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
 Posted by Picasa

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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Monday, September 04, 2006

late post

Here's a late post correcting an omission pointed out to me by Peter ... These are photos from a great day of fishing in the ocean. Peter caught a 25-inch doormat and Robin was hauling in the mahimahi one after another as we trolled around!

Even Itchy was impressed by Robin's fishing prowess!

Visit Robin's blog for more on Pocahontas!
a few photos of the delaware bay ...

Posted by Picasa at low tide ...

Today's finds
Itchy and I took a long walk along the bay this afternoon; one of those rare walks where we overshoot our usual turnaround point--Lesczinski's pier--and keep going all the way to the dunes south of Del Haven. Despite the increased distance, and the fact that is was low tide, not much of a haul beach-glass wise, though I was pleased to have one of each color.
As you can see, Itchy--no dummy he--took advantage of my picture taking to have a little lie-down in the shade.

on my continuing technological education ...
Robin keeps trying to instruct me on different ways to add links to my blog ... still trying to figure it out. Read about a site in Sunday's NYTimes, it's a web radio site where you type in a band, artist, or song you like and the site plays things like it, which you give a thumbs up or down to (if you want ... you can also just let them play). Kind of fun.

in the category of "oh well" ...
Yesterday I decided, a la the site that I recommended earlier, to try a small painting a day. Carlos was sleeping on the bed--a perfect subject, though, oddly, for all the observation I've done of them, I find it hard to paint the cats. Started a little postcard size painting, but wasn't happy with it, and it didn't seem salvageable ... I'll try again tomorrow. Perhaps I shoudl call attempted-painting-a-day. As Mom says, every day isn't a winner.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

These quick sketches were the result of a fun and enlightening exercise Marie gave us in the Monday Ocean City class. Working from a photo, we did four small paintings of the same scene, each using a different color scheme. Clockwise from upper left, they are: monochromatic, complementary, analogous, and split complementary. Anyone's who's painted with me will not be surprised that the primary color I chose to organize the exercise around was blue/blue-violet.
I enjoy doing thsee exercises, being forced to make choices I wouldn't ordinarily make (well, except for the blue-violet). Exercises help break patterns and habits and, I always hope, will force me to some kind of break, or breakthrough ... Michael Crespo's book, Watercolor Class, is, I think probably the best if you're looking for ideas for exercises to do on your own; his book is also amply and wonderfully illustrated with student work, which is unusual for art instruction books. His students' work is so good it's inspiring.

Thanks Robin for adding a link to my on your blog. I'd like to return the favor, but I'm technologically challenged, as you know. So instead I'll take the old-fashioned, outmoded route of simply asking anyone who's reading this to check out for great photos of Chicagoland and eclectic and stimulating commentary from a smart and funny Chicagoan by way of Key West by way of New Brunswick and Cape May! Where will she go next?! Oh yeah, Wisconsin! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 02, 2006

recent unfinished/unresolved sketches

Okay, to the left are 3 versions of a little scene on the Delaware Bay not far from my house, where I walk Itchy ... I like to tape off equal sections then attempt the same scene in several different ways at the same time ... Sometimes I get a good one ... Below: top is my unfinished sketch, bottom is the photo of a beach on St. John, I think, that I'm working from. IN the photo the dark mass on the right is just that--a dark mass without too much detail visible, so when I was making the sketch, I painted in the rocks, but then thought maybe I wouldn't bring the dark mass all the way up ... Stopped where I got stumped. At the top, left is quick, wet skecth of the same Caribbean scene--it's not very "finished" (the paper was too absorbent, which I find too frustrating, so I gave up on it), but that's why I like it ... I always seem to prefer the messy, less detailed ones ... like the 2-minute sketches in life drawing class that you can barely recognize as a human being!!

I happened upon a blog while browsing the Net for watercolor sites--avoiding work and laundry--with lovely little watercolor paintings ...; see the artist's website too: She's prolific; her modest little daily paintings (if you could see me right now, I'd be green) are lovely--the subjects charming and Wimperis's facility with the medium ... enviable! At the blog you can sign up to have apinting e-mailed to you every day--what a great idea!
Go see what makes me eat my heart out!
Ernesto and Pier 47
Itchy and I drove over to Pier 47 to check on the "big boat" and pump (hand pump, that is)/bail the water out of the dory, Lulu. Some good samaritan beat us to the Lulu, however ... it wasn't full of water!
I was a little disappointed that it didn't look picturesquely stormy down at the marina :-(

So, I finally got around to figuring out how to get photos onto the laptop and, as it turns out, nothing could be easier. Just slide the camera's memory card into the slot, and voila. I thought I needed some kind of software, bit I guess the software's in the memory card--maybe that's why they cost so much!

Next post will be paintings ...

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