Get Positive, Throw Caution to the Wind

This blog draft has been hanging around for a while and today I thought I might just do what it recommends!

It’s been a while between blogs and my biggest fan recently asked me what’s been happening! I told her I’m not sure whether to continue or not. Is “it” about the process of making art or composing blog posts? I tend towards making art and not blogs really. We’ll see.

Anyway, to the subject at hand.

Is it always a good idea to throw caution to the wind?

Is it much different to being out of control?

Perhaps you knowingly venture into these new areas. You explore them with more purpose and thought. They aren’t just foisted upon you, directionless, aimless and far too wide ranging to be of real use. I’ve heard it said that exploration with limits is more productive and beneficial.


In favour of the case for throwing caution to the wind the following examples are offered.


Some new toys arrived, two rubbery wedges! Ideas for using them on Google seemed samey and unexciting, so I decided to just slap some paint down on the paper and move it about with them. To allow for maximum chance of some form of success I used a big sheet of paper. It means you can happily scrape and spread paint with large arm movements. It seemed to be using a lot of paint though, but I kept going as some rather lovely marks were happening. My soluble graphite crayon and a spiral stamp got a look in during the creative fenzy too!


It soon became obvious that you need to stop before you make a big muddy mess. Several large pieces of paper later it suddenly dawned on me … I had no idea what to do with them next. “Think about it” I thought …… Nope, no ideas were forthcoming. So, I set out with some white paint on my brush to follow wherever the lines and forms within the image took me. The exercise revealed a landscape and I thought “Ok, I can work with this!”


Throughout my art adventure there have been several memorable points where I seemingly threw caution to the wind. One of the earliest, I think, would be trying a new style of sketching. I’ve previously referred to it in Drivepast Sketching – Our Journey Begins and it was well worth the experiment. From very early on I “knew” that it was going to lead me somewhere new. There was no indication of where, but I could feel it.


This is what turned up, sometime later (below). It’s a mingling of the sketches with things that happened elsewhere in my art. It turned these sketches into something more, something different. It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t decided to sketch differently.

Can you see how these feed into the wedgy piece I painted later (above)?


Another early experiment uncovered a way to compose images using the markings on Richea Pandanifolia leaves. (It’s a native plant here in Tasmania and grows at higher, colder altitudes. Look it up and you’ll see why I like it.) Well, this wasn’t an experiment as such initially, more of a stumbling! I had lots of photos of these leaves and I’d spread them out to find what I liked best. The process was a jumble of photos on the table, all overlapping and arranged randomly. Could some of these be compositions to use? Or, could the idea be explored to find compositions? Or both? It was a completely new idea for me and, I think, the first radical move away from traditional landscapes.


I tried it and really enjoyed the process of finding compositions, creating the art and, luckily, I liked my creations. Another similar coloured pencil painting, “Richea Pandanifolia in Focus” features in the first issue of Studio News.

The painting below, “The Landscape Within” is a further development of the theme. I’m wondering now if this idea will come back and take me on another journey. The markings on these leaves are very abstract. Mmmm…..!


Back to the wedges. Putting paint directly onto the painting surface from the tube often results in too much paint to handle. What to do? Oh well, scrape it off? No, it’ll turn to mud! What to do with it then? Why not just slap another sheet of paper on top of it, like a Rorschach image, and see what happens? So I did. It was so insignificant at the time that I didn’t take photos, but this is the result. A little thought, turning it upside down, more mark making and finding the skyline and “Veil” was there. It won an award and sold earlier this year!


Sketchbooks are another place for experimentation and play. You can do whatever you like and no one ever needs to see it. Recently, on a trip away, I decided to sketch as quickly and as minimally as possible. On the same trip I decided to do sketches one on top of the other. Whether these will lead anywhere remains to be seen.


Not to forget the case against.

It’s not always pretty folks and it can be soul destroying, if you let it. There have been many times when experiments have led to abandoning ideas and pieces of paper in the bin, or even in the fire! Some might be kept for collage fodder or for working over later. Sometimes, though, binning a piece is the most sensible way to go. Best if you never see it again!


As far as reuse goes. Often, when you come to reuse these abandoned pieces you are far more likely to “throw caution to the wind” and have a really good go at it.

We just turned the case against into an arguement for telling ourselves, “what the heck” and going with the flow! “Genesis” (below) is a result of just that.


Throwing caution to the wind can be easier in some circumstances than others. It also depends on your mood, but I reckon it’s a habit worth developing. You never know where it will lead and as I’ve found, even your worst pieces can be used to get you into that free state of happy playful creativity.

I wish you heaps of happy and successful creating!

If you would like to view the work I have available please go to Bluethumb.

You can always see what I’m up to at Wendy Galloway Art on Instagram or Facebook.

Who Moved the Goal Posts?

When is creative work finished? It’s a question that is almost as frustrating as asking what the meaning of life is!

In an attempt to figure it out, we’ll follow five stages of “Vestige” as it goes from the “oh my goodness” stage to “ok, I see what’s needed” and on to completion

There are some creative pursuits where you know the finish point when you begin. They generally don’t tend to allow for much initiative or alteration along the way. Things like knitting to a pattern or building a house for instance. The creativity tends to happen prior to beginning the actual work. Thus, once you begin creating the “creation” you have a plan showing exactly where you need to head in order for your project to end successfully. Art, as in fine art, is not always like that.

As you can see there definitely wasn’t a plan for “Vestige”! Drastic measures were necessary after the above bout of intuitive play!

In the past my art was always planned, as mentioned previously, but now it is freer, led by what happens from minute to minute. It’s a great way to work. There’s more freedom, experimentation, questioning, playing and dreaming. However, it does mean that the “finished” stage can either jump out at you unexpectedly or, on the other hand, remain so elusive as to almost drive you mad!

Some artists, myself included, will often say that their art is telling them what it wants. What this really means is that we can either see what is needed, or we can’t. In which case the work gets done or we wait for “something” to occur to us. Often, the wait is long and tedious, as it was with “Vestige”! If you look closely around the upper left central area of the above photo you will see a small patch of light green. That patch could have inadvertently been covered in the painting frenzy but it remained visible to “tell me something”. You can see what I did with the idea in the finished painting below.

Since starting to work this way it has been difficult to accept that one piece in a series might be finished very quickly while another will test my patience severely, like “Vestige” did.

This piece “Hushed” is a collage on canvas and was finished right after the first piece of paper went on. (A large piece of tissue that I had prepared as part of a collage paper making session.) I stood there unsure, thinking it looked done, but I hadn’t done enough work, had I? It shouldn’t feel finished yet, should it?

It’s sister piece (above) which you’ve seen before remained “unfinished”. It didn’t feel done and sat around taunting me for a few weeks. How could I make it feel “finished”?

I didn’t want to overwork it but at the same time it felt like something was needed. Should it be left aside for later review or succumb to the changes that were lurking in my mind. The fact that the changes didn’t feel “solid” made me hesitate. I wasn’t even sure which way was up!

Eventually, a decision was made to add some collage to the sides of the canvas and reassess things after that. It didn’t alter the face of the canvas, but the sides now look finished!

There’s still uncertainty over this one. Maybe it might tell me it’s title and all will come together and make sense!

New Art Listings

Recently added on Bluethumb. Click the image to see more.

“Feeling Frosty” 40cm square

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Click here to find out about exhibitions Wendy currently has work in.

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When “It” Strikes You Down

It can happen any time these days!  Viruses are lurking everywhere!  Not the digital kind, the ones that actually affect our physical health.  The effects they have on our art can seem far worse than those on our health!  At least to us artists anyway.

You don’t have the energy to do much but your mind is still inspired and rearing to go.  Often there will be little things you can do as you laze around lamely awaiting your emergence “on the other side”…. ways to maintain contact with your art spirit. 

During down periods there are several, not so innovative, ways to keep going regardless.  Well, some of the time at least.  Things that help maintain the art spirit while the body navigates the virus.

Sketching is one thing that only requires the amount of time and energy you are prepared to give.  There are a few scattered about here from a trip made while accompanied by “it”.

Another thought that emerged was books.  (There are plenty on the shelves!)  So, bearing the current state of art affairs in mind they presented themselves for selection.  My art life is several decades long and the shelves are many.  There’s a lot of already covered material in there, but plenty of new stuff too.  Mind you, I’m never one to shy away from going back to basics.

This is what jumped out.

Colour:  It’s been on the “get better at this” list for years, so out came a few books to sift through for interesting stuff.  I’ll just admit first up that there won’t be any formal colour mixing exercises happening!

“Colour Choices, Making Color Sense Out of Colour Theory”, Stephen Quiller – I might try using pure colours with semi neutrals! There’s a section on inner vision where he says “each painting and each inner vision must follow its own course”.  Does that mean I can just throw paint about?

“Color Harmony in Your Paintings”, Margaret Kessler – It seems I’m interested in intensity at present.  There’s also some planning stuff here that makes sense if you aren’t up to flying by the seat of your pants!  Maybe there is a happy place somewhere in between planning and complete freedom?

“Confident Color” and “Exploring Color Workshop”, Nita Leyland – These two books are similar.  They both look at various palettes and how to use them.  My favourite parts were those dealing with contrasts and unifying colour and design.

Content:  More particularly emotional, personal content, which is what I think is needed in abstract art. 

Gerald’s book takes you on an indepth study of how to access emotional content in landscape painting.  However there’s a lot there that you can interpret from an abstract perspective.  I wonder, can it be applied retrospectively.  That is after I’ve had my frenzied play sessions!  The key takeaway seems to be – really feel what you’re trying to communicate.

Abstraction:  Just doing it is ok, but that can feel a bit shallow or unskilled, even when backed up by your past art experience.  This book takes you through the principles and elements of composition as they relate specifically to abstract painting.  It’s an indepth look at how to go about learning to paint abstracts.

There are sections on working from reality to abstraction and the other way around.  Rolina writes that, with abstract painting, there are two places to start:  content with no relationship to reality and content that is related to reality.  She talks about “stock in trade” which is your store of visual information (visual memory).  It allows you to work from your imagination while having a solid background to draw upon.  I’ve definitely felt a lack in that regard before!  Is that why it feels like I’m winging it sometimes?

Videos:  You don’t even need the energy to hold a book and turn pages!  But, be warned it can go on forever!  However, there are gems to be found, which is why down time helps.

Ok, so I have a secret yearning for printing.  I like the vitality and fun feel of FroyleArts videos (gelli printing, art journaling etc) (still from the video shown above). The ideas are yet to be used, but they’re there!  Plus she cheers you up when you’re feeling unwell!

(Still from the Ryan Jensen video, link below)

I stumbled upon “Art School Live with Eric Rhoads” and this video featuring Ryan Jensen.  Loved it!  It’s not short (about 50 min) but he has some great advice to offer.  How can anyone paint such paintings so nonchalantly?  He really does make it sound and look easy! 

Free workshops:  You can just watch if you choose.

Judy Woods’ stARTs course  Judy runs a free taster which I have participated in previously.  This time I wanted to look at it more from my own perspective.  You know, change a few bits and pieces.  But … enter a virus, which turned it into more of a watching exercise where I generated ideas to try later.  I did, however manage to do some of what was on offer while adding my own touch.  It certainly encouraged ideas and I’m looking forward to working more on the “starts” that were made.  I think the stARTs course sounds great, but, just not for me at the moment.

These two images (above and below) are stalled at the second stage of proceedings while the other brownish one (above) is still at stage one.

When I look back at all this perusing, I feel like good use was made of the down time.  There’s quite a bit to explore as a result!

Now, all we need is recovery with plenty of energy and action.

New listing on Bluethumb.

Exploration in Blue and Yellow” 40cm square

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Click here to find out about exhibitions Wendy currently has work in.

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Start Strong and Follow Your Intuition

Enthusiasm is usually pretty high when beginning new work.  That was the case with this painting.  Let’s see what happened along the way and what seems to have eventuated.

It started with some fun wedge marks using “in your face” Indian yellow. Cheerful, but a bit much all over things eh!

Sticking with “in your face” colour I applied red gold and white, along with some graphite lines. Scratching about to create some texture seemed like a good idea too.

I couldn’t get away from the strong colour so I thought, ok, stick with it. On went some pthalo turquoise and white in a frenzy of mark making. Oh well! That was fun, but mmm? What now?

No! I thought. That’s enough killer colour! So, now, how to deal with it? Easy option …. wedge on some white, not to thickly cover it, but to take the edge off. After that it cried out for some glazing. So, I obliged using a little red gold, not much, and some Indian yellow.

When I say not much red gold I mean only a little glazing-wise, but those stronger lines were added as well. It was a risk I took and I think it paid off. The lines provide a nice structure.

It might be finished (above) but I’m going to wait a short time to see if my completion comfort level changes. It’s a fairly busy painting which feels a little unsettling.

(Detail)

If the painting sits well after a break it’ll be declared done and take its place on Bluethumb. There’s a slight question in my mind about whether to highlight or push back some parts, or perhaps a bit of both.

(Detail)

The beauty of waiting a while is that, usually, as soon as you look at it again, you know exactly how you feel. The break provides a bit of emotional distance and allows you to view things objectively as well as letting your intuition have a say if it feels inclined.

Ok, what’s next?

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Devotion Pays Off

I’m talking fine art here, but these thoughts could apply to numerous creative pursuits.

Have you ever looked back over your creative time and noticed unintended links and developments in your work?

Often it’s not until some time later that you realise previous work has led to or influenced new work. Follow the progression through these pieces that I worked on over a period of eight years from 2014 to 2022.

It makes me think about the times when you think there’s nothing exciting to do. All the old things seem boring, like they’ve run their course and there’s nothing new presenting itself that’s worth attacking with gusto.

It’s times like those when devotion to making art comes into play, consciously or not. Not just for the fun, exciting times, but the whole box and dice of good and bad times. Those weeks, months or years of work sit quietly in place influencing you. That place can be a box, a sketchbook, your photos, in a frame on the wall, or your subconscious, your journal, your memory, anywhere!

When I say devotion, I realise you cannot know whether your subconscious is playing the game. But, it seems to me that if I’m consciously focussed on art, my subconscious is too. I know this because art ideas will spring to mind and I can tell they’ve come from past work. And, it won’t be ideas for sewing, which I’ve done in the past, or what to eat for dinner that night.

Of course, being “in” and doing your work helps your conscious brain think about what’s next too. It’s like two brains!

When you realise you’ve been working on a piece and have been influenced by past work it feels somehow comforting. It’s knowing there’s a thread running through things that is yours and yours alone. You’re creating authentic, original pieces that nobody else ever could. Sure they can copy afterwards, but it was yours first.

I can hear you asking, “But what about artists you’ve been influenced by?” Fair question. I don’t copy other artists, but I’m obviously going to be influenced by them. But, it’ll be in a way that is individual to me, combined with all my other influencing factors.

The good thing about all this is that things beget things! “Working” creates momentum, internally and externally. You just have to keep going for it to happen!

Exhibitions

For the Hobartians among you. The Art Society of Tasmania’s Annual Exhibition is opening on Friday night. Click here and scroll down to find out about it.

Juggler” 67cm x 97cm is one of my entries. It’s actually another painting in the development series I’m talking about here.

New art on Bluethumb

Summer Rain” 20cm square
“Leftovers” 30cm square

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Click here to find out about exhibitions Wendy currently has work in.

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How to Feed Your Creative Beast

There are many ways. Some artists express their emotions, some explore political or social views. For others it’s nature – living creatures of all sorts, botanical, geographical, meteorological. Still others are into representing humans in all their pictorial glory or perhaps still life. You must to find your own authentic muse and cultivate it.

So, how does that and fill your creative well with inspiration and enthusiasm? We all know that feeling of seemingly having nothing, absolutely nothing, that feels like our “thing”. It’s soul destroying to say the least.

Has our muse left us to our own devices? A scary proposition for some no doubt. I’ve been in that place more often than I care to remember. However, these days I seem to have reached a place where there are a reasonable amount of creative ideas waiting to be born. Fingers crossed it stays that way!

How do you do it? Does it just happen? Is it a struggle or can it come easy?

Firstly, it isn’t a struggle. Trying too hard won’t help. And no, it doesn’t just happen. It can come easily though, well, easier than you think! There are some things that can get in the way however …. perfectionism or waiting for the “right” thing or time. Better to experiment! Try things, have fun and enjoy the journey to your creative energy.

As a landscape inspired artist who also bends to the whims and wishes of my “art”, I fill my creative well as I create art. Each piece or series of pieces leads me forward. I find new inspiration and ideas in almost every piece of art I make, be it a painting or sketch. Even if the inspiration arises from a disaster!

The other way I find my muse or muses is to venture out into the landscape. Feel it, be in it, experience all that goes on. While there, I will sketch and ideas will begin to present themselves. There’s also photography, like the shots you see above. It allows you to visually capture your surroundings. What it does not do is help instil the whole experience of being IN the landscape like painting or sketching does. Even a quick scribble sketch can do that. Perhaps they capture the feeling best of all because they’re often done quickly and the marks are made with speed and abandon.

Sketches are a great way to refill your empty creative cup. The act of making a sketch or painting en plein air can be exhilarating and set your mind on track to plenty of creative ideas.

To summarise, immerse yourself in your artmaking and follow your intuition, it will lead you to your creative power.

See my new work on Bluethumb (below).

“A Rock and A Hard Place” 20cm wide x 24.5 high
“Within the Boundary” 40cm square

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Click here to find out about exhibitions Wendy currently has work in.

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Using Loss of Control to Your Advantage

It occurred to me recently that, not only is the painting of each piece of art out of my full control, but, so is the whole adventure. No longer do I, or can I, plan what a painting might look like.  Neither, can I plan where I’m headed on this journey in the short or long term!

Firstly, the act of painting.

I’ve been “planning” a couple of things. One is, to mix some more original colours before I start and make the paintings more authentically mine.  Also, I’ve had lots of ideas for design starting points.  I seem to collect heaps of them for just this purpose! 

But, it just doesn’t happen folks.  The gear is laid out, the paper ready and in I go, with minimal, if any, thought of my plans, loose as they may be.  Stuff just happens, as it did in the first stage of the painting above, leaving me with the job of deciding what “it” wants and following the leads.

At this next stage, below, I’ve collaged on some paper, some of which is thickish handmade paper. I’m wondering if it’ll last the distance? But, hey, I’m not in charge, so who cares.

I pressed on with it, feeling both out of control and excited.

It seemed like a good idea to digitally explore the possibilities so I used a photo editing app to play about with the paintings. Using the “whiten” feature I designed various sky shapes. Two variations are shown below.

I ended up with heaps of options! Which to choose!?

Below, I’ve painted the first layer of white paint for the sky shape of the selected option. Then, it tells me, “fix” that big blue bit at the bottom.

So, I did that, but still not happy …. it needs a little something?

It’s only minor but I added some graphite outlines and emphasised others. But! It’s still out of control! I can’t seem to “like” it enough for it to be finished. Not sure it should even exist! (It may be the first layer of something else.)

So, you can see, there really isn’t any way to control where a painting will finish up when working like this. There may be more to do on this one, or it might be painted over. These developments, however, inevitably lead to new ideas and discoveries, both welcome and unwelcome!

Secondly – overall plans for the year.  I made a few in some areas, such as a small list of themes or “subjects” to tackle!?  But, you guessed it.  We’re not on track there either. We’re off somewhere looking for something else, with no idea what it is!

Now, to be fair to plan making, my art and I are heading in the general direction that I planned. I’m making art and moving forward with associated stuff. It’s just that our route is taking us on a few unforeseen deviations along the way.  It makes for a more interesting trip. Who knows where we’ll finish up!

Do you suspect, as I do, that art might be different to a lot of other things, in that all this change and redirection of effort can successfully be allowed to happen? It can lead you to the unknown but pleasing goal you didn’t know you had!  The one you were not obliged to achieve.  And along the way you created paintings that you didn’t know you were going to paint.

New Paintings

Here are two new pieces that have been listed on Bluethumb.  Click the images for more information.

“Shardonnay Mountain” 71cm wide x 67cm high
“Stay Cool” 68cm wide x 66cm high

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Click here to find out about exhibitions Wendy currently has work in.

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Art is a Fickle Business

One minute you’re all set to race off in one direction then, something new shows up.  Don’t get me wrong though.  It’s is not a bad thing!

Limiting myself or my art to a particular style seems counter-productive. There”s way too much to do and that’s without any new ideas or discoveries that come up.  The enthusiasm would wane if I imposed limitations on style. Why not take full advantage of unplanned, random “opportunities”?

(“Play things” with a license to be fickle!)

While working on this issue of Studio News, an example of how things can change unexpectedly emerged.

I was processing progress photos of the day’s work and some needed rotating. It turned out that one was better upside-down! In my eyes at least! In the group of four progress shots below you can see the difference. I guess we’re conditioned to see land as darker than sky most of the time anyway.

(Stages 1 to 4 of a current exploration.)

As I pondered, my mind went off on a tangent, automatically brainstorming, the implications and possibilities, as well as how to resolve this painting? This change of direction (literally!) might see me veer off on yet another exciting tangent. I don’t know yet, but I can feel “something”.

It was only a minor fickleness episode but it could change the course of this painting and my art generally. Who knows! It’s a big adventure.

Another painting in the series has shown me something else to investigate. Layer one didn’t cut it, nor did layer two. So I plastered some 3 in 1 paint over the whole shebang. Now I have a background that I really like and it’s asking for something. I don’t know what. It’ll be a waiting game. An incubation period. Another adventure.

(Layers 1, 2 and 3, top to bottom)

Sometimes, it really is difficult to know what to pursue and what to forget. I think the only way to cope with all this fickleness might be to act on impulse. You know, those sudden intuitive directives that say “just do this, or that” or “what if we do this?” Be impulsive and fickle right back, test the fickleness, use it. Trust your judgement and intuition. Don’t be predictable. Instil a little adventure and excitement into the process and let it show.

New Work

“Trackwork” and “Swell” are now listed on Bluethumb

“Trackwork” 40cm wide x 28cm high
“Swell” 68cm wide x 25cm high

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Click here to find out about exhibitions Wendy currently has work in.

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Out There

One of my clear memories is a sort of feeling of release and relaxed bliss.  At some point I seem to fill up with awe at what surrounds me and the fact that I am able to be there.  There’s usually a big sigh and a feeling of peaceful contentment to follow.  Joy!

What is this rambling on about?

It’s how I sometimes feel when out in the wild landscape.  Here, in Tasmania we have some wonderful bushwalks that take us out among the mountains, rivers, a multitude of various types of landscapes.  It’s where I love to be!  Even better if there’s time to sketch (an artists’ equivalent of smelling the roses!).  You may have seen the photos in the last Studio News.

These works are the beginnings of a new series – “Out There.”  It’s a broad theme which leaves my options wide open.  What will develop as I find my way around the ideas? Where will it lead?  Perhaps, in future series things will narrow down a bit and be more specific.

(This first layer could be titled “Into the Blue”! (I got carried away using my new painting wedge.) There’s a lesson there, but I’m not sure what it is? It’s either go slow, or don’t? Things can work out either way it seems.)

These photos show the first layer for two of the paintings.

(This one is more random!)

Where to next? Sky shapes were used to define the mountain range. Later, more white was added to the sky.

There was an urge to draw into them rather than add too much more paint. So, out came the Neocolour II crayons that have been sitting about for ages awaiting this precise moment! (They haven’t inspired me much before, so we’ll see how this goes.)

(This is the painting from above after I had a little play with the Neocolours.)

There are five of these long ones (70×30cm) in the group. They’re great to just wander up to, make a few marks and wander off again. That’s one of the benefits of drawing materials … ease of use!

Is this one done yet?

New Work

“Genesis” is now available on Bluethumb.

“Genesis” 54.5cm wide x 56.5cm high

Until next time and ….. as the sign someone was holding up in our street this week said …… “Keep your chin up”!

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Click here to find out about exhibitions Wendy currently has work in.

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