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Happy Art

Someone told me recently, your art is happy. I was both flattered and deflated. Of course, any mention or acknowledgment of what we are creating is a luxury. I should not split hairs on the quality of compliment. But the museum loving gallery junkie in me longs to make art with meaning, depth and that je ne sais pas quoi. But who am I to decide what that certain something is that makes someone stop and look twice or purchase or smile or feel good or all of the above. I’ll take happy these days.

I’ll take keep going where my natural aesthetic and creative pulls lead me. I do know that when I keep going and paint day after day, the work does evolve. And the artists I look up to and admire change over the months and years. Which means my art, too, is changing over the months and years. Is “happy” as a description so terrible? No. It’s not. In context it says this. It says it lightened someone’s moment. Maybe it inspired. Perhaps it made someone laugh. It’s likely it pulled some nostalgic memories. It made someone feel. Happy. And that is why I paint and create. Because it makes me feel good and complete and happy.

Tag, you’re it. xo

Cherry Tomatoes

The world appears to be falling apart. Or imploding. Or both and I’m scared and angry and frustrated at how helpless it makes me feel. Domestically, the word “Charlottesville” will sum up a national outrage for years to come. Internationally, Korea, Barcelona, Sierra Leone are top of the harrowing news. I don’t know what to do. So I keep going going with the small parts of my life where I do know what to do. Bringing a tiny slice of joy into someone’s life through art or an unexpected kindness through snail mail or….there are so many different “ors” for all of us.

I’m not born a political crusader, I shy away from conflict but the climate right now is so heated, so tender and raw, I can’t write without acknowledging it. And still, after mulling over this post with fingers pausing on the keyboard, I still don’t know what to do so until I do I’m going to go deeper and stronger into the creativity I do know.

I know how to capture little moments that make life sweeter. Like cherry tomatoes from the local farmer’s market. Or writing thank you notes. Baking treats and sharing. Picking fresh flowers. Running my small business with huge heart and attention to details and loving the real live kind folks who order from me. I know how to appreciate what I have and be grateful.

Today, cherry tomatoes. xo

About An Artist’s Vision Plus New Three Minute Egg Paintings

Artist Vision:  How To See.

Greetings!  I’d like to share with you two of my latests pieces in my “Three Minute Egg Series”.  Furthermore, I’d like to talk about how I come up with my artistic vision for a series, using my current paintings as an example.

The Good Question.

A friend and collector of mine asked me a tough question a couple of months ago.  She had seen my earlier paintings and blog posting about my three minute egg series.  The question was how to see and understand my paintings.  I immediately thought “Oh, I need to do an artist’s statement for this series”.

Artist Vision: Three Minute Egg Project

Time Out!

OOPS!  Please stop!  Before you read any more, I’d like to ask you to please just look at the paintings.  Without analyzing, allow yourself to have a first impression; a first reaction.  It doesn’t matter if you like them or not, just allow yourself to respond in your own personal manner.

Vision: About Relationships.

Now then, back to what the series is about; the artist’s vision.

When I start thinking about an artists statement or vision, I start remembering relationships and stories about the subject.  For example, I did not enjoy eating eggs when I am a child, though three minute eggs were the least offensive.  That being said, I was always intrigued by the egg cups.  The particular eggs cups we had were ones that my parents purchased when they were living in Spain.   To me, they were exotic, interesting and special.

Still Life and Project Set Up.

Now, lets consider the set up of the three minute egg still life.  I knew I was going to be going from realistic to abstract when I started this project.  You might remember that the first seven completed were part of a workshop I attended with artist Gabriel Lipper.  (Paintings 8 and 9 were done after the completion of class).

So, the set up.  I looked on line at still life set ups from some of the Master’s of still life, like Chardin.  Then, I considered what I had laying around in the kitchen.  Time is a theme I had been wanting the explore so the kitchen timer was selected for the still life.  Eggs shells are one of my favorite subjects because I feel the need to study how light falls on the curved shapes, so they were in.  Timer plus eggs suggests three minute egg in my mind.  To complete the set up, I added a spoon and napkin.

Design: Like A Puzzle.

To understand what you see in front of you, it might be good to realize that I like to design my abstractions.  Thinking of a tapestry or a puzzle, I am concerned with how the pieces fit together.  I select and create a scheme to be the backbone structure.  Then, I arrange my shapes, searching for something that captures my imagination.  I play close attention to the light and dark pattern I create because it helps direct the viewer around the painting.

Still Life Objects: Like Family and Friends.

So, what does it mean?  Think about your family and friends.  When you’re taking a group picture, how do you arrange yourselves?  If you’re all getting along and happy, you might stand close to each other and be fairly equal in rank.  But, maybe someone is having a birthday or something extra special.  Perhaps they stand a little bit higher or forward from everyone else.  Then, there is the shy person who tries to hide behind friends.  One must not forget the class clown who does things like stands on their heads or makes a silly face.

Well, organizing a still life is like arranging friends.  And when I work in a series, I arrange and re-arrange my buddies, or subject matter.  I paint them different colors; change sizes; change layouts, and generally experiment.  The more I work, the more ideas come into my mind.  I’m also learning how color, shape, size, line, direction, texture, that is to say the elements of design, work together to create mood.

Artist Vision:  Evolves with the Series.

Lets think back to the beginning: what am I saying?  Right now, I would say that I am exploring a still life motif that is linked to my memories of childhood and the three minute egg breakfast.

In time, the series may start to take on a different meaning to me.

Artist Vision: Three Minute Egg V9

What Do You See?

Back to you.  I asked you early on to just look at the paintings.  Do you remember the first things that came to mind?  Did you immediately see the eggs, timer, spoon and napkin?  Or was it just a jumble?  Now that you’ve read my account of how I developed this painting, look at the painting again.  How do the paintings feel to you now?  Do you see more?  Does the subject speak to you?  How about the paint?

More Later This Summer and Fall.

These are paintings eight and nine in the series. The plan is to create more later this summer and fall.  I would like to invite you to see the earlier paintings in the blog post “Deconstructing a Realistic Painting Toward Abstraction”.

Hopefully, I have given you a way in so you may see and enjoy my paintings.  Please do come back and see how the next paintings develop.

Travels Around The West.

I will be taking a break from studio painting as my husband and I travel around the West.  I hope to share drawings and paintings from our travels over the next few weeks!  In the meantime I do hope you are well.

Warm regards,

Peggy

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The post About An Artist’s Vision Plus New Three Minute Egg Paintings appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Pot of Clover

I have an affinity for 5×7 flat panel canvases. They are relatively inexpensive in a world of spendy art supplies. They make charming postcard paintings, one of my pet side projects.  But most of all, they are the secret sauce in my creativity equation.  Often a canvas looks too big, a project too long to complete, an email too complicated to start, a catalogue mailing too boring, taxes too daunting and the list goes on forever. A lot of us creatives love the starting line…but the finish…? Well, there was a cafe I had to sit down at, a house I had to clean, dogs to walk, cats to pat, texts to return, Netflix to consume, I mean really important things!!!

But the minis? They are petite and approachable and unbelievably satisfying to complete. They are my reminders that frequent small painting will propel me further than large intricate occasional dabbling. These little pieces keep the paint wet. They keep me sitting down at the easel. They make me smile because there is something so silly and frivolous and ok about painting a donkey or dandelion or pot of clover. Do I need them wall size? No. But the spark of joy these miniatures bring me is priceless.

Often it is the days I do a mini that I open the channel to start a larger project or complete a task that’s been lingering. They are also an excellent place to experiment with supplies and techniques. Composition, value, paint opacity, brush strokes. Sometimes I pay attention to these things, but often not. So much of painting is intuitive but when I use a small piece to execute a technique there is greater chance for me to slow down and practice.

People frequently ask me, do you paint every day? No. But I do paint almost every day and that has changed my life, changed my career, changed my joy level, changed my acceptance of my own work, changed my acceptance of other peoples work, so what I’m trying to say is that it has basically changed everything. xo

“Pot of Clover” 5×7″

P.S. Coming soon as direct result of these minis!
A beginner’s painting course: “Wait, Wait, I Don’t Paint: A Workshop for Beginners, the Curious, and the Creative.” No experience necessary.

Pot of Clover

I have an affinity for 5×7 flat panel canvases. They are relatively inexpensive in a world of spendy art supplies. They make charming postcard paintings, one of my pet side projects.  But most of all, they are the secret sauce in my creativity equation.  Often a canvas looks too big, a project too long to complete, an email too complicated to start, a catalogue mailing too boring, taxes too daunting and the list goes on forever. A lot of us creatives love the starting line…but the finish…? Well, there was a cafe I had to sit down at, a house I had to clean, dogs to walk, cats to pat, texts to return, Netflix to consume, I mean really important things!!!

But the minis? They are petite and approachable and unbelievably satisfying to complete. They are my reminders that frequent small painting will propel me further than large intricate occasional dabbling. These little pieces keep the paint wet. They keep me sitting down at the easel. They make me smile because there is something so silly and frivolous and ok about painting a donkey or dandelion or pot of clover. Do I need them wall size? No. But the spark of joy these miniatures bring me is priceless.

Often it is the days I do a mini that I open the channel to start a larger project or complete a task that’s been lingering. They are also an excellent place to experiment with supplies and techniques. Composition, value, paint opacity, brush strokes. Sometimes I pay attention to these things, but often not. So much of painting is intuitive but when I use a small piece to execute a technique there is greater chance for me to slow down and practice.

People frequently ask me, do you paint every day? No. But I do paint almost every day and that has changed my life, changed my career, changed my joy level, changed my acceptance of my own work, changed my acceptance of other peoples work, so what I’m trying to say is that it has basically changed everything. xo

“Pot of Clover” 5×7″

P.S. Coming soon as direct result of these minis!
A beginner’s painting course: “Wait, Wait, I Don’t Paint: A Workshop for Beginners, the Curious, and the Creative.” No experience necessary.

Pink Roses

“I must have flowers, always and always.” Monet

Well, one could argue Monet was on to something. For me, the inspiration is endless, regenerative, serene, peaceful, easy, difficult, contemplative and familiar. I paint florals frequently not only because I love the beauty of them (and what a great excuse to buy fresh flowers) but also for the complexity. They continue to challenge and delight. There are florals I do that flow naturally, and those I really need to study and correct and deliberate over. As often as I create them, each one is unique.They are my teachers. My muse. My faithful inspiration. xo

“Pink Roses” 11×14″ SOLD

Pink Roses

“I must have flowers, always and always.” Monet

Well, one could argue Monet was on to something. For me, the inspiration is endless, regenerative, serene, peaceful, easy, difficult, contemplative and familiar. I paint florals frequently not only because I love the beauty of them (and what a great excuse to buy fresh flowers) but also for the complexity. They continue to challenge and delight. There are florals I do that flow naturally, and those I really need to study and correct and deliberate over. As often as I create them, each one is unique.They are my teachers. My muse. My faithful inspiration. xo

“Pink Roses” 11×14″ SOLD

Dandelions

My garden is not really a garden. It’s a yard. Actually, it’s manicured dirt with some bushes. My house is on a hill, a steep ravine, so the backyard is more of a girls gone wild flower fest with things that bloom on their own time, mostly because it rains about 11 months of the year. The front has trees, bushes, one single rose plant that I bow down to every May, and a couple of rhodos that don’t do much. Not compared to the neighbors at least! I live in a gardening jurassic park neighborhood. Peonies are wild, not from Trader Joe’s. Lawns are the color of golf courses and daffodils sprout exactly the middle of March to let us know spring is really almost here even if you’re wearing a puffy. One of my neighbors has a sign, an adorable little sign, painted by her gardening club that her house is on the “tour”.

My garden, yard, area in front of house, does not look like that. It doesn’t look bad. It just doesn’t look like that. I have tried gardening several times. In the ground, in pots on the front porch, in pots on the back porch. I have a natural interest in flowers, I just don’t seem to have a natural interest in GROWING them. Fast forward record scratch over to my dandelions here. My dandelions, my sweet, airy hippie blowing in the wind dandelions, however, are growing so beautifully, so perfectly, I wanted to capture them. They are abundant and healthy. There are more of them every morning when I go outside. I’m oddly happy with them and have no intention (today) of cutting them down. I am a dandelion gardener. I picked some. I blew on a few. I made a wish. Then I painted my wish. xo

Dandelions

My garden is not really a garden. It’s a yard. Actually, it’s manicured dirt with some bushes. My house is on a hill, a steep ravine, so the backyard is more of a girls gone wild flower fest with things that bloom on their own time, mostly because it rains about 11 months of the year. The front has trees, bushes, one single rose plant that I bow down to every May, and a couple of rhodos that don’t do much. Not compared to the neighbors at least! I live in a gardening jurassic park neighborhood. Peonies are wild, not from Trader Joe’s. Lawns are the color of golf courses and daffodils sprout exactly the middle of March to let us know spring is really almost here even if you’re wearing a puffy. One of my neighbors has a sign, an adorable little sign, painted by her gardening club that her house is on the “tour”.

My garden, yard, area in front of house, does not look like that. It doesn’t look bad. It just doesn’t look like that. I have tried gardening several times. In the ground, in pots on the front porch, in pots on the back porch. I have a natural interest in flowers, I just don’t seem to have a natural interest in GROWING them. Fast forward record scratch over to my dandelions here. My dandelions, my sweet, airy hippie blowing in the wind dandelions, however, are growing so beautifully, so perfectly, I wanted to capture them. They are abundant and healthy. There are more of them every morning when I go outside. I’m oddly happy with them and have no intention (today) of cutting them down. I am a dandelion gardener. I picked some. I blew on a few. I made a wish. Then I painted my wish. xo

Steiff Donkey

I paint a lot. It is mostly my profession, my job, my hobby dare I say, one of my obsessions? And yet, the well can run dry. Or you just look at your canvases and think, nope, I can not paint one more flower. Or seascape. Or apothecary jar. Or..or…or.

I’m listening to “Theft by Finding” by David Sedaris right now and apart from my complete and utter devotion and undying love for him as a writer and satirist, I am in awe of his ability to chronicle the mundane and fascinating in his daily life. An apple, a chance encounter with a waitress, a taxi ride, anything, everything, is fodder for the ridiculous and sublime. I look at my world differently when I read him. I’ve always tended to see the world through slightly Seinfeld-ian glasses but Sedaris takes it to another level. His insights are sad, profound, hilarious, gross, loving, sensitive, profane and charming. And in walks my donkey.

I’m listening to Sedaris and I think, my version of chronicling my life, my diary as it were, are my paintings and subject matter. The minutiae of my world, the collections, the vintage treasures, the insights and humor I add. My miniature Steiff Donkey is one such nugget. He is a birthday present, purchased in Aajiic Mexico but presumably born in some German Steiff factory meticulously crafted 50 plus years ago. He is old, he is in mint condition. I love him and can’t explain why but the second I saw him in a thrift store the obsession was ON. A love like that bears memorializing in a portrait.

I’m reviewing my obsessions and deciding they are good things after all. They are the fuel. The scratch you must itch, the novel you must write, the donkey you must paint. xo

“Steiff Donkey” 5×7″ NFS