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Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Ritual

Ritual oil/canvas 30 x 24 2 1.5 The scenery is beautiful but quickly forgotten. The faces of those cutting the trees meld into one. And, each year, the tree is the best ever. The ritual of the "bringing in of the tree" is the thing. The evergreen (EVER GREEN) presence in the midst of the cold and dark season is so welcome. As per my usual process, background pieces were painted in then painted over...roof lines, piles of snow, and fences. What remained, I think, is the essence of the ritual. Joyful blue. Ever-green. And, of course, whites, both cool and warm. I am pleased.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

The News: A Wiggly Tooth

The News: A Wiggly Tooth oil/canvas 14 x 11 x .5 This painting is the second of two painted from Facetime photos of our granddaughter. The joy, the unbridled enthusiasm of a seven-year-old cannot be equalled! It saddens me to think of how tainted we have become...how our notion of "news" shared with a friend becomes overblown and always, semmingly, escalating to our culture's notion of importance. I long for this simple joy...and I am grateful of her sharing.

Monday, March 15, 2021

S Has News

S Has News oil/canvas 14 x 11 x .5 A facetime call from an enthusiastic 7-year-old granddaughter is a superb gift anytime....during the virus lockdown, it is a lifeline. Our prescious dear one called one day with news....I was all ears....and all eyes, as I snapped several facetime photos from which to paint!

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Patchwork Mitten

oil/canvas 14 x 11 x .5 The subject for our class challenge was "feeling cold". Painting a mitten made by a dear friend of recycled woolen sweaters became a project dear to me. The challenges were many...painting a single mitten? ...and being able to suggest the kind of fabrics and textures involved without painting stitch by stitch...and to create balance within the picture plane without a given setting, or background. It took many passes...creating and destroying. This is my final solution. It has a feeling of whimsy, which is not really within my cache of emotional responses. I am happy. Why not paint a single mitten? If Wayne Thibaud can paint candied apples, cupcake and gumball machines, why can't I find the beauty and charm in such a simple subject?

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Totem

Totem oil/canvas 16 x 12 x .5 Like many grandparents, we have been sorely missing our dear ones during the pandemic. Technology saves the day with Facetime! Our children have been terrific about keeping in touch. We find ourselves caressing the screen as if to touch them. I have been snapping shots of them during these conversations, at first just to grace my computer and phone screens. My work had been uninspired since the beginning of the lock-down and I found myself lethargic....when, in the past, there were more subjects presenting themselves to my brain than I had time to paint. So.................I decided to paint a series of portraits taken during Facetime chats. The lighting is poor....and the pose is conversational rather than relaxed. "Totem" is the first of these. It is also inspired by the wonderful totem photos that my partner takes....this involves taking beautiful landscape or lakeside reflective photos and rotating them 90 degrees to convey a Rorschach-like image, sometimes scary but always interesting. My goal here was to let the images melt into the totem-like-effect, allowing a bit of freedom in the interpretation. This is very difficult when the subjects are your dear ones. And so, perhaps I was a bit timid in this portrayal, but I am happy.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Snow, Shovels and Leonardo DaVinci

February oil/canvas 16x12x.5 Snow Shovels are common winter accessories here in northeast Ohio. This small painting was a class challenge, the challenge being a painting inspired by 1) cold 2) containing two elements 3) the study of relationships...one element to the other. So.......the relationship between the blade of the shovel and the small mound of snow in front is the result of the challenge. Relationships are everything. It was indeed Leonardo DaVinci who said, "Realize that everything connects to everything else".

Monday, February 15, 2021

Recalling Pinehurst

Recalling Pinehurst oil/canvas 8 x 8 x .5 Our travels have been punctuated with lovely fragrances! Hikes along the California coastline were abundant with sages and wild grasses. The lush, moist air in Virginia held onto scents that filled us up spiritually. And....North Carolina.....ah....the pine scents that rush up to you as you exit your car.....that first trip to Pinehurst will be tucked into my olfactory memory forever. I adore these giant cones from the longleaf pines...in fact, I revere them. We collected the cones on hikes every year and displayed them during the holiday season. We also pitched them into flower beds to make them more interesting. I consider these cones to be objets d'art.....simple yet complex, enduring and appreciated in so many ways.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Recycling and P. R. Miller

OIL/CANVAS 20 X 16 X 1.5 P.R. Miller haslong been a fixture in the Akron, Ohio art scene. He is, admittedly, eccentric and calls himself The Grizzled Wizard. And he is quite a character. Many years ago, he posed for our local art group for, I believe, three sessions...that was 2007. Recently, I unearthed this painting from my archives. While I still enjoyed the likeness, the pose and the painterly quality, I was highly disturbed by the background. Texture, texture, too much texture everywhere! So....taking brush to hand, I gave the background a new sparse look. While I am happy with the improvement, it is definitely not the way I would approach the subject at this moment in 2021. And, yet.....I cannot help but think that this newer treatment is appropriate for P.R. Miller, the ultimate and foresightful recycler!

Monday, January 18, 2021

Iron Pot on Plaid

oil/canvas 8 x 8 x .75 As a painter who works both in oil and watercolor, I have worked my way into a seasonal rhythm that satisfies my needs...oil in winter and summer; and watercolor in spring and fall. Both processes take up lots of space in my small studio, and, with clean up and several ongoing projects, the chaos is just too time consuming to pursue both simultaneously. That said, this small painting is my personal introduction into oil painting season. There is always a bit of trepidation involved....like the beginning of each and every painting, only magnified by the change of mediums. Keep it simple. Get the feel. Stretch your boundaries. Handle the brush with softness. Channel the viscosity. Many things to keep in mind. The subject became the water-filled iron pot that sits atop our wood stove, its purpose to re-humidify the air. Checkered napkin left from a holiday dinner that never happened. Originally, I had stuck a pine branch through the handle. That was painted out... just like the minimalization trend that has infused my brain, I am, these days, bothered by too many pieces-parts in the subject matter. Besides, I like the negative space inside of the handle. Having more "background" space allows for greater creativity in the painting process and a more restful feeling, something, I believe, we are all craving these days. At the very end, I impulsively used a bottle cap immersed in paint to print some circles on top. That might have been a mistake, but the next day I was pleased with the result. That act satisfied my wabi-sabi need for chaos in a subject that can easily, for me, dissolve into too much sweetness. I am satisfied and ready to move on.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Sheds

Sheds watercolor 12 x 12 In our neck of the woods, (used-to-be-rural-but-is-now-semi-rural) sheds are a commonality....everyone seems to have at least one. What's not to like about them? They exude charm without a drop of pretentiousness. They provide storage and ambience to country living on larger properties where they just seem to fit. I watched a few episodes of "Grand Designs" with Kevin McCloud, having been recommended by another artist. In one episode that takes place in Wales, I think, the builder has been inspired by the sheds that dotted his childhood landscapes. The sheds in my painting were viewed in October from hiking trail that abutted a private property. Autumn, of course, provides an automatic color palette when painting from life. Design was more of a concern as one of the sheds needed a dominance. Flow was also a deliberate consideration as I strove to keep a unified whole rather than two separate halves.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Monumental

conte crayon on paper...36 x 22 Giving birth to a child is a most monumental life-changing experience one can have. It was for me, over 40 years ago....and it was, for sure, a most wished-and-wanted-for event. Some things never change. For our three sons and three amazing daughters-in-law, it is even more so...given the careers of the parents, and the challenges that they face on the work front, along with those faced at home. I believe that they want what I wanted....to raise children in a happy and safe environment as well as to meet their own personal goals. Definitely monumental. The standing pose of the most recent birth experience emphasizes this notion of monumental. The drawing is a simple one done in conte crayon on paper. I was in awe during the making of it. And I am in awe of their efforts, so much larger than my own.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Mogadore Reservoir

Mogadore Reservoir watercolor 21 x 13.5 is our local retreat into nature. We have hiked its trails, kayaked the waters, observed the wildlife, photographed its wonders and collected its rosehips for the past 40 years. It is dear to us. Every now and again, I paint landscape. While not my favorite subject, I give it my all. Perhaps the vastness of all of that organic substance is too confusing for me. I dislike using masking fluid, as well as painted individual leaves. In short, many watercolor landscapes have far too much hard edge for my liking. My process is a more overall chaotic treatment siphoned into a bit of detail. I liken it to an accordion as it expands and retracts. So...my work was cut out for me. All efforts at producing the texture of leaves in the foreground ran amuk in the darkness of the shadows....and the itty-bitty-ness of it all bothered my aesthetic. A few leaves, the hangers-on, were painted in quick strokes. The overall feel is exactly the way I feel as we enter the autumn woods, however.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

My Porch

My Porch watercolor 20 x 12 Autumn is such a naturally beautiful time of year....and my heart quickens as I approach the side door of our farmhouse. Pumpkins are stunning to me....large and round and ORANGE. This work was painted from reference photos shot at a time of day where the sun played with the objects on the porch. And, yet, there is a sinister quality to this time of year with shortening days and the falling of leaves. No one did pumpkins more soulfully than Andrew Wyeth, in my opinion. The climate of his work is positively haunting. My watercolor style, too, is a bit heavier than some....perhaps that is because I am also an oil painter. I also take "heavier" watercolors more seriously....they have, to me, a more thoughtful, more layered quality that packs a punch that can be read from a distance. (Sometimes, I wish to be a lighter painter, but, I am not). The shadow area in this work was ever so important with a few hues underneath the final dark blue-green wash. The support beam on the porch is not upright and suggests, to me, my approach up the stairs. And, of course, it follows that my notion of life, in general, is more complex, more serious, weightier. And, so.....this is my porch.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Essential Lotto

Essential Lotto...ARtGraf graphite block on paper...30 x 16 Ideas come in fits and spurts. During my many walks each week doing a loop around the central area of our small township, I took note of the people going in and out the door of Circle K.....and caused me to wonder just what was essential enough to dawn and mask and shop at a convenience store....gas? made-to-go sandwiches and hotdogs? and, yes....LOTTO. A dream of winnings that might be the way out for many folks of the apathy and distress that seem to hover over this period in time. So....surrepticiously, I shot many photos of these customers as they entered and departed. The plan was to create a series of figurative works describing what each of these individuals considered to be essential. The woman in this work was not young....it took her many minutes to unfold from her car and conduct her business. The door itself was not easy for her to maneuver. Several minutes later, she emerged with a long string of lotto tickets. Ah...THE DREAM. I am quite happy with this work. I hope she scratches off a winning number. I wish her hope.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

The Yellow Sofa

The Yellow Sofa ArtGraf graphite block 36 x 29 Our mornings begin with reading. The simple shapes and backlighting of this scene were too much to pass up. Photo references were shot and I relished the opportunity to experiment more with ArtGraf graphite blocks. This medium is DENSE...and then some. My previous attempts were far too dark, far too opaque and I yearned for more of a continuum from softly rendered to opaque and dense. I find that these are unlike any other drawing mediums...adding water makes them even more dense. It really did take a while to find my footing....and some semblance of a comfort zone. While most mediums thin out and become more transparent with the addition of water, these graphite blocks are the exception. I quickly became more judicious about crossing the surface with a wide brush loaded with water. This work was done on 140# hot press watercolor paper. I like the final result, which has a bit of everything, yet reads boldly from a distance. I am not sure that I would use this medium on a subject with a softer inclination. And, typically, true to me, I seem to yearn for that which I do not have.....my next work will be a more softly rendered one using softer drawing tools.....conte crayon, charcoal or pastel.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

A Hole in Rodanthe

 

A Hole in Rodanthe   watercolor   29 x 20 
It was November...a short trip to the Outer Banks where we stayed in a little house to soak up the wildness that this part of the country offered to us.  It was so momentous to me as our youngest son met up with us there...many beach-combing hikes, many great meals, some entertaining card games.  And THE WIND...OH, THE WIND.  

The ocean had offered up twigs, branches, and many many conch shells, each showing the wear of the tides.  It was impossible not to feel amazingly primitive...so opposed to the sequestered lives we live daily.  

In this work, my challenge was to merge the figure with the seaside.  While working, I was able to relive the experience.

I am satisfied.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Gal from Maine

Gal from Maine   watercolor/cold wax/wood cradle    11 x 14 x .75
                           



When our son's family comes to visit, they bring along their two delightful Maine Coon cats.  These felines are gentle giants...fluffy, snuggly and easy to get along with.  One of their endearing quirks is that they love to drink from bathroom sink faucets and cozy up in the bathroom sinks....lucky for us that we have two side-by-side sinks to accommodate them!


The greatest challenge in rendering animals is to get the feel of the fur without getting too detailed, as detail takes away from the coat as a whole.  These cats have a tortoise appearance, with many layers of color rolled into one.  I began with some warm washes and tried to sublimate the fur to the form of the animal.  Cooler and neutral layers were placed on top.  Initially, I started to put in the actual spigot and handles, but that was much too much detail for my liking.  They disappeared into the dark background.

I like the feel of this work.  I also like the placement of the whites, which were toned down a bit at the end.

Most of all, I love these cats!

Monday, September 14, 2020

Jeanne's Peaches Plus One

                                                    
Jeanne's Peaches Plus One   watercolor/cold wax/wood   14 x 11 x .75         

Wow...this new blogger is a bit tough to figure out and, quite frankly, I just hate the time that it takes to figure it out!

The challenge with this work was to paint something in a jar....this situation causes the subject to receive light in a more diffused way...shapes merge and separate with less distinction.  It is a terrific lesson in painting what you see, rather than what you know to be true.  In this case, I chose a GIANT jar of peaches given to us last Christmas.  Because it is so very lovely, I cannot bear the thought of actually using it!  

And....this work was fixed with cold wax and fixed permanently to a wood cradle...an exciting frameless option for watercolor paintings.

                                                         

Monday, September 7, 2020

Farming

Farming   watercolor   19 x 11
is a difficult endeavor, although it holds a rather romantic notion in our minds...one of simplicity and honesty, I think. 

My goal in painting this work was to focus on a foreground of semi-nothingness, a quilt work patterning where values and color tonalities have minimal variation.  And, I realize that this challenge may have been far more easily accomplished in oil than watercolor.  For the reference photo, I pulled off of a major highway and hiked to the edge of a local farm.  The terrain was horribly uneven and difficult to maneuver.  I chose a spot leading up to the farm that best seemed to illustrate my goal.  The sky was minimalized.  The buildings were done in just a few strokes.  Most of the work was, of course, in the foreground, where I attempted to achieve chaos and uncertainty.  I am satisfied with this attempt, although I found myself yearning for more opacity, as transparent watercolor has a limited range of workability.

All in all, I feel that this work totally exemplifies the difficulties of farming.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Steeple

Steeple   watercolor   20 x 12 
During the virus shut-down, my walking path is fairly regular...a small loop around the small community where we live.  Steeples have always intrigued me...this one just atop an abandoned medical building.  While not particularly engaging, it still represents, to me, an uplifting, a reaching toward the optimistic, the infinite. 

Originally, the background colors were very bright, leaning the work more toward the typical watercolor painting.  I could not resist the urge to pair the transparent with the opaque, so a wash of Chinese White was applied to the background, quieting the sky and moving the structure to the forefront.  I am not quite sure I am happy with this decision, but the sky area is now more akin with what we experience here in northeast Ohio.  I definitely have an allergy to happy happy skies. 

Over the years, I have also some to dislike, in my own work, the more primary application of paint to replicate shingles and bricks. So, in this case, the end of an eraser was dipped into a giant puddle of paint, creating a more secondary, chaotic and imperfect application. 

I am pleased with this more interpretive consideration of the subject.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Garden Phlox

Garden Phlox   watercolor   10 x 10
What watercolor class would be complete without a floral study?  ....which I consider to be among the most difficult of subjects, due to the fact that there is an overwhelming amount of information that must be sifted and sorted.

But I also believe that there must be a why...the reason why this particular bloom, among so very many, was selected as a subject.  For me, this painting was color-driven.  As I pass by it beside our porch, I am momentarily stunned by its color, the mysterious product of nature.  The overall atmosphere is so much more important to me than perfect leaves, perfect blossoms, perfect stems.

The greatest challenge in this one was the middle circle, the missing area that contains information on a plane that is further back than the outer rim of blossoms. The background wash was extended into this inner circle and the information only suggested.  And, of course, I added my signature brown to neutralize the sweetness of the so much pure color.  I also like the stem which has been skewed from the vertical.

I am pleased.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Fruits of the Summer...I just couldn't stop!

Cherries   watercolor/cold wax on wood cradle   8 x 8 x .75

Plums   watercolor/cold wax on wood cradle   8 x 8 x .75

Watermelon   watercolor/cold wax on wood cradle   8 x 10 x 1.5

Grapes   watercikir/cold wax on wood cradle   98 x 8 x .75

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Fruits of the Summer and Parlor Tricks

I am not really into parlor tricks, or "special effects" in painting.....as I value solid painting skills and solid brushwork...at least that is my aim.  Sure, I have used wadded up plastic wrap to create texture and rely regularly on spritzing for its subtle effects.  But I have to draw the line at sponged trees.  In fact, being a watercolor purist nagged at me for years before I succumbed to being "allowed" to add Chinese white or gouache for more opacity.  I am more forgiving these days.  My notion of what makes for good artwork has expanded considerably.

These small fruit paintings were adhered to wood cradles with acrylic matte medium and glazed on top with cold wax.  The resultant effects were quite exciting to me, as a painter who always matted and framed watercolors.  (increasing their size substantially)  I worked in brighter colors and simpler shapes.  The results are richer, more compact.  I feel that they pack more of a punch, being similar to small oil paintings which I usually work on a gallery wrap canvas.  Very exciting.

Do watercolors always have to be matted and framed?  I think not.  And I am anxious to try some larger works using this method.

Granny Smith and Lime   watercolor/cold wax on wood cradle   8 x 8 x .75

Lemon   watercolor/cold wax on wood cradle   8 x 8 x .75

Grapefruit   watercolor/cold wax on wood cradle   8 x 8 x .75

Friday, July 31, 2020

Waiting For a Friend



There were two major opportunities in this little scenario that gave me pause.

The first....a black-lit situation.  These have always made me uncomfortable, as I am a value painter who relishes the shifts of light over the terrain of the human face.  With the light coming from behind, the value play, while atmospheric, is so limited.  In these cases, it seems to me, the silhouette, the profile becomes more important...harder edges result.  So....this case allowed for some practice in this situation.  I find it less interesting, but still enjoyable.

The second....waiting.  I have heard it said that real life is what happens when one is waiting for something more exciting to come along.  This young woman, intent on her phone, was seemingly waiting for cues from "the somewhere else" to amuse and entertain her.  Being a person who immensely enjoys the free play of my own mind, I find this alternative both alien and unsatisfactory.  Being alone provides me with so much pleasure!  People with cell phones are never alone...how sad?

Monday, July 27, 2020

Too Complicated

I have dozens of sketchbooks.  And, since our current sense of time and scheduling has been seriously challenged, I have found myself meandering through these small journals that have taken me on many journeys throughout the years.  They are diaries to me.  And....I have found that my freshest and most appealing observations have been found on these small pages.  They have seen me through vacations with family and friends, through the births of grandchildren and to emergency and waiting rooms at various hospitals. The sketches are often unfinished and imperfect, yet somehow hit the mark.

This is one of my favorites:  an 87 year old woman in the waiting room of a knee surgeon who kept saying to her companion (over and over again):  ..."and that's another example of how things are too complicated these days".
The year:  2012.

She had no idea.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Bowl of Cherries

Bowl of Cherries   watercolor   10 x 14
was an "in search of" painting for me.  The previous two works were experimental, with an attempt at channeling the processes of two of my hero watercolorists.  Both were on the minus side of satisfactory...perfectly presentable, but not me.  While I did manage to stretch my boundaries, and to understand other ways of interpretation, I longed to be in my own skin.  Just as in life, it seems to take only a short road trip to appreciate the comforts of home.

The set up was lit.  The subject drawn and mostly understood.  All of the qualities that I most value seemed to come together.  The background was originally a watery beautifully-painted blue.  But as I am also an oil painter, and because I highly value the richness of dark values, another wash was added....and I was happy as a clam.  Imperfect edges.  Lost and found qualities.  The subtle description of the woven cloth. Drippy paint.

I was happy to be home.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Hopeful

Hopeful   watercolor/pencil   16 x 10.5
Each Spring we anticipate the arrival of bluebirds who fill our box with a nest and small blue eggs.  They face many hazards:  late Spring freezing, parasites and house wren assassins who pierce their tiny eggs.  It becomes a real-life drama in our own back yard.  Will they fledge?  We are always HOPEFUL.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Sliding Back Into Watercolors

Red Bud   watercolor   13.5 x 10
is a daunting task.  This painting was one of the first watercolors of the season.  As I have little patience for perfectly arranged bouquets, I stuck some red bud branches into a jar, along with some vinca vine for interest. Floral paintings can easily become a story about the vase, which doesn't do much for me.  Simple stories do. The palette was limited.  Detail was kept to a minimum.  Both sides of the paper were lightly misted with water, as the transition from wet to dryer is one that both appeals and excites. The bottom background shape was painted with a light wash from the mixing well of the palette, combining all of the previously used colors to create a harmonic neutral.  And, of course, brown (a reddish tone) in the top background.  I have found that I like to offset the sweet floral hues with an earthy brown which, for me, keeps the floral paintings from reading too sweetly.

After years and years of painting both from life, and from reference photos out of necessity, I have found that I much prefer the imperfect boldness that occurs when I paint from life. 

I am still trying to define what, for me, makes a good painting.  It is always so elusive.

I am ready to  move one.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Boys and Creeks

Boys and Creeks  oil/canvas   30 x 20 c 1.5
My husband loves poking around in creeks.  Our three sons loved poking around in creeks.  And now, our grandchildren are following suit.  There is an exciting world living just beneath the surface.....crawdads, fossils, and interesting rocks and minerals beckon.  Wet feet?  No worries.  Dirty hands?  A momentary inconvenience.  Muddy boots?  They can be cleaned.

During the virus, our family has kept in touch more than ever as we share photos from across the country.  Seeing these daily activities, as well as coping activities, has provided us with such pleasure.  From the seaside beaches of California to the shallows of Ohio's rivers and streams, we are united in the passion of exploration. 

This painting was referenced from such a photo. I am in awe of their resilience and their spirit. 

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Orange E

Orange E   charcoal/watercolor   13.5 x 11
is our wonderful 7-year-old grandson, whose snaggle-tooth grin could not be ignored.  This drawing is, and was intended to be soft.  It is rendered in charcoal on Rives BFK, a highly-rated paper, usually used for printmaking.  It's soft surface and weight was perfect for this project.  At the end, I decided to use watercolor for his sweatshirt, as E.'s favorite color is orange, which he frequently wears.

In terms of photo references, I will admit that the lighting was not perfect, as the photo was taken during a Facetime chat...an amazing process, that I could never have dreamed to be possible.  We take what we can get these days.  Of course, for a dramatic rendering, where shadows and lights create a more interesting patterning on the face, a studio set-up with lighting and a more considered picture-taking process would have possible. 

I believe that, in this case, the softer presentation of everyday lighting worked out well.

And....btw....those baby-teeth-hangers-on have now been replaced with some emerging larger pearly-whites.  I love this age.  Enthusiasm.  A lightness of spirit.  Hope.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Harbinger

Harbinger   waterclor   6 x 9
is a perfect description for the robin, whose presence marks the onset of warmer weather.  This small work is another warm-up to reacquaint myself with the watercolor medium.  As I painted this small wonder, I cam to realize how very round they are!

This was an additional challenge for me, as I am more comfortable with large brushes than small, large formats than small.  And...retaining the "whites" is always the greatest challenge!

I am pleased.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Switching Gears

Fistful   watercolor   6 x 9
from oils to watercolors.  Where I live, in Ohio, the year is divided into four distinct seasons...weather-wise, food-wise, and attitude.  This I love.  Because my painting loves are equally divided between oils and watercolors, I switch up mediums seasonally.  I have tried to do both simultaneously and it just doesn't work....for me.  Different feels, different clean ups, different approaches.  Too confusing.

Enter Spring.....I decided to do just a couple of small ditties to whet my watercolor appetite and to rid myself of the fear of the white paper.  No formal set-ups....just a fistful of blooms from our yard.  I was so happy to be painting this work and opposed the transparent pigments of the blooms with a more opaque handling of the background....just chalky like I like it.  Fistful. 

Friday, May 8, 2020

The Paper at the Back of the Closet

Kick   mixed/paper   27.5 x 18
was given to me many years back.  Forgotten. What is it?  Giant roll.  Heavy heavy.  A bit of texture.  Feels like watercolor paper.  No label.

And so, given our current circumstances, I decided to give it a try. What was meant to be a tender charcoal drawing morphed into the unintended...strong, aggressive.  No pigment could be moved around.  The blending stump was useless.  Watercolor stayed put and immediately sunk in.  No ability to wipe off splatters.

I must say that in the past, I have been quite excited and stimulated by the feel of a new ground as it allows for a bit of chaos, providing a novel experience.  In fact, I have prided myself on this flexibility.  But here I reached my limit.  The struggle was almost unbearable. 

Nevertheless, I took the work to finish. While I am pleased with the result, I am not anticipating using it again. 

Lesson to be learned:  label all papers when you can. I believe that it was unsized. 


Friday, May 1, 2020

Flight of Fancy

Ascension   oil/canvas   24 x 48 x 1.5
This painting, is, was a flight of fancy for me.  While based in reality (the reference photos were shot at the parade in University Circle  Cleveland several years back), its intention is simply "upwards".  During this weird time period of sickness and fear, I needed this flight of fancy to maintain equilibrium, a return to a positive outlook when faced with so much turmoil and distress.

Actually, my brain takes MANY flights of fancy each day.  I am not sure if this happens to anyone else, or to everyone.  But I can say for certain, that these little mind travels are imperative to my emotional well being.  It is only when my mind is otherwise occupied with sociability and tasks that life becomes, well, dull and static. 

And, as sychronicity would have it, I am currently reading my first ever surrealistic work, Nadja by Andre Breton.  He questions whether or not we are defined by the lives we lead on a daily basis OR by the surprises, the flights of fancy, that we take.

And, so it is that this work is a bit of, I believe, surrealism on my part.  My flight of fancy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Koi

Koi   oil/wood panel   18 x 24 x 1.5
Paintings of Koi fish are not unusual.  In fact, a couple of artists are known for their large eloquent studies of their color and movement.  But my reason for painting this work was strictly sentimental.  This celebrates our son and daughter-in-law earlier in their relationship. 

Resolution of this work came very very slowly...partly because I worked on a gessoed wood panel, which is not my norm.  This surface responds completely differently to stroke-making, causing a bit of tension on my part.  And, I suppose, partially because there is a bit of a story here.  Most of my figures are "lost in space", allowing me to meander between the figure and the ground, eliminating much along the way.  But here, in this instance, when telling a story, the pieces must in more in tact.  I am satisfied.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Kids

Kids   oil/canvas   30 x 40 x 1.5
ARE THE BEST!   This painting was a joy to paint....from reference photos taken at a birthday celebration at COSI in Columbus shortly before Ohio's shelter-in-place began. Out of the many shots taken, this one in particular revealed the many personalities and energies of these kids...the bashful, the giddy, the superheroes. 

My goals were threefold:  to let the individual personalities express themselves; to sublimate the "likenesses" so that the group gesture would shine through; and to emphasize the counter-spaces between the figures to enhance the interconnectedness of the positives and negatives.

I am supremely happy with the outcome....makes me wish I were a kid again!

Monday, April 6, 2020

Bouquet Without Stems

Bouquet Without Stems   oil/canvas   12 x 12 x 1.5
was not a planned project.  Sometime in March, I started seeing lots of primrose plants in the stores.  Primroses are on my list of "poorly painted subjects from the past" that, eventually, I have plans to attempt again....along with swans and pumpkins.  And so, I laid a plan.  On the way to class, I stopped to pick up a primrose plant...three stores later, I was still being told that they had all died.  And so I ended up with one of those fairly nondescript bouquets that is a mix of lovely separates with no particular theme.  Attempts to put this bunch in any vase at the art center created a leaning, skinny bouquet with no rhythm.    Considering all of my options, I chose to paint each of the kinds separately on a flat two-dimensional, tile-like plane.

No stems.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

This Little Piggy

This Little Piggy   oil/canvas   12 x 16 x .5
Small children and baby animals are sure-fire subjects for a painting.  Who does't love 'em?  One of the hazards, in my view, is the overly-saccharine quality that can spoil the serious thoughtfulness of a work.  Another, in the case of a pig, is its overall round and fairly uninteresting shape.  I recall here, my first few paintings that included pumpkins and the difficulties I had in the rendering of such large, round shapes.  For me, for my own sense of "correctness", that shape must be broken up in some way.  The outside-in::inside-out principle  must be put to use here.....for me....so that I can feel satisfied upon completion.....the pig likeness and the overall design of the picture plane are both important to me.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Rachel

Rachel   oil/canvas   16 x 12 x .5
is a budding artist in my evening oil class.  Our challenge was to pose for the camera in winter gear....the point was "to look cold".  At that point in February,  we really didn't have to try that hard, I might add.  I printed the photos (in gray scale) at home, laid them face-down on the table, where each artist selected another's portrait to paint. 

I have taken a liking to toning my canvas well ahead of time in a color that complements and supplements the overall palette.  My toned canvas was a turquoise-y blue.  This cool tone was selected in order to counter the warmer flesh tones which would lie on top.  This blue can be seen on the hat, on the face, in the hair and on the shoulder areas.  For me, it adds a bit of excitement, a bit of chaos, to what might become a too-tightly-rendered portrait.  It seems that we all have a more difficult time with "looseness" in a portrait situation, especially when likeness is a goal. 

I hope that Rachel is pleased.....because I am!

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Les Pieds

Les Pieds     pastel/mixed   28 x 21
is a work completed as a result of our Tuesday evening sessions of live modeling featuring the young ballet dancers of Ballet Excel Ohio.  I use these sessions as experimentation....as a springboard to hatch new ideas...new forms of visual expression.  The model typically performs a series of limited-time poses before settling into a pose for the rest of the evening.  I used two of these quick poses along with the longer one on one sheet of paper using pastel.

At home, I worked on these three drawings to attempt to create a unified whole...washes of water were added to create softer edges where needed.  Then, using a combination of linoleum blocks, one uncut and one a pre-cut design, to print on top using relief ink.  I used cut pieces of tracing paper on top of the shapes I wished to retain in order to block the printing.  The final pass was spent in trying to merge both the drawing and the printing processes...searching for a bit of balance.

By enunciating the feet and diminishing the facial features, the attention was shifted to the feet.  (hopefully).  I am satisfied.  In fact, I am pleased.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Uniqke

Uniqke   watercolor and pencil   20.5 x 13.5
Each and every session of life-drawing and painting involving the young dancers as models has been a one-of-a-kind experience.  The relationship between artist and model is an intimate one, even  during the 2-3 hours that we spend together.  Each dancer's personality is revealed in subtle ways, along with her individual talents.

This young dancer oozed grace from every pore in her being.  She had a sunshine personality and a quiet stance.  She took the most simple of poses and turned it into an extreme experience for me.  I believe that this simple watercolor and pencil drawing echoed her personality.  No drama.  No excess.  Simply beautiful.

It was a rewarding experience for me.

ONE-OF-A-KIND.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Suddenly

Suddenly   watercolor and gouache   28 x 18
the falling sun came through the October skies, making the treeline sparkle like jewels.  This grand finale occurred just a half mile away from our home upon return from a week-long road trip to St. Louis.  I am just grateful that I was paying attention!

I am convinced that looking up and looking down should be added to our visual repertoires....looking straight ahead can be limiting.

There is no way to replicate the sparkling jewel tones I witnessed that day, at least for me.   But I tried, once again finding a perfect use for the handmade florescent watercolors made at Case for Making in San Francisco!

What a rush!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Grace is Her Middle Name

Grace is Her Middle Name   Artgraf used as watercolor   13 x 10.5
Each Tuesday evening at Cuyahoga Valley Art Center we artists are treated to a live model session by the young dancers at Ballet Excel Ohio.  I use these sessions to play with my materials and to experiment.  On this particular evening, I used the ArtGraf Tailor Shape  by Viarco which are blocks of pressed pigment that can be used for drawing or painting, when a brush dipped in water is applied.  They are thick.  They are chunky.  They are opaque. And they are strong.  Hence, a chunkier work of art can be expected.  This work was done on 140# Fabriano Artistico hot press watercolor paper.

As the light on the model washed out subtler nuances of value, I chose to go with a simple 3-value work, with the white of the paper in a dominant role.....I honestly had a difficult time pushing the pigment around.  But I am satisfied, as this experiment resulted in a stronger work....stronger, albeit, than I am used to.

I admire these young dancers and look forward to their production of "Snow Queen" in March.