Do you have an interest in telling your family history through mixed media collage art? I have just the course for you! It’s called, Your Family Story through Collage art and will begin on May 4th from 6-8pm at the Adams County Arts Council in Gettysbn. Take your artwork to the next level and create content-based work that tells a story, using a variety of media such as photography from your family collection, old drawings, card stock, acrylic paint, charcoal, and more! We will upcycle old sketches from your sketchbook to create new and unique artwork! Click here to learn more: https://www.adamsarts.org/portfolio-item/your-family-story-through-collage-art/.
Hello family, friends, and fans,
This is an archived blog post that I edited today, but the artwork that accompanies it is fresh. It’s a mixed media art collage that tells a story about my family history, growing up in a rural area of Howard County, MD.
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. After several cups of coffee and a long walk around my neighborhood, I set out to start a cat portrait I have wanted to work on for a while. I set my timer for 25 minutes and 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. 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 are made up of simpler shapes and less precise in their proportions than animals and people.
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, which 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 on that theme usually ensues when he finds my rejected art. At this point, the amount of unsatisfactory art and even uncompleted art is starting to grow and I am wondering what should I do with all of this stuff? Give it away to friends/family, donate it to Goodwill, toss or recycle it, or if I am liking this idea more, try to finish the unfinished art and post about it to keep myself accountable. And finally, what about those unsatisfactory pieces that I would otherwise throw away? Can they find a new life in my sketchbook, or in a mixed media piece? In one of my latest collages, I did just that, up-cycled old sketches into a totally new piece! It was so much fun and really got my creative juices flowing! This brings me to another point, I wanted to share that plans are in the works to teach a course that teaches you how to upcycle your old sketches and ephemera and tell your family story through narrative art. I will let you know when the details get finalized!
I am slowly making progress toward my goal of making 20 new artworks based on poetry quotes. When complete, I am hoping to submit them as a portfolio to apply to graduate school for a masters in fine art, so I can teach college-level art classes. Over the past few weeks, I have been noticing a thread of common themes, one of which is my childhood. For some its a time of nostalgia, and for others, something to forget. For me, its a mixed bag, and the few memories I have from early childhood are fragmented, with few details. I took inspiration for this piece from many personal photos and from Billy Collin’s poem, Forgetfulness. The piece was created in stages with gouache sepia-toned paints, acrylic paints, gesso, and soft pastel with a limited color palette.
I took additional inspiration from this artwork by searching for poems written about the subject of forgetfulness. I found this gem of a quote from Billy Collin’s poem, “Forgetfulness,” “As if one by one, the memories you used to harbor decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain, to a little fishing village with no phones.” Though the poem does not specifically address the issue of childhood amnesia, I felt it captured the feeling that memories are unstable and sometimes inaccessible.
I can remember small details, like elementary school book fairs, and my love of reading, library visits with my father, and being outdoors a lot on my favorite tire swing. However, more specific details have been more difficult to access, such as specific memories of how I got along with my sisters, who were many years older. It’s as if a giant hand has wiped out these memories, and without the aid of family photos and my mother’s memories, I would really be at a loss. All of this inspired me to make a pastel and gouache collage based on family photos of things I can no longer remember. This series has been a marathon, and a mirror, endless practice, mistakes, and setbacks. And all the while, it’s holding up a mirror to all of the weaknesses I have as an artist, especially in figure drawing and composition. How I wish I had paid more attention to figure drawing class as an art student! So, whatever the outcome of this series might be, getting into graduate school or not, it has been a journey chock full of lessons and opportunities to grow as an artist. Thanks for reading!
Acrylic on Canvas
8 x 10 inches
$150 (Buy Now on my Etsy website: https://www.etsy.com/listing/544230740/rooster-hen-and-chick?ref=shop_home_active_5
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!
Here is my completed oil painting of the week. This work features a portrait of my dad and his first wife, Phyllis when they were newly married in the early 1950s. It is based on an old black and white photograph that I found when I was cleaning out my dad’s house while he was in the Assisted Living facility back in 2011. I used the photo as a jumping off point for the composition and drawing but used my imagination when choosing the color palette, to create a color harmony of complementary colors of orange and blue, and yellow and violet. My painting is based on a series of oil paintings that I completed about my father’s life, based on family photos from different times in his life from childhood to young adult, to older adult to help process my grief during his series of strokes and hospitalization. I found that painting could provide a safe refuge for me when most days were uncertain and chaotic as I waited to get text messages, emails or phone updates on my dad’s health from family members, and tried to “keep it together” so I could get on with my daily life activities, like cooking, cleaning, going to work, and just getting out of bed every morning. The painting, Dad and Phyllis, are available for sale on my Etsy page: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ArtofSchmidt?ref=seller-platform-mcnav.
Title: Dad and Phyllis
Medium: Oil on Canvas Panel
Size: 9 x 12 inches
Item has been custom framed so it’s ready to hang on your wall!