"Clean Your Space, Clear Your Mind"
A Clean Space
Before I start on a new art piece I begin the daunting task of cleaning my entire space from previous projects. It usually takes me a good part of the day to thoroughly clean. You see, I work in the same place I live, I can't just clean up one area...it's the laundry, kid's rooms, and dishes...I even went as far as straightening my entire kitchen cabinets and fridge.
I find this part of the process to be the hardest, it's so exhausting. Buuut it's the most crucial because you get to go through your inventory! I make sure to double check jars to insure they haven't dried up and to see what I need to restock. This is why I clean 1-2 days before I actually start painting.
When it comes time to clean my brushes and prep my art table, I save the task for last.
I wish I had an assistant for that part!
Every time I collect my brushes, that have been marinating in jars of Gamsol for weeks, it reminds me that I need to take better care of them...especially when the Gamsol evaporates and your left with hard crud on the brush hairs. Ugh.
My little miracle worker is 'The Master's Brush Cleaner and Preserver' that I get from Blick's. Here is a link on how to use.
Now comes time for table prep! This step is just laying out the general paints and tools I use in my first few layers. I probably will not use all the colors, it just depends on how I feel. I'm a faithful user of Williamsburg handmade oil paints, more expensive but very worth it. You really do get what you pay for, the colors are so rich. I do mix some of my own paint and pigments, but that's closer to the final layers (I will show you how I do this in a later blog).
Shown above are the following colors: Phthalo Blue, Brilliant Yellow Extra Pale, Cadmium Red Deep, Burnt Umber, Brown Pink, Raw Umber, Titanium White, and Italian Raw Sienna. Beside them is a compass, charcoal, eraser and two small containers, one for my Gamsol and another for my linseed oil.
I must say, after a long day of cleaning, the best is waking up to a tidy home and workspace. It's almost as if the air is thinner and I feel lighter. I guess that's just the anxiety leaving my body.
Whether you are by yourself in quarantine, or with a family, I ALWAYS find it best to set a weekly routine...especially if being a homeschool teacher is abruptly added to the schedule:)
I created a daily routine for my kids on a large sheet of paper and posted in the hallway on the wall between their rooms. This way they can refer to it whenever they feel the need to ask me when food is ready, if they can have a snack and/or when the lessons will be over (saves me the headache). Also there are no arguments about bedtime, or getting off the Xbox because something about having rules written down makes them obey.
*Side note, I know I have horrible writing. My sister always asks, "Harm, how can you paint the way you do but your handwriting looks like this?".
I simply don't know...and I hate that my families nickname for me is "Harm".
Looking at the schedule, I know I have between 2pm-5:30pm and 9pm-2am to paint/answer emails. Weekends are pretty much the same besides school, which gives me extra hours to paint.
While they are playing outside I squeeze in my 30min workout. Sometimes I even join them on the trampoline or find myself in an all out nerf-war chase. I also make it a habit of doing 25 squats every time I go into the bathroom (A friend of mine had suggested this and I have been doing it ever since). I even have a 15 pound weight by the sink;)
Researching Caravaggio for the "Black" Jesus.
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was an Italian painter (1571-1610). He is known for his contrasting colors and dramatic lighting. These beautiful paintings were very controversial for its time due to their realism. I mean, you would think that would be a good thing, right? Well, not when people were consistently surrounded by paintings of idealistic holy figures.
Like me, his technique was putting paint to canvas with minimal preparation. If he didn't like his composition he would simply paint right over it, tailoring a painting to how he felt at that moment.
Perhaps his wild character influenced the dramatic compositions and the stark contrast. He was violent, a notorious criminal, a murderer and a womanizer...his spiraling out-of-control life ended in a mysterious death. Read more here.
What I want to incorporate in my painting from Caravaggio? Dramatic theatrics and lighting, realism, and a composition that makes the viewer feel as if they are a part of the scene.
...Quick Tip for these trying times...
When i'm deep in my creative flow, the last thing I want to think about is what I should cook. I receive 3 weekly meals from HelloFresh and it truly relieves my stress on figuring out what to prepare for dinner.
Their meats and veggies are all organic and fresh and the best part is, I have little leftovers if any.
I cook them Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I make a quick homemade one pot dish and we usually get take-out for the weekends.
The best part, I get to bond with my daughter who has a love for cooking. My son on the other hand, well he just likes to be the food taster. He will take a quick break from his Fortnite to taste a piece of cooked meat, or noodle, he quickly gives me a nod and thumbs up before hopping back online.