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Monday, March 2, 2009

Harry Sketch, 8x8 Acrylic

Ever feel lost artistically? I've been floundering for the past few days. I had a few really good, happy days in the studio last week, and then Friday I had a very nice woman who runs a local gallery, and is a good artist herself, come by and look over my work, for possible portfolio submission. She was as nice as could be, and gentle (for the most part ;) in her criticism but I saw my work through fresh eyes and said to myself "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?????". I seem to be all over the place in subject matter, style, etc. I used to joke and say I had MSD (Multiple style disorder) but it seems less funny now. There's a local art league that I tried for last year and didn't get into (2nd submission). Their advice: paint, paint, paint and don't give up. ( Ok. If one more person now tells me I'm "prolific" I'm going to run screaming from the room. They say "prolific"... not 'good'.)

This same art league had a portfolio submission talk yesterday AT the gallery run by the woman I mentioned, and 4 people talked about what it 'took' to get a 'yes' from them. Although they all agreed there must be good 'bones' - composition, value, color, mastery of medium and 'heart' - they all emphasized different things. One was primarily a 'formalist' painter and had a sort of checklist of requirements (thick and thin, light and dark, etc) that had to be there for her to give a 'yes', another said it was the energy, and whether or not the art 'hit' him (I think I agree that this is the way most judges go, to be honest), and the other two - well, it was a little rambling, and to tell you the truth I can't even remember what their points were.

Now.... why did this get me so low? Well, for one thing I went on their website and looked at their members, and there were some early members who I think would not have passed this rigorous selection process. And I find this often. And I have such fragile self esteem that I have a hard time rising above this and just going forward. So. No oil painting today. Just a little acrylic sketch of my baby, Harry, napping next to me as I paint. This, actually, is what makes me happy. I probably should just let the rest go, and just do what makes me happy. How boring was this??????? V-E-R-Y! Sorry!


  1. Hi Kelley. I have long felt that moving my love of art from a personal passion to a business or career would not only be difficult, but bring criticism that I don't need, and burst my bubble for no reason. These gifts given to us to enjoy most of the time, not to provide a living. But for some lucky people it does. Laurel Daniel said it is good to be able to not take too seriously other's opinions, both praise and criticism. We usually know our own path better than others. If you can get in the galleries, wonderful!! But don't let it kill your love and passion - that is the gift that keeps on giving.

  2. Well, I picked your work out from all the stuff I see on the internet--Daily Painters, Robert Genn's postings, etc. to take a look at regularly--to learn and get inspiration. Your work is fresh and beautiful. Your comments are great too! Jackie

  3. Kelly,
    Keep going and don't let the snoots get you down.I admire you and I have never met you in person.
    Your cyber friend, Jo Ann

  4. I am sitting next to my kitty right now and it's exactly in the same position as the kitty in your painting.
    Very nice.

  5. Chin up let you know that your daily paintings are an inspiration to me, as is the way you have reached out via your blog.

    I've packed up my brushes to return to university. Your blog keeps me going -- knowing that it won't be long before opening up my paintbox again.

    Your candy apple painting blew me away -- love the lemon and the blue glass -- also the pitchers.
    Your paintings hit me in the gut -- keep it up!

  6. Kelley MacDonald! Don't you DARE stop painting!!! One thing I do agree with is paint, paint, paint, and don't give up. I'm sure I'm not the only one who can see the forward progress of your painting. You definitely are developing the skills. It sounds like you just need to take a little breather (notice I said a "LITTLE" breather ... not too long), relax and think about your artistic vision.

    And definitely paint what you're drawn to. Like Harry. I love this sketch. So sweet.

    And use the materials that are conducive to the way you like to paint ... I've seen plenty of acrylic and watercolor artists being displayed in high-end galleries right along with the oils.

    DON'T! GIVE! UP!
    There. Now you have my 2 cents worth.

  7. Personally as soon as a "checklist" of "requirements" come into it is no longer art in my mind. I think these people lose the whole point, and probably think they are art intellectuals because they ramble off "requirement" of good art that they read at some point. Silliness if you ask me....I am stressing about submitting two of my pieces tomorrow. We will see what happens. Although I am almost positive they will be rejected. Does that make my work worthless, cause some judge didn't deem it worthy or it didn't pass the checklist. Well I know what you would tell me, so I will tell you same thing. No, your work is beautiful and your heart and passion are beautiful so "poo on them". I honestly have debated NOT entering any more shows that I need to get approved for. It makes you paint differently when you worry what others require to accept it, versus what you love. Whew long comment, sorry :-)

  8. Not at all boring. I think it's incredibly honest. We're all looking for the same thing. Just keep painting what makes you happy, for starters.

  9. Kelley, I think we all get discouraged from time to time, including me. What helps is just to take a break and go out and do something different, get outside, take a long walk, go to a museum, have lunch with a friend, go shopping, anything, to break the routine. This too shall pass.

  10. I absolutely love this painting. Thank you so much for your blog, you have inspired me more than you could know and have helped me immensely with my painting trials and tribulations. Thankyou. Thankyou.

  11. OK... first things first... I love your new painting!!
    Funny enough, I was thinking about art leagues the other day! I'm so happy to have found a group of blogging buddies who are very supportive. I often think that I should join an art league to have support in my area! So reading your post hit home! They would laugh me out! I'm a mixed media artist who probably wouldn't hit any of those requirements!
    I don't personally believe that you are all over the place. You paint what is in your heart. Isn't that what art is all about? Let them have their art leagues.... I'm sure there are some fine ones...... but I don't think that we're all suited for them!
    Paint what you love.... it's perfect... that's why I love your art!

  12. Hi Kelley,
    I can only speak for myself but I think your work is tremendous. I think it touches others,at least it has me, and you are an incredible artist. Dont beat yourself up because there is something better around the corner for you. Never ever give up or let someone make you second guess yourself becuase you have a god given talent that many people would die for!


  13. Please don't forget all of those great masters who were relegated to the Salon de Refuse! I really believe we all go through lulls, sometimes extended as I just did, but because art is so important to us, we always come out of it and return to what matters. Rather than think about what they are looking for, paint what you need to. This may yield the ultimate results you are looking for. You are very talented and know your stuff. It will happen.

  14. Hate to burst your bubble, but I really, really like your still lifes. They are beautifully painted with aggressive brush strokes and have a real strength of colour and composition. Am I missing something?

  15. Sorry to hear you're down. :( Sometimes I think it might be better to "paint in a vacuum." If one never compares one's work to anyone else's, one might always feel happy about it. Unfortunately that's not really feasible... Some things to keep in mind: I know people who have juried for art shows, and they can tell you that it's all extremely subjective. It has as much to do with a given person's tastes in general or their mood that day, or nothing at all, just a flip of a coin, nearly. Also, it seems to me to be also true in our local art studio tour (I've never tried to be in it yet) that the original members' work is sometimes not as good as what they are currently requiring.
    This is a lovely, sweet portrait of your kitty. DO keep painting. (I won't use the prolific word, though.) Your love for painting will figure it all out for you, you don't have to worry.

  16. wasn't boring at all. I was just stopping by a few blogs tonight and ..well I don't get it, I think your art is fantastic, really..not just saying it to make you feel good.

    I'll never get good enough to even consider that I could ever be considered for something like that because I enjoy being a scribbler too much. ha...

    But heck, your work with light and reflections, wow!

  17. Oh Kelley: No! Don't get caught up like that. Take what you think is of benefit to you (from the situation) in *your* opinion and move forward with that. It's not about what they think. There's so many more galleries and leagues that will absolutely give you a yes, but that's not the point! What's important is that you *stay the course* you are on to the best of your ability. You are so talented, don't let those **#&@s get you down!!

  18. Kelley: I love Harry and your painting shows that you love him too. He looks exactly “on” and I know because I own two orange cats and have owned three others in the past. His colors are lovely, believable and abstract, and he appears warm to the touch. In my opinion, the blanket does not read quite as well as I know it will in your next try but isn’t this the point of daily paintings? Give it your best shot and keep moving!

    You are too hard on yourself and very brave to put out to the blog world every piece you paint. I think a lot of bloggers may be holding back on their less successful attempts. You are not the only one who is feeling the blues of self-doubt. Maybe it is the miserable winter weather plus all the bad news we get from the TV and in the mail about our IRAs and 401s. Despite the results I have always been able to lose myself in painting until this winter. My last painting was such a wipe-out I have not painted for a week. One of our mutual painting friends said to me last week that she sometimes wonder what she thinks she’s doing and I knew just how she felt. I think we need to worry less about what others think and keep slapping on the paint until we find our compass or until spring arrives.

    Hang in there,


  19. Paint as you like and die happy.

    I say f__ them

  20. Hey Kelley, we all have felt the way you do, don't get bogged down with what is right or wrong and what 6 points makes a good painting, of course it is good to kept the fundamentals in your head but go with your gut. We all know that the best paintings we do are the ones that just seem to flow out of us and then we step back and say "did I do that". Just keep the joy in your paintings, the other stuff will come.

  21. Kelley-Recently I started reading a book called Art and Fear by Davis Bayles & Ted Orland. I highly recommend it. It has helped me through some of my bad painting days. It addresses most of the concerns you covered in your post. It takes a lot of courage to get critiques of ones work. So pat yourself on the back for that. Take away what you think is real for you.
    Paint what you love and paint for yourself. Your work can't help from reflecting just who you are and that is a good thing! It is what it is all about!


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