Tuesday, January 31, 2012

From #1 to #56 in One Year

What's Left of Fall ©2011 Dora Sislian Themelis
7x10 Watercolor on Arches
Last year I posted this watercolor still life of rocks, a favorite shell and leaves I kept in my copy of the Artist's Way as one of the tasks of abundance. They served me very well at the time. I was already painting twenty minute works. When I decided to join in the 100 Paintings Challenge this was #1.

Four Shells with Rock ©2012 Dora Sislian Themelis
7x10 Watercolor on Arches
This watercolor painting with more of my favorite broken shells and rocks is #56 in the challenge. It will seem as if these items were the only subjects I painted, but that would be the wrong assumption.

Plenty of challenges were met in between these two paintings.

This weekend I also had time to go through all 56 paintings I did this year. Some works were twenty minute pieces. Others took a couple of days to complete. How I used the medium seems to me to be tighter on this last work than the first. My handling of watercolor evolved to where I'm more at ease with it. I learned a lot and still have far to go.

The 56 works evolved into different series of pieces, mostly still life work in watercolor. When I looked at each painting I could relive the past year. I can remember my days with every work, how I felt, what I was thinking, where I was and how I got myself to paint. It was a moment in time. A lesson of life.

Feel free to drop in some comments. 



Monday, January 30, 2012

The Finish Line, or Not


I spent the weekend in reflection. January 31 was my first post to the 100 Paintings Challenge. A year ago I found out I could paint finished work in twenty minutes and I would post my paintings to the Twenty Minute Challenge. That's where I found out about 100 Paintings.

Well, I will not make it to the required 100 pieces of art in this year. There is always next year to try my best. What else can I say? As of today I painted 56 watercolor paintings, with a few pen and ink drawings thrown in that mix to keep at it.

In my opinion, I accomplished plenty. As I said in another post, I am good for another go. See what happens this time.

Yesterday I went into the studio to survey my space. What is it that keeps me from doing better work there than at the dining room table? For one thing, the dining room table is lower than my drawing board allowing me to stand while I paint. I can move around, look at my work from a distance, keep some energy going. The drawing board is high and I can't get away from it. Need to change it.

The dining room table has great north facing light, the studio is in the basement. Can't do much about that, but make sure I have good light in the studio.

Most paintings took twenty minutes or so to complete. The larger works took a couple of days of work, and then I was a slacker some days. And I was working in the dining room because I needed to be near my granddaughter while she napped. A year later she's not napping much, so there goes that.

Then I was also battling with Mr. Resistance. It's been easier to beat the demon after all the work I've been doing since the Artist's Way, Alyson Stanfield's book and workshops, and my own lazy brain.

So I will forgive myself for not painting the requisite 100 works. It's okay. I'm not looking to excuse myself because I did agree to the challenge, just didn't pass the finish line on time.

We are all a work in progress. The Blast Off class I am taking online with Alyson is a huge help and I am working on my curriculum for the year ahead.

Painting will be regularly scheduled on the calendar of to-do list items at #1.
Reading artists bios, looking into documentaries of artists and museum visits is on the item list.

I'm already reading this great biography of Vincent van Gogh and it's been very interesting to learn how he came to paint.

And there's been knitting. Knitting socks at that. While I knit I daydream as I watch the stitches or color fly by on my needles. As I watch my brain is planning the next painting.

Not a bad start to another year of paintings. Wish me luck, again!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Photos of Paintings

Three Friends ©2012 Dora Sislian Themelis
7x10 Watercolor on Arches
Last year around this time I signed on to the 100 Paintings Challenge. I wanted to do a few things by trying to paint 100 paintings in one year: build a body of work, learn how to use watercolor paints better, see subjects with a keener eye, push myself to paint regularly. And maybe sell a few works.

Shells with Peach ©2012 Dora Sislian Themelis
7x10 Watercolor on Arches
 The challenge has been wonderful in all of those ways, except I will not meet the deadline with 100 pieces of work. Nope. Not gonna happen. Not this year anyway.

Four Shells with Rock ©2012 Dora Sislian Themelis
7x10 Watercolor on Arches
On the plus side, I have met most of my goals, and even sold a few paintings. So I consider the year a win. I am up for round 2. As soon as my deadline arrives I am committing to another go around.

I am grateful for the opportunities I found this year and I'm looking forward to better things ahead.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Grateful Wordless Wednesday

Still Water ©2012 Dora Sislian Themelis

Quiet Great Neck ©2012 Dora Sislian Themelis

Misty Piers ©2012 Dora Sislian Themelis

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Quick Self Portrait Can be Scary

Free Outside ©2012 Dora Sislian Themelis
7x10 Watercolor on Arches
Last week I wanted to paint something quick so I made a print of my photograph and hurriedly sketched this self portrait on a small block of Arches watercolor paper. Seeing these photos together helps me to see how squishy I drew my head, my eye isn't looking in the same direction, and it's too wide open. Scary.

On the trail at the museum visit
Drawing while sitting isn't a smart thing to do. I end up with weird perspective. Would have been better if I stood up so I could see what I was doing. I made my head too long and the angle is wrong, but hey, it's the process! This painting is an elongated me. The product was not the goal, it was to just work.

Since I figured out that my year of 100 paintings is coming to a close next week or so, I've been trying to paint more twenty minutes pieces. Each of my affirmation cards for the Blast Off class count as a painting, right? Add this one and I was up to #53. Still, not getting near 100. Why not just go ahead and paint anything? I might do this again on larger paper to get the proportions right. Hope I don't scare myself.

It's okay to take liberties in art. Does it really matter if the likeness is exact? Don't think it is. The way Picasso painted his subjects nobody could really look like any of his abstract figures. So I can make believe this is a kind of abstract. Yeah, that sounds good.

Process people! Move it. Paint. Work. Try. Try it again.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Photos for Friday

On my artist date at the Nassau County Museum of Art to see the Louis Comfort Tiffany exhibit, I just had to take a short walk on one of the trails. I thought I could see a body of water beyond the trees and I had to try to see it. If you look at the first photo, you can barely see Long Island Sound beyond the trees. Read the small sign at the bottom of the name of the trail. Interesting? Scary!







Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thought for Thursday

      “I can't change the fact that my paintings don't sell. But the time will come when people will recognize that they are worth more than the value of the paints used in the picture.”~Vincent van Gogh(Dutch Painter, one of the greatest of the Post-Impressionists, 1853-1890)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pinning Down Affirmations


Creating a set of affirmations for the Blast Off class was a difficult task for me to start doing. Yes, in my Morning Pages I tell myself all kinds of things, not all are positive affirmations. Some times I say You Jerk, why'd you do THAT?

Trying to come up with affirmations that didn't make me feel dopey and making cards to look at daily was causing me some resistance. Since beginning this course I think the classes, the readings, and the audios are kicking in. Today I had the time (made the time) and for some reason, felt the urge to jump in and do it.

I chose these four thoughts, something simple and do-able. I decided to try out the free paper I just got at the art supply shop this weekend. (Hmmm, abundance coming my way?)

First I wrote out my phrases in pencil then I played with the watercolors, thinking up designs as I read each card. The things I painted are the things I love looking at for my still life's. I think they make sense to me.

Will reading these help me move ahead? Maybe. I'm trying my best to keep resistance at the door so I can stay in the game. One step at a time.

Monday, January 16, 2012

What? Everyone Loves Free Stuff


Yesterday I planned to take a short break while I still was semi free and visit the nearest art supply shop. There are two in my area and both were having sales. One shop sent me a great coupon to take off 40% on a non-sale item. That is huge.

My little artist date started at the office supply store for some stuff I needed to continue working in the Blast Off class. Then I moved on to Dick Blick art supply. I purchased a nice large block of Arches watercolor paper on sale. I needed watercolor paint and chose yellow ochre from Windsor&Newton. Dick Blick didn't carry MamieriBlu which I've been using. Fine.

Afterwards I drove over to Utrecht where the Arches was also on sale, same price. Ok. I found MamieriBlu paints there and bought permanent green light. Sale! I decided I liked the brush selection at Dick Blick better, so that's for another day.

At the register the manager was fussing with some large sheets of heavy weight paper as I was paying for my paint. He turned to me and asked if I knew what the paper was, because he had no clue and no paperwork for it. What did I know? Was it bristol board? Was it watercolor paper? No idea here.

Then he said, Why don't you just take it?

Who? Me?

Yes! Happy New Year to you!

I said, Why not? Hey, I will never refuse free paper. I don't know what it is, but it's all mine now.
Now if I can only get my butt in gear and use it.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Photo on Friday

Shell, Pepper, Pot ©2012 Dora Sislian Themelis
8x10 Watercolor on Arches paper


There was just enough time to squeeze out this painting yesterday. Just enough time to throw these items together and just paint them. I want to say it took twenty minutes, but I really can't be that sure. Maybe it was a smidge more? Not positive. I didn't put the timer on.

None the less, I painted. And there just was no time in the day to do any more.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thought for Thursday

"Motivation requires motive." ~ Brian Tracy, author of Eat That Frog (I'm going to have to read this book now!)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Blasting Off

You know me, I'm so last minute all the time. Well, true to form, I decided, at the last minute once again, to take a class in self promotion, process, progress, organization, all in the name of art.

Yes, I said Yes, again.

Alyson B. Standfield of the Art Biz Coach/Blog regularly holds online classes in various matters pertaining to artists and their work/business. This class is called Blast Off! and that's just what I need right now. A little guidance can go a long way. It's not hand-holding either. You have to do the work to succeed. No one can do it for you.

I'm all strapped in and ready to Blast Off. Wish me luck!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Quality Supplies Makes Quality Work

Shells ©2012 Dora Sislian Themelis
8x10 Watercolor on Arches paper

Sunflower Petals ©2012 Dora Sislian Themelis
8x10 Watercolor on Arches paper

Rocks ©2012 Dora Sislian Themelis
8x10 Watercolor on Strathmore paper
One day last week I was determined to keep at the painting schedule. Twenty minutes per painting and if I pushed myself I could do a few, one after another. Inspiration was running low, the shells and pebbles have been painted over and over, no new sunflowers around either. But after my artist date I had a bit of motivation so I gathered my stuff and went at it.

Shells, rocks, pebbles were thrown on my table and I just painted what I saw. Next! I decided to crop one of the sunflower photos are paint that view. Great! Then I went for an even quicker sketch of the shells and pebbles. I used paper that I had cut from larger sheets to make these smaller works, not realizing amid the Arches papers was a student grade of paper from a long while ago. 

As I began sketching the last painting, as has become my style, the paint beaded up on the paper. The paper seemed to resist the watery paint. I had a hard time with that, and worked harder than I had been doing lately. Twenty minutes and I was not happy with the process of that last painting. Nope.

The moral of the story is to make sure to use quality equipment whenever possible. Taking short cuts is just not worth the trouble. I'll be careful of that at the next session.



Sunday, January 8, 2012

Artist Date with Louis Comfort Tiffany


Finally, I took a real Artist's Date. Between holidays I found myself with a free day and I had been waiting to visit the Tiffany exhibition of oil and watercolor paintings at the Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn, New York.


Not many people are aware that Louis Comfort Tiffany painted besides designing stained glass windows and lamps. It seems he traveled to the Middle East and Egypt and painted during his visits. His watercolors were my favorites.


The museum allowed photographs without flash so I took a few of the works I liked best.


I was especially struck by the way he painted highlights, paying special attention to the play of sunlight on objects. Some darker works popped with the dappled highlights, really giving his paintings life.


This watercolor painting was special to me for the beautiful color of the endless sky against the sandy foreground with the small figures as an afterthought. How evenly he applied the color to the sky area. I was impressed.


This is one of the pieces of glass work in the exhibit. The colors and design are reminiscent of Tiffany's travels from his paintings. The museum had large glass panels and paintings Tiffany did with the Hudson school of artists, which were nice, but I liked his paintings of the Orient much better.

It was inspirational, to say the least.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Thought for Thursday, on Friday Because I Forgot What Day it Was

"When I'm painting, I'm not aware of what I'm doing. It's only after a get acquainted period that I see what I've been about."~ Jackson Pollack

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Working on Those Goals


About those goals..yes, I am trying my best to work really hard toward them. I decided the best one I can start on is in the studio. If I make it pleasant, maybe I will enjoy working in it. Maybe is a big word.

It's a small space in my basement, but it's mine. On the other side that you can't see is a larger space we carved out for Son#1 and his musical instruments and other things. Now he has his own house and music space. So I confiscated some of it for me starting with the shelving. 

I moved some posters around and hung more art I did in the past, moved my art books in and generally straightened up. That door leads to a closet I need to paint and put in flat files or shelves, but I dressed it up with a hand embroidered table covering from Cyprus I had. A bamboo folding screen I've had forever is blocking a crummy view of an unfinished area of the space. Who needs to see that?

Bead supplies, painting supplies, brushes, small sculptures and other stuff is arranged on and in the shelves. The table on the right is where I left out some bead stuff and ideas. Some things need to stay in view. 

Today I treated myself to a real artist date at a museum nearby. In the afternoon I painted something small in the studio just to keep at it. The 100 Paintings Challenge is proving to be a real doozy. I figured out that I have only January to meet the challenge. 

Will I make it? 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Resolve to Reach Goals in the New Year


The new year is well under way now. What do we think of resolutions? Do you make resolutions for the new year? Are they possible to keep anyway?

Some people love making resolutions, mostly in the form of losing weight or exercising more, things which we all should be conscious of anyway. I am not a fan of resolutions. Maybe a better word to use is "goals." Now I can get behind something that feels like I can reach for and attain it.

But don't we need to RESOLVE to find a way to reach our GOALS? Maybe that's a better suggestion. It makes me think of my process, as in HOW will I reach my goal? With what trick will I help myself move forward?

My brain hurts from all the thinking.

Last year I decided to try painting 100 paintings in the year with the goal of developing a painting habit, building a current body of work, and testing my skills in watercolor paints. I am at painting #44 in the challenge, not anywhere near 100 works. Okay, so I started the challenge a couple of months into the year. If I'm going to get there I need to step it up, pronto.

This year's goals are much the same as last year: Keep working at it. Push the process. Stay in the moment. Plan. Prepare. Paint. Cruise.

Hour by hour, day by day is the best I can hope to do. If I push myself too hard I end up backward into the wall. I want to gently guide my inner-child-artist forward. Paint almost every day, remember to take a short weekly Artist Date, keep calm and stop whining about not having enough time for everything.

There's plenty of time, and no time like the present. And time will march on without us if we let it.