The Story of The (almost) Lost Artist


Just recently I came to the realization that I had come very close to losing myself.  Let me explain. Way before I was a painter I was a storytelling photographer.  I took photographs, made them into  art and then sometimes wrote stories. Often they were true life stories like the one you see below from Somerset Life Magazine.  Other times they were  stories I wrote  for my blog readers when I was known as Robinbird or Bird Tweets. 

How is itI had almost forgotten this vital connection to myself as an artist?  It was an astonishing discovery. While cleaning the attic I came across this Somerset Life magazine and randomly flipping through found this heartfelt, true and important story about another artist who had nearly lost herself. 

My Lovely Duck has apparently been digging around in the attic looking for red threads to present to me as needed. This one is a most welcome and inspiring thread for me to pull on. My life as a photographer was just as thrilling and interesting as my life is as an artist. Up until now I had missed the crossover journey between the two creative lives. Reflecting upon the years past I am gaining a fresh respect for the passion and love I feel for art. Although I often doubt and question my skills I need to remember and draw upon my gift of inspired history . The story below is  for  all artists who  struggle to hold space space in their souls for personal expression. 

May I introduce to you Hillary, my Golden Phoenix. Read on.....

 




Life continues to present itself as a journey with many crossroads presenting themselves along the way. Choose wisely.

Love, Robin

robin laws blogger

Let's Face It 2017 Registration Open & Giveaway Winner

I am delighted to say registration for Let's Face It 2017 is open at the early bird price of $99!

I am a natural storyteller so I am very excited my lesson is all about to painting a portrait with connected figures. When you add more than one figure to an artwork you are able to create a more expressive visual story with depth and feeling.  Plus I will be sharing a special tip and mini lesson too!

When you're ready to sign up I would absolutely love it if you use one of my links.  When a class has multiple teachers each teacher gets paid when a student signs up from a link connected directly to that teacher. That's how it works so of course I would love to have you sign up through me :)  You can go to my class page or use any of the links in this post to sign up.

WINNER OF THE GIVEAWAY!

The other awesome news is that I have a winner for the free seat in the class. Suzanne Sperl is the winner of the random draw. Congratulations Suzanne!

Thank you very much to all of you who commented to enter the draw I have to say I would love to have been able to give you all a free spot. 

Love, Robin


The Latest News

I have a lot of news to share with you.  All good :)  First off I have been completely immersed and in the flow of my daily art practice.  As is always the case with me  it is an "experience" fraught with comedy and drama each and every day. From sun up to sun down I can be found surrounded by paints, brushes and art in the making at any one of the various portable studios I have set up all over the house.  My husband used the word "relentless" in regards to my practice as he was walking by one of the multitude of times he had witnessed me with my head bent down, oblivious to all else but the girl I was coaxing into life. I told him later that was a huge compliment. 


We celebrated my sweet Ivy's birthday by going out for sushi.  She made a wish before blowing out the candle that was nestled within her green tea sundae, 'aka' birthday cake but refused to reveal her wish to me so I have no news for you on that subject. We ended our perfect afternoon at Anthropologie  selecting new coffee cups and fragrant candles to use in our studios. 


The week prior was highlighted by a visit from our friend Janet Reid. We picked her up from the airport on a Wednesday and for the next three days proceeded to laugh, eat good food and learn to paint the tiny tea bag faces taught in Jeanne-Marie Webb's,  class Tiny Bags of Love. The class is divine and the gentle teachings of Jeanne -Marie helped me not only paint the adorable faces  of Astrid and Tilli that you see there on your left but also helped me grasp some larger concepts about painting loose and impressionistic faces of any size.

Working through the class during the visit with Janet added richness to both experiences. I am also lucky enough to be making the sojourn to Janet's home and studio in Southern California next month and I'm sure I will have lots to share with you afterward.

 


The last thing I have to share today is how I happy I am to be a returning teacher in the upcoming all new Let's Face It 2017  class hosted by the amazing Kara Bullock. You can find out more and read all about the new content and amazing teacher lineup by clicking any one of the links in this section of the post  or you can read about it here in the teaching section of my site.  And you will be happy to know that I will be doing a  GIVEAWAY of one free spot in this class on my blog in the coming weeks so be sure to subscribe below to my site in order to stay up to date with what is happening! 

Love, Robin

A Little Before and After Painting

More Oil  Pastels


Magazine pages are pretty amazing to work with. Not only because there are no rules and therefore fun to do but also because I learn so much about the art of drawing and painting each time I do one.  Below you see the before and the after of a recent makeover. I photocopied and enlarged the image 160% then used matte medium to glue her into my large sketchbook. She was already a B&W image from W Magazine Then I used clear gesso over the entire thing, adding black gesso  to all the intimidating white that remained.

IMG_9056.JPG

I had already made up my mind I wanted to add collage since all she was wearing was a suit coat that  did nothing for me in terms of imagining a clothing makeover using that. I didn't overthink it. I pulled out the first thing from a pile of collage material and ended up with an Italian math workbook. So she became a mathematician in my mind.  And Italian.  And cool. My color choices were based on the magazine image below done by my initial inspiration artist  Guim Tio'. This complimentary yellow purple isn't generally appealing to me but  I really liked his result so I quickly decided  to just go with it. So now I have violet hair and violet lips. Really? That meant I was willing to use yellow ochre for her skin. I was not too sure about this but I did it anyway. I am keeping the idea of experimentation in the forefront of my mind. I told myself it didn't matter 


So I used the matte medium to change her clothing and put a coat of clear gesso over that. I used acrylic paint for her hair because no way dod I have that color in the oil pastels. So once that commitment was made I moved on without stressing too much. Upon further reflection after the fact I think what I especially had liked about what he had done was the solid abstracted shape of her face and nose.  And i think I wasn't able to let myself go that far. Next time....



I took the opportunity to really focus on the lights and darks as shapes and added umber and dark blue to the areas I could map on her face. The is a fairly high contrast image since it was editorial  high fashion image not a makeup ad. I added all of the colors with a very light handed touch wanting to work in layers and build up a variation of tones. So all of her face is yellow ochre in the middle photo above, just applied in varying layers. I also chose to focus on her eyes since in my mind that was the focal point of the image. The intensity of her look. So her eyes are a combination of oil pastel and charcoal. I thinned the oils pastel and used a fine brush  more or less like traditional oil paint. The background is super thick with three shades of green applied in patches then smooshed around, (not too much) with my fingers. Most of the painting was done with straight pastel, no thinner and with my fingers as the blender. 

I think the red earrings and red marks  in her shirt are key elements to bringing some life and energy to the painting. Otherwise she seemed very subdued and even serious in spite of her having a green nose. Her name is Liliana.


And here she is in her final complimentary color glory! Another lesson learned is that it's just not my palette.

Love, Robin

**If you are interested in learning more about using oil pastels and magazine pages go to my class page and read more

Open And Learning - An Oil Pastel Tutorial


Hello friends! I am super excited to share all of this with you! 

 To find out more you can check it out here or purchase withPayPal.


Oil Pastel Inspiration

I've been really enjoying using magazine pages as part of my daily practice for enhancing my painting and drawing skills. I was inspired to experiment with this process after discovering Guim Tió Zarraluki a Barcelona based artist on Pinterest. He is best known for using oil pastels to alter fashion magazine images and he has perfected a technique and style for recreating the most interesting abstracted makeovers I've ever seen. 

My initial effort was to sketch out my own version of his completed makeovers then use acrylic paint to enhance them. Like this one here with blue hair :)  Very fun and an excellent drawing challenge! 

But then I wanted to try the oil pastels directly on a magazine image. My first effort was not at all what I had in mind.  I began with the magazine image below and ended up with the image on the left. Interesting but not what I was going for.

The challenge is how to create images that reflect my own aesthetic of drama and expressiveness with subtlety and detail. So I started experimenting and I am happy to say I have come up with a way to do just that and much much more! Along the way many friends on Facebook have shown interest in trying this out themselves.  As I was reading the comments I was writing down the questions and decided the best way to explain is to demonstrate and show exactly what it is I am doing.  So I created a video lesson that you can watch and learn from. It's actually 2 videos because I couldn't resist adding ideas and techniques for using a more mixed media approach and for creating interesting backgrounds. I'm thrilled to share this with you! 

Love, Robin

I Am Open I Am Learning

What am I learning from my daily practice of drawing? Remember I committed myself to doing more drawing and painting and less activity on social media after my return from Ghost Ranch. I am happy to report I'm sticking with it and drawing, sketching or painting for long periods every day.  All of it is practice for the sake of practice not for a product or finished piece. One of the commitments I made was to be more open to my inner world of thoughts and feelings as I work and I gently calm and comfort my thoughts when I begin to say things in my head that are not helpful.

Most every practice piece is going through various levels of destruction and reconstruction as I work with my self limiting thoughts. I keep moving, dragging things out of the trash and wiping out layers of pastel or layers of charcoal to look again and see a missing puzzle piece that I need to add or take away. The most important part is that I am doing it. Whether I am working or reworking doesn't matter. Stepping forward into the discomfort rather than backing away with resignation it the nugget of gold. It's not that complicated really :)

Love, Robin

Robin-laws-art
robin-laws-art

I'm Teaching For the 21 Secrets Workshop!

Let  me tell you a Secret

Hello my friends!

I am very very excited to share with you that I will be a guest teacher for the upcoming art journaling course 21 SECRETS Tools and Techniques! This is an amazing online class put together by Connie Solera who is the owner of the Dirty Footprints Studio. There are  21 teachers with 21 awesome tools and techniques to share with you!

Wow! Believe me I am just so thrilled to be able to share some of my best kept secrets about art journaling! I will take you on a creative journey  that will open up an entirely new way for you to express yourself with art.  I have created an amazing series of videos that will teach you how to combine technology with traditional art journaling techniques. It's the iPad meets paint concept that is inspiring traditional artists all over the world.  Don't miss this unique opportunity to explore fresh and exciting new ways to create in your art journals.  I would be thrilled if you  joined me on this exciting journey! You can find out more here :)

Love, Robin

What Is 21 SECRETS?

In short, 21 SECRETS is a 150+ page downloadable eBook filled with 25+ hours of videos, full colored photos, templates, and clear instruction that will inspire and deepen the way you approach art journaling.

What makes 21 SECRETS even more special is that you receive all the content at once — YOU get to pick and choose which workshops to do when! No waiting around for your favorites and no need to feel rushed or falling behind — these workshops are YOURS TO KEEP!

Order NOW & receive your copy on April 1st when it is released!

 

The Storyteller's Art

Class Opens March 4th 2016

So the day has arrived and I couldn't  be more excited! I am excited to share what I've been learning and discovering about the power of using our voice in tandem with our art!

Come join me on a week long journey into the magical realm of storytelling and art! This unique class will focus on developing your storytelling voice so that you can create art that is compelling and rich with imagination! Fun and deep is where we are going in this class my friends!

We will create 3 projects that are tied together with the glorious thread of story. I am excited to watch and assist all of you in uncovering your storytelling voice in the process! You will create expressive paintings that will mesmerize and engage your audience. Storyteller's need and audience so our work need to be dynamic and engaging! 

I am especially excited to gather together as seekers and  storytellers  in our Facebook Group! It is a bit of a dream come true for me to explore new ideas and share the experience of our journey in a safe and supportive little world of our own. Please join me for this adventure if you are even a little bit tempted to open up your heart and mind to a fresh and new way of expressing yourself with your art! 

Love, Robin








Stories For The New Year

Living My Own Story! 

This year I am determined to live my red thread life by letting my mind and dreams wander at will. I'm experimenting, being brave and trying many new things. I have an abundance of projects and ideas just waiting for me to step into my courage!  The painting below is an example and I'm very excited.  It involved very little planning which was intentional. It is collage and acrylic on canvas board. I selected a very simple color palette of manganese blue, vandyke brown, yellow ochre, titanium buff, gesso and glazing fluid. By collaging for texture and mixing those colors I created the abstract background first with no plan for what would come next. When is was dry I let the horizon line guide me towards possibilities. It lent itself to a scene with it's solid ground and lots of potential for a stormy sky.

And what about the story you ask? It's me again, Lovely Duck by my side and some illusive deep dream that appears to be pulling us along through a stormy sky.  I need to leave it open ended  because I don't yet fully understand where we are going. I know it has the theme of opening up to our deepest dreams and following their call. 

The theme isn't really new for me but It became more literal in the  paintings below. In all three of these I'm using the same theme, color palette and materials.  So now it's turning into a new story series.  When I first started posting on Instagram I tended to do a portrait and write a story as though each character were a part of the greater community. I envisioned my  gridded  Instagram feed as a tall apartment building with each new a portrait moving in as a resident and neighbor to the rest of the characters. I enjoyed that form of storytelling very much and so did my followers. So once again, (I never tire of this!) what begins as one thing, (in the case of Instagram it was the commitment to drawing 100 faces along with a group of other artists) becomes something else that we don't see coming.  In this instance I was simply following along over the past two years with that  line of red thread leading me and simply focusing on what presented itself along the way. I could go on and on about this beautiful way of living in the moment and I am sure I will be doing much of that over this next year as I continue to walk through my storied life with my ever present compaion Lovely Duck!

  "Me and Lovely Duck obviously right? The words at the top are the key to this piece. WHAT ARE YOUR DEEP DREAMS? Ive been thinking so much about th  is question. It applies to all levels of consciousness. My hope for the coming year is to claim and continue to live my deep dreams. I do best with a gentle but firm hand guiding me. Lovely Duck is very gentle and the red thread keeps me on my path.   I am so happy to be living my deep dreams along with all of you! xo. "  Oh look! Lovely Duck and I have some creative visitors! First we had a little writing session regarding the question... "What are your deep dreams?" I came up a little exercise to get us started and wow fantastic art and story ideas came out of that! This one is mine.. "I dream of being with a tribe of creatives at the Gathering House. The Gathering House is safe place to connect to our own dreams and support the dreams of others. Then we do art!  This was such a fun little project! That's real red thread mind you and gold leaf too. When our creative companions come for a visit they get royal treatment here in my studio! Spirit animals and cats are allowed in the studio too! *  **The style of these  are inspired by two artists I admire.   Gabriel Pacheco  who is a magnificent artist and illustrator from Mexico who creates very dreamlike art that I adore! I've also been reading the work of  Brian Andreas  who  combines crazy line drawings with ridiculous and heartfelt words. He has long been a favorite of mine for quotes that make you think as well as laugh and cry.

I can't finish this post without mentioning that for us artists the new year is overflowing with inspiration, learning and thrilling art! So many fantastic classes have begun and many more are about to launch! I am thrilled with the start of Let's Face It and honored to have the opportunity to add in my artistic two cents on painting faces:) I have signed up for Misty Mawn's  Make/Do Art Workshop that begins February 14th and for Katie Kendrick' online course Grit and Grace that begins January the 11th.  I highly recommend them both!

love, Robin xo

Art ~ A Divine Connection

This past week has been filled with the most unexpected red thread moments!  It almost defies my ability to describe in words what it was like. I participated in an amazing on-line event along with several other artists and hundreds of  art lovers. It was a Holiday Art Auction run by Stephanie Gagos. The intention was to have a venue for artists and art collectors to gather and negotiate sales. All I can say is that it became SO SO much more than that.  It was an experience of deep connection and was a stunning surprise for everyone who attended. I don't think anyone left that auction with their heart and soul untouched by  deep emotions.  All of us who were there were simply dumbfounded with awe as we witnessed or experienced first hand the incredible power of art.  By some divine connection the event  brought forth the sharing of dozens of powerful stories about how we experience art .   I heard about the immeasurable power of art to heal and to literally change lives.  I experienced myself  and witnessed in others how it can elicit intense emotions of longing and grief alongside  great joy and happiness.

 It was so reminiscent of the painting and story  below that I wondered if I were perhaps having a vision of a real future when I created  The Gathering House a year ago and posted it on Instagram.  You can read the story of The House below along with some of the reactions of  readers. I've also included the story of one of the actual residents of The House.

The  Gathering House

The Gathering House is a place that resides within my dreams. It is a communal house of art that is filled with light, music and love. It is a restorative place away from the troubles of the world. A place to create, and provide inspiration so that when we return to our lives we find a deeper well of gratitude, peace and compassion to offer the world.

"What a wonderful place that would be. It sounds like a dream but oh if it was real how amazing that would be. Wonderful art!" , "Wow. Beautiful! And The Gathering House... I want to go there", "That's my dream right there, a house filled floor to ceiling with art!"

Karen's  First   Day

This painting of Karen is straight out of my Gathering House world. In my version of The Gathering House everyone who comes there to live is issued one pair of genuine 100% cotton wings, a crown made of craft paper in the color of their choice and a linen dress with the letter they wrote to the admissions circle about why they needed to move to The House embroidered upon it. The idea of  actual body tattoos was originally discussed however we nixed that idea when we thought about the potential for a public health scandal/nightmare and decided upon doing a monthly embroidery retreat instead. So Karen here is wearing the standard issue uniform and this painting of her was done on her first day. I'm going to try and do a portrait for each of the girls as they arrive. They are often tired and sad when they first arrive and I think an authentic portrait would provide them with an initial visual touchstone for how change happens at The House. I'll try to do an updated painting for you to see for yourselves what can happen in a place of healing and light amongst others who "get" who you are and where you are provided nourishment for the creative mind and spirit.

"My letter is in flight to the admissions circle...thro' the winter sky that is a box of wings."  "I want to live there!!!",  "Please forward the address so that i might send my letter of admission. Please?

You see? I can't even truly believe it myself that such a beautiful place can exist but in that one stretch of time, 12 days in a row on Facebook such a place was there for anyone who was longing to connect and feel heard and understood. Just like Karen I feel my creative spirit has been deeply nourished and inspired. Thank you Stephanie, thank you to every single person who purchased or commented on my own art. I will be forever grateful to have been one among the many beautiful souls who came together in our own little Gathering House.

 

Love, Robin

Fearless Friday

First order of business is a name change for these weekly posts. It's going to be Fearless Friday rather than Failure Friday. Sounds more positive and upbeat :) I stillI might post on Saturday but I'd like to set my intention for Friday.

Fearless Flying

"The object isn't to make art; it's to be in that state which makes art inevitable." ~ ROBERT HENRI

This is an ink and charcoal drawing I did last week while in Ivy's studio. I like him very much. Not because he is perfect in any conventional way but because of what I felt while creating him. It was a day when the spirit of the above quote prevailed over fear and sabotage. I like to think about it as living in the red thread moment. The red thread moment is the jumping off  the cliff moment when I let go of all my rescue gear (except my red thread), my expectations and even my mind and I'm simply present with what is right there in front of me. It's joyful. It's exciting. It's inspiring. It's fun! 

It's not so simple though.  But it is. Do you know what I mean?  Another way to think about it is to imagine what it might take in order to find out if you are able to fly. In the air I mean. You have the wings, the feathers and the heartfelt wish but until you actually step off the edge you have no idea if you will drop like a stone or rise like a Phoenix. It's that scary sometimes. Similarly to art, flying is no doubt better accomplished without intent or over planning ... except to have your wings tied on very tight.

Obviously the riding a bicycle metaphor works well here too. Over-think steering, pedaling and ringing your bell all at once and you will surely crash and skin your knee. Everyone knows this phenomena but we still do things that cause us to fail.  So how do we get  to that seemingly magical state of mind that Robert Henri is referring to?  Well the short and the long answer is the same. We don't do anything intentional at all. That's the answer. Make art all the time and just be yourself. The red thread finds me I don't find it.  The same it true for the best inspired art making. Let go of all things but the heart and the senses and you're gold. Very Zen, very spiritual, very magical :)


Love, Robin

P. S. I thought you might also like to see what he looked like before I brought him into my iPad for a make up adjustment.  The original inspiration for the inky drawings we were doing that day was the work of South African artist  Marlene Dumas. So the scared look he has is relevant to the inspiration. Taking my original work into my iPad is a regular part of my artistic practice. It is the time when I can analyze, deconstruct and experiment with various changes and adjustments. It's a self teaching process that I find very helpful and fun as well!

"What materials did you use for that painting?"

That question has certainly popped into my mind when a particular artwork captures my interest and curiosity. When I am inspired to learn more and try things out for myself I make the effort to deconstruct what I see. Its good archeological practice  in my ongoing effort to better learn the art of observing.  Ive come to understand that being able to look and really see is one of the secrets to creating great art. But I digress.  The question I most often hear in regards to my own art is  "iPad or Paper?" 

I love giving the answer to this question because it is often an intriguing surprise one way or another to the person asking. I am what you might call an enthusiastic promoter for the using of the iPad as a tool for practice and exploration in your artistic practice. That is not to say everyone should have an iPad. Having one is a luxury that I am fortunate enough to be able to afford. 

Take the painting above as an example. This began as an original 6x6 oil painting of Teresita.  She remained  a rather bland raw umber work in progress for many months. She was mostly just hanging around looking over my shoulder implying I ought to get on with it and release her from her liminal state. insert eye roll from me. At this stage, using my reference image,  Ivy helped me to practice those essential observational skills I mentioned earlier for the nose shadow. 

 In typical fashion I went on to dab at the thing with the tiniest amount of color to see what would happen.  Literally months passed until I finally took her into my iPad to see what would happen if I actually committed her to real paint. I can be so timid with the paint sometimes. But... and here is the drum roll... by taking her into the iPad I could go crazy with color, do and undo and see all the variations I wanted to try while the original Teresita sat perfectly still next to me. At moments she looked horrified while at others she looked excited at her potential makeover :)  I loved my final choice of rich primary colors! Teresita did not feel the same but I took artistic license and overruled her objections to smeared lipstick! 

The final image is the finished version of what I did with real oil paint on her face using my iPad reference.  It really was stress free by then which I really appreciated. She is currently drying and will be auctioned off  along with several other of my originals in the Holiday Auction that is being sponsored by Stephanie Gagos

Wow there is just so much to learn as an artist! I have appreciated all the ways in which I can assist myself with building my drawing, color mixing and compositional skills by using my ipad!

Love, Robin

 

Paint and Pixels Self Study Program is Open!!

Ivy and I have been very busy in our creative little think tank with putting together this project! I am just so excited about opening our new self-study program that I can hardly sit still! Our students from the live class have told us over and over again that Paint and Pixels is an amazing and unique class! They tell us how much they have learned and they demonstrate this every day by creating more beautiful art! The flow of ever more sophisticated art work just keeps coming and we are just so delighted to watch our students grow and gain confidence. Our new self study students are so fortunate to be able to join this vibrant and active group of amazing artists!

See!? If you have watched the video above you will see what we are so excited about!

But I'm going to stop right here for a minute and add the learn more and purchase button so that if you would like to you can go straight to the classroom sales page on Ivy's website to sign up or read an extensive description of the class!

So what does it mean exactly to be a student in the self study program? Trust me it's all good and students will have full access to the amazing and rich content Ivy and I have created! For many students the fact that it is self paced will be a huge advantage to working within the context of  a four week classroom. The main difference is that the self study students will need to have the determination, a stick-to-it attitude and the enthusiasm for learning as they work through the initial learning curve. We've created plenty of unique content and helpful guides for the self study students so they certainly will not be left on their own. And Ivy and I are still right here cheering everyone on and helping out when needed.

If you have followed along with Ivy and I on the Paint and Pixels journey you will already know how dedicated we are to spreading the word about this new art form! It's all been very thrilling and having more artists join us and our amazing graduates would be great fun indeed! Our students have inspired us so much more than they realize and we are as proud of their success as much as our own!

Love, Robin

Learn the Profile and Make Beautiful Art!

I'm getting very excited about this!! In the soon to open Let's Face It class hosted by Kara Bullock I will teach you how to draw a profile and make art that you love! This is my transformation from the practice profile I did.  I will teach you my process of how to turn your practice drawing into beautiful and soulful work of art. 

I love that I can do this! The initial pencil sketch is on the right hand side. I took a photograph of that and brought it into my iPad and the drawing app I use for this style of learning.  I wanted to study the completed profile more closely and experiment with adding more of the form before committing it to paper. If you look closely you can see that the sketch on the right was altered with the many changing of lines and erasing I did as I was finding my way to this profile. What looks charming and old world-like in the photograph is actually a lot of scratched and damaged paper.  When you look at the completed digital profile on the left you can see what changes I made and how I might have done this on the original drawing paper as well. The changes are really not very much. Adding more form, hair and white decorative line work before completing it by adding interest to the background.

I want you to create tangible works of art in my section of the Let's Face It class.  I want you not only to be able to draw a profile but to learn how to use that drawing as a jumping off point in creating a beautiful finished work of art.  I will include two lessons lessons. In one demonstration I will be using the traditional art materials of paper, charcoal, pencil and paint to draw a profile and create a finished painting. In another demonstration I will teach you how to use your iPad to experiment with ways to improve or alter your drawing and turn that into a tangible work of art as well. Digital art and traditional materials can be combined and made into beautiful works of art and I will demonstrate that process for you in class! So please sign up with me while the early bird price is still available for Let'sFace It!

Love, Robin

Failsafe Color Theory

Failure Friday - This Color Theory Never Fails

"If you're feeling blue  ~  try painting yourself a different color."  Hannah Cheatem age 8

I think the above quote by Hannah Cheatem is perfect for understanding the progression of this pastel portrait. Especially when applied in its most  literal form.  This portrait started during a typical day in my studio with Ivy. We were exploring the use of toned paper and soft pastels. I was at my easel using a monochromatic color palette of blue and white telling myself I needed to focus on my portrait drawing skills. Ivy was working on her own portrait. 

When I finally turned to look at her and  her progress I was a bit stunned and said  "Oh my goodness!" She clearly had not stayed within safety zone of a monochromatic palette. Instead he had chosen to explore a richly saturated palette of color ranging from the blue/green undertones of the skin to the multiple shades of green/gold of the eyes. There were interesting marks of reds, and salmons and oranges placed throughout the piece causing your eye to roam yet return to the beautiful face.

 That day in the studio was just one of the many wake-up prompts I receive from being part of a vast community of artists. My initial response to Ivy was to laugh out loud both from the delight of seeing what she had done but also because of the excitement I felt when seeing the obvious potential of what is possible if I move past my tentative approach and let go of my fears. The Failure Friday lesson is for me to remember it is just paper, that there are no mistakes, just exploration and experimentation.  Challenging my cautious artist self to be more bold, daring and exploratory will be more effective for bringing on growth than getting lost in the shape of a perfect nose!

Later that night I continued with my very blue portrait and placed the brightest orange I could find around the head and to the cheeks. I asked myself about the gender and knew I had inadvertently created a male as a direct result of being overly exacting in my approach to the proportions of the head in the initial sketch. So I became intentional by adding hair and softening some of the features ultimately changing him from Mr. Jack Leopold to Jacqueline Leona Padroni :)

Love, Robin

Intuitive Nightmare or Intuitive Fun?

Painting by the Seat of Your Pants.


I know plenty of artists simply love to do what is referred to as "intuitive painting." But that wasn't me. I had my first experience doing this about a year ago and I can truthfully say it was awful. And I cried even though i tried hard not to. 

 I did the painting above (bottom left)  with Ivy and Michelle based on a workshop Michelle had done with Jesse Reno. It was meant to be fun. Like a happy art party where you get paint all over your hands and clothes and you feel ecstatic and free as a result of the random application of marks, colors and patterns you were encouraged to use. I didn't realize it at the time but the "intuitive " part meant that in the end even if the thing was all crazy colors and what have you it was supposed to end up with some sort of compositional harmony and innate beauty.

I was a complete novice to this sort of art so when the timer went off my resulting piece was about 8 inches square on a 2x3 foot sheet of watercolor paper. (for emphasis please insert 3 emoji monkeys with hands over eyes, ears and mouth)  Michelle and Ivy filled their paper with all sorts of things and had "intuitive" fun. They were more experienced at selecting a cohesive color palette, arranging their elements in a balanced way....... (so on and so forth through the list of compositional elements)  and the result was they were filled with artistic joy and  they filled their 2x3 foot  piece of gorgeous watercolor paper with interesting art. 

The point of this failure Friday analysis is  to reconcile the conflict I impose upon myself when I forget to accept where I am at any given moment on my creative journey and wish I were somewhere else on the path. I will have far more courage if I surrender to my limitations and my strengths and not place a higher importance on either end. I am a student of art and an artist. Everything I create has that duality built into it. 

For the sake of comparison the painting above on the bottom right is one I did 2 days ago with Ivy following an intuitive mark making exercise from the class Drawn to Expression by Gillian Lee Smith. I was a bit anxious at the deliberately  vague instructions but I just did it anyway and it went way better than it had a year ago. I did not cry, I moaned very little and I even did the portrait over the top in  under 20 minutes when Ivy suggested we take it a step further. But the most Important success  was that I enjoyed myself. Very good! Growth accomplished and I could reflect back to that last intuitive experience and see how I had changed. :) big smiley face!

*** The top painting was another we did a year ago also inspired by Jesse Reno. At the time I was so unhappy with mine I rolled it up in a tight tube and stuck it under my bed where it has stayed for the entire year. I came upon this image of it while searching back in my phone and looked at it in wonder realizing it was just fine and that i could, if I wanted  take it our of hiding and enjoy completing it.

I have as much to learn about being human as I do about painting, drawing and art. It's all woven together and when I see it that way it is all more gratifying, challenging and exciting! 

Love, Robin

 

The Calling to Create

What Brings You to The Creative Process

I created this image very late  at night using the deepest and darkest charcoal I could find. I have a lot of emotions connected to my art and this image has a story to tell that I do not yet know how to put into words. 

This morning, before the sun even thought about peeking from behind the mountain I awoke and remembered that today is the day I begin a new course with Gillian Lee Smith titled Drawn To Expression. I adore Gillian. She was my first real art teacher. She was the teacher I decided to trust and allow into my secret world. I'd lived a long time with a terrible hunger to create that I had not allowed myself to satisfy because of fear. There were times I thought I might starve because of my fear and stubbornness. I was fortunate because that desire to create remained strong and was binding it's time for the right moment to come out and into the light.  

Fear is such a crazy thing. Insensible, irrational, incredibly powerful. Gillian was the one who called me to wake up and she helped me find my courage. I will be forever grateful to her for her gentleness and her desire to light the fire of creative passion within her students. I feel so fortunate. 

 AsI listened to Gillian introduce the class by reading a quote from Mary A. Granvo I started to feel that her words were speaking directly to my heart. Here is the Quote:

"I have found that by using very simple art materials we are able to tap into a soft and tender place that is begging for attention. This soft tender place is our connection with our true essence, our spirit and our soul's longings."

I wasn't really planning to write a blog post today but because I felt so moved so excited to begin this course I simply wanted to share. 

Love, Robin

Real Life Artist - The Learning Curve

Failure Friday - Learning From Failure


One of the things I like best about social media is the sharing that happens amongst the artist community. I gain a wealth of inspiration and knowledge from connecting and interacting. I love when I click the comment button on some intriguing work of art only to discover that there is a rich and energetic dialogue happening in real time with real people about art and life! I learn and grow from what others are studying or working on. I also get to hear about the amazing successes as well as the difficult challenges of the artists who are open to sharing their journeys. I feel encouraged in my own work with each story that is shared. Hearing about the struggles of an artist I admire helps me to be brave and to push myself out of my comfort zone. I tell myself that if they can do it I can too.

The last several months my creative focus has been painting on an ipad.  I have experienced success and a sense of deep satisfaction with some of the digital paintings I have created. I have loved the success and aknowledgement of my work and the growing sense of confidence that has developed as a result.


Starting from that position of strength and confidence it is time for a new challenge and to push myself beyond my comfort zone. So back to the drawing board I go using my traditional art materials, drawing large and using an easel.  This is a way for me to practice bravery and seek growth.  

I decided to share one of my recent, more challenging experiences. My goal is to maintain a positive perspective and evaluate my skills  to determine where I need to grow and how best to go about improving.  My intention is to be a problem solver rather than upset about my failures. I want to learn from them.  The reference image I used is on the left. 


I'm working on my easel and on large paper trying to stay loose. What that means is that I'm trying not to think too much but focus on getting the forms in and placing them accurately. I didn't do any measuring or comparing other than using my eye to gauge how the drawing matched up with the original and checking angles using my charcoal. I believed in general I was doing "ok". I told myself it was perhaps too wide at the cheek bones but that I could fix that later. A small voice was telling me the eyes were too far apart but I didn't listen. Being a relatively new artist I sometimes imagine I won't be able to repeat a feature and do better than the one I see in front of me. That right eye was shaped ok and I didn't want to move it. 


I can tell you now I should have stood back, looked carefully, measured and made corrections in placement of everything long before I started adding details.  Since I didn't do that things begin to go from ok to bad to worse quickly. The harder I worked the more confused I got because when I changed one eye the cheekbone looked off and vice versa.  I kept changing the shape of the face, moving the jawline up then down, wider then more narrow. I think I changed the mouth at least ten times. No matter what I did it just was "off". I was frustrated and discouraged and began using swear words... Time to take a break!


Instead of taking a break I decided to take a photo of the drawing and the original.  I loaded them both into my iPad and opened Procreate which is the painting app I use. Using layers I outlined the features on the original and  the features on my drawing. Then I overlaid the outline from my drawing over the original and guess what happened? The errors were revealed with ease. Very helpful information! The nose was too long, that right eye is too high and too far from the center line. Having the nose too long made everything below it wrong. In an effort to make it right I had over rendered the mouth and completely lost my way in terms of how to draw a mouth or the shape of the face. Lots of problems!


Once I saw what errors I had made I was able to try again. I stayed in the iPad and experimented. I still found it difficult to render the mouth properly and depicting how her head was tilted down slightly. All of the parts of the face are connected and each nuance of movement changes the relationship between structure and form so getting these things right were important. If I want to control the expressiveness of the face I need to be able to accurately recreate the form of the face in various positions and at various angles. 

 The lessons here are pretty obvious. Take my time, stand back OFTEN to check my work, render shapes not features. (My brain is tricky and will deceive me but I don't need that Information, it isn't helpful.)  I need to correct as you go and move on when things truthfully look to be in place not 'sort of in place'. Trust myself but don't trust myself!  Measure angles and relationships. Be careful and be loose about the drawing at the same time.  Its a lot to pull off but its worth it because in the end what I want is to do beautiful work! 

I've shared about the usefulness of the iPad as a learning tool many times as a teacher in Paint and Pixels  but I never tire of sharing how i use it as an essential tool for drawing.


 Below is a little video I did many months ago for Jeanne Oliver's Living Studio series. I basically talk through a charcoal drawing  where I find myself in a similar situation as the one I described above. I figure out the corrections and changes I want to make by taking a photograph and moving it into Procreate. In this case I go back to the easel and make the changes on paper. Its like magic and I LOVE using this tool! 


Ok back to the drawing board for more practice, practice practice!!

love, Robin

Winner of Let's Face It Giveaway!

I had almost 200 entries for one free seat in the  Let's Face It Class hosted by Kara Bullock! I so wish I could have given away more than just one spot! Thank you to all who entered. The heartfelt comments and enthusiasm for Let's Face it was inspiring to me as a teacher. I hope you all join decide to jump in at the early bird price.

The Winner is Carol Nickerson!!

 

** Carol please contact me so that I can give you the information about registration!

 

Time To Enter The Giveaway! Let's Face It With Robin Laws

There is still time to win a free seat in the class Let's Face It. Click this link to go to my blog post telling you all about how to enter your name. Someone has to win right?! :) I will draw a winner this Monday, October the 26th. That is only 3 days from now!  

I'm going to be teaching you all about drawing the profile and it isn't going to be as difficult as you think. Honestly if I can do it so can you! I'm going to demonstrate my process and provide you will detailed instructions for drawing an accurate profile.  I'll give you plenty of helpful tips along the way and I'm even going to provide you will a bonus lesson that will help you learn more quickly. I hope you will join me and all the other amazing teachers on this year long journey of learning to draw faces!