Sunday, January 5, 2014

Inspiring Books and Things of 2013

I usually post my "Top 5" or "Top 10" list of books for 2013. I could do that. But I felt I could also share with you some of the most inspiring things I've read, looked at and learned in 2013.

Hope you all had a good 2013. I learned a great deal and most of that through trial and error BUT that's how Dawn learns! I can also say it's been one of the most rewarding and exciting years of my life as far as my art goes. I feel like I'm more Dawn than I've ever been if that makes sense (probably not). What I mean by that is that I am painting what I truly delight in, what I enjoy. I also feel more purposeful in my work.

 I cannot tell you how much working with White Stone Gallery (in particular Susan Hooks) has helped me. She has helped shepherd me in ways that I needed and I have been able to see things more clearly through her wisdom.

I give all my thanks to God for what He has shown me. I have a little 4x6 card hanging up that I wrote to Him here in the studio. It says, "I thank you for every mistake. Everything I haven't learned yet. Because YOU will be faithful."

So here are my favorite "things" of 2013:

7. Naples Yellow and Chromium Oxide Green

Naples Yellow is considered "landscape yellow" by some artists and I can see why now after using it for over 9 months. It has the rusty feel of Yellow Ochre without the brown. The mixture I get with Naples and some of the greens and blues I'm using looks more real to life.

Chromium Oxide Green was recommended to me as the artists' "middle" green. It is not a "cool" or bluer green nor is it a "warm" green that has more yellow. I like it as a base green to start with as I Plein Air because depending on the light I have no idea if it is going to be cool or warm.

6. Gessobord

I have started using the gessobord about as much as I use canvas. I like the smooth tooth on the surface and I like the way the gesso seems to "soak" up the oil paint so that it dries a little quicker than on canvas. I also really appreciate the stiffness that comes with the gessobord. There is no "give" like in canvas and it helps for me when putting on that initial layer to just give it all the gusto in my brush. They cost a little more overall than canvas but it's worth it to me.
5. Oleogel by Rublev and Thomas Kegler, Landscape artist
I found Thomas Kegler through Plein Air Magazine (which I also love but have been reading for a few years so it wasn't new for 2013). I like the way he paints thoughtfully and with respect to the landscape (what I mean is he tries to read the terrain to tell the story). I've watched this instructional video over and over again just writing down all the things he is doing. One of the most influential on me this year was the use of Oleogel. It is a gel medium that thins the oil paint to a glaze. I absolutely love it. It has helped me to layer the clouds and to wet areas that need re-wetting after drying overnight (especially on the very large canvases). I also use it on lightning as I will put down a layer of the glazed paint then come back through with a rubber tipped brush and pull the Oleogel off exposing the bright paint underneath. Oh, and I love the smell of this stuff. Made from linseed oil.
4. Rosemary and Co. Brushes
This is my catalog with a few of the brushes I ordered from her. You can see my little notes I wrote on the cover. I have been using the Masters Choice and Ivory (synthetic) Filberts mostly. Filberts are curved at the top (also called cats tongue). These are hands down my favorite brushes I've ever painted with! So responsive to the paint. I was sold after my first order. I can tell you that after clean up the brushes go back to their shape and don't flay out after several uses.  Even though they are hand-made from England they are still reasonably priced. What a blessing to find someone who is as passionate about paintbrushes as the artist is about painting!
3. Guerrilla Painter 5x7 Pocket Box
I used this so much this year after my surgery. It was small and compact and I could paint with the box on my lap. I got the hinged extension (for the brushes) and I'm glad I did as it gives me some room on the palette. I used this to just sit unnoticed on a bench and paint some trees and I used this in my studio when I could not stand at the big easel. Guerrilla Painter makes some of the neatest boxes for artists. I am currently trying to figure out a way to take this little box with me on a long hiking trip with my hubbie. We want to backpack through the Smokey Mountains in 2014. I'll let you know how it goes...But, this is the box I want to take. Sturdy, compact and holds the paints and Gamsol (cleaning for the oil paints). It won't hold the brushes but I'm working on a way to slip them into the outside of the backpack if they were in a small cylinder.
2. For the Beauty of the Church Edited by W. David O. Taylor

This is such a great read for artists who feel displaced by the church and for clergy who need to beckon artists back into their role in the church. I literally found myself saying "amen" in several chapters (and each chapter is written by a different author some of which are Andy Crouch, Eugene Petterson and Barbara Nicolosi).  My favorite chapter of the book was Barbara Nicolosi's entitled, "The Artist: What Exactly Is an Artist, and How Do We Shepherd Them?" I want to share an excerpt from her portion called, "What Beauty is Not"
"....It's not cute. It's not easy. It's not banal. It's not silly. The beautiful is not sweet or nice. It's not facile. And it's not unthreatening...Call a thing sweet, call it precious, call it pretty. That's fine. There's a place for that. But don't settle for pretty or precious when you have something as magnificently glorious as beauty calling out to you." (page 109)
This book helped me see how I have a calling to beauty. I have been made to do that. It also led to some quickening in my heart for my church. I ended out doing a painting for the baptism area and want to do an even bigger one(s) in 2014.
1.  The Table of Inwardness by Calvin Miller (Nurturing Our Inner Life in Christ)

Just 118 pages long but really is PACKED with so much. I can hardly write about it as I underlined so much in this book. I can truthfully say that it has taught me more clearly HOW to listen to God and the benefit of being SILENT before God. I learned how much I need that time to just shut my mouth and hear my Savior (sometimes not even with words). Miller writes, "I found in Christ a readiness to accept me. I was humbled. I was loved in my unfinished state, and found a new graciousness towards others who also awaited completion."

Our silence is a "door for Him to enter." A door I never knew about in all the busyness of life. Even in prayer where I talk, talk, talk TO God I found I wasn't LISTENING to Him. What was He saying about my life? What was He quickening my heart to? What things was He eager to talk about and I wasn't? Many times we struggle with obedience because we haven't heard what TO do. This book helped me see the Christ in every moment and how He is still shaping me even as He delights in me.

I'm looking forward to setting some goals for 2014. Thank you to everyone who stops by and reads this blog. I pray you are encouraged by my own struggles and attempts. Art and life are a process of discovery of who we are and the beauty that He is.

Happy 2014 to you all!


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