Tuesday, November 23, 2010

River rocks

River Rocks 12x9 pastel, copyright 2010

I almost gave up on this one.  At about the half way point I realized the rocks just looked like blobs, there was too much purple and yellow, and it really wasn't amounting to much.  But I kept on it, hoping it was simply, as I've heard one artist put it, at the "awkward teenager stage".  It's pretty common for artwork to look awkward in the middle and for the artist to wonder, "Is this really going to work?"  It's a matter of seeing the potential there and pushing through the doubts.  A highlight here, blend a little there, tone it down a little here and pretty soon it was back on track.

I enjoy these still lifes with deep shadows and strong contrasts.  They make for dramatic images, even with simple everyday objects.  It's been awhile since I've done one of these as I seemed to have been focusing on landscapes lately.   But a recent purchase of a lamp got me back into it.  It's just a basic light, but it has a clamp and a flexible arm which means I can place and point it just about anywhere.  It's great for getting those dramatic shadows.  I might have to start poking around the house looking for more ideas for a still life.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Every morning I have a wonderful view out my kitchen window as the sun lights up the trees beyond our fields.  I couldn't count how many times I've thought "I should try to paint that."  One of these days I actually will, although I'm not sure it's possible to capture such a thing in paint.

This morning in particular was inspiring.  I don't have a photo to share, just an image in my mind.  It was early enough to still be dark to the west, with a heavy cloud cover.  As I watched, the sun found a brief break in the clouds just as it was coming up over the hills behind me.  The trees in front of me were lit in reds and oranges, particularly brilliant on the white trunks of the sycamores.  All of this contrasted against the dark purple gray sky.  It only lasted a moment before clouds moved in front of the sun, but it was one of those moments that makes me grateful for living in the country.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Painting Challenge

A dramatic soccer season has come to an end, just in time for a round of birthdays and the holidays, all while starting a new job at the arts center.  I did manage to finish a pastel last weekend.  I follow a number of blogs of artists I admire, and one of them is Bonnie Griffith.  Bonnie lives in the Northwest and her pastel landscapes have a wonderful depth and vibrancy to them that I am always aiming for.  She recently issued a challenge on her blog to paint a photo she had taken while on vacation in Montana.  We don't get outcrops like this in western Ohio and I decided I needed the practice, so I took her up on that challenge.  This pastel is the result:

Outcrop with Juniper 12x14 pastel, copyright 2010
photo from SE Montana, copyright Bonnie Griffith 2101

It's interesting to me to look at the two images side by side.  I see lots of changes I can make, but I think it might be best to leave it as is.  One of the most difficult things for me is knowing when to stop.  I have a tendency to get caught up in the details and end up overworking the piece.  This time I left the photograph on the laptop rather than printing it out, and blurred the image slightly.  I think that helped and is something I will try again.

Thanks Bonnie!