Monday, December 12, 2011

Still LIfe set up

For my class tomorrow we're working on a still life set up and here's an idea of how to create an environment for light and shadow to illuminate your still life.
Take a box large enough to display your still life objects. cut a hole in the box for your personal light source to shine through the hole. Find your personal light source. I used a small flexible arm reading light.
Below are also 3 different still lifes using fruit. And the final shot is the box set up with light source

Still Life #1 - 5 pieces of fruit but a boring arrangement
Still Life #2 has a more interesting arrangement of fruit and objects as well as light and shadow
Still life #3-I like the light and shadow of the box sides and the shadow from the fruit

Still life set up with flexible arm reading light and medium size box

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Merced River Reflections

This is the second demonstration of water reflections which involves moving water. My art is not a photo realistic but more of an impressionistic so my approach to moving water is to try to grab the feeling of rushing white water but not every detail.
Step 1 I draw in the shapes and block in some of the darks with the pastel pencil. Notice the light lines dividing the paper into 1/3s. This approach is an aid in drawing and composition.

Step 1- Draw in basic shapes. A good time for drawing corrections if needed
Step 2-Start blocking in darks and lights
Step 3 - Continue blocking in shapes but because this water is moving I am adding more horizontal strokes earlier in the drawing process
Step 4 - Push the color to get some expression of the scene and not just copy nature

Step 5 - Add the final light areas of moving water using expressive strokes of color

Friday, November 11, 2011

Yosemite Valley Reflections

"Have no fear of perfection, you'll never reach it. "  Salvador Dali 
This blog is for my Tuesday night pastel class. Hi class!
I thought it would be fun to post the step by step for our class, "How do we paint water?"
I read once that the least you do to water the better. In other words, try to get down the essence of water and then quit messing with it. I like to create a vertical stoke of color because reflections are a large part of what makes water look wet. Those shapes are a reflection of the vertical objects from above the water.
I know it's a bit complicated drawing - lots of shapes - but I'm excited about my trip to Yosemite so I just couldn't help but create an pastel from my trip. In class we may take just a part of the image and work on that.
So lets' start with drawing in the basic shapes. (Wolf Kahn doesn't like drawing in the basic shapes but that's for another lesson"
Step 1 -Draw in the basic shapes

Step 2 - Add local color
Step 3 - Block in reflected color.
Step 4 - Add more vertical strokes of color. That which is dark above will be reflected a bit lighter and the light colors will be reflected a bit darker creating reflected color which is closer in value.

Step 5 - Add lighter areas to water and horizontal strokes to depict movement

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Plein air on gray

If you've been following my blogs you know I'm not excited about a gray day. I prefer strong light and shadow but today our Plein Air Painters of the Bluegrass group met at a friend's farm in Nonesuch, KY and the day was gray. I went mostly to photograph her llamas but Dan, who really appreciates tonal values, talked me into trying the more subtle view of the fall colors.
"Subtle Fall" 12" x 8" pastel on Wallis sanded paper
This next one started out to be just a very small study of the upper part of the vista but since I had more paper on the bottom I just kept recording the foreground texture. I'd like to go back tomorrow and just do studies of the abstract texture of the foreground weeds but it's suppose to rain and I'm o.k. with gray but not with rain.
"Fall Layers" 12" x 8" pastel on Wallis sanded paper
I like the textured bramble better than the vista which brings up another topic.
Why do we work outdoors?
1) to finish an actual piece recording all the visual input of the moment.
2) to study a scene whether it's the color, shapes, or values
3) to practice working quickly to record the feeling, not just the information.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Following the setting sun

...everything is vague, confused, and Nature grows drowsy. The fresh evening air sighs among the leaves - the birds, these voices of the flowers are saying their evening prayer. Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot
Shaker Village is even more special as the sun sets and the fields grow orange-golden. Plein air painting is even more demanding when the sun sinks so quickly. So today, I knew exactly where I wanted to set up and I knew what I wanted to capture, but doing that is always more difficult in reality then in my imagination.
This is a series of sketches that I hope to use as reference for a large pastel, however the more I study the images the more I think that trying to incorporate all will be too much information and not a clear focus. It may be best to develop 2 pastels, one of the sycamore and the other of the orange field.
"Sycamore and Fence" plein air sketch
"Chasing the setting sun1" plein air sketch
"Chasing the setting sun2" plein air sketch

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


"The best laid plans of mice and man." ??
I don't know who said that. It's such a common saying that the author has faded in the glare of an overused saying. But my point is that no matter how many times I tell my students, "Don't put the point of interest smack in the middle of the drawing" here it is, right in the middle. Using another overused saying "make lemonade out of lemons," I named this piece "Front and Center" to beat my critics to the punch. Yes, I know it's right in the middle, and I I still like it  :-)
Maybe some creative cropping would help?
"Front and Center" 12" x 8" plein air pastel on sanded paper

Let's try a square?The 2 hayrolls if viewed as a unit are still in the middle but the large one is more to the right side and in this version the hayrolls are unmistakenly the point of interest.
"Front and Center, Square Up" 
I like viewing the images small. I can see design flaws more easily, like the strong diagonal of the fence row needs to be counter balanced by a stronger angle to the blue mountains. I'll try some creative photoshopping.

Yes, I like that better, but now I have to get back to matting/framing for the Woodland Art Fair, in Woodland Park, Lexington, KY this weekend.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Rectangle or square

"Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. " Pablo Picasso
I've drawn this little outbuilding before but from a photograph. This one was created en plein air this week. 
But what I want to talk about is how convenient working with pastels and pastel paper is compared to dealing with a stretched canvas.
While preparing this image for tonight's blog I accidently cropped it as a square and I like it much better. With pastel paper all I have to do is just cut the paper before matting and framing but if it was an oil painting on stretcher bars then it would just have to stay as is.
What do you think? Which format do you like better?
"Shaker Outbuilding" 12" x 8" pastel

"Shaker Outbuilding Two"  8" x 8" pastel

Monday, August 15, 2011

Shaker Light

"The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery." Francis Bacon
Shaker Village has a special feel that is almost beyond words. There's a quiet there, a feel of contemplation and safety.
The afternoon light was clear and bright as I headed to Shaker Village and while viewing the light and shadows on the buildings I felt like depicting them not with all the detail but to try to infuse the structure with a more ethereal feel without the pale colors typical of spirituality.
I may follow this series further. 
This one is going somewhere but not sure it's even 1/2 way there. I may try it again with other colors or try other structures. When leaving the area I spotted some barns and outbuildings that would be good in the morning sun.
"Shaker Light" 8" x 12" pastel on sanded paper

Sunday, August 14, 2011

"Mingo Flats Evening"

"If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint." Edward Hopper
This view always takes my breathe away. I'm looking to the west over Mingo Flats, West Virginia and it hasn't changed since I was a child.
Late in the evening, the golden hour, the mountains turn a dusty blue and the setting sun casts long shadows over the valley. I can hear a dog bark and wind in the grasses, maybe a tractor but that's about all. "There will be peace in the valley...." hymn.
"Mingo Flats Evening" plein air 8" x 12" pastel on Wallis sanded paper

Saturday, August 13, 2011

August 2011 Polarization

"Nature is not only all that is visible to the eye.. it also includes the inner pictures of the soul. "  Edvard Munch
Yesterday morning as I stared at the two barns on the hill I was struck at how opposite they were in color, size, and shape. They reminded me of the polarization in our world on all fronts....nobody is getting along with anybody.
"Polarization" is my artistic interpretation of the state of affairs for August 2011.
It's pretty homogenized but the barns are opposites that reside together on the same hilltop.
"August 2011 Polarization" 8" x 12" pastel on wallis sanded paper

Friday, August 12, 2011

"The Bridge"

"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see." Edgar Degas
Another day of beautiful summer weather and plein air painting on Frogtown Road - not a very pretty name for a place.
When painting from nature I'm always conflicted by "what makes a good painting and what makes a good plein air experience?" In other words, plein air for me is observing nature, being inspired by the light, or the color or contrast, the composition, movement of shapes as they descend towards the background. And how does an artist adjust all those things to create a striking piece without strongly altering what is observed?
One way is to create the piece while observing nature and then use the piece for inspiration when back in the studio with controlled conditions and space, both physical and mental, to change what needs to be changed.
Marc Chagall said, "Great art picks up where nature ends."
Something to ponder.
Meantime here's one of my pieces from today.
"Shadwell Farm Bridge-late afternoon" 12" x 8" pastel

Thursday, August 11, 2011

"Joy's Drive"

"The hurrier I go the behinder I get" Amish saying
I've moved my studio at Artists' Attic which has taken 3 days of my creative time which I should be using to get ready for Woodland Fair, but I just want the new studio to be "right" so it feels good to work in and looks nice for visitors.
Which means I didn't get to work on any pastels again today.
This is "Joy's Drive 3" from my trip to West Virginia and yes, I've drawn Joy's drive before but this is farther up the road and my point of interest is the bright area at the end of the road before it bends to the right. That can be a tricky composition because I'm putting the point of interest in brighter colors in the background which is an area that should have atmospheric lighter bluer colors to make it fade away instead of hop forward. Do you think the drawing works? 
"Joy's Drive 3" 8" x 12" plein air pastel on Wallis Belgium Mist sanded paper

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Frogtown creek

"Good food, good wine, good friends and art - can't get much better than that." me
The Bluegrass Plein Air Painters met at Frogtown Road off Parker's Mill Road close to Versailles Road - in case you ever want to go there. (Oh yes, and after painting for 3 hours we met at Ramsey's for dinner--really fun evening.) The creek that runs along the road is beautiful - small, but with the cleanest water I've seen in Kentucky. The creek apparently runs through only horse farm fields because it has no mud or silt in it.
Today, we finally had a decent summer day without the horrid humidity that we've had all summer long and the sunshine was bright creating long dark bluish shadows as it set with golden light. 
This piece will probably get some touch up tomorrow after I'm away from it which always helps one see what really happens while working on it."The mountain is clearer from the plain." Kahil Gilbran
"Frogtown Road creek" 8" x 12" pastel on Wallis paper

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

VanMeter Road

No quote today. I had a follow up from cataract surgery laser procedure on my eye so I'm taking it a bit easy.
"VanMeter Road" was created in July as part of my prep sketching for the Run for the Bluegrass mini-marathon poster so it's technically not a "Pastel a Day".
I'll be drawing with the Plein Air Painters of the Bluegrass tomorrow night. Hopefully I'll have a piece completed that I can post.
"VanMeter Road 2" 20" x 9" pastel on textured pastel paper

Monday, August 8, 2011

Water house Shaker Village

"You are the sunshine of my life," Stevie Wonder
My daughter left today to work at the American School in Barcelona, Spain for 2 years. She's my sunshine and I'm going to miss her so much, but art is a great way to go someplace without leaving. So I go into my art and will seek the sunshine even more.
Here's the other piece that I created down at Shaker Village during the Plein Air Painters of the Bluegrass on the paint out.
I love this little water house building. It's the Shaker version of our modern water tower and inside was a large water storage tank that was supplied with fresh water from the pond below and the horses somehow by walking in a circle, hooked up to a wheel pumped the water up the hill and into the water tower. The funny little projectile coming out of the top of the building rises as the water rises. The Shakers were extremely cleaver especially for 1820.
"Water House" 8" x 12" pastel on Wallis sanded paper

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Shaker Village Plein Air

"Almost heaven West Virginia" John Denver
I've been on vacation to my favorite vacation spot, Mingo, West Virginia, but today's image is from a plein air paint out that the Bluegrass Plein Air Painters had today at Shaker Village. Early in the day the sky was gray and trying to rain. I couldn't get inspired by anything because my interest is light and shadow. Finally after lunch when the sun shone, I created one piece that I liked and then another late in the afternoon. Late afternoon is really the golden hour when light and shadow produce luscious colors.
I've painted this house before but each time I try to capture the essence of afternoon light on the limestone building.
"Shaker Home August Afternoon" 8" x 12" pastel on Wallis sanded paper
July  has been busily distracting but now it's time to get back to business with Woodland Fair August 20-21 and then 3 fairs back to back in late September and early October.
Last winter I produced a "Pastel a Day" for 60 days and that was a very productive time, so I've decided to try it again starting with today's image. I'll also post some of the pieces from my trip to WVA in July. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"Flora's Field Morning"

"Morning dawns rosy fingers...." anonymous
The Bluegrass Plain Air Painters met at Flora's farm for a Wednesday paint-out and of course I took my pastels instead of paint - they let me be a member anyway. :-)
I created a small sketch on Uart sanded paper to which I had applied a golden orange underpainting. The sketch was more horizontal and the format of the trees needed to be more square, so the next day I created a new larger version on a square format. The original little sketch is my favorite of the summer, so far, and I'm not going to sell it. I have a closet full of favorites and one of these days that closet is going to get too full......
I'll be showing this piece as well as lots of other new pieces at Francisco's Farm Art Fair, at Equus Run Vineyard, 1280 Moore's Mill Rd. Midway, KY June 25-26.

"Flora's Field Morning" 22" x 24" framed $650

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

"Woodford County Purple Barn"

"When I grow old, I'll wear a purple hat." or was it "I'll wear a red hat and purple shoes."
Whichever, I love purple and many of my customers ask, "Was that barn really purple?" Well, no, but it feels purple and beside black barns are boring.
I'll have this barn at Summerfair along with 2 other purple barns all lined up on the same wall. Hoping to get some attention. :-)
If the posting of this info and image isn't looking correct when it gets to my website I may have to start using ArtSpan's blogging site. Oh goody, something new to learn.
Between learning my new iphone and The Square which is a merchant credit card processor that hooks into the iphone (and yes, it's really something else!) my poor little brain is about fried on learning new things.
Back to the best part of my job, creating new pastels for my next show.
 I'll have 2 more shows in June. June 17-19, I'll be at Nashville's Centennial Park with the American Artisans Art Fair and June 25-26 I'll be back in my home territory at Francisco's Farm Art Fair at it's new location of Equus Run Vineyard in Midway. Wine to enhance your art experience - now that kind of change I can go with.
"Woodford County Barn" 16" x 20" framed on textured sanded paper

Tuscany images

"Good things come in small packages"
o.k this site isn't working quite right. I don't know what happened to my previous posts. So I'm going to add another post to see if it links ok. yep, I love changes.
At my art fairs I like to have a good range of sizes and prices. These are little framed 10" x 10" images from my trip to Italy last fall.

"Dogwood Creek Morning"

"When morning glides the sky, my heart awakening cries" hymn
It's been awhile since my last blog partly because something has changed with eblogger from Google and I had trouble finding it and signing in. Love changes.
So I'm off to Summerfair in Cincinnati at Coney Island off I-275 and Kellogg Ave. Booth 29K. The breeze will be blowing cool off the river and I have 2 great little fans that run on 18 volt rechargeable batteries from Home Depot.
This creek runs through our park which I run/walk through in the early morning and on this morning it was so beautiful that I had to walk back home, sweating all the way, and grab my camera and sketch book. Later in the week at my studio in Artists Attic using these two references I created "Dogwood Creek Morning." 
I'm still in a quandary about the best approach - pure plein air-creating the piece entirely on site or using reference photos and black and white sketches to help me capture the essence of the scene. I'll continue to battle with plein air to get that interpretation of the scene instead of just reporting what I'm viewing. On this piece I used an oil wash for the initial underpainting which is another goal - to be able to create an underpainting that is satisfying in it's own right, so I don't end up covering up all the underpainting with pastel.
"Dogwood Creek Morning" oil wash and pastel, framed 24" x 30"  $850

Friday, May 13, 2011

Red River Gorge Rocks

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes, Art is knowing which ones to keep." Scott Adams
My daughter climbs rock, very tall rocks, just for the fun and challenge of it. I don't get it but this quote reminds me of her recreation and there are no mistakes in rock climbing.
These 2 drawings are for a friend who is developing a product and needs drawings of Red River Gorge rocks. 
"Red River Gorge Rocks" 10" x 6"
So what do you think, Baesha and Kathy? Like either one???
"Climbing the Gorge" 10" x 6"


"Color thinks by itself, independently of the objects it clothes." Charles Baudelaire
I started using pastels in 1983 because my watercolors were whimpy in the color department. I took those vibrant pastels and colorized the watercolors which improved them a great deal.
I've always been in love with color - who isn't, vibrant, rich and highly contrasting colors. I can still appreciate a piece of art executed in monotones (if drawn well) and tonal coloration but I'm always pulled towards brightly colored pieces.
When you think about your own "visual voice" as an artist, think about how you feel about color and put that thought into your artist statement.
Here's two images of the same barn in different colors. Which one are you drawn to?
"Purple Barn - Barren County" 8" x 12" on textured sanded paper

"Red Barn - Barren County" 8"x12" pastel on textured sanded paper

Not only is the purple barn smaller on the picture plane but the purple color seems to recede and the red barn comes forward. Hans Hoffman was an artists and wonderful teacher in the early to mid 20th century. He taught how colors move forward and recede and how objects have a push and pull against each other and within the picture plane. One of my favorite artists Wolf Kahn studied with Hans Hoffman.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Raven Run May

"With winter's blast can spring be far behind?" anonymous
Do you remember last February? Well, spring is finally here but we've had so much rain that I haven't been out working en plein aire and consequently I missed the Blue-eyed Marys which blanket the forest floor at Raven Run Park in southern Fayette County.
But the glorious sun was shining today and the sky a bright blue. This hiking trail is covered with flowers in April.
Raven Run with "Raven Run May" in lower left corner

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bath House at Shaker Village

I like producing work in "twos" Sometimes a customer will want something to go along with the piece they're attracted to. These 2 examples have different coloring even though it's the same building but in morning light and afternoon light.
This bath house at Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill has always interested me and I've drawn it 3-4 other times, each with a different take. These 2 are on the textured paper created with Art Spectrum's pastel primer.
"Shaker Village Bath House 1" 6" x 6" on textured sanded paper
"Shaker Village Bath House 2" 6" x 6" on textured sanded paper

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Spring Rain

"Rain, rain, go away" nursery rhyme
If you live in Kentucky, you know what I'm taking about. We've had the wettest April in history; with today's rain it'll top out around 12" for the month. No plein air painting this month.
So here's a pastel created this winter from a rainy evening in Florence, Italy.
This weekend I'm headed to Cherokee Triangle Art Fair, at Bardstown Road and Cherokee Parkway, in Louisville, booth #206. Come see me if you're in the area.
"Rainy Florence Evening" 12" x 8" on Wallis sanded paper

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Lexington Tulips

"With winter's blast, can spring be far behind?" anonymous
Finally, spring is here and I went to Lexington Cemetery to draw the tulips. All winter my backpack sat in the corner of my studio loaded with pastels and paper and today, at last, I plopped it on my back and walked the cemetery grounds looking for that perfect spot to view the tulips.
The Lexington Garden Club plants the flower beds every fall with fresh tulip bulbs and the spring display is gorgeous. Today many viewers were out taking photo of the tulips especially with little kiddos posing in front of a background of beautiful tulips.
"Lexington Tulips" 8'x12" plein aire drawing on Wallis Belgium Mist sanded paper

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"Italian Rhythms"

Pondering yesterday's disappointing drawing, I looked at which ones were working and which seemed lost. Rhythm was the common denominator of those I felt were more successful. I'm more interested in the rhythm of the shapes and colors. Rooftops, buildings, shutters, things that repeat but vary.
Late last night I read an article in American Artist Magazine May 2011"Escape to the Outer Cape: Landscapes of Brenda Horowitz" where Brenda talks about her admiration for Mark Rothko's "pure and bold" color and Hans Hofmann's "Vibrant and fresh" color. "Pare down pictorial compostions to essential elements of color, line and form," she says.
That's what I'm looking for. 
"Rooftop Rhythms" 8" x 12" on Wallis sanded paper
Which one is the plein aire/on location drawing from Italy and which one was today's studio piece? Too easy, isn't it?
"Florentine Rooftops" 8" x 12" on Wallis sanded paper
After filing my taxes today, I think my trip to Italy was well worth the expense and needs to be repeated. SOON! There's nothing like working on location.