A New/Old Direction

artistic journey

They say that when you’re feeling stressed, going for a walk is one of the simplest and best things you can do for your mental health. The trouble is: despite my best efforts, I can never totally forget why I’m out in nature in the first place. And worse yet: I know that the moment I get back into the office, the circus will start up all over again. That’s Life, right?

I’ve also been thinking about how women are under added pressure to disguise their negative emotions in an office environment. Ok, if I’m completely honest, I am ALWAYS thinking about how women are perceived in an office environment (what can I say? I work in a male-dominated industry). How many of us have spoken up for or against something at work and then immediately wondered if we sounded “nice” or “non-confrontational” enough? That’s a lot of emotional care-taking of others in an already stressful situation!

And suddenly, I just wanted to be totally honest: at this moment, I am very stressed, and no amount of greenery will solve my problems. So this week-end, I took some of my landscape paintings and slapped ambivalent or downright negative text right on top of them. As I said last time, even though I’m proud of these paintings, I also find them kind of boring and not representative of me as an artist. I’m not saying that I’ve arrived at my creative destination – it’s just that I feel like I can’t make room for the artist I want to become until I clear out some clutter, if that makes sense. To do that, I had to take these sacred cows and make them a lot less precious.

I’ve added text to about 7 images in all, and I cannot believe how “alive” they look to me now! Whereas before they were just sleepy landscapes, now there is a palpable tension between the peaceful scenery and the jarring, in-your-face negativity of the text. Warning: for some of them, the language I use is pretty adult. I’ll post those next time, and they will be visible under the cut only.

This is by far the most “conceptual” I’ve ever been in my art, and a real departure for me. I have to admit that I had great fun doing it! Globally, I feel that this is more of a “circuit-breaker” and a safe, cheeky way to vent rather than a new direction, but you never know, right? Only time will tell…

Tremblant in the Rain, Take 2

Digital Art, Landscape
©2021, Emma Pittson, “Tremblant in the Rain, Take 2”. Painter.

Long time no blog! I was going great guns there for the first few months of 2021, and then starting in March my husband had to put in a lot of overtime, and frankly, it’s been that way ever since! When I’m not working at my own full-time job, I have to stay on top of practically everything else – making sure the kids are getting their homework done or aren’t going out of their minds with boredom (and walking into Mommy’s Zoom calls for work!), cooking, getting a handle on everything we’ll need to prepare my daughter for her new school, and making sure the house doesn’t fall into complete ruin. There are many, many corners of my house that I have not dusted in what seems like forever. Luckily, we’ve had exactly zero houseguests in the last year and a half, so no one’s been around to be horrified at my lax housekeeping.

Anyways, another reason why I haven’t produced much of anything in the last few months is because I’ve been in a period of serious re-evaluation of my own work. When I started this blog, it was to track my progress as I re-taught myself everything I’d forgotten from art school, or filled in what I missed. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, but at the same time, I can look at my portfolio pages and not feel that the work there truly represents me as an artist. Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy the landscapes, but they also bore me! If I were to set up a website for my art (which I am very much aiming towards), the landscapes would not have any place on it. I consider them as less “elevator pitch” and more “art tool practice” – heavily-involved and elaborate colour wheels, if you will.

So I’m doing a lot of thinking, image-collecting, mood-boarding, and internal pep-talking. Now all I need is some free time, and I might just be able to make this happen!

To get my feet wet again, I upgraded my version of Corel Painter and tested it out by re-painting the Tremblant in the Rain painting. I’m MUCH happier with this version, and my husband liked it so much he half-jokingly offered me a job as a matte painter! (If only… if only…)

Across the Lake

Landscape, oils
©2021, Emma Pittson, “Across the Lake”. Acrylic and oil on canvas, 10″ x 8″ x 0.5″.

Remember the scratchy stretched canvas from two posts back? By the time I realized what I was dealing with, it was too late to gesso the entire image, but since all I had managed to put down was the value study, I did something that (I think) was very clever: I just gave the canvas a few coats of matte medium. Instead of completely covering up all the work I had already done, the transparency of the matte medium allowed the value study to show through AND help to fill in all the little nooks and crannies of this extremely rough canvas.

And it worked! Granted, this is not how I would want to approach every painting. My art-making time is limited, so adding an extra step to store-bought, stretched canvases can’t really fit into my schedule. On the other hand, while researching the viability of painting on matte medium, I came across some artists who say they actually PREFER working on a coat of matte medium over gesso because the paint doesn’t get absorbed into surface as much when you use medium. Food for thought…

Second Mayowa Nicholas Study

Digital Art, Portraits
©2019, Emma Pittson, “Mayowa Nicholas Face Study II”. Photoshop.

Another digital portrait from last year (or maybe even earlier!) that I’m only posting now (woops!). This is not the first time I’ve painted this model. What can I say? The proportions of her face just seem so mathematically perfect to me!

I really miss doing portraits. I am this close to putting the call out on Facebook or Instagram asking for people to send me pictures of them just so I don’t have to fall back on self-portraits or pestering my immediate family to pose for me.