Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Magnets on the furnace and rock-moving crows

I've created more display space by posting a few pastel drawings on the furnace - with magnets. This is Monique with a bit of exaggeration to draw more attention to the shoes and pose.....Still more work to do to get ready but I did finish clipping the edges of the garden beds. They need a bit of shape-improvement as some edges are a bit wonky where grass grew in or where plants grew out and obliterated grass.... and that won't get done this week. I found a few more rocks that the crows had moved- always nicely arranged at the base of a plant. I wonder if they are voting for favourite plants...or perhaps are frustrated landscape designers who think some of the front garden rocks should be in the back garden. I've picked up a couple of buckets of rocks just this spring. I see that they only take the smooth river rocks - never rougher-finished gravel chunks. I hope they are only moving them from front to back and not taking them into other gardens - after all, this is Richmond, we are on pure clay soil,  and all those rocks in the front yard were bought and brought into place. I wonder if they will continue with more rock moving or if it was a passing fancy? I did read of a shrine in Japan where the crows move rocks to such an extent that warning signs have had to be posted to warn visitors of the dangers of falling rocks. I think the crows  must do the arranging in the very early morning as I've never caught the would-be landscapers at their task.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

still working on it...

I am not ready yet for DoorsOpen. Today is a nice day so I want to finish trimming the edges of the back garden which will make things look much neater. Of course, it is never as simple as just clipping grass- there are always those stray weeds that catch your eye - or more twigs to be picked out of plants. From the amount of twigs gathered, a person would think we would have branchless trees by now but the trees look fine and the branch shedding continues. I'm organizing inside too.  I'm thinking of putting "Danish Danish" in the laundry room with other "food" paintings when I take the garden tools off the wall. Things will look different this year as I painted the laundry room turquoise- quite a change from the white walls. Still too many paintings- most of the figurative work is going to end up leaning in stacks, I think. Yesterday, I had a visitor who didn't realize it is next weekend for DoorsOpen but she said she would be back. I promised cookies for the open studio.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Getting ready for DoorsOpen

I've just moved "Winter Pond" to a new location in my studio as I get ready for DoorsOpen. I painted this a few years back and I still like it! It is a scene from just up on the nearby dyke - from a winter when we had snow. So often around here, if we do get snow, it is grey skies and then it turns to rain and there is no time to really enjoy it. But that time, we had snow and then a cool but sunny day. I liked that the bull-rushes of the marsh added some warmth to the scene. Needless to say, I did not paint it on the spot (too cold!)  but used references. Then it was built up from a beginning where it was blocked in in monochromatically. Paynes Gray and white.  Somewhere under the layers there is pink on the snow in the sunlight.  There was also a glaze of blue.  I did a series of snow paintings and some have moved on to new homes. For DoorsOpen, I am going to mark prices 25% less - since I can't normally just reduce prices without having a gallery mad at me! We'll see if it makes any difference. One of the problems with all the doom and gloom talk about the economy is that people hesitate to buy art - but it will last longer than a fancy meal out - or a hockey game. There are not as many artists with open studios for DoorsOpen as there used to be for Artists Among Us- but maybe it is just because some artists have moved out of Richmond or have downsized to condos. This year, the city-owned bus is doing some tours- four different itineraries. The Sunday afternoon one is to 4 artists studios - and I am one of them! It will be interesting to see how that goes. I'm still figuring out what to hang *where*.  This will actually be the first DoorsOpen I will be showing the European paintings as they have been elsewhere since I completed the series. I'll also have a free draw for an original painting.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Another take

This version of Helen in the peasant costume was done in 2 hours at the colour workshop- from a photo. We were allowed to use our own mediums, not  necessarily watercolour that we had been working with. I used a limited palette - but with added white, of course. This is a small painting- 9"x7". I was interested in working some neutrals into the background and more colour into the shadows. However, I wasn't daring enough to go with the vivid green Matisse used in the portrait of his wife. I can admire more abstraction in figures and portraits but it doesn't seem to be my thing. Funny, a lot of figurative work seems to sell in New York but not here. I've been admiring work by Margaret Bowland which is imaginative, yet realistic too. She is in a New York gallery.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Helene in peasant costume

So here is the full picture of Helene in a peasant costume. It was interesting to paint the shadows and the reflected lights. As I mentioned in my newsletter, the colour course I was taking at the time made me really think about the neutrals- mostly evident in the skirt. The real background was a window with a closed Venetian blind so the colour choice for the background was just that- my choice. I felt the cooler background sat behind Helene and let the warm colours of the skin and the cloak come forward. The warm light made for cool shadows. It was great to have the space and time to get in a day of painting. Marvin had been thinking Millet-type peasants but Helene's curls and mischievous expression had me painting her more like Little Red Riding Hood. However, just like a Millet peasant, she is holding a potato.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Drawing today

Drawing again today with the-every-other-Friday group. This was our model - although this pastel was done on another day. I'll post today's drawing when I've photographed it.  It is always a challenge to figure out what will be a good composition as well as to try to get the lights and shadows. Nadine has a flair for bringing interesting props and getting into acting the part. I've been enjoying my new set of  hard pastels as well as the few very soft ones that are applied with a sponge. I was tidying a drawer in my art supplies desk and re-discovered some old  "regular" soft pastels. There are some nice ones that could be good for nude studies so I"ll have to remember them when we have a Wednesday night long pose- and I'll have fun with a full range of skin tones. The last long pose was Steve in a Mike Hammer mood. I found it took some thinking so it didn't end up like an ad for men's clothing. Again, one to be photographed and posted at a later date. The chance to do longer poses makes an interesting change from the shorter ones. Our usual sessions start with one minute warm-up poses and then go up to 20 or 30 minute ones. The drawing above was about one and a half hours- less breaks for the model.