Saturday, May 05, 2018

First Brush Painting Equaled First Step to Fear of Painting

There are so many good blogs writing about technique, composition, color, and subject matter that I often wonder what I might add to the mix. Since I think personal awareness is a key element to evolving as an artist, here's a contribution about personal awareness.

This is a second post about another of my experiences relating to The Creative Habit Seminar. You can read the first one here.

During the chapter exercises and soul searching, several aha moments surfaced. Some were more difficult to handle, but I found that paying attention to my energy reactions about the act of painting helped me become more aware of the challenges with my stubborn resistance to creating art with more confidence. The following is my second memory of doing art.

Do you remember your first excitement about getting to paint? I do - I was 6 years old, and I was thrilled - giddy happy.

The family was leaving Chicago for Seattle, but we stopped in California. While in California, I was enrolled in school. I still remember the day the teacher said, "Tomorrow we are going to paint." That's all I needed to hear; I knew immediately what I would paint. I would paint a picture of my Aunt Minnie's farm in Michigan - my favorite place ever. Little things like playing with the toads, and swinging on the big swing with my cousins, and watching the cows being milked.

Painting day arrived, and I'm still psyched. I begin quite successfully for a 6 year old. Long rows of crops (in perspective!) with the house sitting on top of the hill, and in full color.

Soon the teacher stopped by my easel and everything changed. 😱
The teacher rips my painting from the easel and says, "The lesson today is to paint a city."

Wow, I did not hear that part in my excitement to paint my Aunt Minnie's farm. All I could say with tears in my eyes was, "Sorry, I didn't hear that part."

Now to put this in perspective: I'm 6 years old (little for my age), and the instructor is a big guy, with a big stern voice. He just ripped my beautiful painting from the easel, and told me I did the wrong assignment. With fresh paper, I dutifully began painting a city mostly in black paint. The memory is still vivid, and I have thought about it often over the years.

In spite of that scary event, I still enjoyed painting, and doing art throughout my years of growing up, but that initial excitement was always accompanied by an uneasy feeling when painting landscape that I couldn't quite put my finger on until recently.

I mean, I could paint still life, figure and portrait without a lot of hesitation, never cared if I wasn't very good, just loved to paint. Almost fearless, but landscape was always a problem, always uneasy feelings, lack of confidence, and yet still my choice for taking workshops.

So during my moments of introspection, the AHA moment hit me, and I made the connection. A long time coming, but now I know the problem. So how do I deal with this revelation ? was my question. I could still feel the fear.

I decided to use visualization, and help the little 6 year old kid kick that horrible teacher in the shins, and tell him that he was a terrible teacher!! 
Yup, I did that. 😜 Felt good too!

I know this is a little laughable, and may seem trivial, but probably not if you share a similar experience. So this year, I will be painting a more landscape images, and see if I've finally overcome the childhood trauma!

The following image is my first landscape 'effort' since my new awareness and attitude. It's unfinished - want the buildings to be a little more painterly - but I'm really excited that I finally feel like I can do this.

Seragano - Umbria, Italy
8x8 Oil on Canvas
© 2018

Will be posting more to share my progress in future posts!
Wish me luck...

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Studio Campagna Oil Paintings - Toy Series...

I was 'toying' with the idea of painting a few still life with children's toys. This isn't a new concept, but one I've been wanting to do for awhile. The first below was done in 2016, and inspired me to do more.

I'm not going to rush through them, as I want to select items that appeal to me for the project. I would like them to hold a story that makes them more special somehow.

This is the first I'd like to share with you. The back story on this one isn't anything profound, but my love of painting hydrangeas and peonies just called out 'paint me.' The little toy clown is very old and beginning to show signs of wear and tear. I picked him up at a discount store years ago. It reminded me of my grandmother's porcelain dolls. He's only about 6 inches tall, and use to sit near my dressing mirror just for fun.

With very strong warm color, I was surprised by the result. It also seems to have a bit of a Victorian feel so I did some scratching on the panel to give it an aged look.

Toy Clown with Hydrangeas and Peonies
Framed - 8 x 8 inch canvas panel
© 2016
Price $ ebay auction + Shipping

I did't have any other toys laying around, so I had to recruit some new and gently used items for the next paintings. Now to find the other components for cohesive compositions. 

FYI: BTW - I'll be donating 35% of the proceeds from the series to a local charity - 
Foster Champs of Maple Valley, WA.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

One Artist's "Creative Habit" Seminar Experience

There are so many good blog authors writing about technique, composition, color, and subject matter that I often wonder what I might add to the mix. In this post, and a few future posts, I will be sharing an experience that turned out to be quite enriching to my personal growth.

I recently attended an eight week seminar to engage with the book The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp. For those who do not know, Twyla Tharp is a successful choreographer.

Her book is dense with information and ideas; it also includes exercises after each chapter, and I'd like to share a few of the aha moments I experienced as a result of these exercises. The seminar included 6 attendees and one participating leader. Most of us are visual artists, but we also had a dancer, and an art instructor for young children. This mix added even more to this seminar - I'll share a few of the best moments in future posts.

One of the exercises (after Chapter 3) is to write a Creative Biography. This has a list of questions that I am actually still working through to completion. However, the early questions went like this:

1. What is the first creative moment you remember?
2. Was anyone there to witness or appreciate it?

I instantly remembered sitting at the kitchen table when I was about 5 years old doing a finger painting. It was a vivid memory with my parents busy with other things and I just loved the sensation of smooshing the paint with my hands all around the paper. No one actually made a big deal out of and and I don't recall that it was saved and mounted on the refrigerator like many of you might  remember doing as a kid to display some important creation. Nevertheless, it stuck with me all these years.

I decided to do another one shortly after the session without any idea what it might look like. I just let stream of consciousness take over. I squeezed and spread some color onto the paper, and scraped with my fingernail to make the drawing. It is not a very sophisticated image, but it connected me to the same feeling of pleasure I remembered all those many, many years ago.

Revisiting the Past in the Present
R. Campagna
© 2018

The image I finger painted as a six year old was of my family, but this one is just me, flowers, the sun, and a goose! I looked up the symbolism of a goose since I had no conscious insights about this choice of imagery, but after reading the symbolism associated with the goose, it totally fits my personal tendencies, and I bet I can tell you a story or two around it!! 😊

In my next post I'll share a moment of revelation from another past experience that caused a life long challenge.

I would encourage anyone interested in self discovery regarding your creative inclinations to do the exercises in Twyla Tharp's book. It was/is inspiring!! 😍

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Painting in Italy 2017

St. Peter's Dome - Vatican
It's been ages since I posted anything; mostly because of a shift in focus, and working to reorganize my thoughts about my painting practice - more on this to come. But it's time to share again !!

Well, I finally traveled to Italy in September 2017. It was a dream trip on many levels. In fact, I still get 'high' when I think about the trip. There were so many wonderful people, and experiences it changed me in ways completely unexpected.

The first milestone was traveling alone and navigating a foreign country, flight delays, lost luggage and other the strange things that happen during a trip of a lifetime. Nevertheless, I survived! In fact I thrived!

First two days in Rome meant I had to see the Vatican. I knew there would be a lot of art, but had no idea just how much. It was overwhelming with eye candy everywhere, yes everywhere! I went early to avoid the afternoon crowds and it paid off. Later in the day crowds blocked the views.

I started at the Angel Entrance because it was so convenient to my hotel room. I spent the entire day at the Vatican from 8 am until late afternoon. Yes, there is that much to see!! I won't bore you with all my photos, but here are a few highlights of my day. The Sistine Chapel was terribly crowed by afternoon, but I still feel the emotion of seeing it in person. All very humbling. 

Angel Entrance
Fully sculpted statues above each column.

La Ghirlanda
On Friday 9/15/17, I walked from the hotel to meet the rest of the group heading to Umbria for a painting workshop. This workshop was arranged and organized by the Winslow Art Center on Bainbridge Island.

We stayed at the Villa LaGhirlanda. This villa has wonderful accommodations and staff. The estate is quite grand with olive groves and grape vines they use to produce their own oil and fabulous wines. I still cannot believe how spoiled I felt. I tear up even now just thinking about it all. 

We ate family style everyday.

There were so many wonderful people attending the workshop. Switzerland, France, England, New England and the Pacific Northwest were all represented. We played 'musical chairs' at each meal allowing new conversations with everyone. The group got along so well, you'd think we were hand picked just for this trip. Loved, Loved, Loved it!

Grape Variety

We had 6 days of painting with Instructor Mitch Albala.  Lots of demo's, and new ideas for painting. Everyone reported learning things that improved their painting skills.

Mitch and Shirley 

We took a couple of day trips to Todi, Lubriano, and Civita di Bagnoregio.

So many wonderful things to see, food to eat, and people to meet.
Did I mention there are beautiful churches everywhere???

Group visiting Todi.

Civita di Bagnoregio
Civita di Bagnoregio is literally collapsing. There are only about 6 families still living there permanently. The foundations are falling away from the earthquakes, but that church steeple is still standing strong and straight!

Civita di Bagnoregio - Sketch
© R. Campagna 2017
(I'll post more images in future blogs.)

The day before we left for Rome, we had a wine tasting luncheon on the outdoor terrace overlooking the fields that was all one could hope for. I still have to pinch myself to be sure I wasn't imagining this wonderful experience. Grazie, La Ghirlanda!!!


So after a week of wonderful food, company, and weather, it was time to go back to Rome.

I stayed at a new hotel near the Borghese Gallery where I could see more art of course!
The Bernini sculptures did not disappoint. The museum is located in a park that houses other museums, horse arenas, and even a zoo.  

Apollo and Daphne
Also, walked to the Spanish Steps with shops galore for tourists, but I was interested in the street artists, live music, and families enjoying their day. I admit that I cried at knowing I had to head home the next day.
Up at 6 am off to the airport and back to Seattle, WA!! 
So much more to tell, but this I hope gives you a taste of my wonderful trip to Italy.  I'd go back in a heartbeat, and seriously hope to do just that someday. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Throwback Mannequin - Oil Painting

Why Throwback Mannequin? Well, it reminds me of the 70's! Gold and Avocado Green.
Another gem found at the Goodwill store that I couldn't resist!

Throwback Mannequin
6 x 8 Oil on Canvas Panel

© 2016

Can be purchased at Auburn Valley Creative Arts Center

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Poppies Maybe - Oil Painting

Found the little brass pot at the Goodwill. It's one of my favorite places to scout for still life items. This composition is becoming one of my favorite formats. Enjoy!

Brassy Poppies
5 x 7 Oil on Canvas Panel
Purchase Price $49.01
© 2016

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Lazy Orchid Blooms - Oil Painting

One of those subjects that just seemed to call out "paint me like this." If you decide to frame it, a warm colored frame (not black) does the most justice to the colors in this painting. If not, a table top easel works too!

Lazy Orchid Blooms
8 x 6 Oil on Canvas Panel
Purchase Price $89.01
© 2016

Can be purchased at Auburn Valley Creative Arts Center