Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Poppies Run Amok

Yesterday I spent an entire day ruining a painting.  Nobody can do this with more determination and singleness of mind than me.  Thankfully I do it less often now, but I'm beginning to see a pattern here.  When I take on something that I'm intimidated by, like, let's just say flower petals, for example, I push and push till I've made a mess. Most of the time I can remember to step back and let the problem work itself out in the back of my mind, but not yesterday.  Yesterday I had a memory lapse and forgot to step back.  Again.
Off to a great start!

The worst part of doing this to myself is the way I feel afterward.  By late afternoon I hated painting and was convinced I'm an idiot with no skill whatsoever.  I was charming and fun to be around, let me tell you.  Or maybe I wasn't.  What a rollercoaster ride.  Why is this art thing so wrought with emotion? I'm usually one of the least temperamental people around, but I get freaked out by the ups and downs of creating artistically now and then, too.  Why do I even do this painting thing?  I guess if I'm truthful, it's because it makes me happy.
Liking this process so far, but thinking I want the flower shapes to be eye popping, not subtle.

Wait, I just pointed out how it makes me crazy and then said it makes me happy.  Sounds a bit like love, doesn't it?  Oh.  Wait.  It is love, and I'm in it for better or worse.  I love painting and so I will continue to include it in my life.  I realized I needed some balance and closed the studio door behind me for the day.  
And the over-painted result that caused all the despair and drama in my studio. I'll finish it, but only for what I can learn from it.

This morning I sat down with my journal to see what I could work out, and here's what I came up with-  Recently my husband and I decided to make our lives simpler.  I quit my job, he's remodeling our tiny Arizona house so that we can reduce our lifestyle and we are hoping to live off of what we create.  In other words, I'm gearing up to make and sell art.  I think I let that freak me out a bit with my poppy attempts.  I've realized that I can't paint to sell.  I have to paint from love and if it sells then I'm blessed.  If it doesn't, I still have something I made from my heart. That takes so much pressure off and I know the way to handle poppies will come to me, complete and right for my hands to make.  And I love that.

Thanks for stopping by! Alice


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Pinterest and Other Nightmares

What a title, eh?  Actually, I love Pinterest.  There are so many wonderful and inspiring things to see and learn there.  Here's the problem; I am very computer literate and have stayed on top of technology and its use for working efficiently, but I have not stayed fluent in "internet." And believe me, there is a difference.  I'm in a pretty wide gap between making spreadsheets and connecting one's blog, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and whatever other cool thing to each other.  And getting through the tutorials that abound out there is where the nightmares begin.  They are written for Mommy Bloggers who never got left behind by the cyber world while they worked 50 hours a week and turned into grandmothers like I have!  I didn't have time to stay on top of all of that, I barely managed to keep my teeth clean. When do these cyber-savvy girls sleep?  Oh, yeah, they have kids- they aren't sleeping anyway.  


However, all of that is changing.  This left-behind-and-out-of-date-grandmother is learning some new things, albeit slowly and painfully, but learning none the less.  I did manage to Tweet from my blog, but it showed up on my Facebook page.  I also created a pin on Pinterest which also somehow showed up on my Facebook page.  ((Sigh...)) Did I mention the painful part?  I need a teenager to come take my frail, little old hand and lead me shuffling into the light.  Too bad I'm fresh out of teenagers.  Okay, actually, it's not too bad- I couldn't have raised one. more. teen.  Six was plenty.
This image is from ResearchGate

So far, I'm on day 3 of learning all of this internet stuff and not painting.  Maybe I should back off and let it sift slowly into my conscience awareness like fairy dust and pick up my brushes.  In the meantime, if you are a Pinterest user look me up.  It's a real catchy title, Alice Jo Webb.  Same one you'll find me under on Instagram.  I have no idea what my Twitter name is, I deleted it months ago when it started pinging all the time and drove me crazy.  When I figure it out, I'll be sure to let you know!  While you're at it, look for the little red P at the bottom of this page and pin me to your Pinterest page.  Like an insect you're collecting.  I'd be grateful!

Thanks for stopping by- Alice    

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Violet

It has taken nearly 2 weeks to finish this one up, but finally this morning I managed to get it done. We are in the middle of a remodel and move, so painting time is still hard to come by. However, it will not always be so. Painting over a grisaille is fun for me and this piece is no exception.

20" × 14" on Arches 140 lb. cold pressed paper.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Prickly Pear Shadows

It's not often lately that the time and the desire to paint happen at the same time, but that blessed day arrived- at last!  There are many changes happening in our lives that have kept me on the run both physically and mentally and painting time has been scarce.  It was so lovely to be working in the studio today.
Prickly Pear Cacti bear their fruit in summer, so the light is intense and the shadows are dark and deep.  My favorite! 

Since I enjoyed painting a Grisaille Agave so much I have been wanting to try it with a prickly pear cactus as well.  By the time it was drawn out with the mask applied and all the black ink added, the day was about over, but adding the color is the fun part so I'll be chomping at the bit to get back to it soon.

Thanks for stopping by!  Alice

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Minimalism Isn't For Sissies

Everywhere I turn these days I am seeing posts and articles about decluttering my life, home, office- you name it- and living a minimalistic life.  I love the idea, in fact, we are trying to get ready to cut down from a 2,000 square foot home with an acre and a half of garden and outbuildings to a 900 square foot house with no outbuildings.  A fabulous concept!  The more I study the notion, the more converted I become.

This is what decluttering looks like??  Sunny afternoon, some great music and some chocolate to smooth the road- what a nice way to spend Saturday! Let's do this "thang." 
The minimalist champions make it seem so and simple.  It's the pathway to happiness; just toss out all the stuff you don't absolutely love- say, in one afternoon- and Ta Da, you have an easier, happier life. Where do I sign up? Here's where I signed up- my house. Rats.  Not the Pinterest world, nor the Better Homes and Gardens world either.  Darn it.  It's actually more like the-Clampetts-are-doing-Spring-cleaning-world, and they are mortified at how much junk they have.  Not to mention dust.  Really, let's not mention it...


If you know me well, you'll know this reduction in clothes is shocking.  And, it's still like this a whole week later! I'm so proud. And surprised.   

Today I began tackling my studio.  Last week was my closet.  That was fun, this was horrid!  Just because one has an empty spot on a shelf or under a desk doesn't mean one must fill it up, trust me on this.  Don't know what to do with that little packet of paper scraps someone gave you? If you're like me, tuck that sucker out of sight and get on with the business of life.  Genius.  Till it's time to decide whether it's worth keeping.  This is not easy, as the terrible question arises, "What if I toss it out and then one of these days need an entire packet of tiny paper scraps?"

THIS.  This is actually what decluttering looks like.  It's ugly, it's mean and just gets worse the harder one works. The deeper I digs, the more I finds!  
My brother-in-law is a wonderfully practical man.  His answer to my question about that dratted packet of paper would be, "Oh no, and then what?"  Oh, right.  I'd cut up some more and all would be right with the world.  Okay, this brings everything back down to size.  So what?  Just because I possess something doesn't mean it gets to own me. Even art supplies, and that's big, kiddos.  

So, I did conquer the studio part of the room.  The computer desk in the corner, however...  another day.  
Although I've only conquered two of the 10 rooms I have to complete, I have to admit I am feeling lighter.  What will life be like with only half of my possessions to be slave to?  Will I want to cut down some more?  WHAT IF THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF MY OWN, PERSONAL WALDEN?  Cool.  Maybe I don't hate cleaning and sorting after all.  Okay, I still do, but let's just say it's probably worth it.


Thanks for stopping by! Alice

  

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

My Travel Art Kit To The Rescue, Sort Of

Friday evening my husband and I were hauling a load of stuff to Arizona, him in front towing our camp trailer and me behind in my car.  Just before we got to the crazy switchbacks on what our grandkids call, "oh no, not the sick road!" the ball joint on his truck failed and his front wheel came off!  At 55 miles per hour, that is a scary event.
Miraculously, the truck landed on its own tire.  The only other casualty was a missing tail light- he was blessed for sure.   

Without all the boring details, I'll just say it turned in to a long evening/night waiting for our help to arrive.  While my man prepared the truck for towing, something I swear he enjoyed once the shock wore off, I dug out my trusty travel kit full of art supplies and settled down to draw.  After I realized all would be okay, I have to admit the thought of enforced quiet time gave me a thrill.  I hid it well, but now you know.  That's how crazy life has been- a catastrophe was the only way to get a little quiet time.  My husband's beloved truck has a disaster and all I can think is, "At last, some peace and quiet!" I'm awful, I know...
The one thing I managed to get into my sketch journal.  

Quiet time, did I say? We just happened to break down right in front of the spot a hermit chose to live/camp, one with no car and no close neighbors for company and plenty to visit about, including, ironically, how he loved living in the middle of no place, away from people with his (lonesome) dog.  His VERY lonesome dog. My poor husband bore the brunt of it because, like the supportive wife I am, I snuck off to the car to hide.  However, I did get in one fast sketch of the countryside around us to remind me of the close call my sweetheart had and the very social, unsocial man with the insistent doggie.

Thanks for stopping by- Alice

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Seeds And Cells

This was a liberating painting to create.  I drew what I felt like, put what ever color where and how I wanted it and enjoyed the process.  Hmm, sounds like a good recipe for every painting!
Seeds and Cells
Watercolor on paper
14" x 20"

As I painted, I thought about spring, new life, new beginnings and the ever rolling current of growth and change that flows through all of us.  Even though life is an ever changing pattern, there are cycles that are never changing, like seasons and tides, the turning of the earth and death and renewal.  I rather enjoyed this.

Thanks for stopping by! Alice

Monday, February 26, 2018

Zentangle With Watercolor

Several years ago I taught zentangle to my middle school aged students.  I really enjoyed the unstructured nature of it.  Basically,  it's just doodling- you know, like you used to do instead of paying attention in school.  Who knows why I haven't played with it more, but I didn't till now. 
As this has grown and traveled across the paper, it needed an egg.  There are seeds and seedlings, it needed an egg.  Maybe it's spring peeking around the corner, at least in my little corner of the world.  Growth, renewal- how artsy fartsy can I get?  So, I got an egg.

Recently I started messing around on a spare piece of watercolor paper when I wanted to be in the studio but didn't have time to get into a painting.  I've just added to it as I felt the urge and didn't worry about a theme or what direction it was taking.  I am in love with the idea of working in free manner, of letting an idea evolve on paper instead of planning every. last. detail out first.  Who knows, I may be on to something?  Whatever it is I'm doing, I am looking forward to adding bright, loud color to it.  Stay tuned!

Thanks for stopping by- Alice 

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Dignified, A Grisaille Landscape

Using a grisaille underpainting not only makes for an interesting look, it pretty much gets the majority of the work of a painting out of the way in the first stages, at least in watercolor.  Drawing and laying down the underpainting of this took much more time than adding the color did.  
Before I began this morning I washed the paper with yellow ochre to tone it and help the painting have unity.
For several days I've been pondering on how I wanted the finished piece to look.  What made this subject interesting to my eyes was all the peeling metal and the wood underneath the old buildings; the tiny details.  I've also been thinking on my desire to suggest foliage rather than trying to render it in perfect detail and decided that I could add little details to the building shapes and just suggest the foreground and background.  I'm much happier with the results than some of my other landscapes.  
Dignified, watercolor on cold pressed Arches paper, 16" x 20"

So, here stands the finished piece.  Adding colors to it took about 2 hours from toning the paper to the last brush stroke.  I like working this way, like the contrast between the soft foreground and sky against the hard edges of the building shapes and like working over well defined light and shadow shapes.  

Thanks for stopping by!  Alice  

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Landscape With Grisaille

Ever since I finished the painting Agave Grisaille, I've been itching to try it again on a landscape.  Last weekend I finally began that process.  I'd like this piece to be a bit moody and subdued, so after the ink has been laid down to my satisfaction I will tone the paper as well. 
Beginning this painting with a black to grey tone underneath might add a distinct look to it.  May not, too.  We shall see!

Since I'm using pen and ink along with brushing on the Higgins pigmented ink in my under-painting, I guess it's a mixed medium piece and not purely watercolor.  It really doesn't matter what it's called though, I'm just excited to see what this turns out like.  Hopefully sooner rather than later!

Thanks for stopping by- Alice

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Drawing Angles, My Version

While travelling through South Dakota this past December, we came upon what to me was the perfect grain elevator.  My favorite of all the delicious old grain elevators I've ever seen.  It was far too complicated to sit and draw out on the spot in the few minutes we had to spend there, so I took several photos of it and we hit the road again.  It's such a bummer to travel on a schedule.  
My photo, printed in black and white, trimmed and ready to refer to.
Since then I have gone back to look at those pictures often, wishing I could spend a few days in that lonely, abandoned place. Since that's not possible, I finally decided to work from a photo and see if I could reproduce the feelings I had there.  Not ideal, but better than nothing.  Besides, the little painting I did last week helped me work out a plan and it's time to get after it.   

These are my building drawing tools- different types of rulers give me options when finding the right angles to draw.
Because I like my paintings to begin with original drawings, I had a problem. This old building has been added on to so many times that there were about a billion planes and angles to sketch out. So, I began by printing out a picture and tracing the outside lines with black pen so I could clearly see them.  Then I cut out a section to easier measure the angles with my rulers.  If I keep the print on the lines I put on the paper, I can hold a ruler to the angle I'm trying to understand and slide it to the place I want to draw. 
The t-squared ruler is my favorite for getting everything lined up the way I want it.
  
What I get is an approximation of the building in the photo, but not a picture perfect version, which is what I'm after.  If I get too picky then I find myself tied to the photo and get all uptight about copying it exactly.  Printing it in black and white frees me from worrying about getting the color "right" as well.  The drawing is my own and I'm free to choose whatever colors I want.  The picture is only a reference point.
Now that the basic shapes are in place, I can erase all of the lines I don't need, and free-hand the rest of the composition.  Too bad I'm out of sick leave at work!  I'd much rather be in the studio today.  

Of course, now I have an eraser job to do because I drew it all out on the watercolor paper.  Like a genius.  However, I am getting excited to start dropping in the colors, so I will think about that while I erase.  To me, part of the fun of this process is thinking about what the next steps will be- the anticipation of it all.  So, here I go, anticipating!

Thanks for stopping by- Alice

Friday, February 2, 2018

Somewhere In South Dakota

Don't you just hate it when your internal alarm goes off at 5:00 a.m. on days you could have slept in a bit?  This morning I just gave up and came out to the studio.  In keeping with my attempts to work simple, see shapes and paint fast, I sketched out my composition with little detail and waded in.  
Somewhere in South Dakota
Watercolor on Arches cold pressed paper
7" x 10"
It took an hour and a half and kinda looks like it, too.  However, the goal in my mind won't happen without a lot of work, and that's just what this is; another bit of work.  I know it'll add up to new ideas and inspiration at some point.  

Thanks for stopping by- Alice

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Mule Creek Ruin

This work week has been filled with drama and stress.  Fairly normal week.  I think I need my head examined.  So, I came out to the studio to look over projects past and future- just to get a chance to soak up some peace and quiet and hopefully find a bit of inspiration for what I'm trying to accomplish out here, which is learning to simplify my work.
Where this thing stood for nearly a year after I realized the black resist lines wouldn't hold the wet dyes back like I had hoped- so much for dropping in dyes. Nothing is ever REALLY as easy as it is in my imagination.

A little over a year ago I tried an experiment with the same goal in mind and really enjoyed the project.  You can read about its beginnings HERE.  Working with fabric medium, Jacquard Dyes and Derwent's Inktense pencils I thought I'd see what I could do with basic shapes and color on a piece of muslin bedsheet.  After quite a bit of trial and error, I came up with a piece I quite liked.  Since that time, I've tried to quilt it with no success.  The painted fabric is just too stiff to allow for hand-quilting, darn it.  I've set it aside until I can find a quilting foot for my old sewing machine.
Mule Creek Ruin with all the color on and pinned down, ready to quilt.  I used Derwent's Inktense pencils and sticks on it with fabric medium and gained a whole lot more control over the colors.   

I'm showing an unfinished project for a reason, however.  If I could see and express myself in basic shapes when I was using an unfamiliar medium, why do I struggle so to paint them in watercolor?  As I'm sitting across the room from this- whatever you call it- (textile?) piece, I'm trying to understand why I get so involved in minute detail when I am painting.  So far, I still have no idea.  But looking at it has calmed my heart a bit and helped me see that what I'm striving to do is possible.  And for tonight, that'll have to do.

Thanks for stopping by- Alice


Saturday, January 27, 2018

Soldiers In Copic

Our youngest son, Parker T. Webb, recently began a series that I just had to share here.  This morning I asked him some questions about what he was doing and why- he has refused to do 2-dimensional work for several years- and I wondered what inspired this sudden interest in drawing again.  His replies helped give me more depth to add to what I saw.

Dough Boy
Copic Markers and ink on Bristol Board


When I asked why this particular subject, Parker said, "I have always had a fascination with history and the World Wars in particular.  I saw a picture that made me want to draw these figures.  WWI history isn't very commonly shown, so I wanted to learn about it by drawing it."  He's always learned through drawing or sculpting.  Great technique, actually- processing information through creativity.
German, Warming By His Pipe
Copic markers and ink on Bristol Board

Then I asked him what he was thinking about as he worked, and his reply was interesting, coming from a modern day 23 year old. "I think about the men in the pictures and what they were feeling and seeing.  I think about what it must have been like going to live in the awful, muddy, war-torn trenches and how men were real men; not to say that there aren't any men today, but it took a lot for so many to answer the call to war.  I've been fascinated by the stories of bravery and mercy shown by both sides.  None of them wanted to be there, German, American or any other group.  They just did what they had to do."
I included this because, even though unfinished,  I can see his process in it.  Instead of working all over the paper in layers, he takes each section separately.  Like me! 

Another thing I wanted to know was why use Copic Markers for this set of drawings?  (I've been trying to talk him in to painting for years)  He told me he loves the control they give him and that he hates painting.  Sigh... I already KNEW that!  You know, considering this year is the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI, his timing is spot on and these drawing have made me want to take another look at the "War to End All Wars." Maybe I'll read All Quiet on the Western Front again, but Parker's drawings will have been my inspiration for it.

Thanks for stopping by- Alice



Thursday, January 25, 2018

Seeing Shapes

As you may have been able to tell, I get carried away with details.  After "Above The Little Colorado" I knew something had to change.  I've been studying and thinking about what I could do that would help me paint what I feel more than what I see when I work on a landscape painting.  I think I'm already doing that when my subject is cacti, but landscapes are almost overwhelming and I tend to get bogged down in the little things.  
This is a series of shapes with value, nothing more or less.  It worked.  I like it.  
The first attempt at this is above, "Towards the Gila."  I felt like I managed my goal fairly well, which was to see only shapes and use only light texture.  When I decided to try this I chose a small format and gave myself a limit of two hours from start to finish.  It was fun and I was anxious to try again, so today I set my timer, got out my little watercolor block and waded in. 

This is something that started out simple and quickly became a problem.  Darn it.  However, I did learn from it and I will try again! 
Using Higgins black ink I painted the cliff shadows before adding color.  The mountains/cliffs went fast and I was able to keep them simple. However- as usual- the vegetation got me.  Again.  More.  Still.  Rats.  The trees in the background on the right side drove me crazy. The trees in the background on the left happened like I wanted but it was the chamisa brush in the foreground that really tripped me up.  I've known for a long time that I wanted to create a 'shorthand' for vegetation, one that is simple and can represent brush without me getting me all tangled up in it.  Maynard Dixon had a bush shorthand style that I love.  It might be time to figure out mine.  

Thanks for stopping by! Alice

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

What's In It For Me?

This morning I had a conversation with my daughter, Katie Kellogg, about art.  This isn't unusual, we often discuss art, making art, the avant garde of the art world, materials, ideas and so many other fascinating (to us) topics.  She mentioned how we often value our work and our worth as artists on whether or not we can sell our work.  As though sales are the measure of success.  Don't get me wrong, sales are a measure, I just think they aren't the only measure, and perhaps not even the best measure. 
The first commission I ever did.  I realized with this piece that working with the price tag in the front of my mind made it a whole lot more difficult to do.

Why paint or create?  When many people's lives are as hectic has mine has become, is the only justification for taking time to create something because it might sell?  If it'll make me some money I can spare the time and energy?  I do this to myself, but I've also found that making something for money adds pressure to the act of creating.  The worry about whether it'll please someone takes a great deal of the enjoyment out of the process, as I wrote about HERE.   
This piece was a blast to make.  I had no firm palette chosen and just had fun with color.  I probably need to do that more often.

There are as many reasons to make things as there are makers, I suspect.  Expression, joy, communication, an overflowing of energy, sorrow, love in all of its many guises, even a compulsion from inside one's spirit that has to be obeyed can all be motives to create.  When one of these are my motive, I work better.  I get more satisfaction and I feel love for what I make more often.  And, when someone is touched by something I've made and offers to buy it, I am as thrilled that they liked something in my work as I am by the thought that they want to buy it.  I guess it's a balancing act.  I'd love to get to the point where I sell enough work to help pay the bills regularly.  I just don't want to make that the main focus of what I'm creating.  Is that even possible?  I hope so. 

Thanks for stopping by- Alice




Saturday, January 20, 2018

Towards The Gila

The Gila Wilderness is a rugged mountain range in Western New Mexico.  Few roads and steep, rocky slopes make it difficult to access, while the clear streams make getting into the wilderness worth it for many people.  This view is my favorite part of the drive home from Arizona's White Mountains.  The Gila comes into view just around a bend, framed perfectly in the distance.  I've always wanted to paint it.  
Towards The Gila
Watercolor on paper
7" x 10"

Lately I've been studying and thinking on how to get more emotion into my work and less concern for realistic detail and color.  I've spent hours pouring over the work of Maynard Dixon and Canada's Group of Seven, all of whose work I admire.  They erased all of the detail that didn't add to the composition they chose and painted shapes, arranged well.  I love the idea and want to pay more attention to shapes and less to minutiae for awhile.  Although all of the above mentioned artists painted in oils, I think I can get the same feeling with watercolors. Today was my first attempt.

Thanks for stopping by! Alice  

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Self Portrait

In the Font of Inspiration
If you were to ask me what I got for Christmas,  my reply would be, "Bronchitis."  And it wouldn't be a cheery reply either. You could go to another blog today- you know, where someone posts a great accomplishment or beautiful art work, but then you'd feel guilty. Or even inadequate. Better stay here with me. I'll make you feel better about yourself.

I've spent as much of the past 2 weeks hiding in my font of inspiration as I could manage. Boiling myself. The gas bill is going to be a whopper. However, around the coughing and moaning and general whining I have managed to catch an idea or two. Which I'll be sure to jump on soon. Really. My house looks like a hoarder got lost here sometime last spring. I'm going to get on that soon, too. See, what'd I tell you?  Don't you feel better already? 

Thanks for stopping by- and if you're still reading this, for sticking it out to the pitiful end- Alice