Thursday, July 24, 2008

Teaching Again at Art Supply House


I'm offering a 6-week course, perfect for beginning artists just starting to explore watercolor, as well as experienced artists looking to try something different. We'll learn the basics and then move beyond the basics to unlock your creativity.

Making art is as much about self-expression as it is about capturing beauty. In this 6-wk session, I'll provide an exciting variety of project and exercises that will encourage students to loosen up, let go, and experiment with their painting.

6-Week Session: August 7 - September 11 (morning & evening available)

3-Hour Classes: Thursdays, 9 am to 12 noon, or 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm

Class Location: Art Supply House, #24 Town Plaza, 375-0090

Cost: 3-hr class is $200, for 6-wk session (drop-in fee: $40.)

To register for classes: Call or sign up at Art SupplyHouse, 375-0090; or call me at 259-6456, or e-mail me at howard@frontier.net

I will still be offering my annual 3-day watercolor workshop at my home and studio, September 14-16.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Gardens and Faces




To put it simply, gardens and faces -- that's what inspires me to paint. And so, I paint flowers and portraits. Nothing too profound about that, but there it is. That's where I feel a connection.

I love painting my children and my grandchildren, but I haven't yet gotten around to a self-portrait, even though that seems to be a requirement for any self-respecting portrait artist. When I do, I'm not sure whether I'll give myself a "facelift", like the glamour photographers do with Photoshop, or whether I'll be brutally honest and show every wrinkle and gray hair. Maybe I'll just do a portrait of me as a little girl -- I think I'd be kinder to her.

Even though I'm not much of a gardener -- I blame the deer and the chipmunks for that -- I love flowers! So, I visit the gardens of my friends, and I travel to botanical gardens to take pictures, so I can paint them later in my studio. I just started on 7 new paintings, based on photos from my trip to Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia. My husband and I went there to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, and we knew it was going to be spectacular, but we were both blown away. What a place -- it was impossible to take a bad picture. Even the fuzzy ones are pretty. It was hard to choose what to paint, because we took about 250 pictures between us -- and, that's from just one garden!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Watercolor Is Permanent!

Watercolor has gotten a bad rap over the years, as not being as permanent as oils. This is just not true -- anymore. It is true that watercolors painted in the 19th century were not lightfast. Many artists, like Paul Cezanne, often painted his beautiful watercolors on inferior paper that discolored, using paint that tended to fade. And many of the oil painters of that time used watercolors only as a sketching medium, so watercolor has gained a reputation of being an inferior medium to oils.

But, paint and paper technologies have come a long way. Now, lightfast watercolors painted on archival papers are as durable as any oil painting on canvas. Daniel Smith, a manufacturer of fine watercolor paints, says they "take lightfastness seriously", and they put pigment information on the labels of their paint tubes (as do most reputable paint manufacturers). The watercolor paints are, in fact, rated for lightfastness. And pigments that in the past have been considered "fugitive", or the least lightfast, like Alizarin Crimson, have been replaced by permanent versions. "Permanent Alizarin Crimson" is rated "excellent" in terms of lightfastness.

So, watercolors ARE permanent -- IF the artists are using lightfast paints on archival paper!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Beginning a New Series -- "Botanica"

In continuing to explore more than one facet of a particular idea, I'll be doing another type of floral series. This one will be based on different botanical gardens I've visited -- beginning with Butchard Gardens in Victoria, BC, Sonoran Desert Museum in Tucson, AZ, and Denver Botanic Gardens in Colorado. This series may go on forever, because I continue to hear of other botanic gardens around this country and the world, that, of course, I will have to see.

With a single painting of a subject, I hardly seem to get warmed up, but in a series, I can really explore an idea. And, this "Botanica" theme arouses my interest enough to carry me through many paintings. But, I don't think there's much danger of my overdoing it, like the artist who created 100 paintings in her "Banana Series". (HOW can someone even DO that?)


Monday, June 16, 2008

How to Start Painting Again, If You've Quit

Every artist, at one time or another, has quit painting -- for a few days, months, or even years -- and has had trouble getting started again. You may have just finished a show and are experiencing a bit of a letdown and burnout -- no matter how well the show went and how well-received your paintings were. Or, you're a beginning artist who has just finished a 6-week class and don't have someone telling you what to paint and how. Or in my case, this time, you just finished a series of paintings and then took two short vacations in a row.

No matter the reason, quitting is not the hard part, and it's not even a bad thing. In fact, it's a good time to regroup, reevaluate, clean your studio, add a little balance to your life, or whatever. But, the longer you wait, the harder it is to start painting again. Here's a few things that have helped me before and, hopefully, will help me again:

  • Use your words. Just start writing down what you want to do, brainstorm ideas for paintings, plan a new series that you want to work on, jot down subjects of interest.
  • Remove the pressure. Start small -- Don't start on a huge painting right off the bat. And, don't start with a pending commission or a gift -- those were already responsible for your procrastination.
  • Start drawing in a sketchbook/illustrated journal. And, draw with a pen, so you can't erase.
  • Just start painting, without drawing first. Try to enjoy the process -- don't worry about the end result. Paint on the back of one of your paintings.
  • Be willing to fail. Don't be afraid to paint a crappy painting. In fact, try to paint badly, just for the hell of it.
  • Play with your paints. Squeeze some fresh paint onto your palette. Just play with mixing your paint right on the palette -- don't even put it on the paper.
  • Clean up the clutter. Clear off your drawing board, and clean up the clutter around you in the studio. (WARNING -- this could turn into a summer-long project, if you're not careful.)
  • Develop a ritual. Assemble your materials, put on some music, pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea, put on your comfortable painting clothes.
  • Get excited about a subject to paint. Take a field trip to get some photographic references, look through your existing photos for references, visit art museums and galleries.
  • Make time for your art. My mother-in-law, who is an artist, told me that she used to paint after all her household chores were finished, but of course, with 5 children at home, that never happened, so she never found time to paint. Until, she started painting first thing in the morning -- that's when she became truly productive.
  • Commit to something. (This, of course, is the opposite of "Remove the pressure".) Create a deadline for yourself -- a show, a commission, a class).
  • Be non-judgmental of your efforts. (This is the hardest one of all.) Don't second guess yourself -- your ideas, your beginnings. Don't think that your first painting has to be a masterpiece or has to sell -- that is the kiss of death.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"Primavera" Series




I just finished the 4th and last painting of this series. Two of them are hanging in Sorrel Sky Gallery in Durango, one already sold, and the last one is just now at the framer. I will be taking that one to Columbine Gallery in Loveland next week.

All four watercolors were painted on handmade Indian Village paper and were "floated" on the matboard, so the nice deckled edge would be visible. They are fairly elaborate floral bouquets, with birds and butterflies fluttering around, against a black background. On three of them, I included figures from Sandro Botticelli's paintings on the vases, and they became the titles -- The Three Graces, Zephyr & Cloris", and "Venus". In the last painting, "Flora", I painted a blue & white pattern on the vase.

I'm planning to offer giclee prints of these paintings in the future -- have never done that before.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Setting My Course

My intention for this blog is for it to be a place where I talk about the creative process and my works-in-progress, offer tips and instruction for new art students, show some of my work, give new direction to my art career, meet and have discussions with other artists, and whatever else I can think of. I'm anxious to share what I do and what I know, and just talk about art in general.

My 2nd intention is for my future postings to be a lot more informative and fun to read than this first one.