Monday, December 1, 2014

World Blog Hop

I want to thank Christiane Kingsley for inviting me to participate in this Blog Hop Around the World. Christiane lives in Ottawa, Canada, and is a very versatile artist. She had spent more than twenty years doing fiber art, when she fell in love with watercolours about 10 years ago. Now she works more often in mixed media and acrylics, though watercolour remains her first love. Chris is a member of the Ottawa Art Association and the Foyer Gallery. You will have fun checking out her blog and website.

For those who don’t know me, I am a painter and collage artist who grew up in Vermont and has lived many years in San Jose, California. I took up watercolors about 20 years ago, and more recently have moved into mixed media and collage. I am a Past President and current Board Member of the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Association (SCVWS) with 400 members. I host open studios and participate  in several art shows a year. Blogging is a perfect way to share my art, because it combines two of my passions: art and writing. Participating in the blog community has brought me friends and broadened my knowledge of art.  

I have been asked to answer several questions: 
1. What am I working on? 
I am focusing on some torn magazine collage on canvas pieces. At a recent workshop in Taos, NM, Gwen Fox encourage me to do more collage. SCVWS is sponsoring a juried show in March open to all forms of watermedia, including paper on canvas, and we can enter up to three pieces. I am hoping to enter a few pieces and make the cut.

"The City That Never Sleeps"

I just completed "The City That Never Sleeps" which is 36" x 36." I also like to combine paper that I've made with acrylic paint, as I recently did in  "Letters from Home." There are more in my future.
"Letters From Home"











"Fall Rains In the Vineyards"
 









A week ago I painted at beautiful local winery with the SCVWS plein air group during some fall rains that helped paint my watercolor, "Fall Rains in the Vineyards."   

"Happiness"


I am also liking acrylics. "Happiness" is a good representative of my acrylics and close-focused works.


 


2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

This is a challenging question. I use watermedia and paper, and paint life around me. When I see a subject, I see patterns and shapes, so I express my theme by arranging pleasing shapes and values. My engineering gene surfaces in compositions that are strongly geometric, even without the imposed shapes in "Poppies on the Fault Line." 
"Poppies on the Faultline"




"Marinka's Figs"








My art is influenced by a life filled with travel, ballroom dancing, bicycling, art, and spending time with family and friends. I often paint landscapes, especially painting plein air with like-minded artists. I frequently fill the picture plane with a piece of an architectural feature or plant, as I did when painting "Marinka's Figs" in Croatia, to deliver an unusual view. 



"Hoping We Get Some Wind"



I paint people observed in daily life and travels. My paintings focus on the commonality of mankind, while hinting at the qualities that make the person unique.




3. Why do I create what I do?
Since my childhood, I have expressed my creativity in drawings and making small objects. In my teens and through my middle life,  I sewed clothing for myself and family and did crafts with my sons. After the children left home, I had a strong desire to do fine arts and began taking workshops. Now that I am retired from my corporate career, I devote many hours to my art. I am very visual and tactile, and I have a passion for capturing common experiences and observations that speak to others. 


4. How does my creating process work?
Whatever the medium, the process is similar. Subjects are taken from life and I either paint on location or gather source materials -- sketches, plein air paintings, and photos. When I travel, I bring a small journal, pens, and a compact Koi watercolor set and complete sketches representative of the people, culture, and architecture. These sketches and the plein air work are completed very quickly.  I decide upon a subject, eliminate extraneous elements, and work almost to completion within a few hours. I put the finishing touches on the work in my studio. The results can be fresh and give a wonderful sense of place. "Summer Morn" was painted in nearby Vasona Park.

"Summer Morn"
Subjects are not a problem, they are all around me. I select an appropriate medium and consider size and composition - whatever drew me to this subject is what I want to convey. When painting landscapes, I draw directly on the support. When painting more complex subjects, I do a full-sized drawing and then transfer it to my support. Sometimes, but not always, I lay down an underpainting, and I may combine mediums. I often go for value on my first pass, rather than layering glazes, and enjoy mixing paint on the support.  I come back in the final pass with detail and my darkest darks.


"The Graduate"
My approach to creating torn magazine collage is similar.  My palette is bins of glossy magazine pages sorted by color. I  usually keep the colors to a minimum. Using just black, white, and gray or combining it with just one color is very dramatic. I allow an occasional bit of another color to sneak in.  I start by applying large papers first and then move to finer details using glossy gel medium as an adhesive. I tear the pieces to add beauty to the pages because they contain many hard edges. As I near completion, I can spend several days making small adjustments. I finish the painting with varnish with UV protection. You can check out work by master instructor Derek Gores who taught an SCVWS workshop.


Collage is very challenging and takes many hours, especially for large pieces, such as 36" x 36".  I select pieces of papers and objects that contribute to a recognizable shape. I often include memorabilia to tell a story.  Much of the final result depends upon randomness as there is no way I can plan completely how the work will come together. The viewer is pulled into the painting as they discover unusual images that make up the art -- a stiletto in the hat, a purse in the hair, and words that give hints to the story. 


When I believe I am finished, I place my painting where I pass it frequently during my day. It will tell me if it is done or what it needs.


Upcoming World Blog Hop Participant:


For next week’s post in this  Blog Hop Around the World, I have invited Mary Lemmenes from Jacksonville, Florida, an artist I very much admire. You will understand why after reading this post and visiting Mary's blog. Mary is very adventurous, loves to travel, makes beautiful art, and enjoys writing. In her own words about her blog posts, Mary says, "I know that writing them, editing and polishing them, and choosing appropriate photos has been meaningful for me; writing is a path to discovery, I think--of self and of other things that matter." On her blog you will see her beautiful paintings on silk scarves and in more traditional mediums, and enjoy her stunning photography. Her descriptions of her travels and her art are addictive.

I hope that you will continue to follow this Blog Hop around the World and in the process discover new artists and expand your blogging community!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Rainy Day Paintings

"Fall Rains in the Vineyards"
22" x 15" watercolor
 
"Artists at Work"
11.5" x 5.5" watercolor

Thursday I joined the plein air group at Clos La Chance Winery, a gorgeous winery about 15 miles south of my home. Many paint sites are north of me, so I grab at the chance to go south, away from traffic. Weather predictions were very iffy, with rain predicted for about 1 pm. We had a great turnout of hardy artists.

The vineyards, though past their peak color, were still very beautiful shades of gold, rust, and red backed by colorful mountains with clouds and fog over them. I began the top painting with a watercolor wash. Contrary to my saying I would paint over acrylic, I felt I couldn't prime the paper ahead of time because I was unsure of the colors,  and I did not want to do it in the field. I had laid in the wash and started the painting when it began to rain, three hours ahead of schedule. My painting shows the sprinkles on it. I took refuge under a winery patio umbrella and continued to work the painting. I decided to embrace the pointillist look as part of the atmosphere. I felt a bit like George Seurat painting "Picnic in the Park."

We are all thrilled to have some rain in drought-stricken California, so no one uttered a complaint, just went on painting. At one point I strolled up above my paint site and caught a photo of three of the artists painting with a brush in one hand and an umbrella in the other. They very nicely wore jackets of primary colors -- yellow, blue, and red. I had to paint them. For this little sketch, I selected my panoramic Arches pad, so I could show the colorful landscape.

Three hours of painting was followed by lunch. The winery folks very nicely allowed us to use tables set up for an event inside. The place is like a French Riviera villa, so we enjoyed really fine digs for our picnic lunches. Check out the photos on the paintsites blog and enjoy co-leader Brad's playful description. He is one terrific writer.

I headed home in quite a downpour -- LOVELY!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Revisiting Georgia O'Keefe Country

Georgia O'Keefe Country
14 x 11 Watercolor
Georgia said of the Perdenal, God told her that if she painted it, she would own it. Her ashes were spread on the Perdenal. After our workshop in New Mexico, Joan and I spent a day at Ghost Ranch taking the history tour, visiting the archeological museum, walking the grounds and labyrinth, and having lunch in their dining room. I first visited this area with Bob in 2011 when we spent a week in Santa Fe. View my previous painting of the Perdenal.

Following advice from Gwen Fox and Stephen Quiller, I did an acrylic underpainting of Azo Yellow on the bottom and Pthalo blue on the top. I then developed this painting in watercolor. I love that you can lift color so easily, which is how I developed the cottonwoods and shrubbery on the butte. For example, I lifted back to the Azo Yellow on the cottonwoods and then added color to give them shape. The color looks a bit less harsh in person than in this photo.

I also received a lovely thank you card from Gwen Fox for attending the workshop and spending some extra personal time with her. She took photos of the painting she deemed our best and made a card with our painting, a photo of the workshop attendees, and a personal message. The workshop was about how to market you art. Gwen is very good at marketing!


Gwen's card to me


The class
Friend Joan is third from left in the back row
I am on the right in the front row.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Experimenting with Acrylic Underpaintings



"Rocky Mountains"
10" x 13" Watercolor
During art group Thursday evening, I decided to try using an acrylic underpainting as Gwen Fox suggested. I also saw Stephen Quiller demo this method on Sunday for SCVWS. He toned his paper with cadmium yellow light and medium, then drew his image on top and painted in watercolor. You can see his work midway through the demo. The nice thing is you can easily lift back to the yellow, which he did on the tree trunks and then used a brilliant orange on them.
 

 
Stephen Quiller mid-demo

I had a half-done painting that was not pleasing me, so I gessoed over it. I could still see shadows of shapes underneath. I decided to just go with those shapes and create my own scene using blues, yellows, orange, and green. Though I don't consider this painting highly successful, I can see that I might like to do more mixing of watermedia.
 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

My Fourth and Final Day of the Gwen Fox Workshop

"Happiness"
13 x 14" Acrylic
 
Actually I began this painting on Thursday and completed it on Friday. This one is Gwen's favorite, which is rather pleasing as she is both an abstract and a floral artist. I did not have much to go on, mostly memory of my garden. I find florals fairly easy to paint and I like their shapes. Too bad that there are so many floral painters that it's difficult to be unique.
 
 
My biggest challenge with acrylics is to keep myself and my workspace clean. I know some of it is poor organization, but I hope to figure it out. You should see Bob's old shirt that I wore when painting. I was ready to throw it away, but Joan insisted I keep it as part of my history is on it. I managed to get my sleeve in the deep Pthalo Blue and put a big blob on the bottom petal. Thank goodness it is acrylic so I could paint over it and that is what led to the "design" of the lower part of the painting.
 
 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

My Third Day at the Gwen Fox Workshop

"At Peace"
10" x 12" Acrylic
This piece was actually inspired by a photo of grasses at the University of Vermont with the iconic Camel's Hump mountain in the background. However, it looks totally Southwest to me as I was so influenced by my surroundings in Taos. I like the way I can get some watercolor effects while having the flexibility of adding a different color over the original color. I first painted the mountain in magenta and then went over it with a mixture of magenta and blue, leaving some of the original layer showing through. I also added the greens and gold. The grasses were done with a palette knife, which was very fun and new to me.

Gwen suggested I extend a few grasses above the blue mountain, which I will do when I get at painting again.

Monday, October 27, 2014

My Second Day at the Gwen Fox Workshop

"Taos in Living Color"

 
Gwen said she would be working in acrylic, so I decided to use the medium. I want to get more proficient with them because I want to combine them with collage and do abstracts.
 
Gwen suggested that I paint with acrylic on 300 lb. cold press paper that I first gessoed. I use the three fluid acrylics that Gwen had on the supply list that are quite transparent and make a wide range of colors. I included one tube of Titanium Buff. They were perfect to suggest the typography and colors of Taos.
 
I created a semi-abstract painting depicting  the deep slashing canyon carved by the Rio Grande, the eroded sandstone mountains, the plateaus, and manmade adobe structures.
 


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Gwen Fox Workshop in Taos, NM

"Fall at Smith College"
8" x 10" acrylic and watercolor
I just returned from both a college reunion at the University of Vermont and a wonderful art workshop by Gwen Fox in Taos, NM, with art friend Joan. We do an art related vacation every year, so that two East and West Coasters can get together. This was a Master Class with an emphasis on Marketing and refining our art.

I want to work more with acrylic, which I first learned in a couple private lessons from friend/professional artist/teacher, Joyce Barron Leopard. The first day I made several small paintings of the colorful leaves at Smith College in Massachusetts where we met up with granddaughter Jamie. This piece was my favorite of the bunch, combining an underpainting in acrylic leaving some whites, and doing the image in watercolor over the wash.

One of my favorite design elements is shape, and a slide show of our art that Gwen arranged showed two of my collages, one at the beginning and one at the end of my presentation. That was intentional -- Gwen loves my collages which express a strong sense of design. I will apply my expanding knowledge of acrylic in my collage work. Meanwhile, I developed the common theme of shape in the workshop paintings.

Tomorrow I will show you my painting on the following day in which I expressed the characteristics of the Southwest in a semi-abstract acrylic painting.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Plein Air Painting in Pioneer Park


               
                                                                "Mommy, it's raining."
  
i am a bit behind. About three weeks ago, the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society Paintsites folks brought us together at the Mountain View Library, which is in Pioneer Park. I had to drive about 35 minutes to get there and enroute I actually had to figure out where my windshield wiper controls are located on my car. It hadn't rained more than a few drops for months. The rain had stopped by the time I arrived at the park.

I decided to paint a stately old oak tree and was painting away when a vision appeared on the wet green grass -- three small children playing with their two brightly colored umbrellas. I could just imagine them telling mommy that they needed to use their new umbrellas, even though the rain stopped. I snapped a few photos from very far away and included the little tikes in my painting.
 That means, of course, that they are not ideally positioned and have become the center of interest.  I so wanted them in the painting that I gave myself permission to include them.

I am not happy with the way Blogger works from my IPad. Hope you can view the entire image.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Entry for the 49th Annual SCVWS Membership Show

"Hoping We Get Some Wind"
16" x 23" Watercolordd caption
 
Framed and ready to go


It seems I am never satisfied with my first pass on paintings I want to enter in shows. So I painted this one over. You can read about my inspiration in my earlier post.

You can see that I changed the lighting and the angle of the lighting which I felt made for a stronger design. Of course, I had to imagine it, so I hope I was fairly accurate.  I decided to use 300 lb. Arches Hot Press paper which gives quite a painterly look with it's resistant surface. I used a different approach, not doing an under painting as I did before. I changed the color on the fence and Martin's shirt. I also went for more modeling on the clothing. I had to capture the photo of the framed piece at an angle due to all kinds of reflections on the glass.

The Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society's 49th Membership Show promises to be a good one with slightly over 100 entries. There are 400 people in the society and all are welcome to enter a piece of art. The show is not juried, but it is judged. This year, Robert Semans, a fine oil and pastel painter who happens to teach my Monday morning drawing class, will be the juror who selects the award winners.

Yesterday I spent a wonderful day at the beach with fellow SCVWS artists at the Santa Cruz Paintout. To be precise, we were painting that day in Capitola, a gem of a beach town. I will post once I have completed my 3 pieces, which are almost done.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Monday Morning Drawing Class: A Modern Venus

i
"A Modern Venus"
14" x 16" Pastel
 
My friend Susan and I have been wanting some life drawing experience. Of course, drawing the human body is a traditional exercise for artists through the ages. Our  class location within an art store precludes having a nude model. We paid our instructor for some private lessons with a model at his studio. We discovered, of course, that we have much to learn. We arranged for monthly sessions with Bob and a wonderful model who does a lot of work for San Jose State University's highly respected art department..
 
Meanwhile, instructor Bob Semans purchased two small clay figures, one male and one female, from an art supply company. These he can bring to our class. A few weeks ago I attempted the male figure. My drawing was fine, but not so much the shading, and I took so much time drawing that I got about half the pastel work done.
 
This week, I did the female figure with much more success, according to Bob. I am still internalizing what happens to the body when weight shifts. Bob always says draw from the inside out. So find the midline and build from there. Note the position of features in relationship to others. For example, from my point of view, the inner tops of the legs were below her right side of the neck. Her right hip fell just inside the outer edge of her right arm. The outermost point of her left hip is below the outermost point of her shoulder. Her naval is more to the right of the vertical halfway point. Bob calls this the science, not the art, of drawing. He enjoys teaching it and it is the key to success.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Painting My Muse

"Hoping for Some Wind"
15" x 24" Watercolor
Bob is ever a source of inspiration. His playful approach to life is very endearing. Yearly we attend a friend's birthday celebration at the San Jose Giants minor league ball game in the VIP booth. Bob worked with Martin in his software days. A bear was their mascot and they purchased these pinwheel topped beanie caps because the pinwheel was supported by a bear. Over the years Martin had to replace the attachment and Bob had to buy a whole new hat, thus the difference in the pinwheel. Bob is the man on the right.They faithfully show up at the game wearing their beanies, and certainly stand out among the fans who mainly sport San Jose or San Francisco Giants hats. I shot a photo late day with the sun creating a backlit rim of light on their right sides. 

Friend Penny, a fellow artist, suggested the title of the painting.  I am still trying to decide if this will be the piece I enter in the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society's Annual Members Show. I have to make a decision by Friday.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Room with a View: "Rocky Mountain High"



"Rocky Mountain High"
7" x 5" Ink and Watercolor Sketch.
 
This little sketch was done on our first morning in Boulder, CO, at the venerable 100-year-old Boulderado Hotel next to the Pearl Street Mall. From my window I could view the "Flat Irons" of the Front Range of the Rockies. Gorgeous tilted rocks thrust into the air, inspiring the name. I drew with a micron pen, painted, then added some additional line, especiall in the rocky areas, using the Elegant Writer Pen. This EW pen is not waterproof, but I did not care as I applied it to dry paper. I've also seen some marvelous work where the artist allowed the ink to run.

Tis a very exciting time with Bob's youngest daughter getting married on Sunday. The grooms parents from the East Coast hosted a family get together, so East could meet West. We had the pleasure of meeting the future in-laws a few years ago in NYC, so it was fun to see them again.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Monday Morning Drawing Class: Another Plastic Bag


"Plastic Bag and Fruit II"
16" x 14" Pastel

This was my most satisfying pastel to date. I did the whole thing with just one mid-drawing suggestion from instructor Bob Semans. When he did the final critique, he told me that this was my best pastel to date. The challenges for me are making the bag appear translucent, creating the fruit so the viewer can determine which pieces are inside the bag, and pushing my values.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Fun with Google Bicycles


"Searching for My Ride"
10" x 12" Watercolor

I have been very remiss at doing blogger lately. With a mini vacation in Mendocino and many life activities, I've had little time for art or my blog. I did manage a couple things and I am working on a large piece.

This painting was inspired by some photos I took when son Jason was here in April. We visited many high tech hot spots, including the Google campus in Mountain View. Google has a entire fleet of brightly colored bicycles, including a large conference bike that six people can pedal while meeting. If you drive past during the lunch hour, the employees go flying by on one of these bicycles. They are used throughout the day, though. The colors are, of course, the Google palette.

When I designed the picture, it was a half sheet. I was not happy with the design, but I really liked this part, which was actually the heart of the painting. I cropped it and may do a larger piece one of these days.