This is an historic moment in the world where everything has been turned upside down. I have lost several uncles this year and one to Coronavirus. We have been in Shelter in Place for 38 days. I look forward to daily walks and trail excursions to catch those signs of spring I had been looking forward to all winter. What mattered most to me then, matters even more now.
I decided to make some cards to cheer some people up. If you are stuck inside, get out some paints and have fun, share things.
Happy 2020! This year has been busy so far, working on portrait commissions. I have some work on display in my neighborhood at the People’s Pop Up Gallery on Fillmore at O’Farrell Street in San Francisco. Featuring a portrait of local musician Dewayne Oakley and famous Bay Swimmer Mitali Khanzode. Thanks to the San Francisco Parks Alliance for offering up the space! It’s so nice to be able to show my work in my neighborhood.
Over the holidays I had the opportunity to work on a mural with my sister, artist Patricia Rodriguez, in the Bishop Arts District in Dallas. It is for a cute Airbnb rental called La Bodega de Bishop Arts. I look forward to painting with her again.
This month, I had a chance to travel and explore the Galapagos with my swim group Water World Swim. It has been a dream for several years to go see it. It is quite a unique place, with endemic species you won’t see anywhere else. Though the area is populated, it is a protected national park. We swam with sea turtles, saw the giant tortoises and marine iguanas and enjoyed delicious fresh and healthy cuisine. I brought my sketchbook with me and had a chance to do some nature journaling. There is something about the air there that helped me to relax and forget about all the troubles on the mainland. It was really fun going with a group. We had wonderful local hosts that had arranged hotel deals and daily sightseeing trips with a guide. It is definitely worth it. I look forward to continue working on a series of art and illustrations of that location.
I just updated the portfolio with a couple of oil paintings, watercolors, and some sketches.
I discovered the joys of embossing powder, and went about decorating all my sketchbooks with it. My latest obsession is with water soluble wax based paint. I enjoy the vibrancy and transparency of it but they are also easy to rework with water and add more layers of paint. I’m experimenting with small pieces, cards and shareable art. It’s been raining alot but I did manage to get out and do some plein air painting. We are going to have an exhibit of life drawing at the Mission Cultural Center soon, subscribe to my mailing list for details!
It’s been a very productive winter so far! I did a series of small portraits for my family, some still lifes, a large-ish oil painting and a workshop with artist Liana Steinmetz called “Connecting to Land Through Paper and Paint” at the Pacific Felt Factory. I will be adding a whole new section to my website for oil paintings soon. Right now I’m doing research for a new art project called “Re-Generation”, about family roots and connecting to history. When we connect to the land with art, we are also connecting to our roots. Follow the trail from the past to the present!
This has been a great year for my art so here are a few things that helped me find my way back to my art process and what keeps me going in the studio:
Self-challenges such as themes, sizes, colors, and deadlines. Just giving yourself a limited palette, 20-minute doodle or one hour painting, painting small or fill up a sketchbook by drawing every day are some ideas to get you going. Just start doing it and one thing will lead to the next.
Paint a “color wheel” to test colors. With color modulation, you can create depth. There are so many resources on this subject. Try mixing complimentary colors together, and making your own black. This process in itself is fun and can get you in a playful state of mind.
Try out lots of different materials for drawing and painting. By bouncing around back and forth from different materials, you can learn new things and file it into your tool kit. For example, from life drawing, I learned to interpret what I see very quickly. In watercolor, I am learning to work fast and plan ahead. Since I was comfortable with drawing, using the watercolor pencils was the gateway drug to help me get back to holding a paintbrush again, and feel comfortable with the commitment of painting bold strokes of color onto the page. I learned about the watercolor pencils from another artist after visiting her studio.
Take a class or workshop. When I was in art school, it was very exciting to be around other artists and see what they are working on. A good instructor can help you get over the hurdles. There are many tutorials online as well.
Nature is the best teacher. Play around, study and learn. Follow what excites you and the everyday things around you. There is inspiration right under your nose if you can slow down and look at things, observe & contemplate.
I like to do a “low intensity” project to warm up. I like to doodle, calligraphy, abstract painting and paper mache. This helps me to get into a playful state of mind.
Follow your strengths but get out of your comfort zone.
A little encouragement goes a long way. Let’s encourage one another to be creative.
Collaborate. Art can be a fun social activity that allows you to bond in a new way with your friends and family. Maybe start with a home decor or craft project.
Surround yourself with art that inspires you. Go to art shows and museums, visit local artists’ studios. Collect art, hang your art up and live with it. Art feeds the spirit.
Use social media not as a distraction but a tool. There are many inspiring great artists on instagram and pinterest. Be a sponge, then squeeze it!
Keep a sketchbook of ideas and a written journal of your daily and long-term goals, plans, and document your everyday life. Trust in the power of the subconcious.
Read a good book! Books by artists that inspire you, or a self-help book to overcome blocks. These books helped me:
I hope this helps bring more art into your life. I look at art as a way to grow as a person and express and connect with others in a deeper more meaningful way. It’s a way to be more human in our increasingly digital and consumerized society.
What’s happening in the studio this fall/winter? Still life and portraits! I still have some watercolor prints and postcards for sale in my shop in case you are looking for those hard to find gifts. Follow me on instagram @renerodzart.
I haven’t painted in oils in a long time and wanted to try it again. I took a 10-week online class in Octobver & November with Art Mentors called Narrative Long Pose Figure Painting with Joseph Todorovitch.
It is not for beginners, but it was really informative and helped me with the methodical process of building a painting. Oil painting is fun but it is a process and a time investment. He is really great and talks you through the paint process in real time.
This painting took about 30 hours. I may add a little more paint to round her out a bit more and breathe more life into her. Though we used Salome as our theme, I wanted to make it more of a memento mori, since that is where my head is at right now. I am moving on to other still life and portraits to get more practice in first. After painting for a while I started to remember the way I used to paint but I also learned some new things from taking his class. It is so great to be able to paint for hours at a time and have something to show for it!
I had learned a lot about materials, building stretchers, stretching and prepping canvas, mixing colors and subject matter, etc. from art school. Now there are so many instructional videos online anyone can take advantage of this knowledge. I recommend working with an instructor if you can and get feedback. I will be posting up some old work, I just need to get some of my slides digitized. Remember slides?