Sunday, February 28, 2010

Hand made pastels

It's like being invited in to a delivery room to watch a live birth. Participating in a workshop where Kitty Wallis teaches the class how to make pastels, well, it's like watching each person awaken to their playful, technicolor selves.

It's labor intensive, and kind of messy, but look at all of the sticks of pure color we made! I got to take home some of them, too. Now, wait about a week and then I can start to use them! Woo hoo!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Dropping in on Kitty Wallis' workshop

Kitty graciously allowed me to drop in on her workshop today. where I got to paint a value painting where I artificially created a palette with warm colors in the light to midtones and cool colors for the midtone to dark values. The trees painting on the bottom is the resulting painting from that exercise.

In the afternoon, I painted the salt marsh painting.

In addition to great instruction, the workshop has a group of excellent people participating in it. Tomorrow we'll make pastels!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Home again

It's been an eventful trip and now I am home again. Dorothy was right, there's no place like home. There's no place like home.

Travel allows change. It shakes me from the normal things that make up my life at home, and it forces me to pay attention. My senses are all tuned to a new frequency and I see, hear, smell, touch, and taste with more awareness and consciousness. My perspectives change. New thoughts are born and begin to grow.

In the midst of this trip, an art workshop that nourished my artist soul. My father's illness that broke my heart and continues to grind and twist. Time with loved ones. And glorious views of our beautiful country.

I am home. There's no place like home. But, I am changed. That's how travel works. Like magic.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sunshine Award

I am the happy recipient of the Sunshine Award, given to me by The Colorist, Casey Klahn. Thank you, Casey, for your dedication to your own artistic development and teaching and sharing with others through The Colorist blog.

The rules for accepting this award are:
Put the logo on your blog or within your post.
Pass the award on to 12 bloggers.
Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
Link to the person from whom you received this award.

Celeste Bergin
Kitty Wallis
Carrie Holst
Karen E. Lewis
Susan Ogilvie
Joni James
M/V Desert Venture
Abby Murray
Pam Flanders
Carolyn Rondthaler
Brenda Boylan
Gretha Lindwood

I hope you'll check out their blogs and enjoy the spread of Sunshine!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Grand Canyon and Monument Valley

I think that it would be wonderful to be an Artist in Residence at one of the National Parks, don't you? The Grand Canyon or Yellowstone would be my top two choices. Where would you choose?

While wandering through the Verkamp's Visitor's Center at the south rim of the Grand Canyon, I found a wonderful book of art with the Grand Canyon as the subject. I feel the stirrings of a studio project featuring the Grand Canyon...

Just pen in my sketchbook for the last several days. All of the sketches you see above started with a single blind contour line. After the first line, I sketched by looking up and back at my drawing. But that first line, I wanted it to be the result from my eyes caressing the side of the rock, my mind focused and sharp to every nuance of form, my hand and arm moving in synch in a slow dance across the page. What a treat!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Grand Canyon plein air

South rim view of Grand Canyon, near Kolb Studio

The wind started to pick up and was cold!
Enough is not too bad.

I stood off the cleared path, on a bit of snow and still
had at least 50 people walk behind me to look.
Attractive nuisance. Sheesh.

For the last three years, since I've been painting en plein air, I have dreamed of painting at the rim of the Grand Canyon. Today, my dream came true!

Well, sort of. I pictured it a little warmer. And with fewer people milling around, climbing onto the snow behind me to get a look at the painting and then commenting (or not ... I'm not sure which is more distracting!).

Minor details. I get a thrill when I see the signs that I am nearing the National Park. The names conjure the beauty and mystery and danger of the place: Yavasupai observation station, Kaibab National Forest, Havasupai trail, Bright Angel Lodge, Hopi House, and the El Tovar Hotel. As I was unpacking my gear, the train from Williams, Arizona blew its whistle to signal "All aboard!"

And now, I have joined ranks with other artists who have sat at the same rim, and looked down in wonder at the splendor of the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River. And tried to capture its beauty in even a small way.

Life is good!

Today sun. Tomorrow, a chance of snow. I still hope to paint!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sketchbook Page

A page from my sketchbook from today. I watched a lovely sunrise at Joshua Tree National Park this morning and while I watched, I did the top sketch as a blind contour. At least the top edge of the rocks were a blind contour. As the sun came up and over the landscape, I added the bushes and delineations of the rocks. Golden orange sky started my day today.

The eye, which is said to be the window of the soul, is the main organ whereby man's understanding can have the most complete and magnificent view of the infinite works of nature. Leonardo da Vinci

I am enjoying this book on sketching. It is full of examples of famous sketchbooks and journals from historical as well as contemporary folks. "Drawing from Life" by Jennifer New.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Floral painting by Fechin

Palm Springs Art Museum
floral by Nicolai Fechin

Whenever I see that a museum has paintings by Nicolai Fechin, I make sure that I give myself plenty of time to drool, er, I mean, look at them. Study them. Try to figure out why they are so beautiful and captivating.

Today was no different. Fechin, Russian born but American emigre, is known for his portraits. But, every so often I see a landscape or floral of his and it takes my breath away. Like this painting I saw today at the Palm Springs Art Museum. The calla lilies glowed with light and I didn't want to stop looking at it.

Even if I didn't paint (but I did sketch some palm trees and a few folks playing shuffleboard!), it was an artful day.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sketches on a rainy day

Sketching in various forms

Making a determined effort to at least put a sketch down every day. The top value sketches were done at brief stops along the drive toward Southern California. The bottom two were done while driving (well, while sitting in the passenger seat). Gestures done in seconds and then filled in by memory.

No great breakthroughs, but keeping my thoughts on art helps get through difficult days.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Question: Should NFS paintings be allowed in a juried art show?

I love to see juried art shows. I'm always curious to see the artwork that made it into the show and which pieces got ribbons or awards. I like to take my time to make my selection for the "People's Choice" award, too.

When friends suggested that we go to a juried art show in Redding while we were in town, I was fast to respond "YES!" We made our way to Turtle Bay and the famous Sundial Bridge on the Sacramento River, and drove through the rain to the Carter House.

The North Valley Art League
in Redding, CA is holding its 26th Annual National Juried Art Show until February 27, 2010. The juror for this show is watercolor artist Julie Gilbert-Pollard.

There were some fine paintings in the show, and some paintings that (in my opinion) were not so fine. Artists from California, Oregon, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Kentucky, Idaho, and Arizona all had work hanging in the show.

So far, so good.

I was VERY surprised to see that many of the paintings in the show were NOT FOR SALE. Not just one or two, but 22!

I didn't like it. I think that paintings that are submitted for a show should all be for sale. It was like a foxtail in my sock to see so many NFS signs on the paintings.

What do you think? Should NFS paintings be allowed in a juried show?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Susan Ogilvie Workshop: Day Five the end

Sometimes you just have to call
it a day and stop working on it
Cape Flattery Trail
24 x 18 on prepared panel

Water on a brush to
push pastel into the
texture on the board

No matter how much pastel
I added, the yellow texture of
the panel kept poking through

Value Sketch
for composition

Susan was an encouraging
and knowledgeable instructor

Susan recommended that everyone start a new painting this morning. Some attenders had only worked on a single painting during the five days of our workshop and starting something new was a great suggestion.

I decided to face the painting that I had been avoiding: the one done on a yellow prepared panel. I couldn't seem to make the pastel cover the surface like I desired and it bothered me to not get a result that was reasonable. Instead of starting something new, I faced the thing I had avoided.

I decided to use a wet brush to push/melt the pastel into the textured surface. More of the yellow was covered and most of the values were right. I then added pastel on top to refine the shapes. It's not perfect, but the final painting is moody and suggests the experience of walking through the rainforest along the trail to Cape Flattery.

I got more than I expected from this workshop. I learned a lot about composition and how to make my own pastel panels. In addition, I made some new art friends and shared a rich experience with some outstanding individuals. It's not everyday that you talk about Richard Schmid around the lunch table!

A workshop always brings a high, like a mountaintop experience. Now comes the valley. And lots of practice ahead.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Susan Ogilvie Workshop Day Four

pastel on Wallis Museum
12 x 16

Salt Marsh
pastel on Wallis Museum
12 x 14

Salt Marsh underpainting
sometimes the underpainting
is so strong it's tempting to sign it
and call it "done"

Susan Ogilvie's demo
acrylic underpainting
directly on Gatorfoam

I loved today's demo! Susan painted the acrylic underpainting you see above. After it dried, she applied pumice gel to create a sanded surface on top of this underpainting. Since the gel dries clear, she can paint pastel right over the top of this to create a multi-layered beautiful painting. I will try this when I get home, since I didn't bring enough panels or much variety of acrylic paint.

Today my focus was to get my compositions right and to use my photo references as suggestions rather than directives. Much more creativity in placement of the pieces, more intentional placement of light and dark patterns, and some stuff made up based on things only hinted at in the photos.

I think I am getting stronger paintings with more dynamic compositions. The depth and sense of scale are pleasing to me.

My art friend, Celeste Bergin, says, "You're only as good as your last painting." Tonight, I'm feeling pretty good.

Tomorrow is the last day of the workshop. We voted to end the session with a critique. I am excited. But VERY tired! Not too tired to smile, though. It's been a great week!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Susan Ogilvie Workshop: Day Three

San Juan Islands
pastel on Wallis Museum paper
12 x 18

Value sketch
adjusted composition based on
photo reference
so that it was stronger

Path to Cape Flattery
pastel on prepared panel
24 x 18
WIP painted from
value sketch only

At 4:00. when the workshop
is officially done for the day,
Susan Ogilvie works on her
painting, started earlier
as a demo

Not quite finished, according to Susan,
but obviously a strong painting with a
clear light pattern and
interesting composition

Another great day. We painted in the morning after the demo. I worked hard to create a good value sketch before I started the San Juan Islands painting. I can see that it pays off to take the time to create a clear value plan before starting a painting.

In the afternoon, I worked on a second painting, this one on a panel I made this morning. I have mixed feelings about the prepared panels. It feels like I have to work very hard to get complete pastel coverage over my underpainted panel. See all of the yellow peeking through? I am not finished with the painting, but I will have to work hard to get the yellow covered.

Susan spent a lot of time working her way around the room to give each artist her attention. By the end of the day, her demo painting wasn't finished, so she worked on it for a while. I sat and watched her add sky holes in the trees, adjust values, and use information from her photo references to bring her painting closer to completion. She uses expressions like "chunking in color" to describe some of her approach to blocking in shapes.

Sigh. Life is good.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Susan Ogilvie Workshop: Day Two

Sailboats on prepared panel
18 x 24

Willapa Bay Sunset on panel
18 x 24

Susan Ogilvie's sketchbook
composition showing
directional lines

Day Two. I was not the only person who arrived early this morning. This must be the sign of an excellent workshop: eager participants (and good coffee). I wanted to prepare a new panel for my afternoon painting. I got the panel painted with acrylic before the workshop began at 9:00 sharp. Susan Ogilvie is a stickler about time and I appreciate that very much!

She started the morning session with two slide shows. In the first presentation, each slide showed a preliminary sketch and the finished painting next to it. She talked through the various problems she resolved in the sketches, described what she was attracted to and wanted to explore in the painting, and in some cases revealed how she might handle the painting differently today.

The second slide show showed photos of the progression of many paintings from start to finish, with at least two from the middle. Very interesting to see her change temperature, redraw shapes, adjust proportions throughout the painting process.

I used the rest of the morning session to paint the sailboats. Painting on a surface that I created myself the day before was exciting and frustrating. In the end, I stopped fighting the orange that was peeking through the blues and violets of the scene. Looking at the painting now I can see how frustrated I was: I completely left off the figure on the nearest sailboat. These must be ghost boats, captained by spirits. Ah well.

The afternoon session started with a painting demonstration by Susan. I loved seeing her go through a careful and thoughtful analysis of her photo as she sketched and assigned values to her shapes. She blocked in the colors and then sent us to our easels to work on our own paintings.

I moved my easel around this afternoon so that I could get more light on my painting. It made an improvement in how well I could see what I was doing and I'm glad I moved. I think that the second painting, Willapa Bay Sunset, shows me working more with the texture and color of the panel than fighting against it as I did with the Sailboats.

More to come tomorrow! I'll need a good night's sleep!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Susan Ogilvie Workshop: Day One

Day 1 painting Dune Grass

Sketch using Golden Mean
considerations for placement

Pastel surface I made today
for sailboat painting tomorrow

Susan Ogilvie demonstrates
how to prepare a panel with
acrylic gel and pumice and
aluminum oxide for tooth

Susan Ogilvie Demo Day 1

I am in Springfield, Oregon at the Emerald Art Center for a week-long pastel workshop with Susan Ogilvie. Here is it, only Day 1, and I already feel like I've gotten my money's worth.

I wanted two things from this workshop: instruction and ideas on how to create my own pastel supports (sanded/toothy surfaces that will hold pastel); and clear teaching on how to create strong compositions.

I have already gotten what I came for, and more!

Susan Ogilvie is an articulate instructor who experiments a lot in her own art practice to grow and become a better artist. Attending her workshop is like getting a peek at her thinking process, a little like the movie "Being John Malkovich." Only much better.

The top photo is one I did quickly at the end of the day, using some of the new ideas about composition but painting in my same way on Kitty Wallis Museum Paper with an underpainting of pigments in dispersion.

The sketch of the sailboats shows more of what I learned about composition. Actually it shows how I am trying to apply what Susan said about using the Golden Mean to inform me of where to place certain components of my painting/sketch. I tried to sketch big shapes and assign values to them in a way that made an interesting whole. What do you think?

Tomorrow I will paint the sailboats painting on my newly created ORANGE panel. It's 18 x 24 so that will probably take me a while to paint. I'm excited to see what I made when I brushed on the pumice and acrylic.

Susan's demo painting is a knock-out! I am pooped but also very excited for tomorrow.

It's extra fun to meet new people at workshops, too. The three women at my table at lunch were spectacular human beings and I enjoyed every minute with them.

It feels a little like bedtime to me. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise, learning is hard work. I may be tired, but believe me, I am smiling!