Red Meets Black!

In addition to sketching and doing a relatively impressionistic type paint, I love doing big abstracts. This one did not take much time, but just made me happy painting. I usually put on some great music and just enjoy the energy. Stacey Kent is my newest artist of choice. I was introduced to her music when staying a friend’s house. With all the fires going on in Washington, Oregon and California the idea struck me that the all the fury of the fires leaves behind the sadness of the blackened trees and lost homes.

This is fairly large at 48″ wide x 24″ tall.

Red Meets Black!

Back in the Studio at last

It has taken quite a while to sort through everything and organize it, but I am there and was able to paint this week. My friend, Reed and I went on a drive last week to Brinnon where we took a very short hike to find the Rocky Brook Falls. I will admit we drove more back and forth trying to find the falls, than we did hiking, but it was worth the trip.

This is the photo that I used for the painting. As you can see I took a little “artists license” with the painting.

I’m not sure if I will attempt to paint this, but it surely was breathtaking.

Back in the Studio at last

Love sketching

I was in Vacaville, California when the pandemic began and it was a time, when the big excitement of the day was going for a drive or sitting on the front porch having a glass of wine. I don’t sit still well, so got some pens and started sketching the neighborhood. My oil paints were still in Washington, so could not paint. (Won’t do that again). Here are some of the in house and neighborhood sketches done at that time.

I started with simple sketches around the house.

Beautiful roses in a vase. Probably should have added color. (Oh well)

Drew the house on the corner.

And the house across the street.

Then added color to the house on the corner across the street.

Another house right across the street

And added color

Drew a tree rose in the front garden

Drove back to Bainbridge where I drew my girlfriend’s flower pot. I moved to my little Port Ludlow Cottage and spent the next couple of months trying to organize and move in to the house.

My friend and I were out and about and stopped in Port Gamble in a newly opened wine bar for a glass and a charcuterie plate and I like the house so I took a photo on the way out and drew the house below. I had an extra frame, so I framed the house and dropped by as a gift to the owners.

Once in a while it is just fun to do a nice and unexpected gift!

Love sketching

Painting and Puppy

Do they go together?

It has been a couple of weeks since I have been able to be in my studio.  Having a new puppy has not helped.  She is very cute but very busy!  Most days I truly wonder if a puppy really adds to your life or just wastes your time.  I don’t feel like you get much in return at this point in time.  She is finally old enough that she can be in my art studio when I am working but has to be in a crate or she would literally “eat” my artwork, as she eats everything else in path.

Just now I went to make another cup of coffee, but the barn door to the laundry room where I make my coffee got knocked off the track by the puppy and it is going to have to stay that way all day.  It is too heavy for me to life to put back on the track. The cat is locked in the laundry room but at least he has food and water and can get to his litter box and he has freedom from the puppy and I am mostly wishing I had freedom from the puppy.

Sunday when my husband was home and my youngest son visiting, I could finally put the puppy in the hands of someone else and go back to my studio to paint.

 

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Last weekend I traveled to the Celebration of Life of one of my college sorority sisters in Vacaville.  It was a bittersweet experience.  It was wonderful to see many of my sorority sisters, but hard to share the passing of one.  It was dear to see her husband, as he was my first boyfriend in college before he met her.  It was so wonderful to see what a rich and full life they had together as they showed photos throughout the years of their long and happy marriage.  It made me feel so good to know what a wonderful life they had together.

The upbeat part of the trip was that I was lucky to spend some time with my oldest son and granddaughter.  We drove out the coast near Santa Cruz, where we took a wonderful and beautiful walk along the beach.  We walked through a farm that is open to the public with several older buildings and some historic sites.  The painting above is of one of the buildings that I photographed along our walk.

3.jpg   Here is the photograph that I painted.  I loved that it looked like one time it was loved, but now it was old and forlorn.  I took several photos of other buildings and think I may do a series of paintings of the area.

Yesterday it was cold and rainy and even though I should have gone to Urban Sketchers in the morning, I chose to try to spend it in my studio with my puppy.  It is funny, if I turn on a movie, she is like a little child and watches the movie without complaint, so I was able to paint the following piece from a photo I took in Poulsbo at the marina.

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I am out to the studio again after I either go out to buy a coffee or I almost forgot I do have a French Press that is not locked in the laundry room.

Anyone want a very cute Aussie Kee that will eventually be a great companion for someone much younger?

Painting and Puppy

As the puppy grows

IMG_2081.jpgI miss my peaceful mornings.  Wake up when the sun rises, pet the cat at the top of the stairs, feed the cat, have a cup of coffee, read my email, put away the dishes, start the laundry.  Quiet and peaceful!

Mornings are not relaxing anymore.  I still wake up, but jump out of bed to make the pup does not make a mess.  Pet the cat a much shorter time at the top of the stairs.  Take the puppy out to poop.  Clean up poop and wash down kennel.  Come back in rain or shine and feed the cat as the dog jumps all over the place, carry the cat holding the tail out of the puppies reach so he can’t bite it.  Collect the dog dish and three different ingredients, to make sure the puppy has “good healthy poop”.  Puppy gets so excited she bangs my knee into the wall, so there is the second puppy bruise this week.  Feed puppy and immediately take her outside to do her duty for a second time.
OMG, I finally get to make coffee after I spray down the puppy pee.  Come back in to put away dishes and start daily laundry; hear a lot of noise in the laundry room and the puppy’s tail and back legs are all that can be seen by the cat litter door.  Pull out the puppy, close and fasten the door to the laundry room so she cannot get in, but the cat cannot get out. Poor cat, probably just had the poop scared out of him.  The cat has terrible mats in his fur for the first time in four years.  Called a groomer to come to the house and cut out the mats.  She said the cat is probably stressed.  It will be a mere $100 to groom the cat and we have to give him a sedative.
Pick up my coffee cup, so maybe I can have it slightly warm.  (Got to remember to use the thermal cup) . Coffee has cooled down, but as I walk to my office I notice another pile of poop in front of the guest bath.  Humm, the laundry door is closed so I cannot get paper towels.  Use toilet paper to clean up the mess.  Sterilize with cleanser and walk toward my office to read email and etc, and there are three more piles by the front door.  How much can any puppy poop and why three times in three different places?
I do not think this is the right way to start your day!  I love my puppy, but not so sure I love my life with a puppy.  Got to think about this.
Puppy is finally quiet.  Cat is locked in the laundry room.  I think I like my cat more than the puppy.
And another day begins…..
As the puppy grows

The Quiet Teacher

David Marty is a local to our area artist that teaches two-day classes in Edmonds at The Cole Gallery and sometimes once a week for six weeks on Bainbridge Island at The Winslow Art Center.  I have taken four classes from his so far with two in Edmonds and two on Bainbridge.  It is always interesting to see the level of the painters at the two different environments.  In Edmonds, there are usually a couple artists that are quite accomplished blended with more with little or no experience. I always learn at least one tidbit that helps to improve my own paintings.  Bainbridge classes are often comprised of many of the same artists that I have taken other classes with, and most all have been painting for several years.

Dave’s work is not quite as loose as some other Plein Artists, but it is always beautifully done. Coming from an illustrators background, his drawing is always “right-on'”. I have improved my drawing skills taking his classes and doing Urban Sketching with a group on Bainbridge Island.

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In David’s classes the entire class paints from the same photograph.  It is so interesting to watch throughout as the artists turn the photographs into beautiful paintings.  If you were to look at the finished pieces you realize just how differently people see. I love watching the artistic process as many of the pieces transform as they are painted.

In the classes on Bainbridge, we were always given a homework assignment to work on at home and bring for critique the following week. Painting Class 1.jpg

This was the first piece we worked on in class.  David would do a demo in the morning, then we all painted the rest of the afternoon and put up our work for a critique at the end of the session.  This class was to work on water receding in the distance.  I walked away content with this piece.

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The second was a scene of a lake and the challenge was to show the lilies on the surface without making it look speckled.  The one above is mine.

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We next worked on the reflections and lighting in this lake scene.

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This was painted from a photo with a row of flowers.  I did not love the photo, so I reversed it in Photoshop and added a little girl picking the flowers in the front.  Once finished I thought and think it looks a bit trite.

Then we started painting a couple of roads, which I thought was great fun. Painting Class 5.jpg

I can always tell when I enjoy the topic we are painting, as I most likely will be happy with the result.

 

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How to make a wall of trees look interesting was a challenge and it was a homework assignment.  I did feel this was successful as it has variety and keeps your interest.   David never says anything negative about your work, but makes quiet thoughtful suggestions on what might improve it.

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Making rocks look like rocks is always a challenge and how to get the right color, so they look real but beautiful at the same time.  This was hard to capture, but I think it reads as rocks.

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Another road with the task of making the road appear beautiful and interesting while receding believably into the background.

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Painting the Night Scene of a city was fairly new to me.  I went with a little whimsy and fun and more abstract than real.  David liked how I did the lights in the background and thought he might change his to a little more like mine.  Boy, did that make me smile.

 

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We all painted “The Red Barn”.  Growing up on a farm, I have always been attracted to barns and have painted several over my life as an artist.  This is a small 8 x 10 inch with a bad glare in the photo, but it was fun doing.

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Homework assignment to paint clouds.  The tidbit I learned from this exercise is that clouds are always parallel to the earth at the bottom, so they are flat at the bottom.  Not my favorite painting, but it was a very simplistic photo.

 

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The homework assignment was to capture the clouds in a painting from a photo of the clouds.  Mine was a good as anyone else in the class, but nothing I would try to sell.

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Everyone in the class liked this, but I sanded it down and repainted the canvas.  The wave looked more like a ledge than waves to me.

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Beach walkers One.

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Beach walkers Two.  I did not like the first rendition, so I painted it a second time.  Not sure that I like either of them.

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From the sea, we moved to snow scenes.  I painted the one on the left in class, but it left me feeling unsuccessful, so I painted the one on the right.  It is a fun exercise to paint the same photo more than once and in slightly different styles.

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With the next homework assignment of snow, I painted the first horizontally and the same scene vertically.  Working on composition helps you see the same thing in a different manner.

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I brought in a photo I found online of Port Gamble, so we all had a take on this.  Port Gamble.jpg

In this case, I have the photo and thought it might be fun for you to see my translation of the photo.  I left out the tree in the foreground.  I do love the mist of the photo and feel at least I captured the essence of the mist.

 

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We were to paint this stream for homework.  Often when I look at a photo, I wonder what would be the best way to try to make this come to life.  When David showed his homework, it was mostly in browns, and I must admit that his rendition was more appealing than my greener version.

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One of the students brought in a photo of Madronas on her property, and while they are lovely, it was a test of sorts to make an interesting painting.

 

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Here is the photo. 2.jpg

First version

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Finished version adding more darks.  I often do not go dark enough, so this was a great lesson in contrast.

The next class I took from David was at Cole Gallery and the class was about learning to paint moving water and how to draw your eye to the water.

 

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I was pleased with the first painting but got my reflections off on the second.

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This was the final painting in that particular class.  I do see water and color in a different way than before, and everyone in the class liked this painting.  I am not so sure that painting just water is my favorite.

Every time I do take a class with Dave, I learn at least one thing.  I enjoy watching how he holds his paintbrush to achieve the look he desires.  Every stroke is thought out and it important.  There is not scrubbing!

The Quiet Teacher

The Man From Australia

My last class, and probably the last one I will take for a while was from a well-known and respected artist from Australia.  Colley Whisson came to teach a four-day class at The Winslow Art Center and people from all over the country came to take the class.  He was funny and told great stories and talked a lot!  And talked a lot, but taught a lot too!  He paints a wide variety of topics and creates beautiful paintings from very simple photos.

The first day he did a demo for most of the morning and into the afternoon.  We were then given a photograph of the painting he had previously done from the same photo.

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It was a very simple beach scene which did not seem exciting, but using the brush strokes he showed us and the limited palate, I was very pleased with my finished piece.  I think I was one of few in the class that he did not “touch” my canvas.  He made one suggestion but seemed to like my work.  (Yippee!!!)

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Day two was an old cabin and it was interesting to see in a class of twelve or more that were no two even similar.  Mine featured the smallest cabin. Once again, he did not jump in and work on my painting and made one or two suggestions.  This is a small canvas and I liked using a larger brush than I had in the past.

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Day three after the morning demo he set us free on copying his painting.  Other than saying I should move the chicken or the fountain, he seemed to like my work.  He did make one perspective change that was right-on.  I am getting used to using the bigger brush and like the look.  I would never have selected this view to paint, but I think it turned out pretty fair.

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The fourth and last day we painted Plein Aire in the garden that used to belong to a friend of mine. I had not been in the garden since she sold the home after her parent’s passed away within months of each other.  It is a whimsical and beautifully lush garden.  As I walked in, I loved the contrast of the blue pot in the distance and the bright pink flowers close-up.  After I came home and looked at a photo I had taken and what I had painted I darkened the background for more contrast.  At his suggestion, I added more paint in the foreground and I think the effect is quite positive.

Colley is an excellent teacher that does beautiful paintings and makes his living selling his art in Australia.

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I love the simplicity of his work along with the beautiful brushwork.  One thing he said that will now remain a constant in my work going forward is that you need to have a quiet space to contrast the brushwork.  Brilliant~

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Simple composition with beautiful colors and brushwork. And I really do not like blue, but like the work overall.

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I call this elegantly simple, but fascinating.

 

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As you can see from the four examples I shared of his work, it is colorful, but controlled and beautifully painted.  I would definitely take his class another time. There were many little jewels that I learned from this master artist.

The Man From Australia

Take the right class

One of the other classes this summer was given by an artist that paints in oil, but more successfully in watercolor. When I arrived at the class I realized everyone else taking the class was painting watercolors.  I do Urban Sketching and luckily had my kit in the car, so I could do watercolor. It was NOT why I was taking the class.  It was an expensive class and I had to drive an hour each way to attend.  I only attended two of the four days.  I think I learned everything I could the first day.

The class was about painting moving water, so we were drawing from printed the examples on the first day.  I quickly learned it was a very beginning class and many of the students had very little drawing experience, let alone watercolor experience.  They had a lot of drawing equipment, but not educated skill.

The teacher had, as many do, sent out an extensive list of supplies with several new (to me) oil paint colors.  So I had to find the colors quickly and $$$$ before the class.  I did not use even one of the colors required and more than that the use of these color combination was never discussed or explained.  The teacher was a lovely talented lady and I enjoyed talking with her but did not enjoy the scattered and unorganized class.

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In this small watercolor, we were to work on the direction the flow of the water, by bringing the edge over the top and puddling it at the bottom.  That was the extent of what I learned in class.  The next day we went to a local park to paint moving water, but there was no moving water.  There was a rather stagnant pond. I did a small watercolor of it but did not like the result, so put it in the “not to be shared” file, otherwise known as the trash can or round file. gaz.jpg

Later in the day, I did the little gazebo by the water, but there was nothing new it this either.

I will continue to admire Julie Gilbert Pollard’s work, but what she does versus what she teaches are two different things.  I would have loved to have learned how to use the new colors that I bought for the class.  I will never take a class that attempts to teach both watercolor and oil painting as the approaches are the complete opposite.  In oil painting, you generally start with the darks and in watercolor painting, you add them last.  2.jpg

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The other thing in signing up for a class, find out the experience of the other class members overall.  If there are a lot of beginners in the class they are “time hogs’.  They don’t mean to be, but they just want to learn so much more.

I have taken classes taught by the same teacher at different locations and discovered when most of the class is beginning, you don’t walk away with nearly as much new information.  The other “light goes off”, was that every artist thinks that their way is the best and sometimes the only way to do art.  Keep in mind there are a lot of different ways to come to a beautiful painting.

Take the right class

Art Classes

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William Wray is a very talented artist and came from Los Angeles to teach at The Winslow Art Center this summer.  Signing up for the class, which was quite expensive, I was hoping to learn how to take my more impressionistic painting to a more edgy look, but it was a class about extreme basics and blocking, which is always a good refresher, but not what I was hoping to learn.

The first morning of class, he announced that there was no democracy in this class. We were to do as he required.  I commented that right now in the world, we don’t really know what a democracy is anyway, so it did not really matter.  Not so sure he liked my comment.

We spent three days working on 2″ x 3″ drawings and if he and only he approved of our drawing, we could move on to painting in two colors.  Middle of the day on the first day, he reviewed one of my drawings of a gas station and comment:  “That is about a B+”.  Considering he had not said anything to any of the other drawings in the class, I just commented back: “Well, that would be the lowest grade I have gotten in the last twenty years.”   I complete my Ph.D. at 62 with a GPA of 3.85 having gotten a couple of A-‘s, but no B’s.    He was no sure what to think of my comment.  I felt it was a little “macho” at the time and at this point in my life, I am not out to impress anyone.

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Here are a few of his paintings:

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I was attracted to the etherial rawness of his work and hoped to be able to learn from a person I considered masterful.  I walked away with a couple of new ideas, a few new artist’s works of whom I was unaware, but I did not feel the class brought any real “ah ha’s”.  I could have learned as much studying his work.  The technique was not shared.  This is the only class I have taken where I actually think the narcissism of the artist got in way of actually teaching students anything new.

There were several successful professional artists in the class.  I wondered what they felt about the experience, as it was more of an experience than a learning environment.  I did not save any of the small tonal works that I did as I did not like them, and did not feel I learned much new from them.  I was frustrated in the class.

Our first day out Plein Aire painting, I could not find anything that looked remotely interesting to paint in our 2″ x 3″ block.  He came to talk to me and asked me how I reacted to classes I hated in high school or college.  I told him, the problem was that I loved my classes and loved learning.  The only thing in high school that upset me about a class was the time I spilled acid on a new pair of shoes and ruined them.   I didn’t mention the one class I had to drop in college as I stayed out all night partying rather than studying for a test.

I was being sarcastic, as I felt it had nothing to do with painting and irked me a bit.  I started not to attend the last day of class, but it was by the marina and I love the water and boats.  My first drawing and painting, which I did not save was of a “floating” dock.  He came by and said my perspective was off.  I told him the dock had moved.  For some reason, he had not noticed that the dock was not stationary and moved with the tide.  I just laughed.

Later that day, I sketched a little tug-like boat at the dock. and he said it was “ok” to paint.  IMG_1887.jpg

So first we had to do a “block-in” using only three values.

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Then we could actually put the painting on a 6″ x 8″ canvas.  Mine is below.  It is certainly not one of my favorite works, but it was on par with other work in the class.

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Conclusion:     Find out how and what the teacher is going to teach and don’t bother taking classes that only go over basics if you do not need that level of instruction.  Don’t take too many classes in a close time frame, as it is only and always confusing.  My lessons of classes grew my credit card bill and didn’t expand my knowledge as much as I would have desired.  I can see improvement in my painting, but it was only from a couple of the classes.

Art Classes

The Art of Turning 70 Years Old!

Turning seventy is a pretty big marker in your life, kind of like a “land-mine”.  You are there, it is the climax, as unfortunately, it is mostly downhill after 70, with health issues, brain issues and with what personally worries me the most: stamina!

As we go through life we make wonderful friends, have wonderful adventures and experiences, enjoy our family time and spend a lot of time working at some job to support our lifestyle and our hobbies, adventures, and family.  We live hectic busy lives racing from event to event, sport to sport, meeting to meeting and don’t realize we love it, till it is done and our children are grown and live elsewhere. But the memories and the joy of them remain.

I am lucky enough to have one beautiful granddaughter that spends time with me throughout the year, but does not live closeby; so I do miss the everyday experiences with her and regret she does not live closer.  Still, at eight we have a wonderful and loving relationship.

This year I decided to have a party for my Birthday, which I have not done since I was sixty and will not do again unless I turn 100. (But I will be too senile by then to know if I had one or not) . Ha Ha

My youngest son and granddaughter and I made seven types of sausage one summer day and ate the “go-betweens” for dinner.  That is called “not changing and cleaning the sausage stuffer between recipes”.  They were so good, my husband and I made two more kinds one night after he got home from work.  It was a lot of fun and over 100 sausages of all different kinds were made.

I had decided to have a 70th Birthday party, so sent out Evites and Emails to about 150 friends and family.  I used to have parties with my women friends when I was in my late forties and early fifties and single, and more than one hundred people would show up.  I would make the entree, and everyone would bring food and wine.  It was easy and great fun!  One year everyone had to wear red, so my whole house was a sea of red.  One year it was a “silly slipper” party and the best slippers won a price.  Invitations were mailed and each person could meet a friend.  We all made lots of new friends this way and had fun and lots of laughs.  I had expectations of this being the same for my 70th!

My dear friends of forty years came up from Del Mar for the celebration, and friends of fifty years came, even after recent back surgery.  Most of my book club, my Table Five Women’s group, and a variety of neighbors, ex-students and local friends came and we had a lovely evening.  But it was not the hundred or more that used to arrive.

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The Evite card had a photo of me at 30 saying the “Glamour is Gone”, but the party has just begun.   In many ways that is just not true.  I believe the quiet time of life has just begun.  Since I am no longer working, I awake when I desire. (not too late with new puppy) and enjoy my days painting, cooking and reading  (Seventy-five books last year and fifty-one so far this year). I no longer participate in Rotary or the local Chamber and interestingly enough only one person attended from those years of service.

This Birthday is the last of the big parties I will attempt to have.  We may be eating sausage for the next ten years anyway.  I so very much appreciate my friends that took the time to stop by and love the cards and several gifts.  I have come to the realization, that as our friends grow older, they travel more, spend time with newly extended families and do not respond to invitations.  In life, we are always learning. I love all the Birthday Greetings that I receive via Social Media and accept that Social Media is beginning to replace or attempting to replace meaningful relationships.

I remember when, before cell phones with contact lists, I had over a hundred telephones memorized and now I cannot even tell you those of my spouse or my sons without referring to my cell phone.  Email and text and messages via Facebook have replaced many happy phone calls and coffee dates with friends.  Thinking about this I wonder what it will be by the time I turn eighty?

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None of this is a complaint!  It is a realization that life changes as we age.  Our families live all over the world.  Our friends are busy with their families traveling all over the world to stay close to them. My summer birthday date sends people to weddings and the births of grandchildren; the last hurrah of good weather for those traveling in this area and people so much on the go there is not enough time for everything.

I had really wanted to just go to Ireland, but that was not in the cards.  From now on I am going to be traveling on my birthday and enjoying it.  No more weeks of prep for a party or a day or two of clean up afterward.  I am accepting that I am too old and too dang tired.

I have always been lucky in life that I have wonderful friends and I intend to keep them close and love them more than ever, but I am going to put “me first” for once and save my money and travel and paint.

So Happy Birthday to Me and thank you to all my family and friends for making it wonderful!!!

 

 

 

The Art of Turning 70 Years Old!