Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Judging distance

Beyond the Aspen, 5 1/2 x 8 pastel, copyright 2012

Staying in Grand Teton National Park, this is from a photograph was taken a short distance from the first one, just the opposite end of the same parking area.  All the trails here were roped off due to "wildlife activity", i.e. black bears with cubs.  We didn't see any of them.  

Because this one was a bit more complicated, I gave myself 30 minutes on the timer.  The greens are more appropriate, not so bright and varied.  Getting a sense of distance was the challenge here.  In Ohio one can typically see a few miles at most due to the rolling hills and trees, so it takes a big adjustment to create a big space.  Generally speaking, duller, cooler (blue) colors show distance and brighter, warmer (red/yellow) colors are used for closer objects.  The cooler grey-green of the ever present sagebrush in front presents a bit of a problem, but reddish purples in the shadows helps.

Mountains have their own set of challenges.  They dominate the landscape, yet are often far in the distance.  Deciding how much they should dominate a painting dictates both color choices and the amount of detail needed.  Undoubtably it takes a bit of practice to get the balance right.

Looking back through my old paintings before posting this one, I've discovered that this is the first time I have attempted to paint a snow capped mountain.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Learning as I go

Through the Aspen 51/2x8 pastel, copyright 2012

Since I wasn't able to try out my plein air set up while on vacation, I've decided to fill up my little pastel  book with studies based on photographs.  After realizing that plein air wasn't going to be possible I took many, many photos with the specific goal of using them for reference, including this one from Grand Teton National Park just south of Yellowstone.  So far I've painted five of these, learning and adjusting to the new landscapes as I work.  A new one will be posted every few days.

Using only the pastels that had been packed for the trip, a timer was set to 20 minutes to imitate the plein air experience.  Very quickly I discovered that I had packed the wrong greens.  Midwestern greens are bright, saturated and varied, while Rocky Mountain greens are far less intense.  This little aspen groove was brighter than the dominant ponderosa pines but certainly not equal to an Ohio forest.   Also, a much higher elevation means more intense sunlight and deeper shadows.  With some adjustments this one should work well as a larger piece.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Pompeii update

Last night was the Pompeii Art Show at the Cincinnati Museum Center, and I promise this is the last time all of you will hear about it.  Maybe.

It was a good show with a a wide variety of artwork: abstract paintings, mosaics, sculpture, a handmade book.  Obviously there are a lot of talented artists in the Cincinnati area.  It was a good experience for me personally too.  Over half the pieces sold, including mine - and for more than my starting bid!  I got quite a few compliments from both my fellow artists and from those who came to see the show.

One of the Museum Center's employees told me how happy she was to have the painting hanging in her office for a few days before the show - her mother was the one who actually won the bid, so I'm sure she will see it many more times in the future.  I also had people tell me that they could tell by the attention to detail that I had been to Pompeii.

A few connections in the Cincinnati art world were made that will hopefully be helpful in the future.  And while my very distant hope of picking up the sponsorship of a wealthy executive from Proctor & Gamble or Johnson & Johnson didn't come true, it is a great feeling to hear praises and see my piece sold.  It  feels like a big step forward.

Here's a link to photos from the show, including one of myself and my wonderfully supportive husband.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sneak peek

The Cincinnati Mueseum Center has posted a sneak peak at the artwork that is being exhibited at the Pompeii Art Show tonight.  These are cropped images, so it's a little hard to judge, but it kind of looks like mine is the only straight-forward landscape.  It should be an interesting show.  I'll post an update to let everyone know how it went.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Good intentions

Things have been pretty quiet on my blog due to a 10 day family vacation.  We headed out west to places I've never been before: the Badlands, Black Hills and Yellowstone.  The landscape is so different from the bright green, gently rolling hills and quiet creeks of southwestern Ohio and I was really looking forward to the change in scenery.

In anticipation of this new experience, I made myself a little plein pastel box from a box intended for beads.  The bottom is lined with bubble wrap and pieces of foam are glued to a piece of cardboard to keep the pastels from moving around and breaking apart.  The plastic clasps seemed a bit flimsy, so I bought a dog collar with a heavy duty metal clasp to keep the box from coming open unexpectedly.  I also bought a 5x7" binder filled with pastel paper interleafed with glassine - a very cool product for any plein air pastelist.  The ribbon tie was added by me for increased security.

But they were never used.  The first day we arrived in the Badlands we drove and walked around a bit, admiring the view and scouting locations.  I had intended to wait until evening when the temperatures would be more reasonable and the light less intense.  But then we got distracted watching young bighorn sheep scampering about the landscape while the adults munched alongside the road next to our car.  A storm was coming in and the light was quickly lost, so I just took many, many reference photos.

And that's pretty much how the trip went.  There was just so much to see and our time was limited.  But I have close to 500 photos and the memories of a lifetime, so there are no regrets.  I am hoping to find the time while my memory is still fresh to fill up the binder - I'm feeling refreshed and inspired, and I needed to take advantage of those feelings before they are lost in the chaos of everyday life again!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Three shows in one post

Saturday was pretty hectic one for me as I ran about for two different shows in opposite directions.  The first was the annual show for the Dayton Society of Painters and Sculptors.  It's the first time I've tried this one and it will be another day or two before I find out if my two pieces, Scout and the Pink Kimono and Remnants of an Early Morning Storm will be accepted.  A fellow artist told me that usually only about a third of entered pieces are accepted, so keep your fingers crossed for me!

The second show was the reception for the Annual Juried Art Exhibit at the Preble Fine Arts Center.  Three pieces are in the show, and one, Midsummer Barn, won second place in the pastel category.  Later the chair of the committee of the show told me that the judge really liked it, but gave it second because he didn't like the frame or matting.  Ouch.  That's something I hadn't really considered, but probably should pay more attention to.  I've been trying to frame my pastels without mats - it makes them look more like "paintings" - but this one had a bright white mat.  I'll guess I'll keep that in mind for future reference.

The third show in this post is the Pompeii Art Show at the Cincinnati Museum Center.  I received an email poster for this one, and of course had to post it.  Tickets are still available if you want to come and bid on my painting!