Wednesday, November 30, 2011

To Beat Resistance: The Timer Is My Friend

©2011 Dora Sislian Themelis

Here is the last of the sunflower photographs I took during the vegetable share season. It's kind of Vincent van Gogh-ish. When I get a chance to buy larger watercolor paper I will be painting from this photo. Did you see I said "when." And "when" will that be?

I could see these sunflowers in oils, too. The oil paints have sat for so long I can't even think about getting them out and painting with them. Yeah, I know, I need a bit of time to look them over, set them up around the palette, but then there's the medium to deal with, a large enough canvas to work on. These are the distractions that stop me in my tracks.

Maybe I will do a small and quick twenty minute watercolor? Well, let's see where it goes.

These are the things I grapple with during my day. The road blocks are my own. Mr. Resistance can wreak havoc on plans.

Watercolor paints are so easy to get out, paint, clean up, and put away. The oils are out, the painting sits wet for days, the air needs to be well ventilated because of the chemicals in the paints and the medium. Unless I sketch quick with plenty of turpentine so the paints dry faster, this could take time.

Do people still use turpentine any more? That's how long I haven't painted in oils, don't tell on me.

Am I making excuses not to paint at all? Gee, let's see: no watercolor paper large enough, the oils are a pain, I might not have enough time to paint. Sound familiar? Resistance is stepping out into view here.

Now we are on the verge of December, and all that comes with the holidays. How can painting be a priority if there are so many other things to get done?

The thought running through my head right now is this: The timer is my friend. The timer is my friend.

Monday, November 28, 2011

No Thanksgiving Hype, Great

Thanksgiving is one holiday that really doesn't get much hype. Unless, of course, you fall into that set of people who must shop. I am definitely NOT one of those people. The powers that be can't sell anything big for this particular holiday except the food items that are needed.

The focus is on Christmas, Hanukkah, maybe New Year's Eve. However, many stores opened at 9PM on Thanksgiving day this year. In the past, this was unheard of. I think it's ridiculous. Can't people go one day without shopping? It's bad enough the stores open their doors at 5AM.

What? Do people have to throw out their company because they are going shopping at 9PM? Do they say "Sorry, hurry and finish that piece of pie because I am out of here in an hour"?

I like a leisurely holiday. I enjoy the preparations, the dinner, whether in my own house or at family. Here in NY, the Macy's Parade is televised so if you're not there you can still see it.

My habit is to catch glimpses of the parade while preparing things for the dinner. It's Christmas theme makes it the precursor to the big holiday to come. If you think about it, Thanksgiving is not the focus at all. Too bad.

The end of the parade signals the big curtain call, Santa Claus on his sleigh with all the reindeer and elves. It's really a sight, and he's usually great. It's as if he's a real person, very natural.

I get misty eyed seeing the Santa at the end. Something about him catches me by surprise. Good thing I don't have a TV in my kitchen since I had it done over, or I'd be all choked up watching him.

I'm sure holidays are heavy for most people. The present is heavy, as well as the past. Is it the traditions, the anticipation, the expectations, conscious and subconscious? The things we used to do, things we still do, things that are new to do, things we must do, the people we did those things with, the stories we remember, and the people we're doing them with today.


There are things we do and remember a time doing these same things, but the clothes, the era, were different, are different. I'm not that nostalgic, nor do I want to go back in time. I am just aware that things are different and changing.

Am I different? I supposed I am, but in many ways, no, I am not. I am still who I always was. Santa at the end of the parade made me misty eyed as a little kid, too.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Photos for Friday

Here is a small sample of items handmade by me! Visit my Etsy shop and my Facebook page for more items and contact information if you are interested in purchasing anything you fancy.

Hand Knit Baby Bonnet in Red from 6 months and up

Hand Knit Baby Bonnet in Soft Yellow from 6 months and up

Unisex Knotted Bracelet with various Greek Mykonos beads

Women's Strung Bead Bracelet with Turquoise and Glass beads

Latest bracelets for Men and Women

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Shell Has Company!

Shell Has Company 7x10 Watercolor on Arches paper
©2011 Dora Sislian Themelis
Isn't it nice that my beach shell has found itself in another painting with company? I don't know what it is about that shell that I seem to paint it so often.

Maybe it reminds me of the day at the beach when I found it? Maybe it's because of the little bit of seaweed that clings to the underside? Is it because it's cracked?

Then there's the apple. I'm intrigued by the different colors I find in every apple I paint. The veggie share gave me this pumpkin-type thing. I like the color of it.

Whatever pulls me, I must oblige.

I had planned to paint this still life set up larger, but guess what? No paper! The small Arches block I was saving to take with me on painting excursions was ready and waiting, so that's what I used instead. A trip to the art supply store will have to happen sooner rather than later.

Twenty minutes of painting this and I was finished. Damp brush, not a lot of water, and sketching is possible. I used two brushes, a medium large round and a small outline type brush, to paint with. We all have many different brushes, but lately it's been these two. Funny how we can pare down to get the most out of a minimum of items to work with.

It's like having a closet full of clothes, and I only wear the same ten or so items all the time.

The same thing with painting. All the colors on the palette and I keep using the same five colors, and these two brushes.

Anyway, I painted. It's a reason to cheer! Except I won't because I never know when Mr. Resistance will turn the corner. Shhhhhh.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Photo for Friday

Well, at least there were some things I liked about the vegetable share I did this year. Apples being one of the good things..

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thought for Thursday

‎"Everyone has talent at 25. The difficulty is to have it at 50.” ~Edgar Degas, artist

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Art is Loved

When I signed onto the vegetable CSA for the season I planned to receive flowers and eggs as well as the fruits and vegetables they offered. It's been interesting to see the different produce I brought home. Some things I never saw before and never want to see again, to be really honest. Let's say it's been an experience.

Surprisingly, I really enjoyed the flowers. Those sunflowers had an effect on me from the start. I liked the jaunty way they sat in my vase and I just had to photograph them. The life of fresh flowers is fleeting, so to preserve their beauty I had to take photos. Did I think I would paint them? Yeah, the idea came across. Did I think I would be enamored of sunflowers? Nope.

SOLD Sunflowers Outside ©2011 Dora Sislian Themelis

This painting was the first of the bunch and it was memorable because I painted it in great weather in my backyard garden. It just happened to be a beautiful day with painting happening.

At the end of the summer I added it to my portfolio of work that I brought to the workshop I attended. Did I think it would be purchased during that weekend? Not at all, but that's exactly what happened, as I said in the post about the workshop. Crazy.

Me, my painting, and happy new owner Grace!

Grace, my table-mate fell in love with my painting and had to have it (her words)! Of course I sold it to her, and we took photographs of the moment. It was a lot of fun. (By the way, Grace makes beautiful pottery and owns her own pottery studio The Potter's Wheel. Visit her site and Etsy shop when you can.)

Sunflowers Outside hanging in Grace's home

Just this week Grace posted to Facebook a photograph of the newly matted, framed and hung painting in it's place of honor in her home. It was a wonderful feeling to know that painting is loved by someone other than me, it's maker. Doesn't it look happy? I think it does. And so am I.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Process Leads to Finished

Four Sunflowers 14x20 Watercolor on Lanaquarelle paper
©2011 Dora Sislian Themelis
You see, the process, when implemented by the twenty minute time slots, leads to finished product. It's a coincidence that I just read something to the effect that artists with a day job should fit creativity time in their day just like this. They should set a timer for twenty minutes and push headlong into painting, or whatever.


I finished this today. Believe me, if I don't put it away right now I will find some other spot to play with on this work. After I took this photograph I made a small area of the background darker to pop the yellow flower petals a little bit more.

That is my downfall. I tell myself I'm finished and then after I clean the brushes and my palette I spy an area I think needs a flick of the brush. Many a work has been ruined by such impulsiveness.

Forget it, I've already uploaded this photo and that's it. The little brush stuff I just did will have to be discovered by someone else, hopefully a happy art collector.

Just putting it out there into the Universe, hoping the Universe hears that little plea for a buyer to show up and give a nice painting a new home. That's all.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Process Works, Baby

As it turns out, I was extremely out of the loop for a few days. The good part of it was that I found twenty minutes to paint on this latest work each day. Imagine that? I know, I know, you're probably saying to yourself "this girl doesn't knock it off with the twenty minutes thing." 

Really, if I hadn't discovered I could paint and keep the process going in short amounts of time I'd be under the table by now, completely out of the scene. But here I am. Everyday I'm shuffling, chugging away, Process, baby!

Every day I dipped the brush in the paints and scribbled a little here, threw some paint over there. I am so thankful to the inner-artist in me who decided to take a lot of photos of these sunflowers when they came with my vegetable share. To tell the truth-this was the best part of the CSA share. The veggies? Eh.

When the baby slept I painted. When I came in from errands, I painted. While I cooked dinner, I painted. Before I ran out of the house in the morning, I painted. Twenty minutes, ten minutes, whatever little iota of time I could afford, I worked on my process. 

I might have to buy myself some sunflowers after these photos are all used for paintings. Either that or I may paint them all over again, but using oil paints, and painting really big. It's an idea.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thought for Thursday

“Art is not about thinking something up. It is the opposite -- getting something down.” – Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Back to Twyla

Solitude ©2009 Dora Sislian Themelis

There hasn't been much time for reading lately. Painting during the day when I can, and knitting at night takes up my time. I really enjoy reading a good book, too. (And a "real" book at that!)

The Creative Habit, by Twyla Tharp is a quick read though, and I'd prefer to take my time with it to savor her thoughts of making one's art a habit. I have read ahead almost to the end, but I haven't taken notes. When I read The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron, I took plenty of notes, did the exercises and tried to be a good student. This time around I'm not being quite as good. I'm just reading.

However, I am taking away some very helpful points and ideas. There are things I already know about myself that Tharp discusses in her book, one idea is to build up a tolerance for solitude. Well, I've got that one down well. I know I need it and can do it very well, thanks.

I can imagine that there are some people to whom quietness and solitude could not be a good thing. Not for a long stretch anyway.

Tharp says: "Some people are autophobic. They're afraid to be alone. The thought of going into a room to work all by themselves pains them in a way that is, at first, paralyzing within the room, and then keeps them from entering the room altogether. It's not the solitude that slays a creative person. It's all that solitude without a purpose. You're alone, you're suffering, and you don't have a good reason for putting yourself through that need a goal."

It's impossible to me to be miserable in a room all by myself. No suffering here. I'm a person who enjoys my own company. I have many things around me that keep me busy and give me inspiration. My goal is the solitude itself within which I can then create.

Some people, for the life of them, cannot be alone for any stretch of time. There is no goal. They are lonely and sick without interaction with other individuals.

"Alone is a fact, a condition where no one else is around. Lonely is how you feel about that."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Now I am Famous, Sort of

A funny thing happened on my way to my painting spot. I got side tracked by iPad. It's been happening lately. That pesky iPad makes me take detours and it's not pretty. The convenience of having computer accessibility anywhere in my house could be a good thing, but it's both good and bad.

I don't need more distractions than I already can handle.

So I found myself in a trance in front of the iPad screen looking at everything this week! Emails, facebook, twitter, the blogs I write for, just everything. Up pops a new email from someone I do not know. Should I open it? Is it spam?

To make a long story kinda short, it was from someone involved in a website called and they read my blog and wanted to feature it on their site in a monthly e-magazine section called Pocketchange "Best of the Web" with a few other neat blogs. How cool is that?

When I made sure it was legit, hey you never know, I responded with Yes! I sent them a blurb about my blog and a photo, the one posted here today.

It feels nice to be recognized for my writing and painting skills! Gee, this must be my next fifteen minutes of fame right here. Wow, I don't want to get a swelled head or anything like that. Ha ha! Right.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Painting Photo for Friday

Cooper's Farm ©2011 Dora Sislian Themelis
14x20 Watercolor
Finished another watercolor painting! I am on a roll. Actually, I just wanted this one done with. When I am ready for something else I get antsy to finish and continue. Not like other times when I don't even touch the paints. No, I am trying to behave and keep working.

For each painting session I was still using twenty minute segments, letting the work dry in between. And here I am painting from photographs, too. There was a time I just couldn't do that. The subject had to be live. But the blue tractor was adorable, and I liked the scenery. So there you go.

Now I'm over it. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thought for Thursday

"It took me forty years to find out that painting is not sculpture." ~ Paul Cezanne, artist

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Painting is Electric Energy

Another day, another painting start
What is it about painting that gets the electricity going? If I could feel like I did after starting this latest watercolor, I would bottle it and drink it every day to keep that momentum going. It is so weird.

After pulling the peach at the beach painting off the watercolor block, I hunted around for the next subject. It could take forever if I didn't start something new immediately, and then I'd be arguing with Mr. Resistance again. You know he'd win, too, right?

Remembering the vacation we took a couple of summers ago out on the east end of Long Island, and some of the great photos I took there, I hunted them up yesterday. Of course, I had a different computer then, which crashed. The photos are in it. No worries, I looked for them here on the blog and started in.

It's a nice, calm scene at Cooper's Farm. I like the tractor. Okay. Something about painting just gave me a jolt that lasted into the evening. I kept thinking about it, and planning my next session wishing I could paint again at around 11PM last night. I mean, I could, but people are around and the painting is sitting in the dining room, not the studio.

Whatever. The feeling is still with me now as I write this. Today is an outside, running around day, so painting will have to wait until I return.

Funny how I decided I needed to try to work from photos rather than life, and now that's all I'm doing. Is it like I'm on a kick or what? Also funny that I have a couple of different gourds from the vegetable share and I completely forgot about painting them. Totally out of my head.

Maybe I will have to also break with my tradition of working on one painting at a time to go ahead and paint those gourds on another block of paper? Ya think? Gee, what a concept!

Sometimes I knock myself out. Whack.

New Work

New Greek island harbor watercolor painting All the trouble started when I decided to switch blogging platforms from Blogger to Wordpre...