Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Couple Miniatures for Tiny Treasures

Both paintings 2.5x3.5 inches, acrylic on watercolor paper

I was approached by a person online who wanted me to create an artist trading card sized painting of a raven, with the understanding she would send me something she had done.  I haven't gotten into ATCs very much, but since I enjoy working small I did a little series.  Each card started out with some altered tissues and National Geographic pages, but all that ended up being buried under acrylic paint.  What remains is the texture, which was, in the end, impossible for me to photograph without getting reflections.  If I had photographed before I varnished, I would have been OK, but I got impatient.  That's not a good thing.

I plan to send these small paintings to the Wisconsin Regional Art Program for their annual Tiny Treasures fund raiser.  Artists create ATC sized paintings, pay a small fee, then the paintings are all sold to raise money for the organization.  In addition, the entries are judged.  There are some cash awards, and the winners are printed in a pocket calendar.  I was happy last year to have my painting chosen for the cover of the calendar. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Almond Kisses

This is the finished version of my Hershey almond kisses.  I'm not sure it has much of a "Wow" factor, but I had fun with trying to capture the reflections on the foil wrapper, and the little paper strip was interesting to do as well.  I'm thinking now that the chocolate looks like dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate, but it's going to stay as it is.

Tonight we watch the Oscars.  Both of us are compulsive movie watchers, and have been since we started dating in the early 1970s.  Over the years we have almost never missed the Oscars, and have an ongoing contest to see who is a better picker of award winners.  He wins more than I do, though with all the internet analysis we've been much closer in our choices, which takes some of the fun out.  Still, I'm looking forward to setting in with snacks and beverages, and my check sheet in hand.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Considering Chocolate

5x7 inches - acrylic on canvas board

This is my plan for a painting of two Hershsey's almond kisses.  I made the mistake of buying a bag of these little treats before Valentines Day, and we are hooked.  Anyway I painted this little value study and my husband told me it was hard for him to see what the it is.  "They're just shapes," was his comment.  I told him,"You're right, Sweetie!"  Tomorrow I'll add the color with oil paint.

I guess I should not show my work to friends or family, especially if I'm in the least ungenerous mood.  I took a couple things to show at my local painting group and found myself annoyed about well-intentioned critical comments.  I understand completely that they felt helpful, but I bristled at all of them.  I either need to learn to stay home when I'm in that sort of mood or find more gracious ways to accept criticism.  One thing I sometimes remember to say when I don't necessarily agree with what someone says is "You might be right." On the other hand, maybe we all need to ask before we offer advice, and see if it's welcome.  Next week maybe I'll take along a little bag of chocolate just to be sure we're all happy with each other.

The Prelude
By Matthew Zapruder

Oh this Diet Coke is really good,
though come to think of it it tastes
like nothing plus the idea of chocolate,
or an acquaintance of chocolate
speaking fondly of certain times
it and chocolate had spoken of nothing,
or nothing remembering a field
in which it once ate the most wondrous
sandwich of ham and rustic chambered cheese
yet still wished for a piece of chocolate
before the lone walk back through
the corn then the darkening forest
to the disappointing village and its super
creepy bed and breakfast. With secret despair
I returned to the city. Something
seemed to be waiting for me.
Maybe the “chosen guide” Wordsworth
wrote he would even were it “nothing
better than a wandering cloud”
have followed which of course to me
and everyone sounds amazing.
All I follow is my own desire,
sometimes to feel, sometimes to be
at least a little more than intermittently
at ease with being loved. I am never
at ease. Not with hours I can read or walk
and look at the brightly colored
houses filled with lives, not with night
when I lie on my back and listen,
not with the hallway, definitely
not with baseball, definitely
not with time. Poor Coleridge, son
of a Vicar and a lake, he could not feel
the energy. No present joy, no cheerful
confidence, just love of friends and the wind
taking his arrow away. Come to the edge
the edge beckoned softly. Take
this cup full of darkness and stay as long
as you want and maybe a little longer.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


   11x14 inches, oil on canvas

My head has been telling me I should do a series of larger collage paintings and consider a local show, but lately my heart wants to play with learning to use my water mixable oils and to paint people.  So, I painted the woman who makes me my vanilla lattes about once a week.  I didn't want the emphasis to be on her face, but rather her overall posture, and what she's doing.  While I'm not sure this is a very strong painting, I like the idea and having a good time, so I think I'll try others of local people at work. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Draw and Paint Together Challenge: Kiwi

This week I took a break from doing portraits, and tried a technique I'd read about, but never attempted. The challenge blog Draw and Paint Together had dramatic photo of a cut up kiwi that appealed to me, so I drew it on an inexpensive canvas covered panel, and then rendered a value study of the image in graphite gray and white acrylic paint.  I worked to made the right side of the kiwi, which is in shadow, but also has some reflected light, suggest the shape of the fruit.

Today I got out my water mixable oils out, along with a medium which is supposed to speed up drying time.  I used the oils quite transparently, and was pleased at how well the lights and darks of the acrylic under painting showed through.  It made painting the colors relatively quick.  I had fun with the project, and hope to try this technique more. I had trouble photographing the finished painting, and there are some reflections on the right side.  I'm going to have to find a way to work around this problem.

8x10 inches, oil on canvas board

I was inspired to look up a little more about kiwifruit on Wikipedia.  Apparently it is native to China, and was formerly known as the Chinese gooseberry.  Other named included the Macaque peach, Vine pear, Wood berry, and Hairy Bush Fruit. An importer in in the early 1960's received negative feedback for these names, and suggested using a short Maori word instead, and today the name kiwifruit, or just kiwi, is accepted globally.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pepe, For JKPP

5x7 inches
oil on gessoed mat board

So far all the portraits I've done have been of women, so I tried this one of a man named Pepe.  He has a wonderfully expressive face.  I had so much fun with the water soluble oils on my painting of my husband holding his coffee that I used the paints again for this interpretation.  If you visit the Julia Kay Portrait Party page with his reference photos you can see how other people interpreted his expressions.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Coffee With Cream, and a Poem

11x14 inches, oil on canvas

Last fall my husband and I spent a week at Dillman's Resort, where I took an excellent workshop by Robert Burridge, and my husband did his best to explore the area by bicycle, despite heavy rains.  One of my favorite memories is the mornings we talked down to the pier with our coffee, and listened to the cries of loons out on Sand Lake. I painted this from a photo I took one morning, and remembering the beauty of that fall day is helping me deal with late winter.

[Over a cup of coffee]

By Stephen Dobyns

Over a cup of coffee or sitting on a park bench or
walking the dog, he would recall some incident
from his youth—nothing significant—climbing a tree
in his backyard, waiting in left field for a batter's
swing, sitting in a parked car with a girl whose face
he no longer remembered, his hand on her breast
and his body electric; memories to look at with
curiosity, the harmless behavior of a stranger, with
nothing to regret or elicit particular joy. And
although he had no sense of being on a journey,
such memories made him realize how far he had
traveled, which, in turn, made him ask how he
would look back on the person he was now, this
person who seemed so substantial. These images, it
was like looking at a book of old photographs,
recognizing a forehead, the narrow chin, and
perhaps recalling the story of an older second
cousin, how he had left long ago to try his luck in
Argentina or Australia. And he saw that he was
becoming like such a person, that the day might
arrive when he would look back on his present self
as on a distant relative who had drifted off into
uncharted lands.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Ujwala, Reinterpreted

altered version of 5x7 inch monotype

I did one more portrait today for the Julia Kay Portrait Party, this time of an artist living in Sri Lanka whose portraits and figurative work I have admired for several years.  But my monotype, which I enhanced with watercolor, was paler and pinker than this, which was pretty but didn't seem right.  I decided to play with the image on Photo Elements, and ended up liking this version best.  Perhaps I will try and paint another version using this one as a source. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Kathleen for JKPP

5x7 inches, monotype with added acrylic ink

Another small portrait for the Julia Kay Portrait Party, this time of Kathleen, who is younger looking and more attractive than this portrait suggests.  Still, I enjoy the process of making hand pulled monotypes, like the expressiveness of the way each brush stroke shows. The three portraits  I did this week all are very different; in fact they look like they might have been done by different people.  Part of me wants to work in a recognizable style, but part of me rebels at self-imposed rules.  Nuts to silly restrictions!

The week had its ups and downs with regard to my art.  A collage that has been at a local gallery for about a year finally went home with someone, which felt good to me.  But I had to go collect three large watercolors from another venue, where they probably had become over familiar to folks in that area.  I left some smaller collage work and novelty pieces appropriate for Valentines day.  We shall see,

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Happy Painter, for Julia Kay's Portrait Party

5x7 inches, oil on gessoed mat board

I took another stab at a painting based on a photo of a person I know from online groups.  This time my victim is Donna Mulholland, aka The Happy Painter. Donna's art journals and her blog are filled with clear bright color and an upbeat attitude, so I decided to try and capture some of that cheerful intensity in my interpretation of the photo she posted on Flickr.   I decided to work as quickly as possible, with a larger brush than I was comfortable with, and I intentionally let some of the complementary under painting, done in acrylic, show through.  Not counting the drawing and under painting, I spent about an hour on this little portrait. 

Now the hard part for me, a person who usually works in watercolor or acrylic - letting it dry.  Patience is not my long suit.