Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Gold and Blue

Some time ago I bought a large number of handmade cotton rag paper with the intent of using it for pastels.  It has an interesting texture, wonderfully torn edges and comes in 25 colors.  When I got caught up in oil painting this spring, the paper was forgotten.  It sat neglected in a drawer for many months until a studio clean up this summer brought it back to light.

At the time, the winter wheat was ripening and the contrast of golden yellow with bright blue skies was irresistible and this paper seemed perfect for it.  There are two of them right now, and since they seem to make a pair I mounted them together on a piece of matboard to show of the edges.  Both are currently available in my etsy shop.

Top: Through the Fields 8 1/2x11 pastel, copyright 2013
Bottom: Turning to Gold 8 1/2x11 pastel, copyright 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013

Turning 75

Every fall the Dayton Society of Painters and Sculptors has its annual members show.  Most years it has a suggested theme with a special award.  This year the theme was "75" in honor of the organization's 75th anniversary.

Themed shows are a bit of a struggle for me, especially when they are open to interpretation.  I can be rather literal-minded, so figuring out how my rather traditional works fit into a theme can be a head scratcher.  This time though, I decided to just go ahead with a very literal interpretation.

Interstate 75 is a major highway that passes just west of downtown Dayton and is prominent feature of the city.  When heading into Dayton (including the DSPS gallery), we usually take US 35 - the interchange between the two is quite impressive.  US 35 passes underneath I75 and the ramps curve and soar overhead in a dance that always fascinates me as I pass through.  Unfortunately I am usually driving, making it impossible to grab a decent photo.  Thank goodness for Google StreetView, which gave me just the inspiration I was looking for.

I had some fun with this one, and a lot of reworking to get the perspective right (if a bit exaggerated), but it was an enjoyable experiment.  It didn't win any awards, but it did turn some heads.

Approaching Interstate 75 16x20 pastel, copyright 2013

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Back in the Saddle

My blog has been ignored lately, and for that I apologize.  It has been a crazy six months as I have a tendency to overcommit myself to non-art.  I've also been focusing on my Facebook page, since I am often on there anyway talking with geographically scattered friends and relatives.  And while Facebook has been attracting a lot of views, this blog seems to be attracting mostly spam.  But Facebook has its limitations; the biggest one being that it is difficult to "follow" if you are not on Facebook.  But I'm willing to try again for those loyal few who are legitimately following this blog and who justifiably have a dislike for social media.

Let's start with some more recent pastels, and then I'll work backwards a bit, interspersed with new works as they come along.

It's common for pastelists to mat their work, which means we often have scraps and bits of mat board just sitting around in a pile.  Another artist whose blog I follow, Karen Margulis, has said that she often uses scraps for quick studies and sketches, so I decided to give that a try.  I had two long narrow pieces in a warm dark grey that would work for panoramic scenes.  Here are the results:

Dormant 5x14 pastel, copyright 2013

End of Summer 6x16 pastel, copyright 2013

Turns out, this shape suits me quite well!  They ended up more as finished pieces than sketches but I am quite pleased with the results.  I'll admit to giving myself a little pat on the back for the snow scene in particular.  It can be a bit of a challenge to work out the composition on unusually shaped pieces, so I played around with cropping the reference photos first, then sketched them in charcoal and dark pastel until I was happy.  After that they almost painted themselves.

The Dayton Society of Painters and Sculptors has an annual invitational for new members each December, I've decided that the snow scene will be one of my entries.  The next challenge will be getting a custom frame!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Show off

I'll admit it, I have been neglecting my blog lately.  Short little blurbs on Facebook are just too tempting, and I wasn't sure how many people were actually reading the blog.  But I have been reassured that indeed I have an audience, so I will try to do better.

There are a few new things on my plate this summer.  After building up my skills on the 16x20 canvas board I gave a 24x24 gallery wrap canvas a try.  My original intention was use the small Connected study and go bigger, but as often happens, the painting went its own way and I just followed along.  It got rather dark at first but with some effort I was able to get it a bit lighter.  I am finding that if I hang a painting on the wall and turn off the brightest lights to imitate typical lighting situations in a house, it helps me to make a few adjustments.

Evening Storms Likely 24x24 oil, copyright 2013
Next month will be a bit hectic as I will be showing in two places at once.  The first is the Cozy Kup Cafe on US 35 in New Lebanon.  It's a coffee shop (obviously) that my husband stops in occasionally - I'm not a coffee drinker, but he brings home excellent chocolate chips cookies - and the owner Sarah is an art lover.  A fellow artist, Phil Erbaugh, suggested I stop in and see if she would be interested in showing my work.  She said yes, so now I have my first venue on my own!  I'm pretty excited about it, so if you are local, be sure and stop in for a cuppa joe and a painting during the month of July.

In addition to that, thanks to a last minute change of plans I will be participating in an invitational show at the Preble County Art Center in Eaton during July.  And the Preble County Fair is coming up at the end of the month.  Now how am I supposed to decide which paintings are going where?  And if only I had this problem more often!

Friday, May 31, 2013

June Shows

May has been a rather crazy month, and as a result I've been rather negligent with the blog.  My Facebook page seems to be slowly taking over, but I will try to do a better job of keeping up on here.  The "craziness" of this month includes two shows, both with receptions coming up shortly.

The first show is the Dayton Society of Painters and Sculptors annual Spring Open Juried Show, which runs from May 31 (today!) to June 23.  The reception is June 3 from 2-5 pm.  I will be there, at least for a few hours at the beginning.  Three pieces were entered and one, a small pastel, was accepted:

Heading to Grand Central 6x6 pastel, copyright 2013

Cityscapes are not typical for me as there are far too many straight lines, but I decided to give it a try.  And to be honest, it wasn't the straight lines that gave me trouble to much as getting the cars to look right - I had to break out the reading glasses to get the details!

The other show is the Preble County Art Association Annual Juried Show, which is June 4 to June 29. The reception is June 8 from 2-4, and once again I will be there.  I have two pieces in this one:  a pastel, Scout and the Pink Kimono painted last year, and an oil shown below.  It's the first time in a few years that I have entered an oil, but I have been on a bit of a roll since taking the workshop with Steven Walker.  Hopefully I will see some of you at one or both receptions!

Storm on the Horizon 16x20 oil on canvas board, copyright 2013

Monday, May 6, 2013

Bigger and brighter

This weekend I attended the opening reception for Spring Fling, an annual juried exhibit at the Gateway Arts Council in Sidney, Ohio.  This year I was privileged to have two pastels accepted into the show.  It's an excellent exhibit with many talented artists participating, making the quality of the pieces displayed quite high.

I learned a few lessons as I walked around the exhibit.  The first, which I really already knew, was that while my work has gotten much better over the last few years, I still have some catching up to do.  The second was that I need to paint bigger and brighter, especially for these types of exhibits.  Larger pieces often do a better job of commanding attention, in particular when they surrounded by many other pieces.  A little 9x12, while quite lovely in a living room or bedroom, is overwhelmed in such a space.  In addition, all the dark shadows which were supposed to be dramatic turned out to be more melodramatic in a setting with lighting that is more subdued than in my studio.

Taking all of this into consideration, I have resolved to paint bigger and brighter, at least for exhibits.  Even for other pieces I will try to make the mood brighter - occasionally walking the pieces out of the studio and setting them in a room with more typical lighting (my dining room, for example) will help with this I think.  Something like the painting below is step in the right direction I think.

Chance of Scattered Showers 16x20 oil, copyright 2013

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Dark skies

Winter Sky study 9x12 oil, copyright 2013

Connected study 8x10 oil, copyright 2013

Since taking the workshop with Steven Walker I've been playing with my oils, trying to work out how they will work best for me, and I find myself focusing more and more on the sky.  Really, that shouldn't be much of a surprise as that is what I have been doing for some time in pastels.

These two are the most recent of those studies.  During the workshop Steven pointed out several times that my clouds were rather dark and ominous looking, and these are no exception.  I like the drama that dark skies create and have many, many reference photos of storm clouds.  After finishing the second one in particular though, I realized he had a point - it's a bit too dark.  It may not be obvious on a computer screen, but it is obvious when it's on my living room wall.  It appears that I need to learn to compensate for the fact that a typical room in a house is not as well lighted as my studio.  I think I will try the second one again, but larger and brighter, while keeping the drama.