Saturday, July 26, 2014

Making Adjustments

Here is a good illustration of how watercolor paints lighten as they dry.  I painted this bluff a couple of weeks ago and put it away so that I could get a fresh look at it later.  After looking at a painting intently for several days, it's hard to really "see" it anymore.  Today I decided to take it out and decide what do to with it.  This is how it looked when I pulled it out of the drawer:

Just not quite as dramatic as it should be..

This piece really needed something to make it pop out.  It just looked unfinished and anemic.  Mixing up a strong puddle of Alizarin Crimson and Ultramarine Blue, I decided to see if I could make the sun light on the rock faces stand out more with deeper shadows.  

Using dark paint mixtures helped give the finished piece the punch it needed.

After the shadows were darker, I could see that the foreground needed to get deeper in value as it came forward, so I darkened it and added a bit more vegetation.  I think it helped to keep the eye on the bluff area instead of letting it stray off of the bottom edge of the painting.  It has been a great reminder to me that painting with watercolor requires painting your shapes darker than you want the finished piece to be.  

Friday, July 25, 2014


The truth of the matter is, I make messes.  I can't make a mess in a messy studio, no, it must be clean before I can mess it up.  This cycle seems to be a major barrier to my creative process, as you can imagine.  If I come to the studio with a great new idea, either I look around at the last mess I made out here and go bake something I don't need, or I get industrious and clean it all up.  Cleaning it all up is a great thing because when it's clean I get out paper and get to work trashing my studio.

Simple right?  Clean the studio, make great art.  I wish.  If I could bottle will power, I would get rich just off of others like me who love the creative work, hate the getting ready to work, work.  Not to mention parents who want their kids to move away, school teachers with reluctant students or those who want to abolish their credit cards.  What is will power, anyway?  I don't know, but if I had it, I would have cleaned this place up Monday when I told myself it was time.  I even bought a special dark chocolate bar with sea salt as a bribe.  It's still in the cupboard, so I must have some power of will. I ate the other one I bought instead.

So now, half-way through the job on Friday, I've told myself I'll just get Pandora to play me some nice, busy day music and finish the job.  Here I am, blogging about it instead.  However, the floor is clean and all that I have to do now is dust and put away my travel bag.  And then that chocolate bar is mine!

This cycle I'm in is ridiculous, but it seems to be the way my world turns.  I have to go now.  I can feel the enthusiasm for a project starting to creep in and I have a mess to make.  As soon as I've cleaned up this mess...

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Rug, Part 2

I've been spending a couple of hours each day this week on the rug.  While the tension isn't perfect, it's still working!  You can see how wonky it is as it goes up the warp, but I'm learning and the next one will be better.  Hopefully, by the time I've made a few, I'll be a pro.

I have to concentrate on painting next week, but I'll keep adding to this as much as I can each day. My goal is to have it done by the end of August.  We shall see….

By Thursday evening...

Close-up of the design.  Wonky white area, getting straighter now as I go..

Today's progress.  1/8" left of the red square, which was my goal for the week; have to finish before I can go to bed!  

This is the back side of the piece.  Not as wonky from the back as the front.  I'll probably hang it this way!  The random design between the brown and white is fun to do.  

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Rug

The past few days have been spent in weaving.  Weaving as long as I can sit still, that is…  It's a weave for an hour then take a break sort of process.  When I began I was getting an inch per hour, now I'm getting an inch and a half, so it's speeding up as I go.

I am enjoying this, even though I can see I still have so much to learn.  The edges began to draw in on day 2, but I think I've got that stopped.

So.. here is the progress of the work:

Days 1-3

Day 4

Day 5

I drew the design in an app on my iPad, so it's far from pretty, but it gives me the idea of the thing.  I wanted geometrics with simple and limited color in this project but still something I'd hang in my house. I like the first, but would welcome input from others on it.  I've looked at them for too long!

Design idea 1

Design idea 2

Friday, July 11, 2014

What I've Learned About My Navajo Style Loom, So Far...

About a month ago I posted on the troubles I was having with weaving on the big loom after I had finally gotten a chance to weave on it.  You can see the post here:

I finally decided I'd better undo it all and try again instead of fighting my way through to the end.  I was dreading the whole thing.  The first time I warped it and got it set up took two full days of backbreaking work.  Not fun, fascinating, but not fun.

This week I tore it down and started over.  Boy am I glad I did!  I un-wove (is that a word?) the weft and carefully wound it up so I could re-use it, then took the warp off and set it aside to use again, too.  Here is what I've learned so far.  If anyone reading this is considering trying this, I hope what I'm posting will save them some headaches.

Use heavy gauge bars for warping boards, they won't bend in the middle with the tension of winding the warp.  I just lay my loom frame on the floor and use it as a warping frame.  

As you can see, there is no bending of the warping frame this time due to the strength of my warping bars.

The process of twining not only puts a finished edge on either end of the textile, but helps to space the warps ends evenly.  Do it more carefully, spacing the ends as you go.  

ALWAYS be aware of your knots.  Take extra pains to ensure you are tying square knots, not granny knots everywhere you need to tie off.  

To solve the problem of getting the shed stick in and out of a tight space, my husband took the loom boards (metal pipes at the top and bottom) out of the frame and made wooden brackets for them. These brackets now hold the warp out in front of the frame instead of being inside of the frame as we had it at first.  By the time we are through this first one, we'll know how to build the next one better.

All in all, taking this down and starting over has made a huge difference.  This is the third try and it is finally working like I knew it should.  Having even tension has changed almost all of the problems I was having.  Opening the pull shed is easy now, whereas before I had to carefully ease the shed stick into the shed, now there is plenty of space to quickly insert the stick.  The sides aren't pulling in yet and beating the weft down into place with the fork is quick and easy.  I'll post progress as I go.  This time, there is more enjoyment than frustration; I might like this process after all!  

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Field Notes

We spent time in the Morro Bay area of California a few weeks ago.  I loved the eucalyptis trees and wanted to put some into a painting.  However, it's pretty boring waiting around for someone to finish a sketch and I was not by myself.  I took a photo and then later did a sketch of what I'd like to do with a studio painting.

I am trying to decide what media to use for the finished piece, but probably oils or pastel.

The trees and the light really spoke to me.  

Using my Pitt brush pens I did a quick sketch of how I'd like to do a studio piece with loose strokes and limited colors.  While the trees look a little stiff in the drawing, I really like the feel of the light.  Anxious to get started on this one.  

Friday, July 4, 2014

New Mexico Scene

In this piece I used an underpainting of yellow ochre. The sky was painted in using ultramarine, then the cloud areas were lifted out while it was wet.

Using reds to yellow ranges, I put random color over the subject area.

I decided to use a violet mixture for the shadows, but struggled to get the values just right.  It took a bit of experimenting till I was happy with it.
For the areas that would be under the large shadow color, I used ultramarine blue to accentuate the deeper areas before adding the violet tones over the top.
Ready for the foreground.  I wanted this to be a lonely, barren looking place, so I needed to be careful not to overdo the foreground area.  

The (maybe) finished piece.  I have had trouble getting it to photograph with a true representation of the true colors, but hopefully you can get the idea from this.  We've been on the road for 8 weeks and when I get home, I'll re-photograph it.  Now to name it.  So far, "drawing" a blank.  Hehe..