Thursday, May 31, 2012

Another Room with a View: Up the Other Hill in Quebec City

"Up the other Hill in Quebec City"
From Hotel des Coutellier 
7" x 5" Ink and watercolor in the sketch book

Here is my second view from our room. Lovely rich colors and shapes reminiscent of France are elements of Quebec City. This hill also leads to the walled city.  Yesterday we visited the Musee de la Cilvilisation to learn about the tumultuous history of a French region under British control. Excellent exhibits took us through time to understand immigration, native peoples, conquest, and dedication to heritage. We followed that with our mandatory boat ride on the St. Lawrence. Then we rode our folding bikes along the river. 

While dining on lobster pizza (yummy), loud jets roared overhead. Lucky for us, the Snowbirds (the equivalent of the US Blue Angels aerobatic team) were putting on a show over the river. We rushed to the waterfront to watch the team perform amazing formations and maneuvers. I saw the Snowbirds do a show over Lake Ontario  in 1996 while driving across Canada to Vermont with my late husband Gary. I never expected to see them a second time.

The day was hot, but today we are back to low 60s and overcast with some rain possible. My series of sketches will continue with views on the Ile des Orleans, a rural island very near this city.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Room with a View: Up the Hill in Quebec City

"Up the Hill in Quebec City"
At Hotel de Coutellier in Vieux Port
5" x 7" Ink and Watercolor

Arrived here after attending a family wedding in Vermont. We are in a very charming hotel in the old port, just below the only walled city north of Mexico. The weather is a challenge for us Californians - windy, overcast, showers, and wind chill factor at the freezing point. I layered on everything I brought, including my hot pink bicycling wind vest. Today we are promised higher temperatures and hope to ride along the St. Lawrence River on our folding bikes. We enjoyed delicious Quebecois cuisine at Aux Ancient Canadians last night. The previous evening we had wonderful mussels at a Belgian Restaurant attached to our hotel. Lots of walking, sightseeing, and a two-hour bus tour to familiarize ourselves with the sights.

I used a permanent marker and my Koi field set of watercolors with water brush to depict this scene from our room. I love this old French city, with a very European flavor. I've stayed here twice before, and this is Bob's first visit. We are some 200+ miles north of my son Jeff's home in Vermont.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Moss Landing, CA
14" x 20"

The SCVWS Thurday paintsites group went to Moss Landing this week, about an hour's drive south of my home on the coast a bit north of Monterey and Carmel.  We were a small group of seven diehards. Many members live farther north than I and find this too far for a day outing. Due to a commitment, I would be leaving after lunch at Phil's Fish, so Bob nicely agreed to come along. Moss Landing is a eclectic small town on a wonderful harbor filled with pleasure and work boats in front of a massive gas-fired power plant. The town has tiny unique galleries and shops. A plein air artist could spend a lifetime painting here.

We arrived to find Brad set up in the harbor parking lot sketching the power station on a windy, cool and overcast morning. Because the trip home would likely be 80 degrees (we have microclimates), I was prepared with layers. For a major jaunt like this, I take my Studio Pak filled with a field easel and all my supplies in hopes of creating a large piece. I set up next to Brad and two hours later had finished this piece. I like the various forms of energy -- wind, gasoline, and electric. Even the trees are important in consuming carbon dioxide.

Bob captured a photo of some of us painting from the warmth of the car. That's me at my field easel.

See the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society paintsites blog for other interpretations by the artists. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Experimental Series

"Poppies on the Fault Line II"
8" x 10" Watermedia

For my third entry into the SCVWS juried show, I chose to paint a second "Poppies on the Fault Line". The first is here and sold at my Silicon Valley Open Studios in 2010. I found when I took the Mike Bailey "Watercolor Beyond the Obvious" ten-week class and did 20 full-sheet paintings that were based on the same subject matter that I definitely have a geometric gene. A Betsy Dillard Stroud workshop I coordinated firmed up some of the fun I can have exploiting that trait. She loves complex surfaces and stamping. The idea here is everywhere that I applied a geometric shape, I changed value or color on the painting, giving the old subject a new twist.

I made a poppy stamp with some extra patterns on it and this is the first time I've used it. See the poppy in the upper right and the patterns on the left. I realized I could paint watercolor on just the part of the stamp I wanted to use, wash it off,  and reuse. Theey were done with watercolor, but the ones of the left were slightly modified with liquid white gesso, hence the watermedia term.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Three Times and You're Out (or In)

"Bertina on Her Wedding Day"
8" x 10" Watercolor

This is my third time painting Bob's paternal grandmother from her circa 1910 wedding photo. I am finally satisfied, though the photo does not replicate the richness of the color well. I have competed three small pieces for the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society juried summer show, "Think Large, Paint Small."  I entered this piece, my "Tango in La Boca," and  "Poppies on the Fault Line II," which I will show you in my next post. I decided to enter a couple experimental pieces as well as this more traditional painting. The juror is Charlotte Huntley

This is the first show that the society has used digital submissions, which have become the norm today. Many of our artists have been in the society for years and are not computer savvy, so Co-Chairs Jen and Nancy have done everything they can to help. They even scheduled a session with a member professional photographer and will upload the entry right there. I must say it took me some trial and error to match the requirements using Photoshop Elements at home, and I'm not quite satisfied with my Bertina photo. The advantage is not having to go to the expense of framing and delivering an entry unless it is accepted into the show. 

This exhibit awards ribbons, but no cash prizes. The member show in the Fall is not juried and offers many cash and product awards. Members enter the piece of their choice. Join the society for a $30 annual fee and show your work.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Spring Roses at Drawing Class

"Spring Roses"
12" x 15" Pastel

Though I've been going to drawing classes at least 2 to3 times a month, I have not been able to finish a piece enough to post. Yesterday we tackled a floral bouquet, which we have not done in a long time. Bob's recommended approach is somewhat impressionistic. Get down the drape and background. Mass in the colors in solid tones, dividing the values. Add minimal detail along the edges of the bouquet. Midway he had to come by and show me that I really needed to push the dark values much more. Once he suggested that, I was more successful. We hope that he remembers to bring another floral next week, as I would like to try again.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Working on a Commission

"My Nepenthe"
11" x 14" Watercolor

A friend who attended my art show and saw a tiny painting of the scene from the Nepenthe Restaurant in Big Sur was hoping it would be larger. I offered to do a larger version. I started it last week and finished today. Well, I might add a few more touches. It's always a challenge to recreate a piece. Each one turns out unique, no matter what. Now to mat, frame, and deliver. I am promised a second commission.

Then I turned again to Bob's paternal grandmother, Bertina, from her wedding photo around 1912. I like how I painted the first one, but I didn't have the drawing bang on. So I tried a second time and I still wasn't satisfied. I was encouraged when I talked to an excellent artist at Open Studios this weekend. Rajani said that the painting I was admiring was her third try and she almost gave up. I was encouraged to finish yet a third version, this time in the smaller format to enter in an exhibition of small paintings. I need to live with that one a day or two and likely make small modifications. Then I will post.

Monday, May 7, 2012

For the Love of the Dance

"Love of the Dance"
Ink on church bulletin

Saturday we did a Showcase dance competition sponsored by our dance studio and received three first place blue ribbons in our three dances -- fox trot, rumba, and Argentine tango. Pretty much this only means the judges rated us competent in the Preliminary Bronze level, because we had no immediate competition in our age group. If we did not meet standards, we could have received either second or third place ribbons. We ffind competing makes us polish up our technique.

Here is the outfit I wore for Rumba; the Latin dances call for a little pizzazz. (Note the faux animal print and jewels, not my everyday choice!)

There was no contest for who attracted the most attention at the evening affair after the competition. Bob changed from his dance outfits into his Anderson Clan formal wear, complete with a bamboo fife walking stick, which actually sounds terrific when played.

Sunday at church, I kept thinking about the competition and did a tiny sketch on the bulletin. I hope pastor didn't notice I was drawing during her sermon.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Third Iteration of "Tango in La Boca"

"Tango in La Boca"
Buenos Aires, Argentina
8" x 10" collage and mixed media

This should do it. I decided to add some of the red into the left wall panel and haze it out using Japanese collage paper -- I really like this particular lacy paper for these purposes. I bought the paper in a packet from Gerald Brommer at his collage workshop.  I have never spent so many hours on such a small painting. It's been a journey. Experimenting is fun, though.

I will submit this piece to our Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society juried show, "Think Large Paint Small." I don't know if it will get selected for the show, of course. We have many fabulous artists in the society. We can enter up to three paintings and I plan to create two more pieces. No side of the framed art can exceed 14 inches. Charlotte Huntley is the juror. Ribbons will be given for first, second, and third place. An artist must be a member to submit paintings, and our membership fee is a most modest $30. There is a fee for submission. Read more about the show here.

If you are seeing this post and have not seen previous iterations, take the links for the first iteration and second iteration.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

More Collage on "Tango in La Boca"

"Tango In La Boca"
9" x 12" Collage and Mixed Media

One of my fellow South Side Art Club artists thought the grey wall on the left was too stark against the highly patterned piece. Penny suggested adding the suggestion of some bricks. Instead, I decided to go back and rework the painting. You can see the original here. I wanted to soften some of the edges of the red of the building as well. Gerald Brommer told us to just keep adding collage paper until the thing got too thick to frame!

I'm still not sure. Might have to darken the section on the left. Thoughts?