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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Home again, jiggety jig

After balmy 72-degree days in Plantation, FL, I'm back at 41-degree Ohio. The quarter-acre woods is blooming and soon will be even more colorful. I can't wait to get out and see what has opened up, but right now I'm knee-deep in laundry.

My trip home was one of the worst I've experienced in more than 20 years of air travel. Whatever happened to customer service? It started out well when the taxi arrived at the hotel 10 minutes early and only took 15 minutes to get to the airport. I thought it was a good sign. The lines at the Delta ticket kiosks were extremely long, but they moved fairly quickly. Even boarding was on time, but everything went downhill after that.

The flight attendant announced that there would be a delay in departure because they had discovered that the plane was 5000 lbs. short of fuel and couldn't take off without it. Then there was something wrong with a valve in the refueling mechanism (I think that's what they said), so we were at least 45 minutes late getting off the ground (might have been an hour, but I stuck my nose in a book and lost track of time). I wasn't worried because I had a reasonable layover time in Atlanta. I'm a pretty relaxed traveler.

They put us in a holding pattern near Atlanta. Heavy rains there and in many other airports had backed up incoming flights. Not much you can do about the weather. It took a long time to taxi into the gate, again because of heavy traffic. I still had time to make my flight, but it was getting tight.

We sat at the jetway for a half hour before they opened the doors to let anyone out. I didn't hear any explanation why they didn't open the door. I was at the back of the plane and it was past time for my flight. Still, I didn't worry, since they said all flights had been delayed because of weather conditions.

When I finally de-planed, I saw that I had 20 minutes to make my connection. We had come in at gate A-1 and my flight was at D-38, so I started to run-walk to D terminal. Well, guess what. The train to D wasn't running. Okay, I ran over to the moving walkway. Guess what. The walkway wasn't moving. I was huffing and puffing when I got to the desk. The plane was still there, but the doors had just closed. They will not open the doors once they're closed.

They sent me to customer service to get re-booked. I was next in line, behind a man who was changing 4 different flights with different airlines. One agent there, helping him. I stood in line for half an hour before another agent came. She announced, "I'll help anyone who needs vouchers first."

No more Mrs. Nice-Guy. I demanded that she re-ticket me first. She said the next open flight to Dayton would be the next morning at 10:30 a.m. What????

I went on standby. I lost 4 flights and the rest of the day. My position on standby was preempted 3 times by someone with "priority," whatever that means.

I was #1 on the standby list for 6:30, but #3 to get the last seat. Someone had taken my seat in the 5th row aisle. It was a scarey few minutes while the flight attendant walked the aisle searching for an empty seat. I ended up in the last row of the plane. But I was on my way home.

There's a lot more to the story, but I'm sure many people have had a lot worse happen, so that's it for now.

I've had plenty of experience with delayed flights, weather, and what-not and it has never bothered me this much. Maybe I'm becoming an old grouch.

I noticed that sweet old ladies in wheel chairs got service and were boarded first.


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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Anyone for Popcorn?

A good day at the workshop. It's a small class, but very responsive. I visited with the chairman, Edie, and Magarita (must check on spelling) after class and through dinner--interesting conversation. Back at my room, I got ready for bed and planned to watch an art workshop DVD Edie loaned me, when the fire alarm went off. I called the desk and was told someone had burned popcorn in the microwave in the lobby. Okay, so no fire. But the alarm was literally deafening and I finally dressed and went outside (from the third floor) to wait until the fire department or someone shut off the alarm. I've been in hotels where there were false alarms before, but they were never this loud. I guess that's a good thing, if there really is a fire and I'm grateful there wasn't. But I honestly was afraid that sound could burst an ear drum. I guess I'm okay. Um, what did you just say?

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Great day to start a workshop

It's sunny and bright here in Florida, not humid, just right. The workshop begins a little later this morning, so I have some time to relax. My aching bones are enjoying the warm air. Last night we sat out on a restaurant patio and ate pizza with one of the workshop students, a woman from Honduras. She told me she had formed a group to work through The New Creative Artist, which she translated into Spanish to teach them how to do the exercises. They worked every week for 36 weeks, straight through the book. That blows my mind. Can't wait to get started with the class this morning.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Art everywhere and I'm off to Florida

The area has been full of shows and I've actually been able to take some time to get involved. That hasn't happened for a long while. I believe I mentioned the "Works on Paper" at Rosewood Center in Kettering--it closes this Friday. On Sunday, March 29, the Gold Palette show at 48 High Street in Dayton is closing. I have a small painting in that show--my granddaughter's portrait. Last Friday I helped register paintings for the Western Ohio Watercolor Society's open juried show at Town & Country Fine Art Gallery in Kettering. Also helped with the clerical work during the judging on Saturday and attended the opening on Sunday. I had almost forgotten how much fun it is to be around artists. My self portrait was accepted for this show, which closes on April 5. There are more shows coming up, but I can't think about them now. I need to pack for a workshop in Plantation, Florida, near Ft. Lauderdale. I'm flying out tomorrow, coming home on Sat. Love those 3-day workshops!

Here's a quote someone gave me recently:

They say, and I'm very willing to believe it, that it is difficult to know yourself, but it isn't very easy to paint yourself, either." --Vincent van Gogh

Anyone want to drink to that?

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Taos creative Photoshoppers

Jerry Walter and Rick Finney continue to amaze me with their digital photographs altered in Photoshop, shown here. I asked Rick to send me some information on his process in the florals, and I confess it's way beyond me: gradients, masks, layers, frames, hyper-tiling and watercolor effects. Jerry's soft image is a watercolor effect. I offer these images to give you an idea of what creative artists can do with Photoshop. I love painterly images where distinctions between painting and photography disappear.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Brown Baggers reminiscing

A week or so ago I had lunch with the Brown Baggers outdoor painting group. We've been through a lot together since the group of seven women watercolor painters formed in 1975. Being busy with families as well as painting, we met on the first Tuesday of every month, occasionally an extra day to finish up at a site, and painted in each other's homes during bad weather. Memories abound of mostly funny experiences painting on site--the comments made by onlookers and the hazards of public painting--insects, sudden rainstorms, lack of restrooms. For a number of years we exhibited as a group in banks, hospitals, galleries, and businesses throughout the Miami Valley area around Dayton. Our shows were booked into one venue after another. Unsold paintings never made it back to our studios; they just went on to the next show. I confess that, although I enjoyed painting outdoors, I am much more a studio painter and was probably the least productive of the group. After I began writing my books and teaching national workshops, it became more difficult to find time to paint with my friends. Health issues interfered with others in recent years and now, after 34 years, only five members and two spouses survive. We enjoy swapping stories, though, and think wistfully of braving the elements to paint outdoors again one day. In the meantime, we enjoy lunch now and then and remember all our good times together.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

p.s. Winter aconite and snowdrops are blooming in my quarter-acre woods!

Golden Paint education

A few days ago the Western Ohio Watercolor Society in Springfield, Ohio, hosted Merle Rosen, one of their certified teachers in the use of Golden acrylic paints. Her demo was fantastic. She worked for 90 minutes, slathering acrylic products onto demo boards and passing them around for all to see. The single most enlightening demo was that of the new Open Acrylics by Golden. She painted two thick bands of paint side by side on a board and set them aside. Every 15 minutes she swiped her finger across each band. In about 30 minutes, the regular acrylic stroke was dry. The Open stroke was still wet when the meeting ended nearly 90 minutes later. Merle's talk was filled with information, from the structure of acrylic paint film to acrylic techniques and special mediums. Their product line is awesome. I use acrylics mostly for collage, but the demo has me thinking about adding in more paint and special effects. (BTW, I don't work for Golden!) After reading the three books on acrylics that I recently reviewed, I'm impressed with the possibilities of all acrylics. These products were just getting on their feet when I began painting watercolors in 1970 and I didn't like the plasticky feeling of the paint, which didn't dissolve on the palette like watercolor. I find it much more pleasant to work with now--creamier, I guess--and the colors are incredible. I recently read a review of Ampersand Aquabord (textured Claybord)that is said to be a good support for acrylics. Looks like I'll have to do some experimenting.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Book news

I have much to catch up on, but will start with these tidbits about Confident Color. The Painting for Pleasure Book Club in the UK has bought the book for its main selection. I received copies of the book from my publisher yesterday. This is such a thrill. Four of my books have been translated into foreign languages (German, French, Chinese, and Dutch), but this is the first international book club.

Also, The Watercolour Gazette published by Eileen Korponay of Manitoba has reviewed the book. I received a copy of the print edition last week. Thanks, Eileen for your informative review. The current issue also includes a review of Aquabord Claybord (Textured) and suggestions for its use. Eileen's Workshop in this issue consists of 3 pages on Painting Zinnias. Other articles include artist features, brush tips, online tips and essays. There are also listings of shows and workshops. Watercolour Gazette is an amazing little magazine.

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Monday, March 02, 2009

Fabric collage

Julia R. Berkley, fabric collage artist, paints landscapes with fabric. Unlike the watercolor-quilt style using small bits of fabric to assemble an image, Julia glues larger shapes onto canvas board, incorporating them into colorful fantasy landscapes. They remind me of Henri Rousseau's nature paintings. She captures the sense of landscape and underseas environments with printed fabric colors and textures.

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Acrylic books reviewed

I've just finished reading Rheni Tauchid's The New Acrylics: Complete Guide to the New Generation of Acrylic Paints. (Watson-Guptill, 2005). I like this book very much, even though it doesn't have some of the acrylic mediums that have become available since the book was published in 2005. It's really hard to keep up with these new products, since it takes about two years for a book to be written and produced for publication. Nevertheless, the book is an excellent reference for painters in acrylics. I like the technical information on paints (not all artists care about this as I do, though) and I especially like the illustrations of techniques, the samplers and demos that show how different techniques look during the process of application. There is some very fine artwork interspersed on the pages, but the emphasis is clearly on techniques and materials. I'm going to add this book to my collection, as I find it to be both informative and inspirational, just because of the exciting possibilities shown through the demo photos.

My earlier reviews of two newer acrylics books, follow:

Nancy Reyner's book was released by North Light early in 2008. Acrylic Revolution: New tricks and techniques for working with the world's most versatile medium provides information on setting up tools and materials for working with acrylics, along with a comprehensive glossary. This is a "techniques book," with detailed information and illustrations using different acrylic viscosity and textures. A few paintings by various artists are included in a gallery, showing different approaches to painting with acrylics. Reyner explains the behavior of the mediums, how to deal with quick drying paints and mediums, and how to finish the artwork with varnish, a step many artists skip over. I especially like Guy Kelly's design, which unifies the pages of complex demos and hands-on photos.

Patti Brady's book, Rethinking Acrylics: Radical solutions for exploiting the world's most versatile medium. (North Light, 2009) is worth the price just for the chart on page 23, showing the effects of 15 different mediums, with a short description telling in a nutshell what each does. I also like the information on how acrylic paints are made, although I know a lot of artists aren't interested in this. Brady provides information and techniques not included in the Reyner book, as well as demonstrations by 28 acrylic artists. Want to print acrylic paint film (skins) in your ink jet printer? Need to know more about interference and metallic acrylic paints? Want to try encaustic with acrylic? It's all here, and more.

Reyner and Brady are active in the Working Artist Program of Golden Artist Colors, Inc., and Tauchid works with Tri-Art in Canada, but these books may be used by artists who work with other brands of acrylics.

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Sunday, March 01, 2009

Friday adventures downtown

I went to downtown Dayton to deliver a copy of Confident Color to the Graphics Terminal team that photographed some of the work for the book--in fact, for all of my books, since 1983. I enjoyed watching Greg page through the book, stopping to study pieces he remembered photographing. Ed walked through and reminded me to read a letter posted on the counter. Like most photo labs, GT is phasing out film and in a few months will no longer be doing transparencies and slides. I'm not surprised. Some of the artist contributors in my last two books had trouble finding "wet labs" to process film. I enjoyed working with the digital photo files for several reasons, one of which was the capability of seeing the image in all its glory on my monitor. Looking at slides and transparencies on a light-box doesn't begin to compare. The main problem I had with digital was getting the artists to follow the instructions, briefly, using a quality 7+MP (preferably, 10 MP) camera with a good lens (not a point-and-shoot), saving at 300 dpi sized to 9" x 12". Those were my publishers specs. I also required a Kodak color strip to be in the photo frame to aid in color correction. I've decided that all submissions for my next book, whatever it might be, will be digital.

After I left GT, I drove around the block to the Dayton Visual Artists Center to see the two shows currently installed. Jeana Eve Klein combines creative quilting and painting in her large quilts (detail shown). Her small quilt squares are spectacular color abstractions. Bridgette Bogle's playful acrylic paintings on small canvas squares are colorful interpretations of popular motifs. Both shows are delightful and run through the end of March.

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