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I recently started to teach Pet Portraits in Colored Pencil to the brave souls that also took my Pet Portraits in Graphite class. This is my sample. The photo reference is from a series taken while working on a commission. The Border Collie Marley was particularly photogenic. This piece is 9x11"various light fast colored pencil with solvents on Rag Mat Board. I used many of my tricks on this.
Awake early, the day after thanksgiving I have nothing better to do than enjoy my coffee and ruminate about art, inspiration, composition, good stuff like that:) I'm visiting family in Pensacola, which is a 12 hour car trip from Cincinnati, so the bulk of my art materials are in my studio at home. However, I managed to pack a sketch pad and pencils, just in case. This was meant to be a quick turnaround, but my Mom is elderly. A few more days here won't hurt. Anyway, it forces me to step out of my get-er-done routine at home and breath. Later I might walk down to the end of Mom's street with my sketchpad and sketch a pelican or shrimp boat. That is, if I feel like it.
The question of all questions: What makes good composition? How does one crop, punch color, add or delete elements in order to create a piece of art that will resonate? There are rules to composition, which I rarely think about at first. If a ref photo grabs my attention, there is probably something there worth trying. Later, as I start the project, I will think about rules, where to crop and so forth, but I have to be careful to not sterilize the inspiration right out. That initial reaction, the one that made me stop and look, what was that and how will it translate? Over the years, I've paid attention to how my art is received and learned from that. What draws the most attention? Rarely do I hear "I love this because it is so well executed." More often it's "I love that red," or "wow, it looks like a photo (which drives me crazy by the way. Why would anyone spend 6o hours of her life to simply copy a perfectly good photo?)
To break it down: color,value and a relatable story, are the three main elements to a successful image. Detail is used to support the theme not drive it. For instance, if you have ever watched the reality t.v. show THE VOICE, how often is the vocal run used to show off vocal ability? But if it is delivered without conviction and you can't hear the lyrics, it's just noise. In two dimensional art, if one does not manage to draw the viewer in with substance, what use are the details? On the other hand, taking the time and effort to render those details well, honors the idea. Don't skimp.
This is a very long blog entry. I imagine you are wondering what it has to do with this landscape photo. Simply put, the photo reaches into my soul. It is beautiful. The colors are rich, the shapes interesting and there is nice contrast. The message is simple. It calms me. I want to live in this image, where the only human touch is the evenly mowed field.
As I'm doing my usual Friday morning catch-up, it occurs to me that you might be interested in knowing a few things about me. You see me posting my art work fairly regularly on Facebook and my Pepper Portraits blog, but did you know that besides being a completely committed artist, I hold two part time jobs? Winning a few awards and getting published, does not guarantee a regular pay check. Nope, I go months sometimes without a sale. I'm married to a wonderful guy who pays most of the bills, but by no means makes enough money for me to do art 24-7. I have to at least cover groceries and vet bills, which with 2 older dogs and three cats, adds up, believe you me! So I continue to work as a vet assistant in a small animal veterinary practice. I've been working with vets since 2011- started in my 40's and still doing doggy yoga as I near 60. I feel like a thirty year old with no time to get old! My other job is a gallery portrait artist- picture framer -Girl Friday for a lovely little gallery, in a haunted brick building, in the small river town of Milford Ohio. There I teach portrait classes, frame picture, assist hanging shows and whatever else they might need of me.