Several years ago I wrote down my thoughts on my art process. Much of it is still pertinent so I thought I would share them. Since then, I have evolved some, have made some changes, and will share those thoughts later.
Many people have asked me how I paint my subjects and where do I get reference material.
Although it would be far easier to have a photo to copy, most of my work evolves from bits and pieces pulled together from a vast “morgue” of reference material that I have accumulated over the years.
My Own Photos
The majority of the photography is my own. I took so many classes in photography at Thomas Nelsen Community College, I almost had to declare a major. After a masters degree in counseling from William and Mary, I did not need another degree.
Some of my music paintings are based on musicians of the past. The subject matter is obviously culled from photos that have appeared in the media. But I am not a slave to any photos. My work in its final versions bear very little resemblance to the material I use.
My Quick Drawings
I have the ability to draw well and fast. I honed those skills during the 12 years I worked as a newspaper artist illustrator. With the pressure of those incredible deadlines, you either did the job fast or ( but there was no “or”) the paper went to press without them.
I start with multiple photos usually laid out on my studio floor. From there I develop a small color sketch. Many of my music paintings are quite complex. I am placing and rearranging the musicians until I am satisfied with the layout.
Then I introduce color. Many old photos are in sepia or black and white so the colors are selected by me.
The dancers series began when my husband and I took ballroom lessons for 3 years. We attended the dance parties and the ballroom exhibitions (this was before the advent of digital cameras so I took lots of really bad photos and then I camcorded some dances). As I needed more info I would pause dance competitions on TV to see the moves I might want to paint. An artist cannot take artistic liberty with dance positions.
An art director once wanted to reverse a dance image for a magazine cover. Fortunately I got to review the changes first! Because I cannot put the ladies right hand on the man’s left shoulder! I can change attire and colors and design and exaggerate, but there are reality issues. Reality applies to musical instruments as well. I believe my work nudges abstraction, but always has a core based in reality.
My Color Choices
I do not use traditional color wheels. I paint rather spontaneously and impulsively. An artist has to know the rules and then be comfortable breaking them for the goal of movement, power, and personal color.
I have used latex gloves so I can paint with my fingers. I have used sponges and old credit cards and modeling paste – whatever achieves the goal of painting something that excites me.