Tuesday, February 23, 2010

OIL - Ignorance is Bliss

Covered Bridge, 11x14 oil on canvas

Hot Summer Day, 11x14 oil on board

Recently I read an article about an artist that changed her medium to something else because her circumstances had changed (lost her studio, less time). I had noticed that I had been becoming even more impatient in my own watercolor experiences. I realized that I was trying to complete a watercolor in 20 minutes (my darling 2 yr. old) which is not at all the way that I have ever painted. I was not considering changing my medium, but, then I found these two oils that I had started long ago. I had taken an oil workshop from my watercolor teacher, Cecy Turner. (She is amazing in both mediums. In fact, she was just on the cover of Watercolor Artist, February issue). These oil paintings were far from being complete. The thought of completing them was daunting. There was so much canvas showing with very preliminary oil sketchings.

I started on Hot Summer Day first. This being my second oil painting, I didn't know what rules to follow. I don't even own an oil book to refer to. I had started this painting as a plein air painting with a painting group out at White Rock Lake. I started by applying paint with a brush to the sky. Painting the clouds and foliage on the tree were like playing with clay. I could move the paint around. Here, try there, no back over here, let's add some pink, what happens when you add cerulean, what about ultramarine? For the field I applied the paint with a palette knife which I had never used before. I mixed the colors right on the canvas. I loved using the palette knife. The white patches on the tree trunk and elsewhere in the photo is the reflection of the flash on the thick paint that is still wet.

For Covered Bridge (Vail), I basically applied techniques I use in watercolor. I saved my whites and I did push and pull. I think the shadows and the high contrast in the trees are what make this painting sing to me. Because I am not use to the qualities of oil, the shadows came out much darker than they would have if I were doing it with watercolor. For the detail on the aspen trees I used a red and green and applied with a palette knife which came out much darker than in watercolor. For the foliage on both paintings I mixed yellow and blue with a touch of red, "Nature's green doesn't come out of a tube," what Naomi Brotherton, another watercolor teacher use to always say. Even into her 80's, I am sure she still says that to her class. Again, it was such freedom to move the snow around and shape snow mounds, very different from watercolor.

Surprisingly, I didn't experience anything daunting while completing these paintings. It was fun, the time flew by, there were no expectations - ignorance (of your medium) is bliss! Try something new and leave your expectations at the door.

Stay warm! It's cold in Dallas, still!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Catch of the Day

I am so excited to post this painting for two reasons. First, I am very pleased with the results. Just as in the guitar players, I wanted to capture the expression and feeling in a loose style. There is still room for improvement, but, my kids recognized their aunt and I feel that I captured her look of being proud of her great catch.

The second reason I am excited is because I have to tell you about my Aunt, otherwise known as Fishing Philly. My aunt has fished all her life and even when nobody else is catching anything, she does! Really. Here she is showing a Red fish (the big one) and two black specks or also known as speckled trout. Of course, she had to mention to make sure to tell my boys that normally she catches trout the size of the Red. Yeah, yeah, another fish story? These fish were caught in the Corpus Christi Bay, my home town. Behind her is a shrimp boat where you can buy fresh shrimp right off the boat!!!!

When I told her I was posting this in my blog, her fish tales went on and on. She wished that there was not a shadow from the cap on her face because she thought it made her nose look bigger. I didn't even paint the shadow in. On the first version, I did, but, it covered most of her face, which I ended up overworking. As you can see from the shadows of the fish that the sun is nearly directly overhead. The shadow from her cap went across her face at the tip of the nose so I left it out in this painting.

Now my aunt is looking for more photos of her catches and that are more flattering of her. I guess that means it's not that bad if the subject is looking for more photos of their self for me to paint.

Have a great weekend and thanks for visiting!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Mess of Curls

I decided to participate in James Parker's February challenge since I had good luck with it before. I was attempting to do this painting in 30 minutes so that I could get a loose effect. The top painting is the first attempt that I ended up overworking the eyes. I tried a second time. The two bottom pictures are the same painting. Although I overworked the eyes on the top, I love the hair, the overall style and feel, the colors and the depth in the girl's face. Maybe I can fix the eyes later. I think I can lift out some. The second painting is probably not complete, but, I don't like how her face is looking older than what she is. So on the advice of some of my so sweet artist followers, I am done with this one and ready to move on. Thank you to my artist friends on blogger who were full of good advice and encouragement. I have already started another painting, one of a Nice Beach. A little more complicated than 40 min. But, I have wanted to paint it for a long time.

If you would like to see the other entries or the original photo in James Parker's monthly challenge, visit Windows to the Words ART.

Thanks for visiting.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Discovering what I like about watercolor

At top are the guitar players that I have been working on / avoiding for so long. I have had a lot of questions for myself on this painting. Why do I want to paint it? Why is it taking me so long? Why can't I do it? Why am I having so much trouble with it? What do I do next? Normally when I paint flowers, landscapes, structures, it is a fun and short process. I don't always get a painting that sings to me, but, I never have the kind of trouble I am having on this painting. The reason why I first wanted to paint this is because I saw the photo and really liked the expressions and the body language of the band players. They are in an elevator, so the photo isn't a perfect photo, in my opinion. I truly believe that some photos are meant to be photos only and not painted. I am having trouble with this painting because I know one of the guitar players. I have been told it is much more difficult to paint someone you know vs. someone that you don't. So I have worked all around the painting avoiding the person's face that I know. Thanks to an artist friend, she encouraged me to go in with a dark background. I promise the day I did the background, it was really dark, although now it seems a midtone. I will go back with more washes. So now, I have time invested in this painting and I don't want to mess it up by ruining the faces. So I am avoiding them. Chicken!

What I have at least learned is that the way I like to experience watercolor is wet and loose. I find that painting on large paper allows for me to go wet into wet with colors side by side blending into each other to make a new color. I like clear, vibrant colors and I love high contrast - white as the white of the paper next to very dark.

I may not have achieved that in this painting, but, I have several ideas dancing in my hand where I can experience watercolor in this way. The subject matter is flowers, something that I am comfortable painting and that I love to paint because of the curves, turns and interesting shadows. But, I want to learn how to apply this technique to subject matters that I want to paint. My Friday painting group is not meeting right now and I am not taking any class or workshops so I feel as if I am in a rut, unless I paint, paint, paint and learn by trial and error. Also, I have been spending a lot of time looking at other artist's blogs. I have recently found several watercolor artists that I am so inspired by. Feel free to check out the artists that I follow on blogger.

On a happy note, everyone, look at our beautiful snow. We are actually snowed in today. This is so unusual for Dallas. I know in other parts of the country this would be nothing, but, for us this is a fabulous winter wonderland. If you go outside you hear this amazing sound of the snow melting and dropping from the trees. It is a peaceful whishing sound.

Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Flying Low in Santa Fe

My husband and I went to Santa Fe this past October. One of the highlights was the Georiga O'Keefe Museum. I loved seeing so much of her work together and hearing about her life. We spent our time going from one gallery to another. The main highlight for me was going hot air ballooning! Unfortunately, this is an early morning activity. It is necessary to go in the morning before the sun starts affecting the earth's surface so that you have a smooth ride vs. experiencing a lot of turbulence. Flying low is because, we did contour ballooning which is flying low to the earth right along the contours of the hills. If you ever go ballooning, ask if they are contour flying otherwise, you just go straight up, maintain one altitude, then straight down. On our ride we went up and down, felt the ever so slight wind changes, touched ground a couple of times and glided right beside these gorgeous vertical ridges.

It is absolutely amazing when you lift up off the ground and right before your eyes the ground is shrinking away and you see a very fast changing perspective. It is so peaceful and like floating. It was almost like time stopped only because it was the quietest quiet I have ever experienced. I wanted to stay up there all day. To be gliding smoothly and quietly over the earth so close to see wild rabbits.

When it was time to land, the wind and changes in air pressure had already been affected by the sun. Our speed was high, it was pretty bumpy skimming the ground for so long and the balloon wanted to keep going although the land crew had hold of our basket. With this balloon company they always end every ride with a champagne toast to remember the first balloon ride in France. When the first balloon landed on some farm land in the country, the farmers were so frightened and wanting to protect themselves. The pilots proved that they were harmless and flying the king's balloon by sharing a bottle of the king's champagne with the farmers.

The painting, Santa Fe House is probably one of the most photographed houses in Santa Fe. I thought I had found some little gem. Painting the adobe structures is very similar to painting the Mykonos structures. Very thick walls that you can catch the light on or some creative color play in shading. I used several very soft, pale washes on the adobe. I enjoyed seeing all of the light blues, lavenders, oranges and reds in the wood shutter to the side of the door. The wood door had some of these colors, but, the shutter for some reason had so many more. As you can see, I found several colors including blue and lavender in the adobe.

11x14 original watercolor, sold.