Monday, December 31, 2012

Goals, Anyone?

I'm a big-time resolution type girl, so here I'm staring down this new year (THIS IS THE LAST DAY OF 2012!!!!) but I just can't think of anything that really fires me up.

Sure, after eating my body weight in sugar, flour, and fat since Thanksgiving, I have the desire to get back to my healthy lifestyle and get rid of this giant muffin top. That's just a "given." I'm turning forty this year, too, so I want to do something monumental and fabulous to mark the occasion that goes beyond seeing how many gray hairs I can sprout in a given week. The plan was to to run the LA marathon, but due to an epic battle with some fierce flu germ, my training was majorly interrupted at the most inopportune time. So the marathon is a giant MAYBE now. And I don't care. Which leads me to believe that maybe it didn't mean that much to begin with.

As far as my art goes, I have been really enjoying the little bits of time I've spent creating new pieces. The above piece happened in the midst of the raging flu mentioned above. Each morning, I would have enough energy to get off the couch for approximately an hour. So I pulled my canvas out and created "Anxiety." I guess it is pretty easy to figure out my state of mind. But I really love the piece. I feel like it is one of my crazy little personalities that live in my head.

So I think the biggest goal I have for 2013 is to BE IN LOVE WITH MY LIFE. I want to do only the things that bring me joy, and bring joy to the things that I cannot change (like the DAY JOB for example.) I want to figure out how to keep my life in balance so there is a little time for ALL the things I enjoy and maybe figure out how to quit being such a dawdler.

Okay! I'm off to do some major New Year's Eve chillaxing with my little family and just hanging out in the pj's all day! I hope you all have an absolutely fantabulous day and new year!

Renee :)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Artistic Compulsion...

It's been a long time since I've blogged. I decided today I must suffer from some mild psychological disorder... periods of mania where I paint and blog and garden and clean and run and work like a woman with her socks on fire, followed by periods of sloth-like lethargy which are only matched by perhaps the world's largest man or a product of taxidermy.

Ironically, my last bout of painting has been brought on by some terrible flu-like virus that has had laid me out cold for two days, followed by today when I felt life creep back just enough to make me stir crazy.

I grabbed an empty canvas, channeled my inner Bob Ross, and painted my uncle a dreary old cornfield per his request for Christmas. My son did not approve due to the painting's departure from my normal style. He said landscapes were not my thing, but I was pretty pleased with how it turned out (you know, landscapes not being "my thing" and all.) Luckily, dreary tends to be "my thing" more often than I like to admit (see my gossipy birds at top of page. I was trying for that same stormy atmosphere.) I may touch up the cornstalks a little before I sign it and call it DONE, but then again I know myself well enough that I may just end up painting over the whole thing.

Which leads me to my next painting. I think the painting above was an abstract taxi painting in a former life that I got frustrated with and, after a big ol' glass of wine, just painted over. What came next was two or three very odd works which hung in my entryway for a while, but I couldn't really say I liked them. Today, I grabbed three of the paints that were on the counter for the cornfield painting and watched the boy and the bird evolve. I like the sadness on his face. Now I just have to force myself not to touch it for a while. I need to be more thoughtful and less impulsive. In other words, I need to turn into a totally different human.

Well, I guess I'd better bid adieu. Even blogging is exhausting with a body full of germs, and hubby just came home needing kisses and hugs (although I'm sure he'll insist on full-body protection, a bottle of anti-bacterial, and a respirator before he allows me within 5 feet!)

Renee :)

Monday, March 12, 2012


I woke up this morning, unknowingly an hour early due to a time-change mishap, and decided that I needed a "ME" day. So I rearranged my work schedule, put on my yoga pants (aka my "house uniform") and decided to devote the day to thinking, painting, and reconnecting with myself.

I had such a BUSY weekend, starting with Friday morning when I met some friends for a delicious breakfast. After hearing them all talk about the beautiful places they've traveled, I realize now more than ever that I've made my world too small. Since I have neither an abundance of time nor money, I tend not to do the saving and planning necessary to go anywhere. This can lead to a very stale life. I feel like my life is 2 weeks past the expiration date and it's time to get another one. Seriously.

My son and I are planning to run a half marathon next month (my second, his first) in Nashville so we have been training like two couch potatoes have never trained before. Saturday morning, I rolled over to the alarm chirping at me at 4 am and groggily threw myself out of bed to meet my little unofficial running group and tackle the 11 mile loop at Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountains. After spending all of last spring on massive doses of ibuprofen because my running shoes crippled me, I switched to "barefoot" shoes (Merrell Pace Gloves) and have slowly been working my way up to higher mileage in them. If there are any minimalist shoe fans out there, I'm now doing 20-22 miles a week in my minimal shoes with no pain (just the normal running aches/stiffness that go away REALLY quickly.) I KNOW minimal shoes are NOT for everyone, but the difference for me is absolutely amazing.

We arrived at Cades Cove right before dawn, guided the whole way by the full (or nearly full) moon. After shaking our Hot Hands to stuff in our mittens (it was 30 degrees) we took off hoping to see lots of wildlife and not be eaten by any. Above are pics from our last outing there, but I forgot my camera this time due to extreme sleep deprivation.
Kathy Mattea

Sunday with the girls in downtown Knoxville was next on the social calendar. The weather was a perfect, sunny 65 degrees so the first order of business was finding a patio and wine (the patio was a no-go since the rest of the city had the same brilliant idea.) When late lunch was finished, we made our way to our little Bijou theater to watch a performance by Kathy Mattea and Barbara Kingsolver (a collaboration to save our TN mountains from mountain-top removal mining.) The performance was inspiring, if for nothing else because I love to see truly artistic people working their magic, hoping some of their fairy dust flies off and settles onto me. I'm not for sure, but I felt a little more glittery for a while.

But this morning when I awoke, I didn't feel the fairy dust. I felt tired and blue and listless (pretty much my "normal" lately.) So I cranked up the coffee pot and went to work on my latest work in progress, my Donkey Self Portrait.

I love graffiti art, folk art, children's art, (really, I eat, sleep and breath ANYTHING art) so I am just letting go with what I love in this painting: bright colors, stripes, collage, paint, more collage, more paint... you get the idea.

But painting didn't quite make me feel all warm and fuzzy like I'd hoped, so I plodded outside to see if the grey, full skies had transformed my red clay yard into a giant mud puddle. Since it was warm and not yet raining, I decided to pluck a lone weed out of the garden, and then another, and then 10,000 others. By the time I was finished, covered in mud and wondering if my fingernails were black from dirt or paint (or both,) I realized that happiness for me is in the ground. I'm never happier than when I'm up to my eyeballs in dirt, more topsoil on my face than in my yard. Which is true. I am not a "lawn" girl. I can imagine the thousands of earthworms making a slow yet determined exodus towards my yard, trying to escape the gallons upon gallons of herbicides and pesticides that keep the clover and spiders at bay beyond the neighboring privacy fences.

When I was a wee little girl, my mom and I use to make bracelets, necklaces, and Indian headbands from clover flowers that we had braided together. Every time I see a clover flower and smell their delicious sweetness, the saturated, larger-than-life memories flood back. And I love seeing the bees feeding, flitting greedily from blossom to blossom. I don't want to kill my clover. Maybe I should just relocate to the nearest pasture and be done with subdivision life.

Now, flower gardens are a different story. I LOVE my flowers. Above is a pic of my fledgling garden that I created last year. I have this weird weeding fetish if I find any errant plant has landed in my little flowery haven (or anyone else's... I have a hard time resisting the lone wild green onion that has cropped up in the neighbor's mailbox flowerbed on my nightly walk...) I realize I'm rambling, but I HAVE been home all day by myself and my choices are to #1) blog or #2) just sit around and talk to myself.

Okay! I hear my sprout coming in from school so I'm off to plan a delicious dinner for the fam!

Renee :)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A New Direction

In my last post, I was just SICK of my own work. I had hit a creative brick-wall and I wasn't even enjoying the process of painting anymore. I've often told my friends that if I was a full-time artist, I'd end up as an over-eating alcoholic because the process of painting makes me so filled with anxiety. Well, I think I've pulled myself out of the doldrums with the help of this book I ran across quite by accident: Michele Cassou's Life, Paint, & Passion If I end up an over-eating alcoholic now, it will be for completely different reasons.

In a nutshell, the book redirects focus away from product and back into the freedom and enjoyment of the process. I had almost came to a standstill due to this inner critic and potential buyer that seemed to judge and manipulate every stroke that went onto the canvas. I was comparing myself to EVERY artist I have ever known (alive and dead) and always coming up short in some area (too colorful, not colorful enough, too childish, not childish enough, not interesting, too weird...)

So for the past week or so I've just been playing. I've tapped back into that inner place where I paint for the absolute love and joy of painting. I'm not product driven anymore. I don't CARE if I have a buyer or if someone looks at my work and makes a harsh judgement. There are so many different styles of art, and I love them all (I'm even trying to wrap my small mind around conceptual art.)The only person I have to please is myself, and I please myself through enjoying the process and freeing myself from the imaginary chains that dictate what is good/bad/ugly/beautiful/interesting/boring. Above is my newest in my FACES series still in progress (unfortunately, I painted over all the previous works in the FACES series so technically this is the first in the series.)

Above is another painting that I had always liked but I couldn't bring myself to work on it because I thought it was too colorful, too childish perhaps, to not be painted over. I view the painting differently now. I like the energy. I love the colors. I love the layers upon layers of texture. I love that taxi whizzing by, leaving that poor guy with the pretty red umbrella out in the rain. It isn't finished yet because I still want to play with it, not because I feel that it needs fixing.

Below is DONKEY, still in progress. I'm not loving how the red in his coat is interacting, so I'm going to remove it and add the red in a different way.

Well, I think it is time to prepare some lunch and get on with this beautiful, sunny Sunday. I hope you all have a great day too!

Renee :)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bored with My Own Art...

I guess the title says it all. I'm just bored out of my mind with my own art. I went to my brother's house the other day and he had some of my art on his wall and it made me sleepy. Not only that, I felt like it was amateur and contrived. I wanted to rip it off his walls and bring it home to "fix" it (or rather, slather a bunch of white or black paint on it and start again.)

Today was a rainy, nasty, "hole yourself in" sort of day... so I painted FOR HOURS. But it wasn't that sort of natural, free flowing, crazily inspired sort of painting. It was labored and tortured. I just feel sick of myself and I can't get over this feeling that I'm lacking some sort of artistic gene that will allow me to overcome the hump of mundaneness. Did you know "mundaneness" isn't a real word? I'm going to use it anyway.

So here is what I've worked on today. Above is my return to "Faces." I've always been drawn to the abstract and cubism, as well as my inner 5 year old attraction to primary colors. I'm not close to finished yet (as a matter of fact, since I took the pic I've taken out the lower left hand face... it just didn't belong.) But I'm excited to work on it more so at least it isn't putting me into an art coma.

And this is donkey. This is a self portrait, in a way. I feel like a donkey 90% of the time. Hubby "playfully" calls me Donkey. So I started painting this donkey and after 10 variations of color and content, I still can't get it right. Above is one of the variations which I hadn't planned on keeping and was just messing around, and below is what it is as of this moment. Who knows what it will be tomorrow?

Okay! Off to bed to hopefully recharge my battery and rid of this crappy obsessive mood!

Renee :)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Finished? In Progress? Hmmmm....

Sometimes I work on a painting and there is this magical "IT'S FINISHED" feeling, at which point I sign it and waste no more fretting on it. Actually, on the rare occasion that a painting flows freely, it is such a euphoric feeling. Other times, I'll work on a painting for months, never quite "feeling it." If a painting REALLY stinks, I just paint over it. But those in-between paintings give me the most grief. I don't want to paint over them, yet something isn't jiving. Above is just THAT type... I don't know what to do with it.

There are elements of this painting that I DO like... actually, on their own, I like all of the elements. Somehow, there is a depth that is missing that prevents me from having that relieved IT'S DONE moment. So I'm going to keep plugging away at it, trying to resist the temptation to paint over it. And yes, I signed it prematurely.

Above is another painting I'm working on that falls more into the "effortless" category. Somehow, it just all came together (so far) in a way that pleases me. I didn't plan this one out (as is my norm.) I just squirted some paint on the canvas and smeared it around with a palette knife until I "saw" the city materialize. I took the paint's guidance and formed more buildings around it. Now I'm not quite sure where I'm going to go with it, but I have a few ideas knocking around in my vacuous noggin. I'm going to try to be better about posting as my works progress, for my own sake. I think it's beneficial to look back and remember where my work stemmed from. After so many weeks and layers, a painting may totally morph from its infant form and initial concept (not that I hang on too tightly to original concepts, but still.)

Okay! Time to get moving! Hope you all have a great weekend!

Renee :)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

First Art of 2012

I sometimes wonder if all artists get "painter's block" or if it is just some of us unfortunate few? Anyway, I am enjoying an extended period of inspiration and motivation, although I seem stuck on the same subject matter (yes, MORE flowers.) I just finished my latest work in my Vase Series, although numbers were never my strong point and I forget where I am in the series now. So I'm calling this one "Red Sunflowers" and pretending like I didn't want to assign a number.

I believe my vase series is about to end, however. I have been "seeing" different images in my mind that I want to translate onto canvas. 

When I first began painting, I played around with some abstract faces. Above are a couple painted several years ago that I deemed utter failures, but now that I look back on them, I can see some sort of promise there. I ended up painting over them for reasons I haven't really explored, but now I regret that I don't have them. Thanks to encouragement and goading from my WONDERFUL friends, I've decided to broaden my horizons and perhaps create a new series of faces. Maybe this time I will be better about keeping count so I can actually have an official series of 10 (or 5 or 12) or maybe I'll just continue being a complete space cadet and lose count at 3.

On the home front today, it is Superbowl Sunday. I'm not even sure which teams are attached to Tom Brady and Eli Manning but I'm making a ginormous pot of chili and allotting myself a couple of hours on the couch to watch boys in tight pants beat the crap out of each other. And, since my sprout and I are still in training for the Nashville Country Music Half Marathon in April, I'll have to fit in a little run today (which I should have already completed but I've enjoyed sitting around in my jammies, having coffee and blogging.)

I hope you all have a wonderful day!

Renee :)