Sunday, September 5, 2010

Playing with knives

I haven't played with knives for years.  The only classroom experience with them was more than thirty-five years ago in an adult ed oil class.  I remember loving the resulting textures and effects, even though I wasn't sure if I were doing it "right."  I am still not sure if I am doing it right, but I have been fooling around, and, again/still I am intrigued by the texture.  Here are two quick practice attempts.  I like them well enough, but I still have a lot to learn, but isn't that always the case?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mixing it up

Folks ask me which medium I enjoy the most, and I have to say, the one I am working in at the moment.  To be sure, I find painting with acrylics exciting and forgiving, and I have said it before, acrylics make me smile.

But I so enjoy doing watercolors when I am doing them.  I love the way colors mingle and surprise me, and the way happy accidents [hackneyed phrase but true] can also make me smile.  I have to admit, as much fun as I have painting with watercolors, I do find myself stressing more with them than acrylics. 

In any case, because I will be doing classes in both this "semester" at the Senior Centers, I felt I'd better get back in the groove.  So I did the figure below from a photo I took at a fair a while ago, and I am relatively pleased with the results.  Not perfect, but not terrible, I think. 

Am trying so hard to keep paintings fresh and not too overworked, so I limited the time I would spend on this to get a finished piece.  When I do that, I can live up to the credo I try to impart of painting "fast and loose," not laboring for weeks at a time on one painting in class.  I get bored too easily, and I am sure that would show in my class, if we worked that way.

So, different strokes ... and an attempt to stay fast and loose.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Taking my own advice

Well, I'm really taking the advice of all who know, and tell us to check values and to not be a slave to the source.  When I first painted a little series of poppies from my garden with acrylics, I was relatively pleased, because they were MY poppies, in MY garden.  But, I wasn't really thrilled with the paintings.

First one

So, lately, I have been observing and advising students and painting friends at critiques [when asked!], that values are so important, and the colors used are not necessarily as important, when I finally "listened" to myself, and took another look at my little poppy paintings.  Yuck!  No value change at all.  I took a dab of dioxizine purple and deepened the values around my poppy, which, I think helped a lot.  What do you think?

Today's effort

Thanks to Nick for my Geishas

I so enjoyed workshop with Nicholas Simmons at Kanuga Watercolors Workshop in Hendersonville, North Carolina, in April, that I wanted to do more.  I've been teaching both watercolors and acrylics at the local Senior Centers, and shared my experience of Nick's workshop with my students.  Nick showed us that these geishas [and his process] could be done in both watercolors and acrylics. Pouring,throwing, masking and layers were involved ...  Sometimes, I forget which medium was used on which painting.  At the workshop, Nick did his demo geisha with fluid acrylics, all while keeping a watercolor-like transparency in his painting.  The point was well taken that indeed acrylics can be transparent.

I did the first geisha here in watercolors only, for my watercolor class, and the second one is done in acrylics, both using Nick's pouring, throwing, masking processes.  I was pleased and surprised at the results of both.  The classes enjoyed doing them, too. 

The third in the series is an attempt to integrate yet another experiement of doing a quick acylic "sketch" of three geisha heads on a piece of scrap while I was preparing for class, and believing it turned out to be kind of fun, I fiddled some more, creating an acrylic background on a gessoed "bad" watercolor painting from my closet.  I attached the sketch to the background, applied a bit of modeling paste around its edges, then stamped and etched in a few spirals in the paste.   When it was dry [it seemed to take forever], I applied some gold fluid acrylic to the "ridges," then went over that with a bit of quinachidone gold and quinachridone burnt orange.

All of it was fun, and I felt as if I were evolving, blending lessons from Nick's workshop, with some ideas of my own.  Isn't that the way? That we learn from extremely talented artists in workshops, classes, books, etc., who share insights, techniques, style, and then integrate what we learn from them into our own creativity and style, then go on to teach and share with others.  Paying it forward, yes? 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Fun with my Irises

Am more of a painter than a gardener, but these irises indeed were in my garden this spring.  I think of irises as hardy yet vulnerable and "feminine" and frilly, sort of a reflection of who I sometimes think I am. 

In any case, I like them and paint them each spring, always with mixed and different results.  This year, I painted the first image in a quick sort of traditional way, adding the finishing touches with my new favorite brush, the lizard lick that Myrna Wacknov introduced me to.

I have been fiddling with Photoshop, experimenting with several of the "artistic" filters, and color enhancements, and came up with the following.  Of course, it's fun to fiddle, but the benefit to my painting is it opens my mind to trying different color schemes, compositions, and ways to paint outside the box.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The unadulterated chickadees

I decided to upload the chickadees that weren't tweeked in Photoshop.  Still not great, but it may be more pleasing to the eye.  The "real" colors are somewhere between this post and the last one.

Another experiment

I took a class on Saturday in which everyone was using the same reference to paint chickadees, so of course, I wanted to do something different.  I changed a photo of some chickadees and painted the birds in the style the instructor was teaching.  My little chickadees were HORRIBLE! 

When I get to that place that I give up on a painting, I figure, what the hell, and start "playing."  I pulled out the foam stamp we made in Myrna Wachnov's workshop, and imprinted my little chickadees with the block.  Interesting, yes.  But worth resurrecting, I don't think so.  Still, it was a fun way to "blot" out my mini-disaster.

I Photoshopped to sharpen the contrast, and tweeked the green a little, because my disaster IS greener than the photo turned out.  I know, not my best, but it was a fun!  Maybe I shouldn't have posted this one.  Oh well.


I took a photo of one of my clients' azalea bush the other morning, because it was just after a gentle rain, and the sun was shining, causing the raindrops to twinkle on the blossoms.  I love the photo as a photo, but I wanted to paint more the impression of the blossoms than a botanical image [frankly I haven't the patience to do much detail!].  I also wanted to practice with the lizard lick brush I bought for Myrna Wacknov's workshop in Portland [in April].  I haven't mastered the brush yet, but it was fun trying.  Back to the drawing board! 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Poppies live a short life but a bright one

I have a few wonderful random poppy plants in my garden, and love the virbrant reds and oranges when they bloom.  I rush to take photos of them, because the blooms fade and the petals fall so quickly.   Here's a photo "posterized" in Photoshop to help me see the larger value shapes.

After experiementing with some fluid acrylis on Tyvek, I created a dead dull mess of a poppy, so I just had to redeem myself a bit, and quickly did a couple of acrylic 8 x 10s to get my groove back.  The renderings aren't that great but the colors make me smile.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How time flies

It's been more than six weeks since I made an entry.  Although I'd rather be painting [!] I have been busy putting my house on the market, listing other properties, and teaching classes, all of which allow me to paint.

Aside from all of that, I "lost" my blog for a while as a result of email and connectivity issues, but am sort of back on track.  Hopefully, I can get back to making blog entries more regularly because, most of all, it will force me to paint more.

So, here is one of my most recent people paintings. Have been working different and unusual croppings and compositions in my classes, and liked the outcome of this one.

This is a little watercolor I did of Brian when Brian and Judy were sailing with me in the San Juans in 2008 ... on Brian's Birthday and Judy and his anniversary.  A toast to them both!

Below is another one I did of Brian in gouache for an earlier class. I obliterated a bad painting and painted over it with the gouache a la Alex Powers [inspired by lessons in his book, "Painting People in Watercolor"].

Monday, April 26, 2010

Workshop Two with Myna Wacknov

Coincidently the timing of the two workshops I attended this month was great in terms of visiting family and painting with terrific artists.  I was in Portland last week for the Oregon Society of Artists [OSA], who sponsored the three-day workshop with Myrna Wacknov [Myrna Wacknov's Blog], whose work has excited me for quite some time.  I have been following her blog, and have seen articles and images about her work in art magazines.  And, I met her at Kanuga where she was taking a workshop from another artist. Myrna is a fabulously creative artist and a lovely forthcoming person to boot.

She uses all sorts of methods, grounds, and styles to create mood, emotion and attraction to her uniqely painted images of people.  As she explained several of her design styles, she said that she "starts with the traditional, then 'plays around.'"  As I am, Myrna is a great believer in artists DRAWING, and not copying.  What's the point? 

The copying we did was a way in which she creates the image she might use, then draws it on tracing paper, and then transfers her DRAWING via a watercolor crayon, to "good" paper. The paper can be a good watercolor paper, or a piece of paper with either diluted matte medium, or gesso, or both, on it, which makes for a tricky start if one hasn't worked that way before!

Myrna also showed us several ways to interpret source material, including using pen, crayon and stamps, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but my favorite is the use of Tyvek "paper" for painting.  LOVE it!  The painting I did on Tyvek was of me, using a high contrast image [tweaked on Photoshop] with fluid acrylics!  Am not too sure of the outcome, but the process was fascinating!

Again, workshop paintings don't always work in terms of "frameable" paintings, but learning the processes are always worth the price of the ticket.    Can't wait to attend Myrna's five-day workshop at OSA in January!

The icing on the cake, literally and figuratively during my Portland visit was to spend the weekend with family to celebrate my granddaughter's sixth  birthday.  I am pretty confident she had a special full weekend with lots of loving and lots of gifts, and I know I had a great time watching her!

Am Back!

After two different workshops and two special visits with family [on both coasts], my batteries are recharged and I'm ready for lots of artmaking and sharing of wonderful lessons learned this past month. [Will post about Myrna Wacknov's workshop later today.]

The first workshop was for five days at the Kanuga Watercolors Workshops, in Hendersonville, North Carolina, where a dozen first class watermedia instructors hold classes in a "campus" setting. What a wealth of talent!

I chose to take Nicholas Simmon's workshop [Nicholas Simmons' Blog], which was watermedia and innovation on steroids. I have fallen in love with fluid acrylics, and learned several ways to work the medium.

I'll say right here, my caveat is that I don't believe any of my best work comes from workshops, but certainly the things I learn from them are life-altering, and truly add to my own art experience. So, I did two pieces in Nick's workshop that are not anything I might hang in a show, but I LOVED what I learned doing them.

For the first piece, we "threw" paint, then sketched a design, integrating some Asian characters loosely based on a few symbols Nicholas shared with us. We masked the characters and other bits of our designs, then poured some more paint. What a hoot! We finished those with a few details and then had the "Great Reveal," removing the masking from the characters to complete the pieces.

Nicholas was very generous in sharing his secrets and process. Lots of hair dryer use and lots of tipping and spraying. Lots of stories and kudos to other artists. I like that about Nicholas and most artists I have met or seen ... very generous with hints and tricks, and gracious about other artists' work.

One of the reasons I chose to take Nicholas' workshop is that he uses Photoshop as a tool in composing and manipulating his work. Although I have been using Photoshop Elements for years, I learned many other ways to use technology in my own art.

For the week at Kanuga, I was a "commuter," because I stayed with my sister, Jodie and her husband, Tom about five miles from the campus. It was the best of all worlds, as I was immersed in art each day, and had lovely visits with Jodie and Tom in the evenings at their lovely home. Jodie and I were able to catch up and paint together as well.

All in all, it was a terrific workshop, and I HOPE I can do it again next year! I have already chosen the instructor I would like to work with!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Last Class of "Outside the Box" Series

For the last four weeks, I taught a class called "Outside the Box," an extension of an eight-week Figures and Faces series I taught at the local Senior Center.  During the first eight weeks, we learned a few fundamentals of drawing and painting figures in pretty traditional ways.  The students wanted more at the end of the series, so I said we could do another four week course that would have a "what the hell" quality to the lessons, so the students could feel looser and freer with their work. 

The first three weeks, we did some charcoal and wash characters that were free and loose, then some guoache theatrical ladies, then the fantasy, or the person they wished they were, and finally, the fourth week, clowns and circus characters.  As I had few clown references, I chose some from an old Walter Foster/Leon Franks how-to clown painting book from about 1970. I also showed the class a couple of circus people from Shirley Trevena's wonderful "Taking Risks With Watercolours" book.

I must say that I have never enjoyed teaching a class so much!  The students laughed and had the "what the hell" attitude, so they didn't fret and get wrapped around the axle about making a perfect painting.  For each of the pieces, there is a freshness and spontaneity that had been eluded when they were trying so hard to make their figures and faces just right. 

Enjoy the show!  We did!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Testing Slide Show

Am learning how I can make my blog more interesting, so I have uploaded a few images at random as a test. Am hoping to add more slide shows that make more sense later on, but right now, this is a test.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Pride Cometh Before The Fall

The past two summers here in La Conner in Skagit Valley, Washington, polo matches have been played.  As a young girl, I thoroughly enjoyed attending and watching polo matches. What an adrenalin rush!  And now they were having matches not five miles from where I live.  What a treat!

As most artist do, I carry at least two cameras in the car most of the time.  The first time I saw the matches going on in a field off the main drag into La Conner, I pulled in and took about thirty photos.  I was told there was to be a Governors Cup the following month, so I planned to be there.  I brought a friend, and again clicked probably 120 or more photos and felt I had some really good material from which to paint.

I had been fooling around with acrylics, and I had been teaching a figures and faces "lite" class, so I wanted to see what I could do with the polo ponies and the players in acrylic.  I thoroughly enjoyed painting a few of them, yet I was so concerned with how to do the backgrounds. The backgrounds in the photos weren't great, and the lighting wasn't the best either, but a photography instructor I had once said, "Always get the shot."  That's what they invented Adobe Photoshop for.

So I agonized, consulted artist friends, fiddled and fiddled, deciding on a sort of abstract background a la Leroy Nieman [yeh, right!].  I took the paintings to a small show where my friends told me to price the paintings about two times higher than I usually do, and was on my way to the show, where I was going to slash the prices in half.  When I got to the show, I was told that one of them had sold already [the show had started only ten minutes before], and there was a check for me.  So I left the prices where they were.

The next month, I submitted one of the ponies in our art club Artist of the Month vote, and won.  So, after selling one, and having one win Artist of the Month for me, I was pleased, but hadn't sold the rest of my ponies.The local art market is somewhat reflective of the national economic situation, so the two remaining Gov Cup polo players were still around.  My club, ALN, was scheduled to put on a new venue locally, so I thought I would try the ponies again.  The show was juried, and my ponies didn't make it! 

I think I will do them again, and tone down the background, maybe do one similar to the one that sold, and just chalk the other two up to a learning experience ... more the experience of rejection.  Really, I'm over it!

I found out yesterday that one of my paintings that was in that show DID sell, so I feel somewhat redeemed.  You win a few, you lose a few and some just don't make the cut.  Still, I have about another one hundred and eighteen photos of polo ponies and players to choose from and to paint before the next matches this summer.  Maybe I can play to the vanity of the players I paint and sell them at the matches! 

In any event, I thoroughly enjoy painting them ,and thorughly enjoy the matches, so nothing really lost!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Another Painting

Just like putting the first dab of color on a clean piece of paper, I hesitated making an entry today, but I was so pleased with the positive feedback I have been getting about my maiden voyage into the Wonderful World of Blogging!  Am excited about learning a new thing, and even more excited about sharing art and thoughts.  Don't know what's next, but so far so good.

Some of you liked "Diane," and asked about the painting.  I did it in a workshop with Ted Nuttall, two summers ago.  Ted's style of teaching and painting [including his signature "sloppy dots"] are first class.  Although his style appears to be effortless and fast, Ted spends a great deal of time drawing his subject [primarily from photographs], so the painting has a good foundation.  

Here is the other painting I started in Ted's class. It is Shannon, my granddaughter, at age four.

When I returned to art classes, I wanted to paint and play with color right way.   You know, immediate graitifcation.  I was told I HAD to take a required basic drawing class, but I got that requirement waived because I could show that I had taken art in high school [hah!] and didn't think I needed drawing.  Well, for two semesters, I took watercolor classes, but then the following semester, there were no classes for me to take, so I signed up for the dreaded drawing class.  Little did I know that that class was to have an almost life-changing effect on me, and on my art.

Monday, February 22, 2010

First Post

Am not sure who, if anyone will be reading this, but I am posting for the first time, just to see how the blog works.  I am feeling a bit shy about "hanging" my art [small "a"] on the site, as there are so many excellent artists' blogs.  I think I will learn my way around the site and get a feel for who puts what on theirs.

It is because of visiting several really great art blogs that I finally broke down to do my own. Learning something new tends to keep a soul humble, and humble I am when it comes to my art.  I am forever seeking new ways to make art, having been a latecomer to the party. 

When I finally post some work, it may lack "unity," because I am trying everything, although as I have tip-toed into the field, I have spent a great deal of time learning what I can do with watercolors.  My intention is to move out of the "student" looking work, i.e., labored, overworked, less inspired and copied realism. 

I like doing work that is "fast and loose," even though I know often the illusion of fast and loose can be a long and disciplined process.

I am continually following the work of more successful and experienced artsts, attending workshops and demonstrations when and where I can.  As a result, I have learned a great deal from several regionally and nationally known contemporary artists.

I also have become an art book and magazine junkie, and soak up what I can from them like a sponge.  All of what I am learning is contributing to who I am becoming as an artist.

As I have moved through my own artistic journey, I have apparently helped a few along the way, as I have become an instructor ... in the Senior Center Circuit!  I so enjoy teaching classes, and, in turn, have learned so much more from my students over the course of this new stage of my journey.

As a late bloomer in the world of art, I intend to not waste much time, but to work hard at improving what I know, learning excting new ways to make art, and have fun in the process.  So here I go, launching this blog as the next part of whatever I am supposed to be doing in the wonderful world of making art.