Friday, October 29, 2010

Driving the RioGrande in New Mexico

"Driving the Rio Grande"
South of Taos, NM
Bob's Photo from the Car

Yesterday we did the Taos loop from Sante Fe. On the way to Taos, we traveled on the High Road through snow-capped mountains and the colorful trees. I will likely paint at least one of those scenes later. We stopped at a great, funky little cafe in an old theater, Sugar Nymphs Bistro, and they delivered on their promise -- fresh pies, cobbler, and cookies arrived on top of the counter while we dined on very fine Southwestern cuisine. Bob could not resist the chocolate, maple pecan pie with ice cream. I had to have a couple bites and it was yummy.

We drove the River Road along the Rio Grande where we were treated to brilliant fall colors against muted grey sages and sparse flora on rugged mountains. This morning between breakfast and a Georgia O,Keefe landscape tour, I referenced Bob,s photo taken from the car at a dirt pullout to paint this scene using my tiny Koi pan paints and water brush.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday Pomegranate and Plums

"Pomegranate and Plums"
13" x 16"

We did a still life today using fresh fruit and a pretty, small white porcelain bowl. Bob set the table in the middle of us to have more room, but that meant that the setup was less than ideal. The plum was right next to the bowl so I artistically moved it over in my drawing. I eliminated the second pomegranate that just stuck up behind the bowl. Bob stated midway through that he now realized the bowl was rather small for the size of the pomegranate. I struggled with getting the right color and value for the background. As always, this is partially done as there just isn't time to do a completed piece on a Monday morning.

Tomorrow our group is going on a field trip to the De Young Museum in San Francisco to see "Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cezanne, and Beyond, Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the Musee D'Orsay." This is very exciting. We saw the Pre-Impressionist Masterpieces, which included Whistler's Mother among the famous works of arts loaned during a remodel of the D'Orsay. That trip was in early June. Our wonderful artist, Bob Semans, gave us commentary about the works. We get to bring guests if we like, so my Bob is going with us this time.

Then we install the house sitter and visit Santa Fe and Georgia O'Keefe country for 6 days.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Playful Poppies and an Art Show Report

"Dancing Poppies"
11" x 14"
Watercolor and Collage
***See addendum***

This past week I decided to experiment with my favorite California wild flowers, Poppies. However, I was not happy with the intermediate stage and got bogged down. So I thought about Gerald Brommer and collage and decided to cut out some of the Poppies and tear up parts of the half-done background. I arranged the pieces on 300 lb. Arches watercolor paper until I found a harmonious arrangement. I used gel mat medium to glue the pieces to the backing. I need to let this one simmer a while to decide if I want to do any more to this piece.

The Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society Members Show hosted the reception at Rose Shenson Gallery at the Triton Museum in Santa Clara on Sunday. As we left church that day, the skies opened up with the first real rain of the season. I don't believe we've had rain since May. The reception is always outside the gallery, so I wondered how Janice Faulstich and her helpers would pull this one off. They did so beautifully and we had a huge crowd attending. They used portable covers over the deck of the gallery where the food was layed out and over the rows of seats set up for the awards ceremony. I really could not get a good look at the show with so many people and must return. Award winners included friends Myrna Wacknov (second place) and Jeanne de Campos-Rousseau (sponsors award). Jeanne is my fellow exhibitor in Santa Cruz. At the moment our SCVWS website has not yet posted the winners.

An invitation via Facebook resulted in a fortuitous intersection between my bicycle riding life and my art life. One of the women in my bike club replied that she would be leading a ride in the area and they would stop by. Sure enough, when I arrived a bit after the start of the reception, there were my cycling guests with mud trailing up the back of their day-glo green jackets. These hardy souls rode in the rain and made good on Joanne's promise. They enjoyed the art, used the facilities, skipped the buffet line, and went on their way. They made my day!

Addendum: Originally I titled this work "Playful Poppies," but Kathy Cartwright, a superb artist, said they were dancing. I loved the description so much, I've retitled the work. Check out Kathy's wonderful blog and her website.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Drapery Folds Modelled in Pastel and Jamie's Art

11" x 14"

Bob Semans originally planned to demo modelling a crumpled paper bag. Not sure if he took pity on us or just preferred to do draped linen, but that's what he did. He set up the drapery over a table edge under warm light. The most difficult places to model are parts of the folds is in the half light. Getting the piece to read correctly so there is perception of roundness is a bit of a trick. We combined a warm, 0ff-white pastel with charcoal. We had about an hour and half to work on our piece after Bob's demo. I enjoyed the challenge and need to develop my skills further. I had to look closely for small variations in light and shadow. I was referencing a nice value scale that Bob made up for us. As always, I could spend many more hours completing this piece.

Mondays are pleasant. After 30 years of Mondays in high tech, I savor my drawing class. I combined bicycle and light rail to cover the 32-mile round trip. I stopped at MacDonalds for a senior coffee, and went to lunch after class with Bob and several other students at Race Street Fish and Poultry where I enjoyed the Ahi Tuna. Light rail and a downtown MacDonalds keeps me anchored in the realities of life with people from many cultures and socio-economic backgrounds. It's good to be reminded that even my diverse neighborhood is not representative of the realities of the USA and San Jose in 2010 with a faltering economy.

On a wonderful lighter note, I came across a partially done collage by my granddaughter, Jamie, 16, while visiting my son's family in Vermont. Her mom explained that when they were getting their dog, Bailey, from the pound, Jamie was lobbying for a border collie, which sweet mutt Bailey is not. So one night she sat down with paper and scissors and began this piece. I just love how creative she is. When she finds out I snapped a picture of this piece, she will say, "oh, that! I was just having fun." Jamie's teacher is taking her and her portfolio to Boston for a review done by representatives from the top USA creative art schools.

"Border Collie"
Partially complete collage
Granddaughter Jamie

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Delayed Monday Morning Drawing Class Report

"Peach and Plums"
11 x 14"

With hanging shows and then needing to catch my breath, I did not post my Monday morning class drawing. I like the results of my work on the fruit. The plum on the right was a rich deep color and the one on the left was a bit more reddish and translucent. I like the dark core shadow on the peach. The cloth, though, doesn't suit me, at least not yet. It was a white linen cloth and instructor Bob Semans created lots of folds. Part of it drapes over the edge of the table into shadow. We all struggled with rendering folds, so next week Bob will bring a paper bag that he will crumple, and he will demo his approach.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Shows are Hung

Les Trois Artists
Vino Prima Wine Bar
Santa Cruz Wharf
October 11 through December 5
Reception November 20, 2 - 6 p.m.

Yesterday after Monday morning drawing class, Bob and I drove to Santa Cruz to hang the show on the Santa Cruz Wharf. There are three artists showing: Jeanne de Campos-Rousseau, Diana Henrichsen, and I. One small wall bears the title of the show and one painting each. Mine is "Big Night Out" on the upper right.

Because the area has many windows and we were experiencing a picture perfect warm fall day on the coast, the paintings under glass have a lot of reflections in these photos. Diana is showing "Watercolors of California, en Plein Air," a very lovely collection of her works showcasing the beauty of the area in which we live.

Diana Henrichsen

Jeanne's work honors "First People of America."

My work celebrates "Moments in Time" with works featuring people, landscapes, and still lifes.

On Saturday, I worked the take in duties at the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society members' show. I saw some absolutely wonderful art coming in, so it's a show well worth seeing.

It felt funny this afternoon to slow down for a moment after working very hard to prepare for the shows, along with many other commitments since we returned from back East. Now, I need to get organized and refocused.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

SCVWS Members Show

"Memories of Norway
13" x 18"

Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society has a Members Show each Fall. There is no juried process to get in, though there is a juror for cash and sponsor awards. I had to file my entry form before I left for the East Coast, so I finally decided to enter my fantasy Norway piece for Alternate Realities." I had created a quarter sheet painting shown and discussed in this post. I knew it was successful when my critique group found nothing to suggest for improvements and really liked the piece. They are a very honest and helpful group of artists that I meet with once a month. However, I wanted a slightly larger piece for the show. In the process I changed the design a bit, and I am happy with this second iteration. As always, I am not great at photographing my work, so this looks a bit askew and it is really straight and true.

The earlier post has the explanation about the inspiration and process, so you might like to read that. Basically I loved the photos I took in the Viking Museum on Bydoy Island in Oslo, Norway in June. I also did a happy painting of the Sognefjord where we stayed in the tiny town of Balestrand. I used the fjord as a backdrop to the ship sailing. The Oseberg ship was a burial ship built in 800 AD. The carvings that embellish this painting were on a wagon found inside the ship. I love the animal symbols and the use of incised line. The Norse people were, and remain, great ship buildings, carvers, and sailors.

This painting is done with a complementary scheme of three colors -- Cerulean Blue, Ultramarine Blue and a Yellow Orange -- and a bit of Ultramarine Violet. I spent two days on design work and then began painting the frame first. It was night and my light source was poor, so in the morning I realized I had not replicated the deepest color. I then experimented and found that with my Quiller palette, I had taken advantage of the exact complements to grey out the Ultramarine Blue with a touch of the yellow orange. Yesterday I painted over the background again and I like the opaque quality I achieved. It sets off the Cerulean Blue and Yellow Orange pure hues.

In this painting I softened and diffused the background and really emphasized the Viking ship. I took the advice of a very successful local artist, Terri Hill, who wrote about using opposites for emphasis, such as hard against soft. Terri is a member of the society, as is Myrna Wacknov and Mike Bailey, and many other fine artists with great reputations, so I am a small fish in a big pond, and feel very lucky to learn from these artists and associate with them. It was Mike who helped me see that some of my strength comes from the family engineering gene and I like the shape and line elements.

I hope if you live in the area you will take advantage of the opportunity to see a collection of very nice work. The show is in the Rose Shenson Gallery on the grounds of the Triton Museum in Santa Clara. We will have a reception and all are invited.

Rose Shenson Gallery
Triton Museum
1505 Warburton, Avenue
Santa Clara, CA

Visit the show:
October 16 - November 13
Tuesday - Sunday, 11 - 5

Come to the reception:
Sunday, October 17
1 to 4 pm.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Monday Pastel and Joan's Chili Peppers from the Coast

"Copper Bowl with Gourds"
Partially completed pastel
20" x 14"

"Coastal Chili Peppers"
Rockport, MA
by Joan Kendall

I returned to Monday morning drawing class with instructor Bob Semans. I just love this class. I've done this copper bowl before, it's old and tarnished and the black shows up beautifully in the shadow when Bob puts a spotlight on the still life. The gourds provide a nice contrast and say "Fall" on the first day that we've had really cool fall weather. The challenge here is drawing the ellipsis shape of the bowl as it's tilted away and slightly sideways. Bob has us start by drawing two lines from the widest points that cross at a 90 degree angle at the center. In this case the vertical line was slanted about 30 degrees. Because the bowl is tilted the ellipsis is wider than it is long Very challenging.

The other challenge is to get the values correct. Bob always says that if your painting does not look right, it's almost always a drawing problem, and often its incorrect values. I was too timid at the start and Bob came over and really ground the charcoal into the right shadow. The final challenge for me, especially in a realistic pastel, is to separate value and color and select a stick that has strong enough chroma. Bob had to guide me a bit on the gourd in the bowl where I did not have enough yellow-gold. A great morning spent among like-minded artist friends. As I am painting for two shows right now, it may take me while to get back to this pastel. I was delighted to learn that one of my classmates sold one of her still life pastels through a shop in Los Gatos, a very tony nearby town. She said it was one of the colander and onions, which I also did here.

The second painting was done in oils by my friend Joan Kendall as a result of our wonderful week's art vacation at "the barn" (a family cottage) on the North Shore of Boston at Rockport. In an earlier post I showed the front of the cottage in a watercolor sketch. The window boxes were nicely planted by the landscape architect owner of the cottage. We were delighted to find hot little chili peppers tucked in among the flowers. Joan's son came from RI for a day with us and took a closeup photo of them. We marveled at their colorful, waxy beauty. Joan has done such a beautiful job of capturing these lovely agricultural gems.

Friday, October 1, 2010

More art from the North Shore of Boston

"Rockport Headlands"
14" x 11"

"Sunrise on the Headlands"
Rockport, MA
by Joan Kendall

On a very windy, sunny September morning in Rockport, MA, my artist friend Joan Kendall and I walked down our small Cove Hill Lane and clambered over the rocky headland to find a sheltered place to paint. We huddled behind a large rock looking down on the impressive headlands. I had just had time to sketch the rocks onto my watercolor block when the wind shifted and we were too uncomfortable to continue. Later in the day, we painted indoors at "the barn" (our rental cottage's loving family name). I used granulating paints -- ultramarine blue, burnt sienna, and raw sienna, with some diazanon purple and alizarin crimson thrown in for variation -- to achieve the light patterns on the rocks. Last night with my Thursday night Southside Art Club, I added the roiling water. I'm going to study this one a few more days and may add more color into the water.

Our final evening in Rockport, we walked again on the headlands and watched a beautiful sunset. Both Joan and I took many pictures for future reference. Joan's oil painting is a combination of memory of past sunrises, artistic license, and love of the sea. She captured that moment early in the day when the rocks are very dark, the sky has a faint smudge of red-orange, and the water is a mixture of opaque and translucent passages. I just love this little piece.