Now, where was I…

After finishing this painting-

IMG_0009Erin Hardin- Winter Warmth

“Winter Warmth” 24″x36″ Oil on Copper, $2000

I took a break from painting on metal for a little while. However, I just can’t stay away.

For the past year (among other things) I’ve worked on a four piece series commissioned by a customer as a gift for her father. Working in my “Reflection Series” style, I’ve been creating compositions to represent the four seasons. For Christmas last year, her father received this painting-

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T.J.’s Winter, 12″x12″ oil on copper

For Father’s Day, he received this one-

T.J.'s Spring, 10"x10" Oil on aluminum

T.J.’s Spring, 10″x10″ Oil on aluminum

And now I’m about to begin the next in the series, summer. Join me over the next several weeks and I’ll show you how I go from this

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Aluminum mounted on panel, ready for painting

to a finished painting.

Baby Steps

I’ve been thinking a lot about the stereotypes typically ascribed to artists. Some good, some bad. The list includes flaky, unreliable, emotional, observant, imaginative, starving, unpredictable, and complex. One adjective most “non-artists” (a misnomer since I think everyone has some form of art in them) don’t normally use is “perfectionistic.” A little known fact about artists- we’re typically very hard on ourselves. We may not seem that way to those around us, but we are. In fact, I would propose the theory that the “flakier” an artist seems, the harder they are on themselves (yes, I’m aware that should  have been a complicated, “he or she is on him or herself,” but that’s cumbersome. See? I’m even kind of perfectionistic about my grammar). We can have extremely high, impossible even, standards for ourselves; letting “the perfect be the enemy of the good” (to paraphrase Voltaire).

Julia Cameron, author of the series The Artist’s Way says that “artists block” is not caused by lack of ideas, but rather by a log-jam of too many ideas. Too much in-flow without enough out-flow. How often have you found yourself discarding ideas left and right, “That’s stupid. That won’t work. No one will like it. That’s too complicated- I can’t pull it off,” only to find yourself sitting on the couch stymied, frustrated, and wailing, “I can’t think of anything to paint!” (or write or draw or sculpt, or whatever)? When I do that (and I catch myself doing it often) I get grumpy and start feeling like all those bad stereotypes. Therefore, I paint because I have to paint. I write because I have to write.

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Two canisters and a candle

All art doesn’t have to be Capital A- Art. Sketch your dog, paint a wall a different color, make up a recipe. And if it doesn’t turn out, the world won’t crumble. Just create. You’ll feel better.

Laying the Foundation…

I just got some beautiful new birchpanels from Micah Bailey of Oak Hill Farm (contact me if you’re in Alabama and want to order panels from him). They’re so pretty I almost don’t want to paint on them… but of course I will. First, though, priming.

As you probably know, you can’t paint directly onto wood with oil paints. In a nutshell chemical reactions between the oil and the wood cause the wood to disintegrate and the paint to change colors. Since I normally paint on metal or on pre-primed surfaces, I did a ton of research on how to prepare my panels. My best two sources of information were Ampersand’s website and the knowledgeable people at Gamblin Artist Colors. You can actually call Gamblin for technical support and they’re so so kind.

Just for kicks I tried a couple of different priming techniques to see what I prefer. I applied just plain ol’ clear gesso to one and Gamblin ground for oils to the other.

The gesso was definitely easier to apply and cheaper. But… I went with the Gamblin ground (btw, I swear I’m not getting paid for any of this by anyone). The reason- I love smooth surfaces and the ground (when applied correctly) gave me a super smooth finish. The process is a little picky, so here’s my best advice: a little goes a long way. I mean a really long way. Apply really really thin coats. Let it dry at least 24 hrs (if I put it on too thick it ended up being longer than 24 hrs). Sand, apply again. It says you just need 2 coats, but I actually did 4. Tada! Primed panel ready for some painting love.

ArtWalk Birmingham, This Weekend!

Come see me! I’ll be at the Birmingham Art Association’s booth at the Legg Lofts on 1st Ave. N. on Saturday (I’m working a 3-6 shift, but ArtWalk happens Friday evening and all day Saturday.

So, check out some of the area’s best artists and just an all around cool event. See you there!

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Bringing the Outdoors In

It started gradually. A little piece here. A little piece there. Next thing you know I have quite a collection.

I’m referring to my “bits of nature” that I just can’t seem to leave outside. I pick up every feather I come across, every mossy bit of fallen bark, every cool and unusual stick. I actually went outside in a downpour recently to “rescue” a perfect clump of moss that I had seen earlier in the driveway and had meant (and then forgotten) to pick up after depositing the groceries in the house.

It’s ok. I’m an artist. We’re allowed these little eccentricities and I quite like them- both my eccentricities and my collection.

Here are just a few of the many paintings inspired by my outdoor finds:

Please contact me for purchase. If you like these, you might also like the mixed-media work found in this post.

Let Helping Hands Help

I’m pretty independent…sometimes too independent. I figure that people have better things to do than help me when technically I CAN manage. Today, though, juggling a toddler and a heavy box I needed to exchange at an auto parts store I accepted a helping hand. A kind man in the parking lot offered to carry the box into the store and I turned him down. He happened to be leaving the same time as me as well and said, “Please, let me help you.” Maybe it was the tone of his “please,” maybe it was the gut feeling that he wasn’t creepy, or maybe it was the fact that I really wasn’t sure I could make to the car with the even heavier new item under my arm. Whatever the case, I gratefully handed it over. As we got to my car and I thanked him, he admitted, “I have ulterior motives.”

“Oh, great,” I thought, “My gut lied.”

He continued, “I’ve been sitting with my dying father for the last two weeks and I can’t tell you how good it feels just to  talk to a living breathing person and feel like I’m being some actual use to someone.”

I left the interaction feeling a warmth and generosity toward all humanity and the sense that we’re all in this together. We could all use a little help sometimes, as well as the opportunity to offer help. May the good you receive equal the good you share.

…aaaand since I don’t have a picture to illustrate this life lesson, here’s another onion 🙂

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Onion # 3  4″x4″ Oil on panel
$75