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Weird Year

Greetings!  Its been a weird year.  Could it be because I started out with a proud proclamation of big goals?  I had great intentions of doing a painting every day.

Weird Year; Study: Watercolor Tube & Paint Bottle

And, then, mid-January hit.  A close family member became ill.  And then…and then…and well, then other things happened.  Its been stressful.  Here I am and its almost mid April.  My best intentions and goals seem to be derailed.

But, I’m still painting.  I’m still plugging away at my goal.  Every day I pick up my pencil.  I have missed a few days with the paint brush.  As soon as I can, I get back to it.  Goals have just been sidelined, not totally disregarded.

I think my intention of doing a painting every day was a good one.  That I have not been able to complete one every day doesn’t mean the idea was bad.  Perhaps with this type of year, I need to take things one day at a time and just keep plugging away at it.

Do you have strategies for times when external factors call for your attention to be somewhere other than the studio?  And, when you get back to the studio, what then?

Since its been that type of year, I think I’ll upload one of my latest studies and make sure I have a posting!

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Drawing: Still Life with Egg Cup & Egg Shells

New Drawing

Hi!  I’d like to share a recent drawing with you.  I seem to becoming obsessed by drawing, which is a good thing.  And eggs, shells and cups.  This is an experience I want!

Drawing: Still Life with Egg Cup and Egg Shells

Inspiring Articles

I ‘d like to share a couple of links to articles with you that I think are inspiring.  Both are from the website “In The Artist Studio”.

Article:  “Ask the Expert…Iain Stewart”.  Posted, March 16, 2016.  An interview with the artist.  I particularly liked Mr. Stewart’s answer to the question of how to improve.

Article:  “Words to Paint By, Irwin Greenberg”.  Posted December 7, 2015.  A list of studio practices and disciplines.   Mr. Greenberg was a watercolor artist and instructor.

Its About Experiencing

I think I’m attracted to articles about drawing because I’m interested in improve.  I suppose I’m finding articles that re-inforce my current thinking.  I’m not sure; I just know this is the experience I want!

Draw & Think Some More

Perhaps, I need to think, draw, and then share my thoughts.  In the mean time, I hope you enjoy my drawing of an egg cup and egg shells.

 

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Creating “Irish Maiden” from Start to Finish

Intro to Creating a Painting

One of my artist friends asked to show how go about creating my paintings.  The suggestion came a couple of months ago while I was participating in a local watercolor critique group.  I said “sure, no problem”.

Now as I get ready to write about it, I wonder what do I say?  On the one hand, its simple:  do a drawing, enlarge, paint layer by layer.  Stop when you’re done.

On the other hand, how do you convey all the in-between work, like the inner dialogue and decision making, that happens while you’re busy creating?  Its all the in-between work that makes the piece.   And, its the in-between work that matters!

Creating Irish Maiden - drawing and finished painting

Concept Development

My process for creating paintings starts with a drawing.  I usually work in a small sketchbook (5.5×8.5) that I can hold in my hand comfortably while I work.  I use pencil, a kneaded eraser and a piece of felt to smudge.  I draw, smudge, lift, draw some more.  I push and pull the design on the piece of paper until I have something I like.

“Irish Maiden” started as a doodle in one of my smaller sketchbooks – smaller than usual.   To explain, a local gallery (Rogue Gallery and Art Center) is having a show with an Irish theme and artist members can submit.  I was playing around, seeing if I could come up with an idea.  I was having trouble coming up with a design, so I switched to my “doodle” sketchbook.

Sometimes, doodles are the best thing.  They help me to get concepts down and ideas flowing.  I thought it would be fun to combine some Irish symbols with a maiden done in a somewhat Cubist style.

After pushing and pulling the pencil around, I started to get an idea!

Creating Irish Maiden, State 1 & 2

Irish Symbols

I went onto the internet to see what I could find about Irish symbols.  I consulted nieces with Irish ancestors to get ideas.  I was able to incorporate a couple of symbols into this particular design.

     The Shamrock.  When I was a child, St Patty’s day was all about wearing a shamrock and green so I wouldn’t get pinched.  Green was my favorite color, so that was easy.  I always thought of the shamrock as being a good luck charm.

But, it is much more than a good luck charm to the Irish people.  The shamrock is the national flower of Ireland.  Its meanings date back to the times of the Druids.  I like the idea that the three lobes of the leaf echo the trinity: life, nature, spiritual; or mind, body spirit.

     Three Spirals; Triskelion or Triskele.  Another ancient symbol the triskelion pre-date the Celts.  It dates back to ancient Greece and Sicily.  It shows up early in Celtic and Irish art.  The spiral represents continuously moving forward.  The triad refers to the things that come in threes again – past, present, future for example.

I like spirals as a symbol of life cycles.   The idea of always moving forward works for me.  So, I created a crown for my maiden incorporating a variation of the three spirals.

Throw in Cubism

I do like the two perspective portrait or double face done Cubist style.  I like to think of it as the face looking and not looking at you.  Its one of my favorite devices when I want to draw an abstract face.  Its not particularly Irish; just fun to use in designing a painting!

Creating Irish Maiden, States 3 & 4

Its About Opposites

I like using a simple color palette based on opposing colors.  In this case, since I’m painting about the Irish, I used green and red.  Green is the dominant color, in terms of percentage of area that is greenish.  However, its pretty hard to miss the warm red braid!

On a side note, I do tend to associate red hair with people with Irish or Scottish ancestors.

Painting  Layer by Layer

The painting of the piece is accomplished by laying consecutive washes of thin, runny paint over a dry surface.  I use soft sable brushes and lots of water.  The surface must dry completely between washes.  It is easy to pick up the paint from earlier layers, especially after many washes; not so desirable!  But, if I watch what I’m doing, I can build up a nice, rich, colorful tone.

Most of my washes are single color washes.  I mix on paper, usually!  I will say that my darkest darks are achieved by mixing a tub of strong dark paint.  The darkest dark layer is close to one of the final things I do.

Design Adjustments

The last few layers of paint are not particularly dramatic.  As I approach the end, I will make any adjustments I need to the design.  I will make small adjustments to color and tone.

Completion

I feel a painting is “done” when it has achieved balance; when it has a feeling of wholeness.

Put another way, if I add anything, or subtract anything, will I maintain the feeling of balance?

Creating Irish Maiden, States 5 & 6

Final Word

For me, I think its the designing phase that is the most important part of creating a successful painting.   Its the place where the seed of excitement begins.  I see my ideas start to become real.  Its the impulse that carries me through to completion.

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Coffee Break Conversations – Watercolor Society of Oregon

Good News

I am thrilled to say that my painting “Coffee Break Conversations” has been accepted into the Watercolor Society of Oregon‘s 51st Spring Experimental Exhibition in Silverton, OR.  Thank you Juror Kathleen Conover for selecting my painting as one of the 80 watercolors in the show.

Watercolor Painting: Coffee Break Conversations

Its a huge honor to be included in an exhibition that includes some of the finest watercolor artists in Oregon.

Exhibition

The WSO Spring Exhibition will be at the Oregon Garden Resort, April 9th through May 23.  Address is 895 W Main St., Silverton OR.  Please stop by if you are in the area!

About the Watercolor Painting

I thought it would be fun to show you the original drawing and the inspiration behind “Coffee Break Conversations”.

Back Story

In 2014, my husband and I took a trip across the country.  We visited a niece who was living and working in Athens GA.  She graciously showed us the town.  At one point, we stopped at one of her favorite places for some refreshment.  As we were having our beverages, we noticed a group of four young people coming in.  They came in, sat down and immediately pulled out their cell phones.  Each person set their cell phone down at the table.  It was done so naturally that I found it tremendously amusing.  This is our times; this is what people do.

The Drawing

As soon as I saw the group of four pull out their cell phones,  I knew I had to do a series inspired by their action.  When I came home, I set about making several drawings exploring the theme of people having a coffee break and using their cell phones.  This is one such drawing.

Coffee Break Conversations - Drawing

Intentions

My intention was to create a lively watercolor painting with a sense of humor.

Design Considerations

Three.  My subject is the three figures or three friends.  Three made me think of a triad color scheme, so I used three primary colors: red, yellow and blue.  Naturally, as you combine the three, other colors are suggested.  As you may have noticed, each of the figures is assigned one of the colors as dominant.

Frame Within A Frame.  As I was drawing, I decided I wanted a “frame within a frame” design scheme.  My three figures are connected by the light, warm, rectangular frame shape.  I also sought to break up the frame by connecting each figure to the background.

I find it challenging work making the frame within a frame design scheme work.   My prime consideration it to make sure I don’t have a hole in the middle of the painting.  What I mean by hole is a place or shape that one you visually enter it, you stay there.  There is no movement out of the shape.

To avoid a feeling of a visual hole, I made the frame shape relatively light and warm.  It helps keep the space shallow since optically, light shapes seem to come forward.

The other advantage of the warm, light frame shape is that it helps me establish a feeling of friendly conversations.  That is to say, even though everyone is having a conversation with someone off scene!

Center of Interest.  My center of interest is the left figure.  She is the most animated and dominates the table.  She is painted with the warmest of colors to highlight her excited conversation.

Thank you!

I do hope you enjoy the watercolor painting.  And, if you are in the area, do please see the painting and the Watercolor Society of Oregon Exhibition at the Oregon Garden Resort!  Thank you for sharing my success!

 

 

 

 

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“Torsten On Bass” At “Kindred Spirits”

Greetings!  I’m happy to say my painting Torsten on Bass will be shown at “Kindred Spirits” in Talent, OR.

Kindred Spirits

About “Kindred Spirits”

“Kindred Spirits” is located is in the historic part of Talent.  The address is 106 Talent Ave., Suite 2.  Hours are Tuesday through Thursday: 4 to 9 pm; Friday: 4 to 11 pm; and Saturday 3 to 9pm.

“Kindred Spirits” features wines, including several local varieties.  They also have craft beer and yummy appetizers.  An extra special feature is the artwork.  Owner Cathy Dorris is an artist and art instructor.  I particularly enjoy her three dimensional art work; they’re intriguing.  I confess, I do look at them and wonder how she does them.  :)  Cathy also conducts art classes on Wednesday evening.

As part of Second Friday festivities, the theme for the February showing is Music.  Artist showing include Cathy Dorris and photographer Pat Moore.  I am contributing one painting Torsten on Bass, a personal favorite.

About the Painting

Torsten on Bass

Torsten on Bass was inspired by a friend (Torsten) who played bass for a German band called “Lunatics United”.  The members were friends of my husband and I when we lived near Heidelberg in the ’90s.  Robert took photos of the band during one of their performances which I used for inspiration.   To date, I have done four variations of Torsten on Bass. Fun times!

Invitation

If you’re in the southern Oregon area, I invite you to come in to Kindred Spirits, enjoy the art, wine, beer and food!

 

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Sketching Main St Railroad Crossing

Sketching On My Mind

Yesterday was another lovely January day in Talent, so a sketching trip to the nearby local railroad depot was in order.

Talent OR: Sketching Railroad Crossing Main St

Look At Light Pattern

When considering a place to sit and draw, I look at how light is falling on my would be subject.  It was about an hour before sun down so I needed to hustle and find a view facing west.  The railroad depot was on my mind since its close by and has a west-facing side.

Unfortunately for drawing purposes, the west facing side is blocked by a fence.  No matter, I decided to draw the crossing gate in front of the depot, with city buildings in the distant horizon.

Crossing Guard Shapes

Drawing the crossing guard was fun; I’d never paid attention to all that hardware!  In order to make sense out of all this “stuff”, I focused on the interesting shapes.

Sketching With Pencil

You may notice that today I’m drawing only with pencil.  I have a new book that I’m working through titled “The Urban Sketcher” by Marc Taro Holmes, Citizen Sketcher.  I’m working through the first chapter.  The first exercises are with graphite.

I think sketching with graphite (pencil) is a great way to learn something new.  Its also a great way to get to know a new subject or revisit an old one.  Its a simple, portable and readily available tool.  I like this simple, powerful instrument, come to think of it!  Pencil drawings are part of my daily workout.

Talent Train Depot

Drawing Talent Series: Different Views

I have drawn our depot before from a different points of view back in 2014 as part of my “Drawing Talent” series of sketches.  On the post I did in September of 2014,  I included a bit of history about the railroad depot building.  Just a teaser, there really was a person with a last name of “Talent”.  And the depot was sent to us by rail!

The small ball point pen study is from the west side of the depot.  The watercolor and ink sketch below is of the south side of the building.

So, I’ve drawn the place at least three times.  Could be I need to visit this subject multiple times!  I went by today and in the morning light, noticed lots of great places to draw and paint.  In time, I think I might like to do some full size paintings of this subject.

More Talent Changes

Much like yesterday’s post about the “Funky Fashion” building, things have changed at the Talent depot and railroad crossing.  For one thing, the tracks are active again!  Two years ago, there were no trains running through Talent.  In 2015, the trains started up again.  So, when sketching near the tracks, I need to be alert.  Fortunately, the train had just past by before I left for the drawing session.

Another change is that we are getting a new cafe on the south end of the depot building.  I’ve been watching them prepare the facility.  It will be called “Cantina Vida”; I look forward to its opening.  On another day, I’ll do a sketch with the cantina.

Thank you.

I hope you enjoy my sketches and Talent’s railroad depot.

Daily Habit: Drawing Talent Series

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The Building Formerly Known As “Funky Fashions”

Sketching Local Building

Yesterday I took advantage of some afternoon sun and went out to sketch a local building.  Because it was afternoon, I wanted to draw something that was facing the west.  What better place to work on than the place formerly known as “Funky Fashions”?

Building Formerly Known as Funky Fashions, Talent OR

“Drawing Talent”

I’d like to give a little backstory to our subject building.  I live in Talent, OR.  Back in 2014, I thought I’d start a series of watercolor and ink studies I called “Drawing Talent”.  One of the first places I drew was “Funky Fashions”.

Cheerful Consignment Shop

“Funky Fashions” was owned by my neighbor Lisa; it was special.  It was a sweet consignment shop right down town.  It was also on my morning running route.  Most days I’d pass by and note the cheerful window displays.  Lisa had plants and a bench out front.

First Drawing – Spring Cheer

The first time I sketched the building was in May of 2014.  It was a brilliant, sunny spring day.  While I was sketching, Lisa came out and sat on the bench, enjoying the afternoon light.  Naturally, I went over and chatted with her after I was done.

Building Closed

Almost two years later, the shop sits closed.  It is no longer “Funky Fashions”, except in spirit.  Lisa has retired and moved on.

I’d say the shop area looks vacant, but it may not be.  The windows are curtained up.  About a week ago it looked like someone was doing something to the interior.  Its not the cheerful place it was.

Winter Sketch

In the soft light of winter, the building almost looks dormant or asleep.  It is waiting for a new occupant to breath life into it.  Like many of the business buildings in Talent OR, tenants come and go.  This is only one of several buildings that have changed since I started my drawing Talent series.

Traffic Has Changed

You might notice that the signage in front of the building has changed.  This is due to the re-routing of traffic in our historic downtown.  There used to be a stop sign in front of the “Funky Fashions” building; now there is different sign.  The stop sign is a block north.

Tree City

On a positive note, there is a newly planted tree in front of the building.  Talent is a “tree city”.  We like trees and they do a good job growing here.

It was fun re-visiting the “Funky Fashions” building.  I am including both watercolor and ink drawings – almost an after and before!  I hope you enjoy them!

Funky Fashion Building, May 2014

 

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Nix Perfection; Flawed Is Good

Thinking About Perfection and Seth Godin

Perfection…is it a good thing?

Perfection in the Flaws - Piggy

I was fixing my second (or was it third?) cup of espresso this morning.  Into my head popped the thought that I bet Seth Godin’s blog posts aren’t perfect everyday.  I wonder what his percentages are; how many times does he hit it out of the proverbial park?

Maybe because he posts most days, he gets pretty darn good results.

Hmmm… the espresso was nearly perfect.  It was good enough.  :)

Its About Me

So, how does this apply to me and what’s the point?

First I thought about this blog.  I get wrapped around SEO (search engine optimization) requirements.  I have Yoest SEO plug in and tells me things about SEO and how to improve my blog.  It’s like a high school multiple choice test – I try to get a near perfect answer.

But do you care?  And, why do I care?

Hmmm, maybe if I work on writing daily or most days.  It doesn’t have to be long or perfect; just thoughtful.  Maybe that would be a good idea.

Writing My Stories

I believe in our world, it’s a good idea for artists, including me, to be able to tell our stories.  And, tell them in an interesting and personal way.  It helps people have a way into seeing our work.  That’s why I care.  And, the best way to get good at writing is to write and do it often!  Oh, perfection is not the point.

Problem with Perfection In Artwork

What does this have to do with painting?  I think that when I try to achieve perfection, I risk losing the freshness and poetry of painting.  I risk a powerful way of communicating directly.

Somewhere along the way, I heard a story that Japanese master ceramic artists will purposely ensure their pieces are not perfect.  They allow the hand of the artist.  Beauty and individuality is found in the imperfections.

Flawed Is Good

So, there we are.  I’m not in the perfection business.  Maybe not even in the near perfection or almost perfect business either.   Perhaps art and beauty are in the flawed business.  Works for me!

With that, I’ll leave you with a flawed, but hopefully poetic painting of Piggy.  I painted him with watercolor and drew in ink.  He’s one of my daily paintings.

Notes

*Mr. Seth Godin is a blogger, author and public speaker.  He talks about marketing and entrepreneurship.  Mostly, I like his writings because they apply to lots of different situations.  I can relate.

Oh, there are some people who are and need to be in the perfection business.  Rocket scientists come to mind.  Not me though; I don’t need to be perfect!  Phew!  I sure try sometimes!  😉

 

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Daily Habit – Watercolor & Ink Drawings

Habit for 2016

Greetings!  I would like share with you my ideas about a daily habit I’m adopting this 2016.  My intention in this post is to outline the why, what and how I’m going to establish this daily habit.

Daily Habit Watercolor & Ink Study

Inspiration

I follow artist Myrna Wacknov’s blog titled her “Creativity Journey”.  At the beginning of the year, she wrote that she intends on doing daily iPAD drawings.  The purpose is to improve her ability to use digital media.  I watched Ms. Wacknov do daily drawings before and was impressed by her results.

What I’m Doing

After reading Myrna’s post, I had the idea to form my own daily habit.  I thought I might do daily watercolor and ink studies.  That’s most days for a year, or longer.  That’s the point of a habit, isn’t it?  You make a good habit part of your daily (my) routine.

Why A Daily Habit?

The easy answer is that I’ve seen the positive results that happen when I stick to a daily habit.  To explain, years ago I wanted to start a personal exercise program, one I could stick to and would be good for my health.  I decided to develop the habit of running every day.  With trial and error, I settled on a morning running habit.  It helped that my life and work encouraged a morning running routine.  What I discovered was that establishing a daily habit helped me move past procrastination and distraction.  Plus, I improved my running ability.

Daily Habit; Painting While Camping

Why Watercolor and Ink?

I have good reasons to select watercolor and ink studies as my habit.  My big reasons follow.

  • I like doing watercolor and ink studies when my husband and I travel and camp.   I want to have a strong habit of doing these studies before we go anywhere.  In that way, I’ll make sure I do them!  The study from Kershaw-Ryan State Park is an example of a study done on a camping trip.
  • I agreed to do a demonstration of watercolor and ink  drawing for a local art society.  I better be prepared!
  • I like doing the studies!
  • I want to resume my “Drawing Talent” project, that is getting in the habit of doing regular watercolor and ink studies of my home town- Talent OR.  (See the railroad depot  below).

Daily Habit: Drawing Talent Series

My Plan

Be simple and direct.  I figure that’s the best way for me to adopt a good habit.  My plan is to do, as a minimum, one study per day in one of the empty watercolor journals I have laying around my studio.  That way, I fill the journals.  And, I feel free to experiment.  Oh, and yes, one needs to have a way to hold oneself accountable.  So, here’s the plan.

  • Pick a subject for the week.  I’ve been using simple still life set ups.
  • Start out working in gray.  Move to color studies.
  • Toward the end of the week, do a painting on good watercolor paper.
  • Keep a spread sheet tracking daily drawings.
  • Have fun.

January to Date

So far, my plan’s been working for January.  I think I have missed a day.  When I miss one, then I can always catch up.  Or, start again the next day.  Skies won’t fall if I miss a day.

I think this is an important point to remember when creating new habits.  If a day is missed, I need to make sure I don’t feel like I’ve failed.  I just resume the habit the next day or as soon as practical.  I define success as most days.

Daily Habit 4 Jan 16

Tracking Results

This past weekend, I was feeling frustrated about my work production.  I was feeling like I haven’t been doing anything.  Not true!  I have lots of drawings and paintings to support my work.

However, I didn’t have any tools that I could look at immediately to see how much work I’ve been doing.  Solution?  I set up a spreadsheet that I will use to track my daily effort.  And, I can see how the dailies fit into my larger plan for 2016.

Next – Draw & Paint!

So, there’s the idea and plan.  I’ve included a few of my watercolor and ink drawings to show that I’ve started working.  If the habit becomes ingrained, I figure you might see a year end review blog post!

 

Thank you!

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Circular Conversations – Acrylic Painting

Introducing Circular Conversations

Hi!  I’d like to introduce one of my recent paintings titled “Circular Conversations”.  It was one of the last pieces I completed in 2015.

Circular Conversations

21.5 x 14 Acrylic over Watercolor on d’Arches 140lb Cold Press Paper

Fun with Acrylic Paint

This is unusual in that it is a paintings of figures done in acrylic.  I have done most of my figures in watercolor.  I enjoyed experimenting with acrylic on paper.  I might have to do more!

My Models

The subject was based on a drawing I did while waiting for an outdoor concert to begin.  The two women were engaged in a conversation.  I was at least 30 feet away and they didn’t notice me.

I thought I’d include the appropriate page from my sketch book.

Source drawings for Circular Conversations"

Ink & Graphite
Pentalic 3×5 sketchbook
2015
People waiting for the start of the Ben Harper & Innocent Criminals Concert, Les Schwab Amphitheter, Bend OR. 6 Sep 2015

I imagine they were having a pleasant conversation, the type one has among friends.

About the Title

The title “Circular Conversations” refers to a type of conversation where you find yourself back where you started from.  Its funny how that goes sometimes.

I hope you enjoy the painting!  Thanks!

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