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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Twilight on the Inside Passage

This was fun to paint.  Inspired by a series of photos I took while in Alaska, this is a representation of evenings on the ferry boat and how I felt there.  Now that this one is out of my system, I am in the mood for more.  I just hope the stars all align to keep my life interruption-free for a day or two!

Twilight on the Inside Passage
Watercolor on paper
18" x 24"

Warming Up

Sometimes, when it's been awhile since I painted, I need a warm-up exercise.  Yesterday and today I'm playing with blue hues to capture a memory of the trip we took up the Inside Passage of Alaska this past summer. Hopefully, this'll get me in the groove and ready to get out the big sheets of paper.

Watercolor painting lends itself to getting other jobs done while the washes dry; so yesterday was baking day, too.

I decided to give the paper a light wash of Yellow Ochre to help me capture the twilight mood I wanted.

Getting the clouds in; some soft and some hard edges.  Not sure if I like some of the hard edges, but that's easily fixed when I get close to the end.

I'm using Cerulean, Pthalo and Indigo blues with a tiny touch of Alizarin for the clouds. This is where I left off last night.

This is a no-pressure piece, fun, light and simple- the perfect combination to get me in the swing of being in the studio again.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Back in the Saddle Again!

It's been since the middle of October since I have had time to paint.  I've been saying all along that I've been too busy getting an art degree to create much art and it's the truth!   Today I can paint for the joy of it.  I've spent a few days getting the studio excavated and now I'm ready to go again.  

I wanted pictures of the show with people in them to give the scale of the work for my portfolio.  One of these days I'll have time to submit it to galleries! That's my mom, can you tell?

It has taken some days of rest from the push to get papers turned in and finals done to even generate the creative energy to want to paint, but I can feel it creeping into my bones this morning.  This is an exciting time!

Going to hang this in my studio to remind me to keep setting goals

The hardest part of today will be to decide what idea to start with; I have so many ideas jumbled up in my head wanting to find expression.  What a problem to have, huh?  If anybody needs me, I'll be in the studio, practicing my craft.  Happily.  

Me, free as a bird

Monday, December 1, 2014


There is one paper left to write and it is standing between me and a degree!  I have this week to wrap it up and get it submitted, but seem to be having difficulties getting the job done.  You know the drill, most likely.  You know you have a job to do, but end up looking at Facebook, checking email, researching some idea you've been wondering about; sigh…  You'd think I was 8 instead of someone's grandmother.

Trying to find creative inspiration through a sketch or simple painting often helps me begin to work up enthusiasm for a project
Avoidance seems to be my speciality this week.  I'm creatively constipated.  (sorry about the little metaphor here, but it does seem appropriate)  Sometimes I do the same thing when I haven't worked out all of the details of a painting.  I can find so many things to do instead of getting to work!

We are planning a tiny house to build.  This is my way of thinking through the process and of course this morning I had more ideas to add.
So far today I've gone for a nice, brisk walk.  I've worked on an organizational project in my sketchbook (so much more fun than doing it in real life) and had a nice, hot bowl of posole.  Even though I was already full.  Now here I am, posting on my blog.  However, there is a method to my madness here.  If I don't put anything up for a few days, don't worry, I have not been kidnapped.  Neither have I gotten lost amongst the cacti.  I've just run out of excuses, rolled up my sleeves and gotten to work on this dang paper. I will be back.  I will be back with a painting if I have anything to say in the matter.  Have a great week!

Cleaning out closets is way more fun on paper than in the actual closet!  This killed a good hour of my morning. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Self Portrait

Recently, while sorting through boxes I had stored away for several years I came across this lovely gem:

Green Alice
Watercolor on 300 lb. paper
14" x 10"

In a watercolor class I took years ago, we were assigned to sit in front of a mirror and make a funny face, then using a 'gesture drawing' technique, sketch ourselves. (No looking at the paper, just the subject)  After the drawings were done we were assigned to use a color that matched our expressions to paint them.  

For something so simple and silly, this assignment turned out to be one of my favorite pieces that year.  In fact, my children loved it and wanted to try it themselves.  Looking at it again after all this time I am reminded that sometimes the best paintings are those with a simple motif or subject using a limited palette.  

Never underestimate the power of simplicity.  

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thoughts on College Graduation..

After four and a half years, I am fast approaching the December 12 completion of my Bachelor in Fine Arts degree process.  Every time I stop to think about this, I have a hard time processing the knowledge.  This goal has taken full concentration and effort for so long that the idea of having it behind me gives me a lump in my throat.   Don't misunderstand, I don't tear up because I'll miss it!  To be honest, it is emotional to me because it will be such a relief.

Learning to handle watercolor
When I began, I told myself that each time it got hard I would just ask, "Do I want this badly enough to ___________?"  The answer was always yes, although by this past year the answer has been less enthusiastic!  This goal has cost attending family events and time with my loved ones, enjoying friendships and even income I could have been earning.  An acquaintance once implied that I was going to school for my own entertainment and that it was a selfish thing to do.  However, my sweet husband has been cheering me along, encouraging me when things were difficult and comforting me when missing important things made me sad.  In other words, this has been a major event in my life, filled with doubts at times and discouragement.  I couldn't have done this without someone in my corner.

Trying to find a style, but painting from photographs only
As I look at this process I've been through, I see it through my art.  Of course, I take a visual view of it!  I've learned so much about myself and motives and know that this has been worth the effort.  I am a stronger, more able woman coming out this end of the process- in addition to being a better painter.

Learning to paint from life, including imagining parts of it instead of copying only what I saw

This painting was pivotal in my development.  For the first time, I 'got' the concept of painting from my heart rather than just my eyes.  This came straight out of my creativity and nearly knocked me over; suddenly I saw my potential and a different way to create!
The inspiration for this piece was simply a desire to play with light and shadows. It was painted with pure joy!  

The largest painting I've ever done in watercolor, this piece was liberating to create as I have learned I can paint how I want something to appear instead of being a slave to total reality.  

Looking back only makes me anxious to move into what lies ahead.  The possibilities are only limited by my own shortness of sight.  Here goes Meemaw, bravely into the future!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Green, Green, the Grass is Green..

Or is it?

Recently I saw a group of pictures in which the painter had used green colors straight from the tube for his vegetation.  The work was actually charming and the artist shows promise, but one of the marks of a beginning painter is tube-greens.  I have  friend who often judges paintings at our state fair and he can spot a green straight out of the tube from a mile away.  Really!  

As children, many of us got beautiful new boxes of crayons with their sharp tips and bright colors now and then.  I don't know about you, but the variations of green were wasted on me.  For trees, grass, bushes and leaves in my pictures, I wanted the truest, brightest green in the box.  I think when we approach painting, at times we  automatically think vegetation = green.  Period.  As we learn to "see" the world through painterly eyes however, we begin to understand the subtle shades of green, passing into grays or blues and even with oranges or reds beneath them.

One of the best ways I know to begin to understand the amazing world of greens is to mix them myself.  When one practices mixing colors, the outcome is an increase in the ability to see the world around us in its amazing technicolor wonder.
Using colors found in most painters boxes, I made 132 different mixtures of green.  Some, like Pthalo Blue are strong and make bright colors, while Cobalt or Cerulean are weak mixers and make more grayed greens.  

Most painters have a variety of blues and yellows on their palettes.  What we often don't know, or forget, is that green shades don't always have to be mixed from just yellow and blue.  By mixing each of our yellows with every other color in the palette in turn, we can find many ways to express green.  Even if it doesn't look like "green" on the paper, when applied to a tree or bush shape, or even dropped into a wash as a grassy area, the viewer will still see it as green.  A variety of greens in one piece can give a texture one green hue alone can't match.

Gunnar Widforss is one of my all time favorite watercolor landscape artists.  He is a fabulous example of a painter who used subtle greens to dramatic effect.  
A mixed green will always add a richness to any genre of painting that one straight out of the tube cannot.

Maynard Dixon's paintings of the West are stunning to me.  His ability to reduce fussy detail to simple shapes so effectively is a skill I am trying to incorporate as I learn and practice landscapes.

If you have been following my blog, you will know that I struggle with landscapes.  As I work to develop a landscape style, I look to painters like Widforss and Dixon for knowledge and inspiration, particularly in the ways they handled vegetation and green passages in their work.