Monday, October 29, 2012

Rural route

Morning Mail 12x9 pastel, copyright 2012

In the weeks before the leaves started turning gold, there were dramatic swings in the temperature - cool nights and warm days - which meant foggy mornings.  Not far from our house there are old trees and carefully manicured lawns along one side of the road and brush and weeds on the other before it opens up to pasture.  The morning I took this reference photo the sun was just starting to break up the fog, filtering through the leaves along the road.  I haven't quite figured out how to capture fog in pastels without making a smudgy mess, but I think I caught the early morning light here.

A few weeks later there was a phenomenon I had never seen before.  Everything was covered in light frost, even the tops of the trees.  As the sun came up and evaporated the frost, it turned to fog at the tops of those trees, looking like smoke as wisps trailed into the clear blue sky.  Then slowly it sank down into the fields as the sun rose, becoming very dense at ground level and burning off in the sunlight after only half an hour.  It was beautiful sight, one that made me grateful to be living in the country.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

site renovations

A studio clean up and the launching of a friend's web site inspired me this week to make changes to my own web site and blog.  There is a theory out there that having a black or very dark background makes artwork pop forward a bit more and reduces eye strain, which is why I went with that scheme when I started my web site, now nearly three years ago.

But now I'm not so sure that works as well as I thought it did.  After looking at any number of sites, including this one belonging to my friend Katie, I started to realize that what the dark background actually did was emphasize the dark areas of the images and that a lighter background makes them brighter.   Brighter images seems a bit more appropriate for "luminous brightscapes".  Simplification seems to help as well, though a blog will always be rather busy - it's the nature of the beast.

I'd love to hear what you think - should I keep the the lighter scheme, or go back to the dark one?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Playing with paper

Fields at Dusk, 8 1/2x11 pastel, copyright 2012

Dairy Barn, Evening Sky 8 1/2x11 pastel, copyright 2012

Thanks to a post by pastelist Karen Margulis (check out her work - she's very good!) I have discovered a new pastel paper called Shizan.  It's handmade 100% cotton rag made from recycled material and is quite reasonably priced.  The texture is irregular, as are the edges and sometimes the size.  

With the first one I quickly discovered that it won't hold many layers, and vine charcoal does not work at all.  That was a bit frustrating, although it does make for a sort of vague, sketchy painting.  On the second one I added a single thin layer of pastel primer, which gave it enough tooth to hold more layers.  The texture and color of the paper still come through and force looser, sketchier images.  That's a good thing since I usually feel that my looser paintings are better.

Both of these paintings are from reference photos taken a few weeks ago when my husband was kind enough to drive me around just before sunset.  A native of the area, he chose the route down a winding, quiet road that ended at closed bridge (and haunted) bridge.   It was a beautiful drive, and I was able to get plenty of good photos that will hopefully find their way onto this new paper.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Along the North Fork Highway

Along the North Fork Highway 16x20 pastel, copyright 2012

As promised earlier, here is the result of my studio clean up.  If it looks familiar, that's because it's the same formation that I painted over the summer, a volcanic dike overlooking the valley of the North Fork Shoshone River.  This painting took a lot longer as I slowly worked in the layers bit by bit, starting with a basic charcoal sketch.  This one also ended up more yellow and purple as opposed to the red and green of the smaller study, which wasn't a conscious decision on my part.  But I did consciously make it brighter and more detailed, hoping for a late afternoon feel.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Sale and clean up

Winter Reflections 6x6 oil, copyright 2011

Last year in the winter I painted a series of little 6x6 oils landscapes for practice and fun, including this one.  A few have sold and the rest have been decorating my studio walls.  Over the summer I decided to enter this one in the Preble County Fair on a whim - it looked the best in the gold frames I had.   It seems I chose wisely, as it won second place in the oil category.  Smaller pieces often get overlooked, so this was a pleasant surprise.  

Feeling rather confident about its reception - I received a number of compliments from fairgoers and my fellow artists - I then decided to hang it in the gallery at the Preble Fine Arts Center.  This week I went to pick up my pieces and was told that it had been sold to one of the those artists.  Having another artist purchase a painting is wonderful pat on the back, thank you Kathy!  Here is the original post on this painting.

Unfortunately work in the studio lately has been slow as life sometimes gets in the way of inspiration, so I took advantage of a temporary lull to clean my studio to see if that would help.  It did, and I have been working on a larger piece which is going very well and will post about soon.  It's amazing how much easier it is to work when you can tell your blues from your oranges.