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.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"Cetona Flowers"

"The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things but their inner significance" Aristotle
I'm still struggling with images from Italy. The experience was so wonderful that I can't seem to make my images equal the feeling of the trip. I worked on this one yesterday, wiped out half of it and reworked it today but am not satisfied. I feel like I'm totally missing the point. Aristotle has the right idea, but why can't I seem to even get close to that.
"Cetona Flowers" 10" x 7" on Wallis sanded paper

This is closer, but still not there. It's a poor attempt at realism and shouldn't even be realism. It should be expressionism or abstraction.
"Cetona Flowers" - close-up
And yesterday's question. Which drawing was plein aire and which was studio created? "Cetona Pink Pants" is the studio piece. I bet everyone guessed it correctly.

Monday, March 28, 2011

"Cetona Streets"

"Ain't nothin' like the real thing, baby. Ain't nothin' like the real thing." who sang that?
So here's my dilemma. I created 30 plein aire drawings on my trip to Italy, but to me they are the essence of my trip and I won't sell any of them. However my 5 friends and I are having a show of our work and I'm creating new pieces for the show.
Here are my two drawings. Can you tell which one was drawn on location in Italy and which was was drawn today in my studio with the reference photo as my inspiration?
The answer will be in tomorrow's blog.
Which one do you like better?
"Cetona - Pink Pants" 12" x 8" pastel on Wallis sanded paper

"Cetona Backstreets" 12" x 8" pastel on Wallis sanded paper

Monday, March 21, 2011


"I am no greater for one man's praise, nor less for his criticism." anonymous
One art fair down and 11 more to go. Let's hope the others are better than this one, but I always say, I'm there advertising my work and you never know when someone will think about something they've seen and decide they can't live without it; buying it at the next fair.
So here's little piece of cheery spring from 2010. I'm looking forward to getting back into plein aire drawing in the coming weeks.
"Daffodils" 8" x 12" on Wallis sanded paper. Plein aire drawing

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Day 60 "Corn Rows 4"

Pray for Japan and all the people who are suffering. They are amazing people. If you wish to give money be sure it's a legitimate website. There are always lots of scammers out there during a crisis.

I made it. It's day 60 of my 60 days of "Pastel a Day" and it's the last day of work before leaving for KYCrafted the Market. Wholesale days are March 17 & 18, and retail days are 19 & 20 at KY State Fair and Expo Center in Louisville, KY. 
Talk to you all next week.
"Corn Rows" 6" x 6" on La Carte sanded paper

Monday, March 14, 2011

Day 59 "Piggies 4"

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep." Scott Adams
Continuing the "Animal Quilt" series is "Piggies 4"
No time tonight for writing.... how did I get so behind to be ready for KYCrafted?
"Piggies 4"

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Day 58 "4 Chics"

"There are no days in life so memorable as those which vibrated to some stroke of the imagination." Ralph Waldo Emerson
With the "Quilt Animal" series I want to create colors that vibrate.
I'm heading to the end of 60 days of "Pastel A Day" with 60 new pastel drawings as my goal to have ready for KYCrafted the Market. 
"4 Chics" is part of the small series of drawings to fit into 10" x10" frames. Although creativity is an essential element of the creative process I also have to be practical because this is a business which partially supports our family. I have five 10" x10" frames that need new images, so the smaller version of "Quilt Animals" series is born.
"4 Chics" 6"x6" pastel on salmon colored La Carte sanded paper

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Day 57 "Hiking Among Giants 2"

"Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere" Carl Sagan
Olympia National Park has 3 biospheres within one park. My drawing depicts the southwest corner of the park around Quinault River. This area contains the world's largest Sitka Spruce, Douglas Fir, and Western Red Cedar.
I wanted to depict the enormous size of these trees in "Hiking Among Giants 2". This is a large pastel and I've worked on it on and off for a couple of months, but finally it's finished and ready to go to KYCrafted The Market.
"Hiking Among Giants 2" 24" x 18" pastel on Uart sanded paper with oil wash

Friday, March 11, 2011

Day 56 "Mingo Flats Eve" final

"To live a creative life we must lose the fear of being wrong." Joseph Chilton Pierce
Well, here's the final version of "Mingo Flats Evening" and I've included the plein aire piece I drew in West Virginia last summer.
"Mingo Flats Evening" 16" x 36" on sanded paper created with pastel primer
This is the original sketch which included a hazy reference to the forest that lies in front of the field.
"Mingo Flats" plein aire sketch

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Day 55 "Mingo Flats Evening"

"What art offers is space - a certain breathing room for the spirit." John Updike
Mingo is my breathing room.
I think "Mingo Flats Evening" is finished but it's always helpful to see the image small on the computer screen. Composition and strength of color and contrast become more evident when the image is small.
I'm not happy with the forest in the foreground and although the valley does appear this way, as an artist I need to make a change. Just not sure what that will be.
"Mingo Flats Evening" 16" x 36" 
I'm tempted to eliminate the foreground forest completely.
"Mingo Flats" - photoshop
Photoshop Elements is a great tool. I think tomorrow I'll eliminate the forest because it is creating a barrier between the viewer and the meadows. I should have done some thumbnails on this one even though it worked in the plein aire sketch. As Scarlett O'Hara said, "I'll think about that tomorrow."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Day 54 "Mingo Flats Evening" detail

"You, at least, know that it (solitude) exists, and that it is the source of peace and joy." Thomas Merton
Mingo, West Virginia is that place of solitude for me. When I sit in the fields above Mingo Flats I can hear a distant tractor, a dog barking and maybe a big rig over on highway 219 as it makes it way up the mountain. But mostly I hear the wind and hawk's call as it circles above me. I hear God's voice say, "Rest here. You are safe in My Hands."
This pastel will eventually be 16" x 36" but of course, I didn't finish it today. 
"Mingo Flats Evening" detail

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Day 53 "Those Skinny Trees"

I kind of feel like the day ran me today.
The name of this piece is "Those Skinny Trees" because I can't remember the name of these trees; maybe it's cedar trees. We were told that the Italians don't like these trees because they associate them with a cemetery. But now tourists associate them with the Italian landscape that many Italians and probably Americans who have bought second homes in Italy (wouldn't you love to do that!) plant these trees along the roadsides.
"Those Skinny Trees" 8" x 12" Wallis Belgium Mist sanded paper with oil wash

Monday, March 7, 2011

Day 52 "Tuscan Farmhouse2"

"Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death." Rosalind Russell
Here's the 16" x 12" version of the little sketches from yesterday and as usual I'm not completely satisfied with the end result. I may try it again with some changes to the middle field, but if I continue to mess with this one I will sacrifice the freshness of the strokes.
"Tuscan Farmhouse" 16" x 12" on Wallis Belgium Mist sanded paper
I'm hard to please but it's good to be a strong self critic when it comes to your own work. We all need to keep striving for that next best painting. Just don't let the self-critique become a noose around your creative neck so you become too paralyzed to try.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Day 51 "Thumbnails"

"10% inspiration, 90% perspiration" various authors
Aw, the lovely thumbnails drawings that everybody needs to create and nobody likes to take the time to do them. 
Feb. 2011 Pastel Journal Magazine has a great article by Marla Baggetta "Good Study Habits" where she talks about and shows how to create thumbnail drawings in black and white and tiny pastel drawings before starting your actual piece.
And yes, I'm just as bad as everyone else - telling my students to make thumbnails, but not following my own advice. Today, while recovering from a mini-mini indoor triathlon, I sat in a chair for about 2 hours and created some black & white thumbnail sketches and then some tiny 2"x2" color pastel thumbnails. I'm working on the final piece from these studies and will post it tomorrow.
But for now here are my sketches.
"Tuscan Farmhouse" thumbnails

"Tuscan Farmhouse" studies 2" x 2" each

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Day 50 "Tuscany Painter"

"Tuscany Painter" may become our postcard advertising our Italian paintings which will be showing at the Kentucky/State movie theaters during the month of April. Susan penned the name of the show "A Glorious Adventure: Painting in Tuscany" And Lucinda is drawing Val D'Orcia, Tuscany when I took the photograph. 
The print was too small to include in my drawing but Lucinda's T-shirt said "Don't Postpone Joy" which is the T-shirt for her sister Laurey's restaurant in Asheville, NC.
If you're ever in Asheville you have to stop by for a great meal.
"Tuscany Painter" 8" x 10" Canson paper treated with Golden Pastel Primer

Friday, March 4, 2011

Day 49 "Tuscany Town"

Pastel a Day is very humbling. I admire Alfred Montapert's determination.
Here's another loser pastel and it's story. 
I started this one yesterday with an oil wash underpainting and it was a good copy of what I thought was a dramatic photograph of the maze-like urban area of a Tuscan hilltown. Well, I didn't like it, so this morning I washed alcohol over the whole thing which gave me a darkened underpainting and new tooth to the sanded paper.
2nd attempt involved purposely keeping my stokes loose and expressive, but the composition has problems. There are too many points of interest - blue shutters and balcony, steps to another passage area, and the door on the right with blue shutters above.
"Tuscan Town" 12" x 8" 
I think the blue shutters on the top left has some promise, and this one may be cut into a smaller 8" x 10".

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Day 48 "Mingo Corner Fall"

"Variety is the spice of life." anonymous
Would it be nice if I'd stick to one area of the world or boring? Anyway back from Italy to West Virginia.
This is one of my favorite little roads in West Virginia and the maple trees are beautiful as they rim the road. I love fall paintings because the green of summer can get very boring and fall colors are so vibrant just like pastels.
"Mingo Corner Fall" 8" x 12" Uart sanded paper with an oil wash underpainting
This drawing was almost finished when I realized it was a good reproduction of the photograph but not all that interesting as a pastel drawing. So I went back over many of the areas with more expressive strokes. Color, composition, texture, content and technique - it's kind of like golf - if you can successfully put it all together, you'll make a good shot.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Day 47 "Cetona, Italy"

"A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can let alone." Henry David Thoreau
Cetona in Tuscany, Italy is one of those hidden jewels. A hilltown with wonderful local restaurants, and a vibrancy of life we didn't see in every hilltown that we visited.
Although many of the buildings are very old - ancient by American standards - they are well cared for and have literally stood the test of time.
When we visited Italy, especially Florence, I was intrigued by the abstract designs of roof tops and light on the buildings which appear in a somewhat and very interesting random arrangement.
"Cetona, Italy" 12" x 16" on Wallis Belgium Mist sanded paper

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Day 46 "Mingo Morning Frost"

"Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience." Ralph Waldo Emerson
Have you ever noticed that some days you just don't have any patience, all reved up for no reason and that doesn't go well with working on pastel drawings.
For "Mingo Morning Frost" I created the oil wash underpainting yesterday but started the pastel with little time left in my creative day . Today I continued the pastel but with the same feeling of impatience and little ability to concentrate. 
So what's going on? The acceptance and rejections notices are arriving for the spring and summer art fair season and I think that's where my feeling of panic comes from. But I learned while being a manager at the newspaper that things seem to work out and the panic just doesn't help at all.
"Mingo Morning Frost" oil wash
Here's the final piece that I finished today. The oil wash has some creative energy but I think that energy is missing from the final version. Still working on finding a way to preserve that oil wash and not cover it all up with pastel. Not there yet!
"Mingo Morning Frost" 8" x 12" on Uart paper