Tag Archives: watercolor

Winter Projects and Happy New Year!


Happy New Year from chilly central Virginia, USA! Temp this morning was 11 degrees (F)! The sun’s out now; it’s up to 21! As a result, I’m staying inside, at least until after lunch. Before I head back into the studio to retool from sewing projects to water color painting, here’s an update on what’s been happening recently in Richmond town.  For inspiration I’ve attended two premier exhibitions, the Terracotta Army, Legacy of the First Emperor of China at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (up thru March 11) and the 38th Annual Virginia Watercolor Society exhibit for 2017 at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, Virginia (up thru January 7).

I came away from the VMFA show with the consuming question – “How did the ancient artisans of what is now China make 8,000 unique individualized terracotta statues?” The twelve sculptures of warriors in full battle regalia look as though living soldiers were turned to stone. The figures on display are mostly uniform in color, but we’re assured by the accompanying exhibit text that all were originally fully painted in realistic detail. How did they do that?! Do the secrets lie in the central temple compound that has yet to be excavated?

The techniques and motivations of the artists behind the Virginia Watercolor Society exhibit are not quite as opaque. However, their skill and exuberance are every bit as inspiring. I took many photos. I share this one of the painting by Brenda Hounshell with you because I was captivated by the light, and the color of the oranges reflected through the crystal onto the background. Perhaps I could do that….time will tell.

We had our first snow of the season on December 9th, and as typical for our neighborhood, we lost power. I was in the midst of finishing a quilt for my grandson and didn’t want to loose momentum so hauled my treadle in front of the sliding glass doors, and kept sewing. Not my usual fabric choice for this one, since this boy is consumed by transformers. We won’t tell him that the pattern is called “Free Wheeling Single Girl” by Denyse Schmidt!

The watercolors shown above are from two photos taken on the Jamestown Ferry, 25 years apart: 1991, our daughters; 2016, children of our older daughter! My paints are calling – back to work.

I leave you with this quote from Edith Warton, “In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways.”

 

 

 

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Making Watercolor Brushes!

Last fall our cats brought us several squirrels. At the time, I was appalled, particularly when they showed up with various pieces in the living room. We promptly disposed of the carcasses. Not long after I came across a video of how to make brushes from squirrels’ fur! The cats, however, had moved on to other prey. Until recently! Considerately, this time they left only the tail of a young squirrel outside on the porch. Serendipitously, a stand of bamboo has been cut down nearby. I collected the tail, selected bamboo pieces of appropriate size, viewed various videos, and made some brushes!! Here’re photos of my attempt. It seems a mature squirrel tail with more abundant and longer fur might be a better starting point. I’m now watching the roadsides…

 

Traveling in Spain

Recently I had the good fortune to travel to Spain with a group of 13 fellow artists on a Plein Air tour of Madrid and Barcelona. Well, most of us were artists, and we did do some painting; but mostly we saw as much as we possibly could! Now that I’ve had two months to begin processing the experience, I’d like to share some of the paintings I’m working on. I’ve included above preliminary sketches: let me know which ones appeal to you.

I took 1,000 or so photos and did several sketches as we visited Madrid, Toledo, Zaragoza, Barcelona, Monsterrat and Cadaques. We saw many excellent museums, cathedrals, and city neighborhoods, ancient and modern. It was a satisfyingly wonderful trip!

My favorite place: the seaside village of Cadaques; my favorite museum: the Thyssen in Madrid; my favorite environment: Retiro park in Madrid. In close competition, respectively: Toledo; Museum at Montserrat; the Montserrat pudding stone needles/mountains.

For those of you planning a trip, here’s what I did:

April 28, Friday, Madrid
– arrive 8am, drop bags at hotel: Mercure Madrid Centro, Calle Lope de Vega, 49                  – hotel check in 3pm                                                                                                                             – Sofia Museum: Picasso, Pity and Terror                                                                                         – Sketch at the Crystal Palace  in the Retiro Park (east of Prado)                                                 – early evening wine & cheese reception at hotel
April 29, Saturday, Madrid                                                                                                                    – Prado Museum                                                                                                                                     – Caixaforum – Ramon Casas exhibit                                                                                                 April 30, Sunday, Madrid                                                                                                                       – Plaza Mayor coin/stamp market; street flea market                                                                     – Palace plaza, Temple Debod                                                                                                              – Thyssen Museum                                                                                                                                – 90 minute hop on, hop off bus, Puerta del Sol                                                                                May 1, Monday, Madrid                                                                                                                       – 8am coach  to Toledo (1 hour drive): cathedral; TrainVision Tourist Train
– Royal Botanical garden                                                                                                                 May 2, Tuesday, travel                                                                                                                           – 9am coach to Barcelona
– 3 hours to Zaragoza, Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar tower elevator, lunch
– Barcelona hotel: Avenida Palace, Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 605                             May 3, Wednesday, Barcelona                                                                                                             – El Born Market                                                                                                                                     – Picasso Museum                                                                                                                                   – El Born Cultural Museum                                                                                                                  – Gaudi Cascade                                                                                                                                      – Arc de Triomf                                                                                                                                 May 4, Thursday, Barcelona                                                                                                                – 8am coach to Montserrat: Monastery, Museum, funicular                                                         – Stroll La Rambla, visit art supply store                                                                                       May 5, Friday, Barcelona                                                                                                                       – Park Güell, picnic/paint, Gaudi museum                                                                                        – 7:30 flamenco dance performance                                                                                           May 6, Saturday, Barcelona
– 8:30am coach to Cadaques                                                                                                                 – timed entry to the Dali House                                                                                                           – flea market via metro                                                                                                                   May 7, Sunday, Barcelona                                                                                                                     – Sketch in area of hotel
May 8, Monday, departure

Is it done yet?

Bon Air Artists’ Association’s Artful Healing Show is this Sunday!! Hope you can come by the University of Richmond’s Jepson Alumni Center between 10 am and 5 pm. You’ll be glad you did! 70 artists will have their works on display. I’ve got my pieces framed and ready to go. The photos above are of the last one out of the studio. Actually, what you see here are two versions. The first one was critiqued at our last BAAA meeting. I received several helpful pointers, and gave it another go. I like the composition better. It could use some improvement, but I’m done with this iteration.

Journal Wrap ups

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Several of my handmade journals are finishing up about the same time! Here’s a quick overview. First up in the slide show is a half fold journal with 120 lb paper, fusible vinyl on the cover. I’ve enjoyed this paper immensely – not quite as heavy as watercolor but stands up very well to that medium. I followed the facebook prompts for Art Every Day in May and June and feel energized for the Summer!

The second journal in the show is made from gessoed canvas from an old project, with watercolor and drawing paper. I liked the one sketch per page format. These were studies for larger works. Still a few sketches in this one to finish.

The third journal was made from a single full sheet of watercolor following the video tutorial by Cathy Johnson. I wasn’t sure about this format at first, as the backside pages turn kind of wonky.  But the front side works well, and gives you a wide format perfect for panoramic layouts, without a gutter in the middle.  I’ve done various subjects in this journal, some freehand and some traced from photos. The paper was an old watercolor of a winter woodland scene – I used that for journaling.  I’m so pleased with it that my next effort is a 16 page folded journal from a full sheet of watercolor paper – gives a larger work area.  Already have some pieces I want to sketch.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this journal tour!  Get out, draw, paint!!

Carytown, Fast and Fresh


Thursday I tested my gear and did my first water color on the easel. Friday night I gathered paints, papers, binder clips, water, etc. and stashed it all near the door. Saturday morning I woke up to rain!! I taped a smaller piece of watercolor paper to cardboard so I could work in the car if necessary and added a couple of large pieces of clear plastic to the pile. By 8:30 am I was cruising Carytown and the rain had stopped. I parked at MacDonalds (easy access to food and facilities!), my original choice for set up. After checking in and looking around, I moved the car up the block to right across from the bright lime green building. The photo I’d taken of it the week before caught my artist daughter’s interest and she suggested it could be an good subject.
9:30 am – time for the shotgun start!! I tried really hard to make a good sketch and paint well, keeping in mind that it had to be finished and framed for judging by 11:30. Nothing like a little pressure. I cannot believe two hours can go so quickly! I was under the overhang of a restaurant with top 40 tunes blasting over the sidewalk – shaded and serenaded, the good life. Folks wandered by and chatted, watched awhile, took photos and videos, and reported on some of 40 or so other artists they’d seen. In no time it was after 11 am – time to finish up! About that point a couple stopped by and said ‘that looks just like Carytown! is it for sale?’ And my painting sold!!
Thankfully I thought to take photos, which you see above. Looking at the pictures last night, right off I saw at least five areas for improvement. Next time out…
On reflection, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Plein Air Richmond – Fast & Fresh

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I took a stroll along Cary Street this morning thru the area known as Carytown. Most of the shops were closed but restaurants were setting out chairs and preparing to open for brunch and early lunch. I was easily able to find parking – not always the case! And still there were folks on the street – its a lovely area of Richmond!

I was there to scope out possible plein air painting locations – Plein Air Richmond starts tomorrow with 30 invited artists from around the country, and will culminate next Saturday, June 25th, with a Fast and Fresh 2-hour painting session open to all in, you guessed it, Carytown! Let me know if any particular images in the slide show above appeal to you. Come out and paint, and/or support your favorite artists!

My plein air skills have a good ways to go before they top out, to say the least. I need every opportunity to practice. My easel, given to me by my resident design consultant many years ago, is checked out and ready. Just have to get papers and mats together and top up my palette! This will be a good warm up for the Cashiers, North Carolina, Plein Air Art Festival in July. They’re having a similar general participation paint out on July 15, which just happens to coincide with my summer jaunt to the mountains.  I can’t wait!