Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Smells Like Rain

Walking around the backyard this morning as the sun was coming up from behind the mountains, you could smell the rain. In Arizona I have heard it said, if you rub the leaves of the creosote bush together, it is the smell of rain in the desert. I must admit I have tried it and find it is true.

The east coast rain is much earthier, the moss, the rich soil and layers of leaves give it that special smell. Right now, the east coast might prefer rain to the white stuff it is getting. As I type this the rain has started again. It rained last night and should only rain for part of the day.

The rain is always beneficial but when it rains in the winter out west it means beautiful, abundant fields of wildflowers. March is when the flowers really start to pop, not only the wild flowers but the cactus begin to bloom. Until then I will enjoy the smell of the rain and know the flowers are not far behind.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Knock Off The Ole' Block

Chip off the old block - interesting phrase but I am taking it into a different direction. It does have it's roots in things that look alike. I am going for the blocking in technique that I use with my art. I have been talking with many people lately about techniques. The Celebration of Arts show was overwhelming to take in this block of work all at once, requires that you go back for a few visits. Talked technical approaches with the artists there and my own solo show people ask me how I create my pieces.

This is when the blocking comes in, I work in a whole painting process. I don't paint in a direct style as many plein air painters do, for me it just doesn't work. I don't start at one point, finish that area and move up, down or across the image. I tone my paper, canvas or board. I work in a reductive-additive process. If my paper is pre-toned then I can do a rough sketch, adjust proportions as needed and block in under colors.

Under color, what is that and why is it needed? They are the colors that you don't really see. The colors that bring the complementary pigments forward in the painting. I work in blues a lot but there can be just as much of the orange color family within or under those blues. I often try to work a limited palette, using a base color to tone the paper, one other color in the same family, black and white. Animals like cheetahs, leopards, tigers, lend themselves to that limitation. Other objects in nature, like rocks have so very many colors in them that it is hard to not play with them all.

Since a picture helps to tell the story of how things get blocked in, here are a few step by steps of rocks from Fox Island in Alaska, along with an eagle feather. I did start this piece plein air, getting the sketch done on blue Rives BFK paper. Blocked in the under colors and took lots of photos to finish up the work in the studio.

Blue Rocks and Eagle Feather - pastel on Blue Rives BFK Paper

Plein Air sketch & blocking in of under color

Continued working plein air, it was 9 pm in Alaska worked for an hour

Working in the studio from photo references

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Do You Ever Think Too Much?

The beginning of the new year is always filled with good intentions. Not just the usual health-life things we say we are going to do but with ideas, new inspiration. Do you ever just think too much, have too many ideas? I do, I try to put them in order of priority. What does that mean to an artist? Priority is what show is coming up next and is there a theme to that show? Am I teaching a workshop? Making paper, books or framing? Submitting proposals? Or, do I just need to be in the studio working?

Yesterday was appointment day, not going to but making, lots of time on the phone, on the computer and just making lots of notes. When I did the paper making demonstration on Monday at Boyce Thompson Arboretum it got me in the flow, in that state of mind to just make paper. But, I had to break it down, bring it back to the studio and just stop. It was hard, I wanted to make more paper. It is a mild addiction, I just like working with paper, painting on it, drawing on it, making sketch books, making paper.

First things first, I need to finish the 30-30 challenge. I am using this time to work out ideas, preliminary sketches for oil or pastel paintings. I completed works and finishing up a couple larger pieces that have just taken a long time to complete. I am trying not to stress over doing this as it is meant to be stress-free and fun. But, there is a bit on a desire to complete the task, make that daily post, at least do something every day. Not sure what today's post will be....maybe something on handmade paper.

If you are interested in making paper with me the workshop is scheduled for Feb. 5-6-7-8 from 11:00-3:00. Check the web site for pricing and details. http://www.lindaharrisonparsons.com

Making Paper in Zambia

The beginning of the tree pastel

30-30 still a work in progress but getting closer

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Dog Daze

Well, it is not summer but I am going with Dog Daze of Sunday. I was cleaning up photo files last night, backing them up, deleting them off the computer and getting some inspiration. When my computer is turned on each day I never know what image will pop up as the screen saver. I have several that rotate throughout the day. Today's first image was a puppy from our Alaska trip. His future would be in training as a sled dog in Denali. Soft, fuzzy and so very cute. It is because of that picture that I thought today's 3 in 5 FB post would be dogs.

Growing up we had dogs, cats and other critters. When we started traveling for longer periods of time we only had cats. Right now we are without any furry friends, as our two cats passed over the last year. I have been able to enjoy the pleasure of my friends dogs and cats. Often resulting in a commission for them. I have done paintings of service dogs, companion dogs it is always an honor to be ask to do a piece of work that is so personal to the individual.

Animals, all animals are a favorite subject of mine but when I do a commission it becomes a labor of love. Making sure that the colors are correct, that the eyes speak to the owner. That the spirit and love are captured in the portrait. If you are interested in a commission of your extended family member just send me a e-mail and we can work out the details.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

One Size

In nature no one size fits all, as Rick & I walked around the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix yesterday I kept looking at some of the new trees they have and the unique shapes. The Boojum tree is one of those that is very different. It is native to the southwest, it is a species unto itself. It has a cone type shape with little branches come out all over it but not thickly covered. I don't see myself drawing the whole tree, maybe a branched area with a bird sitting in there. They have several new ones that were donated to the gardens.

We continued to walk around seeing the  palo verde and palo blanco, one has a very green bark, while the other is white with a light under color of green. Both are native to the S/W and have learned to survive because of the green pigment in the bark. The leaves are very small, one is even called the Little Leaf Palo Verde. Another native tree is the Mesquite with it's great textural bark, wonderful reddish under tones and seed pods that can be used for smoking/cooking. Last for today was the Quiver tree, this tree can be found in the S/W but I have seen this tree in South Africa too. This one I did a drawing of and will do another, maybe this year. It is the first time I have ever seen the Quiver tree in flower.

I used trees as my post today for the FB 3 paintings for 5 days I thought this was a good match. Here are a few photos to go along with the pieces already on FB. If you are in town you do want to put going to the DBG on your list of to dos and the zoo is right next door.

Quiver tree from South Africa
Quiver Tree AZ
Boojum Tree

Quiver Tree in Bloom

Mesquite Tree

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Artists for Conservation Exhibition

When we go to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, one of the things I always make a point of doing is going to the Ironwood Gallery. This year we discovered they are showing in the Baldwin Education Building, a bonus of art.

The Ironwood Gallery has on exhibit Artists for Conservation: A Juried International Exhibition of Nature in Art. The show will be on view from January 10th - March 8th, 2015. Check the web site for hours and additional special events. http://www.desertmuseum.org

"The exhibit was created to celebrate artistic excellence in the depiction of nature, raise awareness of conservation issues, and support organizations dedicated to addressing them." This quote comes from the book they have on sale at the gallery for the show. Looking around you will see that all the works on sale have information as to what conservation organization a percentage of the sale goes to assist. The average donation is 40% with the artist, after any other commissions, maintaining a percentage.

As a nature artist I enjoyed the show, some pieces kept me coming back to look at how they did that. The technique is always intriguing, composition, color, image and framing are the things I look at from an artist eye. But, I like what these artists are doing to help keep our wild places and wild life from being extinct in our life time. For more information on this organization here is the link. http://artistsforconservation.com

Artist - Gemma Gylling "Animal Totem: Cougar and the Cloud Spirits" colored pencil 

Artist: Pat Latas "The Mircle Egg: the story of "Lisa 1" the kakapo" colored pencil & digital

Ironwood Gallery - Artists for Conservation

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

All About The Hummingbirds

I guess I was meant to draw a hummingbird for today's post of the 30/30 challenge. In Tucson we went to the hummingbird aviary. Today a hummingbird was hit by another hummer and knocked into our glass door. They are little warriors and protect what they feel is their territory. It was a small female, she could move her wings, and her neck. It was a bit windy and cool today, so I put her on a soft piece of material and gently wrapped it over her. I put one of the feeders down near her. I stayed for awhile but thought she may not want to move because I am there.

When I returned she was gone, fly away...or stay.

She was building her nest.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Blue & Yellow Did Make The Green

Hiked Sabino Canyon Sunday. What a beautiful day, walking down the mountain, crossing flooded bridges, because the river was flowing and the cottonwood leaves just took my breath away.
It looks more like fall in the canyon. The crisp blue sky, the intense yellow of the cottonwood and willow trees, made the green of cactus plus bushes and a tree yet to be named just brilliant. 
The neutrals of the mountains were again creating abstract paintings for me. Granite black, white and a blend that is only found locally. River rocks spotted with greys and soft browns. Sandy shores creamy in color and texture. It was a great way to spend the day. Just have to see where all this inspiration from the weekend takes my art.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Just A Touch Of Red

There is always something blooming in the high desert of Arizona. We went to the Living Desert Museum Saturday. As we walked around there was a cactus in bloom with small red flowers. Pretty impressive, it is winter here and there has been snow this year.

Walking around we saw little touches of red here and there. Sometimes all it takes is that little touch of red.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Lions - Tigers - Bears...

And a 500 pound baby elephant named Nandi at the Reid Park Zoo, Tucson, AZ. We are doing our traditional New Year trip to Tucson and this year our something new is the zoo! It is small compared to some but they have a baby elephant for the main attraction, she is funny, cute and will not disappoint.

Along with spending time with the elephants, there were giraffes, lots of birds, magnificent looking lions - male and his ladies. Lots of great inspiration for future works!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Fruits Of Our Labor

Art Walk in Old Scottsdale is every Thursday night. We went down for first time this year. There is a local winery tasting room, Su Vino, that we enjoy stopping in for app's & tasting. Which we did last night. Sitting at the bar area I was able to get a little sketch in while we enjoy the fruit of the vine. 
Hoping to start a once a month get together with fellow artists in the area for sketch night Art Walk. Stopping at Su Vino was a bit of a test run and think it will be a good place to start. Fourth Thursday will be Journaling date, January 22nd meeting at Su Vino just off Main St. At 5:00 pm. Bring sketchbook & dry medium to work with. Let me know if you plan to come- email me at: lhp5536@aol.com

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Nature's Watercolors

Going through photographs this morning to print references for the 30/30 Challenge and other projects. I was reminded of the walk around Boyce Thompson Arboretum. The snow was melting quickly leaving patterns and intensifying the colors in nature.

The trees had the quality of an abstract painting with a watercolor effect. The drips that ran down the bark, that danced on the leaves and increased hues of color. These are those moments in nature that keep me coming back to study those little details.

I am not an abstract painter but I do use those elements as the background of my painting. Even the randomness of the coffee stained works. The form that appears tells me what comes next. Nature is full of surprises, we just need to keep our eyes open, listen a little and let Mother Nature do her thing.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

On The Loose

Yesterday was one of those days. Everything I worked on lead me to a wall. Finally had to walk away from the computer. Missed that it was National Bird Day. Who comes up with these ideas? Can anyone make it Narional Something Day?

I tried sitting outside working on a little pastel. Thought I was keeping it loose but kept seeing too much. Too much detail, too many colors and I couldn't focus. I wiped it out left it to become the background for another day. 

What now? I changed directions, pulled out a few pictures of lion cubs. Grabbed a pencil and sketchbook. I have any idea for a painting, working out the details before I lay it out on canvas or cotton rag paper helps me see proportions. I start out with a mix between cross-contour drawing and gesture. Holding my pencil near the top so I don't focus on details. Looking with my eye and letting my hand, not my head do the work. I will do several of these types of sketches before I feel comfortable with my subject matter. 
It is a lot harder to work loose then you would think. Doing gesture and contour drawings is one of the best ways to improve you skills. They are the exercise of art. Keeping it loose helps you to see, relaxes the hand/arm contour and can be meditative for the mind. Try a few, let go and loosen up - watch that wall tumble down.

Contour: Drawing in a continuing line following the outline form.
Cross Contour: continuous line drawing crossing into the form. Keeping the pencil/pen to paper and eye on subject.
Gesture: scribble like motion in drawing. Using the line, thin, thick, line or draw to determine the form.
Day 7 of 30/30 lion cub graphite 

Monday, January 5, 2015

There May Have Been Howling

Last night we watched the "Wolf Moon" rise from behind the mountains. In the background you could hear dogs, coyotes yipping away. I am sure somewhere there were wolves howling. The great horned owls called to each other. It was a lovely way to spend the evening.

The "Wolf Moon" is accredited with getting it's name from the Algonquin tribe. It is said, that the wolves howl as they are hunting in the hard winter.

This is the first full moon of 2015. The month of January, Venus and Mercury can be seen in a conjunction. When two planets, in this case, ascend in the same sky. This should be visible through January 15th. As the moon wanes, Jupiter will make an appearance.

I love that I can go stand out back and watch the moon rise, the sun rise and to the front see the sunset behind Camelback Mountain. This is the way to get a little inspiration for the new year.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Mellow Yellow

I am referring to the soft yellows I have been seeing in the skies lately. Not the soft drink. Is that even still in production? 

I am not a landscape painter. It is often overwhelming when I go out in nature and try to paint the mountains, trees and fields. There is just too much information. 

The early morning light with the mist of recent moisture ( high elevation snow) has created some beautiful light effects. A softness, limited details keeping me from trying to record every leaf or cactus spine I see. I have captured some nice photographs as references to try a few small paintings. We shall see how the glow of the soft mellow yellow works in helping me do a few more landscapes. Next might do a few quick sunrise or sunset plein aire paintings. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Already A Great Start

It has already been a great, surprising start to the new year. First time I have seen snow on cactus. But, I wanted to take a look back over last year - 2014 - just a few days gone by, memories to keep, as there are new ones in the making for 2015.
Day 1 30-30 2014 Funny Face

Wild Horses at Salt River in AZ

Street Mural, Phoenix, AZ

John came to AZ and we saw him again in OR


Some Birthday Celebration at Colonial Beach
Beach time with VA Tech friends, SC
Mtn. Lake with Dolores & Tim

Solo show at the Alumni Gallery, VA Tech

Hike up to Cascase Falls in VA
What's a trip to Boston without a tour

Teaching at Common Ground on the Hill

Gals trip to CA - Napa and more

Baltimore to meet up with Beccy & Wayne and of course have Blue Crabs

A few stops at Country Pleasures Farm to see Friends Eric & Lori

Trip to FL to hang with Debby at the beach

Thanksgiving in GA 
Luminaries at the Desert Botanical Garden

Day 1 30/30 Challenge  2015

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...