Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sometimes It's Easy

Every once in a while I find having a studio out in the barn has its advantages. For this start, I wanted to wet parts of my full sheet of watercolor paper and pour diluted acrylics into the wet parts to give it a transparent look. Setting up outside my studio is easy--one horse mounting step, a bucket of clean water, 3 containers of paint and plenty of earth to absorb my mess.

My initial idea was to create a water backdrop for another "River Tapestry" painting. The beginning of those paintings always start with some good water rapids, so after the first pouring had dried, I put a dark background at the top to make the biggest splashy parts pop.

Next, I started to add the white acrylic and ink to create splashing and action and movement. When I stepped back to look at where I might place the window or windows to weave my tapestry around, I found that I loved it all, as is. I even called my husband (the rower) out to verify that I had really captured a wonderful rapid, and that it would be a shame to do away with any of it.

If you read my previous blog, you'll know that a finished painting can take a year, so to have one come out successfully in a couple of days is a rarity. Now all I need is a name.

Monday, January 27, 2014

One Painting: A Year of Tweaking

After meeting with a critique group last Friday, I found myself once again adjusting and adapting Taken Under the Wing in preparation for entering it in yet another competition. As I looked at past images of this painting, I was surprised to see that the first version of Taken Under the Wing was posted on January 22, 2013, just a year ago. I really liked this painting and had so many positive remarks from friends and viewers, that I thought it was pretty much perfect.

Taken Under the Wing - 1/22/2013
I can't remember when I first sent the image off to a competition, but I remember getting a national level juror's critique and suggestions last April. At that time I worked on the bottom of the painting, adding more color and eliminating the gold underpainting. I really thought this painting was my ticket to a show at the national level.

Taken Under the Wing April - October 2013
But it wasn't . . . Another big name in watercolor told me the main reason the painting didn't make it into a big show was that the dark wing on the left led the viewer out of the painting. ( This just leads the judge's eye to the painting on the left of yours!)

After softening the dark edge of the wing, I sent an image into yet another competition and, you guessed it, another rejection.

That led me to conclude that this painting was way to precious to me. I needed to step back and stop looking at it as "this is as good as it gets," but rather, "how can I take this to the level I believe it can be?" So I took it to two different groups this month and asked them to look at it with a really critical eye and help me bump it up. And then I truly listened. 

(A side note: your friends and fellow artists can tell when you aren't open to suggestions. When you have that "too precious" attitude about a piece of work, they aren't going to pick apart a painting.)

Here's the iteration after meeting with group 1. I moved where the wing meets the bird's body in the left hand side heron. I added more true darks and enhanced the birds' details. I also added some lights to the tree's needles.
Taken Under the Wing  1-18-2014

And below you can see the changes I made after meeting with group 2 on this past Friday. I did three things: I lifted some passages on the dark wing to give it variation and bounce from the other wing, I defined the legs a bit more, and (the most dramatic change) I darkened the lower right-hand area of the painting. Now I see that the earlier version has no change in the bottom 1/3 of the painting which makes it pretty uninteresting. As I look at the image below, I see that the painting is much more resolved and my eye is led in the through the painting. What do you think about this painting's evolution?

Taken Under the Wing 1-27-2014
I'm about to enter it in another competition. Wish me luck!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Painting to Join the Umpqua Community College Permanent Collection

In early December, I responded to a "Call to Artists" from Umpqua Community College.
The Umpqua Community College Art Collection seeks to add to its permanent art collection through the acquisition of contemporary and modern art that recognizes the artistic talent of artists in the Pacific Northwest. The artwork will be placed in College buildings for the benefit and enjoyment of the general public. 

I sent off several images of paintings and prepared myself for the waiting game that comes with all art entries.

Yesterday, I was honored and delighted to hear that they are purchasing my painting "Catch, No Release."

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Beating the January Blahs--2013 in Review

The holidays are over, I've had a couple of rejections from the art world lately, it's raining, and I do not feel inspired to paint. I'm pretty sure I have the January blahs.

Rather than curling up in a ball and waiting for spring, I decided to look at my successes and memorable moments from the past year. With a blog, it's really easy to do that. And I was uplifted to see how many good things had happened in my art life this past year.

January: I reworked the painting Convocation II which later sold. My painting Blue Moon Heron was accepted in the Fallbrook Art Center Signature American Watermedia Exhibit. (That was a big WOW for me.)
Convocation II SOLD
Blue Moon Heron
River Strata
February: My painting River Strata was accepted into the Western Federation of Watercolor Societies Exhibit.

March: Convocation I was accepted to the Expressions West Exhibit at Coos Art Museum, I hung paintings at Zenon's Restaurant, and sold another heron painting.

April: I had a wonderful time in Albany serving as the President of the Watercolor Society of Oregon, then attending the week-long workshop afterwards. The instructor, Mary Ann Beckwith was a fount of knowledge. (The kite painting was produced in the workshop.)
Convocation I
Windy Day
Food Chain SOLD
May and June: This was a bitter-sweet couple of months. I was fortunate enough to take my older sister on a European/Canary Island cruise while I taught art on the cruise ship. We had a great bonding experience, but had to deal with the fact that while we were on this vacation our mother died and our other sister was left at home dealing with all the issues and details that came along with her death. When we returned we had a huge family gathering at my home in Blue River.

The paintings I did around this time were several easy watercolors to teach to a large crowd on the ship and two small pieces inspired by my travels. One sold immediately.
Balcony Bouquets: Canary Is.

Cruise Painting (1 of 5 projects)
Climbing to Heaven: Bath, England

July: The month brought summer fun with rafting. This time on a river inspires more ideas for art and greater connection with the earth.

Middle Fork Salmon River Vista
Sing Me The Legends
August: My transparent version of Blue Moon Heron was accepted in the Watercolor Society of Oregon Fall Show.

 September: I was commissioned to paint a 75th birthday gift. My time on the rivers and the self-reflection led me to create the first of my River Tapestry Series.

River Tapestry #2
River Tapestry #1
Umpqua River-Commissioned Work

October: This month was highlighted by our Watercolor Society of Oregon Convention in Bandon. At that convention I passed on the President's gavel to the organizations new President. I also received recognition at two differents art exhibits: 2nd place for my transparent Blue Moon Heron II at the WSO show, and 1st place in watercolor at the Springfield Mayor's Art Show for Yosemite Trickster.

Blue Moon Heron II
Yosemite Trickster

November: My small exhibit at Full City Coffee allowed me to put up my River Tapestry Series in a strong grouping, allowing me to fully take in how beautiful these new pieces are. I also created some small whimsical pieces, one of which sold.
Flap But Once SOLD

Coffee Shop Display
River Tapestry #4

December: When the holidays rolled in, I was still able to work on a few pieces, three in fact, exploring the same design. I sold a print and fulfilled another commission for a friend. Herons' Winter Dreams started in December and was finished this past weekend, so I would say that is the last painting of 2013.
Herons' Winter Dreams
Looking back at the year, it has been a good one. In fact, I would be happy to create as many paintings, receive as much recognition, and sell as many paintings in the coming year. 

Thank you for following my year's journey with me!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A New Year with Paintings in New Homes

Sisters, Transparent Watercolor
I'm afraid the holidays got the majority of my time and energy in the last month, but I have had the pleasure of getting images of some of my paintings in their new homes. It is truly a pleasure to see and hear how much people enjoy the art in their homes.

Thank you to all the art patrons who appreciate and purchase art. And to those who cannot afford to buy art, I thank you for all the encouraging comments regarding my work.

Climbing to Heaven, Transparent Watercolor, with new owner, Toni O'Malley