Sunday, July 31, 2016

Alma Azul (Blue Soul)

Alma Azul
(Blue Soul)
22 x 15
Patel on Stonehenge

Last year, we went to Tulum to see the Mayan ruins, swim in cenotes and celebrate life. I'm a big fan of the mystical things in life and am blessed to love someone who feels the same way I do. On one of the days we explored the area, we went up to Chichen Itza. We left really early so when we arrived it wasn't too hot and the light was just right. 

Imagine my absolute and utter joy to see a Blue Morpho butterfly during our walk in the ruins. I was enthralled and chased it around like a child. As we continued our walk, I spotted rectangular black butterflies w/red bands, and finally a few monarchs. On another day, on our the way to Dos Ojos cenote, we spotted the most beautiful blue and black birds with yellow feet and beaks. Once home, I knew there needed to be a series of paintings - The Tulum Series. 

This is the first in the series and I've been stewing on it for quite some time. I ordered Blue Morpho butterflies to study, along with monarchs and the red banded one. I did a pencil color drawing of the Blue Morpho on March 27, 2016. Here are several studies of the painting composition. The first thing I just "knew" I needed to do was to create the Mayan glyphs. I worked on unsanded paper, and used Art Spectrum texture to create raised glyphs. I knew the blue morpho needed it's color compliment of orange and I just happened to spy some gorgeous orange flowers while there.

I "knew" the time was ripe to begin this painting series. What sealed the deal was that my brother in law recently found caterpillars on his parsely. He's gotten them more parsley and brought them inside to watch them go through their transformation. Pair that with needing a series of paintings that's more tropical as I prepare for a show on the Texas coast over Labor Day weekend.

Here's the various studies for this painting...


First study on Stonehenge smooth paper
using clear texture for glyphs

Trying sanded paper w/additional Texture
not pronounced enough

Black Canson w/Aubergine Art Spectrum Texture
LOVED this

One more try on Canson.....
Realized I liked the blue butterfly better
against the black side - better value shifts
The Orange Flowers on the side of the road








Sunday, July 24, 2016

Agave Entropy

Agave Entropy
19.5 x 25.5
Pastel on Sennelier LaCarte

What fascinated me about this agave was the leaves at the bottom that were going woody and decaying. I love the beautiful rusty color they present and the interest of the pock marks. Yes, even in our decline we are still beautiful.

I struggle with what to name this painting. Desert Rust was my first instinct, but this painting is not about the desert, nor do all agave live in the desert. What fascinated me was the decline of the leaves. Since I was in a 'spacey' mood yesterday, the physics term of entropy came to mind. But, still thinking on 'rust', I went to the thesaurus. Sure enough, the same words came up, in entropy as they did in rust. So...I'm going w/entropy.

It was a long painting day yesterday, and this one carried over into a second day. I got up super early so I could finish while I still felt "in the zone". I know when paintings flow and I don't fight with them, I'm doing the right thing. I'm feeling pretty good since I've had 3 in a row like that - Green Javelin, Blue Agave Supernova, and now Agave Entropy. Here's a few progress shots.






Saturday, July 23, 2016

Blue Agave Supernova

Blue Agave Supernova
25.5 x 19.5
Pastel on Sennelier LaCarte
I've been wanting to paint this particular agave for some time. I couldn't get it off my mind. As I browsed through my agave photo resources, I kept coming back to this one over and over. I really wanted to do a landscape orientation, but this one kept saying "Paint ME!". So I did. I know tomorrow I'm going to see Star Trek Beyond..dine in, recliners, popcorn at the push of a button. Therefore, today needed to be a day filled with art - from wake till sleep. 

When naming this painting, I didn't even consciously realize tomorrow was going to be "space" day. But, as always, my subconscious knew. This is another larger painting for me - two to four times the 'usual' size. Therefore, it needed to be a big name. While I'd like to say a star was born, the truth is that a Super Nova is the end - or is it the beginning of something else. This star went Supernova - a blue agave star. 

Excerpts from "What is a Supernova?" 

http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/5-8/features/nasa-knows/what-is-a-supernova.html

What Causes a Supernova?
A supernova happens where there is a change in the core, or center, of a star. A change can occur in two different ways, with both resulting in a supernova.

The first type of supernova happens in binary star systems. Binary stars are two stars that orbit the same point. One of the stars, a carbon-oxygen white dwarf, steals matter from its companion star. Eventually, the white dwarf accumulates too much matter. Having too much matter causes the star to explode, resulting in a supernova.

The second type of supernova occurs at the end of a single star’s lifetime. As the star runs out of nuclear fuel, some of its mass flows into its core. Eventually, the core is so heavy that it cannot withstand its own gravitational force. The core collapses, which results in the giant explosion of a supernova. The sun is a single star, but it does not have enough mass to become a supernova.


Why Do Scientists Study Supernovas?

A supernova burns for only a short period of time, but it can tell scientists a lot about the universe.


One kind of supernova has shown scientists that we live in an expanding universe, one that is growing at an ever increasing rate.

Scientists also have determined that supernovas play a key role in distributing elements throughout the universe. When the star explodes, it shoots elements and debris into space. Many of the elements we find here on Earth are made in the core of stars. These elements travel on to form new stars, planets and everything else in the universe.


Here are some shots of the genesis of this "Blue Agave Supernova"




Coffee  - a necessary ingredient
in my cup with a quote from
Alice in Wonderland
"Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality"

The color selection - and my foot




Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Green Javelin

Green Javelin
19.5 x 25.5
Pastel on Sennelier LaCarte

Sometimes it's hard to know when a painting is done. Then you realize, it's an important day, and it should be finished today, as an honor or tribute. On this day, July 20th, 23 years ago, my mother passed away. She waited until her husband and all of her biological children were out of the room and asleep in the other rooms of the house. Finally, she knew it was time to rest and let go, and under the loving and dutiful watch of our very special sister in law, she slipped away into the great beyond. I was never more grateful for my sister in law than in those moments. She came and woke us, and we all gathered around my mother's bed, held hands and prayed together. For days afterwards, my mother followed me around in the form of a hummingbird. It was only later in life that I learned the Mayans believed that the spirit form often presented in the Monarch butterfly and hummingbird.

For years, I wandered about looking for my special purpose in life. When I'd had enough of the thrashing about, I found a new peaceful way of life. The steps to do so were simple, but not easy. Once I found serenity and became more peaceful and still, my artistic gift poured forth again. I felt like a child again exploring the world with new eyes. 

My mother had a green thumb up to her elbow. She loved plants, gardening, birds and her family. She was strong and beautiful, but never thought she was. I think she would have liked that I honor the beauty of nature in my paintings. I think she would have been pleased I simply honored my artistic gift. When I was little, she would set me up in the backyard under the trees with a huge drawing pad and crayons. I'm glad to be that little girl with her crayons again.

Green Javelin is a painting of an agave I visited at the Chihuahua Desert Research Institute outside of Fort Davis, Texas. It was a wonderful trip to West Texas with my childhood friend and our significant others. I've also done another painting of the same agave called Green Arrow. That was an homage to the Marvel superhero character Green Arrow. But Green Javelin is about the real superhero - my mom. I miss you every day mom. This one's for you.







Friday, July 15, 2016

Blue Cicatrix

Blue Cicatrix
12 x 9
Pastel on Art Spectrum Terra Cotta

This is the last of this series of Blue Agave - 5 in total. Blue lines, blue honor. This agave was very interesting to me because of the scarring on the leaves. They were very distinct. When I was doing my agave superhero series (See Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Green Goblin, Mystique) I considered doing this one and calling him Nightcrawler. I just didn't know if anyone would buy a painting by that name as it seems somewhat frightening. But, I'm an X Men fan and I do like Nightcrawler, so I may revisit this agave, in a much larger size. 

Here's the photo of the agave in real life. Once again, I only captured one progress shot because I was seriously in the zone as I painted this one...it flowed and it was so nice to flow.....


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Blue Glow Red Line

Blue Glow Red Line
12 x 9
Pastel on Art Spectrum Terra Cotta

Meet the Blue Glow Agave. In my opinion, aside from Mr Ripple, the Blue Glow is one of my favorites (I know I know, they are ALL my favorites). Blue Glow is absolutely gorgeous in the sunlight. Red and yellow lined margins truly light up.

I'm enjoying doing these blues on terra cotta paper. I'm not underpainting, just digging right in. I'm delighted w/the terra cotta peeking through in the blue - really warms them up. I think I have a few more sheets of terra cotta - so maybe a few more blues to do. Then maybe I'll go back to the green agave for a bit. After that, it may be some barrels and potentially more Opuntia. Somewhere soon, I need to do some colored pencil hummingbirds.

I'd share a bunch of progress shots with you, but I was so in the zone, I only took the initial shot....


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Blue Rays

Blue Rays
12 x 9
Pastel on Art Spectrum Olive Green
This is one of those paintings that has had two iterations. I started this painting, then decided it didn't 'speak' to me, so I wiped it down and started again. I had to look again and what drew me to the image. While sometimes it's color or light, in this case, it really was about the composition - or shapes in the leaves. The curves or the 'burst' of rays from a central point. I also liked the light play on the leaves as the sun peeks through the trees above. 

Here are the progress shots including the wipe down and spray with alcohol to melt the pastel. I then brushed over it while wet. Now that I look at the progress shots again I think I'd like to do a painting entirely in pan pastel - which is the underpainting - I like it!


Pan Pastel underpainting

Version 1 - I didn't like the red thorn lines

Wipe down, spray with alcohol and brush over

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Blue Agave Armor

Blue Agave Armor
12 x 9
Pastel on Art Spectrum Raw Sienna

As I'm focused on using blue pastels, I thought I'd do another blue agave. Well, turns out, this blue has purple, violet, blue, khaki, olive green teal, sea green, magenta/fuchsia and lavender. So, technically, only one blue pastel.

What fascinated me about this agave plate of armor was the gradient from dark to light, the depth and light. As I was naming the painting, I couldn't help but think of our men in blue. My prayers go out to them all.

Here are some progress shots - I did this painting on raw sienna paper.






Monday, July 11, 2016

Hot Blues

Hot Blues
12 x 9
Pastel on Art Spectrum Terra Cotta Sanded Paper
Last weekend at Rockport, I sold out on all my latest Agave Originals. Every one that I framed sold, plus 2 more from the bin. So, it's time to make some new ones for upcoming shows. 

I cleaned my pastels over the weekend. I've been putting it off since last summer when I went to IAPS. I made the mistake of checking my pastel box, yup, not doing that again. I had some squashed pieces. Further, as I've avoided that, as I've been working, I've haven't been cleaning and putting away the pastels I used during painting. This resulted in a dusty jumbled up mess. I could hardly tell what colors they were any more. So, 2.5 hours later, I now have clean pastels. As I cleaned my travel box that is arranged by hue and value, I removed a lot of broken pieces. The reds and greens took a big hit during travel, but the blues remained almost unscathed. I still have ALOT of blues. So....I'll be doing a lot of blue agave soon. 

This one is from a source photo from the Chihuahua Desert Research Institute on the outskirts of Fort Davis, Texas. I did this one on Terra Cotta paper  which gave it an underlying warmth. I also liked the orange toned "heat" in the background - which is of course the complement to blue. More Blues on the way! Seems appropriate for an Austinite (well burbs anyway).

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Breakfast: Aloe Side Up

Breakfast: Aloe Side Up
18 x 12
Pastel on UArt 500 Sanded Paper


Here's #3 in the "Second Breakfast" series - Mr Gila Woodpecker enjoying a sugary kabob of aloe for his breakfast. Thank you to my friend Michael Searcy for the resource photo on this one. I've been wanting to draw these aloe with a bird for some time. I enjoy the symmetry and pattern of the aloe flowers (see also Aloe Treasure). 

I struggled with this painting as well. I've not been in a good mental state for painting. As much as I try, I'm not in that peaceful serene place...and paintings are a challenge during those times. While I have no progress shots of this guy, the process started with me doing a pastel/alcohol wash. I started the painting, then wiped it down and started again. Sometimes, just knowing when to stop is hard...is it done? does it need more? This painting is a departure for me, a different sort of background and no cacti. 

There need to be two more in the pieces to the series. I am certain I will do some starlings I captured mining in an agave bloom - Breakfast Sunny Side Up. The final piece - not sure. May be a curve billed thrasher or another Gila. I did hummingbirds with an agave bloom some time ago (Sweet Spire) - but that was more about the bloom vs the birds. I do have some images that are a bit different with an agave bloom and hummingbird - maybe that one will be Grand Slam Breakfast - simply because the bloom is enormous compared to the little bird.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Floral Frittata Breakfast


Floral Frittata Breakfast
18 x 12
Pastel on UArt 500 Sanded Paper

There are paintings that flow and those that fry our brains. This one was one of the latter. I struggled with this painting from start to finish. I liked how the Flicker turned out and I thank Michael Searcy for the source photo on the bird. I used a different photo for the Ocotillo, one I had taken with a Gila woodpecker among them. But the ocotillo had no leaves. This left the painting drab - blue and red and mostly grey. So, I took the painting to my tablet and added leaves and that did the trick, so I translated them to the painting.

Then I started to name this painting, and struggled there as well. This painting is part of the series I've dubbed "Second Breakfasts" which is the sequel to my series called "Desert Breakfast Club". So, how could I name this something to do with breakfast? I figured the Flicker was taking sugary treats from the Ocotillo as they do other cactus blooms. Sweet Bread, pancakes and syrup crossed my mind. Of course, since I do like a good alliteration, Fritatta was clearly the breakfast of choice.