Monday, March 29, 2010

San Xavier del Bac Sunset

This is the three-hour class demo I did this afternoon of the San Xavier del Bac mission corner I took the photo of years ago. I wanted to do it in sunset colors to see how that would be and the students enjoyed doing it and did a good job, also. I may tweak it here and there, but so far, so good on this!

Desert View - WIP 2

I put a base glaze of color onto the mountains and started defining, lightly, the mid ground foliage that backs up to the mountains. I am thinking the mountains need more definition, but will wait to see how much more, if any, is needed after I do the defined foreground area. I want them to recede and if I fiddle with them too much at this point they will compete with the foreground center of interest.

Ocotillo Bloom

I walked out front yesterday, just in time to see a hummingbird lunching on nectar from our Ocotillo. Our Ocotillo has reached enough maturity now that it produces more and more blooms each Spring. I knew I would need my longer lens on my camera to capture this hummer, so I went inside just long enough to switch out the lens and , of course, when I returned the hummer was gone. But, he was there before, honest! Anyway, here is one of the more opened blooms. This bloom will likely last for about a month, they hold up very well. Once the summer heat hits, though, all of these leaves will be gone and only the thorny branches will remain.

I believe that Ocotillos are part of the Euphorbia family of plants, meaning that it produces true leaves in addition to the thorns of a cactus. I found out that all cactus are euphoribas, but not all euphorbias are cactus. Hmmmm.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Desert Bloom

We had a play day yesterday where we did some errands, had lunch out, and drove around looking for and at wildflowers which are just reaching their peak in the valley at this point. Here we have the ubiquitous Brittle Bush, which grace the sides of highways and roads, probably as much for erosion control as beauty, but they are very cheerful.

Shots of the poppies and cactus, along with a few lupines north of Lake Pleasant. On the sunny slopes of these hills the poppies were wonderful, growing in great patches around the saguaros.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Desert View - WIP 1

As my mentoring classes are winding down for the season, I find myself wanting to start a more considered painting; one that I will do in phases and allow to dry between layers of paint instead of trying to do a complete painting in the three-hour sessions. I am taking the study I did below of the Utah Desert and painting the revised version (after critiques from my critique groups)on a half sheet of Kilamanjaro 300-lb paper. This is my last sheet of this paper and I want to see how it behaves before ordering any more, it has been quite some time since using it.

I find that it works better for me to underpaint the darkest darks and some of the midtones of the mountains to define them before I start painting them in earnest. This keeps me from getting lost when I start slopping on the paint. I will take care to paint the complement (in this case purple) over the underpainted areas so they will be the darkest parts of the mountains.

I truly am committed to taking my time on this one since I have done so much studying of the subject and had some good suggestions to make it a better painting. we go!

My SWAP painting arrived!

This week has been a particularly busy one, and disappeared before I knew what was happening! In all of the hecticness, I neglected to share with you my latest SWAP (Sharing With Artist Partners) painting.It was painted by Joyce Thompson of Washington state and is of the LaConner Daffodil Fields. I love daffs and this is so well-painted and such a fine representation of the hope of Spring. I love it!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Arrasta Gulch

This is another of the demo paintings I did for the Friday morning group. They wanted to paint a field of flowers and I chose this photo, taken and shared by friend, Joe Ruby. This is of Arrasta Gulch in Colorado. I love the flow of the mountain gulch and the foreground flowers, but didn't think the black and gray mountains did much for my artistic soul, so we changed that. I wanted to demonstrate how mixing one's own grays and blacks was so much more lively, so we did an underpainting on the mountains that defined the darkest darks on these, then used the same two colors (quin burnt orange and ultramarine blue) to paint the mountains themselves, letting the colors blend on the paper. Artistic licenses were used broadly here by all!

I am submitting this as a final, but will let it marinate a few more days before matting it, just in case I see something I missed.

Tulips - Final

These are the tulips, somewhat improved over what I submitted awhile ago. I don't particularly excel at painting flowers (?!)and don't do that very much, although I enjoy seeing them and growing them. But, they just don't speak to my paint brushes the way other subjects do. Anyway, thanks to Barb for reminding me about that background upper foliage all going out of the painting.

I used a microfiber cloth for lifting out the highlights, particularly on the right blossom. I like the texture this method leaves.

Ron Anderson

I recently set up a blog for fellow artists, Ron Anderson, with whom I have painted on Thursday afternoons for five years. At our local community art club, we have a wonderful small group of watercolorists who reserve the club for our watercolor-y fun every Thursday afternoon. Ron is an artist who is magical to watch as he just places loose strokes on the paper and lets the watercolor magic begin. This is an example of one such painting.

He paints a variety of subjects and will make you glad you visited his blog. He will be adding many paintings to his blog in the future as he is a very prolific painter.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dick Phillips Demo

Last night I attended the monthly Arizona Artists Guild meeting. We were privileged to have the wonderful artist, Dick Phillips, lead a critique session and then do a great demo. He was a joy to listen to and opened our eyes to just letting paintings happen, with less planning and more spontaneously creating.

This first photo is the under-painting he did. He left a very abstract white space near the center of the painting.

Dick then handed his sketch journal to a lady in the front row (I was sitting in the front row, also). He asked her to choose any sketch she wanted him to use for a reference. She chose a sketch of a mountain cabin set high atop a canyon wall. He explained that he had sketched this years ago when studying with Robert Woods, whose cabin this was.

Then, the magic started happening. He added random (seemingly) strokes with large brushes here and there, credit card and pen knife scraping and scratching and within 45 minutes created this striking painting over the under-painting.

I do not think I have the creativity to paint in this abstract way, but certainly found it fascinating to watch him do this. That white space, over which the cabin and top of the canyon wall were painted just sings to me. What an artist!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Wildflowers, At Last

Tom and I took a day off yesterday to go to Quartzsite to buy some more jewelry findings for me, but mainly to head off in that direction and stop wherever we found wildflowers blooming. We had such a wet winter that we had thought they would be starting sooner and more glorious than usual. Apparently, it depends on when the water comes, as well as how much comes. October is the month that determines the success of the Spring's wildflower season, and we didn't get much rain then. However, we are still holding out hopes for a better season than the last few years.

As we drove on the "primitive" roads we found some patches of California and Mexican poppies that were just starting to open on the sunny sides of slopes, near washes, etc. The lupines are coming along nicely, too. We hope to get out again in the weeks to come to see what we can find. Whether we manage to find many flowers or not, it always makes a good excuse for wandering around the desert, taking photos and enjoying the day together.

Artwork by Kay Verstraete

This week I set up an art blog for a friend, Kay Verstraete. She is successfully adding to it on her own and I want to share with you her work. She will be adding more of her pastels soon.

This is a sample of some of her lovely work. Drop by her blog and say Hi!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Big Horn Sheep Challenge

This painting meets my needs in three ways; one for the challenge thrown down by Gary Keimig on his blog to paint from this photo; secondly, for the Watercolor Workshop to paint in a monochromatic fashion a painting of one's choice; and, thirdly for my Friday morning mentoring class to paint from this photo, provided by Gary Keimig. So, here it is, if it fails from all three standpoints, so be it, but from my standpoint it stands on its own since I am so glad to have TRIED to paint it!

Tulips - WIP

This is one of those paintings I think would benefit from a trip to my "marinating easel". I do this in a prominent place where I walk by and see it occasionally and, most often, it jumps out at me what it needs. I know I need lots more darks to define the innards of the tulips, as well as more darks in the background around those negatively created leaves. I plan on working on my Big Horn Sheep challenge painting this afternoon (Gary Keimig's blog), though, so this one can just sit and wait until I want to speak to it again.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Final After Critique

I intensified some of the elements of this painting and reworked some of the foothills area back by the mountains and liked it better. I brought it to the Vanguard Artists meeting Friday and received some valuable critiques from the members, as well as visiting artist Julie Gilbert Pollard. Since I am considering this a study for a future larger painting of this scene, I find critiques such as these invaluable.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Utah Desert - WIP

Here is the painting I did as a demo in the mentoring session yesterday afternoon. It, after seeing it on the monitor, does not quite look finished to me so I will fiddle with (I mean refine) that foothills area in the background a bit more and then see what I think. I used a combination of transparent watercolor and gouache for this, it was fun working with it.

If anyone sees anything else that needs more work, have at it and let me know....