Monday, March 28, 2011

Cipolla Rossa & Art for Japan

"Cipolla Rossa" 6x6 oil on panel
Happy spring Monday everyone! Doesn't "Red Onion" sound sexy in Italian? Spurred on by my acceptance into the Randy Higbee 6 inch square show, I wanted to concentrate on a few more 6 x 6 oil studies. I love working with analogous color triad: red-orange-red-red-violet. (This is that same pesky onion I've been trying to get to sprout with no luck, and I got tired of waiting.)

Specifically, an intense red violet magenta has been one of my favorite colors since I was old enough to flip open a the big yellow Crayola 64 box. (Periwinkle and Seafoam were other favorites.) Speaking of Italy, as some of you may know, the color name comes from the town of Magenta in northern Italy and refers to the bloodshed in a battle there in the 1800s.

Also, I wanted to help share the word about Daily Paintworks Help Japan Challenge. The Daily Paintworks site (which features weekly painting challenges) currently features over 300 beautiful paintings up for bid to help such agencies as the Red Cross in Japan. They've raised almost $20,000 so far. 

Finally, over the weekend I had a chance to to see the Colorado Watercolor Society 20th Annual State Exhibition which runs through April 17, 2011 at Foothills Art Center in Golden. Definitely worth a trip if you are in the area.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Sharper Colors and Show Announcement

Happy Friday everyone! I'm posting a 8 x 10 study of a colorful cactus oil painting study--I really love the warm red violet and cool blue green color combination. I love painting nature's "defenses" such as thorns, needles, etc.

Speaking of red an green paintings, I'm thrilled to announce that just yesterday I received my acceptance into the Randy Higbee Gallery 6" Squared Exhibition and Sale. Yay! The Show starts on April 16 and runs through May 6th--if you are anywhere near Costa Mesa in beautiful Southern California be sure to stop by.  I'll be posting more info about the show as I learn more. Quick thanks to the Artists Helping Artists weekly podcast-I would have likely not heard about the show otherwise.
The painting they accepted was my little watermelon oil painting study on linen (Summer Slice) that I painted from life late last summer. If you paint, you know how exciting it is to think of your painting "out and about" in the world far away from your studio.

Also going on this week, for those of you who oil paint, I saw that for the next few days Cheap Joe's has Free Shipping on Williamsburg handmade oil paints. I've heard other painters recommend these these paints and have always wanted to try them. As a typically higher key painter, I'm always look for good whites (aren't we all?) so I thought I'd try the Willamsburg Titanium While. As soon as I get it, I'll post a review.

Finally, welcome to all my new March students--am so glad you are kicking off your Spring in a creative way! And as always, a giant thank you to all my loyal ongoing students! See you soon back in the studio.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

An Irish Quilt (an ode to green)

  "Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises." 
Pedro Calderon de la Barca, Spanish Poet and Playwright, 1600-1681

Today, I knew exactly what I wanted to paint. Combine an abstracted (and in this case imagined) landscape that celebrated a wide variety of greens in honor of St. Pat's tomorrow. As an artist I love all colors, but I'm particularly drawn to the unbelievable of variety of greens in nature--from the lightest, coolest aquas to the richest, deepest olives and emeralds. In fact, I read the human eye can discern the most variety in the color green.

I've traveled to England but never Ireland, but I had an idea of the landscape elements I wanted to evoke. Misty trees, stony fields, cliffs dropping into a cold sea, etc.  In this mixed media painting (acrylic and oil pastel), I started with a very warm under painting--magentas, oranges, yellows knowing that they would later work as complements under the green final layers. 

As I've mentioned before, I typically use a limited palette, meaning I use mix my greens from "from scratch" using blue and yellow pigments such as ultramarine and lemon, or thalo blue and quin gold (perhaps my all time favorite green mix), etc. but in this painting I added pure acidic Thalo Green to my palette for the extra green zing I was after. My favorite part was mixing the variety of greens--really trying to push the value range and intensity range. I had a such a good time, I may try another one tomorrow.  

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Plein Air Fleurs

Happy Spring Forward everyone! I hadn't posted a watercolor painting (or a floral) in a while and I was really in the mood to post something bold, bright, and cheerful. This is a watercolor study I painted last summer plein air (fancy French art term for great outdoors) in one of the lovely Washington Park flower beds (Wash Park to us Denverites) nearby my home and studio.

The warmer weather (yay!) has got my art brain reeling. There are so many projects I want to tackle, including my annual self promise to get out and plein air--yes, I'm making it a verb. I think painting outdoors for us studio painters it's a "just do it" type of thing. I always enjoy it once I'm out there, but the thinking about it, the packing up, etc. is not nearly as enjoyable. For those of you interested in plein air, I saw they've just recently re-launched Plein Air Magazine just for outdoor painters--and it looks like a wonderful publication.

In the past I've used my very old Julian French easel since it's large enough to hold my paints, brushes, and a giant size box of tissues. (Ha--That's a plein air joke that some of you may enjoy.) Anyway I think this may be the year to retire "Julian" and look for another lighter and smaller pochade box option. So do feel free to email me if you have a pochade that you just love. My online investigation suggests that there is no one "perfect" plein air easel solution.

I want to also say what a busy, but great time I've had lately working with all my students on such a wide variety of exciting painting projects including skylines, dogs, fish, abstracts, mountain scenes, folded paper (sorry Amy!), canyons, lions, flowers, and that's just one week! As Clara Barton once said: Never Rust and I think that's a perfect art motto.

Later this week, I'm looking forward to attending an acrylic mixed media workshop and my other BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) this week is to get paintings done for the Randy Highbee Gallery 6x6 Show. On Thursday my goal is to post something GREEN of course, so I need to work on that too. In the meantime, I wish you all creative and colorful week! 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Ampersands of Time

Happy Monday everyone! Lately, I felt it was time to push myself to do a larger, more expressive and graphic non-representational painting. So over the weekend I bought a 3 foot by 4 foot gallery wrap canvas and which lurked liked a big white wall for a few hours. For me the best way to get started is to just dive in and start making marks--working with line and mass (more sold shapes).  I also used acrylic paint here so I could quickly stamp into areas, collage, etc.

Painting Detail
I always enjoy incorporating symbols, gylphs, words, letters, numbers, etc. into my art. In this piece, I wanted to include two of my favorite symbols: the ampersand and asterisk (which derives from the Latin for little star).
I read that asterisks where originally used to denote birth dates in family trees and the ampersand is an ancient symbol dating back to the first century.  It represents the written Latin "et" meaning "and" as you might have guessed. 

Since I was thinking about words and how they relate to art, I thought it would be fun to write a haiku (a traditional Japanese poetry form that follows the 5/7/5 syllable format) about painting abstractly. (I'm a former English major, but my poetry writing is a bit rusty, but here goes...)
Paint marks on canvas
Letters value hue collide
Whatever you have

White wall towers empty
Brushes tell a story
Colors sing in harmony

Colors swim below
Shapes emerge born of shadow
Brushes reach the sky

For those of you who paint on large surfaces you know how freeing this can be.  While I think I've still got a few adjustments to make, this was one of the most enjoyable pieces I've worked on recently.  Quick welcome and thanks to my new March students, as always I look forward to helping you reach your art goals while enjoying the process along the way!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sweet Sprouts

Happy March everyone! I'm back from my trip to beautiful, sun-kissed central Florida (I can see why so many painters live there) and eager to get back to painting and teaching this week. Before I left, I painted this quick oil painting study of a sprouting sweet onion.

I really wanted to paint a red onion for the red-purple/yellow-green complementary color scheme but I can't get the thing to sprout no matter what I try. (Feel free to email sprouting tips!) My favorite part was painting the semi-transparent onion skin.

Speaking of spring, I think this is a great time of year to start spring cleaning in your studio--weed out old brushes (they can still be used for texture but maybe not careful details), let go of that paint tube that's so old and dry it's become a mystery color, organize paintings by subject or size, and maybe donate rarely used supplies to a local art non-profit.  I don't know about you, but I feel much more productive and creative in a well-organized, well-stocked studio.

Finally, this week one of my students kindly gave me one of the Splash Watercolor Series books. If you paint in watercolor, you may already be familiar with these, but this consistently high quality series (currently their are 11 books in the series) is a marvelous resource if you work watermedia. Have a great week and happy painting!