CPS Studios-Summer 2010

MN Women's Press-Oct 09



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Entries in watercolor (7)


Once A Year...


Every year around this time I get excited and more than a little anxious about my State Fair entry for the Fine Arts competition. The Minnesota State Fair hosts a Fine Arts competition each year. The Fine Arts division has their very own building where the exhibit is housed each year. It's been my dream for a number of years to get in this show.

But honestly, it's not an easy show to get in. Competition is stiff (there is no jury fee and anyone from Minnesota can enter).  They tend to select more pieces with a Minnesota or State Fair "flavor", so my work isn't an automatic fit, but what can it hurt to try...right?

This year the jury process has changed a bit. In the past, all work (you are allowed to enter only one piece) had to be brought in to be juried in person. It was a bit of a hassle, but a big part of the ritual of entering--standing in line with all the other artists hoping their piece will be selected for the exhibit. (And if you don't get in, there is the sad little email that says "sorry, but you're not in!" and then you have to stand in line again with all the disappointed artists who come to pick up your rejected piece).

But this year there is a first round which involves registering your piece online, along with a photo of your piece. You have to make it past that first round to be asked to bring in your piece to be juried in person.

I always have a hard time deciding what piece to enter. This year was no exception. Today is the deadline for registration. Last year I'll admit that I decided to take a pass and not enter. But I promised myself that this year I would give it a shot. There is no entry fee, for god's sake. And this year, all I need to do is send in a few images.

I try not to overthink these decisions, but I generally do. I decided to go with this series of abstract watercolors that I titled Ripening. To be counted as one piece, they needed to be framed as one--which is how I wanted to present them, but does make it more challenging to get a good photo. Besides the one image of the whole piece, I was able to submit two detail shots. For the detail shots, I picked two images from the series that I hope will peak the interest of the juror (and usually it is just one juror for each category). Honestly, I really wish I could have taken the piece in, even if it meant standing in line for several hours, to be juried in person. But it is what it is.

I enter the piece with no expectations (but plenty of hopeful anticipation). I just didn't want to pass up the opportunity to enter this year. 

So the registration is done. And now, along with thousands of other MN artists, I will sit and wait for an email that either says, "sorry, but your piece..." or "your piece has been selected..."

Regardless of the outcome, I will check out the exhibit--like I do every year! And then I will start dreaming about what piece I will enter next year!


Morning Exercise

Just a little morning "exercise"/experiment that I did earlier this week. The experiment part was using Ambersand's Aquabord as a substrate. I wanted to see how it worked as a watercolor surface, so I picked up these small 4x4 flat 1/8" panels. Interesting. I want to play with them more. I don't think they would always work for what I want to do, but I liked it for this little piece. The first thing I noticed is that the board has a gray undertone, which can be a good or bad thing...but is something to keep in mind. There are times when that aspect of it would be an interesting alternative to using white paper. While it is absorbent, it isn't as absorbent as watercolor paper (in my mind). The claysurface also has a very fine texure to it, which I like.

Doing this little exercise/experiment was a little like visual journaling for me. In fact, I thought it might be a nice daily exercise for me....paint one 4x4 every day for a month maybe? 



Painting spring dreams...


Sometimes when I just don't have the time (or energy) to pull out the big canvases, I sit down with my watercolors and paint away in whatever time I have.  Sometimes I might have just 20 minutes. Other times I might paint for hours at a time. Sometimes I might just be working out some ideas, experimenting/playing with the paint. Other times I have a very clear image in mind of what my finished product might be (although it doesn't always turn out the way I intend it to...and working with watercolors is all about "going with the flow").

 On this particular cloudy day last week, I took the opportunity to explore some ideas that have been floating around in my head.  I often have images swimming around in my head...images/ideas for paintings. Normally the images in my head are very vibrant...even when I feel very "blah" on the outside. So I have had this idea of painting a "container" or "pod", as I think of it, that reflects the thoughts/images in my head. The pod contains these vibrant images, nourishes them even when, or maybe especially when, I'm feeling a little gray on the outside.

It has been unseasonably warm here in Minnesota the past few weeks...we've even reached 80 degrees. It's like we fast forward past spring right into summer. There has been lots of sunny days--but on this day when I sat down to paint, it was gray. Just like that, my sunny mood evaporated. 

So in my little "pods" I painted dreams of spring. Still working on the concept. What do you think?


Playing with Watercolors


The cold I'm fighting seems to have the upper hand right now. I started off the day with a little work on canvas, but could tell my body just wasn't going to hold up to doing canvas work. I work standing up and somewhat bent over--with my cavas on a table.

So, it was a good day to pull out the watercolors. I can sit and paint. I had some fun creating these Buddha-inspired faces. I think the small one (6"x6") is a Frida-inspired Buddha--look at the uno-brow!



January may be the longest month.

Not because it is 31 days long, but because it can be gray and cold. Dreary and seemingly endless.

It started off fine. Temps were mild as the new year rolled in--in the 40s-low 50s. And there had been no major snowstorms. Definitely not the typical Minnesota winter. So I know I shouldn't complain.

But all good things have to come to an end. Right?

While we still haven't had any major snow, temps have taken a plunge. And it's about to get worse.

My body aches in this cold. My motivation and inspiration seems to have all but disappeared. And all my good intentions at the beginning of the month to be super-productive seem to have evaporated. Just as my body seems to be sluggish, so is my creative mind, it seems.

Tomorrow will be my first full day in the studio after a four-day stint at my museum gig. I plan on parking it in the studio. Hopefully there will be enough sun spilling into the studio to fool my brain into thinking it's nice out there.

And then I will paint.