Wednesday, October 29, 2014

This is different! The "Coyote Connection"

An exhibit called "Coyote Connections" is now showing at the University of New England's Art Gallery. The inspiration behind this exhibition is the wildlife biologist, Geri Vistein  

It is an honor to be creating the paintings to illustrate Geri's upcoming book. Here is one that is in the exhibition and depicts a scene in the book where the female coyote and her mate hear loons singing on a wilderness lake, and lift their heads to join in the song.
Wild Song

Happy News in the Mail!

When I last wrote , I was just barely home from Italy. Picking up the story, after arriving home at midnight after an eleven hour trip from Florence, I fell into bed, so happy to be home. The mail was waiting for me on the kitchen table in the morning.

My first thrill was finding the catalogue of the World Watercolour Competition. What a beautiful presentation of the 1400 artists who survived the first cut out of 3980 paintings! Those of us who made it to the last 275 are featured in half page presentations. I think you can imagine how good it feels to be in the same group with Chris Krupinski, Jean Pederson, Mark Mehaffey, Dean Mitchell, Thomas Schaller, Carla O'Connor, Alvaro Castagnet, and others whose work I admire.  

Here is one of two paintings that are in the catalogue. The second is "Tea And Sushi".
 This painting has also been accepted to the 118th National Exhibition of the Catherine Lorillard Art Wolfe Club at the National Arts Gallery, New York, NY that opens on December 2nd. 

The second thrill was getting word that I have been accepted as a juried member of the National Association of Women Artists. I'll be going to the induction ceremony and art exhibition in New York on November 13th. It's such an honor to be associated with these incredible artists from all over the United States and I'm looking forward to meeting some of them in New York. 

Plein Air Study, Hill Town near Pienza, Italy

Saturday, October 25, 2014

I Hardly Know Where to Begin! Home from Italy.....

Tonight as I was preparing dinner, I suddenly said out loud "I really miss just showing up for a dinner of roasted fennel in cream sauce, rosemary baked potatoes, some new variation on pasta with sauce, salad of fresh greens, crispy green beans, a bit of luscious pork or chicken, grandma's cake and a carafe of the house wine to share".........(I think I'm in withdrawal - as well as a touch of jet lag)!

I've been pretty much out of contact for the past two and a half weeks as I've been in Italy teaching a workshop at Castello di Spannocchia (just 11 miles from Siena.) Although I had hoped to write and post photos every day, after very busy days with my group of wonderful artists and finishing dinner at 9:00 pm, instead of going to the wi-fi area, I'm afraid that the only activity that happened was a direct trip to bed!

I thought I'd share a little bit of the story that unfolded during my stay in Italy. This first excerpt takes place at Spannocchia with the ten artists from all around the US and Canada. Here are a few of our group gathered around as I'm doing a demonstration. 
       And here's the finished painting.

The 12th century tower at Spannocchia and Holly with her painting in process.

 The artists found the many arched doorways at Spannocchia to be great subject matter. Fig trees and vines grew over them, reflected light in the interior revealing stairs leading up and out of sight - fascinating!
Lisa at her Painting Station

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Changing Mediums - It Can Be Confusing!

In response to questions from several artists over the past weeks, I have been giving a lot of thought to the interesting challenges that arise when one changes mediums. Of course there is the constant dealing with "do I paint from light to dark, or dark to light". When one is accustomed to using oil or pastel and then switch to watercolor, it can be tricky to remember what comes first!      

However, I think most of us manage that very well. We save the white paper when using watercolor rather than using white paint, and at least until you are proficient, the "traditional " method is to paint from light to dark. When you achieve a level of mastery with watercolor, you can start with the darks, or the mid-tones, whatever works for you. I often add some mid-darks and darks early in the painting as that gives me a value to judge other values against.

I do think that there is one area that you could consider: how you handle the edges in your painting. We do this differently with each medium, although the principles are the same.

                    Detail of a large pastel painting "Snow Flurries on Mt. Katahdin"

In my pastel paintings, I really like cross-hatching (over-laying) colors and then scumbling a soft pastel lightly over the surface. In this detail of a large pastel painting, I think you can see the results of letting the various cross-hatched colors glitter through the soft scumbling on the surface. 

I can make the edges merge, or sharpen one when necessary. Some artists like to blend the pastels to a smooth finish; it's all a matter of personal preference.

When I painted in oils, I tended to use value to join or separate shapes, and as in all mediums, controlling the warmth or coolness of the pigments is also an important factor. i.e. a warm shape painted against a cool shape will create a little separation, even if they are the same value and of course, a more distinct change if deeper or different values.

                               Plein Air Painting at the Frederic Church Camps
                               16 x 20 Watercolor on Twinrocker hand made paper
                                             September 20, 2014
This painting shows my method of "knitting" adjacent shapes together so that they do not look like separate, unrelated planes.
I accomplish this by continuing some of the color from the sky to the mountain to the foreground large shape and the water, and also by "losing" the edge where the values are similar.

                             Detail of a Watermedia Painting of a winter scene on Mt. Katahdin

Creating a textured underpainting with gesso, and then over painting with transparent watercolors allowed me to capture the memory of the snow-encrusted mountain side in January.

Can you see how the variety of edges keep your eye moving through the painting and the cooler colors in the shadows add a luminosity to the warmer pigments in the sunlight?

This is by no means a complete statement on creating effective edges with the different mediums, or the difficulties encountered when changing from one to another. However, I think just being aware of what we are aiming to achieve gets us off on the right "foot". So - we have started the conversation!