Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Just a few little sketches

My journal is sadly falling behind in all the fuss over the move to the new house. I did make a tiny sketch while sitting the gallery for the spring Leesburg Art League Show...and then a tiny sketch of the Prayer Chapel at the retreat center in Fruitland Park, FL where my church did a 2-day retreat earlier this month.

I am so itching to be back in my studio but it'll be at least another week before I can really unpack and get organized...and I have company coming so that will slow things down. I need to get myself organized for en plein air painting at Winter Garden on April 10 and Ann Abgott's workshop which is coming up April 12 and 13.

Happy Birthday Vincent

It's the birthday of Vincent Van Gogh, born in Zundert, Holland (1853). As a young man, he was deeply religious and went off to do missionary work in a coal-mining region in Belgium. One day he decided to give away all of his worldly goods and live like a peasant. But his religious superiors thought he was having a nervous breakdown. They kicked him out of the mission and he had to go home. It was then that he started to draw and paint. He taught himself with art books and by studying the masters.

Friday, March 26, 2010

"Happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in length."

"Happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in length." is a quote from Robert Frost.

It is his birthday today. I have reprinted the poem below from which this comes. It tells about one perfect day....when the sunshine shone all day and skies were clear and from which one can draw happiness that will last you through many many cloudy ones! I like that.

And it's true, at least for me, that mostly I remember the happy things in my life and let the sad ones go. And so the happy ones collect and it surely seems as though there was more sunshine than rain in my life. It is what I choose. I understand from reading Frost's biography that he "suffered from dark depressions" in his life. And yet he wrote poetry that has and will lift our souls for eternity. I choose to think that because he knew the dark, he appreciated the light all the more. Thus the title of the poem. This, like most poems, increases in value if read aloud. Try it that way.

Happiness Makes Up in Height for What It Lacks in Length

by Robert Frost

Oh, stormy stormy world,
The days you were not swirled
Around with mist and cloud,
Or wrapped as in a shroud,
And the sun's brilliant ball
Was not in part or all
Obscured from mortal view—
Were days so very few
I can but wonder whence
I get the lasting sense
Of so much warmth and light.
If my mistrust is right
It may be altogether
From one day's perfect weather,
When starting clear at dawn,
The day swept clearly on
To finish clear at eve.
I verily believe
My fair impression may
Be all from that one day
No shadow crossed but ours
As through its blazing flowers
We went from house to wood
For change of solitude.

"Happiness Makes Up in Height for What It Lacks in Length" by Robert Frost, Collected Poems. © Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 1969. Reprinted with permission

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Thinking pink

Thinking pink...have always loved this painting which I did from a photo I took in Key West. My sister has it hanging in her house in South Carolina.

Suddenly we are getting some 80s here in Central Florida and I am feeling like spring might finally have arrived. The orange blossoms are opening and the sun feels like Florida again. I sure hope so! We might even get to the pool tomorrow?

I am getting emails from friends and relative up in the midwest who have lots of robins now and whose tulips and daffodils are rising up just like Easter was around the corner!!!

I also wanted to draw your spring-like attention to a very neat spring flower website where you can hold down your mouse and grow your own flowers. Click here and see if it works for you. It is a black page but when you click...or hold down your mouse... How do people do this stuff?!! My daughter in law, Marie, sent me this.

I hope to get to my sketch book this week a little too...my studio is in transition still but the sketch book is always ready to go.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

En Plein Air and spring events in Central Florida

Spring: the time for en plein air again! This year I'll be painting in the Winter Garden Bloom and Grow garden event on the streets of Winter Garden on Saturday the 10th of April from about 9:30 am to 1 pm. Look for the large artist umbrellas set out along the streets!

You can click here for info and a slide show about the event.The dates are April 10 and 11. It's a wonderful event with everything pertaining to out of doors...from flower pots to gourds to trees and plants!!! Lots of good food and raffles too.

Ann Blasic and I (and the whole committee) have been working on the new artist "Watch Art Happen" part of the event since last July!!! Ann and I are going to take a street map and tent set up map and plan out locations on next Wednesday, the 31st of March. Our final planning for the artist's part. I believe the sign ups have been extended to April 2. So if you would still like to paint, there is info on the link above.

I want to thank en plein artist Durinda Cheek for all her wonderful help in designing the artist application for the event. Her input was invaluable as she has so much experience and even as we speak painting in the Epcott event at Disney! Be sure to look for her if you are attending that event.

Now we just have to hope and pray for good weather. Winter Park had their art show last weekend and Sunday it JUST POURED. What a mess. At least they got one day dry.

April 9 will be the Mount Dora Art Stroll...always a pleasant event for you that are local. I believe that they will be auctioning off the street banners (remember the one I painted last fall?). I actually can't imagine who would wish to own these but mine being a garden event banner would logically be a good one for the Mt. Dora Garden club or plant sale to own and use for their event each November! I hope someone thinks of that!

My posts for a few weeks now will be erratic as we are in the process of moving and my studio is pretty well packed up. (I hope to do some sketching, however). Have a good week and here's to warmer weather!!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I chose a mainly green painting for today...a favorite that I did in watercolor a few years ago that is now hanging in a dear friend's home. I snapped the photo reference for it one summer day at a garage sale in Wisconsin...the folks had a lovely yard and while Greg was digging through some bin, I snapped photos of their garden center behind the garage. It is such a warm painting and I love the stillness and inviting composition. 11 x 15 on Arches 140 cold pressed.

A bit about St. Patrick......who was actually born in Britain...

St Patrick wrote that he would have loved to go home to his family and his country, but that it was his duty to remain in Ireland, converting people to Christianity and baptizing them. There were few Christians in Ireland at the time, so Patrick tried to integrate traditional beliefs with the new religion, and legend has it that he introduced the Celtic cross as a way to combine the Christian cross with a symbol of the sun. Another legend says that he used the three leaves of the clover to explain the Trinity, which is why shamrocks are a symbol of St. Patrick's Day. And March 17, Patrick's Feast Day, has been celebrated as a religious holiday ever since. He died in 460 so we are talking a LONG time ago.

But the green clothing and all-out festivities of St. Patrick's Day are largely a product of the United States. The first St. Patrick's Day parade was held in New York City in 1762 by Irish immigrants. These days, about 3 million people line up to watch the parade in New York, and there are similar huge celebrations in Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago, where they dye the river green.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hawthorne Park Art Show Today

We had a very successful and delightful art show for our residential park here in Florida today. Tons of lovely art work (you'll recognize that kitchen acrylic painting of mine on the lower right hand side.) I had 7 pieces showing.

It's an afternoon show from 1-4 pm. A great way to advertise to the park residents the nice work being done in the classes.

We also had a lovely exhibit of grandchildren's art work. You'll see a nice piece by my 10 year old grandson Eric on display here. (The dragonfly photo just cut off in front of his drawing was by my 14 year old granddaughter, Missy.)

There was also lots of beautiful table art: ceramics, wood carving, ceramics, etc. AND cookies and punch. A happy day was had by all.

I came down with the flu the night before. But luckily I had all my paintings ready to be delivered to the show and my dear husband was able to take care of that for me.

By 3:30 I felt well enough to come over and have a look at the show. So glad I did.

Happy Pi Day!!!

Just in case you are wondering why Google would display this odd logo today...

Today is Pi Day, in honor of the mathematical constant pi (π), an irrational number that begins 3.14 — like today's date, March 14th or 3/14.

π is a letter of the Greek alphabet, and it's the symbol for the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. In other words, if a circle has a diameter of 10 inches, we could find out its circumference by multiplying 10 inches by π, and we'd find out that the circle with a 10-inch diameter has a circumference (or perimeter) of approximately 31.4159265. It can only ever be approximate — never exact — because π is an irrational number, meaning that it goes on forever without repeating or having patterns. Using powerful computers, π has been calculated in recent years into trillions of decimal places.

Pi Day began in 1988, started by a physicist named Larry Shaw. And just last year, in 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution designating today as National Pi Day.

Pi Day celebrations around the nation today involve eating dessert pies or pizza pies, throwing cream pies, and listening to lectures on the importance of the irrational number — sometimes all of these things occurring in unison.

I heartily recommend eating a pie today! Or even better...painting one!!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Quiet Snow

In truth, I took this photo in different light than the previous ones. I applied the snow, then I took it outside in natural light to photo the painting.

It became a lot "cooler" in natural light. Also the snow looks more natural with a little darker sky (snow cloud). The house slips into the landscape instead of standing out quite so much. The whole painting got softer with the snow. The snow toned the pink/gold sky down a bit. I hope not too much. I love pink/gold skies!

I like how the snow on the roof seems a tad brighter on the right side where I have the light source. I added a shadow from the chimney across the roof, a little of the sidewalk heading off the left (Greg's idea) and a few more shadows in the snow. The driveway now seems like it might be covered with a light dusting of the new snow as Mary wants it to look untouched. It feels serene to me. And VERY quiet the way it is when snow deadens sound.

I see this in a double white mat with an oak or gold frame...I'll sign it tonight and try to get it into the mail to Mary later this week.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Putting the finishing touches on

Just a few more finishing touches. I am trying to decide if I should put light snow falling in the painting. As if the last of the snow clouds was just drifting off at dawn. I've done that before on some paintings. Can't make up my mind yet. One thing that does is make the house and the landscape blend together more. Still the warm brown and the pink/gold sky seem to go together well.

I may darken the driveway. Not sure. I don't want a big dark hole in the painting.

It looks like Mary is not up yet. Or maybe her tea is brewing and she is looking out the living room window in her robe and wondering where her camera is. Not a footprint yet in the yard. Mary's birthday is actually 3 days before spring. So I'll call this "Three Days Before Spring". Happy Birthday, Mary!

Deciding temperature

A painting should make up it's mind if it's going to be warm or cool, not half and half. It should lean one way or the other. Most of my architectural snow paintings have leaned fairly cool. But something about this subject matter and the delight of the wonderful snow-filled trees overpowering the house, spoke to a warmer painting. And perhaps the influence of the title I had already chosen as well: "The Day Before Spring". So a sunrise was born with glazes of aurolin yellow and rose madder genuine and a touch of cobalt blue.

I am taking a lot of license with the painting now...dropping off the neighbors house and balancing it with another pine tree (that may or may not actually be there...hard to see in the snow.) There was a lot of "masking" as all the snow is actually the white of the paper.

In my dreams last night I was designing some of the shadows that would fall forward in front of the house (not available in the photo, of course). I pulled out my white acrylic ink which I think I will use to add more tiny white branches later and to use for touch ups. I relate to the lovely big tree in the front yard..reminding me of my big old oak back in Wisconsin that got sold with our house a year ago last September. Down here in Florida when the live oaks get that old, the branches sweep down to the ground like a ball room dancer in a heavy gown. Then the old branches touching there re-root into new trees.
Watercolor on Arches cold pressed 11 x 15.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Capturing A Moment Before Spring

Trying to capture snow like this is amazingly difficult. This photo is more about the beautiful tree in the front yard than it is about a house! Still when Mary sent me this lovely photo of her house in Wheaton, Illinois just a few days ago...my heart just sang.

Here is a preliminary sketch.

It won't be a surprise, because Mary follows my blog...so if this doesn't turn out Mary...it's won't because I didn't try...or that the motivation wasn't there...it'll probably more about that magic that is so hard to capture. The sparkle. I may decide to make it snowing in the painting...sometimes that helps to make the whole thing pull together. I'll see as I go along. My time, unfortunately has some limitations right now...but Mary's birthday is just two weeks away...I think. Wouldn't that be a good goal?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

It's the birthday of a man considered to be the most popular children's book writer in American history, the best-selling children's book writer of all time, and a man who revolutionized the way children learned to read: Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.

He was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, on this day in 1904. He's the author of more than 60 children's books, includingHorton Hears a Who! (1954), One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish(1960), Green Eggs and Ham (1960), Hop on Pop (1963), Oh, the Thinks You Can Think! (1975), The Butter Battle Book (1984), and of course, The Cat in the Hat (1957).

Learning about his life is amazing. His mother was a high platform diver and his father was a zoo keeper. (I kid you not.) When I was teaching school, a zillion years ago, we'd often have a birthday cake on March 2 and celebrate his birthday.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Just plain fun

Sometimes a painting is just "plain fun". Something you just "feel like doing" and it has to be at that moment in time. I started to say "it doesn't have deep philosophical meaning" but one is never quite sure about paintings that seem to paint themselves. Perhaps it does. It certainly spawned a lot of thoughts about clowning and the history of clowning for me.

This kind of art is more "children's book illustration" type art. It looks like a cover for a book on clowns or how to become a clown. I thought a lot about the many "sides" to clowning...who knows what someone viewing this painting might be thinking? I've been accused of painting "happy" paintings. There is sure no doubt about this one!

It pleases me that these clowns are "local" Leesburg, FL area clowns and that they are probably part of a clown club or group that goes to picnics, parades and events in the community because they love to. I can't even begin to think why people become clowns. I choose to believe it is because they want to make people happy. It sure worked for me!