Search This Blog

Sunday, November 29, 2009

What I have learned from art magazines

Thanksgiving weekend was a wonderful time with family, yummy food, and for me: time to catch up reading my four artist magazines: Pastel Journal, Watercolor Artist, The Artists' Magazine, and Art Calendar. What a treasure trove of information the most recent issues provided me with!

Watercolor Artist had an article on how to take good photos of your art work - a great nuts and bolts article for the non-photographer.

The Artists' Magazine had an article on copyright law as it pertains to the artist.

And my favorite business magazine, Art Calendar, had article after article like: "Getting Connected on LinkedIn" (a business oriented social networking site), "How to Work With Art Consultants", "Almost Everything You Wanted to Know About Solo Exhibitions", "How to Sell (Art) on eBay", and several articles on cultivating networking skills, keeping in touch with your customers, and more.

For a year I've been reading whatever I can get my hands on - about how to be a professional artist - the business side of it - the mysteries of the unknown. My husband and I sat by the fire the other night and had a brainstorm about my direction next year. I am going to paint a "body of work", i.e., 20 paintings of a similar subject, style and media. Next, I will put together my first solo show, and hold it in our Truckee house. I have decided to do this in pastel, and paint landscapes depicting the Sierra Nevadas - in and around Lake Tahoe, Truckee and surrounding areas.

While my brain was spinning with details and ideas, I spun about 5 skeins of yarn at my spinning wheel! What a great way to meditate and think about things! Spinning is so rhythmic, tactile and doesn't require any mental effort - so your mind is free to think about whatever. And then you have come up with great ideas and produced a useful product to boot!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving! How about some pie?

How can I paint when there is food to prepare? So, I'll share a Pecan Pie recipe with you. It is my own alteration of an existing recipe - so I kind of made it my own. Here is what makes it different - less sweet gooey stuff - more nuts!
Pie Crust:
2 C flour
1 teas. salt
2/3 Cup and 2 T shortening
4-5 T cold water
Mix dry ingredients, cut in shortening. Stir in water, roll out dough to fit pan. This should be plenty for a deep dish 10" pan.
2 eggs, separated
1/2 C brown sugar, packed
1/8 teas. salt
1/2 teas. cinnamon
1 T flour
1/4 C butter, melted
1/2 teas. vanilla
1 C dark corn syrup
1 C coarsely chopped pecans
1 C pecan halves
Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Beat egg yolks, add brown sugar, salt, sinnamon, flour, melted butter, vanilla and syrup, beating well to blend.
Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry, fold into egg yolk mixture, and add the chopped nuts.
Pour filling into pie shell, arrange pecan halves on top in a nice pattern
Bake 350 degrees about 45 minutes or until center is set. Test by shaking gently. Cool.
Have a great holiday!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Life in the Desert - Pastel Painting

Yesterday we hiked Cottonwood Canyon at the opposite end of Joshua Trees National Park. Since we come from Reno, Nevada, we are used to massive cottonwood trees - all golden in the autumn air. So we had to remind ourselves this was out in the middle of the desert, in a canyon with very little water ... so there weren't very many cottonwoods! There were a few palms in there as well, but mostly the hike is a dry wash canyon that was interesting and fun to hike down into.

This painting is from a photo I took of looking up out of the canyon, where the small Joshua trees are struggling to survive and are silouetted by the bright pale sky.

Tomorrow we drive home. I finished knitting two pairs of fingerless mittens, and now will be knitting a neck warmer scarf out of Miss Lucky's yarn (my French Angora Bunny). We are preparing to go back to cold weather...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Visit to Indian Canyons

Yesterday I drove to Indian Canyons. I will have to come back next time we visit the Palm Springs area. It is a trail system (well marked and you get maps) of three canyons on Indian Reservation land. You pay an entrance fee, but it is well worth it. I only had two hours, so I only went to Palm Canyon. These fan palms are natural and wild for this area, and they grow in the canyons where there are spring-fed streams. The Indians covered their huts with the dried palm leaves. It was very peaceful and shady in that canyon, and cool, since it was a warm day. This is a little pastel I did of the light coming through the trees in the canyon.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Joshua Tree in the Desert

Yesterday we drove through part of Joshua Trees National Monument. There are many turn-offs where you can go on little hikes and nature walks. Our favorite one was Hidden Valley. This area has many rock piles and interesting rock formations made of monzogranite - a pink colored granite.

I had some problems with this painting, but I'm sharing it anyway. It is pastel on a medium blue paper - really too dark and too blue. The earth is really warmer in color. Oh, well.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cactus Garden

We are in Palm Desert. Yesterday we went to the Living Desert. It is a combination of zoo, gardens, model train town, and natural desert trail system. It was very nice! We had an enjoyable day there. I took pictures of some of the cactus gardens. This morning I painted from one of them. We have a balcony and the weather is pleasant, so I worked out there. I referred to my photo on my laptop. This is a pastel painting on Canson paper.

Friday, November 13, 2009

After the leaves fall, comes cold weather

... and other excuses why I haven't painted!!!! It is colder now. Below freezing at night. Thanksgiving around the corner ... and then the Holiday rush to make or shop for gifts. This is when I crave working with fiber when I'm not working with paint or pastel. This is when I start wearing wool socks. I have a few here to show. Some will be gifts. This is when I want to sit at the spinning wheel in front of the fire. I joined a few spinning friends at one of their houses for a spin-in, and she had a fire going in the fireplace.

Another project I'm doing for holiday gifts (and for myself, too) is fingerless mittens. We are driving (about 8 hours) to Palm Desert, California tomorrow. While my husband drives, I can knit away. We will be staying a week at a timeshare. I'm bringing my pastels and I hope to do some painting of desert scenery. We will go to Joshua Tree National Park and I hope to get some good photos to paint from. Check out for the Joshua Tree Park website.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Today I finished the Peonies in Bloom

I had such a fun birthday the other day. Thanks for all the birthday wishes from my friends! One of my presents was a CD of the artist Loreena McKennet "The Book of Secrets". I listened to it three times while painting today! She has such a lovely voice. I want more of her CDs!

Today I finished the Peonies. It is evening now when I photographed it. The camera insisted on flash. Without flash there was not enough light. So, the colors are a little washed out in this photo, sorry. I tried to do what our instructor told us to do: keep one flower the focal point, and leave the other two a little loose and abstract. This is such a fun technique. I will have to do this kind of painting some more.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Peonies in Bloom - a Watercolor

Yesterday afternoon Lian gave a demonstration of painting peonies. These are difficult flowers actually. But he only wanted us to paint one - the focal point flower. The others would be abstract. We started by masking the focal point flower, and when the mask was dry, we "poured" the background. This consisted of squirting a waterbottle, dropping liquid paint into it or around it, and then squirting the water bottle again to spread the watercolor out and have it mix itself. It is really fun and random.

Next we removed the mask when the painting was dry, and remasked the stamens of the flower. Then we painted the main flower with negative painting and blending. The abstract flowers are painted the same way, but not as defined.
Lian's workshop was so much fun! And I learned so much. Visit his website at . If you have trouble getting there from google, try another search engine.

We did not have time to finish as you can see. But I know what to do. I'll show you later. Today is my day off! It is my birthday!!! My daughter took me to brunch (Daughter's Cafe) in Reno where we had Dutch Babies (a german or swedish style pancake) and latte. Later this evening my husband is taking my daughter and her husband with us to see the musical "Cats".

Saturday, November 7, 2009

"Snowy Egret" (almost done)

This morning we worked on the background of our egrets and then had a critique. Mine needs a little more dark in the foreground reeds, a hint of reflection in the water of the reddish reeds in the middle ground, and a little definition between the rock the bird is standing on and the bank behind it. This was very fun.
This afternoon we got a start on abstract peony flowers. We ran out of time, but we saw a demo on how to finish it. I will take a picture of it tomorrow and post it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Workshop - Painting a Snowy Egret

Today we almost completed a painting, but we will have to finish it tomorrow. This is a fun one! A snowy egret in a marsh type background.

We started by filling in the bird shape totally with mask. Then we painted much of the background with blowing and stroking into reed and bullrush shapes.

Next we removed the mask on the bird, then masked only feather strokes on the bird again. Then we painted the bird, leaving some of it white.

As I was leaving the building, a big wave cloud stretched overhead to the horizon. I think they are called stacked reticulated clouds, but I think wave cloud works well. They are so interesting looking, and have soft edges like fur.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Painting the background was more difficult than the fish!

Today was Day 2 - We painted our goldfish yesterday. Today was the scary part: painting the background. I'm afraid I messed up. But I learned.

Lian's demo was great. He is so fast, the paper doesn't dry and he doesn't get hard edges, and he maintains a fresh look. The rest of us are all slower, got hard edges, went over, went over, and forgot to save white paper!

I also know I messed up doing too much blowing the paint around in the wrong areas. So I went over these areas trying to negative paint the plants in over it, and it just got an overworked look. I also found out my Colbalt Blue was not dark enough. So I started adding another blue to my blues so I could get more contrast.

Oh well, live and learn! I know what to do next time.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Goldfish Workshop with Lian Zhen

Today was our first of 4 days. We learned about design and layout of goldfish in a painting and how to make the composition work. Then we started learning how to do various colored goldfish. So much fun! It is a loose style - kinda Chinese style painting. The first two fish were the subordinate ones (not my focal point). I wanted to practise this new technique on them first. Then, after another demo, I tackled the three fish in the focal point. These pictures are close-ups. Sorry about the gold-colored paper. My flash was off and it came out different. The second photo must have had flash because the paper looks white as it should be.

Tomorrow we will do the background - aquatic plants and rocks - aquarium setting actually. We will probably do various techniques like pouring the paint on and blowing it around. Lian is not telling us how we will protect our fish until tomorrow! What a character!
My best fish is the black one. Whoo Hoo! That was my focal point fish as planned. This is so much fun. Now I want to go out and get some real goldfish! They are so cute!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Old Painting - "Old Truck"

I didn't have time to paint today, so I'm showing part of an old painting. Part - because the background was a bust, so I cropped most of it off in Photoshop. I did this three or more years ago. It was a case of concentrating so much on the subject matter, that I didn't plan the background. When I put it in, it turned out so BAD, that I got MAD. So then I took pastel pensils and went over the background with weeds just to see what it would look like. I'll spare you of the bad looking tree. Anyway, bringing this out reminds me that I want to try this painting again ... someday...

Today I prepared and packed my car for a 3-day watercolor workshop. I stretched two sheets of watercolor paper on boards. And, wouldn't you know it? One came out nice and flat and the other buckled and bubbled. Why is that? It is the same paper, I wet it the same, and it is a brand new board just like the first one! This is why I don't always stretch the paper. Frustrating!!!! But, it is required for the class, I think.

The class is going to be FUN FUN FUN! It is given by Lian Zhen. Check out his website: . We will be doing fish, birds and florals using a pouring technique. I can't wait! I want to do fish so bad. I just hope they don't look like torpedos like the dumb bird I did back in January!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Northern Mines Exhibit - Art Show

I'm on my way to Grass Valley, California to drop off two pastel paintings that were accepted into their juried show, the 26th Annual Northern Mines Exhibit (whoo-hoo! - my first juried show). These are paintings you may recall: North Tahoe Cove and Orange Teapot. The show is at the Center for Arts from Nov. 4 to 29. It is nice that it is not too far to drive to hand-deliver and pick up later. Grass Valley is a cute victorian mining town in the foothills of the Sierras. I will wander around there and shop while I am there. Sometimes I can find Christmas presents for people.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Flowering Bouganvilla

Yesterday morning there was not enough time to go out to paint since we were leaving at noon. So I went outside the hotel and took a photo of the morning sun hitting the flowering bouganvilla on a trellis. I downloaded it to my laptop, and viewed the picture in our room and painted right from it.

I think I have finally made friends with Canson paper! I figured out how to use it. I learned (a little late) at the Chavez workshop in Hope Valley to smear the darks into the paper before you really begin. So I took it a step further: I block in all my shapes and values and blend the whole thing into the paper with Terry Ludwig's blending tool - a piece of pipe insulation! After that, I only need one more layer of pastel in nice strokes. Maybe more in the area of interest.