While My Roses Gently Weep, 10 x 14 inches

oil on linen, 10 x 14 inches

While My Roses Gently Weep

I was in an experimental and somewhat melancholic mood when I created this painting at the end of May. I had placed some recently cut roses on a surface in my studio and walked away. I had been grappling with thoughts of near loss and aging, and how life is shaped by fleeting moments of strain and beauty.

When I returned to the studio, I glimpsed the roses — backlit and silhouetted by darks — and I knew this is how I wanted to express the jumble of feelings I was experiencing.

When I finished this painting, S. commented on how it seemed to be an expression of grief, and I agreed, pulling on my emotions in the same way some songs do.

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{10″ x 14″ – oil on linen}

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On the importance of finding time for study and reflection

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In this blog post I am going to cover a big subject about why I feel it is important to read, study, and reflect on a daily basis. Implementing this habit has taken me over a year to figure out.

If you are interested in some of the back-of-house practices I use to keep inspired, please read on.

A GIFT FROM A FRIEND

Last year (2014), my dear friend, Suzanne Lago Arthur, gave me three books that began to change my daily habits as a creative professional.

These books were:
.Manage Your Day-to-Day
.The Accidental Creative
.Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day

Each book motivated me to reconsider how I organized my days, weeks, and longer term goals.

Manage Your Day-to-Day, was helpful in realizing I needed to make a change. It is full of essays that motivated me to seek out solutions of productivity and organization.

Armed with the goal to seek some solutions, I was influenced by the thoughtful and habit-forming ideas of the The Accidental Creative and Die Empty that helped me really turn around my practices.

Initially, I focused on the exercises that helped me define a vision for my art career, and then I began to implement ways to accomplish it, which led me to establish my 2015 new year’s resolutions.

In the The Accidental Creative, the creative rhythm is broken down into discernible categories, and in going through the book and looking at my life in 2014, I realized I had focus (I am a floral still-life painter who paints from life in natural light) but I was seriously lacking in energy (I was sleep deprived and suffering from constant low-level asthma attacks) and stimuli (I had not read a serious art book since Naomi was born in 2011). So going into 2015, I resolved to re-structure my creative rhythm and feed it as well.

The main take away from the book Die Empty was that I needed to find a way to step out of my comfort zone and to daily take time to recharge and refocus my efforts.

IMPLEMENTING A MORNING RITUAL

Staring this year (2015) I have made an effort to develop a morning ritual, and in the last eight months I have tried different times and focus activities, which would typically falter after 3-6 weeks. Each time I included time for reading and note taking, but my note taking method kept failing to engage until I came across this blog post about creating a commonplace book system using index cards.

Previously my morning ritual would fail because I would get discouraged. My method of taking notes has always been to put them in a bound notebook, but this gets difficult because I like to jump around on the books I am reading and I like keeping my notes in one place. Using the index cards and dividing my notes into a series of topics and subcategories, I have been able to organize the ideas and thoughts I read every morning during my morning ritual.

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MY MORNING RITUAL

My ritual as of this moment in time is this: wake up, make a pot of tea, sit and reflect for the time that my tea steeps, pour a cup of tea and dive into my reading for the day. I spend about 30-60 minutes reading and taking notes before Naomi wakes up. And before I get out of bed, I also take 5-10 minutes to think about my day in chunks of time, mapping out what I can reasonably accomplish.

Currently I skip around on the books I am reading, I like to spend 2-3 days each week on my three areas of focus: Art Theory, Art Technique, and Self-improvement. The books I am currently reading are:

1. Harold Speed’s books, the Practice and Science of Drawing, and Oil Painting Techniques. This is the third time I am reading them and this time I feel like I am capturing the big ideas in a way that I can quickly review my thoughts and important points.
2. Philosophies of Art and Beauty: Selected Readings in Aesthetics from Plato to Heidegger. I want to get very grounded in the classical and humanist views of art, because I am a representational artist and I value the world view of classical and renaissance artists, I want to understand the philosophies that inspired them.
3. Writing To Learn by William Zinsser. I am fascinated with the idea of how writing can help you learn a subject in greater depth than just reading. My thought is that this book may improve my note taking skills some more.

Having a morning ritual has energized my attitude towards my painting; I am exploring new ideas and expanding my understanding about the how and why I create art.  This is why I believe it is important to find time for study and reflection in your daily life.

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Be Mine, Lilies Mine, 16 x 20 inches

Be Mine, Lilies Mine by Elizabeth Floyd, 16 x 20 inches, oil on linen

Be Mine, Lilies Mine

At the beginning of the summer, I re-read the chapter, Unity of Mass, in Harold Speed’s book “The Practice and Science of Drawing,” which inspired me to create a painting composition where the tonal values were a significant part of the rhythmically considered design.

Luckily for me, the oriental lilies were at their peak in the garden and I had time to carve out studio time to paint. Inspired by this passage in the book:

Large flat tones give a power and a simplicity to a design, and a largeness and a breadth of expression that are very valuable, besides showing up every little variety in the values used for your modeling; and thus enabling you to model with the lease expenditure of tones. Whatever richness of variation you may ultimately desire to add to your values, see to it that in planning your pitcher you get a good basic structure of simply designed, and as far as possible flat, tones. (PSD, pg. 207)

Decided on my course, I simplified the color scheme and focused on the values and shapes of the composition and this painting came into being.

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{16″ x 20″ – oil on linen}

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Semi-Private Oil Painting Lessons

7 x 5 inches - oil on linen panel

Are you interested in learning to realistically paint with oils with a great deal of personal attention?

If so, I teach semi-private art lessons on Sunday mornings and currently there is an opening for this upcoming Fall Term.

We meet in the intimate space of my home studio* and for the fall term we will be focusing on mastering metals.  Each week  you will work from a still-life setup that includes a metal object.  Students work in oils.  All levels are welcome.

Fall term begins Sunday, September 13th
Tuition is $285 for seven weeks
10am to 1pm, Sundays
September 13th thru November 15th, no class on Sept 27th, Oct 11th, and Nov 1st.
Please email me for more information.

Supplies are not included, here is a recommended supply list for beginning oil painting students.

*I live near Mount Vernon  and we share the studio with my constant companion, Slim, our Abyssinian kitty.

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A Young Rose, 12 x 9 inches

oil on linen, 12 x 9 inches.

A Young Rose

Sometimes in the morning, when I am walking through my garden I will observe a particular flower and know I want to paint it, it is as if the flower and I have become intimate friends and I want to celebrate all that is beautiful and remarkable about this meeting.

It was a rare and quiet morning when I happened upon this bloom, with clear blue skies and warmth in the air.

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Framed Painting
{12″ x 9″ – oil on linen}

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