Thursday, December 21, 2017

Agave Grisaille, Finished

And- this is complete.  I think.  After it sits for the weekend, I should be able to know if I want more darks than I've put in so far.  In the meantime, I enjoyed this process and will use grisaille again.  It was fascinating.
The finished piece, 20" x 14"
Before the color was added, grisaille finished

Here's what I've learned:  The ink makes the paper less absorbent, so whatever color is added over makes interesting effects.  The pigment stayed on top of the paper longer wherever there was ink and so even a stainer like Phthalo blue acted more like a sedimentary color.  I liked it, but if you're going for a smooth look, be aware.  Also, having all of the white obscured in parts of the picture plane makes the remaining white underneath the colors all the more luminous.  Cool possibilities.  So, experiment complete.  Now I can concentrate on a sweet Christmas holiday.  I hope yours is wonderful.

Thanks for stopping by! Alice

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Glazing Begins

So, tonight opened up so I could spend some time on my project, woot woot!  I needed some quiet time.  Here's the progress so far in laying color over the dry ink.  It's going down pretty easily without lifting any ink back up.
I left some of the shapes grey on purpose for this photo to show what a dramatic difference the color glazes are making.  

Hopefully tomorrow will bring enough time to get this finished, but whether it does or not, this evening has been lovely.  Just Miles Davis (here to play some lovely music for my listening pleasure) and I, hanging out in the studio.  Ahhh, good times!

Thanks for stopping by! Alice

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Grisaille, a Sneak Peak

It is time to shake things up in my studio.  All those little bushes on my last painting kind of freaked my eyes out and I need something new to think about.  After doing a little research and thinking about it a bit, I decided to see what the technique- called grisaille- would look like under an agave with watercolor.  Might be a disaster, might be wildly successful, who knows?  At this point, all I can say for sure is my waterproof ink, Higgins "Black Magic," is a pain in the neck.  Wet on dry, wet into wet, getting a smooth gradation is tricky.  As you can see.
Wanting a chiaroscuro effect, I decided to go all out with a black ink underpainting.  

However, it's fun.  I like the stark look of it.  Playing around with value without the added thought process of color is interesting.  The black may totally kill the color when I glaze over it later, but for now it's pretty cool.

Thanks for stopping by! Alice

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Leaning On Talent, A BIG FAT MISTAKE

How far can the talents we are born with take us?  I guess that depends on how badly we want to go.  Lately it seems that I don't really want to go anywhere much, at least it looks that way if you were to judge by what I have accomplished in the studio.  Balancing real life as it is right now, today, against what I'd like it to be is a tricky juggle.  So how do I get where I want to be?  
If you look closely at the brush shapes in the foreground, you can see how hard I fought this painting, or maybe how hard it fought me.  

Well, after I posted a photograph of my latest painting on social media, I got quite a few, "You're so talented" comments.  If you've been reading this blog much, you KNOW that the idea people have that someone is able to make art just because of talent bothers me.  However, this time in addition to sarcastic answer that instantly, as usual, came to my mind, the comments took me aback somewhat because they made me a bit uncomfortable as well. Don't you hate when that happens?
Good reminder here...
The past three years I've worked 2 jobs with steep learning curves, jobs that demanded the majority of my attention and focus. (Because, evidently, I am an idiot) Each time I figured I'd get them under my belt then pick my art back up where I left off.  Here's the part that made me squirm a bit; I assumed that my abilities would still be here when I got back!  I presumed that what I had learned was still learned and an inherent part of my skill set.  You know, like a talent that is part of me just like brown eyes or hair.  Isn't that what this understanding of talent is?  That art is just something that I can do without effort?
I used to practice regularly.  Now I go to work instead.  Clearly it's time for some adjustments.

My moral superiority of "hard work trumps talent" was gone like a popped balloon.  Rats.  I've been doing it, too.  To answer the above question -how to get where I want to be- I guess if I'm totally honest with myself (harder to do than you'd think) I have to admit that to get where I want to be I have to keep moving forward.  Neglecting my skill sets and assuming I can just pick up where I left off is moving backwards, not to mention arrogant.  There is no holding still. And, here's the clincher- could this explain the difficulty of the last painting and my reaction to finishing it? That thing kicked my butt. Sigh...  

Thanks for stopping by- Alice


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Above the Little Colorado

Above the Grand Canyon, the Little Colorado River has cut some tall, narrow canyons of its own that are as spectacular in their own way as the G.C. itself.  Further south in Arizona, this river is more like a stream, sometimes dry and always little.  However, the canyon it has cut into the high desert is truly impressive and one of our favorite spots to be.  There is a small, frail guardrail in one place, so one stands at the edge of the chasm and feels the age and majesty of this place with no barrier to the experience.  It is a wild place.    
I've put so much paint and water into this paper, even at a 300 lb. weight, it has buckled.  I've had to pin it down to so it can begin to flatten out again.

 Above the Little Colorado
22" x 30"

After weeks of work, I finally finished this yesterday evening.  I don't know why some paintings flow out of the end of the brush and others have to be squeezed out bit by bit, but that does seem to be the way of it now and then.  Last night when I was finally satisfied and ready to set it aside, I actually felt a sense of relief and then for about 20 minutes just sat in my chair and shook.  I've never had such a strong, physical reaction to finishing a piece before.  I was drained.  Perhaps I'll understand why one of these days.

Thanks for stopping by!  Alice

Friday, December 8, 2017

Autodesk's Sketchbook

A few years ago I played around with sketching on my iPad, and enjoyed it but didn't do a whole lot with it.  What little time I had I preferred to work with real paint.  However, recently I was waiting around for a new grand baby to be born and started playing around with the Sketchbook app from Autodesk.  It's an Android app and is pretty great to work with once you get the hang of it.
Kind of a fun logo, makes me want to draw.  Huh, probably what they had in mind! 

I'm still fascinated by the demolition of the old cotton gin in our valley and thought I'd try another sketch of it to learn the app.  I did a watercolor sketch of it in one of my travel sketchbooks with Copics a few weeks ago and imported that photo into the app.

Drawn with a stylus on Autodesk's Sketchbook App, this was fun to make.  It's a pretty great art app for on the go.
Because you can create layers, you can draw the cheater's way, which is what I did.  Putting the photo on the bottom layer, I traced the angles of the building with my stylus and then deleted the photo and- presto chango!- I had an accurate drawing.  From there it was a matter of mixing up the colors I wanted in the app and using the paintbrush/pen tools to create the finished piece.  It was fun and lighthearted to do and killed some time waiting around without having to pull out a whole pile of art supplies. If you have an Android, you ought to give it a tryout. 

Thanks for stopping by! Alice

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Looking Backwards

It was at this hectic time of year in 2014 that I was getting my work hung for my senior art show and finishing up finals so I could graduate from college.  I had no idea of what was ahead for me, but it couldn't be crazier than school, right?  Right??  Guys?   
Me, with the show hung and ready to open.  

It was chaotic, it was difficult, but it was very worth the trouble.  Whether I've been teaching school or running a library I've known very firmly who and what I am, what I want to accomplish and that I am, in my inner-most heart, an artist.  I can take a few years on these side roads I've had to travel, but they don't change the basic nature of me.  In fact, they've just added to my collection of skills. 
One of the paintings I did for the show, "The Sentinal."  All of the paintings I did for that show have been sold or gifted, but each of them taught me more about painting, watercolor and myself.  

So, here I am, 3 years later and that many years older, still becoming.  Still learning and growing and still very much a watercolor painter.  As I hope I will always be.

Thanks for stopping by! Alice

Monday, December 4, 2017

Copics For a Travel Journal

One of the fun parts of traveling for me is journaling.  We went to South Dakota recently and of course I dragged along a travel kit.  Except this time, it wasn't a watercolor painter's kit.  It was a Copic Sketch Marker kit and a 5" x 7" Bristol Board sketchbook, and I enjoyed it immensely.

The coolest, most inspiring place we visited along the way was Bent's Old Fort in Colorado.  The adobe walls and handmade, authentic furnishings made me fairly ache with the desire to pioneer somewhere.  

The kit was made up of only 24 colors, which in marker-land is only a few, and a handful of drawing pens.  The markers were much easier to use as we drove than a cup of water, paintbrush and palette.  I had to improvise for colors I hadn't brought, which was pretty fun, and it felt playful and creative.  No pressure to create mini-masterpieces.  For me, that's a biggie.
This was fun to do as we went through different states, highlighting things that struck me about each area.
When I began playing with the Copics, I couldn't find many examples of them as "sketching" tools for art (or journaling), although that's what they are billed as.  However, there are thousands of examples of them used for manga illustration-type stuff, fashion design, architectural design and fantasy works.  I'm just using them a little differently than most, I guess.
Although I would like to add Mt. Rushmore on the left side, I haven't had a chance to yet.  I'll remember this trip with my little sketches much better than I would with a piece of stuff to own from a gift shop.  Fun times, great memories.  
The kit was portable and lightweight, as well.  Sitting in the car, at a table or outside, it was easy to use and easier to cleanup.  I will use them like this again.  Big win in my book.  Yay, Copic!

Thanks for stopping by- Alice