Saturday, October 31, 2009

Step Four

Well, there went Saturday afternoon! :-) You know how it is when you are just playing around with paint! Of course, I flew past a lot of what Donna would have had me do had she been in the studio. Again, it's a patience thing with me. I put in the warms and cools as she suggests and then I began to try to decide what my color scheme should be. I picked the jacket to start with and tried then to stay with those colors (except for the darks). AND in even in the darks if you could see up close, I tried to put in the colors hiding in the darks.

I tried to stay with flat brushes as Donna does in order to keep the strokes in the painting. Keeping the whole thing "painterly" was my goal and trying to manage to keep my light and dark organization that I planned. I eliminated any suggestions of stairs as I painted...looked too complicated and busy. I still think it's too busy. What would you drop out? I would love to try this same composition now in transparent watercolor and in acrylic.

Step Three

Donna redraws things a lot and I am not good at that or am not patient enough for that. So once I had the value sketch done, I took a light tracer and I put my tracing paper down and the final paper on top of it and retraced it with a pencil. I am using 4 ply Strathmore Bristol board for the final painting. I have used it successfully before. I don't have what Donna uses (115# Crescent Watercolor board) so I am making do. Then I retrace the pencil lines fairly lightly with a mixture of cobalt violet and permanent rose. I can't remember why I am doing this. (hahahahaha). I am doing this because Donna said so. Seriously, I think she wants the lines to remain visible after she puts on the first few washes of transparent watercolor. But now it's time for me to pop the video back in and look at this section again. At the last minute I did remember that she tapes carefully all her edges so water will not seep into the board and curl it apart. So now I am going to go and have lunch and mull over my thinking about this painting. Very fun...mullling. Sometimes I sleep on this part of the painting. Do you ever do that. Think of the issues and then go to sleep? Sometimes when I wake up in the morning I know just what I want to do.

Absolutely GORGEOUS Saturday here. Temps are about 82 right now. But it is supposed to warm up to 90 again by later this afternoon so I'll probably have the AC on again. Skies are cobalt blue and cloudless and I can almost hear my oranges ripening on the tree outside the studio window!!! Rhonda Carpenter has been emailing her tales of gorgeous color in KY. I am glad we got to see so much of that on the way down!!! But the hibiscus are blooming here and my hanging pots of flowers look so happy (if I keep them watered daily!!!).

Step Two

So then I get out some tracing paper...and I am not following Donna's steps quite as she does...but then we are all different, right? I took tracing paper and put over my sketch and I began to trace over it using a soft sketch pen (brush type). Now I begin to look more at the shapes than the objects and leave out and add some things. I try to think about the negative shapes, repeating patterns, and where light and dark might connect. I am not much looking at the reference photo at this point.

Step One this is how it is going to go.
I have just finished watching Donna Zagotta's DVD called The You Factor. She works in OPAQUE watercolor (gouache). And at the same time I fell in love with some photos Deb Ward posted in a quilt store. (See her Oct 25 post.). Aren't they cool. She gave me her permission to use the photos as a starting point and I have actually combined several to make a new drawing (of course). So. First I made this rough sketch about the same size as the painting I planned to do later. As Donna suggests I tried to look at the setting more as an abstract group of shapes than as an actual picture I was drawing. (Does that make sense?) This is just a pencil sketch on scrap paper.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Fine Art Open House a Success!

Here are just a few of the "booths" at our fine arts open house this morning. That's me with the artist trading cards/watercolor pencil booth, Marlene with the pastel booth, and Lou with the wild and lovely abstract acrylics. I took a lot of photos...we had a nice turn out and enjoyed a lovely punch and cookies too. We held it from 10-noon.

The heat outside is still pretty oppressive here in Fl with 93 for a high yesterday and 88 for today. When I came out of exercise class at 8:30 this morning my glasses fogged up from the change in temp and the humidity!!! Whew. I am not's just a comment!!!!

It was nice to find out that some of my art friends from the park here are following my blog. Ya never know who is reading it!!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

ATCs: S-l-o-w-l-y Getting Brushes Wet Again

The world of ATCs (or Artist Trading Cards has fascinated me for some time. When I was at Cheap Joe's I found this little packets of pre-cut cards in many different papers for about $2.00. They sat in my art drawer over the summer. This fall, as I unpacked from the summer slowly and put aside my journals temporarily for some studio work....I found myself running my hands gently over this little package again. I read a little about the cards history...In 1997, M. Vanci Stirnemann, a Swiss artist, created 1200 cards by hand as part of an exhibit. On the last day, he invited others to create their own cards and trade with him during the closing reception. The movement took off, and today, there are ATC swaps in almost every major city around the world. There are also many online swaps. and smiled to myself at how these things sometimes start!

The size of 2.5" x 3.5" seems to be the only requirement. And I think that the whole thing brings back nostalgia of when I used to have trading cards as a child. Did you? I remember many a happy hour sitting on the front "stoop" of our house in Des Plaines, IL trading "horses" for " gardens" or "flowers" or much-prized "dog" cards. These were dutifully kept in old cigar boxes and sorted by the photo on the front. "I'll give you 3 flowers for that golden retriever" or something like that. Sometimes we brought them to school and traded or just admired them at recess or lunch hour. This may have been a regional tradition as some people give me an odd look. This would have been in about 1949.
So now I am reading a little about the how-to's which of course are totally open ended. I went to the Strathmore site...and found some how to's there. And I went to a WikiHow site for some info as well. The latter even had a short video of someone making one with collage materials. Anything goes. These little doodling ones to start with were done with the idea that they might be fun for a "starter" project for our Fine Arts open house this Friday. I used watercolor pencils (Derwent), watercolors, permanent ink pens. We could start our own trade here in my park in FL or we could find other artists to trade with. If anyone has a good spot to go for trading let me know.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Donne Bitner demo at Leesburg Art League Meeting

Donne is an instructor at the Crealde School of Art in Winter Park, Florida. She teaches watercolor, monotypes, and experimental acrylics. She is holding up the support for her recent series of paintings which is nicely made box, well finished off. She turns this over, gessos the flat side and paints on it. An example of a finished piece is in her hands. She uses all kinds of textures in her work and does a lot of stamping into the work as she goes along as demonstrated on the first piece above which is just a lot of different stamping tools and stencils (acrylic). She used both traditional thicker acrylics as well as fluid and uses white and black gesso. Donne says that she sometimes has a theme she works with before she starts but sometimes the painting insinuates itself as she moves along.
She did a demo/talk at the regular meeting on Saturday October 24.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Trip to Florida Journal Concludes

Barb Sailor mentioned she thought the addition of the nicer printing did a lot to make my journals seem more finished...or something like that. I wanted to note that this idea is, of course, plagiarized from other journals I've researched and read. But here's a moleskin watercolor (landscape) journal has a wonderful little expandable pocket in the back. In that I keep photocopies of my 3 favorite printing style pages. I try to leave a space when I am journaling that will be for a title or comment. Then I take a few moments at the motel or B & B or wherever along the way later to put in the printing. Sometimes it has to wait until I am at my destination. It can always be added later. If your journal does not have a pocket like that, tape an envelope inside the back cover. (I also keep an old postcard in there to use as a straight edge.)
The two entries I am showing last were really put in first. But they are more "generic" in nature.

The one with with the watering can/flowers is from a floral centerpiece at my daughter's home in Fontana, WI where we stayed for the first week of our journal back. It's lovely A-frame home set up in the hills and woods of Lake Geneva area. We have the place to ourselves during the week as it is a weekend retreat for them. The weather was pretty rainy while we were there so I didn't have time to journal out of doors and decided that the pretty floral piece would be a reminder of our stay there.

The one with the coffee cup was a small sketch done at at Egg Harbor restaurant in Lake Geneva, WI while waiting for my good friend, Jean, to arrive. The funny part was that I did the ink sketch of the table arrangement first and while concentrating on this, Jean came in and got seated a table away from me, walking RIGHT past me and not seeing that the lady with her head bent over her journal was me!!! So we sat for about 5 minutes at adjacent tables only about 6' apart waiting for each other! :-) Then I looked up and saw her. How we laughed. So be careful when you are sketching. (I added the color later.)

So now that I am finished with the trip journal I have to get going in my studio again!!! I am almost unpacked!!! It's taken me a whole week to find everything!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Reflection on the Trip

As we wound up the major part of the trip east and south and headed to my sister's home in SC, I did a little two page spread in my Moleskin journal. On the left was one last little sketch from Biltmore. In the middle a little map of the Blue Ridge area we had been traveling in and on the right a few of the mementos that we picked up along the way.

After I printed the the words I realized that I had spelled mementos wrong in the journal!!! Sigh!!! Just like getting the dates wrong along the way too. Double sigh. I may reprint it and glue the correct spelling on top of it as it will drive me nuts every time I look at it!!! (That's why I posted this photo so small...I hoped you wouldn't notice it!) But I liked the idea of doing a little still life of the things I got along the way.

I also included a photo of me in Boone, NC at the Cheap Joe's outlet store...spending my money!!! Couldn't pass that by!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Biltmore in Asheville, NC

Last week I visited Biltmore in Asheville, NC. This was part of the 17 day trip from the north woods cabin in WI to FL. Despite the large date on the top of my travel journal, it was actually a week prior to that...on October 16. I put the dates in later and was obviously completely traveled out and did not know what day it was!!! All I had to do was look at the ticket!!! Sigh. I decided not to change them as that would be a mess.

Anyway, it didn't rain, for a change, on the day of our choice but by afternoon, the tiny bit of sunshine disappeared and we were under heavy overcast AGAIN. And it was very crowded that day and it took almost 3 hours to do the tour of the house. We did rent the ear phones which was a very good idea. Afterwards Greg took off hiking around the grounds while I settled into the lower garden for a few sketches. I sat under the arbor. I did two sketches and then my fingers got so cold that I had to give up. My dreams of doing a ton of en plein air on this trip finally dissolved. Still, there were enough to give a "flavor" of the trip. Having visited both the Hearst Mansion and Biltmore Estate within about a month of each other gives a skewed perspective on life. And the book we rented to listen to in the car coming down (The Appeal by John Grisham) all dealt with the lives of people with WAY too much money. Indeed, there was nothing about the two over-the-top homes that would make me want to have them or live in them. Mostly, I enjoyed the "slice of a time period" if you know what I mean.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Helene Murray at Mount Dora, FL

On Wednesday, Oct 21, I attended the October meeting of the Mt. Dora, Florida, Art League.

Helene Murray talked about her love in art which is stimulating people to be MORE CREATIVE! She talked a lot about left brain/right brain and you can see her visual demonstration of this when she introduced Betty Brain. Whose beautifully decorated head opens to provide a look at what is in each of the halves of her brain! How convenient. What a neat idea! Among other suggestions to get the ole creativity going she suggested that we each have a "muse" in our art space (and everyone SHOULD have a space of their own says Helene!) She is holding her muse, Lucille (I think that's the name she said). She also had a lot of other good suggestions. Helene teaches a class at the Mt. Dora Center for the Arts. Check her out!!!

West Virginia in the Fall

One of the places we stopped briefly last week was the birthplace (1892) of Pearl Buck. (Hillsboro County, West Virginia) She received, as you know, the Nobel Prize in Literature for her six books on China (the year before I was born)...her most famous being The Good Earth. Unfortunately we were too late for a guided tour. But we stopped and soaked in a little history for a moment thinking about her work and life. She did not die until 1973 and is buried in PA. Her life was absolutely fascinating and the link on her name is to Wikipedia...a picture of her is there (she was beautiful!!!) and another one of this house which I read was her home for only 3 months.

When your husband has "trains of all kinds" as his major's fun to try to combine our interests. We stayed for two nights in Lewisburg, WV last week with wonderful watercolor artist, Phyllis Crickenburger and her husband Bill. They live in a charming old home there in the middle of so much history and in a valley of the Allegheny Mountains. So it was on one dark and forbidding morning we set up to drive the hour up the mountains from there to Cass where the old restored railroad and logging camp was. Time for a ride on a steam railroad!!! The rain held off for awhile and when it did finally come it was just a gentle rain and did not give us much trouble (although it was cold...only 41 degrees). We could see our breath and the hot coffee at the Whittaker Stop never tasted so good!!!

The whistle on this old steam engine was the best one I've ever heard. I did this sketch first with a water soluble pencil and then added a little watercolor with a water brush. Later I added some ink, glued in the ticket and added a little map of the the train route from Cass to Whittaker with the switchback.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Blogger Buddies

Well, now it's time for pay-back to Deb Ward who posted my photo a few days ago! It really has been so fun to get to know her as a cyber friend and then to meet her in person. She was so kind to bring along a few pieces of art work that I asked about...her beautiful pouring watercolors with mask. I want to be just like her when I grow up!!!

We met at Cracker Barrel for breakfast near her home in eastern Indiana just west of Cincinnati, OH as we were passing through on our way east and south to FL on an extended journey. We name dropped all the blogs we follow and we felt as if we were already connected through them!

Thanks so much Deb...I loved meeting you and let's be sure to do this again and if you are ever in Central sure to let me know!!! (Deb's blog is on my blog list off to the right!).

84 and sunny in Florida today. No weather whining any more! I hope to get my studio unpacked soon and get back to painting!!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

At Home in Florida

Despite the date being wrong on this journal entry (it was Oct 13 not 20), it is a good journal entry to share first. Our travels through the Ohio Valley in KY and Virginia and WV last week looked like this the whole way. Absolutely stunning colors and the vistas almost overwhelmed me after awhile. It was like you got so you couldn't take in anymore. Granted we had more than our share of rain, but now and then the sun would peek through and light up things and we were left without words anymore to express what we saw.

I am not going to show things in any special order...just as I decide to write about them as I am moved to do so. We rolled back into our driveway here in Leesburg last night about 6 pm. The last day of driving was LONG from SC and we really did collapse last night. But it's great to wake up to the oranges hanging heavy on the trees (still green, of course) and a pineapple growing right beside our car port!!! It was great to see my art friends at the Activity Fair this morning and right back into the swing of things!!!

It'll be a few days before I unpack and get the studio in any semblance of order.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Happiness is Sharing

Both Rhonda Carpenter and Deb Ward have been talking about me this week.  What a huge compliment!  Both their links are on this blog and that person in the red shirt recently pictured on Deb's blog looks slightly familiar. Hmmm, who could that be?  

Appreciating each other's love of art and enthusiasm for sharing it...what could be better.  

Seven things about me:
1. I LOVE oatmeal
2. Journals are a passion while I am traveling.
3. I have one sister who lives in SC
4. I taught kindergarten for 32 years.
5. I have 12 grandkids...all above normal.
6. I am on the Winter Garden, FL Spring Fever art-in-the-Garden Committee
7. My favorite movie is Out of Africa.

Almost Home to Florida

Cold wind.
The day is waiting for winter
Without a sound.
Everything is waiting—
Broken-down cars in the dead weeds.
The weeds themselves.
Even sunlight
Is in no hurry and stays
For a long time
On each cornstalk.
Blackbirds are silent
And sit in piles.
From a distance
They look like
Spilled on the road. 

"Autumn Waiting" by Tom Hennen, from Looking into the Weather

We are winding up our time now in "chilly" South Carolina.  We have just about managed to keep up with the rain and cold moving across the Ohio Valley and heading south during our whole trip.  Even Fl dropped 20 degrees waiting for us!  :-)  But alas, temps there are to return to near normal 80s on Tuesday so we are not too worried...although it does look as though rain will follow us again!!!  Sigh.  We are, however, wonderfully relaxed and full of good southern cooking and sweet tea (the REAL sweet tea).  Hopefully by this time tomorrow we'll be rolling into our driveway in Leesburg!  

I spent a few hours yesterday finishing up my trip journal.  There are fewer pages than I planned but we have had a good trip and it was fun to look back.  It's hard to believe we did all that since we left the cabin on Oct 2!!!  We just had photos from our friends in Pound, WI showing several inches of the white stuff on the ground there!  We left just in time.

Seventeen days out of a suitcase, however, is a little over the top for me!!  Hoping to have some photos on my blog by Tuesday if Embarq phone held up their end of the bargain and got my DSL hooked up again!  

Friday, October 16, 2009

Checking out Asheville, North Carolina

Well, here we are in Asheville, NC.where I had hoped to paint in the gardens at Biltmore today. Silly me. Rain and dark clouds have pretty much followed us all week across the midwest. Just every now and then the sun would break through and we'd get a glimpse of the gorgeous colors on the mountains along the Ohio Valley and the Blue Ridge. Wow!!! Amazing. But today is back to heavy overcast.

We had a wonderful two days with friends Phyllis and Bill in West Virginia (despite rain). We rode the Cass Railroad and loved the winding mountain roads at 3500 feet. Phyllis is a signature member of the WV Watercolor Society.

After a day here in Asheville we are headed to York, SC to spend the weekend with my sister and brother in law. He just broke two ribs in a fall, unfortunately!!! I understand this is so painful!!! But we'll have lots of visiting time and I'll finish up the few additions to my travel journal. They live right on Lake Wylie and have such a lovely view!!

I get a bi-weekly letter from Robert Genn. I love what he wrote today...take a look.
He is talking about a book he is reading by Winifred Gallagher called Rapt Attention and the Focused Life. The simple act of learning to pay attention may be the key to happiness and success. Sounds a little like the quote by Mary Oliver under my header at the top of the blog, doesn't it?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Having Fun in Cincinnati!

I am off to have breakfast with none other than Deb Ward! (see her blog on my blog list).
We've been blogging friends all summer and when she heard my hubby and I were stopping near her on our first night of our travels...well. Hope to post a photo of us having breakfast at Cracker Barrel this morning later!!!

Then we are off to see very fine watercolor artist, Phyllis Crickenberger and her hubby in Lewisberg, WV. It can't get any better (unless the sun would please shine! We are having a lot of overcast and cloudy travel days!!! Then off to Boone and Asheville, NC for a day and a night! And then to SC to visit my sister and her hubby for a few days. We will get to Florida eventually!! I should be able to post photos and art again after next Monday!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


It seems to me, while I am on the road and unable to post photos from this computer, that I feel the need to re-direct people to the exciting blogs I am reading. This time Stan Fellows is posting some of his journal pages from a class he is teaching. OH MY GOSH. You must have a look-see. His work is so spendid and so amazing. And he reminds us of the beauty in the everyday things you might find in your pocket or on the kitchen table. Love it!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Recommendation

Even though I am currently "en route" from WI to FL, I occasionally get on line here or there and try to keep up with the bloggers I have come to be so delighted with. As I cruised the blogs this morning I came upon one that I'd like to direct you to. Michael Kessler's Oct 2 post on the Geogia O'Keefe exhibit in New York. He has about a 9 minutes YouTube video of the exhibit with commentary that is really wonderful to see! Scroll down a few posts to find it. I recommend it highly.

Meanwhile, my hubby and I are enjoying a week long visit in southern WI before heading off toward Cincinnati and then WV and SC and finally home to FL. Having a ball.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Heading South

Well, here I was one winter not too long ago...painting en plein air in Leesburg, FL at a Garden Walk Paint Out.  I don't use my french easel much anymore now that I have a lighter aluminum one.  It was a VERY warm day and I was pleased, I remember, to be in a garden with a LOT of shade.  

I'll be away from my blog now for a few weeks. 
I hope you'll be patient and check back again around the 19th. 

I should have some journal entries to share from our travels!  We'll be a week in Chicago area with family and friends and then off to West Virginia (hopefully to see color and to see the Cass Railroad) and to visit fellow artist, Phyllis Crickenburger who is a fantastic watercolorist.  

Then a few days in SC to visit my sister before heading to FL and home.