Silver Linings...

I have been out of commission lately. I was diagnosed with tendinitis in one of my hands at the end of last year and, as an artist, you can imagine that was a significant blow. Never mind the obvious physical limitations this condition implies, the feeling of your body not responding to you is heartbreaking, to say the least. 

I have tried to stay positive and even tried to work. Sometimes it worked, but most times it didn't. Trying to push the boundaries of the materials I commonly use for art making is a tedious and frustrating task on its own. When you add physical problems to that equation, the results can be pretty brutal. 

The good news is that I can paint. I may have to wait a little longer to paint larger pieces, but I will keep experimenting and developing my technique. In the meantime, and after one month of drying, the two pieces I had been working on are "evolving". They actually look different than what they looked like a month ago, when their look did not convince me. The different mediums seemed to have dried up and settled. I have now a different kind of blank canvas to work on and many different courses of action. While these do not look like the small Marine Layer paintings, they certainly look great.

Blurry and foamy. I like it!

Maybe they look the same and I am the one who's different. Maybe being forced to take a break was a good thing. While still pretty much in the early stages of recovery, I do feel energized and ready to keep pushing!

It's time to go back and paint. And to find an apartment, and pack and go to physical therapy, too. But paint, yes! Let's do some of that. God knows it's been a while and that's what I need to do!

Despair... What's going on?

Art is a commodity. There is no denying that. We know it, we choose to make art nonetheless and hope for the best. We take a leap of faith and create works of art with the hope that there will be people out there who will love them, love them enough to take them home and keep them forever!

But times are tough, and there's no denying that, either. When it's time to tighten the belt, the non-essentials are the first to be cut. Again, we know that. But there is a difference between being aware of it and seeing it with your own eyes.

For those of us who are still trying to get out there, the thought of being represented alone brings a little peace of mind. We think that once we are in, we are somewhat safe. You get local, regional and national representation and you are on your way. But what happens when your gallery drops you, or even worse, when it closes its doors? What do you do? This is a different kind of failure I am ashamed to admit I have never considered before.

Trying to make sense of things.

When I first moved to LA, I had the daunting task of scouting for prospective galleries where I could show my work. I don't like to waste my time or the time of others so, to improve my chances of being accepted, I had to keep in mind I should only contact galleries that represent emerging artists with a body of work somewhat similar to mine. Unfortunately, this list took a seriously long time to prepare. I looked at, literally, hundreds of places; each of which with its own sets of parameters. "Accepting submissions". "Check back for submissions". "We DO NOT accept unsolicited submissions". By the time I was done organizing this, I had no energy left to actually start submitting!

So I kept the list on file and decided to develop my body of work. Then Marine Layer happened. And Laguna Beach happened. And as much as I hate to admit it, I got complacent and a little lazy. I stopped pushing.

The new year came and it was time to keep things in check. I pulled out my list of galleries (now with a more considerable body of work to show) and, to my surprise, I started witnessing how so many of them are now closed. To make it even more tragic, some of the websites are still up, posing as painful digital gravestones that point us to the fallen and left behind. Further inspection led me to find out galleries that once accepted occasional submissions are now not accepting them, under any circumstances.

So, what now?

I honestly don't know. I want to keep working and creating even stronger pieces, as hard and, well, pointless as that may sound. As of now,  I am still trying to paint my new series in bigger formats, which as I've said before, it's proving to be very difficult. I guess I will be doing that and take it from there. As for now, I guess I'll just be bummed, thinking about all those poor artists and gallery owners.

Art is a cruel profession indeed.

Some assembly needed...

It's been a weird couple of weeks around here. Almost immediately after graduation I got really sick. What appeared to be just another cold proved to be a much bigger annoyance. My nose was very sensitive and my body was aching, so I decided to go to work but wait until feeling better to go back to painting. Fast forward almost two months and I'm still trying to go back and paint!

Acrylics build up fast. Some of these brushes need to retire!

After many weeks of picking up shifts at work and having almost no free time at all, I finally had some days off to go back to my paintings. But with the last semesters of school and work, I just didn't keep up with my little art corner (it cannot be really called an art studio) and it had become incredibly dirty and messy. I needed to perform some serious "Spring Cleaning style" work before any painting took place.

So, I cleaned, dusted and organized everything. I also recycled some of my unused mixed colors from previous paintings and made a colored gesso base for future priming. I was surprised to see how many years I can keep containers of premixed acrylic paint! I washed all my containers and primed at least 15 boards for new paintings.

I also took advantage of some pre holiday deals and ordered some supplies. I realized a couple of weeks ago I needed some serious upgrading in the lighting department. So, I did my homework and ordered some artist grade CF daylight bulbs. The regular household CF bulbs are incredibly noisy and inconsistent. Since incandescent bulbs are scheduled to be discontinued at the beginning of next year anyway (just around the corner), it seemed like a perfect time to start experimenting with new lighting conditions. Even in California the sun sets pretty early during the winter, so if I want to paint at all during the next couple of months, I need to be prepared.

Hopefully I can now start painting some stuff! I need to go through my stash of unfinished works and see what needs the most attention. Here's to finally picking up where I left off!

But it's a dry heat!

You'd think I would be adjusted to this dry weather by now. Well, apparently not! After two years of living in Los Angeles, I am still struggling with my faster than ever drying acrylics. Man, I never thought I would miss humidity at all.


I mean, I know this, I've blogged about it, but today it was just plain ridiculous. It was almost a 100F and it was sooo dry. I would paint a surface with my brush and literally touch it right after and it would be almost completely dry! I'm all for challenges, but what the hell...
Acrylics are not very opaque, they do not cover as much as oils. Some of the colors are pretty transparent. So, if you want to achieve a uniform layer of one color, chances are you are going to need more than one coat of paint. This is why I prepare "base" colors (not right out the tube) to use throughout the whole painting process. I am so picky I even use more than one container for some of them, to ensure I always have a fresh batch to my disposal. But the relentless desert heat just did not care.

Look at all that expensive paint getting wasted!

Needless is to say, I spent a lot of time re mixing colors today. It's good I am not so much in a rush to finish this painting, because I sure did not get as far as I wanted to. I am glad this is happening to me now and not 10 years ago, though. I would have been so discouraged I would have probably stuck with oils (not that there is anything wrong with that)!

I have been reluctant to use "wet palettes" and sponges to keep my colors wet, but it seems that I'm going to have to look into it. You live and learn, I guess.

The painting is looking pretty good, though. So, I guess it's all worth it. Rant over. Now, back to homework!