Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ribbons of the Rainbow

Today's Painting  
He hath ribbons of an the colours i' the rainbow--Winter's Tale, Act 4, Scene 4. This acrylic and oil abstract on gallery wrap canvas was inspired quite simply (or perhaps not!) by color. I wanted to play with aligning prismatic sections in a kind of woven painting. I was also thinking about colored ladders and steps while painting this as well as peacocks! The first step was pouring and dotting some fluid acrylics and then working with those patterns in the second layer in oils.

My New Studio Logo
Did you know that owls are found on every continent except Antarctica? After an super tough decision reviewing over 100 designs (from designers from all over the world) on Logo Tournament for my new logo, I'm thrilled to debut my new Scarlet Owl Studio logo. I wanted a logo that was natural but also contemporary. And of course it had to include a bright red owl!  Thanks designer "Klauts" who hails from Romania for an amazing job! And thanks to my friends and family who helped vote.

If you want to create your own art logo, my tip is to gather lots of examples online of logos you like (and those you do not) to help provide your design team with really clear visual direction. 
Summer Brings Art
Like many painters I'd rather be painting than doing administrative work but if want to get your work out there, it's part of the "job." As any of you know if you have ever prepared a tent or gallery show or even a corporate trade show booth--whew, exciting but exhausting. Speaking of festivals, if you are in the Denver area for Memorial Weekend be sure to check out the Downtown Denver Arts Festival.  I passed on this for the Summer Art Market, but it's a great festival with a wide variety of beautiful art and fine crafts.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

5280 Feet of Color

One of the best things about teaching painting is working with a wide variety of student subject matter. It really keeps my on my painted toes! A few months ago one of my students came to me with a fun and exciting painting challenge. She said let's paint the skyline of our beautiful Mile High City--Denver, Colorado. (FYI, the 13th step our Capital Building is exactly 5280 feet above sea level.)

As many of you know, I'm usually known more for my organic and nature inspired art rather than urban scenes. But Olivia is a talented artist and high energy young Denverite with a passion for color and our  downtown scene. I was confident though with some careful planning and some time (this took a few weeks) we could tackle the challenge.

Let's Paint the Town (or your favorite city) 

Working on a longer horizontal format can be tricky if you are not used to it. Remember to consider your composition rules about not splitting the canvas in half--vertically or horizontally when you have so many lines and geometric shapes to deal with.

It helps to review a variety of photos and angles of  the city skyline including different times of day and seasons. Finally, make the painting more personal by focusing on the landmarks or city attributes that are most important to you.  Here, Olivia's"must haves" were the Millennium Bridge (the white sail shape on the left), the 16th Street Clock Tower (which is always colorfully lit for the holidays), the new Four Seasons (with the spike on top) and perhaps Denver's most iconic building, Wells Fargo or "cash register building" as we call it because of it's unique cash register shape. 

Consider including city elements that will help you break up the strong verticals and sharper angles. Here, Olivia balanced the buildings with the iconic aspen trees, paths, creek, and curved bridges along Speer Boulevard--the main thoroughfare that runs along downtown.

And of course, feel free to infuse your own sense of color and spacial relationships--as we kept saying to ourselves it's a painting not a city planning grid! To give the cooler buildings some extra color pop, Olivia decided to outline them in red. As many sports fans know blue and orange are also symbolic Denver colors, so Olivia worked with those as well.

Awesome job Olivia, I'm sure you'll enjoy this painting and colorful memento of the city so many artists call home for years to come. Thanks for letting me share it with all my readers! Hope you all have a great Spring week where ever you call home.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Lights Burn Blue

"Lights Burn Blue" Contemporary Abstract 

Today's Painting (Title from King Richard III, Act V)
I love working in oils but there are times (getting ready for show, transporting paintings to and from a workshop, etc.) that you need a faster drying time when working. So I've been wanting to "practice" working with Open (slower drying) acrylics in an oil paint like manner, i.e. softer edges, smoother color transitions, etc. I've only used them once or twice, and while so far they don't feel to me a perfect substitute for oil paint,

Open acrylics are certainly more "blendy" than traditional heavy body acrylics. In my drier climate, they are pretty much dry to the touch by end of day with some heavier applications remaining tacky.

In this abstract painting, which is based very loosely on a western/canyony landscape, I used a relatively limited double primary (one cooerl/one warmer) palette of Golden Open Acrylics-- Thalo Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Indian Yellow Hue, Hansa Yellow, Quin Magenta and Pyrole Red. Here's a short video demo about Open Acrylics.

Reading in the Studio: The Art of Maynard Dixon
I think an interesting question to ask another artist would be what artist or painting would they buy if  they "won the lottery" and could own anything. For me, I think many years ago I would have quickly said an Impressionist or Post Impressionist. (I chose Corot as one of my personal heroes in a yearbook way back). So a Degas, a Van Gogh, perhaps a Matisse.

But many years later, as a Westerner, I would probably choose a panoramic painting by Maynard Dixon. The first Maynard Dixon painting I ever saw was Open Range--one of the most amazing clouds ever painted! Last week for my birthday I received this beautiful and inspiring collection by Donald Hagerty. This book is truly a breathtaking collection if you enjoy Western landscapes and southwestern subject matter.

Thanks for stopping by and have a colorful spring week!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Life of Spice

Spice Girls 8x 10 oil on canvas panel
Today's Painting
I love spicy foods--sweet and savory, as well as spicy cuisines. In fact, one of my guilty pleasure foods is anything habanero flavored. I even like raw, yes raw, jalapenos particularly on my nachos so I'm always checking out the peppers in the produce aisle. Last week I set up some bright red peppers and sunny yellow lemons for one of my acrylic painting students (thanks Kelly--great choice!). I loved the warm colors and theme so much had to try the set up as well.

Supplies and Materials
I tend to be fairly frugal in the studio, but since I also tend use a lot of warm colors in my work, I recently I upgraded to some new higher quality real (not substitute or hue) Gamblin brand cadmium oil paint pigments--cad. red light, cad yellow light, etc. These paints really pack a punch and did not disappoint in this trial run. For an interesting insight on color mixing check out Robert Gamblin's video about color mixing here.   
Painting Challenge: Eat your veggies!
Saw this week's Daily Paintworks Challenge is painting a vegetable from life. So am looking forward to going to our nearby Cherry Creek Farmer's Market later this week to find a particularly unique and interesting veggie model.

Teaching Note

Quick welcome back to my student's who have been traveling to exotic locales. Thanks for sharing your pics of Turkey and Italy--great to have you back in the studio! For more information about my painting and art classes this summer, please email me. Thanks, have a great Spring week!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Octopus Garden

Octopus Garden-22 x 30--Mixed Media/WC on paper

Featured Artwork
I'm posting a watercolor abstract today. I love working on roomy full sheet (22 x30) of watercolor paper. For my watercolor folks, this is Lana 140lb CP. My overall technique was to cover the entire sheet with shelf liner (big roll from Target). Then I cut out positive shapes into with a rolling cutter that one would use for sewing or quilting--another one of my favorite new tools.I saw a Discovery show a few weeks ago about exploring the ocean depths and that was my inspiration.   

Coming Soon: New Logo!
Quick welcome and thanks to the talented designers from all over the world at Logo Tournament who are working on my new Scarlet Owl Studio logo this week. It's been really exciting to review the designs and I can already tell it's going to be hard to pick a winner. I look forward to unveiling my winning logo to everyone within the next few weeks!

Show Announcement
In Denver First Friday is show opening and gallery hopping night so be sure to get out and enjoy the nice weather and great art. Tonight is the opening of the Art Student's League of Denver Eclectic and Inclusive (Part 1) Show (May 6-June 25, 2011). The exhibition highlights a wide variety of media and creative inspiration. One of my personal favorite large mixed media pieces is in the show, Imagine. (Think it's going to be hung by the bathroom which a gallery owner once told me is "an ideal" location!) 
2011 Summer Art Market (SAM): Save the DateJune 11-12 at 2nd & Grant. Over 300 artists--one of the best art festivals in the country! Paintings of all media and sizes, every subject imaginable, gorgeous ceramics, and best of all price ranges for every budget. On a personal art buying note, I can't tell you how many times I've seen very high end paintings at galleries around the country that I wished I'd bought years ago when the artist was less well known. So here's your chance to pick up that masterpiece. And be looking for my exclusive Colorful Connections Blog Readers SAM coupon!

Thanks for stopping by--have a wonderful, colorful weekend!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My New Favorite Painting Tool

AM Sparrow-6x6 oil on panel
Happy May everyone! Posting another small oil painting bird painting that will be headed to the Summer Art Market in June. (I've recently added a new bird feeder to the front garden and am hoping that will attract some new models.)
I'm a big believer in taking the time upfront to work out any major compositional and layout issues in your work before the brush hits the canvas so last week, while reading Artist's Magazine, I spotted a cool tool that I just had to get. It's called the Compose It Grid--it's an easy to use plastic grid that allows you to transfer your planning sketch to your canvas.

Here's a demonstration video so you can see the Compose it Grid in action. I only used it a few times, but I already love it for still life composition. Remember the ratio needs to match your canvas size. Personally, I bought the square ratio (1:1) since it's my favorite format as well as the 8 x 10 ratio. Plus, I love that the Grid is heavy duty and will stand up to be tossed in an art tote, etc. for classes and workshops.  

Quick shout out to my upcoming art festival booth partner the very talented Ms. Heather Carr--if you like wildlife paintings as well as fantasy art and illustration so be sure to stop by. Her detailed illustrations are simply amazing. Thanks Heather for all your generous help, am thrilled to be sharing a tent with you this year! Look for us in Booth 80 on the corner of 2nd and Sherman. In the meantime, have a great spring week!