Friday, January 30, 2009

different strokes


The current Different Strokes from Different Folks challenge. It never ceases to amaze me that if I think some subject will be "easy" to paint, it's not. Conversely, happily, I think I've also encountered a few things that I thought would be too difficult but that I managed to make something of.
I'm not sure which of those this is!
Seeing paintings photographed usually helps me see a little thing or two to "correct," and this post's no exception. So, I'll do that, then I have to decide which one to send to DSFDF.

Getting there?
Smilla has to investigate.

***BTW, I just want to say thank you to all the people who are "following" my blog; I'm so flattered. The list got a little longer without my noticing, but I'm slowly making my way around to visit the blogs of people I don't already know. ***

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

wisconsin plus jersey

I wasn't happy with my first go at setting up this still life--too cluttered, and all the silk flowers weren't working for me. So today on my walk I grabbed some evergreen sprigs: this is more like it.
I need some more, and need to arrange them more artfully, but this is getting closer.

I'm in one of those scattered phases: many things I want to paint, but can't seem to settle down to any one in particular ... dabbing a bit at this and that. It's totally unsatisfying, but that's where I am.
Below's a quick study for the current DSFDF challenge: a Victorian house in San Fran. Cape May's Victorians are much more gingerbread-laden, so this clean facade should be easy, but the lack of strong shadows has left me stumbling a bit. I think I'm going to have make my own shadows!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009



My Smilla lounging on the deck loveseat. I used some dry-brushed white paint to indicate the light on her fur.
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Sunday, January 25, 2009

figuring out the setup

This year, I'd like to do one larger (15x22 or 22x30), complicated still life. I find setting up a still life to be the hardest part of the whole process, and so I want to take some time with it.
Using my Wisconsin finds as the base, I'm going to try out various other items.
I set it up, above, then came back later in the day and this great afternoon light was streaking in. I like the cast shadows and how the light bleaches out the details in the hydrangea. In other places too much is perhaps obscured ... It needs some more adjusting.

Tonight, I had to try the VSD one more time.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

january VSD

First, abandoned (alas, not soon enough) attempt. I like the lighter ground in this one, but really struggled with the inside of the peels! I kept changing my mind about what color they were! The one in the back is dark in value but warm ... I was stumped.

Second try: Friday morning--

--and afternoon.

Still having trouble with that background peel. I should have left it light, regardless of its being so dark in the reference photo.
I think I've learned too that it's best not to mess with orange, the color. A fresh, untouched wash looks best.
I think I can improve this with a few darks around the base of the fruit and some white pencil scribbles to suggest pith.
Can't wait to see how the other participants in the VSD dealt with the peels and pith!

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Empty chairs make great painting subjects. Or maybe it's their shadows that make the subject.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wisconsin still life

When I was visiting her in Boscobel, Wisconsin, in October, my friend Robin took me to this great secondhand store where I could not resist buying these items, despite the fact that there was no way I could carry them back on the train with me. I bought them and Robin got stuck trying to find a box big for them and mailing them to me!
That brass vase subconsciously reminded me of Cloud Gate, where we had been a few days earlier, though I didn't make the connection until later--I had to have it.
And my teacher Carolyn, who died two years ago this February, always had turquoise-glass Ball jars, which I used in a couple of my still lifes in her class, like the unfinished one below, so I had to have those too.
(15x22) The humongous box arrived yesterday--a great day in so many ways!
One of monthly goals for 2009 is to set up a still life with at least six objects in it and paint it on a full (22x30)or half sheet (15x22), as we did in Carolyn'sclass, where I think I did some of my best work and which I really miss.
This isn't the setup, but I think I will use at least some of these objects. Maybe I can make it self-portrait too ... that's me reflected in the brass.

This is one of the still lifes I did in Carolyn's class. Now, two years later, I can't believe I painted those cloths.

This painting brings up a question: What's your favorite blue--shade and brand?
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Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I wasn't going to say anything and just enjoy the joy (I'm not ready to let go of my animosity entirely, maybe tomorrow) but leave it to a Bush appointee to screw it up. Chief Justice Roberts bobbled the words of the oath and then read the last line--"So help me God"--as a question rather than as a statement. Can't help but feel, resentfully, that there's some subtext there.

And check out this inaugural "Wordle," brought to my attention by my bff Robin!


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Monday, January 19, 2009

seven mile bridge


I found this drawing I made while Peter and I were fishing alongside the Seven Mile Bridge in Marathon, Fla., in December 2007 still attached to the block and thought it was about time I took a stab at painting it. I feel there's a lot more I could do here, but I'm going to resist that impulse and just do a bit of tweaking ... tomorrow.
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Sunday, January 18, 2009



This week's challenge from Karin Jurick's Different Strokes from Different Folks blog, the Jefferson Memorial at night; entries must be posted by Weds. 1/21 and that evening, Karin'll post another reference photo.
If you haven't yet, visit the blog--it's amazing. So many people participate, I don't know how she does it!
Her challenges are that: challenging. She suggested that getting the values right from the start would be the key to painting this subject. I fell short there--this is really as dark as I can get it seems!
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Finally got to my "vertical" lesson with this found subject: I turned around and there it was--light streaming in on Smilla and Itchy.
This should have been a lesson in thumbnail sketches becauseI see now the space above Smilla is unnecessary/of no interest. I like this subject so much that I'm going to do it again this week, but allowing more space for light and shadow shapes below Itchy.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009


(4x6 each Fabriano CP)

Uncertainly poking along on these, from photos by my friend Carol, who is a great photographer. Even when all of us are photographing the same thing, Carol's photos turn out better!
Peter's cousin Sean and his wife Angela have two beautiful little girls, Shannon and Catherine, and Angela asked me once if I do portraits. I don't ... but I thought maybe a picture of two little girls would do.

I haven't forgotten my earlier commitment to do a painting featuring a different design element from Marianne Brown's Watercolor by Design each week ... the week's not yet over! Coming soon: verticality.
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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

jan's studio

(4x6 HP Fabriano)

Not much time to paint the last couple of days ... and maybe not in the upcoming days either.
I made a few little sketches on a HP block--this, from a photo taken in Jan Hart's New Mexico studio, is one of them.

I'm really dissatisfied with this HP paper and may just put it aside for awhile. Or maybe it's my paints, or, actually, my paint to water ratio.
I noticed when I used my Possum Palette--which I hadn't used in nearly two years! Not since my teacher Carolyn Howard died-- a few days ago for my Half Measures post that I got better results: the paints were moister and so I used less water.
Getting the paint:water ratio right makes all the difference, but it's so hard for me to do.

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Monday, January 12, 2009



I draped a white cafe curtain over a cardboard box and lit it with my floor lamp. I got a little lost in the folds! But it'll do for today.When I fist started drawing still lifes, the drapery--always plain white for me; it was good enough for Cezanne!--was always the most involving and, when it worked well, rewarding part. I'd like to do more of these.

I had planned to begin a small still life today, but ran out of time. Monday is not a good day for me to begin something new! Though I did manage two little drawings that I may paint tomorrow.
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Saturday, January 10, 2009

half measures


I bought myself a lamp for my "studio"--actually a catch-all room I never use, but am trying to begin to ...--to light still lifes. I'd like to set up a few largish, more complex still lifes this winter. Right now, I'm just wading in: using my new stuff (the lamp and and old TV stand on wheels that I nabbed from Peter's warehouse; it's nice because it's a little below eye level) and space (where I can spread out and I hope work bigger and more concentratedly) and marshalling objects, adding something, taking it away ...

One thing I'd really like to get over is my fear of patterned fabrics! I love them, but shy away from--read: avoid at all costs!-- painting them.
So many painters I admire--Matisse and Vuillard spring to mind--use patterns so beautifully, it seems a shame to forgo them.
Below's a small "swatch"; it's not what I had in mind to do, but it will have to do for today.


What I had in mind was a larger, more complex--that is, with folds and shadows (though this piece of cloth is literally a swatch, about 6x8 inches, so not great for folds)--like the exercise "Day 5: Drapery Anatomy" in one of my favorite art instruction books, which is also probably the one I've had and used the longest: Michael Crespo's Watercolor Class.
I think it may be out of print, but if you can locate a copy in the library, I think it's a very useful book.
(NB I have the single volume, which cover two "semesters" of classes--20 days/lessons per; the semesters were also published separately as Watercolor Day by Day and Experiments in Watercolor.)
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