Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Group is Ready to Hang

Framing AGAIN for exhibitions

Framing.....never my favorite art chore. If I was rich and famous I'd hand them off for someone else to frame!!! Most of these paintings you have probably seen unframed in some blog before. But it's always nice to see how they look in a frame too.

I am preparing for February as "Artist of the Month" in the Hawthorne Park Library. I'll be interviewed on closed circuit TV this Friday morning about them!

The first painting is an en plein air watercolor on YES canvas board (11 x 14) sprayed with an acrylic varnish and without glass. It is the 2009 "Spring Winter Garden Plant and Garden Show" (which is coming again on April 10/11). You can see more about it under events at the right.

The second painting is a watercolor on Yupo. Framed to 16 x 20. It is called "Webster Flea Market" (where I took the reference photo). It is under glass (sorry about reflection.)

The third is called "Welcome Pineapple", a paper painting (collage) in paper and acrylic. 11 x 14 on YES canvas board. Glazed with varnish and gloss and without glass.

There will be 4 other paintings which are currently stacked on the kitchen table awaiting their wires. My hubby is always helpful coming in to pre-drill the holes for me.

There are lots of spring shows coming up and I have to be read early because we just bought a new house and we'll be closing March 19 and moving about 3 blocks away (in the same park). But you all know moving is hectic!!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

If it's worth painting, It's worth painting RED!

One of the Butterflies

by W. S. Merwin

The trouble with pleasure is the timing
it can overtake me without warning
and be gone before I know it is here
it can stand facing me unrecognized
while I am remembering somewhere else
in another age or someone not seen
for years and never to be seen again
in this world and it seems that I cherish
only now a joy I was not aware of
when it was here although it remains
out of reach and will not be caught or named
or called back and if I could make it stay
as I want to it would turn to pain.

"One of the Butterflies" by W. S. Merwin, from The Shadow of Sirius. © Copper Canyon Press, 2008. Reprinted with permission.

Isn't it so? Pleasure, it can overtake you without warning and be gone before you know it's here! I love this poem by W.S. Merwin. To admonition in beautiful music of words to "stay in the present" as much as is possible and recognize the joy of life moment by moment. Painting for me...captures moments of pleasure or contemplation.

The saying about the "color red" is a statement I have written several times inside my art sketchbooks. I am a Diane Maxey groupie! Do you know her work? She is out of Scotsdale, AZ and for many years she taught in the midwest circuit and I was able to "catch" her at least half a dozen times. If you go to her website you'll see a plethora of red red red. She loves it. When I painted "Madeline Island Ferry" I was thinking of her.

It took me about 5 layers to get that red just right and glowing. (Madleline Island is part of the Apostle Islands at the northern most border of Wisconsin in Lake Superior.) So it is that looking at this painting not only recalls the beautiful windy ferry boat ride to the island on a warm August afternoon...but my favorite watercolor teacher and the joyous hours I spent with her learning about color, shape, and composition. What an amazing teacher! If you ever have the's a great experience to paint with her.

Diane is teaching in Mrytle Beach, SC next November.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Form, shape, shadow

Tomorrow I am subbing for my friend, Lou, as teacher in her Adult Beginner Watercolor Class.

It's been awhile since I've taught beginners! The lesson plan she gave me talks about demonstrating how to make 3-dimentional objects come alive on a 2-dimentional surface.

The handout for the students suggests copying a line drawing for an onion and a pepper and then discusses cast and form shadows. The discussion is good, but I hardly think drawing the actual vegetables will be beyond them. They've been in class for several months now. (3 Monday mornings a month.) Surely we can all freehand an onion and a pepper!!!! I hope to have a little display of the drawings afterwards. Wish me luck.

Pineapples as a "Welcome" symbol

To the Carib, the pineapple symbolized hospitality, and the Spaniards soon learned they were welcome if a pineapple was placed by the entrance to a village. This symbolism spread to Europe, then to Colonial North America, where it became the custom to carve the shape of a pineapple into the columns at the entrance of a plantation.

Seafaring captains used to impale fresh pineapples--souvenirs of their lengthy travels to tropical ports--atop the porch railings of their homes when they returned. It was a symbol then that the man of the house was home--albeit briefly--and receiving visitors.

I worked a few hours before I went to bed last night on my "welcome pineapple". He's coming along. Now I need to sit and look awhile. One idea I had was to make him much larger and have him come down and touch the bottom of the painting. What do you think? Maybe not. Another idea was to create an interesting border around the outside of the painting at the edge reflecting some of the colors in the pineapple itself.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Baby Pineapple Reappears

You remember that little pineapple that we had to harvest early because of the freeze? Well after I photoed it and painted it into my journal and we ate it, I couldn't seem to let him go. I emailed Elizabeth St. Hilaire Nelson and asked her if she thought it might be a suitable subject for a Paper Painting? She said "go for it". It turns out she's done a pineapple herself!!! Something about that texture is so intriguing.

The way I am approaching these paper paintings is to paint my own papers (as Elizabeth suggests) but I do it one project at a time. Since this is not my main choice of mediums, it makes no sense to paint dozens and dozens of papers that might not get used. So, I use much smaller pieces of rice papers and etc and I carefully select the palette of colors I'll need and then I acrylic only those colors. I always have some left over, of course, and they go into the general pile for another project. The painted papers dry almost instantly.

This time when I painted my acrylic "pattern" for the paper painting, I decided not to plan a busy background. But then I decided to use a previously painted acrylic canvas board. It was mostly green anyway and had some texture so I went ahead an painted the greens over all the background. So it turned out a little busier than I intended.

So now I've started working on the light side of the pineapple and working my way around toward the dark side. I am using acrylic gel gloss for the glue. Elizabeth suggests working upright on an easel for this project. I like doing it that way too. I'll keep you posted on this project.

The Road Not Taken

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

"The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost. Public domain

I did this little sketch along a country road in s.e. WI at a nature/forestry center where my friend Kendra is the Program Specialist. It's called the Seno Woodland Center after a Dr Seno who donated the land. The town is Burlington, WI. It's a beautiful spot.

I did two freehand sketches that day (ink and watercolor/no graphite). As with all en plein air work, everyone remembers exactly where they were and what they were feeling when they did the art. I can still feel the warmth of the late September morning on my arms and smell the bergamot and hear the rustle of the corn nearby waiting for the harvest soon to come. Queen Anne's lace bordered the road sides there and pale blue chicory. It was SO quiet. Just a few bees buzzing.

I was reading this old and lovely poem by Robert Frost this morning and this scene of that country road came to me. The poem is a big favorite of my husband and me. We take a lot of back roads "literally" in our travels (remember Blue Highways: A Journey into America by William Least Heat-Moon?) And the older you get the more you realize that the roads you have chosen "figuratively" make all the difference. I sometimes go into reverie thinking...what if? But mostly I think...Thank you, God.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Little graphite sketch

Today my hubby and I attended a seminar for retired folks who are interested in avoiding a lot of taxes, protecting their assets and planning wills and trusts. VERY interesting. But a little long. I do think we have found a good attorney, however, for re-upping our long-overdue wills. That was a good thing. She did talk about how many people are out there to defraud seniors and to give advice that are not always in the best interests of their client.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ginny Finds Her Banner in Mt. Dora

It took a bit of doing, but we finally came upon my banner on Highland Street and 4th Avenue.

It was fun to see it up.

They will hang until the end of March and then go up for auction.

Looking for an "interesting place to stop"

Remember what Judi Betts says? "A painting is never finished. You just need to find an interesting place to stop." Hmmmmmmm.

This is just a "demo" painting where I am trying to show my future students some of the possible techniques they can use on Yupo paper...that synthetic Japanese paper that is just so tantalizing and strange.

I am finding it hard to stop! Hahahaha. My major problem in Yupo is always "darks". You can always add them, thank heavens. Same problem in my Taco painting from yesterday!

I think I need to tone down the whites in the chairs in places to give them a little more depth. I am not so sure about the sort of "organic" feel I added under the chairs. My thinking was to "infer" that they were outdoors near grass. But I am not sure I am liking that.

They are "floating" which may or may not be what I want. I think having the class watch me tinker with this one will be fun. I don't have a lot of time invested in it so anything goes on it. I love the funky organic blobs on the right but I am not sure they really add much to the painting. They may be cut way back or perhaps they need repeating somewhere else?

Happy Birthday Susan Vreeland

It's the birthday of novelist Susan Vreeland, (books by this author) born in Racine, Wisconsin, in 1946. She grew up in California, became a teacher, and for 30 years she taught English and ceramics in the San Diego public schools. She wrote a book called What Love Sees (1988), based on the true story of her parents' friends, a couple who were both blind but who managed a ranch and raised children with the help of a Seeing Eye cow. But she was also busy with her teaching, and for a while she wrote occasional stories or articles, but not much else.

Then, in 1996, she was diagnosed with lymphoma. She had chemotherapy and operations, and for a few months she couldn't do much but read, and even that was hard for her. So instead, she paged through art books, and she especially liked Vermeer, whose paintings were so calming. She needed more treatment, and she had to take off another year of teaching, and so she started writing stories based on Vermeer. Vermeer only painted 35 paintings, and so Susan Vreeland imagined that he had painted one more, and she wrote a story about that, and then several more stories about Vermeer and the imagined 36th painting and the people who owned it over the years. She said, "My goal at the time wasn't to create a novel that would make it out in the big world. It was to have enough time left in my life to finish this group of stories and print out 12 copies, so my husband could give them to members of my writing group so they'd have something to remember me by." She did finish them, and she turned them into a novel, and a tiny publishing house in Denver agreed to publish the novel, Girl in Hyacinth Blue (1999).

Girl In Hyacinth Blue was a best-seller, and Penguin bought the rights. Vreeland got better, and now she had an audience for her work, so she wrote four more novels centered around art, including The Passion of Artemisia (2002) about one of the first influential female artists, Artemisia Gentileschi, and most recently, The Boating Party(2007), about Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Both novelswere New York Times best-sellers.

I reviewed The Boating Party earlier this month as a friend had recommended it and I was so enjoying it. Then today Garrison Keillor's podcast had a happy birthday for the author! When I read about the other books Susan has written and about her life, I felt moved to give her a tribute on my blog this morning. What a woman to overcome her illness with pushing ahead to write despite a dim prognosis and then a happy ending that she is loved and gets better and writes more! Go Susan! I am definitely going to read more of Susan's books!!! (Incidentally Racine, WI is just an hour away from where I lived for more than 20 years!).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Yupo...just for the fun of it!

I took the reference photo yesterday at the local flea market. Then decided to try it on Yupo paper.I want to have some Yupo examples for when I start teaching next month.

I wanted to keep to shapes, shapes, shapes. I think I still need to work some on values. I need a few really really darks. I also think it may still be a bit "busy". The neat thing on Yupo is that you can make those changes quite easily.

I think your eye goes to the Taco sign first and I want to thread your eye down to the umbrella and through the painting. It is a warmer painting and mostly I want to entertain the eye with interesting textures and shapes. I am sure you can see how much I am influenced by George James. Some shapes were scraped out with a credit card. Some were lifted with stencils. I am nuts about umbrellas.

This piece is about 12 x 15 on translucent Yupo.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


This is one of my favorite little cartoons that keep me sane. I hope it's large enough to read the print..if not I think you can click to enlarge it. I am still learning how to work my scanner.

I would love to give the artist/cartoonist credit for this but I've had it for YEARS and the credits are long since lost. If anyone knows, I'd be so happy to add that to it. I am sure it came out of some ancient Artist magazine.

Whenever I am teaching a class I bring a copy of this along. Wheverer I paint something (like that portrait I posted a few days ago...hmmm...looks a lot like the one in the cartoon?) then I remember could just be the flu!

Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My Banner Made the Front Page

Thanks to my friend, Cheryl Jacobs, who spotted this on the front page of the Leesburg Florida Commercial Newspaper today! The banner I painted in November was one of those featured! I was really proud!

The banners will hang in Mt. Dora to celebrate the town's Centennial Celebration until mid-March and then they will be auctioned off for money to help fund the centennial celebration itself!! I am anxious to get over to town (next week) to see some of the other banners. There are really a lot of beautiful ones!!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Finger Labyrinths

Obviously, from the title of my blog I am a fan of the labyrinth.
My guess is that many of you have walked a labyrinth at one time or another. If not, I encourage you to do so. It is a spiritual experience and very quieting for the soul. These pictured here are FINGER labyrinths. Something I was just exposed to a few years ago when I came upon some in a museum. They are wonderful. These particular ones are for sale. click here. I am not necessarily plugging buying one, but it would be fun to have one. They come in a huge variety of different materials from stone to plastic. You can even print out a free finger labyrinth to use. Go here. As artists I am sure we could dream up a way to create our own finger labyrinths! I could certainly see making one of ceramic or clay! But I'll be one could be made in some multi-media form as well that is very amazing. How's that for a challenge! Walking (or walking with your fingers) among the turnings, one loses track of direction and of the outside world, and thus quiets the mind.

I think portraits are HARD!

This is my second portrait class. The first class was where I was painting that generic child that no one knew. (In a previous post.) This time I picked one of my nine grandsons to practice on.

The eyes are SO hard to paint! But I plan on hanging in here a little longer. I don't think portraits are my thing but it is fun to try. Some people in the class are so good that it is intimidating!

It got to 56 today in FL. Wow a heat wave. The sunshine felt warm but the wind is still biting. We are all winter-weary here.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Hard Freeze in Central Florida again Tonight!

We are in trouble in Florida. Another HARD freeze tonight. We didn't see snow but Greg thinks he heard sleet on the roof during the night. OH my gosh. (We are about an hour from Orlando). We may lose our oranges on this one. Just be glad you didn't pay for tickets to a theme park for today. Can you even imagine! It was 33 and raining this morning! Never got to 40 all day! I cannot ever remember anything like this before!!!

We have been nursing a tiny little pineapple that we planted ourselves several years ago and finally this fall...up it came. We were so excited. But when we heard the weather again tonight...Greg cut it and brought it in.

It's only 4.5" high. Just a baby. Probably all green inside but I took a ton of photos of it...such an interesting little guy...I have never painted one before and was really intrigued by the amazing textures on the surface. Painting makes you pay attention, doesn't it? I think it's time to put this little guy into a real painting.

Stay warm guys.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Whisking along.....just a little pun

Well, adding the wire whisk to the still life won the vote 8 to 1.

So this morning I added it in.
The previous version is below.

It's a subtle change in the painting. My hubby thinks it helps push the words into the background it a little more depth. I feel better with 3 things in the container. Just click on the image for it to enlarge slightly.

16 x 20 Acrylic on canvas. I think I'll paint the edges just in case I want to hang it frameless.

Rainy and cold here in FL this Friday afternoon.
Perfect day in the studio. Now back to that collage of the bears to see if I can follow Elizabeth's critique and get it more finished.

Gloria Betlem: Pastel Artist

It's always fun to meet and enjoy a new artist. This is Gloria Betlem's paste art reception last night at the Leesburg Center for the Arts.

Since a lot of her theme of Wild Florida revolved around birds, the center brought in many kinds of live birds and had them sitting around the room...some in cages but this bright beauty (a macaw, I think) was drinking wine out of it's owners cup and creating quite a squawk! (Not too musical). Anyway, it was a lovely catered reception with live piano music, a wine and soft drink bar and catered hot appetizers from Vic Embers here in town. Just lovely! I dream of such a show some day!!!

You can see Gloria's work on her website and under the link "Wild Florida" there are most of the paintings at the exhibit. The show will go on to Feb 10 and she is doing an "art walk" through her paintings on Feb 3 at 10 a.m. if you would like to meet her and hear about her inspiration for this series. She's also teaching a two day pastel class if you are local and you can contact her at about that.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wrapping Up Loose Ends

This 16 x20 acrylic on canvas has been sitting in my studio for about 8 months..half finished. It's not like me not to finish something once started BUT I am learning some patience these days. AND I am learning that given a bit of distance you can see all kinds of possibilities in a painting that you did not see before.

I started this in Diane Barringer's acrylic class in Jan Sturm's garage studio (here in Fl screened in garages are quite posh) way last winter. She laid out the apples and the cup and the pot (which was actually a flour sifter). I can remember if was draped at the time or not. About everything in the picture has changed color at least once!
Finally when the striped table cloth came to my mind, I began to actually "like" the painting. A little.

Then last week someone sent me an on-line video of Susan Webb Tregay doing some "repair" on a watercolor and I emailed a Lou about it and she rushed over with Susan's book called Master Disaster: Five Ways to Rescue Desperate Watercolors. Don't you wonder how this affected an acrylic painting? (Incidentally, I found her book for about $3 on used book section of Barnes & Noble.) Anyway, the thing I loved about her book was her outside-the-box thinking...something I've been striving for lately. And I suddenly saw the printing behind my still life. It came to me a dream! I kid you not. I do my best painting in dreams.

Okay, here's my last decision. Should I add one more thing into the kitchen utensil pot? My idea was a wire wisk partially covering the word "kitchen" but leaving it legible. I like things grouped in odd numbers and the two in the pot bother me a little. I had originally thought to stencil on one more word on the backgorund. But now I think that may just be too busy.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Learning a new skill is always a challenge. I took the photographs of this painting in two different places under two different lights. Thus the challenge of comparing these two. Sigh. But I think you get the idea. The little boy is just a generic boy that the teacher is having us all paint. I have a ways to go on it. Next week I want to try painting someone I know. It will have more emotional content then, of course.
Boy if you don't work with portraits you forget everything you were ever taught! I will probably just work on the boys's the only important part of the painting. The boy is really a blond like in the first painting...not a red head like he looks in the second photo.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Mary Warren: Photographer

I said before in a previous post that I have two friends who are photographers. This one is Mary Warren, from Wheaton, Illinois. Mary and I went to undergraduate school together (Beloit College in Wisconsin) and so have known each other for over 50 years. GASP!

Mary says "I got more interested in photography as I was preparing to go on an African photo safari to Tanzania and Kenya in the fall of 2007. The digital camera I selected (Panasonic DMC-TZ3) has a great lens and a 10X optical zoom, both of which I needed for capturing wildlife photos. Since then I've really enjoyed going on photo shoots, most often in the Chicago area where I live. "

Mary's love of photography came after retirement just as my love of painting did. Now she is getting 45,000 views on her Flickr site!! I love to click on sets, then on slide show, and just sit back and enjoy!!!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Paper Painting on a Rainy Day

We have had 2" of rain since last night around 11:30 pm. Whew. This has put me into the studio for a few hours this morning, however. That part was good.

Decided to work on the collage or as Elizabeth calls it "paper painting". I decided to go with the teddy bear theme full out! Probably a tad over the top. So the chair is "quilted" in teddy bear story books. Sorta busy, huh? The pillow (once flowered) is now full of teddy bear stories and poems and bits of music. Remember, this is my first paper painting. I want to try EVERYTHING! Hahahaha.

So here is where I am at right now. Time to sit back and look and think. I can go back over things and add. You can't subtract but you can cover over things.

I put in a close up of the pillow and of the story book quilted "chair".

The last image is "where I am at" right now. I think the brown bear's face needs a little more work (from a distance). The shadows under the bears jump out and bite. I need to soften their edges and maybe go to a lightly lighter blue. One thing I learned straight off is that if your painting will have red in it, you need to paint your collage papers in at least 3-4 shades of red and perhaps some textured red. I did pretty well with the browns because I knew I would need browns in this painting.

This is a time-consuming art form. I think I'll bits of tissue paper under my nails and floating around the studio now for weeks!

Collage Continues

If you look closely...the green background and the yellow bear's head are collaged. Or at least started.

You can still see most of the original background painting. Elizabeth suggests a simple acrylic painting for a background reference.

In the photo reference the chair was very busy. But I decided to leave it white for now and maybe have some fun with some interesting papers there. I love how Elizabeth finds bits that have something to do with the central idea of the painting. So I am thinking "bears", "toys", ? Hmmmm...what else?

This may be a little too complicated drawing for a first attempt...but the nice thing is that you can simplify as you proceed. I may decide to do some simple stripes on the pillow instead of trying to infer florals. But I could also have some fun with a variety of papers back there to infer a pattern.

How do collage artists ever keep track of all their papers and stuff? Good heavens...I have paper bits now flying all over the studio! I have designated one big drawer in an old dresser for my collage stuff. And tried to do some sorting in zip lock bags.

This painting is 11 x 14 on YES canvas board. The next step now is to go back and view Elizabeth's DVD again. Once you have started you find out things, of course. You hear your inner voice says, "Now what did she say?" It's raining here in Central Florida on NY a perfect time to watch a video!