Saturday, March 31, 2012

Kaleidoscope of Koi

Here is my finished piece "Kaleidoscope of Koi". The size is 13x20" and it is all colored pencil on Stonehenge paper with the help of the Icarus Drawing Board for getting rich, intense color. I also burnished with a bristle brush in order to get the solid areas with no pencil lines of paper showing through the drawing. I did not figure out how many hours it took to complete this piece but I worked on it for 3 weeks straight, several hours per day. This is one of the pieces I submitted to the CPSA international exhibition for jurying.

Friday, March 30, 2012

I Could Paint Red Shoes for a Year!

These photos are from day three of the workshop. The top photo is just the luscious red shoes in cadmium red with a little thalo green mixed in, the second photo I've added my grays and green shadows. I'm not quite sure about the green shadows so I'm going to go back to the studio and work with the colors. In the bottom photo I'm mixing up my color combinations, remember in the workshop we are only allowed to use two complementary colors and white. Somehow it made it easier for me to paint with a limited palette, not being a painter I get confused when I have to mix up too many color combinations. I love the lines, shapes and colors of my red shoes and told Mimo I could paint them for a whole year!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Day Two Complementary Color Paintings

We were asked to change our composition to something different from yesterday's. I like my composition better today. I decided to start with middle gray values and then add color. However, not being a painter, I added too much white right away. I will have a nice value study when the piece dries and I can work over it.

Here is the class work for the two days, colorful and fabulous! Looking forward to our third and last day today and what I can accomplish.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Complementary Color Painting Workshop

This weekend I'm taking a three-day oil painting workshop at the Providence Art Club with Mimo Gordon Riley whose work and style I admire because she paints so beautifully with a limited palette. Our assignment for the workshop is to bring two complementary colors of oil paint plus white, one pair of shoes and three canvases. I am the only student in the class who chose the red/green combination, everyone else chose yellow/violet or orange/blue. We began by taking our two colors and mixing them together in 5 or 6 steps to make a range of grays from that point we added increments of white to make a range of light and dark values (my color mixture palette is hanging off my easel in the top photo). As you probably noticed I decided on a kick-ass pair of super high heels to paint (my students know I love colorful shoes) but I chose these shoes because of the angles and lines they form compositionally. Not being a painter and loving color, I added color right away. Most of the students began with neutral values and then brought colors into the painting. I'm going to try that today on day two of the workshop. Notice the bottom photo of everyone's work, all different and so amazing. I particularly like the little girl's sneakers and the purple high heels.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

On My Drawing Table

I am working on this very complicated drawing of a group of hungry koi fish, the drawing is on Stonehenge drawing paper and is approximately 14x20". The reference photos I am working from are from a trip I took to Napa Valley several years ago. The Domaine Chandon Winery we visited had some of the largest and most colorful fish I had ever seen. As I leaned over the pond to take photos, they all surfaced at once. In the photo, my shadow covers all of the fish so I am working from imagination and artistic license to bring the fish out of the shadows and into the light. The most challenging part of this composition is working on the water. In my photo the water is lime and olive greens, not colors I find complementary for the fish thus I'm changing colors to darker blue/greens.

I'm also having fun because I am using the Icarus heated drawing board to blend and layer my colors. Using only colored pencils, I start with a color on the cool side, add a second layer of color on the heated side, back on the cool side I burnish with a brush, then back to the heated side to add more layers of color if needed. Our New England weather has begun warming up this week but in previous weeks, the Icarus board has served a double purpose, it also keeps my hands & arms warm on those cold, damp days!!! Some days I want to just lay on top of it and warm up ;-) I'm not sure that Ester who lives in Southern California realizes that her board can also serve to keep cold New England artists warm!

This colored pencil drawing still needs work. I asked my students for comments and they gave me some good suggestions. I asked my husband for his comments and he said "well ... it's abstract ... " Anyway, I'm having fun with it but have been working on this piece since March 1st and eager to finish and move on to the next project.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Thinking Spring!

This drawing is on 9x12" gray Ampersand Pastelbord. I really like working on the pastelbord, the surface takes the pencil so well. The textured surface gives me the ability to work darker colors and lay lighter colors on top.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Experiments with Colored Pencil and Varnish

This photo is a cropped portion of a 12x16" colored pencil and pastel drawing I did several years ago. In fact it was accepted into and shown at the 2007 CPSA Explore This! Exhibition in Brea, CA (before Explore This! exhibitions became on-line only). I did the drawing is on black Stonehenge paper with colored pencil and bumped up the vibrant colors with pastel on top. The drawing looked so vibrant until I put it under glass to frame the piece. It made the rounds to different exhibitions but never sold so it came back to my studio and hung for a few more years. If it was light in the studio, the piece looked very vibrant but if it was a dark day, it looked dull. I kept glancing at the piece and wondering if I could somehow varnish it so that it wouldn't need to be shown under glass but I was afraid to varnish paper. After reading and learning about Ester Roi's blog entries on glassless framing, I came up with an idea. What did I have to lose? Just a piece of artwork ... but it was worth a try.

First I unframed the piece and adhered just the drawing to a 12x16" Ampersand Claybord with Grafix double tack mounting film adhesive. Next I sealed the drawing with Lascaux UV Protect spray, let it dry and then sprayed two coats of Krylon Kamar Varnish to seal and protect the drawing. I thought the spray might darken the colors but they were vibrant enough and remained so. The drawing sat for 24 hours and next I brushed on several coats of Golden UVLS Polymer Varnish Gloss letting each one dry in between. Here came the problem; I wasn't careful enough when brushing on the varnish, not only was I getting tiny air bubbles but I was getting brush marks. I tried to smooth out one "gloppy" area after the varnish had begun to dry and thus ended up with brush marks. Because the surface is so glossy, if I held the piece to the light, one could see all the imperfections. I learned that you have to be very, very careful when applying the Golden UVLS Polymer Varnish, any imperfection on the surface can be easily seen and detracts from the artwork.

I remembered that when I called Golden company tech support, the person I spoke to told me to be sure the artwork was sealed and protected with a spray varnish before brushing on the polymer varnish. The polymer varnish is water based and he told me that for conservation purposes, if museum quality artwork needed to be cleaned and re-preserved years from now, the polymer varnish could be easily washed off, the piece cleaned and preserved as the layer of spray varnish would not wash off and preserve it.

I was very frustrated with my piece so I took it to the sink and proceeded to wash off all the layers of the polymer varnish, holding my breath and just hoping I wouldn't damage the artwork. All of the polymer varnish washed off but the piece looked wet and cloudy for about a day. I was worried and discouraged I might have ruined it but was pleasantly surprised when I came back to the studio two days later and found the drawing perfectly dry, looking like it had before I started. The double tack mounting film kept the drawing perfectly adhered to the claybord also. I was really happy! I began again brushing on coats of the polymer varnish, much more carefully this time. I made sure I diluted the varnish exactly two parts varnish to one part water and let each coat dry before I applied the next. I didn't count how many coats I applied but I think probably about 6 or 8. I'm very excited because I accomplished what I set out to do, with a little bump in the road in which I learned from. I'm ordering a frame and will exhibit the piece in my studio or in a gallery and will most interested in viewers' comments.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Exciting News, Colored Pencil Recognition!

As I mentioned previously, the Rhode Island Blood Center asked me to be their artist of the year for the Seasons Pass Program 2011/2012. The Seasons Pass Program is in its 10th year and each year a different artist is selected and asked to create a unique piece of art for the Blood Center. This piece of artwork is made into prints and prints are given to 4-time per year blood donors. I was introduced as the new artist last year at the press conference and yesterday at the press conference, my artwork was unveiled. I chose to create a scene of colorful sailboats for this year's print. It is different than anything previous artists have done and fitting since the America's Cup trials as well as the Tall Ships are coming to Newport this year. Living so close to Newport and the ocean, I can relate to sailing. As a previous blood recipient myself, I am happy to be able to give back to the community and hope that receiving a print will entice new donors to donate blood. Here is the paragraph written to go along with the painting:

The strength of an America’s Cup flotilla is powerful as it sails to face unpredictable waters. So it is with blood donors. Collectively, they are saving lives for individuals they will likely never meet, providing them with the strength on what is often an unpredictable journey to regain their health, a journey that would not otherwise be possible.

Second item of news: I am thrilled to be featured on February 29th on a fun Rhode Island blog called I(heart)Rhody which is all about arts, food, events, news and photography throughout Rhode Island. They have published an interview with me as well as photos of my work.

Thirdly, I was also excited today when another artist called me and gave me some news that I missed. I have a piece in the Newport Art Museum Annual Juried Member Exhibition and this year every piece of artwork was accepted and hung floor -to-ceiling salon style. I've heard quite a bit of grumbling from other artists because their work was hung up near the high ceilings, they feel it cannot be appreciated. Somehow I got lucky and my piece "Sea Foam" is hung perfectly at eye level in fabulous light. What more can an artist ask for? Well, one of my artist friends called today and said congratulations, it seems that my piece is in a tie for second place having received many votes for the People's Choice Award. I completely missed my name as I read through the list of awards. Viewers can vote until May 14 so I may or may not stay in the running, but for now I'm excited especially since there are so many many works to choose from and I like seeing my name on the awards list!