Artists Statement

I paint as often and as much as I can. I take classes when I can afford it, but the money usually goes to buy more art supplies. This blog is to share the results with you! I am a Work in Progress.

Dianne Lanning Fine

Saturday, December 31, 2011

On the Seventh Day of Christmas,

St. Margaret's Chapel, Edinburgh Castle
It's New Year's Eve. Break out the Martinellis!
However, on to what this blog is about! To the left is what began as a freehand sketch of the stained glass window in St. Margaret's chapel in Edinburgh Castle, Scotland. It's the most interesting building in the place, to me. In the midst of this fortress was this tiny lasting, loving place. It struck my heart.  As it should, it stands a little apart, looks unassuming and unremarkable, but it's one of those places that sticks in the memory, because it sticks in the heart.
Built by David I around 1130 it's the oldest building in Edinburgh. He was a king and a warrior (they were all unbelievably brutal then) but also a pious man. He built to honour his mother. She became known as St. Margaret. 
I remember standing there in the cold and burgeoning sleet of a late February day and being swept away when told this. It's near the fence that marks the edge of the precipice overlooking the rest of the city. Well, the city is there now, not so much then.
It touched me that this man built this gift for her. She had passed on before he was nine. Suddenly the little stone box became more of a precious treasure chest representing Love and generosity of spirit.
Even an amateur medievalist will know a bit of how brutal these times were. Autocracy is too gentle a word, and there was little or no conscience or sense of outrage at the barbarities committed against the common man. As in the line from Queen Eleanor in "The Lion in Winter," "Nonsense, this is 1183, and we are barbarians."

Friday, December 30, 2011

On the Sixth Day of Christmas...

Heaton Hearth 2011
This is the hearth of some dear friends of mine. They have lived in a number of places. It got me to thinking about what "Home" means to me. A sense of home gives us a lot. To really help us, it must be portable. If it is tied to a building it becomes tenuous, ephemeral. Once you find a true sense of what "home" is, it goes with you because it comes from you. Have you ever known any of those people who "nest" wherever they go? There is a good possibility that it is because they carry their sense of home with them. A lifetime of frequent transplanting with a loving family gave me a portable sense of home, and I am forever grateful for that. It's like learning that you can love someone and you don't lose them if they are in another room, or even in another country. If it is Truth, it just is. If 2+2=4 in San Jose, it also equals 4 in Paris, and at the same time. If you Love, you Love. For those who must "possess" it's a good bet they are a collector, not a Lover.
Christmas can always be spent at Home, if home is where you are, if Home resides within you.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Fifth Day of Christmas,

The journey continues. Sometimes our guidance is as clear as a star in the east, sometimes we need to stop giving instructions and listen.
That's me all over. I hear a lot better with my mouth shut. Trouble is...oh the usual.
This landscape may not look right topographically, my familiarity is with southwestern USA topography, so the Wise Men are following the Star somewhere outside Benson, AZ.
Enjoy your Journey, it's Life.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Fourth Day of Christmas,

Candy Cane Watercolor 6X8
Half way to New Years Eve, and half way through Christmas Week.  This watercolor is in my sketch book, one of the ones that goes everywhere with me. It needs some cropping. It needs some crunching!
There is all this candy around, fortunately the hard candy doesn't need to be eaten right away, it can go on next years tree.
The See's must be eaten within a reasonable time frame, right? I'm trying to make it last until New Years.
Again a Merry Christmas Week and have a Happy New Year!
With much Love to you all, and to all a Good Night!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Third Day of Christmas...

A wintery scene.

I haven't tried this sort of scene very often. It's going to take some practice. Brrr, I got cold working on this one. It will have to be something warmer tomorrow or I'll have to turn up the thermostat. This is turning into a painting a day, let's see if I can get it each one finished (enough) each day for the twelve.
Merry Christmas Week to all!

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Second Day of Christmas:

Redberry Wreath 6X8 watercolor
Boxing day in some areas. A day to reflect. Or ...whatever. I'm just not in that solemn a mood! So I painted! This is using a little plein air pocket sized set of half pans and a block I can carry in my bag. This, however, was done inside.
Christmas was a lovely day for all the family and most of us were together. Today we are all "resting" after the preparations. Especially my sister-in-law, she decorated their house beautifully and together they fixed a scrumptious meal, plus lots of snacks of every kind, cookies and candy to raw veggies and dip. Yum!

 This all means heavenly leftovers of course. I got to bring some home, so I don't have to cook to night. I think I am showing rather a lot of unsuspected self control in not eating all the candy, I also brought home, in one sitting. Do you people have any idea what it is like to have an OPEN box of See's in the house? Time for some carrot sticks!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

It's Christmas 'eve, Merry Christmas

To all who drop by, and to those who don't find their way here, I wish a Merry Christmas, and all the promises fulfilled that this occasion represents. The Christ came to all the world and brought healing.

Peace be unto you, (Luke 24:36)

"And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; (John 13:16)
"God bless us, every one!" (Charles Dickens)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Almost Christmas!

I can't believe I haven't posted all month! I've been drawing a lot and exploring the pen and ink thing, also I've been finishing some UFO's (UnFinished Objects) a Needle Arts term. It's satisfying to work with lace and even to make lace, and to embroider a sheer and delicate fabric with silk thread.

But last night when I got home from church there was this leaf on the back steps. It caught my fancy. So, here it is in my first watercolor attempt in weeks:

So, now it's time to do something seasonal. The Christmas cards are almost finished, time to paint one more. Merry Christmas!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Here's what I've been up to... (a rather colorless post)

Still enjoying pen and ink work. Here is another ball to keep in the air, you really have to keep practicing to get better and maintain what you've gained. At this rate I may just lose weight for lack of time to eat, not that I need to or anything. Hmm how long does it take to get rid of X pounds. (Ahm not tell'in) OK, here they are:
Yes, sketching at the table again. This is some crusty shepherd's bread. Sorry, it's all gone now, but it was preserved for posterity on this paper. Shadows were confusing because it was under a 6-lite chandelier.
And a few other things sitting around:

This is a copper vessel of some kind, it followed me home from a thrift store. It is reprousse with a brass plinth, bail, and handle. Did I capture that softening quality of all the dust on it?

This was an idea from Virtual Paint Out, which I haven't done in a long time. This was in Sardenia on highway SS125. It's a beautiful drive and the road is beautifully maintained. I was also trying some of my new Pitt artist pens, this one was Medium, and quite wide. It does make you simplify:

And last, but not least, the tools of the trade. One of these is a semi functioning quill. Well, it was until I used it. It takes a really sharp pen knife and a practiced hand to sharpen these things. The smallest feather is one I found somewhere, and the other large one is courtesy of Ike, my friend Peg's gander.
The ink well is from Old Sturbridge Village, the potter there makes them and a lot of other useful period items. I found the cork in with a bunch of corks I got I don't know where. Honest, nobody stole it out of my lunch! It keeps the ink from drying out or spilling to readily.

Monday, October 31, 2011


With apologies to Target and the un-named photographer who took this picture. I couldn't resist trying to sketch it:
Angry Bee

The little model in the picture did a wonderful job of portraying the whole thought, no caption needed actually. She actually looked more like steam was rising from her in the photo. It was a challenge to try and capture the "child," the sweet innocence and the temper being expressed. It's easier when their faces are screwed up into a furious scream, nothing held back, but this burning dagger look, wow, this is going to take some practice and observation.

Recently I got some Faber-Castell pens, closer to markers, but with a lot of different tips. Also one Medium point in "warm grey" to play with. More toys! That said, now it's time to learn to use them to good effect. Practice! Observation! Application!
Yes, Mother. Don't let anyone tell you Life is not eternal, I can hear her saying "I told you so" from here!

This is what it's like to be raised by a violinist. Lesson learned. Since most of my study is self-directed (because I'm always broke) Blogging has been a gift, at least to me. How about y'all out there? It makes you less afraid, or let's rephrase that, it's helped overcome false pride, and helped get it out there, even the bad and mediocre, to get some feedback.

I find that once I've posted something I thought was finished, it's like seeing it through someone else's eyes, you can see what's wrong or missing. You may not be able to figure out what to do about it, but you can tell. That's a big help. As soon as I posted the little Bee Girl above I could see I missed the shading under her folded arms. And sooo many other things.
It's Halloween, and going to be warm enough for Trick or Treating, so, finished or not, Have a Happy Halloween, and try not to fight the kids for the candy. Swipe it when they aren't lookin'!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Exploring the world of pen and ink...

Preliminary sketch
In searching for something else, I came upon a fountain pen with a fine point that was specifically for sketching. In a weak (one of many) moment I ordered it. I had not really played with pen and ink, since it is a bit unforgiving. However I found the deep black ink on white paper irresistible. In a hardbound sketch journal I sometimes carry I sketched this pavilion in our local Japanese Gardens. Thank heaven I also took a photo. A friend saw it in my book and asked for a larger version, so a journey began.
The results follow. Each time I do it some things get better, others get "flubbed." Here is the second attempt:
Second attempt
The pavilion is set on a pool with wonderful rocks and evergreens around it. Finally using a small straight edge to keep it from getting too sloppy I found my two main challenges were the inset part of the railings and how much vegetation to include. How much is enough and how much is too much? and it's so angular, and I'm not.
Then came this one:
Next attempt (3?)
 Is this too much background? Do you lose the pavilion in it? This time I find the reflections annoying. Maybe that can be fixed, or at least modified to be less odd?
And now there is this one:
Most recent attempt
OK, less background, reflections still not right. On this one I had just picked up some Faber-Castel Pitt pens with different points. The Medium and Brush ones were good for getting a deep black under the roof edges and shadows at the top of the pillars. The rail still comes out messy. Maybe I shouldn't have done this at noon?


Where do I go from here? This is when I want a class. I've spent hours and hours drawing, modeling in classes and going home and doing the assignment the students were given. Still not enough. I do like the pen and ink, though, no more dragging my hand through it and smearing grey all over my hands and the picture. With a dip pen I am really messy, I get it all over me, but with the fountain pen and these Pitt pens it's a lot cleaner, well, I'M a lot cleaner. But they do not give you much of a second chance. Since that's inherent in the medium, it seems to matter less, it's a "do the best you can" medium. I hope. It takes a better draftsman I guess.

Any comments?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

El Color Caliente...

The above is the theme of an upcoming show at a Gallery near me. Lately I've been thinking about this. The focus of the show is cultural, but I kept coming up with landscapes:
Arakis/Dune or Big Bend Desert Sand Storm 8X10
14X18 Acrylic, unfinished
the second one was not ready for the show. There are dried chilis to hang and rugs hung out to air, chimney pots to add, rungs, values to balance, oh the list goes on. I entered the first one and:

Chili's 8X10,acrylic, painted this morning.

When I took the picture the shadows all bleached out. This is without the flash, too.
After double checking the painting I found that they're there, somehow I didn't catch them with the camera. The submissions for the show were emailed in, and of course no one else will paint chili peppers, oh no.
Perhaps Photoshop could help me.

Maybe not. Best to use live submissions until I get the hang of this.

Lately I've been doing a lot of pen and ink sketching. Just got a fountain pen by Pen and Ink Sketch, a fine point. It's a delight! It has one of those adapter things so you can use bottled ink, or cartridges. So far I've used up three cartridges so I'll get a bottle of fountain pen ink to save a bit. Most ink at art stores seems to be for dip pens, so the search is on.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

End of Summer in Wine Country

Napa Valley Wine Country, early Summer
Earlier this summer I did this little (6X8) watercolor by the roadside in the California Wine Country. There was still a little Spring green remaining in the leaves of both the vines and the surrounding trees. It really is one of the most beautiful places. As a very small child we lived in northern California, but moved to the Texas desert at about the time I entered school. So most of my child hood memories are the spectacular and rugged mountains upthrust from graben faulting (geology minor, sorry) as the mid-continent sea dried up. Mainly I have memories of hills without trees. Frequently when people first see the desert, that is one of the first remarks, "I've never seen a hill without a tree on it." This used to sound very odd to me, all they had to do was look up. Ah, childhood, things were so simple then.

Is it time for a trip back to the desert? I think I'm missing it's kind of beauty. Or is it the Sunshine in the mornings? Hmm, I hope this isn't a pattern, I've lived a lot of places and some are not easy to get to. I, and my non-existent travel budget could be in big doo-doo. Maybe if I could put it down as a business expense. Alas, first there has to be a budget before you can "budget" something. Well, that's what my mother taught me, and mothers tend to be right. Hmm. I should probably do some deep philosophical thinking about that. Nah, too many people with nothing better to do have already done that and just confused themselves. Besides, it takes away too much painting time. I had dear parents who did the very best they could to raise us right and with all the love in the world. "Now" is a gift to which they contributed much, and Now is when I am living! So I shall live Now. And, paint of course.

Where did all that come from? (shrug) Fagedaboudid.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

White Peony challenge

This is the current challenge from Rookie Painter, an art blog. It was interesting to try a white flower again. This one has a lot of blue, but I'd like to try it again in a warmer pink/ivory version. I was using the Lukas large pan watercolors. They are economically priced so I keep them handy to the dining table for when inspiration hits and I'm not in the studio. It's a little difficult to get a dark green, but Paynes gray will make black if you keep washing it on.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Two New Gallery Shows


Bounty Basket
 These are pictures I've posted before but, although I didn't take very good photos of them (sorry, working on that), they are the ones in two shows in which I am participating at two local galleries: Green Shutters and Sun Gallery in Hayward, CA. Zoe (8X10) and Bounty Basket (12X16) are oils. The
Salmon Lily
Persimmon and Lac
 others are all acrylic. The lily is 9X12 and the Persimmon is 11X14, the others are 8X10. Here are the apologies: the squash picture as seen here is unfinished, I've fixed the shadow, really I have! And, the apple here is the watercolor version.
Autumn Squash
Autumn Apple
I just discovered I haven't photographed the acrylic version. Bummer. It has a warm brown background, less wishy-washy, definitely more contrast, lighter on the left and deeper on the right.
All these pictures finally got frames and the hanging hardware on them. Just in time to go into two new shows. It's been months, well, last year was the last time I entered a show. I've been try to build up a body of work so there is something to go when there is an opportunity. And the fact that much time is spent painting because I can't stop.
After all the prep work and delivering pictures and paperwork, today I have to do the mundane things. It's cloudy(foggy) so the yardwork gets done first.
Then I've got this great idea for a still life of some of my Indian pots and maybe a textile! Hmmm, let's see, if I drape it this way and the terracotta one from Grandma sits here, and the bowl... OOOPs, I have to prune the roses, no getting out of it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

ACEO Supplies-Canvas Paper

This got scanned a little crooked, huh? Anyway.
Just curious, I got something called "canvas paper," in this case pre cut to ACEO specifications, 2.5X3.5 inches. It was a new substance on which to paint for me. Well, I was not particularly impressed, it tends to curl and buckle. That might be OK on a larger sheet, but on one this on earth do you hang on to it and try to paint?

I tried taping it down, but there is so little surface for the tape. Pins and tacks got in the way. You should have seen my fingers during all this! There was not much of a picture as a result. If anyone has any ideas on how to make it worth it to buy this size, let me know.

Much later, months later, I picked up the same little picture and thought I'd give it another try. The second time was better. I think mostly because the previous painting stabilized it. This little red door was the result. It's from a photo taken by my nephew while vacationing in Malta.

By the time I finished this one, I was paint to my elbows! The first time was worse.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Follow up from yesterday (Snoopy Dance)

Legacy, Thanks Mom 4X4 acrylic

Yee-haw! (left over from my Texas life) everything and body woke up fine this morning, including the printer! I'm a cookin'!

 Ah, now I'm back from computer concerns, this weekend was a plein air paint out at the Sunol Wilderness this Saturday. Since it's in my area, I've painted there before. It's a wonderful place, but you aren't allowed to park along the road that has the great views. You are welcome to hike there. Let me thanks. Sometime, when I have a lighter rig. Well, when I'm lighter too, and in better shape. It can get really HOT there in the Summer, but amazingly, after several days in the 90's and above, suddenly it cooled off to the 70's. Alas, I couldn't make it that day, so I went there after church and a visit to the Apple Store geniuses, and ended up taking lots of pictures. Results to come.

The little picture above was a Challenge from Daily Paint Works to paint the tools of the trade. My mom was a painter (violinist, singer, pianist etc) and I have some of her old paints and things. Since they are in metal tubes and are well used they are more "picturesque" than the newer ones. One even has the old, faded price sticker on it. It was an interesting challenge to get the modeling of all those folds and creases, and the lettering. Ever heard of Pictor paint? This was probably purchased in Southeast Asia. It's still viable, though. Thanks Mom!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Off topic, I suppose.

Autumn Apple

You've heard the saying "bite the bullet"? Well, I did, a couple of them. In doing so I learned some things. First, it doesn't matter that my dear old faithful PowerBook G4 laptop can't hold on to it's DVD/CD's any more. Poor dear. One of the "bullets" was that I ordered the CD to upgrade to Snow Leopard finally. I usually wait until the next version comes out, I figger by then they've really got them bugs out. This time, however, there was NO WAY they would let me download it. Now in the olden days when I had an OS problem (usually cuzza sumthin' I did) I could just tote it on down to the Apple Store and them thar Geniuses could straighten things out fer me. Well, no wonder there hadn't been any updates to the OS for the last three years (yes, I did notice). They tell me it's a hardware thing. This poor little guy doesn't have the Intel thingy. No more updates. That's why those error messages would show up about "architecture." So that's a no go.

However, they did refund fully what I paid for it since I couldn't use it. Lovely people! But I was OK with the new AirPort Express I finally purchased! I had tried a borrowed one but it had an intermittent problem. Don't you just LOVE those: "But honey, it does it every time I drive it, I am NOT just hearing things!"

It's a PLOT by masculine machines.

You're just being negative.

I am Not!

Ladies, Please!

Anyway, now the AirPort Express is all installed and working beautifully with the broadband, and the wireless printer is working too. Now, re-configuring that was an experience I don't want to repeat. For some reason it claims to be all configured and the laptop and printer are having cheery little conversations until I go to print to test it. Who is Bonjour and why is he in my computer? When configuring, why do they never tell you at any point it's OK to unplug the USB now? Why, ultimately do I always have to have my printer listed twice in order to actually PRINT? Is it a Word/Excel thing?

Ultimately: when I get up in the morning, will this all still work after I wake it up?

The continuing saga of woman and machine: to be continued.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Independence Day!

This is a Work-in-Progress, there wasn't even a set up for it. Or as one art instructor I know says "OH," or out of my head. Hmmm, that can fit more than one way.
American Color

 This is an 8X8 watercolor in honour of the Fourth. In all honesty, the flag drape probably looks improbable because it's pure imagination, as is the rest. The colors need to be more intense and the shapes firmed up. Looking at it this morning, with at least a little "distance" from it, I can see the lesson again that it is better to simplify, ie. do a few things well rather than a lot of things poorly. Ah, yes, it's brimming with mediocrity!
No, No, my fans and friends, don't say it

*crickets, crickets*

Oh, you didn't say it, so . . .  Anyway, that's why I'm considering it a WIP. Excuses: I was at the dining room table and grabbed some not-so-good watercolors that were nearby and started painting in and amongst the hot dogs. Remedies:

1. Keep better quality watercolors to hand.

2. Do more preliminary sketches.

3. Actually drape some fabric, if not the flag, then something with stripes.

4. GO TO THE STUDIO, THAT'S WHY YOU HAVE IT instead of more living space.

5. Be Prepared (Girl Scout Motto) Ah yes, this lesson, over and over and over and over and over, it must be learned.

Horses or My Little Pony

Now this one. This was a picture of some mustangs I found on the web. When I was a young girl I drew horses incessantly. This surprises few people. Even at that age, though, they came out looking more like mustangs than (sigh) My Little Pony. (This is sooo embarassing) No excuses, I need practice. I'll have to find out who the photographer is, I wouldn't want them freaking out. Somehow I've got to figure out a way to make the lower jaw of the sorrel lighter, right now it disappears into her back.

Seaside visit
This is about 5X7 and is here along the Pacific Coast. The rocks came out pretty good, I was surprised, I've been practicing (self-satisfied smile). Now it is all too evident that it's time to work on surf too. This needs planning. To do surf right, it takes masquing, and to do that right takes sketching, which means pre-par-a-tion. Oh yeah, that.

I still like the rocks.

My Pochade Box
Summer is here like gangbusters. Time for more plein air painting! This is my barely broken in Pochade box from Guerilla Painter.  There was no picture on the top, but it just cried out for one so, hence the butterfly. Then varnishe to protect the picture. This pochade is pretty neat, this is the "thumbox" model, and yes, there is a hole you can open in the bottom so you can put your thumb up through it to hold the box steady while you paint with the other hand. Something I have not mastered yet. I need more hands. And more forearm strength. Fortunately, these clever people also put a bracket on the bottom so you can screw it on to any camera tripod and you can have your hand back! Yahoo! Santa, I need a better tripod. The one I have works, but it can't be tilted at the top. No, I'm not spoilt, you've got almost 6 months.

Ah! the sun is out, the birds are singing, the Liquitex is packed in the pochade box, it's time to paint. The dishes (vacuuming, dusting, mopping, laundry, mowing, sweeping, pruning etc) will get done later. Ur, Uh, sometime.

How about a run to the Coast! It's an opportunity to practice painting surf. What good girl I am!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Painting daily, need to post more often!

China Orchids, watercolor 6X8
The warm weather is beginning, and with it the plein air painting. The rains seem to have ceased, and there have been meet-ups for painting in the open. The French easel gave me quite a pinch last time, but I won, it set up just fine. As soon as I download the pictures from the camera, there will be "WIP" pictures.
In the mean time this little watercolor is actually of two porcelain orchids belonging to a friend. They were lovely with a matte finish, and delicately painted.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Well, THAT was embarrassing!

Today was the first day where there was absolutely NO excuse for not going out and doing a bit of plein air. All I can say is that it's a good thing I took pictures. Today's results will not be posted, however, before I went out I did a little painting as a result of watching a National Geographic documentary last night:
Egyptian Afternoon
There was one shot in between some of the scenes, only there for a moment, but it captured the feeling of the burning heat of which the desert is capable. This is a 6X6 watercolor.

Now this one:
Mother Hubbard's veggie bin
This was done as the result of an Art Challenge last month. Somehow I managed to delete that post. Don't ask. This is an 8X10 oil. It's a yam, the pale thing is a slice of cantaloupe.

Monday, June 6, 2011

June is busting out all over!

Bob's Birthday Tulips
Now it's June. Getting closer to summer. Hmmm, doesn't feel much like it yet here. However, we usually have only 2 seasons, Spring and Autumn, so the hills are turning brown now as though the rains have stopped already. However, the rains have NOT stopped it rains almost every day. So howcum the hills are brown? Habit? Serendipity! Ah, yes. It has meant rescheduling some plein air time, but the roses have been doing some wonderful things.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Celebration

This is a day set aside to remember. Raised in a very patriotic family, and living in other lands, when I hear complaints about here, I can give it a quick thought and realize, nope, here is BETTER. I know first hand. Why do you think people are still streaming in?
The above tiny watercolor (4"X10") contains the Colors and a few objects hoping to symbolize how we all come from somewhere, and we all came here to participate in BETTER.
Now I need to finish the painting above, the scanner showed me some problems!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Exploring Facebook

Here is a little still life set up on a table. Next I would like to experiment with specific lighting.             

This weekend I've been seeing what I can do on Facebook. Mostly it seems to just lie there. However this weekend a lot of people turned up that I had lost track of, but now there is contact!

It sure takes a lot of time, but it was good to be in touch. Maybe it can stay that way.

Is anyone else having problems with Blogger today? I've lost the bar along the top where you can get to the Dashboard or search for other blogs, etc. To log in I had to go a really round about route, it was looking like I wasn't going to be able to ever post again. And the followers widget disappeared.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Challenges are are a bit like taking a class,

Pyramids, Sepia Watercolor 5X7
This week's challenge at Daily Paintworks is to do a value study. I needed that. This is the first attempt, a little watercolor (5X7). It's from a color photo clipped from a magazine or catalog rec'd a while back. In the color version (which was about 3X3) the sky at the top was quite a deep blue, then faded to beige/blue about half way down. The farthest pyramid was essentially the same light blue as the sky, then they were progressively more sand colored, warmer and warmer as they got closer. Have to do that again. My geometry was off, not theirs, that was not the focus.

 To be serious a value study should be done from a still life or plein air to really train the eye. Well, my eye. It's true the best way to learn the values is to paint them in stripes or bars until I get them right. Wonderful exercise. Do I haffta? (a distinct whine there.)

Pink Tulips, watercolor, 4X10, from photo by L.A. Brown
This is my reward for trying the monochromatic value study. This is from a photograph in a recent email from A Day not Wasted, L.A. Brown, a great photographer. Hence this one is not for sale without permission from him.

OK, time to go over to Rengstorff House for their special celebrations today, have to put the bustle in the car then change in their parking lot. It rides quite well in the back seat, there is certainly no room for it in the front seat with me.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Inside the church

The image for this was a photo supplied by A Day Not Wasted, an Artists Challenge site with wonderful photos. He is also a painter.
It was interesting to do something architectural, and with watercolor. In looking at the cast shadow as well as shading in the photo, it seemed the best medium to use to get the transparent washes for the cast shadows especially. In reality it was much darker, but in using pan watercolor it didn't go as dark as the original. It was also 140lb paper, and it was getting pretty wet, doing a lot of wet into wet painting.
This is using the new 4X10 inch Arches block. Interesting dimensions, sort of a "slice" view of things. I like it and the new 8X8, which fits in my watercolor bag that lives in the car.
In this picture the perspective got a little off in the farthest corridor, I kept losing track of the bottoms of the columns and the reflections! It was a highly polished floor.
All those rectangles helped with keeping the perspective in hand, the arched vaults and lintels were a different kind of challenge. (I think I need to buy some tracing paper.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Three Mangos and a red winged blackbird

Three Red Mangos
It's time to take on the challenges again, and keep in practice with the watercolors. This is the 22nd challenge from RookiePainter and can be found there already. The picture is a 4X6 watercolor done with Lukas aquarelle paints on Canson's smallest watercolor block. This was probably an opportunity to try impressionism once again, maybe there will be a quick one with oils on a 6X8 canvasboard. For some reason it seems necessary to do it first very realistically just to get familiar with the shapes and shades involved, to get the detail in mind.

Next is the Paint and Draw Together challenge. This one is #19.
It's a red winged blackbird on some kind of fuzzy twig. Again it's a 4X6 watercolor on the small Canson block with Lukas paints. It would have been better to take the time to use friskit but, impatience won out this time. To the really experienced painter watercolor is amazingly fast, but to the (much) less experienced painter it takes planning and forethought. Many things in life would be better with planning and forethought. Hmmm. At some point this lesson too will be learned.

I hope everyone had a Happy Easter! We did!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The plein air season has begun!

Last Saturday was my first genuine Plein Air Paintout. Courtesy of the East Bay Regional Parks, we were at Coyote Hills. What a lovely group, so many excellent painters. Mine looked like it was done by a school kid. It helped me learn a lot. Above is the view from where I was painting.

Here is about 9AM (We started at 8AM, well most of us) The light was changing gradually, but the water changed constantly, and always looked better than before. Have to pick a version a go with it!

In avoiding a decision, more reeds went in as well as the tower from Cal State Hayward way, way in the back. Starting to put in some shadows now in the water. Need to mix a deeper green, nothing comes out dark enough. It's all coming out medium to light values. BLAH!      

Getting toward noon, time for judging. Working on the water and reflections. Time to buy some really dark green oil paint. There is some veridian at home, but I seldom use it, may be with some white mixed in it will work for the sage on the left! Still mostly medium values, somewhat accurate, but not interesting. The park ranger kept coming by, he loved it. We can always use supportive fans!

This may look odd, but the top one is the plein air, with a little more work on it this week, including bug and leaf removal, it got windy. After looking at all the great stuff the real pro's did I was inspired to give some techniques a shot. The bottom one was done about half with the palette knife. It was the only way I could think of to loosen up, get more vivid, and not get so buried in the detail. I wanted to put a big tree on the right in the foreground, but I didn't have the nerve. I did put in the Canadian goose that was hanging around. There was also a bumble bee that visited me a few times that morning! I hadn't seen one since I lived in England! what a treat!

This is for a friend. She wants something pink for the bedroom, and watercolor takes constant practice, so I thought I'd try this for her. Sort of a semi-permanent lend. It needs a little more deep pink in the center and something more interesting done with the negative space in the upper left. Watercolor is very calming...when it isn't totally exasperating!

Current acrylic on the ole easel, a still life I set up in the studio. The blue bottle turned into a blue jar. The golden yellow table cloth under the white scarf had to go. Thanks to this photo, I noticed a perspective problem with the green jug. That fruit could use a little tuck here and there too. On the whole though, I think I will like it. The strange brown blotch by the grapes is a grape leaf, OK?

Today was a plein air session at Stowe Lake in Golden Gate Park with the California Art Club. Sorry I missed it, I just didn't have the gas to get there. Next time!