Monday, May 25, 2015

Malibu Coast Painting Trip

Mostly, I just wanted to share my paintings from my trip to Malibu.  I decided to go to L.A. a few days before the David Leffel workshop in April, so that I could go down by the coast and paint.  The first morning after arriving at  L.A.X. and getting my rental car.  I immediately got on the Pacific Coast Highway going north up towards the Malibu area. I only had a couple of days to paint so I decided to just focus on a specific area instead of trying to drive hours to hit every popular coastal area.  I figured I would get more out of my time, parking it in one spot and just doing as many paintings as possible.  I hope to go back one day and visit some of the other beautiful coastal areas that I have heard so much about. 

I stopped at the grocery store to get some PB & J sandwiches, water and fruit.  The only thing I wished I would have remembered was wet wipes.

Needless to say after a long winter painting in the studio, it was a rejuvenating few days of  painting by the ocean.  I was very happy with the studies that I ended up with.  I really did not care how they turned out, I was just so happy to be there doing it.  I always wind up so attached to my travel paintings (probably because I have not had many of these opportunities yet) that I never want to sell them.   I will say that I did give 2 away to friends that I met at the workshop.  When I feel that happy, alive and at peace....I just start giving stuff away!!!  Not a good way to make a living I suppose.  

All in all the experience was sublime and I kept thinking, how fortunate am I to be able to enjoy life this much!

I hope you enjoy these paintings  and better yet I wish you all as much happiness in your travels and painting experiences.

The above 3 are from the first 2 days of painting. I met a fellow professional artist on the very first one- ha!  The first painting I gave away, and my friend sent me a photo of the painting (it's quite a bit warmer I think from the lighting). The second one is my favorite.

These are from the second day.  One painting is missing as I gave it away, and sadly did not get a photo of it. I can't even remember now what it looked like. Another painting was a bust so not pictured. It was a bit cold and overcast this day. I did take some time just to meander, sit and relax, and enjoy those ocean waves without painting too.

This was my last day of paintings before the workshop.  All of these were done in the afternoon to early evening.  I had gone to the Getty Center that morning to see the Turner exhibit- which was fantastic by the way.  The Rembrandt's blew my mind and I loved the Titian's and Van Dyck's as well. The result was a heart full of inspiration and I could not wait to get back down to the coast to paint.  I was very glad that I was by myself for this trip.  For me, it is good to be alone in these cases and just soak it all in.  
Below are some actual photos of some of the scenes that I painted, along with a video of one of the spots.   I hope you enjoy! Happy Painting.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Always Be..... Learning

Some of you may know that I went to an art college for 4 years, graduating in 2011.  Since then I have been lucky enough to be a full-time artist - part of my income coming from selling paintings and partly from teaching. I was offered to start teaching small classes right away at local art associations, etc.  At first, I saw it as one link in the chain between me and working a "real" job.  I was incredibly nervous about doing it and had these fantastical nightmarish thoughts of people walking out of the classroom (which has happened on occasion-ouch).  Anyways,  I soon realized that teaching.....was, well, teaching me.  I learned so much immediately and it improved my own paintings.  I value teaching immensely.  It is a way to keep me growing and a way to keep art alive and help others grow artistically.

Besides watching art DVDs and reading art books religiously, for  the last 3 years, I've been the teacher and not the student.  Finally, this year  I have been able to once again be a student in the classroom! 

I tell you, when you wait 3 years to have that opportunity- you soak up every bit you can get....and oddly enough it was more freeing and less pressure than being the teacher. Of course, there was a time where this was not the case. I've had many a burial ceremony for terrible paintings, broken brushes and canvases and drawing boards have doubled as Frisbees accompanied by obscenities.

I see time and time again, artists who are considered professional artists- meaning they are showing and selling their work,  teaching and even winning awards -  settle in.  They could still use some stretching, some learning and would benefit greatly from investing in their continued education....but they stop taking classes or workshops.  I mean, how can you be the teacher if you are the student?  The identities don't seem to mesh.

Personally, I find there is a freedom to leaving your "identity" at home when you go to take a class. 

 I recently was able to take a workshop with an artist, David Leffel, whose work I have admired for the last 7 years.  I realized I was going to be learning from someone who has been teaching and painting for probably 50 years!  Wow, that is impressive.  I have the greatest respect for his life, his artistic ideals and the intensity of which he teaches at an age of 80!  I was astounded by his respect for each and every student, his joy in painting and love of sharing with others.  He exuded generosity.

I learned so much at this workshop.  It really blew my mind actually, how I could have heard all of the words before and thought that I understood them, but didn't.  Somehow, just watching him mix paint, load his brush and paint the painting - up close and personal - things clicked in beyond my understanding.  When I went to paint, the simplicity which is revealed by understanding was there.  Bizarre.  This is the magic of learning! 

Honestly,  I really was not expecting much from the workshop.  Not that I was being pessimistic, but I thought to myself : "you know, he's really old now....he may not have much energy to teach.....I may not get very much help....who knows how many people will be in the class....who knows how many groupies will be clamoring for his attention", etc.  Mostly, I just wanted to have had the experience of studying with him at least one time. 

I think this is also a key to learning- NO EXPECTATIONS- which allows you just to be open, to experience in the moment without the need for control.  This is prime psychological ground for development.  Who knew!  Also, this is a state of mind I think that David tries to encourage his students to be in.  You have a plan, but you let go. You forget about your past successes and failures and just "be" with each brushstroke at a time.

Some David Leffel Mantra's that he told me while at the workshop (which I love):

  • Paint like you're standing on the edge of a cliff.
  • Change one word in your vocabulary,, and you change your whole personality.
  • Work forwards, don't work sideways.
  • Don't be aggressive.  You have to allow good things to just come TO you.

No matter which artists you like, I hope you will continue to find joy in learning.  If you feel stuck, one sure way to get unstuck is to go take a class....get someone elses point of view on the world.

Consider a different way of looking at things.  Just question, just explore, just enjoy the whole process.

Here are some photos from the workshop:
Happy Artist.
Day 1 of 2 days of Still life painting.
I just loved watching this come to life!  Out of nothingness into somethingness.
 His mantra: Start the Finish, very apparent here.
I loved the tension between the large dark jar and the little blue and white vase. It was like the north pole and south pole, like an invisible force between them. Interesting.
The end shot of David's still life demonstration.  2.5 hours.  Just gorgeous.
David critiquing a student. Skeletons are photo bombing again....come on you guys!
Day 1 of portrait painting.  There is a little short demo he did on next to the modelling stand to help us get started.  This is a students painting he is working on here.....although she was not even in the room. I was wondering if she would notice when she came back. 
Towards the end of the evening demonstration.  This was after his 3rd day in a row teaching.
He pulled a 12 hour day and without dinner. I don't know how he was standing at the end. 

Not the best photo, but this one had some of the little pearls he did at the end and his signature.
Talking about "air".  Some people had to take a break after that conversation! Ha Ha.
Yet another demo, one last one, on Sunday morning. Probably 1 hour total.
He generously gave this to the student whose panel he used.
David's Palette: Naples Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Venetian Red, Cad Yellow Deep, Cad Yellow Light, Cad Red Light, Ultramarine Blue, Phthalo Blue, Burnt Umber, Raw Umber, Ivory Black, Alizarin Crimson, Flake White; Maroger.