Erika Allison's Artastic Blog

Breaking the rules… or not

Posts Tagged ‘Inspiration’

If you’re going to paint in a series you must know what it is that you’re painting about. You know where you’re going. That’s counter to my usual method of working. I usually don’t know what a work is about until I’m finished and it’s titled. When I come up with a title, everything falls into place and the meaning reveals itself to me.

I do have one series that I started several years ago and I keep adding to it when I’m moved to do so. I didn’t start out with series in mind. That idea came to me after I’d completed the first one and titled it. My “Twelve” series now has six paintings in it. I don’t know how many will ultimately end up there. The possibilities are endless. I like that!

My latest painting in the series is “Twelve and Twelve More”, a 10″x10″x1 5/8″ oil/mixed media painting on panel. It’s actually a variation on the theme of “twelve” because it actually contains twenty-four! It has twelve circles (the original premise), but also has twelve bars. I thought that was a fun variation.

"Twelve and Twelve More" by Erika Allison

"Twelve and Twelve More" - oil/mixed media on panel, 10"x10"x1 5/8"

Back to the beginning: I painted a 16″x16″x1 5/8″ painting containing twelve circles. The challenge was to make it interesting. The inspiration was a package of paper towels in the studio. In addition, I chose a complementary color scheme of red and green. So, I think I had a real challenge there! After I finished it and titled it (clever title, eh?) I thought I could paint this subject endlessly and have interesting variations every time. That’s how this series got started – with twelve circles. Most have twelve circles. One painting I decided that the “twelve” didn’t necessarily have to be circles, so I used a few squarish shapes. I will say that I think that one is the weakest of the series.

"Twelve" by Erika Allison

"Twelve" - oil/mixed media on panel, 16"x16"x2"

I really enjoy working on this series. I find it challenging. I’m taking a simple premise and painting it over and over again – and expecting the results to be unique and exciting every time.

I have a funny anecdote about my second attempt to add to my new idea of painting a series. I went from the smallish 16″x16″ to a large 60″x48″. I really like working large. My color scheme challenge was to use monochromatic scheme with yellow. Yikes! High key painting coming out! I finished it, thinking I had a ready-made title “Twelve.2″ I was about to write that on the back when I realized I had actually painted sixteen circles! Oh, no! Now, what? Obviously, I had to come up with a different title, which took awhile. I had to do a lot of thinking and studying before coming up with “Evolution/Revolution”.

"Evolution/Revolution" by Erika Allison

"Evolution/Revolution" - oil/mixed media on panel, 60"x48"x2"

I’m sure I’ll keep adding to this series.  I have no idea when it will end, if ever…

Are We There Yet?

Posted Thursday, August 25th, 2011

That is the question. We all ask ourselves this question as we near the end of a work in progress. It’s usually not clear to us because there are so many options. We COULD add one more touch. OR – that one more touch could be what kills the work. Knowing when a work is done is critical. We have to be able to decide when the work is done.

Sometimes it’s clear to me that I’m done with a painting. It’s just obvious. It’s done! But, sometimes it’s not so easy to decide. Usually, if something is bothering me about a work, and I’m comfortable with the composition, it’s because it needs something more. I don’t always know right away what is needed. Sometimes I have to let a work sit around where I can view it and study it for awhile. Lots of options will come to me. That’s not really a good sign. Lots of options means I’m still undecided about what is needed.

This painting is a good example of a work that I studied for quite awhile before deciding what was needed. I really liked the work – the composition, the colors, the textures, the “feel” of the work. I liked the feeling of uncertainty about the bottom center area. That seemed to be what it was about. It kind of reminded me of a game board – chess, checkers, whatever. It was about deciding the next move. That’s where I got the title. BUT, it was missing something.

'Your Move' by Erika Allison - unfinished

I finally decided that since I felt the work was about the “next move” that what was needed was a game piece – something to move! I didn’t want it to be too busy or obvious. It needed to visible, but not TOO important. A detailed, recognizable piece, such as a knight, would be too important…and draw the eye there as if it were the center of interest. So, I decided to just use an “X”. Then, I had to decide on a color and value. Again, I wanted it to be noticed but not dwelled upon.

I really like this work now. I think I came up with a good solution. There are always lots of options. Even after a work is done, you can look at it and wonder what if… But, I am usually content with my final choices. There’s always the next painting!

'Your Move' by Erika Allison

"Your Move" - oil/mixed media on panel, 18″x24″x1 5/8″

Sometimes it seems like life gets in the way and interferes with my ability to make art… when I want to.

It’s hard when I’m  “inspired” to paint and all kinds of things interfere with my plans. It tends to make me angry and/or frustrated. I have ideas. I want to paint. I NEED to paint. But, I have to do this and I have to do that. And, the car needs to go in for some repair …and ends up taking all day …and into another day.

Why me? Aaaaaagh! I try to remain calm and just go about doing what I have to do. I know that getting angry and grumpy isn’t going to help. As a matter-of-fact, that usually makes everything worse. That makes the people around you angry and grumpy. It’s not their fault that everything isn’t going smoothly.

So – the Big Irritator this week is the car. It needs to go in to see what’s wrong – and get repaired.

I went “prepared” for a long wait. I took my crossword puzzle book and two pencils. I never work crosswords in ink. It’s guaranteed I’ll be doing some erasing. I forgot to mention that I like crossword puzzles that are HARD – ones I’ll most likely not be able to finish completely. I took along my Washington Post crossword puzzle book. I used to have the New York Times crossword puzzle book that I loved.

I also took along my copy of Julia Cameron‘s Walking In This World. I have read it through several times. I can’t remember how many times. But, I get something from it every time. When I finish it, I will either go back to The Artist’s Way and read that again, or I will re-read Walking in This World again. The books are full of reminders about what it is to be an artist, what one should be doing, the pitfalls to watch out for, and all those wonderful quotes.

So, while car problems got in the way of my plans to attend a holiday coffee and to spend a day painting, maybe it was meant to be. It provided some probably much-needed time to slow down, think, and think some more.

I could read a lot more than I do. I used to read a lot. But, it takes away from my painting time. I tend to think in terms of creating time and other things that interfere with creating time. Perhaps I need to expand my horizons and remember that all those other things fill the well. Where does one get the experiences to paint about if one isn’t “experiencing”?

So, maybe life doesn’t get in the way after all. Life is what it’s all about!

Wasting Time

Posted Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Hmmm…wasting time…

Is there really such a thing for an artist?

I often feel guilty about “wasting time”.   I could/should be doing something worthwhile. I should be painting, cleaning the studio, building painting panels, learning how to use the computer better, learning how to use my camera, and on and on and on…
There’s ALWAYS something that could be done.

But, is doing “nothing” really a waste of time? Maybe I’m filling the well.

Actually, I’m not really doing NOTHING. I’m just not doing the things I listed. And, when I think about it, I’m really doing more than one thing. I’m MULTI-TASKING!
Hey, I like that! It’s true…I AM multi-tasking.

While I think I’m wasting time cruising around on the computer, I’m actually researching and fueling my creative thoughts. I might check out facebook, which is heavy on art friends. So, their links are often art related. I follow several favorite artists’ blogs. Those are full of thoughts, inspiration and information. I check out current events. That alone is fuel for my art. I say my art is about the obvious and absurd in life. The news is my best resource!

And, if I haven’t rationalized my way to it’s okay to “waste” time now and then, we truly do need some down time to re-fuel.


Posted Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

I don’t walk into the studio to find inspiration. It’s not that it can’t be found there. It can be found anywhere and everywhere. Inspiration comes from living life. Any little thing can trigger a thought, an emotion, a visual that makes me want to create. I’m especially vulnerable to textures. And, they’re everywhere! Shiny, smooth, rough, cracked, polished, jagged, crumbly…the list goes on. I can see patterns in the textures. Sometimes a certain texture will evoke a memory, a fleeting thought, an idea…inspiration to start creating. It can be frustrating when all these ideas start cascading in my head and I’m NOT in the studio and probably won’t be there for some time. I guess the ideas go into a storage module somewhere in the brain. Hopefully, they will come out again when called upon. That’s what I mean when I say inspiration comes from living life. These experiences are constant and unending. They get stored somewhere…in the experience bank?

When I go into the studio I often DON’T have an idea of what I’m going to do. I go in because I LIKE it in there. It’s my favorite place. It’s where I do what I love most to do: paint and create. So, now, I NEED an idea. I NEED inspiration. Where is it? Stored somewhere in the brain. And, how do I get it out here where I can use it? Turn on the music, start putting paints out, look around the studio…Anything can trigger a thought, a memory, a visual. Oh, yeah, remember that beautiful rusty stain? The patina on the copper gutter? The crackled ice on the puddle in the street? The rough bark on the tree? The colors in the sunset last night? The change of color from the sunny spot to the shady spot? The dancing light on the lake?

Then, of course, I have to decide what I’m going to DO with that inspiration. The fun begins…