Friday, December 14, 2018

Three Painting at my Mother's

I spent the past week with my mother in Georgia. There was much to do there, and it was several days before I had time to paint. But then I set up my art easel/palette, and other supplies in the breakfast room. There's a nice antique round wooden table in there that I covered with newspaper, then set up my Coulter easel beside it. Each time I started to paint, my mother would come in and sit at the table and watch me - asking questions, making comments, and offering suggestions. It was a tender time spent with my mother . . . and I finished 3 paintings while there.

This first one is a scene from Radnor Lake in Nashville.  I went there last year to hike for awhile, and I took a lot of photographs.  This is one scene that I thought was particularly beautiful. I loved the path to the water - with the trees on either side - the hills on the far side of the lake. The colors are prettier, I think, in the actual painting. The photo washes it out a bit. Radnor Lake is such a beautiful place - lots of trails through the woods and beside the lake.

Roaming Around Radnor, Oil on 16x20 board

For the second painting, I decided to paint a scene I photographed at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico when I was in Santa Fe and the surrounding area for the Plein Air Convention and Expo (PACE) last April.  Ghost Ranch was where Georgia O'Keefe spent her last years.  The scenery was breath-taking, and it was very different from anything I would ever see in Tennessee or Georgia!  And technically, I'm not finished with this.  My sister, Joan, suggested that the tree and the hill to the left of the center have too similar outlines - and they do.  So when I get a chance to get up in my studio, I will make some changes to either the tree or the hill.

Ghost Ranch Panorama, Oil on 16x20 panel
For my last painting while visiting my mother, I decided to do another scene from Radnor Lake. I had taken a photograph of a walking path with a wall along the side of it.  There was actually a man walking almost at the end of the path, but so far I haven't been able to make him look realistic in the painting.  So I've taken him out each time I've tried to put him in. Now that I'm home again and can work on it in my studio, I may try to add the walker again.  It really shouldn't be THAT difficult.  In the photograph, he is just a dark shape far away.  On the evening that I painted this, my sister, Beth, was also there working on her own art. As I painted this, I showed her how my various art teachers taught me to start with the darkest shapes - to concentrate on the "big shapes."  And the picture DID "emerge" from those shapes.  My mother came in and offered some great suggestions.  It was a fun experience.
Down the Path at Radnor, oil on 11x14 board

Monday, December 3, 2018

The Chestnut Group's Christmas Party and Being Brave

I am in a women's group that is discussing Brene' Brown's book The Gifts of Imperfection.  It's a great group and a great book. It is a book I need to read many times until it becomes a part of me - being comfortable in my own skin and not getting hung up on trying to be perfect.  As a friend said recently, "We are recovering perfectionists!" A few weeks ago, in the Gifts of Imperfection group, we worked on creating a personal mantra. Each of us created a unique one. I thought through my goals, and I came up with "Be Brave. Be Real. Be Carol."  So what does Brene' Brown's book and a personal mantra have to do with the title of this post?

The Chestnut Group is a group of plein air painters. There are some amazing professional artists in the group. I have taken classes from many of them. However, any artist can join the group - beginners included. So two years ago I joined. The group sponsors workshops and does a lot of painting to support local parks and environmental projects. It's a good group! This Wednesday (tomorrow) evening, is the annual Christmas party. One thing they do at the Christmas party is each person can bring a small painting wrapped in brown paper. Then they have a drawing - each person that brings a painting gets a painting.

My dilemma is: Do I take a painting - one of my obvious "beginner" paintings and join in the drawing? That's actually the reason I didn't go to the party last year. I felt there was no way I could submit one of my paintings into the same drawing as those amazing artists I know. This year, however, I volunteered to setup for the party because I knew that if I volunteered to help I wouldn't back out of going. I had decided to not participate in the drawing. But then my friend, Sheryl - also a Chestnut - tried to convince me to participate. I said I would.  However, I don't have a painting suitable for the swap.  I want one I'm at least halfway proud of.  I like the "Three Kisses" painting I did in class Saturday - but it is done in oils and is still quite wet.  It won't be anywhere near dry by Wednesday.


So I decided yesterday to re-paint the Hershey Kisses with acrylics which dry within a few hours.  Here is that one:


I don't know. Just glancing at it, I like it - but looking at it closely, there is some unintended "texture" where the paint clumped up. I haven't used acrylics much at all in the past year and a half, and they REALLY dry quickly - well before I'm finished painting. 

However, I'm going to varnish it tomorrow, and I'm writing a poem that I'll print on a large adhesive sticker and put on the back of it - wrap it in brown paper and then BE BRAVE and follow through and take it to the party. That's where my mantra from the Brene' Brown group comes in. I've got to BE BRAVE. Really, even if the best artist in the group draws my painting, they can always toss it if they hate it - or paint over it - or give it away. I KNOW I'm a beginner, and everyone who contributes a painting to the drawing knows there are beginner painters in the group. I haven't varnished a painting yet, but my understanding is that it makes the painting look better - it evens out the finish. So I will update after the party and write how it went.

Update:  I finished the poem for the 3 Kisses painting.  I renamed it "A Kiss Bouquet."  Here's the poem - it's cheesy, (LOL!) but it's the best I could come up with in a very short period of time.

A Kiss Bouquet

A red kiss for love – alive, true, and strong
Hearts beating together – a vibrant love song

Silver is for time – a long life together
Standing solid – through storms and fair weather

A green kiss for change - renewing each day
Still familiar and warm – a “Kiss Bouquet”

I figure that even if a great artist gets my gift, they can always give it to someone they love as a gift.  Or . . . they can always toss it in the trash.

Update after the party:  So the party was a lot of fun. I met a lot of people and enjoyed chatting with other artists. And yes, one of the absolute BEST artists in the group got my painting in the drawing. Seriously, he's an artist that TEACHES a lot, has paintings in many galleries, and has won all kinds of awards. I looked at his website just now - and WOW!  AMAZING ART!  LOL!  So Jim Himsworth - "Portrait Painter and Fine Artist" now owns my "A Kiss Bouquet" painting. WHY couldn't a beginning painter have gotten my painting?!?!??!!! I really envisioned a woman getting the painting - and I had a woman in mind when I wrote the poem - thinking a woman would appreciate the playful nature of painting 3 Hershey Kisses - and then the sentimental type poem.

And I wonder why that bothers me so much. I hate to think that whoever got my painting was disappointed to have gotten a beginner's painting. I have no idea how Jim feels - I'm sure he would say that he really likes it - but I can't imagine that he would do anything with it other than toss it in a corner or in the trash.

So I need to quit obsessing about the fact that a fantastic, experienced and nationally recognized artist got my painting. Let it go. Let it go. Let it go. It is OKAY to not be perfect. It is OKAY to be a beginner painter. I participated in the painting exchange, and that was my goal.

Here's the painting I got in the drawing.  It's pretty.  I took a class on "painting each day" - and one of the things we did was a series of quick paintings of a vase of flowers.  The teacher recommended we use specific boards. I'm almost certain this painting was done in that class because it looks so much like the stack of paintings I have in my studio that I did in that class - and it's painted on the exact same brand/size/type of board that we used in that class.  
I love it.  I had the hardest time with those flowers, but this artist, Claudia Williams, really nailed it.  She was able to paint the flowers with only a few strokes.  We had to do a 40-stroke painting in that class - and maybe this is her 40-stroke painting.  It looks like it could be.

Despite my insecurities about my Kisses painting, I really enjoyed the party, and I will participate again next year.  I will do my painting ahead of time next year and have a nice little landscape to put in the drawing.

Updated 1/30/2019: I mentioned above that I needed to "Let it go!" And time has helped me to do just that. I needed a day or two after the party to get over my "OMG! A great artist got my painting!" angst. Now it really doesn't matter to me. I will definitely participate next year.






Sunday, December 2, 2018

Workshop with Kim Barrick

The past two days I've attended a workshop at Warehouse 521 with Kim Barrick teaching. The title of the class was "Fast and Furious" with the intent of painting more intuitively rather than getting bogged down with details.

Each morning we started off with a timed series of paintings (see photo below).  The first day I did the two cups. For the first painting, we had 3 minutes and were to use two values of one color.  For the second one, we had 3 minutes and used 3 values of a color.  For the third one, we had 3 minutes and used 4 values of a color.  For the final painting, we had 5 minutes and could use any colors we wanted.  Kim also insisted we use a large brush - making little details impossible.  It was a great exercise.  The second day I painting the tangerine - which actually looks like an orange apple rather than a tangerine.  I MUST work on getting basic shapes right!  Still, I like the colors and the progression - and how the repetition made such a difference.


Here's a photo of Kim doing a demo painting.

There was a huge four-sided still life in the middle of the studio - with lots of small objects. Everyone set up their easels in a circle all around the still life. So after lunch we selected an area of the still life to paint. I chose this little red VW with a Christmas tree tied on top. I would still like to do a little more work on this one - bump up the background maybe.


When I finished the car (or got as far as I felt I could at the time), I decided to do this little wreath that was on the wall of that side of the still life.  I want to do a little more work on it, too - some splashes of the bright local colors to liven it up a bit.


I decided to try this vase of flowers on the second day. It didn't go nearly as well as I'd hoped.  My colors got too thick and muddy. However, I like the vase. It's one of those paintings that will go in a stack somewhere - and someday I may paint over it or burn it. It's nothing I'd want to keep.



On the afternoon of the second day, I decided to try to paint Hershey Kisses.  Kim gave me some good suggestions. I really like this painting, although I think it looks better in person than in the photograph.


I finished the Hershey Kisses and still had a couple hours of workshop left.  I saw a snow globe and decided to paint that.  It's not finished, but the photo below shows how it looked by the time I left to drive home.  I will work on it more this coming week. I've been thinking through how to add the "snow" without getting it all over the entire painting.  LOL!  Artist problems!




I almost left out this one.  It's a 10-stroke exercise we did on the first day. It was to get basic shapes in with 10 strokes. After the 10-stroke exercise was over, I went back and added a background.  However, I don't like it - so I doubt I ever look at it again. LOL! 

It was a good workshop. Sometimes I "click" with an artist/instructor, and a couple times I've felt a workshop was a complete waste of time.  This was one of the good ones.  Kim was really helpful, and I felt that I learned a lot. I will be signing up with other workshops with her in the future.  However, for now, I'm done with workshops until January when I do three one-day Kathie Odom workshops in January.  Then I'm done with workshops until June when I take one from Dawn Whitelaw on "Drawing for Painters" which is something I need and am looking forward to.


A workshop with Rachael McCampbell

I signed up for a 5-week workshop with Rachael McCampbell. I've taken several workshops with her - including the week-long workshop at Arrowmont in Gatlinburg, TN back in October.  As it turns out, I will only be able to attend two of the five sessions.  Last week was the first session.  The second session will be December 12th.

The class is on landscapes.  Here is what I did last week.  It is based on a photo I took right outside of Gatlinburg during the Arrowmont week.


I like the little house on the left.  It was actually a barn.  However, I took artistic license and made it into a cabin. It seemed to fit in better with the painting.  I will be looking for what I want to paint at the next session.  This is actually one of my favorite paintings now.  I wish I had put the barn/cabin a couple inches further into the painting.  It's so far on the edge that in most photos, it hardly shows up.  When I frame it, the frame will probably cut off a little of it.


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

A Workshop with Kevin Menck



This past weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), I took a plein air workshop with Kevin Menck. As it turned out, there were only four people in the class. So we each received a lot of help from Kevin.

On Friday, we went to Green's Grocery in Leiper's Fork where Kevin did a demo. Then my friend, Sheryl, who was also in the class, invited us to her house for lunch. After lunch we met at Garrison Creek which is the first exit after you get on the Natchez Trace in Leiper's Fork heading west. We looked around the creek, and I picked out this scene to paint. I didn't take a photo while we were outside - I keep forgetting to photograph my painting with the actual scene in the background. I finished it (added the tree reflections in the water - and worked on the foreground a little) in my studio at home. The actual painting looks better than the photograph of the painting. The photograph makes it look grainier.



Then on Saturday, we just about froze to death (it was 32 degrees outside) while Kevin did a demo outside on the side of the road entering the Natchez Trace.  We had brought folding chairs - and I happened to have two blankets in the back of my car - so I wrapped one around me and gave the other one to another student.  It was COLD!!!  Ron was nice enough to bring us hot coffee - which was wonderful! We convinced Kevin that after lunch (at Sheryl's again!) we should paint inside. So we met up at Green's Grocery again in Leiper's Fork, and we each painted using one of Kevin's paintings as a reference. I chose a painting that had a house and barn - and here is my version of it. It's my favorite painting from the workshop.


Sunday was a much better day in terms of weather - warmer and sunny.  We went to a farm on Bailey Road in Leiper's Fork. I chose a fence row with a large tree in the foreground and a pasture and some hills in the background.  It's my least favorite painting for the workshop. That large tree was my nemesis for the day. Since it is November, most of the leaves had fallen off, but there were still some hanging on - and I had the hardest time showing that in the painting.  I painted it, scraped it off, and painted it again.  I like the play of shadows in the foreground which was one of the reasons I chose that scene. I had told Kevin my goal was to paint the scene entirely from looking at the actual scene - and not taking a photo and looking more at the photo than the scene. So I accomplished that. I didn't look at a photo of the scene at all; it was painted entirely en plein air.  



This was my second Kevin Menck workshop.  I like his style of painting, although I'm probably a little tighter of an artist than he is.  He's good at helping me to be a little looser - to concentrate of big shapes and values rather than getting bogged down with unnecessary details.  It was a good workshop.

Friday, November 2, 2018

The cotton fields of home

I remember throughout my childhood seeing cotton fields as I drove or rode around the countryside in Georgia. Now when I drive to Georgia to visit my mother, I pass quite a few cotton fields. Cotton fields are strikingly beautiful! I love the look of the cottony whiteness covering the ground.  I've stopped several times on my way to or from Georgia to take photos to use in painting. Finally, this past week, I followed through and painted one of the fields.  I painted it while I was visiting my mother. This field in my painting is actually in Alabama - just a few miles from the Georgia border.


I like the trees - I'm not sure about the cotton. Overall, I like it - although I'm not sure I have it where it looks definitively like a cotton field.  It could be a white-flowered field.  There wasn't a creek in my photo, but I felt the painting needed something more of interest. So I added the creek and the rock in the foreground.  Otherwise, it follows the photograph fairly well.  If I "widened the lens" there would be a house on the far left.  I may re-paint it and widen the perspective to include the house. 

Candy Day - one day art workshop

This past Monday I went to a one-day workshop in Talking Rock, GA at the Chateau Meichtry Vineyard and Winery, taught by Candy Crawford Day.  It was a great day.  Candy is good teacher, and I FINALLY understood about how to use a paintbrush to "measure" to get proportions right.  There were only four students in the class (or was it five?) and I was definitely not in the upper 3 or 4 as far as skill level.

The first part of the day, Candy did a demo using a model.  We were inside, and the model sat on the hearth with her black and white dog at her feet.  Candy did a great job.  After lunch we went outside, and the model sat on a rock wall - this time with the dog by her side.

Now, at this point, I STILL did not understand about how to get proportions right.  Candy showed me, but it didn't make sense to me.  I THOUGHT it made sense at the time, but it didn't work for me (because I was doing it wrong). But I tried. The model put on a hat because the sun was so hot.  My photo is dark - I think because my setup was in the shade, and the sun was so bright outside the shade.  So my proportions aren't right. And you will notice that I didn't even attempt the dog!  LOL! 


Before I left, I walked around looking at the other artists' paintings, and their's were SO much better.  As I drove home (almost 4 hours), I was mulling over the whole proportion thing - thinking about the painting above, thinking about the painting of Sophie on the beach - and Ron and Bradley hand-in-hand on the beach - and how all my figures are too short and stubby looking.  Then suddenly a lightbulb went off in my head and I understood what Candy had described - how using the paintbrush to measure would help me keep the proportions right.  So I'm anxious to try another figure soon and try out my paintbrush measuring skills.  

Meanwhile, my painting from this class will remain in my ever-growing "too bad to be seen" stack in my studio. :-) It's so bad, I don't want to even try to make it better - just start over on something else.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Plein Air Painters of the Southeast (PAP-SE)

Back in September, the Plein Air Painters of the Southeast had a paintout and art show in Leiper's Fork.  I WISH I were a good enough painter to be a member, but that is currently way out of the realm of possibility. However, I am a member of the Chestnut Group, and the Chestnut Group acted as hosts for the PAP-SE group.  We were asked if we would be willing to host some of the painters in our homes.  After talking it over with Ron last spring, I said, "sure."  So three artists spent a week with us - Perry Austin, Jim Carson, and MaryO Smith.  MaryO is the artist I worked with when Ron and I went to Sea Island last winter. We had never met Perry or Jim before.  And Perry's wife, Carol, was here with him - and we loved getting to know her, too. It was a fun group of people.

I was a little nervous about having three strangers spend a week with us, but it turned out great, and all my concerns were laid to rest within a few minutes of the artists' arrival.  By the time they all left on Saturday, we hugged like old friends.  It was a most enjoyable week!  We sat out on the deck and had drinks and appetizers in the evenings, ate breakfast around the kitchen table in the mornings, and just did a lot of talking.  They painted much of the day - and were in and out.  There were a couple of evening activities that Ron and I were invited to since we hosted some of the artists, and that was so much fun. We got to know many of the artists, and when they had their "wet paint" sale on that Friday and Saturday, I could have easily spent many thousands of dollars on paintings.  Perry, especially, had one I really loved of the chicken house behind our house - and another one of the farm behind us on Carters Creek Pike.  And my friend, Sheryl, beat me to a gorgeous painting by Kathie Odom. My goal for the next year or two is to buy a Kathie Odom painting - but I want to wait until I find one the "speaks" to me.

The artists that stayed at our house each gave us an original oil painting as a gift for our hospitality - which, if you think about it, is a pretty amazing and valuable gift!  Perry painted "Gnarly Oak" for us - and I will treasure that painting always. Ron and I have loved that tree since we first saw it when were walking on our land.  It was "Gnarly Elm" for awhile until we figured out it was an oak instead of an elm.  Here is his painting.  I love it!

 Jim gave us a painting he had done previously - a house with a dirt road leading up to it - really beautiful. I love his loose and impressionistic style.  


 Then MaryO painted Ron's John Deere tractor - and she gave that painting to us.We both love the painting, but Ron, especially, does since it's his tractor and he has so many memories of working with and on that tractor! MaryO also did a couple other paintings from around our house - of the wildflowers at the front of the driveway, and of a tree near the front.  Both beautiful paintings.  



I loved having the artists here.  It was a great week.

While the PAP-SE artists were in town, I signed up for two mentoring sessions. The first mentoring session was with Dawn Whitelaw - a wonderful artist that I had heard about and had seen when I've taken classes at On Track Studios where she has a studio.  She, another mentee, and I went to Justin Timberlake's farm here in Leiper's Fork, and painted a barn there. Dawn was very helpful, and although she did her own painting, she kept a careful watch on her mentees, and came over to me often giving suggestions for improving my painting.  Here is an "in-progress" photo that shows the actual barn in the background - and then the finished painting.


My second mentoring session was with MaryO, but I didn't end up with a painting from that one.  She did, though.  LOL! So, alas, I don't have a painting or even part of one to show for that experience.

All in all, it was a great week. We made new friends, I learned so much about painting, and it was simply fun. If PAP-SE ever comes back to Nashville, I will be volunteering immediately to host some artists again - especially if "our" artists return.  



Paintings around our Farm

Here are a couple of paintings I've done around Dogwood Trace Farm - our farm.  The first one is from a photo I took at the bottom of the hill looking up at that distinct tree that is on the right of the path.  Ron says this is his favorite painting of mine because he goes to "the bottom" (the area behind out house at the bottom of the hill next to the West Harpeth River) all the time with the dogs.  So he always sees this tree as he starts back up the hill.


This past summer, Ron planted a lot of wildflowers above the rock wall at the entrance to our driveway.  Butterflies - especially lots of small yellow ones - flew all around the flowers, along with bees.  The mixture of colors was bright and striking. Here is my painting of the rock wall and wildflowers.  It's the largest painting I've done yet - 30 x 40, oil on cradled gessobord.


Long time - new paintings from Gatlinburg and Arrowmont

It has been awhile since I last posted.  I had my cataract surgery and was proud that I did every single eye drop recommended - which was four weeks of eye drops for each eye.  That's behind me now, and honestly, I can't tell a whole lot of difference. My distance vision is better - no more double vision.  However, I STILL need reading glasses, and I STILL have trouble seeing things in less that perfect lighting.

However, I have been painting. I completed several paintings at the week-long workshop in Gatlinburg at the Arrowmont School of Arts and crafts.  I'm particularly happy with the first one - of the Little Pigeon River. I wanted to capture the essence of those roots that were exposed and twisting all over the place.  I'm really pleased with this painting.

This next one was of an old farm up in the mountains - very rocky and rustic.  When we got there early in the morning, it was misty with the fog covering everything.  Really beautiful!  When I showed the painting to my mother (a photo of the painting), she asked, "What are those things in front?"  Guess I need to work on those rocks more.  LOL!

After I got home, I tried to paint the cabin from a different angle - but I didn't like the way it turned out - and I don't like it enough to work on it anymore.  I like the first one - so I will keep that one. I will probably toss or paint over the one below.

One day we went up in the mountains to a beautiful home right at the top of the mountain. Amazing place.  Along the road up the mountain, they had four different guest houses!  The driveway was 4 miles long.  The painting below was a "quick study" of the mountains in the distance. We used very thin oil paint to paint this - to give it a watercolor-esque look.  This was done on paper - with blue tape around the edges.  I finished the painting, peeled the tape off, and voila! it has a border. LOL!


I really loved the week at Arrowmont.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Painting at the Beach - some plein air, some not

We spent a week at the beach at the end of July.  We were there with our children and grandchildren - all 11 of us.  It was an absolutely wonderful week of family time.  So many special moments.  We rented a house right on the beach in Seaside.  It's the first time we've stayed in Seaside, and it was wonderful especially for the teen girls.  They could walk right into downtown Seaside (two houses down from where we were staying) to get food or to shop.

I took my rolling backpack with my painting supplies, and I set it up on the 3rd floor covered porch which provided a beautiful panoramic view of the ocean and beach. I have to mention that having the rolling backpack is a great idea!  I know that everything I need to paint is in that backpack. I have to make sure the panels I want are in there - but everything else is ready to go. With my compulsive personality, I have doubles of everything so I don't have to unpack paints or brushes or other supplies in between use.  I have all I need in it - and I have all I need in my studio as well.

Here are my two paintings for the week.  Both have figures in them - and that is definitely not my strong suit.  This first one is Sophie. She ASKED me to paint this for her. I captured the basic scene, but I'm not pleased with the figure. If I'm going to continue painting figures, I need to take a figure painting class and see if I can learn some tips to make my figures better. The painting is based on a photo that Sophie Grace took of Sophie earlier in the week.



Then the second painting is of Ron and Bradley.  I did a plain air painting of the ocean view from our balcony/porch, and then I used a photo of Ron and Bradley at one of Evey's soccer games a couple years ago, and painted them into the beach scene.  I'm not pleased with the figures on this one either. While I feel I did the shadowing and highlighting all right, the figures just don't look authentic to me. I don't know how to fix it, though.  



All in all, while I'm glad I completed two paintings during our week at the beach, I'm not particularly pleased with either one.  





Thursday, June 28, 2018

I've got "bless your heart cataracts"

I'm almost 69 years old.  Sometimes I'm in awe of being (what seems to me) so old.  In my mind's eye, I'm in my thirties or forties, at the most. But no, I'm nearly the 7-0, and it feels really strange.  One of the things about getting older is that our bodies do what bodies do when they get older - they start deteriorating.  Life is hard on bodies.  My eyes are developing cataracts, and glasses don't help with cataracts.

At an art class I was taking last month, I kept looking at my palette, and I honestly could not clearly distinguish the different values/shades of green. Things were too blurry.  I'd blink a few times, and things would clear up somewhat. Finally, as I was driving along the expressway a few weeks ago and realized that while I was perfectly safe to drive, there WERE double lines in my vision along the side of the road instead of the single line I knew was actually there. When I'd try to read a road sign, I needed to be right at it in order to read it. Thank goodness for GPS making it unnecessary for me to read street signs before I got to them.

So I called my optometrist who happens to have been my son's best friend in high school and college.  He's a wonderful eye doctor.  My cataracts had grown significantly from my last eye checkup seven months ago.  So his receptionist made an appointment for me with the doctor who does cataract surgery.  I met with him today.

I went to the appointment expecting to be in and out in 30 - 45 minutes.  I was there for over two hours.  So many machines - two different eye drops - so many tests with blinking lights and flashes of bright light.  One nurse, while looking at my eyes via one of the machines, remarked that my cataracts were quite bad, and then she added, "Bless your heart."  So I've officially named my cataracts the "Bless your heart cataracts."

Surgery on the right eye is scheduled for August 14th.  They had ONE sooner date, but it was while we are scheduled to be at the beach.  The left eye will be done on August 28th.  So I still have another 7 or so weeks of fuzzy vision.

I've put painting on hold for awhile because I feel my colors are not as good as they should be.  Jarrod (my optometrist) said his father-in-law had the surgery not too long ago, and while his vision was wonderfully better, he told Jarrod that the best thing was how much clearer the colors are now.  So I have that to look forward to, although I admit I'm very nervous about the actual surgery.  It's disconcerting, though, how fuzzy things are at times.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Art classes with Kevin Menck

Over the past few weeks I've been taking a Monday afternoon art class (oil landscapes) from Kevin Menck.  The classes have been held at Warehouse 521 - which is a studio in the Hundred Oaks area of south Nashville.  Kevin is fascinating in that he paints almost entirely with a #1 round brush - usually on a 9 x 12 linen panel.  He does a lot of plein air painting - although he admits that in hot weather like this, he likes to stick with the studio in the heat of the day.

The things he keeps emphasizing are (1) find the big shapes, (2) value (light, dark) , and (3) temperature (coolness, warmth)

My first painting in the class - a wooded scene with sun and shadows

Kevin painting a field with hay bales.  I missed the class in which we students painted this scene.

This is my second painting from the class - looking down on water with a rocky bank.

This was Kevin's painting from last week - a mountain and tree scene with snow.  This was probably the painting from the class that I was most frustrated with - I was just "done" with that particular painting -and painting in general before I finished.  It was one of those days.  

This is Kevin demo-ing in class yesterday (6/18/2018)  We students will paint this scene in class next week.  It's a field with a small pond and grass in the foreground.

It's been a good class.  It has been good to watch how Kevin paints.  He paints quickly and doesn't get bogged down with details - big shapes, value, and temperature.  To cool down colors, add blue or white.  To warm up colors, add yellow or red.  He paints with a limited palette of 4 colors: titanium white, cad scarlet, ultramarine blue, cad lemon.  

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Finished (almost) art studio

After several months of being topsy-turvy, my art studio is done - almost.  The walls are painted, the cabinets I ordered came in, and the carpenter installed them and built the shelves above them.  Now, I need the painter to come back and stain them.  However, I've already put things on the shelves.  I figure I can empty the shelves easily when they're ready to do the staining.  I will need Ron's help to get the bulletin boards put back up.  Then I will hang the paintings I want in there - and it will be done.  However, the good news is that it is already ready to be used again - and it HAS been used.

Here is a photo of as the carpenter was finishing up.


I babysat Evey and Bradley Wednesday of last week, and they both completed painting projects at the desks.  I've been out of town since last Thursday - a full week - but I'm ready to get back in the studio again to finish up paintings I've started and do some new ones.

And here are some more photos.  Shelves and drawers are organized and filled. My acrylic station and oil station are both set up and ready to go. The sitting alcove is ready.  I just need to put bulletin board and art work on walls and get shelves stained. Oh!  And lighting installed above each station. 










My studio is back in order - so no more reasons not to paint.

Ceramic Churches on Shelves

I just spent a week at my mother's in Georgia.  While there, I completed one painting.  My mother collects ceramic, wooden, and tin churches.  Most of them have lights inside.  Mother has them lined up on shelves all around her family room and also in other places around her house. The churches are along the tops of shelves.  However, I wanted it to look like like they were on two shelves - one shelf over the other.  So I removed photos from the bottom shelf and added churches.  Then took photos and put everything back where it was.  Here is the photo I used as a reference for my painting:


Then I blocked in basic shapes and started painting.  I forgot to take a photo of the work in progress until I had gotten the basic design on the churches on the bottom row.



Notice I did the bottom row first.  Lesson learned.  LOL!  When I started painting the top row, I kept bumping my arm against the bottom row of churches. Work top to bottom from now on!



Once I finished the churches it was time to go back and do some fine tuning. 




I added shadows behind the churches, and I believe I’m done. I know that there are steeples that are leaning a little, and I changed the design on a couple of them to make them a little simpler - added colorful stained glass windows in several that had clear or simply black/white windows.  Overall, I really like it.  Now I want to work on a poem to go with it.

I may go back and do a little more fine-tuning after it has dried a few days.  I'm wondering if I use oil-based Sharpies if I could get some of the more exact details done.
Oil on 12x12 Gessobord.

(Much later - 6/12/2018)  And here is the poem to go with this painting.  It took me a LONG time to get this poem written - and I could work on it more, but I reached the point of saying, "It's done."


My Mother’s Churches

My mother collects small churches, displayed on shelves and table tops
They’re gifts from friends and family, or treasures found in thrift shops

As a child, at her mill town church, when she was eleven years old
She gave her heart to Jesus, and was welcomed into God’s fold

She married and became a mother -  and, afterwards, a pastor’s wife
Serving churches in Kentucky, Ohio and Georgia - a big part of her life

Later, she became a widow - and studied to be a pastor herself
That’s when she got her first small church and lovingly placed it on the shelf

She was in church for baptisms and weddings, in church for potluck meals and preaching
In church for Sunday School and worship, in church for meetings and for teaching

It’s only fitting she collects churches – churches of ceramic, wood, or tin
Churches symbolize her life’s path, where she worked and where she’s been

The church collection, how it has grown!  It reflects the story of the sacred place
Where a woman we all know and love was “The Church” for others, by God’s grace

~Mary Carol Shaw Johnston, June 2018~

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Plein Air Conference and Expo in Santa Fe, NM

Last month, I spent a week in Santa Fe, NM at the Plein Air Conference and Expo.  It was fun!  Ron went with me.  I've already signed up for next year's conference that will be in San Francisco in late April.

There were 1100 people at the convention.  It was very crowded.  Quite honestly, the demos and lectures were the least enjoyable part of the conference.  There's just no way you can get more out of a painting demo when there are hundreds of people crowded in a room, and you can only see the artist by looking at a monitor.  No personal interaction with the artist.  The expo part was a large ballroom that had vendors for all the major art suppliers.  It was so fun and cool to see all the things available.  I bought paint, bought a mini plein air setup, some brushes, wet-panel carriers, and other assorted supplies and t-shirts.

I had never been to New Mexico, and I learned that high altitudes can really affect one's body!  I didn't have a serious case of altitude sickness (although a few of the conference attendees did!), but all week I felt out of breath and tight-chested. I actually wondered if I might have had a slight heart attack, but dismissed that since I felt okay otherwise - just easily winded. The minute we got off the plane in Dallas on the trip home, I felt completely back to normal. It was just the altitude.

I was initially disappointed that we decided to fly commercial at the last minute because of the weather forecast.  I had planned on taking my paintings for the art exhibit with me, and it was too late to ship them ahead to the hotel. We didn't have room to take the paintings with us on our commercial flight.  So I sold my space for the exhibit to another artist.  However the wind was horrible most of the week.  It would have been dangerous to have attempted the flight in Ron's small Bonanza.  So flying commercial was definitely the right decision.

In preparing those three paintings to take with me, I learned how to very nicely frame a painting.  I'm really pleased with how professional those paintings look (the framing).  I learned how to cover the back with brown paper, and I had stickers to put on the back of each painting - 3 per painting - one for the "story" of the painting, one for the poem, and one for identifying info (title, medium, size, date etc.)




I did two paintings while there.  I started a third one, but it was so bad, I cleaned off the panel entirely.  I also took many photos of scenes I'd like to paint someday.
The highlights of the conference were the paintouts.  We traveled to Chimayo to paint - hundreds of artists setting up all around the village of Chimayo to paint. Ron and I got there early and looked around.  There was a chapel that was hundreds of years old - adobe, small.  There was a room lined with crutches where people had gone to the church to pray for healing and then left their crutches there.  There was a feeling about the place - holy - real.  I immediately went to the altar, knelt down and prayed for Lily. The sense of being on holy ground was overwhelming.  It was surreal in many ways - I was near tears the whole time we were there.  I knew that the chapel was what I wanted to paint.  I still want to work it more - but it is essentially finished.  I love it simply because of the meaning behind it.
Another day we had a paintout in downtown Santa Fe.  I saw this tree right in the center of town and I wanted to paint it.  The background, though, was so busy that I decided to paint a simpler background by painting the building in the far background in the near background.  Artistic license, you know.  There were so many interestingly shaped trees around downtown. There were lots of unique shops, churches, stores and other buildings, too.


I told Ron and my children that after I looked at that tree for a long time it looked like someone upside down with their butt and legs sticking out of the ground. It's kinda funny looking, I think. I still need to finish this painting, too.  When I painted this downtown Santa Fe scene, I had set up my plein air easel/tripod on the sidewalk across from that park. My friend, Sheryl, was painting next to me.  She painted the same tree.  It was an interesting experience to have people walk by and watch me paint.  That happened in Chimayo, too.  It was good to help get me out of being self-conscious. 
I'm waiting for my art studio to be finished, and then I will finish the two Santa Fe paintings, and the other approximately 7-8 paintings that are just waiting for me to have the space to work on them.
The other great paintout for the Santa Fe trip was to Ghost Ranch - where Georgia O'Keeffe lived and painted.  What an interesting place!  I didn't take my paints on that side trip.  I decided I would take photographs and paint later, and I'm glad I did.  If I'd painted, I wouldn't have had the time to do the tour and all the walking around that I did.  Fascinating place!
All in all, the PACE 18 experience was a good one.  I'm looking forward to San Francisco next year.  It will be fun - and I will have the opportunity to see another part of the country that I haven't visited before.

Pandemic Painting

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