Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Blue Island Dream

If you've read Richard Schmid's masterful oil painting "bible" Alla Prima (thank you again Santa!), you know that he recommends (as many art teachers do) creating color charts with your basic palette. Here's a great posting by a very talented artist about the charts. Nice job Jana!

Ahh charts...I've done them in the past and can be time consuming, but absolutely worth the extra effort. And I do recommend them to both my oil painting & watercolor students. However, it's still the holidays so I thought I'd make the task a bit more enjoyable today.

Here I selected one key pigment, one of my favorites, Ultramarine Blue, and mixed it with the other colors on my very limited palette (Thalo Blue, Cad Yellow Lt, Indian Yellow, Perm Rose) and white while in turn creating an abstract painting.

For the abstract my goal was to create a dynamic composition (on the diagonal) while playing with a contrast of softer undefined shapes against sharper ones, as well as full range of values. My goal was 10--I think I have them! For extra color "pop" I added some line work with a complementary red orange oil pastel.

Tomorrow I think I'm going to try a warmer color and see where that takes me...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Alla Prima Red

Hope everyone is enjoying thier holiday weekend! I was lucky that Santa generously brought some fantastic art gifts that I look forward to chatting about in weeks to come including Richard Schmid's classic oil painting book, Alla Prima (which I've read many times from the library) but never owned as well as Quang Ho's Nuts & Bolts DVD. I can't wait to set aside 6 hours, a nice cup of tea, and get my notebook out for this!

Speaking of Alla Prima (meaning simply "at once" in Italian) it's a great technique to try if you normally do a lot of careful planning for your paintings. In other words, complete a painting "wet in wet" all in one sitting. Do you typically sketch out your subject first on your paper or canvas? Try just going for it next time and see what happens.

While it's not always appropriate for more complex or highly detailed subject matter, painting alla prima will both help you focus and free you from overthinking.

I also received a great book called Inside the Painter's Studio by artist Joe Fig. As many of you know, art can often be a singular and lonesome pursuit, so there's something extremely comforting about seeing other artist's work spaces.

Thanks to all of you who are planning to start class in January--Winter the perfect time to start studio painting. And for those of you continuing your studies I'm using this holiday break to research and create some exciting exercises for you. From landscapes to abstracts, I plan to keep you on your toes, so get those brushes ready and see you soon!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Vail of Snow

There's a great Andrew Wyeth quote about painting the winter landscape:
“I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show.”

In Colorado though we are lucky to have what I call colorful winters as you can see from this oil winter landscape painting of beautiful Gore Creek (part of the Eagle River) which runs through Vail, Colorado. This reminds me, quick snow painting tip: Note how little pure white is actually used for painting snow or a winter landscape. Now, with all this talk of snow, it's time for some holiday snowball cookies (thanks Mom!) & hot chocolate in the studio!

This landscape has been sold, but as always if you have any questions about my work or classes, just write me a note at ScarletOwl@hotmail.com. I'd love to hear from you!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Figure it Out

Happy Holidays everyone! Many thanks again to all my continuing students and for those of you planning to start painting in January I can't wait to get started. I know it's going to be an amazing year of art and creativity.

In honor of that, I'm posting one of my all time favorite Yupo and figure paintings. This is also the painting that juried me into my first Colorado Watercolor Society show.

My tip for getting ready for painting for the New Year is start working on (or adding to) your idea/inspiration folder or scrapbook.

This is a great activity to do over the holidays as you perhaps take relatives to museums, or browse galleries, flip through books or magazines, visit cafes, listen to music, take a road trip, etc.
Remember always take your camera!

Also if you are looking for an art themed movie to watch over the holidays (note language a bit rough, so not for the young ones!) I just rented Local Color. It's based on the true story of a young painter in the 1970s who finds out that one of his painting mentors (a cantankerous and bitter Russian impressionist) lives nearby.

Enjoy your week!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Winter Flower Power

One sure way to break out of your winter studio blahs is to paint a floral. Even if it's completely imagined. I promise you it will brighten your day and your studio.

This is an abstracted oil study of an iris, which means "rainbow" and is also the considered to be a symbol of communication and messages. The other reason I enjoy irises is that you get to work with violets. While there are some nice tube violets, I like to explore and mix my own violets (ultra blue + perm rose is one of my favorites) to achieve a more a natural and interesting range from warm to cool.

For those of you who like to paint flowers in oil with an even more classic "Dutch style" you might want to check out Colorado artist Jane Jones.

On a personal blog note, one of my goals was 500 visitors before the end of the year and it looks like I'll make it! Thanks so much to everyone who stops by and happy holidays!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Crash of Colors

Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend! It's been a cold, busy week here in Colorado and I've really been missing my studio time. Teaching and thinking about landscapes this week, I'm posting one of my favorite watercolor landscape paintings.

Normally, I prefer to paint landscapes in oil or acrylics since I'm particularly drawn to vibrant colors in nature. I took this photo near beautiful Grand Lake, Colorado and thought the interplay of textures and colors would be a challenge (for me) in watercolor. I was also inspired by a workshop with award-winning Colorado watercolorist Frank Francese. His audacious, colorful "no fear" watercolors are some of my favorites.

Fellow artists and painters, be sure to make time for yourselves to paint this holiday season! I know it's hard to get into the studio this time of year, but I truly believe it's one of the best gifts we can give ourselves as creative folk, plus it's a fantastic de-stresser!

Happy holidays from the studio!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Figuratively Speaking

Happy Holidays! I haven't posted an oil or a figure painting for a few days, so I thought I'd post one of my favorite figure paintings. If I had one art wish it would be to have more time and opportunity to paint from the live model.

Here the model arrived in an interesting vintage "costume" and I decided to keep the color palette simple and earthy. This is also oil on linen, which is a joy to paint on. Not my usual palette, but sometimes those "out of my comfort zone" paintings are the ones you have a special affection for.

As an artist I'm always on the lookout for new painters whose work I find interesting and inspiring. In the December issue of American Art Collector magazine there's some fantastic figure paintings, but I particularly admired Daniel Adel's amazing classical oil paintings.

Looking for the perfect art gift? Art classes or workshops make a unique, thoughtful, and usually affordable gift for the creative person in your life this holiday season! Check with your local art instructors or schools--most offer gift certificates as I do.

For information about my studio gift certificates for painting classes & workshops in Denver, please write to me at ScarletOwl@hotmail.com.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Watercolor--Now in 3D!

Happy Monday! Over the weekend I was at the movies (New Moon--yes, yes, I admit I'm a bit of a Twilighter) and they were handing out the new "fancy" 3D movie glasses which look like big yellow sunglasses for Christmas Carol.

Thinking about the 3D effects reminded me of trying to achieve that same effect in watercolor using the paper tole method. What is paper tole? It's essentially a centuries old European 3D decoupage technique where you create three dimensional scenes from intricately cut paper. Normally, I don't think of myself as "crafty" per say, but I think it's worthwhile to always be on the look out for tools and techniques that could enhance our artistic intentions.

In this case, as an experiment, I decided to contrast realistic butterflies against an abstract background. (That pattern by the way is a piece of construction netting trash I recycled from my front yard.)

You can see where this could be a great technique to try with a variety of watercolor paintings--figures, landscapes, etc. For more information about my watercolor or mixed media classes in Denver, please drop me a note at ScarletOwl@hotmail.com.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Mixed Media Moon Lady

I was showing a student last week how to make patterns with watermedia using a variety of techniques such as pressing into the wet paint with plastic wrap, bubble wrap, tissue etc. This is one of my favorite mixed media paintings using that technique.

This abstract figure actually began as a southwestern landscape, but the more I worked with the shapes and the added texture of the Japanese rice paper, the more the imagery lent itself to a winged, almost mythical figure. It's also an example of using opaque colors (adding white to watercolors or acrylic) in a watermedia painting.

For more information about my painting and art classes, please send me a note at ScarletOwl@hotmail.com. I look foward to hearing from you and happy painting!

"Lady Moon" 16 x 20 acrylic and mixed media on board, Private Collection.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Color HarMonday

Looking for a relaxing and fun painting class? I teach students as individuals or in pairs in the comfort of my home studio. I work with students from beginner to advanced in watercolor, oils, and acrylics.

For more information about my painting classes (located in Central Denver), please send me a note at ScarletOwl@hotmail.com.

As a painter who loves to work with color, I'm always seeking an appealing and satisfying color harmony. One simple way to achieve this is discipline. I've learned over the years to work with a limited palette.

I tell my students a good way to start is to pick 1 or 2 primaries (reds, blues, yellows) and a white. From there, you can easily create what I call these color harmony boards. I always find that they give me ideas and inspiration for colors that I would have not considered before. As an organic painter, I like these rather random circles of colors but you could certainly make a grid of squares, etc. if you want to be more organized about it.

In this example, planning for a landscape oil painting, I had the student start with three primary pigment circles: Cad Yellow Light, Ultramarine Blue, and Alizarin Crimson. Tip: Be sure to label the back of your board with exact colors, paint brands, etc. in case you want to refer to at a later date.

Then we mixed "around the color wheel" making orange, red-orange, violet, red-violet, green, an blue violet. Then each of those hues was mixed with white which is the tint of that color. Finally, we mixed all the colors together for what I call the "magic" neutral (it's the brownish circle here). A "trick" I often use is to use this "magic" neutral somewhere in the painting at the end to tie all the colors together.

Note too that three pigments plus white give us a stunning range of harmonious colors and values from dark violet to creamy light yellow (I call this lemon meringue). Almost immediately I get ideas from this for an abstract as well as landscape. Happy painting and have a great week!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Picket Fence Pour

Happy Weekend Everyone! Today, I'm hoping to have some time to work on my Colorado Watercolor Society entry in the studio which is due in just a few weeks. For some inspiration, I thought I post one of my first poured watercolor paintings. (While I was happy with the blending some of my edges are just too sharp, so I'll watch that next time.)

This is a watercolor technique were you mask out areas of your painting (with masking fluid, tape, shelf paper, etc.) and then pouring transparent layers of colors over the paper. In this case, I started with yellow, then red, then blue--working from lightest to darkest values. It can get a bit messy (I like to pour outside) but it's worth it and it's quite addictive.

Artist Jean Grastorf, who has mastered this technique, has a short YouTube demo of watercolor pouring.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

True Companion

Happy Thanksgiving Eve! Or as we fondly call it at our house, Zeke Day...

Many years ago on this day, I was working downtown...It was cold and miserable unlike the sunshine today. After taking a late lunch, I was headed back to the office spotted a mobile pet adoption center in one of the empty office buildings. Looking for any excuse to get out of the rain, I thought I'd just pop in to look at the puppies or kittens. But it was late afternoon and the staff said they only had one pet left, an older cat, so I turned to go.

Suddenly a man called after me, "He would love a home for Thanksgiving." Now, I was not looking for another cat, especially an older one. But something made me pause.

"Oh, I don't need a cat....What's he look like?" I asked stalling.

"He's a beautiful blue gray," they responded. "Well go get him. His owner said his name's Ezekiel--but he's more of a Zeke." Before I could object the next thing I knew they were bringing out the biggest, most plush gray cat I'd ever seen. I had always wanted a gray cat, but who would abandon such a healthy, handsome pet? I was suspicious...

The volunteers assured me though he was was of the friendliest cats they'd ever seen. As if to demonstrate, when they set Zeke down he immediately jumped into my arms and well, hugged me. It's a bit of a blur after that, but the next thing I knew I was riding back to the office on the shuttle bus gripping my big adoption box with my mittens.

The next day Zeke was showered with turkey and quickly made himself at home. (I like to think the turkey was only a part of his devotion.) Because he was an older cat, his time with us was much too short and he is often missed, but I will always be glad that one Thanksgiving Eve I stopped long enough to find my true companion, studio muse and model.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Red Gates

Happy Thursday! I spent most of the day out of the studio so I'm posting one my favorite landscapes of the Gates of Lodore, which is a stunning canyon area in Dinasour National Monument the upper northwestern corner of Colorado.

I've thought the name sounded like something from the Lord of the Rings. And there is an English connection, Also known as the Canyon of Lodore, it was named for the "Cataract of Lodore" poem written in 1820 which describes an area in Cumbria, England.

This painting is SOLD, but for more information about other works or my Denver based painting classes, please send me a note at ScarletOwl@hotmail.com or visit me on TeachStreet.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Deja Vu Pear

Yesterday, I thought it would be interesting to paint a "colored" object (in this case a yellow green Bartlett pear) inside a semi-opaque white object (here a bag) where I could study the addtiional effects of reflected light on the white object and vice versa.

Like many artists, as a young art student I would often paint fruit as a still life so when I paint a pear like this I tend to have a strange, but comforting sense of deja vu as I paint. There's also something interesting about painting something edible.

For more information about my painting classes (oil, acrylic, or watercolor) please email me at ScarletOwl@hotmail.com. Have a great week!

"Deja Vu Pear" 8 x 10 oil on canvas panel, please write for purchase information.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Snowy Stream

When I woke up to fresh snow last weekend, I was inspired to paint another snowy, but colorful winter landscape oil painting. I particularly love using the painting knife for snow because it's like frosting your landscape as if it were a giant cupcake.

To help keep the snow scene from getting too cool, I first tinted the canvas with warm orange red hue and let some of that peak through as you can probably see. Painting on a tinted canvas or surface is one of my favorite painting techniques.

A landscape painting book that has a somewhat similar technique that I really enjoy is Paint Red Hot Landscapes That Sell by artist Canadian painter Mike Svob. I absolutely love his landscapes.

Also, speaking of cupcakes (and now thinking about them too now...) I came across a fun art blog called Artist Food Network that combines art with a recipe, which I thought was a great idea.)

For more information about my art or classes, please write to me at ScarletOwl@hotmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

White of Way Painting

I'm primarily known as a colorist. But I tell my students one of my favorite value painting exercises is to paint white objects, whether in oil or watercolor.

For example, this is a quick 8 x 10 oil painting study of a white art smock that was hanging against a blackboard. Painting white objects on a white background is even more interesting, but here I couldn't resist painting the dark blackboard.

I will always be drawn to colorful, high chroma paintings but there's something very soothing about white subject matter. For some more of muted "white" still life paintings look at the work of Italian painter Giorgio Morandi. And here's another interesting blog post about painting white objects.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tinsel Town Abstract

Happy Tuesday! Inspired by the sparkling snow over the weekend, I wanted to create a whimsical abstract that might also be interpreted as hanging glass holiday ornaments and tinsel. I painted this with oils on a tinted canvas using a brush and a knife for a variety of textures.

In this type of "high-key" abstract, I love to push the boundaries of colorful whites and neutrals in where in contrast the touches of pure pigment really pop.

Many thanks to all my awesome students--It's been a joy meeting all of you and I look forward to creating some great paintings this winter. For more information about my classes in Denver please write to me at ScarletOwl@hotmail.com or visit my TeachStreet page.

"TinselTown" 18 x 18 oil on canvas board, available, please write to me at ScarletOwl@hotmail.com for pricing info

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tears in my Eyes

Happy Monday! Am happy to report that the sun is back out in force here my Denver studio and that always inspires my painting. This morning's quick knife painting oil study (8 x 8) of an onion on black and white cloth.

Don't always use Thalo Blue on my palette, but it really came in handy here and it makes a some fantastic greens.

If you like these small still life oil paintings, be sure to check out daily oil painter Michael Naples. They are consistently well-crafted with great brushwork, composition, and color. Also, I believe, he was one of the first artists to start the daily painting movement. Here's an article about him as well in Empty Easel.

For more information about my art and painting classes, please email me at ScarletOwl@hotmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

P.S. I love to play a variety of music in the studio and the title also refers to a line from one of my favorite songs, Bob Marley's Waiting in Vain.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Celebrating the Seasons with Watercolor

As you know one of the keys of successful watercolor painting is saving the white areas to help the rest of the painting really sparkle. Sometimes easier said than done though right?

One of my favorite watercolor exercises is to show students how to save the white by using stickers (at any large craft store or online you can find every size and shape imaginable), tape, adhesive paper (such as shelf paper), etc.. Once these are down, you can then paint freely and loosely (wet in wet for example) right over them. Two tips: Don't try to pull them off until you r painting is dry, but don't leave them on too long either.

(I'd like to give a creative shout out to Denver artist Lindy Lyman for originally showing me this watermedia technique many years ago.)

This week one of my students, who is also a teacher, had the wonderful idea of representing all the four seasons in her "sticker" painting and she was kind enough to let me share it here. It reminded me that nature's rhythms in a variety of forms can a be an endless source of painting inspiration. Well done Laura!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Snowbound on my Easel

It's a sunny, warm November day here without a snowflake in site--But I decided to paint a snow scene continuing my colorful knife painting series. Here I tinted the canvas a warm golden yellow to help warm up the mostly cool landscape hues.

I started with quick sketch and then "painted" in the oil paints entirely with the painting knife. As I usually do, to keep the colors extra vibrant and clean, I used a limited, but versatile, palette of only Indian Yellow, Quin Rose, Thalo Blue, Ultra Blue, and White. Sure, it's some extra mixing but that's part of the fun.

Also, I really like these new RGM stainless steel knifes with the comfy, colorful rubber handles. Can't wait to get some additional sizes of these. It's like painting with colored butter!

For more information about this piece or my oil painting classes in Denver, please drop me a line at ScarletOwl@hotmail.com. I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Juicy Fruit Tuesday

I had such a fantastic time yesterday panting an abstract landscape with the painting knife, I thought I'd do a quick still life study this morning.

I set up this pear on a antique studio chair that my grandmother owned. The chair itself has been painted about 20 times and it's currently bright turquoise, so it makes an interesting background.

I also started with a warm red tinted canvas to energy and complement the yellow green pear. If you haven't tried it an all knife painting is a great way to simplify your form while keeping your colors vibrant. For more information about "full spectrum color" painting be sure to check out Susan Sarback's book Capturing Radiant Color in Oils.

"Single Pear" 8 x 8 oil on panel
Available for purchase, please email me at ScarletOwl@hotmail.com for more information about my art or Denver area oil painting classes, thanks!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Emerald City

Happy Monday! Hot off the today's easel, here's a loose, abstract forest landscape. I love painting evergreen forests, particularly the positive/negative tree shapes and their cast shadows. And using a painting knife is a great way to get both texture and to keep your colors vibrant. A great book about this type of painting is Susan Sarback's Capturing Radiant Colors in Oils.

Also, if you like this type of "forest landscape", be sure to check out one of my favorite painters, Emily Carr, who I discovered on a trip to Vancouver.

For more information about my art or my classes, please email me in the studio at ScarletOwl@hotmail.com.

"Emerald City" 12 x 12 oil on panel
Fellow artists please check out my new art marketing blog: Art Smarts

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Groovy Yupo Painting

I wanted to post another Yupo painting, but this time a figure to show the versatility of the surface. I painted this particular model in a quick pose session using a fine black Sharpie for the quick sketch and then adding watercolor glazes. (Her "costume" had a distinct seventies denim vibe so I chose colors to accentuate that look.)

Several years ago, one of my art goals was to be juried into the annual Colorado Watercolor Society show and the piece that I was happily juried in with (which I'll post one of these days) was a figure painting on Yupo.

Also, if you enjoy watercolor figure painting, be sure to check out Don Andrews book "Interpretting the Figure in Watercolor"--his bold, grainy color combinations and figure compostions are some of my favorites For more information about my art classes, please drop me a line at ScarletOwl@hotmail.com--I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Pears & Free Art Night

TGIF everyone! I painted this watercolor of three pears yesterday as a quick demo for my class. I was attracted to these pears in the store because of their interesting speckles, which I thought would be fun to paint with my Funny Brush (which I don't use very often).

Artists please check out my NEW Art Marketing & Creativity Blog Art Smarts. I hope you find it helpful! Have a great weekend. Speaking of the weekend...

If you are in Denver be sure to take advantage of this Saturday's Free Museum Night--I went last year and while it can be crazy and crowded, I had a fantastic time particularly at the Kirkland -- my favorite "unsung" art museum in Denver!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Holding onto Red

Thought I'd post one of my quick oil painting studies today from Art Students League. I love to paint the live model and these quick (a few minutes literally) oil panting figure studies are great fun and for me a way to approach the figure in a more painterly fashion.

One of my favorite painting books about doing quick studies is 60 Minutes to Better Painting by California painter Craig Nelson. A great addition to your art book shelf for under 10 bucks. If anyone out there has attended one of his workshops I'd love to hear about it!

Also, I'm often asked where I buy these great little "gatorfoam" primed painting panels, they are from Abend Fine Art Gallery here in Denver.

Also, I see that Fine Art America (the site where I sell prints of some of my most popular paintings) is having their first ever 15% off print sale through November 8 (promo code: FALL09), so be sure to check that out. There's some fantastic artists on that site and you can find just about any subject matter imaginable.

Finally, be sure to check out my new Art Marketing Blog ART SMARTS creatively exclusively for for fellow artists and painters who want to improve their art brand and become more successful. Happy painting and art collecting!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Landscape Wednesday

I haven't posted a landscape in a while and I was planning to work on a winter landscape in the studio today, so I thought I'd post one of my favorites. This small oil landscape painting was painted from a photo I took just outside of Taos, New Mexico.

It's a fairly simply composition, but I think the painting captures the expansive peace and quiet that you feel in New Mexico. I'm also pleased to say that it was the first painting to sell at one of my shows. You never know quite what will sell on any given day, but it's always nice when a collector notices a painting that's one of your favorites.

"Sage Solitude" 12 x 12 oil on linen, Private Collection

For more information about my Denver oil painting classes, please write to me anytime at ScarletOwl@hotmail.com or visit me on TeachStreet.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Watercolor Monday

Welcome to November! This is one of my favorite large (full sheet) watercolor floral paintings from my orchid series. It was also inspired by some of the floral painting examples in one of my favorite painting books: Painting from the Inside Out by Betsy Dillard Stroud.

Orchids don't need soil to grow (or so I'm told) and I was intrigued with the idea that they live suspended in the jungle. I don't use masking fluid that often when painting watercolor, but here I decided to experiment with it for the mysterious tendrils of jungle growth in the background and I thought it worked out pretty well. Just be sure your paper is bone dry when you drizzle the masking fluid on then let it dry completely. I also prefer a colored masking fluid (like Pebeo) so you know where it is. I also added oil pastel for extra texture and a colorful line element--one of my favorite watercolor techniques.

For more information about my watercolor classes, please write to me at ScarletOwl@hotmail.com.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween everyone! I'm posting one of my more "mysterious" skull paintings which I love to paint. (This painting won Honorable Mention at a local abstract show a few years ago and like all my paintings that win awards, was safely "put to pasture" in my studio.)

I wanted to create an interesting background for the skulls so I painted several layers of acrylic and then added texture and lines by pressing the wet areas with plastic wrap. After letting it dry for a while, I peeled it up to reveal different patterns. At the end, for a bit of irony, I added the symbol for "Long Life."

Finally, I love to dress up for Halloween and one costume that I've always thought would be fun would be fun as an artist would be to dress like a famous painting, such as Vermeer's iconic Girl with the Pearl Earring or the Mona Lisa. I see I'm not the first though with that idea, as you can see from these young ladies creative art costumes.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Let's Get Creative

I can't imagine not living a creative life, but it can also be a lifelong challenge. Pure joy and high energy one day, and, depending on how much you "put out there" exhausting the next. One of the great rewards from writing a daily painting or creative-based blog is that it really does help you focus and stay motivated.

Along those lines, the other day I came across this posting celebrating November as "Art Ever Day Month" (or AEDM)--inspired by National Novel Writing Month (aka Nanowrimo!) There's some great creative artwork by the participants so be sure to check it out or join yourself.

When it comes to creating art everyday, I'm reminded of what our novel writing teacher at Lighthouse Workshop coaches which is that essential "just do it" mantra. More specifically he encourages us to be OK with our SFD. Or "So-So" (fill in your own "S" word here as neeeded) First Draft.

For creating art, you need to free yourself in the same way. Details, minor adjustments, etc. should be left to the end.

I tell me students be OK with the "ugly stage"--embrace it! Why, because it means you are creating and learning. Quite frankly, I often learn more from an unsuccessful painting so I try to keep that in mind as well. Here's a quick "demo" I did for my watercolor students regarding negative painting, glazing, and line as a design element. A perfect painting? No. But did I enjoy the creative process, absolutely.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sunny Provence

Today, in the snow storm I'm craving the sunshine and a much warmer climate and so I'm posting a colorful quick study I did when I was in Provence (perhaps my favorite painting destination) a few years ago.

I also thought it would be a fun contrast from yesterday's "blast from the past" painting of France. For those of you who've been abroad on painting workshops, you know the logistics of art travel (nothing like juggling easels and paints on a bus!) can be challenging, but there's nothing like painting plein air on location far from home.

This watercolor study is from the quintessential Provencale town of Aix en Provence (about 20 mile north of Marseilles) where around every corner was a painting in the making. There's no better winter hobby than studio painting, so for more information about my Denver based watercolor classes please write to me at ScarletOwl@hotmail.com.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Castle From the Past

Nesting today and under the weather, so am posting a rather nostalgic painting. This is one of my earliest watercolors at least that I still own. According to the signed date, I was just 15 years old...

Anyway, like many artists who look back at their earliest works, I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, it's fun to see your budding origins as an artist, isn't it? And on the other, the mature artist finds fault or at least discord with their current art "persona."

For example, why use such a somber Payne's Gray? A pigment that wouldn't be near my palette today. And what's going on with that heavy handed white gouache and low quality paper?

I've no idea where the original image source came from (pre Internet!) other than I was completely obsessed with France. A postcard from one of my many European pen pals (again, pre Internet) perhaps?

In the end though, what's important is that I must have enjoyed painting it, because more than 25 years later (yikes!) I'm still p
ainting. And I can't imagine my life today sans art.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Abstract Tuesday

First welcome to my new visitors from around the world, thanks for stopping by!

Here's the abstract mixed-media painting ("The Invention of Color") I posted yesterday on Daily Painters Abstract Gallery. This is one of those paintings where I just set out to explore and don't really have a plan of action.

I used gessosed illustration board (so it would take the paint better) and applied many different layers of transparent Golden acrylics, pastels, graphite, collage tissue paper, and then stamping at the end to add even more depth. These kind of paintings may take you on long journey but they are worth it.

One of my favorite art books for mixed media exercises like this is Celebrate your Creative Self by Mary Todd Beam. For more information about my mixed media or acrylic painting classes, please write to me at the studio: ScarletOwl@hotmail.com.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Watercolor Monday

Since I posted an abstract painting on Yupo over the weekend, I wanted to post a more traditional watermedia painting today to show just how versatile and fresh this surface can be.

One of my earliest forays into art was with pen and ink sketching with watercolor. Yupo works great for that application as you can see here. Here's an example of a quick (maybe 10-15 minutes) study I painted of peppers using a fine black Sharpie and watercolor. As I often do I started with a pure contour drawing before adding any color.

As I mentioned in my previous posting you can easily find Yupo in sheets (I prefer the heavier ones) or pads now online at Cheap Joes, Amazon, and Daniel Smith.

For more information about my watercolor classes, please write to me at ScarletOwl@hotmail.com or visit me on Teach Street. I look forward to hearing from you!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Yupo Saturday

First, what is Yupo? As some of you may know, it's a 100% recyclable "tree free" synthetic paper from the commercial printing industry. I first came across Yupo at a workshop almost 10 years ago. Because Yupo more like plastic, it's very durable and super smooth.

Today, with Yupo's growing popularity as an artist "paper" you can easily purchase Yupo online at places like Cheap Joes--who even sells Yupo in a pad.

I find Yupo's to be a versatile and adventurous painting surface that works well for both detailed representational work or loose abstracts as I've done here. In this particular painting, I used Golden liquid acrylics for really bold color saturation.

In researching Yupo art, I found this demo of painting sunflowers on Yupo as well as a great looking Yupo demo video from master watermedia artist George James.

I love introducing Yupo to my watermedia students, for more information please write to me at ScarletOwl@hotmail.com.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cherries Flambe

One of my absolute favorite oil painting books in my studio is California painter Dan McCaw's A Proven Strategy for Creating Great Art. (Unfortunately, it appears to be out of print but you can still find it used.)

You can also see more of Dan McCaw's work on his website. I love McCaw's brushwork, value patterns, and unusual color keys. His abstract figures are fantastic and to me, he makes "creating great art" look easy. And while I know that's not always true in daily practice, it's inspiring and motivating to think so.

In his book, McCaw says he often paints abstracted still lifes like this purely from imagination.
While painting this "imagined" still life of apples and cherries (an exercise taken from his book) was highly enjoyable to paint, I quickly discovered balancing the powerful reds with the right accents while maintaining interesting shape variety was much more challenging than I thought it would be. All the more reason to keep on painting...

For more information about my Denver oil painting classes, please email me at ScarletOwl@hotmail.com.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jazz Cat

As many of you know, artists sometimes struggle with buying art at times. How many times has a friend or family member (well meaning) said: Why don't you just paint that yourself? And on one hand they may have a point, but I feel strongly about owning a variety art and getting inspiration from other artists. This is one of my favorite paintings and to date, the only commission I've ever had done.

This wonderful cat portrait of our beloved tabby Jasmine (aka Jazzy) was created by Colorado artist and illustrator Matt McFarren several years ago. Obviously, I wanted something a bit different than the "classic" pet portrait to fit her small cat/big personality.

I know a commission painting of any kind can be a luxury purchase, but I highly recommend it if you ever have the chance. You'll really enjoy owning a one of kind, personal piece. Here's a link to some fantastic pet painters on Daily Painters.

For more information about my oil painting classes, please write to me at ScarletOwl@hotmail.com

Monday, October 19, 2009

Watercolor Monday

In honor of my new watercolor students, I thought I'd post one of my favorite floral watercolors. (Not to mention, am already having some summer withdrawal.) This was painted in the garden of our local park where each year they plant huge beds of towering red and orange canna flowers--which I recently learned are related to the ginger and banana plant.

It's a bit startling to see such spiky and exotic botanicals at our mile high altitude, so I love to paint them. Because the flower colors are so warm, I played with a lot of cool blues in the rest of the painting.

For more information about my watercolor classes, please send me an email at ScarletOwl@hotmail.com. Have a great fall week!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Figure Friday

This is "Waiting on the Red Sofa" one of my favorite oil figure paintings (it hangs in my studio). I painted this from the live model in one sitting. I love what she was wearing--especially the dark shawl--and her expression. Figure painting is sometimes like trying to hit a moving target, at least for me, but there's something very exciting about capturing someone right in front of you.

Here, I tried to concentrate on keeping the models surrounding very abstract and impressionistic, but with bold, pure color notes. For more figure painting inspiration, check out the Daily Painters Figure Art there are some amazing and varied figure artists posting there. Also be sure to check out this month's American Art Collector Magazine for some amazing figure paintings.

For more information about my art or oil painting classes, please send me a note at ScarletOwl@hotmail.com--I look forward to hearing from you. Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Colors Squashed

Because I love to paint nature and organic subjects, I try to keep my art in tune with the seasons. Hot of the easel, this is a quick oil painting color study of pumpkins and squashes which I painted in the studio yesterday. For better color harmony, I prefer a limited palette in oils. But this time I challenged myself with just 4 pigments + white.
  • One blue: French Ultra
  • Two yellows: Yellow Ochre, Indian Yellow
  • One red: Rose Madder
  • One White: Permalba (mix of Titanium + Zinc)
I always tell students, less is more when it comes to your palette. I think this oil study is a good example of how you can paint a colorful painting with very few colors. For more information about my oil painting classes please email me at ScarletOwl@hotmail.com.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

First Snow

In honor of our first snow of the year in Denver (I'm never quite ready), I'm posting one of my favorite winter impressionistic landscapes.

I wish I could say I painted this bravely en plein air, but it was done in my studio from a photo I took in Steamboat Springs. As I've noted a few times on my blog, my favorite part of winter is painting winter landscapes. I love to play with a variety colorful whites!

Speaking of landscape painting, like many painters, I've long admired master painter Richard Schmid and I see that he's got a new landscape painting book coming in November that's looks fantastic.

Winter is a great time to start painting, so please drop me a line for more information about my painting classes or click on my Teach Street button.

Friday, October 9, 2009

My Creative Space

I don't know about you but I love seeing other artist's studios and work spaces. I'm thrilled when other artists share their studio spaces so I'm doing so here.

About a year and a half ago I converted our old screened in summer porch into a year round, north lit studio with sky lights. My must haves were a hardy oak floor and plenty of room for a watercolor/drawing table and 2 easels.

Like many artists, I also added a lot of bookshelves for storage (in my case lots of skulls!), supplies, frames, and art books. The only thing I would have liked now that I'm settled in is perhaps a sink, but the kitchen's not far. It's a daily thrill to be able to paint and now teach in a dedicated studio space in my house.

Want to see more artists' studios? Here's an all Studio magazine issue from American Artist that I'll definitely be ordering.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Free Bird

The painter Andrew Wyeth once said that watercolor "perfectly expresses the free side of my nature."
I have to agree. There's something special about painting in watercolor, yes it can be bold and exciting, but it's also very versatile, calming, and zen. The brush. The paper. Layering the transparent color...It can be extremely addictive.

As many of you know, watercolor media also lends itself to experimentation, but once in a while I paint what I consider to be a fairly traditional, straightforward watercolor. A white (or mostly white) subject in sunlight is a great way to do bring out the magical properties of watercolor. That's why I chose this snowy egret and it turned out to be one of my favorite watercolors.

For more information about my Denver watercolor classes please drop me a line at ScarletOwl@hotmail.com.

And for more information about watercolor and some of the best watercolor artists in the country check out The American Watercolor Society.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pillow Talk

First, welcome again to all my new visitors from the Daily Painters Abstract Gallery and American Art Collector Magazine. Thanks for stopping by!

In honor of American Art Collector's amazing figure/nude October 2009 issue I wanted to post another figure. Painting the figure from life, for me, is one of the great joys and challenges of oil painting. I just loved this pose from the minute the model decided to basically take a nap on the pillows.

Speaking of figure painting, I just came across a very interesting new art themed reality show called Star Portraits on Bravo Canada where artists are challenged each week to paint a celebrity portrait. Isn't that a great concept? I can't wait to watch them online.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ivory Kimono

Like many artists, I own hundreds of art books, but only a handful become "must have" favorites. A few weeks ago I ordered Kevin Weckbach's little paperback A Visual Palette: A Philosophy of the Natural Principles of Painting and I've read it twice already.

I've taken only a few classes with Kevin, so it was a treat to have his insights and wisdom handy in book form. I highly recommend it, especially if you like Robert Henri's classic The Art Spirit, another studio favorite. While neither book is heavy on visuals, the information in them is invaluable.

A few years ago, Kevin's wife (then pregnant) modeled for another figure class I was taking and she is the model here. It's one of my personal favorite figure paintings.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Drawing Joy

I was looking through my old portfolio the other day and came across this charcoal study of a skull I did in Jean Schiff's drawing class at Art League a few years ago.

It reminded me, like many many painters, my original passion for art sprang from joy of pure drawing. Pen and ink. Pencil sketches. Contour drawings with a Sharpie. And of course, the Crayola 64 pack. (Magenta and periwinkle were my favorites)

Quite frankly, today, I love painting and color so much that I probably don't draw as much as I should. But, I think the art of drawing is an undervalued art form today and something to be treasured. Unfortunately, Ms. Schiff passed away earlier this year and I think she would have agreed. She was an excellent teacher and I know many students that have benefited from her wealth of knowledge will miss her.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Hot House Flower

I just finished reading Margot Berwin's highly-enjoyable new novel Hot House Flower and the 9 Plants of Desire (which I thought was a great title) and my inspiration for posting one of my all time favorite floral watercolor paintings of an orchid.

Unfortunately, I don't have much of a green thumb so I usually visit the Denver Botanic Gardens when I need a flower subject as I did here.

Also, just received the "Cum Laude award" on TeachStreet so thanks so much and welcome to all my new TeachStreet students!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Student Painting of the Week: Walter's Forest

Unfortunately, this week I must say "Au Revoir" to my "beginner" student Walter, who is off to work at the Cirque du Soleil show (how cool is that?) in sunny Southern California. As a souvenir of his art time here in Denver, I had him work on his first abstract landscape acrylic painting of aspens and I think it's just fantastic. Great job Walter!

Walter was a natural painter from the start and never afraid of shapes, bold color mixing, or pattern as I think you can see here. Walter, we'll miss you in the studio, and I hope you enjoy this painting as a reminder of your time in Colorado for years to come. Keep on painting!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Good Morning Taos!

It's no secret that landscape painters all over the world fall in love with New Mexico. Even though I was only in New Mexico for a brief trip last week, I'm already missing the landscape and hoping I can return soon to take more photos.

The mornings in New Mexico are especially wonderful when it's sunny and you've got a spicy Mexican hot chocolate in hand!

This landscape painting was painted back in the studio from my photo references which I took just north of Taos. It's the kind of landscape that I find energizing and peaceful at the same time.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

For Georgia

I finally had a chance last night to watch the Georgia O'Keeffe movie (on Lifetime) I had Tivo-ed over the weekend. While I would have liked to have seen more of Miss O'Keeffe painting--I found it very inspirational and moving. How often do you get to see a movie about a female painter?

My favorite scene is where, after an arduous trip from NYC, she wakes up in magical sunlit Taos. You just know she's not leaving after that.

While wandering the mesmerizing landscape she holds a skull up to the sky. In honor of that, I thought I'd post one of my skull paintings--this one in watercolor. I love to paint skulls, and like Georgia says in the movie, unlike real cows they don't smell.