Thursday, October 27, 2011

To Catch a Falling Dream

"Dream Big" Mixed Media on Canvas 24x24
Typically, one would not expect to get a lot of art inspiration at the podiatrist. (Unless of you course you like to paint feet.)  But I was in a waiting room a few weeks ago that happened to have a large colorful Native American poster. The elaborate feathered headdress reminded me that I’d been planning to paint a dream catcher.

And then I saw Core New Art Space (a contemporary co-op gallery in Denver) was having an upcoming dream themed show. So that gave me the final push to paint a dream catcher this week. FYI, the extra texture on the painting incorporates both acrylic gel skins and "recycled" dried paint peeled off plastic palettes.  Something new in the studio that I used that also helped me with this painting was an Ott full spectrum rechargeable light. The battery feature is great because it's cordless and that's always helpful in a studio.

I read that some cultures believe dream catchers help sort the good dreams from the bad. As someone with an active imagination prone to crazy dreams, vivid nightmares, and a restless night brain this is quite appealing. They say the good dreams flow down the feathers to the peaceful sleeper. (I have real dream catcher I bought in Taos but my cat kept attacking the dangling feathers. So this painting might be a more suitable replacement.)

Lone Tree Art Exhibit: November 12-December 31, 2011
I’m pleased that I had a small oil painting juried into the Lone Tree Art Show. If you’re in the area be sure to stop by the opening cocktail reception on Sat. November 12. This event usually features some beautiful regional art at great prices. P.S. There's still time to enter my contest to win a FREE print of my art (see details in previous post).

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Win a Scarlet Owl Studio Print

Aspen Moondance-Mixed Media on Canvas-18x24
How to Win a Free Art Print
I've been wanting to run a blog contest for a while now so in honor of my new prints available on ImageKind, I'm having a special blog contest (details below) between now and November 15, 2011 for a prize of  a $30 value print of your choice of my prints in the Scarlet Owl Studio gallery on ImageKind. Note that most of these original paintings have been sold or are in private collections so I'm happy to have another way to offer them to my visitors and collectors.

Also, I'll be adding more images to the print gallery throughout the month.  For available prints, please visit my Prints for Sale Page or click on the black ImageKind banner on the right hand side.
New Art Supply of the Week
For all my acrylic painters out there, I wanted to share a new studio tool that I'm really enjoying and that is the Martin Universal Design Mijello Peel-Able Palette. I also use a covered palette, but I really like the roomy elliptical shape, separate mixing area, non slip rubber feet, and easy peel off cleaning.  It's available at many online art stores such as Daniel Smith, Dick Blick, Cheap Joes, etc. I've recently seen the peel off palettes in gray as well which I think would be even better for mixing.

Contest Details: To enter to win simply comment on any Colorful Connections blog posting from today (October 15, 2011) until November 15, 2011. The winner will be picked randomly using No purchase is necessary. The winner will receive any Scarlet Owl Studio print of their choice of my work on ImageKind up to $30 value (winner pays shipping if outside US). I will announce the lucky winner by November 20, 2011. Thanks all and good luck!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

My Favorite Watercolor Books

"Fading Fast" watercolor 12x16
Taking a break from oil painting today to do a watercolor. This is a watercolor study of some large roses in the Washington Park garden from early September. These flowers were starting to get a bit worn and shaggy at the end of the season. But still a wonderful vintage-y pink lavender color none the less. It's our first really chilly day of the fall season so painting colorful flowers is always a nice way to warm up the day.

For my fellow watercolor enthusiasts, I painted this on a 140 lb. Cold Press Arches Block. It's my go standard for smaller watercolor paintings. My color palette for this was primarily transparent colors which I prefer: permanent rose, opera, some quin magenta, cobalt blue, thalo blue, ultramarine blue, lemon yellow, and aureolin yellow. I used a combination of wet in wet and dry transparent layers here, which is pretty typical of most of my watercolor painting.

My Top Ten Favorite Watercolor Books
While I own dozens of watercolor books, these are the books I find myself rereading for practical tips as well as inspiration. Best of all, many of these gems are quite affordable (under $10) used on Amazon.
  1. How to Make a Watercolor Paint Itself by Nita Engle
  2. Watercolor Painting Outside the Lines by Linda Kemp
  3. Interpreting the Figure in Watercolor by Don Andrews
  4. Making Watercolor Sing by Jean Dobie
  5. Pouring Light by Jean Grastorf
  6. Painting from the Inside Out by Betsey Dillard Stroud
  7. Transparent Watercolor by William Condit
  8. The Collected Best of Watercolor by Schlemm and Doherty
  9. William Mathews: Working the West
  10. Reflections of Nature: Paintings by Joseph Raffael (one of my all time favorite contemporary watercolor artists)
Quick welcome to my new fall students and to my loyal ongoing students my sincere thanks for sharing your painting time with me. I'm looking forward to painting this winter with all of you. For as long as I can remember, painting is a powerful antidote for colder, grayer months. For more info regarding my classes, please visit My Classes Page. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda.

Oil Study of Wash Park Boathouse-8x8
Today’s post is a small plein air oil study I've been working on for the Denver Plein Art Competition. It’s a painting of the Washington Park boathouse--one of my favorite local landmarks. But truth be told, I just couldn’t finish this painting to my satisfaction on site. Nor did I finish my watercolor of the garden.

From what I can tell reading other posts, forums, and blogs  the discussion regarding “finishing” of a plein air painting (particularly for a competition) is a somewhat controversial. In other words, there doesn’t seem to be definite answer for how much is acceptable to paint back in your studio. In general, the range I found for various plein air events (if it was addressed) was “none” (for quick draws or one day paint outs for example) up to 20 percent later touch up.

In this case, given the contest took place over several weeks, my goal was to finish the painting as close to 100% as I could get.  Since I don’t usually paint plein air on regular basis, I admit I was rusty, and so I fell short of this goal.

So I have some thoughts in my next post about how I’ll make my next plein air competition or paint out more successful. Hopefully, these tips will help you too if you’re planning a first time plein air event.

In the meantime, I promised some additional tips about how to improve your chances for getting into juried art shows in general. My first suggestion is: Don’t wait until the last minute to submit your entry. I always back out a show due date at least a week on my calendar. Why? You might have trouble with your images, your computer, the entry website, etc. So give yourself plenty of time. For more art show tips check out this helpful article: Five Tips for Getting Into Juried Shows.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Picking Treasures for Painting Gold

"Tang Horse Study" 8x8 oil
I'd rather be painting or reading so I don't watch much TV, but one show I never miss is American Pickers on History Channel. I’m guessing fellow still life painters may have the same reaction as they watch Mike and Frank brush the dust off a rusty vintage toy or funky mechanical part. And that is: That thing would be an awesome still life subject!  

I’ve been an urban antique hunter for more years than I’d like to admit. On any given weekend if I’m not painting or teaching, you might find me at a resale shop, flea market, auction, estate sale, or sometimes even a scary basement (where magically my bug and germ phobias disappear) hunting for “rusty gold” still life treasures. (If you like this type of thing you might want to check out the book I just started reading called Killer Stuff and Tons of Money.)  

Anyway, several years ago, I found this little off white ceramic tang horse. The horse isn’t valuable (could be from Target?) but I just loved the shape. Plus, as I've mentioned before, I love painting white or off white subjects since they are often full of color depending on the lighting.

I placed my horse figure in kitchen window with late spring backlighting, made a quick sketch, and took a few reference photos. My painting goal was to capture the warm reflective light. If you don’t have time to paint something that catches your eye, grab your camera and take a few shots. 

You'll find these photos and/or sketches are handy later for reference and ideas in the studio. For example, I’d forgotten about this little horse until I browsed through my photos. Thanks for stopping by—I’ll be back with some more show entry tips in my next post! Students and friends I look forward to seeing you soon!