Slow Multitasking

slow multitasking

Slow Multitasking

Slow Multitasking Notes

I recently learned something new about slow multitasking. I always thought multitasking meant that you have ten arms and legs and you are doing ten things as fast as you can to hurry through the day. I listen to a program on NPR called the Hidden Brain. It is basically about how we think and function. I find it fascinating. Recently, the program was about how we can multitask in a slow and thoughtful way. It used examples from famous scientists and mathematicians and how they worked out complex problems by resting from one project and taking on others for a bit of time in between. I did not know that Einstein invented the laser while he was working on the theory of relativity. He wanted to rest his mind for a bit.
This makes complete sense to me after some thought. We are all rushing around trying to multitask in the wrong way.

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Using slow multitasking as a diversion from big problems lets our brains rest a bit.
For artists this means switching around mediums, doing tiny and large paintings, reevaluating events and their value to career, and marketing efforts, along with all the other multitasks we do in our personal lives. Instead of fretting about our limited time and resources, we can change the attitude and use them as rest stops along the route of our lives. I want to consider this possibility for a while.

One of the slow multitasks I want to get back to is my summer fun of start paintings. This is a fine way to do slow multitasking. There is a feeling of anticipation with this process. I start a painting five days a week, one each day, and set them aside one by one. I line them up in order. The next week I start one each day and go back to the first set, working a bit on each one and repeat. It is so interesting. You would think they all get done in the same order, but instead it is a randomness of finishing, as some go quickly due to luck, subject, difficulty, etc. This is multitasking at its finest for an artist in my view. I always use the same sized canvases to get the same sort of feel for the project. Sometimes it goes for a couple of weeks and other times it can go on for the summer, depending on how many projects I might have, commissions, and so forth.

Slow Multitasking

This year I am adding to the fun by doing the paintings with a single half inch brush. It is a skill building method. If you can do a decent painting with one half inch brush, think what is possible with a full array of brushes and palette knives!

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I have a new attitude now about slow multitasking. It will be more about thoughtfulness and less about harried stress with too many things to do.

More musings for artists and collectors to come….

Today’s Recipe

Sun Dried Tomato Pasta

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup julienne-cut, sun-dried tomatoes in oil, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil, coarsely chopped
6 slices cooked bacon, finely chopped
1 lb boneless chicken
1 tablespoon smoked (or regular) paprika
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup diced yellow onions
8 oz bowtie (farfalle) pasta
1 cup half-and-half
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Bring water to boil for pasta. Chop garlic, tomatoes (reserve 2 tablespoons oil), basil, and bacon. Cut chicken into bite-size pieces; coat with paprika.
Preheat large, nonstick sauté pan on medium 1–2 minutes. Place 2 tablespoons reserved oil in pan, then add garlic and crushed red pepper, chicken; cook 1–2 minutes, stirring often, or until garlic is golden. Stir in onions, bacon, and tomatoes; cook 3–4 minutes or until onions are tender. Remove pan from heat.
Cook pasta following package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water; drain pasta.
Return tomato mixture to heat on low. Stir half-and-half into tomato mixture; cook 2–3 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until reduced by about one-half. Add basil, cheese, pasta, and chicken; simmer 2–3 minutes, stirring often, or until mixture thickens and chicken is hot (use reserved pasta water to thin sauce, if needed). Serve.

Ambient Light

ambient light


Ambient Light Notes

I thought it might be good to muse a bit about ambient light in painting. Painters often forget about that in their landscapes.

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Ambient light is based on the strength of the primary light source in a a scene. Anything that has light falling on it becomes a source of light. Different surfaces reflect light differently.

Ambient light color depends on direct light and local color of objects. Ambient light  depends  on atmospherics, color of the primary light combined with local color of objects in light.

When painting, make observations about possible ambient light on the scene in front of you. For example,you will see a lot of ambient light in parking lots and reflected off buildings and cars. You might see a blue roof on a red car, because the light is reflected from the sky onto the car surface. Direct sunlight is often enhanced or diffused by ambient light on objects. We see reflections of ambient light as well. Light is bouncing all around a scene on location so we must train ourselves to carefully observe what we see as well as what we think we know.

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We may know a roof is purple, but it may look blue or pink on some of it’s surfaces due to reflected ambient light. We cannot rely on local color alone to make decisions. Use your observation skills rather than assuming which color will be right. One of my students brought in a photo of his horse the other day and the ambient light colored his back in blue. It looked very cool.

If you observe, you will see various color temperature changes within big broad shapes, like tree canopies, from dark cool greens to light yellow greens in the sunlight. That is what will make your paintings really become more believable. Because of ambient light on surfaces you may have subtle areas of warmth in cool distant trees, and cool areas in closer or immediate areas of the painting. This will keep your paintings from being too flat. When the values are the same, changes in the temperature can add dimension within the space. In fact, don’t always assume that values must change to add depth. Simple color temperature changes can separate planes very effectively.

Graphite Drawings

One of the keys to good painting is good observation skills. Go out and look at things. Take notes and do sketches at least once a week.

More musings for artists and collectors to come…


Today’s Recipe:

Spicy Roll Ups

Recipe from Pita

This recipe makes a good amount but can be tweak to your liking.

2 packages of flour tortillas
4 packages of softened Philly cream cheese
1 jar of jalapeños dices very fine

Spread cream cheese in a nice layer over tortilla and lightly sprinkle with jalapeños. Roll them up and chill for about 30 minutes. Then cut into bite size pieces and enjoy!


Plein Air Observation

plein air observation
Plein Air Observation
Plein Air Observation Notes
Plein air observation can be more useful than actually painting onsite. I had a conversation with a landscape painter  about the benefits of  plein air without painting. He does sketching on location. That is great, and there are more ways to benefit. Using a journal and camera are also good as well as simple observation. The field notes are the most benefit to me.  I like to make notes about the angle of sun, the masses, time of day, values along with a line composition thumbnail while I am in the field.
Plein Air Observation
 I also add tiny color note paintings, which I do constantly. They are also called ACEO or Art Cards by some. I use a drawn and measured template. I cut canvas paper to 8 1/2 x 11 inches and then print out the template on these sheets of canvas. I use a piece of cardboard and masking tape to tape them on the card board and then use these tiny formats to do plein air field studies. They take about 10 minutes. They assist with composing, color mixtures, light and atmosphere. They take little time. I can study a subject 8 times on this template sheet in the time it would take to do a small painting. This sheet can be punched on the edge and put into a notebook, or cut into tiny paintings on the grid lines and sold as studies. I sell lots of them.  I use a limited palette for them of five colors, three primaries and Paynes Gray and white as my neutrals for tinting and toning. I believe they are really essential for me to grow and understand the landscape. I also do them in my studio.
Plein Air Observation
I have long said that plein air observation is far more beneficial that actual painting time. If I really want to learn about a particular tree, or field, observation is very important. Before I teach a workshop I go out into the landscape and study the subject, taking notes, doing the studies and thinking about how it works visually. Then I come into the studio to process that information on canvas.  Though I’ve painted trees for a long time, I need to constantly study them to know what they are about. Sorting through a mass of trees is my idea of good painting fun. I spend countless hours doing plein  air observation on farms, and my own land, just carefully thinking and analyzing what I see, on the ground and in the trees. Painting and observing are two different processes. You will see more by watching than by painting.
Plein Air Observation
Not every painter is right for plein air work. It is tough. There are a million bugs, heat, humidity, standing water, confusing landscape, paint efficiency issues, equipment and expense to deal with. I still feel the observation time is more important than the painting process. If you don’t like to paint on location spend time there with a journal instead. I have gradually evolved into a studio painter now. 25 years of painting on location taught me a lot, but I was never a good plein air painter. I did it for fun most of the time. My collectors have always liked my studio work much more than plein air paintings. I am just a better studio painter. The slap dash look of outdoor painting no longer appeals to me visually. That doesn’t mean I hide in the studio. I actually spend more time out in the woods now, observing birds, trees, mosses, leaves, and the way the natural world looks. I believe the observation ha made a huge difference for me. I keep my paint boxes ready to use. I may want to paint outdoors at any time.
More musings for artists and collectors to come…
More musings for artists and collectors to come….
Today’s Recipe
Anna Potatoes
4 large potatoes scrubbed and halved
slice in thin slices about half way through each half. Place potatoes flat side down in deep baking pan. Pour in one can of chicken broth. Dot potatoes with a pat of butter on top, salt, pepper, dried thyme and a dash of paprika. Bake uncovered until potatoes are toasty brown on top and tender. Spoon a bit of sauce over the top as they are plated.