Wednesday, January 15, 2020

back to class ...

                              @ 7x10

This week went back to class with my friend and teacher Marie Natale.
We worked on small (imagined) landscapes painted over graded washes, one neural, one in color.
A good exercise 1) is using a "bead" to create a smoothly gradated wash and 2) using value to show distance ... 
Dis a quick apple sketch this a.m. too. Maybe beginning to understand the volume?

Monday, January 13, 2020

studies: 3 apples, 3 days

@ 6x9 each

My neighbor gave me a big basket of fruit that contained some Delicious apples; since I usually find I don't like to eat them, I thought I'd try painting them.
May go back to eating them! Seriously, I'm having some trouble with these apples! 
When I first started painting, I used to paint apples all the time ... MacIntoshes. The Delicious apple is more difficult for me: 1) I cannot get the color, neither the dark red nor the almost translucent yellow-green that you can see in places, and 2) I somehow cannot really grasp the volume, the shape ... where it turns, where it's flat; I have tried some different lighting, hoping it would help but I haven't hit on the magic formula yet.
These are some quick studies. I was of course hoping to get a reasonable facsimile of a Delicious straight off, but since I didn't, and can't, I'm going to keep trying to figure it out.   
And I'm open to suggestions!

Sunday, January 12, 2020

plein air: park in FL


I went to FL last month to celebrate my sixtieth birthday with my brother and our good friend Mike, who is also a watercolorist, and a fine potter too. (Really, he can do pretty much anything.)
Mike and I managed to get out for some plein air painting one afternoon; we sat under a shelter and painted while it rained.
I wasn't able to find something to focus on, so I looked as it as a chance to practice palm trees.

Friday, January 10, 2020



Little, uncomplicated bird paintings are a good way for me to get back into a semi-regular painting practice.
Planning to focus on birds for the next month or so.

Instagram has a widget that selects your nine most popular post of the year; these are mine. Most of the paintings were done recently; the top left and bottom right are from the summer.
You can find me on Instagram as: laurastarrett

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

happy new year


My last post was in September, and now it's January?!
I have been doing a little (a very little) painting, but going through one of those fallow periods ... 
When I have painted something I've posted it on Instagram, which is very easy to do!
Sometime last year my phone stopped letting me post to Blogger; so I had to go back to the old way: photographing a painting, uploading to the laptop, then posting it.
Then, the photo software on my laptop stopped letting me post to Blogger; so now I upload the phot, then upload it to another file then ...
I've got to figure out how to streamline this process!

I bought the palette below--which has removable 42 paint wells (which I really like) and comes with an optional turntable (also like)--from Robax.
Believe it or not, this is NOT their biggest palette: there's one with 85 wells!
Just have to fill it ...

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

plein air workshop, day 2


For the second day of workshop we moved indoors, to the Cape May-Lewes ferry terminal. Marie demonstrated painting peple, and I painted this couple whose picture I'd taken the day before.

Monday, September 09, 2019

plein air workshop: Delaware Bay


My teacher and friend Marie Natale held a two-day workshop this week. The first morning started out gray and cloudy, but we went ahead and it cleared up beautifully. 
I started a second painting, planning to capture more sparkle on the water--getting the right ratio of water to pigment continues to be the major challenge--but the wind kicked up and we moved to a more sheltered location.


Saturday, September 07, 2019

plein air: pierce's point


Spent a morning painting with a group of artists I met recently, most of them pastel painters.
This is a view looking south along the Delaware Bay. I've been painting this scene since I first started painting--that wedge of water never loses its appeal!

Friday, August 30, 2019

plein air: first ave beach (wip)


There were some spectacular ever-changing clouds at the beach on this morning. So beautiful it seemed pointless to try to paint!
But I did a little before it started to rain.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

plein air: mount vernon ave


Went back to Mount Vernon Ave to try again.
This time I made a loose sketch of the scene, which I think helped me try to arrange the space ... though I still overdid it somewhat: I'd like to reduce the the grass shapes to just a few large shapes.
I do like the foreground though.


Thursday, August 22, 2019

plein air wip: the red store


The Red Store is a very popular--and very high end--cafe and small grocer. Back in the day it was a mom and pop general store; now they sell their fresh squeezed juices for like $8 a glass. On a weekend morning people stream in and out without a pause. An idyllic setting, but I can't help but feel a little conflicted! Maybe that's why I can never do a decent painting of the place ... or maybe it's just the hard to reproduce red it's painted!
I did a nice sketc of this scene: keeping the building in the background and focusing on the Joe Pye weed in the foreground. But when I transferred the drawing to the watercolor paper, I made the building too prominent. So I redrew it (below) but by then I'd lost interest.
Haven't decided if I'll try to salvage this or not. Maybe not, because I really don't care about it!


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

plein air: mt. vernon ave


Joe Milligan, who is teaching a plein air class here for the summer, brought us to this little tucked away spot, just a block off the busy beach drive. There's a shady path, overlooking a tidal marsh, that leads to a path to the beach. The dunes are unbelievably picturesque--I'm guessing they've been built up and native plants added--and I plan to paint them this fall when it cools down a bit.
It was low tide when we were painting, with flat muddy areas and shallow water that was nearly white.
With all the layers of grasses and brush going back into the distance, I was concentrating on trying to use color to convey atmospheric perspective.
But I'd say this isn't quite finished ... I'm not sure if I'll finish it--it looks too busy to me. I feel like I either have to consolidate and simplify some of the grass/brush shapes OR go the other way! If I could paint like John Marin, I think I'd really have something here!

Sunday, August 18, 2019

cove beach


This is the scene I'm always told would be a big seller. So, typically of me, I painted it, finally, after hanging my paintings in a group show in West Cape May. I intended to have a painting of this subject ready to go ... but didn't make it. 
 Different areas have different color lifesaving boats: in the north end of town they're white, at Cape May Point they're blue. I'm guessing it's to facilitate lifeguard competitions. It might also facilitate a series of watercolor paintings.

Friday, August 16, 2019

plein air: cape may point light


Pleasant day painting at the state park with Joe Milligan, who has been teaching a plein air class here this summer. One of the things Joe has done is get me to re-add Payne's gray to my palette; he uses it so well. 
I liked this scene so much I painted it again when I got home, but contrary to what usually happens, I think the one done on location is "better": it's crisper, drawn better. But the little one's not bad--the subject matter carries it!

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

knobbed whelk


Another try at my idea to paint shells in big washes, with strong values. This one came out a little soft.
I was hoping to paint a few of these for my show, but it opens on 12th, so I don't think I'll make it!

Sunday, August 04, 2019

fishing boat


Back to a subject I feel a little more confident about. And you can't go wrong with blue and orange.
I think I am finally figuring out how to paint all that stuff on a fishing boat, all that stuff that I don't what it is and can't really make out. It could be looser, fewer hard edges, but I've hit on a method of picking out a few larger shapes to delineated and then just breaking up the spaces around them.

Friday, August 02, 2019

plein air: texas ave park


What can I say. A favorite subject, but, again, I tried to paint what I saw--gray water--but I feel I should have made another choice.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

plein air: surf ave, cape may point


My friend Karoline found a wonderfully shady path to the beach where we painted the other morning.
I wish I had made those shadows bigger, bolder ... I painted what was there, instead of changing it to make a better painting! 

Monday, July 29, 2019

grassy sound


Where did July go? Between the heat wave (no AC), an unusually heavy workload (why doesn't that happen in winter?!), trying to get together some new paintings for two--yes, two--group shows (the owner of the gallery scheduled them both for the same two weeks!), and trying to keep the plants in my yard alive ... it's been a muggy whirlwind.
I don't know if I should say I finished this painting or that I'm finished with it. I guess it doesn't matter: Both are true.
But I love the subject, and hope to return to it.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

wip: grassy sound


Started another painting of some little houses along the back bays here.
I made a tactical error right off the bat, painting the shady side (the light is coming form the right) of the buildings too early; they're too gray, maybe too dark, and maybe confusing. If I had waited till later, I think they'd be more integrated.  But I'm going to keep going because 1) maybe I'll come up with a "fix"; or 2) maybe it won't be so noticeable when the painting is done.