Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Lily and Sophie

There is a photo from when my first two granddaughters, Lily and Sophie, were toddlers - around 2 and 3  years old.  They're wearing matching red outfits and they're running.  Such a cute photo.  So I decided it was what I wanted to paint next.

First I blocked in the basic shapes and started putting in basic colors (local color).

Below is with everything (shapes/colors) blocked in.

This next photo is after I started working on their faces a little and adding a little shading.  If I can get their faces right, I'm fairly confident I can do the rest of the painting. So far, so good. 

Another step in the process.

I didn't like the white around them - so back to the drawing board for the background.

Then I decided to put the sidewalk back in, along with more fine-tuning their feet, arms, and faces.

And here is the final version.

I like it - I really do.

Here's the poem to go with it:

Two Sisters

Lily and Sophie - Two sisters running
Together in dress - Together in stride
Lily and Sophie - Two sisters loving
In step with each other – and side by side

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Hanging my paintings

I had mentioned in one post that I spent a good bit of time recently framing, wiring and hanging all of my paintings that I liked well enough to put up for viewing.  Here are some photos of the ones I have hanging in the upstairs hallway "gallery."  I have more that I've hung in my studio.

Finding frames (generally NOT an inexpensive purchase), and learning how to correctly wire them for hanging was a good learning experience.  After framing and wiring about 30+ paintings, I've learned the process pretty well and can frame/wire a painting in just a few minutes.

Ron recently got some woodworking equipment, and I told him that I'd like to learn to make picture frames.  We've got the equipment for it, and so my next step is to learn where to get the materials and then how to do it myself.

There are some paintings I've done that I'm very pleased with, and there are some with obvious flaws.  However, they each remind me of lessons learned and experiences I treasure.  So, without further ado, here are the paintings in my upstairs gallery.

Monhegan Island Light

In early September 2016, Ron and I spent a week at the Audubon Camp on Hog Island, Maine.  Ron has always enjoyed birding - and I went along and enjoyed the beauty of the Island, participated in some of the birding activities and painted.  One of the activities was taking a boat to nearby Monhegan Island which is an artist’s paradise. We spent a day there, and I saw many plein air artists painting the sights around the island.  I took  photos.  Here is one of the Monhegan Island Light.  It's a beautiful lighthouse with a keeper's house (now a museum), a storage building, and an oil house lined up next to it.

I've wanted to paint this scene, and so I took the photograph to the painting class I attended last Friday.  The instructor suggested that since the background in the photo is a little blah (my words - not hers), that perhaps I could use my artistic license and paint the picture with a sunset background instead of the clear blue sky.

I loved that idea, and so here is my Monhegan Island Light at Sunset painting.

However after looking at it for awhile, I knew I wanted to make the clouds better.  Also, that little building right next to the lighthouse appears black in the photograph because it's in so much shadow.  However, it is actually a dark red brick.  Plus, the roof line of that building needs tweaking.  So here is how I changed the painting:

I like it. It was night time when I took the photo of the painting, and so it looks darker than it really is. Maybe I'll take another photograph of it and show the difference good lighting makes.

As I sat and looked at the finished painting, I wrote the following poem to go with it.

Monhegan Island Light at Sunset

Since 1824 you've stood tall
Granite blocks atop the island hill
You've kept watch both near and far
In summer's heat and winter's chill

You give so much to others
Your gifts to the world are free
Beauty for artists and seekers
Safety for travelers at sea.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Painting and Granddaughters

A few weeks ago, Evey (7-years old) and one of her friends were playing.  Evey was telling her about her grandmother.  The friend asked if she was talking about her Grandmother Kat (Meleah's mom), and Evey replied, "No, I'm talking about my dad's mom - Grandma Carol - the artist!"  That totally makes me laugh - with surprise and happiness.  My granddaughters consider me an artist!  Who would've thought that would ever happen?!

That fact was emphasized this past week when on Thursday my son, Joey, came over to get his four-wheeler out of our barn to take on a trip.  He brought 4-year old Mary Bradley with him.  As soon as Bradley walked in, she asked, "Grandma Carol, can we go upstairs to your studio and paint?"  Once Joey confirmed that he and Bradley would be here for about an hour since they were waiting for Meleah and Evey to finish with Evey's gymnastics lesson, I told Bradley of course - we had plenty of time to paint.

So we went upstairs and that child painted THREE canvases in the time we had together.  She looks so cute with her painter's apron on!

And she was very intent on her artistic endeavors!

One funny story while Bradley was there. She was working on her painting, and I was at my easel working on the painting of Joey when he was a little boy.  I worked for awhile and then muttered to myself, "I need to leave it alone - just leave it alone."  Bradley immediately said, "You're going to leave Mr. Joey alone?  Poor Joey Johnston - you're going to leave him alone!'  She is hilarious with such a funny sense of humor.

I promised I would wire her canvases so they could hang them on the wall at her house.  However, now I’m looking at them and I don’t know which side is the top of each one.  Lesson learned - pay closer attention to what she’s painting while she’s painting it!   Maybe I should even mark the top each time before she leaves.  

Then on Friday, my sister Beth and I met Lily (16 years old) and Sophie Grace (18 years old) for lunch.  Sophie (14 years old) unfortunately had other plans and couldn't meet us for lunch, but she texted me, "So I do have plans tomorrow around that time but, Grandma Carol, if you still want to see me u could possibly pick me up at like 4 or so and we can go to ur house and paint."   OF COURSE I wanted to see her.  She IS my green-eyed buddy, after all.  Plus she shares my love of art. So after a wonderfully delightful lunch with her two older sisters, I picked up Sophie and we came back to my house.

Sophie said she wanted to paint an angel, and she found an Angela Anderson tutorial that she liked.  Here is the tutorial painting:

And here is Sophie at the easel (the same one Bradley sat at the day before).  She worked on her angel until it was time for me to take her home.

She got a good start on her angel, and probably would've stayed long enough to finish it except they had dinner reservations; so no extra time that night.   We will set up a date soon for her to come over to finish.  Great start, though!

It makes me so very happy that at least three of my five grandgirls enjoy painting with me.  Neither Sophie Grace nor Lily seem much interested. Sophie Grace is all about her horse - spending her spare time at the barn where her horse is boarded.    I think part of Lily's reluctance is because of the neuropathy in her hands from the chemo she's had.  Fine motor skills are a struggle, and so she sticks with the skills that she can handle more easily.   However, Sophie, Evey and Bradley love coming over and arting with me.

Friday, January 19, 2018

An art workshop at Owl's Hill Nature Center

Today my sister Beth and I participated in a painting workshop at Owl's Hill Nature Center.  It's every Friday for six weeks, and the artist/instructor is Rachael McCampbell.  Rachael is really good.  Beth and I talked about the class after we left, and we both feel that we learned a lot today.  We worked on color mixing, and with Rachael's demonstration and explanation, I understand more about warm and cool colors.  We did an exercise using a palette knife - which was fun.  Then we started on our own paintings.

I chose to paint from a photo I took in Maine in September 2016 of the Monhegan Island Lighthouse.   Here is the photo:

I used vine charcoal to sketch the basic shapes.  I just realized that I didn't take a photo of that step in the process.  Rachael suggested that since the photo has an uninteresting background that perhaps I could use artistic license and paint in a sunset background.  Why not?  So I toned the background with an orange-red color.  I will go back in and add clouds and sky.  The orange-red tone should give the sky a really cool sunset look.  Here is what the painting looks like at this point - with just the main shapes and colors blocked in.

I will let it dry a little overnight.  I’m babysitting my two youngest grandgirls early tomorrow morning until mid-afternoon; so I won’t be able to work on it again until tomorrow night.  I’m pleased with the progress so far. 

(1/20/2018). I worked on this a little more tonight.  There is still lots more to do but I like it so far.  

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Flowers For Momma

Added 1/19/2018 - Here is the finished painting.

With the proverb, "nothing ventured, nothing gained," in mind, I decided to start on a painting based on a photo of Joey that I took around 1982 of him holding a bouquet of roses to give to me.  Joey was always giving me flowers, and so that's a special memory for me.  I actually wrote a post about this earlier today - and that post inspired me to go ahead and give it a try.

Here’s the photo.  Precious little boy!

Then I sketched out the basic shapes with vine charcoal. I’ve never seriously tried to do a known face before. Here's the outline I sketched directly onto the panel.  You can see that it is only the outline - no shading or other details yet.

I then started painting.  I did basic skin color, hair color and began on the shirt.  The photo is black and white.  So I'm guessing on the colors of his shirt and the flowers.

I added in the main flower colors and began on the leaves.

I put in a background.  I didn't want to do the house and trees that are in the photo.  I will add more to the background to give it a more blurry and nonspecific look.  Added some shading in the flowers and leaves.  Added some shading to his face as well.

Then I added some yellow to the background.  I'm not a fan of how that looks.  However, I am going to leave it for now.  I kept telling myself to go ahead and try things.  I can always start over with a new panel if I totally screw it up.  :-)

So this is how it is now.  I will leave it for awhile - let the paint dry a bit.  You'll notice on this last photo that I added some shading to his arm - as well as working on his ear a little more.  Overall, I am pleased with it.  I am quite sure I will work on it more tonight and probably tomorrow until I get it to look the way I want it to.  I plan to work on the background a lot - will probably get rid of the delineation between the blue and the brown and make it just a completely out of focus background.   And of course I will do a good bit more work on the flowers and foliage.

I'm working on the poem to go with this painting.  Here's what I have so far:

Flowers for Momma

You were a little boy picking flowers
A gift for me, your momma.
Multi-colored roses from our garden
Or dandelions clutched in your fist
Maybe wild daisies – a favorite
You’d hold them up to me and smile
“These are for you,” you’d say.
So much love wrapped up in blooms
Tender memories for this mother’s heart. 

(Later).  I went back upstairs to my studio and worked on it a bit more.  Here are a couple of progression photos:

First, I blended the background - making the brown flow into the blue and muting it all

Then I put more detail in the flowers and leaves.  I put highlights on his shirt to show some folds - although looking at the photo, that doesn't really show up.  I will make the highlights more distinct tomorrow.  I worked more on his nose and cheek and ear - trying to get them more natural looking.  I will let it dry overnight, and tomorrow I will do some more fine-tuning.  I think I will probably finish it tomorrow morning.  The biggest issue I see now is his hand.  His arm and hand run off the bottom of the panel.  I need to figure out how to make it look like that rather than looking like he has stumpy and misshapen fingers and thumb.  LOL!

For tonight, though, I'm done.

Today was a snow day for school children, and tomorrow is, too.  Since it is only 5 degrees outside and not supposed to get above freezing tomorrow - and the roads are icy, and the ground covered with snow, school will likely be out on Thursday as well.  Now that I'm retired, that doesn't really affect me anymore.  However, it feels like I have permission to do only what I want to do on snow days.  Guess the teacher in me is still alive and kicking and looking forward to snow days.

Update: Wednesday, 1/17/2018
I worked on this more today and find myself at the end of my ability for now.  I'm going to take it to the art class I'm taking on Friday.  The teacher, Rachael McCampbell, has agreed to look at it and offer suggestions.

Here's where it is for now:

(Thursday, 1/18/2018).   What does one do when the arm and hand just don’t look right? Take them out entirely and make the out-of-focus background surround the figure.  I think the face is very close to what Joey looked like at that age. I'm not entirely happy with the background.  I used a palette knife to do some scraping to "fracture" some of the lines.  However, it doesn't look like I want it to look.  So I will go back to the studio in awhile and work on the background a little more.  Oh yes, I added another rose to it.  When I looked at the original photograph more closely, there was a smaller rosebud in the middle.  So I added another yellow rose there.  I like the blurry background completely surrounding the figure; it helps the face and flowers stand out more.  I'm actually in a little bit of awe that I could do a face that well.   

I decided to work on the background a little and put some “suggestions” of other flowers near the others - and the suggestion of a structure behind him.  I also added a little shading around his head to make it stand out a little more.  

Under Daddy's Wing - Under God's Wing

Yesterday I was thinking about what I want to paint, and one clear idea that came to me was to paint "Under Daddy's Wing."

As a child - long before seatbelts were in cars - we children would crowd into the car with Mama and Daddy.  There were two treasured spots to travel.  One was on the back window ledge - lying down and looking up at the sky through the curved back window.  The favorite, though, was next to Daddy in the front seat.  He'd keep his elbow bent and tell us we were riding "under Daddy's wing."  It felt very safe and close and tender.

I wrote that story and it was published long ago in The Tennessean newspaper - probably in the late 1980s.  I think it might have been published in Ideals magazine, too, although, I'm really not sure about that.  I need to go out to the barn and go through all the old boxes of records.  Somewhere I have a binder with copies of all the magazine and newspaper articles I had published back then.

So I want to paint "Under Daddy's Wings."  As I think about it, I know that I want it to be either very impressionistic or abstract.  I don't want a person under a set of wings.  That's too literal.  I want it to be a curved, sheltering space with something protected within.  I'm still thinking it through.  "Under Daddy's Wings" is really a metaphor for God's protection and love.

I started out trying to draw some figures - with the idea of having feathers creating a protective circle around and above it.  These are just some preliminary ideas to see what will work and what won't work.

Then I thought perhaps I should have a kneeling figure.  Ummmmm - not sure about that yet.  The figure below on the left is a possibility. 

I still have a lot to think about.  I'm already thinking through what I want to include in the poem to go with this upcoming painting.

More drawing - Flowers for Mom

When my son was a little boy, he was always picking flowers for me. It's one of my tenderest memories of motherhood.  For one Mother's Day, Ron bought me a figurine of a little boy looking up at his mother with a bouquet of flowers in his hands.  I'm looking at that figurine right now - on the shelf across from my recliner here in our great room.  Just looking at the figurine makes me smile with all the sweet memories of flowers - little dandelions in a muddy fist, stinky marigolds, wild daisies, Queen Anne's lace - and roses.  Whenever Joey saw flowers, he wanted to pick some for me.  And I always put them in a vase with water on the table so we could all admire them. 

I took a photo of Joey holding a bouquet of roses he'd picked for me - long ago when we lived in Matthews, N.C., and Joey was a little boy.  It was probably around 1982.  I had a rose garden at the time, and he had picked a bouquet of multi-colored roses for me.  Maybe that's where my love for multi-color rose bouquets came from.  My least favorite roses are a bouquet of red roses.  They're just so . . . ordinary. No imagination or knowledge of what I like is necessary for a bouquet of red roses.  Blah.  A bouquet of yellow roses is better. I've always loved yellow roses.  However, a bouquet of multi-colored roses is best of all.

Here is the photo of Joey with the rose bouquet for me.  It's black and white - but you can see that the roses are different colors.  I love his little chubby cheeks, and his fingers wrapped around the rose stems.

Last night I started sketching from that photograph, and here are the results of that effort.  The last one is okay - it is clearly a little boy with a bouquet of flowers.  However, it isn't Joey, in particular.  I need to study the photo more closely to see what unique shadows and highlights I can add to make my drawing clearly Joey.  I want to paint this soon.  I want it very impressionistic - with the background faded and blurry - with the focus being that precious face with the roses.

Here's the first attempt.  The head isn't bowed down looking at the roses. 

So I tried a second time.  This one is better, but still I don't have his eyes looking down at the roses.

My third attempt - I have him looking down.  The head is a little disproportionate, but it's not an altogether awful drawing.  But what can I do to make it clearly Joey - and not just a random little boy?

So that will be my goal - to really study the photograph, and to keep sketching until I get it figured out.  And yes, drawing DEFINITELY is a helpful step for pre-painting.  If I can get the face right, the rest will be fairly simple.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Painting and Poetry

This morning Ron showed me some art quotations in a book that we have.  Here is one I particularly liked:

“Painting is silent poetry, 
and poetry is painting that speaks.”  

-Simonides 6th-5th century, B.C.

Since I write poetry to go with some of my paintings, I really like that quote.

I've always felt that poetry and art go together.  Here's a link to the"gallery" for this blog where I have each painting that has a corresponding poem.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Drawing and Sketching for Art Class

In the Monday art classes I'm taking at On-Track Studios -with Pam Padgett teaching - we are supposed to do a lot of sketching.  We were "assigned" to do three sketches before tomorrow's class.  Okay, I did my three sketches - plus another small one, and I can see where sketching could be helpful.  It makes you look at values more closely - proportions, depth, perspective etc.

To help with sketching - using charcoal so it's black and white - I can take a photo with my phone and then save it in black and white.  Then I use that black and white photo to help me see value as I sketch.

This first photo is from an online group on Facebook - the Art Sherpa.

And this is my drawing of it.  Rather elementary-looking, but at least I have the general shapes.  I want to paint it and see if I can make it better in color.

I set up a couple of still lifes in my studio.  I only sketched the one below.  I photographed the other one and will save it for another day.  It was interesting to me how, when I converted the photograph below to black and white, the flowers seemed to have almost no shading.

So the black and white photo made the still life much less interesting to me.  The flowers became white blobs (to me).

My drawing reflects my disinterest in it.  I tried to get the background dark - which meant I had charcoal dust everywhere!  It was a mess!

I took this photo of the lighthouse when we were in Maine back in September 2016. When I saw the pink flowers blooming, I stood beyond them so they'd be in the foreground with the lighthouse behind them.  I really want to paint this scene one of these days.

Now I see that the lighthouse in my drawing is leaning to the right.  LOL!  However, I can also see how sketching it first will make it easier when I finally paint this.

Last winter Ron and I visited a farmer that was processing and selling his farm-raised beef.  We bought a quarter of a cow, I believe.  This cow was standing in a pasture right beside where we were talking to the farmer.  So I snapped some photos.  I've wanted to paint this ever since then.  Sadly, I think this particular cow was the one the farmer butchered for us.  He mentioned that the cow was in that pasture to get him ready to be "processed."  I try to not to think of that sweet face when I get ground beef or roasts out of the freezer now.  LOL!

I only began on the drawing of the cow's face.  I've got to enlarge the ears.  It's pretty amateurish, but I think it's recognizable as a cow.  So at least there's that.

NOAPS 2021 Associate Member Online Exhibition

I'm happy to say that my painting, "Bear Creek Road Reflections" was chosen to be in the 2021 NOAPS (National Oil and Acrylic ...