Friday, July 31, 2009

18 Paintings at Howard Young Medical Center for August

One short note to end Friday...I don't think I've ever had this many paintings hanging together in one place ever!  Well, I did a one woman in the library once and it might have come close.  But I have 18 in this show at the Medical Center in Minocqua, Wisconsin for the whole month of August.  It's very cool and they have a lovely long couple of hall ways for the art.  I was lucky to get a really sunny one!  On the table I put my bio, my cards, and my guest book as well as fliers about the upcoming class in September and a little info how what a batik is.  You can see the batiks are small compared to the 16 x 20 acrylic called "Upsa Daisy".  But I know enough to start small with a new technique!!!  
If you are local and can stop by, come to the newest entrance (to the left of ER) and turn left and you'll be right there.  If you come on weekends, you will need to come in the front entrance and ask at the desk which way to go.  

NEVER Buy Another Greeting Card!

Since I am away from the studio for a few days due to shows (and a ton of guests again) I thought I'd mention something that I plan to talk about in my class on Sept 16th.  That is the ease of using your sketches OR your paintings in making note cards.  If the sketch or painting is 11 x 15 or smaller there is such an easy way to enjoy sharing photo copies of your work!  I use Staples or Office Depot but you may find other places to get your art duplicated economically.  Ask the copier to put 4 images per sheet as shown with the gazebo painting.  These will be just the right size for the most common size of note cards.  Carefully cut them out with a paper cutter, scissors or trimmer gadget that stampers use.  I use an acid free glue stick (any brand) to attach them to the cards.  They can be "matted" as the watering cans painting was with a colored paper behind them, or you can use a nice colored gel pen to "draw" a mat around them as in the hibiscus and poppies paintings.  Usually some kind of matting makes it look especially finished.  I always sign the cards (like Hallmark does :-) on the back or I use a label that I have created on my printer or I use a stamp that says "hand made by....." and fill it in.  You can also re-mark the cards if you have some creative time.  That is you can hand-paint some more on each card.  (I'll have to show that another time.)  Thanks to Cheryl Jacobs, of Leesburg Florida, for getting me started on this topic!  If you plan to sell your cards or give them away as a gift in bunches of 6 or something you might want to put them into a cellophane bag exactly made for that purpose.  It really makes the cards look professional and lovely.  Click here for info on how to purchase these bags 

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Framing to Get Ready for Shows

I would have given anything to be in the studio or out sketching today. Sigh. But today had been set aside for framing (or in the case of gallery wrap canvas...wiring) and making sure everything was set to be packed into the car tomorrow.  
 to be sure.  

Everything you see here is watercolor (under glass) Most on Arches 140# cold press although one is on Yupo (tulips with large pot). The exception is the yellow watering can which is acrylic on canvas.  

I tend to find interesting old frames at garage and rummage sales and then have the hard work of taking them all apart, pulling out wires or staples or nails and then cutting mats and foam core, getting glass cut, and fitting everything together again and tacking it. Sometimes I use metal frames which definitely cuts down on the work involved and I think is fine for a show like this one.  Then on top of this I wanted a new bio to be displayed and I wanted my business cards up to date and I wanted a guest book for people to sign....yadda yadda yadda.  There will be over 20 pieces to hang on Friday.  Whew.  No one ever talks much about this part of getting ready to show.  So I just thought I'd share.  

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Illustrating the Cookbook Part II

I worked on the cookbook again yesterday...and I actually found a very nice 3 ring notebook with a slide-in plastic cover (in purple of course) that will I think look nice and be practical so the bride and groom can add any recipes they get from other family members! When possible I include real photos of the finished dish or even of the ingredients or even of the person who gave the recipe or from whom the recipe originally came!  Boy those old photos are fun!  But then when nothing is available, then I watercolor and ink in something to make the page more interesting.  

One aside on this.  When I was in the grocery store this week,  I took photos of things I am going to paint.  The pork chops for instance.  Now try to image, if you will, doing your shopping and coming upon a women taking a close up photo of a package of pork chops!  Get the idea?  Then seeing her again doing a close up of the yellow cake mix on Aisle 4.  You'd steer clear of her, right?  :-)  

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Illustrating a Cookbook

My next project is to put together a family cookbook for a wedding gift for my nephew (Sept 5 in Santa Cruz, CA).  7 of us in the family are contributing 4-10 recipes each with photos if possible and if not I am going to watercolor/ink in some of the illustrations.  This is NOT a very good example but I thought I'd give you the "idea".  You can copy these by the way...feel free.  :-)  In some of the entries I have included a photo of great grandma Nell with her recipe or I might have a photo of someone actually eating whatever it is I am making.  In some cases I photo the actual ingredients or paint them (see the chili sauce painting from an early post).  Just thought I'd mention it as it makes a great Christmas present and you need to start ahead of time for such a thing.
I have given some thought to having it actually printed up in a can have that done online now.  But I don't think I'm going to be able to get it done in time to have it for this wedding.  But another time.  I think this one will be a looseleaf notebook.  If I have some more interesting illustrations I may include them at another time.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Watercolor and Gouache

Gouache (English pronunciation: 
/ɡuːˈæʃ/French: [ˈɡwaʃ]), the name of which derives from the Italian guazzowater paint, splash or bodycolor (the term preferred by art historians) is a type of paint consisting of pigment suspended in water. Gouache differs from watercolor in that the particles are larger, the ratio of pigment to water is much higher, and an additional, inert, white pigment such as chalk is also present. Like all watermedia, it is diluted with water. (Gum Arabic is also present as a binding agent, just as in water color.) This makes gouache heavier and more opaque, with greater reflective qualities. (All this from Wikepedia). 
Well, never really having done anything in gouache before, I felt very awkward in this media but just for fun on a rainy afternoon...I thought I'd paint a scene from a photo taken just yesterday.  Figures are not a strong point either so I had two strikes against me.  I actually just used white gouache with watercolor to color it.  I would try it again but I think I need a little more instruction.  I need Donna Zagotta's DVD!  Amen.  But sometimes you don't know what you don't know until you try it.  
This is 11 x 15 on 300# Arches paper.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Captions and Titles in Journals

As I read other journal blogs and sketching blogs I do have to admire the wonderful printing and calligraphy that some artists are able to produce!  Although calligraphy is surely not an absolute necessity to making a nice journal certainly enhance it!  

So as I was thinking about that the other day I did a little search on to see if I could find some help with hand lettering.  There was a huge supply of interesting books on this subject.  I chose this one to start me off and you can find used copies on Amazon for very little money (under $5) to get you started.  I have included one sample page of 50 different lettering samples.  The idea is that you can trace the letters or just use them as a "model" and perhaps make your lettering a little more interesting and "artful" and fun to read.  My sketch above was yesterday down at the lakeshore watching the grandchildren play.  And the wild columbine are now flowering on the roadsides here.  Such a lovely wild favorite.  So I couldn't help but include it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Life is Short, Eat Dessert First

I did get out to do a small sketch down at the lakefront yesterday but decided it was not good enough to post.  Instead I am showing a painting I did last summer on the theme of" What Matters Matter".  This is a direct quote from Donna Zagotta's blog article of the same name in which she talks about the "best" subjects to paint.  Among other things she says, "You are the first and final authority on what matters to you."   The still life here all depicts hugely familiar artifacts from our cabin in the north woods of Wisconsin.  My tea/biscuit jar, an old chipped tea cup that I just can't throw away, the teapot that belonged to my husband's mother, the pitcher I found at the flea market, the cookie tin that has been a part of the cupboard here for eons, the little ceramic wall hanging with those special words that was a gift from my good friend, Kendra, and the little tea holder.  
Tea Time is big thing here at the cabin and something the grandkids will always remember about it.  It is the time we gather on the screen porch in late afternoon for homemade blueberry buckle, a glass of lemonade (or tea for those that like it) and a chapter of reading from Gram.  
The painting is watercolor on Bristol Board 11 x 15.  

Friday, July 17, 2009

Chairs Chairs Chairs

Anyone that knows me knows that I LOVE chairs.  I have painted probably 50 chairs over the years from adirondack to overstuffed to beach chairs to stools.  

This comfy inviting RED chair was found at a nice little tearoom in Leesburg one spring afternoon.  

It is a watercolor batik done on rice paper glued on to a gallery canvas. The numbers on the first sketch help me to remember which area to paint with wax first and which last.
It's 8 x 10.  

The Very Special Hat

This is a very special hat for me.  And I do wear it a lot so maybe that is why this portrait actually does look more like me to me.  
My eldest daughter, Beth Albright, wore this hat when she walked the 60 miles for the Avon Breast Cancer walk.  She did it in THREE days.  It was shortly after I had been diagnosed with breast cancer and undergone bilateral mastectomies.  (1995).  
I was there when she left Kenosha, WI and then 3 days later, I was there when she walked into down town Chicago.  The events raised a TON of money for breast cancer research.  And she made the walk in my honor.  I'll never forget it my whole life long!  As she finished...she handed me this hat.  
The portrait was done on Canson Montval watercolor paper and is 8 x 10.  

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Tulips and Yupo

This was done on semi-transparent Yupo (about 15 x 17) with watercolor.  I have been playing with the color and composition for weeks and I actually don't think I am done.  That's the thing with yupo, you never need to be DONE.  You can go on tweaking forever as it wipes clean .  Good and bad I suppose.  It started with artist friend, Lou Fitton's tulip theme early this spring. I was looking for tulip references (of which I had many) and then I got caught up on the tulip frenzy.  They are a gorgeous flower and not too difficult to paint like a rose or a peony.  
My reference photo actually has no tulips in it.  Go figure.  But I was putting several references together in this painting.  I wanted to sort of have a "story" to the painting that might indicate this was along a path that belonged to someone.  Tulips are obviously not a wild flower so it always seems to me, I need to anchor them in their setting.  I took the photo of the stone pot several years ago down in Florida at a house garden at Bok Tower.  I loved the fungus growing on the pots.  They were ornamental and never really meant to "hold" anything I don't think.  
I find now that the tulip leaf is "kissing" the pot in a way I don't like (on the left side) so I think that needs to be changed.  I also was not really true to the pot shape, which is too bad as the shape in the photo is better than my shape.  I don't know if I want to make that large a change at this point however.  I also need to darken the foreground to the left of the pot to match the right.  I like the nice dark foliage in that spot and I like more detail in the foreground. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A "Shout Out"

I am sure many of you already know now about David Lobenberg and his portrait challenges online.
His recent portrait challenge was called a Global Love-In and he established a blog just to showcase all the people who wanted to be part of that challenge.  They were GREAT and very creative entries and if you click here you can go and see them. I have just learned that when you announce something and send a link like this, bloggers call this sending  A SHOUT OUT.  The NEXT challenge for a self portrait to be sent to him is to portray yourself (in any media) but in a hat or some kind of a head covering depending on your whim or the cultural traditions.  The deadline for that challenge is Sept 12, 2009.  The email site to attach the photo of your portrait is:                                                                                                          
 If you are interested in just looking at David's regular blog, the link to it is on my blog over to the right.  Anyway, I decided to play around a little this morning in order to maybe demonstrate to others who are "portrait-challenged" that you could enter without having to paint yourself in oil or try to emulate Jamie Wyeth.  Although that would be WONDERFUL too!  This is a "study" more or less using light and shadow which I learned to do in Lynn Ferris' class last winter.  I did use frisket (or misket) to white out the area I wanted highlighted so I could do the darks without having to paint around them.  My favorite frisket is Pebeo which is pictured there.  I am challenging my Fine Art's Group down in Leesburg to work on something for this challenge this summer and to bring their efforts together in a small exhibit when the snowbirds return.  I'd love to try something in another style and media now. 

Monday, July 13, 2009

Chinese Vase Sketches

My garage sale find this week was a little Chinese vase (which says on the bottom..."do not use for food...poison")  Must have to do with lead glazing?Anyway I bought it thinking how much fun to put it into some still lifes.  
My main job yesterday (in my studio) was to select the 5 paintings I'll be putting in the next Lakeland Art league show as the mail in deadline is coming up on Friday!  Procrastination again!  So after I got that sorted out, I didn't have time to really get into anything major and decided I'd do a few little sketches of this vase.  Top left is a simple ink and watercolor (Micron pen .005).  The little box on the right top is watercolor.  Left bottom is watercolor pencil and the one next to the vase is water soluble graphite.  Today I'd like to attack that yupo painting that has been calling to me for about two weeks!!!  And then I have some framing to do for the show.  Not my favorite artistic chore!

Sunday, July 12, 2009


I quote Diane Maxey when I say "Anything worth painting, is worth painting red!"  :-)  And she is the queen of red to be sure. I was on Barb Sailor's blog this morning and she is now also a queen of red.  Check out her chili peppers!  Wow!  
She said on it that she used several brands and shades of red to get her effect.  Same here. Although she has a warmer hotter red and mine is cooler.
 This painting is about 11 x 15 on Arches 140 cold press.  It was inspired from a trip to Madeline Island in Lake Superior last year.  How my husband shook his head upon seeing this,  as I took a ton of photos of cliffs, lighthouses and rock pools and ended up painting a bench on the ferry.  Go figure.  I fell in love with the red and the shadows and shapes.  And it was glaze after glaze of red before I could get the feel I wanted.  Hope to get into the studio today as we are supposed to get some rain in the north woods this afternoon.  If it doesn't rain, my husband has another "painting" type for me to do as he's just cut new scalloped trim to go around the new breezeway and he wants it primed as soon as possible.  Hmmmm.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sketching on a Windy Cool Wisconsin Day

I am trying to use my own good advice and draw in my journal every day (if I am not otherwise involved in an art project in the studio).  Today it was my turn to sit the information booth at the Fireman's Park Art Fair in Arbor Vitae, WI.  So these two scenes were hastily sketched...just the view from my table. I am not too pleased with them and may go back and doodle with them a little more. But it was fun.
 This was more of an arts "and crafts" fair but a lot of wonderful work in fabric, jewelry and north woods art which I classify as painting on birch bark or wood burning on log slices (which I call tree cookies)...but all very well done.  I wish now I'd included some photos of they were lovely.  Next time I will, with the artist's permission, of course.
The left sketch was water soluble pen with a touch of pastel pencil. The other was a more traditional watercolor using that Cotman Field kit I showed two posts ago.  It was a bit chilly in the 73 degrees with a blustery gusty wind.  But it was sunny and we had a good crowd!  My northern art league: Lakeland Art League based in Woodruff, WI sponsored the event.  And I had a number of people come over to watch me sketch.  Children always enjoy watching and they say funny things.  Like "my aunt draws better than you do!"  or the other day one 6 year old said, "here, let me help you."  Hahahaha.  If I'd been painting on paper and not on canvas that day, I might have given him a shot at it.  

Friday, July 10, 2009

Enjoying Art in the Kitchen

Interior sketching (indoor sketching) can be just as much fun as en plein air.  One idea I like to throw out to students is to consider your fruits and veggies as painting subjects.  Especially during the summer when gardens are over flowing.  Some artists like to photograph their still lifes outside in natural sunlight and that is probably the best way to get the true colors and the wonderful shadows!  But you can also arrange them indoors by using some strong side lighting or good window light.  You can just sit there and sketch them, of course, but most of us have to get on with the cooking!!!  
The ingredients for my grandmother's homemade sweet tomato condiment (known in the family as "chili sauce" because a few hot peppers are added)  looked so beautiful one late summer day that I grouped them before I began to cook and took several shots from different angles.  
This sketch (just a small one about 5 x 7) has led me to wonder if it wouldn't be fun to illustrate recipe cards or a small cookbook for family members for a holiday gift!  So consider photographing your ingredients before you start and see if you don't have some wonderful and meaningful sketch ideas right at your finger tips!   AND think how family members would enjoy having that self-illustrated recipe.  Also wonderful wedding gifts!  

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Arts and Crafts Day with the Grandsons

Today was not an art day for myself.  Today was a "crafty" day with 4 of the grandsons who come up to the summer cabin to spend time with Greg and I (4 of the 12 grandkids) and one morning we always plan a craft or art activity.  One activity was a little more "craft" than art which was to put together a model...we found them a Michaels down in Wausau in June and they were a great buy...Dylan picked the dinosaur but the other boys built a car, a frog, and a spider.  Great for following direction and spatial relationships.  Grampy helped Dylan who at 7 is the youngest of the crew.   The second project was more "creative" in that they took lots of Grampa's old scrap lumber and created wonderful structures that went from car ramp jumps to bird houses (painted creatively).  The boys were SO pleased with themselves.  This is the last full day of the visit and we will sleep for two days after they leave!!!  I hope to get back to some art of my own after that.  

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Traveling Palettes for Sketching and En Plein Air

A bit messy, huh?  Well, I decided to show them with all the mess on the palette.  That is how they look most of the time and so it is important that it be realistic.  The larger palette is not really all that large.  It is about 10" by 5" when folded shut.  The smaller palette (Cotman Field Kit) is even smaller...just a tad larger than a deck of playing cards when folded up.  The water cup clamps on over the top.  Both of these will be available to talk about at the September 16 workshop (see info on the right side of the blog page).  I have a "studio palette" as well which is much larger but that's another story.  Same colors however!!!  The Cotman set is a "pan paint" and the other is tube paints.  I'll discuss advantages and disadvantages of both in the workshop.  
Mostly today I wanted to talk about colors...I have been asked about what colors are needed.  This is, of course, a very personal choice but it's nice to know what the workshop instructor is using.  I have taken 3-4 workshops from Diane Maxey (one of my favorite workshop presenters) and I based my palette on hers but gradually have deleted and added the colors that I like to use and like best.  
Here's my basic palette colors:  Quin Gold, Aureolin Yellow, Naples Yellow, Indian Yellow or New Gamboge, Windsor Orange, Scarlet Lake, Windsor Red, Permanent Rose, Alizarin Crimson, Cobalt violet, Turquoise, Windsor Violet, French Ultramarine blue, cobalt Blue, Manganese blue or Cerulean blue, Antwerp Blue or Prussian blue, Windsor Green (blue shade), Viridian, and Burnt Sienna.  Almost all of these are Windsor Newton Paints or Holbein.  I do like Daniel Smith paints but you have to buy them direct from their one else carries them that I know of.  I do carry some "dessert" colors with me like Opera (Holbein) and Rose Madder Genuine.  But they are not on the palette.  
Now for the workshop on the 16, it would be nice to have two blues, two reds, two yellows and maybe a Burnt Sienna.  Try to pick a warm and a cool in each of the primaries.  You can mix your greens and oranges and purples yourself.  

Monday, July 6, 2009

What To Do With a Sketch?

I have a ton of company right now and no time to paint for a few days.  So I sorted through some of my sketches and found these two...both en plein air, done in 2002 in England.  The reason they were out and about is that I am prepping for the sketching class in September and I want to spend some time talking in the class about WHAT DOES ONE DO with the sketches after they are done. 
 I have seen so many sketch book journal artists and moleskin sketchers
and a plethora of doodlers and nature sketchers, etc.  Sometime they talk about the downright pleasure that sketching gives them...or they talk about the way it "sharpens" the way they look at the world or they talk about how travel journals give them a remembrance that no other memento or photo can. Some talk about journaling as a way of self expression and even for healing. 
 There is also a whole other side to journals.  Some people actually publish their journals, make coffee table books from them, (or blog about them! :-)  Some artists use their sketches as initial inspiration for larger formal studio paintings. 
And in my classes I also talk about things like making notecards from your sketches, or using them for stationary (and even for envelopes) and just framing them as is.  These two travel sketches are matted and framed just as they are, en plein air on location on two beautiful memory-filled days.  One in Bibury at the old Swan Inn at the river where my sister and I stopped for picnic lunch one day.  The other an old tumble-down castle on the a high hill in Kendall, England, where I had to ask my brother in law to carry my sketch book backpack up the steep incline to the lovely setting of the castle on a high hill overlooking the village.  He fell asleep on the grass while I did this sketch while below us my sister and husband watched an old fashioned croquet game.  I never would have remembered all this any other way!  

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sketching in an Urban Environment

There are, come to find out, a whole group of "sketchers" that call themselves "urban sketchers" and I think Danny Gregory is one of those.  It is really worth a look as there are urban sketchers there from all over the world!!!
I love going to Danny's  blog and watching the videos of him sketching in urban locations.  This sort of inspired me me to sketch a street scene on the 4th of July.  My husband, daughter and 4 grandsons set up on the shady side of the main street in  Minocqua for the parade about half an hour before it started.  AND so since I had a small sketch book with me I sketched what I saw across the street (minus the crowds gathering).   I decided to use water soluble ink this time and then added just a touch of color at the very end.  I used a water brush which I am still experimenting with but in a case like this, it was perfect not having to pour out water into anything.  The sketch is small (4 x 8) and, due to the detail, took about
45 minutes to do.  It made waiting for the parade go by very quickly!  I ignored the crowds in this sketch.  
The storefronts were Minocqua Popcorn and Ann Marie's restaurant.  Just a lucky choice as my husband chose the location.  It was a festive day and the weather lovely at 75 degrees.  Just as the first Veterans arrived to play taps and start the parade, an eagle dropped out of nearby tree and flew the entire length of the parade route within plain view of all the crowds.  There was a hush of awe at the serendipity of this.  

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Fourth of July Everyone!  Hope your holiday is as much fun as our!  We have 4 of our 9 grandsons up to the cabin with us for the whole week.  WOW.  Gives meaning to my sketch yesterday afternoon down at the lakeshore of the waterbottles (4 kids and my hubby). 

I am playing here with water soluble graphite and  and aqua brush and well as my Cotman watercolor travel kit.  My hubbie is getting the boat ready to launch (it's about time) but it's been so cold up here in the northwoods that we really haven't had the incentive to want to be out on the water very much.  Gradually it is warming back up.  So there is hope for some tubing and fishing.  The boys have all been swimming (even though the water temp hovers around 70 which is too cold yet for me!)  

We are headed off to Minoqua this afternoon for the parade, the band concert in the park and a big picnic on the blanket there.  Then the ski show and the fireworks.  We all sleep well when the grandkids are around!  Have a great day.  

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The aprons say it best....

While visiting the Bradenton, Florida museum shop one day last winter with our friends the Holts (also of Bradenton) I came upon these aprons in the museum shop.  All these wonderful works of art for sale and I pounce on the aprons!  "Born to Paint" says one, "Almost Famous" says another.  Or "So Many Colors, So little Time" and "What Part of IT'S NOT FINISHED Don't You Understand?"  
They make you smile but also nod your head.  It reminds us not to get too self-important...that's for sure.  And that art can inspire humor and laughter for another.  Our own and others!  I keep thinking about that when I put together ideas of paintings.  What about laughter?  I'd like to paint a whole string of paintings that inspire at least a big smile or a chuckle.  (Paper Hands Flowers was one of those...and I think because the image is so small it might be hard to get the joke? Ya have to click on it and enlarge it.) 
The reason for a painting is always of importance to me.  And there can be unending reasons to paint, of course, artists LOVE to talk about their motivations which range from none (just practicing a skill) to the deepest feelings that humans can have.  I think it would all do us well to think more as we begin to sketch out a composition and begin to choose the colors, values, and mood of what it is we really want to convey in the art we are about to embark on.  I think sometimes this purpose does evolve as we paint as well.  But we need to come back to this centering over and over.