Thursday, October 23, 2014

More Small Works on Paper

Yesterday my good friend, Ruth Armitage posted a link to to a book "Daily Painting: Paint Small and Often to Become a More Creative, Productive, and Successful Artist." You know how something said, or an article you read, or (in this case) a book title is just what you need to spur you on?

Seeing that book title was a good reminder to me that I don't always have to go to the studio and create a masterpiece. Sometimes it is just a wonderful thing to experiment and paint for the fun of it. The idea of having fun with some small works on papers really appealed to me. As I was searching through my file drawers, I came across some pieces that had not been successful, but already had paint and collage on them.

Sometimes I find it easier to work on "stuff" rather than start with white paper. So I tried to capture some more successful parts of these 12 x 15 inch papers.

Old Work

So this was reduced to

Cropped Old Work

Ponds #2,5 x 7 inches
Which became this finished small work on paper.

Ponds #3, 5 x 7 inches
Here are a couple more examples of the small works on paper I did today.
Ponds #1, 8 x 8 inches
I'd love to hear your comments about these works on paper!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

No More Denying--Fall Is Here

Hannah, Queen of the Hay
There are a few things that emphasize the fact that the season has changed from summer to fall. One is getting over to the Eastside of Oregon to bring home hay before the rain starts. Early this week the weather predictions stated that we could expect rain on Tuesday, continuing through the week. So on Monday morning, Mike hitched up our raft trailer to go over the mountains to get hay.

We've been going to the same farm between Sisters and Redmond for the last few years, so one call gave us the thumbs up for picking up a ton of good Eastside hay for Little Bit.

Mike was back home in the early afternoon, ready to hoist the bales into the barn loft. In years past, we would use a horse to pull the bales up (true horse power). But this year Rachel stepped up offering to do the pulling.

Here is where I have to add a note that one year ago Rach would not have had the stamina, strength or coordination to do this task. It was just a year ago that Rachel and her husband, Josh, along with Mike traveled to Chicago to try to get into a stem cell transplant study for Multiple Sclerosis patients being done there. After the rejection from Chicago, she eventually was accepted into the program being done in Seattle. 

Now, just 6 months after treatment, she is so much better, and the recovery will continue for the next 6 to 18 months. How fortunate that she was given this treatment and the outcome is simply hard to believe! Dare I use the word "miracle?"

With Mike in the loft stacking the hay bales, me on the trailer pushing the bales to Rachel, and Hannah cheering us on, we had the whole task done well before dinnertime.

The loveliest part to the day was getting the gorgeous vine maple leaves into a vase on the mantle. Mike never forgets to bring me some!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Artwork on Paper--Making it Small

Artwork on Paper--Small vs Large

I recently attended the Watercolor Society of Oregon's Fall Convention which is a wonderful way to connect with other artists, get inspired by other's artwork, and have a weekend of fun. Although I did not have a piece in the show, it is a great showcase for Oregon artists and the larger artwork usually stands out. Because I like to enter my art into competitions and I find it very comfortable to paint on a full sheet (30 x 22 inches), I most often paint large.

However, when I got home from the conference I learned that one of my small paintings had sold at Excelsior Inn Ristorante. I currently have a group of framed 7 x7 inch pieces, so I wanted to replace it with the same sized work. It seemed like a great opportunity to continue my salmon life cycle series and see what I could do with a small square.

Salmon's Journey
7 x 7 inches
Artwork on Paper
There are several neat things about doing a small piece.
  • I can use it as a study for a larger piece
  • I can hone my skills with acrylic
  • It is easy to use fixative (varnish) and mount without mat or glass
This painting will be framed, placed on the wall Friday and sell at Excelsior for under $100--affordable artwork on paper!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Limiting Elements and Subject Matter

One of the most important things I learned at the Ventura workshop I attended in August is that the more I limit the elements and subject matter of a painting, the more creative I become. A smaller focus really forces me to think of new ways to "talk" about a topic.

A couple of years ago, when I started my River Series, I limited my work to abstraction of nature and Oregon wildlife. This focus lead me to a higher quality of paintings and greater rewards in the competitive field of watercolor.

Life Cycle Imperative #3
30 x 22 inches
The series, Life Cycle Imperitive, that began in Ventura has limited my work even more. The elements of the last few paintings are rocks, salmon and salmon eggs/smolt/fry. The question I face with each new painting in this series is, "how can I express something new and different with these three elements and symbols?"

The last works I did in Ventura were very minimalist. The colors were subdued and they had an ethereal quality.

The new painting I am posting today has veered away from the delicate. I wanted to continue using the kimono composition, but make it more organic. I used rocks to form a redd (a spawning nest) with the salmon swimming above in an almost robotic fashion. The painting started with another water-like wash above and below the fish. When I was close to the finish, the painting had a very pastel look. It lacked drama and interest. Also, I was a bit surprised by how much realism I had put on the paper. I am much happier with a more stylized and abstract look to my work.

After some contemplation, I decided that getting rid of the pale background would make the rest of the painting "pop." It takes a bit of courage, but I took a pure black gouache (opaque watercolor) and painted the background a mat black. To me it created a much more dramatic and less realistic painting. It went from pale and pastel to eye-catching. Sometimes it pays to take risks and do something different.
Life Cycle Imperative #5
30 x 22 inches