Friday, December 30, 2016

"Sweet George" pen & ink

Looking through an older sketchbook last night, I found these drawings from 2010 of our wonderful George hanging out on the couch next to me. George was sixteen at the time, a graceful sweetheart, all his days. George was a people cat, and we were lucky enough to be his people. He's been gone a few years now, and I still trip over his name now and then when I'm addressing our new male cat, Fred.  Very happy to have found the drawings.  

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Blue and White Zones of Light

I teach art project at school along with my math classes.  This week we are looking at the five zones of light, and seeing them to create the illusion of rounded 3-D objects on the two-dimensional picture space.   Each student created a contour drawing of the subject, numbered the spaces according to a 5-value scale, then reproduced the drawing, filling in the spaces as assigned with a monochromatic rendering according to the observed values.   It's our first foray into painting, so some students struggled with the mechanics of using the brush.  But, a number of students produced great results, and were pleased to see the 3-dimensionality of the objects begin to reveal itself.  
This is my quick take on the idea so they could see their expected result.  

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Architectural Grouping

This afternoon, the Girls Just Wanna Paint hung a group show at the South Shore Natural Science Center in Norwell.  We each hung 5 paintings.  I brought several more, so I could decide as I looked at the space.  Ultimately I chose all architectural paintings. Seeing them together is a nice reminder that I love painting buildings.  I like their shapes against the sky, with crisp edges, and the way those edges fade into their surroundings as the eye descends.  I love the shapes that coalesce into a visual of the structure... very exciting to me.  

Monday, October 31, 2016

"Berkeley and Boylston" oil 12 x 12

This month, Girls Just Wanna Paint explored the limited palette often used by Swedish painter Anders Zorn (1860 - 1920).  The Zorn palette is limited to yellow ochre, black, white, and cadmium red deep.  I have always told my students that if the values are accurate, then the painting will hold.  It was interesting using a warm red and a cool yellow with the black and white.  I almost never have black on my palette, so it was disconcerting at first to make gray with black, a technique I usually avoid. However, I never left the gray as only black and white, but altered it each time with a little of the cad red, or a little of the yellow.  The "battleship" gray possible with just black and white doesn't ring true to me, regardless of the palette I am using.  Every gray out there is influenced by its surroundings, even on a battleship. This is a painting of Berkeley Street from the intersection at Boylston in Boston, looking down at the Church of the Covenant, which creates a beautiful silhouette against the sky. 

You can see my block in for the painting and some iterative photos here.  It was a fascinating exercise, and very interesting to make cools out of black with yellow ochre, which makes an interesting olive green.  I'm going to do some more experimenting with this palette. You can see the rest of our paintings here

As always I love your comments.  What do you think?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

"Zinnias" oil 12 x 12

Was thrilled to join my Girls Just Wanna Paint group at the Hingham Arts Walk.  We set up a still life in the middle of the room, top lit so no one had light in their eyes.  We formed a circle around the center and each painted our take on some beautiful zinnias.  Lots of visitors came through the door to watch our demo, and hang out.  It was a great day.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

"Early Light, Scituate" 5 x 10 soft pastel

"Early Light" is a recent and early exploration with soft pastel.  I wasn't sure where to begin, but knew I wanted a dark ground. I squeezed some burnt sienna, viridian and ultramarine gouache onto the board, and spread them out which provided a very dark ground with some cool and warm components.  Turns out the gouache dries with a nice matte finish with tooth!  Great for the application of the pastels.  My plan was to build up the lights, leaving the ground in places.   You can see a few transitional images to the left.  I'm pleased with the result and encouraged to keep exploring.  One of the challenges for me was that when I wanted a neutral violet of value 4 with hints of ochre in it, which I could make quickly with my oils... I had to hunt and open another box, and lay color next to other color to approximate the color I was looking for.  It's a puzzle, an exciting puzzle.  Looking forward to more exploration.  
Every couple of years, North River Arts Society holds a fundraiser, Outside the Box (OTB).  The public is invited to create art, this year on a 5 x 10 inch board.  Nothing is signed, and each participant is invited to make art that is different from their norm. The resulting hundreds of pieces of art are displayed for a month as silent auction.  Visitors bid on the art they love, without knowing who created it. "Early Light" was my entry for this year's OTB. 


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

"Fair Friends" oil 8 x 8

Every year, I do a painting demo at the Marshfield Fair.  You can find me on the first Sunday hanging out upstairs in the main building.  The juxtaposition of inside and outside is always intriguing for me.  I chat away with children and adults.  The room is visually stimulating with beautiful quilts hanging from the rafters and a wide variety of handmade arts and crafts entered by the public. Check the Fair website for entry categories and dates in the exhibitor handbook each year.  
To the left, you can see how I blocked in this painting, with one dark and warm shape for the inside, and a cool yellow light shape for the outside space, along with the indication of some people in the doorway.  I may get back there this week for another painting day.. hope so.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Collage - Make it Personal 10 x 10

 My very talented friend, Laura, took the plunge and opened her own shop a few months ago.  It is my "go to" destination for gifts, and recently a group of us joined Laura for a "make and take".  She runs two-hour classes in her shop studio.  We learned, laughed, exercised our creative selves, and came away with beautiful, personal collages. Laura has tons of material, and I brought a few things of my own to add. Must say, I almost swooned when I found ruler masking tape in her bins of supplies.  Here's her web site, Haven: Little Shop of Laura's.  You can schedule time in Laura's studio with a group up to 5, or she'll come to you for a larger gathering. She offers several different projects.  Trying to decide which one to do next....  

Friday, August 05, 2016

Monhegan Sketchbook "Christmas Cove"

Every year when I visit Monhegan, I spend some time down on the southern end of the island sitting on the rocks, surrounded by the sound of waves, wind, birds.  There is a peace and solitude to the spot I visit every year.  I went later in the day than usual, sat with my sketchbook and handed myself over to the rhythm.  
On the way back up the hill I built a cairn with a pair of island friends in mind.  I pray they can find their way back.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Monhegan Sketchbook - August 4, 2016 "Views from the Deck"

Another glorious week up here on Monhegan Island; highlights include seeing the Aurora Borealis two nights in a row above the tree line looking north; a wonderful breeze every day so although it's warm in the sun, there is respite in the shade everywhere; a week with great friends filled with good conversation, good food, new card games, and the usual sensory joy.  Here are some sketches of the various views from the deck of the house where we stay.  Yesterday, I sketched to the sounds of trumpet practice filtering up from the village below.  

This has been a week of mixed feelings; relaxation, joy, wonder, and thankfulness contrasted with news that local friends of ours are facing a mighty struggle.  Concentrate your energies and prayers on a positive outcome for them during this time of transition, and excuse my intentional and necessary vagueness.  
Thank you for looking.  Thank you for your thoughts for our friends.

Monday, August 01, 2016

"Daisy Patch" oil 12 x 9

The theme for this month's Girls Just Wanna Paint challenge was "daisy".  I found a cool little patch of daisies nearby, and was just as interested in the depth of blue greens between and around the flowers themselves.  I decided to paint over an old still life study from years ago, thinking the underlying reds and oranges would work well with harmony of the daisies in the patch.

Here's the still life, to the left, placed vertically in my easel.  I began by blocking in the flowers in an arrangement that looked appealing, asymmetrical, yet balanced.  I added some stems, some stems to nowhere, and a few buds for balance.  After the stems and leaves were added, I completed the background with a variety of blues and greens, leaving some of the warmth of the original painting, which implies the warm dark spaces beneath the flowers where the sky can't reach.  

Check out the rest of the Girls Just Wanna Paint images for the month here.  Thanks for looking.

"Above Swim Beach" Monhegan Sketchbook 9 x 12

 Yesterday I perched in one of my favorite spots along the rocks above Swim Beach here on Monhegan.  There's a great space, nestled in the rocks with just the right surfaces for sitting, leaning, and laying out a small watercolor setup.  I always wanted a window seat in my bedroom as a girl; this has a lot of those same qualities; comfy, snug, good light, a view, and just remote enough to know what's happening nearby without being in the midst of it.  
And, I watched a gull through its entire "I snagged a crab, and this is how I eat it" routine; a few jab it-drop it-grab it-repeat cycles until the crab stopped wiggling; devour the inside; then eat the shell and claws in small chunks by crunching them up and swallowing them.  So interesting.  I really thought the gull would eat the tender innards.  (Definitely the first time I have used the word "innards" in a blog post; can't promise it will be the last).  
I added a couple of photos here of my sketch without watercolor and the finished piece with the subject in the distance.  
Another great afternoon.  Thanks for looking.


Sunday, July 31, 2016

"Favorite Path" oil 12 x 12

If you read my blog, you have heard me expound on the beauty of Monhegan Island, and its small neighbor island Manana.  I have painted Manana through windows, over rooftops, behind visitors, behind children, from above, and from a variety of other vantage points. (You can click on any of the highlighted phrases above to see other views of Manana on my blog).  Here is another of my favorite views.  Just past the church on Monhegan is a small path that winds its away along the shore.  Manana is visible through these lovely pines, and the contrast in the greens from the trees and the island just across the harbor makes a beautiful and subtle juxtaposition.  This week promises to be cloudy, lots of new opportunity for views of Manana in all its personalities.   

Thanks for looking.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

"Sailing Center" side-by-side 16 x 12 oil

"Sailing Center" finished                                  "Sailing Center" not quite finished
Yesterday I posted my painting of the Cohasset Sailing Center from our North Meets South Paint Out.  As with most of my paintings, I place them in my studio where I can look at them in passing to see where I may need to make adjustments.   I thought a side by side comparison of the painting I brought back from on site, and the finished painting would be useful. See the finished painting on its own below.
My process is that I do NOT use a photograph to finish the painting.  All the information I need is in already on the canvas, and in my head.  I review each edge and each plane, looking for inconsistencies, any unintentional geometry, confusion, notes that don't ring true, color temperature and freshness. 
Above, the finished painting is on the left.  I looked at every upturned plane to make sure it was cooler than all down-turned planes.  I added the harbor through the windows.  When we left the painting site, I had included some notes about the value through the windows for reference.  I refined, slightly, the large brackets beneath the roof.  I vibrated cool into some of the sky-facing planes, added some interest and warmth to the inside of the building.  I softened some edges, cleaned up some small perspective issues, and even moved my signature. 
What do you think?  Thanks for looking!


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

"Sailing Center" oil 16 x 12

 The Cohasset Sailing center was one of several venues populated by artists from north and south of Boston as  the North Shore Arts Association artists journeyed down to meet a number of our South Shore Artists, a sequel to last summer's get together when South traveled to the North.  The air was sparkling, breeze blowing, harbor filled with activity, while shoreline filled with artists. I was struck by the cupola on the Sailing Center against the bluest of blue skies, and decided to paint through the building to the harbor beyond.  It was an interesting brain-bender, and loads of fun. I painted over an old still life, and loved the variety of colors underneath as my painting emerged.

Monday, July 18, 2016

"Last Light" 8 x 6 soft pastel

"Last Light"  start

I am experimenting with soft pastels.  For "Last Light", I created a ground on canvas with gouache straight from the tube using a combination of ultramarine, burnt sienna and viridian.  The ground formed is matte, and toothy, which I like.  I built up the lights, leaving some of the ground showing in the darkest darks.  Interesting effect, and completely counter-intuitive for me thinking about how to lay color next to other color, rather than using my limited palette of oils or watercolors to make the color I am looking for. 

Thanks for looking.. we'll see what happens next.

Friday, July 08, 2016

"Overlook" oil 8 x 8

Another glorious week on Monhegan Island.  This has been an interesting week, as they always are.  We have had dinner with old friends and new, unexpectedly bumped into coworkers and introduced them to the island, attended a music fest at the local brewery, a drop in open mic night, a drop in sketch group, and a wonderful performance by Voices from the Heart, a choral group from Portsmouth NH, a subset of whom have been spending the week here in preparation for last night's concert. The sun was out and the air sparkling for the first few days, yesterday cold, foggy, gray, and today is a mix.  It's New England and I love it.

I painted on a little patch of grass outside the Monhegan church this week, had a chance to talk to some children about my painting process, and was serenaded by the energetic daily rehearsal of the chorus just yards away.  Magnificent.
While our country is in an uproar, with violence begetting more violence, we are finding room to pause, reflect, to treat one another with the understanding that we are sharing a space.  There are responsibilities that come with that sharing.
Here is a link to Voices from the Heart on a trip to Croatia where they sang to raise money for the clearing of land mines remaining after conflict there. Make the world a better place for your being there.

Friday, July 01, 2016

"Clouds Over Manana" watercolor & ink 9 x 12

Our favorite summer spot produces beautiful summer skies.   We are able to watch the weather approach from the mainland 12 miles distant.  We see so much variety in our time there; bucolic clouds float by a la N.C. Wyeth, miles of crystal blue sky with a 270 degree vista, distant thunderclouds with distant rumblings and grumblings, and powerful fronts racing across the water which often split or shoot straight up when they hit the warmth of this little gem in the ocean. The Girls Just Wanna Paint theme for June is "Summer Skies".  See all our images here.

There's a great book by Alan J. Faller, longtime Monhegan resident, and meteorologist, which explains the special qualities of the weather on this special island.  

Heading back this summer... can't wait!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

"Bathing Beach" 8 x 6 oil

Summer is here!  Had a chance to spend a little time at the beach yesterday with a good pal.  Beautiful morning, great breeze, sparkling air and water.  A feast for all the senses!   Finding time to slow down. Wonderful.  Here's a little study I did a couple of years ago at a nearby beach.  I'm packing my rig for some beach studies coming up.   Stay tuned.

Friday, June 24, 2016

"I know this tree!" - The Joy of Connecting Threads


My husband and I were grabbing a bite in a local pub last week.  I looked out the window and thought.. "I know that tree!"  I think the complete thought is "I know that tree in that context with water behind it and its relationship to the other pines around it." Then remembered that I had made this watercolor sketch of it from another angle last summer.  I find it a great joy that images can be imprinted on my brain in this way.  The memory/relationship/association comes forward and I get a chance to explore a memory, usually involving other senses besides sight.  This memory and imprint was only a year old, but I have had images/memories jump forward from decades ago because something I see bumps a dusty corner of my brain.  I wrote about a few other examples here, here, and here... the first involving a 300 year old house near the home of my youth, another involving a color palette one of my students used in her still life and a John Alexander White painting, and another involving some quiet snowy trees and a favorite childhood book.  When cognitive threads connect, I rejoice.
How about you?

Sunday, May 22, 2016

"Saint Sulpice, Montreal" pastel & ink 18 x 12

Back in March, we had a whirlwind weekend in Montreal to listen to our daughter speak at a linguistics conference at McGill University.  The city is lovely, and sparkling, and accessible, and we stayed at the beautiful hotel Le Saint Sulpice under the shadow of Notre Dame Cathedral, courtesy of a friend. The narrow cobbled streets are filled with beautiful buildings, each with interesting moldings, details, doors, windows... sumptuous.  Here is a view of the street where we stayed.  You can see it in progress in this post.