April 28, 2014

Plein Air

Wednesday this past week was a bright, shiny and windy day.  The Plein Air Painters of the Mid-Atlantic (PAPMA) met for their first plein air day this year.  Seven of us gathered in the Circle, in Georgetown, DE.  Many historic buildings, as well as the County Courthouse, border the Circle.  While the breeze was rather lazy (it blew right through us, rather than going around us), we were all able to chatter and paint and admire each other's work -- oils, watercolors and sketches.

I received questions about my watercolor sketches.  This one is the Brick Hotel, on West Market Street.  It was painted in a 9x12" watercolor journal, so the paper is 140# -- capable of handling a strong wash.

The paper had been given a watercolor wash in the studio, prior to my going to Georgetown.  The first photo shows what the sheets look like before I begin the sketching.  I use three cool colors -- they are 'atmospheric' and allow more of a feeling of unity throughout the sketch.  As you can see from the photo, there appears to be a border around the edges.  I taped the page to a backing to prevent the paint from bleeding around the edge of the paper and to allow the paint to run off.  Because I am using a very wet technique, I don't want the color to puddle on the paper or the paper to buckle with the water.  I apply all three colors at the same time, so they have a chance to blend on their own, without using a brush to manipulate paint.

This first sheet has cobalt blue, quinacridone rose and a yellow azo.  The air around us has a cool glow to it, so I used cool colors to give a sense of what the day was like.  The second photo shows the Brick Hotel, but I had used a quinacridone gold, a warmer color than the yellow azo.

I keep several of these prepped sheets in my sketchbook, "just in case."  Once the pages are prepped and dry, they are portable, and ready to use.  And, the bonus is that I don't have to wait for a wash to dry before I begin sketching.

Once the sketch is done, I can go back in with other colors enhance the drawing and be done, with a minimum of color mixing on site.  

This technique does require some pre-planning, in studio, particularly.  "Waiting for paint to dry" is an apt expression!  And since the book is in a landscape format, I know essentially where I want the main bodies of color to be.

#PleinAirPaintersoftheMid-Atlantic #pleinair #Georgetown DE #TheBrickHotel #TheCircleGeorgetownDE

April 13, 2014

Waiting for the Muse

I had coffee with a dear friend yesterday, and she asked me when I paint.  She wanted to know if I had a schedule, a routine, an appointment with myself.  I realized when I got home that I had answered her question in an opposite.  I told her when I did not paint, but not when I did.

This is a fairly common question that artists get asked.  I think it relates to The Muse.  Before I started painting on a regular basis, I assumed that artists waited until the Muse spoke.  Then they went into their studios and created masterpieces.  Such was the way Talent worked.

Once I started interacting with other artists on a regular basis, taking lessons, reading and studying, the realization hit (along with a lot of comments from other artists) that the Muse was pretty much a figment of someone's imagination.  Art -- painting, sculpting, drawing, etching, etc. -- is something that requires practice.  The only way to become a good artist (or musician, or social worker, or physician) is to practice.  It takes time, and energy, effort, bad starts and mistakes, and more time to become good at anything, be it riding a bicycle or singing the blues.

So, Linda, here's the answer to your question.  I prefer to paint in the morning, the earlier, the better.  I am quite willing to be in the studio-io at 7 ayem.  I am a morning person, you see, and am usually too brain-tired and physically tired to paint in the evening.  While I can be a very disciplined person, I find, at this stage of my life, a daily routine is almost impossible.  There are just too many mental and physical distractions -- cats needing attention and food, spouse needing attention and food, laundry, bills, yard work, house work, and a whole plethora of darned dailies that intrude into my plans.  I'd love to say (with a noble and snobbish attitude) that I paint every day.  I don't.  But it's not for waiting for the Muse to speak; just too much static from the voices in my head that say, "Oh, don't forget the milk and butter, and laundry, and that boxwood needs to be pruned before the mulch gets delivered."  The "shoulds" yell the loudest, and take precedence over the wants.  That is my reality.  I still get to the studio, though.  It's just not by appointment or schedule.  And I do make a conscientious effort to get int the studio at least 3 times a week.

But yesterday was different.  I gave myself the day off and went to the beach.  My goal was to sketch.  And I did!  Having the goal of sketching (or painting, or messing about in the studio-io) is what I aim for -- not to complete a painting, or make a beautiful sketch, or impress the buttons off my jacket.  But just to create.  To paint.  To draw.  To say "What If?"

And, speaking of "what if?", I entered the Mispillion Art League's Annual juried and judged Spring Members' Show two weeks ago.  Over 90 paintings, photographs and three-dimensional works were entered, and they had space for 60.  I was pleased that all three of my works, two acrylics and one oil pastel, were accepted.  And really surprised when Daylight in the Swamp was awarded a First Prize.

Here is a photo of me and the blue ribbon painting.  And, the one below it, Three Birdhouses, is my other acrylic.  Pretty cool, huh?