Monday, April 2, 2018

All Hail the Queen

All Hail the Queen
9 x 12
Pastel on Art Spectrum Raw Sienna

One of the reasons I enjoy painting plants and enjoy nature in general is pattern. This painting is inspired by a close up image of the Queen Victoria agave. She's a small and rather compact agave. One could easily pass her by. But when you look closely, the pattern of her beauty emerges in the very interesting white margins on the leaves. 

While the pattern is beautiful in nature, it can be challenging to paint. I started this painting and got quite frustrated and walked away. The next day, I came back to it and easily finished it out. I had gotten impatient the day before. When I returned, I just settled in and painted, getting lost in the pattern..and before I knew it, she "arrived". 

A couple of progress shots and the framed version below. She'll have her first outing in public next weekend at the Deep Ellum Arts Festival in Dallas. I'm in booth 31.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Verdigris Fire

Verdigris Fire
12 x 9
Pastel on Art Spectrum Black
I started this after work one evening, and finished her up over the weekend. It's important to let paintings "marinate" a bit. Initially, I felt kind of "meh" about this one. It seemed somber. But, later had an idea for it and so glad I pursued it. 

This started on black paper. Here's the initial finished painting. While the cactus itself pleased me, the rest just didn't speak to me like I prefer. Last weekend, while in Houston  at the Bayou City Art Festival, a mom walked by with her very young daughter. She said, "Let's go see which paintings speak to us". Her daughter then went up to a painting and put her ear to it. I giggled. Mom explained we listen with our hearts. Well, my heart didn't hear anything with the black background.

So, upon returning to the painting for a second look, I felt it needed some fire, so I gave it some. Iridescent or metallic copper with some interference paint. Then she spoke to me, and began to sing.

I firmly believe that our Creator, Higher Power, God, Great Architect or whatever you prefer to call your Higher Power, smiles when we use the gifts we are given. I've been struggling with my art and wondering "is it all worth it?". But, when a painting sings to me, or when I see my paintings/creations make others happy - then I know I'm in alignment with the intention for my being. So, I will continue to paint. 

Here's the framed version of "Verdigris Fire". She'll have her first outing in public next weekend at the Deep Ellum Arts Festival in Dallas. I'm in booth 31.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Profundo Azul

Profundo Azul
32 x 32
Pastel on Pumice Primed Gatorboard

It's been way too long since I've been able to devote some time to painting at a time when my mind is peaceful. Although I've had some vacation, I've also jumped back in with both feet into my corporate job and had a trip for an annual meeting. Pair that with spring springing in Texas and scheduling and monitoring the yard work that needs to be done to clean up gardens and lawn. I was emotionally spent. 

I wanted to paint but struggled with what I "should" paint to get more still life ready for my upcoming show season vs painting what I wanted to paint in my comfort zone. Well, I decided I paint because I want to not because I have to and I needed some comforting! My head told me "don't jump into a big painting". My head said "I need to practice and warm up on some small stuff". About a week ago (before my business trip) I did a couple of small passes at a landscape scene that a friend in Massachusetts  shared with me. Landscapes are not what I usually paint, and while I enjoyed trying to capture the morning light through the trees just right, I missed my plants. I  felt I needed to paint big and have some room to move around.

I could paint agave for years..oh yeah....I have and do! I just admire the plant and when I paint them it's as if I'm running my hand along the leaves. I feel the curve and the hollows - less the pain of the thorns. This painting is an extreme close up of an artichoke agave (Agave parryi) in my front yard. It felt good to be back to her again.

Only one progress shot - I was in the zone and forgot the rest.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Hana Afterglow

Hana Afterglow
12 x 9
Pastel on Art Spectrum Burnt Umber
Just returning from nine days on Maui. We stayed in Hana in a lovely home on a beautiful 4 acre property. I was truly - in heaven. There are no words I can use to convey the lushness or fullness of the place. We drove in at 1am - yes, down the Hana Highway. We woke up in paradise. Paradise found for this botanical artist!

As much as I love the desert and her beautiful plants, I love the rain-forest too. I am a study in opposites in many areas of my life and my love of plants is no different. From the harsh and spiny agave to the delicate and lovely orchid. 

No progress shots on this one - I was in the moment of Hawaii in my head....not in the process or technique. According to google reverse image search, this is a Ti plant. Cordyline fruticosa - or the 'good luck' plant.

I didn't share much about my trip on social media, until we were leaving. I wanted it to be private. My art has been suffering and my artist was very depleted. She needed to water her soul. Hana did just that. 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Misty Morning

Misty Blue
20 x 16
Pastel on Tinted Pumice
Primed Black Gatorboard

Meeting "Misty Blue". She's another homage to the fog and mist covered agave of November in my mind. I'm still experimenting with the metallic elements to my paintings. This one is a moody quiet painting to give the feeling of that mist, low light and quiet that fog brings. I worked in some "Interference" and iridescent silver and pearl acrylics in the background. What is "Interference" - it's varies depending on your angle. Golden defines it as "Interference Acrylics — Interference colors "flip" between a bright opalescent and its complement, depending on the angle of the viewer. Relatively transparent, they allow artists the ability to glaze with unique effects. Add gels for impasto texture or thin with mediums. Try adding a very small amount of black to produce deeper, richer, opalescent effects."

Some's a struggle. Yesterday's painting time was a challenge, and today, again, is a challenge. I wish I could put my finger on what specifically is holding me back. Since Dec 25th and for about a month, I felt really "on". Enter this weekend and I'm "hanging on". What is it that makes a period of time flow better than other times - that creates those times when paintings just paint themselves? Is it less stress in general life circumstances - perhaps so. Yes, during my "on" period, it was the holidays, but things had been pretty quiet. Now, it's hectic. It's like everyone woke up after the holidays and there is so much to do, in both my corporate job and at home. Gearing up for the spring art show season and spring in general. 

Now that I type this, I realize, while I was painting a fog blanketed morning image, I was listening to the Foo Fighters new album. Hmmm...maybe I need to match my music to my paintings a little better next time. Also, perhaps, when I'm in a high energy/hectic period, I need brighter colors. I'm fighting with my own energy perhaps. I may have to be more observant of that in the future.

I know soon, it will be time to get back out into the yard. For that, I am truly grateful - I love being outside....and perhaps that's what I need to do more of. 
I went to the coast last weekend for bird watching. We drove in the rain and returned in the rain. In between, we had a glorious Saturday on the water! I got a new 150-600 mm telephoto lens for the camera. I expect that soon, I'll have many more terrific resource photos for bird paintings when that mood strikes me. 

Black Gatorboard Primed with Grey tinted pumice

Laying in the darks - Ludwig Eggplant
Hand rubbed to spread it out

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Azul y Oro

Azul y Oro
12 x 9
Pastel on Tinted Pumice
Primed Gatorboard
I'm breaking into the gold iridescent/metallic paint. This was actually a failed painting (see the "yuck" painting in the Verdigris post). I took it to the mop sink and washed and scrubbed it off - and got to start again.

I primed the board again with pumice tinted with the neutral grey collected pastel dust I've been collecting. I'm so happy to have a use for it besides making grey pastels. I then over painted with a mix of 4 to 1 Gold with burnt sienna. Then I lightly applied the pastel. I decided I liked the underpainting/texture to show through on this one. This one is a revisit to "Blue Agave Supernova". Overall, my black gatorboard "experiment" is successful and I will be purchasing more. I learned the gatorboard priming technique in Rita Kirkman's workshop, but I know I needed to make it my own. I think it will continue to evolve.

I still have a roll of UArt 500 I need to continue to use. I'm feeling excited about the new metallic series, but a bit tired of my resource photo cache. I'm going to see about going to the wholesale cactus farm East of my home. While they don't sell retail, perhaps they will let me take photos at least. Not sure when I'll get out to Phoenix yet. I'm waiting on two more juried festival events to finalize - then I can plan my additional travel.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Verdigris Furrows

Verdigris Furrows
32 x 31
Pastel on Tinted
Pumice Primed Gatorboard

The metallic series continues with Verdigris Furrows. I was so pleased with my last primed Gatorboard experience I had to do it again. This time, I enlarged my subject and I am so thrilled I did. I started with black Gatorboard and primed it with pastel tinted pumice. I wanted this to have a rusted look underneath so went with some bits of a dark red brown and added some Ludwig eggplant purple. It didn't turn out quite as expected on the black board, so I over painted with a mixture of burnt sienna and metallic copper high flow acrylic. For interest, I sprayed alcohol on the mix to give it a more mottled look - not that anyone can see it now. I'll have to go back to that again. 

Then I just painted the agave. I COULD NOT STOP! It was such an intense painting session. At the end, I added more straight metallic copper. DEE-LICIOUS! Progress shots below. THIS is why I paint! So ready to do this again!!!

The Primed board - adding over paint

The finished board

The grid and sketch - very pale green

Scrubbed in darks w/TL Eggplant and fingers

Starting the leaves - mostly Ludwigs

Starting to add the straight copper metallic