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Artists: What Should You Do with Unfinished Work?

It all started with a bad day

It was a tough day in the art studio today. I woke up this morning with very little energy; however, I was determined to make time for art regardless of my lethargic state. Several cups of coffee and a long walk around my neighborhood later, I was ready to begin. I set out to start a cat portrait I have wanted to work on for a while from one of my art technique books. I set my timer for 25 minutes and I started drawing from an art demonstration book. Suffice it to say, the drawing did not go well, at all, despite several attempts to get the proportions of the cat’s body correct. Each attempt just brought on more feelings of frustration. After the third attempt, I finally gave up and put my supplies away and went to do something else, probably laundry or reading a book. After working on the cat portrait, I realized that I am really out of practice when it comes to doing animal portraits, as I have been focusing a lot more on floral subjects, which is made up of simpler shapes and less precise in their proportions than animals and people. And I realized that I needed to practice drawing much more often like I did last summer when I completed a drawing challenge, 100 Faces in 100 days, which featured celebrity portraits.

What I observed from the day

I tried not to beat myself up about it, or obsess about what my failure to meet my expectations might mean, but I think that this drawing might end up in the growing pile of unfinished artworks. This observation brings me to today’s topic, which is, what to do with your unfinished artwork. As I mentioned in a previous post, I have several unfinished or unsatisfactory art projects residing in my art studios, such as pastels, drawings, watercolors and some oil paintings that did not turn out as I had envisioned. This makes me wonder, what should I do with this collection of art misfits? Earlier last week, I serendipitously found the article, “50 Ways to Use Your Unfinished Art,” by Carrie, on https://www.artiststrong.com/50-ways-to-use-your-unfinnished-art/.

What I have done in the past with unsatisfactory art

In the past, I have usually tried to resolve issues with unfinished artwork, sometimes starting over from scratch; i.e. creating a brand new drawing on a new substrate and re-surfacing the canvas by sanding it with heavy grit sandpaper so it can be re-gessoed. Other days, when I am more desperate or frustrated, I throw it in the trash, never to be seen again. Unless of course, my husband gets to it before I take out the trash. In which case, he fishes it out and says, ‘Why did you throw this away?” Or, some variation upon that theme usually ensues when he finds my rejected art. Ok, so now on to some information I would like to share with you about the article I read, “50 ways to Use Your Unfinished Art.” Here are a few highlights from the article.

  • Take a photo of the artwork and “”manipulate the photos” to re-design it. Adobe PhotoShop is a good photo editing program to try for this option, with editing tools such as cropping, filters, light and dark balance, and photo filters. The possibilities here are really endless!
  • “Abandoned art project, anyone?” (Source: 50 Ways to Use Your Unfinished Art”)
  • Cut the artwork into pieces to construct a college. For example, the artist and author, Ann Blockley, has an excellent book, which describes this technique called, Experimental Landscapes in Watercolor, and it’s available on Amazon.com.
  • Cut the artwork and create a background for another piece of art.
  • Select a completely different art medium to finish the art. For instance, make it a mixed media piece.Amazon.com or your local library will probably have lots of books on mixed media art from which you can gain inspiration and techniques.
  • Re-use it in a reconditioned item of furniture.
  • Create a tray from your art using epoxy.
  • Throw the painting away-if it makes you feel better.
  • Take a break from it for two weeks or a month, to get some objectivity about your work. After that, re-assess your incomplete work, but only complete the pieces that you feel led to work on, and let go of the ones you aren’t sure how to resolve.
  • Post a photo of your artwork in a community where artists give each other feedback, such as http://www.emptyeasel.com, and ask for help from others.
    Self-Portrait, unfinsihed, flat
    Self-Portrait, pastel on paper, 18 x 24 inches, 2014, Jodie Schmidt.

     

    German Shepherd, pastel, flat, final
    German Shepherd, pastel on paper, 18 x 24 inches, 2018, Jodie Schmidt.
    Lincoln, unfinished, flat
    Abraham Lincoln, oil on canvas, 9 x 12 inches, 2018, Jodie Schmidt.
    Apple Still Life with blue bottle, flat
    Apple Still Life, acrylic on canvas, 11 x 14 inches, 2017, Jodie Schmidt.

    Cows grazing, unfinsihed, flat
    Out to Pasture, oil on canvas, 11 x 14 inches, 2014, Jodie Schmidt.

 

Below are some links to websites that can help you get started with some of the techniques listed in this article, such as collage. Another website to visit for ideas on how to re-invent your art might include, youtube or Pinterest. YouTube is a great way to see techniques demonstrated, it’s almost as good as being in a class. Just be sure to look for art tutorials with narration so you can learn what techniques and materials the artists are using to make their work. It’s harder to figure that out with the speeded up variety called, time lapse. Thanks for stopping by! I hope this article is helpful to someone out there who is struggling to complete their art. I am definitely going to try out some of these techniques myself to try and complete some of my unfinished art, which is posted in this week’s blog! I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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Surviving and Thriving in a Creative Desert

Things I have tried to do to get creative again

As I mentioned in last week’s post, I have been struggling with artist’s block this summer. During this journey, I’ve tried various things to break out of it, such as: copying art demonstrations from art technique books, re-touching/re-working old paintings, and working in a prompt driven sketchbook. Unfortunately, the later project hasn’t been working out so great lately. I’ve been procrastinating on doing the daily prompts, and have felt uncertain as to which mediums to work in for the sketchbook pages, should it be watercolor, colored pencil, acrylic, gouache or something else that I use? I have been unhappy with the colored pencils because they take so long to build up color and tone and I want to get some momentum and finish the nature section so I can keep moving along. It’s also difficult to correct mistakes with this medium, and I am finding that a lot of my prompts are not living up to my expectations. All of which keeps me stuck in neutral, and not making new work consistently.

Some insights I have gained about my artist’s block

Maybe it’s also the heat of the summer, which seems extraordinarily hot, even for Maryland. Or perhaps it’s the dislocation I feel in adjusting to a new house, guilt (genuine or otherwise, about abandoning household chores to make time for art), or something else entirely. Whatever the cause, I want to come up with some solutions so I can move forward and make more art, and hopefully at least some of the pieces will turn out the way I envision or will be at least good enough to post on social media. This year there’s been a mix of both good paintings and some not so good paintings. The paintings I’m not happy with might get thrown out, or sanded and re-worked, depending on the state of the canvases. I feel dry and uninspired, and I feel I have reached the limit of my skill set in art. In fact, I feel I need more fuel for my creativity and knowledge base.

Tips for breaking through a creative block

While I am pondering these thoughts, I’d like to share some tips I picked up from an article, “How to Survive a Creative Slump,” by Our Daily Craft, on http://www.ourdailycraft.com/2017/02/21/survive-creative-slump, by Sarah White, February 21, 2017. A few suggestions that the author offers include: 1.) starting with a small creative project, 2.) working quickly, 3.) reading a book you enjoy, and 4.) organizing or cleaning something in your home.  For instance, the author suggested a few small projects to help jumpstart your creativity such as 1.) “sewing a cloth napkin,” 2.) “knitting a headband,” 3.) Paint on a 4 x 4-inch surface, or “writing a haiku.” (Source: ibid)  Since I am not particularly good at crafts or anything DIY, which I learned after re-finishing some furniture and all of my kitchen cabinets in my new home, I have settled on painting a 4 x 4-inch canvas of Canada Geese. I re-worked this miniature canvas in oil paints about a week ago, and I am fairly happy with the result. Another suggestion that the author makes is to re-visit old projects that you had left unfinished. (Source: ibid)  I certainly have a pile of unfinished works-such as unfinished drawings, pastels, and pages in my sketchbook where things just didn’t come together. Perhaps it would be a good problem-solving exercise to utilize my creativity.

In addition, the author also discussed making something quickly-which I’m not sure I would do

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This quote was obtained from the internet via a Google search, and no copyright infringement is intended.
Canada Goose trio,flat
Canada Geese Trio, oil on canvas, 4 x 4 inches, 2018, Jodie Schmidt.
Koi fish painting, flat
Koi Fish Group, acrylic on canvas, 5 x 7 inches, 2018, Jodie Schmidt. This is the first stage of this painting.
Koi group, flat
Koi Fish Group, acrylic on canvas, 5 x 7 inches, 2018, Jodie Schmidt. And this is the completed acrylic painting! 
Koi fish portrait, flat
Koi Fish portrait, acrylic, 4 x 6 inches, 2018, Jodie Schmidt. Pictured is stage 1 of this acrylic painting.
works in progress, flat
Here are some small value paintings of water lilies and a blank canvas. I’m not sure what the subject might be for this one yet.
small value paintings, flat
Close up of the water lily paintings in progress.
nature sketches 1, flat
Pictured is stage 1 of my dandelion sketches in colored pencil and pastel. I wasn’t happy with how these turned out, so I re-worked them in two subsequent stages, pictured here. These drawings are from my Julia Orkin-Lewis Sketchbook, Draw Every Day, Draw Every Way. 
Nature sketches, 2, flat
My first step to re-work these paintings was to cover up the areas I didn’t like with gesso and let it dry so I could re-paint with acrylic. I learned that colored pencil is really hard to get rid of if you make a mistake.
dandelions sketchbook flat
And my final two steps were to add another layer of gesso after the first layer had dried. Afterward, I re-painted the offending areas with Liquitex acrylic paint. However, I’m still not sure if I am happy with these sketches, but I don’t want to get stuck on them either. They are, after all, supposed to serve as ideas for completed future paintings.

since most of the problems I have had with my art have been poor planning. Another problem which leads to unsatisfactory art for me is not spending enough time checking the accuracy of the drawing, as unfortunately happened with my latest portrait of Lincoln, which I decided to re-work and re-draw with oil paints. Needless to say, it didn’t turn out that well. Maybe if I were an abstract painter I could get away with a more intuitive approach to painting, than a more structured one with specific steps, but I am not. Since I am a more traditional painter, I am sticking with what works for me, which is starting with a drawing, adding three values in pencil to the sketch, and then making a colored sketch to base the final painting upon. Unfortunately, the more I tried to fix the drawing, the worse it got. In the end, I finally decided to abandon it, and start with a new sketch on a totally different substrate on a larger scale. It hasn’t become a painting yet, but I think I identified some drawing errors in the painting, by making a new sketch.

However, one thing I do want to try is to read a novel, article, or poem, to try and get some new ideas flowing. Some of my best works have been inspired by the poetry of Dickinson and Frost. Maybe reading literature will also help me to become a better writer and get me out o this writer’s block I seem to be assailed with lately. How about you? Do you have any suggestions for breaking out of a creative rut? I’d love to hear! Just post in the comments section of this blog. Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

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I’m taking a break from blogging

Hi Friends, Family, and Followers,

I am taking a break from blogging on my Art of Schmidt site until life calms down a little. I’ve been juggling an art show deadline that’s looming and the art hasn’t been coming

Stopping by the Woods, one point
Stopping by the Woods, Mixed Media, 2018, Jodie Schmidt.

together, and some health issues. I hope to get back to blogging more frequently after the art show opening, On and Off the Wall at the Artists Gallery in Frederick, MD. I will be joined by many local artists who work in a variety of media. All art will be for sale via silent auction and proceeds will help raise funds for the continuation of the gallery, which is operated exclusively by artists. For now, here are some progress photos of my box entry, Stopping by the Woods. Here is a link to the art show if you want to know more about it:Box Side 2_edited-1Box Side 3_edited-1, finalBox Side 4_edited-1 http://www.theartistsgalleryfrederick.com/march-2018-box-show.

In my next post, I hope to show you the completed project, but for now, I am still figuring out how to bring it to a successful conclusion. I was not happy with how the sides of the box turned out, so I  am re-doing them from scratch in Photoshop. Next week, I hope to transfer these images to the box and paint the panels in Acrylic. Here are the Photoshop files in progress that will be displayed on the other sides of the box. The box is based on the poem, Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening, by Robert Frost. I love this poem because it is so mysterious. Is he talking about death, life, or the push and pull between responsibilities and dreaming, when he stops to admire the snowy woods, but then decides that he has other things to get back to at the end of the poem when he says he has “miles to go before I sleep”. I think the poem can be open to many interpretations and that’s what makes it interesting. Thanks for stopping by!

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Administrative Aspects of Being an Artist: Writing a Newsletter

Hello Friends, I apologize for my lack of blog posts lately. This past year I had several art shows such as the Frederick Coffee Company in Frederick, MD, as well as my Studio Sale at my home. These events were great opportunities to share my art with others and connect with faces both new and well known. However, I really got behind on some of the administrative aspects of my art business such as cataloging, adding new items to my commerce shops, and keeping up with my profit and loss sheet. I also created lots of new portraits in my 100 Faces in 100 days challenge which took up a lot of time. This past month, I  also had some new tasks to take on while my mom has been recovering from shoulder replacement surgery.

So now I am trying to catch up on these neglected tasks. as a result, my posts might be less frequent and you may see some blog posts from my archives. I hope to be more caught up in these administrative tasks by next January so I can post more often. Today I am featuring a blog post which showcases my latest email newsletter for Art of Schmidt. This issue has a short segment about my latest painting series, Voices,

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and Visions, in which I illustrate poetry, quotes and song lyrics in mixed media and acrylic. Thank you for stopping by! If you would like to subscribe to my email newsletter for Art of Schmidt, just send an email request to jsjschmidt2@gmail.com.

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Paintings of the Week: Catoctin Mountain State Park Landscapes

Have you ever heard the saying, that writers should write about what they know? I am taking that axiom and applying it to the artwork that I create. This week’s offering features two acrylic mini-canvases of two scenes from a nearby park called Catoctin State Park in Thurmont, MD, just minutes away from my apartment. I have lived in the Thurmont/Sabillasville area in Maryland for about 10 years and have visited the Catoctin State Park many times with my husband, family, and friends.

About 4 years ago, I spent a day photographing different views of this park on a cool, Autumn day when Maryland had a genuine colorful, fall. It’s taken me four years to turn my photos into paintings, but better late than never right? In these works, I sought to capture the quiet beauty and colorful foliage of the park. As always, my work

Acrylic painting, Catoctin State Park, Autumn, landscapes
These are two completed acrylic paintings on miniature canvases.

is defined by color and light and how each element interacts and affect each other. My style is loose and impressionistic, and I use my photos as a jumping off point for these landscapes. To purchase, Wolf Rock, acrylic on canvas, 3 x 2 inches, 2017, (right) visit https://www.etsy.com/listing/565427233/wolf-rock-catoctin-state-park?ref=listing_published_alert. To purchase, Along the Path, acrylic on canvas, 3 x 2 inches, 2017, (left), visit https://www.etsy.com/listing/551631770/along-the-path?ref=shop_home_active_1. To see what other items are for sale, visit: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ArtofSchmidt?ref=l2-shopheader-name.

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What is the Creative Process?

I am writing about the creative process this week in an attempt to provide a behind the scenes view of what it takes for me to bring an idea to a realized concept and finally a completed painting or drawing.  My inspiration for this blog post comes from an article by Amanda Truscott, entitled, This is What Creative Inspiration Really Looks Like, on www.skinnyartist.com.  I believe inspiration, or what the Greeks termed, “the Muse” is something which must be sought after in order to be found. Although it may seem to be a sudden insight, in my experience, it is not an isolated light bulb moment. Sometimes, indeed often, bringing my artistic visions to life it is the result of a hard-won battle of trying out different ideas in sketches, paintings, etc., to test out a compositional idea or a color scheme. Sometimes these ideas work, and sometimes they don’t and I need to make more revisions to the color schemes, composition, etc., to make it a successful artwork. Other times, I have to start over the painting from scratch.

For example, in my ongoing poetry illustration series, Voices and Visions, it has been a combination of hunting for inspiring poems to illustrate; these poems need to have some visual imagery and themes that lend themselves to storytelling, in order for me to consider them as potential candidates. So far, I have found a few poems written by Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and T.S. Eliot, whose works have several identifiable themes such as hope, time, and the artificiality of modern life. After reading the poems, I researched literary criticisms to identify possible themes that seem to suggest a story or feeling which I  translated visually through specific symbols or color schemes. I followed up these steps by looking for artwork by artists whose artwork has a narrative theme, such as Jacob Lawrence, Faith Ringgold, and Andrew Wyeth. When I found artwork that inspires, I pasted it into a sketchbook for future reference. Finally, after these steps have been completed, I created a photo collage in Adobe Photoshop of found images that I locate online and modify in Photoshop by creating several layers and layer masks. When I was pleased with the composition in my Photoshop files, I printed them out to scale, and then traced them onto my substrate of choice using carbon paper and pen, usually to cotton duck canvas or cold press watercolor paper. The painting is then completed in watercolor paints or acrylic or mixed media. Finally, I worked on the painting for 1-2 weeks, making revisions as I painted.

In addition, the backbone of the creative process for me is always the deliberate practice of the fundamentals of art, such as drawing or painting, so that when I finally find that intersection between deliberate practice and purposeful searching for inspiration, everything clicks. Although this process may seem instantaneous to others who were not there to watch the process, or read my blog posts, it is a painstaking process. It is not simply talent which I was born with that brings my visions and goals to life, it is a decision followed by a series of actions. It takes willpower and self-discipline to practice drawing and painting every week, and to continually seek out artistic inspiration through Pinterest searches, reading art books, watching documentaries about artists on youtube, reading poetry books, literary criticism, creating inspiration sketchbooks, etc. Moreover, it takes grit and determination to stick with a painting even when it goes wrong, and to figure out what went wrong so that I can critique the artwork

and decide what strategy to pursue to make the artwork sing.

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Painting of the Week: Rooster, Hen, and Chick

Hello friends, family, and visitors,

I am posting a recently completed, acrylic painting, Rooster, Hen, and Chick. In a manner similar to my commissioned work, I started with a three step process. First, I decided on the composition and reduced the color photo referenced to three values in black, gray and white. After that, I began painting in the local colors, or the colors that I actually saw in the photo. Lastly, I did some problem solving with the composition by changing the arrangement of the chickens and by adding a baby chick to balance out the composition and fill in the empty space. The painting is available for sale on my Etsy site: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ArtofSchmidt?ref=seller-platform-mcnav. I will also be adding this painting to my Red Bubble site tonight so that it will be available in a variety of formats such as coffee mugs and fine art prints! Thanks for looking!Rooster, Hen, Chick