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 décor- 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:

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