Thursday 30 March 2017

Triple Report

Things have been busy since I wrote last. I have done some work on my painting 'Poppies by the Fence', I received another postcard from the LYA swap, and I had a lesson with Jeannie.

A few of my blogging friends made suggestions to improve my 'poppies' painting. I wasn't able to implement all of them on this piece but will be doing a second version where I can make more adjustments. Meanwhile, here are photos of the original and the improved painting.
 It is amazing how differently the paintings and the photos of them look. When I compare the second photo with its painting I wonder if I need to darken the shadows even more than I have done already. I am going to put this away for a while and let it gel.

Now for the treasure in the mail! Today's LYA postcard was from Jane Martin of Roanoke, Virginia. It is a charming sketch of a gardener's bench and fits in perfectly with my bedding plants.
Jane Martin's postcard
Jane included a super quote from Picasso on the back of the card:
             "Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."

You can see more of Jane's art at Mary Jane's Studio

And behind door number three... I finally remembered to take a photo of my student's painting!!!
Jeannie's painting
This was based on one of Jeannie's photos from their trip to Hawaii. The colours are a bit more vibrant in the original. We have done very few landscapes together and nothing with such a dramatic sky so this just thrilled me when I saw it at Art Club where she continued to work on the painting. I hope her husband is pleased with it too as it was his suggestion of a subject for this week's class.

#1021 - Storm over the Island - 7 x 10 watercolour
And this is my painting of the same scene. I demonstrate each step of the painting, often going over the same area more than once to help my students understand the process better and to demonstrate that watercolour is more flexible than many think.

It has been a good week!

Monday 27 March 2017

My first LYA Postcards

Hooray! I got two postcards today from the Liberate Your Art Postcard swap organized by Kat Sloma. It is such a cool way to 'meet' other artists and see their work.

Worcester Village - pastel
My first card was this lovely pastel by Marcia Hill of Worcester, VT. USA. My photo really doesn't do the postcard justice and the shiny surface took a bit of a beating through the post. I thought the contrast of the card and the snow looked cool. Marcia wrote a lovely sentiment on the back:
                              Art is the Voice of the Soul - Speak Up!

My second card is a mystery! I do not know who this postcard is from as there was only an email address (which I hope I read correctly as Bob and I disagreed on some of the letters in the address). No name, no web page, no way to be sure that my email got to her/him okay.  There was also a charming sentiment -

                       May your eyes find BEAUTY wherever they look!

I hope whoever sent this will see my post and get in touch so I can find out who they are.

When I got my cards I realized that I went overboard when I wrote on the back of my own postcards but as it is my first year I am sure people will understand. Next time I will try to come up with some interesting sayings.

I am looking forward to getting the rest of my cards for this years swap and will definitely be participating again.

Sunday 26 March 2017

Commission and Sketches

Earlier this year a friend commissioned me to do a painting of poppies as a gift for her niece. The only instructions I received were about the size  - 7 x 10, and the colour - she wanted a salmon pink for the flowers. So I have been playing around with ideas for composition and searching the internet for good references for the flowers. I have done two pieces and am not sure that I like either of them.

#1014 - Peachy Poppy -  - 7 x 10 watercolour
#1020 - Poppies by the Fence - 7 x 10 watercolour
I have one more drawing ready to paint but I don't feel that I have found the right reference photo yet. Fortunately, I have a lot of time to play with this as the commission isn't due until the end of summer.

Meanwhile, I have continued my promise to myself to do more sketching.
a few sketches from TV and my reference file

Some of the items on top of one of my cupboards

a vase decorated with some metal leaves
It is obvious that I need to work on cylindrical objects but I am reasonably pleased with my progress - getting better every day!

I hope you will let me know what you think of the poppy paintings as any suggestions will be appreciated.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

Friday 24 March 2017

Just One Step Ahead

It is not often that a student asks to learn something that I don't know how to do but Jeannie surprised me by wanting to try an abstract. Thankfully there is the internet with hundreds of photos to for viewing and learning.
#1017 - Blended Blooms - 5 x 7 watercolour
Not being sure what Jeannie was interested in, I did 'Blended Blooms' as a trial. I liked it but, when she came for her lesson, Jeannie felt that she wanted a more abstract look and less impressionism.
#1015 - Bold Burst - 5 x 7 watercolour
'Bold Burst' started as a demonstration of applying colour somewhat randomly. I finished this after the class by adding more colour and water and letting things flow together.
#1016 - Blended - 5 x 7 watercolour
'Blended' is the painting we did together and, of course, I forgot to take a photo of Jeannie's painting. Jeannie liked her painting in landscape format but I prefer portrait format for mine. It was fun doing this piece so I used the idea for a birthday card I made for a friend.
Card #87 - Birthday Balloons
For the lesson with Jeannie I was just one step ahead so I was happy to get back on track with this week's class with Heather and do something I was more familiar with - skies and mountains!

We used one of my older paintings as a guide for our first piece.
#967 - Clouds on the Mountain #2 - 5 x 16 watercolour
Heather wanted to learn how to achieve the tonal perspective needed for the mountains and she liked the clouds over the mountains. When I mentioned taking photos of her work she was reluctant so I didn't push. We left the foreground for homework because I wanted Heather to try a more dramatic sky.
#1019 - Sunset Storm - 5 x 7 watercolour
We stared out doing a bright sunset but ended up with a 'Sunset Storm'. Many beginners are afraid of using too much colour and I wanted to show her that adding the dark clouds over the sunset could make a more effective painting.

I hope to show my students that painting can be fun! I want them to loosen up and play a bit more; to let the brush dance over the paper and just see what happens. It will come with more practice and confidence and then they will have the skills to paint different styles, from abstract to realistic. Here's hoping!

Monday 20 March 2017

Thinking Summer

I know! It is only the first day of Spring so why am I thinking Summer? I spent yesterday afternoon using my new ArtFoamies to print some new Hot Weather Scarves and that made me think of warm summer days.
stamped fabric strips
close up of new designs   
I started making Hot Weather Scarves in 2015 using some of my own stamps and some from ArtFoamies. They are hand made, hand stamped cotton 'bags' with gel beads that expand when soaked and provide hours of cooling comfort. Most of the scarves I make now are only 1 1/4" wide so they are more tie than scarf. These 'Cool Ties' are perfect for gardening, hiking or just hanging around in the sun. I also make 'Cool Bags' which are little gel bags that fit under a cap or hat to help keep your head cool.
one of my original designs
Last fall my daughter suggested that I should make some shorter scarves - or 'Cool Ties' - with more masculine designs and colours; something that would appeal to men working in the fields and forests. With the help of the internet, I designed some patterns and went to my friend Emmie at Emmie's Art Foamies
and asked her to make me some stamps. This is what she has made so far;
Tools, Trucks and Chainsaws
 Emmie is still working on more of my patterns and I hope I get them in time to make more Cool Ties for the coming summer.

Here are a couple more links where you will find more of Emmie's Art Foamies.
ArtFoamies on Facebook  and ArtFoamies on Etsy.  I hope you will check them out and share with your friends

Saturday 18 March 2017

Value Workshop part 2

We started the second class on Light with critiques of the still-life paintings that everyone did since the first class. I am happy to say that my painting "More than a Picnic" (see my blog 'Value Workshop') did not receive any negative comments and no suggestions for improvement were offered. I guess I got an A+ - lol.

I actually submitted two pieces for the critiques.
#1018 - Still-life with Oranges - 5 x 7 watercolour
my drawing of Still-life with Oranges

I did this piece mostly as a test for myself. My friends at Art Club were teasing me about my first painting for the workshop because I printed the photo and just transferred the image onto my watercolour paper before painting. I figured it was a class on value not drawing, so why not? But, Wednesday evening I decided I would do a drawing of the still-life from one of the photos on my computer. I was happy with the way it turned out so I painted it and submitted it for critique too. Everyone liked this piece as well and offered no suggestions for changes.

The remainder of the class was about Light and Mood and the instructor shared lots of photos as examples. It was very interesting and the notes will prove useful for future paintings. The instructor tried to show different moods on the still-life set-up by using coloured film over a spot light but the daylight in the room was too bright and the effects were limited.

We finished the class by starting work on another still-life with the new display. I took lots of photos but I also did a sketch.
drawing of still-life #2
 I do my sketches on newsprint in pencil then go over them with a pen. I really don't do enough drawing so working in pencil first is an indication of my lack of confidence. I plan to do a drawing every evening while watching TV to hone my skills and build that confidence. Being able to pause the TV is such a benefit. Here is a sketch I did from a commercial.
Deer sketch - about 6 x 8
This probably only took about 5 minutes to sketch, then another five to add the pen and some extra shading.

I think that the impetus to start sketching is one very special bonus of the  workshop I attended. I may not do many more still-life paintings but I will definitely do more sketching.

Saturday 11 March 2017

Value Workshop

Yesterday I attended a workshop on Value hosted by the Creston Art Club. Every year the club puts on a number of workshops instructed by club members or by other local artists. This workshop was given by a wonderful pastel artist, Carol Schloss - Carol's web page.

Partly because there was so much information to absorb and partly because we had homework, the workshop was split in two and the second half will be held next Friday. Here is my homework.
#1013 - More than a Picnic - 7  x 10 watercolour
'More than a Picnic' is my rendition of the very large still life set-up that was arranged for the class. I made a few changes, switching oranges to apples and adding the drapery in the background. It will be interesting to hear what kind of critique this piece gets next week.

Although I already knew a lot of the information given at the workshop yesterday, some of it was new and the reminder of the usefulness of red plastic film was the best part. For those who do not know, looking at your art through red plastic film turns the piece almost black and white. This makes it easy to check your values which is an important part of a painting.

One aspect of the class yesterday was very disappointing for me. Each participant brought in a painting they were not happy with for critique and suggestions for improvement. When my turn came, the response was unenlightening. Everyone, instructor included, said my painting was lovely even though I thought is was blah!
#426 - Windmills and Water - 7 x 10 watercolour with pen & ink
I wasn't happy with their lack of suggestions and prodded them to offer something. The changes I made are quite subtle but I think they make a difference.
#426a - adjusted painting
Of course, the changes are more evident in person but I am happier with the corrected painting.

In my last blog I shared some photos of the Creston Valley and today, just for fun, I want to share a picture of the same scene. - I will add the other day's photo for comparison.

I always think of Brigadoon when we have fogs like this - lol. The world has disappeared and you can imagine entering a different world when the fog lifts. Isn't imagination grand!

Thanks for stopping by  and please leave a comment.

Wednesday 8 March 2017

Always something to do!

There is always something to do when you are an artist and teacher. I had an email last Thursday from a past student wanting to know if I could fit her in for a lesson on Saturday. Of course, I agreed!

Theresa wanted to do flowers and had some of her own wonderful photos as references. She had two major concerns: backgrounds and portraying the delicacy of flowers.
#1012 - Bloom & Bud - 5 x 7 watercolour
I used the leaves to show wet-in-wet blending followed by liner brush work. For the petals we used a wet-on-dry technique with damp brush blending. The background was straight wet-in-wet using a variety of very strong colours blended on the paper, painting carefully around the flower. And finally, I demonstrated lifting out colour from the background and adding a few more leaves and the bud to help balance the composition. There isn't time in a two hour class to do a complete painting so I jump around from subject to subject so the student has had instruction on every element. We work on a few leaves, a few petals, a bit of background and lifting and then the student can (hopefully) complete the painting at home.

Bloom & Bud started off just as a demonstration on a old spotted piece of watercolour paper. In spite of the jumping around, I could see that my demonstration piece was looking pretty good so I cleaned off the few spots that showed on the petals and completed the painting.

To top of the weekend, I got a surprise. A few weeks ago, my friend Sheila was doing a give-away on her blog (Sheila's Blog) of some niftily textured foam. That is what I picked up at the post office on Sunday.
The timing was perfect as I had just started work on a quilled dolphin and wasn't sure how I would finish the card but one of the textured foams was perfect. I will probably be playing with these foam pieces for some time.
And finally, here are a couple of photos of winter in the valley. Today started off with 6 more inches of snow, grey skies and a 20 minute blizzard but by 11:00 the sun was shining in a vibrant blue sky.

Hmm, I got more cloud that I thought. Some day I should paint some winter scenes of the valley but for now, I would rather think Spring and paint flowers.