Cleaning Out the Studio

or one woman’s journey down the rabbit hole of organization

Camp Comfort (working title) 8 x 10 oil on canvas panel

The great artist is the simplifier.

Vincent Van Gogh

The above painting was recently found in my archives. This painting has everything I love about painting outdoors. It is loose, confident and dramatic. This is a sneak peak as I am working on a title and it will soon be entered in an upcoming show. It is low resolution, before the final signature.

Painting is how I express myself. What is your favorite way to communicate? Is it through music, storytelling or baking? By the way, if it is cooking, I could really use some help. Cooking is so boring to me. Apparently, our youngest nicknamed our skinny cat Stir Fry. I thought it is because he is so skittish, “No, it is because it reminds me of your cooking, burnt”. Well, I can’t argue with that, he does resembles burnt rice. Reading about painting while cooking is apparently not the best way to cook, who knew?

Wait, weren’t we talking about cleaning the Studio?

Right, right one of my goals is to become more organized. It is a process. I have attempted this many times but now I am cleaning out the studio. There are a lot of old paintings, sketches and experiments that are no longer where I see my paintings going.

Experimentation used to be a big part of my process but it also slowed me down. My focus is working on composition, mood, brushstrokes, glazing, all to create more interesting paintings. Once I decided that was my goal, it started getting easier. So, now I work primarily in oil, with a little gouache on the side for miniature work. Acrylic is what I use for warm ups and with my students.

So what is the problem?

Focus is my problem! To fight this monster, I decided to go back to the basics and use a combination of low and high tech tools to help me. I know these are simplistic but if I can concentrate on painting, instead of looking for the next submission deadline, or where my notes are on a painting spot, that clears my head and lets me concentrate on what I need to do.

Make a plan!

Here is my super secret formula:

  • Yellow legal pad – write it down and cross it off this is so satisfying
  • Clear out the almosts – some of my old work had to go but anything that started a flood of images, I photographed it before tossing it. It could become a super painting yet!
  • Use the computer for good – creating files, labeling images, blogging and journaling. Basically anything to get me away from loose paper and make it findable.
  • Keep the best of the best -date it, bubble wrap it and take high quality pictures to keep on hand for upcoming shows. Also keep a log of where it is.
  • Develop a critical eye – this is getting easier by asking myself questions. What do I find exciting to paint? What time of day? What type of scenes? Listening to people at receptions and getting critiqued by other artists are all part of the journey.
  • Journaling – self discovery is hard work but writing really helps me focus
  • Enter shows early – I am excited about the next upcoming show to put this strategy in use. My computer was incredibly slow, due to all of my pictures and it used to be full of viruses (6). My husband cleaned it and 8 hours later it works! I missed two deadlines because of it.
  • Use a wall calendar – I resisted this for years but I now have a big ugly calendar and it is helpful.
  • Digital calendar – yeah, it feels redundant but it helps with using the alarms and reminders.
  • Framing supplies – keep extra supplies on hand so in case one frame gets damaged you can use the next one and repair the other one later.

Thanks for stopping by, and share your stories with me, I would love to know how you organize your projects, who knows, it could help.

Take care,

Lisa

How to Paint Happy

Painting is hard. Don’t make it harder by reciting negative mantras.

No one starts out hating art

When we first started painting, we were full of wonder. Swirling paint, mixing colors and creating storylines was enchanting. We made all the things we loved: trees, rainbows and smiling people holding hands.

Then we look around and spy some one doing it better. That’s all it takes to cast doubt and our creative spark wobbles.

The truth is that the amazingly gifted kid, simply put pink flowers in the foreground of a dark painting.

All of this happens in grade school! So when your seven year old shows you the painting he made, he worked on it just as hard as you did at your job that day. Take a moment and say something intelligent. Ask him why he chose that color or ask him to tell you the story of his painting. Listen and learn.

We are all learning so be nice to yourself, celebrate your victories. Getting your gear together is a victory. Organizing the studio is a victory. Get into the habit of complimenting yourself, your friends, the mail carrier, a waitress because we all need a little happiness to continue. That way, when someone compliments your work you won’t be thrown off balance. Say thank you and how much you appreciate the compliment. Anything but, do you really think so? I messed up the water and the trees are all leaning to the left.

Wow, that wasn’t what anyone expected to hear. I whoop or hop, sometimes I do a little dance. Sure it looks mad but I am experiencing joy, so why not?

People have come up to me and asked me who I am talking to? This usually happens when I am working out a tricky bit. I laugh and tell them what I am actually doing.

Look, people don’t know how to talk to artists and their only references are from sitcoms and their friends that paint to relax.

I tell them. I am trying to pick out a color for the shady side of the rocks that is a bit surprising and fun.

Now back to my dance off with the cat.

Stay positive and paint happy

Time for bed after painting this fun nocturne

It is so wonderful being awake and painting late at night. No one stops by selling me services, no cars are honking and even the dogs dream. Blissful silence.

***Update***

The Fishing Boat Returns, oil on panel, 11” x 14”

This painting just got accepted into Harbor Gallery & Gifts in Ventura Harbor Village. It will be hung on September 27th.

The painting is 11 x 14” and is oil on panel. It’s wonderfully gushy and swirly. .

Nocturne’s are really my thing now they are just so yummy.

A nocturne was first a musical term. Now, it is also a painting term. I am part owl, so it works for me.

I painted this while a couple was Pokemon hunting and we visited for 20 minutes. We had a nice chat. Then I did another version in the studio. Now I am off to bed so I can look fabulous for my acrylic demo today at 2 pm. Thanks for stopping by.

I will post more when I choose the perfect frame to compliment this piece.

Today I am painting at the LA County Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

Wow, what a place this is! It’s hard to believe that I’ve grown up in Los Angeles County and now, live in Ventura County but I’ve never visited this place! It is astounding to see the variety, care and planning they’ve put into creating the gardens.

Off on another adventure

I’ll post even more pictures later. Here is what I am working on first. Then I’ll be back tomorrow! Really, it’s 127 acres of sheer beauty.

Time to add more sass and work on edges and such

Do you know what arboretum means? Woody plants. That’s what it used to be- trees and shrubs.

When I asked for directions from Siri, he asked (haha, I changed Siri to a man), “Did you mean- LA County Arboretum & Botanical Gardens?” Yeah, that one. They had to add botanical garden because it is so much more than trees and shrub now. There are flowering plants, exotic plants and er, crazy looking plants. More later.

Psst, Don’t forget about my demo on Sunday in Santa Paula California, at 963 Santa Barbara St., in the Old Train Depot. We will be on the top floor and the demo will be from 2 PM and go till 4 PM with a nice snack break in between. I’ll even bring some small paintings that will be for sale.

Rolling Wave, acrylic on illustration board

My September challenge

Finish what you started !

Oh, it is on like Donkey Kong

It is starting to look like a painting graveyard over here. I keep lying to myself and promising to finish that one tomorrow. That ended yesterday! My paintings are taking too long, that’s the big problem. I have had a steady year of improving my artwork. Reading, getting critiques, studying the masters and asking a lot of questions. I have even been selling, winning awards and my first demo is Saturday at 2-4pm 963 Santa Barbara St. I will tell you secrets during my acrylic demo and teach you how to paint happy.

Now that it is September, it is time to complete my plein air journey. I need to get ready for my ultimate goal of doing 2 to three paintings a day on location. Can I do it? I am going to do everything I can to reach that year end goal. So it starts now. Actually it started yesterday.

The color wheel yup, that old thing

I can only use oil paint outdoors so this is a great challenge for me. At home I have an outdoor studio! When I carry my paint in my car I keep it in a sealed container. OK on with the show.

Continue reading “My September challenge”

What’s New with You?

Hello there,

I hope you are enjoying your summer, I know I am. August is almost over and I am looking ahead to tell you what’s coming up. Great things are on the horizon and I am grateful to be doing so much. Here is the run down.

I just made my first logo from scratch! That was a hard one to think of what says YOU in one image. I picked what I wear often, my blue beret. This has started a lot of conversations and says, ta-da, I’m here! Kids love my beret and it is a way for other artists to recognize me and introduce themselves. I try and wear it when I don’t need a giant sunhat. Paint outs can be so hot! I also wear it when I use my iPad to digitally paint in museums, at the park and in a mall. I don’t shop at the mall, unless you count me shopping for figures. I could be drawing you right now.

August News

August 28th- I was lied to! I was told by one ranger, a month ago, that McGrath State Beach was open, since there wasn’t any more rains. So, I scheduled it for my Plein Air Wednesday group. It was not open. It happens unfortunately. Nobody went, phew. I had to run out to Ventura anyways , so I ended up painting at a friend’s house in gouache. Painting with friends is better than painting alone. This is a little gouache painting in under 30 minutes. Later that night I started an oil painting. I am giddy with excitement to share but it is in its ugly duckling stage right now. Tomorrow I will finish at least one oil painting to share with you.

Flowers in bloom

August 30th – I will be painting rural scenes tomorrow! I am hoping to get up early enough to meet some of my neighbors.

Day 1  of a 31 day painting challenge.  I painted this in 30 minutes and was happy eating my cold food because I liked the painting.
My breakfast, one day I had to paint this, 30 minutes and bam I was done. Mostly, I could eat!

August 31st – Gouache on the Go! My Saturday morning class at the Ventura Botanical Gardens There are some spots left, buy the whole gouache kit, or bring a watercolor sketchbook and intense pencils or watercolor pencils and paint with me. I love teaching people how to enjoy painting. Use the link to sign up.


Upcoming in September

Time to paint

September 8th – Lisa Mahony’s Acrylic Demonstration will be at The Depot in Santa Paula. I was asked to demonstrate by the Santa Paula Society for the Arts on September 8th at 2 p.m. Join me if and learn how a working artist starts a painting, keep her energy up and creates something before your eyes. I have been winning awards, get accepted to shows and selling. This year, has been my best year yet. Are you looking for a teacher? This is a great opportunity to see if you would like to study with me. Plus, I will also have some acrylic paintings for sale. You never know what you’ll find, it could be just the piece you were looking for!

Late Night Shopping Trip, Crossing La Loma Bridge, oil on panel painting by flashlight can be quite exciting

September 10th- Old Mill art reception 5:30-7:30 p.m. The link takes you to the official California Art Club Exhibition page, our group show is the second one. I am honored to be showing with this prestigious group. The Old Mill’s address is 1120 Old Mill Rd, San Marino, CA 91108

Come Sail with Me, oil on canvas, 16″ x 20″ framed $1800.00

September 15th is the last day for our Member’s Show. Come Sail with Me, oil on canvas. This beauty will be on exhibit at Harbor Gallery and Gifts . Come see it in a gallery setting, by far the best way to see a painting. This painting won a merit award and people have been asking about it as well. I suggest, seeing it in person, otherwise it comes home with me. At that point, I will look for another gallery to show it in. My July, Outstanding merit winner, found a new home and also was in The Breeze newspaper. Thank you, to all of my collectors. It is one of the reasons I paint; creating pieces that connect with people.

bye for now

Gouache on the Go Class

Did you ever want to paint out in nature? Does it seem interesting? Painting is a great way to spend time outdoors and it can be simple. Join me Saturday August 31st, 2019 and I will show you how fun it can be.

What Time? We can meet down at the gate at 9:00 am and walk up or drive up

Where? Ventura Botanical Gardens, located directly behind Ventura City Hall.

When: August 31st. The class starts at 9:30 am. You can walk up with me at the gate through the Chilean Garden up to Summit Pavilion or you can park on Brakey. All of the directions are on the website.

Tomorrow I will post a video of the supplies. It is supposed to be on website for Ventura Botanical Gardens as well but I didn’t see it. I might have just missed it. Here is the link to the registration https://secure.venturabotanicalgardens.com/np/clients/venturabotanical/eventRegistration.jsp?forwardedFromSecureDomain=1&event=67

Ventura Botanical Gardens

I love painting, it is a wonderful way to spend a morning. On August 31st, 2019 I will be teaching a gouache class. Here is part of my tiny set up.

Gouache on the Go
Sunny Side Up
gouache and watercolor pencil
4″ x 6″

The class starts at 9:30 am at the Ventura Botanical Garden, right behind City Hall.

http://venturabotanicalgardens.com

I am excited to teach plein air at the this beautiful spot. This class if for all levels. I will be demonstrating to get you started. Buy the Intense pencils or the whole gouache set.