Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Seascape and Sketchbook

Seascape, from a central coast vacation photograph. However, the piece doesn't resemble it much. Not exactly a "daily painting", which is my ultimate goal, but most of the work, other than the background, was done today.

While I started work on another still life for my "30" series, I thought I would remember to add my sketchbook additions in keeping with my originally stated premise of posting just about everything.

Sheep, soft pastel, is a continuation of attempting to work with my limited palette soft pastels I bought by mistake. I had fun getting messy making the sky and the clouds, but pastels are just not my thing. So, I will collect other artist's work, because I love the look of pastel landscapes and florals.

Tomato, colored pencil. Colored pencils are still my favorite color medium.

Two graphite sketches from our "secret garden" on the mostly unseen side of our house.

Hydrangea in the shade and a mimosa branch, shortly after the "Butcher of Barcelona" (me, with garden trimmers) got after it.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Flying with the Loons

Maine was a bit soggy. We got a bit of sunshine on a couple of days, but otherwise, mostly got damp. However, I discovered I have no idea what I am doing when it comes to plein air watercolors. Isn't it wonderful how much you learn by doing things you don't know how to do?

Here are the results of painting outside in front of a beautiful lake. In the rain.

Took a slew of very atmospheric photographs of the mist rising from the water and lots of other beautiful sights.

Some of these work better than others, but I think my "process" involves making little notes in my journal and taking lots of photographs. Then, tweaking and cropping the heck out of them and then coming up with a reference photo I really like. For me, I have to stare at them for quite awhile before I decide just what it is that attracts me: texture, color, contrast, pattern. Then, planning the painting and the size, medium, palette and basic overall structure for the interpretation.

I used to think of myself as a bit haphazard. Like as late as yesterday, I thought this. Then, while choosing my favorite images, I was struck by how many decisions I make before ever getting started and how much pre-planning I actually do.

Most of the misty lake, sky reflection type paintings I really want to do seem to scream for large canvases and quite a lot of planning and detail to get it "right." Things that look so simple are very deceptive that way. As these little plein air studies show, small sizes come with their own problems of execution, but big pieces with bigger brushes require careful study, close observation, and diligent preparations, too.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Flyin' Down East

All packed. Boarding passes printed. Ready to go somewhere I have never been before -- -- Maine. In particular, Lake Cobbosseecontee (Lake Cobb'see to the locals, apparently).

Taking some graphite pencils, some watersoluable graphite, and colored pencils and their accessories which are basically a sharpener or two and some erasers. One of the nicest things about CP's is their portability and neatness. Even took a small box of 36 oil pastels, in case someone wants to paint with me or experiment with them.

Also, stuck in a limited selection of watercolors, favorite brushes, and a new very nice watercolor field book and my trusty Mucha Gallery sketchbook purchased last year in Prague. (Doesn't that sound a bit "la-di-da"?) This one had such lovely paper in it, I had to have it. Don't have much more space in that sketchbook, so might get to hunt down a new one.

Got the camera, batteries and charger. I usually take scads of photographs and surely this excursion will be no different.

It's supposed to rain off and on during our stay, but that just means lots of atmospheric effects for watercolors. My daughter, Susan, who lives close to our rental cabin, says that the days have been gorgeous and the rain doesn't last too long, usually. I have never visited her, so we are both very excited about this trip.

I would like to thank all of you who have opted to follow my blog. Big hugs all around. I enjoy reading yours, too, and sharing with so many very creative people.

Back by June 29th with lots to share!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ten Percent

Lemons and Red Grapes, still life no. 3/30., 11x14, oil on canvas panel.

Officially, 10% of goal for my summer challenge is completed. This is a good place to leave it for a week or so. Traveling to Maine for some R&R. Back around the end of the month with lovely pictures to share.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Summer Self-Challenge

Over at WetCanvas, there is a watermedia summer self-challenge I avidly joined just before my bigger challenge of back surgery. I have modified my over-eager original challenge of 90 small pieces to this: Thirty Still Life Paintings - any medium. This will extend from June 13, when I got busy again with my artsy stuff, until August 31st. This goal, I believe is achieveable and I know I will learn about a thousand more things not to do in pursuing it. That's why I paint, draw, "color", anyway -- to learn how not to do it and thereby refine my skills. Simple.

So, here are the first two finished works. Certainly not perfect, but if perfection were the goal, I wouldn't have started anyway. Morning Magnolias. 8x10, oil on canvas board. Cup came out a little stodgy, and some of the leaves are questionable (at best), but the idea is captured. Started at 6:45 a.m. with the light hitting the flower petals. I haven't worked in oils for over a year, and never have painted anything but landscapes in oils. This was actually a lot of fun.

You saw this one before, now it is finished. (Before it finished me!)

Twenty-eight to go.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Still in the Life

Works in Progress means I am back in action after thinking about it too long. That may be the problem with art. It works better when you don't think. I almost forgot how much fun it is! Lots of clean-up to do on this watercolor. This is an exercise in a very limited palette of blue and orange. In this case, Prussian Blue and Vermillion. Tried a variety of my blues and oranges to come up with a pair that made really nice mixes. These two made such nice varieties of purple-browns and near-blacks, that I chose them right away. Apricots, peaches, and Queen Anne cherries (those pretty yellow-red ones). Lots of detailing still to do, but the most important thing is that I am once again at play and it feels wonderful!

This is my first work on watercolor canvas board. I really like the surface and its durability. These boards are a bit expensive, compared to buying big sheets of Arches CP papers, but that just means I am acting like an artist for a change and planning things before committing them to the support. Not a bad habit to pick up.

Colored pencils, my favorite medium so far, called my name and I began this still life from a photograph I took very early one morning. This fruit bowl is usually in our kitchen, but moved it around the house looking for good morning light and reflections. It's coming along. I am still wary of sitting for too long, or standing either, for that matter. So, while the watercolor layers dry, I work on this one.
So, I feel like I am returning to that new routine I was beginning to ease into and still in the artist's life. What better way to express that than to start off with some still life?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Artist's Block?

Admittedly, I am still recovering from my spine surgery, but finally today, I broke out of my rut and actually went into my art room to play with the toys. I didn't. But, at least, I went in there. So, I must be recovering. It is hard to get back into my old new routine. I only officially retired in February of this year, so can't say it was really much of an "old routine", but I miss it. I miss carrying my coffee cup upstairs, opening the windows, and planning the art part of my day.

I did find a couple of small art cards I started. I don't like them much, so will not include them here as they are not finished, and probably won't be. But, I did set up my work space for continuing a still life I started before my back crashed my little world.

I found a few small prepped oil canvases for studies I planned to do for a larger version of a particular view of Morro Bay that I photographed in early May. That almost seems like a lifetime ago.

So, if anyone else has that ambivalent feeling about getting over one thing and back into something similar to what was comfortable, or something new and entirely different, let me know about it. It is lonely out here in recovery world and so easy to forget all the small victories on the path to the new old new routine.

Thursday, June 4, 2009