Saturday, April 30, 2011

Apples, and Shells, and Rocks, oh my!

There's just something about apples that I need to paint. What's going on inside my brain that lures me in and bites me, compelling me to put an apple in my still life paintings? Weird brain.


I'm not even that thrilled with how this brand of apple paints up. Besides the paints, which I am too stubborn or lazy, or something, to add the new Alizarin Crimson and Burnt Sienna to the palette, I need to buy prettier colored apples.


At least I found time to paint, thrilled or not. Process over thrilled. May as well paint a junk painting now and then. Is it good or bad for the ego? Then again, it is my opinion.

Some times I think my work was lousy and someone else would say how they love it, so I can't go by how I feel. Just paint and don't think about it. Move on.

This was a twenty minute session at this point. I left it alone after twenty minutes because it was annoying me. I had to stop and get away from it. The next day I worked on it again and it looks slightly neater. I can't think of the word to describe the finished piece other than "neater." It's done.

There are some elements that please me though. I really like the color strength and shape of the broken shell on the right and the way the shadow pops the lower edge. The rest is just so-so, to my eye. I think that apple is doing nothing for me. Overplayed the apple, and maybe that rock. The shell?

I think it's time to find other subjects, but I'm not sure exactly what thing is going to feel comfortable.  Other fruits are boring as well as some veggies. Maybe a fabric? Or a shiny platter? A bowl?

Maybe I need a vacation?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thought for Thursday

     “The secret of life is in art.” ~Oscar Wilde (Irish Poet, Novelist, Dramatist and Critic, 1854-1900)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Art is About Life

I came across something online yesterday that caught my attention. It was an essay about blogging and the idea behind why people blog, what to blog about, and the blog's main idea or focus. What story are we trying to tell with a blog? Are our ideas all over the place, or is the blog about one topic and only that topic?

Some blogs seem like an open page of a person's diary. Other blogs are like another person's photograph album. One blogger likes to ramble about not much of anything in particular while another writes very technical information with tedious accuracy.

This article stated that an art blog should be about art. If that's the case then what about the life of the art and artist?

While I was pondering this essay in my Morning Pages I found myself writing that there really is no art without life. If that is true, then there is no life without art. The beauty of art and art making is synonymous with life and all it's beauty. The two are totally entwined.

When I started writing this blog I knew there was no way I could only discuss my art journey or the process. Life would sprout up between the posts of painting and not painting. Nor did I want my whole life to be an open book to put up to scrutiny. A little life story here, a rant about my latest painting there, and there you have it.

I was watching a television show where celebrities were making art for charity in one episode. None of the stars were artistically talented. Creative, yes, but not in the painterly sense. They arranged their work in a gallery for the public to purchase and donate money.

What struck me was a patron made their decision to purchase one work only after hearing what the celebrity artist had to say about his feelings while painting it. The painting itself was really not great, but the thoughts of the artist were intriguing enough to make the decision to buy. How interesting is that?

The daydreams and ramblings of the artist are the things that make life interesting. And life is more interesting because the artist has a different view of it. Does a painting posted each day make the art blog a good one to follow? Maybe not, because art isn't all about art.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Taking a Break with Snaps

Friday Night Epitaphios Service

Friday Procession of Kouvouklion holding the Epitaphios Icon
Baking Session #2
Saturday Night Awaiting the Resurrection
Christos Anesti! Christ is Risen!
Alithos Anesti! Truly He is Risen!
Taking home the Holy Light

Friday, April 22, 2011

Photo for Friday


These are traditional Easter bread called Tsoureki in Greek, or Choreg in Armenian, which are sweet like brioche and decorated with red dyed eggs. I baked some twists, rounds, and a couple in a Byzantine cross design my grandmother used to make. 

This year Orthodox Easter coincides with the Catholic calendar. For the Orthodox to celebrate the holiday it must be the same time as Passover because the Bible says Jesus was also celebrating that week.

We greet each other in church with Kali Anastasi, which means: anticipate a good resurrection.
After midnight services Holy Saturday in the Greek Orthodox church we exclaim Christos Anesti! Which translated means Christ is Risen. In Armenian we say Kristos harryev ee merrolotz!

I hope everyone enjoys a blessed Easter and sweet Passover.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Keeping On


I'm still working on painting those 100 paintings. Thank goodness I joined the challenge otherwise I would find excuses not to paint. So, the idea to be accountable to someone or something else works.

It's like when you are in school and expected to come to class prepared. The possibility of failure is up close and personal. Not so when you're working on your own. Who's going to grade me? No one, but myself. And I could give myself a pass instead of a fail.

Independent study might not be my forte. In my last year in college I had a painting class at which the professor did not hold regular hours. You had to paint on your own and attend one class a month. You can just imagine how that went. I was wasting time until I received the notice when class would meet and then Bam! I had to get on it.

I pulled out my 5ft roll of canvas, kicked it out on my basement floor and where it stopped I cut it and painted. At the time I was working in oils doing color studies using a limited palette of three colors. Abstract work, mixing the amounts of colors to see how many I could get from those three in a cloudy-like design.

Working all day and into the late night, I painted until I filled eight feet of canvas. Needless to say, my professor was impressed. After all, he told me to paint bigger! I knew I could do that, I just needed the time frame.

Pebble and Bits (c)2011 Dora Sislian Themelis
9x12 Watercolor on Arches paper
All these years later I'm still the same person I was back then. I need to be accountable and have a time frame. I guess that's why twenty minutes does the trick along with this challenge.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Progress in the Process

I have a busy Monday ahead of me today. And an even busier week to come, this being the lead up to Easter. I just can't believe a year has passed and here I am in the middle of another Holy Week. Didn't I just do this? Didn't I just blog about this? Time just flies by.

The big question is this: Will I have any time for myself and painting? I seriously doubt it, but I will try to squeeze some work in. This time last year I don't think I was using twenty minute increments of time to paint. I think I remember working on one piece for a while.

There's nothing wrong with that either. However, since I found how productive I can be using twenty minutes to paint I'm not sure how/if I can go back. Maybe if I find something interesting to paint I may have to work on one piece twenty minutes at a time. That could work.

But this week is rough for me. Fasting, baking, cooking, evenings in church take up alot of time. I'm pooped already. Can I skip any of it? I don't know if I can. I'm so used to going to church almost every night of this week. I'll see how I feel.

Shell Bits and Pebble

I painted these shells once again, but this time I added that pebble. Moving the set-up around to see the other side this time, made the still life look different once more. It's working for me so I'm not going to change it up and chance a bout with Mr. Resistance.


Then I happened to get a flash of motivation and quickly sketched the objects again before we headed out for dinner Saturday night. I moved the items around again, found a pleasing arrangement and  dropped in some color before we had to leave. Done.

I am definitely making progress with the process!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thought for Thursday

“I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.” -Pearl S. Buck, author

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I'm Still Here

Bits and Shell (c)2011DST  8x12 Watercolor
Hello! I didn't forget you! Did you forget me? I could almost forget me! I have been busy this week with my little munchkin and having plenty of fun.

Babies are amazing animals. I'm really enjoying watching her grow and change. In fact, I've been enjoying watching myself grow and change. We're on similar paths. She: physically. Me: artistically.

With the kick in the knees at the 100 Paintings challenge, to just put away a painting once it's finished, I've been easily moving on to the next work. Progress! Growth! My kind of "change"!

It's amazing what a difference a small suggestion can make. It feels like freedom. Free to move to the next stage. Okay, I'm still painting still life items, but I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Painting the same items over and over affords a certain affection with said items. Yeah, it sounds weird, but these things are out and that's it. Don't think about it too long.

So. I painted this yesterday and today I painted another one. I am on a roll! "Change" is good!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Quantity over Quality, Process is Progress

Shell With Bits (c)2011 Dora Sislian Themelis
 8x12 Watercolor on Arches paper
Adding to the latest mantra, which for some time was: It's the Process! Now I'm saying to myself: Quantity over Quality. Yes, don't worry over what the outcome is, just keep moving. It's a good idea.

Over at the 100 Paintings Challenge, of which this is #12, the host Laure Ferlita, sent out an email recently. It seems some of us in the challenge have begun to discuss the good and the bad of our work in our blurbs. In other words, we are judging individual paintings rather than critiquing a good number of them as a whole.

Instead of pointing out the faults of each piece, just paint and forget about it. Finish one work, put it away, and begin the next.

That made sense to me, as I always prop up my work and look at it as I walk by during my day. Since Laure's message, I have put my challenge paintings in a pile. I will take them out and look at them when I hit twenty five. Will I see changes by then? Maybe.

Really, the idea of quantity over quality is similar to process. The point is to paint, and keep painting. Progress comes in degrees and over time. For me, the progress is I'm painting regularly. Even if it means twenty minutes at a time. This painting was done in twenty minutes. Progress means I have my tools out and available to use when I find the time.

If I can use those twenty minutes this wisely every day, I am way ahead.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Raspberry Agates are Delicious


Have you ever needed a gift for someone and couldn't get it together what to get, where to get it, how much to spend? It's not easy shopping for a co-worker's birthday. How personal should the gift be? It depends on how friendly you are with that person.

Along with painting I have been designing and making beaded jewelry pieces. Some of them have really come out beautifully. I've even worn some of my pieces and received plenty of compliments. That's always a nice feeling.

I have an Etsy shop with my jewelry for sale, along with some of my paintings, small handknit items like spa cloths and baby socks. The spa cloths and jewelry saw sales, the art not so much. Etsy doesn't really support the fine arts with appropriate categories. I've hunted for watercolor paintings and found wood lemon reamers among the reproduction art.

Nice site, not nice for art. Plenty of craft items though as well as very talented artists. It's too bad. I would add more paintings to the shop, but why bother if shoppers can't find them? I'll think about that one for a while.

Having sold the necklace from this set, I was asked to make another one to match the bracelet. I decided to throw in a pair of earrings for fun. These are freeform raspberry agates and they are delicious. What great color! Nice sparkle, too.

Well, they are off to a new home as the gift for someone's birthday. I hope they are as loved much as I enjoyed making these pieces.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Prepare to be Creative

Where did I find the time to even read this week? With everything that goes on around here, I've been hard pressed to find time to paint, much less read anything beyond the daily newspaper. Yes, I still read a real paper.

I love to read. I will read anything, books being my favorite. The heftier the better. When I was doing the Artists Way course we were not allowed to read. The idea was that reading takes away creative time and could be used as an excuse not to paint. I get that, but I'm sorry, somewhere in the day I need reading time.

On with The Creative Habit. I'm still on the first chapter and it's a good read so far. The author, Twyla Tharp, suggests creative people need to work at it to develop artistic habits. Makes sense. It's our job, our work, our being. So why is it so hard to keep in the creative loop? Well, she points to Mozart as an example. Boy genius or workaholic?

His father Leopold had massive influence as he was famous himself, but Wolfgang worked harder than no one else on his music. He had a fierce focus and was constantly at work. Nobody had to tell him to go practice as it was his passion. If he could do it, what's up with the rest of us?

We're not prepared, for one thing, so we lose our focus. Tharp notes:"In order to be creative you have to know how to prepare to be creative." We need our subject matter, our content and we can learn to make it habit, and that is a skill. Routines feed into creativity. "Everything is relevant. Everything is useable. Everything is raw material. But without preparation, I cannot see it, retain it, and use it. Without the time and effort invested in getting ready to create, you can be hit by the thunderbolt and it'll just leave you stunned."

Routine is the first step to ritual. Automatic, divisive patterns of behavior are vital to establishing a habit. Something that makes your brain click in, just before you plan to chicken out. The ritual "eliminates the question, Why am I doing this?" It also teases the notion of whether or not you feel like doing anything. We need to decide what daily ritual helps the brain click in and say Now I'm ready.

So, is it the daily sketch, the music we chose for painting time, lighting a candle, or the moment of quiet thought before we begin that signals the start of the ritual? As I face the blank, white canvas, alone in my solitude I need to think to myself "What's in it for me?"

Stay tuned..

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Time's Up!

The Underside (c)2011 Dora Sislian Themelis
9x12 Watercolor on Arches paper
A busy weekend doesn't always afford the chance to paint. You would think that having two days free from other duties around here I'd have time to myself. It just isn't the case. Except for 20 minutes that I was able to wrest free for me!

Yes, twenty glorious minutes. Sad isn't it? Sad that I can only find twenty minutes to myself. The thing is not to dwell on the time, but the activity. So I had twenty minutes, big deal! I used it to my advantage. When you set your mind to something things happen. Don't you find it to be so?

Seeing that I was in between errands and visiting this Saturday, and all alone for once, I grabbed that time to paint. Hey, I'm on the clock here with that commitment to paint 100 paintings! By the time I was finished with this my people here started to arrive, Son#2 first, then The Mr.

Bzzzzzzz. Time's up!

Friday, April 1, 2011

What a Great Day!


What an amazing day at the beach today! The weather was sunny, hot and humid. Just the way I like it. Can it get any better than this? I don't think so.

Had my lunch with me, a huge iced coffee and a beach towel. What else do I need? Nothing. A short drive from home and I'm in heaven. I couldn't ask for a better day.

Look at that scene. It's a comfortable, lazy, quiet beach. Drink it in. Savor it. You can see the heat rising up off the sand into that beautiful blue sky. Breathe in deep and exhale. Slowly breathe in the ocean air. Let it out. Repeat.

Well, I have to interrupt this to say April Fool! It's cloudy, cold and raining outside, and north of where I live they're expecting a big snowstorm.

Enjoy your day!