“If you love life, do not waste time, for that is what life is made of.” — Ben Franklin
Yesterday I had to be indoors, gallery-sitting at the Loading Dock Gallery. The holiday weekend, plus a stunning summer day, ensured a quiet day. However, with time to work, I needed to greet any customers who dropped by. How to create focus that I could interrupt? How to make art in a tiny space, with fragments of time?
Answer: Tidy materials. Small scale.
I packed blue tape, markers, a water brush, and a Koi Watercolor set. I also grabbed a small mixed media sketchbook and my waterbottle. Once settled into the gallery, I taped a page off into four squares . This gave me four tiny “canvases,” each about 1.25 on a side. With little water and a paper towel handy, I was off to my imaginary landscapes.
produces a crisp frame. Remember: paint to the edge for the best results. Judge your colors by each other, not the tape.
With the landscapes, I explored different horizon treatments and palettes. The Koi pigments tend to be very bright. It’s a challenge to create a more subtle mood.
Then, customers appeared. For most of an hour, I was making conversation and closing sales. During brief break, I removed the tape and washed my brush. More customers; some longer conversations. A little sale.
Finally, a quiet spell. I taped up a new page, this time with a better eye for results, locating the squares closer to the center of the page. I looked around the gallery for inspiration. On the wall opposite, city scenes by Wendy James. That was a new challenge.
reveals the composition. Simplify colors into clear blocks. As you paint, notice which details are essential, and which can drop away.
Turns out cities are harder for me: less familiar and more rigorous. The first and last images were stronger because I borrowed from James’ paintings. She’d already done the hard work, simplifying shapes, choosing colors, and organizing them into a compelling composition. Tip 1: learn from artists you admire.
My other two images are more muddled because I was working from photographs. I was working out too much at once - detail, color, placement -so the whole got muddled. Tip 2: Make value/composition studies first.. Next time!
Still, it felt good to paint, to ask these questions and get some answers in between the public work of selling.
Do you have a kit you use in public spaces? Do you sketch on the train? Paint during your lunch hour? How do you fit art into the small spaces of everyday life?