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 13, 2018

Gourd-eous Painting Day

Sharing my love of art in many differing ways
has always given me a surge of energy.  
I enjoy finding a way to connect to folks who sometimes
think they have no art-muscle.  So when this truck of 
gourds called to us...of course we dove in.

I drive by this truck filled with gourds several times a day as I pass Maw's Produce on Highway 105 in Foscoe.  Of course my imagination would play!  When some friends also had the itch to see what could be done, we dipped our toes into the waters of gourd art by deciding to make birdhouses.  I did a little "research" and uncovered a wealth of great advice on the internet.  (Check out this comprehensive site.)

Since we had already decided on birdhouses we had to center in on advice related to such.  After "too much info"  we just plunged forward.  The picture below shows a gourd before extensive cleaning and one afterwards.  Big diff, huh?  

This is important to do (I used a bleach water and stiff brush but ajax or tide works as well) IF you are going to use the natural color of the gourd in your design.  If you will cover it totally with paint (as we did) I would recommend a light cleaning or even just sanding down the rough spots and spraying it thoroughly with a primer such as Kilz or the one below:

We used a keyhole bit on my drill for the entry and smaller bits for the perch hole and a place to thread a wire for hanging.  Something new I learned (and didn't photo) was to drill holes (small to medium) on the bottom of the gourd so that any collected rain water did not remain to drown the baby birds.  There is even some debate over which birds need perches and which do not.  I went by the size of the gourd and thereby esthetics ruled.

Now the fun begins.  We used an odd assortment of acrylic paints: common craft store brands to left over house paints.  I learned that a glossy spray paint DID NOT work well as an under color coat as nothing would stick to it.  I also learned that if you really can't abide your first attempt just spray it all over again with primer and give it another try.  

We roughed out designs with pencils.  I also had coloring books nearby with tracing paper and transfer paper available in case we wanted to pinch a design we could not draw out.  

The gourd above got a coating of house paint first, speedy drying with a hair dryer and then this design put in paint and outlined with a paint pen.  Note there is no perch.  The bird info we found said it was the dark hole standing out against the colorful design that beckons the prospective renters.

After about 2.5 hours of painting and chatting we took a break for lunch out.  When we returned the beautiful pieces had dried and were ready for a coat or two of spray sealer.  I don't know if this step is critical but if you use a gloss or satin finish it really gives a professional look to the end product.  There's no end of ways to custom design your own birdhouse and I imagine any age could have a fine time painting one up.

Let me know if you have questions and I'll share what I learned.  Now, of course I am intrigued by cutting into the newly cleaned one to make...hmm....what?


Friday, July 6, 2018

Jean Jacket Statement

Most readers know I am pretty much game
to paint on anything.  A little personal, colorful touch
always customizes things I think...why not?
So it is no surprise that I would gussy up a blue jean jacket 
sooner or later.

Recently I read an Alisa Burke blog where she painted the back of a jean jacket with her classic flower doodles.  I was smitten!  As much as I loved her finished "statement jacket" I do not paint in her style and it would be a poor imitation if I tried.  But that didn't stop me from giving it a go with my own design.  Just in case you want to try I'll outline my general steps here.  Read her notes and/or check around on-line for other tips.

I washed my jacket in hot water and dried it partially in the dryer (no dryer sheets)finishing on a hanger. This removes the sizing and here after you should wash it in the cold cycle.

I like to make sketches of what I want so I doodled in my sketchbook with a rough outline of the shape of the jacket back.  I even made notes as to possible colors.

I liked this idea so now I laid out the jacket back to scale on a piece of paper and drew the design once again.  This sounds like a lot of work but it is really easy and the layout changes a lot when you start gauging it by more exact sizing.

Now I was ready to get serious and transfer these guidelines to my jacket.  I pinned in some old cloth just in case the paint came through (it didn't) because I didn't want it to mar the front side.  I made my lines with a white sharpie paint pen which may or may not wash out.  Making some additional design and placement changes I was now looking at this:

The jar beside the pen is "Fabric Painting Medium" of which there are several brands.  I chose to mix it with acrylic paint to 1) help the paint stay wet and spreadable and 2) provide some softness to an otherwise plastic-y paint to make it more comfy to wear and wash.  It is not mandatory but advisable.  Check Michaels for this brand (Americana) or on-line for Liquetex.

Now the real fun and great experimentation.  Keep in mind that your plans will morph and change as color is added....I know mine did and I consider it all for the better.

I knew I wanted a pink sky, blue and green mountains, green trees and a blue to make it all come together. Slowly but surely I began painting the parts I was most color-choice confident of, knowing I would have to make the following colors tie in and repeat as the design took shape.  At this stage I began to slow down and make choices more carefully as I desired some "still places" as well as some funky design areas.

Leaving bits of the blue jean material uncovered gave it a real 3D look for some reason.  I like also that it ties it together as opposed to looking like the whole back was a different piece.  The area at the top, on the neck sash, got a little design element added and I hope the flowers at the bottom waist section give the idea that there is another field of flowers in front of the trees.  After 24hours of dry time "heat set" by ironing both sides with a dry (no steam) iron on medium low.  Put a sheet over the paint side while ironing.

Not bad for a first (and final) try, huh?  But additional ideas for designs come to mind...almost any theme lends itself for a motif; maybe even a mixed-up patchwork of painted designs.

"The Mountains Are Calling..."
blue jean jacket, original, acrylic

We have lots of summer concerts where I live.  The kind where you pack up a picnic and chairs and listen to live music on the lawn.  They start in daylight but as the sun sets over the mountains there is a little chill in the air that begs for a light jacket....I do think I have the perfect one now.  See you outside.


p.s. if you have any questions just let me know.  It was really a lot of fun.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Homage to Georgia

I left Ghost Ranch in awe of the scenery and
enamored with what Georgia O'Keefe painted there.  Of course I 
wanted to capture it all it but it is hard not to copy exactly what she depicted...
so I challenged myself to tackle a still life she did not paint.

Her land, her hills and valleys, her could anyone have a thing to add to the body of work O'Keefe left behind?  She documented Ghost Ranch in every season.  Was there no more to add?

The only answer would be to look differently and paint differently; not to copy what had been done but to see through her eyes what she might chose if painting today. I kept this thought in mind as I took photographs for future painting references.  

I decided to warm up with a natural still life that captured my eye, a threesome of the pine, juniper and scrub.  Ms O'Keefe would have centered in on one, but not me, I went for all three.

9" x 12" oil on canvas

The next day I began to flesh out the composition and realized just what a challenge it was going to be: everything was so red!  The deep red-orange of the ground was reflected on everything and it was going to be a challenge to capture the distinctions I wanted.  I was really determined to take your eye up every twist and turn of the ancient trunk (which was as graceful as a dancer) and still relate it to the scrub and the tree.  It was meditative to get lost in the weathered wood - quite zen; slowly I began to feel the movement and eye direction.  I also noted a need to change the horizon line which became important but not to the extent that I spent a lot of time matching the sky coloration.

O'Keefe's Backyard
9 x 12, oil

The photo is a little wonky but good enough.  Of course Georgia did not paint like this at all.  That was not the point.  I just enjoyed paying as close attention as she would have to something many people would have walked on by.  Three Graces? Perhaps.  Three generations? Maybe. I'm still working out why this scene attracted me but I do know that I felt a closeness to Ghost Ranch as I worked on the Ranch muse sat on my shoulder for a little bit while I recalled how it all felt.

So there you have it.


Friday, June 22, 2018

The Painting Speaks

I'm continuing my efforts to "dash off"
oil sketches as test tiles but sometimes the subject
matter speaks and demands more attention.
It's really a joy to become so engrossed
in the execution that time does not register at all.
Such was the case...

A fresh 12 x 9 canvas and a photo reference with a new intention: emphasize the basket of flowers, leaving the rest vague.

My first sketch had too much chair so I tried drawing out the basket and then adding the chair...a quick warm up to the warm up!

I did a rough layout in oil just trying to get the main outlines on the canvas.

I went a little bit further and set it aside to dry.

The next day I really got involved in the floral arrangement, even while trying not to get too detailed.

So the three pink cone flowers became my center of interest and the rest was left in a sketchy mode.
I really like this but I think the basket could get even bigger some day?!  

The neat thing about this scene is that I really did gather those flowers at a friend's farm.  I set them down to run inside and when I came back it looked like the perfect still life.  I snapped a few photos to paint later.

This is actually the second time I have executed this photo.  The first had a lot more background and it sold to a young mother who had seen it and returned to secure it for above her writing desk...she was setting the scene for her personal pursuit of creative writing.  

While I had meant to stop once I got the composition laid out, I just could not leave it.  The basket called to be fleshed out and the cone flower begged for center stage.  How could I resist? 
I wonder where this rendering might find a new home?

p.s.  Not long after I wrote this blog the painting found a new home... also under the roof of a writer!
I really enjoy knowing where my work goes, it's comforting to know why the buyer fell in love and that it was (and will be) a viewing "experience."

Friday, June 15, 2018

Vine Time

I've never thought about 
'painting for wine'
but I'd gladly barter this next piece for an
appropriate number of bottles if that's 
your choice!!

Vine Time, oil, framed, 20 x 24

More paintings have been ruined by over-painting than not!  It's really difficult when one becomes engrossed in the myriad details to stop and not render too much information. 

Thinking perhaps I had not gone far enough on this piece I asked some favorite collectors if they knew where this was.  "The vineyards in Napa?" they responded.  Well, good enough.  I pointed out the mountain horizon and they realized it was Grandfather Mountain in the background.  "Oh, that's here!" they exclaimed.  In all fairness, they had yet to spend an afternoon sipping vino at the nearby Grandfather Winery but at least they could call a growing vineyard from the info I provided.

This is a risky composition for me...a huge post front and off-center and everything else secondary.  I love the compliments of purple and orange together so that was an easy choice for me.  The rest was a push-pull on giving just enough info without painting every single leaf on every single vine.

Some local artists shy away from painting this iconic and very recognizable mountain range but I think it gives a sense of place to the scene.  Our area has several local vineyards experimenting with growing their own grapes and combining the fruit with that brought in from further west.  I do my best to support them...ahem.

I know that grapevines improve with age, the older, hardier stock produce better grapes and thus more full bodied wine so in a way I see the mountains, some of the oldest in our nation, encouraging the relative newbies to be strong, grow, flourish and stick around for the long haul.

Meanwhile, we locals will have to move over and give up our seats as welcome summer tourists pour onto the grounds to sip the wines and listen to local music.  It's a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.  If you have enjoyed a bottle with this view you know exactly what I am talking about.


Friday, June 8, 2018

Paint Flowers While the Sun Don't Shine

It's been a WET spring...
I try not to complain; but a long dark day in the studio 
when the calendar says SPRING....
well, sometimes a gal has to 
take things into her own hands.

So I decided to create my own spring...albeit fantasy and not at all accurate!  It would be colorful and fun.  Any time I confuse fun with easy I am taken aback and this was no exception.  I spent more time taking things out of this free form composition than I did putting them in.  But it felt cheerful to work with these colors (under artificial lights) while waiting for the torrents of water to cease.

Here is the assignment: create a bright, whimsical floral piece to close the gap between the lights above this "work in progress" bedroom.  

Here is the answer:

"Field of Dreams" acrylic, 24 x 36

I think it is asking for a broad gray/white frame or to be mounted on a larger white board?

It will accomplish the task of brightening and cheering up the space.  But easy? Oh my no.  First off I got way too many flowers on the piece and it was a jumbled mess.  As I culled the bunch I discovered I was leaving texture on the board that was not repeated elsewhere.

So of course I start adding some "fake" texture to even it all out.  Then I painted a silver fence in trying to give it more...more I don't know what.  So that had to come out.  And just as I was ready to cry 'uncle' I noticed that my stems and flowers now did not match up.  Just the thing to keep one busy while it rains outside.

I even worked on it upside down to figure out where all this was going to go.

close up

But all is said and done and I am ready to hang it.  No, whimsy is not really my playground but every now and again I have to stick my whole self in just so I remember that nothing is as easy as it looks.

Off to the framers.