Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cherries and Peaches, In Progress

I had a brainstorm the other day when I was browsing the Inspiration All Around Us blog, and thinking about whether I wanted to try the current challenge or not.  I decided that I did, but that I wanted to experiment with a variation on the collage work I have done in the past.  Sometimes my collages are based on images, and sometimes I just "paint" with scraps of paper I find or alter. For this challenge I decided to combine a painting technique I learned from artist Shelby Keefe with my own collage work.  Keefe does beautiful impressionistic oil paintings that have under painting of complimentary colors.  Here I asked myself what would happen if I did a watercolor under painting in complimentary colors, then applied paper  in the colors of the design over that, being careful to leave some of the opposite color to peek through and enliven the image.

This first photo shows my source image, the current challenge photo (cropped), and the watercolor first layer.  I'm working on 140 lb. Arches paper here, which seems OK because the collage image is only 6x11 inches.  If it were larger I would work on something stiffer, like 300 lb. watercolor paper or illustration board.

I got out my envelopes of papers I have ready to go, sorted by color.  Some are used as is, some are old pages from vintage magazines, maps, or other papers which I have glazed with acrylic color thinned down with gel medium.  I try to use a variety of sizes, some with print, some plain. This stage has the yellow table cloth, with the blue peeking through in places.


The source photo has a neutral back wall, but I wanted something more lively, so I chose some turquoise papers, and let the yellow gold underneath show a bit.

I have not started the peaches or cherries, but have hope that they will be clear enough to recognize and interesting.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


5x7 inches, watercolor, rice paper, tissue paper collage

I did a couple collages in my recent workshop that didn't ring my chimes, and since they were in 300 lb. Arches paper, I just ripped them into small shapes and tried again on the back side.  I have wanted to try something with puffins since we visited Ireland a few years ago.  We took a little boat out to Skomer Island and saw zillions of the little clown-faced puffins.  The island is a sanctuary, so they were fearless, flying in and out of nooks and crannies in the rocks, often with their beaks loaded with little silver fish.  As cute as they are they smell to heaven of fish.

Anyway, I decided to paint this little guy in watercolor from a reference photo, then this afternoon I added some rice paper in the rocks and black tissue in the background.  Actually, I added some back acrylic ink to the bird to deepen the color.  My dear husband doesn't like it much, the way the bird almost merges with the deep background, but I rather do.  I guess in this case I only need to please myself.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wee Collage - and a poem for summer

3x3 inch collage, watercolor, altered papers, mulberry paper

Recently I attended a workshop that promised to be about combing watercolor and collage.  In the catalog the instructor used a bright, simple and contemporary looking illustration, and I hoped that he would demonstrate more of the same.  Alas, he did not.  Instead he painted rather conventional landscapes, then crumpled and attached colored tissue paper using half and half Elmer's glue and water.  I stuck with my Yes! paste so that I could go back into the collage with more watercolor and there wouldn't be an area that would not accept paint.

There were quite a few absolute beginners, both to painting and collage in the class, so he spent lots of time talking about basic composition and color mixing.  To be fair, I know how hard it is to have people of lots of different experience in a class, but I hoped for some new information for myself.

3x3 inches, watercolor and cut paper 

I enjoyed having three days to work nonstop on experimenting with watercolor and collage, so that was good.  I didn't feel particularly inspired, and I really didn't learn any new techniques, which wasn't so positive.  I have to say that other art bloggers on the internet and information I have gleaned from reference books helped me more.

3x3 inches, watercolor and cut paper

It's hard to believe that the solstice has already passed, and days will begin getting shorter again.  Still, everything is blooming madly in my little corner of the world, and the mosquitoes are out in force, so summer must be here.  On hot days I like all my cool shade, but sometimes I wish I had a sunny area for growing vegetables and drying sheets outside.  Hence the poem:

A Sweet Breath
by Jolene Hansen in the 2010 Wisconsin Poets Calendar

I love to hang the wash outside,
feel the sun in the morning,
smell the roses and the basil in my garden,
feel the thythms as I bend, shale and pin,
watch the shirts flap as the wind catches their tails.

And remember my mother, arms laden
with sheets stiff and disciplined by the wind,
and me, sliding into bed between the sheets,
the scent of lilacs slinging
to the sweet breath of laundry dried outside.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Slump?

contour drawing with watercolor in a sketchbook

Last summer I took an evening figure drawing class at UW Madison, and was very excited and engaged in working from direct observation, something I do fairly infrequently.  The only difficulty for me was that Madison is 40 miles away, which requires almost an hour driving each way.  The class got over at 10:00 PM, which is late for me, and there was lots of road construction which added to my frustration.  So, I thought I had the problems solved when I enrolled in a class called "Figurative Painting" on Sunday mornings this summer.

The timing is fine, and I like being able to drive during the day, but this class also has a couple frustrations for me.  For one thing, most people are painting in oil, a medium that I am just learning.  I did use oil one week, and liked the results well enough.  It's just that I don't want oil paintings of people reclining in chairs.  What do I DO with the darn things later?  Also, instead of there being a series of poses, this is a three hour session with one pose.  Every week someone reclines in the overstuffed chair, and sits there for the entire time.  I understand that the model needs to be comfortable, but they also look bored, and I hate to admit it, but I am too.  

ink and watercolor in my sketchbook

The way I have been trying to deal with this is by doing series of quick draws, some on paper in a medium-sized sketchbook, some on Tyvek, some on Arches watercolor paper.  This time I even moved around a little to get a different vantage point, but the studio is rather crowded, and I don't want to disturb other people who are slaving over one painting.

charcoal and watercolor on Tyvek

Of these three, the last one is the one I worked longest on, and I like it least.  It seems stiff, and perhaps a little long in the torso.  My color choices weren't too exciting either.  Looking at my efforts from Sunday and seeing what I've written makes me think I just need an attitude adjustment.  Maybe I should just go out and pull crabgrass for a while.

Friday, June 11, 2010

New Collage: Leaf Lady

6x6 inches, found and created papers, thread, leaf skeleton

I finally got upstairs to the studio this afternoon to do some cutting and pasting.  I've been preoccupied with getting ready for a couple upcoming family reunions by updating my family history information, organizing photos and so on.  Then there is the deck, which has needed scrubbing, scraping and re-staining (in between rain storms).  We won't even think about the figure painting class, which is fun but leaves me wondering what to do with the paintings, or the books I'm trying to get read before scheduled discussions.  How did I ever have time to work?

I need to go back upstairs and organize my papers and paints, since this next week I have a workshop on combining watercolor and collage at the Peninsula Art School in Fish Creek.  I adore collage, but I struggle with ways to keep the paraphernalia organized and usable.  Yesterday I made a glorious mess by soaking old pages of a National Geographic magazine with Citra Solv, an orange scented cleaner that somehow dissolves the ink on the pages.  It was great fun, and I used part of one of the resulting papers in this collage (across the top behind the lady).  I hope I can incorporate some of the new papers in the workshop.

Speaking of Door County, I was thrilled to have a painting accepted into the juried show at the Hardy Gallery in Ephraim.  That means it gets to stay until mid July, and I can go north once more later this summer.  A little plein air painting I have in a show at the Beloit Fine Arts Incubator sold, so more good news.

Friday, June 4, 2010


5x7 inches, watercolor in Moleskine notebook, painted for a challenge at Paint and Draw Together

How did being retired get so busy?  At least in arty things, I've been scrambling.  I entered a watercolor of a fish in a juried show at the Hardy Gallery in Door County, had to deliver it two hundred miles mile last Friday, and am waiting to hear if it gets to stay there longer or if I need to have my sister-in-law collect it for me.  I also have a couple plein aire paintings from 2008 at the Beloit Fine Arts Incubator, and had to frame one and get both delivered last Thursday.  There's a reception tonight that I'm not going to make.  A good friend had a reception for her solo show at the Monroe Art Center last night, so we drove out there.  There is a little commission I have started, and need to finish, but haven't mostly because the studio has been so darned hot.  The weather has cooled down some, so it's not so bad working up there today, hence this little watercolor for an online challenge.

The strawberry puts me in the mood to make strawberry rhubarb pie.  Sister-in-law gave me a pick pile of rhubarb stalks, and I made sauce, but still have some left.  It may be time to bake.

UPDATE - I was juried into the Hardy show!  Time for pie.