Friday, December 26, 2008

Peaceful Moment

Winter Study
oil on canvas

The week between Christmas and New Year's is my favorite time of the year.  It feels delicious and decadent to relax after all the hustle of entertaining, cooking, socializing and taking care of hundreds of little details in preparation for Christmas.  

Suddenly it's all over.  After the cleanup, there's a hush that takes over the house as everyone takes extra time to snooze or relax.  Finally there is time to putter around, do things slowly and really notice all the beauty.  The decorations will be up for at least another week.  Now there will be time to take a leisurely stroll outside.  This is when I take my camera to scout out winter scenes for new paintings.  The colors in winter are subdue and elegant.  It takes me more time to study and record the subtle nuances than at other times of the year.  But that's okay because now the days stretch further.

I plan on doing lots of small studies in the next few months.  Transparent colors will be on the agenda this year.  I've experimented with glazes in the past but now I'm going to go further in this direction and see where it takes me.  

That's the extent of my art goals for 2009.  Ahhhh.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Preparing for Christmas

I've been busy preparing for the Christmas holidays, like everyone else.  Even though I would love to be painting right now, real life is happening all around me and is too sweet to miss.  Painting is always in the back of my mind, though.  It's such an ingrained habit of mine, that when I can't paint, it just doesn't feel right.  So maybe I'll sneak in a little glazing or final varnish, just to stay in touch with the artist in me.  

Our cat is sitting on the dining room table because the tree is in the way of his usual vantage point.  I don't think he minds too much because he loves to lay under the tree where it's all snuggly and warm.  And our yellow lab, Lucy, thinks that snow is the best thing in the world.  She goes outside to roll around in it every chance she gets.  She can't understand why we aren't doing the same.

I'll be driving my son to the airport today and hopefully he'll get out of Chicago since we're expecting snow and icy conditions again.  He's flying to London and staying with an old college room mate, so he won't be here this Christmas.  But he left us presents to open on Christmas morning.  So I'll forgive him.  Actually, I'm a little jealous.  Merry olde England on Christmas!

My daughter starts a new job today.  Christmas miracle.  And to top it off, while enjoying the fire in our living room the other day, I looked out the window, and there was Santa Claus.  Honest!  I even took a picture just to make sure I wasn't hallucinating.  He just kept walking back and forth in front of our house until someone finally picked him up.  

So the painting can wait, for a little while.  Merry Christmas to all!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Workshop with my Brother

Sister Bay Sunset

This is a scene I painted while I was on a workshop with my brother in Door County two years ago.  It wasn't a "real" workshop, it was more like we decided we would create our own workshop.  My brother is an amazing watercolor artist. But due to the fact that he needs to make decent money, he is a chief creative director at a major advertising firm in Chicago. I decided I needed some plein air time and he decided he needed some time to create some real art, so we decided to go up to Door County and paint for a long weekend. 

We stayed in a tiny rustic cabin with barely enough room to turn around, but it was right on the harbor and there was beautiful scenery all around.  We went in late October, so most of the tourists were gone and the weather was cold, almost dreary.  But we didn't care.  We went all over the peninsula, scouting places to sketch and photograph.  We ate in a few of the restaurants that were still open and visited the art galleries open for the last stragglers of the fall colors crowd.  These are memories that will last a lifetime, although I would love to do it again.  

The painting I did of that trip was Sister Bay Sunset.  I painted it after I got home in colors that were vibrant and happy.  Because that's the way I felt after that short getaway. 

Monday, December 1, 2008

Painting in Vibrant Colors

Brown County Path
Oil on canvas

Two years ago I attended the monthly meeting of an art league I belonged to at the time.  That evening the members were expected to bring in a painting  for critique night.  So I brought this one in.  It's not my best work, but I always liked it for the vibrant colors I used.  It was painted on a trip my brother and I took to Brown County, Indiana for a workshop.  I was influenced by the purple haze in that part of the country.  When we looked out at the beautiful rolling hills, one could actually see violets, pinks and periwinkle colors.  

The artist doing the critique was actually an award winning watercolor artist.  I admire his work even though it's totally different from mine.  Now I'm  the kind of person who is usually described by others as being private, reserved ... you get the picture.  Mostly my work reflects my personality.  But with this particular painting, my feelings for this scene seemed to spill over onto the canvas.  I used cobalt violet in the sky, trees and ground.  For me, it was "out there".

The funny part about it was when it came my turn to be critiqued, the artist doing the critique told me I should "tone it down".  Of course, I didn't say anything.  But later, I thought "tone it down?"  That evening was kind of a break-through for me.  I had never been told to tone it down.  So therefore, since then I've been toning it up.  And it's been so much fun.  So satisfying.  This is probably why I'm so drawn to art making.  I'll never tone it down again.