Saturday, November 30, 2013

Working Small

I got back into the studio this afternoon and did a couple little pieces. I had some pre-cut 5x7 mats with openings of about 4 3/4 x 3 1/4 and wanted to make a few pieces for those mats. 

I started with another scrap of UArt 400 grit paper. I had brushed off the previous class exercise to reuse the paper. I still had the pile of pastels out from the last painting, so I used these to get started and added a few as I went. Process shots below:

Here is the scrap paper on the left, with a reference photo on the right: You can see the ghost of the previous painting on the scrap.
 I started with lightly sketching in a design:

Finished painting:

I recently purchased some Multimedia Board for Pastels. This is a new surface for me, and it can be used in a variety of ways because it will not warp. Today though, I decided to just use it as a regular surface to see how the grit would hold the pastels. It doesn't feel very gritty, but it held many layers.

Below is the surface on the left with a quick sketch, and the reference photo on the right. I had intended to make this image fit within one of the pre-cut mats, but it ended up growing out of my boundary lines and it ended up being about a 4x6 painting.

The finished painting below. I liked the feeling of this surface and look forward to using it in the future for more complicated pieces.
 Here are the last three paintings with their mats:

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Slow Start

Today I puttered in the studio and then finally put some pastel to paper. This is just a tiny little painting on a scrap of UArt pastel paper.



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Stepping Back from a Painting

If you are an artist, you know that it is a good idea to step back from your painting regularly to get a better view. There are lots of tools artists use to look at their painting to see if it is working. Some use a mirror - either a big mirror across the room or a tiny makeup mirror held at an angle from their brow. Others turn their painting upside down. Some use a camera and may change from color to black/white to check values.

I know that stepping back is the best way, but sometimes when I am concentrating on a passage, I just want a quick view to lead me in the right direction. 

One neat little tool I use comes from my past quilting experience. Have you heard of a reducing glass? It is like a magnifying glass, but does the opposite - it makes the view look far away - just like you are looking at your painting from across the room! Jerry's has one that looks traditional, but it's pretty expensive:Jerry's- reducing-glass-lens And large!

But, I have a better version which is tiny. I keep one in my plein air gear and one in my studio. What I used in quilting design and now use for painting is a mini-reducing glass. Here is a link to one on Amazon: Dritz Design-Reducing-Tool and on JoAnn design-reducing-glass These are easy to find at your local JoAnn Fabrics in the quilting department. If you are a JoAnn coupon subscriber you can use your 40% off coupon on this. I recently found a brand new one at a thrift store for a couple bucks.

Actually, I believe these are door peephole viewers! I always forget to look in the hardware department to see what these cost - but I am sure they are less than the quilter's version. The advantage to the quilter's version is that it has a bright blue plastic sleeve in the middle with a hole to attach a cord. I am sure this makes it easier to find the thing in your gear, or you could put it on a cord around your neck!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Busy busy, but not in the Studio

I'm in one of my bi-annual artistic slumps. I've come to expect these times when I just can't seem to get motivated to paint. I usually get one about this time of year after the busy plein air season and another in late winter. 

I worked really hard this year, getting sites setup for my local plein air group. I think I only missed two paint-outs of the 30 sites I scheduled. One was because I was at a workshop and one other because I personally don't like the views at this particular site and it's a 45 minute drive, even though it is popular with our group.

I even did a survey and sent it to the group after the plein air season ended to get feedback for planning the 2014 locations. I found it was really easy using Google Docs to setup a really nice survey form, and it automatically tracks the results and puts it into pie charts and bar charts. I goofed that part up though, because I put some bogus responses in the results to test it, but all in all, it was really simple and gave good results. Not surprisingly, I only had about a quarter of our group respond. We have a really big email list, but only about 1/4 of those really paint with us, and those were the ones that filled out my survey.

Then, I was really busy getting the details for an artist's retreat for the group in 2014 worked out and getting people on board. I'm excited to have a larger group participating in the retreat for 2014. We'll have 20 people attending for a three-day retreat on Lake Erie. (This year, it was a very small group but the timing and day of the week for that one was probably the cause.)

I've come to realize I enjoy the planning part. I don't want to be in charge, but give me a project to plan and I'm in! Surprising to me, but I think I am getting more organized the older I get.

I've also been in one of my cleaning modes. Since I moved into my condo 3 1/2 years ago, I have continued to rearrange my studio and supplies. I have lots of storage space, but just not all in one place convenient to the studio. Hopefully this newest arrangement works. I am also known to be one to rid out stuff regularly - including clothes, knick-knacks, art supplies, etc. I hate having stuff stored away and not being able to find it when I want it, so I prefer to have less in storage. So I've been clearing away stuff to consignment stores, swap meets, charities, and ebay.

I also get those 'eye rolls' from my friends when I move all the furniture around in my place. They know that is just something I need to do regularly. My mother never ever moved furniture. I do it several times a year. I really love to get stuff moved out to clean well and then into a new arrangement. Makes it feel fresh and clean, and like a new place!

I have one last thing to take care of this week (replacing the dishwasher), and then maybe I'll feel like getting into the studio - maybe........

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Saturday Painting at the MAC, Black Surface

Today I went to the MAC to paint with the group. Bill had asked me to come and spend about 15 minutes talking about pastel papers and grounds. Then I did a pastel painting on one of my homemade surfaces.

I've been intrigued by numerous artists online who like to do what I call, "back alley" scenes. This was from a photo I took in Powell, Ohio.
"Traffic Jam -Stop or Yield?", 6"x8", pastel
I really enjoy working on black surfaces for both pastels and oils. This one was a piece of museum board that I coated with my mixture of black gesso, matte medium and pumice. I like the texture I create with this mixture, as you can see the brushes strokes which remind me of a woodcut.

Below are process shots along with my photo and thumbnail.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Easing Back into the Studio

I'm trying to get over my recent artistic slump. I have finished cleaning and organizing, and have no real excuse not to get in the studio and play. Today, I decided to just get in there and pull out a couple of recycled pastel papers and see what I could accomplish.

I did this exercise in Stan's class a few weeks ago. It was a good exercise, but I wanted to reuse the paper, since it was Wallis Belgian Mist, which is expensive.

So I rubbed off most of the pastel.
 I used this photo as inspiration.
 I got started with the first layer and decided to use aerosol fixative. I should have taken the painting into the garage to spray it. STINKY!! I closed the studio door for awhile, but it was still smelly, so went out for a few errands for awhile. It was a good decision. The weather was supposed to be nasty today, cold and overcast. But surprisingly, the day was beautiful! Bright sun which really brought out the beautiful fall colors which are at peak here right now. The clouds were as pretty as this photo - like colorful platters in the sky, or as someone said - imagine them as biscuits - to get the shape correct in your painting. I didn't get any photos today but sure was happy to be outside.

First layer with the fixative.
 Here is how I finished the painting. Not a masterpiece, but a good sketch to get back into the groove!
While I had my pastels out on my table and had another scrap of recycled pastel paper, I decided to do one in the style of Mary Silverwood. When I was in Santa Fe this spring, I found Mary's pastels in the Ventana gallery and really enjoyed her work. She worked in a very simple, graphic way. Unfortunately, Mary passed away in 2011.

Here is my attempt to emulate her style:

Looking Back

Recently on Facebook someone posted a picture of some really old pastels they were given as a gift. One was a box of Alphacolor pastels, which is the same brand I used in high school art class. That got me to thinking about digging out my old artwork. I knew I had a couple pastel drawings which I thought were pretty good at the time.

These are the two sketchbooks which I used in art class a couple years to turn in my homework. The teacher (Judy Felgar) would write the grade, and occasionally, a comment on each assignment. It was fun looking back at these and had to laugh at several of the comments!
If I would have heeded her words all those years ago, I'd be a much better artist today - "more lights and darks!" LOL

 PRACTICE - draw from life!!
Here are the two pastels I remember. My first pastels and I have loved using them ever since!
The first one below was drawn on Canson paper. We had an elaborate setup in the classroom, with fabric and props for drawing models and still lives. There will be many more versions of this scene in the following sketches.
 This was my first pastel on velour paper. Loved the feel of that paper.
I kinda like this one below. We did a lot of collages pasted with rubber cement.

I did many portraits and figures....

I even did some cloisonne metalworking - theses are some design sketches for that. Wish I had the finished piece to show you.
These things are kinda fun. They are made kinda like paper dolls or snowflakes where you fold the paper up and cut many at once. These appear to be 'rock stars'. Weird......

There are many more things in the sketchbooks, but this last one I am most proud of. 
In class, we were doing printmaking. Here is my original pencil drawing, followed by a sheet of hard plastic that was etched with an awl to create a printing plate:

 These are text prints.
 and I had to show you the back. The paper we tested on was scrap mimeograph paper! That really dates me! HA
 Here is the final print, which I entered into a local art contest, and won a Merit award!