Erika Allison's Artastic Blog

Breaking the rules… or not

Posts Tagged ‘Learning’

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″

Jill Of All Trades

Posted Monday, April 19th, 2010


“Can We Get There From Here?”


Oil/Mixed Media on Panel

Yup, JILL.  That would be the feminine for…you got it – jack of all trades.  I suppose I shouldn’t focus on gender.  All of us artists are up against the same thing:  the need to be able to do it all.  It seems that ALL is getting bigger and broader and more demanding.

I wish that being an artist meant that one would CREATE ART.  That’s all.  Times  have changed.  Our needs have changed.  And, there’s more than ever to do as an artist.  There’s so much preparation.  There’s promoting oneself.  Showing the work.  Being a good salesperson.  Keeping accurate records.

Before I can begin a painting I have to come up with a painting surface.  Sure, surfaces are available to buy.  But, there are many things to consider.  What kind of surface do  you want?  Can you afford to buy a prepared surface of the quality you want?  Or, if you want a “custom” surface that isn’t manufactured, you will need to create it yourself.  This is where the “fun” begins.  A knowledge of building materials and tools comes in handy.  Tools needed to build the surface are  needed.  And, a place to work at building is needed.  Time is spent building the painting surfaces.

The best part, for me, is the actual creating of the artwork.  I get the most joy out of painting and whatever else is involved in the creation of my work.  I work rather quickly as far as the actual painting goes.  But, I can spend a lot of time thinking, viewing, coming up with ideas of “what’s next”.  Do I want to include this or that, do I want to add this or that found object, do I want to add marks in pencil, oil stick or spray paint?  This is where I really enjoy the process.  These are the decisions that truly affect the final outcome of the work.  The answers to each of these questions make or break the success of of the work.  I love it when I feel like I’ve made the right decisions.

Now, I need to be able to promote myself.  In the past that meant being able to photograph your work well (or hire a professional photographer), keeping your resume up-to-date and searching for opportunities to show your work.  Opportunities to show your work is still the goal today.  But, there are so many more opportunities for promoting yourself.  Hello, computer!  If one has the skills to create one’s own website and keep it up-to-date and photograph and photoshop one’s work – that One is in good shape!  Hooray for you!  If, on the other hand, one (ME) is a bit of a dinosaur in this area – there is a lot of frustration.  I feel like I’m spending all my time learning how to do everything that needs doing.  And, where is my painting time?

Well, I’m not giving up!  I’m still plugging away at it all.  This painting, “Can We Get There From Here?” shows how making one’s own painting surface contributes to the end result of the painting.  I’ve altered the shape of the rectangular surface by cutting out three semi-circles with my handy-dandy electric jigsaw.   I photographed the finished work.  With help from my fabulous webmaster, Trillian, I’ve come up with an image of the work.  She’s still working with me on how to do all this stuff.

I’m always looking for opportunities to show and sell my work.  I watch for competitions that I feel are worthwhile to enter.  And, when things go well, I have to get down to good record keeping!

"Candle in the Wind"“Candle in the Wind”

I feel like I’m winding down from 2009 and revving up for 2010 all at the same time. To me, it’s a continuation. There really is no “end” or “beginning”. I guess our thinking about it in those terms allows us to “end” whatever went wrong/didn’t work out and “begin” anew. I guess I can buy that. But, I never make new year’s resolutions. It’s too depressing to find that I can’t keep promises I made to myself. It’s putting additional pressure on. I think I have some built-in resolutions: keep learning, keep experimenting, keep creating. That’s what it’s all about for me.

I can’t say I wouldn’t like some improvements in the new year. I’ve always thought of myself as prolific. Yet, I haven’t produced much in 2009. I’ve let things get in the way. Have to change that! And, I’d like to keep learning more about using my computer. I need to know!

I remember to pat myself on the back for some accomplishments in 2009 as well. I’m liking where I am in my work right now. I’ve shown my work a couple of times. I HAVE learned some high-tech stuff (although I have a lot more to learn). So, I have high expectations for 2010. And, I intend to do my part in realizing some good things.

I think I’ll have a glass of wine and watch some New Year’s fireworks from my yard (I should be able to see the fireworks on the Las Vegas Strip) to bring in the new year. And, tomorrow, I’ll start a new painting.

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.