Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Three to Get Ready

Deukmajian Wilderness Trail Sketch 
©2016 Katherine Kean
graphite on paper 8 x 10 inches
 I read somewhere that just thinking about the future—not even the rewards, per se—can strengthen willpower.

During the last few days of 2015 an artist friend had a great idea to sit down on an evening with calendars ready and pencils in hand and create a plan for the coming year. We mapped out how many paintings we would paint, what sizes they will be. We decided which new skills and levels of accomplishment we will reach and what kind of study, classes, or workshops might be required to reach these improvements. We also counted in time for travel, family, friends, and fun, time to experiment and time to take risks. When we were finished we marveled and laughed at our ambitions and wondered if the year would be big enough to hold all that we planned to put into it.

Foothill Storm Clouds Sketch ©2016 Katherine Kean
graphite on paper 8 x 10 inches
“Time is short, my strength is limited, the office is a horror, the apartment is noisy, and if a pleasant, straightforward life is not possible then one must try to wriggle through by subtle maneuvers.” – Kafka

I’ve always been curious about how other artists structure their days. I know what works for me, the hours that are the most productive, how to get started, and how to avoid distractions - that is, as long as I'm choosing to be productive. Mason Currey has put together a book that gives a glimpse into the routines and work habits of well known artists, composers, and writers in Daily Rituals: How Artists Work.

Liquid Sun Splash Sketch ©2016 Katherine Kean
graphite on paper 8 x 10 inches
“I calculate that I must have spent nearly 20,000 hours in writing Ulysses.” – James Joyce

“Sooner or later, the great men turn out to be all alike. They never stop working. They never lose a minute. It is very depressing.” – V.S. Pritchett

So, with calendar, list of goals, and a calculator I added up my plan of paintings and divided by available studio hours to see if there is a possibility to make these studio dreams come true. Mathmatically at least, yes, seems that there is. Let's see how it goes...

Monday, January 18, 2016

Winter Wet Paint


The winter months, such as they are in Southern California, should be a perfect time for accomplishing some studio painting. Once the holidays are over, there are fewer distractions and the garden is less demanding. The number of daylight hours is growing again, but it's still cool enough to work through the day. The catch is this - drying time slows down - a lot. A small study or painted edge that might dry overnight at other times of year might take a week - or more. I've taken to placing smaller work in front of the fireplace to try to speed the drying up.

Storm and Eucalyptus Tree wip
©2016 Katherine Kean
oil on linen 30 x 40 inches
When I can, I paint working wet into wet. I find it more challenging than working in layers, allowing each to dry completely. Yet, working directly has certain advantages. The rules of fat over lean are less consequential in direct painting. 

Detail-Storm and Eucalyptus Tree wip 
©2016 Katherine Kean
oil on linen 30 x 40 inches
 Except for the underpainting layer, the painting above has been proceeding entirely with wet into wet technique, although I haven't decided yet whether to paint the tree into the wet paint, or allow it to dry first.

Underpainting - Storm and Eucalyptus Tree wip 
©2016 Katherine Kean
oil on linen 30 x 40 inches
In the meantime I've been keeping a drop of clove oil on the palette to keep the paint fresh overnight. The cool weather and the clove oil fumes are all it takes to keep the paint from drying, and it makes the studio smell amazing.