Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Another Vermont winter scene

"Silent World"
North Danville, VT
14" x 20" Watercolor

Last week son Jeff put some photos on Facebook of Bailey tagging along with Beth as they went cross country skiing on new-fallen snow in their small rural Vermont town. They exit their kitchen door and ski up the hills -- no flat lands here.

The quiet scenes bring back memories of growing up in Barre, VT, and skiing on the hillside across the road from our home. In later years, Mom took the younger of her seven children to Mount Mansfield ski resort, but we older children had rubber boots, cheap skis held on with straps, and lots of fun for no admission. We would ski every day after school. I can see the row of skis lined up against the house next to the back door where we left them to have "supper" (a Vermont term for the evening meal).

In this piece I hoped to evoke the feeling of a crisp sunny day. It's obviously mid-afternoon as the shadows are getting longer. The mountains in the distance recede against a clear cobalt sky. The world is silent except for shushing of skis and deep breathing of people climbing hills. Bailey follows along, quietly sinking her paws into the snow. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Quiet Scene

January on McReynolds Road
14" x 20" Watercolor

My son Jeff has been sharing pictures of his village, North Danville, VT. I know the area intimately as I walk the dirt roads every morning during visits to his family. There are five dirt roads, all steep hills, that take off from Bruce Badger Memorial Highway that is the main road through the village. The main part of town is 12 houses and a church. The hills are dotted with farms and homes. I always ask permission to paint from photos of others, so I don't violate copyrights. Jeff tells me he is honored. I started this piece Wednesday evening and it was one that painted itself. I did the sky and mountains very wet and let them run together. The remainder was wet onto dry. I added the finishing touches in the morning. I enjoyed mixing the gray tones in the lower left corner on the paper.

I love the shape element and simplicity. This is both. The only real addition to the scene are the weeds in the foreground which was a huge white field in the photo. The critique group yesterday gave me a thumbs up on the piece and made one suggestion to soften the diagonal line of weeds on the left and right edges. I may yet, but I am reluctant to touch the piece, which I have already finished in a nice wood frame, and I fear disturbing the freshness.

Below are my smallest framed pieces for the show, done on 7" x 10" Arches watercolor block, and framed in 11" x 14" metal frames. The top four are parts of my Room with a View series from my travels using a tiny Koi pan paint set. The left bottom piece was from another Jeff photo. The bottom right piece was en plein air with the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society paint sites group. We roam the Santa Clara Valley, painting, hiking, and sketching.

From left to right, top to bottom, 
"The Launderette," Aeroskubing, Denmark,
"Down the Hill," Pacific Grove, CA; 
"The Cathedral," Tallin, Estonia; 

"Fall Colors in San Jose" is featured near the bottom of the paint sites page of the society. I just discovered that the other day. I know that it simply means the plein air chairs are happy to have the leader among their faithful plein air painters. Of our 400+ members, their group numbers over 60, and on a given day, there are usually 8 to 20 artists painting on location.

I'm now up to 44 pieces for the show, a few of which remain to be framed. A few additional pieces still exist in my mind and may yet get painted!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Painting Complete and A Whole Lot of Framing Going On

"I am Africa"
Senegal, Africa
14" x 20"

Framed "Sunset in North Danville, VT and
Winter in the Garden

Framed "Ochre Quarry at Rest," Provence
"Fall on Tampico Road," Vermont

Framed "Lover's Point Sentinel," Pacific Grove,
"Olive Trees at the Winery," Morgan Hill, and
"Sunny Nook," Ardenwood Farms, Fremont

First I am showing you the finished piece, "I am Africa." You saw my preliminary piece here.  I decided to add some modern touches with the red stamping on the upper left.  Though I like the piece, I have decided to hang a different painting more characteristic of my art in the "Red or Read" exhibit.  I will be showing "Rockport Headlands." I will include the Africa portrait in my personal shows.

Bob and I will be hanging my show, "Art and Place," at The Forum on February 15 with a reception on the 17th for the Forum community, so Bob is cutting mats and I am framing my work. The gallery at the Forum is huge, so I have selected over 40 pieces, most of which have never been shown, so lots of work to prepare them. I generally stockpile wood frames when they go on sale, but they do take a lot of storage space. No matter that we have lots of space, we prefer a more open look. So this time I bought Nielson sectional frames from Cheap Joe's and plexiglass from Tap Plastics. I am liking these frames a lot. I've gotten pretty handy with my power drill and screwdriver that Bob bought for my very own last year.  I so appreciate the considerable amount of time Bob devotes to the matting and helping with shows.

The is the first time I've had a solo show so it will be awesome to see it hung in a lovely space. For the most part, the pieces are on this blog as I've as I have use my blog to chronicle my art adventures, and I show you my victories and defeats. It's been a great way for me to catalogue what works and what doesn'tEach painting has special meaning to me -- a place I've been inspires the landscape, people, or architecture that I paint. Even my more experimental pieces reflect my personal sense of place.  Hence, the name of the show. 

The show at the Forum closes on March 20. I will move the show to my home "gallery" late in March and will host an Art Open House for friends, family, and collectors on April 28 and 29. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Last Thursday's SCVWS Plein Air

 "Mystical Waters"
Rosicrucian Museum, San Jose, CA
13" x 19" watermedia

The weather predictions were not good -- rain by noon or shortly after. About ten of us hardy souls decided to brave the elements, art as an Extreme Sport. If you look closely at Sylvia who grew up in cool and wet England, you will see that she is wearing her long wool coat and hand-knit cap.  Fortunately, the rain held off til almost 1 pm as we arrived at the Triton Museum to view their exhibition.

The Museum has the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in the Western United States and has beautiful buildings and grounds. They are truly much more picturesque during the warmer parts of the year. Though the scene looks very peaceful, we were surrounded most of the time by about 200 schoolchildren. This is a popular destination for educational groups. They were running, yelling, laughing, and watching - being kids and having lots of fun. Some were in town from Sacramento on an overnight visit.

 I decided to do a fairly large and ambitious piece of the side of the museum where there is a lovely courtyard and fountain. What was I thinking?! (Well, needing more pieces for my Forum show came to mind.) I soon had to discard my new warm gloves with the lower fingers cropped because they were shedding bits of yarn onto the painting. After about an hour and a half, I was so chilled that I packed up my things and walked to Starbucks to buy hot coffee and a sandwich, having forgotten my picnic lunch. We munched and chatted next to the museum and admired the nice work everyone did. Others chose to do smaller sketches and they were lovely. My piece was half completed.

Thursday night I met with my South Side Art Club members and continued to work on this piece. I still had about an hour's worth of work to do today to bring this to completion. I hadn't planned well for the water flowing from various parts of the fountain, and considered just lifting some paint. I discarded that notion and grabbed some gesso to add those details. Thus my watercolor piece became a watermedia piece.

What attracted me to this view? The architecture of the white building, and the repetition of shapes, especially the Ankh on the building mirrored in the woman on top of the fountain. I like the layers of the building and the way the shapes overlap. I was woefully ignorant about the ankh, so I looked it up. The ankh is also known as the key of life, the key of the Nile, or crux ansata and was the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic character that read "eternal life." (Wikipedia) I was pleased that I managed to  bring out the layers of the  building while continuing to have it read as off-white.

Next we headed to the Triton Museum in Santa Clara, a few miles away. They were displaying their 2011 Statewide Painting Competition/Exhibition that includes all mediums. A half a dozen of our members had pieces selected and Nina Uppaluru in my critique group received an honorable mention. Do check out her beautiful art.

SCVWS plein air blog will soon have post for this outing.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Report on the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society Holiday Party

 Community Painting 1 -- "Circles"
20" x 30" Watercolor
Photo by Jane Ferguson

Community Painting 2 -- "Rectangles"
20" x 30" Watercolor

Artists at work
Brad Santos oversees as Lena Bogart adds her rectangle;
Cleo Couch adds his circle, 
Photo by Jane Ferguson

Time to report on the wonderful Holiday Party last Sunday. We had a beautiful time with lovely appetizers, wine, and Italian sodas followed by a potluck. There were over 100 people attending, including some guests of members. This year the sketch books from plein air drew lots of attention, probably due to better presentation on a long table. We also had plein air artworks displayed. A number of people opted for the painting exchange, and they went home with some lovely art for their collections. Our Hospitality Chair, Janice Faulstich, created a game that really got the group talking with people they didn't know.

I was so busy being the MC that I didn't even take any photos. Luckily there were a few posted on our SCVWS Facebook page. The biggest change to a very long tradition was the way we did joint paintings. In the past, there were two easels set up and people applied their mark. Two experienced artists pulled together the final product. These two "Progressive" paintings become part of our raffle to raise money for a charity art program for disadvantaged youth. Some people always complained that what they had painted got covered over. So we decided instead to do what Jane Ferguson titled a "community painting." Two full sheets were prepared, one with circles and one with rectangles. Throughout the party artists gathered and painted their circle and rectangle as people gathered round. Next year we want to make sure that everyone signs their masterpieces.

Aren't the results awesome? I actually have in Rectangles in my possession at the moment until I deliver it at my next critique group to the winner. People familiar with the work of Myrna Wacknov  will enjoy her self-portrait on Rectangles, in the fifth row, fifth from left. We are very excited about our new approach.

The raffle was a huge success -- we raised more money than ever before raffling original art by three celebrity artist members (Chris Beck, Ron Andrews, and Ferenc Bezse, our community paintings, and a free workshop of choice (a value up to $900 depending on the one selected). That last prize was a new decision by the Board and really pumped up sales of tickets.

As society pages used to say, "A good time was had by all"!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society Holiday Party

Plein air paintings ready for display at the SCVWS Holiday Party

I am getting ready for the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society Holiday Party today, a great event. As leader I will make some remarks. We expect over 100 of our 400+ members. I prepared some plein air work for display and will bring my little travel sketch book. I selected three pieces to display from the Castillo Winery in Morgan Hill, the Casa Grande in New Almaden, and the Carmel Paintout foggy morning. I had to improvise because my professional mat cutter (Bob) is under the weather. I used some existing mats and unframed a few older pieces as my frames on order had not yet arrived. I like the interesting pattern formed on my entry wall with shadows cast through the pleated sliding door covers. That little patch of light on the floor isn't bad either. 

The party features many activities and wonderful food, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages. We will be raffling original paintings by some of our very generous celebrity artists, Chris Beck, Ferenc Bescze, and Ron Andrews. Check out their work. We will have a painting exchange, a progressive painting project, and will also give away one of our workshops. This is one of the many free perks of joining SCVWS for a mere $30 annual fee. Here is a link to our latest newsletter.

Unfortunately, Bob won't be able to join the fun. I look forward to seeing many artist friends and making some new ones.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Another Experiment

Soccer Player, Senegal, Africa
14" x 18" on Tyvek

This past summer, my teenage granddaughter spent a month in Senegal teaching English to young school children and coaching boys soccer. As Jamie says, "Girls do not play soccer in Senegal" (except for her, of course).  Jamie lives in a small town in Northeastern Vermont, so this was a growth experience for her. She wanted to volunteer where the primary language is French. She learned a lot where she lived with an upper class family with electrical power just certain hours of the day, dinner was 11 p.m. when the day temperatures cooled,  and she became good friends with the maid while washing her limited modest wardrobe in the backyard by hand. The deal was that Jamie would raise the money for the trip.

Jamie took some fabulous photos and one of them was of a young man. He looked like teens everywhere, and I found that so interesting. I need a good title to suggest that similarity and I am drawing a blank. I also would love to use "red" in the title, because this is a piece I am considering entering in the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society "Red or Read" exhibit. (You know I have also worked on another.) If you have any thoughts, let me know.

In 2010, I took a portrait class from Myrna Wacknov who does very experimental work. If you haven't seen her blog, do check it out. In fact, she is currently featured in "Watercolor Artist Magazine" and the April issue that comes out in March will carry her article on creativity.  One day we painted on Tyvek, a material often used for packaging and graphics and very resistant to watercolor. It's just filled with wonderful fibers so you are guaranteed great texture. As she recommended, I used Dr. Ph Martin's liquid watercolors. I want to paint this one again, because I see some things I want to do differently (more light on the lit side of his face, more variation of color in his skin, better drawing, to name a few.There is also one fiber bisecting his chin that won't take the paint.)  I hadn't painted on the surface for over a year, so I was working at getting the hang of it again.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Downtown San Jose

"High Tech Low Tech"
San Jose, CA
18" x 24" Watercolor

I'm continuing to fill those large frames for my show.  Back in March 2010, Bob and I took our bikes on light rail and went to downtown San Jose. This scene is on San Fernando Street at the corner of Delmas Avenue. There is an old neighborhood market backed by the modern high rises. Adobe Software, creator of  the ever popular PDF formatter, is just down the street.The juxtaposition of the old market that sells beer and groceries and offers money wire transfers with one of our many Silicon Valley technology companies offers a visual statement about our past and our future. They coexist. Surrounding the market are some streets with charming small  homes built in the 20s and 30s. Bob did his photographic art while I sat on a bench in a tiny park and painted this scene with my little Koi travel kit.

You can check out my original entry and the 7" x 9" sketch I did. You will note that I changed the direction of the sun for this painting from what was naturally occurring. I wanted to bring the light into the center of interest, the front of the market. However, I find the original small sketch to be very fresh and fun, as sketches are when I quickly capture the scene in just 20 or 30 minutes.

Friday, January 6, 2012

First Painting in 2012

"Sunset in North Danville, Vermont"
Watercolor, 21" x 29"

Finally I've emerged from the busy holidays that included our annual New Year's Day Open House where we host about 100 people from our dancing, church, bicycling, art, music, neighborhood, and friends. I immediately came down with my annual respiratory thing that always hits about this time of year. So I've been pretty under the weather.

I managed to get started with frame inventory and art selection for my upcoming show at The Forum at Rancho San Antonio, a lovely upscale retirement community. That takes place mid-February. I've ordered some frames and have my art lined up for "Art and Place." Each piece has special meaning to me -- a place, the people, the landscape, and the architecture. I sketch and paint wherever I go and use the sketches and my photos to create larger pieces in my studio.

Today I decided to tackle a full sheet painting after realizing I have a couple very large frames I could put to good use. My son Jeff posted a photo he took one evening in North Danville, VT, a few months ago. I knew immediately that I would like to paint the scene where I have spent many happy times visiting family, and I have done numerous paintings of this rural town of 12 houses and a church. Jeff is kind enough to let me paint from his photos.  I like the angle of perspective, and the power lines and pole. 

I got out my Stephen Quiller pallette which is all set up for landscape painting with perfect complements that make wonderful grays.  There would be almost no pure color in this piece. I clipped a full sheet of Arches 140 lb. cold press to a support and wet the entire sheet except the streetlight. Then I used Ultramarine with some Permanent Orange, Quinacridone Rose, and some New Gamboge to get a variety of grays. I went over the whole sheet with the basic colors and then went back to enhance them as needed on the house, power pole, and landscape. I added the power lines and the street light, and made some adjustments of values. I will need to leave this a bit and go back and study it occasionally to see if there is anything else needed.

Happy New Year, everyone!