My Virtuous Vice

I have a vice. It’s probably one a lot of you share. Like many vices, it’s hard to resist. It’s not normally seen as a vice. In fact, in this culture of more more more, it’s typically viewed as virtuous.

Multi-tasking

The following is a true story, and typical:

I put on moisturizer in the morning. While waiting for the moisturizer to soak in, I begin brushing my teeth. When I reach for the toothpaste I notice a cup on the bathroom counter than needs to go in the dishwasher, so toothbrush in mouth, cup in hand, I head to the kitchen. When I get there I realize the dishwasher needs to be unloaded, so one-handed (I’m still brushing my teeth with the other hand) I begin unloading the dishwasher. Teeth brushed, dishwasher half-unloaded, I return to the bathroom to rinse my mouth and put away my toothbrush. While there, I realize I never finished applying my make-up. Powder on, mascara out, I realize I never finished unloading the dishwasher. Mascara applied quickly, I return to the kitchen where I find my husband, unaware that the dishwasher was half-unloaded (because really, why should it be??) putting dirty dishes in the with the clean. Amidst all of this there is also some toddler juggling going on. This. Should. Not. Happen.

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So, in a quest for sanity, peace of mind, and just all-around efficacy, I’m trying to rid myself of my multi-tasking ways AND as I’m going to tell you all about it (Didn’t you know I would?).

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.

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.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

It had to be done. I’ve done it before, but it always stings a little. I sanded down part of my painting. That’s one advantage of working on metal. Mistakes can literally be removed. It takes some work, though, physically and mentally. Eeek…Image

Splits and Hurdles

In a yoga class this morning the instructor announced that we would be doing splits today. Excuse me? She wasn’t talking about banana splits. She meant real, my-body-doesn’t-do-that splits. Amid everyone’s protests she reminded us that in yoga, as in many things in life, it’s the journey that counts.

I’ve been craving instant gratification in another area. This picture:

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What is it with me and almost impossible pine cones??

which I feel will NEVER be finished. I can’t slide down into the splits and I can’t snap my fingers and make this painting finished. And if I could, what then? New poses that I can’t automatically do and new paintings the I can’t finish in a session.

Little by little I can work towards difficult poses and little by little I can conquer difficult paintings. I may never be able to fully do the splits, but my body will still benefit from mindful and careful attempts. I may never be a wildly successful and famous artist, but I will still benefit from daily brush strokes. There’s a reason why yoga is referred to as a “practice,” perhaps I should think of painting as a practice, too.