Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Rooms To Go

The Fun Rooms are… well, Fun

Some time ago I posted, A Room With City View, my entry into the American Juried Art Spring and Summer Show. At the time I was doing my “Happy Dance” because the piece was accepted. More happy dancing, because that painting won the award for Watermedia.

In the post I suggested that perhaps this summer I would spend time painting more “outrageous rooms.” The feedback was positive and the mood was right. My studio is full of the quiet chuckling of a happy painter creating fun rooms.

Pictured below is number 5 in the series.

Currently “under construction” is an acrylic on canvas, Tea For Three: Van Gogh, Matisse, and Me. Just hope I can bring my idea alive in the next weeks. If I do, you will see it here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How and Why

How Did I Do That?

For years I did watercolors that started with a pattern of overlapping washes that acted as a launching pad for more representational images. I have tried to show a few of them here. These paintings usually led to many “How did you do” queries and not a few “Why did you dos” as well. This was especially true at Outdoor Art Fairs where I was available for asking.

The HOW TO for straight lines…

The quick answer, I used paper tape. Specifically, I used low tack drafting or masking tape, but only after sticking and pulling it off my apron or blue jeans a few times. The idea is to keep the sticky stuff off the watercolor paper. It also helps to run a fingernail along the tape edge. This prevents seeping under line. I learned this somewhere years ago in a watercolor class. Thanks, whoever you were or are.

Note 1: The paper must be dry. If another layer is to cross the first then the first must dry before the second is applied.

Note 2: To prevent chaos it is best to limit the number of different angles. Make successive layer edges parallel to preceding ones.

Note 3: Once the lines are set, a steady hand is all that it required to run a second wash over all or part of an area.

Yes, the same thing can be accomplished with a pencil line and a steady hand from the start but the pencil line is difficult to remove and could call too much attention to what is a background element in the design.

Curves make interesting backgrounds as well.

These are more easily done with freehand washes. The same notes apply.

As for the other question: Why do I do that? It is a way to ease into a painting and it usually brings some unintended effects that make the process fun. I am a pattern person. I doodle in patterns while on the phone or waiting somewhere.

Pattern Paint. Try it, you might like it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Go With Our Strengths

The painting above was created in a figure workshop a long time ago. The model had a rather long nose and wore a hat. He did not inspire me enough to work at a likeness.

Go with our Strengths or work like the devil on Weaknesses?

My current feeling is that most of art making requires three skills: design, color, and drawing. Before any of this happens of course, inspiration, insight, creative thought, all play their part. It is the making skills that intrigue today. My proposal is that for most of us one or two of these skills are effortless, almost innate. The others require study and much practice.

For me, the weak link is drawing skills. If I draw some object or scene, it will be recognized as tree or bird or whatever, but it will not look exactly like that tree or bird. Part of this is motivation. If my idea requires exact replication then I will be willing to work to get as close as I can. But, should I be drawing every day so that my skill level makes this effortless.

The decision I make most days is to go with my strengths. I will spend hours in the studio happily creating shapes and colors that recall places and objects that move or intrigue me. Some of this excitement and fun will be caught by viewers and then I will have accomplished my real goal.

Memories of flowers, fences and gazebos are captured in this watercolor. They are REAL for me. Any thoughts or comments will be appreciated. Thanks. Next week another episode of "How did you do that?"

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

To Sketch or Not While Traveling

As our annual "get away from Florida in August and September" approaches I am looking at piles of small sketch books, nifty watercolor and colored pencil sets, brushes made for travel and wondering whether to pack them. My record in this area is rather dismal.
I take comfort in something I read about Matisse. As I recall, he did very little sketching or even photographing while traveling. He said the images would all meld in his subconscious and then emerge at some point in his paintings.
An honest response makes me wonder if a small nudge from sketches or photos wouldn't help my subconscious produce better paintings now. Part of this soul searching is probably brought on by the gentleman who frequents my favorite coffee shop. He sits with watercolor pan and sketchbook recording the characters who frequent the cafe. "What kind of artist am I, that I don't do this?" Terrible, probably. Besides that I am really a very poor sketcher. People might observe this. Ugh.

Canyon IV Acrylic cMarge Bennett
Canyons of the West

On the other hand ( Am I beginning to sound like Tevia here?)some of these modest sketches have produced smashing paintings. For me the sketch is a memory prod.
So, to sketch or not to sketch? that is my question.
Last year's trip was a first for recording daily photos and comments. Fred did a comment and I did a photo each day for our our travel blog. It was fun and I still love looking at it.

So, photos, yes. Sketches, maybe.
I am looking for someone who has made sketching on vacation fun and valuable to tell me how to
have this kind of fun. Help.