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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Slumber party play-back

Jenna's overnight at Grammy's was a huge success. We went to the library after she got here and picked out six books. She brought a backpack full of soft toys and one dollie to meet her toys at Grammy's house and to sleep with. She was very impressed with the fact that Mommy's "old" bedroom was now "Jenna's room." She flopped back on the bed and sighed. Ever the Drama Queen. She danced along with the TV and sang all the words to most of the songs on the video she brought. At bedtime Granddaddy sat on the floor and read her a story about dancing princesses and she danced throughout the entire story. By this time we were winding down and she was still dancing. I finally lulled her to sleep with a quiet story. She had asked me to sleep with her and I told her I'd stay until she fell asleep, then I'd go to my room--but when she started to drift off, she said, "You can go now, Grammy. Close the door, please." However, a split second after I closed the door, she shouted, "Grammy!" I went back in and she said, "I'm just practicing." This happened two or three times, then all was quiet and she slept through the night. Yesterday she kept saying, "This is fun!" and I thought she was probably trying to convince herself. However, she never asked for her parents to come. In the morning she said, "Can we do this again some time?" So, it seems a good time was had by all. I think her parents didn't sleep a wink.

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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Paint like Pollock--what fun!

A friend sent me this link: www.jacksonpollock.org. Have some fun throwing paint on your computer. Every time you click your mouse, it changes color. Right-click and press rewind to start over. This is something you can do on New Year's Eve if you're not going out!

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Friday, December 29, 2006

Christmas beauty

Once in awhile I get a photo of my granddaughter, now almost four years old, that takes my breath away. Just had to share it. Her parents are going to a party tomorrow night and she has told them she wants to stay overnight at Grammy's house--for the first time. She has been to Colorado and Tennessee with her parents, but has never spent the night without them anywhere. Should be interesting. We've been transforming her mother's old room into Jenna's new room--I think she'll fall for that. She's very comfortable here, but it will be interesting to see what happens when the lights go out at bedtime.

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Rembrandt and the Golden Age of Dutch Art

My son and I took in the Rembrandt exhibition at the Dayton Art Institute yesterday. For some reason I expected a small show, but it's a blockbuster and truly awesome. I tried to imagine the very small geographic area of the Netherlands as I studied paintings by the many skilled seventeenth-century artists on display in the show. Room after room of marvelous artworks, curated by subject, beginning with portraits of amazing depth and intelligence. The still lifes are rich and engaging, the landscapes luminous and atmospheric. Genre paintings of biblical times and contemporary life close the exhibit with Rembrandt's "Denial of Peter" as the dramatic finale. Interspersed in smaller spaces between painting exhibits are Rembrandt's etching and engravings, which are a worthy show unto themselves: "amazing" is all I can say about these small works. (Some have magnifying glasses attached to the wall for closer examination--what a great idea. Next time I go to a print show, I'll take my own.) There is still time until Jan. 7 to see the show in Dayton, so don't miss this rare opportunity to see works by the greatest of the great, Rembrandt. The show will move to Phoenix, Arizona and Portland, Oregon. For more about the artists and art, click the link above.

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Friday, December 22, 2006

'Tis the season to be busy

No time for blogging the past few days. Have been getting ready for a big family Christmas, 17-pound turkey and all. Shopping is done, presents are wrapped and under the tree, excitement building, thinking about having everyone home together. Our Boston son is coming today, any time now, but the Colorado contingent had to cancel out. One son sat on a plane in Denver for hours before they canceled his flight. His car in the parking lot was buried in snow and 5000 people were stranded at the airport, according to the news. He called me as he left the plane and cleverly rented a car, drove home and slept in his own bed instead of at the airport. In the meantime our Durango son and his wife had their flight canceled, too, which was supposed to connect in Denver today. The airlines were rescheduling flights for Christmas Eve, which would have given the kids about 36 hours at home before they had to return on the 26th. Not going to happen. So the Durango couple will go skiing as a consolation prize (I'm sure they feel bad about that) and the Denver son will no doubt go to my sister's in Boulder for Christmas dinner. In the meantime my daughter here has planned a mini-reunion tomorrow for her cousins and my other sister's family, because her brothers would all be home at the same time. We'll have a great time seeing them all, but wish our boys could have come, too. Happy holidays to all. I'll be doing more cooking than blogging over the next few days.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Art-to-Buy at the Dayton Visual Arts Center

I spent such a long time browsing at the Art-to-Buy showroom at DVAC that I had to feed the parking meter twice. Artists are so amazingly creative with the gift items that they bring to this venue every year at the holiday season. The variety is unbelievable, from pottery and paintings to artistic tambourines.

Quilters offer wall hangings and potholders. There are scarves: dyed silk and knitted in stunning colors. Felted hats and handbags, both practical and dressy. Funky, funny and elegant ornaments hang from trees throughout the gallery. I found handmade books and calligraphy that took my breath away (and some of my cash.)

The handmade jewelry is spectacular: silver, ceramic, beaded and glass earrings, necklaces and bracelets. There was a good crowd there this afternoon. I hope there will be even more shoppers buying the artwork, paintings and photographs for gifts. It's a great way to support art and local artists.

Every wall is covered with art. Here a rack of wonderful handmade ceramic mugs and framed artwork share a space with more pottery and gifts on stands. The work is professionally and lovingly created and displayed, as well as reasonably priced. We are very fortunate to have such a great place to buy original art during this annual exhibition. 118 N. Jefferson St. in downtown Dayton.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

"A Guided Journey for the Creative Soul"

This is the subtitle of Eric Maisel's A Writer's Paris. He makes a compelling case for getting to Paris any way you can and living there for awhile and making a commitment to your creative soul to do your creative work surrounded by the inspiration of this great city of the arts. The Paris Maisel describes doesn't sound all that different from the one I once knew--enchanting. The book is filled with charming illustrations--drawings, photos, graphics, and collages. It isn't just about Paris, though. It's about committing to your creative work.

I lived in central France for nearly eighteen months in the mid-1950s as a young bride. My husband and I went to Paris once a month and explored. Yes, Paris is a special place for lovers. But it is also a metaphor for escaping the dailiness of your life and doing your creative work, no matter what.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Watercolor class Christmas cards

This was the last day of the current session and we had a good time sharing calories nobody really needed and exchanging hand-painted Christmas cards. Everyone brought two and selected two from a box I put them in. There was a delightful variety of cards from beautiful poinsettias to snowmen and snowy landscapes. So here is my smiling class for all the world to see. I'm proud of them and wish them all--and you--a happy holiday season and a fantastic New Year.


Georges de la Tour--One of my all-time-favorite painters

Charley Parker on his Lines & Colors blog features Georges de la Tour. I'm amazed at his mastery of chiaroscuro and his representation of light. Follow the links at the bottom of the blog for more images.

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Pocket Palettes to the Max

Ron Ray's Altoid pocket palette box beats all. It has been fun seeing what others are doing with this idea. My Little Artist used the one I made for her yesterday when she came for the afternoon while her parents went Christmas shopping. I thought the color pans might be too small for her, but she was very dainty dipping into the colors.

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Friday, December 08, 2006

More Art Book Reviews

ranson skiesRon Ranson on Skies (Studio Vista, 1998) is for landscape painters in any medium who love to feature skies. The book shows techniques mostly in watercolor, but does include instruction on some other media, along with excellent photographs of cloud formations and many wonderful sky paintings. This is a great reference for landscape painters. I'm a sky freak myself and love paging through this book to look at the photos and paintings.

color&light in oilsColour and Light in Oils by Nicholas Verrall and Robin Capon (Batsford, 2004). The pages on Understanding Oils are very informative and user friendly, even to a beginner in oils like me. There aren't many swatches for visual comprehension, but the artwork throughout is dazzling, but not overwhelming as a possible goal for an artist to strive for. Verrall and Capon cover painting color and light, different types of subject matter and the working process, with a few demos scattered throughout the book in two or three stages.

digital canvasThe Digital Canvas: Discovering the Art Studio in Your Computer. (Abrams Studio, 2006.) This book by Jonathan Raimes almost makes me want to sell all my painting gear and just play with my computer. It's dazzling and I really think I could do it with this book as my text. The book has page after page of brilliant color effects with simple computer screen shots to show the tools for achieving them. Probably not for beginners, but definitely for creative computer artists.

embracing child artBarbara McGuire has written Embracing Child Art. (Krause, 2001) to give adults ideas on how to encourage a child's natural creativity and ultimately help them to make a few treasured objects. There are wonderful suggestions for guiding Little Artists and helping them create projects with their own art to last a lifetime. The best part of the book is page after page of wonderful examples of child art.

van wyk color-mixingHelen Van Wyk's Color Mixing the Van Wyk Way: A Manual for Oil Painters (Art Instruction Associates, 2000) has quickly become a classic since it was first published in 1995. She keeps the color concepts simple, emphasizing primarily color temperature and comparing a few basic palette choices for simple still lifes and portraits. This book would help beginners in oils to understand their colors and master color mixing of specific pigments.

van wyk color recipesHelen Van Wyk's Favorite Color Recipes. (Art Instruction Associates, 2000) expands somewhat on the previous book and introduces a greater variety of subjects with color recipes in oil paints that are her recommendations for painting them. This book ale effects in this book are understood, the painter would be well advised to develop a more personal palette of colors.

barron's colorBarron's Creative Painting Series: Color. (2005) by Gemma Guasch and Josep Asunción contains a wealth of useful information on color and numerous beautiful reproductions of masterpieces to illustrate the use of color throughout art history. I love that part of the book, but I don't think the demo paintings do it justice. Maybe it's just the design of the book. Check it out, though, because it has a lot to offer.

Once again, thanks to McCallister's Art Store for providing books for my reviews.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Art Book Reviews

Vicky Murry's Mastering Color: The essentials of color illustrated with oils. (North Light, 2006) This book offers solid color theory applicable to all media. The book is beautifully illustrated with swatches and paintings by the author. The section on supplies and equipment is concise with a nice comparison of different ways oil-painting techniques--direct, indirect, plein air and alla prima. The basic palette is limited and very effective. There's a nice little section on color schemes, a subject often neglected in painting books. Murry explores individual colors and introduces a few design concepts, with a variety of helpful hints along the way.

A Painter's Guide to Design and Composition by Margot Schulzke (North Light, 2006)includes the work of twenty-six contemporary masters who describe their process of designing their artwork. This is a beautiful book with lots of demos and color illustrations, but I find it a little confusing. The design-and-composition objective tends to get lost in the plethora of different techniques. I enjoyed reading it, but probably won't include it in my personal art library.

I love Jean Uhl Spicer's book, Bright & Beautiful Flowers in Watercolor (North Light, 2004.) If I were a flower painter, this is how I would want to do it. Spicer's supplies and equipment section is concise and complete. Her basic palette of colors is fairly limited and well balanced. The chapter on color covers the basics in such a way that I think beginners can grasp the concepts quickly. The chapter on composition isn't quite as accessible, but the remainder of the book, which includes various transparent watercolor techniques, tips and demonstrations, is very good. Way to go, Jean.

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Art haiku by Herb Reed

Painting is like life.
If you get your values right,
The rest is easy.

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Painting Christmas cards

The Monday Exploring Watercolor class decided several weeks ago to exchange handpainted Christmas cards. Some are working on them in class and others at home. We'll exchange cards next week--they can bring one or two cards and receive the same number, drawing from a box. It has been fun to see some of the ideas for cards and I'm sure next week's exchange will be great fun. To go along with the winter theme, I showed some techniques using white paint a couple of weeks ago, spattering on a painted or mat board surface to make falling snow. You can make brighter white spatters with Titanium White than with Zinc or Chinese White, which makes a mistier kind of atmosphere. If you put a little white gouache into a damp wash, it will spread and make a neat effect.

Last week I brought salt and isopropyl alcohol and demonstrated the sparkly effects you can get with these on a damp watercolor wash. I don't recommend using salt in paintings for exhibition and sale, but for cards and illustrations that will be reproduced, there's no problem. The effects are so dramatic sometimes and make great backgrounds for children's stories, in particlar.

This week I took some metallic powdered paints, gold and silver, and sparkly glitter pens, but no one seemed interested in them. Hmmm. I thought they would be great for the cards. I also did a quick demo on painting people with a few brushstrokes. They tend to get too involved with detail on people in backgrounds.

Stay tuned. Over the next few days I'll be reviewing ten books on the blog.

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Friday, December 01, 2006

The Little Artist's first watercolor exhibition

Here are a few of the many paintings Jenna did when we painted together recently. She started out on inkjet printouts. I was surprised at her choice of the primary colors for the three girls.

She never told me what this one is, but she was very intent on making a figure of some sort. She sort of scrubbed the paint on the figure. Then she carefully framed it. She was still using the cheap paint set for this one.

She painted the big rectangles and didn't seem to think they were finished, so I said, "If the brown one had a branch, it might look like a tree." Pow! She slapped a branch on both of them.

She made a lot of circles and blobs, so I asked her if she had ever tried to make dots. Of course, they had to be purple, her favorite color. By this time she was using my paints, so the colors are more intense.

This is my favorite. She was concentrating so hard to make the big red blob as bright as she could. She looked up at me and said, very seriously, "These are lips." When she got them just the way she wanted them, with a flourish she dotted in the three spots and made a face.

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