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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

This week's lesson--intensity

Intensity contrast is a little harder to grasp, because people often confuse value and intensity. Value is the lightness or darkness of a color, on a scale between white and black. Intensity is the purity or "grayness" of a hue. Earth colors are low intensity colors. Here are three of my students' sketches illustrating how a touch of bright color is enhanced by low-intensity hues.

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Value and intensity studies

These images represent some of the sketches made by my Monday watercolor class at Hithergreen Center last week. The lesson was on values in high key, low key and full contrast. There were too many for me to edit all the images for my blog, but these will give you an idea of what they were doing. I was pleased with their understanding of the principles.

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Things are warming up

And not just the temperature. At least we're out of single digits and the sun is shining brightly. It's a gorgeous day; everything seems to sparkle. I now have the pages for my author's review of editorial suggestions on my manuscript and this is a very painstaking process. I'm fortunate to have an editor I've worked with and learned to trust with my creation. I have the book for two weeks and will work on it between baby-sitting three days a week and having a cataract operation on one eye. Ack. Trying to get the edge on it today. This morning I had an early warning from my husband that he'll be wanting my income tax records soon. Double ack.

On the lighter side, our granddaughter's birthday was a huge success. She loved her bean-bag chair and instinctively jumped on it, which is just the thing to do with a bean-bag chair. She had a princess birthday party on Saturday and my daughter had the dancing teacher at the pre-school lead the little girls, appropriately dressed as their favorite princesses, in little dance routines accompanied by the princess songs. Much squealing and shrieking, but no pushing and shoving. No boys allowed, except for her little brother, who came as Prince Philip. At five months of age he watched all the activities with a wide smile on his face.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The value of values

Most art teachers will agree that value, the range of light and dark in a design, is one of the first principles of painting. My first watercolor teacher said that if the values were right, the color didn't matter. I don't agree with the last part of his statement. His concept of "right" values was too limited. Yesterday I discussed with my class the potential of using value keys to make more expressive paintings. A full value contrast range is visually strong and makes good paintings, but high key, light and bright value contrast can be very appealing. And a deep, somber low-key painting can be moving, as well. The class worked hard on this and there were breakthroughs for some of them. I'll try to remember to take some photos at critique next week when they've had a chance to finish their sketches. They were excited to see their artwork in the mosaic I put on the blog last week with their pure-hue paintings.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Bitter cold

Just got bitterer. It went down to 1 degree F last night. Seemed like a good day to hang out at home, so I didn't stick my nose out the door. My editor picked up the color wheel icons this morning. It's so nice to have her willing to do this. Her parents live nearby, so she gets up this way fairly often. I got lots of odds and ends taken care of in the studio, then decided to make my reservations for the Palm Coast, Florida, workshop next month. What a shock! I checked my frequent flyer miles and discovered that a couple of the airlines have deleted my accumulated miles. American denied my password, which has happened before with them. Very annoying. I finally went back to Expedia, which was fast and easy. Delta, here I come again. When I used to do a lot of travel to trade shows, I had a travel agent do my booking. After the Web came into the picture, I discovered that she wasn't getting me the best rates, so I gave up the convenience to save the workshops some money. Sometimes I wonder if it's worth the time I spend, since I'm not paying for it. Oh, well. I'd feel guilty doing it that way. Some groups that sponsor workshops are on a tight budget.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Fun day

We drove out in the country about ten miles this morning to pick up a bean bag chair for our granddaughter for her fifth birthday next week. I searched online and discovered these are made nearby, so we made our selection and picked up at the factory. Imagine buying anything made in the USA, not to mention in your own neck of the woods. Can't wait to give it to Jenna.

I spent the rest of the day on a last-minute project suggested by my editor for the new color book. She requested fifteen icons for the pages on color schemes. She suggested making the color wheels about four inches across. I tried that, but the scale was too small for my arthritic fingers to work with, so I switched to six inches and that worked well. So that job is done. The wheels will be reduced in size considerably to make icons on the pages. On Monday they will decide the final title of the book. I thought it was decided, but they were worried about a forty-year-old book that had the same title. FYI, titles aren't copyrighted, but in this day of easy-search and Amazon.com, the old titles keep cropping up. I'll let you know what the decision is as soon as I know.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Leading a double life

Being a nanny-granny and an artist-author creates some difficulties sometimes, only one of which is being currently exhausted. I baby-sat Daniel three days this week and yesterday picked Jenna up at daycare for a sleepover at our house. This morning I took her to "school" and drove on to Wilmington to baby-sit her brother.

In the midst of all this I got word from my editor that a change of title is in the works for my book and she needs a new illustration project by Monday. On Tuesday I'm supposed to get the editor's layout for author review. I'll work that in with Jenna's birthday parties and the baby-sitting. I hope Daniel will cooperate.

Daniel was a riot this morning, playing with his toys. He'll be five months old next week. I never saw such a vocal baby. For almost an hour this morning he sat in his little swing and warbled, shouted, cooed, gasped, squealed and squeaked at a little fuzzy panda he loves to chew on. He had me in stitches. This afternoon was a different story--high maintenance. Too tired to eat or sleep. I finally got him wound down by pushing him around the house in the stroller until I thought my legs would give out. He rewarded me with a royal smile when I left.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

My watercolor class is awesome

This mosaic is the result of our class on Pure Hue Contrast today. The students knocked me out with their results on this exercise. Critique was a real delight, seeing all the variations on the subject. For many of them it was a big stretch from their normal way of working. I feel sure they'll find this tool useful as they keep growing. I learned a lot from watching them, too. Here's a larger version of the mosaic.

Back to watercolor class

We're beginning a new series of lessons this week, based on the six color contrasts: hue, value, intensity, temperature, complements and quantity. Today is the contrast of pure hues. With this contrast you can use all colors, as long as they are pure and unmodified bright hues. You can also use black and white. It will be fun to see what subjects they come up with. I'm taking three examples of subjects: an abstract design, a row of rural mailboxes and an undersea photo I took at Monterey aquarium. The undersea photo is colorful by itself, but the new printer really shows it off. I did some Photoshopping and added two colorful fish from other photos. In the painting I will use purple for the darks and quinacridone magenta or permanent rose for the bright magentas. Fun!

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Installing a new printer

I've had enough frustration from my old HP all-in-one that I finally broke down and bought a new printer, an Epson RX595. It didn't take me long to install it--not a fraction of the time it took me to get the old HP out of my computer. But it will take awhile to figure out all the features. I can't believe you can get so many goodies with a $99 printer--well, $149 without the online rebates. I miss one feature I liked in the HP--automatic downloading of digital camera disks--even though it was beginning to get flaky on me. The scanner hasn't worked for a long time and the paper rollers were beginning to act up. I like the look of the printed pages I've done on the Epson so far and it's much faster. I'm going to have to clean up the mess I've made in my studio unpacking the printer and installing it before I try printing any photos. If it's anything like my other Epsons, I'll be a happy camper. What do people do with old printers that still sort of work?

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Disk cleanup

I've spent two days doing computer chores I haven't had time to do for months. Last year I bought a 200G backup drive to be sure I had the artwork for the book safely backed up. Unfortunately, I have a bad habit of tinkering with files, so every time I changed a directory or file name, the whole thing was backed up again on the hard drive. I don't know how many copies I had of all those images, which were TIFF and CMYK files--huge. That big hard drive was almost full. So I cleared out the duplicate files and removed my HP printer from my computer to make room for a new Epson that's on the way. Add/remove balked. It took me a long time to get rid of all the printer files on both hard drives and I finally got rid of the printer by putting in the installation CD and clicking all the .exe files until I found the uninstaller. Why do they make it so hard? That done, I defragged the C drive, which took a couple of hours. The backup drive is almost finished, after six hours. Now I remember why I haven't done it for months.

By the way, Charley Parker has a great blog on Walt Kelly , father of the Pogo comic strip, one of my favorites. Not to be missed.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Photographing art

Here's a link I found in my Favorites list and had forgotten about. How to Photograph Your Art from Dallas Arts Revue. Good tips on photographing flat and 3-D art. I've been updating link requests for my web site going back to April, that's how far behind I was. All done now. Yay! Next job is to update my web site home page. I'm almost beginning to think it might be possible to catch up with myself.


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Finally starting the New Year

My new year never seems to begin until January 2. New Year's Day is always crowded with tasks to wind up the old year, like taking down the Christmas decorations, doing the year's-end inventory, getting the bills paid. I'm looking forward to a wonderful 2008, teaching lots of workshops and seeing my new book in print. The year 2007 was a mixed bag, a lot of hard work and some highs and lows. The highest point was the birth of our grandson, who continues to be a delight when I babysit four days a week. The lowest point was the loss of my best friend. After thirty years of friendship, it ended on a sour note in February, leaving me shocked and grieving.

Our granddaughter slept over Saturday night and did her first painting on her new Christmas easel. It was amazing watching her step up to the easel with such confidence and begin painting. I set out the three primaries and purple, her favorite color. It was the first color she chose, then she added in all the others, mixing to make orange and green. She switched back and forth between her left and right hands. When she finished her painting, she told me it was a "rainbow cave." Jenna is going on five. I wish I had been that confident at such a tender age. All I remember of art from those days is coloring inside the lines.

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