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, August 26, 2016

Ka-Boom (sound of a failed experiment)

I am trying to remind myself, as Edison expressed,
that experimentation is always a success.
Even when the outcome falls short of the desired,
we simply celebrate finding one more way
NOT to do something!

Buoyed by delight in my "quilting with paint" trial (The Angel Tree) I got a little bolder and amped up the restrictions.  This time I wanted all my "fabric" to be cut in differing sizes of rectangles with one notable exception.  Again, the idea was to study the colors (mostly the contrasts) to see how I could manipulate the overall affect with very little detail.

Don't worry: I do not expect you to like this piece.  Just try to understand the intent.  The photo I based this on was relatively simple: sky, mountains, a barn and background, middle ground and foreground.  Easy enough.

Far and Away, detail

The photo above shows the gist of the "assignment." The mountains are the only curving pieces sewn with the paint.  

note chalk marks

How easy it is to get confused with so much going on!  At this stage I was trying hard to stick to the program I laid out but feeling a draw towards "pointillism".  So I made some chalk marks on the piece to keep me in line.  (And, truthfully, at this stage I did consider trashing the plan.)

Far and Away, final, 24 x 24, acrylic

hmmm,...not really how I had imagined it all coming together.  At this point I realized it could be an endless project of correction, more hours, more paint and it was not ever going to get much more attractive.  So I propped it up across the room to contemplate while I ate lunch.  

The lessons I learned are not really visible but had a lot to do with shape and contrast -  two of the basics I was "teaching" my young students recently.  I also learned how to dive into a piece that I intrinsically held no value other than educational (something the students taught me).  So I cleaned the brushes, took another gander at it all and decided to celebrate:

"Yippee!  I demonstrated yet one more 
way of how NOT to paint a piece based on contrast."  

view from a distance is better

Undaunted, undeterred.  Inspired, invigorated.  Ready to begin again.  KA-BOOM!  the sound you hear is just another experiment gone astray.  Only 9,998 more to go.

Exploding in Color,

Friday, August 19, 2016

Teaching to Learn

I am not a teacher, have never qualified as one.
But I find that if I really, really want to 
LEARN something well, the best way is for me
to teach it to someone else.  

This precocious 12 year old spent a week of "Auntie Camp" with her twin brother in the mountains of NC.  On her docket was an art lesson with yours truly, a friend of the aunts.  My student listened intently as we went over the concepts of Shape, Contrast, and Color.  We did some continuous line drawing of simple objects as a warm-up and even put on the "magic glasses" to discuss contrast.

Local color (a green tree) versus imaginative color (maybe you prefer it blue?) wound up our prep lesson of basics.  Choosing to paint landscape, this eager student dug through my photos to choose one for her masterpiece.  We were both salivating as the paints and canvas came out on the table; there is always that thrill of anticipation, that lure of the magic, that total sense that something wonderful is about to happen.  I knew she felt this too.

We started by using the 'magic glasses' to identify the darkest passages in the composition and lay them in first.  She was fine with only a few pencil marks as I assured her that using acrylic paints let us make many corrections if needed.  (The oils are a bird of a different feather.) With no hesitation she dipped her brush in and went for it.

All of us tend to gravitate towards painting detail first so I explained to her we were building an icecream sundae and did not want to start with the whipped cream and the cherry.  She got it! Above are the large shapes we referred to as the bananas and ice cream: the basics, the structure, the foundation of what we were building.  Big shapes of the correct color.

And here is my happy camper complete with the whipped cream and finally (see the purple cone flowers?) the cherries on her sundae.  We were both so pleased with her results.  It was with great joy she signed her masterpiece and I dated it on the back.  

So what did the teacher learn in all this??  First, I got a recap of the basics in planning any composition, a review of a few simple elements that are the structure of any piece.  I know I, too, can be guilty of wanting to jump right into the whipped cream and cherries. 

Second, I had the pleasure of observing what sincerity in learning requires: an open mind (never did she argue with me about how she preferred to do something), a willingness to experiment (ok, no idea why you want a yellow blob there but I am going to trust you....oh gosh, it works), repetition of instructions (she had no qualms about talking out loud to herself throughout the process, reminding herself of things I'd said or asking herself what was next, it was a pacing, not a race)  and finally, a satisfaction in the outcome (she had no expectation of not liking her work, she was pleased with herself and enjoyed her result with enthusiasm).  Of course she wants to learn more but setting a bar that can't be met is a sure killer of future progress.

So as my adorable student heads off to art class in "real" school (no doubt repeating to herself: shape, contrast, color), I will go to the studio next week with a mind open to experimentation while I remind myself, out loud, of the basics. And, oh yes, I promise to be excited over the results.

Always Learning,

Friday, August 12, 2016

Deep Woods

“A painting requires a little mystery, some vagueness, 
and some fantasy. When you always make your meaning perfectly plain 
you end up boring people” 
― Edgar Degas

When I was first learning to paint from photographs I had a wonderful teacher who would let me go just so far and then insist I get rid of the photo.  This can make a student very nervous but is an excellent way to learn how to make "art" as opposed to making a copy.  I couldn't agree with Degas more: a little mystery to the meaning is much more intriguing.

I love to hike altho I often prefer to hiking friends move along so fast that I often miss the thrill of the wander.  When I head out by myself I see things that are never captured in a photo and the best result is what I feel.  The breeze, the smells, the sounds...they make one feel something that is hard to paint.  How to capture that for a viewer?  I keep trying.

"Deep Woods" oil, 30 x 30
Crossnore Gallery of Fine Art

If you have ever settled down on a rock, alone, deep in the woods and gazed at the wonders before you then you know this scene well.  Sometimes joy is calming and subdued, somethings it is a riot of color and crazy smells.  On certain days it is all of the above ...and more.

detail of  "Deep Woods"

Hope your day is color full,

Friday, August 5, 2016

Angel Tree

Summer is a great time to play.
I have been "channeling" different media this summer and
recently started playing with the idea of quilting in paint.

I have done a couple of paintings thinking about the restrictions of those who work in "fiber arts."  It used to be called quilting until they got so fancy they renamed it so that folks would know it was not your "grandmothers' quilts" they were producing.  Anyhoo, I thought about the fact that blending with
fabrics or color blocks was entirely different than blending with a continuous stream of paint.  So I have played around with the idea of doing a painting where the color on my brush had to be laid down...period.  No scumbling on top of other colors!

Here is only one of those endeavors:

Angel Tree, acrylic

Do you know the Angel Tree outside of James Island, South Carolina?  It is a beautiful, very old, very huge tree that has stood in one place for over 450 years.  People appear very tiny beside it, they are in awe and come to have their photos made, weddings preformed, celebrations held and family reunions photographed.  All of the above were taking place the day I happened to visit and I loved seeing the reverence everyone had for this witness to history.

I started with a black support and painted flat colors as if there was no way to blend.  I let the background do a lot of the work (it almost looks like stained glass, no?) and I really like the way it came out.  Not rocket science, just a homage to a wonderful piece of nature.  

Colorful Pieces,

Friday, July 29, 2016

Camping in Living Color

                We are our little silver home on wheels dubbed the Flying Pig (ll)!  Just learning how to use all the gigets and gadgets on the "rig," we are taking several practice runs to work out all the kinks.  We have big plans for this little pull behind and many of them include art!  So of course I will be sharing.

But meanwhile, a dear artist friend shared the photo below of artist Emily Carr who captured the wilderness in crazy line and color while traveling in this funky get up below.

No doubt they considered her a "wild woman." Check here to learn more about her amazing and inspiring story.  You can see more of her art at this site.  She was definitely not afraid to try new things, to experiment with different media and to test the limits of current trends.  My heroine of art.

So, please know that while I am temporarily "out of the office", I am working hard mentally to plan some fun and very colorful painting projects.  Back soon.

Thumb out,

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,