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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Color mixing charts--green and black

Canadian artist Zan Barrage has done a great job showing the mixtures of colors he has explored to mix low-intensity greens and blacks. I wish more artists would take the time to do this. They would have fewer problems using color in their artwork. It isn't the pigments themselves that cause the problems most of the time--it's not knowing their characteristics and how they will react in mixtures with other colors. Another important point is that the colors should be integrated throughout the painting and not just used to mix the green and the black.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Limited palette watercolor

I can always count on the Monday watercolor class to raise my spirits. They have such a high level of enthusiasm and they've almost completely eliminated "can't" from their vocabularies. Today I gave them a big surprise. Many of them started with my beginning class, where we used Payne's Gray to do value studies as a means of learning brushstrokes and washes. Then I forbade them to use it when we learned split-primary color mixing, because it muddies color pretty quickly if you don't know how to use it. They laugh at me when I screech at the sight of Payne's Gray on their palettes or in their paintings. So today I did a little demo and showed them how to use PG as a color in the Old Master's Palette of Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna (or Yellow Ochre) and Payne's Gray. PG is very beautiful when it's integrated into a harmonious palette of earth hues. Several of them tried it and got beautiful results. Next week we're going to plan our exhibition, which is opening October 16.

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Complaint mode

Recently I've received several calls on my voice mail from a bank unknown to me. They sounded like a scam, so I deleted them. Then my husband told me that an unauthorized online charge to his card was attempted the same week I got the first call. Neither of us had used the card. He canceled it immediately. We don't know yet whether there were any other attempts prior to cancellation.

I decided we should get our free credit reports to make sure there wasn't any unauthorized credit activity. Guess what I found out. The bank that has been calling us apparently now owns our credit card company. We have no record of this. We would certainly have responded to the phone alerts if we had recognized the caller as authentic. We're grateful that the illegal charge was declined, but it's annoying that we weren't notified of the connection with the bank that called.

FYI, it's very easy to get your free credit report and I recommend it. You can get all three at a site authorized by the FTC. (Many sites charge for membership in order to get your "free" information.)


Friday, September 22, 2006

What's wrong with this picture?

We have a regional art club, the Western Ohio Watercolor Society, which meets at the Springfield (OH) Art Museum. For several years the club has offered a $300 scholarship to an area high-school-senior art student, with an added bonus of $300 for the teacher who nominates the winning student. Artist Jim McCoy donated additional funds, which increased the award to $500 for both student and teacher, in memory of his wife, an accomplished artist who taught art for many years in the public schools. Several months ago I was asked to judge the awards pro bono, which I was delighted to do. The judging was to take place this afternoon at the museum. Yesterday I received a call from the man in charge of the scholarship award. Larry sat at the museum for four hours and not a single entry was brought in, so my services weren't needed today. Can you believe it? Why would teachers not encourage their students to submit their work for such an award, with such a generous monetary incentive for themselves? Even without that, teachers should be helping their students to build a portfolio and resume for their art careers. I just don't get it. I have been feeling very sad today to think of this opportunity lost for some deserving student--because of a lazy teacher? So, so sad.

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Art questions by email

Or somebody's homework?

Every day I find a couple of emails requesting information on an art technique, a painting medium, paper storage or a particular artist. Yesterday somebody wanted a suggestion for inexpensive flat paper storage and someone else needed vertical storage for paintings. I usually go the Web and do a quick search for links, unless I happen to know the answer right off the bat. I'm happy to help.

But once in awhile I receive an email that is clearly a class assignment, for example, "List five examples of impressionist art. Give the artists' names and dates. Tell what medium each artist used." Sometimes the email looks like this:
"list 5 exsampls of impressnis art give artst names and dates tellwht medyum each artis uset."

I can't help myself--I respond with "I don't do other people's homework." I've had just one reply, from a woman whose emails weren't misspelled. She confessed it was her homework for an art-history class. She was a middle-aged woman going to college for the first time and hadn't a clue how to do research on the Web. Somehow she had found my web site. I gave her a short course on Google. She's doing her own research now. The others probably just sent their homework to someone else, hoping to find a sucker who'll answer the questions for them.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A few pictures from the NJ workshop

Take a look. I wish I had thought to take more photos of the sketches done in the workshop.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

New Jersey Workshop Highlights

Teaching a Pine Shores Art Association workshop is always more than just doing a workshop. This was my fourth since 1999 and I've grown very fond of the people who organize and participate in the workshops there. The membership comes from a wide area surrounding Manahawkin, the site of the workshop, including Little Egg Harbor Township, Long Beach Island, Atlantic City and even North Jersey. During the first two workshops I stayed on the beach in Surf City. In 1999 they entertained me with Hurricane Floyd, which was in tropical storm mode as it lashed the building where I was teaching a color workshop. We had been evacuated from the island and stayed in Manahawkin until early evening.

In 2001, a month after the September 11 terrorist attack in NYC, I taught a creativity workshop, which had an unusual spiritual element with so many having been affected by that terrible event. Then in 2004 we did a lively design and collage workshop without any disasters to contend with. That year I stayed with one of the PSAA members in her lovely shore house on the bay of Long Beach Island. I returned to her place this year. She wasn't there when I arrived, so I watched a sailing regatta from her dining room. Before the weekend was out, we enjoyed a spectacular fireworks display from a marina across the bay. During the week my hostess wined and dined me, drove me up to Barnegat Light House and other sights on the island. Long Beach Island is a beautiful, sometimes overcrowded, vacation destination during the summer. In September, it's idyllic with little traffic, pleasant weather and visual treats for an artist's eye.

The Sunday book-signing was held at Watermark Gallery in Tuckerton, where I first saw some of the work I used in The New Creative Artist. Six artists attended and signed books along with me for visitors to the gallery. They had a good crowd and wonderful food. I'll put photos on a web page as soon as I can get them in the right format.

On Monday evening at the regular meeting of PSAA I gave a slide program using slides of eighty paintings from the book. I talked about the principles each piece illustrates in the book, and also about how I found the art or the artist through my travels or reading.

The workshop and demo were held on the mainland at Manahawkin, where PSAA has outfitted the top floor of a frame house for classes and meetings. (The lower floor houses an American Legion post.) The large room is well equipped with demo mirror, books and setups for a wide variety of ongoing classes and workshops, plus a compact office with copier and other office machines. There's even a small kitchen and microwave at one end and a double sink. While it isn't "state-of-the-art" like some fancy art centers, it has everything you need, plus an atmosphere that makes meetings and classes friendly and fun.

The workshop, an intermediate to advanced color workshop based on my book, Exploring Color, extended from Tuesday through Friday. We reviewed basic principles, then moved on to color contrasts, color schemes and special effects in color. The class was wonderful, really getting into the swing of things. I should have a few photos soon.

But, of course, Friday was the highlight with heavy winds, rain and flooding. This was the real thing. It rained heavily all night, but the roads didn't seem that bad when we drove over the causeway to Manahawkin. However, by noon six inches of rain were expected. Within the hour the schools were closed and traffic in one direction was completely at a standstill. We heard that no one was being allowed on the island. Two of my friends left to pick up lunch and it took them a long time to get back with all the rain and traffic. I stood at the front door of the building and wondered why the guy next door was piling up sand bags along the curb in front of his house. A short while later, a young woman (who may have been his wife) came to us nearly hysterical, worried about her house and children. This got several of our group somewhat agitated.

We were just finishing lunch when someone from the fire department came up to talk to us. The first visit was FYI about the danger to the foundation of the house next door; the second was to tell us to pack up and evacuate the building in case that house collapsed. It was leaning our direction. They invited us to the firehouse across the street. We couldn't have gone anywhere else with all the flooding. They suggested we load our cars and move them to the firehouse. It was pretty chaotic until I said I would bring my supplies into the firehouse and go on with the workshop. Manahawkin Fire Department Which I did. They gave us soft drinks and offered snacks, making us feel welcome. There was plenty of room, nice tables and decent lighting on the table where I set up my demos. When I finished my Friday afternoon lesson, the sun was starting to peek out and the rain had stopped. We couldn't leave, though. The roads and traffic were still very bad. So I continued to teach from my book, adding "design and color" to the syllabus, until it was safe to leave.

After class it took another 45 minutes or so to get my materials packed and shipped from Staples. Then we headed across the bridge to the island. It was very slow going with bumper-to-bumper traffic. In many areas we encountered high water, mostly at intersections. Police officers directed traffic through congested areas. Orange construction cones narrowed traffic to one lane in places. Quite a few cars were stalled or pulled over. Only SUVs and trucks were high enough to clear the flooding in places. People waded across intersections through knee-high water. Not far from the shore house we reached slightly higher ground, where there were puddles instead of flood-waters.

Saturday was anti-climactic (in a good way!) without extreme weather. My hostess drove me to Atlantic City to catch my flight to Cincinnati, where I made my connection to Dayton without a hitch.

I've told my friends at Pine Shores that they don't need to go to such extremes to entertain me. They haven't done hail or a blizzard yet.

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Checking in after the workshop

An unbelievable week in New Jersey. The workshop, etc., was great, but it was topped off yesterday by a flood. It poured rain in the early hours of Friday and most of the day. Right after lunch the fire department urged us to evacuate the art center because the house next door was in danger of collapsing onto the building. So I finished the workshop at the firehouse. I'll write details tomorrow and post pictures as soon as I get them onto a web page. In the meantime...lots of catching up to do. Sally, are you out there? I didn't get your photos in my email.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Pine Shores Art Association Workshop

This is such a great group. First, there was the gallery book-signing at Watermark Gallery in Tuckerton. Last night I did a slide presentation for the PSAA and today began the color workshop. It's a great group of fifteen--a good size for lots of questions and individual attention. I'm pretty beat, so won't go into detail today. Just wanted to check in. I'm staying in a private home on the bay with the sea breezes wafting in from the Atlantic Ocean. Sunny and cool. Simply lovely. Catch you later.

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Friday, September 08, 2006

Mini Book Reviews

  • Having had an opportunity recently to take a second look at watercolor simplifiedWatercolor Simplified by Pat Weaver, I decided to update an earlier review. As I said before, the book may be a bit intimidating for beginners. The photos of the artist's studio are a bit too much for a "simplified" approach to watercolor. The supplies are basic, but the text seems to assume that you already know how to use watercolor. There are discussions of the Golden Mean and a good section on drawing, with emphasis on planning and value sketching. More for intermediates, I think, but rich with useful material for that level. I do admire Weaver's bold way with watercolor.

  • dramatic_lightDramatic Light: Paint Eye-Catching Art in Watercolor and Oil strikes me as a good book for artists looking to incorporate light effects in their work without laboring over every facet in a crystal vase or every ripple in the water. In other words, Patrick Howe makes painting light doable for most painters in watercolor and oil. After a good section on Preparing and Planning, which includes many tips and techniques, Howe covers Transparency, Translucence, Luminosity, Light and Reflection with demonstrations and mini-demos. The text is easy to understand and the demos illustrate the text well. The conclusion includes material on the business of art. This one is a keeper.
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    Wednesday, September 06, 2006

    Packing for a workshop

    Yesterday I shipped two boxes of supplies and books for my color workshop in New Jersey by UPS. I dropped them off at Office Depot because I don't have a scale that will weigh packages over five pounds. I used my online UPS account and was delighted to find that the person I shipped to two years ago is still in my UPS address book. All I had to do was click here and there and the boxes were ready to go. It's easier to pack for a color or watercolor workshop than it is for collage and creativity, so it wasn't such a big deal this time. I used to ship only my books that I take for sale. I packed my supplies in one suitcase, my clothes in another, and used a carryon for things I couldn't risk losing, like the outline of the class and handouts. Since 9/11 I've been shipping as much as I can and taking just one suitcase and one carryon. This time I'm going to try to get by with checking one suitcase and carrying a large tote bag, instead of a purse and carryon. I haven't found check-ins to be that bad, but I try to think ahead and make it easier for myself and the security people. Travel isn't as much fun now as it was when I did my first workshop in 1986, but as long as I have a good book and a few sudoku puzzles I can kick back and endure whatever comes along.

    I hope I haven't forgotten anything.

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    Tuesday, September 05, 2006

    Small World Department

    Ben Rayman, publisher and online webmaster of Art-to-Art Palette tells me he has created a new page for book reviews online. Katrina Exposed by Steven McClansky and Alternative Kilns and Firing Techniques:Raku by James C. Watkins are both reviewed, as well as The New Creative Artist.

    Commenting on my upcoming workshop in Manahawkin, New Jersey, for the Pine Shores Art Association, Ben remarked that his wife, Pat, is from the East coast, born and reared in the Passaic-Upper Saddle River area. After college, she ventured West, and took a teaching job with the Delphos, Ohio, City schools some years ago. Ben says Pat soon starts her fall classes at the Wassenburg Art Center. She told him, "Nita's book is really going to come in handy, and become part of my classes and workshops." Pat also teaches occasionally at Wright State University--Lake Campus.

    Here is more information on Pat Rayman.

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    Monday, September 04, 2006

    On mailing lists and art marketing

    The Left Brain strikes again. On Saturday I described the three tasks I have to do and the order in which I expected to do them. My compulsive nature rose up and I began entering addresses into my Access database yesterday. I rationalized that the workshop shipment wouldn't go out until after Labor Day anyway, so it could wait another day. I convinced myself that the book outline is shaping up in my mind and will come pouring forth when it's ready (or on Tuesday, whichever comes first). So I typed and input, and input and typed, taking a break now and then to maintain my sanity. (Too late!)

    But! I got all the records updated. I filed the stacks of addresses. I feel like a major cloud has passed that has been hanging over me for a long time. In fact, I don't even care if I use the database right away--just knowing it will be ready when I need it is a big relief. I didn't like struggling to gather addresses for the book-signing. Now it will be a piece of cake to sort a mailing list and print labels.

    This seems like a ridiculous entry for an art and creativity blog, but the truth is that part of both is doing the marketing. Artists and writers who want to be successful must spend a significant part of their time spreading the word. One of my high-school teachers said, "You have to toot your own horn, because no one will do it for you." One artist on an art mailing list had been taught that she should let someone else toot her horn for her. You could wait a long time for someone else to do that. I've been observing artists on the Internet for over ten years now and the ones who are thriving are the ones who beep their own horns.

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    Sunday, September 03, 2006

    "A haze on the far horizon"

    Definitely feeling fall-ish in Ohio. The nights and days have both turned cooler with lower humidity. We're falling asleep hearing insects eeeeping in the woods and waking up in the middle of the night to total silence. Lovely. I went to the grocery on Friday and as I walked through the parking lot on my way in, I saw a man loading a beautiful fall arrangement with sunflowers into his car. I vowed I had to have one, if there was another in the store. It was an extravagance I don't usually allow myself, but I've been enjoying them on my breakfast-room table all weekend. We could still have a warm Indian Summer, but I always enjoy the first preview of autumn.

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    Saturday, September 02, 2006

    Studio Clean-up

    Sort of. I've been moving piles of stuff around, pretending that I'm getting organized. My first task is to find all my notes for a new book project, outline needed early next week. They're here somewhere, but where? The new stack is growing higher, so maybe I've collected most of it. I'll be laboring on Labor Day on the outline.

    My second task is to gather my materials for the New Jersey workshop and ship them off ASAP. I used to take them with me in a suitcase and a carryon, but I don't want to risk a hassle at the airport. I've been shipping ahead for a couple of years now and it has worked well so far. If my shipment goes out today, it probably won't ship until Tuesday, but it should still get there before the workshop starts on the following Tuesday. To be on the safe side I'll carry my class notes and copies of each handout with me.

    My third task is to update my mailing list database. Ack! After almost four years of neglect, the stack of un-entered addresses has grown into a tower. While I haven't used the list for awhile, it is suddenly becoming necessary. It was hard to collect the names and addresses I needed for my book signing invitation (The New Creative Artist) and about a dozen were returned because I hadn't been updating the list. Yesterday I gritted my teeth and sorted through the stacks of receipts and class rosters to find the ones that need to be entered. My plan is to do a page or two each day. I've already made some headway--I'm up to 2004!

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