Constructed Realities: Part 3, A Focus on My Childhood

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.

Childhood Collage memory loss, watermark
Childhood Memory Loss, Gouache and soft pastel, and acrylic paint, 16 x 13 inches, Jodie Schmidt, 2020. 

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! 

Constructed realities: Part 2, Taking stock of my progress.

Hello Friends, family, and fans, At long last, I am posting some progress photos of my series, Constructed realities. They are still mostly in the phase 2 stage of color sketches, but they are coming along. So many things seem to get in the way of making time for art, I have got to start making this more of a priority. I often wonder how other creative types, such as Jane Austen, made time to write so prodigiously despite overwhelming household chores that were required during the 19th century in a family without servants or modern conveniences. Even when she was dying she managed to crank out a new book, Sanitation, which was left unfinished because of her death.

The world is too much with us, with watermark
This poem is inspired by a poem by William Wordsworth, entitled The World is too Much with us, about the dangers of industrialization and how we may lose our connection with nature, and eventually with ourselves, due to greed. “The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers,;-Little we see in nature that is ours; We have given our souls away, a sordid boon! Wordsworth
The Dream of Time travel
Here is another mixed media piece in progress. It’s based on a fantasy I have about going back to being a child, as represented by the multiple figures that get smaller as you follow the path. Sometimes adulting is just too hard, and I long for carefree days full of energy, health, and creativity. Here is a quote from a writer Mary Oliver which nicely sums up this idea: “Sometimes the desire to be lost again, as long ago, comes over me like a vapor.” Mary Oliver
Gather Ye Rosebuds
This is an unfinished piece about the fleeting nature of time and youth. I have used several symbols to illustrate this, such as the clock and the grim reaper. The other supporting characters are myself and my husband, back when we were about 12 years younger. It’s about not letting too much time pass before you make important decisions. For us it was about getting married. The poem which inspired this piece states: “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old time is still a-flying, And this same flower that smiles today Tomorrow will be dying.” Robert Herrick, To the Virgins, Make Much of Time.
Anxiety collage, with green paint
This piece is about emotionality, and especially about anxiety. I used bright contrasting colors here to try and emphasize the jarring and explosive nature of anxiety and symptoms associated with it, which can easily turn your world upside down, difficulty breathing, making decisions, sleeping, avoidance behaviors, etc. Its a subject close to my heart, because I suffer from generalized anxiety disorder and have had to work very hard to not let it take over my life. Several of my family members have it too, hence the DNA strands. Here is a quote from Emily Dickinson that inspired it: “In this short Life that only lasts an hour How much- how- little is within our power.

Despite the obstacles of daily life, she made time to write. I hope I can follow her example and bring my passion, time, and energy into making art, no matter what obstacles I face. I am taking stock of my progress so far to try and gain some more objectivity about the work still to be done, and to see the progress in hopes that it will motivate me to make more art! As mentioned in earlier blog posts this series is based on quotes from poetry, and a small portion of the quote will be added to the artwork so you can get the gist of what feelings and moods I hoped to convey in these pieces.

Drawing and Value Sketches, The Saga Continues

Hello Readers, Friends, and Family,

I am including my revised artist statement for this series, which I have called Voices and Visions, but I am now calling Constructed Realities. I am finally getting into he value sketches and drawings, and its starting to slowly come together. But I still have a long way to go toward the final product. I’m not sure if they will be traditional oil paintings or mixed media pieces. Right now, I am looking for readers to let me know how my artist statement sounds, and if the artwork I am posting here, “matches” with it. If you could, post a comment on my website,  http://www.artofschmidt.com or Art of Schmidt Facebook page and let me know how this statement and artwork make you feel. I want to be sure that I am not too esoteric, and that everyone who reads it can understand what I hope to express in my art. Anxiety with watermarkThe World, flat_edited-2Value Sketches_edited-1Thanks!

Artist Statement for Constructed Realities

 

How does an idea for a painting get born? For me, it’s sometimes a memory being replayed, hearing a song lyric that resonates with me, reading a poem that lends itself to telling a story or visiting an inspiring art exhibit. This series of paintings focuses on the connection between the human condition and stories described in the written word, through poetry and song lyrics. The works may describe a feeling, such as a search for love, broken relationships, and homes, uncertainty, nostalgia about one’s childhood, wishes and desires, journeys, the modern world and industrialization, overcoming adversity, artist’s block, etc. These themes are described using metaphors and symbols, such as maps, industrialization, etc. In addition, limited. The color palette in oil paint, to keep the focus on the content of the artwork and not the color.

 

Two things have sparked this re-current theme about visual storytelling, and they are: 1.) An art class that I took at Frederick Community College, and 2.) Learning about art journals and mixed media artwork. In January of 2015, I took a drawing course at Frederick Community College in Frederick, MD. One of the final assignments I tackled was to illustrate a poem of my choice using pastels. A major challenge in this assignment was to find a poem that had some concrete images to illustrate. I chose Robert Frost’s poem, Ghost House, which has an abundance of concrete imagery. The first lines, “I dwell in a lonely house I know, that vanished nearly a summer ago, and left no trace but the cellar walls …”

(Frost) griped me with a strong visual picture. I immediately thought of a derelict house and I tried to create a narrative about this haunted house. Slowly, different images popped into my head, a derelict house, a ghost bride, a tree, a path, and some crows. To facilitate this process, I collected artwork that inspired me on Google image searches and checked out art technique books on vampires and fantasy creatures from the public library. To create this current body of work, I collected a notebook of images that inspired me, from Google searches or Pinterest, and stitching them together in PhotoShop to create unique compositions. Next, I read books on poetry or did Google searches to look for poems that lent themselves to visual depiction. Brief lines from the poems or songs which inspired these works are embedded within the works so that the viewer can make the connection between the imagery and words which inspired each work.

 

I then collaged various photos of the house, ghost bride, path, crows, landscape, etc. in Adobe Photoshop and printed out the collage on copier paper in the size in which I intended to create the artwork. The final step was to trace the image with carbon paper and Pen and to begin filling in the pastel paper with tones and shades of blue and purple pastels. Some of the poetry that has inspired this new series, entitled, Voices and Visions, are verses written by Emily Dickinson, William Wordsworth, Robert Frost, and T.S. Elliot, among others.

And my second inspirational spark to create this series is the art journaling movement. A new trend in popular culture is the concept of the art journal, in which the artist writes and illustrates specific things, feelings, seasons, etc., often in mixed media materials. According to mixed media artist, Dina Wakely, art journaling is a way to express your emotions through imagery and text, and no specific rules need to apply to this process. She also shares that the idea of art journaling is not a new one, and well-known artists, such as Leonardo Da Vinci, kept a series of notebooks. Like Dina, I find that creating narrative art can be a meaningful process, either to express difficult emotions such as sharing universal truths with others in

Much the same way as song lyrics do. In a similar fashion to the poets, Dickinson and Frost, songwriters such as The Cranberries, Sting, Shawn Colvin, U2, Roseanne Cash, Johnny Cash, and Coldplay, and many others have masterfully shared universal truths about love, loss, uncertainty, identity, depression, and loneliness. A good case in point is Sting’s song, Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot, an ode about uncertainty and the process of finding answers in the midst of it.

The Dream of Time Travel: Extreme Makeover

Voices and Visions: Work in Progress: Extreme Makeover

Make Time for Art

For the past two weeks, I have really been making an effort to make time to get into my art studio and work on my Voices and Visions series, every Thursday from 10 am-12 pm. It’s been challenging. I am focusing on finishing one piece of artwork that I started a few weeks ago, called, The Dream of Time Travel. This mixed media piece has gone through many changes and edits. I’ve subtracted some elements and added others trying to find the right composition and color scheme to express the emotions I want viewers to feel when looking at this artwork.

The Creative Process: Dream of Time Travel

And yet, I am still trying to figure out just what that feeling might be that I want the viewer to take away from my painting. Is it sadness, longing, discontent, or some other emotion? I feel that finding the answer to this question will be the key to solving the difficulties I have had with completing this piece in terms of composition, color choices and subject matter.

Extreme Makeover

I began making my edits on this piece by cutting up my color sketches in watercolor and adding other elements such as paint chips for the clouds. After that, I took more drastic measures, cutting out anything from the painting that did not add to the composition, seeking simplicity. Even after hours of work, I could see that I needed to start the whole project over from scratch, because some elements of the piece just didn’t work, especially the imaginary ones, like the road leading to the fairy tale book. I realized that trying to do a surrealist style in this work, and it just wasn’t working.

Back to the Drawing Board

After I realized that the piece was not working, I decided to start over from scratch and gather my own photo references of self-portraits and a landscape to combine them into a Photoshop collage. Then, after I had placed all of my photos into the collage, I began drawing the composition free hand, trying to make it the same scale as the photo reference. While I was working on this piece, I realized I need to draw more often, and that I had become too reliant on tracing photos for my art, rather than drawing from life or photo references. So, my new piece is a sketch that I still need to finish, but one that I think will be easier to complete as a painting.

 

The Takeaways from the Creative Process

Otherdream of travel with hands, flatdream of travel with flowers_edited-1dream of travel, landscape_edited-1, flatPhoto College Dream_edited-1Dream of Travel Version 2, sketch_edited-1 takeaways from this project are: 1.) Sometimes you just need to get started on art to make progress, even if you’re out of practice, 2.) Failed art pieces can be the springboard for new art, 3.) Simple compositions work best for me, 4.) I need to draw more often, 5.) Drawing from one’s imagination is really difficult, and perhaps I need to stick to a more realistic style, and 6.) I need to think about what emotion I want my viewers to feel from my artwork, which will influence my color and compositional choices. Through it all, I am learning that everything on my journey of creativity is useful to me and that good art can’t be rushed, not for me anyway.

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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Closing Night for On and Off the Wall Art Show at The Artists’ Gallery in Frederick, MD

Hello Friends, Fans, and Family,

This weekend is your last chance to bid on my box, Solitude, which illustrates the poem, Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening. The last night to bid is Saturday, March 24 from 5 pm-9 pm. So if you wanted to grab my box, here is your last chance! A perfect gift for people who love poetry, illustration and art. The link to the art gallery is

Solitude front of box, with watermark
Solitude, Mixed Media, 2018, Jodie Schmidt.
Solitude side of box, with watermark_edited-1
Solitude, Mixed Media, 2018, Jodie Schmidt.
On and Off the wall flier,jpg_edited-1
Flyer for On and Off the Wall, The Artists’ Gallery, Frederick, MD

http://www.theartistsgalleryfrederick.com/. I hope to see you there since I am not scheduled to work. Happy Thursday!

On and Off the Wall, Art Show at the Artists’ Gallery in Frederick, MD

Hello Friends, Family, and Fans,

Life for me has been pretty hectic, so some things like blogging have unfortunately been tabled for a while. Today, I wanted to share some photos I took of the On and Off the Wall Box show at The Artists’ Gallery in Frederick, MD. The show features a variety of local artists’ work in a variety of mediums in everything from sculpture, collage to oil painting, etc. Since I have been short on time, this blog post is more image heavy, rather than my usual, more thoughtful and wordy blog posts. Solitude is my completed mixed media box, which illustrates the poem, Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Night, by Robert Frost. Each panel features a vignette of a winter landscape with text from the poem, so viewers can easily make this connection between poetry and the illustration. All of the other images are works from other local artists.

Stay tuned for my next post, which will be on how artists can effectively deal with self-doubt. For today, enjoy the images of these amazing boxes. I was amazed by the creativity of these artworks and how each box was unique. If you want to learn more about the art show, visit: http://www.theartistsgalleryfrederick.com. All art is for sale at this show, and bids for the silent auction start at $100. Proceeds from the show will help ensure the continued operation of the Artists’ Gallery, which is owned and operated by local artists. These photos are just a small sample of the beautiful and inventive artwork which comprises this show. It’s so much better to see these works in person if you can. The gallery hours are Friday and  Saturday, (12 noon- 9 pm) and Sunday, (12 noon-5pm). The show will be displayed for the month of March.  Thanks for stopping by!

On and Off the wall flier,jpg_edited-1
Flyer for On and Off the Wall, The Artists’ Gallery, Frederick, MD
Solitude front of box, with watermark
Solitude, Mixed Media, 2018, Jodie Schmidt.
Solitude side of box, with watermark_edited-1
Solitude, Mixed Media, 2018, Jodie Schmidt.
gallery wall three with watermark, final
Light Box and Iguana Box, The Artists’ Gallery, Frederick, MD
gallery wall 4, with watermark, final
Icon and Geometric Collage, The Artists’ Gallery, Frederick, MD
gallery wall five, final
Animal Portraits, The Artists’ Gallery, Frederick, MD
light horse lamp, with watermark, final
Light Horses Lamp, The Artists’ Gallery, Frederick, MD
lady liberty collage, with watermark, final
Lady Liberty Collage, The Artists’ Gallery, Frederick, MD
Mixed Media collage, final
Mixed Media Collage, The Artists’ Gallery, Frederick, MD
Butterfly Box, final
Butterfly Box, The Artists’ Gallery, Frederick, MD

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!

Art of Schmidt Newsletter: The readable version

Hello Friends, After posting the blog post, Administrative Aspects of Being an Artist: Writing a Newsletter, I realized that I had posted the images of my newsletter as a slide show. I realized that it would be nearly impossible to read the newsletter in this format, so I am re-posting the newsletter as a jpeg Art of Schmidt Newsletter, November 2017, editedArt of Schmidt November 2017, Page 2, finalArt of Schmidt November 2017, Page 3, finalArt of Schmidt November 2017, Page 4, final, finalArt of Schmidt November 2017, Page 5, final, finalso you can read the newsletter if you wish. My apologies.