Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Finally -- Time to Paint

"The Travelers"
12" x 14" Watercolor

In New York City we saw a large flight crew for Singapore Airlines. The women were so elegant in their beautiful traditional uniforms. I removed them from the lobby of my hotel to a more abstracted background. The woman in red really stood out, and that is the way I wanted to paint her. Therefore I placed the two women in blue in shadow. I also wanted their traveling obvious, thus I added the "NYC."  I was also mindful of a statement made by portrait artist Ted Nuttal that one must use care with multiple figures so they don't seem to slide off opposite sides of the page. I used a wall to the right of the central figure to anchor her in the picture and a baseboard to connect the figures.

I am experimenting with an idea for a new painting to place in a Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society Exhibit at the Los Altos Library in February, called "Red or Read." Artists can paint something with a red dominance or a reading theme and place a 30-word quote with it. Should I decide to use this painting, my quote is from St. Augustine. "The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page."  I already have a framed painting I did a year ago as backup if I decide not to continue with this piece.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Room with A View: Christmas at Big Sur, 2011

"Christmas at Big Sur, 2011"
6" x 4" watercolor sketch
 The Nepenthe Restaurant has a fabulous view of "Big Sur with it's awesome scenery

 Enjoying beautiful weather on the deck of the Nepenthe Restaurant
Christmas morning 2011

With family scattered, we often celebrate Christmas in Big Sur, staying at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park in the Big Sur Lodge. This year we had lunch in Monterey and continued on to Big Sur the day before Christmas. Christmas Day we always have lunch at the famous Nepenthe Restaurant. Check out the view from their Weather cam in the upper right. This area is very remote and I always feel a special connection with nature. We got to rest, read, enjoy picture-perfect weather, and ride our folding bikes.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Another still life at Monday Drawing class

"Christmas Lemons"
14" x 12" Pastel

Our instructor was not well today, so Rea brought a still life and we did our best to carry on. The still life used holiday colors and her lemons. Here the lemon trees seem to be very happy in December, even with a mild frost. About two thirds of the way through the session, we all put our pieces up and critiqued our work. That's when I discovered that the bowl of the colander was too deep, so I adjusted it a bit. It's amazing how important it is to step back occasionally.  We will be off for a few weeks and then resume in 2012. We plan to bring our work for Bob's critique on the first meeting of the new year.

Last Wednesday, my critique group met for its final session. We had a lovely potluck and were reminded how much we enjoy meeting to help each other strengthen our work. Becoming friends with a large group of really good artists is one of the benefits of being in the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society. Artists from this critique group have won a number of awards and participate in galleries. I am learning so much from seeing the art and hearing the helpful comments of the other artists. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Monday morning drawing class: It's the beer

"It's the Beer"
14" x 12" Pastel

Finally I made it back to drawing class after missing several Mondays for travel and meetings. We did a still life setup with a German beer stein and a fresh persimmon. The stein was challenging, full of ellipses and decorated with a lively scene. I felt pretty good that Bob didn't say, "Let me sit down a minute....," a sure signal that I need help. I began  with size, shape and placement, Bob's mantra. I carefully measured using my dowel stick.  I began by applying the background colors so I would have a reference. Next I did the darkest darks on the stein. I saved the persimmon for last. I found the drawing challenging and half the three-hour class time elapsed before I started selecting my pastels. It felt good to be "back in the saddle again." One more class scheduled this year, then a two-week vacation over the holidays,

Here is my favorite model dressed in his Anderson Clan formal attire for a holiday party, backed by my art. I will add that similar to the animal kingdom, I was much less fancy than my partner in my mundane red holiday dress.

Model Bob dressed in his formal Anderson kilt

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Room with a View: New York City for my Birthday

"A Room with a View: Morning on 47th Street"
6" x 9 " Watercolor Sketch
New York City, NY

New York City glows with Christmas lights on my birthday

Bob and I at Radio City Music Hall for the Rockettes Christmas Show

Bob planned a whirlwind long weekend trip to New York City for my birthday. I must say he is a most competent travel planner and outdid himself with his generosity. While there we stayed at the Lexington Radisson on the corner of 48th and Lexington, just a few blocks from Grand Central Station. Of course, I had to add to my "Room with a View" sketch series. Our room was on the 19th floor overlooking 47th Street. I was intrigued by the angles of the heating and air conditioning system backed by a small patio with some flowers (artificial perhaps) and sky scrapers. I took my usual art bag with tiny sketch pad, pens and pencils, Koi pan paints with water brush, and a bound Moleskein watercolor journal.

While there we had family time with one of my sons from Vermont, Bob's daughter Deborah and boyfriend Ryan living and working as lawyers in the city, and Ryan's parents who live in New Jersey. My special gift was seeing the Broadway play, "The Book of Mormon." It is hilarious and irreverent, with great musical numbers. I was certain I would be struck dead on the spot because I enjoyed it. The play won many Tony awards and is authored by the South Park guys. Need I say more?

We also got tickets to the Rockettes on Monday morning. They've been doing a Christmas show for 79 years and they have updated it with the times. There were many wonderful effects, including lots of views of New York lit up for the season. There were many children in attendance and they loved the show.

New York City is magical during the holiday season. I've been there the other three seasons, but not winter. We marveled at the tree in Rockefeller Plaza and decorations on the high end shops. We did lots of walking and in some places, the crowds were so thick that it was difficult to get through. People were kind and I was offered seats on the subway by two different young people (I think this might indicate that I look like a senior!).

We took the red eye home on Jet Blue. San Jose is the tenth largest city in the country, but our busy airport has very few direct flights to the East Coast. There are more from San Francisco and Oakland, but Bob and I like to take public transit to our airport, which is much closer. Jet Blue is our favorite run from the "left" to the "right" coast where we have a lot of family.