Friday, November 21, 2014

What's Old Is New Again

This week we had an opportunity to go to Wytheville, VA. Stopping by the new hotel named after Edith Bolling Wilson. There is a museum of her birthplace. Edith Bolling Wilson was the First Lady to President Woodrow Wilson. She was also a descendant of Pocahontas and other people in history whose names you would recognize. The museum features the stories of a strong woman, a political woman paving the way for the future of women. There are stories of canaries, orchids and bourbon, which you may just have to take a little trip to discover the whole story.

Wytheville was incorporated in 1889, rich in history as Evansham County, part of the Cumberland Gap. In 1863 Toland's Raiders captured the town. In 1864 & 1865 it was occupied by Union troops. The Old hotel was built in 1927, it has had many lives but what was old is new again, Bolling Wilson Hotel: located at 170 E. Main St., Wytheville, VA. A cross between charming historic and elegant contemporary. Included in the hotel is Graze Restaurant. Rick & I had a wonderful meal with the owners Bill & Farron Smith.

If you are driving along the east coast from here to there it is the perfect stopping point. There are local art galleries, a dinner theater and history to explore. As an artist if you like painting town scenes this is a place to go, if you prefer nature, horses well they are not far down the road. Next time you are looking for a little get away, an artists retreat you may want to check out Wytheville.

Edith Bolling Wilson photo from the Musuem & hotel in her name

Graze Restaurant & Bar

View from Bolling Wilson Hotel

Wytheville, VA

There's always a story of canaries...

Monday, November 17, 2014

Playing In Photoshop

Now that I have new paints to play with, I need subjects. So, I go to my photo folders, in which there are many. After picking a few images to think about, I put them in photoshop. Sometimes I just print a straight out color photo on good photo paper. But, there are times when I play around in photoshop. I will convert the image to B&W, then take it into filters and make a line drawing from the B&W image. Usually, requires a little adjustment with brightness or darkness. This will give me a nice breakdown of the base image, removing much of the detail that can get in the way before the structure is applied to the paper or canvas. From there I can use the color photo to add layers of colors.

Taking the play time a little farther, I experiment with a different photo. I looked at it with the many filters, doing some line work, simplifying the background. Then using photo filters to add warmth or coolness. I tend towards the cool, the blues, this can help me look at my color palette. Reminding me to look at the warm colors, maybe use them as under-colors.

warm photo filter

cool photo filter

Enough of the play time, now I will pick out my image and go to work.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Little Fun

On my way back to VA from FL I made a stop in NC. Jerry's Artorama is hosting the Art Product Fair in Raleigh, NC this weekend.

There are lots of art instructors and vender from all over the country. It was a bit overwhelming but I still managed to find a few things I needed, a few I wanted and a few just because.

No excuses not to get painting - new paints - new toys - new day! Time to have some fun!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Reasons Why

There are reasons why we all do what we do - why some artist choose one medium, style or subject matter. I believe in the connection between humans and their animals. I believe in the connections between land, sea, air and creatures that live within.

This week I finished the pastel painting of "Cody", a special dog portrait for a special friend. It is one of the reasons I am in Florida. I like to deliver special works unframed, so that any last moment changes can be easily made. The background colors are selected, the direction of image, vertical or horizontal is determined in the beginning, size of image, plus matting and framing. The technical part is at the beginning and the end. The middle is where an artists gets lost in their work.

The work comes from the heart, I am touched by the connections. It is why I do what I am doing and loving my job.

"Cody" pastel on Rives BFK paper 15X18" image

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Braving The Waves

Each day in life we brave the nature of the waves. Some times the seas are calm, then the winds blow in a direction we were not expecting and the waves get a bit choppy.

Life and art can take us in many, any direction, at any time. All we can do is continue to move forward. If something isn't working, stop, focus, and re-direct as needed.

As I have been watching the changing waves of the gulf, I have been thinking of the changes that are coming for art, art shows, and life in general in the next year or two. Be brave , for waves are never in our control.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

It's Cool

I am in Florida delivering a commission, visiting with friends and enjoying the cool colors. Cool on the color chart - the blues and greens.
Capturing the light on a white bird against the blue sky. A bird running along the shore as the blue-green waves break.  The green foliage, with fruits and flowers. All of these are music to my eyes. Blue is my favorite color. It was used as the background for the dog portrait I brought down to FL. Watching the blue peaking out from morning clouds. Blue is the balance for me, cool, calming color and what is used to make green. 
While I am here there will be lots of photos that will feature blues and greens.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

It's All About the Browns

I love toned paper, I like to take that white surface and cover it with one color. Shades of brown happen to be one that I use a lot, when I am not using blue. Burnt Sienna, a warm rusty red tone, rich and great for fall leaves. Burnt Umber, Raw Sienna, even the names are so much prettier then - Brown.

Since the fall colors are just about gone, we can focus on those variations of browns. The crispness of the leave, displays the graphic line making it oh so much fun to draw. Take a few minutes this weekend, go pick up some dried, brown leaves and just look at how beautiful they are, how amazing Mother Nature can be taking away the color but giving us a design element.

Try doing a toned paper sketch. Tape your drawing paper to a board, what ever you favorite is should work, my is Rives BFK. Take the side of a stick of soft pastel, rub it all over the paper. Use your hands, a gloved hand, a cloth or even a brush and push the pastel around to create a smooth even surface. Do a light drawing of your leaf with vine charcoal or charcoal pencil. Use a kneaded eraser and pull out some of the lightest areas, add details with charcoal or pastel pencils. Easy and pretty quick depending on the level of detail you would like to accomplish.

Done plein air in the reductive technique, it took several visits.

Toned technique works with animals as well as leaves

Brown leaves with harvest grapes

Shades of brown against a blue sky - prefection


As I was driving down 81-S I crossed over the New River. I thought about how the foliage was already leaving us and Old Man Winter was not too far away.

I seem to be doing a lot of leaving to arrive somewhere new. It may only be that it is new for the day, the week, the winter, but new to this year. There are always new things to explore.

Heading south the skies cleared a bit, the temperatures are a little warmer. The winds that came through last week, cleared a lot of branches even this far south. Some colors remains but not for long.

The trees are baring themselves, for drawings yet to be created and tomorrow leaving to go even farther south, to see what is new again.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Changing Time Not Seasons

Mother Nature seems to be a little confused, but the Farmers Almanac is pretty accurate. On the east coast and in the middle of the country there is snow. Some areas 3-5 inches, in Virginia south of me there is anywhere from a 1/2 inch to 2 inches and it is still coming down. There was a lot of rain yesterday and more to come today with possible flurries. It is still fall isn't it?

Time changes this weekend, not the seasons but it is getting that winter feeling. It is the 305th day of the year with only 60 days till the end of the year. Today is All Saints Day, a day to celebrate all the saints. Is there a weather saint? The Farmers Almanac shows along the east coast that it will bring wet weather around Thanksgiving and wet snow around Christmas. Even down to Florida looks to be cooler. Arizona looks like it may be cooler, last year was 10 degrees above normal with only a few days of rain throughout the winter.

We still have leaves on the trees but over this next week I am pretty sure they will be gone or at least brown. The bright yellow ginkgo, the rusty sycamores, the glow of the maples have been harder to capture this year. I have even taken pictures in the rain. I was hoping to get out for a hike in the woods before all the leaves fell but don't think that will happen. Will just have to enjoy the moment, enjoy the day - before the snow arrives!

What's That Sound???

You know you are in Wyoming when you wake to the sound of horses. With limited wi-fi service it has been a lot harder to get blogs written a...