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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Now, a Larger Version of the Scene "Below the Snowline v-2"

OK!  This is the third time I've painted this scene!  This one is 9 x 12.  Here is the finished painting.

And, here is the watercolor underpainting.

Yes, this painting looks very much like the last one.  But with a larger surface, I could play a little bit with highlighting certain snow capped peaks, and do a little detail work in the fore and middle ground.

Richard McKinley gave us a project to do on our own.  It is to do the same painting about 9 times in different ways that he specified in the handout.  One of these days I will do it.  It sounds like a good exercise.  As much as I liked doing this little exercise of my own above, I think I'd like to move on to another subject!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Painting a Series of the Same Scene

As much as I desire to paint outside right now - en plein air - of the flowering rabbit bush and the trees turning yellow - I need to paint some winter snow scenes for the co-op's holiday show.  To get back in the swing of things, I took a small plein air pastel I did a couple of years ago, and I am painting it again now with the watercolor underpainting - in a small size. 

Here is the watercolor underpainting.

And here is the little plein air from 2 years ago - you can see I was literal then, and now I am going for more of an impressionistic look.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Art Books I Ordered

When I take a workshop from an artist, I always want to order their books that they published.  I just ordered these two today from :  Richard McKinley's Pastel Pointers and Anne Abgott's Daring Color.  If you have been following my blog lately, you know I took a fantastic plein air pastel workshop from Richard McKinley (

In a couple of weeks I will be taking a workshop from watercolorist Anne Abgott (  We will learn techniques of letting colors mix on the watercolor paper, rather than mixing them on the palette first.  This should be fun!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Practising on an old watercolor painting

In looking for watercolor paintings to frame for the co-op, I came across this one that was never successful in my opinion.  After studying it, I realized that it was all-over in focus, and that no particular area was the center of interest.  So, I thought I'd add a few pastel marks and see what I could do - and make it a Mixed Media painting.  First I cropped smaller so that it would fit in a pre-cut matt.

I practised "bridging" - the term Richard McKinley used - to glaze some pastel over the hard edges of the watercolor.  I also practised blending one edge with a piece of foam - to help the eye move from pastel into the watercolor.  I also made one area darker to make more contrast to build up a center of interest. 

I'm not sure I was very successful with my efforts.  But, practise makes perfect...

Getting Ready For Another Show - but at an artists' co-op

I've been invited to be a guest artist at our local Artists' Co-Op Gallery!  This is my first time in such a venue. 

This involves some business-type stuff that I haven't done before.  But it is fun and I am learning. 

Framing by myself is one such thing ... not fun right now ... (*!#&%!!) but necessary.  I think I need a workshop on Framing 101! 

Making a price list for my own records is the next most important thing.   I saw an example of someone's list on a source (I don't remember - sorry) like the magazine Art Calendar or one of its web newsletters, or, maybe it was ArtBizBlog.  These are all wonderful sources for artists wanting to learn about the business of selling and the business of being in "business", and marketing, and other such things.  When I finish all my "to do" list to prepare for this show, I'll post links to these sources for you artist folks out there in blog-land that are interested.

Anyway, back to the Price List.  I set it up in Microsoft Word as a table - to be printed out in landscape format on 11x14 (legal sized) paper.  The titles of the columns from left to right are: 

1. Title/Size/medium/surface
2. Awards received for the artwork
3. photo of the art without frame
4. Frame cost, glass, etc.
5. Photo of art with the frame
6. Sale price listed
7.  the % of commission
8. The net sale after subtracting commission and frame costs
9. Sold to:  name/address etc. (for future use - hopefully the co-op has this information to give to the artist)

This has really helped me compare the artwork all together, to value it.  (The actual art work is in various places - in boxes, in the attic, in closets, in frames on the wall, in the storage shed...). 

Only problem is...this takes time!  I didn't have time to paint today!  Need to concentrate on time management.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Critique and Saying Goodbye to New Friends

It was a fantastic week.  My thanks to the coordinators and hostesses from Sierra Pastel Society and Thaelia for her gorgeous cabin "base camp".  Richard's presentations, talks, demos, and 1 on 1 with all of us at our easels was amazing.  Then he topped it off with individual critiques of each of our week-long pieces that lasted from 1:00 till 6pm! 

One Very Thoughtful Artist went to each person's notebook and wrote his comments there for them while they were up there with Richard with their work.

The first comment I will focus on right now is :  "Respond to the underpainting - ask yourself 'what is the least amount of pastel marks do I need to make?'" 

Another key comment was: "Do shapes, set values, then a few small spots - a few powerful marks - will be more poetic - when little notes are allowed to stand out, it sings."

Thank you Richard for helping me grow!

Friday Morning at McKinley's Workshop

On our last paint-out, we went back to the river.  One of his suggestions throughout the workshop was to do the same scene over and over on different days, different light conditions.  Through familiarity of a scene you get more intuitive and poetic (The Big Goal).   (Oops, I kinda forgot that! - and I painted a new scene - again a small and intimate scene with high contrasts). 

It was OK, but again I was reminded to develop bigger shapes in the beginning (sometimes I get obsessed with things like dead twigs...)

To fix at home:  the greenish dark border over the top of the big rock!  Like, take canned air to it!  And, need to do more highlights on the foreground left willow.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Thursday Afternoon on Carson Pass

This location was supposed to be our afternoon site, so we just stayed.  Richard did a demo of rocks for us.  It was very inspiring, like all his demos!  Photo is at the end of this page.

I decided to do another small, intimate scene with high contrast - which is easier for me at this point - rather than the big expansive scene.

Some little plants around the rocks are starting to turn red and orange.  Here is my underpainting.

While adding pastel, the sun went over the ridge and gusty wind came up.  Being the wimp that I am, I did not work long on this, and I think I'd like to do a "do-over" at home of this scene.

Here is Richard's demo - awesome as usual.

Thursday AM - an interesting start of the day

On this day we headed up to the Carson Pass (very high - 8,650 feet) to a lovely spot where juniper trees similar to the old Bristlecone Pines grow.  As we were hiking and looking for spots to paint there was some activity in our parking lot.  A helicopter was picking up canisters to take to the mountain tops for avalanche control.  With that much noise and dust blowing, we decided to move down to a lower parking lot with a view of Red Lake.

Hiking around at this elevation did slow down many of us.  I live at 5,000 feet and I was so tired hiking around for a place to paint, that I (and most of us) decided to paint right beside our cars.  My view of Red Lake was obscured by trees.  I also wasn't in the mood for painting a lake, so I "dried up the lake" and made it a meadow, and I eliminated the trees in front.  Here is my underpainting.  My tip for the day while painting it was to not get too fussy and loosen up in the watercolor underpainting. 

This painting was a struggle and I got myself into a dead-end and didn't know how to get myself out of it.  So it was interesting to see how Richard bailed my painting out a bit with his additions.  I have photos of the location and will try again at home with the suggestions I was given.  I might even put the lake back in!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Wed. Afternoon of Day 3 - McKinley Workshop

After Richard's 1:00 demo in a grassy meadow with a view of the mountains (picture of his demo below), We spread out to paint.  It might have been around 4:00.  I cut a 9x12 piece of white Kitty Wallis so I could finish quickly, and I picked a really simple scene that was up close and had strong contrasts.  I made the watercolor stronger this time since the morning one was weak.  That made a big difference for me.  I was delighted that I could do just a few pastel marks over the watercolor - and left most of the watercolor showing.  (Yay!)

Here is my underpainting:
Here is Richard's demo:  a complete painting - ready for framing!  Really informative demo - he is great at putting his techniques into words - and watching him work was totally inspiring!

Wednesday AM - Day 3 - McKinley Workshop

We got to start painting at 9am, with the morning light.  I took a photo of my scene (long shadows and light halos on the willow and brush tops) but by the time I set up, did my value sketch, and did the watercolor underpainting, the sun had rose and the halo look was gone.  Hmmmm.  I forgot what it looked like, forgot what color it was.  My painting came out weaker than I had planned, but I felt I was getting better at the underpainting part of it.  And, this was the first time I tried a square format.

Here is the underpainting:
Here are some basic tips I got for this:  While applying pastel over the underpainting, I need to move incrementally, and occasionally take a paper towel (or piece of pipe foam) and drag one little area of pastel down and over the watercolor - to help the eye move from pastel to watercolor.  It helps with an interesting transition from defined to undefined (fuzzy), or texture to soft watercolor.  This technique also helps to soften dark edges or contrasts at the edge of the painting where they eye would be lead out of the painting (see the dark lower evergreen tree at the right side of the underpainting.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Day Two - Tuesday

I have some catching up to do!  Last night and this morning I could not get connected to the internet.  This cabin is off the grid, but they have a solar-powered dish for internet and TV.  So I better be quick!  Sun is going down and then it will be on battery!

Here is my underpainting and pastel overlays:

What my lesson for the day was:  see the dark green edge (drips) that leave a hard edge above the lower level grass foreground?  You have to glaze over both areas with a like color to soften it. 

Add a zing of bright blue in the dark trees to catch the eye to make it go over there for a moment.

Leave mystery - area where viewer gets to figure it out

Leave the outer edges of the paper more "out of focus" or less textured so the eye isn't attracted to it and off the page...

Put a "ping" in a dark area with a lighter color to suggest light hitting a rock.

Orchestrate:  the paper is an orchestra - certain areas are the (i.e.) first violin, other areas are the support string section...  pump certain areas up, subdue other areas.  I know this is an abstract idea, but, you had to be there...

I was working with shade on my panel and palette, yet I was in the sun.  It looked a little dull to me because my eyes adjusted to the shade.  When I was done he turned it around into the sunlight.  Whoa!  It looked so much brighter and more colorful! 

It was a great day.  There is nothing that comes close to seeing the artist in person go through his/her process.  Books and DVDs are helpful, but I really get more from the real deal.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Let's try this again....

Yay, this picture uploaded.  On this field sketch here I have made the corrections and made my dark shapes (the trees) grouped more together instead of fractured the way they were.

Here is the photograph I took for reference later:

And, here are my value sketches:  the top was the first, then, the lower got progressively more defined as I perfected my shapes:

For those of us that finished before 6pm, Richard suggested we try value sketches in a square format.  I did the same scene for comparison.  I'll have to post what I learned about this later!

So much information, so little time to post it all!

See ya later!

Workshop - Day One - Faith Valley

Hello from the Sierras!  We are up here taking a workshop from Richard McKinley.  Our base camp is the cabin in Hope Valley, California, where we started on Monday with a talk and hand-outs and plan of the week.  Then we went out to our first location at Faith Valley (the next alpine valley up the road), where Richard demoed value sketches and then a field study on a small belgium mist kitty wallis piece.  He gave us all a piece of red acetate that we could put behind a view finder or use alone when we determine values. 

The first picture above is Richards completed field study.  Below is the series of mine - first blocking in the value shapes (in the basic color scheme), then we were to smoosh it and push the pastel into the paper with a piece of foam (pipe insulation).

Next step - definining with additiona layers of pastel.  When he came around to mine I got the pointer that I should join my darks into larger, simpler shapes because my little strokes (though consistent and impressionistic) made the darks fragmented.  I did the correction here, but tentatively.  Hope it is enough.

Oops - blogger photo upload stopped loading pictures.  In case I loose this entry, I will post this now, go down to breakfast, and try to do the end of my post then...

Friday, September 10, 2010

3rd Place in Floral/Still Life Category!!!! Wooohooo!

I ran by the Balloon Races later this morning, after many were in the air and some were landing.  I had entered two paintings in the Sierra Watercolor Society's Annual Art Show there at the Museum at the Balloon Race Park (Rancho San Rafael).  I was so surprised to find I had earned a 3rd Place ribbon for my "White Roses" painting.  Wow!  I'm stoked!

My other painting "Lion Pride" was in a catch-all category called "Other".  Here is the wall of that category.
It is a really beautiful show.  I met the lady who won first in "Other".  She did a really neat abstract.  We talked art and I got to ask her a lot of questions about abstract art, how the artist does it, is there a plan, is it accident, what makes one abstract painting better than another one.  She had lots of good answers - she is from a design background.  So I understood what she was talking about.  It is the same principles I've been learning in my pastel classes - shapes, values, balance, color, arrangement, movement, composition.  I enjoyed picking her brain and learned a lot about abstract.

Here are some balloon race pictures.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Garden Lace - a pastel painting

I finished this today.  Since it involved so many delicate little shapes, I decided to call this Garden Lace, because it was like painting lace! 

Time to clean up, sort out my supplies to take to the workshop, shop for the food I plan to bring, dig out warm clothes in storage.  So, I won't be posting any painting this week.  So I may post my first Newsletter (if I can figure out how to import it).  I've been reading a book on MS Publisher 2007, trying to find out how to make my own e-newsletters and one page brochures.  Just trying to be techie in a techie world!

I am bringing my computer to the workshop.  Hopefully there will be a little time to post about it.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Getting closer ...

I know the light colored flowers look stripey, but I was just blocking in the value and color note.  When I get more done on the lower half, then I have to balance everything and bring out the focal point.  There is a lot of negative painting in this (painting the spaces between objects).  It is actually fun for me, and keeps me from overdoing the objects.

As we approach autumn, we sadly clean up and cut back spent blooms.  My hollyhocks are mostly done and cut back.  The weather is a little cooler (but still hot - in the 80s) and the rosebushes like that a lot and are blooming for us to ease the pain (we love summer).  Maybe that is why I am lingering while painting this scene...

Friday, September 3, 2010

Continuing on...

I like to build this up gradually.  Must be because I am a control freak ... also, because it is nice to not be in a rush, listen to relaxing music ... There is a benefit (I tell myself) to not having an actual studio.  You can eat, drink, watch the news, feed the fish, clean the birdcage, vacuum the carpet, prepare meals, read a magazine, and view your work-in-progress, maybe add a few strokes ... all in the same room!!!  You get a great sense of multi-tasking!  OMG, I am wonderwoman!  LOL.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Beginning a new painting of cone flowers

Sometimes it is nice to do something a little different.  I took a close-up photo of cone flowers in a garden and I'm starting a painting here.  This is blue La Carte paper with a dark green pastel underpainting that is diluted with odorless turpenoid.  I really like this method too.  The shapes are soft right now, but will be built up layer over layer, so you will see the plants "grow".

We have some fun things coming up.  Tonite my husband and I will go to the Sparks Nugget Rib Cook-Off.  For those of you who've never been, it is a street fair of sorts.  BBQ rib specialists come from all over the country and also Australia, to compete for the "best ribs".  Yum!  And I don't have to make dinner tonite either!  There is also funnel cakes and corn on the cob, live music, and usually a craft fair.

Then, in another week will be the Hot Air Balloon Races.  I am entering two watercolor paintings in the Sierra Watercolor Society Art Show that is at the races each year in the museum at the park there.