Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I got this email question...
Dear Melody,
I’d love to hear more about what makes you happy about a particular painting.
I’d also love to know why you decided to paint the more representation items you’ve been painting now. (And I’m thinking that lots of other quilter blog readers out there would also find this interesting). As someone with no formal art training (except all that I receive from you!), I don’t know how to look at a representational painting. (Well, I know how to look – with my eyes, but you know…)
Simple questions with complicated answers.
To begin, I got entranced with the painting a day people like Duane Keiser and Carol Marine. The discipline appealed to me, and as you may remember I did do a quilt a day for a while and loved that too. I like to make something and have it sell ( encouragement) and saw that these painters were doing that too. It was thrilling to think that people would buy my paintings like they bought my quilts, and I could do that at home and not have to travel or have a booth or go to art fairs or deal with galleries. What could be better?
I noticed that the daily painters did mostly 6x6" paintings of one or two objects and I did a few but since I had larger canvases, like 12x12 and decided that I could do more than one or two items per painting, and offer more.
Initially I also wanted to paint looser, which I am getting better at, but some paintings end up much tighter and more exact. Sometimes I want to get each detail perfected...because I can. When there is a reflection in a smooth surface I definitely have to work tighter to get that image right. It is a challenge. I love the challenge. But then I am also challenged by the looser techniques.
It is a back and forth kind of approach.
I chose to do the still life fruit and veggies for the color and because they are available now. As a result I have a commission for a set of 16 which I will begin this week, as soon as the canvases arrive. Because that will be a long commission I decided to paint Splurge as a diversion, and see what happens. I still have lots of big blank canvases in my garage.
OK the last question: how to look at a representational painting. What has art training got to do with anything? If you like it, you like it. If not, you don't.
This is what irks me about what people think about art. It's as tho it is a secret code or something. Geesh.
And art school...HA! Let me get on my soapbox for a minute. I have a BA in painting and an MA in Fiber and art school is how I got them. And with them I have credentials. Not much else.
Visual art is like music, when you see it a visceral thing happens and if you respond you know why. You feel it.
For me, I get a thrill when I see some paintings and wish I had painted them. And when I make something that does that to me, it is priceless. Of course, I will sell it. I am not sentimental. Art is to be shared.
I hope that helps.


  1. Anonymous10:05 AM

    I'm so glad to hear that it IS just that simple! Thanks for again de-mystifying the art world.

    And...a commission for 16! WooHoo! What fun! TTFN - Candy in CA

  2. I have been inspired by you and others who seek to create something daily and try to do that as well. I too, don't get too senitimental over my pieces but like them shared. Now...onto someone buying them...that would be nice. :)

  3. Anonymous2:12 PM

    About representational painting--there is something really satisfying--to me, at least--about getting the light and the reflections and the outlines right. It helps me understand how it is that we see. And to create that illusion myself--Wow! It's exciting. This is one of the things I love about your representational paintings, Melody.

    (I took a painting class and got really excited by the photo-realists a couple of years ago. And have tried it myself, with moderate success.)

    Also, I may be wrong, but it seems to me that a lot of painters go through a realism phase, then move on to more stylized work. Picasso, for example. I can understand that--wanting to understand the light before messing with it, maybe.

    So go for it, Melody! It makes you happy, and it inspires a lot of us! (And I do love your abstract things too--the ginkos, the horses painting, the street series, the dyed silks.) Makes no difference to me whether it's a quilt or a painting.

    Mary G. in Chicago

  4. Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, Mrs. Mel.

    You have had such an interesting road to your art journey. It is so much fun to read about others' relationship with art.

    I have only been studying art for a short time, but have been studying the basic elements of design these past few years, and this has them all. It is simply smashing. I think I love this one as much as the artichoke, the onion, or shrooms, but in such a different way. I really really love this painting.

    ps: Hi Dave.

  5. Well said, Ms. Melody.

    from one who's painting sucks swamp water


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