Projects and Goals for 2016 (pt3.) Brainstorming an art series and painting schedule...and past horse paintings

This will be the practice I need to determine my skill level. If I can get the effects I want, then I can eventually paint to sell. If I decide to. I would like to have that optional choice!

I need to have plenty of practice pieces, but I want to limit myself to taking one year to finish a series, rather than random inspired pieces. This is to hone skills I’ve lost (or think I have lost), and to discover my ability for each style of painting I attempt.
(Lately I’m mesmerized by painting feathers and eggs in nests of straw and grass, poultry in general (but have no practice in layered feathers or patterned feathers), and using water-color pencils – I love the 3D effect that comes with outlines in that media)...

“Demand more from yourself at every turn.
Because what is waiting for you just beyond that horizon – will amaze you…
… start doing the work: setting deadlines, shouldering my way through my daily pages and disciplining myself to produce work on a regular schedule.
Eventually, my productivity and quality came back and I got back in touch with my abilities…”
-ART HOLCOMB - an accomplished writer, Hollywood script/story advisor and well-known writing teacher, as well as a frequent contributor to Larry Brook’s (my favorite writing coach) at Check out his website HERE.

I've painted horses since I picked up a brush, since I love them so much; I just haven't been consistent. It seems I am easily distracted. (Raising kids and all that).
I have very few of my paintings (I tend to give them away and move a lot...).
Here's one of my first painted on a real canvas (rather than bricks or rocks or paper)...
It was for the nursery of my first daughter. First-borns get all the best efforts. For her first birthday I painted a wooden rocking horse yellow, and she got a wall of carousel horses when she was four... and an embroidered carousel horse on a doll pillow...In-between, she got a giant stuffed bear, and ABC blocks on the wall, and cute little 'stuffed' bears wearing sailor suits, painted on small cabinet-sized shutters I found. 
The twins got paintings of zoo animals and farm animals (with  farm- associated wildlife), but that was about it. Sad, but they were twins after all, and wore me out.

Years later, I painted these for myself. It's the only painting I ever did for me (until the mural).
A definite spiritual-depth time in my life... and I had discovered Andalusians. There was something ethereal about them.

I painted a 3-horse scene for my mother, when I found her, and discovered she loved horses too... this is the only photo I could find of it (somewhere there is a palomino and another one with it)...
I painted a palomino colt's portrait for a neighbor once, and there are others I don't remember, but once I offered a painting of a horse that was given to me. He was a beautiful horse, and I thought the owner should have something to remind him of the horse forever, as I could hardly stand taking the horse for free. (You can see he is still my avatar pic, even though I eventually gave this beautiful creature back to his original owner)...

I miss this horse, Cherihuka, greatly! (Sometimes I think I should paint one of these for myself!)
Maybe it would be an image of us out riding together- something I never could do in real life when I had him. Unfortunately, I know I could never capture the meaning of that. His previous owner had named him 'Spirit'... and maybe that is why it can't be captured.

This is a mural I painted in 2007, when I realized it would be more years until I could afford a horse again. (Before I got the horse Cherihuka). My heart was really into this, as my heart was full of yearning...
I didn't want a white horse, but that's what 'fit' the color schematics of the house, the room.
If I remember right, the words I painted above are Greek:
"latreo" -for "service to God" (or "to work with an honorable /mission-based purpose")
"proskuneo" which is to "kiss/adore/worship"
and “agalliao” to "jump for joy" --which I thought were 3 things we need for a meaningful life.

As you can see, that was a lonnnnnng time ago! I didn't paint much during those years. A few eggs in nests (a gift to the woman who gave me a flock of chickens), and some caricatures of the moon...  

This is a scene from my life before moving to Minnesota, that inspired me to paint what I missed most... my peeps!

I'm not really happy with it- except the dry grasses and the concept. 
I think the colors are horrendous, (even though some of that is the photo is dark). But I'm NOT taking that frame apart again, lol.
*this is a mixed media piece, I didn't have the patience - I also didn't have the confidence to try feathers! Iwas afraid they would looks like fur, or worse, like an abstract, or a cartoon.

THAT is why I'm writing this... why I need the practice.

Of course, no painting ever turns out the way it's envisioned. 

I was very thrilled when I discovered the Art Center in town - THAT rooster inspires me...
like maybe yeah, I can do this   - it really doesn't have to look 'realistic', just artful!

So here's to brainstorming an art series.....

*      Describe the context of the project and its essential aspects (for sale, gallery, show,  decor, gifting, barter?)
This particular project will be focused on my own home d├ęcor- for a future home. I’m looking forward to having wall space and creating a rustic ‘farmhouse’ atmosphere! I also need a reason to paint and right now that means looking far forward.

For my kitchen, and dining areas; I already know the colors I want to have as background wall colors -and the accent colors that will really stand out.
(Mainly: taupe/mocha walls and cream trim/cabinetry/appliances. I tend toward black wrought iron items too.
These background neutrals will really allow the artwork colors to pop. I have blue colored dishware, and hope to have some furniture pieces painted in blue – reminiscent of robins’ eggs, with a significant touch of burlap and lace too.

*      Pick a subject or a basic theme
–mine are likely to be subjects like: a clutch of eggs in nests of straw, close-up poultry expressions (portraits) and the hen house itself (with evidence of the ‘chicken garden’, and flowering vines growing around it and stuff like that)

*      Find a way to show it in a different way
-- I’m thinking I might do close-ups of poultry cast in the long shadows and glow of late afternoon light. Lots of contrast. But I also like the look of white on white, of subtlety –and the vast expanse of a periwinkle prairie sky…)
Periwinkle is a special color. Not blue, not lavender... but something in-between.
Design different presentations, and rough-draft colored scene mock-ups (up to 30)
Pare it down to a final 10 to 15 that are worth looking at...forevah

*      Choose background colors (I like to include frame colors in this decision). I’m leaning toward ‘smoke’-colored backdrops, in a “Romantic Prairie” style, which is very rustic but with a feminine touch – so perhaps I will add a trailing vine of blooms or a sprinkling of field flowers.

*      Prep work:
prep and paint the frames.
This is important part of the finished product, as it showcases the piece and I don’t use any mat boards (too expensive, too much hassle, and is less rustic – I want very rustic).
At this point I will gauge the size of the paintings I have rough-drafted and cut the wood to frame each one.
I don’t want various sizes. For most of these projects I want to do 22”x16” pieces –but really, anything that’s a consistent size will work well. (If the canvas is small, I can simply make the frames larger).

I’m partial to r maybe antiqued with white/cream, blue or green painted wood. Those colors will go with the barn wood signs I’ll be adding.
Maybe attaching chicken wire or barbed wire as an added affect! I will have to source more wire.

Get canvas boards & Gesso over it only once! Gesso is not cheap any more! 
Gesso. Never have enough of that stuff. I've been known to use house paint on bedsheets for canvas. I've even painted on rocks, for lack of proper medium to paint on... but sometimes you just gotta do it! 

*      Supplies - stock up on paint. 
Most-used colors, IN THIS ORDER: black, white, creamy whites (those are all ‘craft colors’), raw umber, burnt umber, gold tinted browns  Forest green, red, and Payne’s gray (a blue-tinted gray rather than a black-tinted gray).
Oh, and if I do any sky, I’ll need cobalt and ‘Vermillion’, which is a very old-fashioned pink-tinted red – I really hate mixing that one up from scratch.

It's funny, but I bet I use the 'ugliest' color: raw umber, more than any other color. It mutes the brightness of other colors, it shades colors (shadowing without using black), and it is a common color in nature (dirt, bark). Of course, I never paint snow, lol.
It makes me wonder what color or colors OTHER painters use most! 

I often use crafting paints in conjunction with 'Artist’ acrylic paints
The colors I hate shopping for most are greens!
I always avoided them until moving to the big open prairie farm land...

(my first prairie farmland painting - in progress last year)

I really need a couple of TINY detail brushes with flat diagonal tops and pointed tips – but I can cut some brushes down. Most painters end up doing this for all kinds of reasons, lol.

*      Prep the work area (floor cover, vision board or mock-ups, cleaning and texturing supplies, music, lighting…)

*      Begin with two paintings at once, and as one is finished start up a new one to keep the momentum going. Seeing them finished is hugely motivating to finish the next one in line…This will be a new tactic I have not yet tried (but it works well with writing!)

*      Determine the time of day to work when creative flow exists.

I like the sense of serenity that comes in mid-afternoon. Sometimes it’s a too hot then and I like early morning, so seasons play into what time of day works best, as well as the natural lighting —it might correlate best  with the early white light from the East, or the late afternoon western glow that suspends time, permeates the reality of the moment. It changes with the warmth of the season, and the slant of the sun.

Painting is really a kind of meditative 'work' experience. I like listening to the low rumble of Gregorian chants or beautiful ‘epic’ music. 
For an ethereal kind of inspirational music to play for ambiance while doing art... I highly recommend: Ivan Torrent - Before I Leave This World 

No matter how awesome background music is, there comes a point where you don't hear it; when you begin really listening to the canvas and talking back to it without words. 
Sometimes it’s like having a deep conversation with the Universe (some people say it's a spiritual experience).  

If you have ever let yourself get rusty, you understand that the opposite of that is a kind of tortuous event you have to force yourself thru.....
I assume it will take a while to awaken my rusty skills, and enable the give and take of ‘conversation’. As much as I love to see the colors blend into a picture under the brush, the idea of mixing paints fills me with a kind of dread.

It is nearly the same as facing writer's block (or a white page) when starting a story. 

I allow myself to write in one unbroken segment of 3 hours, then I call it done (for the day) unless the muse has really inspired me. In that case, I can go on far into the night.
I once painting for 15 hours straight. I'm not in a hurry to do that again, but sometimes a kind of fury actually pushes the process. Ok, call me cray-cray, but I just bet it's happened to other painters and writers out there!

I would truly love to see what you are working on...or how you go about dreaming and scheming up your own artistic projects...

If it isn't something you've considered before, let me offer one more encouragement with these Project Planner templates:

Projects and Goals for 2016 (pt 2.) Brainstorming for Sewing a New Wardrobe

Last post, I promised to share more projects - my painting agenda and sewing schedules... 

I'll just focus on the sewing part of in this post. (My posts can get pretty longwinded, so I'm attempting to remediate that by sticking to one topic at a time.)

*This is a test-run with very limited sewing skills, so I assume it’s going need tweaking. Maybe not everything will work, but I'll try new things when the old way doesn’t work for me! I also have to GET all the materials, but at least I'll be ready! 

I AM currently sewing up doll outfits to practice. 
I am discovering the real me: that I am a LAZY seamstress! 
I cut corners and I don't care if the threads don't match and things like that! 

Goal: determine clothing needs and then develop a sewing schedule to build a simple wardrobe ~
I used Brainstorming (my creation process) to determine the Goal parameters~

The humidity is outrageous here. After enduring my first summer here (with air conditioning), I decided that I needed to do something about an appropriate wardrobe.

I spent an afternoon looking at the “clothing capsule” concept. This is hugely popular in the UK!
It seems like a very practical idea – using a limited # of clothing items and mix x matching them in different ways to attain variety. (Saving money and time deciding what to wear).

Most of the ‘capsules’ I noted, were related to changing an office dress into multiple ways to wear the same thing at work – or creating ‘evening attire/night on the town’ fashions by dressing up the basics with accessories.
These capsules included several pair of fashionable shoes to mix & match, and other such things. Things that are not at all going to fit into my lifestyle… but the overall concept still works in practicality.

These are lean times, and it’s practical to think in terms of more variable outfits from less pieces of clothing- but I didn’t really go that far.
I created a list of basics that I want available to wear for the summer months.

Define a style that will work for me, that I LIKE  &  build a new wardrobe from scratch. A “Basic Hot Weather” wardrobe, including sleepwear! 
(That’s technically not part of a clothing capsule, which usually does include shoes - an example being wearing one dress 3 ways, where you would include the shoes to dress it up or down or for work).

My final aim is:
-make 3 patterns well, so that I can make something in a two-hour session (including cutting and ironing)
- make the same pattern several times over without it looking like it’s obviously the same design (use diff. trim, sleeves or neckline, etc.)
-have the sewing skill that gives me the ability to expand my wardrobe (things I can’t find to buy or afford).
 Ideally this would include:
        - several one-piece culotte sets in flower prints (for nice sunny days)
        - several wrap dresses, in solid colors
        - plaids for winter wear (I love plaid and lace together)

I intend to further develop clothes
- practicing on various materials (thrift stores/yard sales)
- collect lots of second-hand knitwear to re-fashion (for winter wear later on )
- collect oversized t-shirts to re-fashion into workout clothes (and doll clothes, but that is a separate agenda)

1.    I collected everything that inspired me
2.    Then, I kept only what I could reasonable assume sewing up.
3.    I divided that into practical outerwear and things I can layer.

I also have a .doc with examples of lengths for tops, sleeves and necklines (because those matters to me a lot).

I listed the elements I really like and want to wear.

-Once I collected a big pile of pictures and the list of elements, I roughly divided them up into ‘themes’ of work wear and casual.
Some items I only liked the color – or the sleeves or the neckline, or the applique. I snipped them down to the fabric/color/pattern or whatever else seemed useful.
Some of it was too frilly or just impractical.
Or impossible to sew up (unless I increase in skills). I separated those into the “revamp” pile – to use as inspirational ideas when working with clothing I’m retro-fitting. The others will simply have to be purchased.

Considerations in determining what patterns will work for me (remember, limited skills…)
I chose only what I think I would wear, and possess the ability of sewing up.
Small pile. LOL

Over the years I have kept 2 tops that were especially appealing to me, comfortable in humid heat, and fairly simple patterns to USE as pattern pieces.
I will start with trying to dismantle them for patterns I can trace. 

I considered what I might need for an office job outside the home. Lots of dresses. I decided to go with simple pull-over styles (A-frames) and wrap-around templates, but did not build dresses or skirts into this particular sewing schedule. 

I considered how miserable humid days were when dressed in cottons (t-shirts and jeans), and I will avoid that fabric like the plague. 
You know, you can wash and wear your clothes here in Minnesota - just lather with soap and walk around... Or, take a shower without ever getting undressed! LOL.

I considered what I like in relation to being ‘a country girl’ with chickens I would visit 6 or 5 times a day… as something that demands function! 
If you can work fashion into that, PLEASE SHARE!

BUT until I have chickens and gardens to tend to, the more day-tripping artistic and feminine styles win out. *Lace and sheer fabrics just don't like going in a chicken coop.
We plan on visiting the Farmer's Market every week, and we live between lakes and rivers... so I do plan to get out!
And, it would be ok if some of the items made it into my professional wardrobe. 

Personal Color Observations:
--I like gold jewelry but it doesn’t show well on me – so I wear silver exclusively.
***I actually wear jewelry only 2x a year, so this is misleading. IF I do wear it, it’s silver.

--I look washed out in pastels. It might be ok with a tan at the end of summer…if I got outside enough. That’s unlikely.
*strawberry pink is a pastel – I like it and will wear it anyway.
--Some yellows really attract me, but that’s not to say I look good in it).
--I look jaundiced in most greens, yellow, orange, rust, burgundy, maroon, and anything with an orange tint. When I wear these colors, I FEEL sick. In fact, I find that just seeing these colors is repulsive!
--To be comfortable, I wear neutrals or blue-based (cool) tones.
I don’t like pure jewel-toned (pure) colors - I prefer colors to be softened/faded/muted; this is a STRONG preference!  

--My preferred basic colors could be considered neutrals:
Bluejeans and dark blues
cream (but NOT white or almond)
grays to browns (not camel or beige or tan)

--My preferred accent colors (is a range of tones):
blush to rose, cranberry (least fav) to raspberry, pure red to dark red, mauve to plum (fav), and violets to purples
*olive greens ok & blue-greens ok (hey, that is a rare color!)

List of basics that I want:
- 2 sleepwear outfits (thin/soft cotton). I’m thinking of those cute little pantaloons with a loose spaghetti-strap tank. *these are not technically part of the ‘capsule’, I just need PJ’s that will work when it’s hot & muggy.
- 8 loose tops that I can wear during a HOT MUGGY WEATHER:
- a simple, semi-fitted top with not a lot of seamwork
                         - cap sleeves
- a two-layer shirt with sheer fabric (sturdy like cotton voile)
- A-frame longer top (with thin fabric that drapes like very soft pillow cases) – with:
                        - ruffle cap sleeves
                        - gathered shoulders with scalloped neckline
- 2 culottes sets (mid-thigh shorts) *These obviously can’t be used in the clothing capsule ‘mix’, but I hate capris, so this is a compromise.
- 2 shorts (loose jogging style w/ heavy-weight lace trim)
- 6 white ankle socks with soft lace trim
- 2 lace trimmed tees in soft washed linen/cotton gauze
If you are thinking of sewing up a storm, many more ideas and tutorials from Donnatella.
I guess culottes are called 'rompers' now, even in the U.S...
And here's a 'wrap' skirt (not on my current list, just my 'someday' list)
(a good lounge around, going out, or PJ top!)

I am just now learning what fabrics. If you are learning, like I am, here's some good info...

And there are many more resources I used - the internet is such a gift for supplies and learning!

fabric plans for each project/outfit: 

- cool thin cotton blends for summer wear (mostly solid colors, with some flowery prints)
- cotton voiles (Voile is a soft, sheer fabric, usually made of 100% cotton or cotton          blends including linen or polyester. The term is French, and means veil.)
- soft washed linen cotton gauze or muslin
-Viscose blends
sheer fabrics that don't fray
- eyelet laces (with scalloped edge, for extensions) in cream 
- stretch laces 
heavy crocheted lace ribbon trims, a soft lace (with scalloped edge) 
-a cream eyelet and a cream sturdy and/or stretch lace (with scalloped edge) for size extensions on current wardrobe
- other trims

♥ To create a project outline, use an Outline template.
♥ Use a working title (like Sewing Project or Capsule Wardrobe Makeover...)
♥ Identify the major tasks needed to accomplish the project, and break down the smaller tasks required to complete the larger ones....
♥ List all the possible tasks first, (if you know what they are, which I don't, so I'm sort of limited in the lingo. But I know: "baste the hemline", "sew up the botton-holes", and "pin the fabric to the pattern"...)
♥ Then to create a detailed task list, place tasks in the appropriate order - in successive steps.  
     >To create task dependencies, list the task as a sub-task of the prioritized task< like this.
Because you have to do things in the right order.

OK so assuming I gathered up armloads of fabric...

A Sewing Schedule~
3 months to a wardrobe I can comfortably live in for at least a season of 6 months.

Sew up 1 item each week for 12 weeks (3 months)
Made easier by choosing a slightly different version of the basic patterns and doubling up on them (2 of each thing mentioned above), each a diff. color, texture, trim, sleeve or length – a small difference.

Thereafter, sew up 6- 8 new pieces for hot-weather wear during the cold off-seasons. That is, sewing or re-fashioning 1-2 pieces of clothing each month (will need to replace some things after 6 months of wear and tear, this gives time to sew them up).
Now I just need materials....

I love lists, but sometimes a list doesn't cut it. 
I also  like  NEED to have a visual reference, especially when I don't know what I'm doing. Remember, this is like putting together IKEA furniture for me. 
I and love the idea of being able to see the plans all at once iun list form, but just as some things are appropriate for a 'collage', that's not helpful for organizing a project like this. 

To control this project better, I’ll take a screen capture of examples for each pattern I plan to sew, as a ‘visual'. I'll create a 'master list’ of the patterns and detailed items.
(perhaps a photo of the scalloped edges I want along the bottom of the garment, or the neckline that I want -such as 'v' shaped...or anything else that helps define the piece).

♥ Master List: Each pattern/item will have a ‘project #’, and list of what’s needed to complete it. (If I have 12 tops to sew up, then there will be projects 1 - 12)
I can print that master sheet off - with it's checklist for each garment....
and cross off ‘items needed’ as they are acquired
and  cross off the project # as it’s completed.

♥ From that master list I’ll also copy each image onto its own page, with the list of things needed to complete that project (fabric, yardage, buttons, zipper, lace, elastic, thread) and pin it to a hanger.

♥ On the hanger will hang a plastic bag, so that the acquired items to make each thing will go into that plastic bag.
For easy reference, the bag will be marked with the “project #” which coincides to the master list.

♥ Each hanger will be there in the closet, impossible to lose and easy to access.

♥ The master list will be in my "Farmhouse" binder under "Projects". 
That’ll make it easy to gather what I need for each project, and I won’t mix things up between the projects or forget what I was going to do with that… 

Did I cover everything? 

RE: making a fashion 'statement' or a professional 'look' (for you fashionistas who might be reading this)-  I find this a somewhat difficult concept.
Like an apron makes a baker LOOK like a baker, business attire makes people LOOK like they fit their profession/job. I think wearing overalls would/could make a similar statement should I be selling veggies at the Farmer’s Market! 
But maybe a bandana scarf would suffice. 
Or a hat. 
Would I need both? Would I have to go so far as to wear them with a pair of boots? There IS a difference after all between cute and clown. Or maybe the more correct terms are 'understated' and 'overstated'... 
...but the questions remains: how much is enough, can it be too much, and how can you know?

LOTS of Questions for YOU~
---How do you determine your favorite put-together outfit? (A cowboy wears jeans, boots, hat and a long-sleeved shirt... but what about a short-sleeved polo shirt, or Dockers pants instead? Would he still manage to portray a 'cowboy' look that bespeaks his profession - or would you think his day job is a computer-repair guy?)
---Do you try to match things up or is everything you have pretty well 'same colors' that can be pretty well mixed and matched no matter what?
---Do you ever build your days' choice around a pair of shoes or boots (as a reason to wear said shoes or boots)?  
---Do you have the right clothes for your lifestyle- or could that use fine-tuning? 
---If YOU had to show an example of one outfit that expresses who you are/what you are about, could you do it with what you have?
---If you had to choose one outfit to represent you (or what you are doing), what would it look like? How different is that from what you wear normally? 
 ---Have you ever considered creating a wardrobe 'style'? (Not just made of things that are off the store racks).
---Do you/have you experienced this as part of your career attire/office job attire that you have to emulate? Did you/did ever want to deviate from the norm in some way?
---Do you have separate 'capsules' for the various focuses of life (work, play, leisure, etc.)? What are the main differences? (fabric types, how things fit, style, color range?)
---If your financial resources are/were limited, how would YOU go about planning a wardrobe and attaining it? 

---Has this been at all helpful? 
---What are your concerns with dressing right/better, or with clothing?

Have fun turning your dreams into your real life!