Monday, January 30, 2012

First Portrait for Julia Kay Portrait Party

5x7 inches, acrylic on paper

I've been posting most of my artwork on Flickr for a few years, and have gotten to know some other artists and photographers on that site.  For the past couple years I've found myself admiring the portrait work that people have been submitting for a communal art project called Julia Kay's Portrait Party, so I finally decided to apply to join the group.  I had to submit some photos of myself, which is something of a challenge, and now other people are painting and drawing from the photos I uploaded.  It's fascinating, though not so good for the old ego.

For my first portrait I decided to paint a person I've gotten to know from the Shelfari book site, and also from Flickr. I've never actually met Monique, who is a painter and photographer and reader who lives in Belgium, but from writing back and forth to her over the years I feel as if I've gotten to know her.  After staring at her photograph all afternoon I am pretty sure that if I met her somewhere, in an airport, whilst hiking in Wales, or even on the streets in Belgium, I might know her.

This is a little painting, 5x7 inches, acrylic on a piece of recycled mat board that I coated with gesso.  I decided to not obsess about getting a perfect likeness, and I can honestly say I didn't.  But I gave it my best shot in one painting session, and I hope we're still friends after this.

My goal is to do at least one of these portraits a week, and to use the challenge as a way to focus on experimentation.  I just want to have fun with other people's faces.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Simply Delicious

6x6 inches, acrylic on paper

Summer tomatoes are the stuff of dreams only these days, which could be part of the reason I decided to do another online challenge.  I painted this bowl of vine-ripened tomatoes for Paint and Draw Together.  Apart from the summery subject matter, I liked the dramatic lighting of the original photograph.   My favorite part of my interpretation is the color and modeling on the tomatoes; my least favorite part is the hard edges between the tomatoes and the dark background, and the foliage on the right.  The leaves disappear into the shadows, but I had trouble with the transition from light to dark.  Still, I like my painting, which looks more appealing in person than this scan shows.

One of the things I like best about occasionally painting for an online challenge is the opportunity it affords to see how other artists approach the source photo.  I'm looking forward to studying some of the other resulting paintings.

For this and other art challenges, see the sidebar of this blog.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Challenged Again - Virtual Paintout, Summit County, CO

6x6 inches, acrylic on watercolor paper
 Breckenridge, Colorado

It has been ages since I've participated in an online painting challenge.  One of my favorites is Bill Guffy's Virtual Paintout, which chooses a different location around the world each month and challenges people to use Google Street View to select a scene and then paint it.  He includes the paintings on his site and on Facebook.  I wanted to give this one a try for a couple reasons.  First, we finally are buried in snow after a balmy start to winter in southern Wisconsin, and I thought I should paint a snowy scene.  Next, we've actually vacationed in Breckenridge a couple times in the summer, have driven around the whole area, hiked the streets, everything except skied.

It takes a while to do these challenges, even in a small format.  I virtually drove all over Breckenridge, up in the mountains, over at Keystone and the whole area searching for a scene that grabbed me.  Then planning and actually painting took several hours.  Finally there are rules for submitting these challenges, including resizing the image to fit Guffy's requirements, something I never remember how to do from time to time.  I think I did it correctly, but I'll have to wait to see if it shows up with the other submissions. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Snowy Day Hearts

Instead of venturing out to visit my art group, or having lunch with the Art League, I decided to stay inside today.  It's eight degrees, snowy, and I am in semi-hibernation mode.  My idea of fun when it's cold outside is to do indoors things, like ferreting out family history from New England, reading, watching movies, or working in the studio.  It's not very hearty of me, especially when friends are posting on Facebook about skiing and sledding, but there you are.

These little pieces are 5x7 inches, collaged bits of old paper and stamps.  Then I drew in the heart, and painted in the solid part with tinted gesso.  I have hopes that someone will buy them for Valentines Day, but if not, they were a fun experiment.  I have quite a few old stamps saved for projects like this, and wish I had more of the Love stamps.

There is a big snow storm predicted for tomorrow, so I may do more of the same.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I Need to Stop This

6x6 inch monotype, with watercolor pencil, gouache, and acrylic ink

So, today was interesting in a not-so-fun way.  After a gloriously snow free winter so far, it snowed starting at about breakfast, and it's still snowing.  I wouldn't care, retired geezer that I am, except I had promised to demonstrate my method of doing monotypes to the small artist group that meets each Thursday at a senior center in Milton, a town about eight miles away.  I had already packed a container with all the materials, samples, typed up directions to take along, so I decided that the small amount of snow that had fallen by 9:30 was not going to stop me, a former farm girl who knows how to drive in snow, from showing up.

Thing is, it stopped all the other people, except one intrepid soul.  We had a good time, and we both made it home in one piece, but it was no fun driving when there was no assurance that the car was going to stop at signs and traffic lights.  The roads were very slippery, and I don't see me going out for a while.  Time to hunker down with some tea, a novel, and the cat on my lap.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Another Featured Creature in Monotype

6x6 inches, monotype, acrylic ink and watercolor on masa paper

Here's one more small monotype, this time from a photo I took on a bicycle ride years ago.  I've tried more than one to capture this pig the way I remember him (her?) - and this isn't too bad.  I wish the tint I added to the snout was more orange.  I may try to adjust it later, but for now I am going to let it rest.

Monday, January 2, 2012

More Monotype Experimentation

5x7 inches, monotype printed on a page from a cheese factory ledger, with acrylic ink and gouache

I've had a black and white photo of my father holding two kittens that I've meant to paint.  Today instead of actually painting from the image I decided to see if my montoype technique would work on a different sort of paper.  A friend gave me several old cheese factory ledgers from about 1917, so I used a sheet for this project.  I wasn't sure how the slightly glossy and old paper would accept the paint, or how it would dry.  The paint transferred fairly well, and the paper dried relatively flat, which surprised me.  The paper has printing and handwriting on it, which I thought would be interesting, though I didn't plan for "crops growing" to be emblazoned in the middle of his sweater.  I also regret not being more careful to lay the plate on the ledger paper so it was straight.  Next time I'll do better.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Gator Monotype, Step by Step

Since I'm not keen on watching television football, I took advantage of the windy gray day to work on another monotype.  Years ago when we visited the Audubon zoo in New Orleans I snapped a photo of a pair of alligators.  Between working on a print of turtles earlier in the week and writing about Swamplandia! yesterday, I just had to dig out the 'gators from my files.  You can see a 5x7 inch black and white copy of the photo at the top of the photo.  I drew their outlines on a sheet of Yupo with a black Sharpie, then lay down a thin layer of monotype base, and black monotype paint over that, then worked by using brushes and a sharpened twig to lift out the light areas.  Then I left to allow the paint to air dry.

 When the plate was dry, I put a piece of masa rice paper in the sink to soak, then let some of the water drip off, and then placed the damp paper over the prepared plate.  Then I used an old wooden doorknob to apply pressure to the two layers, causing the paint to release onto the paper.  You could rub either side, but I rubbed the Yupo side, since it is sturdier.

It's easy to gently separate the layers to check and see if the paint is transferring.  When you are satisfied, pull the paper sheet from the Yupo layer.  The Yupo can be washed with soap and water and used again.  The damp print goes between sheets of clean kraft paper or paper towels, with some weight on top so it dries flat.  Sometimes I just wait, and sometimes I cheat and speed the drying by gently ironing the damp print between clean paper towels until it is dry and flat.

This is what the Yupo plate with the Sharpie design and the freshly pulled print looked like this afternoon.

This is what the print looked like after I went back into it with some watercolor pencils for subtle color, diluted black acrylic ink to deepen some dark areas, and white gauche to lighten other areas. I tinker with the prints until I am satisfied with the shapes and contrasts, but I do not strive for details, since part of the charm of these prints is their rather unpredictable irregularities.  Irregularities seem just right for creatures like alligators.  I may still go back and adjust the back of the bottom 'gator.

Happy New Year to all of you. I wish us all healthy, energy, and courage to keep working and not fear failure.