(first published June 18, 2008, edited 10/1/18). I am re-releasing these blog posts to communicate how I traveled the journey to artist...mistakes I made, things I tried, money spent, hours spent researching. I have boiled all this down into a simple formula for you to Restore Your Soul | Jumpstart Your Creativity.
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AN EPIPHANY! I was just whining to Durinda Cheek (she is at La Bonne Etoile now and I'm not) about how much sleep I've been needing since my return...and my first live model since returning...nephew Josh. Then mentioned to her that I've been nursing cramping shoulders. Originally thought sleeping on different pillows while gone had caused the pain, but after one hour painting Josh...Viola! The height of my easel!
Next thought process, about having your 'nest' built. Yeah, my spreadsheet queen, Lisa Rico (in the white coat top pic, in Kippy's huge studio with skylights) from California was dubbed most obsessive-compulsive of our group! I think I must rate right up there with her, because I was aware of not being comfortable with my 'nest'. You know, the comfort zone where you know exactly where your easel is comfortable, exactly the table your pastels/palette sit on, the light is right. My trip to France and Leslie B. DeMille's workshop was in such flux right up until the day before I flew out that I did not have all of my traveling art store in my suitcase. Then, being in Kippy's studio and equipment, borrowed materials, Les' color palette, AND DID I MENTION WORKING FROM LIVE MODELS?
No wonder I was discombobulated! SO, what did I do when I set up to paint from life here at home? SET UP IN A COMPLETELY NEW SPOT (pic 2)...pastels on the pool table, model stand at the top of 4 steps (don't have a model stand per se)...lighting, closed blinds, step around everything, old sheet on the floor that slipped and slidded. STILL NO NEST!
Josh, bless his lil' ole pea-pickin heart...kept asking me why we weren't doing this downstairs in the studio...to which I answered, no MODEL STAND. He proved his point when he pointed out that I have TWO office chairs that raise to put a model on eye level. I hate kids.
Now the 64-million dollar question that I would love to see some comments on: The more professional you get, is the 'nest' less important? Give Les his 15 favorite pastel sticks, a model and an easel and I think the man could do a portrait in the dark, regardless of the details of his nest setup.
Me an' Lisa? Gotta have the spreadsheet on color swatches, samples of all the papers available, precision lighting, 300+ colors at hand, read and studied every book/resource material we can possibly absorb before making the first mark on paper! Stall long enough and you don't even have to make that first mark.
Josh is below. Photo of him on the 'stand', then resorting to a print-out (to make me 'see' what was in front of me), and the last version. Goal is to 'see' the model and make sure the measurements are right from life, not photo.
ps: in order to 'save' paper I worked on a scrap instead of Les' recommendation of a 16x20 extravagant size sheet of paper...he is right...I felt constricted with this smaller size.
pss: lowered my easel, and my shoulders relaxed.
psss: moving this temporary setup to the studio and set up a real 'nest'. with swatches in hand, 300+ colors...and a real artist's apron. THEN I'll be able to do this! I think my model is DONE with 'sitting', though. But will use him to move everything and test it!
You got this! Be sure to get my free "Axully Art Roadmap" and learn how I did it. Age 51, empty nest...hell, NO NEST to empty...daughter didn't make it out of our house fire on Christmas morning...and my entire life exploded. Art became my focus, my salvation, my burning desire to learn. Along the way, I discovered that the act of painting gave me peace.
Peace where I could heal. Peace I could laugh again.