Monday, November 14, 2016

A Story And a Painting

I have a story for you. Get comfortable, pour a cup of tea or a glass of wine, and sit back and relax for a few minutes. I know it's a busy time; a little quiet time will be good.
On a remote peninsula of Ireland lives a tiny white-haired lady whose name is Mary. Her house is on the edge of the sea. There are stone walls bordering the long, winding lane that lead to her house. They are topped with hundreds of seashells. Here is a picture. You have to see it to believe it - several hundred yards of carefully placed seashells:

I spent an hour wandering around Mary's house. 
I spent an hour wandering around Mary's house one afternoon last May. There are paths leading around big rocks and hidden patches of flowers - chickens high-stepping freely in and out of hidden clumps of wild yellow iris and foxgloves that reach almost to my head. Here and there are old benches where I sat for a few minutes, enjoying the quiet. Just me and the clucking of the chickens, and the soft sound of the sea and the occasional gull. 

It seems as if time stood still. My mind wandered.

A few days earlier, I had been painting at a Stone Circle with several artists in my watercolor workshop at Anam Cara. I love the feminine imagery that is associated with the Stone Circles, and yet I thought that the painting that I did that day had a distinctly masculine feeling. 

On my way back to Mary's house, I passed this scene.


Suddenly I had an idea for a new "Stone Circle" painting. I would place a pale pink rose against a stone; the feminine and the masculine. Here is the painting:

                                                           Old Roses And Stone, Ireland 

 Transparent & Iridescent Watercolor 
                                                                   Framed size 20 x 24  "$600.00

Monday, November 7, 2016

Imagine being called "First Lady of Katahdin"

I was taken aback the other day when my email served up a link to a post about me written by community builder/business strategist, Keith Spiro. I know Keith quite well. He has been a supportive fan of my work since we first met at a workshop that he gave for the Maine Commission on the Arts.  Keith made the trip to Rhodora, Frederic Church's camp on Millinocket Lake where I was teaching a workshop painting Katahdin with me a few years ago, where he got a first hand taste of what I've been doing the past many years.

You can read his full post on First Lady of Katahdin.

I was very touched by Keith's kind words, and I invited him to visit my watercolor studio.  During our conversation that afternoon, he asked if I would answer one question. (We did this without scripting). He asked what Katahdin means to me, and you can hear my answer in this video.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

How "A Cuddle of Sand Dollars" was created.

This painting of a pile of sand dollars on Popham Beach here in Maine was painted in my studio in the dead of winter last year! I thought you might enjoy seeing the reference photo and then the steps that I worked through to complete the painting.

Here is the reference photo:

I knew that this painting had to be large. Otherwise, it would be a "Maine cliche". And so I stretched a piece of paper that was 45 x 50".

I wanted to make a textured surface for the area that was sand. I diluted white acrylic gesso in a dish, and put on my latex gloves. I applied the gesso with a tapping motion, making a surface of tiny bumps. I gradually smoothed out the gesso and stopped short of the smooth water.

Then I painted everything except the sand dollars:

Next, the sand dollars. This was fun! 

However, I did not like the way the planes of water and sky were separate. It was difficult to keep adding pigment because of the gessoed surface. Because it was so big, I was using a large brush and my brush strokes would lift the paint underneath.

I decided that drastic measures were necessary. It was make or break! I mixed up a big bowl of white gesso and tinted it with a little blue, adding enough water to make it easily spreadable.

With the big brush, I quickly laid down a wash of the gesso over the entire painting, except for the sand dollars. Then I added some thicker swirling strokes around the sand dollars.

"A Cuddle of Sand Dollars"
44 x 48"

These thicker strokes created the look of water swirling around on the sand. I was so pleased that my risky move paid off.

This painting was given First Prize in the New England Watercolor Society's Biennial North American Exhibition in Gloucester, MA this past month. Juror Mary Whyte wrote"

        " A stunning painting. Bold in its concept, composition and execution".

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Opening Reception & Awards Today!

I am really looking forward to driving to Gloucester, MA later this morning. It is a thrill to have a painting given an award. And for me it is especially happy because the juror was Mary Whyte, whose work I admire so much.

I am writing a blog about the creation of this painting, and will have it ready to share with you in a day or two. I have had emails from artists asking about the use of gesso, and so I want to describe how I used it in this particular painting.

A Cuddle of Sand Dollars
Watermedia: 44 x 48"

So off to Gloucester! Wish you could be there - I will write and tell you all about it!
Happy Painting, 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

So thrilled to hear from Pratiques des Artes!

I am so pleased to be invited by Pratiques des Artes to send photos of three paintings for a special edition that they are publishing in October. They are inviting artists from around the world, and you can imagine, I am sure, how exciting it is to be included.

Here is the painting that they requested: " A Mended Bowl".

A Mended Bowl
22 x 30"

I'll be looking forward to receiving a copy of the magazine. Of course, it is all in French!

I am leaving for Provence tomorrow to teach a workshop in and around Venasque. Jackie
Grandchamps of French Escapade is the tour organizer, and she is the best.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Making a Painting With Heart

Planning a painting with "Heart"

I have been thinking about painting oysters for ages; the shells have such interesting texture, the insides are translucent; the "mother of pearl" shimmer - a very intriguing combination.

I also wanted to use this plate. It was a wedding gift for my parents, and my mother always used it for the birthday cakes for my four brothers and me.

And to top it off, our friend is raising oysters just down the road from our house! He not only gave me the oysters, but came down and opened them for me, which was no easy task. So, all the ingredients are in place for a very exciting project!

My reference
First Decision: The Paper

I choose my paper depending on the subject. I knew that hot press paper would be my choice for this painting because the smooth surface would make it very easy for the different pigments to mingle on the surface, and also create texture.
Where to start? With the oysters? I decided to begin with the plate. Sometimes I like to do all of the background first; in this case, the plate was not the background of the painting, but it served as the background for the oysters.
I lightly sketched the oyster shapes, the fork, the inside rim of the plate, and the light struck shapes on the rim. This was all the drawing that was done for this composition.
Completing the plate
I wanted to include this photo so that you can see how the pigments mingle on the paper. 
Moving On to the Stars of the Paintings
I am using a combination of transparent and iridescent pigments.

I like the way the iridescent pigments  help create the texture of the interior. Just a bit of shimmer!
Each Oyster is a Small Portrait
It was really enjoyable to work on this painting. Each oyster is different, not only in subtle color changes, but also in the inner shapes. I made a conscious effort to vary the colors so that each oyster would have its own personality. 
Oysters on My Mum's Plate