Monday, December 31, 2007
Art Goals - Here's what I promised to do in 2007 with my opinion of results:
* Sketch/paint daily - I've met this goal for the second year in a row.
* Practice more faces and figures - Hardly did this ... I have a few faces of my grands I'm fairly pleased with, but I've done my best to avoid this difficult for me subject ... sigh ..
* Sketch more scenes from daily life - I've met this goal fairly well, I think
* Sketch the everyday - recognizing the extraordinariness of life - I think I've done pretty well with this, though the movement from 'picture to art' is something I'd like to spend more time on this year. I'm learning again and again that there's something more to seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary and rendering THAT perspective through my artwork ...
* Work through the many art books on my shelves -- I've done a fair job on this, though to tell the truth, I keep acquiring more books to work through! LOL
* Practice more values and perspective - Though I've focused a bit more on value sketches prior to painting, I think this area needs a bit more attention on my part. I cannot help but recognize that one of the strengths of a good painting is a good drawing!
* LOOSEN UP!! Success to some degree here -- but though I love that painterly, loose look, I don't achieve that as often as I set out to ...
* Increase my economy of line and sketching speed - I find it's taking me LONGER to paint something I'm happy with than LESS time --- sigh! But I don't know if that's so bad ... I'm making myself LEARN as I'm doing ... and so perhaps there's a compromise here somewhere.
* Use richer colors - but keep them transparent - I think I've actually met this goal this year -- yeah!
* Sketch more things of meaning - I met this goal for sure.
* Increase my journal entries - -- especially more writing -- Somewhat met
* Improve page compositions - I've met this fairly well, but I've recognized the need to gain a bit more theory behind this goal and so will focus a bit more on this for 2008.
and as always:
PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE!
I've DEFINITELY met this goal!
Overall, I'm still learning and practicing, still need improvement, and still have a long way to go with meeting each of these goals. But today will be spent pondering 2008 and what I'd like to truly emphasize.
BTW, as I was reviewing 2007, I found that LAST year after Christmas I came down with the same 'bug,' and I drew a rose and a loose rendering of flowers ... meaningful????? LOL
HAPPY ALMOST 2008!!
Sunday, December 30, 2007
I decided to leave the background blank to focus more attention on the lightness of the flower itself.
Mom leaves for home today....I cannot believe how swiftly the holidays have passed!
Saturday, December 29, 2007
I love twisty roads and fields of flowers and so started with the road and added some shrubs and trees. I've tried to add more cool colors to the far trees, though the bluish tint isn't being shown as much in this scan as in person.
Friday, December 28, 2007
This view is from my front porch ....Quite a number of pines, small birches, ornament grasses now copper-toned. We were scheduled to add some plantings in the central area until the drought hit, and those plans are on hold until the normal rains return. I wanted to practice painting rain again and since it was so cold, snapped a photo from the porch, and sketched by the fire! LOL
I've been intrigued lately to learn more about composition, especially in landscapes, simplifying all the many details, and rendering simple views into works of art. I'm missing a real center of interest here, I think, though the pine and birch on the left suggest a POI ... still, I look at this and ask how it can be improved, how to dramatize the rain (or not?), change the lighting (as Tom Lynch does) with even more darks even though the scene above was what I was seeing .... these are questions I plan to explore the remainder of this year and add to my art goals for 2008 ...
Thursday, December 27, 2007
The day was cold, under 40F, and with the rain and clouds, pretty somber. But the birds had to eat and so found their way to our feeders. I sketched this from a photograph as I find it mighty difficult to capture birds 'on the fly!'
Mom and I went into town (60 min each way) to exchange some of her gifts that didn't fit and get our much needed haircuts. We avoided the malls, but the traffic, despite the weather, was still busy, and we wound up spending the majority of the day out and about.
Today my sister-in-law comes by for a visit, I see the eye doctor, and I'm looking forward to a bit more time for sketching!
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Christmas Day was filled with two trips to my son's -- an early morning, bring the quiche and sweet rolls to see Santa arrive - a laughter-filled, "Look at this Nonna" time, as toys, clothes and toddlers were strewn from room to room. And a second trip back for a shared dinner with my daughter-in-law's family and more children and food and gifts.
We returned to our now echo-ingly silent house to rest, recuperate, reminesce. And while the calm serenity is welcome, I can't help but miss the blissful noise, at least in small amounts ...!
I don my much beloved, comfy slippers (above) that my mom crochets for me each year. They've come to be a family joke as well as tradition, as I wear these year in, year out, indoors and around the outdoors for their comfort and sentiment.
And for me, today, after such a frenetic and event-filled time, they'll keep me centered a bit more on the holiday, making the memories last a bit longer.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Yesterday was incredibly wonderful, with the three grandchildren behaving so very well during dinner and waiting, as patiently as children under 4 can wait, to open their gifts. Yes, they KNEW gifts were waiting for them! LOL
We had separated each child's gifts, even color-coded them with different wrapping papers so that we could keep a bit of order to things. We 'covered' each area with blankets so that the children couldn't see anything but lumps of blankets and help keep their having to wait to open gifts a bit easier if they didn't have anything to SEE to tempt them.
When dinner was finished and leftovers were put in the refrigerator, we all moved to the living room. We removed the blankets and placed a parent with each of the grands to help open gifts. Charles, Mom and I collected wrapping, took pix and generally encouraged thank you's and don't forget's ... and believe it or not, it went awesomely well! Sqeals of joy, laughter, sounds of running batteries, paper flying, sounds of "Mommy", "Daddy," "Nonna" all kept the activity level high and exuberant! I have to say that Nick was the funniest -- he fell in love IMMEDIATELY with his toddler work bench and proceeded to drill and hammer -- and ignore the other gifts waiting to be opened .... when we prodded him to open these, he said, "I'm tired of opening presents!" LOL Imagine that! LOL
Emily was her sweet grown-up self, opening gifts carefully, ooohing and ahhing like an adult even at clothing (at 4!!!)! LOL She loved her easel and proceeded to place her alphabets on one side of the board to spell her name! Taylor was as ladylike and careful about each and everything she opened -- delighted most of all with a child-sized broom and mop which she proceeded to use in the paper-strewn room. It was sheer, heart-filling delight to see these children in delirious confusion and joy!
The grown-ups waited to open their gifts until the children began to actually play with their new toys, or in some cases, played with boxes and toys they were familiar with. Coffee and cheesecake followed after all gift wrap and boxes cleared enough space ....
I'll have to post a few photos later today. But it truly was a gift -- to participate in these most precious of moments and to share these special, special times with my family. Living as we do so far from one another, each of us busy with work, family and other obligations, these times, these shared holidays become more and more precious not only because they're spent with those we love, but because they are far less frequent than we'd like.
This morning, we fix quiche and sweet rolls and head to my son's to watch a replay of yesterday at their house as Santa arrives this morning.
May your holidays be filled with love, joy and the memories that will last a lifetime. I sincerely thank each of you for your well wishes, encouragement and kindness, your friendship and your support .......May your kindnesses be returned to you tenfold ... and may your holiday be blessed with joy and all the love you deserve! And may each of us remember those not with us, and most of all, the reason we celebrate today.
Monday, December 24, 2007
We watched Taylor play with Emily and Nick's toys --- at 18 months, she's playing mom and store and cook, and is hilarious to watch. She even fit into one of the doll's strollers! LOL
Today, we'll celebrate Santa for the grands. The entire crew arrives around 2:00 pm for our traditional dinner of baked pasta (this year Manicotti) and meatsauce, more cheesecake ... and then we'll all open gifts. I've changed the batteries in my camera, had a bit more sleep, and will probably heavily rely on coffee to get us all through a fun-filled, hectic, paper-ripping time! Can't wait!!! It'll be the first time all three grandchildren, now old enough to recognize 'presents,' will be spending this special holiday together!
The grands will head back to my son's for an early bedtime so they can get ready for Santa at their own home Christmas morning. We'll recuperate a bit, and then head to Mike's tomorrow morning to watch the FUN there!
In the quiet tonight, we'll remember those who can't share this holiday with us -- my sisters in New York whom we'll chat with tomorrow; and my son-in-law serving overseas; my father whom I hope is watching from above with other members of our family and friends who have left this good earth.
I had a bit of time yesterday to sketch one of my favorite ornaments -- a snowy birdhouse. I have several of these 8" houses that I use decorate with to coordinate with the red cardinals, bird nests and apples I've decorated our wee fireplace mantle tree. I omitted many of our typical decorations this year since the grands' toys will be 'ornamenting' our small living room!!
Since this is first of our 'Christmas' days, I wish everyone a most joyous, safe, love-filled holiday! And wish to add my deepest thanksgiving to you, especially, for the support, encouragement, and most of all, friendship you have generously given me through these pages.
May the blessing of the holiday fill your heart and your soul .... and may you be with those you cherish. There is no greater gift than this and the time spent with those we love ...
Sunday, December 23, 2007
I cannot tell you what an absolute THRILL it is to see these three cousins - all about six months apart, stair-steps in size, respond, play, mother, compete, talk, laugh, care for one another!
I sat to watch their interactions - Emily (almost 4), 'mothering' Taylor (18 mos), touching her head, her face, kissing her like a doting mother, while Nick (almost 3) and the only boy in the cousin clan, found a place between them to help, share toys (or not! LOL), talk to Taylor and Emily, and all of them sitting at their wee table coloring.....
I saw how the generations of my family, from my great-grandparents I never knew, thru my grandparents whom I lost while I was under 10, my dad, whom I pray is watching this scene from his well-deserved place in heaven, my 85 year-old-mom whom, thank God still has the energy and mind and will to travel so as to participate in this rare get together, me, watching MY child, MY children, with THEIR children .... and on and on and on .... Simply Amazing ... Simply Gratifying in so many ways.....
Besides the gift of my dd and granddaughter, the mail carrier brought my Christmas gift of a set of colored pencils to be used in Kate Johnson's watercolor pencil class this February. I HAD to try out these highly regarded Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils.
After my dd went to visit her brother and we brought Emily and Nick back there as well, I had a few quiet moments before fatigue overcame me to sketch my much-needed coffee cup using those watercolor pencils. I supplemented some color with the InkTense cp pencils as well ...
I think I'm going to really enjoy learning more about these in February!! Meantime, I'm going to refill that cup with some much-needed coffee ... Today we cook in preparation of EVERYONE returning for dinner and gift-giving pandemonium tomorrow!
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Olives were done in my sketchbook between having 'tea' with Emily and coloring pages and placing sticker with Nick .....
Today my daughter and granddaughter arrive .....! Can't wait to see them too -- especially since Taylor said "Nonna" for the first time last week ....!!!
Can't you just HEAR all chatter!! LOL
Friday, December 21, 2007
My dd also tells me that Taylor had her medications changed yesterday, is breathing so much easier, and is doing better with less fever... and so they're still intending their 5 1/2 hour trek north for a visit here this weekend.
My days are growing even busier and we have my son's children to watch as he and my dil begin their marathon holiday shopping -- so sketch and painting time are going to be crimped. But I have so enjoyed having hours at my disposal to study, ponder and paint ...
This still life, painted from a photo from Wet Canvas, presented a number of challenges ... I changed the color of the grapes from a repeat of the red/burgandy in the fruit and flowers to green only to realize that those same greens were also repeated in the leaves ...! LOL Dark values presented a challenge in trying to make them less flat ... and the sheer curtain was a challenge as I didn't want to draw too much attention to it and so faded as many details as I could.
I enjoyed doing this scene and will probably, as time permits, try another subject with similiar complexities.
Meantime, I'll be hunting for quick subjects to study as the holiday and company approach.
We're expecting a sprinkling of rain --- sure wish it could be snow! LOL
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Later than morning I began the wet in wet sky and trees, deciding to leave out the majority of the deciduous ones to focus more attention on the sunrise.
With that much red in the sky, we had about a 30 minute rain shower - happy to have any rain at this point in our drought.
I had to leave for the day to pick up my Mom from the airport. Southwestern Airlines has lost her luggage, and at 85 years old, this is rather traumatic. We did manage to get in a lunch, dinner and grocery shop, though. After 3 calls, they've yet to return my messages, so today will be spent hunting for some clothing for mom and perhaps a return 70-minute trip to the airport. SIGH.
It'll be a busy next couple of days -- We watch the grands tomorrow as my son and daughter-in-law get their holiday shopping done, and after that my daughter arrives, we hope. Right now, her daughter is sick ... so we've got our fingers crossed for luggage and grandchildren.
As for the painting -- I'm still not crazy about my tree branches, (wasn't nuts about the bare trees I in my snow scene yesterday) -- so I think I"m going to spend some sketching time with the trees from my window while mom and I visit. It's a cold 30F this morning ... Mom left 78F weather in Florida so we'll be sitting by the fireplace a lot!
Hope everyone's holiday preparations are going well!
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
I kept the entire piece fuzzy and wet-looking with watercolor alone using more of a wet-in-wet application.
I think I could use more drama in the sky with additional dark clouds but since the clouds and rain we had here these last two days weren't as 'picturesque,' I left this as it is.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
While our drought remains severe (we truly need a month of this type of rain since our deficit for the year is still close to 10" ... we are ever grateful for this moisture!
I found this photo from Wet Canvas and just had to sketch it in celebration of the RAIN!
Saturday, December 15, 2007
THIS time, I stretched the paper!! LOL and was amazed after I wet, stapled and taped the paper to foamcore (all I had available) how absolutely FLAT it remained after all the washes and water! So I will definitely use that method again. LOL
The scene is from an agritourism, working farm in the hills of Casalecchio, Sicily -- far larger than the complex I painted -- I shrunk much of the buildings as I was more interested in the panarama than the buildings. I realized AFTER it was sketched that the point of interest landed smack in the middle of the paper -- but I know that I have ample space to crop the left of this painting to move the buildings a bit off center -- I'm posting the painting in its entirety for my discussion!
I used Winsor-Newton watercolors on Arches cold press 140# and grayed some of the colors as I applied them with a light touch to keep a hazy look. I then used Mineke's suggestion to glaze the background with a thin mix of gouache and water -- which you see here. I also added a bit more graying with a bit of Winsor violet. I added a bit of ink to the windows and roof lines of the houses to sharpen those images.
In some ways I miss all the details of brighter images (which I tend to paint!) but I think the methods suggested work well and I again, appreciate all the generous suggestions!
Now to figure out how to do these kinds of landscapes with a bit looser feel! LOL
Friday, December 14, 2007
Our college hosted its annual Christmas luncheon for the entire staff and faculty yesterday. Almost 200 people in one room (not all attended), listened to the chorus sing Christmas carols, enjoyed a terrific meal, recognized service and awards and relished in the end of a long, challenging year. In my office, I exchanged gifts with my beloved staff, coming to tears so many times with their generosity and kindness. I left for home yesterday with a heart filled with thanksgiving for the many gifts we received this year (funds, building, grants, new staff)-- and for me, after six long, laborious, difficult years of struggle toward acquiring the funds and people truly needed to get the work done as expected, ever more thankful to see those needed buildings, plants and most importantly, PEOPLE, finally coming together -- in a most cooperative, enthusiastic way. I left with a lighter heart than I've had (workwise) in many a year. I took some time to thank my VP who has been most responsible for supporting this project and for helping me find the funds so desperately needed to make the Arboretum a reality. And though we've yet a long way to go -- we finally have enough 'on the ground' to begin to see a ray of hope for its actual implementation before my retirement! LOL
So, I "pa rum pa pum pum" my thanks on this, Rebecca's little drum ornament. And like the Little Drummer Boy, sing my praises of thanksgiving ....
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Plus, in my heart of hearts, I really am wishing for a White Christmas!
(Thank you too for your well wishes-- I'm feeling so much better --- many thanks!!)
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
This morning, I'm feeling somewhat better, though a bit weak and moving rather slowly. Sometimes those 'bugs' just snare you without warning. I'm grateful this one is about over!
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
After streaking the paper, adding watercolor paint, a bit of ink ... I realize how much I will NEED this class in order to really know what I"m doing with the watercolor pencils! LOL
Monday, December 10, 2007
Secondly, I wanted to create a feeling of haze between the red-roofed house (from a photo I took in Sicily) and the rolling mountains beyond. I tried to do this simply by dabbing at the colors with a tissue ... nope. No amount of dabbing kept the values I wanted and yet gave that hazy, grey feeling. Even with various over-glazes of grey, permanent rose or permanent magenta to add the compliment of all the green - I could NOT achieve haze.
What I'm thinking now is that I have to USE those greyed down colors FIRST and a bit of tissue dabbing to get the hazy, aerial look I want.
So, in all, a day of hard-won lessons .... but lessons nonetheless and ones I will remember more than if I had simply read them. I suppose we DO learn more from our mistakes than our successes ... but mercy, it seems to take a lot of time, doesn't it! LOL
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Weather too seems to conspire --- after temperatures in the 30sF all last week, yesterday was a balmy 65F -- sun aglow and casting the most gorgeous shadows from bare trees, and today promises more of the same. And yet, we've still suffering from the worst drought in state history, so while the day beckons one out of the indoors, the dusty, dry air greets you when you step outside. And there is no rain in the forecast for the next week or so ... sigh.
In between obligations, I found this lovely photograph of a housescape in France. I fell in love with with stones and flowered walls ... our flowers now gone for the season. The original isn't as 'grey' as the scan, and I couldn't adjust it adequately without changing the flowers or some other element ...
Nonetheless, I am reminded of our trip to Sicily ... and painting this made me long again to return to my grandparent's homeland.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Friday, December 07, 2007
I like it much better, though I see a bit of horizontality AND verticality instead of the 'invisibility' Lorraine and others suggested.
Still, those 'raw' edges of horizontal strokes that bothered me so much are about gone and the blending of the different colors seems better to me.
Again, my humblest thanks for your help, your objective eyes and your kindness ...
What do you think?
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Looking at it now, I wsh I had simplified some of the foliage -- but this pretty table piece was just so FULL of such intriguing shapes and colors that I simply went with the abundance of it.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
My co-workers and I completed morning musts and then --together -- did those chores for the Arboretum and office that we usually divy up among ourselves for more efficient finishing. While we all work well together, it is an extremely RARE event that we all get a chance to actually DO such things TOGETHER -- and it was such FUN! We managed to get everything completed that we needed to -- and at the same time, laugh, share, dream, plan. We returned to work in much higher spirits than we have had through these last weeks of intensity. I simply MUST find a way to work in more of these for all of us -- what a healthy approach to WORK! LOL
I also want to thank you for your kindest suggestions of sketch topics ... I printed out a decent list of ideas -- TRULY THANK YOU!!! And when I got to the B&B in high spirits and ENERGY (YEAH!), lo and behold, there was a pot of FLOWERS that I could sketch -- so THANK YOU, Keith (http://www.flickr.com/photos/yorkielover/) for your suggestion ---!
This pot of Kalenchoe was sitting on Rebecca's windowsill near some growlights I had given her two years ago .....and it was a delight to do a loose sketch that seemed to express the joyful gift of a day ....
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Still I found a photo of this pretty seashell -- the challenge here was to create two colors that are compliments --!!! Blend them with too much water -- grey -- too little water -- no blend .... so this took a bit longer to complete than I had imagined ... with a lot of 'lifting' and drying and reapplication. Fun too!
Now the question --- "What shall I paint TONIGHT!??" Sigh!