“Queen Anne Cottage” 15″ x 11″ (quarter sheet) – SOLD
Today my art pal Wendee and I went to the LA Arboretum in Arcadia for some plein air sketching and painting. We found a shady relatively cool spot in the tropical lagoon area, made famous by the 70s anthology series “Fantasy Island”
(Alright, let’s just say it and get it out of our systems, shall we? “Da Plane, Da Plane.”)
I took some digipix of the work in progress this time. After doing a quick value sketch, I drew some light outlines on the paper of where I wanted the main features to go. In this picture I’ve already started putting in the trunk of the palm, which I knew would be the featured item. I’m using burnt sienna and a mauve to get that warm/cool feeling where the trunk turns from light to shade.
Next , I’m moving around the page with a big round brush, putting in some of the background colors, and making up quite a few also. I’ve done a lot of work on the palm, not only because it was fun but because the light was changing and I wanted to get it to some degree of completion so I could evaluate the values of other things in the picture.
At this point it was probably an hour and a half after I began, give or take a bit, and the morning sun had become overhead noontime sun. It was time to call it a day on location. I took the painting home to check the photo I had taken at the beginning of the day, and to decide where the reflections would go. Most of the hard work is done at this point – what remains are putting in the darkest darks, details and calligraphic brushstrokes.
“Hard Rock Cafe” 9″ x 13″ watercolor – framed 16 x 20
May 4 Update
I submitted this painting to an annual show at the local college where I’m attending the watercolor class I’ve mentioned from time to time. I was delighted to find out today that it won Best of Show. So, I’m a happy camper tonight and each small victory just fuels my creative fire to keep studying, keep practicing, keep working harder, day by day.
We live in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains – a seismically active range which is crossed at one place by the famous San Andreas Fault. It’s not near us, thankfully, but any movement on that fault would certainly be felt far and wide. The “basement rock” of the San Gabriels is said to be more than a billion years old. Through those eons it has intruded, metamorphosed and sedimented into gneiss, basalt, limestone, marble, shale, quartzite, sandstone, slate and all kinds of good schists. If there’s any sort of rock you want, you can probably find it up there. This scene is of a rocky clearing in the Angeles National Forest, where enormous broken rocks, not yet worn down by erosion, lay tumbled in casual disarray .
The evergreens keep things looking verdant year round, and the chapparal is abloom with every kind of native shrub and flower. It’s absolutely gorgeous any time of year, but spring is the best.
Because I’m an insatiably curious person about art, nature, science – well, just about anything – I found a link on the geology of the San Gabriels for any locals who might be interested.
My favorite part was the discussion of the Precambrian Basement. I have a feeling there aren’t any good bargains there, though. I kept hoping with a billion years of compression and folding there’d be a diamond or two to talk about – but no luck.
Oh, and this is my entry for this week’s “Draw or paint something green” challenge.
“High Desert Ravine” – watercolor – 8″ x 10″ – available
A roadside stop on the way to Idyllwild provided the inspiration for this watercolor sketch. Sagebrush, crumbing granite and the scruffy native bushes gave me an interesting variety of textures and colors to work with.
Good advice from David Millard on painting:
“Be a doer … don’t just talk about it. Talent is what your mother talks about. Work is what gets you around the bases and score!”
“His Eye is on the Sparrow” 8in x 8in – watercolor on 140# Fabriano paper
This painting was partly inspired by the song so loved by gospel singer Ethel Waters, “His Eye is on the Sparrow.”
Although the watercolor painting is sold I since painted the same scene as an oil painting, 11 x 14 inches, oil on canvas.
“Squeaky Clean” – 5″ x 7″ – oil on canvasboard
Fresh off the easel … this is our upstairs bathroom soapdish, lathered up to give it a little more interest. I think it’s Irish Spring but I couldn’t be sure. The words had worn off.
I thought the bubbles were going to be the most difficult part to paint, but it didn’t turn out that way. The biggest challenge was the dish itself, which is probably a hand built and hand painted, with strange dips and turns and curves along the fluted edge.
But, you know, I like a challenge, so it was actually kind of fun.
“Winter Sun” – oil on hardboard – 10 in x 8 in
I seldom paint snow because, well, we don’t have a lot of it in Southern California unless you go in search of it in the mountains. And that only lasts a short while unless it’s a particularly snowy year. But I’m hoping that there’ll be some this year so that I can try some plein air painting. It will be oil – I don’t think I could manage too well with watercolor out in low temperatures, although I did that once at Mammoth Mountain and it turned out OK.
At any rate, this is a practice painting in which I started to get some feel for the textures of a winter landscape. I used a wet canvas reference photo to work from. Unless I come up with something I like better (and soon) it will be my Christmas card for this year …
“Shell Game” – Approx 8.5 in. x 6 in. – Watercolor on 140 lb. paper
OK, I lied. I said yesterday that I was mainly working on loosening up with a big brush and soft flowing edges. So what’s the next thing I paint? This.
Actually this is a community project for those of us who are daily painters, suggested by the very talented Laura Wambsgans. I’d love to try one in oils but I stayed in my comfort zone, watercolor. I was planning to break an egg and paint the contents of the shell in a small pyrex cup, but I had no sooner cracked it and set the shell halves down on our quarter-sawn oak dining room table in a shaft of afternoon sunlight that I saw what I wanted to work with.
I found this setup very challenging, but very instructive as well. The dark background is composed of at least a dozen layers of glazes, but no black. I wanted to keep the edges of the shell crisp but I didn’t trust masking so all of those areas were painted around with a very small brush tip. After all the layers were finished I went in with a fine pointed brush to add the “tiger” stripes in the wood which is so characteristic of golden oak. This is one that I wish I had been scanning in stages, but I was trying to push to get it done on time!
I am frustrated today because my Yahoo email is bouncing and every reactivation request I’ve put in is not working. I get error messages back that reassure me that Yahoo is working hard to upgrade its sites to serve me better and if I don’t hear anything after 4 hrs to get updates here (and then it shuttles me to a generic FAQ page. Updates? Hah! Nada.) I don’t know what else I can do now but wait. I’ve followed all the steps including trying to reactivate myself from a group I moderate.
So this lack of results has put me in a rather peevish mood, but since it’s Halloween and the time for the thinning of the veils and such, I’ll tell you a story of synchronicity.
Many years ago, oh best beloved, my dh and I were on an expedition in Egypt searching for ancient artifacts using remote viewing. It was tiring and hot but we loved nearly every minute of it, and cherished the moments that we could see other parts of that beautiful and fascinating country. One early evening, our drivers took us out to Saqqara where we watched sunset near the bent pyramid of Zoser. We sat on a hillside covered with loose rocks and rubble. I put my hand down and picked up one rock, turned it over, and there was a hieroglyphic of an ibis, headless. But the body clearly told me what kind of bird it was. That was a rare moment, holding a piece of history in my hand, rescued from what looked like a landfill.
Flash forward ten years or more, to another turbulent time. We were working on a show that had to do with native americans and the settling of the west, and I was looking for some props to use in filming a sequence. A chance visit to a garage sale (unrelated) turned up a bead loom with a bead weaving half completed. There was the ibis-like wading bird, again … but this time, without a tail. It felt like a visitation from an old friend.
Ibises in art seem to speak to me in some way. A benign, good way, even if they are headless. So, today when my dh had a meeting in Beverly Hills and offered the opportunity to ride along and go to the LA county art museum, I jumped at the chance. I had HAD it up to here with bouncing emails, thankfully a rare occurrence. On Halloween the museum was empty. I had the place to myself and I reveled in it. You can imagine my smile rounding the corner into the Egyptian gallery and coming across this beautiful bronze of an ibis which may have once been on a royal standard. I just had to stop and draw it, head, wings, tail and all.
When I got home tonight, I did a little research on the ibis and its symbolism. The bird is sacred to the Egyptian deity Thoth, the civilizer of men, who taught music, medicine, writing and magic and was associated with speech, literature, the arts and learning. And most appropriate today, on all hallows eve, Thoth was the author of the Book of the Dead, and he who helped or punished the departed as they made their trek to the underworld.
On these days when some believe the veil between worlds may thin, who knows what power ancient symbols may still hold – even if only to grant a smile and a moment of relaxing drawing pleasure.
Watercolor on paper 10″ x 7.5″. Available
What I learned on my weekend vacation that I decided to apply today …
Colorful shadows with reflected light. Playing around with complementary schemes.
Being bold with wet in wet painting.
Getting more daring with saturated color.
Painting watercolor standing up (even when not plein air) to give more arm/shoulder range.
Mixing colors from a limited palette.
Oh, and this is not the same mango that my husband was pining for before. That one went into the margaritas.
8 in. x 10 in. Oil on gessoed hardboard
SOLD to a collector in New Mexico
Sure, they’re an odd couple. Chili, he’s a hotty with a sharp, peppery personality. Dumpling, she’s tender, sweet and rounded in all the right places. But they get along just fine. Maybe you know someone(s) like that? I know I do.