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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Hithergreen art show

My watercolor class is going to have their first exhibition starting on Monday, October 16. It will be the first show ever for most of them. I hope all will get up the courage to show their work. It seems to make a tremendous difference to people in how they feel about their work when they've seen it properly framed and hanging on a wall with other artwork. The show will be billed as beginner and intermediate so that should encourage most of them to participate. Several of the students are somewhat advanced, so maybe we should change that to "all levels." The show won't be juried. We have room for fifty-four paintings, so some may be able to hang two pieces if they want to. I won't see them for two weeks (Labor Day is a holiday and I'll be teaching a workshop in New Jersey the following week), so one of the students is going to make the announcement about the show. When I get back, we'll get into matting and framing and I'll help them pick something to show. Some will want to do a new piece, which will be great. I'm really looking forward to this. It feels like a big step forward for all of us. I'll post photos on the blog.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Catching up on my reading

I've been so busy with my own book that I've fallen behind in writing reviews for books I've read. So I'm in "review mode." I posted two reviews this morning, but I'm up to seven now, so scroll down to see what's new.

Gerald Brommer In Emotional Content: How to Create Paintings That Communicate Gerald Brommer discusses the differences between classic, intellectual and romantic approaches to painting. The key question is "What do you feel?" for the artist who wishes to paint more expressively. Select and edit your subject, making mini-thumbnails to record your impressions. Brommer emphasizes the importance of sketching to explore the subject, using color and temperature dominance and tonal values and textures. Watercolor collage is used in demonstrations. A sense of place, mood, weather and season can all contribute to the emotional content of your work. Brommer's books are always filled with useful tips and techniques.

Betty CarrSeeing the Light: An Artist's Guide. by Betty Carr shows you how to create depth, form and atmospheric light in watercolor and oil paints. Carr is adept at both, as you can see from this beautifully illustrated book. Supply lists are detailed for both watercolors and oils, including advice on plein air necessities. In both media there are exercises and step-by-step demos that are clear and easy to follow. Carr advises you to learn to think in three dimensions, to observe light on form and to use value sketches to help you see light and shadow on a subject. She recommends simplification of shapes and value patterns. This is a good book withi lots of information and helpful tips.

Carol CooperCarol Cooper's book, Watercolor: No Experience Required, is an easy guide to getting started in watercolor. The supply list is basic and very good, except that it allows cheap pan colors, which I don't think is a good idea, even for beginners. Also, the beginner doesn't need so many colors; a maximum of seven should do the job, if they're the right colors. A workspace layout is shown that could be helpful to the beginner. There are numerous well-done illustrations, including hands-on photos. Demos are simple and doable. Subject matter includes landscape, flowers, still life and textures. Composition is given very little attention, but the section on color, though brief, is clear. This is a good basic book that doesn't confuse beginners with fancy techniques and tricks.

Charles ReidWatercolor Secrets by Charles Reid is the work of a master painter. The book is filled with many sidebars of tips and tricks for Reid's spontaneous style of painting and is lavishly illustrated with sketches from his watercolor sketchbooks. His distinctive, personal approach is clear throughout in subjects of all kinds, both indoor and plein air. His supply list is brief, but more than adequate. This beautiful book is not for the beginner in watercolor technique, but it's a joy to behold.

susanna spannPainting Crystal and Flowers in Watercolor by Susanna Spann is filled with her stunning artwork and many mini-demos throughout. The book includes a detailed list of supplies, but it's clear from the beginning that this book is not for the spontaneous watercolor painter. The primary subject is special effects in still life using watercolor. Design and color are touched upon, along with painting from photographs, marketing and exhibiting. The strongest point in Spann's book, in my opinion, aside from her magnificent artwork, is her emphasis on doing thumbnail sketches to plan paintings.

John LovettJohn Lovett's The Art of Designing Watercolors is subtitled "All you need to know to create more powerful paintings." The book contains demos and many illustrations throughout with an emphasis on design. From the "hows and whys of design" to tools of design (the elements and principles) and design tools in action, Lovett covers the essentials very well. Only one page is designated for supplies, so beginners need to look elsewhere to understand the basics. However, this book is a good one for an artist who needs to understand how to incorporate structure into pictures for more effective expression.

work small learn bigWork Small, Learn Big!: Sketching with Pen & Watercolor is an International Artist Publishers' collection of preparatory studies by seventeen artists from around the world. The book is a compilation of sketches backed up by photographs and slides, emphasizing the importance of these preliminary works to the execution of fine artwork. There are numerous illustrations and step-by-step demos. Each artist has distinctive choices of materials and media. Styles range from loose and spontaneous to highly detailed with many notes. Selling tips and artists' bios are included. One of the most important messages in the book is that "Mistakes don't Matter" in the sketchbook.

Thanks to George Bussinger at McCallister's Art Store for making these books available for review.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

New Creative Artist Reviews

I'm deeply appreciative of the people who've posted reviews on the Art-to-Art Palette Online and on Amazon.com. Palette publisher and editor Ben Rayman suggested that I might want to thank them on my blog. Sounds like a good idea. Thanks to these people for Palette Online reviews: Joan Crawford Barnes, artist, Lima, Ohio; Kate Eglan-Garton, (Indiana) senior editor, Art-to-Art Palette; Dr. Ralph Stuckman, educator, potter, editor, Celina, Ohio; Ben Rayman, editor and publisher, Art-to-Art Palette, print edition; Kay R. Sluterbeck, artist, writer, Van Wert, Ohio; Suzanne Kinstle Nocera, artist, Lima, Ohio; Janet Ravas, artist, Scotia, New York; Patricia Rayman, Ohio artist, educator, founder of Art-to-Art school program.

Many thanks, too, for five-star reviews on Amazon.com by Judy Galford, Sharon, Massachusetts; Pauline H. Healey, Fort Myers, Florida; Joan Barnes, Lima, Ohio; Kate Eglan-Garton, Indiana; and Roy Boston, New Zealand.

To all who are reading these words, please take the time to send an email to your favorite author or write a review on a book that has meant a lot to you. You have no idea how much it means to an author to read these reviews and know that his or her book has become an influence in the life of another person. This is what keeps us going. Thanks a thousand times.

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Monday, August 28, 2006

Intermediate Watercolor Class

Week two of my Hithergreen Center class. We're making a lot of progress. People who didn't have a clue about transparency, washes or dry brush are getting it right. Even the level of drawing is improving. Critiques are such fun--to see the variety of subject matter and colors used, more individual choices and less what-you-see-is-what-you-get. There are a couple of students who tend toward the English style of painting, which I love, although I don't do it. This style isn't popular in the grand world of watercolor competition in the U.S. but it is absolutely lovely, so fresh and transparent. We're going to see if the center will allow us to have an art exhibition on the walls around the central core. There have been shows there from other classes and several paintings remain that have been there for many months. Time for a change! No class on Labor Day and the following week I have a right-brain-drawing teacher substituting while I go to New Jersey to teach a color workshop. When I return, we'll learn about matting and framing so they can show their pieces to the best advantage. I think everyone in this class has the capability of coming up with something worthwhile for the show. I know they'll be thrilled to see their work hanging. I just need to get permission to do it and we're off and running. It isn't that exhibitions are so important, rather that it adds a boost to the creative spirit to see the fruits of your labor on display.

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Baby-sitting the Little Artist

The Little Artist sometimes switches roles. Over the weekend she was into "pretending," so she used a high, squeaky voice to speak the lines of her characters. Mostly, she was a kitty, but she also acted out scenarious with various Little People friends and puppets. At one point we had about thirty tiny figures of trolls, princesses and what-not spread around the floor. She brought out her box of valentines from the past couple of years. My job was to decide who wanted each valentine. I squeaked along with her, making the figures jump up and down to beg for a valentine. Once in awhile I picked the wrong character for a certain valentine and was told firmly that Blueberry (or whoever) couldn't have that one. I picked someone else, but I never figured out what determined her choices.

Friday night I promised her a pajama party with popcorn before bedtime We got into our jammies and I popped the corn. We sat on the floor next to the coffee table in the family room. I intentionally left the TV off. We giggled and talked for awhile, then she said, "This is a very quiet party." We agreed that it was nice to have a party where you could talk to each other.

It's amazing what an interesting conversation you can have with a three-and-a-half-year-old without the distraction of television. As a general rule she doesn't watch much TV. She loves books more than anything. The promise of a trip to the library or a new book from the bookstore is the highlight of her day. I showed up on Thursday night with Babar and the Wully Wully and a collection of Curious George stories. Before the weekend was over, I had read Babar three times and all nine or ten of the Curious George stories. She snuggles under my arm and sits very still most of the time, until the action picks up in a story. Then, she'll pop up and cover her mouth or eyes or throw her arms up in response to the story. Sometimes she whispers encouragement to the characters or repeats a phrase after I read it. When she was younger, I sometimes abbreviated stories. I can't get away with that any more. After one or two readings, she knows what comes next and corrects me if I change a single thing.

We had a delightful weekend together, but I have to admit that the squeaky kitty voice nearly drove me up a wall. Thank heavens she doesn't use it in normal conversation!

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

American Art Review

I've been reading the August, 2006, edition of American Art Review. It's one of the best art mags I've read in some time. Several fine recent exhibitions at smaller museums are discussed, including lavish illustrations. I was drawn to it because of a review of the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibition in Vermont's Shelburne Museum (through Oct. 31, which my son viewed and gave high praise.) I was pleased to find Emily Carr in the same issue at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa until September 4. The Carr exhibit will travel throughout Canada until 2008. Next stop is Vancouver Art Gallery, opening October 7. There are many other interesting reviews, including Winslow Homer (Museum of American Art at Giverny), Thomas Moran (National Museum of Wildlife Art, Jackson, Wyoming,) and Painters of the Desert Southwest (Booth Museum, Cartersville, Georgia). I'm looking forward to reading the article on Harry Leith-Ross, whose paintings are at James Michener Art Museum in New Hope, Pennsylvania. "Poetry in Design" is the title of the exhibition and from the illustrations in the magazine, this appears to be a fine display of designed realism by an artist new to me.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

"No rest for the wicked!"

My mother used to say that. I must have been very bad. It has been such a busy week that I've missed my Curves workouts twice, something I never do. Our son is visiting from Colorado, so I'm trying to spend some time with him. However, I already had two classes scheduled and a meeting with my North Light editor in Cincinnati, so something had to go. I'm going to be baby-sitting for a couple of days, too, so not much time to catch up. Well, everything is happening pretty fast, so I guess it's true that time flies when you're having fun. (Nothing like a blog full of clichés.)

Started a new watercolor class on Monday with 25 students. Most of them are returnees from previous classes. Four of my beginners have joined the class and there are a couple of newbies. We talked about the continuum of design from realism to non-objective painting. I had found some good examples of abstract design artwork to show them. Then I taught them about making grids to get their drawings in the correct proportions on their paper. Critique was fun. They're getting more and more consistent with their finished paintings. They seem to be doing more paintings and are improving accordingly.

The beginner class wound up today. I feel bad about not taking them to the next level, but I can't do two classes per week on a regular basis. So this one just comes up during the summer for eight weeks. Four of the ten in the class have moved into the intermediate group and the others say they'll be working on their own until next time.

Our son leaves in the morning and I may have to spend the day gaining strength for the baby-sitting marathon. It isn't that long, but I'm not in the routine anymore and a three-and-a-half-year-old can be unpredictable. But, I'll manage. I just may not be able to blog for a couple of days.

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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Okay, okay, here are the Shoes!

By popular request, here is a detail photo of the shoes I bought for my book-signing. I'm surprised at how many people mentioned this in their emails about the photos. This is the only photo that shows the shoes. The shoes are cute with a wood-stack 2-inch heel--dressy, but very comfortable. I hope everyone is satisfied now!

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Books & Co book signing

nita signs books
Here are a few of the photos from the book signing, thanks to Sylvia, Barb and RGL. My email looks like a good time was had by all.

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High-school Reunion

Last night my husband and I went to our Fairview High School class of 1951 reunion. Do the math--that's fifty-five years. I can't believe it myself. There were a few more than forty graduates present, plus twenty or so spouses. Bob and I were "high-school sweethearts," so we fit into both categories. Our class numbered around three-hundred-plus students. Of those, sixty-six have passed away. Those who attended looked pretty good for a bunch of old people, none of whom seemed to notice that they're old. We had a good time, better actually than the fiftieth, which had a much bigger group of people crowded into a smaller space. Without the noise of a band, we were able to talk to each other and share memories. I reminded one of the class cut-ups about how he used to coo like a pigeon in study hall when we had a substitute teacher, who would embark on a search of the double-size classroom to find the bird. The floor in the room had an imperceptible slant to it, so he would start a marble rolling at one end of the room and you could hear its slow progress to the other end. He told me about the mouse he set loose in history class that made the teacher jump onto her desk--I had nearly forgotten that one. He got a two-day suspension. Nowadays he would probably be called into juvenile court, sued for teacher harassment, and enrolled in group therapy. In spite of all, he turned out to be a really nice guy.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Book Signing

At last it all came together. I didn't have the red shoes called for in Annette's comment below, but the ones I wore worked better with the outfit. The Little Artist helped Grammy get dressed and loved the twirly skirt. Fashion matters aside, the event was a huge success, I think. I got to Books & Co. about twenty minutes before seven and the seats were nearly all taken--25-30 people. They went back repeatedly for more chairs. By the time we began, the seats were filled and people were standing in the aisles. Sharon Kelly Roth, who runs the book-signings, estimated about eighty people were there. I gave a brief talk, then the artists began signing their pictures in the books while I signed at center stage. They had such a good time gabbing with each other. My good friend Virginia brought a bouquet of roses for the signing table. Leonard and Angela helped set up the flip-easel for my talk and Virginia passed out the nametags with the artist's name and picture from the book (with page number) to make signing easier. Renee introduced me--she has been there for most of my book-signings and does such a conscientious job. The audience was filled with artists, current and past students, friends, relatives--and a lot of people I didn't know--who all seemed very receptive to the occasion. It was wonderful. Thanks to all who came to celebrate the publication of The New Creative Artist with me. I'll share photos tomorrow.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Shopping's not my bag.

I spent an inordinate amount of time yesterday shopping for shoes to wear to my book-signing. Not that I don't have shoes, although I haven't bought any for years. I just thought it would be fun to have a new pair of kicky little slides that sort-of matched my teal-ish outfit. (Trying to sound fashion-aware here.) I was amazed at all the 6-inch heels I saw in the stores. Do women actually wear those things? Well, of course they do. I've seen them on American Idol. I can't begin to imagine what that does to your back and hips, not to mention your poor feet. Anyway, I found a pair I liked with a 2-inch heel that isn't clunky, color just-right, but had to drive to a second store to get them in my size. On sale, of course. I'm all set now. Won't have to go into a store until just before Christmas.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Painting Shadows

Yesterday's watercolor class was a brief course in light and shadow. I showed them the text and diagrams on pp. 114-116 in Exploring Color . These pages describe how shadows are a translucent veil that allows the color underneath to show through. Shadows can be a neutral gray color, cool blue or violet, or a warm color suggesting the bouncing sunlight. Next we looked at pp. 68-69 in The New Creative Artist which include definitions of qualities of light from highlight through shade, reflected light and shadow.

Then I talked about perspective in shadows and how they are harder-edged and darker at the base of the object and become gradually softer and lighter in value as they move away from it. I stressed the importance of establishing at the start where the light is coming from. In plein air this involves careful observation and being aware that the light is changing as you work. You can paint your shadow pattern first in neutral monochrome and then glaze the colors on top. If you're working from photographs or sketches, careful observation is equally important. And if you're changing the light source, you must be constantly aware of how that affects every aspect of the subject. We also talked briefly about how shadows help to describe the surface of a subject, where hard edges suggest corners and soft edges indicate soft contours. This is true of any subject from figures to landscape. Shadows are key to the illusion of reality in your picture.

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Shreveport photos

Bob Horne took a series of photos at the book signing and put them on his and Judy's blog: Shreveport signing Click the "slide show" banner at the top of the page to see full-screen photos. Thanks to Bob for the photos and to Judy for setting up the signing.

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Shreveport Book Signing

I'm told that the signing went really well. Eight or nine artists came and signed books until they were sold out--forty or more. One person said she thought they could have sold a hundred. Yippee! Cover Girl Cheryl McClure was there, having driven over from Texas in 100-degree heat. Sounds like a good time was had by all. I hope the one here goes as well on Thursday.

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Art-to-Art Palette

A new review of The New Creative Artist has been posted on Art-to-Art Palette online magazine. This one goes into more detail on the contents of the book and how you can read through it or skip around and do whatever strikes your fancy. I've never met any of these reviewers, but I'm delighted that they're putting in writing how they feel about my book.

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Friday, August 11, 2006

The New Creative Artist BOOK SIGNINGS

Sunday, August 13, 2-4 p.m. Barnes & Noble, 6646 Youree Street, Shreveport, Louisiana. Area artists will be present to sign their pages in the book. Read article.

Thursday, August 17, 7 p.m., Books & Co., 350 E Stroop Road, Kettering, Ohio. I'll give a brief talk on the myth of talent and area artists will be present to sign the pages on which their artwork appears in the book.

Sunday, September 10, 1-4 p.m., Watermark Gallery, 115 Water Street, Tuckerton, New Jersey. Area artists will be present to sign their pages in the book.

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Art of the Press Release

Years ago, when I was active in most of the area art orgs, I served on several boards as publicity chairman. Back then it was extremely difficult for a visual artist or local art group to get into the print media or on TV. It was partly because the arts editors back then had a bias toward the performing arts and didn't think local visual artists or groups had anything going for them. But also because the groups in question didn't do a very good job of PR. I helped to turn that around by working up a list of one hundred media outlets that covered the arts, including small weeklies from surrounding communities. I also established a press-release format to be used for all events. That seemed to help at the time. Now, our local papers are more involved in promoting visual arts, partly because of the interest of the editors themselves and partly because of the advocacy of the Dayton Visual Arts Center (DVAC).

My publisher has a PR person who was given my bio and information on The New Creative Artist. He told me he has an extensive media guide and there is a procedure for putting out publicity on a new book release. I have no idea what this means. So to be on the safe side, I decided to send out some publicity of my own regarding my book signing next Thursday, August 17. I reduced my original list to about forty newspapers and sent press releases on the signing, including a background of the book and a brief bio. I should have sent them out about a week sooner than I did, but couldn't get to it in time. Nevertheless, I'm hearing reports that notices are appearing here and there in the suburban and small-town papers. There was also a brief notice in the Dayton Daily News this morning. I targeted one arts writer in that paper with a more detailed package, but I haven't heard from her. The Shreveport artists have gotten more publicity than the author has in her own home town so far. Well, maybe there will be something over the weekend. Ya nevah know.

I'm getting excited about the event, working on a brief "audience participation" program that should be fun. Then I'll sign books and the artists will sign the pages their illustrations appear on. We did this with the original book and I frequently had students in my later workshops who treasured their books and took them to demos and workshops so artists in the book could add their signatures. So far, seventeen artists have said they'll be there and I expect a few more than that.

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Richard Schmid wrote:

"Somewhere within all of us there is a wordless center, a part of us that hopes to be immortal in some way, a part that has remained unchanged since we were children—the source of our strength and compassion. This faint confluence of the tangible and the spiritual is where Art comes from. It has no known limits, and once you tap into it you will realize what truly rich choices you have.

May each painting you do from that sacred place include an expression of gratitude for the extraordinary privilege of being an artist. . . ."

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Easy Perspective

That's an oxymoron. If you know it, it's easy, but if you don't, there isn't anything that's much harder for an aspiring artist to understand. It all seems very logical, but the brain keeps on seeing what it expects to see instead of what is really happening, so the hand draws buildings without converging lines and sometimes makes distant figures almost as tall as foreground ones. You've probably guessed that I taught perspective in my beginning watercolor class today. It's hard, but if they want to draw buildings--and most of them do--they'll have to learn it eventually. A couple caught on pretty quickly. A couple more seemed to understand the principles and were beginning to see it in their drawings. When I taught myself perspective thirty years ago (because no one would teach it to me), it took almost two years before I had the big Ah-Ha! Maybe I'm just slow. But I do know that if you keep at it, you can master it. Just don't expect it to be easy. My favorite book on artist's perspective is Perspective Drawing Handbook. by Joseph d'Amelio. It's currently out of print, but there are a few copies available online. It doesn't get as technical as so many books do. This book helped me to get the Eureka Moment and I finally could see and draw perspective reasonably well. My motto, however, is "It doesn't have to be correct; it just has to look convincing."

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Washington-Centerville Library

It's no wonder our library is ranked the best library in the nation, based on area population. I stopped by this afternoon to pick up some casual reading, but didn't have much time. The place is always busy, so I wasn't surprised to have to stand in line. But I was surprised when a librarian asked me if I would like to use the Express Checkout. She showed me how it works--slick as a whistle. Scan your library card, scan each book and scan the card again. The machine prints out a receipt listing your books and the due date. You're done. I love technology.

Still, the library hasn't lost that warm-and-cozy feel it had when I first started taking our kids there more than forty years ago. The library was housed in a small building near the old Centerville High School. It had no parking to speak of. But we visited regularly for years, especially in the summer when the kids participated in the summer reading program. Eventually, the system grew and a new library, called "Woodbourne" (for the area in which it stood), was built just five minutes from our house. We stopped going to the Centerville library. Apparently, they didn't miss us. As the community grew, a huge new library was built just south of town. Most of the libraries' events are held there. The libraries operate as Washington/Centerville Library, Washington being the township area surrounding Centerville.

Libraries have been magic places to me since I was a child. We couldn't afford to buy many books, but a library card was free. Our father took us often until we were old enough to ride the bus and go by ourselves. I made a great many bus trips to the Dayton View Library through the years. Now it seems that the library is one of our Little Artist's favorite places to go. It must be in the DNA.


Artists signing books in Shreveport

The Shreveport Times has an article online about the artists' book signing at Barnes & Noble on Sunday, August 13 in Shreveport, Louisiana. The writer, Jennifer Flowers, interviewed me by telephone last week. She has written a good article, telling how I select art for my books and describing some of the art and artists. Cheryl McClure, the cover artist, will be there to sign books, along with the other area artists mentioned in the article. Wish I could be there, but at $1000 for airfare for an overnight stay, it can't be done. It's going to be quite a party. Don't miss it if you're in the area.

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Reviews of The New Creative Artist

My cup runneth over. Art-to_Art Palette online magazine has posted three great reviews in the News briefs column. I'm enjoying reading how each artist reacts to different aspects of the book. A couple of the reviews have been posted on the book page at Amazon, along with others that were posted early on. I'm psyched. (Sorry, I keep saying that. But it's true.)

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Monday, August 07, 2006

Watercolor with ink line

Fun, fun day in class today. Before I did the ink lesson, I showed them my latest treasured tool. A genuine, Nita Engle Windex spray bottle that I bought at a gas station along the Interstate on my trip to Michigan. I had given up on ever finding one after my last one broke. Most stores sell the big pump sprayers, which don't allow you to do the little spritzy things that create interesting textures. Nita Engle uses one to make trees without a brush. The class was delighted to see what you can do with the sprayer. There will no doubt be a run on Windex at truck stops and gas stations everywhere.

The ink lesson was fun, too. I took some India ink (permanent, lightfast pigmented ink) and several tools: a crow-quill pen, a bamboo pen, a broad-nib pen, a piece of mat board, some flexible bamboo sticks from a placemat and a 1/2" flat synthetic watercolor brush that I use only for the ink. First, I taught them what I learned about using ink with watercolor: You use watercolor lightly to tint ink drawings or use ink lightly to enhance watercolors. You don't let the two compete for dominance. I don't know if this is an actual "rule," but it seems to work.

It doesn't matter which you put down first, but the first layer should be dry before adding the other medium. I like to do a loose, splashy watercolor and add light, feathery lines using the flexible bamboo stick. This gives a fresh, spontaneous look to the watercolor. If someone prefers to do a detailed drawing, then they make a better picture if they just tint areas of it, rather than trying to color inside the lines.

Those who tried the ink-and-watercolor technique had great fun with it and did nifty paintings. Some of these folks have struggled finish paintings that satisfied them, but they were well pleased with the results of the new technique. The variety of work in this class--subject matter, techniques, colors--continues to delight me. Each student is growing at his or her pace; they have, for the most part, given up comparing themselves with others and have started to see how they are progressing on their own.

One student had a big problem with shadows this week, so that's the lesson for next week. Stay tuned. It's the last class of this session, but we're going right into the next session the following week, with the class more than half full already. It's a great group and they enjoy each other tremendously. One student brought pineapple-upside-down cake to share today. It was sooooo good.

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Time flies

I didn't realize I hadn't blogged since Thursday until I checked in this morning. Time flies when you're having fun, or when you're working your tail off, whichever. I've been giving my house a thorough cleaning. I don't do this often. We don't clutter, so the place looks pretty good most of the time, if you don't mind the dust accumulating. Since I was an almost-obsessive house cleaner in my younger years, this is a huge change for me. I can't say it's a bad one. I decided a few years ago that I didn't want my epitaph to read, "She had the cleanest floors in town." So I phased out of my cleaning ritual and spent more time playing with the kids, learning to paint and writing books for artists, all of which are far more satisfying than dusting and mopping. Still, it feels good to have a shine on the place once in awhile.


Thursday, August 03, 2006

North Light Book Club

The New Creative Artist is the main selection for the book club this month. Someone told me you can see a few actual pages from the book online. I didn't know they had such a feature--very cool. Here's the link. You need to have java-scripts enabled to use this feature.

The book club bulletin looks great, too. I'm psyched.

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"Oh, Bother"

That's what Pooh Bear would say about my shenanigans this week. I allotted a certain amount of time to do promotion for my book signing, including mailing 140 postcard announcements to students and friends and about fifty press releases to area newspapers. I had it all worked out, cards designed, releases written and address labels printed. On Tuesday I mailed the postcards and this morning I mailed the media releases. When I got home from the post office today, I had a message in my voice mail: "Why does your postcard say the book-signing is July 17?" I don't know, why does it? Because I missed a typo. I must have read the stupid card twenty times. Now I know why they say we see what we expect to see. I saw "August 17" where it clearly said "July 17"--every time I looked at it. Oh, bother.

I quickly designed a correction notice and started printing it on 4-up postcards. Only this time the printer decided it didn't like the postcards. It took forever to get them printed. Oh, bother. But it only took a minute to print the labels. Fortunately I had saved the file I made for the first mailing. (Sing a song of bees & hunny.) I went to the post office late this afternoon, bought more stamps and mailed the correction notice.

I'm praying fervently that I didn't make any mistakes in the press releases. I'm afraid to look at the file. I sure wish I had taken my own advice, which is somewhere in my web site articles on marketing: Always have someone else proofread your copy.

Oh, bother.

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Watercolor paper--am I repeating myself?

During my first session with beginners I pass around a sample packet of watercolor papers for them to bend, feel and compare. I explain about the weight (140 lb preferred), the pH (acid-free preferred), the texture (cold press preferred). I tell them about sizing, variation in whiteness, deckle edges, the difference between pads and blocks. I tell them watercolor paper is expensive, but you definitely get what you pay for. I tell them if they're disappointed in the results they get, it may very well be the paper and not their lack of skill. Do they listen? Nooooooo. Well, some do. But here we are, in the fifth week of class and someone says, "I think maybe this paper isn't very good." Duh. Can't say that I blame them, though. That student had paid $8.00 for the same amount of paper as another had paid $30.00 for. His paper buckled, puddled and frustrated him. I gave him a scrap of Arches cold press 140 lb. paper and he immediately saw the difference. If you paint on both sides of a one-eighth or one-quarter sheet, the better paper isn't much more expensive. And when you finally finish a painting you like, you have something that will look good in a mat and a frame and won't discolor or curl. Cheap paper comes back to haunt you. Trust me.

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