Join me....

I believe that art enriches and informs our lives everyday in many positive ways. Sharing those experiences, whether as an artist or as an appreciator, is part of the pleasure. I welcome your comments and hope you find something of value: a laugh, an insight, a new idea or just a happy moment. Enjoy art!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Artistic License on a Landmark

Along with doing studies before I paint the 
larger piece I have been looking at local landmarks.
The challenge is to produce a piece of art: something that looks like
the beloved spot but still has a unique flair.
Easier said than done!

This is a little 5 x 7 study of the Grandview Restaurant, a local breakfast and lunch spot that is beloved by many not just for the view of Grandfather Mountain but for the friendly waitresses who actually call you by name and remember what you like to eat.  It's an artist nightmare: long, low building (which cuts the composition right across the middle-ish) and not a lot of color variation.  Unless, like me, you enjoy red and turquoise trees and blue mountains.  Good way to get familiar with the piece.

This version is larger, 11 x 14; I had to admit that not everyone would like my previous tree color selections!  So I got a little more realistic with the exception that I "planted" an additional tree to break up the roof line.  The trees, mountains and clouds are all in the local colors.

While eating there recently (research of course) I had the idea of incorporating a menu in the the piece.

Can you see it?  This is a long way from finished but I plan to keep it lighter in coloration and try to let a little of the menu sneak through as I go along.  This is all an underpainting at this stage, just a layout to see where it all fits.  This is the largest of the three pieces.  Now the fun begins...

There will be a fourth iteration in my study of this composition...I can already see changes I want to make and experiments I want to play around with.  There is a lot to be said about doing something over several times. None of them are unacceptable renderings...I think you would recognize the landmark from any of them.  But it is a worthy challenge and certainly more artistic to see if I can find a different way to present it.  

Hopefully you smell the bacon cooking!
Colorfully yours,

Friday, July 15, 2016

Blessings on the Wind

I love the creative energy of a "workshop" so when friends
encouraged me to offer one on making Prayer Flags I
jumped right in.

We began by discussing the use of prayer flags and the traditional meanings behind the earliest ones.  (A beginners intro here) I made worksheets guiding us to think about the way we might take these traditional symbols and colors and "modernize" them for personal meaning.  It is important to know that the flags are meant to be infused (if that can be said) with intentions and blessings which then are spread over the land as they blow in the wind.  This project is as much about thoughts and prayers as it is arts and crafts.

We began by making print blocks from foam and stamping them on to the fabric.

Everyone designed a block but we shared or used parts of each others when the symbols worked.
These are just a few flags laid out to dry.

 Flags were also stamped, lettered, stenciled, painted on
and designed with any tool or color that added to the
intention it was designed for.  I loved how everyone
added their own touches and shared their thoughts.

As the flags dried we cut our ribbons and talked about where our flags were going to hang.  Everyone, surprisingly, were making their flags for a specific place and/or a particular person.  Carefully the gals pinned the fabric to the ribbons and the sewing began.

Pretty soon we were admiring the results and getting anxious to put our blessings in the wind.

I don't have any workshops currently scheduled but if you have a group that is interested just contact me and we can set something up.  Five is the max to fit into my studio but larger venues will work if you see this as applicable to something you want to do.  After all, spreading more blessings across this country of ours would be a good thing, no?

Intentionally ColorFull,

Friday, July 8, 2016

Try, Try Again

In keeping with my vow to "try" more small paintings
that are somewhat experimental in process I took one fetching scene
and executed it three times.  This is definitely
one I will look forward to painting in a much
larger format.

I was attracted to the light in this scene of a biker leaving the park one early morning (photo credit would be given to my sister).  So I challenged myself to dash it off in a 5 x 7 version:

5 x 7

"Okay" for a first pass I decided but not very dramatic.  And I did not really "dash" it off spending far too much time on the not important foreground.
Round #2:

I really didn't like the yellow in the sky, the whole thing seemed rather underwhelming so I set it aside to think about.  Later I went back and fussed with the ground trying to get a stronger contrast.
I still wasn't satisfied.  This should be a danger sign to me as I tend to start making foolish attempts right about now, self sabotage?  But it is an experiment....

5 x 7 

Teal? Really? Yep....Thought that might punch up the yellow a bit.  And notice the reddish orange swath in the trees?  It is really more dramatic in "real life," the photo washes out the contrast.  Done.

Sometimes changing up the composition provides a new insight so I readied another canvas this time 8 x 6 in vertical format.

I put down an underpainting and actually liked it in this shape, simple, rustic....but no biker so I continued on.

And here she is, the biker #3.  Believe it or not, in this size format the figure is the hardest part to paint.  I can pretty much convince you there are trees with trunk lines and green blobs but the figure is about 5 tiny spots that have to all resemble something you might not be familiar with.  

I could write pages on what I learned each step of the way, primarily that there is not a short cut to depicting that beautiful light that is not a color but a feeling...I am reminded by what my teacher Sandy Johnson used to say when I began to overthink something..."relax and just let the magic happen."  Good advice.

Now on to magical canvas #4!

In Lightened,

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Post script: cone not corn

Kudos to those of you who wrote to tell me my flower painting was of a cone flower not a corn flower!  I was actually conducting research and you guys get botany badges.  
Ha!  Ha! I actually think it might have been that pesky auto-correct demon that sits in my computer ready to screw up a perfectly good word.
Anyway, I am aware of the flower name but really appreciate the notes from those of you who corrected my misnomer.  
Thanks for reading, thanks for responding and thanks for loving the art...
Happy 4th of July!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Big Study: Small Studies

I have noticed how hard it is to abandon
a large work that has a great deal of time and money
invested in it.  While this is great for perseverance, and problem solving,
it doesn't do much for the rapid repetition that some things
need for learning...

Enter the Study.

We are all taught, as students, the value of doing a "study."  It may be in pencil, done of inferior material or just a smaller version of the intended piece.  At some point we (I anyway) drift off to thinking that everything we (I) start is intended to be a finished masterpiece.  Ugh.  It took some rather large, embarrassing pieces for me recently to have the value of the "study" brought front and center once again. 

Thus I went to Michaels (yes, Michaels) and loaded up on 5 x 7 and 6 x 8 cardboard backed canvases.  They are a small investment and once I apply several coats of white gesso they serve well as a support for painting with acrylic or oil.  

My intention is to "whip" out some small versions of things I might want to paint in larger sizes.  My intention is to feel free to take chances with the way I approach a painting.  My intention is to play with local scenes that folks might recognize and want as a souvenir.  My intention is (D) all of the above!

 my studio drying table with works in progress

The Profile Trail is one of the most popular hiking areas up here.  It winds up the backside of Grandfather Mountain and unless you have done the path you are totally unaware that there is another view of the famous profile:

View of the Profile, 12 x 6
available framed
(Intention #1: check)  In a larger size I think it will need something in the space on left, maybe a branch? That's a lot of blue sky that would need to be more interesting if it took up more real estate.

One of the elements of a memorable painting is that there is something unexpected in it.  "Unexpected surprises" (Wolf Kahn and others) provide a sense of play but require a risk on the part of the painter.  I definitely want more play and have to be willing to take more risks....

Grandfather Mountain Chin Up, 5 x 7

These colors do not appear as "risky" when photographed as they do on canvas!  This was actually one of the more enjoyable depictions I have done of the famous old man.  I think that's a sign in and of itself!  (Intention #2: check! take risks)

Corn Flowers, 8 x 6
framed, SOLD

I won't be painting this particular composition much larger I learned.  I loved painting it but feel that much larger would need more in the painting.  Good lesson (saved some canvas there) but I liked it as a small composition of a very prevalent, colorful flower.  And it SOLD (intention #3 accomplished!)  

So bear with me, I think I am on to something that may prove very helpful in my development as a risk-taking, selling-kind of painter.  Well, at least the former!  But really...what took me so long to return to basics?   I know there are more small pieces to come (she says eyeing the stack of canvases) so get ready for some experiments, I'll try to share the good as well as the bad and ugly.  But only the good will hang around for sale!

Still Learning,

Friday, June 24, 2016

Red Clover, Red Clover, Send Some Right Over

I know the game is "red rover" but
for some reason that little rhyme plays in my head while
I am looking for clover, er, foraging for clover!

I'm still on a "foraging high" thinking about all that free food out there just waiting to be sampled.  I got excited about clover ( trifolium) because it is so easy to identify and seems to be prolific.  Then I realized that there are at least two types of clover on my radar: red (trifolium pratense) and white (trifolium repens).  While they share many commonalities (good for tea making and used to add nitrogen to the soil where it grows), they are also distinct (the red having isoflavens, calcium, potassium and vitamin C, the white offers a higher protein content and helps cattle battle bloating).  

My local hunts turned up plenty of white clover (no random lucky four leaf clovers...yet) but I began to despair over finding much of the pretty, high growing red.  Alas, as we hiked on Father's Day I came upon many large patches of the variety and if I'd had a little baggie with me I would have gathered the blossoms for tea.  As it were I took photos and, tired from my hike, nibbled on a few heads (placebo affect!) while doing so.

Herewith my companion piece to the Dandelion.

Red Clover, White Clover  8 x 6
on cradled hardboard, no frame needed
$45 plus shipping

Crawling around in the fields I confirmed that the red clover leaflet (of which 3 join to make a leaf) is longer and a tad more narrow than the rounder, fatter ones of the white clover.  Both have a V-shaped white marking on each leaflet.  And while the Indians would use the red clover blossom tincture to ward off hot flashes and reduce bone loss, I can add the tiny leaves of the white clover to my soups and salads for a little zing of protein.  

detail of the 3 leaflets of both species

detail showing the red and white blossoms which are composed of 
40-100 teeny tiny little flowers

So I will match my price on last week's piece (it sold quickly, thanks for the additional inquiries) -- I know you are hoping this might be the last of my foraging efforts?!  I'm not entirely sure, I've found that painting these plants has been a great way to further my education on the identification as well as the value of each one.  Who knows what's next??

In Foraging Fun,

p.s. If you are in western NC don't forget the Tour de Art tomorrow, June 25, from 10-4.  There is a map on my facebook page here.  Open studios and an opportunity to meet the artists as you browse original work.