Monday, May 20, 2013

Bag O' My Tools

Long time friend Katherine Tyrrell has espoused and promoted sketching for a long time now. Her blog “Making a Mark” is a great source of inspiration and resources for learning and obtaining materials along with reviews of materials and artists. Katherine is the consummate sketcher, plunking herself down on steps at Westminster Abbey and the heck with passersby, and just going into her own world with pen and sketchbook in hand. She has sketched her way across a lot of France, the US and her native England. The results of her work can be breathtakingly soft and beautiful.

So with this powerhouse sketching friend, and my new friend Kath Mccaulay from Tucson, noted pocket sketcher and artist, why on earth did I wait so long to sketch outside? After all, I paint outside. Why not sketch too? Especially when travelling on the back of the motorcycle. Sketching materials are so liberating rather than taking along the painting kit that my oil paintings require. Its sometimes a choice between my riding rain gear and painting stuff. 

Good friend Vivien Blackburn also sketches the moors and roadways of her native England as well. She is not a city dweller, so her sketching is more the rural side of the countryside. Lovely works, she often shows the moody side of rock, glade, water and fen.

Felt pen and watercolor sketch #1

Why not do both? I can paint when I have the infrastructure to do so, and now I can take along a sketching kit when the time and the situation do not permit a full on oil painting. Both are plein air, but sketching is so unobtrusive that you can even do it in a restaurant. I have witnessed Katherine T. do it, and even been the subject of her sketches when she liked my dangly earrings and straw western hat, as we drove across Arizona together.
 Kath McCaulay has honed down the sketching kit to a compact fanny pack that straps about you and is something at which, the casual stroller would not even take a second look. It’s a great thing for walk-abouts and touring. Go here to see it. Just drop down the page a bit to see the bag. Its amazingly compact.

Felt pen and watercolor sketch #2

Sketching is, to me, even more personal than oil painting. Each piece seems to have a life force of its own. Sometimes that life force results in a lovely energy filled piece. Sometimes the piece resembles that over the top, hyper five year old everybody wants to shush in a restaurant. These paintings are valued because of  “Iren”, the life force in them. Your hand and stroke work in these sketches is ever so apparent. You CANNOT hide your personality in them with perfect finish. They glow from the life they have.

Felt pen and watercolor sketch #3

So here I am showing you the very first of my sketches using Kath McC’s system. With practice I think I’ll like this. The portability is a BIG plus. The onus of not having to do a ‘finished painting’ is liberating as well. If it goes south, you have only lost 15 to 20 minutes, not the hours that a painting takes. And coupled with photos, these little sketches have within them the values and color notes that are necessary if an artist wishes to develop a larger painting and doesn’t have the luxury of time to do a full on oil sketch en plein air. I guess the sketching was inevitable, given that all the artist friends I have do it as often as they can.

I will be giving a short talk on 'sketching on the loose" June 8th at the Customs House in Deming at 9 a.m. Drop on by if you'd like to catch it.

So one more tool is getting stashed into my bag o’tools. I must be becoming an Irish artist, ya think?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Monterey Reflections 2013

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I am filled with anxiety about posting my paintings from my trip to Monterey.

I know that the only person you are in competition with is yourself and your last painting. And the majority of us are so wanting when we compare ourselves to the giants of plein air that we watched up on the stage, that we feel humbled.  I know that I can only paint as good as I can paint right now, and that plein air has it’s own inherent situational problems. I know that NEVER do we EVER paint as well as the masterpieces we paint in our own minds. I know that I talk to myself as I paint just to remind myself of what is uppermost in my mind as a goal with this current painting.  It’s a miracle somebody doesn’t call the men with the white coats that have those VERY long sleeves. So all that said……here goes.
I will post four of my paintings, flaws and all here for you to see. Just judge kindly and remember the 50 mph gusts of wind!

First is the seascape that I did the first day we all painted together at Asilomar State Park, just south of Monterey. It’s done now, or as done as it’s going to get. Are there things I would change? ‘You betcha’ as my Midwestern friends would say. There are at least two paintings in this study, if I ever work from it later on, and I may, there is material here for development.
Day 1 at Asilomar State Park

Second is the piece from the Sunday that I left Monterey. This piece has two paintings in it as well. I am sensing a theme here. I think I am not simplifying ENOUGH. Maybe next go round I won’t get distracted and may remember this lesson.
Piece 2 at Asilomar
Third is the only painting that I did in which I actually like some parts. It is of the coastline along the community of Monterey. Although there is a lot in this painting, the hierarchy of subjects works for me.  I painted along with Michelle Maris and Debra Groesser that morning. What a fun day.  This was the first time I ever painted cypress trees. Man they are weird and twisty! But fun! And I sure didn’t get much of the Pacific in this one, but trust me, it was there, cold, wind and all. Funny story – a Monterey local came by and told me “You sure can tell you’ve painted those trees a lot!” Go figure.

Monterey Cypresses

Fourth is the painting that I did in Santa Ysabel CA on the return trip. I took that day to spend with my friend Glenda and we painted together. The sun seemed to fairly race across the sky that morning and I didn’t want to get caught in the race, so I committed and painted what I at first saw. It changed so very much from that early threatening sky that it looked nothing like this by the time we finished. I love this valley and as long as we lived in San Diego County I had always wanted to paint it.

Santa Ysabel Morning

Hubby’s favorite is not at all what I would have expected it to be. He likes number one. What’s your favorite? Or do you not have one?
All these paintings are available, already framed in gold or black. If you are interested in any one, please email me.

Favorite quote of the day:

There are four artists: There is the artist you think you are, the artist you wish you were, the artist you want others to think you are, and the artist that you are. If you spend too much time thinking about all this, you may never find out who the last one is!                                                                                        (Susan Holland)