Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Tangle of Expectations

I began this painting in a daydream. I was thinking about how society's expectations can tie us all down - even when the expectations are disguised as 'good things to do' they can make us feel like prisoners. This is true for both men and woman.

So on Thursday during the open studio I began to sketch out this idea. I used color pencils to lay out the idea. My 'Body Language' series includes figures without faces so they can represent anyone - no matter what age, race, gender, whatever. In this way they represent everyone - I believe these are feelings shared by us all sometime in our lives, whether we admit to them or not. I decided on a single figure. These are feelings that make us feel isolated. I am using ribbons to represent the expectations of others. This is another theme I have used recently. Ribbons appear safe and soft. However they can be used to tie things up as well. I will have ribbons covering the eyes and blocking the mouth, the way expectations can hide things from our vision and keep us from expressing ourselves.

I first drew the figure and ribbons. I had thought to paint the figure green, but wasn't sure, and thought about red. Now I have decided I will probably paint the figure as if made of copper. A suit of armor we build to protect our inner selves. The ribbons will be many colors - mostly soft ones to keep the illusion that the expectations are not dangerous to us. Then I decided on a very dark background.

Today I transferred the image to my canvas. I decided to go with a 20" x 16" one, medium size - to keep the image intimate, to have the figure roughly life size. I adjusted the ribbons a little. I decided to go with a deep purple background - almost black. I never even considered using just black - I find it too stark of a color and it calls too much attention to itself. The purple is so dark that at a distance it reads black but as you approach you can see the color.

I got out all of my tubes of purples to decide which to use. I don't use tube purples too often, usually mix it, but I knew I needed a lot of paint and wanted to use it straight from the tube. So I got a piece of white card stock, wrote out the names and put down a dot of color and streaked it out. Then added a little white to the end of the streak and blended it out even more. Now I have a chart to refer to.
I went with four different ones, the darkest. Since there would be very little variation in the background, I thought having the slightly different hues may add a nice touch, even though it will be a small one. I painted it medium thick - enough to completely cover the white of the canvas and stay very dark. Most purples are fairly transparent so I used enough paint for good coverage. This is one of the great features of using oils, one coat and I am done. I softened the brush strokes to keep them to a minimum. This is a gallery edge canvas, so I carried the shapes over the sides as well.

When I demo or paint something I am very familiar with, I paint very fast. When I work on something like this, I take my time and think things through. Will keep you posted on how this painting continues to grow.

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Friday, May 30, 2008

June Website

I have just finished uploading my changes to my website with new photos of my latest artwork (some that have been blogged and some that have not). I also have my June newsletter on there. I will email it out on Sunday, but since I was working on the website, I went ahead and got that updated too. Check out the new stuff!

Open Studio

Yesterday was our first full Open Studio of the summer. Neither Kate nor I am holding regular classes until mid September (dates are not yet decided). But on Thursdays from 9 am til noon we invited everyone to come and paint in a friendly, positive atmosphere. Work on any project in any medium. We will be there to answer questions, give advice, encouragement and work on our own stuff. When one of us is out of town or has other plans, the other will be there. Well, except for the 5th of June, I will be on vacation and Kate's son has his school year end awards ceremony. I definitely won't be there but Kate may show up after the program. But you are still invited to come and paint together. There is no commitment required. Just come and pay for the weeks you attend, $8 per week unless you pay MB taxes than its just $5. There were eight of us there yesterday. I designed my next 'Body Language' painting and helped Fred with a tree. Come join us for a fun, productive morning. We will be meeting til the end of July.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Art Show Opprotunity This gallery is having a show with applications due June 16. Thought you might be interested in looking into it. The show is called "A Tribute to Women". I think I'm going to enter but not sure which painting(s) yet. I want to do my 'All Tied Up' - this is one of my Body Language series - but not one of the usual ones. This figure does not show the head, let alone the face. The woman has 'decorated' her body with straps, chains, tats and fabric. Although it seems she wants them to be decorations, in reality they seem to be bindings and chains that she is unable to free herself from. It is watercolor and I am happy that I was able to achieve different textures in the painting. From skin to cloth to leather to metal, I think I captured the essence of each. What do you think?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

End of Show

The WACG Spring Juried Show came down yesterday. Thanks to everyone who participated. Thanks to the team who helped with the reception. Thanks to all of the artists that entered, as well as those that got in and those that brought their work and picked it up on time. There is a tremendous amount of work that goes on behind the scenes, the artists that follow the guidelines help make this job easier. Those that don't make like so much more difficult to those running the show.

You should be able to track your art and your show participation. Have a spot on your bulletin board to put the info, put it in your calendar, stick it on your fridge... Don't be the problem child.

Special thanks to the museum and everyone one there that helped so much. And last but definitely not least, the person the did the most to get this show up and running and who did the majority of the work - Thanks to Phyllis Dunn. Another great job!!!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Fresh Start

My big project yesterday was to clean my watercolor palette. Doesn't sound like much but it turned into a production. I use a portable, folding, white plastic palette. I don't do too many watercolors but I do enough that I like to have a system set up. I like to keep the same colors together - all the blues, all the reds... Some people tend to keep the warm and cool variations together, but that isn't important to me as long as the same colors are in the same locations and I can find them without thinking too hard.

There is no room on my palette for labeling the colors, so I make up a separate chart, my old one was on card stock, the one I made yesterday was on a scrap of illustration board. Nothing fancy, just drew a layout of how my trays look and after deciding which color went where, I recorded it.

But before I could do that, I had to clean it. It was nearly empty and there was a lot of stray colors here and there so I soaked it for a while, changing the water out at least once. Then I scrubbed it with soap and water til most if not all the paint was gone.

Then I dug out my tubes of paint. Did I mention that I do not use my watercolors often? Some tubes were easy to open and the paint came out nice, maybe half. Some tubes opened and the paint could be forced out with great effort, about a quarter. The others were dried solid or almost so. Those I wound up cutting the bottom of the tube and scraping out the paint and putting it into the palette. One was so dried it was crumbling, so I gathered the chunks and put them in a area, then wet them so they would melt together. To the dryer tubes I also added a little water into the tubes before I closed them up again so maybe they will become more pliable.

Many paper towels, rags, knives, awls and stained hands later, I had my palette filled up. I did change out a few colors from my original layout (which was dated 1991). Seems I had acquired a few new paints since then that I like better than my earlier ones. But most are the same basic colors I always use.

Now I am ready to pull out my palette and brushes and start a new watercolor. I found a few during my studio clean up that I want to finish, so now I have the tools ready to go. Taking care of your tools is an important part of being an artist. It turned into a bigger effort than I had expected, but since it appears I only do this every 17 years or so, I shouldn't complain :)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Yellow Flower II

I am still playing with color pencils. Tried another light color flower on a white board and wanted to keep the background in a light tone. Its about half done. But it is getting there. I am still learning which colors to layer to achieve the final result that I want. I am also still learning how much pressure to use when, and how to keep it consistent across an area. Pencils are less forgiving than a paint brush - or I am so use to using brushes it has become second nature to control them and the pencils are still new territory. But I am practicing and that is how one learns how to create art - keep doing it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Yellow Flower

I tried a yellow flower in color pencil. I decided to use white illustration board - I wanted the yellow to jump more. I found it hard when doing the pink in the last flower to get it as perky as I wanted on the dark background, so I tried a light background. I think it worked better. Note to self. choose the color of the 'paper' depending on the subject matter. Light color flowers come out better for me when I use the light beginning.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Finished Color Pencil Painting

I worked on my flower from the color pencil workshop for a few more hours yesterday evening. I think I put in a total of around 4 hours between class and later. I consider it finished. I am better understanding the technique. Still lots to learn but I am very happy with how this one turned out. What do you think?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Web Site Updated

I spent yesterday working on my website. I have updated the artwork plus put all of the past issues of my newsletter online. Check it out at


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Working on the Blues

I am still playing with my single hue painting. I have the background done, I think. One half is very smooth and flowing. The upper half is more textured and has more hard edges. I wanted the contrast between the zones of the two figures. I started playing around with what colors I may use for the figures.

This is one way I really like to use my photo editing software. I use PhotoPlus by they have been publishing software for ages. Their market is very heavy into schools and other educational entities. I was introduced to them by a friend who was teaching college at the time. One very nice way to try out their stuff is that older versions of the software are available at a big discount. I have been using PhotoPlus for over 15 years, upgrading occasionally, but the features are all there. It is equivalent to PhotoShop. Has all the same features, is very easy to use - fits my budget better too. Here I tried out several color combinations for the figures. I took the photo of the painting at this stage, opened it up in the software, then filled in different colors. I can try these on for a while and then decide which to start with. I may still paint over my first try - but I find playing with the colors before actually picking up a brush helps me decide which way to try first.

Color Pencil Workshop 2

Yesterday I took another workshop by Kate Lagaly. She is an extremely talented artist, great teacher and a wonderful friend. It was sponsored by the Seacoast Artist Guild. Twelve of us were smart enough to attend. Thanks to Ann for getting us access to the Salter's Cove club house, it was a great venue.

We had a choice of three paintings to create after Kate did a very extensive demonstration. We all did the flower. Then we had a choice of the vase or a horse. Since I am not particularly a horse person, I chose to do the vase. By the time we were doing the 2nd painting, I was starting to get a little brain drained, so I did not have the patience to do a true value study as Kate suggested. Plus I love color - so I did my vase my own way (problem student - what can I say). I was more interested in playing with burnishing to get the look of glass. Although I have gotten better with the pencils since I first tired using them this way at last September's workshop, I still have a way to go to learn all of the techniques and to feel comfortable with them. Like any skill, practice helps. I plan to continue playing with the color pencils they do have some nice qualities. I will keep you posted with my future attempts.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Painting of My Childhood Home

I just finished a watercolor painting of my childhood home. I have been working on it off and on for the past 12 years. Two things delayed it: one it got lost in the clutter of my studio, my recent clean up uncovered it, yeah! Plus I am much more proficient with watercolors than I was then. So I was able to rework it and be happy with the results. Don't tell my immediate family, but they will probably be getting copies of it for Christmas this year :) Is it good enough for me to enter into a show? No - but good enough for those of us with fond memories of the place and that is what is most important here.

ATAC Meeting

I did my civic duty again yesterday with the ATAC meeting that was for the 2nd reading of the requests for funds. I did my best to advocate for the arts and cultural events, mostly with success. Our decisions on the requests are non-binding. The administrative committee for the full county council will get our recommendations today and then the full council will vote on each of them. They agree with us most of the time although some politics are involved and they do change some of them. We won't meet again until late fall, when more applications are received. Overall it is an interesting process and I feel I do have an impact on funding for the arts and I think that is important.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

May Breakfast Meeting

Had our casual breakfast get together this morning. Six of us made it this month. We talked about art, gardening, websites, art in the park, biker rally..... It was fun. Then 3 of us carpooled to HGTC to pick up artwork from the ACE exhibit. It gave us a chance to talk some more. Fellowship with other artists and those interested in the arts is always an enriching day. It feeds my soul and energizes and inspires me to pick up a paintbrush. Next month 2nd Tuesday - come join us.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Newsletters Don't Write Themselves

I spent part of yesterday with my Mom which was nice. Then I spent a good part of the day working on future newsletters. It is a real effort, but I feel it is worth it.

The first newsletter was hard in that I was coming up with a format and concept that could carry forward. The next few were relatively easy since I had ideas for articles from questions that my students asked me. The colors and tools were ones I used all of the time. Now it gets trickier. I make lots of notes to myself when I think of something. I get inspired by what I read. I get inspired by the art supply catelogues. I get inspired when I paint. I am sure most writers go through this, especially ones that need to produce something on a regular basis. When I go to put an edition together I pull out all of my reference materials, I pull out my paints and I put on my thinking cap and go for it. When I am in a mood to write, I try to put together several issues or at least the colors or the articles or the tools.

For example, by doing the single hue blue painting, I found I had several blues that I have not yet incorporated into the newsletters. So I now have some ready for future issues, but I hate to do all blues in a row, so I try to mix up the colors. Colors are the hardest part now. I am glad when companies come up with new ones for me to try and then to write about. One of these days I will need to write more about specific mixtures (which I have done some already) rather than a color right out of the tube.

Tools are getting harder too. I try to focus on ones that my readers may not have tried before and/or ones that I find very useful but also ones easily available. So I need to be more creative for that category.

Any suggestions are gratefully accepted. Any comments or questions as well. I hope the effort I put into my newsletters reflect in how useful my readers find them. Past issues are available on my website

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Playing With The Blues

In my May newsletter I wrote an article about creating a painting with a single hue (color). Yes I actually practice what I preach, or write about stuff I am really doing... I wanted to show you my 'blue' painting. I dug out every tube of blue that I own and started a 'body language' painting. The background will be all variations of blue, but I think I will do the figures in other colors. Not sure which ones yet - but I think I want more contrast. It has been fun to use some blues I don't pull out too often. Future newsletters will have more information about blues I had not written about yet. This has been fun and informative. I plan on doing other single hue paintings in the future.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Painting at the Beach

Debbie got several of us got together to paint birdhouses for the Habitat for Humanity auction on June 8th. It was a wonderful spring day so we met at Myrtle Beach State Park and painted in a pavilion at the beach. Sea air, cool breeze, great view, great company, talking, relaxing and lots of painting. Debbie was so nice as to provide all of the supplies that we could use and even more! I could only stay a few hours and I got 2 houses painted. I was told I 'had' to paint one with palm trees - sort of one of my defining images as an artist, so I did. I also decided on the sunflowers on the spur of the moment - I like this one a lot.

To find out when we will be doing more of this kind of thing sign up for the yahoo group: waccamawartsandcrafts for more information.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Painting the Marsh

The other day, after a storm, I drove over the marsh. The light at the horizon was intriguing. Although I am focusing on my 'Body Language' series this year I could not resist trying to capture that scene of the marsh. So I began a new oil painting. I am just blocking in the water and saving the golden glow at the horizon. The clouds are coming along nicely. But it is just a start.

Local Activities

If you live in the Grand Strand area or are visiting and you are interested in participating in activities with local artists there is a new Yahoo group to find out what's happening: waccamawartsandcrafts. Both formal, those sponsored by local art groups and informal - those where artists just get together when they feel like it, are posted here. Also any information or announcements that are relevant will be posted. This is a way to get info out there to those who may not be on email or phone lists. Check it out, join us and come have fun.

Monday, May 5, 2008

May Newsletter

Yesterday I finished writing and emailed out my May newsletter. It is not yet on the web site but probably will be by the end of the month. If I am diligent I try to update my website at least once a month.

Since this is a free newsletter, I do try to get it out at the beginning of the month and my goal each time is to get it out no later than the first Sunday of the month. Yeah, I know, that isn't always a goal that is met, but that's life. Sometimes I don't get one out at all.

I really like the idea of the newsletter, I love sharing my knowledge and the little tidbits of info I have accumulated over the years. However, it is work. Deciding on the contents, researching the information, doing the actual writing, maintaining the mailing list and sending it out. Formal writing has never been one of my strengths but I like the outcome so I do it. I do better when I am in the right mood for it. Since that's true and when I am in the mood, I try to write more stuff for future issues so at least part of it is ready.

If you want to be added to my mailing list just let me know I will never sell or give out the mailing list, it is for the newsletter only.

Any suggestions for topics or questions or comments in general are always welcomed.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Spring Cleaning

There is more to creating art than the actual process, especially when it is your business as well as your muse. Yesterday I cleaned out and organized my mural supplies. I am not diligent about putting things away as I should. Usually when I get home after completing a project, I am pooped and things can land just about anywhere. When it finally reaches a point when I cannot find what I am looking for or I get tired of tripping over things I clean things out, sort through them and get rid of the trash and put the supplies away in a neat and organized manner. Yes I am tired and sore today but I like it when my stuff is 'ready to go' so I try to keep things organized. Plus I find that it makes my work more efficient and that is always a plus in business. Organize your life for less stressful day to day operations, leaving you more energy for creating your art.

Friday, May 2, 2008

WACG 2008 Juried Show

Our spring Juried Show opened last night at the B&C Art Museum in Myrtle Beach. Only 80 pieces from over 200 that were entered were selected to be exhibited. The quality of the art is very good. The winners are wonderful. Congrats to Kate Lagaly the grand prize winner for her color pencil rendition of 'Niki' that took the prize. The show runs through May 25th. Entry to the museum is free. They are open every day except Mondays. If you are in the area, stop by and see a great show.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

ATAC Meeting

Yesterday I did my civic duty and attending the Horry County Accommodations Tax Advisory Committee meeting. I am a member of the committee that advises the County Council on how the monies should be distributed.

I have been on the committee for 4 years now. I was asked to represent the interests of the Arts and Cultural groups in the area. This money is collected and is designated to be used in the unincorporated areas of the county. I also live in an area of the county which is unincorporated which is a small portion of the eastern half of the county. We also need to follow the SC law which has guidelines on what the money may be used for.

Yesterday was the first reading of the requests. Each applicant makes a presentation explaining how much they are requesting and what they will be using it for. They also answer any questions that committee may have. Some are very interesting and some are very practical. Some have a high priority and some less so. There are more requests than there is money to go around so some will be disappointed. The 2nd reading will be in 2 weeks, that is when the committee will vote on the recommendations. Then the County Council will vote on the actual distribution.

Although it is not the most exciting thing I do as an artist, I feel it is important to participate in the local government, especially since it does have an impact on the arts in the area.

If you are not involved in a local activity, you may want to get involved and have your voice heard.