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It was Valentine’s Day a week or so ago. I am not the biggest fan of Valentine’s Day. I wasn’t a fan when I was single and I’m not a fan now that I’m married. I don’t even know how to express why. It’s not even the commercialization aspect. I don’t know, but it puts me in a cruddy mood in the best of times. Anyway, this year I was on my own and missing my husband, and really really not in the best mood. So I did the only thing that I know how to do to cheer me up – I painted.

I’d tried painting the day before, and it did not go well. All the colours went muddy, nothing came out. But the next day, things were flowing better, and I managed to do two paintings, go me. The sky painting was actually already halfway done and had been sitting in my living room halfway done for about 6 months, mocking me, guilting me about how long it’d been since I got out my paints. So I finally finished that sucker. So THERE.

The other painting I did was a smaller one inspired (in a macabre, GTFO Valentine’s Day kind of way) by the holiday. My mother said it disturbed her when I showed her. I’m not sure if that was my intention or not. I think it reflects how I was feeling this Valentine’s Day though.. a bit conflicted. It is based on the Lovers of Valdaro, a skeleton couple unearthed by archaeologists near Romeo & Juliet’s Mantua. In a way, it’s a testament to love that goes on forever, even into death. But in another way it’s two dead people in a pit – HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! 😉 Anyway, I named it after a Bauhaus song because reasons. The two just were entwined in my mind immediately for some reason.

Passion of Lovers (Is for Death)

Passion of Lovers (Is for Death)

I’m still not sure about a title for this sky one. My FB friends have given me suggestions. They were all very good, but I’m still not sure. It reminds me of the colors and above-the-clouds-edness in Robot Unicorn Attack, the ’80s-Lisa-Frank-aesthetic game app, so I’m just gonna call it that for now as a placeholder till I can think of a more poetic name.

Robot Unicorn Attack (TBC)

Robot Unicorn Attack (TBC)

And now for a (related) musical interlude…

I am finally (! only took 6 months or so…) starting to come out of the hazy crazy dazy days that were the entire end of last year, when I was finishing up my PhD (I’m a Dr. now!!!!!!), and I realised it had been quite some time since I updated this blog! Which is a pity, because I have actually been pretty active artistically lately. The post-PhD psychology job hunt has been difficult and unfruitful thus far, unfortunately. But to balance that disappointment, I have actually been having a bit of a boom in my art career. Who knew the so-called starving arts could be so much more lucrative than having a science PhD…? Anyway, I have had two recent commissions for paintings, and I could not have asked for nicer clients, either! One was for a painting of a pretty pink and purple bouquet of flowers (a lovely memento of the first bouquet the client ever gave his girlfriend):

The First Bouquet

The other (handed over to the client just today) was a landscape of a local Aberdeenshire landmark, the hill they call Bennachie. Both were a pleasure to paint, and I am so grateful to my clients for the opportunity :).

Bennachie Sunshine, May 2015 Commissioned Painting

I have also given my portfolio website an overhaul – I thought it was time to bring it a bit more up to date. I intend to soon set up my own e-commerce portal on it, so that I can sell more original paintings and prints without the intermediary commission charged by Etsy etc, which should make things more affordable to potential buyers. I still have my Etsy shop, and sales there have recently started to increase again after a bit of a lull. So it’s happy times, artistically speaking 🙂

These commissioned paintings have also been a nice reminder of how much I’ve missed painting, and I fully intend to get back to doing more creative and artistic work now that the PhD is behind me. So watch this space!

Here’s a lovely song that I’ve been listening to lately… I find it comforting, plus it’s pretty. Hope you enjoy it too 🙂

I woke up this morning feeling rather nostalgic for the days when I actually had a signature “style”. It’s the one that made a brief reappearance in my Violinist painting. Back in high school, I used to paint a lot in pretty much only the three basic primary colors: red, yellow, and blue. Technically it was a couple more than that, because I used various shades of each of those (for any paint geeks out there, the basic set is usually: ultramarine & cobalt blue, permanent rose & alizarin crimson, and cadmium medium & light yellow, plus white and dioxazine purple in place of black – which just muddies colors in my experience – for lightening/darkening). I’ve felt rather self-conscious for a while now about the fact that my paintings are kind of all over the place stylistically. I guess you could say I’m experimenting, and any good artist will experiment, but I can’t help feeling envious of artists with a unique, signature style that people can recognize as theirs. I don’t feel like I have that, at least not anymore. But this morning I felt like painting like Past Genevieve, so I did just that, and it felt lovely, that cozy, warm feeling of having a long chat with an old friend you haven’t seen in a while, but with whom you still get on very well because you’re just kindred spirits. The subject matter was all just random stuff pulled out of my inspiration folder that I thought would lend themselves well to the holy trinity of primary colors.

Whiskers on Kittens

Whiskers on Kittens

King Volcano

King Volcano

Sakura

Sakura

And a couple of suitably retro songs to accompany the paintings…

In light of my PhD project on creativity and some of the stuff that’s come out of the interviews I’ve been doing with local artists, etc., it occurred to me with some horror just how much I usually plan my paintings ahead, and how that might mean they come out a bit… stilted. Everything I read and hear and see seems to say pretty much the same thing – that creativity is all about the subconscious, tapping into unusual associations and spontaneity. I don’t often try to tap into that because, frankly, I’ve wondered for a while now if I actually may be the Subconscious-less Wonder. Seriously, I have the most boring dreams ever. They’re all so literal and… eh. Even when they’re wacky they’re such thinly veiled metaphors that they might as well be the boring literal truth. It was part of the reason why I couldn’t stick it out in art therapy – my own experience is that I don’t hide much from myself, and I just couldn’t identify with the idea that we’re all just a tip of an iceberg. I’m not all that deep, I guess. A cigar is almost always just a cigar for me.

Lately I’ve been seeing some pretty amazing abstract art around. I’ve never really done any abstract art before, and the paintings I’ve been seeing kind of inspired me to give it a go. So today I got out a packet of postcard sized canvas boards and tried my hand at it. Stick on some music, just let the paint be my guide, and see what happens…

Well. I was rather disappointed. I suppose if I had to choose, the Ragnarok one is my favourite though (inspired by the fact that apparently some people thought today was going to be the Norse apocalypse…). Further evidence to suggest that I am indeed the Subconscious-less Wonder. I guess I’ll just stick to my paint-by-numbers routine of planning ahead, painting figurative stuff, and being rather uncreative. Sigh… Anyway, here you go, my first and last attempt at painting abstracts.

Ragnarok, G. Cseh

Ragnarok

5 Ghosts, G. Cseh

5 Ghosts

Atlantis, G. Cseh

Atlantis

Iris, G. Cseh

Iris

And just to leave you on a nicer note, here’s a pretty song for you (thanks to awesome fellow artist Esther Green for introducing Patrick Duff’s music to me :))

There is no particular theme for today, nothing particularly noteworthy going on just now, but I’ve done two paintings today, and made chicken tortilla soup (I can heartily recommend this recipe from the Pioneer Woman).  Both of these things make me happy.  Oh, and I’ve (finally!) finished grading my class’ papers, so…hooray!  FREEDOM!!! (I’ll just ignore that they have another paper due this week…) I’m not exactly blown away by either painting, but enjoyed the process of painting nonetheless.  This painting is just another variation on one of my favourite subject matters – underwater scenes. There are actually a lot more colour variations in this, but I can’t capture it via photo apparently.

Up

Up

The second painting is another entry for Virtual Paintout‘s Iceland location this month.  I liked the kind of duo-chromatic thing going on in this scene.  This was just a quick, wee painting.

Iceland 2

Iceland 2

Hope you’re all enjoying your weekends and doing things that make you happy too. 🙂

I have a slightly embarrassing confession to make. I’m a bit of an Icelandophile. Now, I should say, that’s said as someone who’s never actually been to Iceland, so if I ever do finally get to go there it could very well go the way of my Francophilia after my first trip to Paris took care of that… But I hope not. So you can imagine my sheer dorky delight when the new November Virtual Paintout location was announced and it was Iceland! I had been hoping to get a jolt of inspiration to get me painting again, and here was the answer to my prayers. My husband likes to joke, whenever I wistfully suggest our next holiday be to Iceland, that we should go and have tea with Björk. Because apparently that’s what one does in Iceland… of course. Anyway, since going anywhere (even JUST across a tiny stretch of water) from Aberdeen costs an arm, a leg, your firstborn child, and the blood of a virgin who also must have been born on the cusp between Aquarius and Pisces and have blue hair and a lisp, I have not been able to afford a trip there yet. One day though… I’m thinking reward trip after my PhD? In the meantime, thanks to the genius of Google Streetview, I was able to get the next best thing to tea with Björk in actual Iceland, and went exploring virtually. In addition to gorgeous landscapes and Lilliputian villages, I stumbled across a small town (Heiðvangur, Hella) that appeared to be having some kind of Smurf festival when the Google Streetview van rolled through town. Life is strange and wonderful and random.  Hella rad 😉

I have already done my first painting for this month’s VP. You can submit up to 3 a month, so there may very well be some more in the near future, I am feeling inspired! My first impression, virtually wandering around the countryside, was that it isn’t actually all that different than the wilder, more remote parts of Scotland. I’m not sure why that should surprise me – we’re not that far away from each other geographically – but it kind of did. But all the things I love about the Scottish Highlands were also here, including the dramatic, sweeping valleys coming out from behind veils of mist that I found so jaw-droppingly gorgeous in Glencoe, Skye, and the far north of Scotland on our trips there. So that was the first view I chose to paint.

Iceland 1

Iceland 1

I thought I’d pair this painting with (appropriately) one of my favourite Björk songs, as it is apparently a sort of love song to Iceland, and the video for it features some lovely Icelandic landscape footage.  Enjoy!

The last few months have been mental and stressful and busy and exhausting and although I have a stack of papers to grade, I arrived at the threshold of Spring Break unable to carry on. Something had to give, and I needed a change of pace and something different, and to get the hell away from psychology for a little while. I decided it had been way WAY too long since I did any painting, and figured paper grading can wait. So I got out my art supplies and had at it. It was SO what I needed. I feel heaps better. Now that I have 2.5 weeks of no teaching and probably no running of studies (since all my potential participants have also likely absconded elsewhere), I am taking a bit of an actual holiday from psychology. See you later, suckers! 😉

Polaris

Polaris

I’ve done two paintings, in two quite different styles. The first was kind of based on a painting idea I’d had bubbling in the back of my mind for a while now. It actually turned out about halfway as I’d pictured it in my mind. I must say, I couldn’t get away from psychology entirely (given my PhD topic is about artistic creativity…), and was kind of intrigued to watch my own process unfold. I started out with an idea, and I was faithful to it to some degree (the mountains and aurora in the top half were planned that way), but then the bottom half was sort of supposed to be based on a picture I’d seen of neurons, except it didn’t quite work and the neuronal connections I’d painted started looking kind of like the masts of a ship instead, so it turned kind of into a painting of an olde timey ship in the arctic seas during a storm, which wasn’t my intention at all, but I quite like the way a mistake sort of evolved into something unexpected all on its own.

The second is an entry for Virtual Paintout, which I haven’t done in quite some time. This month the location is Vilnius in Lithuania. I’m a sucker for Eastern European locations (my dad’s from Hungary) so had a look and it’s quite a lovely city architecturally (and sunny!). I found a quiet, chestnut-tree shaded cobblestone street to paint and gave it a whirl with watercolors. I was happy with it, until I got to the shadows on the houses on the left. I think I’ve botched those a bit, but I got to a point where I was fiddling and trying too hard to fix it and it was just making it worse, so I took Alwyn Crawshaw’s advice to stop fiddling, and called it a day. It’s okay, but it could have been better.

Quiet Cobblestone Street, Vilnius, Lithuania

Quiet Cobblestone Street, Vilnius, Lithuania

Anyway, the moral of the story, kids, is that sometimes you need to get away from work and play a little, do something creative and fun. Creativity: It does a body (and soul) good! 🙂

October is so far proving more inspiring as far as actually producing new artworks goes than the entirety of last year’s months put together.  I’m having a bit of a hard time getting back into the swing of things though.  I’m finding it hard to trust my own opinion of whether things are working out well or not.  Which is hilarious because that’s kind of what my PhD topic is about… Anyway, so I feel a bit like I’m fumbling around in the dark, unsure of what I’m doing or how it’s going.   I was sort of literally fumbling in the dark as well, because for some reason, I only got the requisite energy for painting around 6pm, when the light is failing fast.  I don’t have very good lamps, so it was kind of hard going.  I’ll probably look at my paintings tomorrow and they’ll be a completely different colour than I thought they were tonight, but ho hum, the joys, eh?

Anyway, I couldn’t face watercolors today even though that picture of the broch steps In The Walls 2 needs to be finished still, so I got out my acrylics and some canvas – first time in a long while – and it felt weird.  I had to sort of relearn how to blend paint so it didn’t go muddy, etc.  I also remembered why I normally never use black – it makes everything go grey and horrible, unless you get your paintbrush meticulously clean between colours (which I suck at) and don’t go anywhere near a bit of black paint that isn’t bone dry yet. Ew.  And for some reason I have about nine different shades of black.  Whatever possessed me to buy so much of a paint I never really use is beyond me.

The first painting I did was just a wee postcard-sized one on canvas board, for the Virtual Paintout challenge this month.  The location for October is Croatia, and I’d found a lovely spot along a sea wall that had some very picturesque scenes.  It ended up coming out very different than my mental image of it, and at first I wasn’t sure if I was happy with it, but I think I’m okay with it now.  Maybe not my all time best, but acceptable.

Sea Wall, Croatia

The second painting was kind of intended for the ‘grotto’-themed Peacock Christmas Show coming up.  I think it’s still a work-in-progress, and I’m not sure how I feel about it.  It started out life as an underwater scene, then morphed into something more abstract, then changed into a cave with stalactites and stalagmites. But it’s got a bit of a Lovecraftian or kitschy gothic graphic novel look to it I’m not so sure of… So, not sure if it will go in or not… What do you all think?

Grotto WIP1

On a side note, that beam of light on the left was partly achieved by using silver metallic powder just sort of scattered down it.  Does anyone know a good way to fix powder to canvas without it streaking?  I can’t paint varnish over it or it will just wipe off.  Are spray varnishes any good, or do they drip or pool or something?  Anyone?  Anyone?

The colours didn’t reproduce well at all this evening on this one, I’m afraid.  Suffice it to say there are more shades in this painting than it looks like here – a bit more blue-green colour, etc, but I couldn’t get the balance right, no matter how much I fiddled with Photoshop.  Again, night time is not a good time to be photographing paintings.  When will I learn?  In playing around with the ‘selective colours’ option in Photoshop, I played around with one of the levers and got this result, which I kind of like!  I’m sort of tempted to just paint over it in vibrant red now!  You think?

Caves of Hell!!!

And that’s that.  I will leave you with one of the songs I listened to on repeat while painting these – You Never Loved This City by Piano Magic.  It’s my obsession of the moment.  The singer in this song is Brendan Perry, one half of Dead Can Dance, which – as you will recall – is one of my favourite bands, given that I named my blog after one of their songs.  I think the lyrics are beautiful, the tune simple yet elegant and moving, and although it doesn’t say in the video who did these silhouette artworks put up to accompany the song, I think the artwork here is really nice as well, and goes well with the song.  Hope you enjoy it as well.

It never rains but it pours. Today has proven prolific – three paintings! I didn’t sleep much or well last night, so woke up feeling rather low and felt in need of some soul nourishment, so decided to take today off just to do some painting, and it has done me the world of good. I feel so much better… You can take the girl out of the art, but you can’t take the art out of the girl. Or something. Shush up, I’m tired…

Colorado Wood

Colorado Wood

I started out with this watercolor sketch, using a Google streetview that I originally found for last month’s Virtual Paintout – the theme was Colorado. Again, I had intended to take part, but just didn’t get around to it in time. Story of my life these days… Grad school’s FUN!!!! (This month is Elba; I had a look and couldn’t find anything inspiring about it. No wonder they exiled Napolean there…) Anyway, I’m not terribly happy with it – the forest looks like it’s floating, and I gave up and moved on to something else out of sheer frustration…

This (in watercolor and ink).

Jellyfish

Jellyfish

Sticking with the nautical theme, I decided to do an acrylic painting as well, of another underwater scene. There’s something really calming about doing underwater scenes.

Shipwreck

Shipwreck

And to finish off this (mostly) underwater-themed day of painting, here’s an underwater video by a recent music obsession of mine, Warpaint. Enjoy.

Warpaint – Warpaint

Happy New Year!  Yes, it is I, the prodigal blogger, back for one night only to wish you all a happy, healthy, prosperous, peaceful 2012 free of all asteroids, pole switches, super volcanoes or whatever disaster it was the Mayans thought we had coming this year…

This past autumn and winter have been busy busy busy for me with the onset of grad school madness, hence the complete and utter death of my artistic life, sadly.  That’s not entirely true… I did enter a couple paintings in one more – the fourth of the year! – exhibition, at Peacock Visual Arts here in Aberdeen, for their enormous 500+ strong Winter Exhibition.  It was an excellent if slightly overwhelming show and an honour to be included amongst so many talented local artists.

But other than that, it wasn’t until today that I finally had some time to do some painting.  That too isn’t entirely true… I actually ought to be reading and doing all manner of things for my psych experiments and literature reviews due in January, but I figured it being New Years Day, I could take the day off guilt-free and hit the salt mines again tomorrow…

I had really wanted to take part in the Virtual Paintout challenge for December, the location for which was Eureka, California.  Given that December is holiday month, and given that I always get horrifically homesick this time of the year, I was relishing sitting down and browsing through Google Streetviews of good ol’ northern California.  But there were final projects for grad school, there was Christmas shopping, and I just didn’t get to it until today… when it’s too late to enter it in VP.  But that’s okay, I still got the pleasure of a virtual trip home(ish), and the sight of sunshine and redwoods did this California girl’s homesick heart the world of good.

I ended up doing a painting of a road lined with redwoods.  My camera just could not get a decent shot of this painting tonight, I’m afraid, and no amount of Photoshopping seemed to help, sorry.

Redwoods & Sunshine

Redwoods & Sunshine

But you get the gist.  Everyone always thinks of palm trees when they think of California, but if you grew up in northern California as I did, the redwood tree is another staple tree.  This particular image reminded me of a camping trip I went on with a friend about a decade ago.  We went up to Canada and I remember mainly how incredibly cold, even in the middle of summer, it was the whole time.  At one point I think I was wearing every item of clothing I’d brought with me + some of my friend’s, and I was STILL frozen.  On our last night, back in California at last, we stayed the night in a redwood forest somewhere near where this Google Streetview source photo was taken.  For the first time on that trip, I was actually pleasantly warm, and I remember lying in the tent listening to the redwoods creaking as they swayed gently in the breeze.  It was heaven.  The rest of the trip convinced me that I am definitely not a camper; but that night is a pleasant memory – and I was so happy to be back on California soil…

In other news, I have finished the Mermaid painting I showed as a work in progress earlier.  It’s one of the paintings that went into the Peacock Exhibition.  I’m quite pleased with how it looked in the frame too.  Prints of this painting are also available for sale on my various shops (see sidebar for links).

 

Mermaid (Framed)

2011 was a good year for me artistically – my first exhibitions, I started up virtual shopfronts, I have sold paintings and prints and made friends in the local art scene.  2012 will unfortunately have to be spent focusing on my psychology degree instead.  However, I am determined that I will find time in the coming year to do some painting – for my own sanity!

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