Saturday, December 27, 2014

One Day Past Solstice

One Day Past Solstice
12 x 9
Pastel on UArt Paper 


The seasonal cold and drizzle returned today. I did more studio cleaning, cutting UArt paper and glassine paper, storing recent paintings. I miss the sun and blue sky we had in the recent few days. I was torn about what to paint today. Then, I remembered our sunset from earlier this week. So, I pulled it out to paint. It was the first sunset after the solstice, turning the corner to longer days.






Friday, December 26, 2014

Yin Yang

Yin Yang
12 x 9
Art Spectrum Sanded Paper in Elephant Grey

Time to balance out after the holiday festivities - particularly all the wonderful, but high calorie and high sugar foods. Also, the time with family, to be balanced with some introversion/introspection time. I find a lot of introspection at my easel. My monkey mind is engaged with the painting, allowing my subconscious to take control. I started this painting Wednesday (Christmas Eve) and finished it today. Perhaps unconsciously, I was already in search of balance - yin yang when I chose this subject I liked the way the source photo was half in/half out of the light. As with yin yang - the shadow cannot exist without the light. Capturing light - that is the essence of painting. 


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Dragon

Dragon
18 x 24
Pastel on UArt Paper
This is a painting I started much earlier this year. I set it aside because I got frustrated with the subject. It is a fairly large piece and I didn't want to just give up, so I set it aside. I picked it up again as I was cleaning my studio and thought "I'll give it a shot". I'm glad I did!

This is another plant from the Phoenix Botanical Gardens. It's in the bromeliad family and is called "Deuterochonia crysantha". It is very colorful across the spectrum of red, orange, yellow, and green. I took some artistic liberties since technically, it doesn't grow on stems. The photo had another plant alongside from the genus Senicio. 

It's my own artistic alchemy of plant and image. The two together looked like a fiery asian dragon puppet on sticks during the Chinese New Year, and the artistic alchemical fire created this dragon. I suppose it's kind of timely that I came back to this dragon as the new calendar year is upon us.

But first it's Christmas....and time to enjoy family! I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!



Monday, December 22, 2014

Suncatcher

Suncatcher
12 x 9
Pastel on Art Spectrum Paper in Deep Ultra
This is an agave in the entry courtyard at the Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden (heaven on earth in my opinion). I arrived early in the morning - 6:30 or 7 am and the sun was just coming up. This lovely agave was catching the light just so and the shadow vs light was very distinct. The green in the agave just glowed. The salmon pink edges were like waves of fire on the leaves. 

I really enjoyed doing this piece, it "fell of the brush" or the stick as the case may be. It laid down easily and with a minimum of adjusting. I sketched it in w/a lime green pastel pencil and underpainted with pan pastels. I finished it out with a mix of Terry Ludwig, Sennelier, and Nu Pastel. I wasn't as diligent with my timer on progress shots this go round. 









Saturday, December 20, 2014

Warm Blue Glow

Warm Blue Glow
12 x 9
Pastel on Art Spectrum Australian Gray
 This is a little agave I fell in love with last year. I was perusing agave on line and found this one - Blue Glow. Needless to say, the first time I saw one at a nursery, I bought it. It sits in the rock garden in my front yard. It's still a baby. I hope we have many many years to grow together. What I like about this cactus is the blue green leaves tipped with this red/yellow margin that lights up in the sunlight. I needed some sunlight today - so I painted some. I can just feel the sun high in the sky based on the shadows and heat in the image. 

I set a timer through my painting process. A photo every 20 minutes. This round it was 2:13










Friday, December 19, 2014

Plenty Prickly

Plenty Prickly
12 x 9
Pastel on Art Spectrum Raw Sienna 
It's official! I'm out of my art funk. The paint and ideas are flowing again. Truly, it was the cacti that broke the cycle. 

Here's a little something to warm up your day.  This year was a banner year for prickly pears. Truly, I've never seen so many pears on the cactus in our yard. They are such an intense purple when they are ripe. But you have to get pictures and appreciate them quickly before the deer enjoy them as an end of summer treat. I really liked the wavy flow of cactus patties and pears in this image. Here's a few progress shots. I really need to set a timer so I take photos more often during the process.




Monday, December 15, 2014

Agave and Wren

"Agave and Wren"
12 x 9
Pastel on Art Spectrum - Blue Haze
Still working through the blahs. I don't like winter. I live in Texas. I was made for heat. I prefer to soak up the sun on a rock like a lizard. Someone told me I once ate a lizard as a child. Didn't make me turn into one. Anyway...I digress.

So, I've also heard that when we're stuck in a rut, we should get back to basics. For me I went back to the beginning. My start painting in pastels was primarily with botanicals - especially cacti. I decided to dig through my stash of Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden photos. I had wanted to paint this cactus wren perched on agave for quite some time. This photo brings to mind the sound of cactus wren which in turn reminds me of the smell of the of the desert - the creosote and mesquite. It immediately causes me to breathe out and relax whenever I think of it. 

The photo itself was not so good, I was using my tablet to take photos as it was an impromptu trip and my phone battery was really low. I liked the way the sun backlit this cactus wren. I played up the colors in the agave to really emphasize the drying up bits against the living blue green. Here's a couple of progress shots and my resource photo.









Sunday, December 14, 2014

Flowers of the Sun

"Flowers of the Sun"
7 x 5
Pastel on UArt Paper
It's been cloudy most days. Still working through the blahs...so why not a little artificial sun? In trying to get out of a painting rut, I've heard that trying new things, or getting back to basics is a good thing.

I was inspired by some posts by Jen Evenhus on the Pastel Society of America Facebook site. She's been doing some 20 minute paintings. It seemed like a good idea to loosen up and let go. So, I chose something simple - the sunflowers from the grocery store. This is my attempt at a 20 minute painting. I do admit I did a couple of tweaks afterwards, maybe 3-5 minutes worth. It was a fun exercise!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Hide and Peep


Hide and Peep
11 x 8.5
Pastel on Archival Card Stock
Another mostly gray day. I think I have seasonal affective disorder....and it's only been a few days. I would never survive the Pacific NW. Tomorrow is supposed to be pretty. Feeling rather uninspired today. So, because I'm not "in the zone" (of painting that is) I got out the less expensive paper and decided to doodle. Well, I doodled in my sketch book first, then on the paper - it's rust colored and 100% smooth - no sand/texture.

This is "Madonna and Chicks" from Oct 29th, back for a return engagement. Appears to be a game of "Hide and Go Seek" - but the way the way these little chicks play, it's more like "Hide and Peek" or maybe "Hide and Peep". Either way, it looks like fun.

Oh my! I do believe I see some blue sky now!! Hurray!!!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

On the Loose

On the Loose
20 x 16
Pastel on Watercolor paper
with Watercolor underpaint
On the Loose.....not the cow, but me. Just playing around this morning w/a different paper (watercolor), different underpaint, and a loose style. Hence "On the LOOSE". I considered the name "Crazy Cow"...but I didn't want to imply mad cow. I'm just messing around creating ideas around a commission request of a cow(s). Here is another test subject.



Sunday, November 30, 2014

Totem Treasures

Totem Treasures
9 x 12
Pastel on Canson Mi Tientes Paper - Smooth Side
Here are some more treasures from around the house. Once again, while I picked them up randomly, their collective symbology is pretty interesting. These include:


  • Cooper's Hawk Feather - from the yard. The hawk animal totem represents the Messenger. It is "akin to Mercury, the messenger of the gods. Hawk medicine teaches you to be observant, to look at your surroundings....You are only as powerful as your capacity to perceive, receive, and use your abilities."*
  • Small metal sculpture of a bear - given to me by my friend Big. The bear animal totem represents Introspection. "Bear seeks honey, or the sweetness of truth, within the hollow of an old tree. To accomplish the goals and dreams that we carry, the art of introspection is necessary."*
  • Turquoise (and other beads) necklace - Made by Big's friend who runs a cheetah conservation/rescue group in Africa. Turquoise has impressive metaphysical properties... powerful healing stones that filter the fifth element ether, into the etheric body. The natural energy of these stones helps you communicate with truth, are a strong stone of spiritual attunement and effective to aid communication.They have a strong effect within the throat chakra... and they may aid you to manifest clairaudient and clairvoyant abilities... and they help to balance your male and female aspects."**
  • A gourd - a gift from my sister in law. Gourds represent different things such as resurrection or the antidote to evil or longevity depending on your culture/religion.
Does this combination of things mean anything to you? For me, when I put this all together the message for me is "Notice your surroundings - people, places and things; contemplate the significance of these observations and their effects. Communicate and share what you have learned in these experiences. This is the recipe for revitalization and spiritual longevity.



Saturday, November 29, 2014

Transformation

Transformation
12 x 9
Canson Mi Tientes Paper - Smooth Side
The items in this still life represent the pond in my backyard. A wonderful little ecosystem. I added animals including koi and goldfish (aka "de-koi"). I also added plants -  water lily, and lotus, etc. It's also a home for animals who choose to visit such as snakes, blue herons, and dragonflies.

The treasured objects include:
  • A Mexican made flute with a snake image- 
    • Represents serene native american flute music which I enjoy and often listen to when painting
    • The snake on the flute - An animal totem representing transmutation or shedding of the skin - the life-death-rebirth cycle. On a physical level, it represents snakes who live by the pond and eat the frogs, toads, tadpoles and fish
  • A blue heron feather - an animal totem representing the power of knowing the self by discovery of it's gifts and facing its challenges. Blue heron is also the expert fisherman of koi and goldfish (aka "de-koi")
  • The lotus pod - representing the lotus flower once bloomed and seeds for the lotus of the future. The Lotus flower represents purity and spiritual awakening
  • The dragonfly - an animal totem which represents the illusionary facade we accept as physical reality.

Wow. I didn't even realize what I'd put together until I wrote it all out. Hmmm - these are pretty powerful symbols. I don't think it's random. What does it all mean? I'd be interested to hear your interpretations. 

Here's what I put together: A picture in the minds eye of stillness and peace with the music of the flute. Find the medicine of snake within your being for transmutation. Embrace the blue heron medicine and be gifted with the power of personal discovery. Accept the challenges in your life and the grace to walk the life-death-rebirth cycle. See the lotus flower and see your spiritual awakening and with dragonfly, see through the illusions we create for ourselves in this world.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Circle of Life

Circle of Life
9 x 12
Canson Mi Tientes Paper - Textured side
I am back to the easel again, post holidays, Day 2 of stay-cation, 9 more to go. I hope to do a lot of painting over the next week. 

I've found as I look at others' art, I am always and inevitably drawn to still life with the dark moody background - chiaroscuroI also particularly like still life that has meaning, like a puzzle put together by the artist. I've decided to give it a whirl. I bought some black foam core board and made a still life box. Then, I went on the hunt for interesting objects in the house. 

This painting has some found treasures from the past: 

A Decorative Mexican Pot - which once belonged to my mother
A Nest - rescued from a fallen tree in our yard
A Cooper's Hawk Feather - also found in our yard

In my odd little brain, this represents "The Circle of Life": A decorative mexican pot representing my heritage, my mother, and a vessel for growing things. The nest and eggs symbolizing a safe home for mothers giving birth and raising children, who will ultimately leave the nest to begin their own life. Finally, the Cooper's hawk feather, the natural predator of song birds, representing death. It's the beginning and end of life - the circle, and the treasures we collect in between. None of these items are valuable, but they mean the world to me because they represent love and the fragility of life. At this holiday time of year, we pause to take a moment to count our blessings and express gratitude. For me, I am particularly grateful for my family - both by blood and by choice. This includes the family before us, family with us, and family to come. It's all just fleeting, like the blink of an eye in the great cosmic plan. Carpe Diem!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Road with No Name

A Road with No Name
12 x 9
Art Spectrum Deep Ultra
Sometimes, I name my landscapes around the center of focus, or where my mind or spirit were at the time the photo was taken. Contrary to what I've learned, I'm challenged to identify a single center of focus for this painting. Is it the aspens, the road, or maybe it's really all about finding what's around the bend. What strikes you about this painting? What interests you? Where does your eye go? I'm just curious.

The painting is another of the resulta of my efforts on my extra day off yesterday. The subject is one of the many roads in the mountains near Beaver, Utah. I was on a drive with my friends Big and Bigger. We were looking for good photo spots for painting fodder. Alas, a storm was brewing and we wanted to get down the mountain before it hit. It was a moody sky and the smell of rain was in the air. This is my first attempt at Aspens. I have a series of paintings to do for Big and Bigger, so I best get my mountain skills going! Hmmm...I think I have a storm or two to paint as well.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Golden Afternoon

Golden Afternoon
12 x 9
UArt Sanded Paper Elephant Grey
Back in September, I went to Utah to visit my best friend Big. She and I went on a walk to see a pond/watering hole that I painted for her earlier this year. The painting was called "On Midas' Pond" because her golden labrador Midas was investigating it in the photo. On the walk to Midas' pond, we walked through the fields of rabbit brush and sage brush. The rabbit brush was in full golden bloom. It was truly a golden afternoon not only because of the flowers, but also because it was one of those golden moments that will be in my memories for many years to come. 

I had the day off today, so had a good deal of time to paint. I also registered for the IAPS bi-annual convention which will be in June of 2015. Very excited about the opportunity for learning and meeting new friends. 


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Fire Walkin'

Fire Walkin'
12 x 9
Art Spectrum Aubergine
Of all of my friend Gaynor's hens, I have to say this one is one of the most stunning. Those flame tipped feathers against the rich purple black with touches of iridescence. Such rich rich color. I didn't have a full image of this gal, just half. She was on the move, on her way somewhere - high stepping. Perhaps, that day she was hot footing it on a scorching hot day.

It's cold and misty outside today. But this gal, with all her color, has warmed me up, like the warm fire in the fireplace. I think I'll be doing another version of her in the near future.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Flag

Flag
11 x 8.5
Shizen Pastel Paper (Brown)
with Clear Art Spectrum Primer
This guy is a test on some new paper recommended by one of my pastel artist heroes - Enid Wood. The paper is Shizen Pastel Paper. All Shizen papers are handmade in India from 100% recycled materials using a pollution-free process. This acid-free, 200 gsm pastel paper is made from 100% cotton rag and comes in a variety of colors. My sister purchased some and shared a few sheets with me. She recommended I try them with some primer for more tooth. I primed them last weekend before I left for a work trip. They were patiently waiting for me when I got home. These are my first results. This guy is on brown paper with clear primer. The available colors for this paper are absolutely delicious. I look forward to trying some more. What's really cool about these is the deckled edge. I tried to show this in the photo, but since my board is also kind of brown, you can't see the edge well. I'll use a different color next time so the edges are more visible.

The subject is my friend Gaynor's rooster. Sadly, she doesn't have them anymore, nor as of recently, does she have her ducks. A coyote was heard in the distance one evening, and in the morning - the ducks were gone. Anyway, I liked this guy. He seems quite military to me in some way. Very proud and straight. He is mostly white (with some ivory, greenish brown mane feathers) and has of course a red comb and waddle. Since I put his red and white against a blue background - to simulate the blue farm equipment in the background - I realized he's quite patriotic as well - hence his name. Too bad I didn't get to post him on Veteran's Day! 




Friday, November 14, 2014

Pot Calling Hen

Pot Calling Hen
10 x 10
Pastel on UArt Sanded Paper
This is the hen that started it all. Rhoda. Many years ago, my friend Gaynor showed me a photo of her hen Rhoda. This hen decided the pot with the asparagus fern was a comfy nest. Since then, I've also seen photos of Gaynor's hens making a home in a chimenea. It's just such a unusual and comical sight! In this case, I liked Rhoda so well I decided to paint her. Back then, I had some very old inexpensive pastels and Bristol board. Even with the rudimentary tools, I enjoyed the experience so well, I kept painting, and painting and painting.



Thursday, November 13, 2014

Everywhere a Chick Chick

Everywhere a Chick Chick
12 x 9
Pastel on Art Spectrum Sanded Paper
Old Mac Donald had a farm, E I E I O
And on that farm he had some chicks, E I E I O
With a chick chick here and a chick chick there
Here a chick, there a chick, everywhere a chick chick!
Old Mac Donald had a farm, E I E I O

This hen has got her work cut out for her. She seems to be looking at all these little chicks around her and wondering what she should do. At first, I thought, maybe she should be "The Chicken in a Shoe"..who had so many children she didn't know what to do. But, clearly, she's not in a shoe. So, I went with the "Old Mac Donald" reference. This painting has been on my easel for a very long while just waiting for finishing touches. I finally got to a point where the rest of my life allowed me some time to do just that. It felt really good to have pastels in my hand again! 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Madonna and Chicks

Madonna and Chicks
12 x 9
Art Spectrum Sanded Paper in Terra Cotta

This is Madonna and her Chicks, and I don't mean the "Material Girl" with a bunch of her dancers. No, this is something much more fluffy and quiet. This is another one of my friend Gaynor's chickens. This lovely hen just seems so content, or maybe she is just worn out. Anyway, this was too lovely it just begged to be painted. 

I started this one on Art Spectrum Sanded Paper in Terra Cotta. I sketched it in, then underpainted with Pan Pastels. From there, it's my usual combination of soft pastels. I did do some editing and added the top of what I would have expected the photo to be. I had another reference photo where Madonna's tail feathers were showing. I hope you enjoy her as much as I enjoyed painting her. Thank you again to Gaynor!