Tuesday, November 2, 2010

On the Subject of Paper

Recently my friend Roz, a paper expert of the first order, was asked to write and article about one of our favorite papers, Strathmore Aquarius II, for the Strathmore paper company. It was just published in their artist newsletter. The image above is from a sweet journal Roz made for me out of this great paper. Other images from this sketch book are included in her article. I find this an ideal paper for watercolor--it stands up to lots of scrubbing, holds a nice pen line without bleeding and doesn't wrinkle. Perfect.
This little painting above (on 140# Arches, cold press) was inspired by the sketch from my journal. The variation in intensity of the color between the two images is due to the harder finish of the Arches and also the fact that I was quickly working on the small lid of my Schmincke traveling palette and the colors were getting a little muddy. But you can get intense colors on the Aquarius, too. I also have a bigger array of paints available in my studio than what I carry with me for sketching so I have used additional colors.

Aquarius II is a terrific choice for a journal. Among other things the paper folds nicely without cracking on the fold. A characteristic that is good when you need a journal that will take the inevitable abuse I give it while holding it open in all kinds of weather.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Time to Change Out My Palette

A few weeks ago fall colors were brilliant in central Minnesota. The color change was so dramatic compared to late summer that I had to make changes in my traveling watercolor palette. Out went the cobalt teal and in went pyrrol and cadmium oranges. I have used up a lot of the cerulean blue since the sky color has changed. My nathamide maroon is also in heavy use. Mixed with with pyrrol red and burnt sienna (especially when you use various amounts of each) it can represent the changing oak foliage.

Above is a field sketch. Below is a small watercolor done

with this as an inspiration.

I don't necessarily use local color in my pastels and oils, but they are evident in my field studies--it is the fastest way for me to get the light right. Even my studio watercolor paintings like the one above is more representative of local color. (Yes, there is a lot of pink in the grasses.)

A note on fall greens. In the little study below I used some sap green which is a mixture of Quinacridone gold (PO49) and Pthalo green(PG7). I do use Quin gold but I'm a little leary of having powerful pthalo green on my palette. Even in the fall you need some green and the sap green is very useful. Last year I started to use Daniel Smith's Serpentine green. It is lovely and I seem to be going through a lot of it. It is expensive but I'm not sorry I bought a tube.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

On the Edge

Come see my recent work. You are invited to the opening reception Sunday, September 12, 1 to 4 for the show "On the Edge." I will be showing work with other members of Project Art for Nature at the River Falls Library gallery, River Falls, Wisconsin.

The show runs from September 12 to October 9. 20% of proceeds go to benefit the Kinnikinnic Land Trust.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Back to Whistler and Vancouver

Above is a rendition of Inuk Shuk that the Vancouver Olympic
Organizing Committee (know by its acronym VANOC) uses as
its logo. The original statue, we were told, was a gift to the
city of Vancouver by the government of the Northwest Territories.
We took this photo near the base of the ski jumping hill.

With all the Olympic hoop-la (which, I hasten to add, our household is happily participating in) I went to the bookshelf and pulled down my journal from September 2008. It documents our trip to Whistler and Vancouver and my experiments with gouache and the first financial tremors of the Wall Street meltdown.

We love that area of British Columbia. After all, you get mountains and the ocean on the same trip. With all that was happening to our 401k we decided to press on and enjoy the trip. After all it was Fall in B.C. and we were getting to see the venues that would be home to the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Below is a photo of the ski jumps. They appear deceptively small. And, oddly the picnic tables seem to me to be gigantic. Just shows how decieving photos can be. Remember that if you ever use a photo you've taken as reference material for a drawing or painting!

How about this for a view--it's from a parking lot in the Nordic events area:

Ready for snow here is a shot of the cross country ski track:

Below is a page from my journal. The background was prepared before I left White Bear with some acrylic ink. I use that because it makes a permanent layer of color on which I can use a wet medium such as gouache with no concern that it will start disolving the background. Here I just used my black Uniball pen and some colored pencils to extend the design of a sticker celebrating the skeleton races.

The organizers had stickers for many of the coming events. I chose the mascot for the skeleton for sentimental reasons. Eight (oh my gosh, was it twelve??) years ago our daughter watched the skeleton races during the Winter Games and said, "I want to do that." So she contacted the team, trained for the event and was invited to Lake Placid to try out for the Olympic skeleton team. By my good fortune she was not chosen. Somehow knowing your daughter is zooming down hill, head first on a teeny tiny sled and at speeds that would get you a ticket if you were driving your car is unsettling. We have been used to her zipping down ski slopes on skiis and snowboards and flying over jumps on the back of a horse. Those seemed calm by comparison. But, if she'd made the team you can bet we would have been standing by that icy course cheering her on!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Overview of my drafting table with some new creations.

Valentine's Day is my favorite holiday. It is just plain fun and it is an opportunity to use two of my favorite colors--red and purple--with abandon.
Last week a group of friends came over to eat chocolate and make Valentines. Roz arrived with a huge box of "scrap" paper and a WWII vintage Sears catalogue. Karen came with felted hearts and a box of more paper, clip art and nifty stuff for embellishment. Rachel brought Valentine motif pressure prints. Jennie supplied more gourmet chocolate covered graham crackers than anyone should have in her house. I brought down rubber stamps, scissors, glue sticks, glass beads, ribbons, Xacto knives, cutting mats, etc., etc. from my studio. Oh, and I threw in an old organza and feather boa with a long history; it has now been remade into lovely Valentines and pins. (You'll see below.)
We had enough supplies to give the artists huge grins and, for the self-proclaimed non-artists, wide eyes. Three of us who are working artists and one art student were told by the others that this card making seemed a daunting task. In the end, they came up with some of the best Valentines of the bunch.
So, what was the inspiration? The old catalogue generated a load of Valentines.
My grandson came up with the idea that you could glue glass "marbles" (they're not really marbles since they have a flat side) on top of little images and magnify the image. Viola! So I tried it (below):

Below are pieces of what was once a gorgeous boa that could be attached to a nightgown...oh well. The colors are gorgeous. Cutting it up and using it for Valentines is surely a higher and better use. Karen got the idea to attach a bunch of the organza to the back of a felted heart
--it made a beautiful pin.

Now here are the silliest Valentines: The purple ones below are inspired by my four-year-old grandson again. I had gotten him a box of foam hearts and monkeys so he and I could make Valentines one day after school. He was exploring the drawers in my studio and found a bag of "jewels" and sparkley pom-poms which he calls "hair balls." He has already given the Valentines away that he had decorated with monkeys (What can I say, they were in the box with all the hearts....) and several pom-pom-hair-balls so I can't show them here. However, one of his less embellished creations is at the end of this post.
I did a variation on the his theme and added some pearls when I saw a piece of purple velour paper:

Supplies for the Goofy Valentines
The inspiration for many of the Valentines:
Made by 4 year old E.W.

So, the Big Day is almost here. You have until the 14th to deliver some cards. Make some, it's fun.