Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My favorite color

This is the painting I like best from the ones I did last week in my sister's studio in Arizona. It is called "Autumn on the Blue" and it is from a photo I took of the Blue River in Summit County, Colorado. Of course, tomorrow my favorite could be a different one, but it will probably have fall color in it! Indian Yellow is one of my most used colors of paint. Adding white to any color cools it and makes it chalky. Adding Indian Yellow warms it right up again but as it is transparent, it doesn't change values or opacity. I can't paint Colorado landscapes with aspen and cottonwoods in the fall without Indian Yellow! It gives a much nicer color than mixing any of the oranges or reds that I have tried to mix with Cad Yellow.
My palette is pretty limited, intentionally. Perhaps it is time I started trying a few other colors as well. I usually have a warm and a cool of each primary, plus white and Burnt Umber (and Indian Yellow!) My sister swears by Permanent Rose, so I guess I should give it a try one day.
Every time I attend a workshop, I always make sure I have all the colors on the materials list, but I find I still continue to use the ones I am used to. Mixing is easier when you know what you are going to get! Then again, visit Karin Jurick's blog and watch the video of her laying out her palette. It takes about 5 or 6 minutes and she uses about 50 different colors. Ahh, to paint like Karin Jurick!! Do you think if I buy all the colors she uses I will paint like her? I wish it were that easy.....

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Painting for summer shows

I spent last week at my sister's house in Arizona. She is an artist, so I get lots of time painting in her studio with her. I took plenty of reference with me as I need to get a lot of work done for various summer events. In total, I did about 6 pieces that I will be happy with once I tweak one or two of them a bit. One is 16x20 and the others were 9x12 or smaller. When it goes well, I paint quickly, but if I have to labor over it, I am better of wiping it out and doing something else. I had a couple of days of wiping out, but had a couple of good days too.

I have two outdoor shows I have committed to this summer, plus the Continental Divide Land Trust has a fundraiser that I am involved in. I am coordinating the artists for the plein air event, plus I will submit a piece for the studio artist's segment of the sale. The theme for this year is wildflowers and this is the 9x12 piece that I will probably use for it. It is titled Rock Garden, and the reference I used was a photo I took on a hike one summer when the wildflowers were particularly good. I did a couple of other, similar pieces in Arizona, but this one talks more about the flowers than the others, so this may be it. Hopefully it will sell and raise money so that the Land Trust can protect more land from development, keeping the wildflowers blooming.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Making an easel for an artist

My husband is retired, lucky guy. He is playing with clay and wood these days. He likes to sculpt, but his most fun comes from figuring out HOW to do things, rather than actually doing them.

My sister has said for some time that she really needs a new easel, and what she would love to have is a counterweighted easel that will move up and down with just a touch so she can easily adjust the height of the piece she is working on. I came across plans for such an easel on Joshua Been's website a while ago, and Jim (my husband) decided he would like to build one for Adele. It looked pretty simple as it just took a few two by fours, plywood and some hardware, but turned out to be more complicated than we thought it might be. First, the easel is about 10' high and 4' wide. My sister only has 8' ceilings, so it needed to be shortened a bit. Second, the base was 4'x4', which takes up a lot of space, and all the plywood makes it very heavy. So Jim did a little modifying and ended up with and easel just under 8' tall and about 3' wide. The front of it has masonite on it rather than plywood and he left the base open to eliminate some weight.

We drove it out to Arizona and unloaded into Adele's house. We hadn't told her about it yet, and she was thrilled to see it! She is the guinea pig and Jim is asking for suggestions to change the design and make it even better. She has already come up with a couple, which he implemented right away. One was to eliminate a portion of the lip on the tray that holds the canvas or panel in place. He cut out about 6" which now allows her to paint all the way to the bottom of the panel (handy for cradle board and gallery wraps) without the lip getting in the way. He didn't remove the lip entirely as it is needed to keep the canvas from falling off the easel. Second, because she sits to paint, she wanted a footrest, which he added at the bottom. She also wanted plywood in the base so that she could store stuff behind the easel and get it out of the way. I don't know of anyone's studio that has enough space for storage and hers doesn't either. He also had to add more weight in the back to make it easier to move the tray up and down. For that, he used nylon rope tied to round weights with a hole in the middle (free weights that you use while exercising).

Now she just needs to use the easel and give Jim suggestions to improve it further. He may make more easels, and thinks that perhaps he will use beetle killed pine that is so prevalent in our part of the Rocky Mountains. It is an environmentally friendly way to use unwanted wood. With this basic plan, he will be able to custom make each easel for the size of studio it is going in and the needs of the person using it.

Maybe my easel will be next! Do you have suggestions for the next one? I know as Jim makes them, each one will get better than the one before. I know Adele will have her input too!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What to do with my failed paintings?

I have quite a few of them! I have been painting less than five years. As a beginner, I have lots of terrible paintings, but I have never thrown one away. Every so often I go through the pile just to show myself that I really have improved! My stack of panels is getting pretty big and I am running out of storage space. I usually use either Pintura panels or RayMar panels, so throwing them away is a bit difficult as I think about how much I have invested in them. This painting did not come from that pile, and it is one I just finished. I must admit part of it was painted twice though!

My artist sister, Adele Earnshaw, calls me at least once a year to tell me that she has found her perfect painting surface. A couple of years ago, it was a very nubby textured linen. That was it! Her masterpieces had a texture she really liked. Then it was gatorboard with clear gesso on it. I tried the clear gesso. It is a bit like painting on blotting paper. (Does anyone even remember what blotting paper is?). Next came Gessobord, her surface of choice for at least a year now.

Today she called me to say that she has now found the really perfect painting surface....old paintings! Ah-hah! I have a whole pile of old panels that will be able to be used again, but with a much better painting this time. Take a look at the one she did today, over top of an old painting of her own. Do you supppose years from now, a museum will be xraying it to see what is underneath?

Why would she like to paint over an old painting? Because it forces her to use thick paint and nice loose brush strokes. I guess I should give it a try myself. Perhaps I will keep a few of those failed paintings after all.....