"Blue" Gouache on board © Joanna Zeller Quentin 2009.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

"Time to call it..."

There's an amusing meme floating around the internet.  Well, amusing to us artist types, at least.  It goes something like:

The Creative Process
1.  This is awesome
2.  This is tricky.
3.  This is crap.
4.  I am crap.
5.  This might be okay.
6.  This is awesome.
(Thanks to the wonderful Raven Quinn for posting this again.)

I think we all have variations on this theme.  For instance, about 70% of the way through most paintings, I decide I am a miserable failure at art and should give it up, sell my paints, and become a dental hygienist.  The fact that I am totally grossed out by people's teeth/ eaten food/ touching someone's face and STILL default to dental hygienist shows the depths of my desperation.  I'll interpret that as step #4 on this list.

Very, very rarely, a piece of artwork bypasses 2-5 and stays straight on "awesome" all the way through.  Those are rare gifts indeed, and should be regarded with equal amounts suspicion and gratitude.

And then there are the others - the ones that never get past #3.  Or they make it past #3, go to #5, and then go straight back to #3.  What to do with those?

In my case, they stay in my studio closet for a long time - sometimes months or even years.  Rarely, I break down and throw them away.  But usually they sit there, stacked in amongst other works 'in progress" and cause great vexation when I guiltily flip past them.  "Can I do something with this?"  "Is it salvageable?"  "Stuff like this makes me think I should have been a dental hygienist."   They're the paintings that had a great premise or spark of an idea, and then derailed somewhere along the way.  Maybe I went with the wrong color palette.  Maybe the composition wasn't as strong as it could have been.  Maybe the stars weren't aligned properly.  Maybe I just don't have the skill to pull this off yet.

Most of them get at least one more chance.  And some of those "second chances" get pretty inventive, like grinding off layers of paint, or going all cad red all over the place, or gallons of turpentine upended over the canvas.  Desperation = invention, right?  Sometimes that's the unconventional spark needed to pull something out of nothing, create order from chaos.  And sometimes it just leads to a puddle of turpentine, paint as red as blood, and bitter, bitter tears.

Today, two paintings are headed to the trash.  I'm feeling badly about it, because I think they are both interesting ideas that could be really great artworks, but... it's not happening.  It's just not.  Well... I might just scrape some paint off that last one...

Here's a few of the "problem children" that sat in the closet for months, or three years, in one case, before I was finally able to pull them out and do something with them.  Worth the wait?  I think so.  What do you think?
"Forward"  oil on canvas © Joanna Zeller Quentin 2014.  All Rights Reserved.
"Charging Forward" oil on board © Joanna Zeller Quentin 2014.  All Rights Reserved.
"Flying Purple Plantain Eater" mixed media on board © Joanna Zeller Quentin 2014.  All Rights Reserved.
"Rollback"  oil on canvas © Joanna Zeller Quentin 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Who, what, why, where, when.... and how? or... IS IT DONE YET?!?!

I'm supposed to be wrapping up a commission this weekend.  Correction:  I AM wrapping up a commission this weekend.  It's a really wonderful collection of photo reference, it's a gift, it's a direct result of my California trip in March, it's dynamic and fun and a pleasure to work on... so why isn't it done yet?

Commission are, in some ways, the easiest type of artwork to work on.  You have a predefined purpose in creating the art.  You have a client.  The art is already sold.  Your contract clearly spells out what is expected on both sides.  All you have to do is execute it.  It's that rare time for me that the picture in my mind is almost guaranteed to look like the finished product.  And yet... and yet...

No matter what the piece of art- the scope, the size, the style- you can and always should push and challenge yourself to create something new, exciting, fresh, every time you sit down at the easel.  Now, if creating personal art, this only leads to paralyzing indecision, which is why my studio is full of "orphan projects" - projects that have ideas and plans but got lost somewhere along the way.  There's too much potential there to throw them out, but at the moment, the roadmap is gone, the muse isn't talking, and incidentally, I suck at art and should just go be a dental hygienist.

Commissions, for the reasons mentioned above, take away a lot of the problems that create "orphans".  Plus, they come with a due date, and that's a powerful motivation to complete a project.  For instance, my self appointed due date is today.  (And yet I'm writing a blog.  No comment.)

I'm loving the freshness and energy of this commission.  Plus, it's a watercolor, which is a great way of moving out of the oil painting headspace I've been in lately.  I'm forever grateful to my education (my mom signing me up for watercolor lessons, and my formal art training as an illustrator) that I can work well in different mediums that require completely different approaches and switch back and forth without a lot of angst.  I like the color, I like the pose, I like the background.  So... is it done?  There's always something to change, improve, redo.  I can always go back and push the values, refine the details, push and pull and lift out and rework.  I could do it forever and still never be able to say a piece is "done".  (Funnily enough, clients don't always appreciate this point of view.  :-/)

Right now, I'm waiting for my green watercolor wash in the background to dry before I go back into it one more time (really!) and bring out the shadows and highlights, finesse the fine details, add the last details to the faces, and refine, refine, refine.

All right.  Watercolor wash is dry.  Time to dive in once more (just once more!) and add the finishing touches.  Then it's done.  Right.  Right?
Progress photo #1: Starting off
#2: Pop of red

#3: Legs!  We have legs!
#4: SO close...
 And, yes, I realize these aren't the greatest photos.  Completed portrait will be carefully (and properly) lit and photographed before it leaves the studio.  :-)
Work in Progress © Joanna Zeller Quentin 2014.  All Rights Reserved.  www.MoosePantsStudio.com
 Thanks for reading, y'all!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Bold, Accurate, Colorful Equine Art

Hello everybody,

Wow - can't believe it's been so long since I wrote on this blog.  The good news is I've been busy, and there's a whole bunch of new artwork to catch y'all up on.  The even better news is that it's the kind of art I've always dreamed of doing - bold, vibrant, colorful art, and I've been hearing all sorts of wonderful comments about the "energy" and "conviction and talent and power" the work is giving off. All these things are music to my ears, and I hope to keep building on it.
I took the month of June and completely redesigned my website.  It's shinier, brighter, snazzier and, I hope, better than the previous site, and I hope it captures some of the momentum and excitement I've been trying to build on with the artwork.  Please, please stop by the site, take a look around, and tell me what you think!

There's more news to share, but in the interest of keeping things short and sweet, I'm going to close for tonight.  I'm leaving you with a few of the new images that have come off the easel in the past few months.  Prints and originals are always available, so if something strikes your fancy, contact me!

See ALL the new artwork at www.MoosePantsStudio.com

EQUINE artwork horse art equestrian animal art oil painting WIld Joanna Zeller Quentin Moose Pants Studio 2014
"Wild" oil on board © Joanna Zeller Quentin 2013.
Available at Equis Art Gallery, Red Hook, NY

EQUINE artwork horse art oil painting canvas hunter jumper equestrian Flight Plan Joanna Zeller Quentin Moose Pants Studio 2014
"Flight Plan"  Oil on canvas © Joanna Zeller Quentin 2014
Available at Equis Art Gallery, Red Hook, NY

EQUINE artwork horse fine art oil painting Lipizzan Lipizzaner dressage Joanna Zeller Quentin Moose Pants Studio
"Lipizzaner" oil on board © Joanna Zeller Quentin 2014
Brand spanking new!