Monday, October 5, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Things

The ever so famous Anonymous left a comment on a recent post a few weeks ago. I started to write a response but naturally it got long and I decided I should just save it for a post. So this is the comment:

What is your favorite entity to paint - as in abstract, people, landscape, other - keep in mind that IDKS ;-)

Is painting (water color, acrylic) your favorite medium, or do you prefer, for example, charcoal drawing?

It seems relevant to talk about this a bit right now, since my work has been going through some pretty big shifts in the last year or so. I have had to really had to think about what to focus on and when, whereas previously I just allowed the art to just burst right out of me without too much thought and planning. I think that was a reaction to not having had the chance to paint for so long.

Anyhoo. Favorite subject matter. Back in college, and even before that, I liked painting a variety of things; still lifes and other objects, portraits, cityscapes. I think the subject matter that I logged the most hours on though, was the figure, both clothed and unclothed. I would say that the figure was my most favorite and least favorite.

Interestingly, the images that I NEVER worked on before 2003, was abstract or landscapes, and definitely no barns. I was a city girl through and through in college and ick! barns? No way!

But life happens, I moved away from the city, and I grew and changed as a person (I hope) and when we moved to the country I finally relaxed my ridiculous mindset and began painting landscapes AND barns. And while that work has thus far been my most successful work, and I feel at peace while creating it, I couldn't help but wonder if I would be able to get to those feelings with subject matter that I felt that I was better at. So a thousand landscapes later and circling burn out on them, I decided to try some new things, which were actually the old things mostly. Tried to do some still lifes, but found no real connection there, did a few cityscapes and although the results there were better, I just felt kinda bleh about them. Kept meaning to go back and do more but just didn't have the interest. All of this was just going around what is probably my favorite subject (to finally answer Anonymous's first question).

The figure.

And like in college, it has been something that I feel like I have to do, I love to do but it also just kills me, it's so hard. So still, it is my favorite, but kinda my least favorite too.

I am not sure where the abstracts fall. I am enjoying them, they are fun and challenging and I am learning to see things differently and I appreciate being able to do that. I don't see where they are headed, but I plan to keep going with them. And right now I think I envision them as the calm between the storms of painting figures and portraits.

Favorite medium? My favorite medium is oil, hands down, no question. It used to be acrylic until I tried oils in college and I have been in love with oils ever since. I despise watercolor, mostly because I am not good with it. Heh. For drawing, nothing beats a good graphite stick and eraser. And I love/hate charcoal. I love what I can do with it, but I hate the feel of charcoal in my hands, scratching on the paper which seriously gets my sensory issues going. And not in a good way either. I have dabbled in other mediums like pastel (sensory issues here again), collage, guoache, but none of them stuck. I am hoping to work with encaustics someday, but am holding off until I can really focus on them since I have a feeling that they will completely envelope me;)

So there you go. I would like to add that I have finally learned that nothing is written in stone anymore. Twenty years ago if someone had told me I would be making a living (sort of) by painting landscapes and barns, I would have smirked and referenced flying pigs. So I guess it is entirely possible that in twenty more years I could be painting the still life in watercolor with maybe a few pigs thrown in as well.

Ya just never know.


Robert Ross said...

"...I hate the feel of charcoal in my hands, scratching on the paper which seriously gets my sensory issues going."

Now that's intriguing. What do you mean?

Tracy Helgeson said...

Rob, over the years I have periodically had problems with the feel of certain materials on my hands. For awhile I couldn't touch cardboard, or paper if my hands were wet. Various things like that and the dry, scratchy feeling of charcoal on my hands and the sound of it on the paper can set me off. Mostly I can do it and I have some tricks to handle it better, but sometimes I just can't;)