Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Little Beach Buddies

Marker & pencil, 3 x 5"

These two little guys were actually at the condo's pool this morning, and not really the beach. I got lazy and did not want to deal with the real background, a very leafy hedge which I might add to my list of Green Foliage I Dare Not Address. So I made up the rest. Easy-peasy, especially when no color is involved. Maybe I'll try making that up later.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Naples Art Fair

Watercolor, 2 x 3"

Ruth made me go to the Naples Art Fair (I think she wanted some peace and quiet). For the first 5 minutes I was all churned up, thinking I should go back to doing art fairs again, the excitement, etc. Then I remembered why I don't miss them. Too much work for too little return. Realistically, an art fair is an afternoon of entertainment for patrons, a place to walk around while eating ice cream cones. Not really a place for showing or selling original art. The vendors of photography, prints, and jewelry do quite well, however, because 1) they can easily make multiples of the same image; 2) production fabrication is possible; and 3) you really don't want to buy anything bigger than your pocket or purse, because then you have to carry it. Throw in the heat, the smell of fried food and the length of time between breaks for the port-o-potty, and I remember quite well why I don't miss doing art fairs.

On the interesting side (to me), it seems that not much has changed in what is being offered at art fairs, even in a place as posh as Naples. It could have been any art fair in any town, with the exception of being heavy on the Florida color schemes and landscapes. Pretty much the same old, same old. What was very surprising was that the prices seem to be about the same as they were 10 years ago for original paintings, but with lower cost giclees and digital prints being offered now as well. What was really depressing was talking to a few artists whose work I admired tremendously and finding their work priced very low and sales somewhat stagnant. So I guess I won't pine for the good old days.

After I got tired and depressed, I took a shade break and painted these two ladies sitting across the courtyard. Even though I tried to paint very fast, I wasn't quick enough to catch their gentleman friend and had to omit him from the sketch.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Bugs and Spikes

Watercolor, 2 x 3"

A quick little sketch from the parking area near Ruth's condo, done in about 15 minutes because, dang it, there are mosquitos in Florida! Duh.......why would I think we Minnesotans had a lock on that franchise? I also learned I absolutely hate palm trees, except from a very far distance when they can be treated as some exotic silhouette as opposed to actually trying to deal with all those spiky leaves.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Flying to Florida

Watercolor, 2.5 x 3"

Since I'm traveling today, I'll post from my tiny little sketchbook and work on my remote posting skills. This is from a youth group trip a few summers ago involving 1oo or so teenagers on 5 houseboats, no radios, phones, ipods, etc. Also no bathrooms! It was an absolutely wonderful experience.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

OK, so not sure I like either of my proposed solutions. It still looks like a big propeller, so I'll still have to play with the fabric some more. And, the table surface is definitely going to have to be lighter and less red, so let's just call this an underpainting for now. I did lighten the turquoise and fiddle a bit with the greens, but my indecision about them has left them mushy; need to restate with authority. Still like this painting, tho, still seeing possibilities. Eventually, I want to get the paint on there so thick it looks like a swarming mass of colored worms; the overall composition is really pretty simple, so I think it can handle it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


OK, so this is where I just get to knock in general colors without worrying too much because it's too early. I am still jazzed by the red against the turquoise, and I already know from my previous watercolor that I will like the how the turq reflects into the flowers. BUT I notice two potential problems: 1) what color is that white thing (table surface) next to the red pot? Warm/cool, dark/light? and 2) the whole pot, fabric folds and shadows are looking like a big ol' propeller. Something's gotta get changed.

The Setup and the Start: Still LIfe

This is on a little table next to my easel, it's lit from behind, and I'm looking down at it. Next step, block-in large shapes and local (actual) color. This painting seems to be all about the color; the shiny red jar and fluffy (fake) wild roses on the flat bright turquoise. I am trying to keep it flat, and emphasize the bold black outlines in order to mimic qualities of a woodcut or a poster. It's not supposed to look real, is the point.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Flowers and Floods

Wild Roses on Turquoise, WC 11" x 10"

The Setup

It was about this time last year, maybe a few weeks later, that our little community experienced it's second 500 year flood in 13 years. And this year, we're gonna have it again. So if this isn't global warming, then what is going on? As I watch all the houses across the street (on the river) get moved out on big flatbed trucks, I think about last year and how for over a month we all did little else but sandbag, keep the vigil on pumps, make peanut butter sandwiches and pray it didn't snow or rain any more. As for me, I counted Port-O-Potties going in and out of my (evacuated) neighborhood on flatbed trucks. What I did NOT do was paint. Nor did I post.

So this year, I am hoping the painting mojo doesn't dry up altogether. In order to deal with the inertia and paralysis (same thing?) that I so easily embrace, I have set myself a few tasks for the 10 days or so before I leave to go visit Ruth (my husband's mother) for two weeks. I set up a corny still life out of lame silk flowers in a glass canning jar, in front of a bright turquoise cloth pinned to a nasty cardboard box.

Nothing compelling about it, no purpose for painting it, no exhibition planned nor client demand for it. Just a schlubby, plastic-stemmed spray of silk wild roses....... and I hate painting flowers. Too many pieces and petals and green, and too hard to paint a background around all those bits. Too sweety sweet sacharine. Besides, I once heard it said that you had to be a master in order to paint flowers at all well. Kind of like how every kid plays Beethoven's Minuet in G, but it takes a master to play that very simple song well. And my momma didn't raise no fool -- why paint something you don't like and don't do well?

Here's why: it doesn't matter if it fails. So here's the plan: if there is no endgame here, the means can be anything -- anything at all. Screw the critics and just paint. See what happens, see where it goes. No pressure, no promises.

And you know what? I really do kinda like my first effort! And-- my brain is bubbling over with ideas for more paintings of the same thing but in different media, different sizes, different styles. There is an echo stirring, of how it used to feel to paint, to feel like I couldn't wait to get to the easel each day.....! Next I'm trying and oil -- flat like a block print, and 2 x bigger.

Friday, March 5, 2010

More PDA from Venice

11 x 14 Watercolor

I remember now the main reason the "Daily" part of this fell off; it gets really, toe-curlingly hard to post when you've had a bad painting day. My brother will get down on me for being negative, but hey, negative is as negative does.

So today's painting won't make it to post, either, and instead I offer an old one from the Love in Venice series. Onward, the daily struggle to either embrace one's relentless march (back) toward realism, or continue to fight the good fight to find something else.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Holding Forth (aka Beach Bums)

Upon receiving a rejection of this painting from an exhibition, I can now alter it and see if I can cure some of the things that bothered me in the first place. I removed the background scene which suggested a beach; it wasn't adding much and I thought took some focus off the figures, which is the main event here. So I tried throwing in a wash of Raw Seinna, thinking i would try to create one of those warm, weathered Italian walls. It can't be that salmoney color, as the faces would disappear and they are already having trouble standing up to what's there. I can already see that things are going to have to be adjusted if we're going to stay with this plan.

I did do another painting today, but it was so bad it refused to be posted.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Two Joans, Day Three

Alla Prima/Direct Approach (all in one go)

This is fresher, cleaner paint and there's lots of white space. However, some people are very bothered by the sloppiness and unfinished quality, but that happens to be what I like about it. They say that the better one gets at painting, the less polished and more "loose" they like to paint. I don't know about better, but I know this is more fun and a lot less dinking around. You put it down and live with it, no mucking about.

Traditional Approach

Darker, more "modeled" and probably more realistic. Also, muddier and overworked -- this is why I prefer the other approach. This has more 3D sense of form, whereas the other is flatter and less dimensional.

It really all comes down to intent. Likeness and reality are not often my purpose these days, as I am getting more interested in the quality of the paint as it sits on the surface of the paper. Now, that was more than you wanted to know about painting, eh?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Two Joans, Day Two

This is the first wash for the traditional approach. All is still light and loose, I'm trying to remember to paint through boundary lines instead of staying in the lines as though it is a coloring book; this helps to unify things and keep the figure from looking pasted onto the ground. I can see that, other than skin color, I don't have much of an idea where I'm going colorwise, except that it will be warm temperature. I also will be working toward a "low key" use of values/ tones, which means the darker end of the scale.

There is no companion image for the other approach, that gets done all in one go. No stages. Tomorrow for that.

Two Approaches to Joan

I don't know how to make these sit evenly side by side, but you can see they are two slightly different drawings of the same woman, my friend Joan as she kindly posed for me in my messy, cluttered studio. They are contour drawings, which is the style I like to use for watercolors. The plan here is to paint these using two different approaches. The one on the right is for the more traditional approach, building from light to dark with layered washes, large forms to small. The one on the left is for my (usually preferred, when it's working for me) method. Here, I've erased or left out some lines where I do not intend to have any contrast or edges, and want the shapes to blend or bleed together. The idea is to break up the rectangle into flattened, two dimensional shapes. Also, I will begin instead with small, dark forms and work toward larger, looser shapes toward the end. So, two kind of opposite approaches. (What always surprises me is how I usually manage to make them end up more similar than I'd like.)

Monday, March 1, 2010

RABBITS, RABBITS! It's a new month....

When I was a girl, a friend told me that if you say "Rabbits, rabbits!" out loud, first thing before your feet hit the floor out of bed in the morning, you will have good luck all month long. Even though I have no idea of the story behind this, I still think of it on the first day of each month, although not always in time to get the full dose of good luck..... I never heard anybody else ever mention this for years and years until one day in the locker room at the Y, I overhead a woman telling another about saying "Rabbits and hares, rabbits and hares!" for good luck on the first of the month. She didn't know what it was all about, either, but she had been doing it since she was a girl.

Does anybody out there know the story behind this?

Anyway, March 1 marks a period of new resolve; I'm going to try to POST some painting each day. Doesn't mean I'll complete a painting each day, just that I'll post whatever I've got going, in whatever stage it's in. It was right about this time last year that my daily painting fell apart, which I'm blaming on the flood. They say we're to have another this year, but I have resolve about trying to stay the course here. Onward.