Friday, March 30, 2012

Painting is Addictive

There is something about painting, for me lately anyway, that makes me want to keep doing it. The more I paint, the more I want to paint. It's addictive, like knitting socks. Yeah, you sock knitters out there know what I'm talking about. Painting is like knitting socks. Is that weird?

Painting. The action of painting draws me in and keeps me there. The house could burn down and I wouldn't be able to stop painting. Well, not really, but you get my idea. 

I finished this last work in the small amount of time I had between dinner and a meeting I had to attend. Maybe I spent twenty five minutes on the last details in that time. Then I was done. That was it. No more working it, or it would be trash, as usual.

Peppers ©2012 Dora Sislian Themelis
9x12 Watercolor, Arches cold press paper

After I uploaded the finished painting, I thought I'd just show you the start that I posted on another day. While I was looking at this photo I began to imagine painting the whole scene, unfinished painting and all the rest. It was such a strange feeling, that pull to paint even my desk and brushes. Weird.


It's not like I haven't done that before. Like the times I draw my own fingers holding my ink pen and sketchbook as I draw while waiting at the allergist's office. It feels as if I'm looking in a mirror and seeing not only my image, but everything around the mirror. Okay, that's enough of that.

The point is, I'm working the process. Those affirmations I look at every day must be summoning the Universe so that It is favorable to my creative thoughts. The thought becomes the thing.

Yeah, that's it.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thought for Thursday

"Lying in bed would be an altogether perfect and supreme experience if only one had a colored pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling." ~Gilbert K. Chesterton

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Get to Work

And now to get back in business, I started the next watercolor painting last night after the kitchen was cleaned up. Mind you, I'm juggling too many apples right now and don't know how I even managed to walk downstairs to my studio. Some internal messaging was happening. Maybe it's all the art business classes I've been taking? The bad girl inside my head is being knocked down by good intentions I guess.

Keep working!
The to-do list, or task list as we've been instructed to call it, had quite a few things on it for yesterday, but I was able to mark each one off and move on. I purchased the tube of paint I wanted and now I can continue. 

There's no way you can mix colors without the primaries. Nope. I needed a yellow, and I couldn't remember what my paint was called. Permanent Yellow Light? No. I ended up with a Cadmium Yellow Lemon. 

Okay, I know cadmiums are toxic. I will not be eating the paint.

Also, not thrilled with the latest brushes I purchased. I keep turning back to my old sable Windsor & Newton brushes. When I wet the large Issabey brush and paint with it, it gets mushy. There's no spring to it. That was a pricey brush even on sale. You can't try a brush in the store to know how it will respond. So, stuck with it.

Enough drama for today. Time to get to work.



Monday, March 26, 2012

Greek Independence Day Parade NYC

Another year, another parade day. Sunday marked 74 years the Greek Independence Day Parade event in New York City on 5th Avenue. You might like to click on the links for info and past posts about the parade.

As a kid attending Greek Afternoon School, we were required to march with our classmates. If you did not march, you received a zero grade for participation. As an adult I can't miss it. I've marched as a teen, with my kids in a stroller as a young mom, with their Greek school class, and later as members of the dance group.  

It was a cold, damp day this year and the costume that my sister and I get to wear almost every year is heavy with layers and warm. This dress of the Greek nomads, the Sarakatsani, is one of my favorites and very different from what people imagine is Greek.



 The tumult of dressing at the dance studio..


 Lining up on 64th Street and 5th Avenue..

 The Evzones from Athens, Greece


A friend and fellow dance member, who sat it out this year, took this photo of me and the others in the group. The dancer near me was playing an oboe-type instrument called a "zurna" and we semi-danced as we walked the parade route. People are surprised by it as we pass and get excited, wave, yell. We get a kick out of it.

Okay, that's over, now it's time to get back to work.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Photo for Friday on Saturday of Stuff

Yes, I know, I missed Friday. Too busy, too many things going on, too much to catch up with this week. The house, the errands, the food shopping, the cooking, the eating, you know the drill.

And what about the painting? Well, painting is on the top of the list, remember? Don't worry, I made it to the studio for some time with the latest work. I'm not ready to post it just yet.

At the last minute I decided to take the next online art business class by Alyson Stanfield, Go! Get Organized. This is going to be a rough one to tackle.

We're going to learn how to organized our stuff, and boy do most of us have plenty of stuff! Between the rest of the house, the art studio and the office space are full of some kind of stuff. Where does all the stuff come from? And every time I clean it out, donate, throw away, there's still stuff.

So yeah, trying to get organized. I read somewhere that you cannot organize clutter, it has to go out.
But some clutter is stuff we need, it just doesn't have a home to live. That's what my aim is, to find certain stuff a home. Ugh.

In this early lesson, Alyson said to take a photograph of our office space. Hopefully it's not in the art studio and she suggests we find a separate space for the business stuff.

Here is mine, messy as it is.

It's not in the art studio, thankfully, or I'd never get any painting done. Talk about distractions! It's not an organized mess either. I don't know what that stuff is until I get a look at it. Folders, paid bills, junk needing shredding, and what ever. My computer also has stuff that needs ditching.

I wasn't going to take this course so soon after finishing up the other two, but man, I need some direction over here.

The weekend will be busy. Too busy to catch up, which leads me to Monday. Ah, Monday. My day of rest, sort of.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thought for Thursday

"I have learned, as a rule of thumb, never to ask whether you can do something. Say, instead, that you are doing it. Then fasten your seat belt. The most remarkable things follow." ~Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

To-Do List Anxiety

There's no way everything can get done at once. Just no way. The anxiety of a long to-do list is exhausting. Even getting some painting done isn't going to happen in a snap. Maybe a series of snaps.

With the roof work taking forever (in my mind) and other things needing my attention, I get stressed. What can I do first, second, next, until I'm done? It's a problem.

Next session
I solve the problem by diligently crossing off each item on my list as they were done. It's a visual thing and it makes me feel as if I've accomplished something. Painting is always on that list first.

Rarely do I paint first. And rarer is the day I paint first thing in the morning. That never happens, except this week. Somehow I ended up in my studio in the morning and decided I had enough time to clean up some of this work before the day started in.

The darks were added to define some of the areas I felt needed some guidance. Now it's starting to look like something I'm comfortable with. For a while I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue, but I remembered it's the PROCESS!

So in the "process" I can't find a recently purchased tube of yellow watercolor paint. Oh nice, now I have to go shopping for paint I already have somewhere here. I need it.

See that nice light yellow color in the leaves of basil? Yup, that's what I need to buy now.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Busy, Quiet, Painting

The past week was a busy one. Too much going on, and I like it quiet. But if you need to get stuff done, there's no way around it.

We needed a roof. And while we were at it, they replaced the roof of our patio too. Everything was leaking. These guys brought amazing tools like this remote controlled crane thing. If  you look at the photo, the worker is controlling the crane with a little gadget to get the roofing materials up on the roof. Amazing.


There goes the old roof. Hello sunshine! It didn't last long before they covered this up with materials, but now there are skylights.


I watched them work as long as I could, then I made my way to the studio to decide my next work. I'm not so sure I like this choice, but it will have to work for now. There's plenty of thinking going on before I paint. I'm thinking I like peaches better than eggs. 


There are blueberries in this view too. Not thrilled about painting more of those little things. My brain keeps telling me Get over it and just paint! 

Yes, sir.


Friday, March 16, 2012

Finished for Friday

Watercolor painting has become a good thing. I always loved oil paints, but there's the long drying time, the wonderful odors that are toxic, and the pretty high cost of the paints and canvas. Using watercolors in the past, I wasn't such a fan.

The quality of materials just didn't hit it, I guess. Remember those little discs of hard, dry watercolor paints in a tin box? They just never worked right for me.

The ease of using these professional quality watercolor paints makes up for what I missed about oil painting. They clean up easy, dry quick, and I am using wonderful paints and great papers as the surface. I had no idea watercolor paints could be so creamy and vibrant. 

In oil painting I painted from dark to light, adding light colors to the shadows, but in watercolor I learned to go backwards, leaving the whites and moving in layers to darks. It wasn't an easy lesson to learn. I'm applying the watercolor almost like the way I used the oils. I mix a bit on the palette, apply to the area I want then add straight color and mix on the surface. Works for me.


Beginning the next work

Depending on how you mix mediums into the oils, the painting could take long, or dry a little faster. So far I haven't used any mediums to retard drying the watercolors so it's not an issue unless I need an area to dry faster. I'm not a fan of painting wet on wet.

For this latest work I cropped another area of a photo that had a composition I liked. You can see my fond pebbles helping to block out areas by holding down paper around my subjects. This time I sketched in pencil, took a lunch break, and returned to start adding color. It happened to be such a day that I could do this.

Fruits and Cukes ©2012 Dora Sislian Themelis
9x12 Watercolor, Arches cold press paper

By the time the day was over this painting was finished. I almost forgot to take a photo of the progress!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thought for Thursday

“Art is the perfection of nature and life through the artist, who has supreme control of technique and is thereby liberated from it.” ~ Bruce Lee

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Painting, Process is #1

The relative lull of the after dinner hour has been holding some powerful stuff lately. What is it about this time of my day that I've been able to do some good work? Forget about the product. The process seems to have great momentum in this evening hour.

Let me just say up front, I am a morning person. I am wide eyed awake at 6AM most mornings, but that doesn't mean I can work on painting at that time. Nope, the early morning is for coffee, the newspaper, and the Morning Pages, in that order too.

I plan my day after these things are finished. First thing on my list is painting. Again, that doesn't mean painting happens first. It's listed first and it usually happens later, after the house is in order and any running around I might need to do is done.

Yes, painting is on the list, baby. Every single day.

Okay, so I get to it after lunch, so what? I am grateful to the muse who makes me list it #1, because if that didn't happen, painting might not happen at all.

So life must be in order for the muse to visit me in my studio that day. Just like a Virgo, right?

Green Pepper ©2012 Dora Sislian Themelis
9x12 Watercolor, Arches cold press paper
I cropped another section of a larger photograph to make this painting. If I have any idea of getting some quick work done, it's going to have to be a smaller piece. For right now this is working for me. It's not twenty minutes, but rather almost an hour's worth of work. Even possibly an hour. When I start working I lose track of the time unless I've set my timer. An hour sounds right this time.

The different colors next to each other are very interesting to me. I love the tumble of shapes. Okay, so they're vegetables and fruits, there's color, dark against light, everything I feel good working with.

The paper is great, the paints are delicious, and I'm painting. What else is there?

Process, baby. Just the process!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mr. Resistance is Not Welcome

What is it about Mr. Resistance that makes him so irresistible? One small thing can throw an artist off her wonderful motivation and balance, leaving the door wide open for Mr. Resistance to walk right in and make a mess of things. Thanks a lot.

It's not easy being a nice person like me. How do I get trapped into the corner and allow Mr. Resistance to walk all over me? Am I a doormat? Do I look like I have the word "Idiot" tattooed across my forehead?

Um, no, but it happens every now and then that a little thing can derail a nice flow of creative energy, like a late day with too many things on the list to check off. Derail is a nice word. Trample my direction is another way of saying my art making hit the skids.

Okay. I'm over that now. Mr. Resistance is no longer welcome and it's time to get back to work!

Three Peaches ©2012 Dora Sislian Themelis
9x12 Watercolor, Arches cold press paper
Here we have the work that broke through the resistance blockade. Another short time frame, a small window of opportunity taken, and the spell was broken. An after dinner hour to make magic, and I worked hard to get it done. Small and quick.

I cropped another photograph to get the composition I felt comfortable with and I went at it with a quick pencil line, then right to the paint. Again, less than an hour's worth of work and this was finished. It's not easy work either. There was plenty of thought behind this painting. Some how I'm able to think where I want to go and get to it quicker than I have in the past.

Finished projects happen far more often these days.


Friday, March 9, 2012

Photo for Friday a No-Go

As you can see there is a noticeable absence of a photo for Friday today. Okay, the best I could do was the updated banner with the watercolor of the sunflowers I painted in the summer.

There are days that fly by, busy with enjoyable activities, a sunny sky, warm weather, laughs and baby hugs. Then there are those so filled to the brim with Must-Do's it's all a person can do to keep a head above water. Today is the latter.

Couldn't my day be better spent in the studio setting up the next painting? I say Yes.

That is not happening today.

As I usually wake really early in the day, I've already had a full morning and I haven't left the house yet. Appointments, errands, paperwork, reminders on post it notes all over my desk and calendar.

My day is punctuated with all these things I must attend to, nothing of which I am that thrilled about, but only I can do. See what happens when you say Yes?

In one of the online classes I just took, the operative work was No. I remember when I was reading The Artist's Way, then the operative word was Yes. Now I'm confused! Yes? or No?

I guess it depends on what actions you actually say these words to. Then again, sometimes, you just have to go with it where ever either of those words lead. For me, today, it's a Yes day. No way around it.

Planned and mapped out my day. It's going to be a tight squeeze. Painting, or anything happening in the studio will have to wait a bit. Unless I can find twenty minutes, it's going to be a tough go today.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thought for Thursday

"Creativity is like electricity: throw the switch, and it is there." ~Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Another Quick One Down

Someone kick me next time I decide to edit my blog posts from the iPad. Every time I do that I lose my whole post! What a stupid thing!

I wanted to edit the size of this painting. After I had a chance to take a look at the actual size I remembered I posted the wrong size here. Off to the iPad to make the corrections and Boom! no post. Yeah, that made me really happy.

A Red Onion ©2012 Dora Sislian Themelis
9x12 Watercolor, Arches cold press paper

If I remember I said I didn't plan on painting the evening I worked on this. I just had about an hour to spend before I fell to exhaustion, so I went to my studio to look at what I wanted to work on next. Before I knew it I had cropped a larger photo into this segment, filled my pan with water and began sketching this painting.

Did I say it lasted almost an hour? Yes, almost an hour went by and this was done, done, done!

I am on a roll over here. Thank you to the art muse for keeping me in the game.

Next time, no editing from iPad, okay?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Finished Product Day

Ta-da! Finished product! The latest watercolor painting is done. I am shocked at how quickly I was able to finish this large work. It has to be a record for me. Maybe I've figured out how to make the process work for me.

Yellow Tomato ©2012 Dora Sislian Themelis
15x20 Watercolor on Canson paper
The trick is to start the next one right away. If I could get away from all the other things that need my attention I could sketch out the next work and get to it at a free moment. When will that happen?

Fortunately, I am prepared. If I hadn't taken these photos I'd be looking for something to paint. Really, I never thought I'd paint from these photos at the time. I just liked how the colors and shapes looked, enough to take pictures of everything.

Too bad I'm not doing the CSA share this year. It was pricey, I didn't always like the produce I received, and it was too out of my way to pick up my share. The sunflowers I got were the spark, though. Amazing sunflowers! And now, the produce. Who knew produce could look so beautiful?

So, I have a plan! Farmer's Market photos! Buy sunflowers! Arrange and photograph, or paint live. Keeping the momentum high will keep Mr. Resistance at bay.

At least that's the plan.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Determined Painting Day

Since I blew last weekend, and my week, there was no way I was going to allow myself to blow this weekend too. Painting was going to happen no matter what. And painting is what I did. 

A free Sunday without distractions is what I desperately needed to paint and get up to speed with the online class. As soon as The Mr. left the house, and Son#2, I went to the studio to get the painting going. 

Take a look at my progress. There's something about taking a photograph of my work that helps me step back and see it better. I was determined to finish this today. Working around the painting, I moved from the wet areas to dry spots to keep going. And I took a lunch break, and a quick break to read over my class lessons. Plenty of time for the work to dry.


Let me show you where I'm working. My little basement studio has a window at least. The lousy light still isn't fixed, but I have my desk lamp for light. I had to aim the beam up to keep the glare off my wet painting. Oh, what we do for art!


Here's another view of the lamp and my desk. Since I made some revisions in the room it's much more comfortable to work in.


Stay tuned for F.P. to come. Uh, Finished Product, that is.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Forgot Photo for Friday, Almost

This time I blew my week. There's something in the air that is going around and people are catching it. Except me. I get to have the worst allergic sinus headache I ever had. So debilitating I thought it was a virus. No, my allergist said, it was an allergy reaction. Oh great. 

So, yeah. Blew painting, blew the class, blew it all. All because of allergies. Massive, nausea producing headache. Wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. 

Ok, can we move past it now? Please? Yes, let's look at what I did Monday afternoon before my blowout.

I chose another photograph of the famous veggie haul days. This one had a sunflower poking in. I am so grateful to the Universe for telling me to take photos of the colorful produce. Great color and shapes. Still working in watercolor and using the large Canson paper I have, I sketched the subjects and put down color.


I had an idea while working on this, to sketch in paint. Similar to how I was painting smaller 20 minute works, more color on the brush than water. I don't know how well this idea will pan out, but it's an idea.

It's annoying because I was on a roll up until the end of last week with the Daytona 500 thing. Monday I worked all afternoon and woke up Tuesday miserable. Hello! I'm on a schedule here! 100 paintings are not going to paint themselves!

Time to regroup. I've fallen behind in everything, but I'm getting up. You'll see!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Thought for Thursday

"When painting I am walking a tightrope. I might slip off at any moment. Sometimes, when I am brave, I can hop along the rope or even somersault. These are the moments when I paint not from the visual world but from somewhere inside me." Emily Patrick