Sunday, February 28, 2010

more experimentation with monotypes

Recently I asked an artist, whose monotypes I admire, what materials she used. She was gracious, although she didn't want to give information, her reply was to experiment. So here I am experimenting. But I will share my findings and you may make your own conclusions.
I tried Rives BFK and a mulbery block print paper (made by Black Ink). I found it best to spray lightly with water before printing. My printing tools were the tried and true brayer and wooden spoon. The consistent piece in all of these is that they were created on a copper plate.
Every artist has different feelings about the special methods that make things "my way." My feelings are to share, I don't own the information and if I can help another artist, great. My work is hopefully special not because of my methods, but because of the feeling that goes in them.
from left to right, top to bottom
1.paint, ink, liquin, on mulberry
2.paint, ink, BFK
3. paint, ink, BFK
4. paint ink, liquin, BFK, liquin, mulberry, liquin, BFK

While these monotypes are not very exciting, they are experimentation. I will post more explorations on Tuesday. In the next ones I feel I start to comprehend my methods. New ways and pastel added... stay tuned;-)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

dusk 2

6x6 pastel on Grey BFK
Same idea, same abuse, more color. Focus is on abstract, loss of line, color saturation/intensity and heightened mood.

Friday, February 26, 2010


6x6 pastel on gray BFK
Sepia, black and white on a toned paper, rubbed, scratched, erased and just generally abused. Ideas keep coming. More tomorrow.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Variation #11 twilight with violet

5x12 pastel on BFK
Memory, enhanced. Different palette, still with my favorite color, violet. Some how violet always sneaks her head into each painting. I am starting to like the edge of darkness.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

snow sunrise

8x10 oil on wood, alla prima 
Another study on sunrise. These rich neutrals have sat in my mind, eager to be painted.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010


18x24 oil on linen
I made some changes to my entry, or may I say "rant." You're right Adam... best to be quiet.
Instead I will use the thesaurus to find a new word for struggle. So here it is struggle: assay, attempt, bend over backwards, break one's back, break one's neck, cope, dig, endeavor, exert oneself, give it one's best shot, give the old college try, go all out, grind, hassle, have one's nose to grindstone, hustle, make every effort, offer, plug, plug away, scratch, seek, slave, strain, strive, sweat, tackle, take a crack, take a stab, take on, toil, try, try one's hardest, undertake, work like a dog

I like "work like a dog"...Sam, do dogs work hard?

Sunday, February 21, 2010


10x12pastel on BFK
This morning was warmer. The temperature was about 30, vs. the lower teens and twenties of past plein air sessions. It felt almost balmy. You can see the beginnings of hopeful spring on the trees.... the warmth of bud beginnings. YEAH!!!!
My thoughts, refraction and color harmony, the triad of secondaries. Green played a minor role (that will change in time!) Snow really is quite beautiful...the way it picks up the violets.  mmmmmm.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

snow and refraction

10x10 pastel on grey toned BFK
When driving to the lake I was thinking about refraction and the snow's effect on it. I tried to study that while trying to keep the abstract quality in the landscape. That led me to choose the hill as subject matter, rather than the lake.
PS I photographed the snow field  again and replaced yesterday's jpeg with the more recent one. Still doesn't work, but at least it's accurate. Now to helping the patient.

Friday, February 19, 2010

snow field

 24x24 oil on linen
Began this painting on Sunday by toning my linen with washes of warm and cool yellows. It seemed the best way to create the light. I am working with the plein air study was done on the field at sunrise as my reference- see it here
Since Sunday I have worked a little each day. Today, I tortured myself and it for almost the whole day. Arggh.  I want it luminous, yet more towards abstract. I know I had abstract for awhile back there when Paul walked in and asked..."nice, what is it?" Maybe I went too much the other way. I was constantly thinking for the concept of refraction, much more deliberate.

Sorry for the bad photo... it's the best I can do indoors when the light is low.  I will work more and repost another time.

I reposted it today....better light outside. Photographing whites is difficult.

Suggestions anyone?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

winter study

5x11 pastel and watercolor on Uart paper

This is another plein air study from the lake. In my car I hold another studio, even though it's just a tiny Honda Fit. In there I always have a tripod, heilman box of pastels, watercolors, paper towels, hand cleaner and a stack of paper. My intention is to paint at any given moment. This morning the storage of paper came in handy because the one I brought with me was not the right size and shape. It was a piece of Uart sanded paper so for the first time in a while I used a waterclor underpainting. It felt so different.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

plein air study at twilight

10x10 pastel on BFK
 My goals were just to study color and stay warm..... believe me it's cold out there at twilight!!!!! Hints of warm spill over from the train station's outdoor lights and one window.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

river at big bend/ value painting and grisaille

9x12 value painting/pastel on BFK

One of my favorite sections of the river is at big bend.  It's a place where I have done  many plein air paintings right here. Using those ideas I created an value painting in preparation for another bigger oil. It's important to create the mood with value alone. "Value does the work, color gets the glory." (Richard McKinley)

 18x24 oil on linen

Then on to the grisaille.
Shapes are important when planning a painting.  Only a few large shapes make a stronger painting. After making your shapes you need to carefully think about shadows and edges. How many edges do you want? (another case for less is more) For a more interesting painting don't contain your shadows let them drift and float.
This is the grisaille for the larger painting. I have been working on just this for 2 days, wiping, scratching, putting on more paint, and rubbing.More about this painting and its genesis later.
I posted two today...this is tomorrow's post..... I have so many things due for my upcoming show in May that I figured since I was on a roll........

Monday, February 15, 2010

field of snow, one of the lost fields

10x12 pastel on BFK
This is a plein air from yesterday's sunrise. It's another field that is leaving us, in fact I parked in the ICC construction parking lot.
The underlying tones were yellow. I picked my handful of pastels and stuck with them...the sirens couldn't tempt me;-)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

whistler and thumbnail color studies

You are probably thinking, oh she has done that one before...yes and no. I do paint the same idea again and again trying hard to create my idea. Both February 8th (memory painting) and February12 (plein air) were the same idea. I wanted to make this glow. My question was... how to make more light in a snow paintings: is it by contrast-dark against light (top row) or glowing lighter value complementaries? (bottom row)

I did many color thumbnails inspired by this Whistler quote:
"Nature contains the elements, in colour and form, of all pictures, as the keyboard contains the notes of all music. But the artist is born to pick and choose... that the result may be beautiful – as the musician gathers his notes, and forms his chords, until he brings forth from chaos glorious harmony."

 Next thought....Whistler always pre-mixed his pools of colors. They say he spent more time mixing than painting. Hmmmmmm. I don't lean towards being a pre-mixer, more impulsive am I. But I think I will give it a try. Long ago, in school, I remember mixing strings of color, like that way Sanford Gifford did. I will try to enjoy the meditative mixing.
So do you pre-mix or on the spot mix,  and why?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

snow on the river, oil

oil on wood, 12x 15

My first pastel was a study for this oil. Once again painted with a limited palette- split complementary. I must say limiting a palette is easier in oil. You simply chose 4 tubes and make the colors from there. In pastel the sirens from the box constantly call me to their rocks.
Have you ever painted on wood?  I think  love it. I used a piece of birch that the lumber store gave me. I gessoed it with many layers. I like the way the solid surface takes paint.... a whole different response from bouncy, stretched  linen.

Now a quote from the famous and wonderful Richard McKinley:
"I prefer suggestion to command; hinting, rather than in your face. Evoke little by little."

How wonderful!

Friday, February 12, 2010

painting in the snow/sunset

about 8x10 pastel on BFK
Last night there were only small gusts of wind so I decided it was time to go outside to paint again. I wanted to study more nuances of the sunset that my memory had missed. The snow was so deep only the last segment of the tripod could rise out of it.

To paint outdoors in deep snow requires even more clothing- insultates, sweats and waterproof overalls, boots, gaiters (I am from snow country), coat and I was toasty- except of fingers, of course.

It's amazing how many complementary colors dance next to each other as the sun sets.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

monotype 1 and 2

3x5 monotype with pastel on BFK

                                           3x5 monotype with pastel on BFK

Recently Jala and I have been talking about monotypes. As far as printing methods go it's the best choice for a painter since it's so painterly. You don't have to have access to a press....No, all you need is a wooden spoon and a plate (copper printing plate that is.) So here a a couple of my first tries back at the plate.
Doing this makes me even more conscious of stroke and temperature. The monotype reduces everything even further, down to its bare elements. No sense getting lost in details, you won't see them. Color and stroke.

Of course where would we be without the snow report?
blizzard one-25 inches
blizzard two -maybe 20 inches(it's hard to tell the drifts are tremendous!)
That means if I don't have my skiis on the snow is up to my hips. During the second storm we only lost power for a couple of hours and were grateful for that! Thanks for all the well wishes everyone!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

snow on the river / as snowpocalypse rages

12x15 pastel on BFK
All painting is really the same, isn't that true? Meaning we, as artists, think about the same things: value, color temperature, color saturation, color harmony, edges, strokes/brushwork,  and shapes. ( I could add to that list, but to me these are the tops)Right now I am experimenting with color temperature/ edges and stroke. Using a limited palette, a split complementary of green/ blue, blue violet and orange I did this study for another oil painting.
The winds are howling outside as our second blizzard attacks the city. The white out conditions are so intense I can't see out my windows. The windows shake. It won't be long, I fear, till the lights and heat will be a distant memory. Take care fellow bizzardites.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

sunrise before the next storm

8x12 pastel on BFK
Memory and essence go hand in hand. If it is in your head, not in the camera, you have it. This is the sunrise this morning. I went walking and memorized the way the light breaks as it separates land and sky. I waited till afternoon to paint it. Shoveled more while I created the image in my head. It takes discipline. I need to keep expanding this part of my brain. Beautiful neutrals are the key.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sunset after the Storm/ Dog Walkers at Sunset

8x10 pastel on BFK (above)                                                             10x12 pastel on BFK

To create these I have been relying on memory quite a bit. I like the sunset after the storm because of it vibrating colors. My husband liked the dog walkers. You decide.
We are now preparing for another 5-10 inches and possible power outages Time to walk to Safeway for batteries and food. Till later....

Sunday, February 7, 2010

digging out of snowpocalypse

The snow totals range between 19-25 inches depending where you measure. All I can say is...we made it! It was beautiful, fun, but very, very cold! Everyone in the neighborhood came out of their houses to stay warm. They came and they shoveled. We shoveled so much that we shoveled the entire street!  We stayed warm. People had outdoor hats, gloves and coats and indoor hats, gloves and coats (the difference being one set was wet and one dry!) It has been a very memorable time. It was really great to get to hang out with my neighbors.
Good news! The electricity just came back, yay!!!!! We will all get together tonight and celebrate. Tomorrow I will be out of survival mode and back into painting mode. (More snow is on the way Tuesday night...this is VERY unlike the DC area! Hope the heat stays on!)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

reveal, sky's gauzy veil

6x6 oil on board
Skies have become my newest muse.
This one was posted (pre-post)  before the snowpacolypse..... we have been powerless for more than 36 hours! It's freezing...34 degrees in the house. More later!

Friday, February 5, 2010

as the snowpocalypse bears down

24x24 oil on linen

As the snowpocalypse bears down on Washington DC and surrounding areas I am in the studio. This painting was absolutely howling through the studio walls, needing me there like a child in the crib. Now I have done all I can and I need to hold back and let it dry. That is the very hard part. When it dries I will continue. I am not sure what it will need, but am sure if I wait, it will tell me.

A little about the Washington DC area- snow dries people nuts. The grocery stores are empty and what little is left people are waiting in long lines to procure. I love the hype! It is apocalypse in a very fun way. People actually talk in the lines at the store, help each other on the street, have eating fests celebrating the storm and just enjoy the present of an unexpected break from the routine and their jobs. As soon as the snow is deep enough I will x-country ski through the parks and streets with not a care. It has been a very long time since this are has had such a wonderful real winter. I am a New Englander who grew up with real snow every winter. This feels so good. The one thing I won't do is drive...that is until the masses make it home and the crazy driving is done. Snow driving is not the DC strength.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

grisaille for larger oil

24x24 oil on linen
You probably have noticed that I paint this one view, from either side, over and over again.  I am fascinated with the reflections and the three bands of color. After studying of Whistler's paintings, especially his nocturnes, I have been noticing that one of his favorite design concepts is also the 3 parallel bands. He uses it many time and in all different ways. Sometimes he will even split the painting into even bands of sky and water/land. I wasn't quite so bold in this one.
You can already see in this grisaille where I will focus all my attention.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

sunrise before snow

10x12 pastel on BFK
I painted this yesterday, at sunrise, before it began to snow again. The pink of sunrise permeated the air and the snow on the lake's ice.  Winter's colors truly are magnificent.
I must admit I am doing less thinking and more trusting of the painting. It knows and I am trusting it more.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

sunrise on snow

10 x10 pastel on BFK
Sunrise is a most amazing time, especially when the ground is coated with a layer of fresh white snow. The snow's reflective quality changes everything.

I read a quote from Wolf Kahn that really resonated with me.
"How far could I go towards color without giving up tonalism?"
I feel for me it is the other way.."how far can I go towards tonalism without giving up color?"

Monday, February 1, 2010

gauzy breath

8x10 oil on linen
This one started as a traditional grisaille. For reference I used only one small plein air painting that I did during the fall. After about 30 minutes I was already free of that and off creating the vision in my head. I am being very conscious of edges, so few are needed.
Recently Janelle posted one of my favorite Monet paintings, Branch on the Seine by Giverny. Just seeing that image again catapulted me into fog, glorious fog. Monet was the master of color and fog.