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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Ohio spiderwort

When we first moved to this house thirty-eight years ago, my little quarter-acre woods was carpeted with Ohio spiderwort. As the honeysuckle and garlic-mustard spread, the spiderwort disappeared. I removed most of those pests in 2002 and to my delight, one lone spiderwort bloomed that year. I almost missed it because it was at the base of a tree and I couldn't see it from the house. A couple of years later another popped up, also hidden from casual view. Imagine my delight as I sat on the patio this afternoon, looking out over the woods, and saw two bright spots of purple. I walked down the path and found two new volunteer spiderwort plants. So cool!

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Friday, May 26, 2006

Lotta art going on

What a great day! I spent the morning with some forty women of the Tri Art Club of Dayton. I've been a member for many years, but haven't been active for awhile because of workshop travel, book-writing, and, of course, baby-sitting my Little Artist. It's a lively group of a wide age-range. Nearly all are active and involved in painting and showing their work. I talked with an eighty-nine-year-old artist who paints and exhibits with her plein-air group and participates in outreach classes with Sinclair community college.

After lunch I went to my favorite retailer's, McCallister's to pick up brushes and see what's new. George Bussinger, the owner, was excited about some new products he found at a recent trade show--pocket-sized sketchbooks with watercolor paper and sumi-ink pencils and brushes. He showed me a retrofitted space at the back of his store that will accommodate on-site workshops and occasional warehouse sales. Speaking of which, the sale is coming up in a couple of weeks--everything in the store will be 25% off! I think this is the best store in the tri-state area, so if you live anywhere near Dayton, it's worth the trip. Check the web site for more information.

Later I went to see the juried show of the Dayton Society of Painters and Sculptors. I had heard both raves and rants about it, but that's usually the way with juried shows. It looked like a pretty good show to me, although I had seen a lot of good paintings in the reject room that might have been my choices. One of the artists in my new book, Lesley Walton, won best-of-show for a very fine pencil drawing.

No more art over the weekend. Must plant annuals. Must trim shrubbery. Must do whatever I can outside, because it's going to be beautiful. I'll save a little time on Sunday to visit Art in the Park at Riverbend Art Center, where I taught watercolor for twenty years before I started teaching national workshops.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Watercolor class hiatus

Yesterday I was in the neighborhood of Hithergreen Center, where I teach my Monday watercolor class, which is currently out of session. In the past the center has generously permitted students to use the classroom during downtime, so I always remind them at the last class that they can keep on coming on Mondays and paint together. I couldn't resist stopping by to see if anyone had appeared. Eight people--half the class--were there, painting, chatting and enjoying each other's company. This is one of the best groups I've had in years. Not only are they more motivated, but they learn from each other and show genuine interest in each other's work. Their critiques are supportive and helpful. I miss them when class isn't in session, but I'll admit it was nice just to visit awhile and not have to present a lesson.

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Monday, May 22, 2006

Art on the side burner

Not much art going on last week. A week ago Sunday I picked up my rejected painting from the Dayton Society of Painters and Sculptors. Eighty pieces were hung and more than eighty were rejected. The rejects would have made a very good Salon des Refusés. Yesterday I collected my two paintings from the Fairborn Art Association show--I don't think I mentioned that I got a Judge's Merit Award for one of them. I'm finished with entering shows for awhile. This year I got into three out of five and received two awards, not a bad showing, but I don't have enough work and don't want to enter the same pieces too often. Haven't even had time to work on the pouring and I want to get that one off the drafting table.

I finished the last of my spring watercolor classes at Hithergreen Center on Monday and I'm on hiatus for four weeks so I can work on some new book ideas and catch up around the house and woods.

We took a two-day trip to northern Indiana and Chicago to visit family and search for family gravesites. We found what we were looking for--my husband's grandparents' graves and their old farmhouse near Plymouth, Indiana. Two years ago we couldn't find them, but had a few more clues this time.

I'll be concentrating on the release of The New Creative Artist over the next few weeks. Less than two months to go. My pre-publication offer has been well received and the orders are coming in. Yay! It looks like Amazon.com is taking quite a few orders, too. Last week I scored a book-signing at Books & Co. in Kettering on Thursday, August 17. They've hosted signings for all my books and always do it right.

In two weeks I'm having a studio open house and art book sale for my students. I've promised them this for a long time. So I'll be sorting and pricing books--I have at least five crates in the garage and bookcases all over the house filled with art books. I hope it isn't a mortal sin to have too many books.

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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Still more watercolor pouring

Here's the next step on the shooting star. I enhanced the colors on the petals and put a dark down the center that will probably need to be darker for the background pour when I get to it. It's turning out to be a sort of prismatic take on reflected light on the white petals. It probably won't bear any resemblance to reality when I'm finished. The background is going to be dark, I've decided, though I'm not sure how dark, so will do a couple of pours there, maybe more. I may as well do the darks before I do any more modeling on the petals. That means the next step is to mask the entire flower to protect it from the darker pours.

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Monday, May 08, 2006

Watercolor pouring stage two

Well, I finally got around to doing a second pouring on my little shooting star--actually, two more. The first pour is shown at left. For the second pour I spritzed the painting with water and poured thin colors over the entire painting, which then had two layers of mask on the lighter areas. For the third (shown at right), several days later, I poured mostly blues, with some reds to enhance the violets a bit. Then I dried the painting thoroughly and removed the mask. I was afraid it might bond to the paper if I left it on any longer. This is a downside to pouring if you can't get into your studio every day. Another is--I hate the hard edges of the mask. I did some brushwork to get a feel for what's happening in the painting. I don't know where it's going next. My photo has a black background, but I hate to lose all that glow back there. The flower has a long way to go before it will hold its own. I need to do some more masking and pouring. Stay tuned.

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Read the prospectus

I didn't read the prospectus carefully for a recent show I entered. The rejection notice stated that only twenty pieces had been selected as suitable to complement the sculpture exhibition of the juror, Miriam Martincic. Oops! I didn't realize this was her show. I thought it was a members' show of the organization. If I had caught that, I would have looked her up on the web, as I did this morning, and discovered that my work is totally unsuited to hang with her sculptures. As I helped register work for the show last Thursday I was puzzled at some of the entries. Now I understand. The artists read the prospectus. I've never before entered a show that was based on this premise. It will be interesting to see what was accepted when I pick up my rejected watercolor. Actually, I'm glad I didn't get in the show. Her sculpture isn't appropriate for my work. I should have read the prospectus.

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Saturday, May 06, 2006

Web site updates

Back in 1998 when I first posted my web site I had great plans for keeping it up-to-date. Unfortunately, my webmaster had a full-time job and not much time to do the updates. So I learned some rudimentary HTML and started updating the site myself. She helped me redesign the site, because my knowledge of codes is limited to cut-and-paste. I make new pages using old ones for templates. Af first I updated the site every month, adding new articles and projects and all new links and information on the main page. Then the time between updates stretched to every two months, three months.... I felt pretty guilty, but it was sooo time consuming.

Blogging has changed all that. It's easy to post a blog and add a line of html for a link or image. I can go online and post information in a jiffy. I love it.

The difference was obvious yesterday when I set up my Woodland Restoration 2006 page on the web site. Even though I used a template, it took a large part of the afternoon to resize the photos, rewrite the text and upload them to the server.

I also moved my book reviews from the web site main page to my Mini Book Reviews pages. Instead of posting them all at once on the web, I'm going to post them to my blog as I read them and copy the reviews to the mini-review pages. Much easier. I still need to update the art gallery pages on my web site, but that will take time I don't have right now. It's a beautiful day and I'm going to work outside in the gardens.

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Slides of The New Creative Artist

The program I gave last night for the Western Ohio Watercolor Society in Springfield was a little weird. There was a good crowd of forty or so, considering that a competing workshop in Fairborn kept several people from getting to the meeting. The room was totally unsuitable for a slide presentation. The Springfield Museum of Art is a great place, but they weren't overly accommodating to the WOWS group. Since the group was founded there more than twenty years ago there had always seemed to be a rapport, but something is missing now. The room was set up for a breakfast meeting and we had to rearrange the seating as best we could. There was only a card table for the slide projector, not high enough, so someone found a rickety utility table in the kitchen that worked out. The west wall of the room is all windows and doors. There are heavy shades for the windows and above the doors, but I suppose safety regs prohibit shades across the doors. I wonder why they don't put individual mini-blinds or shades on those doors. This being daylight-savings time here, the sun shone brightly through the doors and almost totally washed out the slides on the huge screen. People were kind, oohed and ahed appropriately at the slides of some of the exciting work in my new book. But I was very disappointed that they couldn't have seen a better presentation. The moral to this story: before agreeing to do a slide presentation anywhere, make sure the facility has a suitably dark room, a projector table, extension cords and a projector. (I had to take my own. A museum doesn't have a projector? Please....) WOWS provided me with a portable mike and that was a big help. I can remember when the museum was an art center and they used to set up audio-visual aids for WOWS meetings. Times have changed, I guess.

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Frank Francese demo

Last night I watched Frank Francese do a full-sheet watercolor similar to this one in an hour--without ever putting a pencil line on the paper. How does he do it? First, he paints from a detailed drawing in his sketchbook. He uses his drawings to resolve the composition and values before he starts to paint. He starts with wide, flat brushes for most of the painting and creamy, juicy paint with very little mixing. Eyeing his sketch as he paints, he cuts in the shapes of buildings with bold, unmodulated strokes of cobalt blue, then strokes in some turquoise blue. He adds a building and window shapes, developing the painting on one side from the top down before working across to the next section. Frank is clever at adding figures, vehicles, stairways and other shapes with just a few significant positive and negative marks. His final stage is to add shadows to the entire painting using the same shadow color and a pre-determined direction of light. Voila! A dazzling masterpiece. Frank is low key, but funny and fun to watch. If you love direct painting (no masks, no pouring!) check out his workshops.

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Masking watercolors and more

I never cared much for using liquid masks in my watercolors, except for protecting small whites from a big, juicy wash. The pouring techniques call for repeated masking, which I don't enjoy doing. Love the pouring, hate the masking. But some of my watercolor students love masking. I think it makes them feel safe to be able to protect areas from their wandering brushes. Doesn't matter. If it works for you, do it. They had several nice pieces for critique yesterday based on the masking and/or pouring.

I did a little demo with a drinking straw. I put a puddle of watercolor on the paper and blew across it with a straw. The paint shoots out in branches like grass, tree limbs or spider webs. One student wasn't feeling motivated until she tried the new technique. She did several and had a lot of fun with it. Remember this when you're taking a class. You don't have to do a painting every time. You can experiment and play with new techniques, having fun and learning at the same time without the pressure to make a painting.

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