Friday, October 27, 2017

Visiting my Mother - and Painting

I visited my Mother for a few days.  I took my oil painting supplies and was determined to paint while I was there.  I ended up doing two paintings.

One day we took a 90-minute drive from Rome, GA to Ellijay, GA.  When I was growing up (4th grade) our family moved to Ellijay where my father was the pastor at Watkins Memorial Methodist Church.  Apples are a big deal in Ellijay, and I was eager to go there and buy some apples and to see Ellijay again.  It has been probably 15 or more years since I've been there.

We visited two apple barns - the Penland Orchard and Panorama Orchard.  The Penland Orchard is owned by the family of a friend from our childhood, Marty Teem.  The Panorama Orchard is owned by the family of a former church member from Ellijay, the Stembridges.   I bought lots of apples - and lots of apple-related products (dried apples, apple crisp mix, apple muffins mix, local honey, apple cider, fried apple pies, apple fritters).

To commemorate the day, I wanted to paint an apple-themed picture.  I looked online for inspiration, and found this photo which I THOUGHT was from either Penland Orchard or Panorama Orchard.  As it turned out, when I rechecked the photo online, I found that it came from the website of Reece Orchard in Ellijay instead. Oh well.  I thought it was a pretty photo and would be simple to paint.



However, I'm not pleased with the painting.  It is so-so, at best.  I tried to do some Derek Penix-style "fracturing" of lines.  LOL!  Derek definitely does it much better than I do.  And again, my colors are lacking.  I'm actively looking for some classes or workshops on color mixing.  I have trouble SEEING colors.  I tend to see the "local color" without really seeing how light and shadows change it. 



Then I went around my mother's house and took photos of things I liked.  In her family room, she has a long "camp meeting" table.  It's a table that was in their cabin at the Indian Spring Camp Meeting in Georgia.  On the table, she has a vase a yellow silk roses.  Yellow roses are my favorite, and so I thought I would paint that vase.  Here is the photo:



And here is my painting.  I have such a struggle with flowers, which is frustrating because I LOVE flowers so much.  I initially wasn't thrilled with the painting.  However, it has really grown on me, and now I'm on the verge of really loving it.



Yellow Roses on Indian Springs Table

Soft yellow roses
On a camp meeting table
In my mother’s house

Those two were my only paintings for the few days I was at my mother's.  Since they were wet, I had a dilemma about how to get them home.  I had driven to my mother's in my new convertible, and I wasn't about to risk getting wet paint on the seats or carpet.  I went to Publix, bought two cheap frozen pizzas.  Put the pizzas in a cooler to take home, and packed each painting in a separate pizza box. It worked well.  By the time I got home, the pizzas were totally thawed, and I cooked them for dinner.  LOL!  And the paintings are now on the drying rack in my studio upstairs.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Derek Penix - 3-Day Workshop

I’m two days into the three-day workshop with Derek Penix at On-Track Studios.  It is interesting.  He demos a painting each morning. He almost always paints from photos.  So as he paints, he talks about what he's doing and why - and generally keeps up some art-related chit-chat.  I've learned a lot.  I'm still not sure how I feel about some of his methods.  He's very definitely "out of the box" and does a lot of "fracturing" lines in his art.  After he's finished with his painting, we have lunch.  Then for the afternoon we seven class participants do our own painting with Derek’s guidance.  He walks around and talks to each of us, gives pointers, and will even, with our permission, take the paintbrush and show some strokes.

Derek’s Day 1 Demo painting:

I like it well enough that I’m considering buying it. ($400)  Later note: I DID buy it - and I love it.  Now I need to get it framed and hung. Even later note:  It's framed and hanging in the hallway upstairs at my house.  Here it is in my upstairs hallway (12/3/2017)

Below is my Day 1 individual painting.  It is from a photograph I took over at our property on Bear Creek Road - the old tobacco barn at the bottom of the hill and a wheat-looking plant at the top of the hill.  In class, I got it to the point where I considered it done.  Derek looked at it and said that the photograph shows a sunny day, but my colors made it a cloudy day.  He took the brush and with literally only three strokes, changed it.  He added the white to the sky right above the tree line on the left of the painting, and stroke of lighter green to the right of the barn.  And then a little stroke of the light green to the right of the wheat-looking plants.  Bingo - suddenly it was a sunny day.  I went over those strokes myself to make sure I had the "feel" of those changes.   I really like it  Once it has dried, I will frame it and put it somewhere in the house - Oil on 10 x 10 canvas panel.  


Bear Creek Road Barn and Grass

Old tobacco barn
Falling into disrepair
In a field of grass

Day 2 - Derek had a photo of a peach tree that he had edited with Photoshop.  In his editing he took out a lot of the background and substituted white space.  Here is his demo painting of it. 

I’m not a fan of that painting.  First of all, even up close, I can't tell that the reddish shapes are peaches.  Even when I initially saw the photograph before he started painting, I had to look at it closely to see that it was peaches.  I actually thought it was a bird when I first glanced at it.  (Note:  At the end of the workshop, Derek offered this painting for $600 - which is $200 more than the boat painting from the day before - because he said the peach painting was "gallery quality."  Even gallery quality, it just isn't my taste).

During our individual painting time on day 2, I worked on a chickadee from a photo that Derek had.   I chose it because we have so many chickadees are our bird feeders in the back yard.  I love black-capped chickadees.

Here is my painting - which I finished at home.   Oil on 6 x 6 canvas panel.

Chickadee on a Branch

Little Chickadee
Looking out from the tall branch
What scenes do you see?

At the studio I had the chickadee partially turned towards the front but by the time I finished reworking it, he’d somehow turned back to a profile - which I don't like as much. Amazing how a little change makes such a difference. I like the soft colors and edges of the background. It makes the chickadee itself stand out more.

Tomorrow is the third and last day of the workshop  It will be interesting to see what Derek does for his demo painting.  I have no idea what I'll choose to paint on my own.  I took some photos outside On-Track Studios today during our lunch break, and some of them are really pretty. There are some really gorgeous flowers called cosmos - which I love the name. So I may do one of those photos. Landscapes are generally easier for me than birds or other objects.  

Day 3 - this is what I ended up painting.  It is from a photo I took when we were at the Audubon Camp on Hog Island in Maine. We made a day trip to Monhegan Island, and on the boat ride there, we passed Franklin Island and this lighthouse. I liked the name since we live in Franklin, Tennessee.  Derek came over and showed me how to do more “fracturing” and smudging lines. I really like this painting. I worked on it more after I got home - added more white to the waves to make them stand out a little more.  I like the softened edges - the way its almost blurry.  

Franklin Island Light (Maine)

Weathered yet steadfast
The Maine sentinel still stands
Alone, keeping watch


And here is Derek’s demo painting for the third day.  It’s a city scene viewed from above.   It was fascinating to watch him - just values and shapes.   That was what he emphasized repeatedly. As we paint, we look for shapes and values.


So I completed the 3-day workshop.  It was really good.  I was WITHOUT A DOUBT the least experienced painter in the class. Yet, I felt at ease and not intimidated even though some of the other artists are quite well known and accomplished.  Amazing to me how taking a workshop can inspire me to paint more.  I've been painting so much the past couple months since I've been taking so many classes.

In one of the classes someone mentioned that an artist can get burned out by taking too many classes.  I'm far from burned out.  So far the classes I've taken have inspired me to paint more.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Labels for my art work

I ordered labels/stickers From VistaPrint to put on the back of my paintings to identify them.  The photo below is what they'll look like.  I like it, but I only ordered 100 (the smallest amount to order) because I want to see them in person and be sure they'll work the way I want them to work before I order more.  I like the design - artsy without being pretentious or cute.  And it is definitely "Mary Carol Art" - NOT "Mary Carol FINE Art"!  LOL!



Later note:  The labels work just fine.  And they definitely STICK.  After I'd put one on the back of a panel, it wouldn't come off without tearing off part of the backing.  So I left it.  Lesson learned:  Make sure the label has EXACTLY what I want on it before I put on the back of a painting. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Leiper’s Fork Church

I have wanted to paint our little church in Leiper's Fork for a long time.  I started this months ago, and then felt overwhelmed at the idea of finishing it.  So I set it aside.  For months.

Now, I’m done.  The painting is really prettier in real life - as opposed to a photo of it.  I may keep this one - frame it and put it on the wall.  I’m not sure about the left part of the church.  I need to do more work on that part. However I’ve scraped and repainted and scraped and repainted that part so many times, it is just slick mud right now. The angle on that part isn't right - it makes it looks like it's facing forward rather than to the side.  I've looked and looked at the reference photo, and I still can't quite figure it out - other than starting over since the entire angle is wrong.  I like the clouds that I did.  For some reason they were easy this time.  Next time they might be difficult again, but I did the sky in just a few minutes.

I'd like to paint this on a different canvas or panel and make it more impressionistic.  I DO get bogged down with details.

So this one will stay as it is now.  I will paint it again someday, though.  I want a painting of our church that I'm proud of.



"Hillsboro United Methodist Church" (Leiper's Fork, TN)
Oil on 11x14 Canvas Panel

Sunday, October 15, 2017

One online course finished! Once Upon a Time in Provence

I finished the last painting for the Dreama Tolle Perry online course "Once Upon a Time in Provence."  I think this is my favorite of all the paintings I did for this course.   Here's a link to the other paintings I did for this course. 


Now I've got two other online courses to finish - the Nancy Medina course and the other Dreama Tolle Perry course.

Now that I found so many good local artists to work with, I probably won't sign up for another online course.  However, I DO intend to finish each of the lessons in the other two courses.  I want to get my money's worth.  Then I believe I will stick to classes at On-Track Studios, Warehouse 521, and Owl's Hill.  And I likely will find some other local resources for workshops and lessons. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Paint Out - Paint Not

This morning I went to the Chestnut Group's Saturday morning "Paint Out" at Warner Park in Nashville.  There were 5 or 6 people there.  I walked around looking for something I wanted to paint.  The only thing vaguely interesting was a little cemetery behind one of the houses near the Nature Center.  One of the houses serves as a museum, I think, and the other has some administrative offices in it.  They're old houses - apparently where possibly the "Warners" lived many years ago.  Who knows.  Guess I could read up on the history of the Warner Parks - there are two of them - Percy Warner Park and Edwin Warner Park.  I wonder if they were brothers?  Father and son?   OK, that's beside the point.




Back to painting.  I set up and started painting the little cemetery - only two grave stones in it, and they were so discolored with age and mold that I couldn't read what was inscribed on them.  There was a old rock wall around it, and a couple large trees outside of it.  Actually fairly picturesque - but dark.  So I blocked in all the main shapes.  But then, I looked at it - and my heart just wasn't in it.  It was blah and uninteresting - and I didn't want to paint it.  So I packed up all my stuff and left.  I'd spent almost 2 hours there - and that was enough.

There are so many things I WANT to paint, I couldn't see spending any longer trying to paint something I didn't care about. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Painting Like Crazy - Part 2: Back to oil painting

Last spring I joined The Chestnut Group, which is a group of en plein air painters in the Nashville area.  In September and early October, they have a series of one-day workshops called Paint Your Heart Out (PYHO).  The Chestnut members volunteer their time to teach classes, people pay to take the classes (because the artists are generally amazing!), and The Chestnut Group gets the money.  It's a great fundraiser.  I signed up for a bunch of classes.  Quite a few benefits.  The main one is that it got me painting on panels and canvases again.  Finally.  And I'm painting like crazy.

One class was a beginners plein air class.  Another was on doing one small painting a day.  Others were on still life - and simplifying the composition of a painting - and painting birds and horses.  It was all so very helpful.

So here are some of my recent paintings.  Like I said, I've gone crazy painting.  I'm averaging almost a painting each day.


This is "Carl Road Pasture" - oil on 9 x 12 canvas panel.  Done 10/13/2017.  I'm not crazy about it, but it's okay.   I want to work on leaves and trees more.  I'm making my brush strokes too small, and so the leaves look choppy and unnatural. 


"Leiper's Creek Baptism: - oil on 9 x 12 linen panel, 10/2017.  One of my favorites of all I've done.


This was one of the 6x6 one small painting a day.  I did about 8-10 of them.  My granddaughters loved them.  They came over for dinner one night, and they saw the small paintings and Evey, Bradley and Sophie each wanted to take one home.  So I gave one to each of them.  I can't think of anyone I'd rather have one of my paintings!



"Granddaddy Pierce's Bell" oil on panel
This is Ron's granddaddy's old bell.  I remember it out by their house in Waverly Hall, GA back in the late 1960s - and Ron said it was there the whole time he was growing up.  Grandmother Pierce (Mildred) would ring it to let Granddaddy Pierce (Felix) know when dinner was ready since he was usually out working around the farm. Lots of good memories tied to that bell.

On one of the Chestnut Group's PYHO classes, we went to a local farm, and I took a lot of photos.  This is my attempt to paint one of the horses in the barn.  Painting horses isn't my thing, and I probably won't try to paint one ever again.  It sure was a beautiful horse, though.  However, when Sophie Grace saw this painting, she immediately wanted it.  So I framed it and gave it to her.


The painting below is my favorite of the small daily paintings I've done.  There's still so much to learn - but the hydrangea looks semi-good.  LOL!


I did the painting below en plein air in my driveway.  It was a very sunny day, and the painting reflects that because once I got it inside, it is VERY dark.  It didn't look dark in the bright sunlight.  Lesson learned.


Another painting done en plein air in my driveway - another very dark painting.


A fourth (fifth?) try at the Alaska photo of Lily and Sophie outside of Anchorage.  I finally got the snow-capped mountains to look good (they look better in person than in the photograph). However, I have the girls facing forward - and I can't do faces.  So I don't know what I will end up doing with this.  I will probably start over and have them facing away from the front.


This is one of my quick daily paintings.  Mediocre at best.  I love that vase, though - dark blue and curved.  


Painting Like Crazy, Part 1: Rocks

I took a sabbatical from painting on panels and canvases for most of the summer.  Instead, I painted rocks - hundreds of rocks!  It was fun, it was easy, and it was quick.  It helped me get over my ego-crushing experience in painting earlier in the summer.  It was good because I can genuinely laugh about the entire "naive" thing now.

So rock painting!  It was fun.  Several times I would get tired of it, put all the rock painting supplies away.  Then a day or two later, I'd get them out again.

The whole rock painting craze is fascinating.  Here are the basics:  You paint a design on one side of a rock.  On the other side you write some variation of the following: "Post a photo on Facebook #615 Rocks! or #WorldRocks.  Keep or Re-Hide."  You join the Facebook page for 615Rocks! or WorldRocks.  Then you "drop" the rock in some public place for someone else to find.  The hope is twofold: (1) Whoever finds the rocks will post a photo of it on the appropriate Facebook page; and (2) that whatever you painted on the rock will be meaningful in some way for whoever finds it. And that happened to me several times.  Out of the several hundred rocks I painted, maybe ten or so were found and posted on Facebook. 

My favorite story was of a little girl who found one of my ladybug rocks.  She loved it so much she named it "Daisy" and made a cardboard home for it.  Her mom took a picture of her with Daisy and Daisy's little home.  Very cute!

Here are some of the rocks I've painted:










Monday, October 2, 2017

The Barn on Bear Creek Road

We own about 25+ acres on Bear Creek Road which is just a mile or so from where we live.  On the property is an old tobacco barn.  It's falling down but is very scenic because of the weathered boards and way it stands alone in the field.  Driving towards the property, there's a place in the road where this is the view of the barn.  I took photos of it, and then painted this from that photo reference.


Bear Creek Road Barn

Beyond the weathered fence
The aging barn stands yet.
What crops and animals has it held?
Those secrets are its own.

This might be my favorite painting so far.  Right now,  I really like it.

The Chestnut Group's Art Show & Sale to Benefit Radnor Lake

I am a member of The Chestnut Group, which is a group of plein air artists in the middle Tennessee area. This coming weekend - November 8 - ...