Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Inspiration {No. 18}

{a friend's backyard bliss}
Hello ~

Here are a few things to check out this afternoon:

. Sara Winter's Middle Creek View
. Some sketches of Via Algarviana, here, here, and here
. Mary's green-violet harmony
. Heather Smith Jone's homemade watercolors

Have a good one!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Workshop with Susan Abbott

{w/c ~ exercise of applying value and colors
of a Diebenkorn painting to a totally separate scene}

Hello ~

This week has been busy working on two new projects while absorbing the lessons learned from Susan Abbott’s workshop on Landscape.

The 4-day workshop focused on how landscape paintings are built, the premise of the workshop was that they are not just about going outside and painting whatever you see in front of you, instead the artist applies a sense of purpose when interpreting the landscape with an underlying structure.

Where Danni’s workshop was predominatntly focused on painting a single set up with the occasional demonstration, Susan organized the workshop to be half theory and discussion and the other half focused on exercises designed to have some experiential learning.

We individually focused on individual components of a painting and how they support the visual idea of a painting.

*Format (composition)

* Value

*Color Temperature (warm vs. cool)

* Color relationships (as on the color wheel)

Susan had gathered many slides of landscape paintings that supported the discussion. I really enjoyed how she gathered a variety of painting styles to demonstrate that all successful landscapes possessed these individual components.

Susan also asserted the idea that there was also an order of how paintings are organized. First the format of the painting is established by the canvas or base it is painted on. Then comes the value relationships. If the values do not hang together all efforts of color temperature and color relationships will be to no avail. After the value comes color temperature, the relationship of warm and cool shapes, how they relate and where they join, providing an interesting and convincing view. Finally color selection is chosen. Susan will often employ a limited color palette when working en plein air.

{w/c ~ color temperature exerecise}

This exercise was about experiementing with color temperature, where warm and cool colors meet while also establishing complementary color pairs (when using complementary colors you also typically have a color temp. difference)

{Oil Canvas Panel ~ plein air @ River Farm on the Potomac}

On the last day of the workshop we went out and worked on a plein air painting applying all we had learned. This painting was completed with a limited palette of alizarin crimson, cad red, cad lemon, cad yellow lt, cerulean blue, French ultramarine, and Prussian blue. This is the most limited palette I have every employed!

I really enjoyed this workshop, how the information was presented and the exercises that immediately applied what we had discussed. As most skills gained during the time were theory, I know it will take awhile to chew on all the ideas and apply the various pieces to how I go about creating a painting. My goal in taking this workshop was to improve my understanding of landscape paintings, I am drawn to them and want to become more proficient with them, and this workshop more than met my goals.

During the class I also met some wonderful people and hope to meet up with them again.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Quick Hello

Hello ~

I have missed writing
and just wanted to share
that I have been busy working on
a new still life painting
with dahlias and a few other items.

I am applying some of the lessons learned
More about the workshop later this week.

Bye, Liz

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Looking for Clarity

{detail of a painting}

Hello ~

Sometimes I have difficulty articulating everything that is going on in my brain in an easy to understand way. Typically with discussions I tend to talk about everything related or unrelated and somehow it works. But when writing a blog post this method just will not work and I always try to stay on one subject per post and build upon the previous posts so there is a sense of continuity.

Since Monday I have been trying to rein in the ideas and discuss the various topics that are on my mind, and it has been difficult. I place the reason why I am unable to focus in and develop a single idea to discuss on how September is turning out to be. I began this month thinking attending two workshops and a seminar would be a nice change, little knowing it would alter my thoughts about how I view my work and transform my attitude about earning a living as an artist.

This is what has happened.

I love being an artist, creating beautiful paintings and drawings that reflect the emotive qualities I value in life. I also want to balance this personal dedication with a means of covering my costs and earning a living. These are big issues and I think sometimes the hardest thing individual artists have to balance and I am still in the discovery process. Again and again during times like these I am reminded that creativity comes in ebbs and flows. Allowing for breathing room in the creative process and which direction I will go over the next few months.

For what remains of the week, I am going to focus on the landscape workshop I am taking with Susan Abbott and learn all I can, give myself some breathing room, and enjoy the change in climate as autumn seems to have arrived in the DC area. As the ideas clarify I will share them with you, until then thanks for stopping by.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Success as an Artist ~ reflections on Ms. Fraser’s advice

I flew back from San Antonio on Saturday in order to attend the seminar “Success as an Artist” presented by Catriona Fraser of the Fraser Gallery in Bethesda, MD on Sunday. The experience of learning from Catriona about how to navigate the world as a fine arts professional was eye opening.

She covered all the basics like: how to present your work, pricing, writing press releases, when to contact local curators, how to improve your odds in getting into juried exhibitions, and how to pursue gallery representation. We received a packet of information and an amazing CD full of additional information that was discussed or touched on during the day. So much valuable information was presented that by the end of the day my head was spinning some.

My husband will sometimes use the anology of drinking directly from a fire hose when in a situation where new ideas are rapidly presented for an extended period of time and every fact is so important that you really want to ingest everything so as not to miss out. This was my experience. There was just such great advice presented in a very candid, funny, and brass tacks sort of way that I am left with a need to correlate and organize the information in how it relates to my art career. I spent the majority of today thinking about and going over the seminar notes, musing and trying to figure out how to best apply this information. I think aspects of this seminar will be topics I write about over the next week and probably the following months as a plan starts to get implemented.

See you tomorrow with more thoughts, Liz


UPDATE: Ms. Fraser is going to give another seminar at Montgomery College in Silver Spring on Sunday, October 4. If you are interested in attending please visit the Fraser Gallery for more information.

Texas Watercolor Sketch & Colors

{Queen's Crown Vine ~ watercolor on paper}

Last week was spent visiting my grandmother in Castroville, Texas. For as long as I can remember the fence dividing her property from the neighbors has been covered in this beautiful vine full of delicate pink flowers. I love how the leaves are heart shaped and the flowers fall in such a delicate way.

Unfortunately it rained the majority of my time there and the rain limited my walks and time spent wondering and re-introducing myself to the various scenes of the town and area. Fortunately on my first day I took time to make a color swatch card of the various colors encountered after a morning walk (the only one that was not rained out). I will sometimes record the specific colors of items as it helps me focus and remember that specific time with greater clarity.

{watercolor on paper}

Monday, September 7, 2009

Pear {a daily painting}

Pear – 5" x 7" (12.7 x 17.8 cm) – Oil Canvas Panel


Yesterday was the two year anniversary of this blog! Thanks for being a part of this journey and I hope you continue to visit and share your thoughts!

For this painting I applied some of the painting techniques learned in the Danni Dawson Workshop. I spent about twice the typical time on this painting than is usually spent on these paintings, though it was a good learning experience and rewarding. I use RayMar canvas panels, and this is on the smooth cotton canvas. I like how the smooth canvas texture can be used or obliterated depending how thickly the paint is applied.

Tomorrow I am traveling to Texas to visit my grandmother for a week, while away I will not have regular access to the internet and I am not taking my painting kit with me. Last time I traveled it turned out to be just a heavy item in my luggage that only saw the light of day once. So for this trip I will just take my camera and take photos for future paintings when I get home.

Have a good week, Liz

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Workshop with Danni Dawson

Hello ~

It has been an amazing and busy week. Monday was the first day of the five-day workshop with Danni Dawson. I was so excited about attending this class, excited about what I would learn, excited about what Danni would demonstrate and teach, and I was not disappointed!

During the five days I completed one painting and began another. Because we were painting still life items from her garden and most of the flowers were bloomed out, I focused on painting figs, leaves, and pears instead of painting flowers like I anticipated. Danni suggested that if you have a desire to become a still life artist it is important to plant what will be your subject matter. Something I will keep in mind once we get a house.

This is the first painting I worked on and was lucky enough to finish. It was of a branch of figs and leaves. Figs and leaves have historically been my nemesis where I have scraped down and given up on many a painting before this week.

Fig Branch – 16" x 12" (40.6 x 30.5 cm) – Oil on Canvas
{Day 4 – Final Painting}
Danni teaches in such a simple and direct manner, with great explanations that I am always inspired to reach beyond my comfort zone, and am almost always rewarded with a new breakthrough in my understanding and ability to paint with oils.
{day 1}
One of the first things Danni said on Monday morning was that still life painting requires a lot of planning and forethought on how to go about completing the painting. So when beginning, identify the part that will die/change the fastest. Once this is identified, block in the entire painting but strive to complete that part as quickly as possible. In my case it was the two leaves that were floating above the branch, by the next day they had curled up and fallen down.
{day 2}
On the second day I focused on the figs and the lower leaves, as I saw they had already changed significantly from the day before. Because the wood crate and background were not going to change any, I just blocked in the basic local color values.
{day 3}
The third day was spent refining different parts of the painting, adding highlights, adding further details to the leaves, and finishing up the wooden crate. The one thing I heard over and over again from Danni to me and my classmates was to “slow down”. She was always encouraging us to slow down and truly absorb what we saw. She also encouraged that we break down a particularly complex object into separate areas, and to just paint and complete the individual areas before moving onto another area. She said this was particularly important when painting highly reflective areas like a silver cup. Though one should never just dive into a specific area and finish it until after the whole painting is blocked in and the direction of the painting is clear.

{day 4 - detail of finished painting}

I spent most of the fourth day working on the background. To give it a sense of space, instead of it being a flat single colored surface. I worked with a variety of glazes and solid paint. I also selected areas of the leaves to bright up with transparent orange, an new color for me.

During the week I was exposed to a lot of information, I learned a lot, and know it will take awhile to incorporate everything into my working knowledge. Though the biggest thing I came to understand was the importance of which whites to use and keep on the palette. Over the summer I had started to shy away from using Old Holland Cremnitz White because for awhile it was over $30.00 a tube and I would go through it pretty fast. So I began to use WN Titanium White more and more because it was closer to $20.00 a tube. This looks good initially on the basic economic terms, however over the week Danni demonstrated all these wet in wet techniques that required the lower layer of paint to set up some, becoming a little stiff while still being wet and malleable. This can only be done with a stiff white like Cremnitz or Flake White. So I learned in order to speed up my painting I needed to ditch the slow drying/setting up Titanium White at times and use a lead white. So the expense of the Old Holland Cremnitz White has just proven itself as being a valuable player. (I have tried using the WN Cremnitz White before but it is too gooey and stringy like warm taffy for my liking)

Have a great weekend and once the second painting is finished I will post it.