Old in Art School

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When I saw the title of this book, I was immediately attracted to it. This is the year I turn seventy. At sixty-two I completed my Ph. D. in Business Marketing, not in art, although I did finish my BA in Art in 1971 and my MA in Art (although with an emphasis in interior design) in 1985. I understand going back to school when a little older is all about attitude. I laughed at the beginning of the book, as the author described the other students, the attire, the classrooms and the fear of failure, but as I listened on to the audio-book I liked it less and less.  One of the reviews of the book described how I innately felt perfectly:

“I was excited to dive into this book, hopeful for little nuggets of wisdom for my similar journey and perhaps a laugh or two in self-reflection. Instead, the reader encounters a self-indulgent, needy author who repetitively presents an inventory of her resume ad nauseam. She used this book to disparage other students all while trying to impress the reader by spewing supercilious comments and including very little about the process or art school. This book had so much potential but was so disappointing.” 

It is interesting to think that no matter how successful you were in what you did before, no one in your art classes knows that or cares about that. I had a little of that this weekend when I took a tonal painting class of street scenes.  I love the work of the man that taught the class and I learned quite a bit in the class. Mostly I learned I don’t like doing a tonal painting.  I love painting with color! Color kept creeping into my paintings in the class and I kept getting in “trouble” for adding too much color.    Sometimes in life, it is just as important to know what we don’t like, as much as what we love.

When I sat down to write my blog, I thought I would look at the artwork of the author of the book before I wrote a lot about it. Viewing her artwork, the first thought that crossed my mind was that she wrote this book, not about her real art school experience, but to promote herself and her art. Her background is in writing and history, so she knows how to write about history, but in this book, she makes being older a roadblock, not an advantage. She has gotten quite a bit of attention over the book, and thus her art. What is totally missing in this book, are all the other wonderful artists that started their art life later in life. She is certainly not alone!

Maybe I should write about starting and stopping art in your life. You start as a child and my case went on to study it in college. Then you start a career, get married, have children (oops no time for art), and in my case was widowed at a young age and raised my sons on my own and don’t have much time for art till your children are grown and have lives of their own.

When she started talking about how you have to dress to be a successful artist, I started losing interest.  Moving forward to discuss the philosophical side of the history or artists (in her opinion) I began wondering if I wanted to bother to listen to the rest of the book.

The book made me think about my own tonal experience. You can enjoy viewing art that you do not enjoy attempting. You can be award-winning in other fields and not art, and still enjoy painting. I have had many art shows, but never entered a contest with my art.

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The class was a learning experience. We worked on these small the first afternoon after watching a demo in the morning. The one on the top right was the first one with the second below and the third in ochre tones.

We moved forward painting in a slightly larger format the second day after another morning demo. My green trees are too green for tonal painting, but as I said I like “color”.

Street scene from Terry Miura Class.jpg The last and/or third day we had options of what we could paint.  I chose to paint a facade of a building, as I used to do a lot of rendering in interior design school, and as an interior design college professor.  I am still working on the facade and realized when I stood back and looked at it, I had added a shadow to the awning, and now I had shadows coming from two directions.  I will try to make the correction and add it to the post. The building and the cafe next door need names too!

I heard once, and again in this class: “If the painting is not selling, add a dog.” I think this painting may need a dog-walker with several dogs. I think it is better to laugh at oneself, that try to be pompous about what you cannot do.

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As always, I walked away having learned something new, met new people that love art and enjoyed the camaraderie of painting with new and old friends.

I will continue to listen to the rest of the book and hope it gets better, but reading several reviews I don’t think that will be the case. It makes me want to write a funnier book on a similar topic. One of the other reviewers wrote: “More of a self-congratulate memoir of past achievements than a book of more recent achievements. Disappointing … could have been much more.” 

It could have been written in a much more positive manner and encourage those of us over twenty to try different things.

Old in Art School

Taking Art Classes

After a little hiatus from painting impressionistic work, I am back taking some classes and really enjoying the art of the little painting.  A couple of months ago I took a class at the Winslow Art Center by David Marty for six weeks and really enjoyed learning new ideas and techniques.  The class is and was fun (new section now) as we paint one photograph in class (can finish at home) and do another one for “homework”.  It has gotten me back doing one of the things in life I love the most (cooking being the second).Painting Class 1.jpg

This was the first painting I did in class and really enjoyed the process and continued to use some of what I learned in painting number two which was our homework assignment.

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Back in class, we critiqued what we had done at home and worked on a new photo.  Everyone seemed to like my homework and it is still the favorite of my husband.

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Back in class we worked more on reflection and tree shapes and were sent home with homework of painting the garden.  I did not love the “garden”, so reversed it and added a little girl in the garden.  It looks a little “old world” to me and is not one of my favorites.

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From there we went to working on a road scene, which I thought was fun and liked the result.  It is fun to see your style change and grow in a rather short amount of time.

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Painting homework for that week, seemed a bit overwhelming to me when I started working on it, as it seemed to be mostly “just trees”, and to try to make that look interesting was somewhat challenging.

 

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I think it turned out better than I would have predicted and it did not take a lot of time, or I should say I did not spend a lot of time on it.

One of the other things I was doing while taking the class was working on a three foot by five-foot commission for a design client, so it was interesting going from working on an 8″ x 10″ or 9″ x 12″ to working on the larger scale.

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Back in class, we worked on painting rocks on this cliffside painting with rocks and trees.  For once I did not finish in class and worked on the rocks when I got home.  I have started collecting art books, which are always good for getting ideas of how to do something differently.

 

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Homework came as another road scene with a barn off to the side.  I really enjoyed working on this one and liked the result, although I did tweak it a bit after the class.

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Coming back to class we had the opportunity to work on a Night Scene, and this is what I came up with for the project.

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This one came out more abstracted than any of the others I had done. The teacher of the class seemed to like it.  And homework was of a barn, as requested by someone in the class.  I have painted a lot of barns, but usually 18″ x 24″ or bigger, so this was fun.

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Working on skies with lots of clouds came next.  Have you ever noticed that the lowest clouds are always parallel to the horizon?  The more I paint the more I notice these things. We painted this in class and difference in how people see the same thing is amazing to me.

We were sent home with more homework after our first six classes, as everyone in the class asked if the same teacher could come back to teach another four-week session.

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We came back to class and the first day we painted waves.  Now, this may look easy, but to make them look real (and interesting) I found quite challenging.

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Following the beach scene we were sent home the following assignment, which I did twice, as I did not like the first one very much.

Number 1

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Number 2:

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Tell me if you can see the differences.  I liked the second one much better.  This is becoming a trend now with me and seems the second one is always better.

Since we were all snowed in for more than a week, the perfect exercise for the class must have been working on snow paintings.  We did a series of two and I painted them both twice.

Number 1:

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Number 2:

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There is quite a difference between these two.  I painted the second one in class.

On to the second snow scene, which both are homework. I didn’t love the first one, so I painted it again.

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Number 2:

 

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I do not know what adventure we will paint tomorrow, but I know it will be fun.

Port Gamble Diana.jpg‘So we all worked on a photo taken at Port Gamble in the mist.  Here is my rendition.  This week we have two homework assignments (Oh my) and to bring in a piece we are working on.  I don’t have anything in process, so will start a new Airstream and take it to class.

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So here is what I took to class.  We did two more homework assignments. I made a couple of changes to both and here they are.  It was a great class and I think everyone learned a lot.  It is always good to see something from someone else’s perspective.

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The photo of these Madronas are probably not something I would have ever chosen to paint, but it makes for a rather eerie effect.

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The photo of the stream literally had no color, so I enhanced it in Photoshop and even though it is a bit “green”, I rather like the result. Can’t wait till the next time I take a class.  Oh wait, it is not that long I take one this weekend.

Taking Art Classes

Snowy Day Painting

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It was another cold and snowy day in Kingston, Washington today.  The weather was so bad my painting class was canceled this weekend.  Last Tuesday my class was canceled too!  So I decided to do the homework for the class today in my studio.  I have never done a snow scene, so spent some time looking through my art books for ideas and then painted this 9 x 12-inch painting.

Considering it is the first time I have tried painting snow, I feel good about it.  You don’t always feel great about what you create, but today I smiled when I finished and really did not spend that much time on it.

Snowy Day Painting

2019 Challenge

Last year I challenged myself to read 75 books in the year and made it, finishing the last two in December. This year I am attempting, and I do say attempting a different type of challenge.  I bought the book by Kevin McPhearson called “Reflection of a Pond”

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For a little over a year, he painted the pond in his back yard. I thought it might be a great idea to work on my brushwork and color skills in my artwork.  I live on a beach with a beautiful view.  Depending on the day, I see the mountains, amazing sunrises, boats, people, the marina and love the view every day. I am going (to try) to paint my view at some angle every day this coming year.

The paintings will be small at 5″ x 7″ and I am not going to only focus on part of the view, because as I see it there are three sections to my view.  To the right and mostly south, I see a park and a small falling apart dock.  In the middle, I see the break-water and a few boats and off to the left is the marina where the ferries come in and out.

I started this six days ago on January 16th, and in all honesty am a little overwhelmed by the idea.  I decided I was not going to set up my easel in my living room, but take photos and paint them from my Ipad in my studio.  I am a messy painter and I think my house would be safer without the possibility of my cat wandering through the paint and spreading it throughout the interior.

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DAY ONE

Sunrise, where I live, is sensational. This time of year it is usually a little after seven, so I have gotten in the habit of waking up and checking to see if it is beautiful or if it is gray.  If it is gray with no sun, then I know I have to wait till later or for a later day.  Keep in mind that these are small and quick studies.

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DAY TWO

I am starting to relax a little with my second painting, knowing that most likely they will never sell, but they might make a fun show or a fun book, but I am savoring the differences in the colors of the morning.

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DAY THREE

Some days are peaceful and don’t seem to sing to me, but this morning on day three, the sky was amazing and constantly changing.  The interesting thing about sunrises here is that they can be totally amazing one minute and literally gone the next.  You have to try to capture the essence of what is happening quickly.

 

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DAY FOUR

I am starting to experiment a little more with texture and using a palette knife a little more.  I am hoping during the year to gain control of the palette knife using it for the dock and sometimes for everything.  The boat to the right of the dock, looks more like a rock than a boat, but it is a learning experience.

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DAY FIVE

On this morning it was misty and you could barely see the boats through the fog.  I moved to the marina area to focus on the painting and love the almost eeriness of the painting.  It could be a city or a marina or another country, but I had fun just playing with the color, which is the opposite of Day 6.

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DAY SIX

So often, as most of you know, we awaken to gray, grey and grayer, so I decided to attempt a tonal painting using only Payne’s Gray, Titanium White, and French Ultramarine Blue.  I tried my new camera lens which is a 150 -800 mm to see what I could do with a close-up shot.  I had fun with just the three colors and the closer view.

Going forward I will try to paint daily with different colors or different views and see what happens.  I will post every few days with my newest painting.

I will continue to post food posts, as I love to cook.  Today I made Peanut Butter cookies and Chocolate Chip cookies to take to our local Senior Center for their Bingo Game tomorrow.  I know they love sweets and not too many of them cook.

 

2019 Challenge

Studio Update

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Every art studio could use a cozy corner for reading art books.  This last week my husband built these two-inch shelves with a lip for setting finished small pieces and works in progress. Now I need to get busy and paint some more small works.

Next weekend he is going to add more shelves for bigger pieces.  It is wonderful, as they are all straight on the bottom for once.

Every challenge yourself to something and feel either great about accomplishing it or bad that you failed (the first time).  This year I challenged myself to read 75 books on the Goodreads challenge and can very proudly say I accomplished that goal. The year before I attempted to bake every bread in Paul Hollywood’s Bread Book.  I made it about 2/3’s of the way and gained a couple of pounds, but did not finish the book. I still love to bake and may just try to finish it. I take my baked goods to my local fire department, so they are enjoyed and not wasted.  My wonderful local fire department surprised me with a gift certificate the last two years.  That made me cry the first year, as I was amazed they recognized the gift. This year I felt a little guilty as I felt I did not take as much, but will up the ante as the year goes on.

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Now with 2019 coming up, I decided I would follow the example of Kevin McPhearson, the author and artist of “Reflections on a Pond”, and paint the view of the water in front of my house every day of the year. If I don’t have time to paint on a particular day, I will take a photo and paint it later. I find it an interesting thought and am hoping it will improve my painting skills.

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Studio Update

Back in the studio

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This a night scene that we painted in class.  It is 9 x 12 inches.

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Clouds 8 x 10 inches painted in class.

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Barn 8 x 10 homework assignment

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9 x 12-inch road scene homework assignment.

David Marty is an excellent teacher and it has been fun to watch everyone in class come up with something so very different from the same photos.

 

 

 

Back in the studio

Oh No, I Can Do It All Myself!

I was recently asked to write an article on why you should hire a professional interior designer.  Hope you enjoy the article.

“The Devil is in the Detail”.  Ever heard that phrase and wondered exactly what it meant?  In short, something may seem simple at a first look but will take more time and effort to complete than expected.  HGTV design shows are a great example of this, as they make it all seem so simple, but what you don’t see are the people behind the scenes making everything happen and making it look simple and easy.  They are the ones that know all the details.  Designing a space looks so simple till you actually start designing it. Making a space look beautiful and actually be functional are one in the same and two very different things.

 

A qualified interior designer will listen carefully to what you hope to accomplish in a space and will work with you to get the look you want, in the budget you want, and, in the end, it will function how you wanted it to all along. Designers do this every day, so they have “great resources”.  Even the term is now archaic. I used to tell my interior design college students to pull together your million-dollar Rolodex.  Now It would be your “Million Dollar Contact List”, but you get the idea; designers have a lot more resources than you do.  They have worked for a long time to pull together an extensive network that gets the job done for you in the best way possible.

 

Oh no, but interior designers charge you for their time.  Let’s see, do you complain about paying your lawyer, accountant, doctor or even your gardener?  They all help to make your life easier and simpler. They are knowledgeable and in the long run, save you time and money. Using a professional interior designer does exactly the same thing.  You tell them what you like, and they find just the perfect finishes and people to get the job done.  You might have paid a little money, but you have not been running all over trying to find sources for what you need to be done.

 

The internet is fabulous for finding new and interesting products, but you have not seen or touched them so you might be in for a surprise when they actually arrive.  Your designer has worked with the materials and fabricator and knows how to get them at a better price. They will save you money in the long run.  There is no promise that a mistake will “never” be made, but the chances become slimmer with the experience of the designer.

 

People get caught up in trends. Designers will help you access what trends are classic and will be around for a long time versus the here today and gone tomorrow ones. They will help you have a chic space that will look wonderful for a long time. They will share with you what can work in your environment and what may not. In other words, put the polka dots where the polka dots look good, and that might be in a closet.  Don’t get me wrong, I love polka dots, just not in my living room.

 

Professional interior designers work with you to have a solid plan of action and know how to get it done in an efficient manner. They can bridge the gap that may come up with you and your architect or builder if you are building a new home or remodeling an older home. They know the language and can work to get everything in the right place.  It is not just furniture, but the lighting and so much more, even down to proper outlet placement. They can see the space in different creative eyes and bring it all together, so it works for you. They know that you are the one going to live there, so it should work for you more than for your builder and/or architect. Interior designers work with you to give you a home that meets your criteria, looks wonderful and at the same time functions exactly as you hope it would.

 

Interior Design is an interesting form of art. Some say that interior designers have to phycologists in addition to being designers. Part of what makes the best designer is the ability to listen and really hear what the client wants even when the client may not truly know what they want.  It is the magic of taking an education in the principles of design, the history of design styles both historical and modern and pulling everything together seamlessly to create your perfect environment. Designing a beautiful living space takes skill and vision is so much more difficult than many people think.

 

How many times in your life have you gone into a space that was either overcrowded with furniture, all the furniture was matchy-matchy, or the space just did not feel inviting? If you could not figure out what to do in that space, then going forward you should hire a qualified interior designer.

by Diana Bennett Wirtz Kingsley ASID. IIDA. NCIDQ certified. NKBA

Oh No, I Can Do It All Myself!

Is Cadmium Paint Toxic?

My artist friends are often talking about this, so when I found this article on Artists on Art, I thought I should post it.

Is cadmium paint toxic? Cadmium-based colors have been around for many years but tend to be among the most often in question. Artist and instructor Dan Schultz has researched this; here, he shares what he found regarding the toxicity of cadmium in artist paints.

Is cadmium paint toxic? ArtistsOnArt.com

Is Cadmium Paint Toxic?

By Dan Schultz

Cadmium is found naturally in the earth’s crust but is a relatively rare metal. (Which may explain the high price tag on cadmium paint colors!) Cadmium often couples with other elements in a variety of compounds. Some of these are are extremely toxic and dissolve easily in water, making them dangerous to humans. It is also dangerous if inhaled in its dust or powder form. Some of the earliest cases of cadmium poisoning were reported in Belgium in 1858. Workers had inhaled cadmium dust as a result of polishing silver with cadmium carbonate. This kind of exposure can cause severe respiratory distress, emphysema, and even death.

Oil painting tips for artists - ArtistsOnArt.com

Pigment manufacturing became big business in the nineteenth century, not only for artists but also for industrial and printing applications. When the powerful, intense cadmium colors were developed, ranging from yellows to oranges to reds, artists eagerly added them to their palettes.*

Since then, artists have become increasingly aware of the importance of studio safety. Paint manufacturers recommended that you don’t eat, drink or smoke while painting in order to avoid ingesting potentially harmful substances from paints, solvents, etc. But what about skin exposure? Given what we now know, should we wear gloves and masks while we paint with cadmium colors?

When I visited the M. Graham & Co. factory in 2015, I asked specifically about the toxicity of cadmium colors. They told me that by law, paint manufacturers are allowed to make cadmium colors only a few specified days each year because of the dangers associated with cadmium dust. Proper respiratory equipment is required during production to avoid inhalation of the powdered cadmium pigment.

However, during the paint-making process the pigment is fused with sulfides and coated in the particular medium’s binder (oil, acrylic, gouache or watercolor). This process renders the cadmium insoluble in water, and therefore the human body. We can’t absorb it. So no gloves are necessary. And cadmium paints don’t give off any dust or fumes, so no worries about inhalation either.** I’ve just recently spoken again with a paint manufacturer who said that the paint-making process makes cadmium colors safe in oil, acrylic, gouache and watercolor.

With that said, you DO need to use extra caution if you’re sanding dry cadmium paint or spray-applying. If that’s you, make sure you wear a NIOSH dust respirator to eliminate the chance of inhaling cadmium particles. (Or any other harmful particles / dust.) The same advice applies if you work at all with dry cadmium or other pigments. (For example, if you like to make your own paint.)

Also, please avoid pouring your dirty brush-cleaning water or solvent down the drain or onto the ground. This can introduce heavy metals like cadmium into the watershed, possibly creating problems downstream. It’s recommended that you soak up your dirty water / dirty solvent with paper towels then throw them away in your studio trash.

Is Cadmium Paint Toxic?

When I am not cooking, I might be painting. It is all art.

 

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I am taking a painting class at the Winslow Art Center on Bainbridge Island on Tuesday and enjoy the camaraderie of other artists and learning to paint small. We paint from small photographs on to 8 x 10 inch or 9 x 12-inch canvases.  This was my painting from the first day of class.

The teacher David Marty asked us to do a homework assignment, and I just finished mine.

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This another 8 x 10-inch painting.  I find it interesting as I usually do paint in a much larger format, but am finding this satisfying for some reason.

Normally I paint abstracts in larger formats.  The one below is 36″ x 24″ and as you can see, it is very different from my smaller ones. Painting one.jpg

This one is 30 x 48 inches with black, gray, and gold leaf interspersed in other colors. I was looking at in the studio and think it is the perfect Halloween painting.  Look at the “evil” eye of the predator on the right side of the painting.  This guy is watching you, and it was totally an accident.

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Just thought I would share something other than food art and interior design. I am doing a 3 x 5-foot commission right now and love the big scale of it.

When I am not cooking, I might be painting. It is all art.

Popular New Entry Spaces

In the first three months of the year, Houzzers saved photos of grand main entry spaces and casual backdoor mudrooms that were full of great ideas. Benches for slipping off shoes, cubbies, and cabinets for storing outerwear and striking design elements such as flame-stitch-patterned wallpaper, an urban landscape mural, and log cabin siding caught our attention. Here are 10 great ideas from the most popular new entry photos uploaded in the first quarter of 2018.
Popular New Entry Spaces