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Friday, May 30, 2008

Complex Color

Is there anything more complex than color relationships? (oh yeah, human relationships) On day 4 of my reduction print, I started using a violet-black mixture for the bee body. After all, that is what they look like. I guess that for me, reality is great starting point, but quickly loses speed when measured up against the power of color harmony. I found that by adding more red to the mix, the overall color harmony seemed more pleasing and I seemed happier. However, when the red mix became more red-dominant, rather than black, it seemed that the bee was less powerful, less dominant. So, throughout the rest of the run, I tried to temper the red-black mix into the right (for me) combination. Hard work. Lots to learn. Lots learned. The result is shown here and is 1/67 AP of my run.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Stages of Creation

On day 3 of my reduction print process my joyous delirium came to a halt. It is the same with painting for me. The beginning of a new work offers up a veritable smorgasbord of possibilities and the excitement is practically uncontrollable. Then............reality sets in with the limitations and imperfections inherent in every work. That happened on day 3 with the application of the light violet. Cut marks that were unintentional showed up everywhere. I like a few accidental marks, but I always want them where I want them. Oh dear. Imperfection. I must learn to love it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Second Day of the road trip............feeling good. Doing this print project has provided so much excitement and a great release of energy.....just like vacation. Seeing things new helps to see things old in a different way. The application of the second layer(orange) was a challenge and also full of fun. I wanted a "veiled" that would provide a transparent feel, or the feel of something old and peeling. (the opposite of opaque and hard-edged). I experimented like crazy and felt that I had something good going on after about 30 prints. I used lots of extender, lightly sprayed the rolled out plexi where I rolled the ink, and even sprayed the block that had already been rolled with ink. I used a piece of mat board between the baron and the paper and the rubbing was done lightly and incompletely, avoiding edges. I was delirious with delight! Yes, vacation is a good thing.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Road Trip - Reduction Printing

Road trips are really good for everyone. Life in the studio can get pretty intense. The more you work, the more you immerse yourself and the more you don't want to leave. It is hard to separate yourself from the work. I am a painter. I am taking a road trip into reduction printing. I love the qualities that can only be achieved through ink quality that can only be achieved by such an indirect method. Printmaking is meticulous and must be planned carefully. I am excited. As a painter, I am largely driven by color. As I don't want to create many plates, I am going to use the reduction method whereby the block is gradually cut away for each subsequent the end, the block is destroyed and cannot be used again. I am shooting for a limited run of 50 prints, so I am starting with 80 prints. Many will suffer from smudges, mistakes, and probably dissatisfaction as I wind my way through several colors and application techniques. My subject is the honey bee. On the first cut, I only cut away the parts that I wish to remain white, or the color of the paper. It was a solid application on which to build. Yes..............we are on our way.

Friday, May 23, 2008

On Painting the Real....not the ideal

Young Man   oil/canvas   35 x 24 x 1.5
Drawing and painting the human figure excites me to pieces. I love the reality of people with all of their quirks and wrinkles. In our culture, we seem to worship the ideal.....those with the most symmetrical features, those with long lithe bodies, and those who appear to be magazine-worthy. Unfortunately, the ideal quietly becomes our reality and we can never ever measure up. Subjects that are stimulating to me seem more real and I choose to immortalize them on my make them my ideal.....I think that it is my small way of reversing the trend. "Young Man" is just that........a laborer with a shovel. We see men like him every day. He seems noble and worthy to me. The back lighting adds to the grandeur of such a common subject. I like that. I especially like the way the hand curls around the top of the handle. I am searching for the soulful....that is worth remembering and saving.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Paintings as a fingerprint

Lemonade   watercolor   13.5 x 18
I believe a painting is a fingerprint of the artist who created it. Each stroke reveals exuberance or temerity; joy or sorrow; faith or fear. That is very true for me. I look back at paintings and can remember how I felt on that occasion and can actually see the clues within. It has been a very cold and wet spring here in northeast Ohio which is very unusual. We have few screens in and have yet to enjoy our patio. Last year was another story. The painting "Lemonade" was created in my watercolor class....each week we attempted a still life from summer's abundance. I can remember how hot it was and how we had to keep replacing the ice cubes in the pitcher for accurate detail. This painting is now being shown at Hudson Fine Art and Framing in Hudson, Ohio.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Drawing as a Diary

MAC 2007...a sketch
I love to draw and have filled many small pocket-sized sketchbooks with my observations. Not only are they a way to pass time pleasantly while waiting, they are a way of keeping a visual diary. My sons have all been runners, so we have spent countless weekend hours at meets, both outdoor and indoor over the years. My books reflect the triumphs, the defeats, pleasures, and my attempts at understanding both the figure and human nature. I immediately feel calm when I withdraw my book from my bag and start to move the pencil around the page. I have found that people tend to resume the same 3-4 positions as they watch an event......due to weight shifting, turning for conversations, etc. So........I often have more than one drawing going at once of an individual. Of course, some are never finished and remain an eternal squiggle when the unknowing model wandered off. The drawing "MAC 2007" is a finished drawing of one of the scorekeepers at the indoor MAC championships held at The University of Akron. I like it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Drawing of the 10,000 Things

Columbine and Viola...a sketch
I have a drawing class called "The Drawing of the 10,000 Things at Cuyahoga Valley Art Center. Each week we have a theme of sorts and spend our time drawing small objects from life and nature while listening to music. It is my belief that by drawing and drawing and drawing, we will be able to solve future drawing problems in a larger format, as well as to draw conclusions about life problems as well. Last evening the theme was "Flower Heads and Blooms"....done to the music of Billie Holiday. Quite enjoyable. "Columbine" and "Viola" are two drawings from last night's sketchbook with noted conclusions at the bottom. Next week we will be drawing things we find in our yards or along the roadsides.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Summer Gold   watercolor   10 x 10.5
I really do like "shaking it up" in my painting by alternating materials, size and supports. The painting "Summer Gold" is on Yupo paper, a synthetic paper with an extremely coated-like surface. No stroke place on the paper is ever permanent. I liken the experience to painting on wax paper. Dollops of color are dropped onto the surface. Subsequent dollops placed on top tend to remove what was there earlier. Whoa..........this is difficult. The whole experience is like a dance of act-react-act-react. Exciting but difficult. Two artists I know who handle this surface beautifully are Mary Sanders and Susan Kiedio. They achieve wonderful results filled with texture! I was satisfied but found that I sorely missed my calm, flatly-painted areas for relief. This kind of painting, however, breaks up the status quo and expands the problem-solving abilities for further work.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Creating with what you are given

Fourteen   pastel on paper   23.5 x 17
I don't often use pastel. Every now and then, however, it is a fresh change of pace. Using a paper that has color is especially exciting since that color is already programmed into the work. That color is the "given". I love it when it shows through all parts of the work, not just the background. Using pastel can enhance spontaneity when it is used more as a drawing medium. Line work is much more crucial. "Fourteen" is a 3-hour picture that hit my mark.....that is sometimes so difficult. It satisfies all of my requisites for a good work......very rare. In fact, I used this image for my business card. Sometimes surprise is the result of creating with what you are given.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tip-toeing with boldness

Paint Brush (labor series)   watercolor   8.5 x 14
Watercolor is such a tricky medium. It represents poetry to me....economy of stroke, less is more, and an underlying grasp of drawing. Sometimes it is too easy to use light stroke after light stroke after light stroke, all done in a bit of fear. This sometimes results in a light, cheery, sparkling watercolor painting. Sometimes it results in anemia, a painting that is afraid to be. I try to pay attention to my intuition..... I know that I prefer bolder watercolors that can be read from a distance. I admire the lighter ones. I just don't seem satisfied myself when that happens. Alas and alack.....a lesson in what I am and what I wish to be. The painting "Paintbrush" resulted in class when our goal was to attempt a dark background.....FIRST. This boldness from the beginning set the tone for the rest of the process. I am pleased with the result.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Perfect or Cracked?

Cracked   watercolor   9 x 13.5
I think that we have all seen shoppers opening up cartons of eggs to check for cracks. I am one. After all, the cracks allow bacteria to enter the egg. The oozy yolk sometimes causes the egg to stick in the carton rendering it useless. Who wants to pay for an imperfect egg?

Art is yet another matter. I have always found the imperfect things in our world to be far more interesting. In class, we tackled egg cartons.....despite their seeming simplicity, they are so very complex in their two-point -perspective and their construction. Imperfect things seem to suspend the status quo of daily living, adding spice. They shake it up. I love imperfect things. "Cracked" is the resultant painting.

Monday, May 12, 2008

On Making a Connection

Hand Knit Scarf   watercolor   13 x 9.6
One of the reasons for failed paintings, I believe, is the inability to connect with, or feel committed to the subject. For me, this happens when someone else sets up a still life, or a model is distant or, to me, emits negative energy. It has happened time and time again. The young women I painted in "Hand Knit Scarf" was sweet and approachable. I felt the energy and time that she had put into making her own scarf. Although there are always many problems to solve in each painting, and often some resultant weaknesses, I am pleased with this overall result.

Friday, May 9, 2008

By gosh, I think I've got it!.....wait... I don't

Tarragon Vinegar and Pepper   watercolor   8 x 18.5
Why is it that some paintings seem to paint themselves, while others cause complete exasperation? "Tarragon Vinegar and Pepper" is such a painting. It was started as a demonstration in my watercolor class and almost finished up that evening. Only a few strokes were added later. Having such an experience causes you to think that you might finally have a grasp on the magic of painting. Alas and painting later and you wonder if you really are a painter, or perhaps an imposter. I muck around trying to solve the visual puzzles with little relief. Nothing pleases me. What a roller coaster ride!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Negative Painting

Beliefs   watercolor   18 x 19.5
Sometimes, especially in watercolor, intricate things are best described by the holes in them, or the space around them. This is especially true for things such as lace and garden fences. (Is there a life metaphor here?) This was the class lesson for "Beliefs". We were studying reliefs, raised surfaces, and how they are described by the light hitting them. I like to call this concept the "to's and the fro's". I paired up this iron garden cross with mineolas which were in season. Using a limited palette always pleases me. I am pleased with the result.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Making Time for Art

Strawberry Boat - Overboard   oil/canvas   5 x 7 x 1.5
I get very grumpy when I don't get to paint each day....just ask my husband. Most of my paintings are large and complicated.....I labor over the concept, the forms and the colors that will most succinctly support my ideas. However, there are days when the duties of being a homeowner, a consumer and an art manager(clerical work to support my calling) consume my time. Yesterday was such a day. I had only 2 hours for my creative work. Small paintings fit the bill for these days. Smaller paintings, for me, tend to be just about the subject matter at hand.....the beautiful colors and textures of fruits, vegetables and small things that don't normally catch our attention. Solving problems in a smaller format can help to solve larger ones down the road. Each has its lessons to teach. I am grateful for those 2 hours.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Transparency and Opacity

Summer Brie   watercolor   13.5 x 21
I work in both oils and watercolors. Each provides me with lessons that can be transferred to the other. I was obsessed with these opposing notions of transparency and opacity for years. Watercolor teaches a deftness and economy of stroke AND transparency. Oils provide creamy opacity. I love attempting both in all of my works. It has been said that opacity provides more of a viewpoint for the artist alone(what is).....and that transparency allows a window for the viewer to see more of his/her own viewpoint(what may be). This watercolor was started in my class and finished at home. It is being shipped tomorrow to the "Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts" and will hang at the Robeson Gallery at Penn State from June 11 through July 13.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


Daisy's Legacy   oil/canvas   16 x 20
My favorite paintings are of the human figure. But, from time to time, I paint things around me that make me feel. These peonies were started from my Grandma Daisy's peonies and this time of year they seem to shoot up from the ground seemingly overnight. However, the time it takes to get from the formation of the heads, to the endless stream of ants that eat from the sweetness and help them to open seems to take forever. I always hope for several lovely blooms to be ready for Memorial Day, when my mom and I take the billowy blooms to her grave site. Grandma Daisy didn't have much money and she didn't say much, but her garden was her glory. I thank her for this important lesson. It is difficult to paint flowers. These were painted from life in my studio. I feel that I have succeeded when the flower grouping has an animated gesture, when I really do feel the life within. The power of the peonies is cyclical and teaches me every spring.