Sunday, January 27, 2013

Godzilla Card the First 5 x 7 colored pencil/mixed

I like to design my own cards, on occasion.  This card recently surfaced at our monthly Girls Just Wanna Paint  gathering when member Joan Brancale brought some pictures from the past.

A dozen years ago,  I made the time to begin studying painting ferociously. It opened a whole new world to me, for starters, the world of people who don't commute to a desk job every day.  Consequently, I met a terrific group of women, including Joan, and found myself invited to her birthday party. The invitation described a "no present" birthday, but creative cards were welcome.  

We had a kindergartener at the time who had a love of all the Japanese Godzilla movies.  You know, Godzilla vs. Mothra, vs. Megalon, Jet Jaguar, vs. King Ghidorah, vs. Mechagodzilla, vs. Gighan, vs. Monster Zero, ... I think you get the point. The movies were a big part of our day-to-day (or at least week-to-week) and we laughed at Godzilla's crazy Highland fling he dances after blasting Ghidorah (or was it Gighan?), the Plans B and C that are invoked after Godzilla stomps past the Japanese Army's front line, and the sing-song advice given in unison by the tiny twins in a box carted around during Mothra's hatching.  We even had a bedtime routine called "Godzilla Check".

So, in the 20 minutes before Joan's party, I decided to make a Godzilla card.  North River Arts Society, our local organization, had just issued a new membership brochure with Joan gracing the cover.  I cut her from the brochure, replacing the village street she was painting with Godzilla emerging from the trees, and replacing her canvas with a small Godzilla painting. Happily, the card was a big hit.  I was happy to see it again, these years later.  I'm going to plug those Godzilla movies in again, relive our child's childhood.  Thanks for letting me indulge in a little reminiscence. Sayonara!  

Godzilla fans click here:

Monday, January 21, 2013

"Hurricane Watch" oil 6 x 6

Each summer we are blessed to spend a couple of weeks on Monhegan Island, ten miles off the coast of Maine.  Monhegan's sheltered harbor is formed by the proximity of Manana, a mostly uninhabited smaller island (see the map).   
"Hurricane Watch" (perhaps  a working title) is my second in a series of small paintings with Manana as backdrop.    My painting  "Dockside"  is the other to date.
Snow is coming, but thinking of summer.  Thanks for looking.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Drawing Challenge - Trigger, Habit, Draw!

 I have been following Paul's "Learning to See" blog from England for awhile.  His drawings are beautiful, his discipline admirable, and exercises stimulating.  So, when he posted a 30-day challenge for the start of 2013, I joined up.  The idea is simply to establish a drawing habit by attaching the habit to a daily trigger.  Easy to choose, my trigger is pouring my morning coffee.  Every day since January 1st, I have made the time (just 10 to 20 minutes) to sit with my coffee and draw.  
  Of course, it was easy for the couple of days before we went back to school and work recommenced.  Surprisingly, it has been just as easy to draw each day since.  Each day, I begin with drawing.  Each day, I start with my brain fully engaged, energized, and ready to go.  
I have been sitting in various chairs in the house and drawing what I see on tabletops, on window ledges, mantles.  We are decorated for the holidays so the subject matter is abundant.  
Yes, one of my drawings is titled "Crazy Santas".. story for another blog post.
Suffice to say, that contour drawing, the thinking and mental mapping involved 
bring me the same juice I get in hours of painting.. so satisfying in a busy day when 10 to 20 minutes is all the spare time I have.  

Loving the challenge, enjoying the drawing.
Thanks for looking. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

"Creative Freedom" by Maggie Price, including me!

 When Maggie Price asked me to contribute to her new book, I jumped at the chance.  She is a talented, prolific, generous artist and teacher.  Maggie invited me and a number of other artists to share their ideas for breaking artist's blockI was asked to provide two demos, accompanying photos of my process and copy describing the demo - all firsts for me. The demos had separate deadlines, two months apart.  It was a great experience from start to finish

My work was finished a year ago.  The book is finally here, available from North Light Books, and is pictured to the left.  I can't wait to see it in person.    Hope you'll check it out, thanks for looking.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

"Fruit Stripe" oil 10 x 8

My painting class was all about pattern today. I brought a variety of cloths and papers with me - stripes, floral, paisley, calico, along with a few solids for visual rest. We discussed:

- how to sublimate pattern so that it plays the role you intend.  Do you want it to dominate?  Do you want it to play a less significant role?
- how to use pattern to move the viewer's eye.
- how to use the pattern for reference while you design the shapes that work for the painting - much like trees in a landscape (or clouds, grass, structures, etc).  
- how to avoid tangents, and unintended geometry - the potential  of an undesired tangent increases  exponentially when dealing with pattern in the subject.

One of my students chose the striped cloth just below the green vase in the photo to the left.  I love that cloth!  Initially, he had the cloth arranged with the stripes parallel to the direction of his light, so the cast shadow ran along one of the stripes. He was missing the opportunity to express the light as it crossed the boundaries of the pattern, much less static. If you painted a cityscape, and the cast shadow from one building aligned exactly with the contour of an adjacent building, it might not be as dynamic as a light and shadow pattern on the second building.. same situation here.  I made a slight shift in the cloth and his subject came to life.   

 Another student chose the bright, sunny floral below the wine bottle.  She chose a vase which replicated some of the curves in the flowers, added a couple of plums and created a sensitive painting which lead the eye through repeated, subtle curves.  Lovely.

I painted next to my student who arranged this vibrant still life. I am blessed to work with a group of hard workers who listen and jump in each time we meet.  Very rewarding.  Thanks for looking.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Inspired by Matisse "Harmony in Red" 6 x 6 oil

The December challenge for Girls Just Wanna Paint was to paint with Matisse in mind. I am most familiar with his paper cutoutsSome of you may be aware of my interest in cutting paper so it crossed my mind to do a Matisse-inspired paper piece.  However, when I spent some time researching Matisse paintings and images, the paper idea slipped away.   

I learned that Matisse studied law, and became interested in art during a year of convalescence in his very early twenties.  His artistic evolution is so interesting to explore.

Look at this still life from early in his career, Fruit and Coffee Pot, a long way from the pattern-laden, abstracted nature of his work I was familiar with.  Seeing "Fruit and Coffee-Pot" pulled  Gustave Caillebotte's painting "Fruits sur un Etalage" (see below) from some dusty corner of my brain.  Caillebotte was 20 years Matisse's senior, not sure if they knew one another.  

 Back to the GJWP challenge:
My painting is loosely based on Matisse's "Harmony in Red" below.  I set up a few red objects, and included a couple of Matisse bookmarks as backdrop.  I tried to flatten the perspective, relying only on placement of objects in front and behind to define the space, to keep the shades of red very close in value, and to explore an outline of many shapes, which I applied after, with mixed success.  I substituted the dominant black and white figure from the paper cut out for the high contrast woman in "Harmony in Red". 

By the way, look at the beautiful repetition of shape in "Harmony in Red" - blue designs on the table cloth to the undulating fruit/flower piece on the table to the back wall - almost like two raised hands cradling an object.   It was certainly an interesting exercise, and the research was fascinating. Thanks for looking and Happy New Year.