Finished Artwork in the Process

Fall Day 18x24 Watercolor ©Dora Sislian Themelis
Fall Day 18×24 Watercolor ©Dora Sislian Themelis

With the following mantra in my head “It’s the process. It’s the process” miraculously I beat back Mr. Resistance and pulled off this latest watercolor painting.

It wasn’t easy either.

Quite a while back I visited Clark Botanical Garden in nearby Albertson, NY and snapped a few pictures of some of the landscape gardens. A couple of those photos ended up as paintings. When I went through those a couple months ago I decided to push myself out of my artist’s block and throw some paint around.

That was it, then we left for Greece. On our return I really wasn’t interested in continuing on deep, fall colors. Geez, we just came back from the bright whites and blues of the Greek islands!

I almost ripped this off the watercolor block to toss it when my head said to just try to finish it. If I hate it afterwards, by all means, throw it out.

Process first and foremost, I pushed through. It’s a finished work at the very least.

Finished Artwork

The Muse and Mr. Resistance had their way with me and I hope they’re done arguing about it.

Updates to the unfinished watercolor painting were completed in a timely manner, thanks to the Muse. As for Mr. Resistance, he stayed out of my way while the work went ahead, and big thanks to him for keeping his big mouth shut.

Of Two Worlds ©Dora Sislian Themelis, 14×20 Watercolor, Arches 140b cold press paper

I delivered the painting to the book author, who seemed to be pleased with the work, with fingers crossed that her idea of this as the cover of her new book would work out well. However, it doesn’t look like it will, self-publishing templates being what they are I guess.

Positioning the artwork wasn’t fitting into the suggested space for the cover and is probably going to be scratched for something that works better.

Too bad it isn’t going to happen the way we had liked. When the book does finally come out I’ll let you know.

Twitter Art Exhibit 2015

This will be my second year participating in the Twitter Art Exhibit which is being held in Moss, Norway. Last year it was in Orlando, Florida. It’s a fun idea open only to artists using twitter. I’ve made some lovely connections with other artists across the globe, sharing ideas, our process, and our art.

The sale of each postcard-sized work will benefit a group called Home-Start Moss, which helps families in need. Artist David Sandum of Norway is a foundering member of the exhibit.

I’m happy to have done my piece and sent it out. This little painting made it safely to it’s overseas destination intact.

Three Shells ©Dora Sislian Themelis 6x4 Watercolor on Arches cold press paper
Three Shells ©2015 Dora Sislian Themelis 6×4 Watercolor on Arches cold press paper

For me it’s an incentive to get to work done, push aside Mr. Resistance so I can meet up with The Muse at my art space. And that ain’t easy, as I’ve mentioned many times before.

Now, I know I’m going to hear it, that painting is a joy, all freedom and light, happy little trees in the forest Bob Ross stuff.

Creating art is a tough job and I’m a slacker lately. Totally unprofessional.

Shhh, don’t tell my guru Steven Pressfield. He’s already pegged me for an amateur.

You’ve got to be made of strong stuff to tangle in the creative realm. Distractions abound around every corner. The Muse waits for no one. Mr. Resistance, on the other hand, stays well past his welcome. He’s pretty sly, that guy.

Yes, the crickets are chirping here.

Yes, I’ve made it to the studio to get some work done.

Yes, it may not be pretty, but hey, I’m here.



Plein Air or Daily Painting?

In the last few months of my art journey, between listening to Mr. Resistance and trying to fend him off, I was intrigued by two kinds of art processes: the daily painting and plein air painting.

As I would love to be one of those intrepid daily painters, I’m not sure I can hack it.

Yes, I’ve been painting in twenty minute segments and getting work done that way. But real daily painting? And to be responsible enough to post that work? Hmm, maybe that’s not me.

Then there’s the plein air painter. Also an intrepid bunch of folk, some of who trudge out to remote locations to paint the scenery. I would love to be one of those artists, and I have done that, but not really equipped the way some are. I am working on that though because I think I could be one.

Then again, I do get anxious thinking I’m all alone somewhere, which I like, but it’s scary too. Anyone one could be lurking about, with little old me happily painting away unaware.

I had an opportunity to join a local group of artists who meet once a month to paint at a local plant and garden nursery. That was great fun to see flowers, tractors, fall scenery, and a rocky waterfall.

I particularly enjoyed the waterfall, and the tractor which I already showed you here.

Take a look at the waterfall sketches I did in my Moleskin notebook:

Plein Air Watercolor Sketch in Moleskin

Plein Air Watercolor sketch 2 Moleskin

Plein Air Watercolor Sketch 3 Moleskin

Quick sketches in micron pen with watercolor washes, and straight watercolor work without pen sketching. The idea was just to get something down on the paper, the feel of the subject, some color and light. That’s it.

Imagine, I did three sketches outside! Next up, I’m investigating outdoor painting easels and pochade boxes. Maybe if I am well equipped I can make the plein air thing happen more often, but nearby, in full view of civilization so I don’t get scared!

A Productive Painting Morning

This was the most productive morning I have had in quite a long while. Working at my art making had taken a back seat to the mundane, every day stuff of life. What else is new?

Today you can pat me on the back because I beat Mr. Resistance at his game!

Making the most of a pretty wide open morning, I made my way to the studio space and worked on the latest larger piece. I had been putting it off, painting some small still life works, and ignoring this one.

At 18×24 it’s large for a watercolor painting, but the small pieces were 7×10.

Big difference in working space.

Laying in some nice darks on this 18x24 watercolor
Laying in some nice darks on this 18×24 watercolor

Twenty minutes and I had some really nice darks going on with a lot of color for interest. There’s some things I’m not so sure I like, but overall this work is coming together nicely.

Another art event is soon approaching on Memorial Day weekend, and I hope to have fresh, new work to show. Updates will be forthcoming, unless Mr. Resistance shows up and drags me out of the studio by my feet.

It could get ugly.

New Painting for Monday

Monday is my favorite day of the week. The open-endedness of the weekend is too much for me. It seems I need structure. Or maybe I like peacefulness, something I can’t enough no matter when.

On Monday, if I’ve been good, I get to show you the latest work from my easel.

Using a photograph as my starting point, I sketched a scene from our Greece visit in watercolor paint on a small size paper pad. Just enough space to work quickly and get something down.

A quick watercolor sketch of boats at Amorogos, Greece
A quick watercolor sketch of boats at Amorogos, Greece

Again, I was using the Marabu watercolor paints I resurrected. Now that I know they’re “vintage” paints, I would like to preserve them for times I feel like using something special.

At least I got some work done. Now if I could figure out this website business, I can get back to work on a regular schedule. Otherwise, I’ll have no hair left on my head.

Working Past Resistance and Something to Show for the Effort

The amazing thing about studying getting past Resistance is how it really works.

Yes, I will raise my hand here, I have been slacking on my work. I was on a roll, and now I’m at the point where something has to happen or I am so firing myself. This is no way to run a business.

Subscribing to Steven Pressfield’s newsletters have been a great resource as well as his books. The other day I picked up Do The Work and read a passage that smacked me across the face, hard. It said to read some statements about what we want to do our art, and if we chose one of the lame statements we should just stop right then and throw his book in the garbage.

Wow. But you know what? That’s the thing that made me paint something. Anything. Just do the lousy work already! Process, something great can come of  just the process.

Working with watercolors with Marabu pan paints
Working with watercolors with Marabu pan paints

At my desk looking at an old set of pan watercolors in a tin box my Pop gave me years ago, I thought I’d just try them out. Just a small Arches pad of paper would be enough for a sketch in paint, I figured. I never thought I’d love these old Marabu watercolor paints, but the colors were surprisingly vibrant. By the time I decided I’d done enough I ended up loving my “job.” The paint just flowed on the Arches paper, nice mixtures of colors mingled together within pleasing shapes. All in all, a nice, satisfying effort for the day’s work. Yeah, well, let’s say a half hour’s worth. Sometimes, if I’m in it, that’s all I need.


Red Peppers ©2014 Dora Sislian Themelis 7×10 Watercolor, Arches paper

Could it be that reading the butt kicking work about dodging Resistance helped? I think so.

Now, get to work!

Resistance is the Devil?

The Dark Apple Hides Shells ©2012 Dora Sislian Themelis, Watercolor, Arches paper
The Dark Apple Hides Shells ©2012 Dora Sislian Themelis, Watercolor, Arches paper

There comes a time when working at the easel becomes a chore, rather than a comfortable experience. Maybe that’s what happens when you turn pro?

Oh, so now it’s a job? Well honey, it is most definitely a job! A happy, fun, exciting job when it all works the way it should.

For a good long while I was whistling my happy tune, sort of, and painting away comfortably. Every day the Muse came by to drop some really good ideas right into my head. Mr. Resistance was nearby, but he was busy doing his own thing, thankfully leaving me well enough alone.

Lately he’s been pestering me to do other things instead of visit the easel. Sure, he says in my ear, painting can wait. Go read another email, check the internet one more time, do some laundry while you’re at it.

Mr. Resistance is the devil. And now I have proof! Wonderful Mr. Steven Pressfield says it, so it has to be the truth. I trust that guy 100%.

His newsletter whooshed into my inbox one day and his words just smacked me upside my head! Bam! Where would I be without him? In the gutter I tell you, with my paints and brushes!

It’s title alone hit me, How Resistance Proves the Existence of God. Hallelujah! He was writing about a pianist who wasn’t playing the piano, doing everything but, and deeply feeling the pain of not being a concert pianist. Pressfield explained in the newsletter that this was the definition of Resistance, that this man was “operating as an amateur.”

Suddenly, he goes on, something snaps in this man’s head, and he does absolutely nothing else BUT practice piano, losing himself in it and every other thing he had in his life besides, like a crazy person. Pressfield says that this proves there is a God.

First given: Resistance is a universal phenomenon of the human psyche.
Second given: Resistance’s sole object is to prevent you and me from becoming concert pianists, writing bestselling novels, founding the follow-on to
Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity.

In other words, Resistance’s purpose is to prevent good from entering the world.
Ergo: Resistance is the devil. Ergo: If there is a devil, there must be a God.

I read this and it took my breath away. Not only is Mr. Resistance the bane of my own existence, he’s the devil besides! OMG!

What a light bulb moment as I read, and re-read Steven Pressfield’s newsletter. I knew it wasn’t so easy to shake off Resistance. This knowledge is powerful stuff.

My thought process on this has certainly changed with this information. I’ll be doubly watchful as I go about my work from now on.

Mr. Resistance Overstays His Welcome Yet Again

The newest watercolor painting is waiting to be finished
The newest watercolor painting is waiting to be finished

Mr. Resistance has been overstaying his not-so-welcome welcome. Work is just not getting done. This painting has been hanging around so long. I just can’t get to finish it.

And, as I have learned, catching cold after cold, (or is it allergy attacks?), it is due to Mr. Resistance. Let me be honest in saying I’ve been letting him get his way.

I’m not happy about it and the Muse is not happy with me either.

Which leads me to believe I must be coming close to an important break through in my painting. Man, I just can’t get back to work for anything!

Here’s what I think: Lately I’ve been dreaming about painting in oils again to work larger than I’ve been recently, and how it would be cool to have a gallery/studio space outside of my home. Of these ideas, renting a space is the most costly and may be out of the question for now, unless I can find some other like minded artists to chip in. It’s just an idea. What do I know about gallery stuff anyway? Nothing.

Apparently, deep down inside, the inner artist-child must be scared to death of these ideas because everything is happening so that nothing happens.

Does that make sense?