Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Back in Wisconsin...

My dad was doing so poorly over the weekend that I made a last-minute decision to fly back to be with him and my mom. I tell ya, I think this guy is a close relative of the Energizer Bunny!! He went from a fever of 105° F. on Saturday to sitting up and scrolling through art images on my computer today. Not bad for an 88-year-old. I'll be back to blogging as soon as possible.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

This week at Brush-Paper-Water...

Zion's Crimson Song, 16" x 12"
Lisa Faulkner Wright

I discovered Lisa Faulkner Wright's work when she left a comment on my blog back in January. When I learned she had also attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, we had fun comparing memories of the art department and various campus experiences. As you can see from the painting I've included here and in the pieces on display at Brush-Paper-Water, she has a marvelous command of space, texture, and color, creating both landscape paintings and floral closeups that compel repeated viewing. Please jump over to Brush-Paper-Water for more of Lisa's work and a link to her blog.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Hollyhocks, 12" x 28"

It's a little early in the year for hollyhocks, but I promised Rhonda I'd share some of the details of creating this painting -- so these are blooming out of season!! This particular bunch of plants was growing on a traffic island at a normally busy intersection. I happened upon them on a quiet Sunday morning when the morning light was just right and traffic was nil, so I could take a lot of photos without worrying about being run over!!

I ran the image through Photoshop to enhance the contrast, then copied a section of the hollyhocks from the right side of my resource photo and pasted it over a weak section on the left edge of the photo before cropping the image to the narrow vertical format I'd chosen for the painting. After creating a drawing, I traced it onto my watercolor paper, then stretched the paper.

Hollyhocks, detail

Once it was dry and the borders were taped to keep the margins clean, I started the labor-intensive task of masking anything that wasn't going to be pink or so dark that the pink would be hidden. That included the whites (obviously!!), the bright greens, and the blues. When the masking was dry, I poured lemon yellow, permanent rose, and phthalo blue in fairly dilute mixtures and allowed the colors to mingle on the paper. After that dried, I began direct brushwork, controlling the blends and enhancing certain parts of the flowers with wet-into-wet painting. Before I removed the masking, I painted the dark background.

Removing the masking as I worked, I started at the top of the paper -- painting in the details and giving form to all the elements. I carried the blue from the sky into the shadows at the bottom of the painting and toned the whites where needed to push things into the background. It was a long process, but the end results were worth it.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday miscellany...

So I have to admit that I didn't just look at portraits the other day when Myrna and I went to the exhibit at the Old Mint in San Francisco. The Mint, which dates to 1874, is no longer operational and the building is in some disrepair, but they occasionally host very short-term exhibits there. As we wandered through the high-ceilinged, very formal rooms, I saw a number of cool things, but nothing captured my attention quite like the item pictured above. This, my friends, is the INSIDE of a door hinge -- the part nobody can see when the door is closed!! That someone would have embellished these humble items with such an elegant design just astonished me. It was definitely a different era!! The Mint is now slated for "renovation" as a history museum. Sadly, from what I can make out of the architect's renderings, the inside of the building will be either covered over or updated in a way that essentially destroys its original character. I hope I'm wrong.

And on another topic, I am delighted to share the good news that my work will be featured in the August issue of Watercolor Artist magazine. I've been like a kid with a secret for several months -- just squirming to share it -- but I wanted to wait until the schedule was confirmed. Look for copies on the newstand after June 23.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

This week at Brush-Paper-Water...

Myrna Wacknov needs no introduction from me if you've been reading the art blogs for any time at all. She is a wonderfully creative artist who is eager to experiment -- constantly pushing her work to new boundaries -- and incredibly generous with her knowledge. Although I'd met Myrna, I hadn't really had a chance to get to know her. I spent a delightful afternoon with her yesterday viewing a marvelous portrait exhibit in San Francisco (details on Myrna's blog) and I'm very pleased to have this bright, witty, and talented woman as a friend. Please link to Brush-Paper-Water for more information about her and her work.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Paintings, Passions, and Presents...

Delicious Apples, watercolor, 7" x 14"

This is an older painting that took a while to come together. I'm posting it to share how I developed it. When I painted this, I was a member of a group that worked from a new still-life every week and I often painted an aerial view of the setups. I used a Polaroid camera so I could record the setup for later reference and also start work from it immediately. The images were pretty crummy, but I liked that because it forced me to improvise. I'd cut a rudimentary mask for the image and mark it with grid marks to aid in transferring a drawing to my watercolor paper. Here's the working image, just a little over 2 inches wide in real life.

In this case, I wasn't thrilled with the cutting board nor with the straight piece of striped fabric, so I concentrated on painting the pitcher and vegetables. I worked on them on and off for months, all the while wondering what I could do with the background. Then one day when the painting was sitting on an easel in another workshop, the instructor took one look at it, pulled up a chair underneath the easel, sat down facing us and mimed juggling the fruits and veggies that appeared above his head. His impulsive act triggered my idea to create an ambiguous background -- so the objects might seem to be on a table or perhaps tumbling through the air.

I love the visual excitement of striped fabrics, so I pulled a piece out of my stash, arranged it with the still-life in mind, and took a Polaroid shot from approximately the same distance as I had the original still-life. Then I carefully sketched it in behind the completed objects on my painting and began the task of making it appear "real." Along the way, I added several items to the still-life as needed for the composition. The end result was exactly what I had hoped for.

Blog Award:

I am honored to receive this blog award for the second time in a couple of weeks, this time bestowed by Deb Ward. Deb is part of the group centered around Cincinnati, and from what I can tell, that seems to be an area brimming with talented people who are all passionate about painting!! In addition to working in watercolor and acrylic, Deb is one of the few people I know of who works in casein, and she also teaches classes in the Cincinnati area. Please check out her blog.

And now I really have to follow up with passing this award along!! I've chosen several artists I already know, and a few that I've been following silently. So in no particular order, I am tagging: Connie Williams, Jeanette Jobson, Susan Beauchemin, Andy Smith, Steven Walker, Fábio Cembranelli, and Terry Rafferty. Visits to their blogs will definitely be worth your time.

And finally:
I promised that I would announce the winner of the first bloggiversary painting this weekend. At my husband's suggestion, I set up a "raffle" based on the number of comments I received from everyone in the past year and he drew a ticket from the bowl. Rhonda Carpenter -- I need your mailing address!!!