Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Monday morning drawing class

"Fall Pears"
14" x 12" Pastel

The setup

Here is my Monday morning production. I really liked this still life. The lovely pottery vase was nicely complemented by the leaves and pears. I am always amazed that chalk can make a shiny object. With less than three hours to draw and paint this piece, instructor Bob Semans showed me how to quickly create the impression of leaves with simple strokes of the side of the pastel chalk. I like the texture and diffuse minor elements next to the carefully rendered vase and fruit. Unfortunately, I'm not a great photographer so colors and contrast are a bit off in spite of invoking Photoshop.You can see that our instructor is using a light box these days.

My pastels are generally NuPastel  Prismacolor which are rather hard sticks. The reason I chose them, as many in our class did, was because of price. Pastels can be very expensive. Sennelier can be $6.00 a stick! However, a couple years ago I saw that one of the online art suppliers had a modest set of Rembrandt soft pastels for a very reasonable price, so I bought them. I guess I wasn't experienced enough, because they did not work for me then, and I stored them away.

Monday I grabbed that box along with my NuPastels and mostly used the Rembrandt soft pastels. I found them amazingly easy to work with, which must mean I have developed more skill. Friend and accomplished pastelist, Judith, told me she loves Sennelier soft pastels, and  Dakota Art Pastels had a great deal on a box online. Now, we are still talking serious money, but I decided that this is my birthday present to me and ordered them. I triumph over another year of life on December 3, so let's celebrate!

Friday, November 22, 2013

French Sunflowers

12" x 9" Torn Magazine on Canvas

After completing my sunflower collage, which is quite large, I decided to do a couple small pieces. I will be participating in Silicon Valley Open Studios (SVOS) in May and would like to show  my watercolors and collages. I am thinking a few smaller pieces might appeal to people who don't have large walls for art. I am in the registration process so you will not yet find me on the SVOS website. Check back after the first of the year.

I chose a French theme for this one, inspired by a page from Wine Spectator magazine. I found that most of the magazine is printed on a natural, not glossy surface. I made a failed attempt to use one of the sheets with a wonderful Eiffel Tower on it. Back to my glossy papers I went. A few of the ads in the same magazine were printed on lovely glossy paper, so I chose one that featured "Cherry Noir." The word "Noir" is mostly under the sunflower petal. I included some French, some of which I wrote onto the black background, and some done on the computer.  I also drew my own Eiffel Tower using Sketchbook. I envision this Sunflower growing in a narrow space next to an old building near the tower.

After a good night's sleep, I decided to vary my edges more and added some papers and text. I added a few random pieces of a women's face under a veil. To the artist, it's a reminder of the hose worn by dancers I once had the pleasure of seeing perform at Moulin Rouge in Paris. To viewers, it's likely decorative.

You can find some fun pieces - sheep in the dark center of the sunflower? colorul graphics of buildings in the stem? the French word for sunflower, "Tournesol"? a cherry topped cocktail? "Paris"? I am now mulling over plans for my final piece of the trilogy (the collages are a three-part novel, not a tryptic painting).

Saturday, November 16, 2013

"Pure Panache" in Torn Magazine on Canvas

"Pure Panache"
22" x 28" Torn Magazine on Canvas Collage

Just before Halloween, I stopped by Spina Farms Pumpkin Patch, a few miles down the road,  and was so taken with the families having fun. Those photos will likely evolve into paintings. However, I was fascinated by the huge field of sunflowers that backed the patch. The hay wagon ride pulled by a tractor takes families through the sunflowers. I've been wanting to do more collage as everyone who sees them at our home are really drawn to them.

I realized after I started this piece that I should adopt a new process that I saw Derek Gores use in his Florida Studio. Derek is immensely successful these days, and I took the magazine collage class from him last year. Derek says he was trying a different approach where he covers the entire canvas before tackling the image. As you can imagine, applying background around these sunflowers was a task for a someone with more patience than I.

The drawing
I began the piece with a freehand drawing using a felt tip pen on the canvas.  

In the beginning

Several days later I started the process of applying some torn magazine with acrylic mat medium. I apply the gloss medium to the back of the paper, put it in place, and then paint medium over the top of the paper. Derek says you embrace the wrinkles. This is such a messy process for me that I do the work in the garage, a bit inconvenient -- take out the car and do setup and takedown each time. We have one car and many bicycless without an inch of space to spare.

A third of the way
Here is the painting partially done. At this point I had some black and color in the lower right. Later I decided to cover over them. Immediate feedback and the ability to easily make changes are perks of collage. Gerald Brommer says keep applying paper until the painting won't stay on the wall. Notice at this point the edges need more variation.

Almost done

Unfortunately. I forgot to photograph a few of the stages I would like to show you. At one point, I put some bright yellow checked papers in the upper right corner. That sent the high key meter off the wall. I needed to tone it back down. Now you see that I am almost done. I varied the edges so the images did not look like it was made with a cookie cutter. I was so taken with the tops of red lipsticks that I thought I could use them in the left upper corner. That looked unbalanced so I applied a few hints of petals in the lower right corner. I prop my painting up where I can walk by it frequently. My eyes were drawn to the corners of the art, not to the center of interest. They had to go.

Not quite done

In the process of eliminating the corner color, I came up with an interesting variation for the stem in the left corner - a double gold chain. Then I couldn't resist adding a few jewels. You see them in the center of the main flower, the stem of a leaf on the left and the stem of the large flower. Eek -- doesn't work in the center of the large flower. I covered over some and thought it was okay, but I realized I liked the previous version and that was lost forever. So back to the National Geographic and Vogue papers.
Some of the new variations worked. I added pieces of a black and white printout of my photos of sunflowers from Spina Farms. I like to weave parts of my inspiration into the art. I also spent time adding bits of paper here and there to give the edges more variety. Sometimes I purposely added words, which led to the title of this piece. Can you find the title in the painting?
At the top of the post you see the final art. Of course, I can always change my mind. Right now I am looking at a couple of my framed watercolors and I'm going to removed them from the frames and make a few final changes. So I never quite know if I am done.


Friday, November 8, 2013

November in the Vineyards

"November Morning at Byington Winery"
10 x 13 Watercolor

"Artist at Work"
10" x 14" Watercolor

"November in Byington Vineyards"
10" x 14" Watercolor

A gorgeous Northern California November day greeted the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society (SCVWS)  Paintsites group at Byington Winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Upon arrival, I did not even wander the beautiful grounds with fabulous chateau after spotting the breathtaking view of Monterey Peninsula from a picnic table. The overcast was still over the ocean, soon to be replaced by glorious cobalt blue skies. I loved the landscape shapes as the mountains marched to the sea. I covered the entire paper with my first wash, with the exception of the sea. I am a must do person and find it hard to wait for things to dry, so there are a couple happy accidents in the top third that I think enhanced the painting. In this first layer I was able to capture "the planes of recession" as Maggie Siner taught us in Provence. I exaggerated the oranges and yellows that were visible, and selected a few trees to be the darks. Varying the greens is always a challenge in landscapes.

After taking time to wander the beautiful grounds, I moved to a nearby table to paint a far off view of an artist with her easel capturing the beauty of the vineyards. An olive tree dominates the left front, and colorful shapes suggest the orange-yellow vines and burnt sienna soil. Distinctive evergreen shapes completed the scene.

It was now 1 pm and we met to enjoy our picnic lunches and did a show and tell. Unfortunately, the shadows fell on the paintings so the show pictures are not worthy of display. You will have to check out the paintsites blog. I was carpooling so I stayed longer than usual, and began a third painting. A couple of the artists had done wonderful work on vines, so I to painted the vineyards on the hillside. I was joined by John, a new member, who was thoroughly enjoying himself. He joined our society because he likes plein air painting. He found the group very welcoming. I was not quite done when we were ready to leave about 2:45, so I completed work on this piece at my Thursday night South Side Art Club weekly session.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Monday Morning Drawing Class with Buckeyes

"Pitcher and Buckeyes"
12' X 15" Pastel
A brief intermission from our travels to show you my Monday Morning drawing. I played with all the adjustment options, but the chroma is just not like the painting. Sorry about that as our instructor told me the pitcher is one of the best pastel objects I've done. I love the clay fired pitcher, a real beauty with natural burnt sienna and hints of green.

Wikipedia has some neat information on Buckeyes. The native Americans used the poisonous nut to stun fish. They also found a way to leach the toxin and use the nuts for making flour.

The tree should not be planted near aviaries as the toxin will kill the bees.