May 30, 2008

(179) My Mother's Roses
private collection
5 x 7, oil
"Plein-air painting is not a spectator sport, and it's not a team effort. It's the discipline of discovering yourself as you try to unravel the magic"...Skip Whitcomb

"The plein-air artists gets to do it all--location scouting, directing, poetry and painting. Each painting is part of a continuous tale, capturing the moment and recording the forever changing landscape of life"...Randall Sexton

May 29, 2008

(178) Yellow Iris
5 x 7 , oil
"The sun on rich objects and mystery in shadows, the feel of the temperature and atmosphere on my skin - these are the foundations of my compulsion to paint"...Kathryn Stats

May 28, 2008

(177) Pink Rhododendrons
private collection
5 x 5, oil

Those wonderful things out of doors...rain, falling snow, wind--all these things to contend with only make the open-air painter love the fight"...Elmer Schofield

May 26, 2008

(176) White Rhododendron
private collection
6 x 8, oil
"An early flourish of confidence is useful. Then there's the small crudites--the slubs and bumps that come with outdoor work--the odd charm of imprecision"...Robert Genn

"Monet, Manet, Sisley, Van Gogh and others went outside to paint for one simple reason--it looks different outside"...Mike Svob

May 25, 2008

(175) Peach Iris
private collection
5 x 5, oil
Same "assignment" as yesterday, using an orange-toned canvas this time. This is the perfect time of year here, 75-80 degrees and sunny, with very low humidity. Lovely.
"My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece"...Claude Monet

May 24, 2008

(174) Pink Peonies
private collection
5 x 7, oil
My assignment for this piece was to begin with a toned background that I allowed to dry completely before beginning the painting. I chose pink for color harmony, and allowed some of it to show through the leaves.
I have seven of these plants--each one a little different from the rest: some darker pink, some pale pink and some leaning toward white with peppermint stripes. They are my absolute all time favorite flower. Once they begin blooming, I nervously watch the weather forecast in the hope that I will be able to paint them before the spring showers move in. They only last a couple of weeks, and rain is such an "insult" to them. Martha Stewart once dubbed them the "Marilyn Monroe of flowers." I quite agree. They are gorgeous and unique.
"Now I really feel the landscape, I can be bold and include every tone of blue and pink: it's enchanting, it's delicious"...Claude Monet

May 22, 2008

(173) Last Light
"Civilization has fallen out of touch with night. With lights, we drive the holiness and the beauty of night back to the forests and the seas; the little villages, the crossroads even, will have none of it. Are modern folk, perhaps, afraid of the night? Do they fear the vast serenity, the mystery of infinite space, the austerity of stars?"...Henry Beston

May 21, 2008

(172) Atmosphere and Light III
6 p.m. Shadows are darker now, the purples and yellow-greens have deepened. The brick has a wash of yellow light coming from the west.
7 p.m. The sun is very low on the horizon now, the light is fading and leaning toward orange. The foreground is now completely in shadow, except for the upper limbs of the tree. The horizon in the distance appears lighter and leans more toward a pale orange where the trees meet the sky. All these changes occur so quickly, it is necessary to jot down a few descriptive words about what I see (what my focus is), pre-mix the colors, and lay them down quickly. The little lanterns automatically came on just as the shadows crossed over the brick.

"Dawn and sunset are the times when Nature herself is unstable and in flux. The nocturnal world and the daytime world are meeting, and for a brief time coexisting. It is not a neat hard cut, but a blurred, irregular dissolve. These moments are the seams in existence through which we get a glimpse of the deeper, fundamentally random, chance workings of a system in which we are only a small insignificant player"...Bill Viola

May 20, 2008

(171) Atmosphere and Color II

Noon-- The sky is bluer this time of day, and the street much lighter while upright planes become darker. Colors appear more washed out in the intense light.
4 p.m.---At this hour, the street began to look lavender which was a really nice contrast against the yellow-green. The sunrise was over my right shoulder, so the afternoon sun is now moving to the left of where I am facing. The shadows are now going in the opposite direction of the 8 a.m. study.
"A tree has green leaves and brown bark, right? But if you paint it according to those formulaic beliefs, you'll miss its infinite possibilities for color, and your development as an artist will be hindered. It's important, therefore, to be able to see it objectively"...Kevin Macpherson

May 19, 2008

(170) Atmosphere and Color of Light:
To study how the atmospheric conditions and color of light affects objects in the landscape, I painted the following studies for contrast. The first was painted at 6 a.m. when the distant trees appeared pastel, while the second was painted two hours later when the early morning sun washed everything with a wonderful yellow-orange glow. I chose this simple scene because it "has it all": (1) distant, as well as foreground trees (2) a highway that picks up light differently every hour and (3) the brick entrance that provides vertical, horizontal and slanted planes; each catching light differently throughout the day. Tomorrow I will explore two additional times of day.

6 a.m. --Early morning reveals a low key study of close values.
8 a.m.--The early yellow-orange light provides colors with a higher chroma, and longer shadows.

"I know to paint the sea really well, you need to look at it every hour of the day in the same place so you can understand its way in that particular spot and that is why I am working on the same motifs over and over again four to six times even"...Claude Monet (I know I've used this quote before, but it is worth repeating here)

May 17, 2008

(169) Light and Shadow Families, III
The tennis player above is a great example of how to handle black and white in sunlight. The automatic response would be to paint the lit side of her black shirt darker than the shadow side of her white skirt--but that would be a mistake. The rule is: the darkest light (white skirt in shadow) must be a darker value than the lightest dark (black top in sunlight) for the values to read correctly.
"There is nothing harder than black in sunlight"...Charles Hawthorne

May 16, 2008

(168) Light and Shadow II (continued from yesterday's post)
"The sun...cuts things into two great passages of light and shadow. Get the shock as the shadow comes against the light. Exaggerate to give the impression inside that you feel outside. Key your work higher than nature really seems to be. Painting is limited in its range as nature is not, therefore keep the lights (anything in sunlight) as near the same value as possible. Keep the mass that is in shadow, always in shadow, and make differences by gradations of color. Everything in painting is a matter of silhouettes. Hold light against shadow, not light against light."'...Charles Hawthorne

May 14, 2008

(167) Light and Shadow Families
This Macpherson assignment requires analyzing newspaper photos, determining the direction of the light source, then dividing everything into either light or shadow. Everything in the light family is left as is, while everything in shadow is indicated with a black marker--
a splendid organizing tool for simplifying shapes
, and a brilliant way to remove the distracting details. It is an especially helpful tool for landscape painting when the rapidly changing light and plethora of information can seem overwhelming.
"Forget about color for the time being. If you squint your eyes way down as you look at a subject, it is easier to see the light and shadow pattern. There is a link between all the lights and a link between all the shadows"...Kevin Macpherson

May 13, 2008

(166) Color Charts
In his book "Alla Prima" Richard Schmid explains the importance of taking the time to do these color charts to learn about color harmony. He explains that you will see how"the addition of white creates a new, cooler color" (not just lighter value). "Most colors appear more vivid in the mid-value range" and "extremely dark colors are hard to identify until white is added to them."
"Take your time. Don't be in a rush to do the color charts. Stay alert and see what is happening, not only on your palette, but
within yourself ...The charts are intended to be somewhat agonizing so that you will develop the patience and self-control so necessary in painting. It should be like an initiation ritual before what is to come, so you may endure it without giving up. As a dancer learns to tolerate pain and endless falls in order to someday soar with grace, so must you have the stubbornness to mix a color until it is precisely what you require to make your painting sing"...Richard Schmid
(He says it is "painful" because it takes a couple of weeks to do these. Gee, I didn't find it "painful" at all--but quite relaxing.
How boring am I???)

May 12, 2008

(165) Triple Play
Yellow Orange and Blue Violet with a little help from their friends Red and Green. Just experimenting with warming and cooling the light today.
"Very few people possess true artistic ability. It is therefore both unseemly and unproductive to irritate the situation by making an effort. If you have a burning, restless urge to write or paint, simply eat something sweet and the feeling will pass"...Fran Lebowitz (
wish I had known that sooner, pass the chocolate)

May 9, 2008

(164) Mother's Day Peony
8 x 10, oil

"The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. she never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new"...Rajneesh
Of all my "roles" in life, not one has brought me more joy...or anxiety, love, compassion, confusion, and yearning than that of being a mother. Being a mom is a full tilt boogie. Not for the faint of heart. My sons are all taller than me now, but their personalities were present from a very early age:

My oldest son is kind, compassionate, and hard working, but the biggest "lesson" he continues to teach me is to find humor everywhere--and it really is everywhere. He was adept at disarming me with laughter at a very early age.
"The best babysitters, of course, are the baby's grandparents. You feel completely comfortable entrusting your baby to them for long periods, which is why most grandparents flee to Florida"...Dave Barry
My middle son is the adventurer, and a testament to the importance of being a seeker of both answers and new horizons. When he was 7, he was very concerned and curious as to his whereabouts when I was a little girl. I explained that without question he was always present in my heart (and soul). And he certainly was. And is.
"You don't really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-to-round will wave at his parents every time around - and why his parents will always wave back." William d. Tammeus
My third son has taught me who I want to be in this life. His lessons are of courage, honesty and perseverance. He inspires me daily to work harder, stand taller, be better.
One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest. Courage is the most important of all the virtues"...Maya Angelou

"The real religion of the world comes from women much more than from men--from mothers most of all, who carry the key of our souls in their bosoms"...Oliver Wendell Holmes
One day about 10 or so years ago, Oprah commented that her relationship with her mentor Maya Angelou has been one of her richest blessings in life. Referring to Ms. Angelou as her mother/daughter/sister friend, she explained that there are some people you feel an instant kinship with, where "friend" doesn't quite do justice to how you feel about what that person brings to the relationship. I totally "get" that. And isn't it just the best when that happens?
So, in addition to my Mom (far right), I would like to wish all my mother/sister/daughter/friends a very Happy Mother's Day: my
dearest daughter-in-law, my "ya-yas" the Queens of Everything, my nieces, sister, sisters-in-law, and all of my artful girlfriends out there! Have a super weekend. I'll be back on Monday. TTFN...
"Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body"...Elizabeth Stone
"Setting a good example for our children takes all the fun out of middle age"...William Feather
(163) Not Your Grandmother's Art
Kevin Macpherson states that children have so much to teach us about art, and suggests that we schedule a day to "watch their freedom and joy as they respond to shapes and color with intense focus and intuitive direction. This is true process." So today's assignment is to celebrate these busy little hands and the lessons learned. Come on along:

Lesson # 1 The Zen of Being. The importance of seemingly doing "nothing" cannot be overlooked. In this case, my "teacher" was pretending to be asleep. A quiet moment, a respite--an excellent way to shift gears, or prepare for the transition into the creative process. And if you have a good friend like Bear to share your rest as well as your adventures, all the better.
Lesson # 2- Think Outside The Box. Notice how this "moo-cow 'ticker" looks way better stuck onto the desk rather than the paper. Coloring outside the lines is so "last year" people-I learned that now it's all about 'ticking outside the paper.
Lesson #3 Use Your Five Senses to Create Art. When was the last time you broke out the old Play-Doh? Ahh, the colors, the fragrance, the softness and pliability of the dough....absolute bliss! Endless possibilities for creative fun and rolling, molding, folding with reckless abandon. (okay, not THAT reckless, only use four senses here, no tasting the play-doh)
Lesson # 4 : Simple Pleasures are the Best. I was instructed to take my shoes off so my feet could "feel da gwass." But of course. I had forgotten that spring just hasn't arrived until you have waltzed barefoot across the cool grass. Silly me.
Lesson # 5: Shake it Up. Why are we such creatures of habit? Why do we think the way we have always done something is the only "right way"? Perhaps because it requires really looking/really seeing something as if it were for the very first time in order to shake up your brain so you can imagine new possibilities. Can't be lazy. Gotta explore with new eyes. Well, NOW I KNOW that "Pink" is actually a flavor, and it is more fun to use a spoon to scoop it right out of the cone. See what I been missing?
Lesson # 6: No Attachment, No Fear. When was the last time you sketched, painted, wrote, sculpted (fill in the blank) something just for the joy of the moment, the process, the fun?--Completely without fear that it wouldn't be "good enough"? Or as Kevin explains "without the baggage based on outside influences such as public praise or gallery demands." Another gentle reminder that all children instinctively know that the present moment is all there is, and that the journey IS the destination. Right now, baby. This is it. Change is constant, nothing remains the same. Sketch something, erase it and move on... It is what it is, and what it is is exactly what it is supposed to be, no judgment here. (pretty big lesson for such wee hands)
Lesson # 7 Do Something New--(be willing to go in a new direction if that is where your heart leads you) Drawing on the chalkboard is predictably fun, and was our aim here, but I was taught that taking the chalk out of the box, laying it all out at once so you can position the colors and shapes into a lovely design--now THAT is the true artistic adventure of the day! Who knew?
I have so much to learn about trying new things and discovering new possibilities--good thing my teacher was so patient with me. Happy "new number" baby girl. I look forward to many more lessons.
...a little child, born yesterday,
A thing on mother's milk and kisses fed...
~ from the Greek Homeric hymn "Hymn to Mercury"

May 8, 2008

(162) Tertiary Triads
Here I chose two tertiary triads for comparison. The top palette consists of Red-Orange, Yellow-Green, and Blue-Violet; and the bottom one is Yellow-Orange, Red-Violet and Blue-Green.
"Always link the word value with color. If you learn to see value, you will get color"...Everett Raymond Kinstler

May 7, 2008

(161) High Chroma vs. High Key
There are a dozen more tetrads to discover, but I will save those for another day, and move on to another challenge. In the top study, I used the primary palette of yellow, red and blue and focused on higher chroma, more intense color. In the lower one, I chose the secondary palette of orange, violet and green and lots more white making it a high key, pastel study--totally different look and feel.
"When complements are placed side by side, they accentuate each other. If I want a blue to look very blue, I put an orange next to it. In fact, it's usually essential to get the complement working somewhere near the principal color, if only because a color needs its complement in order to exist. A red is not a red without a contrasting green to explain it"...Emil Gruppe

May 6, 2008

(160) Tetrad # 3
Complementary pairs: Orange and Blue, Yellow and Violet
"I was in a bar and I said to a friend, 'You know, we've become those 40-year-old guys we used to look at and say, 'Isn't it sad?'...George Clooney (Today is his 47th birthday--somehow I'm betting that "sad" isn't a word that comes to mind when most of us think about George)

May 5, 2008

(159) Tetrad # 2
Yellow-orange, yellow-green and both red and blue violet--wow, I think these colors are so gorgeous together, love the earth-tones and neutrals they render.
I could easily spend another month exploring color, but I think I'm almost ready to move on to something else. Almost.
""Experience does not err; it is only your judgment that errs in promising itself results which are not caused by your experiments"...Leonardo da Vinci

May 3, 2008

(158) Tetrad # 1
This combination is yellow-orange, red-orange, blue-violet and blue-green, two sets of complements, called a tetrad. I love the rich, clean teals and peachy colors from these combinations.

In honor of our 134th Kentucky Derby today, I am including a few favorite quotes from Laura Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit:

(jockey George Woolf): That's a pretty small horse you got there, Sahim.
(Seabiscuit's jockey Red Pollard): Two bucks says he looks a lot smaller in a second.

(jockey Red Pollard): Morning.
(trainer Tom Smith): What's all this?[motions towards pile of boxes Red is sitting on]
Red Pollard: It's beer! From an admiring public, pretty good too, more in there[points toward Seabiscuit's stall]
Tom Smith: [looks in stall] Where's the horse?
Red Pollard: [amused smile] Signing autographs.

May 2, 2008

(157) Complements: Red Violet and Yellow Green
I love these colors together--just like the Redbud trees against the spring green grass we see here now.
"All of life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better" ...Ralph Waldo Emerson

May 1, 2008

(156) Complements: Red and Green
"If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there"...Lewis Carroll