Sunday, December 26, 2010

Year's End-What is your Challenge/Vision?

It seems appropriate that I am finishing up one challenge, the Sketchbook Project, and launching a new one, my Mid-Century Challenge at this time. This is my final post for 2010, unless something wildly exciting happens between now and Saturday. You never know...
Here are two oil sketches from my Sketchbook Project. I have two left to go and might even get a bonus two in before the week is out.
In between painting the sketches, I am working on my vision board for 2011. I have some big visions to put up!
If you have been reading these posts, you have probably seen the personal challenge I put up in the previous post. I have a few better ideas to add to phase 2 but I will mention those later.
I would like to ask all of you, What is your personal challenge for 2011? I would love to hear about it, big or small. If you got a challenge going, or are thinking of getting one going, please mention it in the comments section.
I would also love to see any vision boards you are willing to share. Please post a link in the comments section as well. I will be posting mine here to share with others.
One final note on the Sketchbook Project, I plan to put a slideshow of the pages on this blog. It will also be touring the country with the other entries. I will have more info on that later. I am also going to try to get a video, related to my sketchbook up, weather permitting. I haven't posted a slideshow or video on my blog before so we shall see how it works.
Have a wonderful and safe New Year! 2011 is going to be amazing (hopefully amazingly good), I just feel it in my bones.
See you all next year and don't be shy about sharing your challenges and visions!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Mid-Century Challenge

Well, as promised, this is my post about my personal challenge over the next 15 months. We had a busy Winter Solstice day in which the clothes dryer decided to have a melt-down just to keep things jolly. It has been dealt with, the feast has been made and appreciatively eaten and now it is back to work before the next wave of holiday making overtakes us. 
So, in the photo above is one of my favorite art quotes. Unfortunately, I have yet to find who to attribute the quote to. If anyone knows, I would appreciate the information. Behind the quote are several blank canvases. I thought my cast drawing study set-up in the background rounded out the picture nicely! 
Here , therefore, is the first phase of my challenge. In 15 months (starting with January) I will be having my 50th birthday. I know, I know, you are shocked. What is that? You think I only look 30-ish? You are so kind! Like many who reach such a milestone birthday, I wanted to do something special, something that would challenge me, add to the celebration, and enrich the lives of other beings. I would also add bring world peace and heal the environment but I have to save something for my 100th birthday! I have recently started running but I think running a marathon, while quite an accomplishment, has been done a few times. I am not particularly brave enough to jump out of a plane or go bungie jumping and those things don't really meet the "enriching lives beyond my own"criteria.
As you probably have already guessed, I decided to push myself a bit with an art challenge. I have decided to paint 50 pictures. Not just 50 crank-them-out-to-meet-the-numbers, but 50 paintings to the best of my ability at this time. Now, 50 is an arbitrary number so if I don't quite make it or, even better, paint more I won't be devastated.  I know that the moment you announce any kind of challenge that is for the purpose of bettering oneself or the world, all kinds of monsters rise up to stop you cold. I already know there are a few lurking along the way as I can see them from here.
I am sure you can see how this challenge will enrich myself, but other beings? I am planning to sell the paintings with a portion of the proceeds from each painting going to one or two causes, to be announced, that are important to me and the world. That is, proceeds from 49 of the paintings. The 5oth, which will be the best one of the lot (perhaps put that to a vote?) will be raffled off with all of the proceeds going to a cause. I am researching those causes now and will be announcing them when the decision is made. 
Now for phase two, the one that actually scares me the most not being the most social person in the world. I would like to have a party in Portland, Oregon to not only celebrate the completion of the challenge (and my 50th birthday) but to bring all the paintings together in a show of sorts and hopefully raise more money and awareness for the causes. Oh, and did I mention I would like to invite anyone who is willing to come? Now, before you all rush out and buy some party clothes, I have to be honest. I am fairly certain I can pull off phase one and not at all sure I can pull off phase two. 
With that admission, I am open to suggestions and even advice! I am thinking of selling the pieces online as well so that anyone who couldn't make it to Portland would have a chance to contribute to a good cause and get a piece of art too. 
That is the challenge in a nutshell. 15 months is both a long time and not much time, so I am sure that things will morph and change along the way. There is also a few petty details to take care of, such as finding a way to make an income and still continue to work on art. I will continue to study and create art. After all, I have turned my life, and that of my husband and dog, completely upside down to get this far and I can't stop now.
I am starting with small canvases, 9"X12", and a little bigger. I am aiming for 4 completed paintings a month plus getting in art study time. I know that some folks do the painting-a-day challenge but I want time to study and I am new at this. I could bang out a painting a day even at this point but it wouldn't be my best effort. I want to learn and grow too.
There will be more details to come in future posts. The challenge starts in less than two weeks! Gotta go finish up the Sketchbook Project! 
See you all on Sunday, 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sketchbook Project

The end of the year is fast approaching as is the deadline for the Sketchbook Project! For those not familiar with the Sketchbook Project you can find out about it here or click on the Sketchbook Project logo further on down the page. I have set my own personal deadline to be finished by the end of December. Before I get going about that and what is coming next here is one of my sketchbook pages.
This is a small oil sketch from a photo I took on one of my beach walks. Actually I guess one could say I used the photo for reference as much is not included and I changed a few things. When I first signed up for the project a couple of months ago I was very keen on moving onto color in oils as I hadn't got that far when I was in school. I took a bit of time upon receiving my sketchbook to experiment with what medium I was going to use and decided to fill my sketchbook with small oil sketches. I mean, why not combine my oil painting attempts with my sketchbook project?
Having little to no experience with oil painting at the time, I didn't realize how long even a small (about 5x8) painting would take. Some days I can only get one done and others about 3 (rarely). That is on the days I work on the project. Other days I work on my art studies.
It has been a good learning experience and, a heck of a lot of fun! I decided that I am going to combine the oil sketches (hope to have about 20 total) with some photography, quotes, and information.
We were allowed to pick a theme for our sketchbook, out of many. I decided to go with "Down Your Street." I interpreted that as down my street. Down my street (and everyone's really) lies the sea. The ocean is about 4 blocks down my street and a big presence in my life at this time. I walk on the beach daily, no matter what the weather. OK, sometimes I only walk about 50 feet but sand and rain being blown in my face at 50 mph hurts! The ocean is different every day. There is always something new to see. I often stand watching the shapes of the waves, the play of light and shadow, and try to describe the color of the ocean at that moment. The color fascinates me as it changes from moment to moment. Mornings on the beach when the sun comes out are breathtakingly beautiful.
There is a lot that breaks the heart too. I always encounter dead sea birds and other marine life. There is also a lot of plastic pollution. The garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean is now the size of Canada. Yes, that is what I said, Canada. I have that info from a Fabien Cousteau presentation given at TED.
I love the ocean as it is in my blood going several generations back. I was born by the sea and spent part of my childhood there. I have come full circle with our move to our current place. I do plan to use my future work to promote the cleanup and protection of our oceans. Our "one and only life support system."
I am learning how to paint seascapes or marine paintings. Since I prefer to draw and paint from life, I am also learning plein air painting. And, as promised, here is a picture of my first attempt completely unedited!
First, I have to add that I only had about 2 hours of daylight as this was in the afternoon and the tides were low enough. This was painted at the north end of Short Sands beach, which is just a very short drive up the road. Did I mention that this is my very first attempt, ever? That means I am working with new equipment and conditions as well. The painting is of one of the waterfalls that cascade onto the beach. I put this up here unedited for a couple of reasons. The first being that it shows my starting place. I know without a doubt that I am going to be improving quite a bit. Secondly, I want to show that we don't always start out as genius artists. It takes a lot of hard work. I figure that I will have the skills I want after about 4 more years of hard, consistent, daily, work. The work to build skill and growth will last the rest of my life.
I have a lot of work to do yet. I am still building my figure drawing skills so that I can paint the portraits of women I want to paint. I am not much into painting still life. I do love to look at still life paintings. However, it has its place in skill building so, I will be painting still life for study purposes.
That brings me to my final mention. I wrote a mention about a personal challenge in my last post. I will be posting on that in a few days, at the winter solstice, in a special post.
This is long enough. Sometimes it seems that I can't get everything in I want to say!
Look for my special post on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Winding Up the Year

Ah, Blogger is working again so I can get this post going!
I finished my first color study, at least as far as I plan to take it at this point. Here it is:
Again, I am having challenges getting a good digital picture with the correct color balance. I am not surprised when I realized that my camera is now 8 plus years old. My poor camera only has 3.2 mp and is literally falling apart bit by bit ( I have had to resort to glue a couple of times). It has been a good camera but I think I will need to replace it soon. I did do a little playing around with the lights and darks in Photoshop to get the photo to read more like the actual set up but I didn't tinker with any color correction although I probably should have. You get the general idea of the painting from here and, at this point, that is all that is needed. I would like to add that the paint that has white mixed into it reflects weirdly, and not true to color.
While I am saving up for a decent camera, I will use my husband's. He says it is "ours" but I found that only one person at a time can take pictures during those wonderful photo moments! We also have different photography needs, not to mention that we look at the world in different ways...
I have a couple of more oil sketches and my first plein air attempt which I will be sharing next week as well as a fun little side project.
As we are coming to the end of the year I, like many of you, will be taking a bit of time to reflect on the past year and think about what I want to accomplish in the next. I am putting together a personal challenge. I will be posting the details soon in a special post but here is a bit of the background for the challenge:  In 2012 I will have my 50th birthday (if the world does decide to end that year it will be extremely ironic!). I decided that I wanted to create a personal challenge for my 50th and have it benefit one or more of my favorite causes as well. I did the math and realized that starting this January, I will only have 15 months to complete said challenge! I will have to get busy!
That is all I am going to say on that now as I want to carefully think over the details before I put them out there publicly. I am hoping to get input and encouragement from all my friends as I think I am going to need it. Sometimes your friends have a way of taking things to a wonderful new level.
I had a wonderful morning at my local life drawing session. It is always a pleasure to spend time drawing with other artists. I want to finish up by mentioning a couple of new links in the "artists who inspire" section of my blog. First is Karen Martin Sampson who is from Vancouver Island, B.C. Her work is beautiful and inspiring. If you click on the Links on her web site you can find her blog. She is generous with her knowledge as well. Thank you Karen! A second link I would like to mention is for another artist I admire, Terry Strickland. Her blog posts often include video clips of her process. I hope to do that one day myself. I also have two other links that are important to me, Women Drawing Women, and Women Painting Women. I probably don't have to tell you that women artists are very much under-represented in our galleries and museums, not to mention history. I love to see how women interpret the female body and person. I find it is very different from the male perspective (anyone surprised?). I will be sharing more artists on my blog now and then in future posts.
Finally, a couple more changes I made to my blog. I have been on FaceBook for a while now and have just joined Twitter. If you use these social media platforms, please do look me up. Mention Art=Life in the message line of FaceBook to let me know who you are and I will be happy to add you as a friend.There are links to both FaceBook and Twitter in the side bar.
I would love to read your comments if you wish to use the comment link at the bottom of this post and you can also share the post on FaceBook and Twitter using the links below.
We have been having very wet and stormy weather here lately which will continue for the week. Perfect for working in the studio.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

December? What happend to June?

As always, December sneaks up on me. I know it is coming. I realize it will be here right after November but then BAM! Not only is it here, it flies by too. Well, December plays havoc with my schedule and I know I am not the only one it happens to. I am still working in the studio, it just gets weird in the hours around that time.
I did get to work one day on my color study. I still have a tiny bit left to do before I am ready to move on to another one. One of the variables that has made the time go wonky is the weather. The weather has been beautiful these past few days. Add that to minus tides and the fact that I now have my plein air setup all ready to go and I find my schedule getting kind of spontaneous. To catch the low tides which expose cliffs, caves, and beaches, and the lovely afternoon light, I found myself grabbing my easel and paints and heading out about 2 o'clock Friday afternoon to paint at a beach about 5 minutes up the road. I am not going to post the results of my very first plein air painting just yet. I think I will leave it for the next one. Hopefully I will have a bit more to show on that topic by then.
The bulk of my painting this week was working on oil sketches for the Sketchbook Project.
Here is a shot of one part of it.
These are sketches in oil. I am still basically a rank beginner but I must admit, I love it even more than I thought I would. Here is a close-up of one sketch which is roughly 5 X 8".
All of these were done from digital photos I took and then display on my computer screen. Not my favorite way of working which is why I am starting to go out to paint plein air. I really like working from life. The atmospheric effect of the light in this area is a bit tricky to catch. I am learning and studying so I will be improving.
I also attended the life drawing session this week. I really liked the model we had. He was tall and thin which made for rather graceful poses at times. This was my favorite one. This was a 30 minute pose and I wanted to get it as much info as possible because I liked the pose so much. Normally I hold myself back to work on gesture and proportions, angles and shapes before getting so much into tone and details.
Life drawing is a joy and one of the things I really miss from school is being able to do so much of it.
Finally, for my next color study I wanted to simplify the still life. I know my fellow students started out painting colored blocks. I finally was able to score a huge bag of cardboard blocks from the thrift store for $5. I am going to paint a few of them solid colors and use them in the next set up. Not terribly exciting but a a good exercise.
It will continue to be crazy busy for most of us in the next couple of weeks I am sure and my holidays tend to be more mellower than many folks. I will have more on the Sketchbook Project and my first plein air attempts next week.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Stopping for Thanks

Now here is a picture that will make you run indoors to snuggle by the fire with your favorite hot beverage! This is a picture I took last week of a pile snowy kelp on the beach. The weather is finally warming up a bit but it was a bit exciting to get a little snow here so early.
Not as many days in the studio this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday here in the U. S. Our Thanksgiving was nice and quiet. I made a lovely intimate vegan feast for two. Not too much food but hearty and rich, as holiday food often is. We also spent the day yesterday in Portland visiting family and doing a couple of errands. Had a bit of a nerve-wracking time getting through the Coastal Mountain range due to snow and ice on the way home but we made it back safe and sound.
Due to the holiday this week, I decided to concentrate on the shorter studies. I did a couple of quick oil paint sketches for the Sketchbook project I am working on and a bit of drawing and sketching. That Sketchbook project will be ramping up quite a bit in December as I need to be pretty much finished with the sketches by the end of the month. I will have a picture to post on what I have so far next week.
Since I don't have a lot to share this week, I thought I would call attention to some of the new links I added to my lists. In the Art/Creativity list I have added Dr. Robyn McKay. I met her on Facebook. We share the same favorite quote! She has a fascinating background in creativity and intelligence and gives several workshops on those subjects. I study and read a lot about creativity on my own. I can never get enough on this topic and encourage everyone to study what they can. Her website is worth checking out.
I also study the business of art, as well as art making, as that is where I am heading and I know it isn't easy. There are many wonderful books and websites on this topic but the one I have recently added is The Art of Non-Conformity. Chris Guillebeau had created an interesting life style and approach to marketing that I find fascinating. Check out his blog and unconventional guides (click on the "more about this site" link for a comprehensive look at what he does). He also has a few PDF downloads that are interesting and informative to read too.
The third new link in this category is White Hot Truth by Danielle Laporte. She is a very inspirational woman with a lot of thought-provoking reading on her website. A note to the delicate, she is straightforward and blunt and her language sometimes reflects that.
All of the above links deal with creativity in one way or another and are of interest to artists and other creatives alike.
I have also added a couple of links to the "artists who inspire". I will get into more detail on these on another post but, in the meantime, please check them out.
I will be getting back to work now!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

One Day I Will Laugh!

You have to let yourself giggle at your first attempts at just about anything. There are exceptions of course but when creating or learning anything new, a sense of humor is necessary. So, what am I chortling about lately? My very first attempt to paint with color. Here it is, still in progress:
Is it going well? Well, it isn't a total disaster. Am I learning a lot? You better believe it! The colors are close but not spot on. I took this picture in a totally different light situation than what I am using to paint with so it would be very hard to tell from this picture exactly what is going on but the general idea is there. I am enjoying myself tremendously, even when I get tangled up in frustration. I know I will get to where I want to go. I will be keeping this study. I want to pull it out one day a few years from now so I can see just how far I have gone. What I want to paint is so very complex compared to this but the simplification is necessary at this point. In fact, this needs to be simplified even more as I am still learning how to put the paint on the canvas let alone the color and all the other complex stuff. I am so very glad I have spent the past year drawing intensively.
I am still drawing, both figure drawing and cast drawing. I have set up a cast to work on in fact, and here it is along with a view of a cramped studio. It is cramped but it works just fine. I can move around almost as much as I need to and I can leave things set up.

I am working on the mouth of David. I have been alternating between a day of painting and a day of drawing. So far it seems to be working just fine. 
Yesterday we had a break between storms and the day was wonderfully sunny but chilly. We decided to drive 5 minutes up the road to the state park on the north end of our town and hiked a short path in to Short Sands Beach. It is a local surfing spot and breathtakingly beautiful. My husband took a picture of me, with our faithful dog Twill, sketching waves. 
Twill is actually lying on a blanket over flat rocks. We were there at high tide so there wasn't much sand but the beach got bigger as the tide went out. The sun felt wonderful and I was eventually able to take my coat off. 
This week we will be taking a day off to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S. I have a lot to be thankful for and will be enjoying a modest meal with my loved ones in quiet celebration. 
So what am I thankful for? I am thankful for good health, the abundance in my life, family, friends, and the freedom to choose. 
Wishing everyone the same, 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Another Small Step

It is a misty wet day today on the Pacific Northwest Coast. A perfect day for life drawing, cleaning, and other general indoor pursuits. There have been a few walks too. I need to get outside a few times a day. Thankfully my dog feels the same way.
I have been busy in the studio this week. Still not in the studio as much as I would like to be but getting there. I finished the grisaille for my color study, at least, as far as I want to go since it is a color study. I have set it aside to dry a bit and will be starting in on the color part this week. Can't wait! Here it is so far:
The angle of the view in the picture is different from my painting point of view because I wanted to be able to get both painting and still life set up in the same frame. Speaking of frames and photography, I really am going to have to do something different. I have just been essentially taking what amounts to snapshots of my work, usually hand held. Using the flash does not work with oil paint, at least, not my flash. I get a glare as you will see in the next set of pictures. I do have a tripod and will get it out for next week's post. Eventually I would like to get a simple photography set up.
Hopefully I can get that photography set up  sooner than later as I have another place to post pictures. I finally set up my own website! It is still in the process of being built. At the moment, it is a very simple website. My computer programming skills are extremely rusty but I hope to be able to work on it myself for now. Perhaps sometime in the future I can get a bit of professional help there. I will have the website address for you on the next post as there have been a few kinks to iron out with the web hosting service.
Several weeks ago I joined the Sketchbook Project. There is a link to that project on my sidebar or you can check it out here. In one of those funny synchronistic moments that somehow happen in life, I met Susan at a local writer's event here in town and she happened to be participating in the project as well. In fact, there are four of us from this little tiny town participating!
I have been trying out a few different ideas and mediums but decided to fill my sketchbook with oil sketches. This will be in keeping with my studies and give me a bit of structured play with oil painting. Here is one of the sketches toward the end of completion (it is a sketch after all):
Again, had a challenge with the photography. Here is the same picture with a flash:
So, I will be using a tripod next week and also would appreciate any other suggestions for taking photographs of oil paintings. In case you are wondering, the sketch is of some of the bull kelp that washes ashore quite often. I love the translucence of the kelp. I will get a better picture up next week.
I have also been continuing my color studies in between the other work. I need to get one of my casts out to do a bit of cast drawing too. I certainly have enough to study.
If all goes well, I will be getting my full week in the studio in next week. We shall see what I can get done.
Stay warm!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Struggles

Oh yeah, I've been here before. The Struggles. It is part of the cycle is it not? I finished the charcoal drawing of my husband. As soon as I sprayed the fixative my darling dearest said to me, " I didn't want to mention this before but..." Now, in no way do I feel it is his responsibility to bring up any issues he sees in my drawing, even though I asked him to. Sometimes it is easier for someone other than yourself to spot things that can be off. I would have loved it if he had said that before I sprayed the fixative! None of this changes the fact that my proportions were just a teeny bit off. Not much, but that is all it takes. It isn't a bad drawing but the proportions being a line width off reminds me what our teacher always was saying. "Ask questions!"
I have committed myself to being honest in this blog, sharing not only the triumphs but the trials too. I will be honest here now, there was a point in the drawing process that something was nagging at me that it didn't quite look right. Now I know, without a teacher to point that out to me, that is my cue to stop, ask questions, look at the whole and the relationships,  and figure out what is wrong before preceding. Lesson learned (I hope!).
On to the next task. I set up a simple still life for a color study. It is my first one and I am doing it on my own. Not exactly sure what I am doing but I am taking a deep breath, relaxing, and having fun with it. After all, it isn't like I am having to perform surgery on someone! Here is the set up and about two hours into the grisaille.
Kind of hard to see the top of the bowl in the painting so it looks squished in the photo. I also learned I shouldn't start a grisaille when I don't have a good chunk of time to work on it. This is an open grisaille. It dried surprisingly fast so I will have to move to a closed grisaille before I start in with color. The lighting washes out the nice bright colors in the set up but the picture gives the general idea.
I also continue to squeeze in a straight color study when I can. This allows me to play with the paint and see how the colors interact. Here is shot of another color study, mixing with burnt umber on the top two and raw sienna on the bottom row.
I am starting out with quite a large palette of colors. I know there are different views on how to do this, some prefer to start out with a limited palette. Personally, I love color and while I admire many  paintings made with a limited palette, I am usually not completely satisfied with them. Eventually, with time and experience,  I will settle on a palette that works for me.
Today I went to the life drawing session at the art center in town. I am learning how to utilize the session to meet my own learning needs, which is a good thing as I was getting frustrated with the way the session was working.
This week I will be turning some of my attention to working on The Sketchbook Project. I have a bit of an outline but I need to get going on that. I will have more on that in a later post. I should have started laying in the color by the next post and will hopefully have some progress to show on that.
The learning continues!
I will leave you with a final picture of my studio assistant with her nose on one of the books I was reading during my break.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Digging In

Things are starting to get settled and I am starting to dig in to work. This month of October I have been working on a charcoal drawing of my husband. He has been a great model, very patient, and seems to know how to get right back into the pose. The drawing is nearly finished. I still have to adjust that background and do any final adjustment to the drawing to balance it all out. I am not putting the full drawing here which is revealing enough. For some reason it seems a bit different to post a full nude drawing of my husband verses a model that was hired. I guess it just feels a bit too personal. Anyway, here is the drawing. I found it a bit challenging to get a good picture that didn't make it look washed out. Another thing I have to work on!
This is the first charcoal drawing I have done on my own. I have my final student charcoal drawing hanging on the wall. I find it helps me to remember what I need to be doing and looking for.  Every drawing has been a bit better than the last, which is encouraging. This one has some improvements, it is smoother, the transitions are better and I have been carefully considered my edges. Still have plenty of room for improvement never fear!
I have also been playing with oil paint. Since I was supposed to be going to school for another three years, we hadn't started in with painting with color, concentrating on drawing instead. I feel this is a really good way to go as drawing is the foundation for painting in realism. Unfortunately, that means I have to learn on my own at the moment. The first step is to get the colors out, get them on the palette, and start playing with them. I will be setting up a color still life this week but in the meantime, I have been making color charts. I don't have to think too much, just play with the color and get a feel for the paint and how it works. I have also been trying out a few different brushes. My favorite brush, by a long shot so far, is a Silver-Black Pearl synthetic. It holds a nice amount of paint and has the right amount of stiffness and spring. Here is the first color chart. It is not as tidy as the other ones will be. The original tube colors are in the top row of squares with the 3 rows beneath being mixed with increasing amounts of the same color throughout. In this chart it is Burnt Sienna (first color on the top left).
The colors that don't have mixtures under them are either one of a kind (such as Gamblin's Torrit Grey) or colors already on the chart but are different paint brands. I am trying out one or two different paint brands too.
As may be deduced, I am in the experimental beginning stage. I also mixed a few colors together at random to see what I would get and how they behaved. That is what is in the little square piece up top.
It looks pretty in person. I am already learning a lot just by doing such a simple exercise.
Next week I will be finishing up the charcoal drawing, working on still life in color, pencil drawing, and sketching. Plenty to keep me busy learning.
Happy Halloween and Samhain blessings.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

To Tell a Story...

I would like to introduce you to my "new" studio. It is one of the bedrooms in the house we are renting but is quite lovely and also a luxury to have such a nice space to work in. The manikin in the corner is named Tilly, after "Terrible Tilly", a lighthouse off the coast here that has quite a story behind it. Google "terrible tilly" to see images and read the history behind the Tillamook Rock lighthouse. It is a wonderful piece of lore and she is still out there.
The manikin will be a stand in only. She will also be able to model drapery for me to draw. She is not a replacement for a live model. I do find her handy to take the same pose as the model I am sketching when she is not available.
To the left, not in the picture, is my model stand. A very modest affair that has some shelf space too behind the curtain. Not very big but it works just fine. At the moment I am still working on a charcoal drawing of my husband and doing some color studies in oil paint. I have also been collecting enough gear to be able to do some plein air painting.
I often get asked what kind of painting I do. Well, I am still working on the painting part but I know what kind of painting I intend to do. It would be called narrative realism. I want to paint stories. Specifically, I want to paint the beauty and stories of women 50 years of age and older. I want to paint women in nature or landscapes. I have so very many stories of incredible women to tell through my painting, most of whom I have been fortunate to have known and been mentored by. They might not be well known household names but they are powerful and influential nonetheless. Then, there are also women of the past to paint, such as the Fates and other women from mythology that speak to me.
I don't think I will be running out of stories to paint anytime soon. I will probably run out of time before I do the stories! I have very specific goals for my work and a way to go before I have acquired the skills I need to fulfill those goals.
So, this is the long answer to the question, "What do you paint?". The short answer? Simply this:
I paint stories.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Retrospective-A Year at the Ashland Academy of Art

Well, it has been a while since the last post. We have been busy getting settled in. It always surprises me how much time that takes. We are more or less all unpacked, registered, addresses changed, new library cards, Co-op memberships, etc. We are slowly finding where everything is, meeting people, and attending community events. So far the verdict is: I love it here!
I am not going to be getting into a post about our new home town just now. It will trickle in between the lines of the future posts. Right now I am going to post a retrospective of my school year. I narrowed it down in twelve photos. That was kind of tough to do but it is enough to give a good idea of the growth of skill. The pictures don't even come close to telling the whole story but gives a general picture.
The next post I will be talking about the great number of changes, both for the blog and for my art life. I know what direction I will be heading in and will be sharing it soon. In the meantime, here is where I just been!

Next week I will be talking about my new studio, what I am working on now, and where I will be going from here.
See you next time!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Of Endings and Beginnings

Well the time has finally come. I knew it would go fast but, sheesh! Thursday morning was our final class meeting. The founder/director/and master teacher Semyon Bilmes, gave a final talk, which I must say, was not only informative but closed the year perfectly. There was also a critique which was also very educational even though I didn't have any of my work with me. My work was all packed and loaded on our truck, but wait, I will get to that part soon!
Most of the students brought a selection of work that showed their progress from start to finish. It was interesting to see that we all more or less start about the same skill level, at least, that is what it looks like. It is wonderful to see the concrete evidence of increasing skill. I had planned to post my own retrospective on this blog and will be doing that for the next post.
So, here is my very last drawing which happens to be a figure drawing in charcoal.
Considering where I started, I am quite pleased with what I have learned this year. It has been an amazing and wonderful journey. I am very sad that I am not able to continue for another three years at this time. In case you have missed previous posts, the school, Ashland Academy of Art, is moving to Maui and is now known as Atelier Maui. There are a few students that will continue on in Maui and I couldn't be more happy and excited for them. They have all become friends who I will miss tremendously.
After the morning class I got back to our temporary apartment and did the final clean up and loading and, at 2 pm, we headed out of Ashland for the final time. We have moved to the other end of the state, by the northern sea. We arrived home about 9:30 or 10:00pm. I cannot say for sure as it was a long day and drive. We were happy to fall asleep to the sound of the ocean waves.
It has been a busy weekend for us as we have been unpacking, putting away things, and building shelves and other items for office and, yes, my studio room. We are almost there. Once the house is all in order I am going to take a short break and explore our new town a bit more thoroughly before getting back to the work of art/study. There are beach walks and mountain hikes to be taken. I will be noting areas to return to with paints, pencils, and paper. Fall is the best time here weather-wise. I intend to take the utmost advantage of it and paint as much en plein air as possible. It will be a new technique for me. I also have friends coming to visit who will pose for me to keep my figure drawing skills from sliding backward. Once the weather shuts us in, I will be turning to indoor studies such as still life, cast drawing, and, when I can get a model, figure drawing. I still have so much to learn and so many skills to gain and hone.
So I will leave you with two pictures of our new neighborhood. They are sunset pictures as I am so very busy getting the house put to rights. I visit the beach in short snatches of time.
The funny object in the bottom picture is of my mischief dog Twill. She started to joyfully roll in the wet sand as I was snapping the picture. She is upside down with paw and tail sticking up. I had to run over and command her to get up (UP!) which she ignored until she was completely covered with wet sand. Sigh. She got a bucket of warm water dumped over her when we got home to rinse her off. At least she didn't roll on a dead bird. She will try that if you aren't paying attention or, if like me, you distracted by the beauty of the place.
Well, that is the ending of one journey and, as you can tell by the longish post above, the beginning of another. I really don't know where this one will take me. I am ready to stay put for at least a year or two though!
Next post will be a retrospective of my year in school
Until then, Happy Labor Day (here in the U.S.)!

Sunday, August 29, 2010


My oh my! Here we are at the final week already. It has been a strange and crazy week. Fire in Ashland, and then a few days later, fire right behind our apartment complex! Thankfully the fire department, who are amazing and wonderful by the way, got the fire out before it caused any damage. I must admit I was making evacuation plans in my head as I was running back to the apartment with Twill after hearing and seeing the fire break out.
This time next week we will be home on the north coast of Oregon. The school is looking empty these days as they have been packing up around us. We have had the occasional goodbyes to say before the final one on Thursday. Tuesday is our last working day. As it is, last Friday was the final day of working on cast drawing and, in my case, painting too. The casts are all packed up so Tuesday will be an all model drawing day. I don't mind that as I really do enjoy model drawing.
So, I have the final cast drawings to share. I will put a picture of the actual cast up first and then the painting or drawing. The pictures aren't always from the same viewpoint as I did the painting/drawing from so there will be differences. Friday morning I worked on cast painting and here are the results:
It is challenging to take a good photo of the painting as the flash from the camera is too glaring to use and even the natural light produces a glare. So, I felt I could have used more time on this one. Mainly to get the tones right and balanced. The teacher thought, and I agree (of course!), that there needed to be more contrast in tone between the upper head and the face.
That said, I am new to painting and am still wrestling a bit with the medium itself. Charcoal was like that in the beginning for me too. I am sure it will get easier as I get more practice in.
Here is the final cast drawing:
I am pretty happy with this one. I still have a lot to learn and, practice with pencil has fallen off since the introduction of charcoal and paint. I need to work on my pencil techniques a bit. The teacher did a few tiny refinements (that make a big difference) to show me the next step. Lovely. I am looking forward to getting a few casts of my own. It will take a while to acquire a collection as they are a bit pricey.
So, what next?
When I started this journey I had anticipated spending at least four years as a formal art student. At the moment, I will be setting up a studio space of my own to continue my studies. My husband and I need a bit of time to regroup from so many huge life changes compressed into so little time. I think the only major life change we haven't had is divorce!
I hope to either find another teacher/mentor or make it over to Maui someday. Until then, the journey certainly continues, just on a different path.
I will have one final post of school work next week as we finish up. I will also be posting from our new home!


Saturday, August 21, 2010


We have been working on longer projects which is why I don't always have a lot of new things to post. However, I did bring my camera to school Friday so that I could get a few pictures of the work in progress. These will be finished at the end of school, which is coming up so very fast.
The school is looking a bit bare these days as they are busy packing up for the move. My sole remaining first year classmate told me he was done so I am now the last one standing, in my class that is. There is only a handful or so of us students left. I am busy cramming as much knowledge and guided practice in as I can. I must admit, part of me is very restless to get going but, because the school and teacher is excellent, I stay.
Here is the cast I am painting. It is a grisaille of an anatomical cast. Not a pretty cast but educational.
Still have a ways to go and time is running out.
Next are a couple of pictures of a cast drawing that I started at the beginning of the term. We have one more Friday to work on it. This is the first one I have taken to this stage of completion. The teacher did a few slight demos for me on it. Mainly he showed how to define certain lines on the drawing to make it look more three dimensional. The marks are so tiny yet they make a nice difference.
There are still hair details to add and a bit more tweaking of the tone and shade.
Thinking about where we started at the beginning of the year, I must admit, I had no idea that I would get this far. However, there is still so much more to learn.
Two more weeks! Tomorrow we are all getting together for a final social gathering. We actually have one full week next week and a final full class on the following Tuesday. Thursday, the final day will be a critique and lecture. As most of my things are up north, I won't have much to critique.
We are working on a model drawing too. I will have that finished the final week.
Next post will be a bit bare but I will have the final version of the cast drawing to show.
Until then,

Monday, August 16, 2010


Three weeks to go, oh my! We are back from our final round trip to the coast. Next time we head up there for good. We went up there to clean, unpack, cool down, and get to know the town and it's people a bit. Our dog Twill got to march in the Muttzanita (Manzanita being the name of the town) parade to the beach. Here she is looking a bit puzzled as to why 50 some odd dogs and their people are walking en masse down the middle of the main street of town to the beach:
I decorated her leash with flowers from the yard and stuck them on with my handy blue tape. Best we could do under the circumstances. The dog she is turning to look at had a whole wreath around her neck but we suspect they were fake...
As promised, here is the completed picture of the grisaille:
If this was meant to be a finished painting instead of a study, there would still be a lot more to do. The purpose of this particular study is to get the shapes and proportions correct. I more or less achieved that but, as always, there is room for improvement which will come with practice, practice, and more practice.
Sure enough, with all of the distractions of our weekend, I forgot to take a picture of the last model drawing. Rats! Well, it will just have to wait until I move three weeks from now. We are currently working on another cast and model. They are coming along. I am still enjoying the model drawing tremendously. In fact, I am growing to like it more and more. I must admit I am surprised at that. I really didn't expect to relate to model drawing any more than say still life or cast drawing. I knew each would be different but, hmmm, it is hard to explain. I will just say that drawing the beautiful human form from life has an energy and challenge that I can't seem to get enough of.
There is one form of painting I want to do that I have yet to try and that is plein aire. With all the beauty of the coast awaiting me and my love of the outdoors, I don't think I will be able to resist. So much to look forward to! I will leave this post with two more pictures from this weekend. Both taken as the sun was going down.

This is where we will the sea.
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