Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Finally finished this one--well, finished for the most part; still contemplating adding a little sprig of something red or orange in the lower right-hand corner--from my Tuesday . Missed Thanksgiving week, and this one, and next week there's no class, so I may have time to arrange another setup on the 12th and paint it on the 14th, hope so, before breaking for the holiday. In February it'll be a year since I joined the group, and I think there's been some progress: I'm making more complicated setups than I did on my own, and I'm using bigger and bigger pieces of paper. Posted by Picasa
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Saturday, November 18, 2006


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2005 holiday card

This is the painting I used for my 2005 cards ... Would like to do another with tree and water ... Time's running out to come up with ideas, though! Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 17, 2006

recent unfinished efforts ...

The last week or so I have managed to get in a little painting--despite the several large and/or slog-paced jobs piled on my desk, spurred on by the necessity of coming up with a motif 2006 for my holiday card. I'm considering using one of the --unfinished--paintings above. Last year's card (I'll post it later), even though the printer didn't get the colors quite right, is going to be hard to improve on; the motif--a tree in a dory drifting into the sunset--was just right. Have in my mind a house, at night, with one lighted window, maybe a tree strung with lights, and bare trees and snow falling. Not too ambitious! Should've started working on this before Halloween!

In the summer I took a few not so great photos--not enough light--of a simple porch in Cape May and, now, for some reason, I sem to be obsessed with turning them into something .... Anyway, I keep trying. It's the surrounding space/foliage, I think: it's a challenge, trying to make it "readable" (i.e., that's in front, that's far away ...) but working with not so much information and not wanting (or being able) to reproduce the scene in a more realistic way. Onward.

Finally finished (I think!) the painting posted below, under 10-10.... Was hoping to start another right away, but the Thanksgiving holiday is breaking my very short-lived momentum! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

not enough painting! :-(

Here's an unfinished effort last Monday, 10/23 that was. The white area in the middle is a porch on a house in Cape May. I wanted to try to "vignette" the edges, that is, not paint all the way out to the edges ... it's a little too blocky still, but I like the subject and will try it again.
The next effort, started yesterday, 10/30, and worked on a bit today, but also not done (I think) is this study of some dying branches of beachplums that I picked while walking Itchy. There're a few trees on an empty lot by the bay, and I find these milky orange-pink plums irresistible. Sadly, the last couple of years for some reason--temperature? dampness?--the leaves have not been so nice, spotted and dropping early. I was about to chuck these when I thought the dying leaves had a not bad draping effect!
Any suggestions on the background? I'd leave it white--the easy way out--but I may need to pull some of the blue-greens in the vase into the upper background, and some of the yellow-greens in the leaves into the bottom half ...

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Friday, October 13, 2006

wednesday 10-11

This week our model was Megan. I have only painted her once before, about a year ago (will find and post that painting, which, up to that time, and maybe to this, was, I think, one of my most successful efforts), but she is one of my favorites. You can't tell from these sketches, but she has a lovely face with dark eyes, upturned nose, and Cupid's bow lips--she looks like she could have modeled for Degas or Cezanne. Above are two pages of 2-minute poses wherein our instructor, Bonnie, wanted us to try to capture the central line of the body.

And here are two 20-minute poses, where we were trying to integrate figure and background, by pulling colors from the model into the background and vice versa. I'm sorry these photographs don't really show the lighter colors! My flash is too strong ... I'll try rephotographing them.
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tuesday 10-10

Began painting this setup this week ... I built the setup around a stalk of silk Chinese lanterns, which I love, but, right now, the red poppy dominates! The cloth has an Asian motif--orchids and lilies. Tried to fit some silver dollars I found while walking Itchy in, but it was too crowded. Maybe they'll hold up until the next painting ... Silver dollars and more red poppies, I think. Hope to finish this next week. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Wednesday, 9/27. First day back to life drawing in Wayne. We started with 30-second poses (the two pages above). These are intended as a warmup for your brain, but, in my case, it's more of a seize-up, especially if the model--in this case Cornelia--takes a pose where she's folded in on herself, limbs crossing over, head tucked under, etc.: then all I get is a blob! The idea is just to capture the overall shape, gesture of the body with solid brushstrokes--no drawing, no contours.
These pages show 5-minute poses. Here, we could use a simple contour--and I did--if we wanted, as a preliminary, a guide. We painted only the dark and midtones, leaving anything light as the white of the paper, which is why I needed the contour ... I can't see the shape, or perhaps more accurately it's that I can't make the darks connect around the spaces, without the boundary: something to work on. Posted by Picasa
Monday class, Ocean City. I did these two studies prior to class, trying to paint the objects and their shadows at the same time and allowing the colors to mingle. In class, I got started on the study below ... more of the same, but this time with a Battenburg lace runner suggested and loaned to my by one of my classmates, JoEllen. Another benefit to painting with a class!
Posted by Picasa In my Tuesday class, I spent the day setting up a still life and drawing it on a full sheet; next week I'll start painting it. In a boost to my setup-making confidence, Lois, the classmate who I mentioned is the best ever at setups, said she'd like to paint my setup when I'm done! I was stunned ... that is progress!
Jennifer, another Tuesday classmate, has arranged for our class to have an exhibit. It should be an impressive display as these painters are very good ... They'll all be contributing still lifes, and I'm sure I haven't anything that can compete with their work, so I was thinking of sneaking a seascape in there to make it stand out--and so there'll be no comparisons made!

Monday, September 18, 2006

ocean city class

Though the class is ongoing, today, Monday, was the first day I was able to get back to Marie's class in Ocean City since late spring. Today we were working on simple still life setups to practice paint handling and mixing. Watching Marie demonstrate, I realized how much I'd forgotten over the summer, and how I'd fallen back on old (bad) habits, like using too much water and forgetting to stroke upward and allow the paint to mix and settle downward ... Just following her lead after the demonstration, I was pleased with the luminosity of the colors in this small study. More pigment, less water; more pigment, less water ...

Tomorrow it's back to Berwyn and large still lifes. Posted by Picasa

After taking an amazing and exhilarating book-making workshop last year, I thought I 'd try to make little watercolor-paper sketchbooks. This is one of the first; a simple fold-out book, about 3 x 3 inches when closed. I used it to do a small study of the Chalfonte scene, which covers two panels; there is room for two more two-panel paintings on this side of the book. Flip it over, and there are six more panels to use. I'd like to fill it with various landmark CM scenes. The second photo shows one cover of the booklet; I used cut-up bits of unsuccessful paintings for the covers. Posted by Picasa

marge's september workshop

Here are the two paintings I completed in Marge's workshop this weekend. The first, on the left, done on Saturday, is of the back of the Chalfonte hotel ... this hotel makes a good subject from any angle, and is especially challenging to draw because it droops and sags in so many places. It's also one of the few buildings left in CM that's still white! On the right, is Sunday morning's effort, painted in the shade of Henry's on the beach, a lovely spot so lovely to paint in I wondered why I didn't do it more often. In the afternoon on Sunday, our last day, I only managed to finish my sketch, of a house on Columbia with a beautiful sycamore tree, and never got to painting. Workshoppers were peeling off all afternoon to beat the Sunday traffic, seriously hampering the momentum of the class. A quick, ice-cold Yuengling in the Prince Edward room ended the seminar for me: perfect.

This is a nearly-finished painting from the last day of Marge's summer workshop. It's a house on Hughes Street ... The day before I had pored through my E. Hopper books hoping to absorb something that I could transmit to my painting. And, while the perspective is a bit off and there, I do think the uncharacteristically muted palette I used here may be thanks to Hopper. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 10, 2006


There's a group of bloggers with links on the watercolor website who do a painting-a-day ... a great practice, if you can pull it off. The paintings are mostly small, of homely subjects. Little everyday vignettes. I'd love to emulate them for the practice of finding a subject everyday--of course they're all around, everything is a subject, but you have to see it, not overlook it! (I used to always be so stumped for subjects; hard to believe now.) Also painting everyday can't help but contribute to facility with medium--even after years of watercolor painting such facility escapes me: too much water, not enough water; too much mixing, not enough mixing (more and more it seems the key may be just leaving it alone! the less I interfere, the better the result is likely to be). And also contribute to building a base--ideas about subjects and colors and color mixes--that would help in any painting.

This is my first "painting-a-day"-type painting. It's about 4 x 4". The subject, I think, is spot on: simple, modest ... but with drama. Sadly, my drawing of the chair is off ... rushing through the drawing to get to the painting: always turns out to be a mistake! Adirondack chairs are hard to draw! I like the subject so much, I think I'll try again ... (Did a small painting of an adirondack chair on a dock in Florida on our last vacation in the Keys; it's currently hanging at mom and dad's but I'll try to post it here for somparison ...)

Didn't so a painting today, so I'll make an extra effort tomorrow. If I can't do a painting-a-day, perhaps I can shoot for a painting-every-other
-day! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 09, 2006

small watercolor of
painted about a year or so ago
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where I left off ...

Art classes start again soon ... So it's time to unpack my huge, backbreaking art-supply carrying bag from last spring and repack it for fall. Time to clean and replenish my palettes, and reassess my brush needs and paper choices--size and make and finish.

Above are two 10 x 14" pages of croquis (sketches)--Cornelia (she of the black tights; I did my best life painting so far of her back ... I'll include it in my next post) on the left and Jim, I think, on the right. These are probably 5-minute poses (going to keep better track this semester).

The croquis we begin the class with are usually the best work I do all day--low expectations yield the best results; annoyingly if you think of the corollary; I'm generally not happy with the longer poses--no doubt because it's a bigger "commitment" and I try harder ... which is all wrong. I have to plunge into the long poses with the same (relative!) abandon as I do these quick poses. That is the goal I am going to try to keep in sight this fall.

This is an unfinished longer painting of Jim, the last painting I did in my life class before summer. Since I'll never have the opportunity to finish this painting with Jim, I'm seeing it as almost finished as is! With a few judicious touches, I think it might look complete ... the problem is figuring out what those touches should be and then adding them! I rarely go back to a painting once I've put it aside ... I don't like to; I like to think a painting gains a certain momentum and going back later feels forced; I feel stymied since usually I just paint without thinking about it!

One thing I do like about this painting--see if you agree--is that, the more I look at it, the more it look like Dylan!

And last but not least: the painting I was working on in my all-day Tuesday class, where I paint with very talented and ambitious painters.

We meet at Carolyn's house and set up our own individual still lifes in her basement, where she has a treasure trove of objects to choose from. It usually takes half a day to select from the bounty ... and if you're lucky, Lois will help you! She is the very best making setups; watching her set one up is an education--the shapes, the colors; and then she paints beautifully ... and always on a full sheet (which is 22 x 30").

Which inspired me try: this unfinished painting is my first effort on a full sheet. It is nearly finished, but I do think I need to resolve some of the white space. I plan to extend the pale blue flowered drape into the upper left quadrant; after that, I'll reaccess--maybe it will need more, maybe (I hope) not.

In the Tuesday class, with the encouragement and inspiration of the other painters--they are a stimulating group!--I've been trying to select more challenging, complicated subjects. Before, I studiously avoided printed fabrics--which is a serious limitation if you're painting still lifes! As you can see in this painting, I'm struggling with it; I have to train my brain to not be impatient when I get lost in the print and the folds ... it's alternately frustrating and tedious. But when I look at a Matisse or a Vuillard, I know it will be worth it, someday.

I'll ask the other painters in the Tuesday group if I can photograph the paintnings they're working on for this blog ... Their work is various, but uniformly interesting!
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