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......

Monday, October 7, 2013

Brain Waves!

Talk about the brain swinging to and fro on a pendulum!

Being a working artist has its perks, but it was time to get away to a workshop again. To my delight I found two happening in the same weekend at Cole Gallery in Edmonds! Denise Cole manages to get the most energetic and interesting instructors, so I really looked forward to some time to play with art.

Friday night was a three hour session with the whimsical and contemporary acrylics of Jennifer Bowman. As a rule, I shy away from acrylics, preferring to work in watercolor (as a purist) and oil. But a getaway is just that- getting away from the norm and trying something new.

We started with wine and refreshments. Now THERE'S a way to start painting. Relax, Jennifer encouraged us! Although her work is contemporary (to some, that may mean abstract),we never deviated from the basics- the color wheel, composition, line, value, chiaroscuro, or the use of light against dark/dark against light. A  toned matboard provided the surface for a free hand drawn pear and some free-wheeling paint application, taking into consideration light source, shadow location and value to achieve drama and interest.

Then we got to throw paint. Yikes!

Next project, also drawn free hand, was a wine bottle. How to achieve a festive look was created with more paint spatters and squiggles.

Those of you who know me and how left brained I am can imagine how foreign this was. But the results were fun and imaginative, and yes, I learned something. It's okay to loosen up. Well, a little, anyway.

Saturday and Sunday's session with Eileen Sorg was more in my ballpark. Traditional, although equally whimsical,  we were given a predrawn image to transfer to hot press watercolor paper. Like acrylic, I shy away from hot press paper since it has a mind of its own and doesn't accept washes as well as cold press. But.....with the right instructor giving the tips and tools of the trade, I was amazed at how well we could get the hot press paper to behave. Plus, in order to accept the colored pencil accents, the paper needs to be smooth. A bumpy paper won't allow the detail she wanted us to achieve. We were also encouraged to try some of the granulating watercolors - something else I'd been leery of. In painting traditional watercolors, particularly skies, one of the things I try to avoid is granulation. But apparently it has its place.

Saturday, transfer the drawing. Ink in the darks. Apply watercolor backgrounds. Sunday, add the details and highlights with colored pencil. Found myself humming, "Heaven, I'm in heaven!"

The results on everyone's pieces were nothing short of awesome! Planning to try these techniques on some of my upcoming work and have already spent the morning going through reference material.

Get away, step out of your comfort zone, and have some fun. As I sign off all of my education articles for ASAA, Ancoro Imparo- I am still learning. (Michelangelo)