Sunday, February 26, 2012

What I Sacrifice For Art

Hula Valley
12 x 24, Pastel on Canson Paper

It all started in class last week. Our topic was painting fabulous skies starting with an underpainting using pastel loosly applied then applying rubbing alcohol using oil or acrylic brushes. Those of us using Canson paper experienced some bubbling of the paper while it was wet and allowing it to dry and settle down which just took about 10 minutes. The only thing was that my painting buckled up but it wouldn't settle down like everyone else's. Adra and Sharon, two of my students called out "iron it". I thought they were kidding. I haden't touched an iron in over 10 years and I already started applying the pastels on it. "Iron it", they said again only louder and with more authority. You're kidding I replied and once again they said "iron it" but this time yelling.  'Okay, okay" I replied mumbling the sacrifices I make for art while going to my closet to bring out the ironing board. I eventually remembered how to set it up and got out my dusty iron. They told me to cover the painting with newspaper but Frances, one of my other students said to use newsprint art paper which I happen to have. I laid the paper painting side down on the newsprint and ironed away. After a minute or two, I saw the bubbles easing up, flattening out.

Now for a big hug and thanks to Adra and Sharon.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Something Wonderful Happens

"Wild Preserve Tahoe Basin"
11 x 15, Pastel on Canson paper

There is something wonderful that happens to me on a bright, beautiful, clear summer day when the weather is perfect and I'm in a place of beauty. My inspiration for this painting came from an area of Lake Tahoe in Northern California known as Lucky Balwin Beach, while not a wild preserve it is part of the public lands around Lake Tahoe now owned by the USDA forest service. This was once part of the Baldwin estate . Btw, Elias Jackson known as "Lucky Baldwin" was a businessman and investor in the 1800s but best known as a racehorse owner and breeder and a wild kind of guy. 

Lip of the Lucky Baldwin Beach and land beyond.

Land bordering the beach.

My painting process:
First premise is that this "something wonderful" I referred to at the beginning translates into an overwhelming inspiration to paint what I see and how I feel about the scene. Then once  home in my studio with my reference paintings in hand, I begin the actual process. Once the first layer was done, I integrated pastel and Prismacolor pencils along with the pastel sticks. I used fixitive throughout the painting process in order to give the surface more tooth to grab and hold the next payer of pastels. The paper support which in this case was from the new Canson pastel 12" x 16" pad of gray tones really takes a beating and allows me to apply many layers so long as I use fixative in between. I painted this over a period of about four days from about and 10 minutes to an hour or two at a time depending on when my schedule permitted. The breaks between sessions allowed me to process the painting in between so I have a fresh perspective each time I return to the easel. Then I made adjustments and continued on. I worked until I got a feeling of peace and completeness about the painting and called it DONE.

Friday, February 10, 2012

I'm No Computer Techie

"View From Heron Lake Trail", 14 x 20, Pastel on Mi-Tientes Touch paper

I love the lay of the land and the mood in the original scene (see below) but I wanted a different take on it so I fooled around with the original photo in my old version of photoshop adding layers to change the color and intensity. Believe me when I say I'm no computer techie. My friend Kathy Holland who is and a great one at that ( she built my website and helps me out when I get in a jam) gave me a lesson on using layers a while back. I don't remember much of what she said but decided to go ahead and fool around with it anyway. Don't ask me what I did but I liked the results. I came up with some very nice variations from which I selected one to use as my reference photo for this painting.  I'd love to show you the variations but when I went into layering it wouldn't let me make a jpeg version and the psd version file size was really large. But I can show you the original photo I started from. I think I'll give Kathy a call.


original photo

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"Winter Showoff" , 12 x 16, Pastel on Linen Mat Board

Recently I got the news that my painting "Winter Showoff" was among the winners of the winter theme contest held on the . This is a good website to upload and show your art on and it's free. There's some pretty amazing works of  art on the site plus discussions and forums. Very interesting.