Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Works in Progress and Twelve Days #12 (Painting)

This is another "daily" painting study. Still lots to learn but so much better than it was.

Another resource you might like is Robert and Sara Genn Twice Weekly Letters (link). Here is what Robert wrote in the letter you will see when you click on this link:
"Do you ever have the feeling that you just want to do it?
To the side of my palette I'm making a little list: The sheer sensuousness of the colour sitting up and laying down. The privilege of knowing more or less how to draw. The thrill of grabbing the right complement. The realization that most things are a puzzle anyway. The luxury of gradation. The satisfaction of figuring out and enacting the best glaze. The joy of busy areas. The fun of toning down. The trick of finding out what it is that you're doing. The love of calm. The developed skill of seeing. Determining what's wrong and then fixing it. The excitement of colour surprise. The Zen of watching paint dry. Getting the lick of your dog. The satisfaction of letting the answering machine pick up. The prickly happiness that breaks out when you have the delusion or the fantasy that what you have just done is a piece of quality. The anticipation and possibility that the next one might be better." 

I think Robert described painting perfectly: at least everything I feel when I am painting.

Last day of my twelve days:
In addition to this amazing link, here is a wish that you paint more often  in 2015 (ideally daily painting (plus eating well and exercising at least three times a week...))   We all understand that in order for your child to play an instrument, she has to do the scales, fingering, sight-reading and all those horrible mis-steps before the piece is "recital" ready". Therefore, let's accept that learning to paint won't be simple and immediate (One hundred starts before you have even your first "painting" is what I was told)

To practice, you need access to your instrument. A gift to yourself: Find a space that can be yours: ready at a moment's notice. (You can't spend your precious practice time '"getting set up" and then cleaning up again).

Commit to making time. Try setting a goal to "keep life out of the way". Maybe you need a teacher to give you homework, a painting for an upcoming birthday present or you may want to enter one of Leslie Saeta's challenges (link).

Merry Christmas, Joyful Holidays and Mostly Happy Painting!!!! Back after cleaning up.....

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Twelve Days (day 11) (favorite art books)

This is a larger painting that I painted last year. It is hanging in Raleigh looking for a "forever home".

Day 11 of Twelve Days
Here are my favorite "visual" books. By that I mean books that are filled with wonderful images by wonderful artists. These are the books that I would take to a desert island.

Oil Paintings:
1. Alla Prima II by Richard Schmid
In addition to being a wonderful teaching resource, the images in this book are breath-taking.
2. Nicholai Fechin by Mary N Balcomb.  Fantastically expressive images
3. Portrait of Maquoketa by Rose Franzen. Her portrait series uses wonderful colors
4. Joaquin Sorolla Blanca Pons-Sorolla San Diego Museum of Art: Beautiful paintings filled with light

1. John Singer Sargent Watercolors by Erica Hirshler and Teresa Carbone (175 color illustrations) from the MFA and Brooklyn Museum of Art's fabulous recent large museum exhibit.
2. Like Moving Poems by Guan Weixing.  These watercolors are very emotional, lose and expressive.
3. One Upon an Island by Stephen Scott Young in the Bahamas: fabulous design in these paintings

1.The Art of Annemeike Mein: The most amazing textile dimensional "paintings"

 If you have favorites, I would like to hear about them

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Try, Try again and Twelve Days #10 (A couple more favorite resources)

I thought you might like evidence of try, try again. These are a couple of the less-bad bad apple studies (some others are history). I have titled these two "Smushy" apples 1 and 2. Because things didn't look the way I wanted, I "licked" more color onto the painting, scraped, reapplied,  reworked and reworked... The paintings are "soft". In addition, the highlights are the wrong value and temperature.

The third apple is better and almost where I want it to be. This means the grocery store will sell some more pretty apples soon.

Almost finished the twelve days. This project was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be.
Here are a few more resources that I think you might enjoy.
If you want to learn anything about paint or mediums, Gamblin's website will help you (link)
The best brush resource I have found is Rosemary and Co (link)
A great helpful description to draw an ellipse (and some other interesting, practical suggestions) can be found in Carol Marine's newly published and well-written book "Daily Painting" (link)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Twelve Day #9 (my favorite (mostly art) magazines)

The poppy seeds I planted have loved this winter, are beautifully germinated and now starting to stretch out. If we don't have a late freeze, there should be lots to paint in April. Here is a late bouquet of zinnias from my summer garden that I painted from a photograph. If you are interested, you can buy this here

Day 9 of twelve days:
I have subscribed to many  magazines over the last twenty to thirty years . Most of my favorite ones have been art related. Sadly, many magazines start out strong with great visuals and wonderful information in their articles and then dwindle in content. In my "down-sizing" mode, I have maintained subscriptions to only the following titles, which seem to also be consistently good.

My favorite is the quarterly magazine: "The Art of Watercolor ". This is published in France and has consistently out-of-this-world-beautiful visuals and most often, great content, You can learn more about this here,

Almost as consistent is the magazine " International Artist Magazine". This magazine also features a quarterly contest which often has wonderful new work. You can find more here

Some of the articles in the Professional Artist magazine have kept me subscribed (link) but I will think about it when the renewal subscription notices start to arrive.

My favorite for motivation and self-direction remains Oprah's "O" magazine. I start at the end and read to the front....If you read this, you know why.  Martha Beck's monthly article is often my favorite regular feature.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Works in Progress and Twelve Days #8 (making a Still Life Set up Box)

For a little while, I will post little paintings that are learning exercises (because that is the best I have right now). Some of these are only a little better than a wipe (hopefully, as I progress and have learned from these, I will paint over them). This is a study working on texture, reflection and color change of similar colored objects. Do you feel like you are leaning to the left????

Day 8 of my twelve days shows how to make a set up for displaying and lighting a still life like this one.

It is helpful to have a a directed, isolated light source when you are painting a still life set up. An idea for making this set up for your home space as a hobby or learning painter originated from a workshop I attended. You need two like-sized boxes (I bought two new 12" square boxes from Walmart). One box, you make into its "box-form". The second one open only to create an "L" shape. Temporarily attach the "L" to the box with duct tape and test its height for where you want to use it. When satisfied, permanently attach with your favorite super glue. Drape the "L" frame with one yard piece of fabric attached to the sides with bull dog clamps.

Light the box with a concentrated clip-on light from the hardware store and a halogen bulb. You can clip the light to the "L" or to a free-standing light pole.

The cheapest light pole can be made by attaching "L" brackets to the bottom of a 2 x 4 x your desired height piece of wood.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Little Red Hen and Twelve Days #7 (teachers)

Here is the last of my "back up" chickens...These are paintings that I can use on days when everything is a wipe.... I am writing this before I paint today, so perhaps this will be a "good" painting day...
If you are interested, this little painting is available at Low Country Gallery

Twelve Days (#7)
I think teaching has been lifelong for me. The eldest of five, I  often helped with sibling homework.  As a pediatrician, one of the job perks was teaching: adolescents to respect themselves; young moms to discover and value the individuality of each of their children; and teenage moms who had never been read to, exactly" how" to read to their babies etc . Now,  I teach adults to begin to paint. When my students get to my level or further, I feel quite accomplished. Teaching adults is a new challenge. Seems that you mostly have to teach self-kindness and nurture a willingness to T-R-Y.

So here are my thoughts about what to look for in a good teacher. See what you think.
The best teachers are those that are interested in "you" as a student so they need to know
1. what you want to accomplish
2. where you are in your learning curve
3. what this class means to you and
4. maybe most important: how hard you want to work (after the class)

The comments that have been recently published from a prominent workshop teacher about "older students who are not about to make art their profession and...want to learn and enjoy themselves" may be accurate about some of that teacher's clientele. Personally,  I don't think there is anything objectionable about older students (often women) learning (and enjoying)  a workshop circuit. Workshops afford interesting travel, good facilities and, most importantly, the participants in these workshops are some of the nicest people in the world.  However, I would guess that in these same workshops there are painters who want to learn to paint. As one of those wanting to learn, I like instructors with a "no talking" policy and a commitment to doing their best for each student. I have had the great fortune of teachers who are above excellent My favorites are: Susan Tustain- Harrison (she has a new workshop coming up and this is rare (link),  Joseph Fettingis (link),  Karin Jurick (link) and Carolyn Anderson (link).
If you decide to invest in a workshop, or even a course of local instruction, try to answer the questions above so you know what you want from the experience. Then go to learn, not to be the best, not to achieve   "hangable paintings"  (there is "wine and design" for that) and please don't try to impress the teacher.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Little Puppy Study and Twelve Days #6 (Marketing Resources)

This little painting was done on the back of a failed painting on 140 lb cp Lanquarelle paper. Recently, I use mostly 140 lb cp Fabriano paper. Lanquarelle paper is lovely and soft and very white. However, it doesn't lift to white. Fabriano lifts beautifully to white, but sometimes lifts something you wish would it wouldn't have. Trying the different papers  to see what works best for you is worth it.

If you are interested this little painting is available here

Twelve Days #6
I think marketing is made easier by great paintings. Great paintings happen by lots of work and lots and lots of not-so-great paintings. I don't think there are short-cuts. So first, paint.
It is fabulous, however, to be able to "pay for your habit" and afford the materials, (especially materials for the "learning paintings" (i.e. trash)).
Some of the marketing resources that I have found helpful include:

1. "Open Your Studio" by Melinda Cootsona (link) This is a step-by-step book about having a successful open studio

2. old, archived "podcasts" from Artists Helping Artists (especially those with Dreama Tolle Perry)(link)

3. A great little book: "I'd Rather be in the Studio" by Alyson Stanfield (link) When I looked to add this link, I found that she also has free podcasts that make be as good as her book.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Little White Hen and Twelve Days #5 (Munsell Color Wheel)

This little chicken is available at Low Country Gallery

Day 5 of the twelve days
Color fascinates me. Perhaps the gradual loss of my vision makes an understanding of this more urgent.
I have a chart of Hilary Page's "visual compliments" (Color Right from the Start by Hilary Page) hung above my painting space. I have come to understand that visual compliments are "light" compliments which are slight shifts from the "mixing" or "physical" compliments that are described by the more customary triadic color wheels (these have red, yellow blue primaries and the compliments (e.g. red plus green) make a neutrals (black-grey-dark brown).
 I found the book "Blue and Yellow Don't Make Green" by Michael Wilcox (which I leant and have not had returned) added to my understanding of how I was making muddy colors (read if your colors are not what you want)

In "Color Harmony in Your Paintings" by Margaret Kessler, the Munsell color wheel is well described. The Munsell Color Wheel makes sense of all of the fractured pieces of information above. Munsell used five primary colors: yellow, red, violet, blue and green. This makes a different five color pentagon color wheel: different than the hexagon primary and secondary colors of the conventional color wheel. Consequently, the Munsell wheel shifts the compliments to be more visually accurate. More interesting to me, is that mixing these shifted compliments creates more beautiful neutrals and semi-neutrals. In Kessler's book, she further describes the use of the Munsell color wheel which is also amazingly helpful for color mixing, classification and color planning in a painting.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Series Sketch #8 and Twelve days #4 (great gadgets)

My original goal for this series was to use a lot of water and experiment with texture. The exercises you have seen (and there have been many throw-aways) that I like have had 1. a large value range (all have the deepest darks) 2,  well-rendered eyes and beaks and decent bird shapes 3. the drips matter:  the color, size and direction and 4. soft edges are needed. I have begun to use what I have learned to scale up and try other subjects....
This one is for sale here

My twelve days had best continue or Christmas will have arrived...
The most useful ready-made gadgets or tools that I love this year include:
1. a view catcher by color wheel company (link).  This great tool allows you to visualize your set up in a correct size rectangle and then use the rectangle to help make placement marks and block in.
2. "memorized" style planes of the head model  (link). This is invaluable to understand poorly lit photos or begin to understand simplifying the head.
3. table top paint on easel by Karin Jurick's guy (link). A fabulous easel that is always my students' favorite to borrow.
4.  table top photography tent kit by CowboyStudio (link). You see this in use every day that I post a small painting.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Series Sketch # 7 (lion cub) and Twelve Days #3 (fav teaching dvds or web casts)

As I was searching for source photos today, I came across this cub from a trip to the National Zoo in DC. I wondered whether the same abstracted watery paint application could work with this little guy. I quite like it. To compensate for the lack of dark values, I used a warmer (orange) color to bring the head forward.
This can be purchased here

For day 3 of my twelve days, I will share my favorite teaching dvds or webcasts. My goal is to grow with a more painterly style. Therefore most of the artists that I learn from paint in this manner. My favorites include: Alla Prima Portraiture by Rose Frantzen, Gesture Portraits II by Jeffrey Watts,  the teaching videos on BrightLightFineArt.com (especially those by David A Leffel, and an on line demo with Joseph Zbuvick by Color Your Life with Graeme Stevenson (link). This last link may inspire you to see other parts of this series which I always want to have time to do.....

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Sketch Series #6: Flying Hummer

This is the second sketch of a hummingbird. The colors in the hummers are transparent, non granulating so I use salt to create texture on these birds. I have also experimented with rough paper, water droplets and now I am off to try alcohol.
Day 3 of Day 12 will have to be tomorrow. My morning painting was a "wipe" so I have to do something to recover....

You can buy this here, if you are interested.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Sketch Series #5 (baby chickadee) and Twelve days: #2 (books)

Still working on painting the chickadees at my feeder. This one seemed to paint himself. It looks like one of the chicks from the spring. I decided this morning that rather than "mess him up",  I will try to paint his parent later. It is always fascinating to me when these personalities "appear" on the paper.
This little guy has already found a new home before I can get this post written today (thank you!)

Day 2 of my twelve day "notes":
Most of you know that I came to painting late in life. I love every second that I am allowed to do this. I want to learn everything I possibly can. Therefore, I read. Here are my favorite book finds for this past year:

Alla Prima 11 by Richard Schmid
I have the first edition (also amazing) but this edition contains even more information. Somewhere between editions, I learned about "color temperature". The "warm light, cool shadow" rule seemed to start to make sense. In this edition, Richard has two photographs that show the same table leg lit with warm and cool light and the different color temperature shadows that result. This pair of photos are incredibly helpful to new painters. The entire rest of the book is worth the many, many times that owners will read this and savor the fabulous paintings.

Painting People in Watercolor
A Design Approach by Alex Powers
Design is not an area that has come easily to me. This entire book is filled with wonderfully designed images. I have a permanent bookmark on the page that demonstrates how to simplify shapes in a painting. As I write this, however, I have to confess that there are several other "permanent" book marks and I know that I will read this book (and continue to learn) many more times.

Color Harmony in Your Paintings
by Margaret Kessler
I have every book on color that I can find. Sometime, I could write a post on all of the color books. This particular book is fantastic. Finally, there is a description of the Munsell Color wheel and a way that I can understand and use the "visual or light" compliments that I have previously had charts to keep in mind. One of the "twelve days", I will write about the Munsell Color Wheel and why it might be worth understanding.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Sketch Series #4 (Red) and Twelve Days #1 (blogs)

This image refuses to behave. I cropped it so that the parrot has room to his left and the white of the paper is bright white.
I will reshoot it in the light of tomorrow and replace it, if you want to look again. To purchase this (link)

In the meanwhile, my bird series continues. Daniel Smith has a great sale for the next couple of days (including reduced shipping).  I love their watercolors. They are richly pigmented. They also have excellent descriptions of their paints. I am interested in playing with more granulation. I want the colors to "split" to add to the illusion of feathers. I can hardly wait to try these new ones.

I promised twelve days of art suggestions for  Christmas.
First are my favorite art blogs.
For the most information, I love
1. Ancient Artist Developing an Art Career After Fifty: by Sue Favinger (link)
The Goggle description: career advice, inspiration and coaching for people over 50 who are just starting out as fine artists, offering more than a decade of actual.....
Her essays are very thoughtful, well-researched and excellent. They are excellent for all painters and especially for older painters like me.
2. Carolyn Anderson Artist (link) has recently started a blog. Her blog (like her fabulous, information-packed workshops) are also very dense, informative and extremely well-written. I love the fabulous paintings that Carolyn adds to each of her posts.
3. For beautiful work, I love when Karin Jurick's " A Painting Today" (link) blog posts arrive in my  email.
Though she doesn't post often,  Liz Wiltzen- A Painter's Journal (link) has great content and interesting work and I also enjoy Art Talk by Julie Ford Oliver (link)
These should keep you busy for now!