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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ride n Paint!

Today was a warm, calm day.  Such a treat!  I took Casey to Washoe Lake for a gentle ride (he is a little pudgy from the winter off) and let him hang out in the newly installed pipe corals.  This equestrian park is so nice!  Lots of groups come here for endurance races or just group rides.  They have been making upgrades to the picnic area with new fire pits and barbeques. 

I sat in the picnic area and did a little pastel field study of Slide Mountain.  That patch of blue is Washoe Lake peeking out between the sand dunes.  Just a little one-hour sketch (on that paper I still don't like) on a nice relaxing day.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Looking forward to spring!

9 x 12 watercolor, watercolor pencil, traditional colored pencil
(this is a little lavender farm near my home)

Up here in the high desert, lavender blooms early July.  But isn't amazing that we even have it here?  I think so.  I always think of mediterranean or Southern France when people talk of lavender fields. 

All that snow melted in our Truckee Meadows, and today we sat outside on our patio (the umbrellas are still in storage) and began to perspire in the hot sun!  We watched as the daffodil buds started to turn from green to yellow!  I think that if I look out the window in one hour, they may have popped out of their bud covers.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

It is snowing again and I want to paint spring flowers!

9 x 12 pastel over watercolor underpainting
on white Canson paper

Last spring my spinning and weaving guild met at a member's log cabin in the high Sierras.  This was the view from her cabin!  They had planted all these beautiful blue, pink and white wildflowers on the slope, and this is the neighbor's barn in the background.  What a beautiful spot!

My good friend Ida told me that Canson holds up to watercolor underpainting.  So, I gave it a try here.  It didn't buckle too much, but it was a little bumpy to pastel on (I'm too lazy to stretch the paper like Ida does!).  Anyway, it passed my test.  I am also doing the same test painting on Strathmore Pastel Paper, but it is still in the works. 

Goodness - the snow is piling up outside! 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Creating art while babysitting...

9 x 12 "Barrel Cactus
watercolor, watercolor pencils, traditional color pencils

While Baby Whit naps or plays in his gym, I worked in my sketchbook.  First I did watercolor.  Then I lifted out the white needles with a damp brush and then blotted with paper towel.  Then I used a waxy white pencil to protect the white of the needles.  Then I used watersoluable colored pencils.  In some areas I blended with water, in areas of texture I left dry.

Here's Baby Whit!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Letting the underpainting guide me

Third stage
I decided to try again at the granite rock scene, but on a PastelBord with a watercolor underpainting.  I tried a new thing to control the "out of control" spreading and bleeding of the watery paint on this clay board and I think it worked.

First I wet the board with a wide brush.  Then I used a cheap squirrel brush (from a children's paint box) and brushed watercolor with a lot of pigment on to depict the sky, tree area and rock area.  Before the colors spread out, I used a hairdryer on warm, slow setting.  As the paint dried, while still holding the hairdryer, I dipped the children's brush in water and dabbed the excess out, and then brushed in strokes for the trees and textures in the rocks.  This left some neat looking ghost shapes.  Some areas needed more dark (like the rock crevaces) and I drybushed these in.

Here are the first two stages:
watercolor only

first applications of pastel

Since I did this scene already, I am not following the photo this time.  Instead, I'm letting the underpainting guide me where the rocks and crevaces are.  This is actually more fun than the other way!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Practising on the paper I love to hate!

12 x 9 pastel "Granite Study"

I will be taking a workshop this summer from an artist who does fantastic alpine landscapes on this paper.  So, not only am I practising granite rock studies, but I am practising on this Canson paper.  Grrr!  I can see I need more practise!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

"Once There Was a Rainbow" a sketch from Bodie, California

Happy St. Patricks Day!  I imagine this spot was the end of the rainbow and a pot of gold for the gold rush miners.  This is where the Bodie Bank stood.  In 1916 the bank was robbed by four men who got away with $4,000 in money and jewelry.  The bank was destroyed by fire in 1932.  All that remains today is this vault.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"Afternoon Cholla" pastel painting

This is a little study from a photo I took in Palm Desert.  This was one of those paintings that I labored over.

I feel real bad about the disasters in Japan.  Years ago I was a summer exchange student there.  Not in the areas that are talked about in the news, but sometimes I wonder if the hosting families I stayed with have relatives there. 

The weather here has been rainy, gloomy and windy and cold.  A jackhammer has been hammering away across the street for 3 full days now.  I try to be creative with all of this - but it is harder, I admit it.

The good news is that I'm done preparing taxes for our CPA!  One big cloud over my head is gone!!!!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Field Study - plein air pastel painting

9 x 6 pastel

When the weather becomes mild temperatures and no wind - you have to seize the moment!  That is what I did here.  I packed my mini pastel box and loaded my horse in the trailer and we went to Washoe Lake.  There was still patchy snow on the desert hills, and we went up there, following a dirt road.  After a while, the snow got deeper and I decided to lead him back down.  Don't want him to slip on slushy snow with me on his back.  I had my insulated snow-riding boots on - with tread - so I was fine sloshing through the snow.  When we got back to the trailer he was happy to "nap" there while I did this little pastel field study from the picnic benches.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"Open to Change" another Bodie, California painting

I finished this one today.  It was started with watercolor pencils and watercolor, and then I finished it up with Prismacolor traditional colored pencils. 

I have started another Bodie sketch while babysitting Baby Whit.  This is a good medium to take to babysit.  Baby Whit is starting to smile more and interact!  I am thinking about illustrating my own little book for him.  More on that later....

Monday, March 7, 2011

"Orange Edges" pastel painting

"Orange Edges" 8 x 10 pastel

Just finished this painting today.  It is done on dark purplish suede matboard.  Getting green and orange to look natural together was more of a challenge than I thought it would be!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A watercolor/drawing I'm working on - another scene from Bodie

I now have a part-time job - my daughter is going back to work and her mother-in-law and I are working out a schedule to babysit for her little baby boy (who is about 6 or 7 weeks old now)  I've been sitting all this week for a few hours so she can go to the gym and work out.  So, my progress is a little slow on this drawing/painting.  I need to do more in the foreground - I've only just started on that. 

This is from Bodie, California - you may remember my previous watercolor sketches I posted.  This was a ruin with an open doorway, that when I got down on the ground, it framed a lovely blue wild iris!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A thrill and a great honor! Good News!

I am so excited and also humbled at the same time!  My pastel painting "Tawny Gold" was accepted into the Pastel Society of the West Coast's annual Open Juried (and International) Exhibition.  (I think I'm hyperventilating right now - where's the paper bag?). 

Tawny Gold
The show runs from April 24 to June 19 at the Haggin Museum, 1201 N. Pershing Avenue, Stockton, California.  This is the first juried pastel show that one of my works has been accepted into.  Wow.  I've seen a few of their past shows and there is soooo much talent there - I'm amazed mine will be there too!

Friday, March 4, 2011

I made my own mini pastel box!

I got this idea from a fellow artist at a plein air workshop (Karen Margulis).  I went to Michaels Craft Store and bought a wooden purse for about $5.00.  I had some left-over Varathane from refinishing furniture and sealed the wood inside and out.  Then, I had some foam pieces from Harry & David fruit box we got as a gift and cut it to fit in the bottom and top.  Then I picked all my broken or small pieces out of my every-day palette and put them in this 6 x 8 box.  Awww, ain't it cute?

I plan to take this little mini box (and mini paper!) with me on trips where we have to fly.  These are vacation trips, so I plan to sit on a park bench or the grass and work in my lap on a small board.  The other way I'd like to use this is in a saddle pack when I ride my horse in the mountains in the summer.  Only thing I need then is a tree to tie Casey to!