Thursday, September 30, 2010

Kimono Thursday

Taking a brief break from my daily apples to post this fun Japanese kimono watercolor I painted in this week's Monday group class. I was inspired to paint a colorful kimono with a dark background for a variety of reasons.

First, at the gym a few weeks ago (note this is my excuse for watching daytime TV) I saw an interview on Oprah about the "secret world" of the geisha. I was surprised to hear that a high quality formal kimono can exceed $20,000. So I started thinking a kimono would be a fun painting subject. A few days later I was reading about was reading about the Japanese design concept of  notan which involves the interplay of dark and light shapes or what we likely think of as the relationship of positive and negative space.

For reference for this watercolor/Sharpie piece, I used a vintage Japanese print that I found online and then gave it my own "over the top"color flair using a full spectrum of hues.. I wanted a nice matte black background so I simply used black acrylic paint rather than watercolor. The support is Arches 140lb CP paper.  

Thanks for stopping by--please feel free to drop me a note or comment if you have any painting questions or would like more info about my watercolor, oil, or acrylic painting classes. Domo arigato!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bite of Red: Apple #2

Oil on panel

Here's apple study #2. A bitten red delicious as you can see. I read there are more than 50 varieties of this type of apple. I'll be honest, I'm a Macintosh gal from way back, but the red delicious still makes a nice shiny, angular model with lovely cool and warm reds. And it's flesh is a really interesting almost white-yellow-green before it begins it's golden rusty oxidation.

My favorite apple painting story, which I think I'm remembering correctly, was one that the late Helen VanWyk (the wonderful PBS oil painter from many years ago) would share about her mentor. Ms. VanWyk's books are some of the first oil painting books I purchased years ago and they remain some of my favorites.

I'm likely paraphrasing here, but it has always stuck with me. As a young painter, Helen was tasked with a painting a bowl of apples and not until every single apple could be identified individually could she move on. In other words, painting is really observing carefully and recording accurately--which is really for me what these little live studies are really about each day.

Tomorrow, I'm looking forward to running up to our local Cherry Creek Farmer's Market before teaching my first class to find some more inspirational apple/model options. Quick thanks this week to all my home studio  students who are graciously putting up some remodel noise along with me--the end is near! In the meantime, I greatly appreciate your patience and sympathy.    

Sunday, September 19, 2010

An Apple a Day?

"Darker at the Core"
8 x 8 oil on linen panel
Price posted when dry! :)

As many of you know, I typically tend toward overall high key paintings, but ever since I painted an almost black plum last week I've been thinking about balancing darker colors. Here, for the background and foreground I've mixed what I like to call "bright black" meaning a very dark value comprised of saturated relatively darker pigments like Thalo Blue, French Ultramarine Blue, Alizarin, Cad Red Light, etc.

Also I had not painted a knife painting a while, so I wanted to work with that as well. For added sparks of color and interest, I also toned the linen canvas panel with a thin but bright wash of Golden Acrylic Pyrrole Red. I noticed on another painter's blog a beautiful series of 31 daily plum paintings which I found very inspiring so perhaps I'll do the same with apples. Not only are apples an appropriate daily subject for September, I think they will be an extra challenge.  We see apples almost everyday and there are many fine paintings of them so how do we make them more intriguing on canvas?  We'll have to wait and see...

In the meantime, I hope everyone is enjoying a beautiful, sunny fall weekend. See you in the studio!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hot off the Presses!

Today I've got a short but exciting post. I finally had some extra time this week and finished my little art portfolio book on Blurb. The book is a collection of my favorite paintings (many of which I've posted here) from the past decade or so.

As many of you know, it's both odd and exciting to review a collection of your creative efforts "living" all in one place. It's also a bit like having that "one woman show" I've always dreamed but on paper. I can't wait to receive it in the mail in the next few days.

What's great about Blurb is that it's so relatively affordable that I can always make some small changes and/or additions after I see the book. But I also like the idea that moving forward in my art life, I'll be working toward filling the pages of the sequel! I did make the books (which are a little longer than the preview above) available for purchase if anyone wants one--they are about $20 on Blurb with the "fancier" paper.

Quick reminder that I have space available for the rest of September and October for our Monday open studio painting group at the Curtice Street Studio in downtown Littleton so please email me if you are interested in joining us. All levels and painting media welcome!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Even Moore Inspiration

Normally, I'd be posting a painting. But last week, I finally had a chance to check off one of my "summer art must dos" that was a visit to the Henry Moore sculpture exhibit at our Denver Botanic Gardens and I just had to post a couple of pics from my visit.  

This unique art exhibit (which runs through January 2011) includes 20 bronze and marble sculptures at both the downtown Denver and suburban Chatfield locations.  As an artist, I'm always considering proportion and scale, so it was fascinating to experience three dimensional creations that tower over 10 feet tall and weigh more than a ton particularly outside a more conventional museum setting. 

As many of you may know, Moore was a highly-acclaimed British sculpture born in the late 1800s and known for his large scale curvilinear abstracted works some figural, some less so. To me the massive sculptures seemed completely at peace even along side the most delicate flora. I think Mr. Moore would have been quite pleased with the setting. Above you can see one of my favorites--a wonderful turquoise sculpture rising out of the lily ponds like a stretching water beast of some sort.
I also love circles and spirals so another one of my Moore favorites was this "Figure 8" shaped dark bronze piece that created a wonderful organic frame for a more formal area. While I didn't have time to sketch, I did take many photos and am planning to integrate many of the shapes into a future abstract work. Simply by  taking photos of the sculptures, I was reminded of just how much we can learn from art forms outside our creative comfort zones.

Before I go, quick welcome and thanks to some new students: Kathleen, Monique, and John. I've enjoyed working with all of you and look forward to more fall painting projects. For class info, please write to me, click on the class link on the upper right, or search for Scarlet Owl in TeachStreet. Thanks for checking in an and have a wonderfully creative week!    

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Vampire's Delight

12 x 12 oil on panel
Happy September everyone! Is it me or does time just seem to fly this time of year? I also find it's a time of year when I tend to start a lot of different painting projects, which is exciting, but it also means that it's taking me longer to complete any one piece. (That was excuse no. 1 for those of you keeping track).

Painting excuse no. 2? For those of you who've done any home renovation you know how time consuming and distracting that can be. Exciting, but distracting so that's one of my excuses for not posting more in the past week. But bathroom reno means there's a new heated whirlpool bathtub in my future to help soothe the aches and pains of hours at the easel, so I know it will be worth it!

This is also the time of year when I start to prepare for my annual winter panic. To help the transition go more smoothly, I try to concentrate on things that I do enjoy about this season and one of those, as I've mentioned before is cooking. Particularly I love making soup and I always use a ton of garlic when I do. So I'm posting  this oil painting study of garlic that I did a while back. It's one of my favorite "food" paintings.  

I've got 2 quick tips today. For my fellow oil painters who want a less toxic medium you might want to try M.Graham Walnut Alkyd medium. I tried it today for about an hour and so far, so good, which for me means no headache or itchy eyes.

For my watermedia painters/pet parents, I'm always looking for "pet proof" water container (pigments can be very toxic) and after looking around the house I realized I could use large dishwasher tab containers. (I rinsed them thoroughly before using.) Not only are they roomy, but most importantly, the lid clicks firmly shut so I don't have to worry about monitoring my water bucket ever time I turn around. Right Mr.Dash??

As always, if you have any questions about my work or classes, please drop me a line, I'd love to hear from you. Have a wonderful and colorful week!