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Saturday, March 31, 2007

Demo, book and rain

Nothing like a nice rainy day to keep me busy inside, working on my book and setting up for a demo Tuesday night at the Fairborn Art Association. I'm going to demonstrate different color schemes and paint them in watercolor on sample sheets as I talk about the variations. I'm taping two half-sheets of watercolor paper into four sections each and using an abstract viewfinder design for a template. Guess I had better get the lightbox out. To be on the safe side, maybe I'll make three sheets.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Watercolor painting and drawing people

Yesterday I picked up the Little Artist and brought her here to play for awhile before her parents joined us for dinner. We walked through the woods to enjoy the wildflowers, but she was more interested in climbing the front and back steps with Granddaddy and ringing the doorbell to see if anyone was home. No one was. We were outside with her. After collecting a basketful of pine cones, which we convinced her that her daddy would love to have, we went inside to play.

After dinner she wanted to paint watercolors using the Altoid palette I made for her awhile ago. She loved playing with the colors (must be genetic) and making colored lines and marks. One of her pictures had a blue sky, green grass and a yellow sun with rays. Very typical for a four-year-old, but of course, exceptional to Grammy. She was delighted when I showed her how the colors would run on wet paper. It worried her that there was no brown on the palette, so I showed her how to mix it and she gave me a big smile. She understands how to rinse her brush between colors and does a good job of it.

Then she switched to "crans" to show me how she can draw people. She makes almost perfect circles for heads, two long legs to the bottom of the paper, stubby arms, dots for eyes and a smiling mouth. She said she didn't know how to make a nose. When I suggested a circle, all of her faces had noses after that. I also mentioned that her people might see better if they had bigger eyes, so she drew larger circles for eyes. She made one figure with an "e-normous" head and eyes, and made a downturned enclosed mouth for one person, who was frowning, she said. She also showed me a page I hadn't seen from last time she was here--four or five orange ovals that were swimming fish. Right now she seems more interested in drawing than in coloring in her pictures. She uses a different color for the head, eyes, mouth, nose, arms and legs.

She took all her pictures home and I forgot to take a photo for the blog.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

The wildflowers are amazing

I noticed when I got home from Dallas on Monday that there were spots of white and color in the quarter-acre woods. On Tuesday I took a walk and here's what I found blooming or ready to pop: twinleaf (photo), bloodroot, spring beauty, Virginia bluebells, grape hyacinth, Grecian windflower, Siberian squill, pulmonaria, sharp-lobed hepatica, periwinkle, white violet, toothwort, Dutchman's breeches, and isopyrum. Also, the forsythia and daffodils are cheerful in spite of getting whacked by low temperatures after they had sent up four or five inches of leaves in January. Go to my wildflower pages to see what the flowers look like.

I ripped out a few spindly alien honeysuckle seedlings and noticed that there are some garlic-mustard sprouts, but nothing like I've been battling in past years. The overgrowth of these plants completely wiped out the blooming wildflowers I used to have. I planted lots of new flowers, but I think many of those that are flourishing have been dormant for years. See my woodland pages for more on my restoration project. I think it will be a breeze to do the weed cleanup this year, but there are a lot of branches down from high winds this winter. These stay on the woodland floor, but I break them into small pieces so they'll decompose more quickly.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Vollard in Chicago

This morning's Wall Street Journal had an awesome review by Joel Henning of the show at The Art Institute of Chicago: "Cézanne to Picasso: Ambroise Vollard, Patron of the Avant-Garde." Vollard was the art dealer who sold most of the post-Impressionist and early modern paintings in Paris during the early twentieth century. How I wish I could see it. The show hangs until May 12, when it goes to the Musée D'Orsay in Paris.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Pat Rayman and Art-to-Art

Please read Ben Rayman's touching tribute to his wife and her special project, Art to Art, Building Friendships Through Art. Art-to-Art is the exchange of art, ideas and interests among schools k-12 around the United States. This was Pat's brainchild twenty years ago.

In an email to me Ben wrote: "In 1986 Pat was nearing her 16th year teaching art in the Delphos, Ohio public school system. She was burning with a desire to expose her students to a world beyond their own. During the initial years Pat spent much time at the library gathering school addresses, and then taking them home to write invitations. Every letter she sent was handwritten."

The response was excellent and the program continues to be successful today. Click the links above for more.

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While I was in Dallas I had dinner one evening with Cheryl McClure and Robin Walker, two artists I've known through email for many years. Both are members of the Paint-L group, which I've belonged to for a long time. I can't remember exactly when I joined. It might have been as early as 1994, but 1996 at the latest. We've all grown by leaps and bounds since then. Both Cheryl and Robin have established successful careers as painters. Cheryl's large abstracts are in galleries and hang in corporate settings and homes. Robin does a lot of business in originals, multiples and photography on a grand scale. I've had three books published since 1998. I met both briefly on two other occasions. Cheryl stopped by for lunch in 1996 when I was teaching at the Barnwell Center in Shreveport, Louisiana. Robin took a few minutes out of her very busy day to visit my creativity workshop in Dallas last October. It's wonderful to have an opportunity to meet these and other e-friends face to face. We had a great time and lots of laughs.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Collage Workshop in Dallas

The workshop at The Artists' Showplace was everything I hoped it would be--a dynamic group of artists who really got into the processes and possibilities of collage. There were twenty-two in the class, ranging from fairly new artists to experienced professionals, several of whom are partners at the Showplace gallery. What a fantastic space. The gallery is huge--two floors of well-lighted studio and display space for numerous artists to show their work. The workshop space is on the second-floor rear of the building. There are two rooms, so some of the class worked in the back room following demos. I think someone is working on a web page of workshop photos, so I'll post a link here when I find it.

Workshop coordinator Judith Irwin managed everything beautifully down to the last detail. She even had materials available for monotype on the last day, which made it easier for some who weren't well prepared for that. Pauline Caffrey hauled me back and forth to the airport, brought my lunches to me and assisted Judith during the workshop. Linda Rowe, another of Judith's helpers, is also a partner in the gallery and a member of the Paint-L group that I've corresponded with on email for more than ten years.

From the way everyone worked and played together during the workshop I thought they were probably all members or well acquainted, but I found out on the last day that most of the people had come some distance to attend. It's wonderful to have a group blend so well from beginning to end. I loved every minute of it.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

New Book Review

Check out this review on Karla's blog "PInK dOtTiEs". Karla has a fun and creative blog, so stay and browse for awhile. She describes her blog as "Craft, Art and life style of a self taught artist." Scroll through her recent blogs to view some clever crafts she discovered on a handcrafted showcase site named Etsy.com.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Busy days ahead

On Wednesday I'm leaving for Dallas to teach a collage workshop at the Artist's Showplace in Addison, Texas. I've been told this is a dynamite group of artists and it should be great fun. Last week I shipped two boxes of books from the publisher and two cartons of art materials from my studio, including having handouts printed. That's always the hardest part of getting ready for a workshop. I've decided to leave my laptop at home, so I won't be writing the blog, unless I can access it from the hotel computer. I have a lot of work to do on my new book that I can do on legal pads--the old-fashioned way.

I've been having a hard time with pain in my hip and difficulty walking. I was starting to walk like a sailor on a rolling ship. This has been going on since before Christmas, but I've toughed it out, hoping it would go away--and fearing the worst, maybe surgery in my future. I finally saw the doctor three weeks ago and the x-ray showed normal wear in the hip joint. He put me on physical therapy, which greatly improved my strength and balance, but didn't do anything for the pain. I can't take NSAIDs or aspirin because I'm one of those in the fine print who gets bleeding ulcers from such medications. However, he finally gave me a joint injection of cortisone on Thursday and I feel like I have my life back. It's amazing how dispiriting it is to endure such pain. Everyone has experienced this at one time or another, I know. I'm accustomed to a certain level of arthritis pain, which I've had for more than thirty years, but this was something else. Anyway, I'm back on track and feeling like myself again. My only reason for writing this is to share some advice: Don't let fear of the diagnosis keep you from getting treatment at once when you need it. I lost weeks of productive time by being a scaredy-cat and my fears were unfounded.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Mixing with green

Although I teach my beginning classes to mix greens using various combinations of yellow and blue, depending on how bright or dull they want the green to be in their picture, there are always a few who continue to use unmixed tube greens. There aren't any really satisfactory natural-looking greens in most paints. Some of the older, now discontinued Hooker's greens were fairly good, but most weren't lightfast. The new Hooker's greens shown in the second row at the left are brighter, but less natural. Olive green, even though it's a beautiful color, makes for boring landscape greens when used as the only green. Phthalocyanine (Thalo) Green is jarring and hard to control. So what we talked about on Monday was taking time out from painting to explore mixing tube greens with every other color on your palette or in your paint box to see what colors you can make. Here are just a few samples. You can make just about any green starting with phthalo green and adding another color in different amounts. In the top row, the first swatch on the left is Winsor Green Blue Shade. Next to it is viridian, which is pretty weak in watercolor and not a great mixer. Below are two swatches of Hooker's green. Everything else was mixed using the Winsor Green and a blue, yellow, magenta or burnt sienna. Try this for yourself and remember to label your swatches in case you want to create the same color later. Using just one green and mixing the others with colors you're using in other parts of your painting makes for much more vibrant, exciting greens that look more natural than tube greens. Try this with other colors, too, and you'll find you can learn to match tube colors. See p. 54 in Exploring Color.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Celebrating 14 years

Eileen Korponnay has come through with another tip-filled issue of Watercolour Gazette, a magazine that she has published for fourteen years in Manitoba, Canada. We've never met, but Eileen and I go way back on the Web. We've shared ideas on publishing and art marketing and I've written some articles for her magazine in exchange for book reviews and advertising. Her magazine is small but jam-packed with watercolor tips and tricks. It was originally more like a newsletter, but now is up 26 pages on heavy magazine stock with illustrated articles, plus workshop and exhibition listings. Eileen has a loyal following in Canada and I hope she will continue to publish her helpful magazine for a long time.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

AWS traveling show

I viewed the American Watercolor Society traveling exhibition at Middletown Arts Center this afternoon and was delighted with it. This year's paintings are predominantly transparent watercolor, my first love, with some fine opaque and acrylic works in the mix. Most of the pieces are highly creative realistic works. The abstractions are outstanding, with one exception that I didn't personally care for. The show is worth visiting, but will be at Middletown just through next Saturday, March 17. This is the last stop on the year-long circuit of the show.

Snowdrops in the woods

Just as I hoped, the early wildflowers have made their first appearance. I have two little clumps of snowdrops in the woods and they are both blooming today. One is more robust than the other and has increased from one to four blossoms this year, but neither seems to be spreading. I don't know why they don't multiply, but I'm happy to see them anyway. Maybe they were waiting for daylight saving time.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Spring wildflowers

It won't be long now. The temperature is out of single digits and on the way up to the 50s over the weekend. I'm getting impatient to see what comes up this year in my little woods. Some of the possibilities are on my wildflower pages on my web site. This winter aconite will probably be one of the first to pop up, but it won't be as early this year as it has been in the past. Oooh, I can hardly wait!

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Ultimate Emily Carr book

Yesterday I finally received my copy of Emily Carr. It's a gorgeous book and the first I've seen that has really good reproductions of her work. The book was produced to accompany the retrospective exhibition that began in Canada in 2006 and travels coast-to-coast through 2008. A few days ago I finished reading Forest Lover by Susan Vreeland, a fictionalized version of her life. I'm not much into playing "let's pretend" with biographies. It is well written and entertaining, but after reading nearly 1000 pages of The Complete Writings of Emily Carr, I feel Vreeland has taken too many liberties with the artist's life. I probably would have liked it better if she had given the main character a different name. Nevertheless, all this immersion into the life and art of Emily Carr has been fascinating. She was an amazing woman and artist who wrote stories and journals about her life and times (1871-1945) in western Canada that are entertaining and revealing.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Art-to-Art Palette print edition

The new issue is jam-packed with articles, events and information of interest to artists everywhere, but especially in the western Ohio/eastern Indiana region. Everything from museums to art groups to individual artists working in a great variety of media is in the magazine. My article titled, "All Art is Abstract," is included in this issue.

To read the online edition.

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Art in Ohio

The American Watercolor Society traveling show is hanging at the Middletown (Ohio) Fine Arts Center through March 17. Some of my students have seen it and said it's not to be missed.

The Cincinnati Art Museum is showing Andrew Wyeth watercolors and drawings now through May 6. I've been told it's a wonderful show and hope to get down there soon.

"Luminist Horizons" is at the Taft Museum in Cincinnati through April 29. Looks like an all-day trip to Cincy is in order.

I'll blog the shows as soon as I see them.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Compact fluorescent light bulbs

I'm trying very hard to shed some light (sorry about that) upon these new bulbs. I've read that it is energy efficient to use them instead of incandescent bulbs, and although they're more expensive, they last much longer. I bought a spiral fluorescent bulb several years ago, but it was too big for any of my lamps. Now they come in compact and mini sizes, so that solves the size problem. The next issue is to figure out the watts you need. Fortunately, the packages give the equivalents in both fluorescent and incandescent, but sometimes you have to search for it. The new fluorescents don't seem to throw light as far, as we discovered when we put them into our reading lamps, but since you're sitting still, that doesn't matter much. Also, they worked just fine for the living room lamps and for the one that's on a timer. But we did have to experiment with the temperature, as there's a whole different range out there. The "craft" light is 5000 Kelvin full spectrum, same as my studio overhead lights, but it doesn't work for a reading lamp. There's one that is "daylight" at 6500K that is way too cool for any uses I can think of. The one I liked is 100W daylight Sylvania at 3000-3500K and has a nicely balanced color that isn't too warm or too cool. I found the best selection at Lowe's.

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