"'Team' Strategy", 2009 Pastel on Strathmore paper, 11 3/4 " x 14 3/4"
This scene at the Sterling Fair caught my eye. It seems as though the horses were listening in to the farmers' conversation. I took the photo and closely cropped the scene. This painting is part of the farming series. I worked at developing the center of interest, the area where the viewers eye is drawn. The human figures naturally draw our eye, but this part of the painting also has the eye catching color, the hardest edges, and the greatest contrast. The farmers are framed by the surrounding horses. The difference in size of the farmers and the horses also brings a focus. The center of interest is off center. The background has been changed and simplified. This pastel painting won a Champion ribbon at the 2009 Sterling Fair.
What is art? What is an artist? How do we determine the difference between an artist and a craftsman, or is there a difference? I've always believed that an inspired creation made with skill that causes another person to be moved was art.
Thomas McEvilley, an art historian, writes that "you can't say something's art or not art anymore. That's all finished."
I was reading The Animal Art of Bob Kuhn and he wrote: "I take a very broad view of the term 'art'. I think you can wield a paintbrush for a lifetime without producing an artful thing. On the other hand, you can build a wall or sing a song or decorate a room or take a photograph, any of these things and more, and if you function in a highly personal way which strikes a chord in others and reveals truth in a new way, you will be producing art."
Are the quilts of Ruth Powers or Mardal and Hougs not art? (http://ruthpowersartquilts.com/gallery.php) Are the rugs of Deanne Fitzpatrick or Rae Harrell not art? (http://www.raeharrell.com/portfolio/hooked-rugs/hooked-rugs.html)
I believe that our art is how we choose to express ourselves and it causes us to be more thoughtful. It reflects what influences us as individuals and how we portray that influence to others.
What do you think?
Pastel & colored pencil on Mi-teintes paper, 8 1/2" x 10 1/2"
This sketch was begun as a pastel. After the basic drawing was done in Carb-Othello black pastel pencil, it was finished with colored pencil. The pastel sketch was sprayed with workable fixative to prevent it from too much smudging, and it was finished with Prismacolor colored pencil.
Pelikan Techno-liners on Strathmore Bristol Vellum, 10 1/2" x 10 1/2"
This began as a 10.5" x 10.5" piece of Bristol paper. I drew the basic Zentangle design then cut the paper into 3.5" x 3.5" squares. I drew my patterns and then reassembled the piece. Some people say creating Zentangle drawings is addictive, and I understand that feeling. I want to twist this art form into a piece with a common theme. I realize that this lessens the surprise result, but I think that a theme could increase the symbolism. I'm thinking Zentangles would make great Artist Trading Cards. I need to get back to the easel.
This is my very first zentangle. I read about a zentangle class in a local paper and was curious. I found a site on google, http:www.zentangle.com, that explains the art. You Tube has a video showing an artist drawing a variation titled Zendalas- How to Draw a Mandala Zentangle Style. It's an image created by repetitive designs that can be done by anyone. It is suggested you use good paper and an artist's pen. The examples are in black and white, but I added a little color to mine. It's restful, "an artistic meditation", and takes only about 15 minutes to create. I'll do more.
This is an older pastel that was not working. It was done on the rough side of an orange piece of Canson pastel paper. I used this color thinking it would be suitable for the fall foliage, but I found the color difficult to use and I was unhappy with the patterned surface texture. I like a smoother paper and a midtoned surface. I adhered strictly to the reference photo, and was very dissatisfied with the result. I look at this failed painting as a chance to practice and apply some lessons I'm learning. I put the photo away and made some changes to improve the piece. The fisherman should be the focal point, but I found my eye traveling everywhere on "Fishing 1". There is no aerial perspective, no depth to the scene. The colors of the further shore are just as strong as the colors on the nearest shore. The value shapes created in the foliage are repetitive and unconnected. The shape of the sky space is uninteresting. In "Fishing 2" I added color to the sky, and changed the skyline to make the sky space more interesting. I joined the yellow foliage to make more interesting shapes. I blued and dulled the colors on the far shore to push them into the background. I blurred the reflection in the water. I focused on the fisherman and brightened the highlights on his clothes and on the shore grasses near his feet. I wanted the feeling that he was standing on the shore in the light of the setting sun. I continue to learn...... to respond to a landscape by seeing interesting value shapes, to become less dependent on the camera by making changes to improve the composition, and to learn to combine elements from two or more photographs to create more possibilities.
In the March 2009 The Artist's Magazine I found a blog by Terry Miller. He was featured in an article where he discussed his graphite work. His blog Pencil Shavings, pencilshaver.blogspot.com, is interesting reading. He also has a website, terrymillerstudio.com. These sites have links to other nature artists. I really like Terry's bridge drawings, some of which can be found under "landscapes"on his website. I've just begun a new pastel in the farm series. It's a scene from a country fair. The piece has several large draft horses which I've not drawn before.
This painting is from a reference photo taken at Pamet Harbor in Truro, MA. I was eager to begin this painting and worked into it quickly, but I had some difficulty finishing. It was on the easel for too long. The perspective of the boats and the rings in the water were challenging.
Prismacolor colored pencil on Stonehenge paper, 7" x 5 3/4"
This is the first time I tracked the pencil color of a piece. Many colored pencil artists give a list of colors used in a piece when discussing the work. I did use a clear blender pencil on the leaves of this drawing, and felt this caused me to fill the tooth too quickly. Background: indigo, ultramarine, violet, poppy red Leaves: apple green, olive, grass green, peacock green, dark green, deco aqua, scarlet lake, violet Petals: peach, lemon yellow, orange, poppy red, parma violet, touches of dark green
This was the first time I've used vellum as a support, and I was able to draw on both sides of the paper. My intent was to give the piece a greater depth. When using the vellum again, I'll try a value drawing on the back (grays, light to dark) and the local colors on the front. This colored pencil piece was displayed in a juried exhibit. Each work was to be of the town library, and I chose to draw this statue in an east window in a stairwell.
This is the first in a series of wearable art. This little acrylic landscape is on a pin. I thought this might be an inexpensive way for people to enjoy art. When I wore this piece myself the first responses were positive. This pin has a coat of medium, but future pieces will be varnished for a clearer surface.. The pin is signed on the back.
"Woman", 2009 Prismacolor colored pencil on Stonehenge paper, 6 1/4" x 3 1/4"
This portrait was done from a photo that's not mine and therefore is considered a practice exercise. The woman and her attire are striking. This is a small piece, but it took many layers of colored pencil to complete.
I use my own photo references for most of my paintings. The photographs provide me with a "sketch" of the light of the moment and a record of what drew me to the scene. It is important to experience the scene yourself to be able to recall all parts of how the light, textures, and shapes excited you. Using photos must be done with care, and I continue to learn. A camera records all the details with everything in sharp focus. As an artist I'm learning to keep the sharpest detail and greatest contrast in my focal point. I provide less detail and softer color in the background to develop the aerial perspective. A camera can distort your image and create perspective problems. I found this especially so when doing closeups of subjects. Sunsets are particularly challenging to photograph. The sky is so bright and the land dark. I've learned to take many photos of a subject. I take a photo of the entire scene, one of the sky, one or more of the land (the camera's light meter adjusts to the low light and provides detail in the shade), closeups for details, and different angles. I photograph the scene in horizontal and vertical format. I can take a camera memory stick full of photos and may have one suitable photo or need to use parts of several different photographs for a final composition. I may make further adjustments using Adobe Photoshop on the computer.
"Frog with a Worm", 2008 Prismacolor colored pencil on Stonehenge paper, 9 1/2" x 8"
This piece is from a photo in a children's nature magazine. It is not my photo and the piece could not be sold as an original work. I publish it on this blog only as an example of my practice and my learning progress. The frog had so much character and the picture was so humorous, I could not help but draw it. I simplified the background in the drawing so the entire focus would be on the frog and his meal. I began with a very light pencil drawing, then lightened that drawing using a kneaded eraser. The image was created with many light layers of Prismacolor colored pencil in tiny circular strokes. The final bright highlights were done with small dabs of gouache.
"Provincelands", 2008 Pastel on Strathmore charcoal paper, 10" x 21"
This painting of the sand dunes along Route 6 in Provincetown, MA was done using my reference photo. The water's surface is a challenging exercise. Reflections appear where the water is flat and undisturbed by the breeze, but the reflections lack some detail. Lights appear darker and darks appear lighter in the reflection. I try to paint what I see when I look at the scene and the reflections, not what I know to be water.
This pastel painting was done from a reference photo taken at a favorite hiking spot. The light is what draws me to many subjects, and the dappled sunlight along the path was what I wanted to capture here. The painting was part of the 2008 Greenways Four Seasons exhibit that toured three towns over a period of months.
As I painted the bird's feathers, my goal was to achieve the most realistic image that I could. There are many beautiful birds that come to our feeders throughout the year including the colorful male rose-breasted grosbeak and his less distinctive brown and white mate. The grosbeaks summer where we live. This pastel painting won First Place and Reserve Champion in the 2008 Sterling Fair. This painting was also part of the 2008 Greenways Four Seasons exhibit that toured three towns over a period of months.
"Spring Pasture", 2008 Pastel on Strathmore paper, 9 1/2" x 16"
This painting is part of the farm series. The wagon road caught my attention as I was driving by. It pulls you into the scene. I worked in the compliments of orange and blue. Artist/authors state the absolute importance of planning before beginning a painting. Much of my compositional and color planning is done in Adobe Photoshop on the computer. The graphics editing software allows me a lot of image control and manipulation possibilities. My color choice is usually close to the local color of the scene that I experienced and photographed. Recently, I read Margaret Kessler’s “Color Harmony in Your Paintings” in which she stresses the importance of pre-painting planning. She writes about composition, value, and color planning. She also uses photo references, but decides the color scheme before beginning to work. In her work she may change the color scheme completely, even making a summer view into an autumn painting or a cool color scheme into a warm one. The color scheme of the painting is dependent on the feeling she wants to express. She says that using a complimentary color scheme will “create visual excitement through contrast”. By placing complimentary colors beside one another the artist can “create a strong focal point” in the painting. She does recommend that the artist emphasize one of the compliments over the other. I am beginning to "stretch" the local color of a scene, but I have work to do to achieve more expressive colors over realistic colors.
"Storm Hill Farm", 2008 Acrylic on canvas, 11" x 14"
This acrylic painting is part of the farm series. The photo reference was taken at Storm Hill Farm, Princeton, MA on Farm Day. This was a tour of participating farms sponsored by the Princeton Agricultural Commission, Audubon, and the Princeton Art Society. This painting was part of the 2008 Greenways Four Seasons exhibit that toured three towns over a period of months. "Storm Hill Farm" won First Place in acrylic painting and Champion in the 2008 Sterling Fair.
"Phoebes", 2008 pastel on Strathmore paper, 7" x 10"
This painting is from a reference photo taken from our kitchen window. Each year the phoebes return to nest under our eave just feet from this vertical cranberry bush. These babies are from the summer's brood on their first flight.
"In from the Barn", 2008 pastel on Strathmore paper, 18" x 11 3/4"
This portrait is the beginning of a series of paintings of New England farming. Through these paintings I hope to show the farming community with its rich history, the connection of people to the land, and the pride and respect that farmers have for family and tradition. The classic, hand-hewn barns, live stock, and open fields are my subjects.
Many of my pieces are landscapes. I feel very comfortable out of doors, I've always camped, hiked, and fished. I strive to communicate to others, through my artwork, the amazement I feel for Nature's wonders. I work to improve my skills so that I may share the sunsets, the shadows on the path, or the flowers in the fields.
Part of my education is through reading. These are books of landscape art and painting techniques. Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting, John F. Carlson Landscape Illusion, Daniel Chard Landscape Problems and Solutions, Trudy Friend Painting the Landscape in Pastel, Albert Handell and Anita Louise West Painting Better Landscapes, Margaret Kessler Landscape: a Comprehensive Guide to Drawing and Painting Nature, Richard McDaniel Paint the Changing Seasons in Pastel, Elizabeth Mowry Painter's Quick Reference, Landscapes, North Light Books Different Views in Hudson River School Painting, Judith Hanson O'Toole Painting Landscapes in Pastel, Ernest Savage Painting the Effects of Weather, Patricia Seligman Oil Painter's Solution Book: Landscapes,Elizabeth Tolley The Hudson River School: American Landscape Artists, Bert D. Yaeger
"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves." ~John Muir
"Water Lilies", 2008 Prismacolor colored pencil on paper, 5 1/4" x 9"
This drawing was made from a reference photograph taken by my daughter in the Chicago Botanic Garden. The dark water is many layers of color, black was not used. Prismacolor colored pencils are wax-based and are susceptible to wax bloom, especially dark colors. The wax rises to the surface and creates a gray haze. It can appear on the drawing surface after a week. The haze can be wiped off with a facial tissue or cotton ball, but be sure not to remove pigment or smear the piece by using too much pressure. Wax bloom can be prevented by spraying the finished piece with fixative. I use several light coats of Workable Fixative.
"Sunlit Branches", 2008 Prismacolor colored pencil on paper, 9 1/2" x 7"
This colored pencil work was developed from my reference photograph of this old tree. It was taken in the afternoon with the sun shining on the branches. The tree is in the Mass Audubon's Welfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary in Welfleet, MA. This 1,100 acre preserve has salt marsh, beach, woodlands, a fresh water pond, and a heathland. It is a wonderful source of inspiration for paintings and drawings. "Sunlit Branches" was begun with a very light graphite drawing of the tree. After completing such initial drawings, I often lighten the lines with a kneaded eraser until they can barely be seen. A graphite drawing will show through colored pencil. Then I begin with my lightest color and continue to add layer upon layer of ever darkening colors. Keeping the pencil point very sharp enables you to have more complete color coverage by getting the pencil color into the tooth of the paper. If your pencil point is rounded, the point will hit the high parts of the paper leaving white dots in your color. I use a tiny circular stroke to apply the pencil.
"Blue Bottle", 2007 pastel on sanded Wallis paper, 18" x 12"
These paintings were done in a workshop with Rosalie Nadeau, PSA, at the Creative Arts Center in Chatham, MA. Each painting has an underpainting of a few warm colors in large value shapes. Matching the values was important. For dark values I chose a dark, warm pastel. When the entire picture was blocked in, the warm color was rubbed into the Wallis paper. I then used "real" colors for the composition over the underpainting. This adds color interest, and helps the artist move away from photographic color. Each painting was completed in one session.
This workshop certainly pushed me to work out of my comfort zone. Rosalie, as have other teachers, encouraged me to work "looser". My pastels and especially my colored pencil drawings are "tight". Since this class I've read an article by Gary Greene in the November 2008 issue of the Artist's Magazine. The title was "Uptight is All Right!". I guess there's room for every style.
"Mill Wood" is the site of the Lovellville Mill in Holden, MA. In the spring of 1916, the mill burned in a fire started by a spark from a locomotive.
"Enfield Lookout", 2007 pastel on Strathmore paper, 10" x 14"
Enfield Lookout is in Ware, MA. From this place you can see the Prescott peninsula and the waters of the Quabbin that now cover most of the former town of Enfield. The Swift River Valley was flooded in the 1930s to create the Quabbin Reservoir water supply for Boston. The lookout is a great place to spot bald eagles.
These pastels were part of the 2007 Four Seasons of Wachusett Greenways Art and Photography Exhibit that traveled three towns over a period of months. All pieces were to pertain to the trails, greenways, and open spaces of the Wachusett region. Both pieces were done in the studio from my reference photos.
Watercolor, tissue paper, Prismacolor pencil on watercolor paper, 9" x 11 3/4"
In a demonstration lesson in Janie Gildow's Colored Pencil Explorations, artist Allan Servoss arranged pieces of rice paper on an unwanted painting to create a new surface for water color and pencil. This is my interpretaion of that lesson. The photo reference was a picture I took in the fall along a favorite hiking trail. The sun was setting and the overhead trees were reflected in the water beside the path. Using gesso, I adhered torn tissue paper to a piece of Strathmore 130 lb. watercolor paper. Using a limited palette I did a very loose water color painting then added detail and shape to the leaves and branches with Prismacolor pencils. The resulting work was looser and more abstract than my other pieces.
When I become interested in a technique or media I search out as much reading material as I can. I subscribe to "Pastel Journal" and "American Artist", and I use my library constantly. Books that are suggested in blogs, on websites, in articles, or by friends I search out in interlibrary loan. I often look the book up first on Amazon and check it out with the "search inside this book" feature to see if it will be of interest and I can learn something new. Then I order it from the library. If I really enjoy the book or feel that I need a copy on hand as a reference, I often buy it in used condition on Amazon. I have never been disappointed by the condition of a book when bought in good used condition. Plus, the price is great! Some colored pencil books I've read: Painting Light with Colored Pencil, Cecile Baird Basic Colored Pencil Techniques, Bet Borgeson Colored Pencil for the Serious Beginner, Bet Borgeson Colored Drawing Workshop, Bet Borgeson Realistic Pet Portraits in Colored Pencil, Anne deMille Flood Colored Pencil Explorations, Janie Gildow Colored Pencil Solution Book, Janie Gildow and Barbara Newton Creating Texture in Colored Pencil, Gary Greene Creating Radiant Flowers in Colored Pencil, Gary Greene Creative Colored Pencil Workshop, Carlynne Hershberger The Complete Guide to Colored Pencil Techniques, Beverly Johnson Drawing and Painting with Colored Pencil, Kristy Ann Kutch Colored Pencil Portraits, Step by Step, Ann Kullberg The Encyclopedia of Colored Pencil Techniques, Judy Martin The Complete Colored Pencil Book, Bernard Poulin Masterful Color: Vibrant Colored Pencil Paintings, Layer by Layer, Arlene Steinberg Colored Pencil for All, Michael Warr
Prismacolor pencil on Strathmore paper, 9 3/4" x 7"
"Mock Orange", 2007
Prismacolor pencil on Strathmore paper, 7" x 11"
I continued to work with colored pencil. "Mock Orange" was drawn with blooms from the yard placed on my drawing board. The leaves were done with the impressed line technique to form the veins. Impressed line can work in a number of ways, for example, keeping a white paper for a cat's whiskers. Lighter colors cannot be added over dark with pencil, but if a light is forgotten, it can be added at the end with gouache.
"Poppy" was drawn from two photos. I used parts of each picture and simplified the background. The background was completed with many layers of colored pencil. The stems in this picture have not been completed.
"Princeton Farm",2007 Prismacolor colored pencil on Bristol paper, 4" x 5 3/4"
I developed an interest in colored pencil. After seeing pieces by Jamie Gildow, Gary Greene, David Dooley, and Barbara Edidin, I said what everyone says, "That's colored pencil?" It seemed like the perfect media, lots of color, no mess, and when you stop, you just put down the pencil. When I have a few minutes, I can slip away and work on a drawing. "Princeton Farm" was my first attempt and I filled the tooth of the paper too quickly by using too much pencil pressure. Now I start with light pressure and a very sharp pencil point. Many layers of pencil color develop more exciting blends and colors with depth.
"Oak Leaves", 2007
Prismacolor pencil on Bristol paper, 9" x 11"
This next drawing is more successful. I drew two oak leaves gathered from the yard and placed on my drawing board. I used Prismacolor colored pencils (which are wax-based) with a gentle pressure and small, circular strokes. I created the veins using an impressed line that stayed light as I added further layers. Impressed lines can be made using a piece of tracing paper or vellum and a pencil or ballpoint pen. Place the tracing paper over the drawing and draw the veins pressing down with the pen on the tracing paper. This creates the indentation in your drawing surface.
This was the first serious portrait. Not a conventional portrait in the sense of a sitting in the studio. This painting was done from my photograph, but I know Rachel well. She is standing on the beach after a day in the surf and sun. Photos can dull the lights in a scene and darken the details in the shadows, but I wanted to capture the naturalness and emotion of her expression. I wanted to catch the wisp of hair across her face, and I loved her hat. I first used pastel pencil to sketch Rachel, then followed with stick pastels. I might use a pencil for small detail, too, but pencil lacks the vibrant color of sticks. I used the Wallis paper to hold the layers of pastel, but I missed the smoothness of Mi-teintes for obtaining realistic effects. I struggle even now to control blending and the desire for smoothness. Using sanded paper helps to discourage excessive blending with my fingers. I learned the hard way- until the tips of my fingers were worn. This pastel is in a private collection.
This tree is near our town center. I enjoyed doing the painting, but I fell short of my goal. The image lacks a feeling of weight and mass. I will paint it again. This tree is magnificent with smooth bark, folds, and massive reaching limbs. The next approach needs a change in composition and a new perspective, maybe looking up into the tree, with greater focus on the negative spaces between the branches. A more abstract composition might better suit the subject. It needs more emphasis on the shape of the trunks and limbs or more variety of color. Or... maybe, no color. A charcoal drawing that would focus on the texture of the bark . This beech has a strength, history, and a character of its own that I will approach more as a portrait.
"Pelicans", 2007 pastel on Strathmore paper, 12" x 19"
This painting was done from a photo that was not mine, but the pelicans were so animated and almost cartoon-like that I wanted to paint them. It was fun to do.
"Rock Harbor Sunset", 2007 pastel on Wallis paper, 12" x 17"
I often take reference photographs as a means to capture a moment. Light changes quickly, birds and insects fly away, and children move. The color of the sky on this evening on the shore continued to intensify after the sun went down. This was my first pastel on Kitty Wallis paper, and it was challenging. The sanded surface holds a lot of pigment.
"Still Life with Onions", pastel on Strathmore paper
I've drawn and painted since I was a child. The desire to create has always been there. Now I've been able to make art a greater part of my life. Two years ago I studied with Ella Delyanis, pastelist and painter. These still lifes were drawn from her setups using Nupastel and Rembrandt pastels on Strathmore charcoal paper. Since this beginning I've added Sennelier and Unison pastels and Wallis sanded paper and Canson Mi-teintes pastel paper to my stock. The smooth side of Mi-teintes paper is my surface of choice, but I am careful not to fill the paper's tooth too quickly. I begin with the harder pastels and finish with the soft buttery sticks.
This is a journal of drawn, painted, and fiber works. I love color, light, and pattern. I am learning all the time. I enjoy exploring different mediums, but most of my work is in pastel, colored pencil, and fiber. The paintings and drawings are part of my collection unless otherwise noted, and may not be reproduced without permission of the artist.