Friday, June 27, 2008

trumpet vine

I took a little time this morning to start painting a couple of sprigs of trumpet vine I picked yesterday on my bike ride; these vines grow wild all over the place here. I love them--the shape and the color. I planted one a couple of years ago, and while the foliage is really growing well, I haven't gotten any flowers.
When I used to ride my bike to Cape May Point, this time of year I'd pick my "Jersey roadside bouquet": wild orange tiger lilies, pink sweet pea, Queen Anne's lace, and blue flax.
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Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I have a few shells I've picked up down at the bay; usually the shells I find there are broken, which is all right by me--I like to see the inside, the spiraling spine; and I read somewhere that you should only take broken shells, leaving the intact ones for things to live in.
I'm currently using all my mental energy--I have a limited amount each day!--on a big, involving job, but tonight I thought I'd at least do a little something ...
When I first looked at this in person, I was pleased at all the neutral colors; but now that I see it here, it's not very neutral, is it?!
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Monday, June 23, 2008

sunset set

First, here's the fourth in my sheet of Cape Henlopen dune paintings, completed yesterday.

Walking on the bay yesterday, I saw a pebble that was a greenish-gray color that I always associate with my friend Sue; I picked it up. Then it seemed, out of all the many thousands of pebbles to choose from, my eye kept alighting on pebbles whose color I associated with Sue: russet, caramel, umber.
Robin and I, when we'd sift through the pebbles at the point, always thought we were choosing each one randomly, individually. (I sat in on a literature class that was reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenence and wrote a paper about this process; I can't remember what the assignment was, but it was the most creative paper of my undergraduate years, and I hope Dr. Haba liked it [I can't recall].)
It became clear to us at some point though that choosing one prefigured the next choice: we unconsciously devised sets.
Like the Sue-colored set and the one below, I'll call it Sunset Set.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

cape may diamond

My friend Sue wanted to know just how large my Cape May Diamond
is, so here are a couple of photos to give you an idea. It's about as big as one of my fingernails, or about four times larger than the ones I usually find. It really is a pretty remarkable find--for its size, and its unoccluded translucency.
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day off

Yesterday I took a day off from everything and everyone, including myself: I didn't nag myself about what I should be doing, about everything on my desk. I took my tabletop easel and paints out to the deck, followed by the cats and the dog, and worked on a few Lewes scenes. In between washes, I'd go to the other end of the deck with a glass of wine and read Jhumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth, looking up at the easel now and then. Oddly, because there are small things (the clumps of grass and brush) in them, and because I think my paintings generally look better up close (maybe because they don't usually have high contrast), these paintings looked better from far away.
Blogging favors the closeup view though, so here are the closeups.


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Friday, June 20, 2008

Lori's Lewes paintings

One of painters in Lewes was Lori, and these are two of her paintings. I love them both. The shells are so wonderful, and I know how difficult they are to do! She makes even the large white spaces interesting. The color is luminous and subtle, and she's suggested the texture, especially of the whelk shell in front. And look at the edge of light on the upper whelk shell--that really makes it! The shadows are beautiful too, and not too dark. I know Lori did a lot of glazing on this painting and it's a great example of the light-filled quality you can get.

This marsh scene is beautifully done too. First of all, it's hard to make the space flatten out and recede like that! And, again, I love the luminosity of the colors; the trees in the background are handled just right! And leaving the stream white, or nearly white, completes the light-struck feeling. I would never have thought of it! I'm too quick to slap everything with some blue!
Lori also sent me a photo of paintings set up for critique (I had to leave early and this was taken after I left, so my shell painting isn't in here). Aren't these great!? I always love to see the variety at critique.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

look what I found ...

on the beach today: a little plastic basketball player. I was going to pick him up and keep him, but the incoming tide took him first. Which is fine; he'll wash up on some other beach at low tide and surprise someone else.

Last night while walking Itchy by the bay I came across some trash--beer bottles and tobacco pouches strewn around a plastic bag. I decided I'd pick it up on our way back, and tucked it all into the bag and stuffed an edge of the bag under a log that must've been where the litterers sat. I was thinking it'd be nice, if, for my trouble, I found a nice piece of beach glass, a rare one, turquoise or orange. Most of the beach glass I find is brown, a good portion is clear, and a smaller amount is green. (Which means that Budweiser drinkers litter the most, followed by Miller, and lastly Rolling Rock.)

Just as I was about to leave the beach, there it was: a piece of turquoise beach glass.

I also found, unasked for!, the largest, most perfect Cape May Diamond I've ever seen.

A few years ago, my mother found this piece of driftwood; I found the "bottom."

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

white rhododendron

I got this far and thought I should stop and think it over before preceding any further because I'm really not sure how far to go! I think I may finish the leaves next, then see how much--or how little--should be done on the the blossom.
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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

two-day workshop in Lewes

My friend Shelby, who I met last fall in New Mexico at a Jan Hart watercolor workshop, arranged and hosted a workshop with Jan at her place in Lewes last week. It was a four-day workshop, but I could only be there for two; I'm so glad I was able to get there. It's always fun to spend time with Shelby and Carol and it was great to see Jan again; she's a lovely person and a great teacher (check out her book and website--I recommend both).
(3x5 Moleskine)

(3x5 Moleskine)
Shelby, an intuitive and fearless painter, brought together a great group of artists for the workshop, including herself, Carol, Betsy, Lori, Ann, and Joanne. I wish I had taken some pictures of their paintings to post here! I'll ask them to email some to post--I think you'd enjoy seeing what they did. It's always such a revelation to see how differently people approach their paintings. One subject--a bowl full of seashells Shelby collected--turned out to be especially challenging for everyone, but what a wonderful variety of really great paintings resulted.
#1 (11x15)

#2 (11x15)
Two paintings of the same dune scene in Cape Henlopen State Park. What a beautiful place ... It's at the point of a small peninsula hooking up into the Delaware Bay. The deep blue shadow on the dune was what attracted me to the scene, but the dune grasses and scrubby bushes were frustrating!
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Cape Henlopen dune. The sky was supposed to be flat--equal glazes of aureolin, rose madder genuine, and cobalt blue resulting in a glowing neutral; I always have trouble making neutrals!
House on the beach in Lewes. A Hopperesque subject I'd like to do again after looking through my Hopper books ...

Here's my version of the seashells, still in progress: the shells emerge through building up layers of transparent colors, aureolin, rose madder genuine, and cobalt blue. It's time consuming and not for the impatient; but I am impatient and so I cheated a little, adding cobalt violet and burnt sienna.
I really hope my workshop mates will email photos of their seashell paintings; I'd love to show you what they did!
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Saturday, June 07, 2008

drawing day

I'm trying to make my drawing-day drawings into a slideshow; can't make it work, yet. All the drawings were done without benefit of sleep! My OTC allergy medicine kept me up all night: it's 6 p.m. now and I think I'm ready to crash!
(If you click on this post's title, you'll go to my Picasa album showing the drawings.)
Spoiler alert: this is the best one.
After I get some sleep, I'd like to try painting this white rhododendron from my mother's yard.
Good night!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

brandywine river



A little stretch of the Brandywine river, done from an old photo, on facing pages of Moleskine sketchbook. Peter and I are in the photo, which was taken by his daughter, Melyssa, who was seven or eight then and is graduating from high school today; we were canoeing and stopped here for a picnic lunch.
I'm trying to become a Moleskine convert ... but the paper's just too absorbent for me; it's best suited, I think, for one-go undisturbed washes.
All week I've felt restless, bored, anxious. I need to get out, in a canoe?

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008



These are true sketches: a trying out of how I would go about painting a strawberry, as a prelude to a more considered composition. I painted these quickly and as freely as I could, with no drawing; trying to leave the whites without fretting over them.
I painted these on the porch, which was shady, but I'd like to take them out into the sun and leave the lightstruck parts white, as I've seen done so beautifully in so many paintings of strawberries.
I'll have to buy another pint though because I ate these.
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Sunday, June 01, 2008

accordian-fold sketchbook

I took a one-day book arts workshop a few years back in which we made three books; it was one of the most satisfying things I have ever done: I walked out of there with my three books feeling like a very happy kindergartner. Naturally, I acquired everything needed to make books at home--awl, bone folder, decorative paper--but have only attempted it a couple of time, with not-as-satisfying results.
This accordian-fold book is the result of one of those attempts. I used bits cut from an unsuccessful painting, 3x3, for the covers, and a folded 18x3 piece of Fabriano paper for the inside.
These three Cape May scenes are 3x6, or two panels, each.

I like the idea of making my sketchbooks--it's hard to find a watercolor sketchbook that has the paper you like; but it takes patience and planning, and measuring (!), all of which are skills I need to work on!
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