Sunday, March 22, 2015

Skip Lawrence Workshop Conclusion

I spent the last two days of the workshop on these two paintings. They are both 20" square. 

This first one has at least 10 paintings under it. Again, I was thinking mostly about texture, but also about creating space within the plane of the painting and being "involved" with it, if that makes any sense. My favorite quote from Skip for the week was "If you have nothing to say you'll say it". I wanted to say something. 

Like I said, I tried over and over to get this painting to work (and figure out what it wanted to say), layering one attempt over the other. At the end of the day of working on it I was frustrated and grumpy and drove the 60 miles home in a daze. On that drive, however, I was reminded that my eye is often drawn to the black spaces in walls and buildings created by windows and doors, particularly large garage or barn doors. That day at the retreat center where the workshop is being held I had picked out a small, smooth stone from a basket of giveaways at the front desk. The stone had the word "refuge" hand lettered with gold paint. The idea for this painting came to me before I got home. I knew exactly what I wanted to do and I was so excited about it I could hardly sleep and got back to the workshop as soon as I could the next morning. The painting came out just as I had hoped. I like the depth, the texture, and the black shape that can be anything you want it to be, you the viewer. For me, it represents a place of refuge. The beginning of a series, maybe? 
This second painting was created without as much angst or stress as the first. The blue line is an experiment. I used slightly warmer colors. There are still many layers under the top texture, so that there is an illusion of depth within the plane of the painting. I like this one, but I think I feel more connected with the first one because of what it demanded from me.
The workshop was very good for me. Skip's insights at the beginning and guidance throughout and support at the end was so helpful for getting me going on a track that I feel is somehow more legitimate than the one I was on. I don't feel I was in a bad place before, but I do feel more focused and clear about what I want to do. I have lots of ideas for new paintings! I'll keep you posted, for sure.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Day 3 Skip Lawrence Workshop

Skip had me change from a rectangular format to a square to get me away from depending on a horizon line and landscape for composition. Then he had all of us thinking about what the emphasis of our painting is. For example, do we work mostly with white or mostly dark colors or mostly red, etc. I wanted to concentrate on texture as my emphasis. 






Saturday, March 14, 2015

7 drawings 3 14 15

I did these 7 drawings for the Drawings and Prints show opening at the Bridge Gallery (Shepherdstown, WV) on March 21st. I've been painting so much lately that getting back into making successful drawings was challenging. For one thing I wanted to start them the same way I start my painting which is to coat watercolor paper with gesso (often tinted). This determines the palette and value range big time. And I hadn't intended to depend so much on recognizable imagery, wanting to work in a more non-representational way with the medium, but these little figures and plant forms kept popping up and I couldn't seem to get away from them.

This drawing of cat and birds is the only one on paper without gesso. I drew the images first leaving white paper for the light areas, but it looked too plain, so I smeared the charcoal on the paper and erased to get the lighter areas. I found the worked surface to be more satisfying. Color is hinted at here and there with colored pencil. This drawing is 20"X 26".
These two drawings are twins (what I call the pieces I do side-by-side at the same time) and you can see that in the common palette. Each has been added to since I took these photos, emphasizing the colors and value range. It often helps to photograph my work and put it on the computer to see what it needs. They are both 14"X 20". Not sure where that weird bird came from. She started as a path in front of the house and then emerged, carrying her pearl.
The next 4 drawings are 8"X 12". Like the two above, they were started on gessoed paper. I used different tints on each one; some grey, some warmer browns. They are primarily black and white charcoal with pastels and colored pencils used to add accents and details.

For this drawing of the 4 birds I cut out the bird shapes from label paper and stuck them on the surface, then covered the exposed areas with black charcoal. Peeling up the shapes left the color of the grey-tinted gesso underneath. The "wing" feathers are made with the side of an eraser. The shapes are enhanced with white charcoal and color is added with pastels and colored pencils. Do try this at home!


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

2 paintings 3 3 15

These two paintings, both 14"X 20", were worked on side-by-side at the same time. They started out as landscapes with trees. I had painted the watercolor paper with gesso tinted blue. I drew in curved horizons and lined them with trees. They were landscapes for quite a while until they weren't. I just couldn't get excited about them. They were pretty, but that was about it.
So, I brushed over the surfaces with diluted gesso, leaving traces of the previous paintings, and started again. This time I played, had fun, scribbled in my cats and birds and I was happy. You can see traces of the horizons with trees behind the images that are there now.

The French on the bottom of the cat painting translates to That I did always love. I have a book of Emily Dickinson poetry that I got on a college art history trip to Rome a million years ago. It has her poetry in English and French and this is a first line of her poem #549.
I paint from my head, which is probably obvious, but I do use images I see and remember. The doe I saw the afternoon I painted this. I was walking my horse and the doe was standing with her back to us, just like this, making this wonderful shape. The bird is an image I've repeated a number of times in other pieces.

I often work on two paintings together like this and they usually end up with the same palette, sort of like fraternal twins or soul mates. Each set is very unique, though, and very different from the others. The sets are often bought together, and when they aren't I feel sorry for their separation. Silly.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Charcoal drawing on gesso

This drawing is 20" X 26". It was done on 140 lb watercolor paper that was painted with tinted gesso. I used burnt sienna acrylic paint to tint the gesso and the concentration of color is stronger on the bottom half of the picture so that it fades to a lighter value on the top half.

Along with black charcoal sticks and pencils I used white "charcoal" pencils and some conte and pastel.

The image is made up. I started with the strong dark foreground and trees and added the farther horizon line of trees second and went back and forth to work on each section. Once in a while I glanced at the trees outside my studio to get ideas for shapes of branches.

At one point I sprayed the drawing with polyurethane to fix it so that I could coat it with acrylic gel medium as I do with my painting/collages. I felt that deadened it, however. So I went back and retouched parts of it to add highlights and try to bring it back to life.

Want to try some more drawings with added texture and more manipulation of the surface... I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

13 little paintings

 I don't seem to be able to stop painting! But I'm going to have to. For the next five days I'll be in the Baltimore Convention Center at the American Craft Council show...and away from my paints. 

These 13 paintings are all 5"X 7". I've matted them to go into my bin of unframed pieces. 

There is a lot of collage mixed in with the usual acrylic and charcoal...Bristol board and colored pencil, rice paper and watercolor with inks, pastel, conte, newsprint, sewing pattern tissue.

They were fun to do!














Saturday, February 14, 2015

Triptych on canvas

I usually work on paper and working on canvas is quite different in terms of being able to manipulate the paint and the way the charcoal goes onto the bumpy surface, as opposed to the ease of drawing on smooth paper. Still, t'was fun.
Started with the idea of all the little animals in a row along the horizon. They were drawn on Bristol board, cut out and pasted onto the canvas.

It's primarily acrylic with charcoal and pieces of inked Yupo paper and Bristol board with colored pencil added. The three panels together measure 30"X 54".

This painting went through many incarnations! Colors changed. Details got put in and taken out and put back in... I think I'm happy with it and I have to be because it needs to be finished and ready to be the main painting in my booth at the American Craft Council show in Baltimore next week.