Friday, September 1, 2017

Coming Up for Air- Yet again!

So I decided to participate in Leslie Saeta's "30 in 30" painting challenge for September, 2017, and found that I had not entered anything on my blog for ages! In this time away, I've been mostly on Facebook, but a lot has gone on. Just finished a solo show at the Sequim Museum and Arts Center, recorded a Christmas album which we still have hopes of releasing this year, released my first ever CD in 2016, and continue to recertify as a composite artist for law enforcement. So let's see if I can remember how to do this.......

Here is the September 1, 2017 image. It's a watercolor from a plein air session this morning. We went to the levee and found lots of vegetation (challenging), moving water (challenging), twigs and trees (challenging.) Usually when plein air painting, the sunlight changes and goes away. This time, the sun moved around the trees and we fried! 

Down by the Levee, watercolor, 6"x9"

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Stay tuned! New stuff comin' down the pike! I'm in between projects, having taken an amazing class on painting clouds last fall with Andy Eccleshall in Edmonds, WA, finished up entries for a couple of exhibitions, won an Honorable Mention in the Gamblin Torrit Grey competition, and am now taking some "Me Time" to enjoy some of my favorite books. Will be starting a couple of new commissions this next week as soon as I can gear up. Life is good! Art is good! Do it!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

For me, blogging has become a bit like the Christmas letters we receive that begin "Where has the time gone?" I do spend more time communicating on Facebook than here, primarily because those posts are so short and more interactive. But Skywriting becomes a good place to share my thoughts, just in case anyone wants to read my mind.

Fact is, I've been working in the studio a LOT!!! My painting of two Navy A4s refueling entitled "Rendezvous" was accepted and exhibited at the American Society of Aviation Artists annual Forum exhibition, held this year at the San Diego Air & Space Museum. The exhibition ran all through the summer and we were so fortunate to have our work there for many visitors to enjoy.

At the Forum, Canadian artist Cher Pruys gave a wonderful presentation on how she produces her work, including advice on  Dr Martin's liquid watercolors. So of course I had to buy some. Not just some- a whole set! I love working with them, and have been creating work with a combination of M Graham pigments and the Dr Martin's- not by mixing them on the palette, but just by deciding which pigment would work for certain effects. From a series of car/truck/motorcycle watercolors, "Mellow Yellow" won a ribbon at the Clallam County Fair last month.

Since I'm in the "Help! I'm painting with Dr Martin's Watercolors and can't stop" mode, I decided to take on some of the challenges that appear on the Daily Paintworks website ( . Two of the three pieces I've entered, "Triple Scoop Balance" and "On the Rocks" have been selected as DWP Auction Picks. Both are available for sale through the site.

Through all this, I'm still working on launching the cow, from my last post, and picked up my oil painting brushes to do a demo at the county fair, just to get something on the canvas. It's easier for me to do a demo in public using oil since people come by to chat, and of course, I want to talk with them, too. If you're in the middle of a watercolor wash and stop to talk, the timing can be lost and dreadful things happen that don't happen when painting in oil. Pix to come soon......

So through all this, every time I wonder what's it all for, something really cool happens to keep me going. Life is good.........

Monday, October 21, 2013

Launching the Cow......

The 2014 American Society of Aviation Artists forum is scheduled for April. Since we usually meet in June, this means all deadlines have been bumped up two months, including the Call for Entries for the exhibition. If I want to have anything reasonable to show for my time, it was apparent that I'd better get busy.

But what to take off my full plate? I decided to take a two month leave from singing with my chorus to get some work done. This hiatus, although short, would still be filled with projects, including private music lessons, but without the amount of administrative functions I'd allowed myself to take on. It would be an opportunity to dust off some of the "great painting ideas" that had been shoved aside the past couple of years. The first folder to emerge from the dusty file pile contained sketches of a JN4 (Jenny) in a field of cows. I contacted my long time friend and mentor, Charles Thompson, and announced that it was time to launch the cow- again.

The original idea was to tell the story of a pilot ready to take off from a field only to be hindered by cows. This was eventually sketched out to include one cow, obviously in the way. I sent off the sketches which were promptly returned via email by Charles with his ever useful advice on composition and values.

He also suggested that the cow and the pilot make some sort of eye contact. Hmmm. Not being sure of how a cow could reasonably look up at a pilot in a cockpit, I ventured off to the local pasture the following morning to do some research.

The closest cow population is fed at 0730 when the farmer comes with hay on a flatbed truck. Since I walk daily at 0700, this was not a stretch for timing. I poured a cup of coffee, walked down to the pasture and waited. The cows languished lazily, some lying down, some standing. After awhile one wandered away. No farmer yet, though. Soon another and another wandered away from the fence and sauntered toward the farther fence. Still no farmer. They weren't worried. I wanted another cup of coffee. Patience, I thought.

Eventually they all began strolling lazily toward the far fence. Then I heard the sound of the truck- the farmer cometh. Empty. He went right past the field- and me- and after awhile came back loaded with hay, driving around the corner and down the other road to where the cows were waiting. By the south gate!!! I hoofed it around the corner as his farm hand unlocked the gate to let the truck in. The farmer drove along through the pasture while the hand tossed hay from the back of the truck with cows ambling along behind, unconcerned and yet confident that their breakfast would be served in due time.

Patience. It occurred to me that my normal Tigger mentality was hindering not only my previously way too full schedule, but also the composition of the painting. Instead of doing a painting of a hurried pilot locking eyes with a cow, why not a hurried pilot with a cow that doesn't give a rip?

I went home and sketched out a new composition with the cow in an "I don't give a rip" stance which I sent off to Charles for review. We'll see. I'm feeling better about having a little time to shift focus and complete some tasks in a less hurried manner, perhaps with an even more bovine mentality......

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Okay! I'm hooked on plein air painting!

Well how cool was THAT!!!

Arrived at Camaraderie Cellars for the "Quick Draw" event at about 0830 this morning. We had two hours exactly- from 9-11 AM- to do a painting on the grounds of the winery. Finished pieces were to be delivered and checked in at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center by noon.

I chose to do a watercolor/pen & ink in the journaling style that would incorporate the morning's activity. Featured were some of the artists painting along with the owner's dog, who manages to be an integral part of all dynamics on the premises. If you are local and haven't been to Camaraderie yet, do make it a point to go out and sample the fine wines, enjoy the scenery and just relax! It was a great two hours!

Adding to the wonderful time painting and enjoying time with other artists, my little "quick draw" piece sold!

Since we had to pick up any unsold work at 4 PM, I decided to stay in Port Angeles, have some lunch and visit with the other artists. I met some really incredible and inspiring talent! Learned a lot, too.

1) I don't have to work so hard- keep it simple.
2) No need to do so many paintings- although entering juried exhibitions is a lot like cooking spaghetti where you throw pasta onto the wall and see what sticks. One never knows what a judge will accept, much less give an award to.
3) Jurying is subjective. The judge said so- and I suspected this all along. He said he could come back tomorrow and have a different perspective.
4) Therefore, the main objective is paint what's in your heart and have fun!

Oh- and another shout out to the Joyce General Store- that painting sold, too! Whoop!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Plein Air Painting- Yes, me!!

 So many of my friends are plein air painters. Perhaps it's my many years of living in Alaska, specifically Kodiak where the average number of sunny/partly sunny days comes to about 130, is why it never occurred to me to do much painting outdoors. Frankly, I think there are fewer than 130 sunny days in Kodiak, but I can't argue with statistics. That doesn't take into account the windy days and the cold days. But we're here now, in sunny Sequim, Washington, where we have a LOT of sunny days.

So when the Peninsula Fine Arts Center of Port Angeles came up with Paint the Peninsula, I thought, why not?

Participants have to have all of their substrates stamped for the event, meaning every canvas, every board, every watercolor needs to say "Paint the Peninsula" on the back. We have September 4, 5, 6 to paint plein air, and turn in our work for jurying on Saturday, September 7, one of which will be accepted into the show/sale that will be held Saturday night. Sunday is an added opportunity with a Quick Draw (timed two hour painting session) at Camaraderie Cellars. By Sunday I will really be needing a glass of wine. (Actually, I needed one last night, and will most likely follow suit tonight!)

Here's how it's going so far:
Yesterday my husband and I drove 30 miles to a town called Joyce, Washington, since it was on the list of recommended places to paint. We stopped at the Joyce General Store, Est 1911. If you can't find what you're looking for in there you probably don't need it. Two things I forgot to bring- an eraser (I know, I know. But it's a security thing.) which they had a fishbowl full of at 10 cents each, and oil painting medium. No art supplies in the general store, but I bought a small bottle of olive oil. Extra virgin. Five bucks. Works fine.

While I was remembering how to untangle the easel, my husband struck up a conversation with Leonard, the store's owner. Leonard's wife's grandfather built the store as a mercantile for the loggers. Leonard is 81 years old. He knows a lot.

While I painted away, finding not much satisfaction in my work, I might add, there were numerous people who stopped by to chat, ask questions, or just look. The day was overcast, so there was little in the way of contrasting values to add interest to my painting. But I found the most interest to be in the people- people who are fiercely proud of their town, their store and their history. Leonard was sporting a sweatshirt which he designed that read "University of Joyce- Mea Culpa Non." That's Latin for "Not my fault." I had to buy a sweatshirt. With it comes a document -signed by Leonard- that is a "Degree in Insignificance." Too many people, he said, put credence in their degrees. When he was in the working world, outside of Joyce, the only reason they looked at degrees for potential employees was if they made it through college, they probably had the tenacity to get a job done. If their transcripts showed good grades, then chances are they had good enough attendance and paid attention.

I told Leonard I attended the School of Hard Knocks and majored in Situational Awareness. He liked that.

After four hours of painting, I did a small sketch in the journaling style which took about a half hour, and we headed for lunch at the Blackberry Cafe where Roxanne makes the best blackberry pie we'd ever tasted! She has a bunch of first place ribbons from the Clallam County Fair to prove it, too.

As we drove out of town, we crossed bridges sporting signs that read "Itsa Creek" and "Uppa Creek."

The people of Joyce are pretty cool.

Forecast for thunderstorms. Swell. Started out seeing lightning over the Olympic Mountains. Counted "one chimpanzee, two chimpanzee, etc." Got to 10 or 12 before the thunderclaps made me jump. But....I paid my entry fee, so let's saddle up and go!

First to a farm out Port Williams Road about 10 minutes from home. Found a way to set up with the easel protected under the hatch of the minivan and painted the field, the mountains, the clouds. Life is good. Canada geese are on the move everywhere this time of year, but since it's plein air, they go by too fast to be in the paintings. (When I do some studio work from photos later on, the geese will be featured.) In between rain showers, things worked pretty well.

Next stop, John Wayne Marina to work on a little sailboat with a picturesque reflection in the still water. The "in between rain showers" was the drive from point A to point B. The actual painting session was plagued with thunder, lightning, pouring rain, and feeling good about being close to home where I know the paramedics.

Third stop, 3 Crabs Road, which dead ends at the water's edge where I could see the Dungeness Lighthouse in the distance, and lightning strikes out over the Straits. This painting turned out to be one quick study, since I was finally getting the hang of working on location, what to bring, how to set up the vehicle for efficiency and get the most out of this new experience.

More progress tomorrow......Additional images to come later!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Workshop Groupie!

Since moving to the lower 48, I vowed to take more workshops. They are fun, informative and a way to get away from the studio for a couple of days to do something other than production. A place I really enjoy going is Cole Gallery in Edmonds. It's an hour and a half away, including the ferry trip across the strait, with a nice Best Western within walking distance of  the gallery and everything else downtown, including quirky shops and great food. Besides, Denise Cole manages to get some great instructors to come to her little place, and if you forgot anything in the way of supplies, the Art Spot is close enough to dash over on a break and pick up something.

This time, I attended a portrait painting class taught by Michael Maczuga. His work is vibrant, loosely impressionistic, colorful and exciting. All stuff I can use. We started Friday's session with a (gulp) color wheel. I know about color wheels. I taught art in Alaska for 18 years, right? Well, this was a color wheel like I'd never done before, not to mention that we were using REAL oil paint- not the water soluble oils that I've been enamored with for the past ten or so years. How, I wondered, would we be cleaning these brushes if we didn't use soap and water? You don't wanna know.  

From there we moved to painting real models. We started with a black and white study of values, and I was introduced to a really cool tool in the form of a plaster head which Mike placed alongside the nice young lady who was posing. From the plaster head we could refer to the planes and determine that wherever there is a plane change, there is also a value and temperature change. Well, who'd a thought?

Our next exercise became a psychedelic challenge in that colored lights were place around our model's head to help us think not in terms of flesh tones, but in values. Well known aviation artist R. G. Smith used to say that it doesn't matter what color it is as long as the value is right. So when Mike said it, it was not exactly new. Still, no matter how many times we hear these things, they need to be internalized so that they become automatic. My friend and mentor Charles Thompson always tells me that you don't paint a red airplane with red paint. Particularly a shiny one. There will be reflective colors from what is surrounding, and, well, it doesn't matter what color it is as long as the VALUE is right.

So we continued on this journey toward a final painting on Sunday afternoon. The model was delightful and we enjoyed painting her. Much of the information will take time to settle in, even though a good deal of it was not exactly new. It often takes hearing the same thing in different ways to make it happen. Now I can't wait to put these new-found old tactics into practices. As Mike says, better to have 100 starts and learn something every time than to spend all your time on one thing trying to fix it. Or something like that.