Thursday, May 29, 2014

Sitting Pretty Poolside

"Sitting Pretty Poolside" 12x12" oil on Raymar
I hauled my acrylics along when we took a cruise out of Baltimore in January.  It ended up being too windy and cold to paint on the decks, even when we got to Florida.  The lighting was poor in the room, but I did try a few small paintings.  

On the other hand, I did take a lot of photos and had a few I wanted to paint like these precious young ladies sitting on the edge of the pool.  Funny how it wasn't too cold for the kids, but I didn't see too many adults enjoying the heated pools including myself.    

Monday, May 26, 2014

ART TIP- Table Raisers

I saw this tip for the first time at Mary Todd Beam's workshop last week.  I learned when you do many of the water media techniques, your surface needs to be on a flat surface and you really need to stand above it while you work to see what you are doing more clearly.  Of course, at table height that is really hard on your back.  Mary and some of the artists in the class had inexpensive (I paid $7.39 for the set of 4 at Kmart & Walmart carries them too) plastic risers normally used to raise a bed up so you can store boxes under it.  
They raise the table 6", making it kitchen counter-top height.  

My back says thank you to those who shared the tip. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Dancing in the Rain

One of 4 "Staining Pattern" pieces from my Mary Todd Beam workshop last week.  

I haven't finished any of my "Staining Pattern" pieces yet but got a good start on this one.  It is a really fun process.  I just realized this feels upside down.  What do you think?....I'm new at trying abstract! 

Steps: Drip and draw with fluid acrylic paint on a clean board or canvas (2 colors) in a random pattern (leaving lots of white space).  Make a bead/line of paint across the top of your board/canvas with your dominate color (in this one it was the red).  Using a hard edged plastic trowel (ours was about 5" wide) drag the paint down in one sweeping motion pulling the paint completely off the board or canvas.  Don't try to make a second pass, it will muddy your colors. Next, decide how you want to highlight the shapes you choose using paint or markers. 

Jackie and her daughter Becky were also students at the workshop with Mary.  The weatherman kept predicting rain which when you are counting on the sun to help speed up the drying process wasn't a good thing in my mind.  I knew they need rain in the area, I just hoped wouldn't happen during the day or until we left.  But Becky, who is from Arizona where they are in a horrible drought, said if it rained she planned to go out and dance in the rain.  She got her wish and it poured most of our last full day.  Becky grabbed her art board and instead of wetting it with water took it outside and held it up so it was drenched in rainwater and painted on it.  On the last day, as we looked over all the art we'd made all week and Becky said that was her favorite painting... because she'd painted it with rainwater.  I realized it was her way of taking some of the rain home with her.  I saw this block yesterday had to buy it.  While I love the saying, it will also be a reminder of my week at Springmaid Mountain.  Becky, I hope you get to dance in the rain again soon.  

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hey Birdie Birdie

This painting used multiple water media techniques. 
The lines you see were made by the embossing from the black Gesso on aluminum foil.  
I've outline the steps at the end of this post

I had the delightful experience of attending a 5-day workshop taught by Mary Todd Beam at Springmaid Mountain resort last week.  I don't work in water media very often and wanted to learn how to use all of the interesting mediums I see at the art store.  I've had some wonderful instructors, but none more excited about making art than Mary. She is a bundle of energy.  If you have the opportunity to take a class with Mary, I highly recommend it. 

More than just learning, I had a lot of fun.  As I get older, I realize I don't let myself enjoy the creative process of art like I should.  So I played, experimented and learned there are only happy accidents if something doesn't go as planned when you are dripping, swishing, scraping and adding pieces of things like plastic and tissue paper just to see what it does to the wet paint.  

I've long admired Mary's work since I saw first saw her in a Golden video on YouTube.  Mary shares all of her techniques in her books but is always looking for new ways to make art (which she shares in her classes) and is in the process of writing another book.  

My friend Stephanie asked me to accompany her to Mary's workshop.  I'd never been to a Springmaid resort before.  They also have a beach resort that hosts water media classes twice a year.  Springmaid Mountain is in Spruce Pine, NC.  What was really nice is that it is an all inclusive package so you paint, stay in cabins (separate bedrooms) on the property and they have a caterer bring in meals.  Its a great setting for getting to really know the other artists because everyone doesn't have to leave after class to go home or back to a hotel.  Springmaid Mountain is also a lovely setting in the mountains with streams and hiking trails.  As part of the package, you can fish in their stocked fishing ponds, go horse back riding after class, or head for the water and canoe or kayak. Now that's not something I get to do at most art workshops! 

I also want to give a shout out to Golden products.  Golden provided Mary (free of charge) lots of products for us to use.   It was fun to try them out and of course I will be buying some of them soon.  I'd never used GAC before (or heard of it).  Who knew it could be used for so many things.  Then there was all of the gels, molding pastes, tar gel, and new high flow colors.   I learned a few new uses for black gesso.  

The painting surface is 310 crescent illustration board but Mary also likes #100.  I was so busy having fun doing it that I didn't think to take pictures of the steps! Here are the steps:  
  1. Drip paint (we used Golden fluid acrylics) onto the wet surface, manipulate, then let it dry.  
  2. Look for shapes of objects to enhance (only one of the birds was planned the rest just popped out!)
  3. Using a brayer, put a thin layer of black gesso on one side of a piece of heavy aluminum foil. 
  4. Transfer drawing or just lines onto the painted dry board.  The tricky part is letting the black gesso get tacky, but still wet enough to come off when you turn the black side down and draw on the opposite side so the drawing (kind of) transfers onto your board.
  5. Mix opaque colors using white gesso to paint out negative space.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

ART TIP- How to keep liquids from spilling

Don't you hate it when your turpenoid tips over and spills or your medium leaks in your supply bag?  Do you ever have a heck of time getting the top off gesso, linseed oil, or liquin because they cake around the top and get stuck?  

To keep that from happening cut a piece of a plastic grocery bag (plastic wrap is too thin, but can be used if that's all that is available) at least an inch larger than the opening and place it over the top of the bottle or container.  Screw the top back on as normal.   
Note: This also works great with shampoos, lotions and other bottled liquids when you are traveling.

Take the top off -
place plastic over opening
Screw top on over plastic...
tada... no more spills!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Break Time

Break Time 11x14" oil on RayMar

This gal, in her bright yellow top, caught my eye as she to stood outside enjoying the sunshine. I really liked all the turquoise on her building (one of my favorite colors!).

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Plein Air - first time out

"Out of Town Villa" (Green Springs) Still in progress
8x8" oil on gessobord

I've been wanting to try my hand at plein air painting for a long time.  I even asked for and got a Coulter plein air easel for my birthday last May.  OK - Not so quick off the dime to get outside and paint!  Everyone who paints plein air always raves about painting while enjoying the great out-of-doors.  I was psyched to go out with a group today to paint Pink Lady's in a park nearby.  Our organizer, Elaine kindly scouted out the Pink Lady's yesterday fearing our storms this week hurt them.  They survived, but aren't out yet so we had to postpone until next week.  

After a rainy week, today was to beautiful to stay inside so I went over to Green Springs Horticultural Center and tried to paint the old farm house.  Green Springs was hopping with families picnicking and people out walking. They have a great paved path that loops around the property.  Lots of photographers enjoying all the flowers coming out.  I set up just off the path and was surprised that people asked me if it was OK to walk behind me and look at my painting.  The kids were funny.  They were so excited to watch. 

I'm happy with my first attempt, but will do a little tweaking in the studio.  I really struggled with getting the lights in.  I'll have to talk with others who have experience and see what the secret is to getting good lights.  I did a lot of scraping off paint.  I finally used a palette knife which helped a little bit. I did use a limited palette (for me).  I know its a must when painting outside to lighten the load.  It is surprising how heavy the supplies get so I still need to cut back even more the next time, but I was proud of myself.   I like to be prepared and usually carry everything but the kitchen sink.  I'm usually the go to person when anyone forgets something.  I did remember to take a hat and suntan lotion, but forgot water and wipes for my hands. Not sure why I always seem to get almost as much paint on me as on the canvas.  

Thursday, May 1, 2014


"Do-Re-Mi" 12 x12"oil on canvas (sold)

I really enjoy painting turtles.  They always seem to have such personalities.  These guys struck me as singers.  The lake near our house is a great place to find turtles.  We had over 3" of rain yesterday and our poor turtles' favorite logs are almost all underwater so it'll be hard to find them until the water level goes down a little bit.  Do-Re-Mi will be one of my paintings I hang at the Loft Gallery  on Monday.  We move all the art the first Monday of every month.

I've recently read about other artists suddenly having artist's block and I've been struggling lately too.  I've been trying to paint for my show at the Loft Gallery in August.  I always get hung up on themes since I'd rather paint anything that grabs my attention at the time.  Luckily for me I have great artist friends who help in those times of need!  Maria Bennett Hock was painting in my studio listening to me bemoan my concerns about the August show and looked at my paintings in the studio.... old cars, bikes, boats... and said why don't you use those as your theme.  I mentioned her idea to artist Jan Moffatt and she suggested calling the August show "Hot Wheels" and a theme  and title were born!

But I also decided I needed to just paint a few paintings for fun.