Reflecting On Success

It’s been a short while since my last blog post and a lot has happened in that time.  I completed a complex piece…twice (more on that in a bit), I took a much-needed vacation to FL, I got engaged to a wonderful woman who supports me amazingly in my art endeavors, and I’m re-charged with new ideas for next year’s pieces.  All in all, it’s been a great couple of months.  Now it’s time to get back into the groove and get some things accomplished.  So, expect to see more from me in the coming days, weeks, and months.

A huge part of why I stepped away for a bit was to focus on completing a piece for Diane’s parents.  We’d talked about it for some time.  Diane suggested I do an abstract piece, and while I did give it some consideration, abstract just isn’t where my interest lies when it comes to putting pen, pencil, brush, or stick to work.  We did some more searching and after a while came across several great images on a website for artists and photographers, Paint My Photo , which is a great resource and venue for artists and photographers (If you’re an artist looking for great subjects, or a photographer looking to share your work and potentially see it used by artists in their work, this is the place to go).

The image we chose, by photographer Sandy Scott, was of an egret looking down at its own reflection in the water.  The colors and general design of the image both caught our attention, and the subject matter offered me a new challenge in several ways.  The biggest challenge, and a large focus for me in the next year, was the complex amount of color in the image (admittedly not a skill I’ve worked on as much as I should).  Most of my work has been in pencil and charcoal.  The other challenges included reflections, ripples in water, and feathers, all things I’ve never drawn/painted to any great degree over the years.

I started the piece in October, making a mistake I knew was a mistake when I made it, and found myself restarting it almost from scratch the first week of November.  I had decided to do the piece in pastel, which lets me work in color but still enjoy the feel of drawing, and knew this piece would require several layers of pastel to finish even close to the way I would want it to look.  As I neared the point of seeing the finish line, the limitation of my support surface and the nature of pastel caught up to me.  I had too many layers of pastel down for the surface to hold any more.  I tried several different fixes for the problem (scraping off pastel, fixing with workable fixative, dissolving pigmented areas with alcohol) all no avail.  It was time to learn my lesson and start over.

Fortunately, much of the hard work was done as the layout and drawing were already done.  I did a very detailed tracing and transferred the lines onto the new support (a sand textured surface on hardboard).  I already had most of the colors figured out and things moved along much quicker than with the original.  Within about two weeks of evenings and weekends it was ready to go.  Diane and I framed it up, boxed it for the trip southward, and I used it as a clever ruse to hide her engagement ring in the car…J.  Her folks seemed to like it well enough and I’ve gotten several compliments from others who’ve seen it.  All in all, a success I think.


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