Lost in the Shuffle

Watercolor on Masa Paper, 10×7.5″
I am mourning the passing of summer, a beautiful autumn, and pleasant weather. It is cold and windy here. The clouds are building for what will be a very sunshine starved season. If we do have sun it’ will be very cold. Consult your basic meteorology text to explain that. . 
This little image got lost in the shuffle of excitement around here. We are anticipating the birth of our very first grandchild. Woo Hoo! My beautiful daughter-in-law is very big with child and due a week from Friday. She has been a frenzy of activity. She’s been nesting and her chief assistant is my son. He gutted to the studs and re-did the bathroom. The two of them painted the house. She garage-saled furniture then repainted and reupholstered. I’m getting tired just typing about it. It’s been a whirl of activity.
My hubby and I are thrilled. I was told I would be crazy, even double crazy as the day approached and it’s true. I have been crocheting afghans and sweaters and now getting ready to sew baby clothes. It de ja vue all over again. I did the same for my own kids and had tons of fun doing it. It will be lovely doing it again. There is one benefit. I get to have all the fun and none of the responsibility! More to come in the next few weeks. Expect Gramma to post some pictures.

T F m
October 27, 2013

Painting or Drawing, Stripes Are Your Friends!

Watercolor on Masa Paper, 7.75×5.25″



I don’t know what it is about some models that make them such an inspiration during a painting session. ‘Inspiration’ seems like such a cliched term but I lack another word to use in its place. An eye candy model can be very boring if that person has no emotional substance. One senses  an absence in those instances. And the work reflects that. I don’t know what that mechanism is but I do know it exists. Those models who walk in the door with presence make for satisfying work.

This young woman had that presence. She was talkative and comfortable in her skin. It would make sense that if one is disrobing for the afternoon, feeling  comfortable with who one is would be very helpful. It has nothing to do with one’s appearance. The notion that models have to be the stereotype of mass culture is very shallow and irrelevant to the art process. I have written many times that everyone who walks in the door has their own beauty. I can appreciate each one. It’s those people who seem to be not present who are difficult or unsatisfying to art. I know I would respond to this young woman returning to model with an internal “Yay!” when she came in the door.   

She had a vintage robe with turquoise stripes. You can see her sitting on it for this pose. I love stripes! I love pattern of all kinds but stripes make my heart go pitter-pat. They have such graphic punch as they undulate across the surface and describe the form as they do. If I can follow the stripes as they disappear, reappear, and shift in their travel; get narrower and wider with perspective, then, I’ll have drawn the fabric they sit on without much ado. Then all I need do is sweep the shadows in and I am done! The stripes and patterns in general are aids in drawing the complexity of draped fabric.

T F m
October 16, 2013

Oh, the Viscissitudes: Taking Pictures of Drawings and Paintings

Seated in Shadow
Watercolor on Masa Paper, 5.25×7.75″
It’s been nearly a month since I scanned this image. Every watercolor small enough to fit the scanner bed gets digitized for the internet that way. It saves a little editing time. I usually adjust the contrast and try to make the color match the actual painting. The fact that the computer screen is luminous makes it a total E.W.A.G. (Educated Wild Ass Guess)  I also like to scan or photograph works as they are completed so there is no backlog. It’s also not in a frame or under glass. That’s a headache to photograph.
The scanner has certain advantages over the camera. Taking photos with a camera presents some problems. Is the lighting right? How do I keep glare off an oil painting? How do maintain the position of the camera so that it is parallel to the surface of the painting? That one is the most difficult. I usually end up correcting that problem in Photoshop. You’ve had photos of work where the edges of the paper or canvas don’t show as square, I’m sure. That’s because the camera wasn’t parallel to the picture’s plane. I don’t want to crop off the edges to force it into square. Too much information is lost in that instance. So, I use a little transformational magic provided by Photoshop and straighten everything out.
How do I keep glare off an oil painting? Oils are not for the scanner because of the sheen of oils and they are usually too large. I use the camera for oils. The secret is to light the painting indirectly by bouncing the light off the ceiling and a white surface large enough to be placed under, and in front of, the painting. Do not use the flash. I set up with two cheap torchiere lamps from Ikea. I place one on each side and to the front of the painting which has been propped up on a futon in my office. I place the painting in a horizontal orientation to accommodate  the view finder. I can always rotate it on the computer later. 
The painting gets lit indirectly from the light bounced off the ceiling and the white foam core board placed on the futon in front of the painting. I also pull the blinds up on the window to get as much indirect light into the room as possible. Works like a charm. I usually have to straighten the edges but that’s OK. If it’s a particularly dreary day, I also have to adjust the levels to brighten the middle tones.
I probably have the last digital camera with a view finder. That fact helps me keep the camera steady while taking the picture without the flash. I take several shots just to make sure I have a sharp image. It was tricky until I perfected my technique but now it works very well for me. One of the blessings of digital photography is that you have instant gratification. You can see the image immediately, and take unlimited images of the same subject. No running out of film!

T F m
October 8, 2013

Two Styles of Painting? No Problem!

Woman in the Landscape
Watercolor on Masa Paper, 7.75×5.25″


This young lady had not come to model for us for about a year. Since then she acquired the tattoo you see here. The tree image on her body suggested the completely invented landscape in which she sits. As much as I like the soft atmospheric effects of masa paper like these two pieces, I also like the crispness of working on drier paper. This has a clarity I find appealing. It seems such a contradiction, but I can appreciate both. 
I have, in the past, investigated two lines of work that seemed disparate. I made classical figure paintings while making abstract, experimental watercolors. Eventually, I dropped the abstraction because it was no longer meaningful to me. My fascination for the figure and figure painting took precedence. I learned a great deal from abstraction. That continues to influence my work so the dual activity was to my benefit as an artist.
The art process can seem so mysterious. One can intend to go in one direction and end up as far as one can be from the intention. I could never figure out why that happens but I have learned that it is best to just go with it and not fight it. If I ever have a yearning to make abstract work again I will. Sometimes, it can be very liberating not to have to consider subject matter and just fling paint. Then I can play with what is suggested by the results.



T F m
October 2, 2013