Friday, January 29, 2010

Monterey Landscape

It's been a busy two weeks. I had a contract order for educational illustrations from Good Neighbor Press for Childcraft publishing. With 30 small black and white line art illustrations done, it's time to turn my attention back to painting. This is a landscape painting that I'm doing just for myself for our bedroom, measuring 24 x 30. I'm painting it from some photos that I took when we took a small vacation to Northern California last spring. The weather was cold and rainy but the landscapes, seascapes and flowers in bloom were delicious! If you've never been to this area, I really suggest you put it on your list of places to see. The variety of plants and terrain here is simply amazing. This painting is focusing on a path that we walked along the cliffs of Monterey Bay. Monterey is near Carmel, famous for Clint Eastwood's stint as mayor ;-)

There was a carpet of gorgeous pink and purple flowers, which might be purple ice plant (Delosperma cooperi) blanketing the entire area. I have some ice plant in my garden that I got from High Country Gardens - it does really well for gravelly and dry areas. The other plant that is in this landscape may be a torch aloe. The tree is a cypress.

This is a work in progress and I'll post more photos as the painting nears completion. I'm using Gamblin, Holbein and Windsor & Newton Oil paints. I must say, although I've always been a fan of Windsor & Newton products, the Holbeins are very nice and consistent and the Gamblin is simply wonderful - velvety, rich, buttery and saturated!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Living with a rotten cat....

My first cat lived to be over 20 years old. He was a big old Maine Coon and he was given to me by my first roommate. Since she was Jewish, we decided to give him a Jewish name - Leviticus and called him Levi. When I married, my husband started to refer to him as my buddy and eventually his name morphed into Bud. Then we got a Sheltie - Maggie and the two became great friends. When Bud finally died, Maggie was lonely. So off to the shelter I went and came home with a side-of-the-road orphan from the Larimer County Humane Society. She is a scrappy faded calico that a K9 officer had found and brought in. Initially, the shelter had named her Ashley, which didn't suit her at all. So we re-named her Maya, which is much better suited to her aggressive nature. She's a nearly-fearless little brut that chases foxes through the neighborhood. She really hates the foxes. She's also a true pain the butt, as my husband frequently reminds me.

So, in honor of all pain-in-the-butt cats that wreck things in your daughter's room, your art studio or anywhere in the house - here is one of my favorite clips from Simon Tofield from YouTube channel Simon's Cat.

And here is Maggie - the best dog ever, who passed away a few months ago...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Landscape Oil Study 2

Here is another quick study for a western landscape. This one is painted on a 3/4" primed 8" x 10" masonite panel. I did pick up two new tubes of oil paint yesterday so I'm looking forward to trying them out soon.

First, however, I'll need to get my contract work for Good Neighbor Press and Childcraft Education Corp. completed.

Looking for a bit of warming sunshine today, but so far it looks like snow. We've had snow on the ground since early November - most we've seen it for a number of years. The cat isn't too thrilled by this.

In the spirit of experimenting, I took an older painting for my children's book "Nigel" by Debra Duel and published by Operation Outreach USA, and repainted the star, Nigel.

Operation Outreach is a wonderful company. They get sponsors to publish excellent books with lesson plans and teaching aids, then provide them to schools to improve literacy. I must say, working with Judy Golden at OOUSA is terrific and the quality of the printed books is really outstanding.

In addition to "Nigel", I also illustrated "The Duck in the Hole", by Mary Vigliane Szydlowski for OOUSA.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Landscape Oil Study

I have some educational illustration work to do for Good Neighbor Press, so I'll be a little short on time for the next couple of weeks. In addition, I've set up a new schedule for my studio, which I call Marketing Monday. Since I've found that I really work better with longer blocks of time for each area, I've decided to devote the bulk of my Monday's to the things I put off the most: Marketing, Bookkeeping and Filing.

Well, since this is Tuesday, I can afford a little time to work on my art. Today I've painted a study for a landscape that I'll be working on. This western landscape measures 8" x 16" and is painted on 300 lb. Arches watercolor paper. I primed both sides of the paper with several coats of gesso. I did the initial block in using oil paints, but I went back painted on it with Holbein Duo Oils, which are water-soluble oils.

I purchased a small set of these paints years ago and never really liked them much. But as I'm trying new things, I dragged them out and dusted them off. I'm going to use them on several smaller paintings to give them a fair trial. This painting is still wet, I'll let you know how long it takes for it to dry. Used the Duo linseed oil and Artisan Fast Dry Medium with the Holbein Duo Oils to aid in color mixing. These paints are stiffer and a bit more sticky to paint with than traditional oil paints and will take some getting used to. I see that they now have a newer version, called Duo Elite. As the tubes I have are quite small - I may try and pick up a color or two of this brand and maybe another brand to compare. I'll let you know how I like them.

Friday, January 15, 2010

North Park Colorado

One of our favorite places to camp is in North Park, Colorado. It's between Fort Collins and Steamboat - near Walden (the moose viewing capitol of Colorado).

We camp near this split rail fence. In the area we can see beaver and hear the coyotes. Funny thing is, everyone brings their dogs camping, but it's amazing how quiet the dogs get once the sun sets. It's almost like they respect the wilderness and don't want to call attention to themselves from the wild once the night sets in and the coyotes start up.

It's not unusual to sleep soundly and wake to find moose tracks in your camp the next morning.

One beautiful morning in early summer we were treated to a cow moose with her calf that wandered just past this fence. The stopped to rest behind the scrub and then wandered on some more.

This painting is 8" x 10" x 1/2" and is painted on MDF Art Panel and is available here.

Monday, January 4, 2010

2010 - a New Year and trying some New Ideas

I'm ushering in the new year by taking a sculpture workshop. To date I've only had two sculpture classes - a semester of figure at RSAD nearly 30 years ago (YIKES!) and a portrait sculpting class with Philippe Faraut a couple of years ago. Philippe's class is really good and I highly recommend him as a teacher.

Since sculpting simply feels so natural to me, it's high time I explored this artistic option more completely, to see what I can do and challenge myself.

It was hard to choose a class. Brookgreen Gardens has a wonderful series of workshops, however I thought it best to start in my own backyard. It's a bit of a trek for me, but I'll be going to Denver in February to start classes for 8 weeks at the Art Students League. I'll be studying ceramic figure sculpture with Andi Mascarenas and I'm really looking forward to it.