Tuesday, September 30

Art at Old Mission Santa Barbara

Today’s Image

After visiting the Santa Ynez Valley, California, for a couple of days, the next stop on the “art” tour was the city of Santa Barbara, which is literally down the coast from Buellton on Highway 101. It’s a fast ride down through the pass with nice views of the mountains whizzing by on the curving roadway. It’s only about a 40-minute drive, and you’re in Santa Barbara. Since we only had the one day to look around, we chose to visit the Old Mission Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Today’s image is a shot of the Old Mission Santa Barbara.

Mission Santa Barbara
is not an art museum, rather it is an old mission and church that is a now an historical museum with art. The ‘queen of the missions’ as it’s called, dates from December, 1786, and is the oldest of the California missions and still holds daily masses. There is a collection of ‘colonial’ art that is described as rich and varied and from the baroque or neoclassical eras—most imported from Mexico and South America. The paintings in the museum and church depict angels, saints, and Bible stories. For your viewing pleasure, I’ve included a photo of a huge painting of St. Francis of Assisi that was so big, you had to stand back in the doorway of the small room in which it was hung so you could see the whole painting.

Other noteworthy works include large paintings of the crucifix and Jesus suffering on the cross. There are also sculptures of St. Dominic and St. Francis which were beautiful and described as intense and typical of baroque art. You will also want to see three stone statues carved by a Native American from the mission of St. Barbara and the virtues of faith and charity. The brochure mentions these are the only existing large sculptures done by Native American Californians.

Next blog I’ll tell you about the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

In the Studio

I’m still in the studio working on the acrylic I mentioned in the last blog. It’s a view looking back on Santa Barbara from the Stearns Wharf. I have ‘completed’ it several times over the last few days, but I keep seeing things in it that I think can be improved, and so it’s not really finished yet. I’m still trying to get that hazy late afternoon light just right, and it’s not easy. I’m guessing this happens to many artists who have an image in their head of what they want to portray, and will just keep at it until it comes close to that. Or maybe it’s just me. I will let you know how it’s going.


Thursday, September 25

Gallery Los Olivos

Today’s Image

Last blog left us in Los Olivos (the olives), California, a small town with a lot of charm that appears to run on tourism, especially wine tasting. Nearby are numerous vineyards and wineries where you can explore, tour, and taste as much as you like. I mentioned in a previous blog that the movie Sideways was filmed in and around the Santa Ynez Valley, and in Los Olivos, one of the scenes was filmed at the Los Olivos Tasting Room and Wine Shop.

But I digress. While strolling around the town, and there is a flag pole at the center of town but no square, you will find several art galleries. One is the Gallery Los Olivos, which is Today’s Image.

Upon entering the gallery, which is deceivingly larger than it appears, I noticed one of the ‘resident’ artists drawing away on a portrait done in graphite. She was extremely friendly and told us all about the gallery, some of the artists, about art in the Valley, and also her specialty—portraits in graphite, which she markets as ‘heirloom portraits.’ The piece she was working on was so beautiful and lifelike that you would have thought the subjects were sitting before her live rather than drawn from a reference photo.

According to their brochure, the gallery was formed in 1992 and now represents about 50 artists in the area including Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura counties. As an incorporated group they operate as an artist-owned gallery. Each month one of the artists is featured, and every month the gallery hosts a show of the Artists Guild of the Santa Ynez Valley. There is also an annual members’ show. Getting to join the group is not easy as they aim for highest quality, and so the jury process is quite rigorous. If you are accepted, you are put on a wait list and must then wait until there is a space available, which appears to be seldom. All kinds of art and artists are represented and beautifully displayed. There are oils, pastels, some acrylic, as well as sculpture and jewelry. If you ever visit Los Olivos, don’t miss it.

Before leaving the Santa Ynez Vallery, I’d like to mention a few other galleries. In Solvang, we vistited the Eberhoj Museum of History and Art, which is full of interesting facts, photos, and art from Solvang’s founding. We also visited the Pavlov Art Gallery on Alisal Rd. We met the owner who told us about the gallery and its art—contemporary expressionist paintings and scultpture. The paintings were beautiful and unexpected in the surrounding setting of the quaint Danish town. One gallery we missed in Buellton was Zaca Creek Art Gallery, which was closed the evening we were there. Maybe next time.

In the Studio

I mentioned I was glad to get back in the studio. I have started on an acylic that I’m painting from a reference photo taken on the trip. This is a view of Santa Barbara from the Stearns Wharf. I haven’t worked on an acrylic painting in several weeks, maybe a month, but it only took a little while to get going on it. I do seem to be using a more colors than usual—don’t know why. I’m trying to capture that hazy light that seems to envelop the California coast starting in the afternoon, and I’m not sure I’ve got it yet. If you’ve ever visited Southern California, you know what I’m talking about. I’ll let you know how it’s going.


Monday, September 22

Art Galleries in Los Olivos

Today’s Image

A recent trip to the Central California coast was centered in the Santa Ynez Valley. The main interests in the area are vineyards and wine-making along with a lot of tourism as you might expect. Today’s Image is a view of the beautiful valley.

A variety of art galleries mingle with the many wine-tasting venues and provide a glimpse of the local art and artists. Los Olivos is but one of the towns in the valley that cater to the wine tourists, along with Buellton, Solvang, and Santa Ynez itself. It’s a picturesque place with a small grid of streets lined with restaurants, shops, art galleries and, of course, many, many wine-tasting bars and cafes.

As somewhat of a surprise in such a small town, there are at least four art galleries that I spotted (there may be more). They are, in no particular order:
  • Wilding Art Museum specializes in artwork with wildlife and preserving wildlife especially in California the local area.
  • Sansone Studio is a gallery featuring unique copper and enameled pieces that are beautiful and striking.
  • Judith Hale Gallery is a more traditional art gallery “specializing in traditional and western fine art.” There is also a metal sculpture garden in the backyard with whimsical designs that is well worth a stroll.
  • Gallery Los Olivos is an artist-owned gallery that appeared to have the most variety of art from which to view and/or choose. One of the resident artists was on hand to tell about the gallery and provide insight into its works. More on Gallery Los Olivos next blog.

(Back) In the Studio

After almost a couple of weeks away from paper or canvas, I am very glad to be back in the studio again. Like starting an engine that’s been idle, it took me a little while to get back in the swing of things. I couldn’t decide what to do first, but decided on soft pastels of some iconic California landmarks.

I have found a surface for applying soft pastels that I like. I came across it quite by accident when looking for a way to be thrifty by gesso-ing over an existing acrylic painting. When you apply a coat of gesso on canvas and let it dry, you are left with a pretty rough surface texture, at least the way I apply gesso, which is brushed on sloppily without too much care.

Instead of using the canvas for another acrylic, I decided to draw with pastels. As you probably know, pastels are good for drawing/painting subjects without a lot of details. That is exactly what you get with this surface, a loose painting with somewhat of an Impressionistic look and feel.

And to top it off, rather than using a spray fixative to set the pastel, I decided (out of nowhere) to use an acrylic varnish to seal it. I didn’t know what would turn out, but I am please with the results. The varnish mixes with the pastel giving a painterly effect to the subject and an out-of-focus effect that I like. So I’m trying this out on several of the pastel paintings. Since I can’t trademark the technique, I’m happy to share it.


Friday, September 19

Cezanne-A Small Book about a Great Painter

Today’s Image

Today’s image is another example of an appreciation of art that I unexpectedly discovered in the Santa Ynez Valley. It’s a beautiful bronze sculpture that was so close you could almost reach out and touch it from the sliding door of the hotel room. It is larger than life and is a scene from what appears to be a bullfight. By the way, I am not advocating the sport of bullfighting, if you can call it a sport, but I am advocating a beautiful sculpture that honors a tradition. It’s Today’s Image.

In the Art Library

I found a bargain book at a quaint old used bookstore in the tourist shopping district of Solvang, California. Solvang is an interesting town and out of the ordinary because it was founded by Danish settlers and still retains the look and feel of an old European Village in many ways.

The book is Cezanne by Andre LeClerc and published by Hyperion Miniatures-Hyperion Press and printed in Italy. I could find no date of publication, but by the looks of the design and age, I would guess sometime in the 1970s.

What I like about the book is that it has a lot of information and art in a small package—approximately 6 x 5 in/15.2 x 12.7 cm. It’s only 48 pages long, and the text takes up only the first 18 pages, which are interspersed with Cezanne’s art work. All the remaining pages are devoted entirely to his art work, both in color and black and white.

Even thought the text is relatively short, it provides a good summary of the highlights of Paul Cezanne’s life. It begins by talking about his “unceasing struggle to perfect a synthesis of color and form.” An artist’s struggle is the theme throughout the book, which it says led to the rise of Cubism, modern schools of painting, and the more abstract.

It discusses Cezanne’s long friendship with Emile Zola and his struggle to have his art accepted in the established art schools and the Salon in Paris, which didn’t happen until 1882. Here’s a short excerpt: “He painted violently, spreading dark, thick colors with a palette knife on canvases he often gashed in despair, and lived violently, heeding no one, not even Zola…” Jeez.

Cezanne was also friends with Pissarro, Guillaumin, and other Impressionists with whom he exhibited from 1874 until 1877. The book says that although he exhibited with the Impressionists, his work does not appear to have been rendered so effortlessly, but “bears all the signs of the artist’s struggle and appears as though hewn out of hard, rebellious rock.”

In later years he also painted landscapes and portraits, many of which are included in the book. It says he also changed the nature of still-life painting by painting rather ordinary objects instead of things already considered beautiful.

Here are a few of Cezanne’s paintings that are included in the book: The Card Players, The Man in the Blue Overalls, Portrait of Gustave Geffroy, Man with Red Vest, and Mont Sainte-Victoire.


Thursday, September 18

Authentic Hand-Painted Murals

Today’s Image

Just back from recent travels that included several stops to art galleries and art museums as well as finding artwork in places where I least expected to. So, I have several blogs-worth of information for your enjoyment. Last blog I mentioned the art-oriented delicatessen I discovered with several ‘masterpieces’ that were enhanced with deli specials from the menu. Still find that amusing.

After that, I moved on up the 405 Freeway past the imposing Getty Museum that is perched high on a hillside in the Santa Monica Mountains overlooking all of West LA from Century City to the Santa Monica Pier . As much as I wanted to stop, I have visited that great museum on a previous trip, and so it wasn’t included on the itinerary for this one.

Travelling northwest about two hours, give or take, brings you to the Santa Ynez Valley on the Central California coast. It is perhaps most recently known for its many vineyards and wineries and wine-tasting venues. In fact, many of the scenes from the movie Sideways, about two visitors on a wine-tasting vacation, were filmed on location here.

Anyway I also found more art in several of the towns than I had expected to, and not just art galleries or art museums either. There appears to be a greater appreciation for art in the area that mixes well with both the laid back lifestyle and wine-making.

I included one example that I found as Today’s Image. At one of the local vineyard/wineries I visited there is a long row of rather large 'murals' that were hand-painted on a stucco wall of a portal overlooking the vineyards that grow right up to the sidewalk. The paintings depict several scenes in the growing and harvesting of grapes and making of wine. They are quite beautiful and greatly add to the ambience of the place, especially after the wine-tasting.

Thought you’d like to see it.


Sunday, September 14

A Taste of the Masterpieces

Been travelling for a few days, so would like to briefly catch you up on the blog. Among others things to see, I'm looking for art galleries and art museums in particular. However, I wanted to tell you about about some artwork I found quite unexpectedly.

I was eating lunch in a delicatessen, which happened to be in a shopping center just down the street from the old MGM Studios. The studio is now owned by Sony Entertainment, but you can still get the Old Hollywood feeling around here. The deli was full of all kinds of Old Hollywood memorabelia including artifacts and lots of photographs from the bygone era. Such stars as Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, and Lucille Ball line the walls.

Anyway, what caught my eye was the artwork in the section in which I was eating my egg salad sandwich and authentic dill pickles (evidently their specialty and delicious). Hanging beside my table was a very good representation of Gauguin's Tahitian Woman except this woman was preparing a big bowl of soup, and the little plaque under the painting was entitled Tahitian Woman and Motzah Ball Soup. It was very nicely rendered (by whom I don't know) and was a treat with my sandwich.

I noticed that there were at least three others 'masterpieces' on the walls. There was also Woman and Deli Sandwich by 'Picasso' and the contemporary Dill Pickle by 'Andy Warhol.' I really wanted to see the fourth painting, which I think was a 'Willem de Kooning' but I just couldn't bring myself to lean across the diners at the next table to read the title.


Tuesday, September 9

There Is No Art in Airports

I thought I'd report on my recent search for artwork at Los Angeles' LAX airport and Houston's Bush airport. I am sorry to report that if you were looking for art at either of these during your travels, you will be disappointed.

The closest thing that could pass for art at Bush is the flag obelisks/cubes (see slide 16) that were placed there after they were used at the economic summit meeting of the G8 nations in Houston in 1990. These are eight very tall posts (poles?) that resemble the flag of each nation represented. They are eye-catching especially at night when they are lighted from within and seem to glow. Other than that, the only thing that could pass for art are the large commercial photographs of businesses that hang randomly and one of the airlines' posters for several of their destinations--Costa Rica, Netherlands, etc., but not very exciting.

At LAX I couldn't even find any posters, just signs and warnings from the Transportation Safety Administration and other commercial signs. I did notice that the symbol for LAX that has greeted visitors since the 1960s (maybe the 1950s), the huge arc/arch, is currently being refurbished--if you want that call that art. The huge LAX sign could also be considered sculpture I suppose.

But no paintings or drawings otherwise; do I expect too much?


Monday, September 8

Visiting Art Museums

Today's Image
Adobe Wall
Soft Pastel on Paper
8.5 x 11 in/28 x 22 cm
Copyright 2007

"Fresh new art blog with artist tips on acrylic, pastel and oil painting, supplies, book reviews, occasional news & much more"

In the Studio

I worked in my studio over the weekend, but on organization and not art. So Today's Image is one of the pastels I first did last year.

How are things in your studio? Trying to get more organized in the studio is an ongoing task, at least for me. I do a pretty good job considering all the paraphenalia we accumulate--paper, pads, canvases, pencils, brushes, pastels, tubes of paint, and on and on. Still my stuff is spread out more than I would like.

I have a rolling cart that holds most of my drawing and painting supplies not including paper and canvases. I keep pens and pencils in the top drawer, acrylic paint in the second and third drawers, soft and semi-hard pastels in the fourth drawer, oil pastels in the fifth drawer, and the bottom drawer holds containers of varnish, acrylic mediums, fluid retarder, etc. I keep my brushes in a flat case that sits on top of the cart. I keep a small table-top easel next to the cart. It's actually pretty efficient and compact considering the amount of material it holds.

The downside is that I still have paper, drawing pads, and canvases spread around all over the place. And I haven't figured out a good way to store finished paintings and the various frames that I've been collecting.

Did I mention my oil paints and large easel are in the garage? Finding a spot for those is my next to-do.

On Visiting Museums

I'm planning on visiting a few art museums this week and am looking forward to it. I go out of my way to include these whenever I have some free time or am visiting. I haven't been very organized about it, but will try to do a better job so that I don't miss something of special significance. I still regret missing an exhibition of Edward Hopper paintings last year although it couldn't be helped.

Sometimes luck will be with you and you just happen to be in the right place at the right time. Last year I happened to be in Washington D.C. and was able to see an exhibit of Frida Kahlo artwork that was running there for a couple of months. The exhibit showcased her intense paintings and life and was great.

What I'm going to do is go online and see what's in the museums' permanent collections as well as any special exhibit that may be currently showing. You can easily find their websites by Googling 'art museum' and the name of the city you're in. Many art museums feature artwork and artists either native to or associated with the local area. I think it's always interesting to learn about the art of a particular area and why it evolved as it did.

Here's one tip I've picked up--visit the museum's gift shop (there is always a gift shop) and strike up a conversation with one of the employees. They can usually give you some inside information on what their museum is best known for and what not to miss. You may have to buy a poster or a refrigerator magnet, but it will be worth it.


Friday, September 5

Learning to Draw Naturally

Today’s Image
Beach Lighthouse
Oil Pastel on Paper
24 x 30 in/61 x 76 cm
Copyright 2008

Fresh new art blog with artist tips on acrylic, pastel and oil painting, supplies, book reviews, occasional news & much more

In the Studio
I completed my second lighthouse painting done in oil pastel, and am pleased with the results. I used lots of different colors not only on the flowering tropical plants but also on the grasses to provide depth and reality. You may not notice, but there are at least four blues used on the lighthouse, too. As you may remember from earlier blogs, I’ve recently become a fan of oil pastel. It gives you the quality and control of soft pastels but with the ability to paint with a watercolor effect. I predict it will become more popular than ever as people learn more about its capabilities. It’s Today’s Image.

In the Art Library

After a week off due to last Friday being the last day of August when I review the month’s blogs, In the Art Library returns.

I’m reviewing The Natural Way to Draw, A Working Plan for Art Study by Kimon Nicolaides. I’m pretty sure this is a Classic. It was published in 1941 not too long after Nicolaides’ death, unfortunately, according to the Publisher’s Note.

I know it was still recently being recommended at a least one university for those studying art and design. I suspect it may be recommended at others as well. I also suspect it was used as a textbook for many art classes in its time.

My most favorite thing is in the Introduction when he says, “Art should be concerned more with life than art.” Wow. I will try to remember that every time I draw or paint anything.

One thing that makes this book a classic, in my opinion, is the rigor that Nicolaides almost insists upon regarding the study of art. The book is divided into 25 sections. They’re called sections and not chapters, which indicates this is not for casual reading. There is a How to Use This Book section at the beginning, and it says the book is arranged not by subject matter but by schedules for work. And work you will if you follow this. Each section has subject matter followed by a schedule “representing 15 hours of actual drawing.” For example, it say, “Begin your first day’s work by reading the first section until you come to the direction that you are to draw for three hours according to Schedule 1A. THEN STOP AND DRAW.” (The all caps are his not mine.) As I said, it’s rigorous.

He talks about the importance of observation and uses terms that I’m not sure are used as much today, such as ‘contour’ to teach about drawing as you view the subject. He also uses ‘gesture’ as describing the way to capture potential movement--“In gesture drawing you feel the movement of the whole.”

He moves from pencil to charcoal to watercolor. He covers drawing parts of the body, weight and modeling, and proportions as well as anatomy. Before he covers light and shade, he includes a couple of sections called ’Drapery’ and ‘The Figure with Drapery’ where he discusses drawing cloth, folds in cloth, shadows and contours in cloth to be used in drawing clothed (and draped) figures. I don’t know if or how they teach that today.

To repeat, this is a Classic, with a capital C that every serious student should probably read. I doubt very much if I would have passed his course.


Thursday, September 4

Latest Art News

Today’s Image,
a Work in Progress

In the Studio

After thinking it over, I decided to work on another oil pastel. I enjoyed the earlier one I did and liked the way it turned out. It’s another lighthouse. Yesterday I sketched out the main elements on the paper (24 x 30 in/ 61 x 76 cm) and began to work with several of the warm grey pastels for the shaded side and a dark navy blue for the stripes on the lighthouse itself. I’ll let you know how it’s coming along.

Art News

Several weeks back I added a Google gadget that scrolls news stories from subjects you select. I like it because it’s up to date with current art news. I click on the sites occasionally to read what’s going on in the world, artwise, that is. I decided to spend a little time to see what is making news this week.

Very interesting, I think you’ll agree (and I don’t need to add any editorial comments). Enjoy.

  • From Associated Press: LONDON (AP) — Mick Jagger's pout is officially fit for a museum.
    London's Victoria and Albert Museum announced Tuesday that it bought the original artwork for The Rolling Stones' famous "lips" logo, inspired by the singer's mouth.
    The museum said it bought the work at an auction in the United States for $92,500.
    The lips-and-tongue logo was designed by London art student John Pasche in 1970, and first used on the band's "Sticky Fingers" album the next year.

  • From Expressindia.com: MUMBAI, September 01 After fake Subodh Gupta paintings seized from city gallery, police say they’re trying to trace the chain. “If the artist is alive one should contact them immediately,” suggests Dinesh Vazirani whose online portal Saffron Art is currently hosting an auction with one of Gupta’s works up for sale. “The danger with faking contemporaries lies in the fact that all the artists are still alive and can easily contest the counterfeit art,” he concludes.

  • From lcsun-news.com: LAS CRUCES, New Mexico — A $19 million bond question to build a new arts complex at New Mexico State University will appear on the Nov. 4 general election ballot."If you're training to become a chemist, you go into the chemistry lab. If you're training to become an artist, then your lab is a public setting, and we're absolutely dependent upon those performance venues in order to prepare our students for their degrees."

  • From islandweekly.net: SAN JUAN ISLAND, Washington-A floating gallery from the late 1800s seen in “Maritime Memories of Puget Sound,” inspired Fromm to have his own “Gallery.” In November 2002, he obtained the hulls for a 43-foot catamaran and spent 22 months designing his boat. “I really appreciate people who come aboard to look at my work, whether they buy anything or not,” said Fromm. “The opportunity to share my work and exchange stories is the highlight of my day.” His moveable “home-office” can be seen throughout the San Juan Islands, at art festivals and wooden boat rendezvous from the spring to fall or moored in the Port of Friday Harbor during the winter.

  • From paradisepost.com: PARADISE, California- Due to the Humboldt Fire, this summer the group of artists expanded their realm to include a view of the buttes from Durham-Pentz highway. Stefanetti said despite the burned landscape, the muted colors of black and gold, and the touch of green from the new growth, in combination with the gray sky created beautiful paintings. Murnieks elegantly captured the burnt landscape in her acrylic three-panel painting, entitled "Summer 2008." "Dori's (Murnieks) acrylic painting really captured the smoky sky," Stefanetti said

  • From daily-chronicle.com: DEKALB, Illinois – Diana Arntzen says she was "a museum kid” as a child, often accompanying her father on his many museum visits."My father was an artist, and we would travel the entire summer, and we would look at every museum we passed by, whether it was the corn museum somewhere or a beautiful art museum or a history museum," Arntzen said. "The last vacation we took together, I think we saw 12 museums in seven days. That was just the way I was brought up."

  • From marinij.com: SAUSALITO, California - A few things about the Sausalito Art Festival have changed since the first time artist Kathleen Lipinski took part in 1981.
    "Tyson Underwood was in charge at the time, and he had a flair for the silly," said the San Anselmo artist, who brought her collection of oil-on-canvas Marin landscapes to the 56th annual festival on Saturday. "He had chocolate replicas made of the elephants in downtown Sausalito, and they were carried in by Sumo wrestlers.
    "The show has a different flavor to it now," Lipinski said.

    You can’t write this stuff.

Wednesday, September 3

Discovering Pastels

Today’s Image

In the Studio

Still haven’t decided on the next 'big' project to work on yet. Big for me is one that will take several days to complete, maybe even a week or more, and doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the physical size of the canvas or whatever.

That being the case, I’m more or less just tinkering with a few ideas. In the meantime, I enjoyed working with pastel on canvas last week. So I did another one yesterday. Being near the end of summer, and since I don’t live on a tropical island, I had to make do with a reference photo of one. Although I have several different brands of pastels, including Rembrandt and NuPastel, I used my old beat-up set of Mungyo Soft Pastels again on this one. I really like the way you can hold the short sticks and really get in close to the surface. I’m sure the pastel purists (as I call them) are rolling their eyes. Whatever, I like the texture you get with this soft pastel on the rough surface. I used several blues, turquoises, and greens with blue in them. I like to think it has a rather Impressionistic quality, but you can judge for yourself. It’s Today’s Image.

Is That Pastel?

I mentioned a few blogs ago how I like to loosely plan what medium to work with. When I was in my getting-started-again phase, I really wasn’t thinking about pastels at all. I was thinking about drawing with pencils (graphite) or charcoal, which I was somewhat familiar with, and getting more into painting, which I wasn’t familiar with.

So how did I find out about pastels? Well, this is how I got interested. I had been drawing quite a bit using pencils and some charcoal, and had re-ignited (that’s how I describe it) my renewed interest in art. I had practiced and sketched up a storm to refresh some of the drawing skills I had once had. But after a while you feel you’re ready to move on.

I wanted to do something that had some color to it. Of course, I was exploring online and reading about all the different media, and some artists liked this and some artists swore by that--blah, blah, blah.

Then one day, I was in big-chain bookstore and was wasting time at their extensive newsstand section. There was a whole section of periodicals about art, architecture, and photography, etc. There must have been 20 different publications on art of all kinds—drawing, oil painting, watercolor, art galleries, Southwest US art, etc. But the one that drew my attention was called The Pastel Journal, the Magazine for Pastel Artists.

I thought, what an odd name and what a specific audience to be able to support a whole magazine on the subject. What caught my eye was the cover with a beautiful painting by Albert Handell. It looked like an oil painting to me, but I knew it wasn’t oil, and it had to be pastel. So I was intrigued enough to find out more about pastel and how you can draw/paint such beautiful pieces with it.

I still have the October 2007 issue and refer to it when I need boost of pastel confidence.


Tuesday, September 2

Try Watercolors

Today’s Image

In the Studio

I don’think I mentioned I found watercolors on sale at one of the local art supply stores. These are Daler-Rowney Artists’ watercolors in tubes. Most, but not all, of the traditional basic colors you need—Cadmium Yellow Medium, Cobalt Blue, Alizarin Crimson, and Raw Sienna along with Permanent Red, Prussian Blue, Naples Yellow, Sap Green, and Titanium White—were the only ones they had. Since I had time over the long US Labor Day weekend, I decided to try them out with a simple painting of a sliced lemon. It's Today’s Image.

Change is Good

I thought I would make a few remarks about change, seeing as how we’re into September now and the seasons are due for a change soon. It’s a good time to step back, so to speak, and take a look at what you’ve accomplished and what your next goal is for your artistic endeavors.

I tend to start out with a fairly loose 'plan' of what medium I want to try next, or which one I need to work on more, so that I feel I’ve achieved some measure of success at least in my own mind. My planning over the last year looked something like this, with each phase lasting about three to four months:

  • Phase I - complete my getting-started-again phase and renew sketching skills
  • Phase II - try out traditional pastels and learn to use them to achieve a pleasing result
  • Phase III - explore acrylics and determine if it’s a medium I would enjoy

Looking back, here’s what really happened:

  • My getting-started-again phase lasted about six weeks before I got a little tired with graphite and charcoal sketching and wanted to move on from Phase I
  • Pastels were and are challenging-- both a good and bad thing; a good challenge to test your skills but difficult to learn well in a short period of time, so Phase II was truncated
  • Acrylics turn out to be most favored medium and which I have been working on since the beginning of the year (with oils thrown in for a period of time)

Planning is good, but you have to be open to change and go in the direction in which you’re most comfortable. For example, I also spent a month with oil paints, which was totally unplanned. I discovered I liked painting with oils and that I want to spend more time with them, just not right now.

Anyhow, at this juncture, my 'plan' for the rest of the year is to alternate acrylic painting with improving my skills with pastel, and I’m pretty sure I’ll try an oil painting as the season begins to change.

I did enjoy the watercolor though. I suppose I'll just go with the flow and keep my 'plan' in the background somewhere for reference now and again.