Thursday, March 20, 2008

Close-up of Reed's Bay Playmates


This painting is a close-up of the three children playing on the rocks. It is 10 x 14, a quarter sheet of watercolor paper rather than the half sheet I paint on more frequently.

Again you'll see the s-shape composition. It seems to work well for these water paintings, and I love the left white which makes the figures pop. The painting has lots of wedging of land forms and water which holds the composition together.

I took reference photos on one day where I captured these kids in most of the photos. As I painted the same children yet again, I was reminded of my trip to Italy where my sister and I visited many museums. We began to realize that a painter would use the same model time and again--she might be the face of the Virgin Mary in one painting, Mary Magdalene the next. These little folks will most likely never know they were the inspiration for several pieces of art!
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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Reed's Bay again


To me, Reed's Bay is one of Hilo's most beautiful spots. On any decent day you'll see lots of activity: fishing, boating, swimming, and kids climbing on rocks. I've painted scenes from Reed's Bay before, and one small one got a lot of positive feedback.

In this painting, I've chosen to make a high key painting. (High key is a painting with very light, pale values.) I've used an "S" shape composition. See if you can see the s-shape formed by the white of the paper leading the viewer from the front to the back of the painting.

As always, I'm not sure if the painting is complete or not. I'll look at it for the next few days and read any comments coming in. Every comment is welcome, and often the best information comes from viewers other than artists, so don't be shy.
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"Hawaiian Charm" Heading back to Hawaii


Yesterday I shipped Hawaiian Charm to Honolulu for the Hawaii Watercolor Society show. I've always liked this painting and juror Tony van Hasselt must like it too, as he chose it for this show. Not surprisingly, it's spendy to ship these paintings around, especially to ship one across the Pacific. It would be great if it sells and I don't have to pay for it's return trip!
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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

In Search of a Title


This painting is based upon a photo I took of my granddaughter on a beach on the Big Island of Hawaii. The amazing thing to me is that this kid was so used to being around turtles, that she simply started playing in the sand next to the sunning honu fully aware that she was not to touch him or disturb him. She began to create a sand pile near him as if to include him in her play without need of his participation.

Title ideas:

The Old and the Young

An Offering

Parallel Play

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Revisiting "It Was a Good Year"

Sometimes painting is like writing. The story is so much in my head, that I fail to communicate essential details as happened with this painting. Truthfully, I expected a few comments, because I thought it was a pretty cool painting. But as the comments came in, very few actually addressed the piece itself. They were generalized comments, suspiciously avoiding the painting I'd posted. So I had a couple of conversations about it with my consistant viewers (family) and was enlightened. Where I thought it was obvious that the man was seated and either dozing or relaxed in his chair simply enjoying a good glass of wine and the sun, it turned out to be confusing. Was he asleep standing? Was he standing up at a bar? Was he drunk and about to fall over?

Well, I tackled the problem today and lifted with a wet sponge areas behind the figure to create a chair back. Now I hope it is easy to see him seated. In doing that, I also disturbed some of the implied plant leaves and stems, so needed to work on those a bit which meant adding a layer and thus more detail. I also warmed up and gave some texture to the two pots.

So it may be that this is a painting I need to paint again, with a better plan to tell my story, but I hope this reworked painting is more readable.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Tweek Here and There


After lunch, I went back out to the studio and worked on the piece I posted earlier. I added metallic gold to the sand to give the iridescent quality of sand and added sprays of paint off a toothbrush to add texture. The child is sifting sand down into a pile--an offering?

I added some people in the distance both in the water and onshore, and added some color and wave lines to the water.

I'd love to get some reactions to the changes.
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A Menal Trip Back to Hawaii Via Art

I've had a few days of feeling down about my artistic endeavors. Between a bad cold, a rejection from a competition and lack of inspiration, I've just not felt very positive. If I don't feel inspired, then the artwork really can't be viewed with the best eye either.

But the good news is that I get out to the studio and put in my time.

Yesterday I decided to go back to my Hawaiian theme. I love painting people, kids especially, but paintings of children are often seen as "precious."

This new piece has some really good things going for it I think. It's not done. The white area is just too big, but I haven't figured out how to handle it yet. I like the mix of colors I used in the rocks and background--it creates neutral, yet stimulating passages. Maybe the sand needs more detail, too. At this point I like it, and need to take my time to continue to enhance the story of the child and turtle, without leaving bland and uninteresting areas.

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Friday, March 7, 2008

Finishing touches


Well, Here it is. This morning I spent some time painting directly on the piece I'd used the mask and pour method. I do like how the focal point pops out. It does tell a story.

I'll look at the painting a few days as my blisters heal and contemplate using this technique again.
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Thursday, March 6, 2008

Reading leads to blisters and bad smells

I suspect I'm like many artists with shelves of books by other artists who have a particular technique they share within the 125+ pages of a hardbound book you can buy from an art book club. The other day I pulled down Jean Grastorf"s Pouring Light. Her technique involves masking out areas, pouring paint, masking and pouring several more times. As I read it with my morning coffee, I decided that I might give it a whirl. The reasons I haven't in the past were 1) I dislike using mask 2) I lack patience 3) I'm too cheap to want to pour paint down the drain.
The start: This is another Italy scene--an outdoor fruit and vegetable stand.
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The next step: more mask and pouring paint
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More masking and pouring
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Finally I felt that I had to peel off the mask or burst so I began. But unlike the examples in Ms. Grastorf's book where she peeled off the mask easily, mine sat there as I rubbed with my fingers until I developed blisters on both index fingers, scraped with credit cards, and wore out a huge gum eraser. I have to admit, the mask is very old. Does it die in the bottle? It certainly smelled like it, in fact, it smelled like a decaying animal. Did I make a mistake not using enough, or using it in too many layers. This is all new to me, so I can't answer those questions. Here's the result. It will take some further direct painting, but I see the appeal of the fresh and pure colors. I'll post the final painting which I'll work on tomorrow. For now I'm letting my blisters heal.
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Sunday, March 2, 2008

Photo used to create "It Was a Good Year"

By request

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Making decisions

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This painting is another of my Italy series based on my trip and photos from Aug./Sept. I loved this image of a lovely gentleman drenched by sunlight. The photo was taken in Vernazza in the Cinque Terra where the village streets are lined with these umbrellaed outdoor cafes. The photo I took has no wine glass, but I wanted to tell a story, so added the wine.

I had completed the figure and the loosely implied pots with plants yesterday. I chose a very dark background behind the figure to emphasize the man. Then I stopped short of completing the upper portion of the diagonally placed umbrella. My questions were about the colors to use, whether to make stripes or not, and how to apply the paint to help tell the story but not overwhelm the importance of the figure.

After mulling it over during the evening and perhaps even dreaming about it, this is how I completed it this morning. Below the image, I'll include my decision making process.

It Was a Good Year
18 x 21
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I decided to use a striped pattern because for me it creates a sense of place. I did not want the stripes to be precise and become dominant, so I painted them loosely, wet into wet. The painting is unified by warm colors, so the stripes continue with the browns, reds and grayed down blue, which is created by adding burnt sienna to the cobalt blue.

All in all, I think it's a successful painting that tells a story. As always comments are very welcome.

If you have had trouble leaving a comment, once again here's how.
- Click on the word comment at the bottom of the post where it reads "posted by Margaret at (time) comment." This will take you to the comment page.

- Write your comment in the space provided.

- Type in the coded letters.

- click on the anonymous button if you don't have a google name or password.

- Hit the "publish" button.

Thanks again to all of you who read my blog.

Revisiting an old painting

Winter Wetlands
14 x 20
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While looking through old (2+ years) the other day, I came across this one. Having arrived back in Oregon from Hawaii in the middle of winter, the theme resonated with me. Although I feel I've changed directions in my work, I still love the Oregon winter landscapes; the winter sky where the sun almost breaks through the clouds, the flocks of birds, the misty background.

When I pulled this piece out of a pile, it was appealing, but bland. I clipped it to my board and began to enhance the sky with French ultramarine. I saw that I needed to bring more attention to the focal area where the birds fly in to the rivulet, so darkening the sky brought a lot more drama to this piece.

One thing I've gained in the past couple of years is more confidence to be bold. I don't know if I think this is a particularly great painting, but I do respond to the subject matter and enjoyed the simplicity of improving it.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Noah's arrival

Who can resist a baby? Certainly not me, so I was delighted to be around for Noah's birth and to spend a week helping out my younger daughter and her family as they adjusted to Noah's arrival.

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The beautiful first grandson.

The two princesses who will protect him and boss him around--on the left, cousin Angelica and big sister Marin on the right.
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My husband Mike enjoys some snuggle time.
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I do enjoy being a grandparent.
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And now I have returned to my home, where the snow has melted and crocus are blooming and the evenings provide a cacophony of frogs from the ponds in the pasture.

This week I will get back to the rhythm of painting, posting, planning future art shows and gallery searches.

I am lucky to have such a full life!