Topsy Turvy

Feeling a bit upside-down today? With the holiday weekend, "Monday" is actually Tuesday, and after a luxurious three days off, it kind of makes one not want to go back to work...Sometimes it's good to shake things up and turn them around. 

I paint upside-down from time to time, so I can get a better angle and that perfect line, or so I can see what's "off" in my painting. That's a tip from Drawing on the Right Side of The Brain -> by turning the artwork upside-down, you brain stops thinking about what the object is, and simply concentrates on the lines and shapes - resulting in a more accurate rendition. Cool, right? Our brains are so amazing! 

Limiting Beliefs to Liberating Actions

Ever get that feeling that you're the only one holding yourself back?


I do. More so in the last couple of weeks due to what I've been told are "limiting beliefs." Luckily, in recognizing that I have these, I can change them!

For example, my complaint that my studio is too small. Well, guess what? I decided that I'm lucky to have a studio at all, so I brought in a shelf, rearranged, and ta-da! My space is much more functional now, and as a result, I am now working on 4 paintings simultaneously! Changing my attitude, and the space, have allowed my creative juices to get flowing again.

Even more unexpected - this allowed me to finally do something about this painting I've been secretly loathing for months. I've been stashing it away in the corner and using it as a reminder of my failures when I'm feeling particularly vindictive towards myself. The other day I decided that this monster in the corner is doing me no good, so I went ahead and painted over it! Now I'm starting something new on this lovely yellow background. Phew! So liberating!

Have a limiting belief or monster in the corner? What are you going to do about it? 

New Work: "Peeping Tom"

One of the perks of having a studio at The Hive Gallery is that I get to participate in their monthly group shows. This month I'm putting a piece in the "Erotica"-themed show (mature audiences only). Mine is a playful take on the subject, using body-less clothing as I'm wont to do. 

C. Rasmussen, Peeping Tom, 2016 | $193 | 12"x9" | Oil on wood panel. 

Show opens February 6 (8-11PM) and is up through Feb. 27 (gallery hours Wed-Sat 1-6PM or by appointment). 

Click link to view a short video on Instagram of me painting the cloth.

Work in Progress: First Painting of 2016

It's already more than halfway through January, and I'm still writing "2015" and having to correct myself, sigh. None-the-less, here's a behind-the-scenes peak at my first piece of the new year - 2016, that is.  To get me warmed up, I started by fulfilling a commission request from someone who liked my Windows series, but wanted a painting from their own travel photos; in this case from a trip to Spain. 

C.Rasmussen.  Room with a View, Spain. 2016 . Oil & acrylic on canvas. 6x6inches.

C.Rasmussen. Room with a View, Spain. 2016. Oil & acrylic on canvas. 6x6inches.

So how did I go about painting this scene? I started off on a canvas that I had already painted a dark gray color with some texture in acrylics.  Then I taped off the edges with the basic archway shape so that I could paint the landscape view, in oils. 

Next,  I added the archway itself, painting over part of the landscape to make the illusion of looking through more complete (photo is shiny because paint is wet). 

I waited for the greenery in the bottom of the painting to dry before beginning to paint the bannister on top of it. 

Finally, I added the cross-hatching on the bannister and some highlights on the archway. And that's how you make a small painting. 


Have You Heard?

The rumors are true: I'm moving to LA next month. More details coming soon. In the meantime - anyone have any suggestions for where to look for a studio? 

Sorting, packing and taking canvas off the frame to roll up, or, in some cases, throw away. 

Sorting, packing and taking canvas off the frame to roll up, or, in some cases, throw away. 

Update on 50|50 Show: Weeks 5 & 6

42 paintings done, 8 to go! If you've been following my 50|50 project, you'll know I've been doing a bit of catch up to make the July 27 deadline. So real quick, here's the latest installment - Finland (left) and Oakland (right):

Week 5 - Finland (left) and Week 6 - Oakland (right)

One of my brothers lives in Finland so I've been there several times. Always in the summer when it never gets truly dark, the sky is a stunning blue, and it's (nearly) warm enough to go swimming in the many lakes and/or the sea. We spend time in Helsinki, Laitila and surrounding areas. 

Week 5: Finland - Helsinki, Laitila and surrounding areas.

I moved to Oakland after graduating from university in Berkeley (the 2 towns border each other). It was a pretty formative time for me as it was the first time I wasn't in school, the first time living on my own and I had my first studio (in downtown).

Week 6: Oakland, CA

This is also when my fascination with windows began. Wandering around Oakland, I noticed that many of the windows had grills on them, similar to the safety systems in Pakistan and Vietnam where I grew up. At a time when I was questioning my future (as most recent college grads do) and trying to reconcile my past (as a global nomad), it was comforting to find something familiar in these windows. At the same time, they reminded me that I was an outsider, something I'd been struggling with for years (usually whenever anyone asked me, "So where are you from?").  At the time, I was caught up in the idea that one is always either looking in or out of a window, so there's always this barrier preventing one from joining in. Now, I think the fact that we can look through and see "the other" creates opportunities for dialog; but that's a different series. 


If you missed the last couple of weeks, you can catch up on my blog. You can see my progress on the final 8 via Instagram. These paintings will be on display at the Sanchez Art Center August 28 through September 20. More details here

New Work: In Progress

I am painting again! Here's what I'm working on:














It's inspired by this poem by Rainer Maria Rilke:

I live my life in growing orbits which move out over the things of the world.

Perhaps I can never achieve the last but that will be my attempt.

I am circling around God, around the ancient tower,

And I have been circling for a thousand years,

And I still don't know if I am a falcon,

or a storm,

or a great song.

And in case you're interested, here's some photos of the painting in different stages:

First I sketch an image, then I pick out source materials to get guidance.

Making of "Shadows"

One of my original ideas for this blog was to post in-progress paintings so people can have a look into my process and/or get painting tips.  Since I haven't been able to paint in awhile, here's a step-by-step guide to an older painting - "Shadows", completed in June. Sketch: I often find that students new to painting want to draw with pencil on their canvas before starting with paint. I never do that. I map out my composition very simply with a brush and some paint like so. You can see how I changed the size of the figure dramatically, not worrying about erasing because I was just going to paint over it anyway.






Color & Texture: Next, I start blocking in the painting, making adjustments and adding texture as I go. Painting is a very layered process for me, so there are often layers that never see the light of day, but add a richness (both in body/texture and in color) to the final painting.

I have been on this kick where when I use photographic references, I print them out in black and white and then paint my own colors. This has some challenges but also adds a level of mystery and excitement for me, the painter, because I'm letting the painting tell me where to go.




Figure: In this case I painted the figure and her dress in monochromatic colors because I was planning on glazing the colors on later. I purposefully kept her skin very light, while keeping the dress dark because I wanted the glazing to be more subtle on the dress.






Details: The picture I was working from was a night scene, so all the colors got more bluish in this stage. I also added more detail around the figure.







Glazing: I finally got to the glazing stage, but by this time had decided I didn't want to glaze any of the skin. I liked that it was fresh looking and yet nostalgic because the burnt sienna base made it look like an old-fashioned tinted photograph.

Critique stage: At this point I felt kind of stuck with the painting, so I went to the art collective I am a part of to get some some constructive criticism from my peers. It's always good to get some outside feedback, to point out glaring errors and/or minor tweaks that make a world of difference.




Final: The suggestions I got were most helpful and definitely helped finish the painting. By darkening a shadow here and changing the direction of a line there, I was able to get a better and more effective painting.

I was also reminded to include reflective light. This means, simply, that if the reddish dress is next to the purple pail, then there should be some purple on the dress and some red on the pail. Likewise, there is some color in the shadow from whatever object is casting the shadow.

Making of "Looking In"

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. You wouldn't know it, but this painting started out as a baaaaddd abstract painting. Apparently it was so bad that I didn't even take a photo of it.  So, having decided it was going nowhere, I started painting this new painting on top:

The good thing about painting over an old painting is that a) your fear of messing up the canvas is gone; and b) you already have a body of paint on there so your new painting has a nice richness to it.

A couple things to note when over painting:

1) While you CAN paint oils over acrylics, you NEVER paint acrylics over oils. Think of it like this: what happens when you mix water and oil? The oil rises to the top. Same with painting, the oil will try to rise to the top, forcing your acrylic paint off (OK, this may only happen over an extended period of time, but if you want your painting to be archival, just say no!).

2) Turn your old painting upside down before you start painting the new one. This helps get rid of the distraction of your first composition and allows you to concentrate on the new one.



By now you're probably wondering why I take in-process photos of my work. And no, it's not for these mini-tutorials (although they are helpful). Rather, I had a professor who suggested we take photos so that we could mull over the painting while not in the studio. They don't have to be good photos (in fact, this is a very dark shot of the painting), just quick shots even on your phone so that you can see it.

This can also be helpful if you paint over something you like and want to bring it back.

And, I've noticed that looking at your painting on a (camera, phone, or computer) screen changes how you see it. You notice different things, particularly about composition, when it's once removed.

Another good trick is to look at your painting in a mirror -- this means you're seeing it in reverse and it's much easier to see if you've made a terrible perspective mistake or something like that. I use this all the time, I even went out and bought a 5"x6" hand-held mirror from the dollar store expressly for this purpose!

And voila, the final product!

(No, I did not do this painting in only 3 sittings, although it was one of my faster paintings).