"God's art [Creation] speaks of Himself, reflecting who He is and what He is like."
Francis Chan

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

WIP - A Day of Plein Air

                             I got a chance to spend a lovely day with my oldest son, Micah's, girlfriend, Victoria.  She is an art major at U of I  and we had been talking for a long time about getting together to paint.  She has never used oils before and wanted to learn how.  Micah is overseas on a mission trip this summer, so that gives her a little more free time.  
                      On "Work in Progress Wednesday" I thought what better than to show us at work, in progress, on plein air paintings....
We started out about 9:00 this morning, sitting in our garden, overlooking the garden pictured above.  One note:  this is not what the sky looked like this morning!  This is actually a picture of the same garden that I had taken a few years back as storms were rolling in.  In Iowa, if the sky looks like this we wouldn't sit in our back yard and paint a picture - we would head for cover in our basement or storm cellar.  But I digress...
We began by laying in the basic shapes of the painting and thinking about darks and lights.  Notice the lovely painting in the upper left corner of the photo above - three year old, Sophie, joined us for a time to do a little plein air watercolor.

Victoria has experience using acrylics, but is new to oils.  It thought she caught on really fast.  I really love the background evergreens in her painting (above).

We sat out in my back yard for a good three hours or so.  It was really relaxing, and I enjoyed doing a little one on one teaching.  I thought her final painting is terrific - she really has a knack for soft brushstrokes.

Victoria's final painting
As far as my painting goes, plein air is always a new and interesting challenge for me.  I miss the ability to apply glazes for the look that I prefer.  But what a great lesson learner it is!  It always reminds me of how much more I have to learn.
Many thanks to Victoria for letting me share the photos.  I look forward to doing this again with her.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Morning Clematis

       I just finished up a great weekend, enjoying nice weather, family time, and lots of painting time.  In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was able to complete "Morning Clematis" that I had been working on last week.   I'm pretty pleased with the final painting.  If you remember, the subject matter was from a photo that I had taken in my garden on a gray morning.  Because it was downcast, the photo really showed the "wow" effect of the brilliant colors of the flowers.  This was what I was going for.  Of course, I love all of the twists and curves found in the petals too.  I apologize for the slight glare in the upper right corner - it's the last area that I was working on and is still very wet.
     I am hoping to get outside and so some plein air painting this week if the Iowa weather holds up.  More updates later....

Friday, June 24, 2011

What I Love Friday....Christopher Beane

Well, let me say right off the bat that in today's post,  the images are not mine (except for the one specified).  I would love to be able to claim these beautiful photos as my own, but that would only be in my dreamworld.  These belong to a brilliant photographer named Christopher Beane.
A few years back my husband stumbled across the book, "Flowers" by Christopher Beane and gave it to me as a Christmas gift.  I spent the next several weeks pouring over his photos.  Mr. Beane is from New York and began going daily to the flower market in his area to purchase unique flowers to take home to his apartment and photograph in the soft light of the late afternoon.  Now these are not just your everyday flower photos - he puts them together and sees them in such a unique way that the photos end up being just scrumptious.
I was hard pressed to find images of his work on the web (which I was shocked about).  So this morning I used my own, very often used and a little beat up, copy of the book to let you see a peek of his work.

Christopher Beane in front of his work

I think I stared at this one at least a thousand times.  It really had an influence on me in my painting below ("Purple Iris" 2008 30x40 oil).  The beautiful curves are amazing.  Plus I love how intimate his photo feels and I tried to find that feeling in my painting. 
my painting, "Purple Iris",  with Beane influence

This Parrot Tulip just has so much punch, while once again, being very intimate.  I love that slight blue/gray that you see in the center of the flower.   Also, the edges of petals, with all of those ruffles and graceful lines, are so lovely.  I return to this image in my mind quite often when I am painting, including in "Magenta Rhapsody".

I highly recommend Christopher Beane's book, "Flowers" which I believe can still be purchased on Amazon.  It is one of those books that you never grow tired of.  I find my self, when in need of a little inspiration, returning to again and again.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

WIP Wednesday - What's Happening on My Easel....

Halfway through another week.  It is nice to be able to look at work in progress photos and see that, yes, I am making progress on my projects.  This week I was working on a little composition of clematis vines that grow outside my daughter's old playhouse.  First I took a photograph of it on a cloudy day when the colors would stand out the most.  

Original Clematis Vine Photo

I laid out the basic shapes with raw sienna.

Step 2

           In the next step I wanted to try and make sense of all of the petals that collided and overlapped.  To do this I both used brush strokes to identify the directions each petal was going and by outlined the petals, with the intention to soften and even do away with those harsh lines later.  This was done just so I could keep my sanity!

Step three
    I further tried to do away with unnecessary confusion by getting the background and leaves blocked in.  The leaves were done with sap green (and ultra marine blue mixed with sap green on areas that would be in the shadows).  Background was ultra marine blue and burnt umber.

Step four
        At step four I double check to make sure I am happy with the basic layout of the painting.  Now it's time to get to the fun stuff!  Using magenta, cobalt violet and titanium white (and ultra marine blue/ magenta in the shadows) I really start to try and express the lines, curves and shadows that will be seen in each petal.  At this point I've got two down, two to go.
        I'll keep you posted.
    On a final note - check out my interview on fellow artist and blogger Mary Zeran's fabulous blog Discovering the World of Art.  Thanks, Mary, for letting me participate!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Submerged in Water.....Color

                   This waterlily is a painting I started in the watercolor workshop I did last week.  I had the basic picture down when the class ended but wasn't completely satisfied with the intensity of color or the contrast. I was about to pitch it when I thought maybe I should proceed at home and see where it would go.  I darkened up the background a lot, which was the biggest need that it had, and then intensified the colors in the lily.
                   Yesterday I had a little help while I was finishing this one at home.   At this point in Sophie's three year old life, if I pick up a paint brush, she is ready to paint.  I usually let her lay down a couple of background strokes to appease her.  For this one she put in quite a few strokes in the background and laid down a glaze over the water area.  She was pretty excited about that.

                   The subject matter is not new to me - I painted the same lily in oil back in 2007.  Since I am a bit rusty in my water colors I thought it would be a good idea to paint something that I am familiar with.  I love the water lilies - love the reflections in the water. Here is the oil....
                      It is interesting to see them side by side.  The differences in color intensity are pretty obvious.  I look forward to maybe someday getting enough experience with watercolors to get more of that intense color (the artist that taught the watercolor workshop had amazing intensity with his watercolors!).  One thing that I did with the watercolor was to set the Lilly a bit off center to try and provide more interest.  I have to say that I think I set it too far over and I actually prefer the centered lily of the oil. A lesson learned I suppose.
                   I started two new oils over the weekend, so I may lay aside the water colors for now.  I am planning on doing some plein air with the water colors later into the summer, though.  I will have updates on at least one of the oils on Wednesday.
                  Until then.....

Friday, June 17, 2011

Things I Love Friday

           Well, here goes the second of my "What I Love Friday" posts... I've got two.  First is this lovely pumpkin.  I know what are you thinking - "She is inspired by a pumpkin?"  Yes!  Have you looked at those lines?  They are amazing.  I ran across this in a magazine a few years ago and was wowed by the lines shooting out from the center in such a dynamic way.  Not to mention the amazing light hitting the top of the pumpkin and making the already warm colors glow all the more.  Finally, there is the dried stem.  Wow.  I love the way those lines twist ever so slightly.  After this picture sat in one of my handy dandy files forever, I ended up using it one day when I was doing a fall scene of the items sitting on my front porch.  Of course, this included a pumpkin.  Although, my pumpkin was not nearly as interesting as this one.  I was wishing I had been a little more careful when I picked out my pumpkin when suddenly I remembered this picture.  I ran and got it and used the stem to make the painting much more interesting!  You can see that painting here.
You just never know when those inspiring files will come in handy.
          Secondly, I have a quote.  As I posted earlier, I was attending a three day water color class this week with a wonderful teacher named Richard Dutton.  I learned so much from him.  One thing that he said that stuck with me (and of course I had to add to my file!)  was "Art is a dare."  Love it.   It really encouraged me to be looser, try new things, and not be afraid of failure.
             Have a great weekend....

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Work In Progress Wednesday- Watercolors

             I just finished day two of three of the watercolor workshop that I am attending this week and thought I would show you the "progress" that I am making.  I worked on this little birds nest today.  I have to apologize for the lighting on the photo (you can see what some of the colors really look like in the photo below), I didn't realize it looked so dark until after I got home this afternoon.  But at least it gives you an idea of what I have been up to.

                   I have to say that I walked into the door of the class feeling quite intimidated, as I have not worked in watercolors in a looonnng time (and even then, it was very limited).  I felt totally out of my comfort zone in a class full of watercolor artists.  But the demonstrations have been great and I have learned a lot. 

                When it was actually time to paint, I had to really do a brain flip and think in a different way.  Oils and watercolor painting work in just the opposite way.  In oils you begin with darks and work to light - water color it is the opposite.  For any card players out there - it's like playing a couple hands of Hearts and then switching to Five Hundred.  I had to really concentrate and rethink how to get the highlights that I wanted.  Very challenging!
                     I am having a blast though, and it has really renewed my desire for watercolor. I may delve into it more often in the upcoming future.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Peony - Finished Work

I spent a Saturday afternoon working on and completing "Peony".  It was one of those perfect days when I was able to set aside my to-do list and just relax, doing something I love.  Since it was a small painting (11x14), I was able to work on it at the dining room table.  I was joined by my thirteen year old, Tori, and my oldest son's girlfriend.  My oldest is in Southeast Asia for the summer but his girlfriend, Victoria, stopped by to get some help from my Victoria (good thing she now goes by Tori!) on making some decorative pillows for her new apartment.  It was a nice time of us all talking and doing creative things.  Time flew by, and before I knew it, the painting was done!
  I was really trying to work on disappearing edges where the shadows fell.  It is something that I am trying to get better at.  I was tempted to start throwing in some fun, funky colors in a few hot spots - but I had, in my mind, committed to sticking with the limited palette that I had mentioned in my Wednesday Work in Progress post.  Even though I was working with a "zingy" color like Magenta, I think the limited palette kept the whole thing subdued, which lends to the whole dark and mysterious mood of the painting.

Peony - first stages of progress

     Busy week ahead of me - but I am super excited.  Tuesday through Thursday I will be attending a watercolor workshop with Richard Dutton.  I haven't touched watercolors since Sophie was a baby and I put my oils away for a year to make room for her crib and changing table (ha!).  That's almost  four years ago - yikes.  I am feeling a bit intimidated as the others in the class are all watercolor artists.  But I know I will learn a lot.  I will post a few things I worked on later this week (if they aren't too horrible :-)

    On a final note - for those of you who do Facebook - check out my son, Zach's, art work on a page he is just getting up and going.  He is going to be a sophomore in college this year and I am excited to see his talent grow as his knowledge and experience grows.  Okay - my mom bragging moment is over!
Have a great day!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Inspiration: What I Love Friday

               Inspiration.  It's what's been on my mind.  Let me explain..  I found myself a few weeks back in a bit of a creative slump.  For one thing, time and an endless supply of other responsibilities, had been keeping me away from the easel a lot more than I would have liked.  And when I was able to pick up a paint brush, I found myself focused on meeting deadlines for art shows or commission work.  This was all well and good except when I saw that summer was getting closer and I would have more time (hopefully) to paint - I was at a loss for ideas about something to paint.  Oh, there were things I could paint -  I have a lot of people suggest to me to paint more poppies - people love poppies.  And so do I, but I only want to paint a poppy, or anything for that matter, when I feel inspired to.  It was then that I realized that I usually have painting ideas swirling around in my brain all the time, but not so much lately and maybe it was because I needed more inspiration.
            So that got me to thinking - where do I get inspiration? Why hasn't it been there lately?  And most importantly - how do I get it back?
             I have always been a filer.  I 've always torn pages out of my magazines that I find interesting - tucking them away in a file with a relative subject title.  Or sometimes I'm a "pinner".   I stick a tack into something that I love and hang it on a bulletin board so I can see it.  The picture above was an ad for,  I believe, paint, that I took from a magazine.  It hangs in my little studio area.  I loved it because, one, the color of the wall is - well - fantastic.   Secondly, I am enamored with the way those lovely branches spill out of the vase and stand out against the blue.  It inspired me.  I have never painted that actual picture, but I used inspirational elements of it in quite a few of my paintings.  Plus, I just love to look at it.
         My point is - I have been needing to revisit my files!  I have been so busy lately with the mundane stuff of our fast paced world, that I haven't been taking the time to be inspired.  Because sometimes, it takes work to be inspired - you have to look for it.  And sometimes, as with my files and thumb tacked pictures, you might not "use" the inspiration right away.  You may need to tuck it away for when you hit a dry spell in the future. Then you can take it out and go "ahhh".
          With that in mind - I am on an inspiration hunt this summer.  I am seeking to remember some of those old things I have tucked away and to start looking for new things to file...or pin!  I am planning on sharing some fo those things on what I like to call "What I love Fridays".  It is my hope that maybe it might get you all on a hunt of your own.  Which, by the way, if you make a little discovery of something that really inspired you - and might inspire me - share it with me!  Email me a picture, quote, song, idea to www.julskul@msn.com

      On that note - here are two from my inspiration file that I pulled recently.  These are things that I love....

                      I picked these from my garden a few years ago and spent the afternoon taking all sorts of pictures of them.  I love, love, love the way the light hits these tulips.  This picture sat in my file until I was painting tulips this spring, remembered the picture and pulled it out to use some of the elements to paint Spring Afternoon.

            Another spur of the moment pick from my garden.  I plopped them in a vase and forgot about them.  Then a few days later I walked through the room and saw the flood of light coming through the window and lighting up the Glads in such an amazing way, I quick grabbed my camera and shot away.  I have never used any of the elements from this photo.  But now that I pulled it from my file, you just might see some pop up in a future painting.

       Okay, I know my first "Things I Love" were all flowers.  But, hey, I paint flowers so what did you expect? Ha!  But expect to see more than just flowers in the future.
        Enough for now, thanks for sticking with my unusually long post!  Dont' forget to email me some of your inspirational treasures....

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Work In Progress Wednesday - Peony


              I was looking around my little art studio the other day and realized how many in progress works I have going.  I tend to shift from project to project  - letting things sit for a time, either to gain new perspective on it or to let the paint set up before I add a new layer of glaze.   Some projects just take a lot of time to complete.  With that in mind I thought I might use one day a week to show the progress of some of those ongoing paintings.  I decided Wednesdays would work well - it's hump day after all, and maybe I need the reminder there is actually progress being made!  I may do it every Wednesday, or every other, at least throughout the summer months when I tend to have more time.
           The painting for today was supposed to be further along than it is!  I was attempting to capture some of the blooms from the peonies in my garden before they faded.  Looks like I may have to rely on the photos for the rest of the project as my actual blooms are already withering.  Peonies are one of my favorites - sure wish they lasted longer!
             I am trying to use a limited palette for this one.  I chose three colors - magenta , french ultramarine blue, burnt umber, and  then of course, white.  I'm not used to not having my palette fuller - but it has been a good learning experience so far.
             I'll keep you posted as this progresses.
             Tune in Friday for a discussion on inspiration.
              Until then....

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Iris in Blue

         I'm seeing lovely blue iris' all over during this season and had to try and capture both their brilliant blue/violet colors and the crazy, graceful lines of their leaves.  I played around with some new greens that I don't usually use.  I recently read a great article on greens and tried a combination that they suggested of Viridian Hue, Cadmium Yellow Deep and a touch of Alizarin Red.  It's one I plan to use again.
         I only have a few iris' growing in my garden (I really should add more!) but these flowers bring back many childhood memories of my own mother's garden.  The cool blues and greens really convey that peaceful feeling I remember of playing in her garden.  Speaking of which - my three year old, Sophie, was a little bored one day last week and I suddenly remembered something that I used to love to do on a summer's day when I was really young.  It told her I used to get out all of my little tiny dolls (think Polly Pocket) and pretend that they were garden fairies and the garden was their world.  For the rest of the afternoon, while I painted "Iris in Blue" on the patio, Sophie made houses for her Polly's under the hostas and day lilies.  She even went on a "hunt" around the garden looking for "fairy doors" in the trees (the little indentations and natural holes that form on the trunks).  It made for a very peaceful afternoon for both of us.

     Come back tomorrow and Friday for a couple of new features I am adding to my blog.  Wednesdays will become "Works in Progress" Wednesdays.  I plan on giving a peek at long term projects that I am working on and even studies and sketches that may make their way into a painting.  Fridays I am planning on taking a closer look at inspiration with what I am terming "What I Love Fridays".
     Until then, hope you all are enjoying the sunshine!


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