Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Living a Life of Richness Can be Painful

December sunset on the northern Oregon coast
It has been a sad week for me and my dear ones. Within the space of a week friends and family of mine have had news of two tragic deaths of loved ones. I was not close to the two who have passed on but I hurt so for my friends and family who now must stumble through the pain and tragedy of it all. Losing loved ones is never easy but this time of the year it just plain sucks. That said, we are greatly enriched  by having these beautiful people in our lives even when their untimely passing causes such pain. I think of how I was when I was young and death touched me relatively lightly. I wouldn't trade places with my younger self. Life has such richness and experiencing loss and pain is part of that growth.
I have been taking the opportunity and realization that comes with these heart-wrenching events and the end of one year and beginning of another to get my life and art practice reorganized around the now clear goals that I have come to understand. Wrapping up a year and starting a new one is always a good time but this year feels different. Do you feel the graveness in the world? Do you feel the richness? There is a startling urgency in the air to realign our priorities with the reality of our home planet. Great change is in the air. Change can be scary and perilous but it can also be a gateway to wonderous transformation and opportunity.
I will be taking a brief absence from posting while I get things in order and gear up for the coming year. Next post is my 100th post for this blog. Only fitting for it to be the beginning of a new year, new life, and new and continuing journey.
I will wrap up with a wonderful quote I read on Lori McNee's Fine Art Tips blog :
“All life’s problems can be solved by more paint or painting more.” -Donna Zagotta.
It certainly helps! I would also add making music in addition to painting. 
I wish one and all a heartfelt, nurturing, healing, peaceful holiday season. I will see you all here in a couple of weeks, in 2012!
Peace and joy, -Renee

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Figure Sketching Interlude

Well, no daily paintings to show this week. I had a few unexpected interruptions and decided to use the odd bits of time I had left getting a few things set up, rearranged and ready to go. I have also been tweaking a few things around the studio to make it more efficient. One of those weeks. I will be reporting on some of the rearrangements in a future post.
In the meantime, I wanted to share a figure sketch I did last week. This is a 30 minute pose. The sketch is a bit distorted by the camera angle making her head look different from the actual drawing, but the general sense of the drawing is there. The reason why I wanted to share it is that I really resonated with this model. She has an unusual and subtle beauty that I found artistically intriguing. She has many tattoos, some of which are artfully positioned on her face but they add to her overall beauty rather than detract. I would like to paint this young woman's portrait.
30 minute Figure Sketch, charcoal on newsprint
Speaking of portraits, I will be stepping up to portrait studies this year. That is one of the things I was getting in place last week. So much fun to have all this wonderful art and challenging growth to work on!
Monday is an appointment and errand day for me and then back to work in the studio. I have the next daily painting set up and ready to go.
-Renee

Monday, November 28, 2011

And Then There Were Two

"And Then There Were Two", Oil on Gessobord, 6"X6", R.L. Delight


Here is the finished "daily painting". I realized when I finished that I hadn't really planned ahead as to where to sign it. I will have to remember that. I just used my initials as my name would not fit. As I mentioned in the previous post, I am having a lot of fun painting these and so far several ideas for compositions have presented themselves. My next painting will not be of fruits and vegetables but will be a still life.
We had a wonderful model at the life drawing session yesterday. She has a very unconventional beauty and is the first model I have drawn that I felt I would like to paint a portrait of. Please don't misunderstand, all the models both male and female that I have had the privilege of drawing have beauty! One of the joys of life drawing is the realization that the human form is quite beautiful in all of its variety. Yesterday's model just had that special something that clicked with me. I hope I get a chance to paint her one day soon.
Now, I wonder how many daily paintings I will get done this week?
-Renee

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Daily Painting-Sort of

I was planning to post this a bit sooner but still had to take the following pictures. Unfortunately, a big storm rolled through and stayed for a few days.  I was unable get good enough lighting to take the pictures nor bring them outside due to the gale force winds and pounding rain not to mention the thunder and lightning. I was finally able to take some pictures yesterday during a short break in the weather.
In the previous post I explained why I decided to try my hand at daily painting. I have given it a try and have decided that... it is totally fun! I am thinking it will be a great way to improve and develop my skills in both painting and drawing. At the moment, it takes me more than a day to paint them. The idea is to spend 1-3 hours painting them. I work that long before moving on to my next scheduled task for the day but so far they haven't been finished in that amount of time. I figure I will get faster as my skills improve. So here is the first painting that I posted the set-up picture of. I haven't named it yet.
Oil- 6"x6"
Both the first and following paintings use pumpkins and squash from our local CSA (community supported agriculture) They are quite beautiful and I couldn't resist painting them. Here is the next painting I did called "Pumpkin Sage":
"Pumpkin Sage", Oil, 6"x6"

The final one is actually almost finished but I took a picture early in the process so this is in progress. The title will be "And Then There Were Two" in honor of my very first drawing teacher. I couldn't resist these beautiful pomegranates when I saw them at the local grocery store.
The background is a lovely rich color. I still have a tiny bit of readjustment to make and then it will be through. I will finish it tomorrow and post it this weekend. My plan is to start selling these paintings starting in the new year. I want to get a few under my belt first. They add up quickly and I have a few compositions lined up. They won't all be paintings of food I promise!
Speaking of food, I wish all of the folks in the U.S a Happy Thanksgiving today and wish all the rest a beautiful and plentiful day.
-Renee

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Home Art School Evaluation

It has been a while. I have been caught up in the perfect storm of studies that are really not interesting enough to post, the performance of a reader's theater play that my husband has been directing, and wonderful visitors. I have hardly had time to catch a breath until now. I spent what precious time I had in the studio, much to my content. I have now been through a full four weeks of my self-created art school schedule and it is time to sit down and evaluate what worked...and what didn't work.
The verdict? Well, parts of it worked. I have realized that there are differences beyond just a lack of a teacher (other than myself of course!). The most obvious is that a school program is tailored for many students. I am in a class of my own. That means I only have to meet my own needs. One would think that would be obvious but I must confess, it didn't really occur to me. I guess because I was just concerned with a getting a structured study going and the school model is what I know.
So, I am changing things around again. I have no problem with that as not only is it an interesting journey, I want to find what actually works for me, not what should work.
I am always studying and researching, like most artists I know. The other week I got a link to a workshop that is being conducted at WIFAS, where I had my last workshop. The workshop is sold out and I had no intention of attending but I was intrigued. I looked up the teaching artist who is Carol Marine. Not only is she a "daily painter" but her workshops are sold out for the next two years! Wow! I was so intrigued with her process that I decided that painting a 6"x6" painting a day would be a great way to get some study in. Since, in theory, the painting takes 45 minutes to 3 hours, there would still be time for other studies such as drawing and working on larger compositions. She sells her paintings on a daily painting auction website here. I like the idea of the possibility of earning while I learn as even at 6"x6", the paintings would stack up over the year.
So, amidst the plays, appointments, and visitors I started my first daily painting. I could only get an hour in here and there so it is not technically a daily painting. I am also finding that I need to work a lot faster and not obsess over detail, which is probably a good thing at this point. Here is a picture of the still life set up I am painting.


The pumpkin and squash come from our local CSA (community supported agriculture) box. I will be doing a couple of paintings based on the contents of the box because they are fun and the veggies are beautiful. The painting is not yet finished but is close. I have already learned a lot. I think working through so many paintings will be a good way to get some skill with the medium, specially since I am still so new to oil paint.
So, the schedule is going to be refined and tweaked. I am working on both long and short-term goals which will also add to the refinement. That is pretty much it for now. I will have at least one painting to post next week, probably more. I will leave you with a picture of the bounty we received in our final season's CSA box of glorious abundance.


Until next post!
-Renee

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Crazy Good

It has been a bit longer than I like since my last posting. I am in the in-between awkward stage of my studies and didn't think they had anything of particular interest to show. I continue to work. I have scheduled in time to work on original compositions in my home art-school schedule and I am getting excited about finally starting to get some of the ideas and visions on canvas. It will be slow going at first as I want to take each painting through a formal process of sketches, charcoal drawings, grisaille, then finally the color. That process will continue to build my skills. I will probably switch my posts to documenting this work and not showing so many studies.
In the meantime life has been joyfully busy. In addition to working in the studio I have been enjoying getting outdoors as much as possible (in spite of injuries which is another post in and of itself) getting back to music making, and participating in our local community in general. So here are a couple of pictures. The first one is just one of our tomato harvests. Who says you can't grow tomatoes on the northern Oregon coast?!
We actually had several harvests. The past two days, however, have been clear and cold and the tomato plants have passed on. I had two plants in a large pot. The nice thing about that was I was able to put it in the warmest sunniest spot in the yard. Considering the climate and the beautiful trees that abound here, I am quite pleased.
By now most of us in the U.S. have heard about the Occupy Wall Street movement. Whatever your opinion and thoughts of the movement it is bringing about conversation and the seeds of change. Our tiny little town has not been left out. We have our own little Occupy movement going on every Saturday afternoon. I was only able to make the first one so far. We marched down (and then back up)  the only main street in town stopping traffic chanting and startling the tourist in town. Here was my sign which reads, "We the People are too big to fail." I feel we should remember that whatever our differences, we the people of this country have the power to change things. We are the majority after all. It will take work and attention though.
At this particular Occupy movement, most of us are over the age of 40! It will take all of us not just the younger folks.
So life is crazy good at the moment.
I want to finish up the post by sharing a contemporary artist whose work I admire. Her name is Anna Youngers and you can view her website here. It is well worth checking out. Here is a sample of her beautiful work:
Anna Youngers: http://www.annayoungers.com

I will also be adding her link to my "Artists Who Inspire" list. I found her work on the "Women Painting Women" blog site which is also on my list.
That is all for this post. I will see how the progress is going for next week. Hopefully I will have a bit more of my own work to share.
-Renee

Monday, October 10, 2011

Elizabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau and Home Art School-Week 1

Philomena And Procne. Oil 24.49" X 31 1/2 ", Elizabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau

One of my favorite art blogs is Matthew Innis' Underpaintings.When you have a bit of time I heartily recommend you check his blog out. I can easily spend hours looking at and thinking about all the art and links and information he puts up on his blog. The following information, however, doesn't come from his blog but was a link from his Facebook wall. It was a link to an article on The Forgotten Female Artists of the 19th Century, written in Epoch Times. The first name mentioned caught my eye as her husband William Adolphe Bouguereau's work is quite popular at this time. She is none other than Elizabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau and an accomplished artist in her own right. Her work is definitely in the same manner as her husbands but has differences that are her own. To be honest, from what I have seen of her work, I prefer her paintings over her husband's. A bit more information on her can be found with the link I attached to her name. Some images of her work can also be viewed either by googling her name and clicking on "Images" or at the Art Renewal Center website here.
Her history, what is accounted for,  is a bit colorful as is many women artists of the past. Perhaps the particular challenges and difficulties that these women have had to face requires a certain strength of mind and willingness to bend conventions.
Elizabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau had quite a few accomplishments in her own right but definitely stands in the shadow of her famous husband, with pride, I might add. She appeared to have embraced that criticism. With her accomplishments in what would today be considered art marketing, one has to wonder about her influence on her husbands career!
The painting at the beginning of this post is a wonderful sample of her work. I obtained the picture from the Art Renewal Center website linked above.
The first week of the third year of my own humble education went well. I spent a bit more time than I had anticipated getting things set up and in place but I did manage to keep to the schedule I made. It felt good. Still a bit daunting but I am thinking that it will work nicely. I worked on a color study and took a picture of the beginning color stage:
It has moved beyond this point as I took this at the beginning of the week. I also worked on my first self-portrait, in graphite on drawing paper. Yikes! It was a bit startling to me to study-with-the-intent-to-draw my own middle-aged face. I wasn't critical of the way I look, it was just that taking note of the changes that have happened over time was a bit disconcerting at first. I guess I really don't spend a lot of time looking at my face. I now have the beginnings of a recognizable self  image looking back at me from the paper. Perhaps I will get used to it in time as I will be using myself as a model for portrait work to get the basics down before luring others into my studio.
I also enjoyed working on a personal composition. I am in the planning and sketching stage. There are quite a few I would like to do but I am starting with a painting that includes a self portrait for some of the same reasons I have mentioned before. I figured I can always revisit the work when my skills improve and I will have the same model (albeit a bit older!).  The painting will also require another plein air trip just up the road so hopefully the weather and tides will cooperate soon.
Week 2 will be a busy one and hopefully will get a bit more done now that things are set up and in place. Thanks to the folks that have left comments, they are appreciated. Blogger still will not let me respond to them in each post and I have not had any response from Blogger to my inquiries.
On to week 2! -Renee

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Home Schooling and Hug Point

After last week's post, I did indeed do what I came to the conclusion that I needed to do. I sat down and wrote it all out (with a cup of tea and a treat by my side). The final outcome was a schedule of schooling. Earlier this summer I had half jokingly printed up a sign and stuck it in my studio that reads: Atelier Manzanita.  I decided that since I was bemoaning the loss of the structure and instruction that school provided, I would create that for myself. The instruction will be a bit challenging though.
I am taking it in quarters or in about 8-10 week chunks with breaks in between. The weekly schedule at the moment is experimental. I have alternated days of color studies and cast drawing with figure drawing and days of working on composition and my own personal work.
It will require a bit of self discipline. I think I will feel less frustrated on my own if I am at least working on skills and improvement with regularity and dedication and not just jabbing here and there.
So, the new quarter of school at Atelier Manzanita starts Monday. I have been getting some of the tasks of daily living; yard work, preparing for the stormy season, cleaning, etc. done in preparation for being "back" at school.
We have had wonderful fall weather so far with one incredibly perfect day last week. The tides and weather cooperated so I went plein air painting on Wednesday. It was sunny blue skies and warm, with no breeze, which is not usual. The tides were a bit higher than I realized so I wasn't able to get to the area I had wanted to paint until it was too late. I wanted that warm golden afternoon light on the rocks around the caves. Here is Hug Point, one of my all-time favorite spots just a five minute drive up the road from us.

Hug Point gets its name from this particular spot. The beach was the easiest path of travel down the coast in early years. "Easiest" is relative though! The native people had carved hand holds in the soft sandstone rock and, at low tide, you traversed around the point by "hugging" the rock and using the hand and foot holds. Note the darker stained rock at the bottom? That is from the sea and is how high the water gets. If only you could see the rocks just below the road and the cold water with its wicked tides and floating logs, you would understand even more what an act of courage that was. Later they blasted a crude road in the rock which is still there. It also hugs the point and is not available during high tide as it will be underwater. Many people, cars (think model T), and alas, horses, have been washed off the road in the past.
There is a waterfall the spills onto the beach from the forest. It is a beautiful spot in a spectacularly beautiful area.
I am hoping I will get another chance this fall to paint at Hug Point. This week though the forecast says we have several storms lined up with the jet stream pointed right at us. Good indoor painting weather!
Next week, a report from my first week of school.
-Renee

Monday, September 26, 2011

Getting Unstuck


I have been struggling a bit these past few weeks. Not struggling with ideas but struggling more with how to proceed. There are many reasons why I wish I was able to continue with school. One of the blessings of being at school was the issue of how to proceed was pretty much laid out for students. I am finding that sort of guidance was a luxury! Fortunately for me, I was old enough to realize that while I was in school and took advantage of it. I also took notice of what the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year students were working on knowing that I would have to do this on my own.
I am starting in on my third year, the second without formal instruction, and I am sort of stuck with how to proceed. Oh, I know that I need to continue to work on life drawing, color studies, and what little cast drawing I am able to do. I would like to start in on portrait painting and am not sure how to get on with that. I also want to start working on my own compositions.
Well, perhaps I just outlined how to proceed!
I believe I will do something that I don't usually do. I am thinking that I need to spend a little time writing this out with more detail and setting down some specifics on paper. Not a lot of time, but perhaps an afternoon. If you all will indulge me,  I will report on the outcome of this on my next post. In the meantime, I certainly am open to suggestions. So many of you have been generous in that way and it is much appreciated. I will definitely pay that forward when I am able.
Timing can be pretty amazing. I have to give a shout out for a post that artist Crystal Cook posted not too long ago. I follow her on Facebook and thought I had her blog on my blog roll and link in my list. I was surprised to find I didn't! I am going to remedy that after posting. Her post is titled: Ten Hard Earned Truths Every Artist Must Learn. Click on the title to go to her post. I had to agree with every one of them, specially number 5!
Finally, here is a sketch from yesterday's life drawing group:
"Sophia" 20 minute sketch. Conte pencil on prepared watercolor paper.
Sundays have turned into wonderfully busy days with life drawing in the morning and attending a musical jam session with my husband in the evening. I am getting my long neglected cello back on line and also playing the bodhran.
I am going to go to my favorite cafe in our little town here and do that writing I just assigned myself this very afternoon. It is a perfect windy, rainy, fall day to just that.
Until next post, -Renee

Monday, September 12, 2011

Changing a Challenging Challenge

Ahem... A while ago I put up a challenge for my 50th birthday coming in the year 2012. At the time, I had just started painting with oil and was intrigued with the "painting a day" idea. I thought I would challenge myself to paint 50 paintings. Well, I have decided to revise that challenge! I picked the number 50 for obvious reasons. I actually could paint 50 quick paintings but I want them to be paintings that not only have meaning to me but represent my best effort at the time. At this stage in my development, I don't have the speed and skill to paint 50 with that criteria in mind. I have decided that painting my best is more important to me than painting 50 paintings. I don't regret throwing that number out there though! I am still thinking that I would like to have a showing of some sort but I believe I will make it local and invite my artist friends to participate. I would also like to have a portion of the proceeds go to a worthy organization such as our local United Paws of Tillamook.
I am thinking over if I want to add a number of paintings to the challenge. I could do 5 paintings, one for each decade. Perhaps I will just not focus on a certain number but focus instead on joyful meaningful work. I must admit I like that better. Any thoughts?
After taking a couple of days off to rest and sort of catch up on the work of everyday living, I got back to the studio and finished my seal painting. I have named it "Newly Borne" and here it is:
Newly Borne (oil, 9X12)
This is my first formal painting of the sea. I am still learning how to paint the ocean and I am fascinated with it. I used my own photo reference to paint the newborn seal and an oil sketch I did that day as a reference for the waves and color. I was glad I did the grisaille first as I would have been lost without the tones already mapped out. I am pleased with the learning experience I had from painting this piece.
Life drawing yesterday was quite interesting. I am still processing the recent workshop I attended. I definitely see its influence in my work.
I would like to take a moment to thank all of you who commented on my recent posts during the workshop. I am going to try to update the Blogger and see if that will allow me to comment on my own posts again!
-Renee

Friday, September 2, 2011

Liberace Workshop-Day 5 and Final Day

Well, it is amazing how fast a five day workshop goes by. As I anticipated, today was a struggle. I would say it was the hardest day for me as I was sailing off into completely new territory. If I had more time I probably would have had better results but ironically, sometimes it can be better to not have more time. Here is my final painting:
This is not a finished piece even though I am through working on it. Some people not only finished but did two. That's OK, everyone is at different skill levels and I took my time so I could learn. The proportions are off but the instructor said I did a good job on the shadows and lights. Other students had better painting techniques but struggled with their shadows and lights so everyone had a learning curve or area of challenge of some sort!
I am still pretty new to oil painting and have never mixed skin tones. The little paint spots on the right are tests of color. I filled up the side and wiped it clean several times.
I put up work like this on my blog for a reason. My intent on starting my blog was to show that people with determination and willingness to work very hard (good teachers help too) can become a skilled artist. I still have a ways to go and as you can see from above I sometime make a mess. It is a glorious mess that represents perseverance in the face of frustration and a willingness to fail beautifully, not just once but over and over again.
We decided to head home a day early instead of staying an extra day as originally planned. I will take a few days off to catch up on the house-holdy stuff and rest a bit before heading back to the studio. I have some art research to do and new things to try. I plan to be back to post the Sunday after Labor Day here in the U.S.
Finally, thank you Mena for the wonderful comment and the encouragement. A link to Mena's work has been on the sidebar in the 'Artist's who inspire' section for a while now. Check it out!
Looking forward to being by the wild and beautiful sea tomorrow.
-Renee

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Liberace Workshop-Day 3 and 4

We all had a wonderful relaxing dinner hosted by Cary and her husband of WIFAS last night. I think my favorite moment is when dark fell and many of us were sitting around a bonfire. I looked across the fire and saw a weary or pensive teacher staring into the fire with his two young daughters sitting on each knee. It would make a lovely picture!
I will start with the two oil sketches from yesterday. The first was about 45 minutes (in 15 minute segments). This is really the first time I have tried to do a formal grisaille in oil of the human figure.
The second one was done in the 3 hour afternoon session. It was a bit challenging as I was on the side and the cloth the model was sitting on that had the position taped to kept slipping around so that the model's position kept changing. I loved this particular gesture so I nailed it there even though the model's position changed. Not the model's fault.

Today we all changed positions and switched models. We will be doing this same pose tomorrow too. I am hoping I will get a chance to paint it in color as I have never done that. I might just focus on the pose and technique and stick to the same colors as above. I am painting on a gesso board that has been toned medium gray. It is smaller than I am used to and the surface is fairly smooth, something I am not used to either. I did pick up a few techniques on working on this support though so it is worth trying out in this circumstance. Here is today's work:
I am making rather a mess out of the paint. It is streaky and a bit busy. I am hoping I will be able to correct that tomorrow. The paint is just burnt umber with a touch of burnt sienna. The light part is just the areas with the paint removed or rubbed out. This is a challenging pose for the model to hold as it is very tiring. Toward the end of the day, he would sit down during the break and doze off. He has been a very patient and obliging model.
In between and during us painting, Rob Liberace was painting a couple of demos. The last one is a portrait on copper. It is looking really interesting and I think I might want to try that myself sometime. We are able to see how he handles the challenges of working on copper. That is a bit of a bonus as it wasn't in the workshop description.
One of many things I really like about Robert Liberace as a teacher is that he has a wonderful curiosity and willingness to explore. He is generous about sharing the knowledge he gains. I would say the workshop is worth every penny it costs on just that alone. Of course, we also get good instruction and some feedback. I think all of my workshop mates would agree that we can't get enough feedback but that is because there are so many of us and only one of him. His classes and workshops are in high demand. I was lucky to get in which is why I signed up months ahead of time. I can understand why they enroll as many people in the workshop as they can.
Tomorrow is the last day of the workshop. I will have more to post of course.
I am not able to answer comments for some reason. I am still having trouble with Blogger. I will answer Theresa's question here about taking photos for reference. There is an understandable policy that no photos of the models are allowed. Even if we would never post them online, you never know if your computer might get stolen or the info falls into the wrong hands. If I were a model, I would not want any photos taken either. Photo references have their drawbacks too but that is a topic for another post. Theresa, thanks for asking! And thanks to everyone for their interest.
-Renee


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Liberace Workshop-Day 2

It looks like I have a chance to post today's workshop results so I am going for it. Today we used Faber-Castell Pitt Pastel pencils and Conte pencils to experiment with. I must confess here, I do not quite have all the right materials for the workshop.  I live in an area that has a one hour drive, one way, to get to a decent art supply store and I need a certain lead time to purchase materials. The same lead time is needed with online art supplies. On the drive up to the workshop, I stopped in Seattle at a wonderful art supply store but alas, they were out of the very pencils and colors I needed. My paper is different as the recommended paper contains animal products such as gelatin and, as posted about in the past, I do not use art supplies that contain animal products. So, I have to work with what I have which is different than what everyone else is working with. What does all that mean? It means my paper is too rough and the pencils aren't quite the right colors. Fortunately I did have Conte pencils in the correct color so I was able to do a my final drawing with the Conte.
Here is today's drawing:
This is the Conte pencil on toned paper. 
When we got started today we all had to move six easels over so that everyone had a chance at a better spot to draw from. Today I was the second to the end but I didn't mind a bit as all views are interesting as well as having their challenges.
Whenever I use a new-to-me medium, I tend to not like it and the Conte was no exception. I started to get a feel for it toward the second half of the drawing session though so I will probably try this again. I liked the Verithin pencil technique we used yesterday better.
Both before and while we working on our drawing the instructor was working on a demo, as well as guiding and instructing us of course. Here he is in action:
Tomorrow we start in with painting. I have not done a lot of painting so it should be an interesting challenge. Fortunately, I do have all the correct materials for that part! We also have a treat later that evening. The owner of WIFAS is generously hosting a dinner for the workshop participants and our spouses/partners. That will be quite a crowd! Given the schedule of events, I might not have time to post tomorrow but will do so as soon as I am able.
-Renee



Monday, August 29, 2011

Liberace Workshop - Day 1

Wow! It has been quite a day. We arrived on Whidbey Island yesterday evening and are now ensconced in a funky little cabin overlooking the ferry route on Puget Sound. There are twenty or so attendees at the workshop which is hosted by WIFAS. The first half of the day was a demo given by our instructor. Rob Liberace is a wonderful instructor and amusing speaker. He is also able to do a drawing demo while talking which I find impressive. After his drawing demonstration we got set up to start our own drawing and then stopped for lunch. The rest of the day was spent drawing and working on what we had learned and saw.
I am hoping this blog will be coherent! Even though I am not as tired as I thought I would be (yay green smoothies!) my mind is on overload with all I have seen and did today. Before I continue, here is my work for the day:

The materials are Prismacolor Verithin colored pencil in terracotta on paper toned with water color and sealed with shellac. The purpose of the finish is to push the pencil into behaving more like red chalk. The Verithin pencil gives a very sharp thin line when properly sharpened.
This drawing was done in a four hour time period, and boy did it go fast! The emphasis was on the torso so the head, at least in my drawing, and the legs and feet have little detail. There were a few people who had more skill and experience than I have who were able to add more detail to the face and limbs. Their drawings were quite lovely and gave me encouragement.
Our models are quite wonderful. During one of the breaks they dressed and then demonstrated a kind of acrobatic yoga that was amazing to behold. It would be pretty fantastic to draw those poses but alas, they could only be held for a very short time.
I am learning a lot of wonderful things and am doing my best to take it all in. It is great to have instruction and feedback again. I really do miss it.
Tomorrow we have another day of drawing and then the last three days will be painting.
We have friends to visit with tomorrow after class so I am not sure if I will get online to post. More to follow though, never fear!
-Renee

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Women and the Call of the Sea

I am in the awkward stages of the paintings and drawings I am currently working on so I decided to dedicate this blog to two contemporary women painters who have chosen to paint one of my favorite subjects, the sea. First, I need to thank and acknowledge one of my all time favorite blogs about marine oil painting, Jeronimus at Marine Oil Paintings. His blog has been listed in my "Artists who Inspire" list (found on the sidebar) for a while now. He is very good at searching out and posting the paintings of marine artists both past and present. I tried to do my own searching for female artists who paint seascapes but didn't turn up much. Fortunately, I found quite a few in the Marine Oil Paintings blog!
I have pretty much lived by the Pacific Ocean for most of my life. Currently, I live a mere 5 minute walk to the beach. Lest you have pictured in your head images of lithe tan bodies stretched out on the sand, I should mention I live in the Pacific Northwest, where the beaches are cold and often rough and wild, not to mention downright treacherous. I love the wildness here. It takes my breath away and has taken up residence in my heart and soul.
Naturally, I want to, have to paint my environment. As I am still acquiring the skills to do just that, it will be a few years before I reach the skill level of the two artists I am about to introduce you to.
The first artist is Katherine B. Young and you can see her work here. What intrigued me about her work is that she paints her marine paintings over metal leaf. That is something I would like to try myself one day. I would love to post a sample of her work however, sometimes a site (understandably so) will not let me copy an image. When I do, I always credit and link the image to the original site. Take my word and click on the link to her site and look at her work. Here is her artist statement:

“Places for Reflection” depicts images of vast oceans and skies.  These oil paintings speak to my love of the ocean, and the importance of the ocean environment in our lives, mentally and physically.  I have always been drawn to the ocean, and it is the place I go whenever I need to see beauty, find inspiration, or reflect upon life.  I was inspired early on by the painters Frederic Church and William Trost Richards, and more recently by contemporary artists Gerhard Richter and April Gornik.
The works in this series are all painted on top of metal leaf.  This reiterates the idea of reflection and symbolizes the sublime that I believe exists underneath it all.

These paintings have helped me realize how important it is to preserve this treasured resource. To this effect, I have pledged to donate a portion of my sales to organizations that help preserve the integrity of our marine environment."

I pretty much feel the same way about the ocean and have the same intention to donate a portion of my proceeds when I start selling my own work. 
The next artist is April Gornik, who is mentioned as one of the artists who inspires Young. 
Here is an example of one of her marine paintings. 
 
Storm Sea Light, 2009, Oil on linen, 74" x 77" http://www.aprilgornik.com/index.html
This picture can be found on her website along with her other wonderful work here.
Her biography and resume are worth reading as well. I was particularly intrigued by her artist's statement which I will share here:
"I am an artist that values, above all, the ability of art to move me emotionally and psychically. I make art that makes me question, that derives its power from being vulnerable to interpretation, that is intuitive, that is beautiful."
-April Gornik

That gives me a lot to think about.
Finally, as a bonus, I have to give another mention of an artist I have in my "Artists Who Inspire" list, and that is Katherine Kean. I have mentioned her before and  I continue to admire her work. The link on my list will take you to her blog. Her website can be found here.
Next week brings an exciting adventure. I will be heading up to Whidbey Island for a workshop with Robert Librace. Stay tuned for posts!
-Renee

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Summer Days

We have had a wonderful run of lovely summer weather the past couple of weeks. I have been busy getting yard work done and soaking up the sunshine for those long dark winter days ahead in addition to the usual daily chores. I have been working in the studio too but I haven't been spending a lot of time online.
I am still attending life drawing and, after adjusting my expectations and process a bit, have found a way to make it work for me. I just don't want to give up my only source at this time for live models.
In the studio, I am currently trying a new-to-me technique or process. I am using a combination of photo references and oil sketches to paint a more formal beachscape. The photos are those I took when helping to watch over a newborn seal on the beach. The seal still had its umbilical cord attached! It is important to keep a distance from the newborn so that it will have a chance at reuniting with its mother as the tide comes back in. I took pictures with my largest lens attached. I cropped the picture quite a bit to compose the painting. I wanted to convey both the vulnerability of the newborn seal and the incredible strength and resilience these wild creatures have. I printed the photo in black and white and did a few thumbnail sketches in oil before starting on a grisaille. I am glad I did the grisaille before moving to the color as studying the tones also helped in my study of the waves. Here is the grisaille so far:

I still have a tiny bit to adjust and much detail, such as foam patterns and water sparkles, is left out at this stage intentionally. I will make a few corrections tomorrow and then move onto color using my oil sketch as a color reference. The canvas is 9"X12" and was toned with yellow ochre. In addition to taking many pictures, I made an oil sketch when I was helping to watch over the newborn seal. That is the sketch I will be using for my color reference. It was posted on the blog a while ago.
We were there about six hours or so before the tide came in far enough for the seal to swim away. It was a wonderful way to pass the time and quite a magical event for me. I have since signed up for the stranded marine mammal volunteer group that has formed with guidance from the Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network . I attended an informational meeting and learned quite a bit about the sea mammals in our area and the people who work to protect them.
I haven't taken the time to research my next featured woman artist but promise I will for my next post. I am getting excited as I have the workshop with Robert Librace coming up at the end of this month. I am looking forward to that with both excitement and a little anxiety. It will be a challenging workshop for me. A bit of time before that takes place though. We have more company coming and events to attend before we go.
Until next week,
-Renee

Monday, August 1, 2011

Mother and Child

Summer has arrived on the wild northern Pacific coast. Suddenly cars and windows need to be washed and gardens need tending to not to mention just spending a warm sunny afternoon reading amidst the flowers! I have been working but not spending a lot of time online so am a bit behind on posting. There has been several small art events to attend in town which have been fun to look at.
We had a treat in Life Drawing yesterday. We had been enjoying drawing a model throughout her pregnancy. The last time she modeled for us she was very near her delivery time and in fact, did indeed give birth to a bouncing baby boy a few days after our last session with her!
Yesterday she came back to model for us with her beautiful 4 week old baby boy. We didn't time each pose as the poses were dependent on the mother and baby being comfortable. Some they were able to hold for quite a while and others they were not. Seeing the expression of the young mother and baby gazing into each others eyes was magical and touching. Here are the sketches I did:


The last picture had quite a bit of foreshortening. The model is a calm and patient mother which bodes well for her baby as well as being a treat for us to draw. Needless to say we all doted on the baby during the breaks. On a side note, it was also interesting to observe that the skin tones of mother and child matched perfectly.
So I couldn't resist featuring none other than Mary Cassatt for my next woman artist in the series. Mary Cassatt is well known for her Mother and Child themes in her paintings. When asked to name women artist, Cassatt's name is usually one of the first to be listed. Cassatt studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia in 1861 and continued her studies in Paris four years later. Much is written and well known about Cassatt so I am not going to go into a lot of detail here. It seems like she was fortunate to be in a time and place where her skills were nurtured and appreciated. It would be wonderful if that was not a rarity in the history of women artists. Here is a good website to check out http://www.marycassatt.org. I will wrap up this post with one of her beautiful mother and child paintings in the spirit of our life drawing session yesterday.

I should add, I have been having problems with posting comments on my own blog in response to comments that are made. I will follow up on any comments in my next post. Comments are greatly appreciated and enjoyed!
-Renee

Sunday, July 17, 2011

First Portrait Attempt

Here is my first portrait attempt! I used charcoal on Strathmore charcoal paper that I toned with charcoal dust before I started. This is a six hour session done in 50 minute or so chunks of time spread out over a week or two. The subject is my handsome husband. I haven't done a full scale charcoal drawing in a while and I found I was a bit out of practice. To my eye, it shows. There are plenty of mistakes but, for a first attempt, I am pleased.
Life drawing today wasn't so great. I have come to the realization that it might not be the best use for my time and money due to the nature of life drawing with a diverse group of people who all have different needs as to artistic direction. I am going to pull back for a while and rethink the situation. I must add, this decision has nothing to do with the wonderful group of artists who come to life drawing. It has more to do with my own needs and resources. I do miss being part of a group with a common artistic goal.
This is a short post this week as I want to get a few more things in place today so I can hit the studio hard next week.
-Renee

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Introducing Clara Peeters

Need I say that I am learning about some wonderful women artists as much as anyone reading this blog?! Let me introduce Clara Peeters:
Vanitas painting;it is plausible that the woman in the painting is Clara Peeters (1594-c1657. More in general this is to be considered a Personification or Allegory of Vanitas
1613 - 1620
http://www.csupomona.edu/~plin/women/peeters.html
Most sources consider this a self portrait.

According to my trusty book; 50 Women Artists You Should Know (Weidemann, Larass, Klier, Prestel Publishing, N.Y, 2008), Not a whole lot is known about this artist. She was born in the Netherlands about 1594. She is credited as one of the founders of still-life painting with her first known work at age 14! Like so many women in the history of the world, not much is recorded. It is surmised that she was under the guidance of a studio or apprenticed to a master. There are about 80 known paintings of hers that have survived, she had signed at least 30 of them. Her final painting was dated 1657, and is now lost. The circumstances of her death are unknown. Some of the images of her paintings that I have seen show beautiful and rich detail. Unfortunately, they don't show up as well here but I will try it anyway. Her still-lifes are exquisite with incredible attention to detail. One of her most famous is Still-Life with Fish and Cat.
Clara Peeters, "Still Life of Fish and Cat," n.d, Oil on panek, 13 1/2 x 18 1/2 in.
Source: http://womeninthearts.wordpress.com/page/3/
I searched for a good image but was not able to find one of good enough quality to do it justice. The descriptions on various websites and the picture I have in the book show beautiful and skillful work.I find it rather frustrating that so much of her work is spread so thin and details about the paintings seem to be rather sketchy. I would love to see a major exhibition of her work.
So, after checking Clara out, here is a bit of my humble work. All I have to show this week is a 30 minute life drawing sketch. While I am grateful for still life sessions here in our little town and only 4 blocks from my house, I must confess, I do miss so very much 18 and 24 hour poses. Here is my sketch which was done with earth brown pencil on drawing paper.

30 minute sketch, brown pencil on paper. July 10, 2011
The next couple of weeks I am going to be painting like mad to see if I can get a couple done for two local group art shows. I am continuing to work on the charcoal portrait of my husband.
Should be an interesting and busy week!
-Renee
P.S. For some reason Blogger is playing games with my font and size. Sorry for the weird reduction and change.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Ah Summer

It looks like we are going to have a sunny and warm Fourth of July here on the northern Oregon coast. I have been itching to get outside to paint. I could but....I am feeling a bit overwhelmed this weekend. Our little town of 700 hearty full time souls has swelled by several thousand people to partake in the festivities. Every house has several cars, the streets are crawling with people and their dogs and herds of small shrieking children. The beach is crowded with people burning the beautiful driftwood logs and, in one case, a tourist knocked down a street sign and threw it on the fire (he was fined). Even though there are signs all over the place forbidding fireworks on pain of citation and fine, there are fireworks all over the place. We don't have a large police force, as one would guess for such a tiny town.
It is funny how fast we claim ownership of a place. We have such a wonderful local culture of sustainability and recycling, and love, gratitude, and respect for the incredible natural beauty of the area. It is a bit hard to see people come in, shatter the peace and drown out the sound of the ocean with their music, disrespect the laws, and leave trash on our beaches. Specially, for me, thousands of people (someone told me 10,000!) Well, all this has made me feel a bit reluctant to go out and paint until the holiday is over and most of the people go home.
So, with that rant out of the way (if you are still with me, I appreciate you hanging in there) I will move on. I have started a charcoal portrait of my husband. It is my first attempt at a portrait. I have been reading and viewing videos and figured it is time to just do it, and make mistakes, and do it some more. I am also working on my first ocean painting using an oil sketch I did on the beach and a few photo references. I will have more on that later. I have a color study all set up. A simple color study this time! Life drawing continues and all the work feels good.
Of course, we have had well loved visitors with more to come and now the holiday weekend but thankfully summer days are long. Love it!
No pictures of my work this time but I want to wrap up with another woman artist from the past. I plan to look up more on this incredible woman, Rosa Bonheur 1822-1899. She lived an unconventional life starting with her upbringing. She was allowed to follow her tomboy nature and was the daughter of a drawing master. She was sent to a boy's school with her brothers! She blossomed as an artist early in life with encouragement from her father. She was a master painter of animals. Here is one of her most well known pieces:
The Horse Fair, 1853–55
Rosa Bonheur (French, 1822–1899)
Oil on canvas
96 1/4 x 199 1/2 in. (244.5 x 506.7 cm)
Signed and dated (lower right): Rosa Bonheur 1853.5
Gift of Cornelius Vanderbilt, 1887 (87.25)
On view: Gallery 812   Last Updated June 29, 2011

This painting is 8 ft by 16ft! Here is another beautiful one:
Rosa Bonheur, Sheep by the Sea, 1865; Oil on panel; National Museum of Women in the Arts   
Source: http://www.nmwa.org/collection/detail.asp?WorkID=476
The picture above does not do it any kind of justice. Looking at a photo of the painting in 50 Women Artists You Should Know, the colors are rich and the detail and lighting is exquisite. Google her name and a lot of information comes up. It is wonderful to read about a woman who was a successful artist on her own terms and was accepted as such, more or less. It wasn't all smooth sailing, One critic wrote "Mademoiselle Rosa paints almost like a man." (50 Women Artists You Should Know, pg. 63) I mean, really!
The life and work of Rosa Bonheur is well worth checking out.
I will add her name and link to my artists who inspire list for sure.
For those of you in the USA, have a happy and safe Independence Day. And, to our neighbors up north, happy Canada Day.
-Renee

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Finished Study Painting!

It has been a couple of weeks since the last post. Summer arrived, well sort of, and all of a sudden things got busy. I was still working in the studio just in odd snatches of time here and there. I finally, FINALLY, finished this still life study. Well, I could continue working on it for a while longer but I decided it was time to stop. I spent a lot of time experimenting with different ways of painting and a couple of mediums. As a result, it isn't a smoothly finished piece of work but that is OK, it wasn't intended to be. Before I continue, here it is:

Not the best photo as I am still working on finding a way that works well, without spending a chunk of money at this time.
One of the mediums I tried was Gamblin's Galkyd. I have to say, I really didn't like it. I didn't like the smell and I am not too sure I like the results either. This was a great learning piece, after all it is only my second painting, but I made it too complicated and it took too long. It was with great relief that I took down the still life set up and cleaned the studio. I will be doing several short color studies, and continue to work on drawing and figure studies. I also plan to start a series of ocean paintings or seascapes. I go out with my easel to do painting en plein air when I get the chance but the weather here is so variable it can be a challenge.
My life study group was canceled the past two weeks but we met today with a model we have drawn before. She is within a couple weeks of delivering her baby. It has been really fun drawing her during her pregnancy. It is amazing to observe how the body changes in every way when pregnant. Here is a 30 minute drawing of her.
Finally, I was trying to decide whether or not to alternate a contemporary female artist with a past female artist for my women artists portion. I had thought to feature Artemisia Gentileschi then I read a wonderful blog post by Terry Strickland. Her link is in my side bar but you should check out her post here. I love this idea and am filing it away to use one of these days when I have built my portrait skills. She has a wiki link about Artemisia as well that is worth checking out. Women had a lot more stacked against them in the past. Things have improved but we still have a long way to go.
It feels good to be moving on and will be posting on the progress next week.
Until then,
-Renee


Monday, June 6, 2011

Eva Gonzales and a Beachscape

This will be the first post of I hope a number of posts about women artists, both past and present. I would like to introduce you, or perhaps reintroduce you, to Eva Gonzales. There should be an accent over the last "e" in Gonzales. Eva Gonzales was a Parisian artist born in 1849 and died at the early age of 34 due to what is believed to be puerperal fever after the birth of her son. Before I continue, here is one of her beautiful paintings,
I have seen two different titles for this one. One is Early Wakening the other is Morning Awakening. Either way it is beautiful. Like so many women artists in the past that I have read about, Eva faced the obstacles of gender bias and just plain not being taken seriously (?!!). She was the only student, after achieving wonderful proficiency as a student of the portraitist Charles Chaplin, of Edouard Manet. She studied with him for three years and, as was often the case, became his model as well as his pupil. She was unfortunately overshadowed by Manet, and was not always taken seriously as an artist. Some of her paintings had stylistic elements of Impressionism but she never really belonged to that group. She had some success and recognition toward the end of her short life. I imagine like so many painters who have had their lives cut short, her work would have continued to grow in recognition and development.*
I admire Manet's paintings but when looking at Eva's next to his, I feel that Eva Gonzales had a more refined and delicate touch that I find much more appealing. That is my personal opinion of course!
Now for my own humble work. We had one incredibly beautiful and warm day on Saturday. I took advantage of it to go down to the beach in the evening to paint Neahkahnie Mountain where it reaches into the sea. This is my favorite area of our beach. Our town is nestled at the foot of this beautiful mountain. The views from the top of it are breathtaking. This is an oil sketch I did in two hours. I was a bit frustrated as I didn't take a small enough brush with me to capture some of the detail I wanted to get but I am not displeased with the sketch.

As I was packing up when the light changed too much, a mist came up and became a fiery haze as the sun set. I want to go back when I have the chance and try to capture those colors and effects. Of course, being on the coast, when the inland area becomes warm it generates mist and fog here at the beach so we don't usually get several days of clear sunny weather here in the summer. I was going after some of the afternoon light effects on the cliffside. I was intrigued by the way the shadows kept changing. I didn't spend a lot of time on the water and sky. I will be painting this mountain many times.
With any luck, I will have another chance at plein air painting this week. Work continues on the still life.
Until next week,
-Renee

*Most of my information on Eva Gonzales comes from the book 50 Women Artists You Should Know by Weidemann, Larass, and Klier. I did a bit of online searching too but found the best info in the book.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Progress and "Herstory"

I have been working away, honestly! I just didn't post last week. As I have mentioned before, this is taking me longer than I thought it would and it has been a  true learning experience. I thought about posting my progress last week but the painting was in a very awkward spot. So, here is the last picture I posted of the painting's progress:

And here is the latest:



I have got the first layer of color in on the whole painting. I am doing a little experimenting now and also going back over and refining forms and color. I would like to think that I will be stopping once I have done another go through. This is supposed to be a study, not a masterpiece. I really am anxious to move on. It has allowed me time to think things through though. I have been thinking how to continue my studies and what direction I want to go. I do have a final goal. I want to acquire the level of skills I need to be able to paint anything I want to depict. The skills will always be added to even when I am satisfied that I have reached my goal. 
I am not going to say anything more at this time. I will wrap up my thoughts when the final picture is posted on this painting. 
In the meantime, I came across an interesting comment on an article about women artists and why they are not proportionally represented in our society compared to male artists. It isn't for lack of female artists as many articles report that the number of women graduating from art programs are greater than the number of men, yet only a small percentage are represented in galleries, art shows, and museums. I would add trade magazines and books to that list! I am not going to talk about the actual numbers here as there are more informed resources out there. The comment that caught my eye was actually a challenge. It pointed out that even female artists who blog often have long lists of male artists they admire and few, if any, female artists. The comment is a challenge for us women to start finding and exposing others to the many female artists both past and present that are out there. 
I have been thinking along those lines for quite a while, even before I started this blog. There is a huge gap in our art history courses when it comes to women artists. As the documentary "Who Does She Think She Is?" mentions, the person on the street is hard pressed to name even five women artists. I have been studying on my own and am starting to find more and more remarkable and overlooked women in the arts in our history. I decided to add a little variety to my blog by featuring a female artist, if not every post, frequently. I am going to start out with women from our past history, or herstory. As this post is plenty long, I will be starting these posts next week. In the meantime, in the "Artists Who Inspire" sidebar on this blog, you will also find many links to contemporary female artists. Yes, there are a few men too!
Finally, today is Memorial Day here in the U.S.A. I want to send thoughts of gratitude to the women and men of our armed forces and their families. I also want to acknowledge all the wonderful service and rescue animals who are also heroes in their own right.
-Renee


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Slow but Steady

Progress has been slow but steady on my still life painting. I finally got all the color in but need to make a few more readjustments on the small pitcher before taking an update photo of it. I need to wrap up the painting as I am itching to move on to several quick color studies. This has been a good lesson for me. That said, I am working out a composition for one of the paintings I have been wanting to do for quite a while.
In the meantime, it is plenty busy around here. In the past, I always enjoyed seeing the baby cows and sheep in my neighborhood. Now, I get to see baby seals and seabirds! The other day I was walking Twill on the beach when I came upon a marked off area with people stationed at various points routing folks around. It was right down from my house too. Turns out a baby seal had been born that morning and would be on the beach until the tide came up enough for it to rejoin its mother. I ran home and grabbed the camera then, after taking a couple of pictures, ran home and grabbed my painting gear and loaded it into the bike trailer I made. I grabbed a quick bite of lunch and rode down to the beach to join the seal warders and paint. I stayed until the newborn seal pup got back into the water around 5pm. Hopefully the mother was waiting for it somewhere in the waves. A representative from the local park ranger was busy shooing people away as the baby swam south in the surfline. Here are a couple of pictures. It was such an interesting day.


The middle picture is of my bike and trailer at rest of course. This was the first chance I had to test out the trailer and it worked just great! Twill was only there a few minutes as she came down with my husband. We were stationed at a good distance. I had the biggest telephoto lens we own on our camera. The mother seal will abandon her baby if people get too close. Hopefully this one didn't.
This beautiful area continues to inspire and amaze me. Next week I plan to have an update, perhaps the final one, on my still life.
-Renee

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Letting Go

I missed posting last week. Last Saturday the weather was nice so we decided it was time to go through the remaining bins that were stored in the garage. Some of those bins have not been opened in over two years as we have been moving around. It took us two days to go through everything. When we first put our house up for sale I had a weaving studio. The plan at that time was to go to the University of Oregon to get a MFA in fiber art. To make a long story short several things happened that caused a huge re-evaluation of life and I ended up changing directions and going to the Ashland Academy of Art (now Atelier Maui). Amazingly enough, once the decision to pursue painting instead of fiber was made, and we made that commitment, the house sold and we moved to Ashland. The plan was to be in Ashland for at least four years. Isn't there a quote about God laughing when you tell him your plans? Well, most of you know, the school decided to move to Maui and we decided not to follow. So, those bins, they have been moving around unopened until last weekend. Oh my. Needless to say, some of the stuff we packed in those bins no longer fits in our life. We ended up letting go of about half of the stuff. Some of it we will sell but most of it went to the thrift store and to other homes. It feels great! The stuff we kept needed to be put away in the house to be used which has taken more time than I invisioned.
Unfortunately, all of this has cut into my time in the studio, much to my frustration. Well, that is part of the reason. The other part is more letting go. I have had time to struggle a bit with being on my own before I had planned to. I will admit it is at times a bit hard to see all growth and the beautiful, wonderful work my former fellow students are doing in Maui and not occasionally wish I had made a different decision. I have had to let that go too. Don't get me wrong! I in no way regret the decision to move here instead of Maui and feel it is the right one. Letting go of all that will allow me to move forward, afterall, there are many wonderful artists who have learned on their own.
So, that is what I have been up to in addition to attending local emergency preparedness fairs, general living, and riding my bike on the beach when possible. I do have two pictures of last week's life drawing session which was such a treat. We had a beautiful young pregnant woman pose for us. This is the first chance I have had to draw a pregnant woman in the nude and I found it fascinating. It was interesting to see how the growing baby changes the balance and stance of the body and how the body shifts and changes. It was also a joy to see the beauty of the mother to be. The following two photos are of drawing and painting I did while experimenting with the different mediums. Sorry for the creases on the charcoal and conte crayon drawing! The drawing is about 20 minutes and the painting is 30 minutes.
The studio is cleaned up and ready to continue working in. The weather is supposed to be nice a few days this week so I am hoping to get in a bit of plein air painting. A heads up for any fiber enthusiasts, I will have some handwoven fabric, purses, yarns and fibers to give away and sell coming up soon. I will announce it here and put it on my sleeping weaving blog. So, onward! I am excited and ready to get back to work.
-Renee

Sunday, April 17, 2011

New Experiences in Life Drawing

I have been trying a new-to-me medium and technique in life drawing. Due to the small room and problems that solvents can produce, we are asked to not use them. Understandably so. I wanted to try sketching the figure from life in oils so I ordered a few tubes of a water-mixable oil paint. Royal Talens Cobra paints to be specific. I ordered a tube of burnt sienna, ultramarine blue, and white. Here is my second attempt using the paints.
This is painted on Fabriano water color paper that I gessoed with three layers and then added an acrylic grey tone to. I am struggling with three things at once here, working with an unfamiliar medium, an unfamiliar technique, and of course the ever present building of figure drawing skills. It can seem overwhelming at times but actually, it is a heck of a lot of fun! The paint really does seem to be in between an acrylic and oil paint. It certainly doesn't glide like oil. It feels sticky to me. It dries faster than oil and slower than acrylic. I think I will be able to adapt to it with a little bit of practice though.
This oil sketch was done over a one hour period.
Here are two ten-minute gesture sketches. One has more detail than the other as I focused on different goals for each one.
With this one (above) I was really focusing more on getting the nuances of the gesture than on proportion. There were so many interesting things going on in this pose.
I worked to get the gesture on this one too but I also wanted to get a bit of the form in and the interesting angle of the head. The model is reclining against a wall with his right arm crooked over a pillow.
I am slowly working on my still life. I really would like to get it finished as I want to spend some time painting quick color studies. It is taking longer than I thought but then, I made it more complicated than I had intended. All part of the learning.
The sun came out today and is supposed to visit with us for a few days but it is still very chilly. Too chilly for my fingers to be out plein air painting even though I can't wait to get out with some frequency.
We shall see if spring decides to stay awhile this next week as there will be several minus tides (neap tides) and therefore tidepools to explore...
-Renee
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