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.