Friday, March 23, 2012

Word verification

Coastal Simplicity
Original oil painting  14x18"
by Susan Roux

Is it just me or are you annoyed by the new word verifications too? I'm finding myself commenting less and less since the change to the double word. Many times, the verification is longer than my comment! It's becoming tedious and frustrating.

I suppose I could write to blogger urging them change it back, but something tells me that would be an impossible feat. After all there must be some reason they suddenly change it in the first place.  Who am I to tell them to revert to the old one?

No. It's not my approach. Instead I prefer to appeal to you. All you lovely artists bloggers. Do we really need the word verification anyway? Who among us will spam comments? I think it's safe to assume that that really isn't an issue here. Perhaps if we were targeting the masses, it might be an issue. I know we like to think we're reaching all of them, but seriously, who are your comments coming from?

Other artists.

I thought I disconnected my word verification back last summer. Recently I was in my settings and realized it was still turned on. I apologize for making you type all those unnecessary words for so long. Apparently I mustn't have "saved the changes" when I made them. Now I believe it's really disconnected. If you still have to type their crazy letters here, please let me know.

You're already aware from my last post, my eyesight isn't great. Even with my glasses on things aren't perfectly clear. (maybe it's time to visit an eye doctor, but I just don't want to) I suppose if the new letters in the word verifications were clear and straight, this wouldn't be an issue for me.

However they aren't.

I find myself wondering if it's an r pushed into an n or if it's an m. Today I came upon a double o. You'd think if I discerned the first o the second one would be a snap. No, it wasn't that easy. The second o looked nothing like the first one. It was all dented and bumpy and attached to an l. So was it a d or another o???

If I would have written like this in grade school, I would have flunked penmanship.

So please everyone, be comment friendly. Go to your settings and change that nasty word verification to a "no". And please be smarter than I was in July and remember to click save changes.

I blog with morning coffee. It's a nice way to wake up. Unfortunately lately, frustration builds with every comment I leave, making me start my day on the wrong foot! I hope you'll join me in simplifying are comments. Let's take matters into our own hands and annihilate the word verification from our blogs. Please pass the word around.

(If we begin to have problems with spam comments, we can always turn it back on...)

Thank you and happy commenting!

Note: Coastal Simplicity is a scene from Monhegan Island, Maine.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Squint they say. Squint!

Original oil painting  14x18"
by Susan Roux

I have to admit, I really can't see. 

I don't mean that I'm blind, though I often refer to myself as the blind artist. Without my glasses the world is a blur. I like to think of it as a good blur. 

Most art teachers will stress the importance of squinting. It eliminates detail and reduces your subject to a series of values. It's a great tool. You can quickly evaluate which darks are the darkest and assess exactly where the light turns to shadow. Sometimes color can be confusing. It can play tricks on your eyes. An object of bright color placed in shadow may appear lighter than another of a dark color in light. A quick squint and the real values come into clear view, instantly. I think it may be one of an artists most important tools. 

I teach to a new group of beginners twice a year through a local Adult Ed program. I've come to realize how useful it is for me to teach this class. It keeps me focused on the fundamental basics. When you take people who've never picked up a brush, perhaps never even drawn before and try to teach them to achieve pleasing results in a total of 16 hours, you find yourself focusing on the bare essentials. My first lesson is all about learning to see. I refer to it as apple night. We paint a single apple three or four times within two hours. I've found the first thing a student needs to know is how to begin looking at things.

Objects of any kind can be broken down as a form. If you learn how to see the basic make up of forms, you can be taught to imitate the values and thus capture form on your canvas. It is the fundamental premise of representational art. 

Squint. Remember to squint!

I began the above painting during my artist retreat at the mansion last month. In one sitting (standing really) I played wet into wet capturing this simple marsh scene. I was unhappy with part of the foreground. Now I wish I had photographed it at that stage to show you, but it didn't occur to me to do so at the time. All I was thinking of was fixing it! The swooping bush of delicate white flowers didn't read as a full bush. It was a problem of overlooking form. The entire form. In this case, the bush. I had focused too much on capturing the tiny delicate flowers and by doing so, overlooked it as an entity. What I needed to paint was the bush itself and then add flowers. 

Today I set this sorry painting on my easel. I removed my glasses. It helped me see beyond the dotted details I had spotted in. Looking at my reference, all I could discern were the values. I picked up my friend, the BIG brush. (It's a number 10 filbert that measures about an inch wide.) Fearlessly, I chopped into my white dotted flowers and began to establish the form of a bush. Immediately it improved. I dropped a few more quick colored strokes, adjusting my values. 

No squinting necessary. 

Without my glasses, I see a lovely blur. A blur that has the same effect as squinting. Not only is it a great painting tool, it's even saving me from developing an abundance of crows feet! How can you beat that? After capturing my form, I put my glass back on to clean up my details. 

I would have to say as a teacher, I forget to remind my students to squint. I've grown so accustomed to not needing to, that I forget to mention it. How about you? Do you remember to squint? Are you an on the glasses, off the glasses type of painter too? How do you go about finding your values?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

For the children

Moving to the Rhythm 
(panel 1)
Original oil painting  28x22"
by Susan Roux

For some, when it rains it pours.

Imagine loosing your wife (or husband) to cancer and the following month loosing your only daughter because she was brutally murdered at the hands of her husband. Seems unimaginable doesn't it? Let's say she had three small children and you're the only one left to care for them. 

I'm sad to say this isn't a hypothetical but reality for my good friend and mentor, artist Don Hatfield. 

As if matters aren't bad enough, he's finding himself in a battle to gain full custody of his only grandchildren. It's very sad and I'm embarrassed to live in a society that prefers to put children in foster care/up for adoption rather than grant them effortlessly to a close loving relative. What has our nation come to, to make a grandfather fight for the custody of his orphaned grandchildren?

Think of those lovely adorable little ones. Big questioning eyes full of sadness, longing for their mother and their incarcerated dad. They're only babies. What do you tell them? All you want to do is hold them tightly in your arms. You cry silently... What would you tell them if the State ripped them from your loving embrace only to hand them over to strangers? As if dealing with two deaths isn't enough, you don't even have time to morn. Instead you're busy hustling trying to make some of the most important decisions of your life in order to reach the State's requirements of what's best for your babies. 

Within 24 hours of his daughter Rachel's murder, Don was required to have a court hearing. Do you know what it's like scheduling a court hearing? Friends came to his rescue and luckily he did obtain one. No time to deal with the shock of his immediate loss. No, the State won't grant you that. If you don't get your court hearing within the 24 hour period, the children are immediately put into foster care. 

This hearing granted Don a temporary guardianship that lasts but one short month. At that time, he'll be visited by social services to see if the living accommodations he's providing meet their standards. That is just one bullet point on their list of requirements. 

Those of you who follow Don's blog know he filed bankruptcy over a year ago. His credit is as low as it can go. You could say it's nonexistent. No bank will loan him the funds he needs immediately to put together the pieces necessary to meet State requirements. 

One month. 

That's all he gets. Not one month of clear level headed thinking. No, one month when he's facing a crushing emptiness that can devour even the strongest among us. How he longs for his loving wife to be by his side during this trying time. But it's not the hand he's been dealt.

Don needs financial assistance at this time. He is a wonderful loving, giving man. The sadness that overcomes me at this time is indescribable. Please consider helping a fellow artist. Any contribution is helpful and greatly appreciated. Remember the March of Dimes? Their motto was based upon if each person gave one dime, they would have enough money to help those in need. Well times have changed and one dime doesn't go as far as it did back then, but the same principle exists. Small amounts by many add up.

Please go to Don's blog to help. If his story touches your heart, please do every effort to spread his information around. We have great power at our fingertips with the internet and our computers, laptops and smart phones. Wouldn't it be great if together we could make it go viral? 

At the moment there is an effort to create an account on a fundraising website. I'll post a link to it as it becomes available. 

Thank you for reading through this post. As you know Don is very dear to my heart. Please help.

Moving to the Rhythm 
(panels 1+2)