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Thursday, October 17, 2019

One Day   oil/canvas   30 x 30 x 1.5

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Coneflowers

Coneflowers   12 x 4 x 1.5
was intended as small between-the-lines painting...nothing serious, small in size....just an exercise.  Flowers are the perfect vehicle for such a work.  Without the seriousness of a larger or more contemplative work, I feel free to explore and try out new techniques.

In this case, this very small canvas was toned with what I would call "navy blue", a neutralized dark blue that was probably mixed with French ultramarine and burnt sienna.  The background leaves and pods are closer in value to the toned ground so they fade to the background.  The pink leaves were intentionally scraped and pulled back to allow that blue toned ground to become a major player. 

I am pleased. 

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Simplicity

Bread, Wine and Turnips   oil/canvas   15 x 12 x .5
is a quality that I strive for in my work.  Actually, I think that it took me quite a long time to realize it.  Backgrounds were painted in....then painted over.  Chair legs were carefully painted in and then painted over and substituted with horizontal strokes that simply suggested a place for the model to sit.  And, now, so we have it.  So I have it...another requisite that makes my art my own. 

I have a belief that the power of the work is somehow divided between all of the objects in the plane....so, it follows, for me, that the fewer the things, the more power that each one holds.  Big and little things arranged pleasingly on the page.

The reference for this simple still life came from a series of photos taken on my patio many years back....it was a veritable feast, a banquet.  The long horizontal painting was sold, but I have so many reference photos that I can now produce several smaller works from the original, and quite painstakingly arranged, feast.  This work pleases me as it has the feel that I was going for...a few simple ingredients can make a painting that I enjoy.......and, also, I think that a few simple ingredients can produce an exquisite meal.  We live in complex times.  I crave simplicity for balance.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Rorschach

Rorschach   oil/canvas   24 x 30 x 1.5
This pair of young dancers were quite remarkable....during the warm-up poses, they assumed several premeditated poses in which their two bodies created interesting shapes and outstanding visuals.  I was truly taken with their expertise!

The most exciting part of figurative painting, to me, is the shape of the core, the limbs, and, subsequently, the diminishing of the facial features to create intriguing lines....an overall visual that is greater than the sum of the parts....gestalt!!!

This was an exciting painting to work on...I feel that it mirrors that which their young bodies were trained to do.  Thank you.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Sequins are just Gravy

INTENSITY.  I can easily recognize it.  I live it. ...and, to me, it is easily recognized in a few other individuals.  A tension in the body.  A perking up of the senses.  A refusal to take things lightly. Fire in the belly....not in each and every undertaking, but in the discipline that fuels a person's soul.

This young dancer was the epitome of intensity...of discipline.

While the sequins on her costume were fun to paint....small specks of retained white paper amidst the color to imply the multidimensional reflection of the light...sequins are just gravy here.

She could, in my opinion, be just as distinctive in a simple leotard.  INTENSITY.
Sequins Optional   watercolor   20 x 12

Monday, August 5, 2019

Wendy

Wendy   charcoal and pastel on paper   14.5 x 11
is one of the younger dancers in the troupe.  And yet, her whole being embodies extraordinary discipline.   I thorough enjoyed making this drawing!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Budded

Budded   watercolor   18.5 x 7
Our challenge was to paint a tree in its early spring budded state....not an easy task, given the small white blooms....in watercolor!  As I do not use opaque white in any form, or masking fluid, my challenge was to use brushwork to move around the work, avoiding the buds, thereby using the white of the paper for the blooms.  The tree I selected was one that I photographed while in the drive-through line at McDonald's.  The moody spring sky behind added to the immensity of the day...as well as to the immensity of the challenge.  The buds at the horizon line are mostly pure white.  Those at the top were toned to blend in with the sky.

Final word:  this is the best I could do with a difficult challenge....This small painting makes me happy.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Clownfish

Clownfish   mixed/paper   19.5 x 12
are important roles to dance in "The Little Mermaid".  And these dancers were so impressive....quite a pair.  They were both dedicated, focused and graceful to the max.  No Alphas.  Two halves::one whole. And....just as a school of fish moves instantly together, sensing the minute neuromuscular movements of the others, these two young dancers were oh-so-in-sync.  Each pose, not only portrayed each dancer to advantage, but also formed an interesting together shape.  They moved without speaking a word.

THESE DANCERS WERE AMAZING!



And...as for the highly developed sensitivity to the movements of the other....

I sometimes think that the world would be so much more pleasant if we all learned this sensitivity...we all learned to dance.

And....just maybe...we would be better drivers.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

M as Shark - The Little Mermaid

M as Shark   mixed/paper   20 x 13
Konstantin Stanislavski remarked that "there are no small parts, only small actors."  Some of the young ballet dancers that we have painted have the "chorus" roles, the smaller parts.  I suspect that these roles go to the younger, less experienced dancers.  M. stood before us in her shark costume...the dearest shark I have ever seen.  While this hat and these fin attachments are clever as can be, my goal was to give to M. the innocence and humility that enveloped her.  No grand gestures here.  Her stance was natural.  No affectation.  Hooray for sharks!

Dabbs Greer, a bit actor, once said, "Every character actor, in their own little sphere, is the lead".


Friday, June 28, 2019

Easy Livin'

Easy Livin'   conte crayon on toned pastel paper   15.5 x 11.5
is a drawing that I like...completed at an expressive drawing workshop.  The reference was an old family photo that features two couples in swimsuits at a favorite lake.  Toned paper was used...quite handy as used as a mid-tone value.  Individual characteristics are downplayed, while the group gesture becomes all-important...the way in which the four figures relate to each other to support their relationships.  Negative spaces become important.  Patterns of darks were worked in a balanced way, creating a satisfactory pattern of its own, independent of the details of the reality provided.  Likewise with the whites.  This drawing was worked by using basically only three values. While likenesses and leg details were mostly suggested, I placed the emphasis on the relationships of the torsos...not the torsos themselves, but on the relationships between them.

I like this drawing very much.  It was fun to do and provides the feeling that I wished to convey in a minimal way.  Less is more

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Bunch

Bunch   watercolor   16.75 x 9.5
I believe that flowers are possibly the most difficult subject for me to paint...so complex...so many relationships!  For that reason, I prefer to paint them in a bunch, along with their wild natures, as opposed to the restraints of a vase or mise-en scene setting that further dilutes their energy.

This bunch was plucked from our yard.  I am basically happy with the work, but, in retrospect, wish that I had included some other varieties. 

There is always next spring.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Ants-in-Your-Pants-Goals

S.
I am, without a doubt, a goal-oriented person.  I am a list-maker who derives great pleasure from being organized.  The end of each studio session is dedicated to actually naming the goals for the next, unless more time is needed for contemplation of a given work. 

That being said, travelling presents a problem for a person like me.  It is simply not possible to drag along armloads of art supplies.  And so I have devised a solution that keeps me content at the same time I am able to visit without too much offense.  The latest venture was a visit for a week in North Carolina.  Three very small watercolors were made on a deck providing afternoon sun.  But my favorite activity is to make small drawings from life while the family is gathered around, in discussion, or in front of TV.  Nothing posed.  Just several drawings begun at once and keeping an eye out for the model to resume a particular pose.  This trip I ended up with two small drawings that pleased me.  This one took a couple of hours, but I was content to pick away. Kept my attention up.  Feels good to produce something worthwhile. 

And.....keeps the ants out of my pants...temporarily.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Establishing a Rhythm


Majorette   oil/canvas   24 x 8 x .5
When I was a young girl, a little girl, I was in awe of Jan, a teenage girl who lived across the street in our little neighborhood of post-war brick cape cod homes in Akron, Ohio.  Jan was a twirler, a majorette, who practiced in her yard....her baton catching the light as it spun around, sometimes high into the sky.  She caught it deftly and continued her routine.  On game days, she emerged from her home in total regalia.  My memory of her costume has faded, but those heavy white leather boots with giant tassels are embedded in my mind. 

My own experience with baton twirling was short-lived.  I guess I just didn't "have it".  It may have been limited coordination, or, perhaps, interest.

This work of a drum majorette was inspired by a vintage photo of my husband's aunt....probably taken in the late 40's. 

Figurative work is my favorite.  For me, it has evolved into a sublimation of the facial features along with the placement of several focal points, established by choice, to lead the eye around the entire figure and its posture.  The regimentation of the twirler is reflected in her posed stance.  Discipline.

And the....there are those boots.

Some time ago, another astute artist picked up on my method at a local critique.  He was quick to point out the use of the multiple focal points.  We seem to love and to need a focal area in the work....why not several?  They actually create their own rhythm.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Intensity

Intensity- L.   oil/canvas   16 x 12 x .5
is a quality that I share with L., a painter who has been in several of my classes over the years.  He holds a full time job and has a wife and two children.  His plate is full.  And, yet, his drive to create art is admirable, and sometimes painful, as he struggles to find TIME TIME TIME.

This painting was made at a final class session where the assignment was to create a painting by simply watching and observing  someone else at work....an artist who is in constant motion while observing the subject of his/her own painting.

This assignment is tough, but allows one to get at the "nitty gritty"...the important stuff...big shapes and simplified forms.  I did take a photo and did a few minor corrections at home, but was careful not to overwork the simplicity that had been achieved during the session.

I have found, over years of observing and drawing people at work, that a person will resume one of two or three positions continually, which helps with clarification, if only you are patient.

Ah, yes.......INTENSITY and PATIENCE.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Blue to Yellow....a subtle change

When Sheep are Golden   oil/canvas   16 x 20 x 1.5
Come February, the light changes, creating a noticeable shift from cool to warm outdoor palettes.  This simple painting almost painted itself....very very rare.  I started with the same notion of a changing color temperature and a drawing.

The biggest challenge for me was to create the chaotic texture of that marvelous wool.....as a knitter of many years, I wanted to honor the glory of the sheep's contribution to our well being.  A bit of time was spent on hard and soft edges.  The background was kept simple.

I can honestly say that I truly love this work.

What's not to love when talking sheep?

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Rows and Rows of Corn

October at Dussel's   Watercolor   7 x 20
Thirty-five years ago, when we moved to our home, we considered our surroundings rural.  More corn fields and golf courses that one can imagine.  Over the years, the corn fields have given way to many housing developments, a police force, a fire department, and many more vehicles.  We are now borderline suburban.  Woe is me.  October corn fields hold a magic that is palpable...rows and rows of tangled golden chaos. 

For this watercolor, initial washes of gold and earth tones were covered with twisted-up Saran Wrap that was pushed into the wet paint.  I put several heavy books on top and waited until it dried.  When the wrap was pulled off, the surface reflected the wrinkled chaos of the wrap....and a good base upon which to paint the golden stalks.  I am convinced that painting the field directly would, for me, become far too regular...too tidy.  I am afraid that many months passed by before I was able to go into this again, but finally finished it to my satisfaction.  This, for me, is a drive-by visual.  Very comforting.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Ancestry

Union   watercolor    20 x 11
Having your DNA tested seems to be the thing these days.  My results did not yield any surprises from that which I suspected.  There is a bit of an excitement, however, in the discovery of a linkage, a past history, often disrupted by modern life and especially by the immigration of our relatives to these United States, where family tree lineage often comes to a screeching halt.  As a result of this renewed interested, we sifted through old photos to see what we actually had.

Vintage photos are wonderful to use as painting references!  The photos can be interpreted without fear of achieving exact likenesses or making Aunt Maude look 10 pounds too heavy.  I like to use them monochromatically as a study of value.  By subtracting color from the mix, one is able to fully understand the great power of value in description. 

The photo of the valiant soldier at the right was labelled on the back as "Pas Eisenhour",  from my husband's family, who fought for the Union in the Civil War from Lebanon, Pennsylvania.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Couple/Polar Opposites/hard::soft/Roses in Aluminum

Couple   oil/canvas board   12 x 12
This small painting is a metaphor for all things yin::yang in our lives.  My idea was to create shared space between the two roses...a relationship merged yet individual. 

One of my passions is to eliminate the unnecessary edges which represent fences that block the movement of the pieces/parts.  Because all of these operations are so subjective and so personal, I spent a good deal of time on a sketch that solved (hopefully) potential errors and helped to convey my feelings.  In the past, I have found that the division of space in square formats to be a challenge. In this case, it worked out......

There is much that pleases me here...right down to the simple limited palette.

In addition, the opposition of the quintessentially beautiful roses with the aluminum can completes me.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Heartland ll

Heartland II - Winter Cows (A Sense of Calm Given the Situation)   oil on canvas   16 x 20
This painting represents a long journey and much endurance, much like these local bovines, although robust, must face daily in our severe northeast Ohio winter.  Everything seemed to be an issue....the treeline, too much then too little; the placement of the cows and their relationship, one to the other; and, most importantly, the atmosphere of the snowy field, which I felt would be comprised by using local color.  Each problem was eventually solved to my satisfaction.

The one huge thrill in all of the labor:  the introduction of Gamblin's Cold Was Medium, that was mixed into paint in both the back- and fore-ground.  It produced an impasto effect that was much lighter than using gobs of paint, and even more effective, I think.  Used in a 1/3:2/3 ratio with paint) My first use....terrific!

Ah.....if I had only labored over a sketch.  That would have been time well spent.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Heartland

Heartland   oil/canvas   30 x 48 x 1.5
is one of those paintings that was germinated many years ago.  We are lucky to live close to a farm that sparks to life with color each October when thousands of pumpkins and Indian corn cobs come out for sale.  Everything looks so crisp...so golden

Painting a cornfield is always a challenge as it is comprised of so very much chaos. 

While painted using local color, I may not be averse to glazing with transparent yellow....will need to think about it.

This work is comforting to me.....it feels like home.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Opinions


Opinions   watercolor   12 x 9
While at the art center where I teach, I was struck by the simple beauty of some aluminum cans that were stacked up in the kitchen.  (The art center uses these for the plastic utensils) These cans, along with many of the things we use, are manufactured for one use, then recycled....into other ones, I hope.  I felt that one of these cans would make a perfect receptacle for a couple of very full valentine roses.  These two blooms are both so lovely and so complex, yet each calls for its own space.  Much like opinions, I think.  Individual relationships are beautiful and, yes, complex, and the loving ones allow for differing opinions and much discourse.

My husband and I are in the process of a kitchen makeover.  We love each other beyond measure.  But our opinions on so many small details differ:  on the materials to be used, on the placement of components, and, yes, on the cupboard handles as well.

What better metaphor for a home improvement?

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Winterberries and Bells

Winterberries and Bells   oil   12 x 9
This work got me reacquainted with by brushes early in the year.  The still life was put together using simple decorations that were still around long after the fun has subsided. 

I try to have no expectations whatsoever in such an exercise.  All in all, the background white, a gray green, pleased me.

2019 is gonna be a great year!

Sunday, January 27, 2019

...for the road

For the Road   oil   12 x 12
is a post-holiday work...one designed as a bit of practice, a return to the rigors of painting. And this particular set up involved a re-familiarization with the difficult ellipses. 

I have a family of coffee-lovers and, during the holidays, these beans abound:  those who prefer a winter spice from Trader Joe's, those who love a cup of McCafe, and those who relish grinding their own beans, the darker the roast, the better.  OK.  There are a few tea-lovers as well.

And, yes, we certainly do need a cuppa for the road.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Bat Marian

Bat Marian   watercolor   13.5 x 10
is the result of a life painting situation.  Marian and I were seated across from each other, both wearing masks.  Painting from life increases speed in decision making which results, I think, in a more spontaneous painting.  These works are often quite different from a more thoughtful approach, where sketches and decision-making are more prolonged and labored over.

Thinking sculpturally is a great advantage here where a knowledge of how a light source affects the landscape of a face helps it to read three-dimensionally.  Without this knowledge, which I like to call "understanding the nature of things", any work from life without a particular light source can become flattened.  Likewise working with a photo source.

Marian's mask was cast from metal....quite unusual.  I am pleased with this work.  I feel that it captures many of the effects which I constantly pursue.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Harvest Chair

Harvest Chair   watercolor   20 x 13
combines all of my seemingly necessary elements to portray both the beauty and the mystery of the approach of autumn and, subsequently, winter.  I feel the change of seasons in every bone, the rhythms of which are so necessary to my well-being.  The items:  my antique turquoise green chair, chippy with old paint and covered in decals; a vine wreath formed from our own vines and, of course, pumpkins, whose shape, color and flavor so appeal to me.  The problematic crux in such a work is to suggest the encroaching darkness by eliminating the lighter, fun-filled colors of a summer work.  I was desirous of an entwining dark and light pattern that seems almost unachievable.

I am somewhat satisfied.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Birdman - L

Birdman - L   oil/canvas   14 x 11
is a small oil painting done on site with a young dancer posing in a highly feathered costume.  I should say done...and redone...and redone.  While I did achieve a likeness at the session, I wanted to give more dominance to the headdress.  The background  was worked darker and darker to heighten, I believe, the sense of drama necessary to the subject.  My reference photo was over-flooded with light, so I decided to just go with it.  The goal was to sublimate the the facial features (a finely chiseled young male visage), thereby, throwing attention back to headdress.  I believe that I took this painting as far as it would go.

My recollection of the model was his discomfort from the overheating that it caused...imagine a hot summer day wearing a bird costume.....and more difficult yet....imagine dancing in it!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Nightshade

Nightshade   conte crayon   19.5 x 12.5
is a drawing done with conte crayon on an unknown kind of paper from my storage box.  I am trying to remember to label all of my papers, but am not always good at it.  As previously written, these sessions with the young dancers from Ballet Excel Ohio have provided the opportunity for me to break out of my usual routines with some experimentation...for me, having a few unknowns pushes my boundaries and provides stimulation in my R-brain.  The lighting, the pose, and yes, the model herself in her ability to relate to the artists provide variables to which we must adjust.  I look for lights that lead into each other in a sort of pattern.  Likewise with the darker shapes.  I like spontaneity as well as its polar opposite, deliberate refinement.  This particular drawing works for me.

The costume for this young dancer is that of a nightshade, a dark dancer that is a kind of minion for the queen, as I was told...a nightshade plant being that which is poisonous.

Darks.  Lights.  Makes for a good drawing.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Tutu

Tutu   watercolor pencil and walnut ink   19.75 x 12
The collaboration between Cuyahoga Valley Art Center and Ballet Excel Ohio has provided live models in the way of young dancers once a week for some time now.  I eagerly look forward to each session.  This series has provided the opportunity for experimentation...to use some of the forgotten drawing tools in my art box. 

I started with a half-sheet of Strathmore Aquarius II watercolor paper.  This sheet has many uses in that it is partially synthetic, thin and will not buckle.  During the entire 2 1/2 session, I used Derwent watercolor sketching pencils in light wash, medium and dark, alternating drawing with broad washes of water during the breaks.  At home, some washes of walnut ink completed the work.  For me, the challenge involved the pushing and pulling of strokes to reveal what is more important to the pose; and, conversely the less important. For this reason, I have always had such a difficulty with chairs and stools, as I realize the importance of having a support for the pose, yet despise the weight given to it.

This model wore the traditional tutu, hence the title.  I am pleased.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Tiny Dancer

Little Mermaid   charcoal, conte and gold leaf on toned paper   21.5 x 14
It has been so much fun to paint and draw from a live model again!  Due to the fine efforts of Cuyahoga Valley Art Center Center's new director Danielle Dieterich, young dancers from Ballet Excel OhioExcel Ohio have been modelling each Tuesday evening and will continue for some time.  We artists, mostly older, are treated to the movements and costumes of these young dancers. 

"Little Mermaid" was drawn in charcoal and conte crayon on a toned paper.  Gold leaf pieces were added later.  I had actually hoped for more covering on its application, but due to the fact that the adhesive was mostly dried up, and the high humidity, a more mottled effect was the result.  But I am happy. 

This pose, subtle yet powerful, is, I believe the result of a strong core and a slight curving of the small of the back.  I appreciate the strength and willpower of this young dancer!

Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Beach

is a place of ultimate relaxation for most...where schedules, compulsions and vanities melt away.  Such a vacation was ours to be had this year.  And, in the small square of condos where we stayed, I viewed at least three people taking up brushes, paints and sketchpads in search of the creativity that such freedom provides.  And, while making art is my profession, I don't aim my sites all that high at the beach.  Sand is everywhere, making its way into paint wells and brushes and eyes.  The light is all-too-pervasive, offering little in the way of contrast.  Values are skewed....when extreme light becomes the norm.  And the subject matter becomes a bit too sweet.

But what the beach does provide is the sense of playful painting, of painting without consequences.  I usually bring only a watercolor block and some pan colors, all in a small format.

These are my more successful results from this year's bunch.  There were others...not so successful.

But who cares?  I am on vacation.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Winter Mime

Winter Mime  oil   48 x 30 x 1.5
The date:  January, 2017 about 6 pm
The place:  The Short North; High Street; Columbus, Ohio
The temperature:  hovering around 1 degree F

As we exited a trendy restaurant where we had supped with our son and family, we turned right to head to our car, while they turned left.  Just ahead of us, performing in the frigid conditions, was a mime, an extraordinary mime.  He nodded in agreement at my request to photograph, while we were both amused and amazed at his skill.

This work is just one of what I hope will become a series dedicated to these wordless actors created from the many reference photos taken that day.

BTW....would anyone know who this is?

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Mary Jo

Mary Jo   oil on canvas   20 x 16 x 1.5
is a portrait done as a demonstration at Cuyahoga Valley Art Center.  Mary Jo is a vibrant and enlightened artist from our watercolor class.  I would guess that 90% of the work on this was done that evening...the strokes were accurate (!  always happy when that happens)  Some fine tuning, smoothing, and detail work was added later.

I am pleased with the degree of rendering and completeness as well as the color palette.  I feel that it is a good likeness.  This image was sent to her upon completion and she replied that it had the look of a watercolor.

I am also very very pleased when a work has the feel of both of these disparate mediums....as I feel that each one informs the other.  I am thrilled by the possibilities of each.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Honeydew

Honeydew   oil on canvas   9 x 12 x .5
melon was the subject...a new variety...with bright yellow skin...and every bit as delicious.  The pocket of seeds and membrane in the center was extremely important as I tried to replicate the rhythm of their placement, as well as the darks and lights, without too much detail, without describing each and every seed.  The background ratio was greatly reduced in order to bring the melon up close and personal.

The seed problem was handled to my satisfaction, and the color harmony pleased me as well.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Rest Notes


There is the music score...and then there are the spaces between the notes, the counter spaces, that define the piece every bit as much.  That which is played...and that which is not. 

We were recently treated to a visit from our California dear ones.  As we wanted to make this visit extra special, we participated in so many varied activities.  Our grandson is only six, so we also varied the tempo of our daily doings to include some rest time....mostly to watch shows or movies.  To me, this down time is invaluable.  I enjoyed this down time by opening my book and observing my loved ones as they relax....a pleasure. As we don't see them as often, my sketchbook acts as a bit of a diary, a photo album, of this special time. 

Truly my pleasure.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Gouache Redux

OH-585 S   watercolor and gouache   8 x 21
Many years ago I created several works in watercolor using a white gouache base that has been left to dry.  The colors become milky.  Pigment moves around, as this gouache layer acts somewhat as a gesso underpainting.  Whites can be retrieved, up to a point.  The delightful surprise this time around was that the resulting strokes left their own marks, leaving the work much more interpretive. I was less impatient to achieve reality.  I chose a simple layout with simple shapes.  The brush barely touched the surface.  Pie crust.  Darks are understated. 

This method provided the perfect atmosphere for a scene spotted on a beautiful spring day on OH 585-S while on a road trip to Wooster.

The brighter blue passages tickle my fancy.  I am pleased.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

The Red Bucket...Switching it Up

The Red Bucket   watercolor on Khadi   15 x 29
I would have to say that 140# cold press watercolor paper is the "go to" paper for watercolorists.  We get very content and familiar with Fabriano Artistico and Strathmore Artistico.  They do, after all, have many endearing qualities:  liftability; ease of moving the paint around, a perfect amount of sizing and a predictable softness. Vanilla ice cream.

What happens when we switch it up?  I like to say that changing one of your variables (paper, paint or brushes) is like the adjustments one must make while driving in various weather conditions...somehow we learn to maneuver around, hopefully with ease.  "The Red Bucket" is now my 4th or 5th painting on Khadi paper, a handmade, mouldmade, acid free  paper from India that is said to be made from recycled tee shirts.  At this time, I think that I am able to generalize the directions of works painted on Khadi:  1) the paint cannot be pushed around quite as readily, as it quickly sinks into the fibers 2) as a result of #1, the objects have harder edges than most of my work 3) the colors are stonger....I find that I am applying more layers than usual 4)  the paint can be lifted, somewhat, but with greater and greater difficulty 5)  the texture and vibrancy of these works is what make them stand out.  A completely different experience....fun to be had!  Rum raisin.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Hyper Peppers

Hyper Peppers   watercolor   8 x 8.5

Monday, May 7, 2018

to be continued...

Winter Mime   oil/canvas   48 x 30 x 1.5

Thursday, April 19, 2018

John A......taking the scenic route

John A.    watercolor/gouache    20 x 12
Not all works are completed in due time.  This one, along with another, was tucked away in a corner during the winter holidays.  The first, of a Victorian home in Columbus, was quite a disaster.  After spending another session on it, the work was relegated to the burn pile.  John offered more possibilities.

John posed for our watercolor class a few sessions ago.  It was attacked quickly, yet lightly.  Upon review, I discovered that the front arm took too much attention away from the face, so I began moving pieces and parts, blocks of color around.  As you can see, I am no slave to reality, and quite enjoy shifting focus and values to further my goal.  Background areas were painted, then washed off in my laundry tub to soften and blend.  (Note:  washed off, letting only water hit the surface....not scrubbed off) Eventually, I brushed and squeezed on a blue gouache mix left over from another project.  My heart went pitter pat.  I realized that I had come as close as possible to the version that pleased me.  Granted, I never start out to take the long way around to anything(the scenic route), but meandering can be beautiful as well as teaching us a few things along the way.

I am pleased.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Pink Tulips

Pink Tulips   watercolor on Khadi   13 x 13
underwent quite a journey in its making.  My original idea was to keep all values lighter with the wish that the overall atmosphere would be one of light.  However, I DID NOT HAVE TIME TO DO A DRAWING....BIG MISTAKE.  The tulips were complete and played with strokes of blue violet and an off-white-warm.  The painting was matted and framed.  As I passed by the work over the weekend, I felt the repeated strong urge to make the work mine, to utilize the strong value interludes that make a work more powerful and more visible from a distance.  In addition, I felt that the work was just too greeting-card-like...with a lightness and airiness that made it seem too fluff.  So, the background was washed down and the idea of a raisin and mahogany-colored background seemed to lead the way.  I began a series of thin washes over the next couple of days, each layer leading the way to the color that was in my head...more warm, more brown, more pink, etc. Finally, the implication of a vase shape was pulled down with my sponge. 

The end result is a far cry from my original idea....a bit more formal than my usual, but more becoming, I think, to the lush pink tulips.  I had been wanting to try this layering of washes for years.  This painting provided the opportunity to give it a try.  This is a technique used by watercolor artist Catherine Anderson whose work I explored many years ago. Nothing ventured.  Nothing gained.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Bunny Girl

Bunny Girl   Watercolor   13 x 8
is a keeper.  Painted many years ago, it contains the essence of what I am still striving to achieve today.  It is, to me, a great example of "zen mind, beginner's mind", i.e. having a mind that is open to countless possibilities.  Experience in painting provides an ever expanding repertoire of techniques and ways to achieve works with more impact due to greater familiarity with effective design.  Rules.  Rules.  And more rules.  All of these rules can cause too much L-brain thinking and deliberation...and self-doubt. 

For me, "Bunny Girl" has a lovely effortless quality. 

I yearn to retrieve the child artist within.

At times.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Me, Myself and I

Me, Myself and I   watercolor   15 x 12.5
Every now and again it is, I believe, healthy to look inwards.  I believe that, over the years, I have painted about 5 self-portraits.  There is a bit of discomfort inherent in this undertaking, if one is honest.  Sweetness must be discarded, along with the multitude of masks we wear throughout the goings-on of life.  Am I the person I want and yearn to be?  We have the option to continually strive at our own notion of "goodness" and "correctness".  More than once I have heard feedback on my selfies that I didn't do myself justice...what does that mean?  Too many wrinkles?  Skin that is not smooth enough?

I am reminded of the words of Kirk Mangus who often thought about aesthetic judgment.  He said, "Beauty is a figment of the imagination.  It is also completely controlled by prejudices.".  Soetsu Yanagi, a potter and founder of mingei, the Japanese folk craft movement, expressed similar ideas born from the philosophy of Zen writes:

     A true artist is not one who chooses beauty in order to eliminate ugliness, he is not one who dwells in a world that distinguishes between the beautiful and the ugly, but rather he is one who has entered the realm where strife between the two cannot exist.

That is where I dwell...where I choose to dwell.  For me, beauty lies in the process of the work itself, how we choose to spend our hours, our days.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Haystacks...and furrows

Haystacks   oil on canvas   8 x 24 x .5
Push and pull.   (Thank you Hans Hoffman)  What is there::what is not.  Relationships.

The quest in this work was the relationship between the haystacks themselves...and the furrows...a play between the cool and the warm.

While a completed snow-covered scene can be beautiful, it can tend towards sweetness and become a bit Hallmark-y.  The rural Pennsylvania scenes that feature both dead grasses along with pockets and dustings of snow a la Andrew Wyeth convey great power and mystery to me.  As an Ohioan, I will attest to the fact that most of the winter scenes depict these two polar opposites.  One of my current reads is The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard, a French philosopher.  I am currently in my second go-through in order to absorb his thoughts that I have chosen to underline.  He speaks of the poet's mind which is
touched by the attraction of opposites, which lends dynamism to the great archetypes.

This canvas was toned with orange, which became the base for the furrow.  The process continued slowly, as I tippy-toed toward the amount of snow coverage that satisfied my visual.  In the earlier stages, the diagonal furrows were more dominant....which lead them into distraction.  I did not anticipate just how much energy this problem would require.  I am also reminded of a similar horizontal landscape by the late Jack Richard.....it remains in my mind to this day....it was spot on.

Most of the bales we see today are machine-made and coiled.  These stacks are the work of the Amish.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Weight...

Weight   oil on canvas   48 x 36 x 1.5
the feeling of weight...is a fairly common human experience, I would think.  For the most part, I declare myself to be an optimist, but my days are full-up and sometimes it takes only one more tiny request to set my day into a tail-spin.  While more of us than not have overcome huge obstacles to get to where we want to be, it is, for me, a matter of perpetual shifting, sifting and sorting to keep my priorities in order. 

My current read is Supernormal by Meg Jay.  As it turns out, the most accurate predictor of those with grit, with determination and resilience, is LOVE... loving relationship(s) is what truly turns the tide...gets us over the hump.  My own personal hero is LeBron James, also an Akron-ite. 

This painting was 90% complete in the winter of 2016-17.  It was then propped against the wall and approached again this winter.  After years of trying to get portrait-perfect faces, I have been experimenting, for several years now,  with subduing the faces, in order to defer to the figure, or figures, in their gestural entities, for the purpose of more accurate story-telling.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Winter is Long in Canada

Winter is Long in Canada   oil   20 x 16 x 1.5
is a work half-completed from a live session with a model.  For years and years I faithfully attended the Friday model sessions provided by my local art group Akron Society of Artists.  Gradually I became tired of the static seated poses that resulted in order to keep the model from becoming too weary...that, I understand.  Creating more lively poses from photos was more exciting to me.  But there is much to be learned from painting from life.  Recently, I had a free Friday morning and decided to return to the model.  This was to be a two-week session.  As I was not free the following week, I scurried to get correct shapes and values, as well as a sense of movement.  The painting was fine-tuned at home using photos I took during the session.

Our Canadian model was apt and professional.  I thoroughly enjoyed making this work "my own".  I am hoping to find more time for live work this coming year.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Ode to Peppermint...

Ode to Peppermint   oil   9 x 12 x .5
...is another small still life designed to help me get back into creative decision-making, color decisions, and to just "feel" the paint as the brush touches the surface.  What could be better?  The remnants of all manner of peppermint treats fit the bill!  I set up this small scenario and set to work.  As the whipping cream kept melting, I did succumb to photographing the copper mug before I ran out of cream! 

Actually, the most difficult passages were the pine branches....they are, at the same time, quite delicate, yet strong, and very very complicated.  Each stroke was just too strong, until I pulled out my rigger brush and thinned the paint substantially.

A final passage was required to strengthen the reds and whites, especially at the intersections of the two.  I am happy, as this small scene captures what I felt during this very special season.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Back in the Saddle Again

Tea and Oranges   oil   12 x 9 x .5
Oh, the altered reality of the holiday season!  The lights!  The sparkles!  The company of family members around the fire and the outdoor activities in the winter coldness!  The great food!  The special parties and events that occur only this once during the year!   I love each and every part of this season.

Enter the forgotten studio....the paint hardened on the palette....the tidied piles of creativity that lack the doing....this is scary stuff....approaching the blank canvas or paper for the first time in a while, which I liken to any activity that has gone dormant. 

I find that simple still lifes are the first step I need to take to find my strokes again....simple compositions that take little thought and household items at the ready.  The subjects for the still life are quite forgiving as regards draftsmanship.....who cares if the mug is a bit too wide?....the orange a bit smaller? 

This simple painting is my first exercise of the New Year 2018.  Happy New Year!