“Sip and See” was my Mom’s clever title for an art show/ sale that my parents generously hosted. We sipped on delicious wine from a local vineyard, and for the first time, I saw much of my art in one place…hundreds of pieces. I filled all of their wall space, and they made delicious food. Then I visited with old and new friends. I was touched by how many people followed my blog. It was a fun afternoon. As small as the Internet makes this world, it is still a big wide world when you meet outside of cyberland. I wish you all could have been here with me, and for those of you who were, thank you for your kind words and specific comments. It meant the world to me to hear what you liked about a piece, or what one reminded you of in your own memory or life.
I love the grey days we have been having in North Texas lately, the atmosphere has a quiet quality. As I have been running around the last few days, I have been color mixing in my head…dappled yellow and gold foliage against a warm grey sky. I haven’t gotten out to paint it yet, wet weather is tricky with pastels in plein air, perhaps next week. In the meantime I went through my photos, this one is from Cloudcroft New Mexico, it was late summer and the trees were green, but the wildflowers and overcast sky satisfied my immediate desire to paint yellow and grey.
Two nights ago I grabbed all the basil from our garden, and rather unceremoniously plunked them (root balls and all) into a spaghetti pot filled with water to save them from a hard freeze. We had several large and healthy basil plants, so they look rather out of place on my counter until they meet their fate as pesto. The Thai basil was in bloom, so this little bunch made a perfect subject for a still life.
The influence of the impressionist on my perception is strong. Sometimes when I look at a pond filled with waterlilies, or a field of cut hay it brings tears to my eyes imagining the impressionists studying their subject matter. If the impressionists would have been in Texas, they would have painted the wildflowers, for honestly, the quality of the light is not that remarkable. This field had lovely strong shadows, but the color was muted. I am in Texas, not France, but because the impressionist painted, I know what is possible. I followed the light and shadow, but imagined the color, and was pleased with the result.
I have the privelidge of taking a three day portrait workshop with Judy Carducci this week. Watching her bring life to a portrait is amazing. Light and shadow, lost and found lines, warm and cool tones stroke by stroke create life and dimension where formerly there was just a sheet of paper. It better than watching a symphony or play, it is nothing short of remarkable. The structure of the workshop is simple, watch Judy do a demo from a model in the morning, and then paint (or draw) a portrait of that model in the afternoon.
I understand color, I can paint landscapes, so I should be able to translate that to the figure….right? I have had an overconfidence problem my whole life. When I was 8 years old, I watched Olympic diving on TV, and made big plans to awe everyone the next time I was in a pool. My thought process: my ability to do gymnastics + my ability to swim = Olympic diving. After smacking the water and driving it up my nose a couple of times, I was humbled. Perhaps my ability to swim and aptitude for acrobatics might make it easier for me to LEARN to dive, but it did not replace a lifetime of training and practice. And so, after watching magic take place on Judy’s paper all morning, I was reluctant to go to the easel myself, I knew about people who made things look easy.
Then, Judy said something that buoyed me forward, “it is better to fail miserably, than to have lost an opportunity by not trying, or produce a weak outcome because you were timid.” Fail miserably, well, that, I was confident I could master. So I set off…standing at my easel with a 19″x26″ piece of canson paper, and a stick of vine charcoal. I was going to capture a likeness through light and shadow and lost and found lines, or fail miserably trying. So I boldly attempted to capture the gesture, and then it was a process of erasing and correcting, over and over again. All you have to do is wipe vine charcoal off with a chamois and it gone, so it is a wonderful medium for landscape artists who are giving Olympic diving a try. After 3 hours of 30 min. posing sessions, and comments and suggestions from Judy’s skillful eye I captured Wesley: