason that praise or success can be a fickle mistress is that it breeds pride. Pride is different than self-confidence. Hubris, or pride, is the most serious of the 7 Deadly Sins. I’m not talking about feeling the humble joy of success. Hubris is more about egoism, or undeserved self-aggrandizment. I have seen many artists hamper their own creative growth because of pride. Pride demands that we ‘save face’ and avoid failure. The creative process demands that we risk failure to grow and change.
“Success leads to the greatest failure, which is pride. Failure leads to the greatest success, which is humility and learning.” – David Brooks, The Road to Character
Artists must always monitor the evaluation of their own work. One must be unflinchingly honest – we have to maintain a healthy amount of self-esteem to even attempt self-expression. But we must avoid hubris or false pride in order to maintain humility and openess to the creative process.
Avoiding Seduction – Keeping it in perspective
Everyone loves to hear that their work touched someone. Sales tell me that someone loved my work enough to live with it. I also receive positive feedback from social media and from juried shows. But by the same token, I know that I need to remember:
Ratindra Das has accepted “Jump” for the 9th Annual Signature American Watermedia Exhibition in Fallbrook, CA. I’m honored to be in great company. Artists must be a signature member of a Watercolor Society or Group to enter this show. So, the competition is tougher to get in. Standards for achieving signature membership vary. Generally it means your work has been accepted into more than one exhibition or has passed a review board.
The show will run February 4 – April 15, 2018
Open Daily February 4 through April 15, 2018 | Mon – Sat 10 am – 4 pm | Sun Noon – 3 pm
The Janice Griffiths Gallery @ The Fallbrook Art Center
103 S. Main Ave, Fallbrook, CA 92028
When we were kids in the 70’s, Flower Power was all the rage. Even though we grew up in a farmhouse from the 1800’s, my mom made one of our bedrooms into a brilliant, day-glo, funky room with flower-child wallpaper. Memories of that bedroom inspired me to make this painting. Although it was a tiny room, the wallpaper made it bright and sunny. We had sheets on our bunkbeds with artwork by Peter Max, and my mom even painted the wood floorboards with psychedelic flowers in hot pink and orange.
The painting is a bit subdued compared to the riot of color in that room. But you can still see the curves and lines of the flower petals and the bright coral-pink that I began with as an underpainting. I especially love the little bits of black in the focal area. I have a vivid memory of reading on the top bunk and rubbing my grubby, dirty feet on the papered ceiling. Those were barefoot summer days. I’m sure my mother was revolted – that made it even more satisfying. I must have been nearly a teenager. How did she survive 4 girls!?
How does it feel to you?
I hope the final image feels a bit nostalgic, graceful, yet real. Let me know your thoughts, or share a memory from the 70’s. My friend, Pam, commented on facebook: “Beautiful: imagination, movement and fairy tales.” I like that!
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.”
“Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar.”
-Percy Bysshe Shelley
Objects and Their Influence on my Work
I have been thinking of all the flood victims in Texas this week. I am trying to imagine the devastation they must be feeling and the loss. While our homes contain so many meaningful objects; the familiarity and meaning that they carry can’t be replaced. So, in an effort to make a small difference in the recovery from Hurricane Harvey, I’m donating 50% of any sales through my website from now through Labor Day weekend.
Help for Texas
If you’ve had your eye on a painting, now is a great time to add one to your collection, because your purchase will help relief efforts for those in Texas.
Speaking of water: an oxbow in our river bottom that was cut off from the stream inspired me to create the new painting below. As a kid I loved to explore the woods at the edge of the river. This small pond was a sure place to see ducks, turtles and other natives like frogs and salamanders. Those early years of solo exploration seem to be important to my development as an artist. I would spend hours looking at ferns and moss, small ponds, polliwogs, and wildflowers. Traveling there in my memory gives me peaceful relaxation.
I hope the colors in this painting suggest the quiet forest and reflection of the water surrounded by ferns, moss and wildflowers.
Another reason I’ve been thinking of objects recently is that I’m preparing for my project for PDX-CSA.
PDX-CSA Season 4 sales are open and project summaries are on the website for your perusal. Pre-sales fund the creation of new artwork and you gain access to the creative process as ideas become reality.
The variety of projects and the quality of the artists are certainly terrific! But, don’t take our word for it – see the project details for yourself. Or better yet, talk to the artists and see examples of their artwork in person at our Meet the Artists party.
Meet the Artists
If you’re curious about the other artists participation, please join us! Each of us will be bringing a small piece of work similar to what we will be doing for our Community Supported Art project! Learn more here: PDX-CSA
Meet the Artists
Wednesday, September 6th, 6-8pm
Wagner Studio, 1522 N Humboldt St,
Portland, OR, 97217
Which objects speak to you?
I’ve been going through some of the rich materials I’ve collected for assemblage to identify the objects that would work as additions to my Oil & Wax paintings. Each one tells its own story and suggests its own color palette. I’m thinking about what kind of colors I might want to use, and whether the objects should be fairly consistent or varied. I’d love to hear your suggestions!
Here are a few objects that have been calling to me:
Do you prefer the shells or the driftwood? Should one of my pieces have that little metal tray or the brush? What about that 45 record? Leave me a comment and let me know… or, even better, sign up to become a collector through PDX-CSA! Click here to get your name on the list.
I’m proud to share that I’m one of six artists from Portland Open Studios chosen to participate in this year’s PDX-CSA. The concept is similar to buying shares in an organic CSA farm, but for art! Just as you choose a farm because you like what crops they grow, give them money in the spring to cover costs, and receive your food a few months later, with PDX-CSA you choose artists whose voice you like, give them money to support their creation, and then receive the art in a couple months. It is a perfect combination between choice and surprise.
You’ll be involved in the process from concept to completion. Once the art is made, you’ll be invited to the reveal party to pick it up, or if you’re from outside Portland, the work will ship to you with no handling fee. In the past, work has shipped all over the world!
PDX-CSA offers you the opportunity to support the creation of new artwork by providing artists with funds upfront. You support artists’ creative freedom and in return you get exclusive, high-quality artwork and you get to follow the artists’ process for creating the artwork from concept to completion.
You can buy a pairing and save $ or choose just one of the projects. It’s a great way to support my work as an artist and to see a series evolve from start to finish. The work in this series is only available through PDX-CSA.
This project is separate from my other series:
Working with cold wax’s ability to hold objects, Ruth Armitage will incorporate found objects in her paintings; these textures and patterns emerge from and recede into the swathes of color. Her abstracts are detailed environments, packed with marks and forms, shifts in scale and movement; intense primary colors become permeable hazes, layers are worn away and incised to reveal artifacts and further layers.
Click the image below to see my partner’s work, and the work of the other 4 artists. I’m excited to get started with these new works and to keep you updated on the progress. I’ll only be making pieces for those who invest upfront, and this is a limited opportunity. Sales end September 17th, so get yours now!
Finally, it would be great if you could share this with friends and family who might need some affordable art. It’s a unique idea, and we’d love to have the whole community know about it!
Summer seems to hold a thousand things. Vacations, family, visitors from out-of-town, gardening, art shows, memories, smells, food, beach trips, river trips, concerts, each day is crammed full! If you’re not careful, there is no time left for painting. Thank goodness for art classes. I’m getting ready to teach a week long class at Menucha – a fabulous retreat in the Columbia River Gorge. Two spots just opened up if you’re free next week!
From Lines to Finished Work
This painting began in a workshop as a demonstration of using different types of line. At one point it was even more chaotic. I settled quite a bit of it by covering some of the marks with the dark turquoise at the bottom and the mint green in the top 2/3.
A good title can often be the impetus of a painting, and this one is no exception. I keep lists of titles in various places… sketchbooks, phone notes, post-its in the studio, etc. Often when looking back at old sketchbooks I’ll find one that I still want to paint. Sometimes the inspiration comes from reading, listening to the radio, a movie or a quote. But most often it comes from really concentrating on what I want to say about a subject.
Why A Thousand Things?
In this case, it was an attempt to convey how full my heart and mind are with images and memories of my parents’ farm. Although I’ll sometimes try to distill my painting into just one element of the feeling or memory, here I wanted to imply deep layers. I wanted to pile up some of the emotion memory and soul that the place conjures for me.
Our sense of place can be portrayed in so many ways: smells, sounds, words or music often take us back. I love looking at aerial photos of farmland. That is how this whole series started. Expressing this place in my own hand, my indecipherable script, feels satisfying.
Finally, if you’re not reading this post on my website, click on over… I have a new random quote generator on the sidebar that is a lot of fun!