Saturday, November 14, 2009

Trying New Things

Artists are suppose to have adventurous personalities and embrace change, but to tell you to truth, I think it's rare to find anyone who truly embraces change. So in October, when I had the opportunity to take an oil painting plein air workshop in Louisville, I hesitated. This might be HARD! I'll be out of my comfort zone which is my nice little studio with all my pastel colors neatly (yal, right!)messily arranged. Besides, it's going to be 32 degrees the morning that we're suppose to be outside dragging along our easels, oils, turpentine, canvases, paper towels,foot warmers, gloves, snacks, water. My comfortable studio was looking better and better.

But I confronted my fears/laziness and trucked off to Louisville to hear Phil Starke's Thursday evening presentation at Mellwood Art Center. Now I have to admit, I didn't make it back to the Friday session which was a blustery cold and gray day. Saturday was much nicer and although still cold I had a great time. Thanks, Katie, for talking me into this.

This is a bit of a long story to end up with the fact that none of my oils from the workshop survived my self-critique. They were for learning and I learned I was getting hooked on the freshness and quickness of outdoor, on the spot painting.

On the Monday after the workshop I met my friend Pat Lawrence for lunch and set up in her front yard in Chevy Chase, Lexington to paint the lovely light as it lit the yards and houses.

On Tuesday I was off to Bi-Water Farms in Georgetown to photograph their farm animal petting zoo and paint the north section of Elkhorn Creek which ran along the side of the farm.

What if I came back the next day with my pastels and kayak. Yep, I did it! I'm really hooked on plein air painting and of course I love my kayak. The creek is very calm in Georgetown because of the dam so I knew I would not have to contend with any rapids.

I balanced my boxes of pastels in my lap and propped the sanded paper attached to a board between my knees and the back of the kayak sitting area. I used Diane Townsend pastels which are large and thick. They are excellent to get a quick impression of the scene without trying to create all kinds of details and thus miss the gesture of the scene.

I've gone to Red River Gorge this fall for more oil painting but have been stumped by the darkness of my pieces when I view them at home in indoor light. This outdoor painting is new to me and adjusting my colors will come with practice I hope.

The next week, the ginkgo trees that line Catalpa Street in the Chevy Chase area of Lexington were in full height of color and the leaves were beginning to fall. Ginkgo's keep their color for weeks but when the time is right to lose their leaves, boy, they lose them quickly and if you're going to capture the essence of the happening you'd better be there at the right time.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Summer and Fall Inspirations

As I pack my new work and head out to St. James Court Art Fair in Louisville, KY I wanted to quickly share some of my newest pieces from August and September.

Inspiration can come from many sources. In August I visited the Kentucky State Fair to photograph FFA farm animals. I've always been drawn (pardon the pun) to cows but the FAA kids were also showing their prize goats, mules, chickens and rabbits on the day I attended. What great sources of inspiration for my funny animal portraits.

On the way back to Lexington I stopped off at the Louisville Zoo and captured more fun animal portraits including the giraffe having a good chew. Giraffe's are so goofy looking!

In September I returned to my beloved farm in Mingo WV and my friend Joy Cooper and I took a day to do some plein air painting with our pastels. I've never been happy with my plein air efforts but finally I settled into a quiet place and was able to capture the essence of the scene.

"Joy's Drive Noon" was started around 10:30 and finished by noon which is normally very harsh light, but the shade of the forest gave the strong dark and light contrast that I'm interested in depicting.

"Hill Meadow Evening" was started during the beautiful "golden hour" which in September in WV is 6:00 PM. I only had an hour to capture the best part of the scene - the tree, mountain, and fence posts. Back at the farm house I finished the field by referring to my memory and the LED monitor on my digital camera.

After a week in WV my husband and I drove to Cape Cod by way of Philadelphia, Mystic Seaport, Ct, Plymouth, MA and finally Cape Cod. The salt marsh pond with the salt grasses illuminated by the evening light was gorgeous as well as the ocean, the sunset, the swamp and everything. This was a wonderful change of scenery and inspiration from the very familiar Appalachian Mountain regions that are my usual source of landscape information.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Elkhorn Creek Leisure

My newest pieces are focused on Elkhorn Creek which runs through central Kentucky and I think it is one of the most beautiful creeks in the area. On a leisurely July afternoon my husband and I rented a canoe from Canoe Kentucky of Peaks Mill, KY and paddled Elkhorn Creek. Glenn fished and I took lots of photographs and did some quick pen and ink sketches.

The water was just right for an easy, no hassle float. I like still water with crisp reflections - no whitewater for me and my Canon XTi digital camera, thank you!

"Elkhorn Backlighting 1" was created on LaCarte pastel board. It's only 6"x6" but still captures the contrast of light and shadow.

"Elkhorn Backlighting 2" was created from the same reference photograph but I used Kitty Wallis sanded paper with an oil wash for the underpainting. Can you tell the difference in the two techniques?

"Elkhorn Sycamore" is a tree that I have painted many times before and I never get enough of this graceful image. This time the piece is square and very small -- 6"x6". Recently a summer downpour raised the water level in the creek by 6 feet and I wondered if my leaning sycamore has survived? It seems to lean more each year.

"Elkhorn Fishing" was inspired by not only the red-shirted fisherman but the beautiful tall trees that grow along the creek bank. The fellows who were fishing in the same area where we were canoeing not only were using a red canoe from Canoe Kentucky but also wore red T-shirts. A spot of red in the overwhelming green of summer is always a welcome sight. Thanks, guys!

If you want to have a fun day on the creek, just contact Canoe Kentucky at and they'll set you up with a fun 6 mile, or longer if you like, trip on the creek in a canoe or a kayak.

Just so you don't think I've gone completely mad over the Elkhorn, I've included one of my new landscapes from my Scenic Highway backroad series. This piece is from a small road off Frankfort Pike and I wandered around throughout that area that I'm not sure now which road I was on. The evening light creates a glow of color that permeates the landscape.

Friday, June 12, 2009

New Work from spring fair season

The spring fair season is exhilarating and exhausting. I have participated in 6 fairs during the past 10 weeks but I have been enjoying the push to create new works. However I haven't had time to post them on my blog and almost forgot how. Jeezz! The joy of being over 60!

"Pleasant Valley Evening" is one of my favorite spots in West Virginia. It's off Rt. 219 in the eastern part of the state not far from the Virginia border.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Welcome to my new blog

Hi friends,
Welcome to my new blog which is designed to quickly post to the web my newest pieces of artwork, either pastels or sometimes oil paintings.

A few times this year friends have asked, "When are you going to start a blog?"
"What me! No's to techie and time consuming,  besides what would be the reason?"

Well, now I've found a reason. This is a fairly easy (I hope) and painless way to post new pieces and occasionally show some step by steps of how the work is created.

Recently I've been experimenting with using an oil wash on sanded paper and then following with pastels. Using the oil wash is new, but in 1983, omg, did I actually say 1983? That's so long ago! I used a watercolor wash on watercolor paper before applying the pastels. Now I've returned to that technique after viewing Richard McKinley's wonderful DVD.

In my next blog I'll talk more about the technique, but for now I just want to see if I can actually get this to work.

Happy viewing and thanks for being interested in my work.