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Monday, April 30, 2007

A bouquet for Jenna

Yesterday we walked through the woods and picked violets and lily-of-the-valley. Jenna held them tightly and kept sniffing the fragrance of her bouquet. She said the flowers smelled pretty. She had a bouquet four or five inches in diameter before we finally took them inside and wrapped the stems in a paper towel and immersed them in a paper cup filled with water. They were still fresh when she and her mother took them home. I wish I had a picture of Jenna sniffing the violets, but I didn't want to spoil the mood by rushing inside to get my camera. The moral to this story is to be sure I have my camera--at least the little pocket Nikon--whenever I'm with her.

We've always let her pick impatiens blossoms when she visits, but I'm trying now to show her that she can only pick certain flowers, especially in the woods. There are so many different wildflowers blooming. I pointed out to her that the only ones we could pick were the blue violets and lily-of-the-valley, plus a few white violets that are flourishing. She seemed happy with that and certainly enjoyed her fragrant bouquet.


Book Review: Sisters of the Circle

Carol Haefner's Sisters of the Circle is a book of poetry, subtitled "One Woman's Journey to Wholeness." It's odd how I happened to find this book. Or maybe it found me. I was browsing at Half-Price Books and liked the colors on the spine, so I pulled it out. I saw that it was poetry, which I read sometimes, but not a lot, wasn't in the mood, so I put it back. I moved on and a little later thought of something I wanted to look for, so I retraced my steps and ended up pulling the book off the shelf a second time and reading the foreword. When I saw that it was about a woman's struggle with depression, I decided it would probably be a downer, so I put it back on the shelf. Nevertheless, I was drawn back to that book a third time, so I bought it and I'm glad I did. I've never suffered from depression, but I have a dear friend who has. Carol Haefner's poems feel authentic as she describes her suffering and her struggle to overcome it.

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Book Review: Hand Decorating Paper

Searching for information on making paste paper, I found Hand Decorating Paper by Marie Browning (2002). It includes many hand-decorated papers with easy instructions and projects. Here are some of the papers you can make: antiqued, batik, batik with paint resist, block-printed, bubble, color transfer with tissue, faux leather, laminated, marbelized (three ways), nature prints, paste, rubber-stamped, splattered, sponged, spray-painted, stenciled, tie-dye and watercolor textures. Wow! This is a treasure for collage artists, but also for watercolor painters who would like to try something different for a background or texture in their paintings. Most supplies are relatively simple, but techniques may take different paper or tools. You'll be inspired to make up your own variations once you get started. These activities are great blockbusters. When you're finished playing, you have a stack of papers to use in art and craft projects.

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Update on the woods

spring beautyI honestly thought the woods was doomed when we had the alternating heat-and-freeze weather attacks the past few weeks. Even the may-apples looked like boiled cabbage. Things seem to be blooming in strange sequences, though. Some early bloomers like spring beauty are only now showing up. Happily, most things seem to have bounced back and the woods is beautifully abloom. The bluebells are spreading, so instead of one patch by the patio, there are now splotches of blue throughout the woods. I planted some wild blue flox a couple of years ago and they are finally blooming. There is another patch that I think might be from dormant seeds of the ones that we enjoyed years ago. The entire woods used to be filled with phlox until the honeysuckle took over. I'm still patrolling to keep the honeysuckle from coming back and to prevent the garlic-mustardgarlic-mustard from going to seed. I only find one or two now, which is so amazing when you consider that the woods was choked with both five years ago when I started this project. I did find colonies of flowering garlic-mustard under the huge fir trees last night. They are very sneaky and were hiding in there. They're history now.

If you're new to my blog, you might be interested in the story of my woodland restoration project on my website or my pictures of the wildflowers in the woods. Some of those shown haven't survived, but many are flourishing. I'm happy to let nature work out the natural balance. I love to walk through the my little quarter-acre woods and enjoy the view from my windows.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Book Review: Creativity

In his new book, Creativity for Life, psychologist and creativity coach Eric Maisel delves more deeply into the issues that are raised by Art & Fear, the book I reviewed yesterday. Maisel's book is subtitled "Practical Advice on the Artist's Personality and Career from America's Foremost Creativity Coach." The underlying theme of the book is the art-committed life. Here is a comprehensive look at the challenges facing artists, including writers, painters, musicians, actors, dancers--all creative people. The book is divided into four parts. First, Maisel looks at the challenges of the artistic personality, including the ever-present concern about creativity, talent, and handling obscurity or stardom. Next, Maisel says to find your work, figure out what it is you want to do, learn to handle blocks, resistance and the business end of the artist's work. Third, the author addresses the challenges of relationships, not only personal, but also community and cultural issues. These three parts conclude with exercises consisting of numerous questions to heighten your awareness of your personal issues and ideas for handling them. Part Four includes strategies and tactics to help direct your art-committed life. As Maisel says, the creativity practice is like a snowflake--both simple and anything but simple. This book works as a life-plan or a reference book on creative issues, but it is interesting casual reading, as well.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Book Reviews: Two old faves

Bayles and Orland's book Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (And Rewards) of Artmaking is an old favorite. I bought it when it first came out in 1993 and began highlighting as I read. Soon I discovered that I was highlighting nearly every page. Two statements hit me right away: (1) "Artmaking involves skills that can be learned" and (2) "Art is made by ordinary people." Much of our fear comes from feeling that we don't have the talent, that one has to be some kind of genius to be an artist. Then, we fear what others will think of our art or we become enmeshed in the academic art world and come out feeling bruised. In just a few pages the authors help you to understand among other things, that we all face these same fears and there are ways to rise above them. It's amazing how much wisdom is contained in this small book. Here is a statement from the back cover, which I think is to the point: "It is about committing your future to your own hands, placing Free Will above predestination, choice above chance. It is about finding your own work."

Recently I reread Mindfulness by Ellen Langer. Wikipedia defines mindfulness as "a technique in which a person becomes intentionally aware of his or her thoughts and actions in the present moment." There are more than three million Google references to mindfulness, many of which target stress reduction or Buddhist practices. What attracted me to Langer's book in 1989 was her focus on mindfulness as a means of improving behavior, memory and mental growth in the aging population. I was just taking on the care of my elderly mother. Why did I reread it? I'm getting there myself. Langer's book relates numerous early studies on the effects of mindfulness training in people of all ages. She makes a compelling case. The book is not a difficult scientific treatise, nor is it a warm and fuzzy feel-good self-help book. Langer shows how you can overcome numbing mindlessness and become more alert and active as you grow older.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Watercolor potpourri

I did a quickie demo on painting trees for a makeup class this afternoon. The main idea was to get the shapes and values quickly without a lot of fussing and sponge-dabbing. I've been getting after them about being "itchy" with picky details that don't contribute to the colors, shapes and values that make a picture strong. We'll see how it takes as time goes by. But the most fun was watching the students browse five books I took for them to look through, representing artists from the Romantic period through modern art. Artists included J.M.W. Turner, the Fauves, Edward Hopper, Andrew Wyeth and Lawrence Goldsmith. It was a lot to take in and I could see that some were beginning to recognize personal style, cultural influences, and the directness of artistic expression in all of these artists. This session of classes is the first time I've offered so much art history and they're loving it. Awhile back I prepared an eight-page summary of major art movements from prehistoric to modern art and they use this to place artists in the context of their time.

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Book Review: Theo van Gogh

We read a lot about Vincent van Gogh and his relationship with his brother, but not much is said about Theo and his personal life and how his interactions with Vincent affected him. In Theo van Gogh: Art Dealer, Collector and Brother of Vincent Chris Stolwijk and Richard Thomson have brought Theo out of the shadows into the light of his own accomplishments. The book was published in connection with an exhibition at museums in Amsterdam and Paris of works Theo Van Gogh bought, sold and/or collected and is lavishly illustrated with many of these works, including Vincent's, as well as a photographs of principal players in the lives of both men. In spite of Vincent's rantings, Theo never failed him in his support. Both were ahead of their time, Vincent with his art and Theo with his recognition of the emerging artists of the time. Sadly, Theo lived less than a year after Vincent took his own life. The scholarly essays included in this exhibition catalog are great reading and the artwork shows what an eye Theo had for quality in the new art of his day.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Mini-palette goes to art therapy

I finally found a use for my mini Altoid palettes. Today I visited an artist friend who is in rehab for a serious illness. She can't walk yet, but until she can, she is able to sit in a chair and chat or read. Dottie is a painter of bright, sunny watercolors and I would love to see her painting again soon. I gave her one of my Altoid boxes, several small brushes, a 5" x 7" pad of 140# watercolor paper, and an empty box for water. Everything fit into two small Ziploc bags. Her eyes lit up when she saw the paints.

Here is how I made my Altoid watercolor box. Several other people elaborated on the Altoid box and created fancier boxes, but mine is the easiest to make (15 minutes, including filling it with paint) and probably the least expensive. You can put any colors you want into the half-pans. I used a full palette of ten artists' colors: Ultramarine blue, phthalo blue, Hooker's green, Lemon yellow, cadmium yellow, Indian yellow, cadmium red, permanent alizarin crimson, permanent rose and dioxazine violet. After seeing her smile, I think I'll make some more palette-boxes and keep them on hand for other artists who are temporarily unable to paint in their studios.

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Book Review: Designer's Color Manual

Subtitled "The Complete Guide to Color Theory and Application," Tom Fraser and Adams Banks's book Designer's Color Manual (2004) is a visual delight and packed with fascinating information. My copy is tabbed all around the edges with Post-it stickers marking pages I want to reread. The 224-page book in glorious color tackles everything from color science to color in art and everyday life in an encyclopedic format that is delightful and understandable to read and enjoy, if not in depth on every subject. I especially benefited from the sections on color in publishing, web design and color marketing. There is even some detailed "how-to" on image manipulation, including color management for your computer monitor and printer (one of my tabs is there!). This book won't teach you how to paint in color, but it will give you a remarkable overview of color in almost every aspect of modern life. Highly recommended.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Book Review: Happiness is a Serious Problem

Dennis Prager's insightful book, Happiness is a Serious Problem was recommended to me by a psychiatrist who attended my creativity workshop in Dallas last fall. The principal idea that grabbed me was the difference between happiness and fun. Many people engage in a frantic search for happiness by scheduling lots of fun things to do, but when the fun is over, they don't actually feel happy. According to Prager, happiness is something you must work to achieve. Happiness is possible even under the worst of circumstances. He asserts that we have a moral obligation to be happy because of the impact we have on the lives of those around us. In this slim book, Prager covers a lot of territory, including the major obstacles to happiness and how to overcome them and attitudes and behaviors that are essential for happiness. This isn't a touchy-feely self-help book. It feels more like a wake-up call from a mentor or trusted friend. I found the reviews on Amazon.com (link above) to be interesting. Most people rated the book highly. The few who didn't, really hated it. Their reviews made them sound like unhappy people who were put off to learn that happiness takes work. If you approach this book with an open mind, it will almost certainly make you a happier person.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Book Review: PowerColor

Caroline Jasper's PowerColor: Master Color Concepts in All Media. provides an interesting overview of color concepts not found in many books on color. Personally, I enjoy reading the scientific and historical information. When I wrote my first Exploring Color book (1985) such material was hard to find and took diligent research and a lot of winnowing to cut the information down to size for the first two chapters of my book. When I revised Exploring Color: How to Use and Control Color in Your Painting (1998), I was asked to compress it into fewer pages and had to give up most of that material in order to concentrate on the practical tasks of learning about paint characteristics and using them in artwork. I'm glad to see a fresh book that includes summaries of this interesting background information. I don't agree with her on color wheels and find their use inconsistent in the book, but it's theory, and she's entitled to her opinion. Jasper features several artists in their studios with step-by-step demos of their work. The book includes a broad spectrum (pun intended, sorry) of styles and is lavishly illustrated in color.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Book Review: Abstract Painting

Abstract Painting by Vicky Perry ties historical abstraction in with modern techniques in this colorful book. It isn't a how-to book in the sense of step-by-step demos, but helps the artist to see how abstraction has developed and some directions the artist might take to explore abstract concepts in oils and acrylics. The emphasis is on non-objective abstraction, leaning more toward expressionist organic design than geometric color/field. Probably not for beginners, but a very interesting book for someone thinking to explore this genre. Another book I have learned a great deal from is Painting and Understanding Abstract Art.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Traildust: The Art of James Reynolds

This book is loaded with cowboys, cattle and country. I became enamoured of Western art when I first began painting in 1970 and traveled to Colorado to visit family. We visited galleries in Denver and Boulder, as well as a few ski area art centers, and saw a show of the National Academy of Western Art at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. The quality of the art--Western, Southwestern and Native American--simply blew my mind. At that time such work wasn't in favor in the East, so I had no previous exposure to it. Although my preference was for Southwestern and Native American, I especially liked Charlie Russell and Frederick Remington. Among the contemporary artists, James Reynolds was a standout. His paintings glow with color and vibrate with energy and action. The book, published by Greenwich Workshop Press in 1997, consists of full-page and two-page spreads on many pages, in full color, plus informative essays by Don Hedgpeth describing the country, history or activity depicted in the paintings. The artworks are modern masterpieces in my opinion. His color is simply amazing, from alpen glow to moonlight. I've browsed this book often, ever since I bought a used copy on the Internet.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Book Reviews

My book-review stack has at least two dozen books on it. I'm afraid the stack might fall over and break my leg if I don't reduce it pretty soon. I read every evening and during every spare moment, but I don't seem to find time to do the reviews. Too busy writing my own book, it seems. So I'm going to take a break occasionally and write at least one review a day until I'm caught up.

Today's book: Lawrence Goldsmith: A Life in Watercolor by Carl Little (2004). Goldsmith is among my top ten favorite contemporary watercolorists. (Don't ask. I don't actually have a list yet.) You could almost call him a minimalist. His works are often high key, awash with transparent colors that evoke the New England landscape. His flowing washes on wet paper are accented with calligraphic brushmarks and scrapings that create surprisingly strong energy and movement. Little's essay recounts Goldsmith's travels and influences and captures the essence of his personality. The painter traveled widely, but his paintings largely reflect his beloved Monhegan Island, where he kept his summer studio for many years. The book is lavishly illustrated with reproductions of many of his beautiful watercolors. Sadly, Goldsmith died at the age of 87 in 2004, just before the release of this book and the subsequent exhibition of his work. I learned of his passing and of this book when I recently went to his website to make contact about using his work in my new book. His work appears in both versions of my Exploring Color book.

I fell in love with Lawrence C. Goldsmith when I read his earlier book, Watercolor Bold & Free: 64 Experimental Ideas and Techniques in Watercolor, originally published in 1980. His work is spontaneous and luminous, two qualities I value highly. This book was a revelation to me, after having studied for so many years with watercolorists who emphasized realism and values. In 1983 I stopped by his studio on Monhegan and enjoyed a brief visit with this most gracious man. The walls of his studio were covered with his original watercolors, many quite large, and simply breathtaking. His legacy is passed on through his beautiful books.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A trip to Costa Rica

The opportunities available to college students today are incredible. Tonight I went to a presentation by Dr. Jeffrey S. Lehman of Otterbein College (my alma mater) in Westerville, Ohio. Dr. Lehman's specialty is plant pathology. He has taken groups of Otterbein life science students to Costa Rica to work and study the environment, ecology and life of the people in areas ranging from the dry forest through the cloud forests and the rain forests of the country. He's an engaging speaker, both knowledgeable and entertaining. I was especially interested in the information he shared about cacao-cocoa-chocolate, from the lovely little flower to the football-shaped fruit that holds the cocoa-beans. This important crop is endangered by a fungus and Dr. Lehman explained how the Bribri people are maintaining their livelihood through eco-tourism in the area, recycling materials and using native plants to create hand-crafted art objects. I can remember when I was growing up that our teachers often took exotic trips to foreign countries during their summer hiatus and returned with carousels full of slides to show. But in those days, hardly anyone took students along. What a wonderful learning experience. Dr. Lehman mentioned that several of the students who went on the Costa Trip are now continuing their studies in graduate school.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Family pride

Is it okay if I brag about some of my family today? It's my blog, I can brag if I want to, I guess. My daughter, Kathleen L. Norman has just been notified that she won the Erma Bombeck international writing contest in the human interest category for writers outside the Dayton area. Scroll down to read her brief bio and the judge's comments. Read her essay, "Gravity".

Our middle son is a coach for the University of Denver Pioneers gymnastics team. Last weekend they placed second in their regional meet to qualify for the national competition in Utah the last weekend in April. The win puts them among the top twelve in the nation.

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Juried exhibition

Yesterday I went to the opening of the Dayton Society of Painters and Sculptors spring show. It was cold and blustery outside, but inside the 48 High Street Gallery it was warm and companionable. There was a fantastic crowd there for the opening of the show, but also to see recent renovations to the historic building housing the gallery. The exhibit space is elegant and a far cry from what it has been for many years. The show itself is very good, although a mixed bag with some works that aren't that good, in my opinion. I understand that nearly sixty artists entered the show, with many bringing the limit of three works. Around eighty-nine paintings were selected, so there were a lot of rejects.

One situation was particularly interesting. I wonder what you think of this. An artist entered a pastel diptych, but because together they were too wide for the limitations placed on entries, he entered them separately. One half got in the show and the other was rejected. The one that got in won a ribbon--third place, I think. The mat surrounded the entire diptych, so where the two pieces were to hang together, there was no mat. The three-sided mat looked a bit strange. The artist implied that the judge was weird to accept one and reject the other of two pieces of the whole. In my opinion, it was his fault for trying to evade the size limitation. In fact, if both had been accepted, it would have been the prerogative of the hanging committee to hang them separately if they wished, as they were entered individually.

I tend to be pretty strict about artists obeying the rules of a show. When I judge a show, I expect the committee to vet the work and remove anything that doesn't comply with their rules. Invariably, something comes up. In one show the artist used collage, which was specifically disallowed, but you couldn't tell it from the slide. When the piece arrived, it was not hung. In another show, an artist sent a colorful painting matted in black. Included was a note saying that she hoped this was okay, since black is a neutral. She knew full well that the prospectus meant white or off-white, but she also knew her painting would look better in a black mat. The committee caved and allowed the painting to hang. Interestingly, I've never seen this violation--a black mat--in any show, before or since, so I'm quite sure artists understand what is meant by "neutral" in the prospectus. As it happened, I knew that this artist had bent the rules in two other shows, so her claim that her husband had taken it to the framer and she didn't know until it was too late to change it rang hollow to me. The moral to this story is "follow the rules." It isn't fair to make committees and judges disqualify paintings when you already know they don't comply.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Looking at new art

It was a beautiful day to be out and about. I had a mid-morning appointment, so I decided afterwards to get my glasses fixed before I lost a lens. That put me in an area where I knew there was a quilt exhibit. Wow! Anne Hubler of Dayton does fantastic watercolor quilts. She uses tiny pieces of fabric applied to canvas in subtle gradations that actually look like paint from a distance. She doesn't have a website and I couldn't find any of her work by Googling, so you'll just have to take my word for it. The exhibit is at Rosewood Arts Center in Kettering until May 4.

I also visited another exhibit by an artist who shall remain nameless. She has sent me invitations to her New York gallery shows several times in the past, so I thought I'd catch this one while it was here. She is a primitive artist, and I usually like primitive art, but this work looked pretty bad to me. It reminded me of some of the stuff at the Museum of Bad Art. No, actually it was worse--it was boring. At least now I know I'm not missing something by not going to those openings in New York.

Oh, well, I guess any day I can look at art, good and bad, is a good day.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Photographing art for reproduction

Every time I write a book I get tied in knots over photographing the art. Through the years I've had pretty good success with an SLR, slide film and photofloods, even though I had to go through some ridiculous contortions to fit my equipment into the space in my studio. When I needed 4 x 5s I just went to Graphics Terminal color lab downtown. For The New Creative Artist some artists sent digital images, which I hadn't dealt with before in submitting to the publisher. We had quite a go-around until they agreed to look at them and see if they were acceptable. Since they had all been done by professional artists, of course they were just fine. Most of the artists sent slides or transparencies. Now it seems that the publisher's graphics department is more open to digital submission, but they are setting the bar pretty high for most artists--10 million pixels, separate macro lens, no zoom lens, 4800K photofloods, and other specifications that make it almost impossible for most artists to comply if they don't already have the equipment. They do mention that 7 MP would be fine if the repro is going to be less than 8 x 10, but just in case they want to use it for the cover or full-page chapter art, it should be shot at 10 MP. I talked to my camera guy today at Fairborn Camera and he recommended a Nikon D30X (I think that's what he said) if I plan to upgrade from my Canon G6, but I'm not sure I want to get into that. The problem, of course, is the step-by-step demos, which you can't run down to the color lab to get shot at every stage. What's my point? I don't know, I'm just thinking out loud here. Should I get out my Pentax SLR and photofloods and do it the old-fashioned way or tackle the learning curve of a new camera while I'm trying to write a book? 'Tis a puzzlement.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

New Drawing Book

Bert Dodson, author of my favorite drawing book, Keys to Drawing has just released his new book, Keys to Drawing With Imagination.." The book is a humdinger. This is in no way an update or revision of his earlier book. The title truly indicates the direction the book takes from the very first doodle. Dodson first shows how you can begin with simple drawings or doodles and transform them by using a lightbox to duplicate, reverse, flip, combine and pattern your drawings with creative, imaginative results. "Doodling and noodling" is a recurring theme. Starting with the first doodle, Dodson shows how to play with line and pattern and make them morph and grow into imaginative creations. His variations on drawing principles are engaging and the activities are fun and exciting. But I don't think this is a book for beginners. His first book covers all that. This new book is for more advanced artists who need a diversion when they're stuck, ways to transform ho-hum drawings, and challenges for more creative techniques. Dodson showcases the work of several designers, who have no doubt done a lot of doodling and noodling on their way to the top. The spiral binding makes it easy to work with the book on the drawing table. Prepare to be amazed at what you can do with a doodle.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Western Ohio Watercolor Society show

This afternoon I met my class at the Town & Country Fine Art Gallery to view the WOWS spring juried show. We walked the show together and talked about the paintings and why a judge might select this one or that one. On the whole it's a very inclusive show, since there are separate categories for transparent watercolor and mixed watermedia. It was good for my students to see that their work is as good as some of the accepted paintings. I like the show--it's balanced between realism and abstraction with a variety of subject matter, techniques and color treatments. For the most part the class seemed to favor the more realistic, traditional works. They were asked to vote for a "People's Choice" award and when they were discussing their preferences, one remarked that each person had selected something that resembled what they are trying to do in their own work in class--something to aspire to. I think this exposure will have a positive effect on their work in the future.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Seeing the landscape

The first year of our woodland restoration we planted ten bareroot twigs that were supposed to be redbud trees in a little grove just past the end of the driveway. We've been waiting patiently all this time. Two of them died and a couple look puny. This year we were rewarded with our first blossoms on the biggest tree almost four feet tall now.

At this time of year I'm always reminded of one of the most important lessons I ever learned when I first began to paint in watercolors. The instructor took us to a covered bridge in the country in the early spring. He told us to look carefully at everything before we painted, because not everything was as green as we expected it to be. Sure enough, off in the distance, where the trees were just beginning to bud, a soft pink dominated where the palest of green leaves hadn't yet begin to sprout. That was my first experience with outdoor painting, which now has the loftier name, "plein air" painting. That same teacher introduced me to my favorite landscape painting book, Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting. My other favorite is another oldie, Painting Trees & Landscapes in Watercolor.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Wildflowers are tough

I can't believe how cold it seems today. Yesterday, too. Monday it was nearly eighty and now it has gone below freezing at night. The daffodils were conked this morning. Some of them raised their heads as the day warmed marginally. But the wildflowers--celandine poppy and bluebells, for example--are merrily blooming as they are blown sideways by high winds. As for me, I just want to wrap myself up in fleece and wait for a permanent call to Spring. I don't mind cold weather a bit--in its place. It never seems right in April--although we get it every year; you'd think I'd be used to it by now. Pity the poor Easter bunny. No wonder he has a fur coat.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Exploring Color talk

Exploring Color book Last night I had a good time speaking at the Fairborn Art Association. This is one of the friendliest groups I know. I've been a member for many years--maybe twenty or longer. I don't get to the meetings often. When I first joined I was on the board of a local group that met on the same night. Nevertheless, they always greet me as a friend and neighbor and I love that.

I knew the crowd would be small,just by looking at the weather map. There were storm warnings, tornado watches, and big black clouds in my rear-view mirror as I drove to Fairborn; and as I drove toward town, a humongous horizontal flash of lighting raced from one end of the sky to the other just in front of me. By the time I got there, the wind had kicked up and it was raining hard. My umbrella turned inside out as I walked from my car to the gallery.

About thirty people braved the storm. They were very responsive. I talked about the three color systems in my book, Exploring Color. First I showed them the split-primary color-mixing method. Then I moved to using compatible colors and finally, to the subject of color schemes, which is covered in my book but not yet on my website. This was a lot of material to work into a little over an hour, but in talks like this my objective is to give an overview of the options artists have when they tap into a system instead of using random selection or frustrating trial-and-error over a period of years. You can find a system that works best for you or even move from one to another as the mood strikes you. In either case you'll get consistently better results with your color. And, needless to say, once you understand how these color systems work, you can break the rules to please yourself and still have beautiful color.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Don Andrews watercolors

Yesterday I showed my class a Don Andrews video, "Making Watercolor Glow." The guy is amazing. His color is so vibrant and what he does with granulating watercolors you would not believe until you see it. Don is a good teacher. He explains things clearly in his soft Southern accent and, of course, makes it look easy. His book, Interpreting the Figure in Watercolor is the next best thing to the video to learn about his methods. Also, Don teaches more workshops than anyone else I know, so you may have a chance to take one when he's in a town near you. Don's workshop schedule, video and a softcover edition of his book are available on his website.

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