A Bit of Inspiration: Frida Kahlo

FridaPaintingInBed

This is a photo I saw in person at an exhibition about a year or two ago that really inspired me. It’s Mexican artist Frida Kahlo strapped up and bed-ridden sometime after the trolley accident that left her dealing with physical pain and treatment for much of her life. When I saw it, immediately I thought, “Well damn, I really have no excuse! Nobody does!” To see her rigged up the way that she was, most likely in quite a bit of pain, yet still pushing herself to create left me awe-struck. Even if she was doing this just to pass the time, it’s still quite remarkable. This is an image that I think back on whenever I realize that I’m making excuses about my own lack of production. It’s an image that gave me a jolt of motivation at a time when I was in a deep creative slump and didn’t prioritize much time for expelling any creative energy.

I don’t claim to know a whole lot about Frida Kahlo, but I will say that the photo above told me so much about her spirit and passion. A fire that I think artists (or perhaps anyone, really) need to harness and apply to life in order to stand a good chance at attaining a bit of personal fulfillment. To be honest I wouldn’t even say that Kahlo’s painting skills were technically perfect (sorry!). A lot of us may have seen artwork that we would deem more precise and dynamic than hers, that just comes down to personal opinion obviously. But looking back at her body of work, to me it was clear that she put her heart and soul into whatever she created; losing herself in the meaning and the act of expressing her inner self regardless of how it looked next to anyone else’s art.

The Broken Column by Frida Kahlo OSA164

“The Broken Column”, 1944. Oil on canvas.

That’s what I take away from her legacy and that’s what has pushed me to take risks with my own work this year, and hopefully beyond. Thinking about that woman’s tenacity deeply inspired me to finally start to care a lot less about any external factors, just create whatever the hell I wanted to express, and keep pushing forward in my own way. And maybe that’s all it’s really about.

These things I share in the hope that you Artists out there reading this will either renew or maintain momentum with your work. It’s a constant struggle, I know, but it’s not impossible! Even if Frida Kahlo’s work has never moved you before, I ask that you take another look. At the very least “right click” and “save as” the image of her in bed above, use it as a reminder to refuse to roadblock yourself.

Your thoughts?

Advertisements

My Fears as an Artist

Braaaaainssss!!

Braaaaainssss!!

Happy Halloween!

With all scares and shares going on all day today, I thought I’d take a different approach and talk about some real fears that hit closer to home. As artists living and finding our way in this world, we come across some pretty scary challenges and thoughts. Today I’m going to share some of mine:

– I’m afraid of my own potential
I don’t mean that in a whiny-brag kind of way! I know it sounds ridiculous, but think about it. As long as I keep finding ways to push myself and put my work out there, it’s inevitable that I’ll achieve some kind of progress. More recognition and accolades means more pressure and responsibilities. The decisions that one has to make begin to get tougher and tougher. The balancing act of work, pleasure, and progress can be overwhelming. Will that be me? Can I handle all of that? What things will I have to sacrifice? How can I best avoid missteps and lulls in my artistic career? I can be rather lazy at times and I do love a certain amount of leisure, thinking about all the work I would have to do to maintain some momentum makes my brain hurt.

– I’m afraid that I’m not as good as I think I am
I’m admitting this, realizing that I’m contradicting my previous point. However I think that this is a thought that many artists have from time to time. If you don’t, then show me how you do it! Every time I start feeling proud about something I’ve done, I’ll see someone else’s stellar work and throw my hands up in defeat. “Why do I even bother!?” is the thought that often runs through my mind when that happens. Luckily it’s not something that paralyzes me, I still do what I want and move forward. But, I still have those moments…

– I fear that I won’t nail down my artistic voice
This is a real thing I’m facing right now! This has been taking years for me to develop and figure out and I still don’t think it’s any clearer to me. I’m realizing that there are at least two aspects to my artistic vision or voice, and they have nothing to do with each other whatsoever. Personally I prefer the more traditional side of my skills. Portraiture is definitely my strength and I want to start putting a lot more focus on that. However I think there’s something to some of the more abstract pieces I’ve made this year. I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out how I can possibly marry the two sides and really create some dynamic and memorable pieces. I think when I finally get a grip on what that is, then I will experience a serious level up.

scott_p_level_up

For now, I still feel a bit stuck.

These are just a few things that scare me about pursuing my creative goals. I share these in the hope to show you that you’re not alone! It’s normal and so many of us out here can relate, even the well-known artists. The thing to remember is that even though your fears are valid, they’ll only set you back if you let them! Instead, use your fears to push you forward. Yes I may be afraid that I might not be “good enough,” but I’ve combated that by taking classes and reading about the business of art to help build my skills and confidence. I challenge you to turn your fears around in the same way. Over time you will develop the habit of working with your fears instead of letting them hold you back, keeping yourself on the track to artistic progress and achievement.

Whoa…!

RAW Artists Reno

I am truly humbled.

Back in August I participated in an artist showcase with the RAW Artists chapter in Reno, and this week I found out that I’m one of the top five nominees that will be judged to to move on to the semi-final round! Being nominated is based on getting votes, and honestly I had no idea that I was eligible to receive votes… so I did zero promotion for myself, very sad.

So I have to thank everyone that did take the time to vote me up and show any kind of support, especially to my coworkers and fellow nominees Nicole Oshan and Alex Fleiner who spread the word about voting and who I’m sure were the sole reasons that I received any votes at all! Please click on their names and check them out! I should know the results of the regional judging in the coming weeks.

Good luck to all of the other RAW artists who are nominees in their cities, and a huge congratulations!

Color Mixing Recipes

Colorbook1

So in an earlier post I mentioned how I became really frustrated during the process of painting my Queen Nefertiti. Well I thought it’d be good to share what helped me get through it. It’s a little book I bought from Amazon by William F. Powell called Color Mixing Recipes for Portraits. I only bought the book years ago as a back up for when I get too stuck and can’t paint my way out of it, and finally I got to refer to it for the first time with the Queen Nefertiti painting.

The main part that I struggled with was the color of the skin. Normally I feel in control, but this time it just wasn’t coming together. I kept mixing muddy colors and then destroying them further when I tried to fix it. I think it was particularly troublesome for me because I wasn’t working from a subject or a picture, just from my own head. Honestly I don’t usually use these kind of color recipe books, because I don’t want to get too attached to using them as a crutch. I need a certain element of spontaneity when painting. The idea of using “recipes” where x paint+x paint+x paint= y color sounds way too technical for my tastes. And not to mention expensive! Who needs all of those particular shades of paint? Where are you going to store it? Is there REALLY a big difference if I just use an orange that I mix up versus the cadmium orange hue scarlet that the book says I need? I think I’ve made decent paintings with a lot less colors than some of these books mention.

colorbook2

colorbook3All jokes aside, the book was actually helpful. I used it as more of a jumping off point and a visual aid rather than some kind of cut-and-dry resource. I took a break, came back to the painting with fresh eyes, and the book became my guide when I just couldn’t really think anymore. So the book, coupled with my own knowledge about color, allowed me to achieve much cleaner shades and tones for that particular painting. If you were ever curious about buying a color mixing book, I definitely think it’s worth it as a backup – especially if you’re already in school or taking private classes. If you’re just starting out and don’t know much about paint and mixing colors, these books can be a bit overwhelming so I wouldn’t recommend you get one until you get more comfortable.

Thoughts? Have you used any color mixing books? Love them or hate them?

Check out my art from 2013!

"The Garden" Acrylic on canvas, 20" x 24" 2013.

“The Garden” Acrylic on canvas, 20″ x 24″ 2013.

Finally updated my album of work on the Purple Paintbrush Facebook page! I just added a few things that I created earlier this year, plus a few pieces from recent years that I’m just getting around to publishing. Full descriptions are included for most of the work so you can get an idea of the inspirations behind the pieces.

Please feel free to peruse the album and let me know what you think! Find it here.

Thanks for viewing!

Life and Beauty, oil on canvas

TLT_Life-Beauty

“Life and Beauty”, 22″x28″. Oil on canvas.

This was a commissioned piece that I just finished last weekend and finally sent off to the client two days ago. It’s going to be auctioned off at a fundraiser to raise money for the Amarna Project, an organization that promotes the study and preservation of the ancient Egyptian city Tell el-Armarna. Within the perimeters I was given for the piece, I decided to make my own version of Queen Nefertiti with the sun god, Aten, in the background.

Believe it or not, the opportunity was posted on Craigslist! My coworker sent it to me. (It helps to tell people about your artistic aspirations! You never know who will be willing to help you out.) I don’t have a personal artist website set up yet, but I sent the contact the link to my work on this blog and voila – I was in business. It was the first time I ever had to sign a real artist commission agreement. I’ll even get to take home a percentage of the sale at the auction, which is a luxury when donating work to a fundraiser.

As easy as it was to obtain the commission, actually painting this piece was a challenge for sure! This was ambitious for me because it’s bigger than I normally work, and it’s a portrait for which I had no visual reference. I wanted to just work from my head. Needless to say, the vision in my head was a bit different than how it was shaping up while I was painting. I reached a point in the middle where I really became frustrated and couldn’t even look at it. I just couldn’t get the skintones to work the way I wanted for the life of me. Through a bit of trial and error, somehow I pulled myself together and pushed through it and I’m quite satisfied with how it turned out.

Would love to know what you think!