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.


Paint Us! Paint Us! - a painting by Candy Crawford Day

One of the blessings of getting involved in the art community is the opportunity to make connections with other artists. I once wrote that p...