Sunday, March 30, 2008

East Meets West

"East Meets West" - 6" x 8" oil on canvasboard
Click here to see this painting at Etsy.

Just off the easel and painted with the help of my NEW tool, my shadowbox (and a new spotlight for my easel) an oil that I titled "East Meets West". Ha, it's a Japanese bowl and a pinecone from a pine tree in Colorado. I like the colors of this one. I limited my palette. It made me mix with fewer colors and they seemed to have come out stronger. This painting came together much more easily than some others recently, don't know why. I love it when that happens!
Thanks for looking!

Where I Stand Sunday

There are probably a cuzillion dog owners throughout the world, doing just what I am doing in my Sunday photo, feeding the dogs. Bailey, our weimaraner, eats so voraciously. He devours so quickly, so you have to stand there to eek out the food, or it comes right back up. So he gets a cup, then a 1/4 cup, then a 1/4 cup. Then he drinks tons of water and paces. Goes outside, comes in and does the drinking thing again and paces, goes outside....well, you get the picture. He's obsessive to say the least and neurotic, and we love him. I think his problems stem (the eating part anyway) from a long ago incident when he was a puppy, left in a garage with a, unbeknownst to them, giant bag of food (well, the kids just had to go out you know). He ate the whole thing. You can imagine the scene. Dog psychologist? I am not one, but for a dog, every action has it's reasons, don't you think? Pavlov would argue. Other's would probably say, he's just a big hungry dog. But you haven't seen him in action!

BTW last night watched "The Great Escape" with Steve McQueen on TCM, then Tivo'd the next three movies, "The Rievers", "Love with a Proper Stranger" and "The Thomas Crown Affair" ALL Steve McQueen movies. We like him! I especially like the motorcycle chase in the Great Escape. He motocrossed - for real - in his off screen life. Just watch "On Any Sunday" some time. He rocked!

"Where I Stand Sunday" is posted weekly. It helps chronicle the "journey". Too often we take for granted where we stand and where we are involved. Used as a "vehicle" for journaling and a glance at "human geography", I; along with several others; note this day, in this way. I invite you to check "them" out, their blog addresses are in the sidebar to the right, to compare and contrast the human events of Sunday in different parts of the country and maybe the globe! If you would like to join in please leave a comment below with your blog address and we will note it in our sidebar! Thanks for looking!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Shadow Box and Painting for Today

Hubster and I have done our engineering of my own shadow box for placing still lifes in, to paint. Artist Carol Marine uses one. I was able to look at, listen to the design and then was able to come up with our own from being involved in the Carol Marine/Karin Jurick workshop in Austin a few weeks ago. Plus my artist friend Nancy Rhodes Harper built hers this week and passed on the ins and outs of creating one.
Today I painted my "froggy" beanbag doll. He used to be tossed around the classroom when we played "word and sound" games. (You encourage participation, if you toss the beanbag object and a child catches it. It was a way to get those non-participators to participate!) So Froggy has done his life's work and is now living with his caretaker in the studio!

"Froggy" - original oil painting, 5" x 7" on gesso'd hardbord by Ampersand

Below is a photo of the froggy doll, just so you know what a froggy doll is. He is resting from the "pose" I had him do. I almost put him away, then thought you would like to have a visual on the whole thing.

Then here is a photo of what the shadowbox looks like. I need to rearrange myself around it, as I have to lean in to use my viewfinder, but then I am too far away at the easel. So a little readjustment of furniture etc. is due. Also, I need to put it on a tripod, so it is a little higher, but that is for later.

I am already onto the next painting. Decided to come in, have dinner, get 'sweats' on, cover up with a blankie, warm up with the wiener dogs and watch the tube! Ha! The wind is chilly today!

F.A.C. on the A.C.E.O.

Friday afternoons can be boring around here, so last night I decided to play around with some felt pens and colored pencils. If you aren't aware, ACEO stands for Art Cards Editions and Originals. They are usually 2.5" x 3.5" - the same size as a sports card. Many artists make them, some sell them. I think I will try both. I chose a theme last night of Star Wars-ish women. Going that small is interesting. It's more than a sketch, it's a finished piece. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"Bring Me a Message of Spring"

Here are TWO paintings I did in the past 24 hours. The first one I started yesterday, didn't like the way it was going, left it on the easel and revisited it today. I MADE it come out the way I wanted. Yes, my muse is still in my favor, as far as I am concerned.
The second one, the flowers, started out real tight and realistic, until I put on some great music, danced around a little to loosen up and then the brushwork began to happen. It's amazing how just movement can affect your ability and warm you up.
In my classroom, we used to do "Brain Gym" before we tried writing. If you have never tried it, google it some time. It definitely kicks in - both sides of the brain. My dancin' around included some of the Brain Gym moves, now that I think of it. Any time you cross the right side of the body over the left - or vice versa, you are asking those synapses to fire.

"Bring Me a Spring Message" - Eastern Bluebird - 8" x 10" original oil on claybord

"Purple Coneflowers" - 6" x 8" original oil painting on canvasboard

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Off the Easel

There comes a point, where you can work a piece to death and lose all the freshness and likeness that occurred. I almost did that. I have come to the conclusion that including more than one person in a portrait is very difficult. This was my challenge and I think for the most part it came out OK. The figure furthest to the left got her eyes redone, and now I notice they are a little askew. That is what I often observe on other artist's portraits, and it bugs me really bad...but I am done with this one for now. This was purely practice, it's in a mat, on the "art rail" in the studio, for me to continue to self-critique. It was my challenge for the week!

"Katie, Ryan and Leslie" image size 16" x 20" pastel on sandpaper

Aunt Jane's Tomatoes

New listing on eBay today! Every summer my aunt and uncle in Missouri host our 'Gray Family Reunion'. On the windowsill were some tomatoes ripening in the warm sun. I painted them in oil on Fredrix 11" x 14" canvasboard. It is unframed and ready for your choice of a frame.

Click here to bid on this painting.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Day Two Portrait of Three

Day two of my three person portrait is going fairly well, still have lots to do on it, like the clothes. From far away, the colors aren't working for me, either. Tomorrow will be spent walking clear across the studio and back again to tweak some things I am not pleased with. You can see how a face starts out like a "deviant puppet", that's because I have undertones I want to lay down and I need to adjust the placement of features as I go.

Deviant Puppet - Leslie, ha!

Working in more color and shapes.

Coming along.

I love the part where I get to add the make-up on women! Ha!

This is where I ended today. BTW Leslie has a pierce in her bottom lip and EMO red streaks in her hair, if you are wondering. Gotta paint it like ya see it somedays, although I could take it out, but that isn't telling you 'who' she is. It has been a challenge, and I am not happy with any of them except for the one I did today. Stay tuned. Of course, hubster is my best critic, cause they are his kids.

P.S. My issue of STUDIOS from Cloth, Paper, Scissors came today! It has some very cool ideas in it for your studio! I can't wait to peruse it!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Portrait of Three

Enough of this daily painting for now, I wanted a "challenge". So I had a photo of my step (adult) kids and step daughter-in-law and decided to try a portrait of the three of them in pastel. It has been my experience in the past to not have much success with even 2 people in a portrait, but I thought, I have time, I have patience, I have skill - now I will put it to the true test. I don't use grids and I don't use projection.
You can see the progression of the portrait hopefully each day. I spent many hours on it so far, not even realizing it was 7:00 when I stopped, but when I think back, that was 5 CD's worth of time, plus!
And thanks Leann... no.. magic didn't happen on blocking in the shapes and voila - there was Katie. I meant to take photos step-by-step (cause I usually don't) and forgot, until she was almost done. I will slow down and get some better steps in for the remainder of the work.
So far, Katie, looks like "her mom" almost like herself but not quite, Ryan has a good likeness, and I will be continuing with the skin tone and colors next.
I block in the shapes of the individuals (mainly for composition and placement) with dark sienna pastel. Then give it a wash of turp with a brush. It will be important to keep the headsize in visual perspective as I go. Each has a different underlying skintone. Katie is blueish and purple. Ryan has yellow and pink tones and Leslie is very fair skinned, pale and pinkish. Another hurdle for me is, a flash was used almost straight onto the middle figure, which shows me less contrast in Ryan's face. Good thing I have other photos of him, so I can reference them if needed.

I started on the left, as I will be dragging my hand across the painting as I go. Katie will be worked on some more, when I get the other two more than roughed in.

Katie is finished for now and on to Ryan. I realized that the likeness was most important for now, as I had worked so long on the first portrait already. I needed to create the likeness before I was satisfied and quit for today.

I now have the likeness down, and will continue to rework the skintones and shadows and get his mouth right, tomorrow - or possibly take Easter off.

Happy Easter, as I may not even get on the computer tomorrow.

Friday, March 21, 2008

With Sunshine, Comes Rain

That's the forecast for Easter Sunday. That's also the forecast in the studio from time to time. Just so you know, not everything turns out. Today, I tried a small oil of a picture of some gladiolas and assorted Spring bulb flowers. Below is the original photo of the painting.

I don't like the way it turned out. I don't like the background or something about it isn't right to me.
Let me know what you think!
So, I put it through a "filter" on Photoshop called dry brush and I like it much better. There!

Momma said there'd be days like this!

Blue Sky

"Have You Ever Seen a Sky So Blue?" 9" x 12" oil painting on black gessobord

There is one thing that has happened since returning from Austin, I can't stay out of the studio. I feel like a 'paintaholic'. It makes my head spin. I need a t-shirt, "So Many Paintings, So Little Time".
Had to attend Palette Club last night and resented that I had to be torn away from the easel. Have this kitchen to remodel, taxes to do (no, we haven't done ours yet), living room to paint, some work on the land to do, but I just want to paint! I got some masonite board and gessoed them black (which is the surface I am using right now, because Karin Jurick gave us one and I loved the results!) and I have them lined up on the tables ready to go. I need to write the words to my new song "I Am Just a Painting Machine...Leave Me Alone!". Ha. Ok, now I will get a grip.
Something that came to my attention last evening as I was driving back from Osborne, Ks. to home...I drove about 23 miles without encountering another car at 9:45 P.M. That's an eerie feeling in this great big world.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Add Peppers, Garlic, Stella d'Oro Lilies and Call it a Day!

"Pepper and Garlic", 6" x 6" oil paint on black surfaced gessoboard is my Day 2 painting from the Jurick/Marine workshop.

It was done after we experimented with value studies. First, we spent 40 minutes on studying an object by using only one color of paint, then we did a second one for 15 minutes and last we got 5 minutes to paint a value study. The pepper below is my five minute study. The most stellar paintings were done in that 5 minutes, so think about it painters...don't overdo it, just paint what you see, in a short amount of time. Try it, they will be the best!

Getting right to it on Wednesday, I tried an experimental painting on black surfaced Clayboard by Ampersand, as I had a sampler from them on hand. The manufacturer states that oil paint can be used on it, however, I wanted to give it a try to see if the colors changed in any way, imagining that the clay surface would soak up the oil paint. I think it turned out pretty good, I am waiting for the paint to dry to make a final decision of whether it is a good enough surface for me, to do more oils on. It seems to speed up the drying process, it was already dry looking last night. I sure like the smoothness and LOVE the way the paint melts into the surface.

"Stella D'Oro Lilies", 5" x 7" oil painting on black Clayboard by Ampersand

Texas and Back Again

Being away from your personal link to the world (this blog and email) has been a challenge, but where we were, didn't offer "free wifi" - or any "wifi" for that matter.

We have just returned from a trip to Austin, Texas for a workshop for - me! We started out a week ago today, only to get about 50 miles from home and the RV took a crap. Go figure, it's past it's two year warranty! Anyway, after having it (reluctantly) towed late on Tuesday night - into Salina for diagnosis of the trouble (that's after sitting at the Cenex station in Beloit for hours, having the help of a VERY nice fellow named Dale Eastman - troubleshooting the "Why the heck is it in 'limpmode'???"), we returned home for the night, left the next afternoon upon learning that the trouble had been a fuel "lift pump". Those diesel engines are soooo tricky. Picked up our baby and moved on. Drove late during the night to try to make up some lost 'travel' time. The older I get, the more I am soooo not about driving or riding in the middle of the night.

BTW - never try to stay in the parking lot of the Walmart in Edmond, Ok. They absolutely won't let you. That's a whole nother blog.

We stayed at "Jim Hogg Park" in Georgetown Lake, Texas. A nice double site! Surprise to us, Texas and Oklahoma have lots of wind, too! Made us feel right at home. 95 degrees on Friday! Wow, but Spring Break made the park VERY full. Really boring for hubster, as nothing to do but sit and watch the dogs go bonkers over too many other dogs walking by and kids runnin up and down the road on their bikes. I bought a new DVD player and some movies for him, and he tried to get some small maintenance issues taken care of on the RV. We have a whole "punch list" of stuff to do - now that we are home. We RV in the winter, and I think the weather takes it's toll on the "Mother Ship". Corrosion and mud happen.

Carol Marine and Karin Jurick - two of my favorites, joined forces to give a painting workshop for Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Williamson Art Center in Round Rock, Texas.

Here are some of the 21 members of the class. Peeps were very friendly and helpful. They came from all over. Met some interesting people and made some connections.

This is a still life done by Carol Marine. I particularly liked her homemade shadow box and have hubster on alert, that I WILL need one.

Karin Jurick demo'd several figurative paintings. This is one she did of a girl at a bus stop.

Both artists are listed under "Links List" in my sidebar.

Hubster and I saw some sites we will long remember. Let me share a few here.
Of course, this area of Texas was full of cacti.

This is a border or fence in the front of a flower shop along F.M. 2338. All bikes were painted a bright florescent green. It's funny, we kept driving along, wondering what the heck was the "F.M."? Thanks to Carol, I know that it means "farm to market", R.R. means "ranch road" and R.M. means "ranch to market". Doesn't pay to get lost there, I could make no sense of the road system. But my intuition never seems to fail me. Glad it's still in tact when needed!

And last, for today, a painting I did on Day 1 of the workshop.

"Peppers and a Pear" 6" x 8", oil on canvasboard

It's good to be home! We traveled on the edge of those heavy rain storms across NW Texas and central Oklahoma, but ran out of it by the Kansas border. Whew!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Dining Out and Book Discussion

Hubster is across the street from the little grocery store that I am going to tell you about. My neighbor is coming out of the door. We own the house where she raised her family. The house (in town) was a turn of the century (that's the 20th century mind you) Methodist parsonage. I will show you that house at a later time.

Now, where I live in the country, there isn't a whole lot of choices to eat at "dinner" time (that's lunch for those of you living in CO.). There are 2 cafes, a Pizza Hut, a hamburger joint (that really needs some help in the cooking department) and a restaurant to the east of us and where we get our mail from to the west is a little cafe inside a grocery store, where you can get homecooked meals complete with dessert and drink for $4.00 (no tipping allowed). Today we had chicken and homemade noodles over mashed potatoes for the main entree. Hmm, just like grandma used to make, right? My stepson is in absolute heaven when he eats there, as he is one of those BIG eaters. It's really filling. We like to go there once in awhile, to feel like we belong, I guess. Then we did some grocery shopping in the tiny store, which has a little bit of everything. Our good neighbor, Neil, gave us some pecans in the shell, and I knew we had long gotten rid of our nutcracker, and wouldn't you know it the little store had one in the dry goods department. They have nuts and bolts and sewing stuff and plumbing stuff, too!

What was really fun, is we took the VW vanagon that hubster bought in Minnesota last fall. It IS running, not exactly purring yet, but getting there. It is a diesel and only goes tops 62 mph on the straight away. Really slows (like 42) on the hills, but hey, we were in style in the little town. Slowly this van will come alive, I feel.
We really need some body work done on it, it is so rusty in places, but haven't been able to get ANYONE here to give us an estimate. So, that makes us want to learn to DO IT OURSELVES. Who knows, maybe in my next life, I will be a "body (wo)man"!

BTW got a new book in the mail and if you are an artist, it is a must read!!!
It was suggested on Robert Genn's site. "Art & Fear - Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking" by David Bayles and Ted Orland. It helps you ask yourself, "What is your art really about? Where is it going? and What stands in the way of getting there?" It's one of those reads you would love to process with other peeps. So I will take it to the Palette Club meeting and I will mention here, IF anyone is interested in having an online book discussion let me know. Maybe we can find a site that allows forums to discuss literature? I got the book on Amazon in the used column, but it was brand new for about $7. It is $12.95 new from Amazon.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Where I Stand Sunday

Where I stand, nature has begun it's song of new life.
With each day, the ground changes from it's drab
earthy golden tone to several hues of green.
There is part of this song, that I hear loud and clear.
Toads and snakes and mice and moles,
nesting and brooding and baby birds.
A song that only an entomologist could love.
Those critters that live in the ground
are exercising in their buggish ways.
Soon, there will be fleas and ticks for the dogs,
spiders and mosquitoes for humans
and flies for cows and horses (and my kitchen, too).
Spring's loud whisper is falling on my eyes and ears!
I open my arms wide and let it engulf my soul!

"Where I Stand Sunday" is posted weekly. It helps chronicle the "journey". Too often we take for granted where we stand and where we are involved. Used as a "vehicle" for journaling and a glance at "human geography", I; along with several others; note this day, in this way. I invite you to check "them" out, their blog addresses are in the sidebar to the right, to compare and contrast the human events of Sunday in different parts of the country and maybe the globe! If you would like to join in please leave a comment below with your blog address and we will note it in our sidebar! Thanks for looking!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Sorry Scarlett...

Introducing the "baby blanket" that turned into a "scarf"! I have been working and working on making these little knitted squares (and that is what they ALL had to be was perfect squares - to go together right) and now that I am assembling them, I find out how utterly sh---y it looks and how it has bubbles and bumps in it, so I did the next best thing - I am making it into a scarf for myself. It is just not good enough to be a blanket, much less a scarf for someone other than me. I am putting it away, I will work on it when traveling, it's outta my sight for now. How frustrating! Grrrr...! So Scarlett will have to wait for her blanket from her JoJo, it will be another pattern in another galaxy - in another dimension. Onward. I suppose that is why I knit a lot and then don't knit at all, cause things start turning out like this one.
Nice day today, think I will go enjoy it outside and forget about this!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

White on White - A Pastel Painting for Today

"White on White" - pastel on Ampersand pastelboard, 12" x 16"

Started this pastel yesterday. It was fun, as I set up a still life in my northlight window and I used a spotlight on the other side of it, to see different colors in the shadows and highlights. It's done on pastelboard by Ampersand. I have said it before, but I love that stuff! You can load on the pastel and after that, it still takes pastel, most regular pastel papers won't do that. Then when you tap it over the trashcan to "dust" it, very little comes off. It's ultra cool to use!!

Time to take the dogs for a walk on the north 40, it isn't so windy today and it shouldn't be too muddy!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Inflation - watercolor

"Inflation" - 11" x 14", watercolor on illustration board

A good friend shared the photo for this painting with me. It's from the Rocky Mountain Balloon Fest at Chatfield Reservoir in Littleton, Co., it occurred last August. If you recall, that's where we stayed in January when we went there for the wedding.

I decided this one would look good in watercolor with those fresh colors of blues and oranges. It is done on illustration board. I am trying to use stiffer and more permanent surfaces lately, to prevent warping and buckling of papers, a phenomenon since coming to Kansas. Soon it will be the time of year for warping paper, although I can't believe it, it's been winter for so long!


I can be found usually working on dishcloths at night, in crochet lately, when it gets too dark, the natural light fades and I am stuck with incandescent or florescent light to do art. I bought an intermediate dishcloth book, just to push me into more difficult things. Last night I did it! I followed the instructions - over and over, trying and ripping out, and trying and ripping out and finally had success with the "cluster/picot" stitch around the edges. Woohoo! I will never be the Queen of Crochet, or Knitting, but as I have said before, it's time to raise the bar a little. I think maybe my challenge with it all, I felt this way last night anyway, is that I have trouble with step-by-step instructions. I have always been one to jump ahead, look at the big picture, not break it down in the parts it should be (and yes, if there are pictures, I most often don't read the instructions - hubster gets a little put out with me when I am helping construct something that has readable instructions, and I go about engineering before I read - carefully). So reading step-by-step and having something happen the right way is a real prize for me at the end of the day. You are never too old to learn something new! Ha Ha!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Who Influences You? sketchbook

There's a lot of stimulus that comes my way, as far as influencing my artwork, technique and subject matter. For many artists, it is the people around them in the day-to-day world that allow them to have the time to create, help motivate them by encouraging them and giving them instant feedback and accolades (BTW that goes for me, too). Artists are forever seeking out something to paint, thinking of something that hasn't been done that way before, or just waiting for their muse to visit them. Sometimes it's even good to copy other art, to discover "how that was done".

One of the factors that help promote an artist are "teachers" and "instructors". I will always remember my high school art teachers. Phyllis Olson was one of them, in Englewood, Colorado. Her "all semester" assignments of keeping a daily sketchbook and turning in your week's sketches taught me that regular sketching helps keep the hand limber, the mind focused and always searching for composition layouts, and paved the way to "seeing" with the artist's eye. She allowed us to do art projects that were one of a kind, usually as long as it was exploring the medium. I remember for our "printmaking" section of the class she approved my making a print on some fabric, of which I made into dress. On the day she gave out 'grades', I wore my dress. Today's instructors? I am sure art teachers do that and more. Knowing that makes me very pleased. It's just that Ms. Olson seemed a little ahead of her time. We're talking 40 years ago. I had great college instructors, too, just too many to remember. Although my art history professor was awesome, that will be another blog at another time....because this is about the one that "hooked" me.

One of my goals is to become a "sketcher" again. I have the time, I know the rigor and I believe it will boost me back to a plane I once thoroughly enjoyed, so I have retrieved my dusty old sketchbook, the one I have used for more serious stuff in the past few years, that a dear old friend, Rosa Stevinson gave me. Inside the cover she wrote in beautiful calligraphy:
"Blank Pages Filled with Possibilities"

Below is one of my favorite drawings done in plain old ballpoint pen from a few years back. It is my daughter. I placed her in a swanky uptown apartment. We laugh about it often. She IS that person, but she doesn't live in the swanky apartment, if you catch my drift. So...who influenced you???

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Where I Stood

55 million newspapers are sold each day. A large portion are "home delivered". I have been in Kansas City/Shawnee this week visiting my family and to attend the monthly meeting of the Mid America Pastel Society. One of the pleasures I enjoy while at mom and dad's is the morning paper. Where I live there is a weekly newspaper, with local news only. Since moving to Kansas, we truly miss the morning newspaper. And...because that has become an issue for us, Mom and Dad (thank you, thank you) send the Sunday and Monday newspaper to us after they read it. We get it Wednesday, sometimes Thursday, but still enjoy reading it. Here I stand on their driveway, to tell the truth - Mom had already picked up the paper and taken it inside, as she gets up the earliest. I enjoyed my visit! Got my Mexican food fix, went to the casino, had dinner at bro's house, got some much needed shopping done, and just visited - in general, we always have lots of fun and do lots of together things!
Got back this afternoon to a warm and calm 60's kind of weather. It was great to sit in the sun and let it's warmth take over!
I will have to check my calendar for last year's event, but the Sandhill Cranes are already migrating back through this area on their way to the Platte River Valley in Nebraska. There are literally hundreds and hundreds in groups flying overhead. In a few weeks, probably (because I watched this last year) there will be an active "crane cam" here. You can watch the cranes in their habitat. It's amazing! I am sure Spring will be here soon! Supposed to be wet and maybe snowy tomorrow.

Happy 17th Blogiversary to ME

 I would like to admit, it's still here, I'm still here and it's still worthy of my attention - although sporadic.   Here are a ...