Where’s my Mauve pencil?

No one will ever accuse me of being a neat freak.  Messiness seems to run in the family.  Here’s a photo of my studio.


Somehow, the disorganization hasn’t kept me from efficiently doing art…in fact, I think it helps.  I’ve seen studios where the colored pencils are meticulously kept in color coordinated containers.  I think it would be very inefficient to have to stop one’s creative train of thought, to think of finding the exact spot where the pencil goes.

I keep the pencils out that I need.  There are not too many, I use a a limited palette in order to create a cohesive color scheme.

Just in general, I think creativity is a messy process.  I know some people plan carefully the work they’re going to do.  The work before the planning has got to be messy, and experimental, or else you’re going to end up with a pretty unimaginative work of art.

Even during the times one is not working, one’s creative mind is not turned off.  Creative thoughts intrude on the most organized thought process. I often see ideas for pictures during my off time from artwork.  It’s not compartmentalized.  Sometimes I use the ideas, sometimes not, but they’re always there.

So, welcome to my studio.  I have a friend who also has a messy place and says, “You came to visit me,not inspect my housekeeping”.  So there you go, I hope you come to see my artwork.

Prussian Blue

I have done some new work on the sunny chair picture.  In it, I use liberally a color known as Indigo Blue.  I use that color a lot, never sure why.  I often use it in place of black, because it make a picture more interesting, IMO.


But last night, coming home from work, I glanced at the dusky sky.  It was past sunset, and almost all of the light had drained from the sky.  I looked at the color of the sky, and thought, “Prussian Blue’, which was my Dad’s favorite color, and similar to indigo blue.  Maybe that’s the root of my love of that color.

Yesterday, a number of incidents reminded me of my father.  A man stopped by the store who had a familiar accent.  It turned out he was from Chicago.  As I was arranging pastries later, I noticed we had a lot of prune danish, my Dad’s favorite.

My father left his childhood home when has was only thirteen, with only an eighth grade education.  He rode the rails as a hobo for a time, and in later years, remembered those times fondly.

Eventually he ended up in Chicago.  He was a swimmer, and spent summers as a lifeguard on Lake Michigan.  There he met Johnny Weissmuller, an Olympic medal winner, who was best known for his portrayal of Tarzan in the movies.  However, my Dad was friends more with Johnny’s brother Pete.

They were all on a swim team back then.  There was another good swimmer that they were considering, but decided he was too young.  That swimmer eventually became a movie star as well, and eventually President of the United States.  His name was Ronald Reagan.

I get the impression that most of the time in Chicago, my father lived a rowdy life, brawling, drinking and carousing with women.  Since his first name was Ellwin,can you blame him?

Because of his defined swimmer’s body, during the winter he posed as a nearly nude model at the Art Institute of Chicago.  There, he decided he wanted to become an artist.  Someone told him flatly no, he’d never be an artist.  This only made my Dad more determined.

He eventually came to New York City, because that’s where most commercial art was.  His best client was a famous shirt company, and he spent his days meticulously coping the prints on the shirts into illustrations.  He was well paid for this.

In fact, he was able to live a great lifestyle, expensive vacations, and buying extravagant gifts for my mother.  This all came to an end when the shirt company decided to use photographs, instead, and I grew up in financially strapped family.

I never knew much about my Dad’s family.  He cut all ties.  I know he had a sister, Dorothy, who ran off to follow the evangelist Amy Semple Macpherson.  I think he had a brother Curtis, who lived in Florida.  It’s mostly a mystery.  Whenever I hear of someone with the last name Baldwin, I always wonder….


Here’s a very bad photograph of a painting my father did.  It’s his work of social commentary’; a protest of nuclear weapons.  And yes, in the background, he used Prussian Blue.



The Comfort Zone, and taking risks

I get the impression that many artists from experience know pretty well what each pencil or brushstroke will do.  They’ve mastered their particular medium, and they can create without too many surprises.

Every so often,in the artist forum, I read about artists talking about the Comfort Zone.  This mastery is what I think they mean by it.  Very little surprise, a perfect drawing or painting every time.

Sometimes I see people advocated to leave the Comfort Zone, take risks, and see the results.  Most of the time people are thrilled with the results.

For me, I don’t think I’ve ever found the Comfort Zone.  I still experiment, and maybe at this stage of my career that’s wrong….I should be working for a more consistent style. Most of the time, anyway, I’m pleased with the results.

However, not being in the Comfort Zone,experimenting and taking risks can also lead to failure.  Learning to accept this is hard, one wants to succeed all the time.

So it is with the large version of “Sunny Chair Paradise”.  I plan to do it over, more consistent with what the small sketch looked like.  As for this piece, I’ve put it aside, to see if I look at it later, I can salvage it, or that I like it better.  For now,it’s a dud, and it’s not worth the effort to photograph it.

Such is life.

Here is an example of another time I took big risks, and wasn’t sure I liked the results. I still don’t know if I do.  For those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s called “Creativity”.


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Lazy Day

Been a busy week, and now I’m having a restful day.  Did a little work on Sunny Chair, but I’ve put a hold on it for a while.  I’m too tired to really do a good job.

So, I thought I’d show some odds and ends of work I’ve done but never featured. 

As usual, you can see more of my work at http://www.roxannebaldwin.com



This was a sketch for the window reflection in “Sentinel”.


Here’s a commission I did for a young man.  It’s designed to go on a black t-shirt.



Another commission for that young man.  This is for a white T-shirt.



An ACEO (art card) of St. Patrick’s Cathedral



And a quick-sketch portrait of Richard, my bf.

Will post more, some other tired, lazy day.

Ode to Oil Paint

In trying to get together the live action painting business, I invested in some oil paint sticks.  They’re oil paint that you can actually roughly draw with.

So just to see what it felt like I tried one.  What I didn’t expect was to be so affected by the aroma.

As with everyone, sometimes a certain odor will transport me back into time.

The smell of oil paint took me back to my student and early career days.  It brought back all the enthusiasm and hope.

I think at some point, most artists have worked in oil.  The exception is digital art.  For me, I worked painting nude figures, a typical part of an artist’s training. The smell of the paint took me back to the Art Student’s League, when both art and New York City were new experiences.

Also, oil paint makes me think of my former teacher, Freda Dreany, probably the most selfless person I ever met.  She took me under her wing, and taught me a lot.  She supported herself doing portraits in different media.  Her home always smelled of oil paint and turpentine.

In fact, her home was a stopover for a lot of creative young people, needing a place to stay.  With all those artistically minded people around, it was a stimulating time of my  life.

So, such are the memories of the smell of oil paint. Of course, I did not pursue painting in oils for a number of practical reasons.  But oh, the smell.


It’s been a cloudy, lazy weekend.  I took advantage, and got some rest.

I have been working on Sunny Chair, though.  It’s evolving.

At one time, I used to start out a picture with an exact idea in mind of what I wanted it to look like, and work towards that.  One thing that I found, is that what works in your imagination, doesn’t necessarily translate well onto paper or canvas.

As I was working on this, for instance, I changed the color scheme to something that I thought would work better.  I thought I would continue with a lavender shadow, and bright yellow surrounding it, the way I had the picture in the sketch.   This is one example of finding something that worked better once I was in the middle of the drawing.

So here it is.  Not the best photo, it’s cloudy out.  I took the picture in incandescent light, which makes a yellow-gray cast to everything.

But, it’s evolving.



In the Place We Live 2012

Last night was the reception for the show.  It was a lot smaller than it was last year, and the AC actually worked this year!  I was delighted that the manager from my job, Dave, and his lovely wife Kelly came.

There was a lot of interesting work from local artists from Western Queens.  I thought that the theme of the show was to have work relevant to the area..evidently I was mistaken.  It was a really eclectic selection of art.

Thought I’d show some pictures…


This is the outside of Gallery M55, where the show was held.  The picture was taken before the show actually started.


Here are my two pieces hung in the little entrance hall.  The entrance hall seemed to be the place where smaller works were displayed. 

So I was not hung over the punchbowl this time.  In fact, there was no punchbowl, but in the entry was a bucket of beer, some wine, water and potato chips.

I was annoyed by one thing, though.   In the entry form I received, they said there was a size limit of 20 inches on a side, framed.  So I did not enter my more finished, larger works.  When I got to the show, I saw there were some pictures that clearly were larger than the limit.


Here is the main room of the exhibit, still early, while people started to come in.



Here’s another picture from the outside, once the show really got going.

The art at the show was all very good, I must say.  I don’t know if they’ll do it again, next year, but I’ll try to enter again.