Thursday, November 13, 2008

Birthday Cake Hats and Easter Bunnies

I had an excellent day yesterday, working on two underpaintings. I am learning that even though I am approaching this works similarly to how I do the landscapes, some things are very different. Mostly though, they kick my butt, energy wise. With the landscapes I banged out* 5 to 10 underpaintings in a day, then they would dry for a few days and I could work on each one briefly, each day for about a week. With these I can only do maybe two underpaintings a day until I am dragging. They are much more involved and intense. So I am thinking that I will need to do a few underpaintings each day for a week, then work on the color on all of them during the following week.

Anyway, I am really excited about these two, and I think that I can safely say that I have never painted a bunny. In the photo reference the woman is holding a bunny and I considered substituting a different object, flowers, a purse, a pizza box, almost anything but a bunny. However the I realized that the hat and the bunny pulled me into the narrative of the woman's pose and so I decided that Fluffy stays. So far everyone who has seen the underpainting has laughed so I guess that's a good thing.

And just a note about my newfound energy. I have been trying very hard lately to just talk myself into have having more energy, even though I knew the real culprit was sugar. I had gotten a little crazy with my sugar intake, (more specifically I was eating way too many chili flavored chocolate bars) and so about a week ago I quit eating sugar. I have done this periodically over the years, once I went for over two years without eating processed sugar, but I usually end up back with my true love addiction. This time I am just going day by day and am not looking at the long term. However I am feeling so much better and am supposedly more mature now that I am almost 44 (eek!), and so hopefully I can remember all that the next time a chocolate chip cookie is staring me in the face. Heh.

*I suppose an artist isn't supposed to admit that they bang out the work, but well, I do and so I am. My way of working isn't tortured and full of angst and it's maybe not even all that thoughtful, sorry.


Diane Hoeptner said...

Great post, Tracy! I too am 43, I too quit sugar for 2-3 years. (Still mourn the loss of Dr. Atkins!) Ah, I wanted to comment on the paintings though: (can and do easily lapse into rants on the evils of sugar, even though lately I'm OD'ing on left over Halloween Tootsie pops, but I digress) LOVE THE BUNNY!! Love the PERSONALITY, mystery and uniquely **AMERICAN GOTHIC** vibe from these. Really looking forward to seeing 'em finished. You're on a good track!!

Anonymous said...

I love these people; they are my relatives! The first painting reminds me of myself in my senior prom dress. Wow! I had an aunt and uncle who raised rabbits and she wore those hats with veils. Terrific!

Natalya Khorover Aikens said...

love the bunny, and happy to hear that your way of working isn't tortured or full of angst... mine it's either, so i'm glad to know i'm in good company.

Janet said...

Another vote for the bunny.

Melody said...

I love this piece. The way in which she is holding the bunny tells me the entire story. Your figurative work is amazing Tracy. I never get tired of looking at it.

Unknown said...

Tracy, you really make me laugh. Yeah, the sugar thing is a problem here, too.
I just love these paintings. I'm so happy to see you continuing with the figurative work. They have all had so much personality. And the one with the bunny is a winner, for sure.

Giselle C. Gautreau said...

Enjoyed this post Tracy. The bunny rocks. I liked Diane's American Gothic comment too. I get that from these too.
So, I am immensely jealous of the fact that you can knock out the work. I'm such a slow painter, and lately that's driving me crazy. I haven't worked out a way for myself yet to work quickly.. though I am using Liquin which I love. I just do layers and layers and layers... building up that surface. I'm gearing up to working on paper though to get some things out more quickly. So, yeah, your post here just made me go "damn! I want to be able to knock them out!" It's just on my mind lately.

Anonymous said...

These are going to be great. I don't think of your process as knocking anything out. You just know what you're doing, that's all.

Angela Wales Rockett said...

These are so great! Such a feeling of nostalgia.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to hear that your painting process isn't tortured and angst-y. Why should it be painful to produce something beautiful? (and personally, I find my writer friends are much more tortured by the process than I am by creating art.)

A Reason to Paint said...

LOVE that top one - it has a lovely mysterious quality that is very intriguing and appealing

Anonymous said...

Bunny-problem: It is hard to recognize the bunny because the spectator sees the ladie's arms and tries to find out where her hands are. Then, the bunnie's ears are misinterpreted as fingers. Then i find out: This is not part of the lady. And end up seeing a bunny.
Solution: Little hints on the position of her fingers, so it is clear what is part of the lady and what is part of something she is holding in her hands, no matter what. The picture is nice with a good sense of humor.

Tracy Helgeson said...

Good grief, I can't believe I didn't respond to any of these wonderful comments!

Diane, SO nice to hear from a fellow sugar addict. I am still doing ok, although I admit to lapsing a bit, but I am keeping it in check, for now anyway. Thanks for the American Gothic reference, love that!

Thanks Almira, I know, I have relatives like that too. In fact, technically, I guess I began this project when I was college and fooling around with painting from my old family photos.

Thanks Natalya, well sometimes i think I should have a bit more angst about it, have read too many books about artists maybe, but I like to enjoy painting, it just works better for me AND my mental health.

Thanks Janet, I like the bunny too.

Thanks Melody, The hands, or lack of, I should say were tough.

Thanks Deborah, yay another sugar girl:) I am enjoying the figures too, but they sure drain me. No cranking these babies out the way I can with the landscapes...

Giselle, hah see above comment. Maybe when I get a bit more comfortable with the figures, I will be able to knock them out, but then again, maybe they just need more care and thought than the landscapes have needed. I don't know. Glad you are enjoying the liquin and maybe you'll knock them out when you are ready:)

Thanks Martha, well, maybe:) Not so much yet with the figures though.

Thanks Angela, yes, I am big on nostalgia, but hope to get a little twist on that with these too though.

Laura, ha, writers, watch out, talk about angst!

Reason to Paint, Thanks, love mysterious too:)

Eva, thanks for the feedback and you are right. I think the arms will separate from the bunny when I get to the color stage, also, it's hard to make out but there a few hints of the fingers under the bunny, so seeing those better will help too. In some respects though I kinda like that the bunny is a bit subtle, I don't think I want it to be the focus of the painting. The hat appeals to me much more. But all that could change when I do the color:)