Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Winged Seeds

Winged Seeds
oil in panel

This painting just left to take up residence at a sweet friend's beautiful home. I will miss it, and the studio feels a bit empty without it. It is one of the larger paintings I have done, which means that it commanded a lot of space, and it is by far the painting that I worked on longest... over a year! I started it in February of 2017 and only just finished it. I would work on it in fits and starts, with many other projects completed while it was percolating.

These uniquely beautiful pods and seeds in real life are no bigger than an inch high.
I decided to experiment with a new approach. I started using latex paint  (yes, house paint)  to execute the underpainting. I painted directly instead of using the method I have come to rely on - working from a middle tone, laying in my darks and wiping away the lights. 
Also, you might notice that the color is not my traditional Burnt Sienna. Far from it! I thought I'd use the complimentary color, or the one directly across the color wheel, from the green that I knew would dominate the painting.  
Once I had the shapes and the darks and lights mapped out the next step was laying in the color. 
I thought that if I had bits of the complimentary color peek through it would add sparkle to the piece
With the color laid in in a general way I stood back and realized that in my usual thorough way I had managed to paint right over most of those little flickering bits of complimentary color I had been excited to let show through. Old habits are hard to break! Oh well "I yam who I yam"!
As I built the painting I realized there were shapes that didn't work compositionally that I decided to remove. 
Liking the simplified composition, I focused on how the light caught each object
I worked on defining the forms and how they relate to one another, pushing the background deeper and pulling up the  light on the foreground.
Nearing completion, I continue to add details and and make sure that the stars of this show are in the spotlight. I double check that my focal points are working and that the eye travels around the painting in the way I would like.

In the final sessions I glaze (putting a thin coat of transparent color) on some objects to further push them back, and I warm other passages with a glaze. I reaffirm my high lights, and then do what what I find the hardest part of any painting - sign it and call it finished!

The finished piece is at the top of the post.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

What I did on my summer (or in this case winter) vacation

It's been a very long time since I've shared what I've been to. My husband and I had a period of months where we traveled a great deal. It was delightful in countless ways, but it did throw off my rhythm in the studio.

I decided to grab an hour here and one there while traveling to record glimpses in gouache on paper. I mixed a light value, a medium one and a dark and made sure they didn't particularly relate to what I was looking at. I wanted to take a vacation from the precision that I had developed in my oil paintings.

I found I especially enjoyed head studies done in this fashion.

Again using little bits of time I painted small and fast in my studio and created a number of cards that  for the most part have flown out into the world that look something like these below.

I'm happy to say that I've established a schedule that allows for more focused painting time once again, yea! I'll begin posting more formal paintings again soon!

Great to chat once again, I've missed you!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Three color stacked drypoint

I haven't posted in quite a while. The projects that I've been working on are large and have consumed more time than I had anticipated. I have 2 paintings, each 2x4 feet, that I have been working on for months and months, and I've been working on a 5 plate etching series that has taken the same length of time. I'm nearing completion on both projects, and look forward to soon sharing them here in my step by step way.

But I must confess, my life hasn't all been work. My 3 big art projects have been interrupted countless times in the last 6 months by marvelous trips. We've been called to northern Europe,  San Diego and Paso Robles for the weddings of family and friends and we've joined friends in Mexico and Hawaii. My heart is full, my head is swimming with new images but I find that it's hard to remain productive while living like the rich and famous!

In response to feeling a bit bogged down I popped off an experiment that I was interested in trying. In the past I spent years on a series of 3 color stacked mono prints, winding up focusing on head studies. I was interested in seeing what a 3 color drypoint, creating color and value using line rather than tone, might look like. 

I didn't belabor the development of the image or the drawings. I acted on impulse, and am quite pleased with the results!

This is the first plate, where I'm establishing warm yellow tones, and anywhere I want green or orange.
This is my second plate. Here I'm drawing line where I want pure red, orange or purple.

Here is a print of those two plates, the red printed over the yellow. I like what I see, but am surprised to see that I'm not getting many secondary color mixes.
Here is my third plate, establishing the deepest darks on the face and hair and creating the environment.

And here are all 3 plates printed on top of one another! I like the result and it's raw feeling. Playing with a new technique was really fun and a perfect antidote for my long and labored projects.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Salad Days

Fresh Picked #1
8x8 oil on panel

I've spent so much time in recent years looking closely at plant forms in both gardens and in the wild that the natural next step is to look at them in the kitchen, right? It occurred to me how beautiful the food we now routinely eat is, and I felt moved to record a few beautifully abundant salads. 

Fresh Picked #2
8x8 oil on panel

I grew up in the time of Tang and TV dinners. Fortunately my mother didn't believe in frozen dinners, but she sure did believe that the only trustworthy vegetables came out of a can. How lucky I am to have lived in California enjoying the produce of the Central Valley as cooks have made it a more central and satisfying part of our meals. Not only is our new cuisine delicious and nutritious, it stunningly beautiful!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Three Florals

Seeing Stars
8x10 oil on Panel

I have not been posting as regularly lately, and I have some catching up to do!

Living in Southern California this spring was a marvelous experience. Thanks to generous winter rains, spring burst forth like never before. Our gardens and parks produced beautiful displays that we hadn't seen in the long years of drought, but the true magic happened in our wild lands. Seeds long dormant drank just enough to rise up in all their glory transforming our arid hills and valleys into broad reaches of color. Many of the blossoming plants were ones I had never seen in my lifetime of wandering and watching.

Flora or Fauna?
8x10 oil on panel

This collection of little paintings, inspired by our explosive spring inspects the wild beauty of individual plants. As always, I am deeply moved by the extraordinary effort nature puts into reproduction. Each plant has developed unique pistils, stamen and petals in its drive to germinate. Endless shapes, colors and textures invite bees and birds to do their devine work of pollination. 

8x10 oil on panel

Spring's profusion of color and beautifully articulated shapes fills my heart. A fleeting display of such delicacy is a magic expression of both the fragility and relentless power of life. These beautiful little flowers plant wonder, hope and humility in my chest. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Drypoint Etching II

These are companion pieces to the seed pods I posted last time. Also 8x10, I created them using the same steps that I described in my past post.

The first print adding a blended roll. 

And the print using the ink remaining on the color plate. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Drypoint etching I

I made this series of 8x10 prints a couple of months ago, but never got around to sharing it, so here we go!
Above is a drypoint etching, a method of making groves in a plate that will hold ink by physically inscribing them. Rather than using nitric acid to etch a line into metal, a sharp tool is scratched across the surface of a plate to both create a grove and to raise a burr that will both hold ink. The modern day printmaker is fortunate to be able to use a plastic film called Duralar which allows crisp lines and the displaced material, or burr, withstands the pressure of the press for a good number of runs. The burr gives drypoint prints their characteristically soft line.

After printing 10 or 12 of the dry point seed pods and letting them dry for a week, I mixed 2 colors of ink and rolled out a "rainbow roll". This is the blending of 2 or more colors on a single roller. I rolled the colors across a smooth sheet of plexiglass that was the exact size of my seed pod line etching. I then placed the colorful plate over my drawing on a light table so that I could see the image through the newly inked plate and wiped away the ink from the areas where my line work was.

 When I had removed the ink from the color plate in the areas I wanted to remain untouched, I carefully placed the inked side of the plate down on one of the black and white prints and ran it through the press. The resulting print had crisp black and white plus an interesting graduated color that I found pleasing.

I ran a secondary print, a "ghost print", with the ink that remained on the plate. I placed the plexiglass once again over another of my black and white prints for a trip through the press to get a softer looking print.

After printing the ghost, I cleaned the small amount of residual ink from the plexiglass, rolled it once again and made my way to the light table to carefully wipe away ink for another two prints.

Each of the 3 has a very different feel and stand alone as variations. According to personality, taste or mood, people choose  which one is most appealing to them. I like them all, and simply enjoy the process of making them!