Hot enough for you?

It’s been a week of heat. And by heat I mean 90F plus with 100F plus heat index (really? it FEELS hotter?) Yesterday the car thermometer kept telling me it was 99F-100F. When I finally got home last night it was a chill 80F plus.

Days like that means my goal is to find places with AC and to deal with it. Lots of people go to the mall which is my workplace. It’s not conducive to painting because the paint dries quickly on the paper and palette, making it harder to blend colors and soften edges. But we do it anyway because it is

Ever since the first shaggy hunter outlined a running deer with a stick dipped in wood ash or puddle clay or blood, paint has served a vastly more significant and creative purposeas a vehicle for the human imagination, a creator of illusions, the modest but endlessly pliable means of fixing a glimpse of loveliness for posterity. The true originators in this field have always been the great artists. But close behind these masters of illusion came the masters of the applied arts designers, architects, decorators, legions of craftsmen whose vocation was to reflect contemporary standards of beauty and harmony. — Jocasta Innes

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What I Learned on My Vacation

There might not have been any lying around on beaches, sipping iced beverages and reading trashy novels but it was a great vacation. As you’ve seen, I spent the week with two other painters and an instructor Tony Conner from Vermont, learning about watercolor while painting scenes found in the Berkshires. This was a class offered through IS183, and if you’re looking to explore a new medium or go deeper in one you know, I highly recommend their offerings.

So what came of the five days spent with paint and a teacher. As with all media most of the work happens between your head and the paper but the process definitely gets a push if there’s a good teacher and you’re open to listening and trying and being open to doing things a different way, at least for the class. Tony is a very good teacher and able to explain the concepts and look at what I was doing to make concrete suggestions on how to proceed or what to try next time. At the end of our time each day we’d have a gentle critique, looking at the work we’d done that day and saying what we liked, where we’d struggled and what might have gone better. On the last day I put all my pieces on the grass and you really could see a progression – a small one – but the one I had worked on.

It’s easy to hear “oh that’s great! that’s beautiful!” when you show your work but it’s not always getting to what you had wanted in the end. That’s why we keep working and trying to learn, do more practice, watch more videos, read more etc etc. So at the end of the week, I could honestly say that I’m at the beginning of learning more about setting myself up to paint a scene – drawing, putting in the light and shadow areas down in washes and planning out and getting in the dark areas etc etc.

What else? As if that wasn’t enough? I already knew I like to paint outdoors. I’ve not always been a very outdoorsy sort of person and lately the whole tick thing really gets to me. This gets me outside, in the sun, soaking up the world and focusing on the beauty of it. Can’t beat that.

As I said Friday, I don’t want my paintings to look like photographs – I have a camera for that. I want to show more about what it was like to be there and let the viewer do some of the work of feeling it.

I used more paint in the five days than I could believe! I learned how to mix greens and only dipped a little into my normal greens that I carry. I learned how to mix real darks. I learned I really like real sable brushes. oh oh…

More to come!

Thursday, Already?

Yes it’s Thursday night and I’ve been super-bad about getting photos on here from the week-long watercolor class I’m taking. I can’t believe tomorrow’s the last day!

The first day was 92F and I think we were all suffering from it. The rest of the week has been “jewel of the summer” a-prime, stupendous weather so I can’t complain at all. Locations were good, teacher was good, learned stuff, did some serious stretching and have that feeling like what I knew has been shook up and will have to settle down again.

If you’re in the area, check out the offerings from IS183 – they have classes for everyone and all ages!

Here are the photos I took (plus a bonus one of me painting, taken by one of the IS183 folks).

En Plein Air Watercolor Class 2018//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Sunday – Paint, Words and Dad

I got up and out this morning. Forgot about people heading out to brunch for Dad. Bad news: had to wait quite awhile for food (ordered to go because the place was 100% packed). Good news: by the time my food came, on a plate, there were open tables. So it all worked out ok.

Thought I’d do a quick check on the blue herons and stayed to do a painting. Before I’d started on the scene, a father and child showed up, and stayed just long enough for a couple fishing casts and then they were gone again. Made me think about all the happy (and long boring) time spent in our boats fishing over the years. Millions of shiners caught individually by Dad, early in the morning. His time on the lake which let him spend more pleasant time on the lake, catching bigger fish.

This was my bigger painting:

and calling it complete. I was pretty happy with it and hope to do more “less detailed” or looser paintings this week.

I had a couple other visitors too

Still painting and stuff

This morning I stopped at a local park and painted the lake in between rain sprinkles. There was some sort of fishing event going on, the place was packed but as far as I could see I was the only painter.

From this morning:

From the other night at the local pond:

My aim is not to exhibit craft, but rather to submerge it, and make it rightfully the handmaiden of beauty, power and emotional content. — Andrew Wyeth

Sunday at The Clark

I went over to see the new exhibit at the Clark: Women Artists in Paris, 1850-1900 and had a good time looking at the paintings. First off, they are, as a whole, much larger than you might expect. I will have to do more reading about this – maybe it’s what people who’ve been to real painting school do.

I took down this quote, her reflection on being an artist after returning to her homeland of Finland (where she did not exhibit for a decade):

How right you were when you wrote about museum men, critics. They kill everything that is your own, beautiful and alive, and take what is already a success. The little and poor just paint and struggle, they can die unless they love their work, then they live, rather briefly, yet forever.
— Helene Schjerfbeck, 1919

After enjoying the exhibit, I took some paint supplies up the hill and painted awhile.. There were a lot of people around and they came and went frequently. Many people commented on the little bit of trash that someone had left in the sculpture/building we were in, the Crystal, but no one picked it up to carry down the hill; I did though when I left. If there had been a broom handy, it needed a good sweeping out of all the rocks that kids bring with them.

Then it was off to have dinner with Mom and that was the end of my travels for the day.

Sorting Through the Paint Bag

Tonight I sorted through the paint bag that lives in the car. I was trying to make a lighter bag, because you know it’s hard to haul all that stuff up hills etc. I was a little amazed (and embarrassed) to find out that I had 20+ tubes of paint in there. I took a side trip to the APP store and found an app that lets me scan barcodes and add it to an inventory sort of list. Sorta cool, a little flakey, but learning curve.

This is the current state of my little travel palette.

Your basics: Sepia, Burnt Sienna, Hooker’s Green, Green Gold, Cobalt Blue, Sap Green, French Ultramarine, Quinacridone Red (I think), Mayan Yellow.

I usually have a little indigo or paynes gray on the side, along with some light red. Right now there’s some yellow ochre. Go figure.

New though, I signed up for a week-long plein air watercolor class from IS183 in June. How exciting!