Wednesday, April 15, 2009


"Art makes life, makes interest, makes importance ..."
Happy birthday, Henry James (b. April 15, 1843)

"Live all you can; it's a mistake not to. It doesn't so much matter what you do in particular so long as you have your life. If you haven't had that what have you had?
--from the Preface of
The Ambassadors

(11x15 Fabriano Hot Press)
I had a wonderfully relaxing and fun time with my friend Chris, who was visiting before starting a new, impressive, high power creative director job in NYC. She amazes me, always has.
There really is nothing like spending time with the friends you've had forever.

So, no painting for a few days and then, going back to it with anticipation, I feel I'm in one of those periodic slumps where it's all a struggle.
Part of it is, I think, that my so-called "studio" is in disarray, which always creeps up and, for me, is not conducive.
First step is to tidy the studio ... I have a beautiful easter lily that's in bloom now and I want to paint it soon; it's the type of subject that requires some thoughtful drawing, which requires some cleared-off space!
(11x15 Winsor & Newton CP)
A spur against frustration: small quick studies of Smilla and Itchy.

I bought a new palette for my Thumbox: filling a new palette is so regenerative!
This one has 14 wells. Colors I always include are aureolin, carmine, quinacridone pink, cobalt violet, cobalt blue, ultramarine, hooker's green, raw sienna, and burnt sienna. That's 9; I need a warm yellow and a warm red (probably cadmiums; though I'm open to totally rethinking yellow!), which will leave 3 wells to fill.
Any suggestions? Which colors can you not do without, which ones delight you?

Two poems from the "commonplace book" I kept for a few months in college, where I copied or pasted in poems, letters, and sayings, and the occasional (good) fortune-cookie fortune, a la "You will attend a party where strange customs prevail"!

Wallace Stevens

Pale orange, green and crimson, and
white, and gold and brown.

Lapis-lazuli and ornage, and opaque green,
faun color, black and gold.

"I Live My Life"
Rainer Maria Rilke

I live my life in growing orbits,
which move out over the things of the world.
Perhaps I can never achieve the last,
but that will be my attempt.

I am circling around God, around the ancient tower,
and I have been circling for a thousand years.
And I still don't know if I am a falcon,
Or a storm, or a great song.
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angeltreats said...

I love your cat paintings and your new pallette! I would have to reserve a space for burnt umber, I use it all the time. It makes a lovely black too, mixed with ultramarine.

Teresa said...

Even in a "slump" your watercolors are beautiful! Hope you're soon feeling rejuvenated and those creative juices get flowing!

Cathy Gatland said...

There is so much in this post, Laura - thanks for all the food for thought. I think you're going through a 'percolating' phase (as Suzanne puts it) while you sort out the physical space. These watercolours are, in the meantime, just beautiful - no sign of struggle at all!
Two of my favourite yellows are W&N New Gamboge, and Indian Yellow - but not sure how well they play with others in your palette!

RHCarpenter said...

Your colors always look so lovely, fresh and clean! I can't live without Hansa Yellow Light and Indanthrone Blue and Quinacridone Burnt Orange and....ha ha

A Brush with Color said...

What a lovely post. It wouldn't be obvious to me that you're in a slump of any kind. Your work looks lovely to me, Laura. (Let's just say I'd be thrilled for such a slump!) As for yellows, I tend to like Schmincke's Cad Yellow light, but I also like Schmincke's Naples Yellow sometimes, too, and while these two are sometimes more opaque, I do like W&N's Raw Sienna and Yellow Ochre.

Joyfulartist said...

Wish I could be in your kind of "slump", hee hee. My favorite yellow is W/N quinacrodone gold, it's just too yummy to leave off my pallette. I love your kitties, too. I can't wait to see your Easter Lilies.

Barbara M. said...

Wow Laura,

Every one of your posts take me to a delightful combination of painting and the best of English literature. Powerfully good. Thanks so much.

Take care,


Annelein said...

Beautiful paintings, so pure and striking. Colors, colors, colors..oh there are so many, but I like Permanent Yellow Deep (Holbein) and Cad. Red Medium.. New palette and easel combo looks yummy. Just screaming to be dirtied up and used. :)

Sharon said...

I've really been enjoying the poetry and quotes you've added to your blog, Laura. Yesterday in Eugene, I saw so many magnolia trees in bloom. And every time I saw one I thought of you! I'm not seeing a slump here, either...

Mineke Reinders said...

Hi Laura, I can only echo what others have said before: I wish my paintings looked this fresh and lovely when I'm in a slump...
I tend to use a limited palette: Quin gold and lemon yellow (both currently M. Graham's)are my favorite yellows. A warm and a cool.

Christine said...

I'm a beginning watercolorist, and currently enrolled at the local junior college in Watercolor II. I use three colors only (Winsor Newton) New Gamboge, Permanent Rose, Antwerp Blue. I can achieve just about any color by precise mixing. As I become more confident in my work I'll expore colors.


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