Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Prep time

It's almost the 4th of July which means the summer Festival of Arts is about to begin. On Thursday night there is an award ceremony followed by a preview night and I am receiving 2 awards this year which has me a little more excited than usual. On Friday the "Painting the Town" event begins with breakfast in Old Town followed by all of us "on location" painters scattered throughout the town of Marblehead. I usually participate in this plein air event and in the past have always been drawn toward a more peaceful, isolated painting location. This year everything is going to change!

Because of my continuous passion for encaustic painting I am going to plein air paint with wax at Deveraux Beach. Today I drove by to make sure there were secure, safe tables I can use to set up my portable camping stove along with my encaustic paints and brushes.

View from shaded picnic table area -

I already prepared 2 wood panels with layers of wax medium so that I can get right to painting with pigmented wax. I have never painted outdoors using the camping stove and being at the beach location with the changing light and sun should be a new adventure. I am curious to see how different my palette choices will be.

Stack of panels and floater frames, ready and waiting -

We have all of Friday to paint with the deadline to submit finished, framed, paintings by 5pm (although there is now an allowance for those artists that need until 9am Saturday). A reception is held later Saturday afternoon and the exhibit remains intact until the end of the festival.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

New website - up and running

It only took a day of intense focus combined with obsession, followed by several days of rechecking on different web browsers to make sure my new web design was functioning properly. The only glitch I found was on the home page; viewing on the firefox web browser, my signature does not appear correctly. Next week I will meet with tech support in the local Apple store to see if there is something I can do to correct that.

My watercolor palette is fighting with my encaustic palette and I don't know which medium is going to win in my next creative endeavor! I did just order several new encaustic paint colors from Evans Encaustic and I am leaning toward waiting until they arrive before pulling out the torch and electric griddle.

I decided to frame some of the figure studies from last week's watercolor workshop. I am still surprised with my enjoyment from something I had felt such a strong aversion to in the past.

This first painting is the only one not under glass yet, you may notice reflections in the images that are under glass.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Web facelift time (again)

It was almost a year ago when I decided to no longer pay a web designer to manage my site and I switched over to Apple software with web hosting. I am not versed in web design although the Apple company offers simplified templates, perfect for someone like me, who would rather be spending my time doing other things (like painting). When I initially setup my site, I spent several weeks totally obsessed, building and editing every detail. I was able to update as often as needed.

I love being able to manage everything on my own.

I decided to choose a black background because it made the images of my paintings pop (and it was how my old website looked) but in the past 10 months I have discovered that the best way to present artwork online is with a white or light background. Galleries have white walls, not black, because it is less distracting and makes it easier to see the true color of an artwork. I know when I am reading a black page on my monitor if the font is bright white it almost hurts my eyes. I am now going to make the change over to white pages. Below are 2 samples of my new home page, although neither sample includes the header on top. Pretty simple. I am not sure if my font should be gray or black, but once I start copying my current website in the new template it will be easier for me to figure out the details. I am hoping I can focus on this all week so that I will be ready to post my new and improved site live on the web by next week.

sample of new website home page (below)
version 1
version 2

Friday, June 17, 2011

End of watercolor workshop

Things began to click for me yesterday, and continued today. The biggest impact Joel made on me was in my use of lights and darks, and not being afraid to make strong shadows. I also want to cut back on the amount of water and spray I use when wetting the paper. My most unexpected experience was how much I enjoyed painting from a live model.

Yesterday we painted outside but my favorite work from the day was when I got "up close and personal" with Hosta in the garden.

Hosta I, 18" x 24"

Hosta II, 18" x 24"

One of my favorite figure studies was combining 3 different poses, each painted in less than 5 minutes.

Figure Study, 22" x 30"

The last thing we did this afternoon was rip up the paintings we did not want to keep, then we created collages.

Figure Study Collage, 30" x 22"

Joel Janowitz was an amazing, articulate, knowledgable teacher. I can only hope I am as helpful to my students as he was to me.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mid-week watercolor workshop update

Exhaustion, frustration, humility... just a few words to describe the way things are going for me so far. I have been trying to open myself up to a more disciplined and controlled use of watercolor and instead what I am experiencing is more of a disconnect in my paintings. The technical skills of any art medium are always key to success and once I reached my personal understanding with watercolor I was able to move into a more therapeutic, free flowing approach. This week has been the opposite end of the spectrum from what I am used to, and I am hopeful that in a day, or in a month, I will walk away with new skills that I didn't realize I learned this week.

We have been focusing on shadows, lights and darks, and drawing; Eyy Gads, drawing! I will admit that when we had a live model yesterday the quick sketches followed by quick watercolor washes were a ton of fun. Tomorrow we are spending the day outdoors, plein air landscape painting, something I enjoy, then Friday the model is back.

Day 1 - we had to work dry, and our focus was not on the details in the shapes but on the shadows.

After the first lesson, the next thing we did was paint abstractly using color, making sure there was no background distinction and at least one hard edge. I don't think I followed directions well for this one!

Day 2 - we had a live model in the morning and started with quick 40 second pencil sketches, then we were given a little more time to add wash colors.

After each lesson we hang work in the hallway and critique as a group.

Day 3 -  we were told to bring still life objects. I decided to bring in my dead bonsai, along with a bowl of fruit. I missed the opportunity to create an entire 'environment' with my still life arrangement when I decided to use the bonsai alone. I would have been able to concentrate on a wider variety of shadows if I had included more objects.

In the afternoon I used fruit in an 'up close and personal' kind of way. I had trouble understanding the light/dark relationships and reached a point where I didn't think about matching color in my shadows. Tonight I decided to add outline with a sharpie marker because I figured the worst thing I could do was ruin what I already considered a failure.

I am hoping tomorrow I can move back into my looser style of landscape painting and not feel as restricted in how I am using water and paint. Friday when the model returns I hope to get into more detailed figure studies. In the afternoon I think we are using our "reject" paintings to create a collage.

Throughout the week I have been asking myself what works for me, what doesn't, and I have reassured myself that it's OK if I don't want to change my style of watercolor painting. It's always good to see how other teachers make things click for their students. Maybe as a student my clicker isn't working as well as it used to.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Positive reinforcement

I was at a meeting this morning (Weight Watchers, I admit I am one of them) and we talked about what we keep track of in the course of a week. Tara, our meeting leader, asked if anyone blogged and of course I responded enthusiastically that I did, then she asked me why. The answer for me was "it helps make sense of it all". I blog because I am passionate about making art, love to share and talk about each new piece as it occurs, and often learn from all of your comments. I also know that by writing (blogging aka journaling) I am listening to myself, something I am not always good at.

With that in mind, receiving the Best in Show for mixed media work at this years Marblehead Festival of Arts has inspired me to revisit the ocean waves across the street, and the dreary, rainy weather is always motivation. 

"Splash", 8" x 8" encaustic painting

Next week I will be participating in a week long Summer Studio Immersive at Montserrat College hosted by Joel Janowitz. I am excited and curious to embrace a workshop environment that is not hosted by yours truly, and look forward to sharing my progress here.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Shadows, take 2 (and some more good news!)

I have spent the past 24 hours obsessing over my newest painting, "Shadows in the Grove", trying to figure out what bothered me and after spending all day, quietly and privately over analyzing what the painting needed, I came home and went right to work. I am much happier with this now, can you tell what I changed?

The primary attraction in the composition when I decided to paint this was the shadow in the foreground, more than anything else.

"Shadows", 16" x 20", encaustic

My other bit of news is that I received another phone call earlier today from the Marblehead Festival of Arts and found out I also won the Edward D. Carey award, for my watercolor painting. In the over 20 years that I have been visiting and participating in this summer art festival, there has never been an award that I have respected and admired more than this. I am so thrilled and encouraged, and I had to share the news.

To read about the summer art festival and the award I am receiving, you can visit the festival website:

The painting that received the Edward Carey award, "Howling at the Moon"

Cheers, Everyone!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Shadows in the Olive Grove

Inspiration continues to flow from my Tuscan vacation, this time from hiking through an olive grove in Italy. In the background you can see Castello di Tornano, it was the first stop on our trip, in the town of Gaiole in Chianti. Early spring meant colors were minimal but I was more intrigued with the shadows and textures in the grove.

"Shadows in the Grove", 16" x 20" encaustic image transfer

As a footnote, I have to mention that I found out yesterday I won "Best in Show" in the Mixed Media category of the Marblehead Festival of Arts. This is the painting that won me the prize:

"Gray Day at the Beach", 8" x 8", encaustic painting

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Fun Fruits

Wouldn't fruit drawings be fun to hang in a kitchen? Permanently ripe!

Apple, 9" x 10", pastel 

Orange, 9" x 10", pastel

Lemon, 9" x 10", pastel

It took me several days to recuperate from last weekend's encaustic project, I was totally engrossed for 2 days not to mention the weeks I had spent thinking about how I was going to handle it and I was physically drained when I finished. I have another encaustic painting planned for this weekend, but in the mean time, I had time to sketch some things I found in my refrigerator.