The Art of Procrastination

Yesterday I decided that I MUST get my studio/computer room cleaned and organized. I won’t go into the details but it has a lot to do with my lack of organization and a penchant for procrastination (I am, after all, the QUEEN). In my defense, let me say that this has been going on for a month or so, organizing yarn containers by color, discarding books for donation, boxing little frames that will never be used. Also, I did get that part-time job at the local community college and that has demanded more preparation than I’d expected.

OK. Enough excuses.

I began the work. I even posted updates on FB, that I was labeling containers, but was reminded by my friend Shirley that THAT is a form of procrastination.  Luckily by then I had begun two new paintings and dabbled on one that had been patiently waiting for the rubble to clear.

This morning after coffee and texting with my daughter-in-law I prepared to enter my special room with enthusiasm for the new works.  But, I have a nagging feeling as to why I’d let the room get in the shape it was in, although I always have a bi-annual studio cleaning day.  Years ago I read a book which I think was titled “Fat is a Feminist Issue” – the basic premise was that some women ALLOWED themselves to get out of shape for several reasons, avoiding social issues was one of the big (no pun intended) reasons.  This made me wonder if there’s a reason for my dis-organization, perhaps avoiding the give and take of bringing an idea to fruition?

I’ll put those thoughts on the back burner, maybe find a book that addresses the issues.  In the meantime I’ll go back to those paintings!

Knowing when something is finished…

I thought I’d finished the oil pastel of the little girl, but after pulling the tape, signing it, and taking photos I’m not so sure.  So it may still be a work in progress.  Or a stepping stone to the next endeavor.  Time will tell.  Also, I don’t think the color is accurate in this photo.  Is there a class for taking photos of one’s artwork?  Must find out.


These are other pieces that I have finished in the last couple of months.  These two of the horse are from a friend’s fantastic photographs of her beautiful horse who had lived to a ripe old age.  I had a dilemma when I started these as they were not commissioned and I had to decide if I was doing a portrait of the animal or expressing myself through his image?  I went for doing my own thing but the horse’s owner insisted that I’d captured his looks and personality, so that was an honor.

The Wonderful Mr. V

Oil and oil pastel on canvas.

Back in the Saddle…

It’s been an exciting 6 or 7 months since leaving the teaching profession.  In the past my summers were jam-packed because of the limited time, so I think I was more organized.  I did what I called “marathon painting”, getting caught up with all the ideas and works that didn’t happen during the school year.  The strict discipline I was planning on (paint for 3 or 4 hours daily, exercise, then maybe, just maybe a little house cleaning) just didn’t happen.  I was having fun going out with friends, reading, sewing, gardening, travel, and other things but I needed a routine.  So I started teaching Art Appreciation at the local community college, started tending to my health (I WAS exercising til I got hip bursitis caused by over-doing it in a water aerobics class and then there was this six month adventure with a chronic sinus infection which will be “fixed” soon) and getting more serious about my artwork.  But not giving up the other things in my life.

And it’s not as if I didn’t do ANY art, just not as much as I wanted to.  I did paint and draw, I did have a solo show and was part of a group show.  I’ve had a few commissioned pieces.  It’s just that now I’m going to work on being more disciplined with my art.

That started this week.  Here’s a work in progress (WIP) created from an old photograph my father took about 34 years ago.  I loved the light he captured hitting the little girl’s face (my niece) and decided to convert it from his black and white into more color.

I remember working with a faux painter once who said “It’s not over til the paint is pulled off” so I’ll show this again when that tape is off for good.

I used oil pastels which is one of my favorite drawing media.  Looking at it now I see things I need to work on so posting here really helps.

niece drawing 004

Sons and Daughters of Artists

Years ago I was part of a group show and a work by an acquaintance caught my eye while we were bringing in our art.  Her son (an older teenager) was carrying it and I asked him what I thought was a fairly simple question about the piece and his answer was “I dunno”.

I remember when my son was that age and if a friend of his was coming over I sometimes expressed dismay that my house was out of sorts (not unusual).   He told me  “It’s OK, Mom, I just say ‘My mom’s an artist’ ” and the friends would just nod their heads in understanding.

Fast forward to this weekend when I got to see my  son for the first time since Christmas (Boston is a long ways from southeastern North Carolina!).  He asked me about my art, what was new, what was going into an upcoming show.  So I did a “show and tell” for him and his lovely bride.  Questions were asked about changes in my technique and style, influences, and future endeavors.  Intelligent questions and unsolicited “warm fuzzies” left me feeling good on many levels.

My daughter is a tough critic and supplies great feedback on in-progress pieces.  She also has a great head for business and has helped me escape that “Oh you like my art?  Please, take it!” frame of mind (I wrote earlier that one of my goals in retirement from the day job is to enhance my business skills).  She has also helped me make contacts in the Atlanta area.

Both of my children are young adults and thankfully are past the “I dunno” stage.  They show my works in their homes, sometimes bartering for a mutually favorite piece.  I’m not doing my art just to hear “You like me, you really like me!” (like that actress did accepting an award a few years ago) but it does please me that my own kids have an interest and appreciation.

PS – Young Son also said I need to blog more so here I am !

Below is a Work In Progress from the painting in an earlier post.

 Work In Progress: horse painting

Using Photographs and new WIP

Photographs (that I have taken) are the foundation for most of my paintings.  I don’t paint them exactly as they are but try to add my own artistic touch or expression, slowly building up layers and changing as I go.

Early on I discovered that flower still life arrangements would not keep their sparkle while waiting on me to find time to paint (since I did have that full-time day job) so photos would preserve them.  Sometimes it wasn’t so much the subject matter as the lighting on it that needed safeguarding.  Once in a while the photos were old family black and white pictures.

Now the explosion of social media allows digital photographs to be shared by friends and family and sometimes they just hit me like a brick and I want to paint from them.  I always ask the photographer if I can “borrow” their pics for a painting.

One friend takes photos of sunrises in the countryside as she takes her grandchildren to school.  She uses her cell and it’s amazing what she gets with it.  I’ve used two of her photos and was so touched by her reaction when she saw the first painting.

Another friend is a little more than a casual photographer and uses a very nice camera.  She posted photos she took of a dear old horse who had just passed away.  I was struck by those photos and she consented to let me use them.  Now I am torn between the composition, texture and light of the photos and capturing the spirit of “V” the horse.  Can I do both?

So, these are WIP (works in progress) of “V” – with only two layers done so far.  I think I know where I’m going with these but am open to a change in direction.

Stay tuned for further developments.

PS – my daughter and I discussed how it is so difficult for me to write and she just said “pretend you’re writing one of your  angry letters to a restaurant”!  Ha!  Even those writings don’t just flow, dear daughter!

horse 2 stage 1

horse 1 stage 2

It’s been a while…

I have officially retired from my “day job” of teaching!  Day job is a misnomer really, because teaching is certainly not an 8-5 job but I won’t go into that now.  Let’s just say there are some aspects I will really miss about teaching and many things I will not.

So, my intent for my art upon retiring was to dedicate a minimum number of hours during the week to creating and the business end of it.  I am not considering this a job but a “passionate experiment” (stole that off the internet, will give credit later).  There’s a large painting that’s been waiting patiently for me to decompress and de-clutter (my mind and my house) and two new canvases which I have drawn on but not lifted a brush to yet.  TODAY is the day!

Self Portrait Without A Face

By day I am a mild-mannered high school art teacher.  OK, I try to be mild-mannered, but my students know there is a fine line between the “Nice Sweet Mrs. McGugan” and the “Psycho Mrs. McGugan”.  But I digress.  By night and on weekends, I am all about MY art, and summers are for marathon painting sessions and other pursuits that make me happy.  Back to the day job:  my county school system always has a faculty art show and this year it was with a theme.  Self Portrait Without a Face.  So this is my entry, created in acrylic and other media.  It combines new techniques that I’ve been working on with old ideas and subject matter.  Add a little introspection and this is the result.

"Self-Portrait Without a Face" Mixed media, 24" square $500
“Self-Portrait Without a Face”
Mixed media, 24″ square

It’s been a while…

So Christmas came and went and I found myself wrapped up in all the usual activities and enjoying my family immensely!  I did create and print a bunch of linocut cards…was only going to do a couple and then the project just grew.  And grew.  Sold enough to make it worthwhile, and frankly, I just love printing!  I majored in printmaking when I was in college (minored in painting) but now I think of myself as a painter and not the other.

Finally got back into the studio for painting and have posted the results today.  Both of these are mixed media as I am exploring combining oil pastels and tissue paper with oils on canvas.  Don’t know what the deal is with so many trees but will think about that.

The trees in field painting MAY not be finished, but it’s close and then I’ll add my little signature.  A former co-worker and fellow artist is now retired and can be counted on to take photos of sunsets and sunrises (it’s so difficult for me to do that on the way to work while driving up I-95!).  She posted a photo in December that I fell in love with and she’s been gracious enough to let me use it.

DETAIL of “Shirley’s Sunrise”
Oil, oil pastel, tissue paper on canvas. 30" x 40"
Oil, oil pastel, tissue paper on canvas.
30″ x 40″ $1500
DETAIL of Tree 1
tree 1
Tree 1 Oil, oil pastel, tissue paper on Canvas 48″ x 24″ $1500

Comments/observations welcome.

Abstract, a new venture. Kind of.

Some of my work is very loosely painted.  I like brushstrokes to show and I like to show “underneath” the painting.  By this I mean I like to show various stages of completion but in small ways.  Does this make sense?  This past summer (teaching is my day job, so summers are marathon painting sessions) I started leaning towards loosening up, less representative, even non-objective, but trying to retain my style.  I wanted to concentrate on simplicity and texture.  As luck would have it, I now have a contact in Charlotte NC who really wanted some abstracted pieces.  So, now I have an excuse to try some of these ideas that have been on the back burner.  I also have lot’s of questions I need to answer: is it ok to have more than one style?  Some artists only create in one vein because it is successful for them and their client base would not appreciate different work.   Is it ok to have more fun with the abstract than the other?  It’s not easier because the design and composition challenges are still there, but yeah, it’s fun.

Some of the pieces got whisked to Charlotte before I had a chance to take quality photos, so please forgive.

As always, comments/feedback are welcome!

HAPPY Mixed media acrylic 24" x 24" $600
Mixed media acrylic
24″ x 24″
Dillon County Moonrise Acrylic Mixed Media 18" x 24"  $500
Dillon County Moonrise
Acrylic Mixed Media
18″ x 24″
detail dillon moonrise
DETAIL Dillon Co. Moonrise
Sunset on Sunset Beach Oil on Canvas 16" x 24" (?) $400
Sunset on Sunset Beach
Oil on Canvas
16″ x 24″ (?)
A Moment on the TV Oil and Oil Pastel on Canvas 18" x 24"  $600
A Moment on the TV
Oil and Oil Pastel on Canvas
18″ x 24″
Triptych 1 Acrylic mixed media 3 panels 12" x 12" each $500
Triptych 1
Acrylic mixed media
3 panels 12″ x 12″ each
TRIPTYCH 2 Acrylic and mixed media 18" x 12"  (36" total length) $500
Acrylic and mixed media
18″ x 12″
(36″ total length)
DETAIL of Triptych 2
DETAIL of Triptych 2


The first time my socks were knocked off…

The first time I ever went to a museum of art was when I was in high school (I’d rather not name the year) and our dear teacher Mrs. Tyner had taken the class to the NC Museum of Art.  I was rambling around by myself enjoying all this wonderful art when I came around a corner and saw Monet’s The Seine at Giverny, Morning Mists.  It blew me away!  It had to be the combination of the colors, the technique, the sentimental attachment (reminding me of early mornings on Lake Tillery) but at that time I had no words for the experience.  I always look for that little Monet whenever I return to the NCMOA because it was such an explosive first experience.

Title: The Seine at Giverny, Morning Mists Date: 1897 Artist: Claude Monet Dimensions: 35 x 36 in. (88.9 x 91.4 cm) Medium: Oil on canvas
Title: The Seine at Giverny, Morning Mists
Date: 1897
Artist: Claude Monet
Dimensions: 35 x 36 in. (88.9 x 91.4 cm)
Medium: Oil on canvas

I’ve seen a lot of paintings and drawings since then that I’ve appreciated in many ways (what was that Picasso still life in Atlanta with the green lines squeezed from his tube of paint?) but my next big “socks knocked off experience” was in Chicago in the summer of 2009 I believe.  The work responsible was by Peter Doig and I remember having such mixed feelings (the two figures are kind of creepy to me, the colors in the stone fence almost comical) but it was the TREES in the painting that really got me.  It seems that he had wiped out the paint on them, exposing the texture of the canvas or maybe the under painting, and I was entranced with this technique.  I wish I had the words to explain it better, but I think it’s this painting that made me want to be braver and try new things.

Peter Doig Scottish, born 1959 Gasthof zur Muldentalsperre, 2000–02 Oil on canvas 196 x 296 cm (77 1/8 x 116 1/2 in.) Art Institute Chicago
Peter Doig
Scottish, born 1959
Gasthof zur Muldentalsperre, 2000–02
Oil on canvas
196 x 296 cm (77 1/8 x 116 1/2 in.)
Art Institute Chicago