Sunday, 26 April 2009

Relax and Enjoy the Process

Still Life With Melon, 6 x 12 inches (15.24 x 30.48 cm), Acrylic on MDF
2009 Kim Bennett

In February 2009, I was working on a painting that was to be entered in an exhibition. The challenge was, to select a painting from a list of master artist and do our own interpretation of it. I selected a still life from the impressionist painter Monet.

In doing so, several attempts were made on the same surface. When things were not going well, I sanded the work back to the essentials. But, each time they were nearing completion. Why did I do this? The painting was just not working for me. The decision of how to approach the painting kept changing. I now realize that if I treated each attempt separately, I would now have a progression of studies or even sketches to look back on and use as a learning tool.

As the deadline neared the painting had to be finished. It also occurred to me that I could have completed several paintings in the time it took me to produce the final piece. By treating each painting individually I would have had three or four pieces to select from, and not be forced to send in the only completed piece.

During this time, while looking through paintings by Monet, I noticed he often produced several versions of the same study. One example would be “The Fa├žade of the Rouen Cathedral” (1892 – 1894). What he did was to take things beyond. He produced more than 30 works of this cathedral on canvas. Each was created independently and simultaneously. As the weather and the seasons started to change the paintings of the works created varied in the use of light, atmosphere, mood, etc. You will be able to find some examples of the painting here: http://www.learn.columbia.edu/monet/swf/

Yes, we learn from our mistakes. Sometimes we can get so caught up in producing the one painting it can become an unhealthy exercise. When we struggle in our search for perfection we can loose sight to what is important. Just relax and enjoy the process.

-Kim Bennett

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Emphasise Everything and You Have Emphasise Nothing

I was thinking today of some words from a teacher that I had studied under at Marshall University. Sporny said, “If you emphasise everything you have emphasised nothing.” He was referring to an overworked canvas but is this not a lesson we can also bring into our lives?

I am still developing as an artist and often referred to as the “thirty something” range. Anyway, I enjoy the process and the challenges I face as a painter. It is what motivates me in the studio. I love learning and this is what gets me passionate about going in the studio.

Well, this morning I busy working at a project for a class. While doing so, I was thinking about the mountain of concepts or theory that there is to learn in landscape painting. I was feeling good! And then suddenly I stopped and found myself listening to an echo or a voice from inside my head telling me “If you emphasise everything you have emphasised nothing.”

As I was trying to rationalise this, I thought, okay, how much is there to learn about painting? The reality was more than I would have time for in this lifetime. So, for the first time in my life, I thought to myself that just maybe it would be great idea to have a focus and work on a series of paintings.

I suppose I could have just ignored the thought, but maybe I have spent long enough feeling my way around and trying out different things. Maybe it is the time for me to make that commitment to give my work a focus. Just maybe, it is time for me to grow with my art.

-Kim Bennett

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Recollection of a Blueberry

Huckleberries at Dolly Sods, photographed by Gene Hyre

I had ran across this this photograph while looking for references for a landscape painting. I had been looking for it to show someone but it had been stashed away somewhere in my e-mails. This photo was taken by my Dad.

I used to go blueberry picking with my Grandfather on Bear Rock Preserve the top of Dolly Sods in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia. That was many years ago and yes, you can say I found my thrill on blueberry hill. Although, some family insist that they are huckleberries.

It has been a long while since I have eaten a blueberry or even looked at a blueberry. This is because, I can't bring myself to pay for something in the shop that I used to pick for free. For me, it is a crime to see them in a package with a heavy price tag on them.

In all seriousness, I found it interesting that my recollection of a blueberry was different from actual observation of a blueberry.

My recollection of a blueberry :
My first thought is the colour blue and the powdery colour on the outside of the blueberry's smooth soft skin. When putting them to my lips, I would imagine the comparison to the softest skin. Would it be as soft as a baby's bottom or perhaps my grandmother would have soft skin like a blueberry.

I always found it fascinating that I could rub the blueberry and the powdery colour would remain.

Still on the colour As my eye travels around the blueberry I expect as I look into the crown and I would see the inside of the blueberry. For small blueberries, the colour deepens or the value becomes darker as I look down into the crown almost but not quiet a black hole. The crown looks perfect for a small pool of milk.

I loved that red violet colour that your fingers get stained with when you pick blueberries. Yum!

I ate all of them one at a time!

Well, that was the memories... I won't bore you with the details.

It was the best place to go for blue berries. What a view!

-Kim Bennett

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Study - Landscape for Faux Marquetry Box

Study, 8 x 10 inches ( 20.32 x 25.4 cm ), Acrylic on Canvas Board
2009 Kim Bennett

I am in the process of doing a Faux marquetry box and wanted to place a landscape on the top of the lid. This is my first attempt in the process. I wanted to keep it simple, mysterious with a classical appearance.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Organize Research and Reference Material

Majority of artists and designers keep a collection of ideas and reference materials for possible future use in tangible forms such as newspaper articles, clippings from magazines, etc. These references are stored away in what is usually called a morgue file.

Morgue files can hold inspiration or whatever content you choose which get those creative juices flowing. They may contain colour references, backgrounds, subject matter or even compositional ideas. They can also hold things that make you happy or whatever your eye is attracted to. The possibilities and spectrum of reference material is endless.


Reference materials should be organised and stored in a way that works best for you; folders, sketchbooks, box or hanging files, even digitally. A folder with plastic inserts or sleeves is probably the easiest to start with. Just a word of advice to you, make some notes to yourself, next to, even on or the back of the clipping. Write down what it was that you liked or why it was added to the file. Post-it-notes are handy and highlighter pens may also be useful. Notes you make to yourself will help refresh your memory when looking through the entries at a later date.

If by any chance, you would like to start smaller or even minimize ideas into a little snapshots, then why not try a small photo album? You can purchase small photo albums with space for writing memos next to the insert pocket.

While we are on the subject of photo albums, I would like to recommend to you,see through photo album. I have just purchased five to organize my ideas by subject. These are the frosted (translucent) cover with clear inside pockets. I find these are excellent as immediately you can see what is inside them.

You can also consider a flat plastic and handy brag book album, that fits into your either your man or hand bag. Pop a picture or a photo in the front cover of album to show what it contains inside. These are handy when storing photos in a folder alongside current research material that you may be using.

Collect, store, and record your ideas in a sketchbook journal! Everyone should have and carry a sketchbook or journal even if it is something informal.

Last but not least, another approach is maintaining a digital morgue. In essence, bookmarking websites is a way of adding ideas into a morgue. Flicker and Picasa web albums are also a way to keep track of your reference photos. These can either be shared publicly or privately with a password protection. And the neat thing is, as long as there is a way to access the internet you can pull up your photos wherever you may be.

Remember... The idea is to keep a morgue organized and accessible. Clear out and sort through your files at least once a year. Designate a time for you to do this such as in the New Year or during annual spring cleaning.

Best of Luck!
- Kim Bennett