Sunday, June 29, 2008

Taking it in

Orcas Island is just beautiful! Rosario Resort sits majestically on the rocks of East Sound, like a queen. Everywhere I turn, it's more and more beautiful. Sunshine. Fresh air. Time to paint. It's just about perfect.

The watercolor sketches are so much fun to do. About 30 minutes to get it down and hope that I caught something that's right. I hope to paint a full sheet watercolor tomorrow morning. Mornings are optimal because the other boaters haven't disturbed the water yet. And, I think that the float planes may not start until 9. We'll see.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Hope Island painting and glare

Up early this morning to start painting before 7:00 (that's almost a record for me!). The water was smooth and the temperature warm enough for shorts. The wind picked up as I was painting and sprinkled pastel dust all over the bow of the boat. After I was finished painting, I had to hose off and scrub the deck. A pain. But worth it.

The second photo is a study of glare and how really bright light alters objects and my perception of them and their color. This is at Orcas Island. Safe passage through Deception Pass and now a safe anchorage near the small village of Olga on Orcas Island.

Life is good!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Change of scenery

I don't think that it gets better than to be on a boat in the Puget Sound when it's a sunny day in the high 70s. Does it? The sound of the wind in the rigging of the nearby sailboats is like a sweet melody in whispered voice.

So far, I've just done quick watercolor sketches, this one is my attempt to capture light like Hopper. I think I can do better, but I'm pleased with it for a first try. I hope to pull out the big guns tomorrow morning and capture the morning light on Skagit Bay. We will wait until noon for slack tide before going through Deception Pass. Plenty of time to paint!

Life is good!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

To van Gogh or not to van Gogh

When I was at the Getty in January, I stood in front of van Gogh's iris painting and stared. I could hardly breathe. I'm sure I drooled (just a little). I was mesmerized by its beauty. It was brilliant! Van Gogh's way of capturing the sensual forms and lines and colors really got to me. I was bowled over. That's probably why I was so enthralled with Schreiner's Iris Gardens. But, I never seemed to really paint with van Gogh's abandon. But, this weekend, I tried another iris painting in my studio. I hoped to channel van Gogh. This iris portrait is big, about 30" x 28". No van Gogh. Just a Katherine. Maybe next time.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

How do you know when you're finished?

The scene: Lopez Island in the San Juan Islands of Washington. A beautiful wetlands.

I am often asked the question "How do you know when you're finished with a painting?" The truth is: I don't.

But, I usually know when I've gone too far. Too much detail or fussing will strip the joy right out of the painting. And kill it.

It isn't nice to kill a painting. And it really frustrates me when I do it!

This one is a little less refined than some of my other paintings, but the tall grass and the scene seemed to call for less finish and more freedom. I stopped painting before I got that sinking feeling I get when I go too far.

Please feel free to comment and tell me if you think this needs more finishing. I'm all ears.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Davenport Cypress Trees

A recent trip to Santa Cruz, CA with art friends gave me sights to ponder and paint. We took our trip before the fires burned the landscape. A very special spot just north of Davenport inspired this painting. I hope these trees weren't damaged!

In the painting on the left, you see my "under painting" which is done on Wallis sanded paper with pigment in dispersion (like water colors without the gum arabic).

The second painting shows the finished product, with pastel on top, but places where the under painting shows through. I enjoy the texture and feel of the wet under painting and the dry drawing of the pastel on top. The best of both worlds, I think. And 24" X 18" is a nice size for landscapes.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Edward Hopper, an Acquired Taste

I have just finished reading Edward Hopper: Light and Dark, a biography of the famous American Realist painter. I admit it, Hopper is a difficult artist to appreciate. His attention to the quality of light is dazzling. Look at this example, the famous "Nighthawks." The light inside the diner is different than the light outside the diner and the building is also lit by an unseen street lamp. I love that.

But the people are uncomfortable, lonely, isolated even when in the company of others. I think that's part of what makes Hopper difficult for me, the pessimistic feel to his work. Beautiful, provocative, and uncomfortable. All at once. Isn't art great?

"Great Art is the outward expression of an inner life in the artist, and this inner life will result in his personal vision of the world." ------ Edward Hopper

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Camp 18 Paint Out

Camp 18 is a great spot along Highway 26 between Forest Grove and Seaside, OR. Along the banks of Humbug Creek, Camp 18 is a restaurant and grounds dedicated to preserving the history of logging in this area.

The Portland Plein Air Painters met a group of painters from Gearhart to paint at Camp 18. I brought watercolors and pen instead of my usual pastels. I felt awkward with the medium but pleased with the whimsy of this piece. It's far from perfect, but it captures part of the charm of the locale. I would like to go back there and paint again.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sweet, sweet rose

I hoped to paint today with the Portland Plein Air Painters at the Washington Park Rose Garden but the gray skies kept me from painting. It didn't keep me from admiring the flowers and taking photos of the ones that were open.

This has been such a cool spring, the roses are late to open. But the sun came out this afternoon and I hear it's going to stick around for a few days.

I can hardly look at roses, without thinking about these famous lines from Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet."

'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Day Three: Make Pastels

It's a little like a cooking project, mixing, kneading, dividing kneading more. More water. Less water. We made this many pastels today and divided them equally (more or less) among the eight students in the workshop.

The colors look delicious. I can't use them until they dry all the way through, but I am eager to do it. Some of the colors are the very ones that are missing from my pastel box.

I learned a lot over the three days of this workshop. And, I'm so grateful to Kitty Wallis for teaching! We are so lucky to have her in the Portland area!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A new painting

Here's the painting I worked on for the rest of today. On the left is the under painting, done with Createx Pure Pigments on Wallis Sanded paper. The under painting gives a structure under the pastel for the building up of the entire piece.

The second photo shows you how far I took this painting today. I was pooping out by the end of the session, but I like some of what is happening here.

The painting is done from a photo I took at Kalaloch Beach on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State.

Using the value palette

You can see my value palette off to the side. Kitty had us translate a black and white photograph only using the colors in our value palette.

It goes to show how value does the heavy lifting in a painting! I personally have never seen a man with a green face. Well, maybe once...

Workshop Day Two

Today we started by creating our own value palette. The object is to have a playful group of colors that are even steps from light to dark on a value scale. This is so much easier to do with grays!

One the left you see my process. First start with five broad value fields and then test colors on top of those fields to determine if they are lighter or darker.

Are you eyes crossing yet?

On the far right you see my final value palette.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Workshop painting, Day 1

I never expect to paint a masterpiece at a workshop, but I like this one. The scene is the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge. Oh, sure, there is plenty of room for improvement, but I like the light on the water. I can hardly wait for tomorrow!

Color Reactivity

Another exercise with color. This time, take the same color pastel and make two squares. Surround the squares with different color fields and observe how the center color changes, or reacts, to the surrounding color. I LOVE this exercise! I think I can fill a huge sheet of paper with the little boxes. It might not be art, but it's fun!

Value Matching

Day one at the pastel workshop ("Basic Color Intensive") with Kitty Wallis. I feel so lucky to be working with this world class artist! Our first exercise is to take a pastel and make a mark on a sheet of Belgian Mist Wallis Paper. Then, try to match that mark with another pastel from a different color family. It is not as easy as it looks! Good matches are revealed when you squint at the pairs and the line between them becomes less distinct. You can tell that I'm having trouble with this exercise!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Rainy Gardens

It seems that there is always an excuse to avoid painting. Today the excuse was rain. It would have been so easy to stay home and drink a cup of coffee instead of driving to a park to paint.

Today, I didn't take the easy road. I went to the park. And got a little wet. And painted a little painting. Watercolor. Isn't that appropriate for a rainy day?

I have the sneaking suspicion that if I stop looking for (or inventing) excuses for myself, and simply paint no matter what, I will become a better artist.


"I tell people that I speak three languages," the 15 year old daughter of a friend told me. "English, a bit of Spanish, and music." At 15, she is wiser than this middle-aged woman!

Only in the last few years have I realized how musicians and artists speak a language quite different from English or Spanish. And the world is a lonely place without other native speakers.

I consider myself fortunate to have a community of artists and musicians around so that we can revert to speaking music and art together. "See how the light bends around the tree and almost deforms its branches!" "That 2/4 measure in the midst of the 4/4 meter makes my heart flip in my chest!"

To some, gibberish, but to others, a cup of cool water on a dry and dusty day. Are you thirsty? com/watch? v=nUDIoN- _Hxs