Thursday, November 20, 2014

Garden Abstraction

Garden Abstraction beginning stages
36x48 acrylic on canvas

I am having fun starting this new painting.  I did some experimenting on small canvases before starting this one.  I had an idea on colors and I'm probably being influenced by some of the natural colors of autumn right now.  I also took some photos of dried coneflowers in a garden.  I took my small canvases and experimented with each one in a different way.  I experimented with underpaintings, pastel ground on canvas and then various ways to create line with different types of drawing materials.  Those small experimentations helped me to get started on this one today.  I decided to create my underpainting for this with fluid acrylics instead of the colored gesso that I have been using.  I wanted a more transparent look in the beginning stages.  I will work more tomorrow and have even finish it up.  When I am motivated I work very fast.  I listen to music, sing and mix paint. Today it was Motown.  Doesn't that sound like fun..  

When this one is finished it may end up at the Indiana Design Center in Carmel, Indiana.  I'm excited to be working with Sandra Gooding at Corporate Fine Art Group.  I'm looking forward to making the trip to Indiana soon.  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Back to the Garden

20x20 pastel Sold
This pastel will be on exhibit at the Butler Institute of American Art December 2014 to February 2015

This year I've returned to working with a flower theme.  With each one I create I gather more ideas for future pastels and paintings.  I'm excited to see where it all leads me.  I've created a small book with some of my paintings and pastels from this past year.  Click on the link and it will take you to my new Blurb book titled Back to the Garden

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Blue Abstractions

Blue Abstraction in process
acrylic on canvas with charcoal and gold gesso

I'm back to abstraction now after doing a few more realistic versions of flower pastels.  I love to do both and find them both fulfilling.  Abstractions allows me to only play with what is in front of me on the paper or canvas.  Abstract realism allows me to bring in some more observational drawing with the abstraction.  My intention is to use lines from my observational drawing in my abstracts.  I have my plant contour drawings from the summer hanging on my studio wall and I often put those lines into the underpainting and during the process of painting,  I've wanted to paint with blue but I find it a difficult color sometimes.  Blue is a very intense color.  I needed to find a way to mute it and bring some more neutral colors into the painting.  Not quite there yet and this one will also have a companion painting to go with it.  You can see my small sketch and then my color study where I worked out some of my color choices.  Both paintings can be hung separately or can be hung together.  I'm pretty excited about finishing them.

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Zen of Seeing

Autumn Bouquet
30x22 pastel on paper

This summer I spent quite a bit of time doing one of my favorite ways of drawing.  I created several "blind" contour drawings from life.  I love this form of drawing.  They will never be framed and are not finished artworks.  I sit outside, take newsprint and charcoal and draw what I see in front of me.  I put the charcoal on paper and don't lift to place very often.  I overlap lines and allow my eyes and hand to follow the line of what I see.  It is a slow form of drawing and brings more sensitivity as I am really looking at what I see.  It also slows me down and for me it is much like a form of meditation.

It brought me to go on a search for a book that I bought many years ago called The Zen of Seeing:  seeing/drawing as meditation by Frederick Franck (1973).  I got it out and reread many parts that I had marked many years ago.  Here is a wonderful quote from the book "I have learned that what I have not drawn I have never really seen, and that when I start drawing an ordinary thing I realize how extraordinary it is, sheer miracle:  the branching of a tree, the structure of a dandelion's seed puff.  "A mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels"  says Walt Whitman.  I discover that among the Ten Thousand Things there is no ordinary thing.  All that is, is worthy of being seen, of being drawn."  I took the book to one of my workshops and a participant took it with her overnight. She came back the next day and told me how emotional she had become reading through the book.  It is a wonderful gem of a book.

Drawing continues to be the foundation and most important form of creating for me whether I am painting an abstract or drawing a flower.  

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Experiencing New York City

Last Coneflower 14x14 pastel 

Me on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC
I was in NYC this past week for 5 days and had the best time of my life.  I will admit I was extremely nervous about the trip and many reassured me.  All went so well.  I enjoyed my one day workshop at the Pastel Society of America which is located in the National Arts Club building.  Now I am looking forward to going back again.  I will be  teaching again in 2016 at PSA and it will be for at least two or even three days.  I have so much information at this point that it is very hard for me to condense it into one day - but I try my best!

I looked at a lot of art while in NYC.  Art in museums, commercial galleries and in open studios.  I visited with artists in their studios which was really nice.  A lot of ideas are developing for me right now and they are off shoots from my flower abstractions and drawings of the summer.  Drawing is becoming very important to me again.  Any experience becomes a part of you and you never know how it is going to come out in your art.  It is the same with this trip.  I was impacted by the city, people, art and the environment.  I know it left its impression on my life.  Looking at the works of artists long gone I realize that art really is just a series of marks and colors that represent the experience of being alive. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Teaching Workshops for Artists

Here are a few photos from two workshops that I gave this summer.  I'm now getting ready to travel to NYC for a one day workshop at the Pastel Society of America.  Then I take a little break from workshops.  My next will be while I am on vacation in Scottsdale this winter.  Next summer I have a busy schedule with workshops in Maine, Wisconsin, New Mexico and Illinois.  Summer will probably be the time I give most of my workshops unless there is some warm weather place that really wants me to come visit in the winter!
I have really enjoyed teaching workshops.  It is fun and energizing although I'm always surprised that I get as exhausted as I do by the end of the day.  I've met some great people and have been to some wonderful spots. I look forward to teaching more in the future.  I only plan on teaching six or eight at the most workshops during the year.  I have to balance teaching with my own artwork.  If I don't have time for my own work then I don't have anything to give to others.
I really try to give people their money's worth in my workshops.  I'm really getting things down at this point.  I have a set curriculum for one, two, three and four day workshops.  I focus on pastel mostly but also allow people to paint with acrylics if they choose.  I give everyone a detailed handout that reflects my upcoming Northlight book.  I've also created PowerPoint presentations on abstraction, composition, color and abstract realism.  I strive for a well paced, energetic experience with plenty of time to explore and work for extended time.  I want people to learn, have fun, explore, bond with each other and find their own direction.  I do not give step by step directions for people to copy.
I think everyone needs to discover their own way with abstraction.  In a workshop you learn from the instructor's experience and technique but then it is up to you as to how you will apply it.
I've had very good feedback on my workshops.  I wasn't able to include photos of all the people I've met this summer.  Maybe you will recognize someone.  Maybe yourself?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Essence of Summer day two

Essence of Summer day 2
36x36 oil on canvas

This was the second day working on my new painting.  After about an hour I realized that I was not at all happy with where it was going.  Too much color, the wrong color and too many lines.  So I put the acrylics away and got out the oil paints today and at first that didn't work either.  Then I got out big brushes and more neutral colors and started covering things up. Too much was going on in it and I need to get rid of a lot.  

I'm much happier with where it is going.  I started with a section of a pastel painting I had done.  I put that away and instead started looking at the line drawings on my wall.  I began to add lines from the drawings into the wet oil paint.  I do like adding the oil paint over dried acrylic.  Oil does have a more luminous and transparent appearance.  I will continue to switch back and forth as I really like the fact that acrylics dry so quickly but I also like the more luminous appearance of the oils.  

Day three tomorrow and I will finish it up.