Sunday, July 22, 2012

"Medea" Work in Progress

I seem to have forgotten that I have a blog.  Thought I would update you all with a little work in progress I am currently working on.  It is only 12x12 inches so a fairly quick work for me.  It is Medea, the villain witch of Euripides' play.  I do love those enchantresses with a bad rep.

Here is the beginning sketch done in graphite on a Ampersand artist panel.

I plan for there to be roses and a moth surrounding her.  I think the moth will be there to symbolize death and transformation.

After I have the sketch drawn I have to seal it.  For this work I used clear gesso.  After it dried it gave the work a really nice surface that the paint and I both really loved.

The next step is deciding on an underpainting color.  Doing soft pastels for many years I discovered I really hate to start with a white surface.  Pastel paper is often toned to a color that helps to build up skin tones in the work.  I try to paint the work a color that will help me build the skin tone I am shooting for.  Lately I have been using a lot of crimson red tones to start with.  For this one I want her skin pale, almost frosty.  I decided to start with a sea green color.

You can barely see it in the pic, but it is a nice greyish sea green.  I remember reading an artist once saying that there is a lot of grey in human skin color, but our eyes just don't really register it.  Putting little hints of grey in there can help you achieve a more realistic skin tone.

Next I play with some drips and background fun.  I decide to go with two of my favorite colors here, sea green/or turquoise and yellow ochre.  Which will both look great with the red roses I add later.

Now to go at that skin tone.  I never have a set formula for skin tone.  I usually use some combo of white, yellow ochre, unbleached titanium white, some kind of pinky orange.  I basically just start slapping colors down and slowly add more or less of one or the other depending on what I want to achieve.  This happens in many layers.  Here is the first one:

She is a little too pink at this stage, but I like the transculent feel, which is what I am going for.  I am really liking the sea green shadow areas too.  Still need to work on her nose and mouth....not quite right.

This one was a bad pic...but I am laying on more skin tone, getting it closer to where I want.  I also have her nose looking better.  I started adding the roses also.

This last pic is where she is right now.  I am going to go to town on that moth and the roses now, but I am pretty happy with her face at this point, just needs a little cleaning up....and the hair needs detailed.  Should be done with her soon though.  Hope you like her.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"Nimue", a white hart, and a goat?

16x20 acrylic on masonite
Tammy Mae Moon

I finally got to finish this up this week.  I have been working on it in spurts for weeks now.  My original plan was to paint Nimue, one of the names for the Lady of the Lake, and a white hart.  While I was working on her a goat appeared, and I really had no idea why at the time.  It wasn't until I really started to think about the symbolism of the goat that it hit me why he was there.  I figured I had better do some "splaining".

First, Nimue is a goddess that has always intrigued me.  We know that she was one of the ladies of the lake, and that she was an enchantress.  Supposedly she used her feminine ways to seduce the great wizard Merlin into teaching her all of his magic, then she used this magic to entrap him in a tower, or in some stories a hawthorn tree.  Some of you may remember one of my older works from 2009 "Merlin and Nimue":

 You can imagine how the Patriarchy loved this tale of an evil temptress destroying the powers of the greatest wizard.  One who really studies the writings of the courtly love era, the Camelot myths, certainly will understand the story differently though.   The writers of these Courtly love tales believed that all women were to be honored as the goddess, and it was through the love of the goddess that man transcended this world and became immortal.
Merlin would have been able to predict his own death, and yet he willingly hung out with Nimue. In one tale Nimue changes him into a hawthorn tree. The hawthorn tree to the ancient Celts was the symbol for the chalice itself (the Holy Grail). It held the divine secrets of everlasting life. Therefore Merlin became one with those divine secrets by way of Nimue (the goddess).

Now the white hart appears a lot in Camelot myths too.  Usually it is the hunt for the white hart that leads the knights into the forest, or the Otherworld.  It represents the legendary beast of the chase and represents both heavenly and earthly love and is similar to the symbol of the unicorn in medieval lore.  It represents innocence, and the goddess of the land.  It leads you into the Otherworld where you will be forever changed.

The goat has been a strong symbol through out history.  It was sacrificed routinely by ancient cultures so it represents sacrifice.  But it is also represented by strong virile, wild male gods like Pan.  Of course we have all used the phrase "horny old goat".  Goats represent that wild, sexual, masculine energy that drives the world to procreate.

So these two animals represent two facets of Nimue.  That innocent, pure feminine goddess of the land, and that wild, evil, sexual temptress that she has become and the goat represents the sacrifice of the land.  In between these two animals is a healthy large heart.  The heart of the goddess being fed by opposites.

So there is some of my thoughts on this one, at least the ones I can form somewhat coherently.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cush show in CA and some other stuff :)

I have been feeling so non creative for about 2 weeks now.  I haven't painted much at all, and can't seem to finish the stuff I start.  Worst of all I think I have already hit my breaking point with the political season.  Facebook has sucked me in and I have been shooting my mouth off left and right.  This is never really a good idea.  I think the last couple of weeks with the bills being proposed in every other state to limit women's health has been the tipping point for me.  I will try not to go off on politics here, but I am so tired of religious extremists targeting women all over the world.  I am just now getting to the point where I realize babbling on Facebook is not going to change this.  As an artist though, I have a public platform...even if it is small.  I need to paint my feelings into my art.  I just, as of yet, have never been able to produce something that powerful that makes people even a little uncomfortable.  I am a lover of beauty and tend to have that as my theme in my work.  I am wondering though if this little lack of creativity and pissed off political phase I am in will help me take my work to a new level of social awareness that I would love for it to go into.  We shall see I suppose.
What is a little different now with this dry spell I am in is that I do the Totem Spirit drawings.  These are commissioned work, and commissions can not always wait until your creative urge comes back.
I have been working on a larger Spirit totem painting for a client.  In this work I am painting her actual face to go with the totem animals and symbols.  This kind of work is always a little harder on me because I get a lot more nit picky.  Plus I am trying real hard to paint on it when I have a clear mind that is not full of political garbage.  It has been slow going, but it is turning out really nicely.
I am super excited about the opening of the inner portrait show at the end of this month in Beverly Hills.  Here is the flyer for the event.  I can't believe how many of my favorite women artists I will be sharing gallery space with!

If you are lucky enough to live near Beverly Hills, please attend the show and send me some pics...I can't make it out there unfortunately.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A mother or an artist first?

Have you seen the movie "Who Does She Think She Is?"?  It is really inspiring, especially if you are an artist and a mother.  Actually every woman should see it because it touches on something for all of us as women.
I became an artist after I had kids.  I thought it would be the perfect way to stay at home with my children and bring in some income for my family.  I thought it would be easy....haha.  What soon happened was I uncovered my deepest desire was this need to create.  Images flood my head constantly and I needed to get them out.  I did not know how much this was a part of me until after I had my children.  In my twenties I was pretty aimless.  I was happy waiting tables to make money to go out and see live music and drink a pint or two of Guinness.  I didn't have the depth and wisdom I own now, and I doubt my artwork would have held much meaning then.
I can't say I am not more than a little jealous of female artists in their twenties who are often single, but even when they are not they do not have kids.  I imagine them locked in their studios all day painting away with no one tugging on their shirt sleeve asking when dinner is going to be ready.  I guess it is just my fate that I didn't discover this desire to be an artist until late, but also I had another desire that hit me in my mid twenties....I wanted to have a baby.
I had my first child at 27, and my second at 30.  I didn't start painting until my youngest was about 2, so only about 5 years ago.  I remember when she was 2 I was working in soft pastels.  She always wanted to (and still does) draw with me while I was working.  I set up a little easel for her in my studio next to mine.  I remember once I wasn't looking and she decided to add a bunch of scribbles with a sharpie to a beautiful angel with a dove I just completed.  I think that was the first moment I realized I had a conflict within me.  What was more important to me, my children or my art.
Now that may sound crazy and selfish.  Of course my children mean the world to me, they mean everything to me.....and yet, they are not all of me.  They actually do not define me as much as my art does.  I have known a lot of my mom friends that do define themselves by their children.  I have watched them deal with depression as their children grow and they begin to realize they need another definition or they are going to disappear.
So I have this art, and yet I struggle constantly with guilt.  Am I ignoring my kids to paint?  Yes, and no.  They get to see a woman following her deepest desire.  They get to see a woman who will give up so many things to follow her dream.  And also, they get to see me struggle inside when they ask me to play while I am in the middle of a painting.....and just as many times as I say "not right now", they hear "okay".  I do give up painting a lot for them, but I say no to them too.  It is a fine balance that I struggle with constantly.
So obviously this movie has me thinking a lot about us mom artists.  I am toying with the idea of creating some kind of artist collective of mom artists.  I would like it to be a group of really good mom artists that are really making it as professional show the world it can be done.  It's just a thought.  But for now I am thinking I might start a little group on Facebook and maybe start another blog.  I am not very good at writing in this one, so that might be too much for me.  But I would like to start a blog that highlights an amazing mom artist each week with an interview that touches on subjects like I just talked about above.  You rarely hear that kind of personal struggle in an artist interview.  Most artists interviews are full of a bunch of intangible philosophical dribble that really doesn't inspire you.  I think it would help a lot of women to hear how an artist struggles everyday to balance her life, and yet still follow her soul's calling.
So please let me know what you think.  Would you like to read a blog like that, or maybe be involved in whatever comes out of it.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Collaboration with Stephanie Allison

Stephanie Allison and I have decided to do a fun little collaboration.  We each are going to paint half a canvas and then mail it to the other one to finish the other half.  I started on an 11x14 canvas panel and thought I would give you all a step by step look at how it evolves.  After I send it off to Stephanie she is going to do the same at her blog, so be sure to follow the whole progression over there.
I often post a few wips of my work over on my Facebook page, but rarely do I remember to take photos at every step.  Since this one was a small quick piece I tried to stop myself and take some photos.  I wanted to especially show you how much I often struggle to get the perfect skin tone and hair color on my girls.  Unfortunately with me, it is often just guesss work and not really an exact science.  So here we go:
The beginning sketch above.  With a quick wash of ultramarine blue below (after I sprayed it with a light layer of workable fixative).
When I first start adding skin tones they can look a mess for awhile.  Adding fixative over the canvas makes the first layers of paint not stick so well too.  I have to lay down a lot of thin layers early on and let them each dry.  At first they can look a mess for awhile, but I try my best to add the shadows and dark areas first.
Below I am adding in the darks of her hair.  I am trying to figure out where to go with her skin tone.  She is a little too pink and pasty at this point.
I think I want to go blonde, but it does not look good with her skin tone.
So I added some orangey tones to her skin and decided to go dark with the hair.  Had to add a mask too.
Getting close to done now.  Just got to add the peacock details.

And here is she is all done...well at least my side.  I kind of hogged a little more than half, I hope Stephanie doesn't get annoyed with me!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Spirit Totem Drawings

I think I have mentioned in this blog before that I got my start doing art by drawing spirit guides for people.  This is basically how I learned to draw people.  About 2 years ago I decided to focus more on doing fine art, and let the guide work go.  Of course the guide work did not fully let me go.  I have struggled a little the last 2 years wondering how to bring the work back in.  A few times I thought I was ready to do it again, and then pulled it back.
Working with spirit in that way is no easy task.  I am looking into people's "stuff" and their energy and trying to make sense of it, and then drawing and painting on top of that.  With a family to raise, a house to clean, and other creations to paint, it just seemed like too much. Recently the tug to do the work has returned.  I suddenly sat down with my own name (that is the tool I use to connect with people's energies) and did a different kind of drawing.  It is a symbolic drawing more than anything, and different than just drawing the spirit guides.  Here is a little write up on my website that explains them:

These drawings contain a combination of animal and plant spirit guides, archetypal symbols, and higher dimensional energies.  Somewhat like a tarot card, these drawings trigger our subconscious mind and our deeper knowing. 
I spent many years giving tarot readings both professionally and personally and feel a deep connection to symbolism.  I feel that artists often understand the language of archetypal symbols.  With these drawings I want to create a sort of road map of your soul, almost like your own personal tarot card.
I work with your full name to uncover many of the symbols and archetypes you work with.  I use a process called Lexigramming your name to connect me with your Akashic Record, the record of your soul.  There will be a combination of about 7 animals, archetypes and/or angels in the drawing done in my unique style.  You are welcome to tell me any totems you would really like in the drawing, or you can just let me uncover them for you; or better yet, the drawing can be a combo of both.
The drawing is 8x10 inches and comes already matted in an 11x14 inch black or cream mat.  The media is graphite pencil, watercolor, and ink on cold-pressed watercolor paper.  It will also come with a note letting you know all of the symbols and their meanings.

Here are a few examples of what the drawings look like:

The faces in the drawings are more symbolic of the people's energies, a sort of combination of the goddess or god energy that they carry.  Although, the last drawing was a guide that came in and was adamant that he be drawn.
I am really feeling back in my element with this work.  I feel like a fog has lifted that I have been stuck in for the last 2 years.  I also now realize (hindsight is 20/20) that Saturn has been in Libra the last 2 years (I am a Libra) it is now starting to leave Libra and go into Scorpio.  This has really effected my life in areas of business and relationships.  I can see it as clear as day now, and it has been part of the fog that has clouded my vision when it comes to areas of my "career".
Another beautiful thing that these drawings are doing for me is helping me realize how much I really do love to draw men.  Seriously, I have only drawn women for years now.  Suddenly I am being forced to draw men again with these and I am enjoying it.  It is helping me feel more balanced actually.  I am currently working on a drawing for a man and a lot of powerful, heroic energy is coming in.  I just did his drawing but haven't added any paint yet.  I thought I would show you what it looks like in it's raw unpainted version.  I am wondering if I should just leave it like this.  I am not adding a lot of color to these, just a little watercolor, but this one almost seems perfect with no color.  We will see..... 

He reminds me of Aragorn...swoon.... ;)

If you would like to commission yourself a Totem Spirit drawing please go to my website.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year and last painting of 2011.

I spent New Year's Eve day trying to finish my Psyche.  I started her a few weeks back, and I felt like she needed to be done before 2012.  So I barely got her finished before it was time to start ringing in the New Year.     So here she is:

"Psyche's Abandonment"
24x36 acrylic on canvas

I think this painting sums up my 2011 in some ways.  It was a year that on some levels seemed uneventful.  I often felt like I was just going through the motions this year, and have often felt very unconnected to my spiritual self.  I almost felt like my psyche (or soul) had abandoned me.  But as 2012 approached and as I was working on this painting a new light is being birthed in me.  I can not really described it, but I know there is something re-awakening in me that has been hibernating for awhile.  
I am excited for the New Year and the direction that I want to take my art in.  I am being drawn to a lot of Christian/Gnostic imagery right now and I plan to mix it up with Pagan myth like I did in this Psyche painting.  I have some big plans for paintings, and yet I am going to have less time to paint.  I am now working at a Law office part time to make some extra money.  I am not happy about the loss of painting time, and yet I feel that making some steady money will take some pressure off of me with my art.  I do think when you are a professional artist it is easy to fall into a trap of "painting what you think will sell".  I look forward to creating out of a space of love instead out of space of survival issues this year.  
I hope you all find that Creative space of love this year.  Happy 2012!
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