Friday, November 14, 2014

Details, Details, Details.

 Architectural details can be frustrating at times. I get my sky just right, but when I step back I notice my lines are not right.  So I pulled out my biggest ruler and a water soluble pencil.  This type of pencil blends really well with acrylic paint so I can easily soften the lines.

Before #1
 After I redrew the lines I had to change some of the angles.  I did so by reworking the negative spaces around the railing.  I used a dark green and matte medium because I knew I was going to develop the sea grass in those areas later.

Before #2

I then lightened those negative spaces and began to add shadows to the boardwalk.  But it still didn't look right to me.

Progress as of 11/14/14
So I pulled out my ruler again and this time I drew my lines with white paint. All of these alterations required me to repaint parts of the sky and water.  Details require lots and lots of modifications and patience.

The boardwalk still isn't finished but the lines are better.  So it was time to attack the sea grass.  Using small brush strokes of  greens, golds and sand colors the dunes are beginning to take shape.

I think I'll take the weekend off.  I'll attack the rest of the details next week.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Painting is not always easy.

before # 1
before #2
Sometimes my paintings are created with relative ease. Other times the process is a struggle. I have to continue to work on the image by changing colors, textures, values and details. This creation hasn't been easy.

The under painting in "before #1" was too vibrant so I muted in in "before #2" by adding layer's of grays and greens.  But I still wasn't quite where I wanted to be.  So I began to re-establish the composition in my foreground by redrawing the boardwalk in charcoal and white paint.  (Don't worry the boardwalk isn't done - still has a long way to go!)

Then I started to experiment with different treatments on the dunes. I wanted to create the feeling of an early morning sunrise. I wanted to try different levels of detail.  On the left I tried a more realistic approach by defining individual grasses

left closeup

When I started to work on the right side I took a more abstract approach to representing the dunes. I blurred the sand and grasses a little more.  To me the right "feels" more appropriate for the time of day.  It still needs some more work, but I think this is the direction I'll be going on both sides.

Trial and error is my favorite way to paint.  I try to always keep an open mind when I start a painting session.  I experiment with colors and techniques.  At times I fail, wipe off paint, cover over areas and start again.  Underneath my acrylic are layers my creative journey.  Always learning. . . . .

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Time Bandits

Some nights I go to bed wondering where the day has gone.  While I start off with good intentions I seem to get sidetracked by so many things.  As a creative artist I tend to put my own work on hold while I take care of the squeakiest wheels.  Fall can be  the most difficult for me because I try to cram too many things into too little time.  Right now my life is full of Time Bandits

This topic came up when I was recently chatting with with my friend and business partner Hobby Parent.  She reminded me that everyone has the same 24 hours in their day and we need to start guarding our time. During this conversation we decided the best way to thwart these time bandits is to get back to setting goals, committing to daily actions and keeping each other accountable.

My list of time bandits:
  1. television
  2. social media
  3. email
  4. phone calls
  5. chores
  6. people
My list of things I really want to accomplish:
  1. daily creating
  2. writing
  3. organizing my home
  4. releashing weight
  5. increasing training
  6. high quality interactions with people.

So for the month of November I'm setting the goal to use my time purposefully.  I'm not going to let my time be stolen by insignificant activities.  I'm going to cut back on allowing Time Bandits to keep me from my goals.

So here's my plan:
1.  If I'm watching TV I will multi-task- crochet, doodle, sit-ups
2.  No more than 30 minutes of social media - I'll set a timer
3.  I'll clean out my email box every day for 15 minutes
4.  I'll make phone calls when I'm walking the dog.
5.  I'll spend 30 minutes a day cleaning/organizing my home
6.  I'll schedule time with the people I want to spend time with.  This could be a meal, a phone call or skype. 

And tomorrow I'll get back to my painting - - - - 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Building Texture

I'm going to use two different types of texture in this painting, actual and simulated. I'll be adding simulated texture toward the end of the painting process. 
But today I'm creating actual texture.

 To build up the surface in the area where the sand dunes and grasses are I spread a thick coat of gel medium.  I then took a tile scraper and "combed" through the medium creating lines going in multiple directions.  To develop another variation in the surface I used a paper towel.  Gel medium is clear so when it dries the under painting will show through.

Because this painting is about early morning I've begun to soften the colors in the foreground.  I've done this by replacing the bolder greens, yellows and oranges with duller versions of them. These lower intensities were created by mixing each hue with some of the color opposite on the color wheel (the complement). I also added some white to brighten some areas where there will be only sand.

I  redrew the boardwalk  and will continue working on the dunes after the paint dries.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Angry Sky

 Looking at my painting today I noticed I'd created a very angry sky.  The clouds appeared to be ominous like they're on the verge of breaking into a thunderstorm.  Not the peaceful sunrise I was aiming for. Time to cool it down.

Purple is a cool color. But this color appeared too aggressive in my clouds, probably because of all the yellow in the sky.  The contrast of these color opposites (aka-complementary colors) was too great.
 1.  I began to add a wash of blue to the left side of the sky. Not only did this cool down the temperature of the colors but it reinforce my focal point - the sunrise on the right.

2.  I still wanted the feeling of billowy clouds so I fluffed in some white.

3.  I brightened the horizon line with a wash of orange and pink.  Then I added a little more color to the ocean.  Before I finished the painting session I "cleaned" my palette by adding some color to my dunes and boardwalk,  I never like to waste paint.

Tonight I meet with my painting group and am ready for critique.  I can't wait for their feedback on my work!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The ugly stage.

All artwork goes through an "ugly stage."  It's the long phase between development and completion. My paintings go through extensive ugly times.  Sometimes they grow out of it and other times they don't.  After I complete the under painting and block in the basic forms I begin to build space.  What I mean is I start to define where I want the viewer's eyes to go in my painting.  In a landscape I need to give the viewer a sense of perspective so I begin with the sky and move forward from there.

1.  The basic forms are sketched in - sky, water, dunes and boardwalk.

2.  I decided my composition was too symmetrical so I decided to change the size and shapes of the dunes and began to develop the sky.

 3.  The water needed some color.

4.  When I stepped back and looked at my painting I realized the boardwalk ended at the horizon line.

 5.  So I lowered the end. With acrylics it's easy - I just painted white over the area and added sky and water.

6.  Today I'm working on the sky.  I'm not using a single picture as my source, but I'm looking at lots for inspiration.  I'm not happy with the current state of the sky - too violent for a calm sunrise.

During my painting process even when I'm focusing on one area I add touches all over my canvas.This helps me  develop a sense of continuity in my compositions.  I want to see all of the colors on my palette throughout my work.  If I'm painting orange in the sky I might clean paint residue off my brush by blending it on the dunes. This also helps to develop more texture on the surface.

Tomorrow I will work on resolving the sky.  The ugly stage might go on for a while longer.

Monday, October 27, 2014

A blank canvas

I picked up a new canvas yesterday.
It's big - 30 x 40 inches.  It's white.  And it's scary.  I know I can manipulate paint. I know I can fill it with an interesting image. I've worked through the process thousands of times.  But it's always hard to get started.

I was reading a book today by Austin Kleon called "Show Your Work."  In it he explains simple steps artists can take to becoming more visible.  One step was to "take people behind the scenes," to help them understand the creative process.  "When a painter talks about her 'work,' she could be talking about two different things:  There's the artwork, the finished piece, framed and hung on a gallery wall, and there's the art work, all the day-to-day stuff that goes on behind the scenes in her studio:  looking for inspiration, getting an idea, applying oil to a canvas, etc.  There's 'painting,' the noun, and there's 'painting' the verb.  As in all kinds of work there is a distinction between the painter's process, and the products of her process."

I have always been and always will be a process based artist.  I paint intuitively.  I let the colors blend and form into images as I continue to add layers to the surface.  Sometimes I use photographs for inspiration, but most of the time I just let the painting tell me where it's going.  My hands are inspired by the memories I have. I get lost in the process and hours go by with lightening speed.  But sometimes I get stopped at a traffic light and get confused about which way to go.  So I'll take a break and revisit the canvas with fresh eyes.

I recently accepted a commission to create a painting about the first moment you get to the beach.  I love the ocean and have lots of experience with this subject matter. So I'm going to tame that blank canvas and bend it to my will.  I'll document the process and will enjoy your feedback.

I started by spraying down my canvas with water.

I then applied cadmium yellow and yellow ochre both of which were diluted with matte medium and a little water.

I sketched in a horizon line and boardwalk with pthalo blue.  I don't usually center my compositions but this one called for it.

I then sprayed the surface with water to loosen up the lines.

I'll let it dry for now and let the painting tell me what do do next.

"A lot of people are so used to just seeing the outcome of work.  They never see the side of the work you go through to produce the outcome."                                                      -Michael Jackson
                                                                                                                    (as quoted by Austin Kleon)

Monday, August 18, 2014

One Hundred & Eighty Days

Every teacher knows the meaning of 180 days.  Give or take a few,  this is the number of days in a traditional school year.  In August this seems like an unattainable number.  In January it's still a long way off.  But come April the end is near.  I always try to start off the school year with a positive approach, hoping to keep my enthusiasm high.  Yet I tend to fall into a sad state around day 30 knowing I've got a long way to go.  So this year I'm going to take a different tack.  I'm going to celebrate each school day as I check it off by reflecting on the good things I experience.  And I'm going to record my journey in a little journal I'm calling "One Hundred & Eighty Days."  I admit, I borrowed the title from my friend Julie. She can have it back when she writes her book.  I don't think she'll mind.

This week I'll be demonstrating the process for creating your own planner.  So gather some supplies and get ready to create. I found this little day planner in the dollar bin at Target.  It's an academic calendar so it goes from August to August.  But you could use any inexpensive day planner.
Suggested Supplies:
- small day planner
- acrylic or craft paint - just a couple of your favorite colors
- brushes
- glue
- washi or small duck tape rolls in one color or a variety
- stamps and a stamp pad if you have any
- markers
- magazines

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The beach is my porch

Coffee in my bunny mug, a fresh baked scone from
the farmers' market on a sunny morning.
This has been a summer filled with tasks. The days have been filled with moving trucks, clearing out storage spaces, a yard sale, donating furnishings, household repairs, and lots of gardening.  When I woke up yesterday I was a little sad when realized it was August 1st.  Not just because my summer was quickly coming to an end, but because I haven't had the chance to stick even one toe in the ocean.  So instead of breezes by the shore I'm going to enjoy taking mini breaks in and around my home.

I love my house in Fredericksburg.  It's long over due for a good painting, needs the foundation fixed, requires some rewiring and new plumbing, but it's one of my favorite places to be. No matter how long I leave it alone it welcomes me home.  Sometimes it's not so welcoming with a flooded basement or broken pipes, but I'm always calmer when I'm here. Kind of the way I feel when my toes are in the ocean.

Last night my good friend Cheryl came over for a quiet evening of journalling on my porch. She'd asked me to teach her my method so I pulled out supplies, plugged in the party lights and we began to create.  I didn't stop to take any pictures because we were too absorbed in our art and a superb conversation.  By the time she went home I felt the wonderful calm which comes over me whenever I create art. Especially when it happens on my porch.
My quiet space indoors

So, while I miss not having a beach vacation this year, I do feel rejuvenated and ready to tackle the fall.  It will be our last year in Texas and my husband  is counting down the days until his retirement.  We're both looking forward to being back in our sweet, although a bit rundown, house.  And then we'll take a long overdue trip to the beach.

a little garden cleanup

journal page 8/1/14

Friday, July 4, 2014




A little patriotic post - enjoy!

America the Beautiful
words by Katharine Lee Bates
melody by Samuel Ward

O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain.
For purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain!

America! America!  
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
Remembering 9/11                            14 x 22
Mixed Media on paper    
From sea to shining sea

O beautiful for pilgrim feet whose stern impassioned stress.
A thoroughfare of freedom beat across the wilderness.

America! America
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm they soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.

O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life.

America!  America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness 
And every gain divine.

O beautiful for patriot dream that sees beyond the years.
Thine alabaster cities gleam undimmed by human tears.

America!  America!
God shed his grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Hello Monday

For those of us in the teaching profession we look forward to Mondays towards the end of June. Because instead of getting bonuses in the form of pay, we get June, July and August. While we don't get a full 90 days off, most of us get between 8-9 weeks.  When I went to bed last night I didn't set my alarm, no need.  I was going to sleep until the sun was fully in the sky.  But. . . . at 5:00am my eyes were wide open and my body was restless.

So I got up and greeted the sunshine on my back porch, one of my favorite places on earth.  With a cup of coffee and a pillow under my feet I started my day making a list of all I wanted to accomplish during my visit home.  It's a long list with lots of household chores, more traveling and many fun events.  But for now I think I'll have another cup of coffee.

Happy Summer Monday to all my teacher friends.  Sorry the rest of you have to go to work!

Pancake as big as my head

Art Spark #11
Battlefield Restaurant, Fredericksburg, VA

Sunday, June 22, 2014

I made it.

The trip was long, but entertaining looking for places to abandon little Art Sparks along the way. Sometimes I'd forget and make my husband stop at the last minute, but I did hit every state!  He is such a patient man.

Crawdaddy's in Madisonville, LA. Yummy shrimp Po'Boy for dinner.

Found this pay phone somewhere in Mississippi. I can't remember the last time I actually used one of these!

If you're ever driving through Alabama and see the sign for Priester's Pecans you have to stop!  Lots of free samples and you'll leave with a bag full of deliciousness!

At a truck stop in Georgia I pulled out the first card I touched and thought this was the perfect spot for it.  I love the idea of both an antifreeze and coolant!  Just the thing for a remodeled life!

We stopped for the night in Anderson, SC and the closest restaurant was one of my husband's favorites. I let him pick the Art Spark to be abandoned.  He claims he loves the place because the beer is cold and the wings are hot!

I just love this giant peach - It always makes me laugh. Does anyone else think it looks like a 
giant . . . . . ?

Carolina Blue.

Finally close to home.  I may be partial, but Virginia really does have the best rest area in the country.

I hope all my traveling Art Sparks have brought smiles to their new owners' faces. I have many more places to go over the next few weeks and plenty of pieces to abandon.  I may not have time to make a large, important work of art right now.  But I can create and release little gems here and there.