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.

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!

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!

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,

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!
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