Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Studio Makeover

My art studio has been set up since we moved into our new house over two years ago. Sometimes, I choose to paint downstairs because it is like an oven in my west-facing studio in the afternoons about half of the year. I do not want to double my power bill just to be cool upstairs in the late afternoon. The other reason my studio has not gotten much use (except as an art supply room) is that I wasn't happy painting in there, but wasn't sure what to change.

Saturday morning, we were watching a movie on TV and my husband mentioned that the woman in the movie was crazy to have her desk situated so her back was to the door. Creepy. I mentioned that my studio was set up that way (to have a view of the park out the window). My easel faces the door (just by chance), so it is okay! That got us discussing the ways we could improve my painting space. Within an hour, we were off to Costco. We bought more of the great metal bakery type shelves on wheels- like I had in New York. When we moved to California, the movers loaded them on the truck put together instead of taken apart and they weigh too much to be dragged upstairs to my studio. I settled for bookcases which were easier to move. Sometimes it just isn't good to settle. Now, two years later, we did what we should have done in the first place. We also moved my desk/work table into the middle of the room.

It just seemed right to put it in front of the window before without really thinking. Now, my desk is in the middle of the studio and all of my art supplies and all the fun things (like sand pails and painting ideas) are around me instead of behind me. I can see all of my supplies - paints (oils, watercolors, acrylics, and glass paints) all in separate baskets with labels. My soldering stuff is also organized and easy to find. I put all of my gazillions of art books and magazines into baskets so they are contained, at least. My scrapbooking stuff, well, at least it is in baskets even if it doesn't look exactly neat and tidy.

Everything is perfect now. I guess some artists have studios with everything out of sight into cabinets, but I really like seeing all of my art "stuff". It keeps me motivated. I have two cork boards to tack up ideas, and a huge chalk board to scribble on also. I guess I fall into the messy artist category, but I love it! Now, back to painting.
Thanks for looking,

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New in My Studio- Watercolor "3 Amigos"

I am starting a few new paintings to give myself a break from the frustrating raisin harvest watercolor. I shouldn't have gotten into it, as I almost never enjoy painting something I painted before (no matter how many years have passed). I was thinking it would be fun to do it again with a different style and maybe learn some new things. I have managed to learn how aggravated I can get with something that started out as fun. I love the vineyards, and after so many years in Fresno, they are a part of my life...I will get back to it soon- I have already started a second one to replace the first one- one way or another, it will be finished. I got a lot of great feedback and help from my fellow artists on my post yesterday, so I know it will be easier when I do go back to it. Thank you all for your comments!

One of the paintings I started yesterday is from a photo a friend took at a Long Island beach about 10 years ago and gave to me after she painted it herself. I call it 3 amigos- just looks like a perfect beach day. I have already painted it twice with different palettes (both many years ago) and like both of them. I know what I said earlier about repeating a painting...but I have had good luck with this one and wanted to try some new techniques on a subject I love-the beach. This time, 3 amigos will be 15X20 instead of 8X10.
The other painting I am working on is an 18X24 version of one of my sand pails. I have painted many sand pails and enjoy them every time! I buy the antique pails whenever I see them and use them for holding art supplies and paint brushes on my painting table. I love to look at them, and this way they are also functional so I can justify buying them. I just have one problem- when did something made in my lifetime get to qualify as an antique? Yikes, that is definitely a bummer!
Thanks for looking,

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Vineyard Watercolor.....can this painting be saved?

Yikes! I have done it again- managed to take a watercolor that had a nice start and turn it into a painting that I should probably give up on. That is my main problem- I HATE to give up and instead I set them aside and return to my frustration another day. I did a watercolor similar to this one for my in-laws (of their vineyard at raisin harvest time) and liked it. I think I used purples for my darker shadow areas now that I think of it. Also, I think I didn't try to make the piles of raisins look like anything specific- which was probably a good idea. So, anyway, I have lifted some of my shadows and am trying to figure out my next move. I have spent the last few weeks trying to ignore the large half finished watercolor on my painting table! Any ideas from my fellow artists? Do I need to learn to just give up and start over, or can this watercolor be saved? I don't know why I have such a problem bailing on a painting...I guess I must somewhere deep inside my brain, love a challenge. It doesn't feel that way when I am struggling with it, I could have finished 5 of these in the time I have pondered my next move.
Thanks in advance for any advice!

Friday, October 15, 2010

"In The Garden" Oil on Canvas- Finally Finished

Well, I finally finished the oil painting of my tree roses that I started many weeks ago. I am a slow painter, but not that slow. I only work on it when I go to my oil painting class once a week. I have been with the same painting group for many years- since college. I had to give it up for the years I lived in New York, but now that I am a mere 2 hour commute away- I get to go! Same instructor, and same group mostly. The group is mainly women in their 60's to 80's- we have all aged in the almost 30 years since I joined. I am not in my 60's- barely into my 50's- and once a week I get to feel like the kid and that is awesome. Yesterday, I went to class and finished up some details like the water drops and the light splashes in the leafy area. Then, I got to hear the words we wait for Gary to say- "time to sign it". Woo Hoo!

The painting is painted from a photo of one of my tree roses in my nicely maturing (third year, best so far) rose area of my gardens. I have another photo of the same rose bush that has a bird nest tucked into the branches and I really think I need to paint that also.
Thanks for looking!

Monday, October 11, 2010

100 Paintings Challenge- #1 " Evening in Paris"

I just started the 100 Paintings Challenge, and am so excited to be a part of it! I paint most days anyway, but I think with a number as a specific goal, I will really keep at it. Only 99 more paintings to go! The way I understand the challenge, it isn't about masterpieces. It is about working on your skills and, for me, making painting even more of a priority. I think if I paint even more than I already do, I will definitely improve- practice makes perfect, right? I am already doing The Twenty Minute Challenge, and love how it makes me work on prioritizing the details in my paintings since the clock is ticking away. I have a tendency to keep working and reworking my paintings until SOMETIMES I go too far and no longer like the painting. Even I can't overwork a painting in 20 minutes!

I chose this Paris street scene as the first of my 100 for many reasons. My main reason is that I love this street- Rue St. Dominique in the 7th Arrondissement of Paris. We stayed in a hotel on this street and the location was perfect. Rue Cler, the beautiful Seine and Pont Alexandre, La Tour Eiffel - all VERY nearby. Most of my photos of the street were daytime and I really wanted to try a night scene. My night photos were all very dark except for the bright lights. I used one of the day photos (actually, as I often do, I used several photos) and tried to turn it into a night scene. That is one of my other reasons for choosing this painting- it is my FIRST attempt at a night painting. What better way for me to learn, than to try something very different for me? I am sure that if I keep working on night scenes and the different use of color, lighting, sky, etc,- I will improve. I do have a photo of a beautiful night view of San Francisco from Treasure Island. Maybe next time....
Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

First Thursday ArtSplash on Etsy

Tomorrow, October 7, it is time again for First Thursday ArtSplash on Etsy! The first Thursday of each month is ArtSplash- a perfect time to go over and check out the wonderful variety of fine art available in shops on Etsy. There are many artists involved and it showcases original fine art. You will find oil, watercolor and acrylic paintings as well as drawings, pen and ink, and mixed media- just about anything that can be classified as fine art. Just go to http://artsplashonetsy.blogspot.com or click on the ArtSplash button in the side bar, and take a look.

My vineyard watercolor was put on pause yesterday due to an unexpected soldering problem. I recently changed to a new bottle of flux in soldering my silver art charms. There are many variables to look at when trying to figure out exactly what is causing my problem. The solder? Doubtful. The flux? Also doubtful. The foil? No. The flux brush? Maybe- it is a new and different brush. The method of cleaning flux residue off my charms? Very possible- I used to just wipe them with a damp cloth (for many years) and, lately I have been using the same (ammonia free) glass cleaner I use to clean my solder lines on my stained glass windows. The flux is a different brand, and the glass cleaner is also different. For whatever reason, a few of my charms have had flux making a return appearance even after cleaning and much polishing. I am guessing that something about this new flux makes it harder to remove and it isn't completely gone even when I think it is. I will now start using the flux remover that for years I didn't see a need for- and until recently had no real need for. I have charms and ornaments that I soldered 10 years ago and never had a problem with. Now, I will have to use the process of elimination to find out why I am suddenly having a flux issue. Fortunately, super-fine steel wool takes care of the problem. So, no watercolors today- just soldering and looking for answers.
Can't wait to get back to my vineyard painting!
Thanks for looking,

Monday, October 4, 2010

Raisin Harvest Watercolor- Stage One

For me, as an artist, there are two times when the vineyards look spectacular. The first is in the Spring, when the leaves first start to pop on the vines- they actually seem to glow when the morning sun shines on them. They start out a beautiful bright shade of green. My other favorite time in the vineyard, is when the grapes are being harvested and set out on the grape trays to turn into raisins. Harvest time is a pretty time because it is late summer and the vines are starting to turn colors and there are hints of fall shades mixed in with the green. The grapes are green when they are put on the trays and start to change color as they dry. The raisin trays used to be made out of wood and were much more interesting from an artist's point of view, but somehow have gone away- apparently the farmers prefer the paper trays. I will be looking for old photos with wooden grape trays, but for now this is what I have!

My in-laws used to own a vineyard, and I have many photos for painting. I have done many vineyard paintings in watercolor, oils, and acrylics. Watercolors just seem to be the best medium for this subject. Recently, I noticed that I have very few of these paintings in my own home. Most have gone to live elsewhere as gifts. I have PILES of photos that I shuffle through whenever I am looking for inspiration for my next painting- this time, the vineyard kept catching my attention.

I took a photo of my pencil sketch, but it wasn't drawn darkly enough even with the help of photoshop, so I am not bothering to post that step. I am starting with my photo showing my initial washes. I always love this step of a watercolor, when things start to take shape.

The dirt was wet-on-wet washes using Burnt Umber and Burnt Sienna mixes. The leaves were various mixes of Sap Green and Chromium Oxide Green. I will add other colors later, since it is late summer and some of the leaves have started to turn color. The raisins are a light wash of Alizarine Crimson and Ultramarine Blue just to give them a base.

The most difficult step is going to be deciding how to tackle the shadows. In oils, it is easier since I would be working over dry paint (leaves and dirt areas), but in watercolor things can easily get messy and muddy. I am leaning toward using a purple tone for the shadows, we will see how that goes. Any ideas? Off to paint...
Thanks for looking!