Going Down To The Crossroads

No, not that crossroads. Though the “devil is definitely in the details”. Being at a crossroads with your art, or writing, or whatever creative things you do, is always a nail biting, angst ridden moment. And hopefully that’s all it is, a moment, a short period of time in your life where you may be questioning your creative ventures, your style, inspiration, or if you even want to continue. It can be a confusing and scary time.

OK so zombies may not be the best example, but they are scary and confusing.

In the course of my career as an artist, I’ve had many of these crossroad moments. In particular ones that in hindsight seem to coincide with that seven year evolution we all go through, uh, every seven years. (Proven, look it up). Not that I don’t have other “moments” in between, because I do, and have. But the big ones do fit that pattern. Currently I am going through it again. I should have realized as I have had a hard time concentrating, and finding inspiration, or ambition. At first I blamed it on this last, long year of Covid19 and isolation. You have to feed the beast, and being home all the time is not conducive to that. Hence my thinking that that was the only reason. It is a huge reason, but not the only one.

Recently, one of my adult children mentioned during a conversation about eye glasses, that she was “old” and her “eyes are sensitive now.” What the what?! She’s 35. And when I said that ‘I never really felt old until this year’, she sent a shocked face emoji. Humm. At any rate, that got me pondering, as us old folks will, that perhaps it isn’t just the plague causing my lack of inspiration. And doing some calculations, I saw that yes, I’m starting a new seven year cycle. I’ve embraced and been known as being an artist, nearly my entire life. If I don’t paint, or sketch, then who am I? Just another faceless person in the crowd?

Don’t worry, I haven’t gotten to the point of no return. As a matter of fact, I never really stopped painting or sketching. It just hasn’t been at the same level of intensity. I have been feeling somewhat directionless and all over the place. I’m sure I’m not the only person feeling this way. It has been a tough year for everyone, and many of us must be feeling at loose ends.

As with everyone else, I have been impacted in ways I didn’t foresee. Plans, important plans have had to be put on hold, possibly for a few years, possibly to never happen, and this has been difficult. Many toxic things happen on a daily basis in the world. As an artist, in a family of artists, I know that the impact of this toxic world hits us deeply, making creativity that much harder to attain. It’s hard not to be affected. It’s hard not to engage, or see it. But for us creatives, it is vital that we learn to do what we can to help, and not absorb all the toxins, because that causes us to become immobilized. Add to that the seven year metamorphosis, and you can see my dilemma.

As I sit here writing this, it feels a bit cathartic, like getting it out, writing about it helps. Yes, I have been painting and drawing things aimlessly, but maybe that’s good. I’m still working at it, and perhaps after I’ve had some time to just play around with it, something will kick in, and I’ll know which direction on that crossroad to follow.

Thanks for visiting and reading my blog. Stay well. If you are interested in any of my paintings or would like to commission a piece, please DM me, or go to my Etsy site, at etsy.com/shop/omordah I’d love to hear from you!

Some Thoughts On Creativity

Creativity, where to even start. Although I am, and have always been an artist, I’ve never really thought of myself as “creative”. I see all of the things that people come up with, the different ways they express their art, and I think, ‘wow, I wish I’d thought of that.’ For many years I considered myself more of an illustrator. Shinning a light on human activities, and foibles, and in particular painting portraits.

Putting a subject in a setting that fit with them in some way, made the portraits more interesting to the viewer, but faces in particular, have always intrigued me. Eyes being the “windows to the soul” and all that. But is it “creative”?

About, well let’s say a long time ago, I started taking commissions for portraits, most often of people’s kids. At that time I was honing my skills in the medium of color pencil, trying to learn how to make them look as real as possible. Humorous fashion choices aside, with each portrait I tried to become more proficient.

Amanda and Nikki “At The Beach”
Maureen and her sister

I was commissioned to do the above portrait for a friend, way back in the day. It was one of my first color pencil portraits. (A little bit “uncanny valley”, but hey, practice and all that.) It was a bit more difficult given that my friend didn’t have one recent photo of her two daughters together. I had her give me as many photos of them that she had, and basically cobbled it together. I didn’t have people actually “sit” for me, especially kids as I was slow. Although, I often had to do things like this for commissions, most of the time, I was using photos, and this is the opposite of creativity. But maybe, not entirely. “Cobbling things together” took some creativity I suppose.

As I’ve mentioned before, art had to come after, and sometimes between life, raising kids, work, moving, (a lot), pets, etc.. But I worked on my art as often as possible, as well as finding ways to incorporate it into my life. So I guess, that took some creativity, heheh. For example, for a few years, I worked as a visiting artist at schools all around my area. I did this a few days a week, after my “regular” work, often times picking up my youngest daughter a little early from school, to assist me with the after school art classes. I also taught an adult color pencil theory class in the carriage house of the arts center near me, as well as a short class for a convention of teachers at a local hotel. That was fun. (Not sure if the sarcasm translates.)

On one occasion, I joined a group of people at our local arts council, and set up some of my work on the lawn of their site. An older woman approached me to ask if I had any paintings of old barns. Apparently she grew up on a farm locally, that no longer existed. I told her that I didn’t but would be happy to paint one for her. This turned into an extremely large painting incorporating, her family’s farm, the barn, cousins and other family riding high on a hay wagon, her mother in the garden, the “main house” across the road, and “Petunia the Cow”. Again this was done in color pencil. It was quite large for a color pencil portrait. It was 4′ x 3′. I finished it, feeling proud of what I had accomplished, and also gained a total of six other portraits for her family. The photo isn’t very good, as I took it at the framer’s and as it was heavy tried to get a photo while it was lying down, hence the distortion.

I began to do fairly well, and was getting commissions on a regular basis, including doing multiple portraits for some of the same people, as well as doing portraits of people’s pets. Though working with color pencil on large portraits, was difficult and sometimes tedious. I did feel that I was accomplishing something in what I felt was my chosen field. Yet I still had this nagging feeling that I wasn’t working to my potential, or with enough creativity.

Eventually, I transitioned away from color pencil, and returned to my roots of working with oils.

We moved often which meant that I had to find new clients. It wasn’t easy, especially as at that time social media wasn’t what it is now. I did gain new commissions, again painting multiple portraits for some of the same people. I also tried to stretch my painting chops. The above painting was completely from imagination. That may not seem like much but for me it meant a step toward more spontaneity.

I’ve noticed that there were distinct periods of my art. In between these “periods” occasionally, for whatever reason, I didn’t work on my art for long stretches of time. And after each period of time, I emerged feeling better able to “create” in I what felt was a more proficient and personal way.

At one time I was also a working writer. Nothing fantastic, I never published my fantasy mid grade reader, called Skara Brae. But I did finish it, and I had various articles published in magazines, as well as worked for a newspaper for a summer. (That’s another story).

Creativity, I have found, comes in many many forms. I realized that the book I wrote was creative. But maybe just not creative enough. After five years of nonstop work, I set writing aside for a while, and concentrated on my painting.

Along the way, after one of those break periods, I decided to try something that I had always admired, but felt that I just wouldn’t be able to do. I decided, what the heck, if I’m not happy with it, at least I tried. This was the beginning of my abstract period.

This painting is the first of what I consider abstract, that I did. After my son took me and my granddaughter to New York City for our birthdays, (both in April), I painted this city scene for him.

“Midsummer’s Night in The City”

Looking back I see now that this was creative. I did it entirely in one sitting, from my imagination. I felt really good about this, and he loved it.

I then did this painting of a Romany Cart, and a Vanner horse. It’s done in a more dreamy fantasy style. These paintings made me feel a new freedom with my art, and I was hooked. (Unfortunately, the photos I have of it are somewhat blurry.) There is quite a bit more detail on the cart. Which may make this a blending of styles.

“Dancing in the Moonlight”

Abstract art could be considered one of the most creative of arts. Having been an artist for so long, I do feel that I have an “eye” for if something is “good” or not. Of course everything is subjective, and what appeals to one person, may not appeal to another. However, I do know what I like. Throwing caution to the wind, I got some acrylics. I figured, I could work in a quicker and more spontaneous way than I was used to, while pushing myself to be as accurate and true to what I envisioned, in a more flowing, and natural way.

I still strive for that elusive “creativity”, and I suppose I always will, but I do feel I’ve gotten closer.

“Glass Longhorn” from my Glass Menagerie series

Thank you for reading my blog. If you’re interested in any of my paintings or wish to commission me to do a painting, please DM me, or check out my Esty site. etsy.com/shop/omordah

Bye for now, and stay safe, while waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel.

What’s Up? Apparently An Asteroid.

How is everyone? Doing OK? Hanging in? Let’s be honest, things could be much better. And as we head closer to November, things, not so good things are ampping up all over. My response has been to begin writing my pov, only to delete, delete, delete. I’m an artist, and although I have very strong opinions about the shite show hammering away at us every day, I am also prone to get high anxiety over the whole mess, and really don’t care to get sucked into the bottomless pit of negativity that most social media has become. My answer has been to post a lot of my art. I figure it’s my little contribution to some positivity and beauty, which is sorely needed right now.

I know it has to be getting to most of us in one way or the other. For me I figured it had reached the boiling point, when my first reaction to an asteroid possibly hitting the earth on the eve of the elections was; “good” and a sense of relief. I have had a habit of reading and watching dystopian media since I was a kid. And although on the surface there is that feeling that it’s a nightmare, there is that underlying feeling that maybe it’s not such a bad thing. I by no means have a death wish. It’s just with this type of media, one tends to feel as if they are on the outside looking in, that it won’t affect us personally, even with the real stuff, like an asteroid. Other than to cause a major reset on life.) Which considering everything right now, doesn’t seem so horrible. Unfortunately many writers of this type of thing, seem to find it necessary to turn it all into a military style takeover after a while to “keep people in line” or whatever, and that is bad. Not to mention cliche and trite writing, and thinking. That’s usually the point where I get bored with it. Sadly we’re living through all of this right now.

“Smile Through the Storm”

We get warnings about asteroids and comets once in a while, and have dodged that particular bullet in recent times. I’m sure my reaction has more to do with needing something bigger than us, literally and figuratively to give us a reset, not to harm anyone.

Neowise (yes it’s a comet, not an asteroid, but it’s what I have for now, 🙂 )

I’ve been keeping busy painting, and sketching, and trying to keep my household together. Like everyone else, there are things that I miss. A quick lunch downtown, just stopping into a store without major planning, the movies. Oh I really miss going to the movies. Being the optimist that I am, I know that there will be a light at the end of this stifling, drowning under water tunnel, eventually. I know that I am luckier than many. I am able to go for walks, and to go kayaking once in a while. It may not be an asteroid, but I know that we will get our reset, sooner or later.

“Glass Leopard” from my “Glass Menagerie” series.

Keep doing what you’re doing, and stay safe, for yourself and others.

Playing With Mixed Media

Abstract paintings have been something that I have enjoyed doing, especially in the last few years. I particularly enjoy figurative abstract art. It produces a type of freedom to let go, as well as results in a more exciting piece to view. Having never been one to use mixed media, I have preferred getting the look I was striving for with the paint alone. But the other day, while waiting for something, I pulled up a photo of a painting I had done, and started to play around with the photo editor on my phone. I was pleasantly surprised with the results. So I decided to share them with you here.

This first piece, so far, is my personal favorite. It also happens to be one that I did, after finally deciding that this painting was as finished and refined as it was going to get. (More on that later.)

Isaiah At The Waterfall

Although the painting itself was not as spontaneous as when I incorporate the abstract elements as I paint, I do really like the outcome. And using a computer editor, gave me the chance to add to, or completely change how I wanted it to look, which was kind of fun. Below are other versions of this painting as unfinished, and unrefined, with and without embellishments. When I do a portrait of a specific person, it will go through many changes to get to where I feel it represents the person, and I am satisfied with it, as you can see from the photos of this portrait.

The painting itself went through a lot more changes after this to get to where I was good with it.

Some of these changes may appear very subtle but they make all of the difference in capturing the spirit and personality of the subject. There were a lot more stages, but I thought I’d move on to the fun part, goofing around with my phone!

Some of the tools on the app could be taken pretty far, such as this bit, where I went overboard with pixalating it. But I thought it was kind of interesting.

I threw in just a few pixels on this one, and thought the overall effect was cool. Also this was still not a “finalized version” of the painting itself.

The next three images were manipulated on the final version. And although sometimes never completely satisfied, I have to know when to say, “done.”

I hope you are all well and safe, and join me next time! (PS I know I had mentioned that I might go over some of the tools that I use, in this post. I still hope to do that in the future.)

Juneteenth 2020 In Otown

This is a short post to catch up a bit and let you know what I’ve been working on, and here it is!

I have been asked to showcase a recent painting I have done at a Juneteenth celebration event in my town. I awoke with the idea for this painting, and felt almost compelled to do it. To have someone feel that it should be included in such an important event, is exciting and flattering. I am very happy with how it came out. There are times when I paint that I get lost in the process, and it almost feels as if I am being guided, and this is how working on this piece felt. It’s an incredible experience.

Below I have included some of the steps to the completion of this piece.

It is my objective to show my process whenever I can, but sometimes getting caught up in actually creating a piece, I don’t always get a chance to take photos. I did manage to get these few taken. I’ll try to get a few more for the next one!

Care for one another, and stay safe. I hope you join me next time!

Born Out Of Time

Is daydreaming a prerequisite of being an artist? So many I have known, and including myself tend to have this trait to one degree or another. For myself it is a necessary requirement of the job, letting my mind wander, and rest, gives me a clearer vision of what I want to do. As well as takes me on impossible flights of fancy, (which may not always be a good thing, ) but it is essential.

One thing I’ve always daydreamed about is being part of, what feels like to me, some of the more important times and births of genres in the history of art; The Renaissance, the time of the Impressionist, the Abstract painters of the 20th century, (I only missed that one by a few decades), as well as the coming of age of comic art. To have been included in one of these circles of great minds and talents would have been an incredible experience.

The era that I’ve always felt most drawn to, almost as if I had been there, was the time of the Impressionists. What an exciting, brave romantic time of a burgeoning artistic genre and group of artists to have been part of!

It was bold, and difficult. They were mocked, and bullied by fellow artists. The official royal salon did not accept them. It was most likely when the terrible lable of “starving artist” came to be, and most certainly was true in many cases. Because they were creating a new, often maligned artistic style, it was a constant struggle. Often even amongst themselves, the impressionist artist couldn’t always agree about what was “acceptable ” and what was just “too far”.

Yet, with all of that, how exciting it must have been! They were rebels, outsiders, but passionately believed in what they were doing. They fought for their art, sometimes living in drafty, damp quarters, with little food, (hence the “starving artist sobriquet “). Often in between sales, or the help of patrons, they lacked art supplies, making what they could and reusing canvases to paint new works.

This may all sound pretty rough, and I imagine it was. But there is that wistful charm about it. Somewhat like looking back on our own “glory days”, growing up. There was magic in the struggle. It makes us who we are. It made them who they were, and they were true to themselves.

I imagine, living in an attic studio in old Paris. Lead lined skylight covering most of the ceiling, pans catching the rain where it drips down from the old, cracked caulking. It’s chilly, but there is some warmth from the old stove in a corner. A large bank of lead lined windows, looking out over Paris. Easels, canvases, and brushes everywhere. And being too thin, but still young, strong and dreaming of people loving your work. Meeting up with other like minded painters, giddily talking about what you’re working on, and dreaming of what’s to come with this new way of painting. Complaining of the fools who don’t quite get it. Knowing, feeling to your bones that you’re on to something great. That all the hard times will be worth it. Maybe not knowing that these are the glory days, but maybe a little part of you hanging on for dear life to it, because it is “something “, something important. And it was.