Erika Allison's Artastic Blog

Breaking the rules… or not

Posts Tagged ‘paint’


Posted Friday, May 7th, 2010
'Every Day is History in the Making'
"History in the Making"

Tension in a painting can be interesting, as well as useful.  I like tension in a painting.  It can be used by the artist to direct the viewer’s eye where he/she wants it to go.  An example of what the artist does NOT want to do is direct the viewer’s eye OUT of the painting.  For instance, a profile portrait placed too close to the edge where the sitter is looking “out” – actually directs the viewer’s eye out of the painting.  Never to return.  Viewer moves on to next artwork.  You’ve lost your viewer!

In my painting, “Every Day Is History in the Making” it’s pretty easy to see the tension.  I was aware of it while I was working on the piece.  I decided I liked it, so I kept it and used it to my advantage.  It’s easy to spot the darkest dark and the lightest light.  That is my center of interest, which I established right away in the painting.  At some point, while studying my progress, I decided that the lightest light was TOO harsh.  It needed softening.  I felt that additional paint and/or brush strokes was not the answer.  I didn’t want to muck it up, so to speak.  So, I chose to use silver spray paint.  It softened the hard edges that were bothering me.  It kept it light (silver is very reflective).

The next thing I noticed while studying my progress was that there was a large dark area to the right that was competing with my darkest dark.  It had some other marks in it to break it up a bit.  And, it was slightly gradated from solid dark to a little less dark.  But, that was splitting hairs.  The fact is that it was really competing.  My eye kept being pulled from the center of interest (lightest light/darkest dark) to the very dark shape at the right…and, then, back again.  I decided I really liked that.  I liked the tension.  I also liked that it kept the viewer’s eye in the picture.  I wasn’t leading the eye out of the picture and away from my art.  Mission accomplished!

'Don't Suck Me In', 2010
"Don't Suck Me In"

Another good example of tension can be seen in my recently completed work, “Don’t Suck Me In”.  I started that piece with a challenge to myself.  I placed my lightest light and darkest dark as my center of interest.  Both are quite small.  The challenge was to see if it would hold up as the center of interest even though it was  small.  I did also use red right next to it sort of as an insurance policy.  Red will always catch the eye.

If you followed my previous posts about the evolution of “Don’t Suck Me In”, you know that the big sequins were the last addition to the work.  And, they really create some tension.  It’s pretty hard not to catch the eye with big, silvery, glimmering sequins blowing in the wind!  Yet, my intended center of interest is over to the right where the little bitty white and black areas (and some red) are.  Again, I find that my eye goes back and forth from the intended center of interest to the sequins.  This is great!  The whole meaning of the work is tied up in tension.  If you noticed the snakeskin under the paint near the center of interest…tension!  Then, the title suggests getting sucked in.  Sucked in to what?  Well, that’s up to you.  But, the words that are written along the right sight suggest some possibilities.  As long as the eye is kept inside the picture plane, I feel it has been successful.  The more time the viewer is kept inside the painting, the more time he has to find the more nuanced areas that may suggest more nuanced meaning.

So, now  you know some things I think about while working.  I hope you found it interesting.  Feel free to give me some feedback.  I know how the artist thinks.  I’m very curious about what the viewer sees and thinks.  What catches and holds YOUR attention?

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!


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…