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

notan study

 

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.

 

Evolve Healthy

evolve healthy

Evolve Healthy

Evolve Healthy Notes

To evolve is healthy for painters I think. I have been gradually changing in my work since the beginning. I believe fresh technique and ideas keep our work exciting and interesting. I know some artists who have not changed in style for years. Their brushwork is predictable as well as their palette, subjects and so forth. Yes, I would know their work anywhere, and they have an established style, but is that good? Surely their fans and collectors will run out of interest eventually? I don’t know.

Birds and Nests Art

Evolve Healthy

I have evolved more times than I can count. I am a curious person so that suits my personality well. I think the key for me is interest in the process of painting. I don’t care so much about the finished work. Of course I want it to be good and pleasing. We all have egos, but if I didn’t make a living from my art, it wouldn’t matter much about the finish for me.

Linda’s Drawings

I think it is the path along the way through a painting that keeps me at it so enthusiastically. Happily, I have matured enough to not worry overmuch about where I am in the pecking order of artists anymore. What a relief! There are dozens of decisions along the path of a painting. All of them are viable and none are perfect. Making those choices create the unique quality of one artist’s work compared to others. If you line up a dozen painters in front of a scene, the 12 paintings will be different, due to the decisions made along the way to end. Isn’t that cool?

Evolve Healthy

Then there is the factor of maturing, both in age and style. When I was a young painter, I wanted to paint everything. I had a mishmash of subjects and styles going all at once. My work was immature and chaotic. I was experimenting and learning in art school and for some years after. Developing into a mature painter takes a fair amount of time. I didn’t really learn how to paint until I was fifty, though I had painted all my life. Now at 68, I am developing some consistency in my body of work. It is important now not to fall into the trap of safety. I know how to paint, but I don’t want to lock myself into a style because it is pleasant and I sell paintings. Now is the time to renew the adventure. My time grows shorter due to aging. I still have a lot to learn and I still need to push further to find those arcane learning opportunities to grow.

Evolve Healthy

Branching out to birds is one of those fun ways to push myself. Two years ago I knew nothing about birds. I have focused some of my study time on small birds now. They are primitive and whimsical but they are a relief from the hard work of being a landscape painter and increase my knowledge base of the natural world. I don’t have the skill of serious bird painters and wouldn’t have the hubris to try to compete with my betters in that genre, but I can have fun and learn from these sweet little creatures. They take me away from my other work for a bit of fun and learning.

What ever your path, change it up now and then and don’t be afraid to look silly. it is all good learning.

More musings for artists and collectors to come…

Today’s Recipe

Southwest Potato Salad

1 lb red potatoes, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons water
1/4 bunch fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
1/2 shallot, finely chopped
2 limes, for zest/juice
1/2 cup  mayonnaise
2 teaspoons garlic seasoning
3 oz queso fresco, crumbled

Slice potatoes and place in microwave-safe dish with water; cover and microwave on HIGH for 8–10 minutes or until tender (stirring halfway through cook time). Drain and let stand to cool.
Chop cilantro (1/4 cup) and shallot (2 tablespoons). Zest 1 lime (2 teaspoons); squeeze both limes for juice (2 tablespoons).
Whisk in large bowl: mayonnaise, seasoning, cilantro, shallots, zest, and juice. Add potatoes to mayonnaise mixture; toss gently until blended. Crumble queso fresco over top and serve. (Makes 6 servings.)

 

 

New Block In Technique

New Block In Technique

New Block In Technique Notes

I’ve been working on a new block in technique just for fun. It has worked pretty well so far. I have a pretty deliberate approach to painting, with consideration of palettes, armature, rebatment and composing before I begin. Considering all that, I usually start fairly carefully and slowly with the block in. Lately, I have been using a large brush for block in work with less care in terms of brushwork at the first stages of the process.

New Block In Technique

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I use big brush strokes and  flatten them out with a large dry brush, thinning the paint out on the canvas in value ranges from dark to light. The block in is more scrubby than my normal technique. I also do more layers of transparent colors at this stage. I’ve been using this technique to do a lot of back lit trees. The lighting is striking without putting much detail in the actual painting.

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New Block In Technique

It’s not that the painting is loose and sloppy. It has all the careful composing, value distribution and contrast of my usual technique but the arrival is different. The back lit effort works especially well because the trees and their canopies are quite dark with most of the detail on the edges, as haloes of light on the outside edges. With the atmosphere quality this new block in  technique works very well, leaving a more dreamy look to the distant trees and back ground. I then begin to add more careful strokes in the last third of the painting. I’m having a lot of fun with this technique. It is well suited to acrylic application. Oils would take drying stages between these layers, but with patience, would work too.

New Block in Technique

I’m working on a new commission, 18×22 inches. I have decided to try this new technique for the painting. So far, so good. I may find it successful.

More musings for artists and collectors to come…..

Today’s Recipe

Glazed Carrots

2 lb carrots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon  salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup dried cherries
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
4 oz shredded Parmesan cheese
Steps
Peel carrots, then cut into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place in microwave-safe dish. Cover and microwave on HIGH 3 minutes.
Preheat large sauté pan on medium. Place oil in pan, then add carrots, salt, and pepper; cook and stir until tender.
Combine sugar, broth, vinegar, and cherries, then add to carrot mixture; cook and stir 2–3 minutes or until mixture thickens. Chop parsley. Arrange carrots on serving platter; top with parsley and cheese.

 

Study Hard

fall doings

Study Hard

Study Hard Notes

The idea of needing to study hard for advanced painters is odd to some. I think it’s easy to get into a rut, especially when we are long time experienced painters. We start our paintings, work along on them until they are finished and then we start another one, with nary a thought about it. I know so many painters who have stopped challenging themselves. They are good painters. They feel that they don’t need to change anything. The problem with that is that change is inevitable. Nothing stays the same, including our skill level. If we don’t continue to challenge ourselves, little by little our skills start to decline, from boredom if nothing else. We are a little more careless in our composing, a little sloppier in our brushwork, pay a little less attention to value placement and little by little we lose the spark and freshness of discovery. Our work becomes more formulaic, more predictable.

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Study Hard

There are a lot of reasons this happens, not just laziness. Many painters get into a rut because they feel a comfort level. They don’t want to leave the safety of a well used palette, a style of brushwork or values. The are selling and have been for a long time with that particular palette or style. Their work appeals to decorators. They have built a brand name with that style. I can understand that and I think it’s ok to stick with what works, however, there is a way to have that and grow as well. There is nothing that says you can’t build an alternative body of work that is separate from the old standby.

Study Hard

No matter your level, there is room to grow. I like the fact that I am constantly struggling. Sometimes the challenges are almost overwhelming to me and I like that. I could play it safe and paint palm trees the rest of my life and probably make an easier living. I know a guy who does that and he is quite successful, more than me. He makes up all kinds of important sounding names for his palm paintings invoking a spiritual notion about them. He has found a gimmick that works. His palms aren’t any better than a couple of dozen other artists’ palms, but the gimmick sells them.

I also understand that when an artist reaches a certain level in their career, they are hesitant to admit that they need to study. I used to feel that way back in the day when I thought I knew how to paint. It wasn’t until I was about 50 that I realized I didn’t know squat about painting. It’s pretty humbling actually. The longer I paint the more I discover that I don’t know squat!

Study Hard

Linda’s Art and Stories Facebook Group

There are lots of ways to quietly study and grow, without shouting to the world that you need help in your painting. I’m lucky enough to have collectors who love me whether I’m a great painter or not. Not every artist is that lucky. They enjoy my forays and experiments along the way.

You can study painting books. Some of them are quite excellent. You can do research. I spend a fair amount of time doing this. I use my old college text books, and online resources. I design exercises for myself to practice painting techniques. You can study with painters online. This is the most convenient way to study in my life. One of the problems with study at my career stage is that there is no one local/regional whom I’m going to learn much from. When I wanted to study values and Notan, I had to use the Internet, because no one around here was teaching that area of painting.

Study Hard

Linda’s Rustic Paintings

My advice is to find a painter you want to study with and ask them if they will do online email lessons with you. I do that for a few of my own students who don’t live near me. I think most painters would be willing to do this. You will get one on one attention, critiques of your work and a lesson plan tailor made for your individual needs. What would it hurt to write and ask them?

Study Hard

Another good study source is the DVD market. Many painters offer courses on DVD and I think this would work well. They are expensive, so find out which ones are worth the money before you buy. Check on eBay to for used copies.

Workshops are fun and can be very instructive, depending on the teacher. Don’t pay to go watch somebody paint all day. Make sure they actually teach something.

I use what I call a “design kit” to study painting. It consists of colored and graphite pencils, markers, scissors, rulers, templates for circles and ovals, paper. Anything that helps me to doodle and be creative. I often do this for large paintings or commissions, figuring out the plan before I start a real painting. It saves a great deal of time and resources, helping me to avoid mistakes early in the design process.

In whatever method you choose, make the time to study painting. Your work will grow.

Study Hard

More musings for artists and collectors to come….

Today’s Recipe

Fried Rice

2 cups rice, cooked in chicken broth.
1 carrot, julienned
1 stalk celery julienned
1’4 onion finely diced
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 cooked chicken breast sliced
2 beaten eggs
2 T soy sauce

Heat wok or skillet with oil, pour in eggs, fry, add everything else and stir until all is heated thoroughly and veges are still crisp.

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