This painting is the result of a last minute change. I had a 15 x 24" painting planned out, my husband had the panel built, I had the surface prepped, and at the last minute I hated the photo reference I was going to use. I rifled through all of my photographs knowing I wanted something with reds and yellows and found three that I went "Meh..." on, thinking I could make it work. Lastly, I found this photograph and went "Gasp!" The reference is actually very zoomed out, this painting is only a small piece of the center, but I love it like this. It's a painting full of shapes and colors, not so much full of "tulips". These tulips that look like peonies are crazy to paint.
Thank you Becky for the awesome title idea. I posted this painting-in-progress on Facebook and Becky commented that she loved the perspective, and as soon as I read that comment I knew that was the title for this painting for two reasons: one, there is a unique perspective literally in this painting as the viewer is low and in the flowers, but two, there is a life lesson in the idea of perspective and how you choose look at your life and your place in the world. I have been thinking a lot about that for the past few days and so the idea and word/title was a perfect fit.
I have written candidly on this blog before about my struggle to accept the trial that my husband and I can't have our own children. I've been thinking a lot about my situation, and I love the idea of how perspective comes into play here. I can look at myself with the perspective of being a failure, being broken, and being less than all of the other women around me who are mothers (which is an easy way to look at myself), or I can look at myself with the perspective that I'm trying to make my life what I can through my painting talents, and that I can build a career that will enable me to touch countless others through my artwork. When I feel really down, I am so glad I have my positive, bright and colorful tulips to help me see myself with the right perspective.
This is what my studio looks like right now.
Here is a detail of a favorite area.
This is a photograph during the painting process for Perspective. I started with the blacks, then did the reds, then finished with the yellows. The painting Like Bees to Honey, which I just finished this week, is in the background hanging on the wall.
Aaaaand this is where I live. Really. I come out at 8 and I go in at 5. Sometimes I cheat and take a long lunch or run an errand at 3. When I really have it all together I'll get up even earlier so that I can fit in some exercise before 8. I do play ball a few mornings a week; that gives me a good break from hunching in front of an easel. My idea of a perfect day is to play ball all day long, then sit in a hot tub after dinner. Who needs to work? Work shmerk.
I finished this painting today after working on it for about a week. Yesterday I went out to mix colors to finish the greens and after an hour of mixing and not being satisfied with my matching, I quit and went inside. Try as I might, yesterday I could not see the color. It was weird. I think I was cursed. Actually, I know exactly what it was: I was stressed. Obviously stress impairs the ability to see situations clearly, but now I know it also impairs my ability to see colors clearly. I threw away the two palettes of mixed paint, turned off the lights and left the art alone. I had fresh eyes and new vigor today and that was all I needed.
I love that there are only three open yellows at the bottom of the tulip "row", and I love that there are so many closed buds in contrast with the frilly, showy, yellow open tulips. I have loved this reference for a long time now and I was so happy to finally paint it.
Becky, my friend and massage therapist, gave me the Bourne Supremacy soundtrack and I LOVE it! Large paintings take a lot of music to get me through, and I get tired of the same old music (it's easy to repeat when I paint for 8 hours a day); I am always looking for more. Hint hint to anybody wanting to be my music fairy. I'm not ashamed to beg.
I have a few options for where this painting will eventually head, but for the next week it will be hanging in my studio and anybody is welcome to stop by and visit to see it in person. My originals have been selling really well lately, and they're first come, first serve, so if you see one you really want, then grab it. Use the link above to e-mail me.
Today I focused on the last three yellow blossoms and mapping out the leaves by painting black shapes I'll go over later. It was a tough painting day today; all I really wanted to do was read a book then take a nap.
Here are my favorite tunes that shuffled onto my iPod while I worked:
"Last Dance Rodeo" - Jewel
"It's the Only One You've Got" - 3 Doors Down
"The Lotto Man Cometh" - Waking Ned Divine Soundtrack
Summer is almost over, and I'm already looking forward to cooler afternoons and pumpkin bread. I took some time off these last couple of weeks for a family reunion. It was great to reconnect. It was even greater to get back in the studio working.
I feel like I am just starting to paint some of my best work. I am so excited for the paintings I planned out for the rest of the year. I will have my originals in a couple more shows before the year is over, and as always, collectors are welcome to visit my studio or e-mail me. (firstname.lastname@example.org) Keep an eye on my website www.cristallharper.com as well as this blog and you will see my latest originals as they are completed.
I shot this reference for Like Bees to Honey during 2011's Tulip Festival, or maybe it was 2010, I can't remember, but I've always been drawn to the many closed buds in contrast with the bright open yellows and dark blacks/greens at the bottom. I didn't paint it until this year because I guess I just wasn't ready to tackle it, but I'm feeling good with how this one is looking. I'm trying to remember to use a lot of oranges and purples and reds in my greens to give them life. You can't see the color too well in this cell-phone snapshot, but hopefully when the painting is finished and I shoot the painting with my big camera, you'll see what I mean.
My new favorite music album that I've listened to a bazillion times already since beginning this painting:
Continued Silence by the band Imagine Dragons. It sounds weird, but it's awesome and the music is anything but silent. Great beats. Great moving music.