Sunday, January 31, 2016

Favorite Themes - Trees

Tree Grove - 5x7 - Watercolor - January 2016

Trees are one of my favorite things.    I've been drawn back to this pine forest over and over.    I photographed it a few weeks ago.    I think I'll do some zoom in painting also for fun.   A good reason also to search through my photos and find all the great tree photos!!    I've been working with a limited palette of only about 5 colors    Cobalt Blue, Sap Green, Raw Sienna, Ultramarine Violet, Cadmium Red, New Gamboge   Using a round sable #6 brush.  Perfect for a small study.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Watercolor 101 - Beginning Again

Experimentation - 5x7 - Watercolor - January 2016

When I first started to paint in 2010, I signed up for a watercolor class.   The instructor got sick and I had to look for another opportunity.    I selected a pastel class and enjoyed learning to paint with pastel.   I've experimented along the way with acrylic, oil, watercolor and charcoal, but I never got back to watercolor.    When you only paint in a medium occasionally, you never feel competent.

 Lately I've been mostly working with charcoal because I was taking a drawing class.   Recently I rearranged my office to become my art studio.   Like many artist I'm sure, I found all kinds of art supplies when I started cleaning out my closet and all the nooks and crannies that I've stashed supplies over the last few years.    I got out my watercolor and started looking at some You Tube videos and just fell in love again with watercolor.   I'll continue to do the pastel but it's been fun to experiment with watercolor and to begin to learn what you can do with a brush, some water, paper and paint.   I love it when there are no plans, no commitments, no disruptions and you can just quietly work in the art studio all day.   I think I could become a hermit and just hide away for weeks doing nothing but painting.   For me it was a new beginning.....exploring watercolor.

Practice Watercolor Sketches - January 2016

Using Masking Fluid on Watercolor

Forrest - 5x7 - Watercolor - January 2016
Over the last couple of years I've used masking fluid on watercolor paintings but mostly in workshops.   Today I decided to try it out for trees.    It really gives you more freedom to wash in the colors and build a couple of layers.    I think I'll try it on a structure next.   The soft lines around a structure have always been a goal but I think I can achieve that effect by using water to soften the lines.  

Usually I set aside a brush for masking fluid because the fluid will ruin the brush.   Today, however I saw a great tip online.  Coat your brush with liquid detergent.  Coat the brush all the way up to the metal to provide a good barrier.   Then wipe off the excess.   You can then dip your brush in the masking fluid and apply.    No need to keep a separate brush because the brush will be protected by the liquid detergent and will clean up easily.

Watercolor Journal

Violets - 5x3.5 - Watercolor - January 2016

I've been hooked on watercolor and charcoal lately.   Today is a watercolor day!!   I have been cutting down my 140# cold press into small 5x7 to practice.   Today while I was watching a watercolor video on You Tube, I pulled out a 3.5x7, #50 sketch pad.   It was perfect to take some notes and to practice some of the strokes, techniques, etc.   I may look for a heavier paper but this works great and I have all my practice in one spot.   It's already easy to know, what videos I've watched and follow my progress as I try different techniques.   It's also inspired me to pick up some watercolor paper note cards and start doing some original cards.   They only take a few minutes for a simple one and it's a nice touch that makes the card more personal.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Tree in Water Color

Tree - watercolor - 8x10 - January 2016

Enjoying playing with watercolor today.   I love the soft muted colors that come from watercolor.    I've attended several workshops and like most you get a list of colors to purchase.    I've got bags of tubes of paint by now.    I'm ready to narrow my choices.   I plan on going through and experimenting with various colors and looking for colors I may need to add.   Even though I have dozens, seems like I always go back to the same ones.   This tree study would be good to do in several color schemes.    Another project for another day.   I also have a photo of a giant oak tree I took while on a field trip to my hometown.   It will be the test project for tomorrow.

"Spring Street" -Watercolor sketch of a hometown street

"Spring Street Downtown" - 5x7 - watercolor - January 2016

One of the things that make an old downtown neighborhood so interesting or the tree lined streets.   I'm continuing to work on some sketches for a series of Painting My Town.    I love this tree lined street on Spring Street.   Like many small towns the 1950s homes have become a haven for business. My hair dresser has a shop in a old home directly across the street.   Years ago oak trees were planted around town on the streets   Unfortunately many have had to be removed as the road have gotten wider and busier.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Drawing from Observation

Downtown Hometown - 9x12 - Charcoal - January 2016

Even though I had to withdraw from my class this semester, I'm having fun reading the text for Drawing 1 - "Drawing from Observation - an Introduction to Perceptual Drawing" by Brian Curtis.   Learning to use compressed charcoal is a challenge.   I'm doing my best to work standing and altering my position at the easel and how I hold the charcoal stick.   It's easy to reserve your approach to a pencil like practice...practice ....practice.    Looking forward to better weather so I can get outside and draw.   This morning I practiced lines, curves, zip zags, etc at different pressure.   Trying to understand and feel what the charcoal will do for me.   Did this sketch in my 9x12 sketchbook with compressed charcoal from a photo of my hometown - downtown street.

Also looking forward to a class at the State Botanical Gardens in Athens from O C Carlisle, a Scientific Illustrator.    The class is Saturdays in February.   Not to late to sign up.    I'm looking forward to the drawing but will also use this as the last elective on my Native Plant Certification.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Charcoal Portrait

Charcoal Portrait - 9x12 - charcoal - January 2016
I'm loving the freedom and flexibility of charcoal.  It one of the things I've never really tried.    There is always the light sketch before a painting with charcoal but never a full sketch.   Practice...practice...practice.   I had to withdraw from my drawing class because of absences due to a recent illness.   It was a compressed semester so missing a couple of weeks has really left me behind. I was pleased when my instructor said she wasn't teaching drawing 1 in the summer but would welcome me into advance drawing!!   Don't know if I have the nerve.    I'll keep practicing and see how I'm feeling in the summer.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Charcoal Sketch - Sloss Furnace

Sloss Furnace - 18x24 - Charcoal - January 2016
It's been a crazy week.    Ive been sick all week with a respiratory infection.   I so hate to have to drop my class but it's not looking good.  I'll see what doc says today at my follow up appointment.     I dug through some of my favorite photos today to find something to sketch, since I've been out of it for a few days.    I love the Sloss Furnace in Birmingham, AL.    I've done numerous sketches of this area and I found the charcoal to be a perfect medium.   The vine charcoal is so light and easy to smooth over.    This one was less than a couple of minutes quick but it was fun to sketch some.    One thing I've got to get out is my larger easel.   I did this sketch flat.   It's hard to draw from your shoulder and make big strokes when you work flat.    

Friday, January 15, 2016

Positive - Negative Observation Drawing

Positive Negative - 18x24 - Observation Drawing - January 2016
I thought the stacked chairs were a challenge but the positive negative space was a crazy challenge.   The items were hung from the front wall of the studio and included a drape, teddy bear, hat, plant, chair, stool, mannequin, lower mannequin and crutch.     In the beginning I figured out I was to low on the page but decided to continue since the object of the exercise was to do observation drawing.    I felt taking a photo and sketching it was like "cheating".   Photos can be gray scale to help with seeing shapes and shadows.    Anyway, I'm glad I stuck with it.   It really challenged your eye to look at what was there.   Except for a stool leg angle the negative drawing was pretty right on!    Go figure what you can do it you try.    I'm anxious to look at some techniques on shading and using charcoal.   I experimented with the softer and harder charcoal pencils and also the compressed charcoal.

Chair Stack - Observation Drawing

Chair Stack - Observation Drawing - Final - January 2016
Just put the final shading and lines on the chair stack observation drawing.      Drawing with pencil and charcoal is really fun.    Can't wait to learn more line strokes, hatching, etc.     I'm also going to take a pastel pencil drawing class from State Botanical Gardens/UGA in February.    Our instructor for that class is a natural science illustrator.   Who knew there was such a thing?   Looking forward to it!

Drawing from Observation

I love this class!!    I'm taking Drawing I at University of West Georgia this semester.   Last quarter I took Design I and we experimented with prints, acrylic, photography, illustrator, sketching, and color theory.   This semester I signed up for a compressed semester class.   Monday - Thursday for two and half hours.   All we do is draw.    The exercise above was done on day one.   We did some warm up drawing exercises and then our instructor stacked these chairs in the middle of the room and said draw them!    I have to admit when I first saw it, I though "I'll never be able to do this".   But like most things in life, I've learned that you never get anywhere unless you take the first step.   It was so much fun.   I still have shading to do and need to darken the object lines but I was rather proud of this first attempt.    My fellow students liked it also and mine was one of two in the class selected as class favorites.   Our next assignment is drawing negative space.   It's a challenge!    Tune in for more on that experience.  

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Vote for a photograph!! Apple or Lemon Portrait"

"Duet" - Photograph - January 2016

"Solo" - Photograph - January 2016
This was a fun project photographing fruit in a still life fashion.    Can't decide between the apple or the lemon?      How about some feedback!!

"Solo" - A camera club photograph for still life/fruit

"Solo" - photography - January 2016
This month our camera club contest is still life with fruits or vegetables.    I love the bright yellow lemon against the back and white of the keyboard.   The reflection is an added bonus!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Rail Path

Rail Path - 5x7 - Watercolor - January 2016
Railroad tracks are part of most towns that grew up during the late 1800s.   Douglasville, GA my hometown is no different.   Originally known as Skint Chestnut, the name was derived from a large tree that was used by the Indians as a landmark, which was stripped of its bark so to be seen by travelers.   Douglasville became the name in 1875 with it first election and mayor.    The railroad came  after land was purchased from Atlanta to Birmingham in 1860 by Georgia Western Railroad.   The war halted construction and after bankruptcy the Georgia Pacific Railway Company began construction in 1881 and completed the stretch in 1883.    Downtown Douglasville is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district.   It is an example of a turn-of-the century southern railroad town.      "Rail Path" is the latest in a series of paintings and photographs I'm working on for my "Painting My Town" exhibit coming in May 2016.

The railroad was part of my history growing up.    My grandfather W. B. Price had a home on the hill overlooking the railroad tracks through what is known as Beulah Community in Douglasville, GA.    I remember hearing the trains growing up.   We walked to school across the railroad tracks and down a path to Beulah Elementary School    I don't feel that old but it was a beautiful brick four room school house.   Sure wish I had a photo of that building.  It used to stand where the Beulah Church stands now at the intersection of Riley Road and Hwy 78.    I remember as a teenager getting off the bus on Burnt Hickory Road at the railroad tracks and walking the 1/2 mile to my grandfathers house and then down to hill to my home.   No one thought anything about it in those days.  The smell of creosote on the railroad ties seems to still be in the air when I think about those walks on hot summer days.

Simply Watercolor

Into the Pines - Watercolor - 5x7 - January 2016 
Seems I'm constantly coming back to watercolor.   When I was looking for my first art class about six years ago, I first signed up for watercolor.   As luck would have it the class was cancelled and I never got back to the medium.   Except for a few workshops here and there I've not done much watercolor painting.    I started pastels instead and fell in love with them.    Lot of my instructors and other artist friends are pairing up oils and pastels with their painting.    I think I'll stick with watercolor and pastel for now.    Different experiences completely but they both can give you softer more impressionistic paintings.    

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Pine Tree Sketch

A pastel pencil sketch from one of my hometown photos.     Tomorrow I'll get out the pastel box and I might painting this in water color also.   I remember growing up most of the trees around our home were pine trees, the long needle kind.   Most people cut them down these days and hardwoods are preferred but Loblolly Pine is a favorite.    These pines can grow 60-90 feet high.   They have a distinct needle with usually 3 needles joined together.   The long needles are around 6-10 inches long.  The bark is interesting and has a scaly gray brown to red-brown color.    The pine cones can be 3-6 inches long.   Wish I'd had some for the Christmas holiday decoration.   I remember my great grandparents had a cute little house surrounded by these huge trees.   In the south you frequently see azaleas growing underneath these giant trees.   They offer a dapple shade cover.    We cut down many a sampling pine for a Christmas tree growing up.

Photograph Trip - Project "Paint My Town"

Pine Trees - By the Library on Selman Drive

 Fun "cold" day taking photographs in my hometown.   There are plenty of landmarks that hometown people recognize and identify but I was looking for some places that haven't been photographed lots of times.   I especially wanted photos of places that had good memories.   Next step is to do some sketching from these photographs.   I took many but have uploaded a few to start the process.    One of my favorite photographs is the one of the pine trees!    What a find.    I had driven to the local library to photograph a huge oak tree on a hill by our Master Gardener Community Vegetable Garden.   As I was getting ready to leave I saw these wonderful pine trees.   Can't wait to paint them.

Home overlooking the DCHS High School   - Walked by here many times

Church Street by Conference Center

Church Street by Conference Center
Broad Street 

Every town has a railroad!
New Alley Created in Downtown

Spring Street

Bowden St.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Motivation is an Illusive Thing

I've been reading different blogs this morning and a common theme is "creating a challenge" as a way to motivate yourself.    Let's face it everybody does this.....whether it's a weight loss challenge, quit smoking, walking, running...etc.   I've seen them all on face book, TV ads and "blogs".   I've used it myself....sometimes successfully and sometimes NOT.   So why is this Motivation thing so illusive.  

I've had a hard time getting back to the easel in the New Year.   After a long break from activities and classes, I'm doing things like reading, crocheting and of all things cooking.   I've even been consistent with my cello practice during the holidays.   I did give myself a sketching challenge and have done a pretty good job of keeping up with that task but getting back to the easel has alluded me.   I walk by my newly organized "study"/studio.....I pass my blank easel on my sun porch....and somehow my body and head just doesn't get to the step of picking up the pastel or the brush.

I think I've figured it out......When I go back and look at my paintings from last year, I had a really good run of paintings that I loved in the spring last year.   They basically carried me through the year because I entered them in shows and many were accepted......then I had a string of about 5-6 paintings that just didn't pass the test.    Each one ended up on my save and work on later table.   Well the stack kept growing and it seems I've not finished anything for a while.   I did sell one I painted of a marsh but that almost doesn't count.   I liked it but I didn't "love" it.   But the guy who walked by loved it so I sold it to him.  

So how do you get yourself out of the slump.    I was listening to a water colorist show the other day and he said something that caught my attention.   He said that he only got one good watercolor painting out of 7-8.   Wow!!   This guy is a great artist and he's saying his ratio is 1-7??   Of course, watercolor is like painting with another person in the room because the water color has a way of doing it's on thing.   This can be a good thing in that frequently the mistakes or surprises create wonderful paintings but most art mediums have their challenges.   So my Painters Self Analysis is that I'm in a slump because my painting is not "good enough".   Does that sound familiar?   Even Michael Jordon go in on the illusive motivation thing in a recent ad for some kinda of sports shoe.   He listed the number of games he loss, the number of game winning shots he missed, etc.   The point is if he stopped because he failed, he would never have been successful.  

So in 2016 I'm facing my failure and embracing it.    My plan to get out of my slump is one I haven't tried before exactly....well maybe a variation.    I read an article in the Pastel Journal recently about "paint where you are".    I've decided to take a photography trip to my town.   Luckily for me it's my hometown and I've lived here my entire life.   So I'll photograph around town and use those photography as my inspiration to paint...paint...paint.   My focus will be broader landscape but there will be some structures also.    I'm going to try to capture the non traditional photo.   So instead of the buildings on main street it may just be the street and trees and railroad track on the side of street.   I'll post the photos and my painting progress here.    I'll call it "Painting My Town".

2016 Challenge - "Painting My Town"
50 paintings of places, things and people from around my town.   I'm giving myself a completion date of April 2016.   Here goes!