I am thrilled to participate in the Martin Masters Fine Art Show & Sale this year! What a terrific line up of creatives, especially with Frank Baggett as the featured artist! It runs this Friday evening (free wine!) and Saturday 10-3. Come and enjoy this event...and see my new paintings!! Happy Autumn!
Here is the "Wonderment" series of paintings I recently completed, based on some really cute kids experiencing the things in life we grownups often take for granted.
Thanks for reading my blog! Happy Autumn!!
If you are lucky enough to know Betty, you would know that she has the sweetest of gardens and visitors are always welcome! It won't be long before you have a glass of wine in your hand and a wonderful conversation with your new best friend. That is the magic of Betty's Garden.
I was blessed to spend a few lovely nights in her Bed & Breakfast and a few lovely days painting in her garden this summer and, because she is one of my cherished patrons, I had to make her promise not to buy these paintings right off the easel so I would have something to take to the fall art shows.
If you find yourself passing through the beautiful city by the bay: Bellingham, Washington, be sure to make a date with Betty in her sweet garden!
There is just SO MUCH to learn as an artist! (I am very glad my first instructor (Jo Griffith) did not scare us all away by telling us how far we had to go.) One of the key subjects for a painter is color and early on I found that sticking with a limited palette of warm and cool versions of the three primaries worked best for avoiding color messes. Some people call those messes "mud" but when you have harmonizing colors mud can be quite pretty!
Recently, I was introduced to another way to approach color harmony through using "color schemes." If you look on the color wheel there are arrows and shapes and a bunch of words about complimentary, split complementary, triads, and tetrads (insert bug-eyed emoji) and more. Choosing a specific color combination based on one of those harmonies is called a "color scheme." Having a color scheme can be very helpful as a roadmap of sorts, but also as a way of unifying a group of paintings and communicating a specific feeling the artist is hoping to evoke.
This is a series of paintings in the preliminary stage where I'm working out the composition and values on oil painting paper (another awesome new discovery!) I've got my handy dandy color wheel there, as well as my color scheme card. I wanted all three paintings to harmonize with each other because the subject and big idea of each of them is to capture the wonder and fascination of childhood. This is a primary color scheme: blue, red, and yellow...tweaking the hues just a bit to soften and be more pleasing to the eye.
Making color scheme cards has really helped me stay on track. After mixing small piles of paint, I put a streak of each on the card and label the painting it's for and what tube colors I used. It's like a recipe card for painting. The tube colors are important because there may be a need for a shadow or subject such as the train in one of the kid paintings that needed to harmonize and can be achieved by using a combination of the same original tube colors.
Two more examples are the Kiawah paintings I blogged about earlier. The bird paintings are an analogous scheme, using 5 colors that are next to each other on the wheel. The marsh paintings are a split complementary scheme: a key color and the two colors on either side of its complement. If you want to learn more about color harmony, I found this website helpful.
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Kiawah Island, South Carolina...is a beautiful barrier island 25 miles from Charleston where we joined our travel buddies (Ireland, Scotland, etc) for a wonderful week of golf, touristing, wine, and for me, painting. There are walking and biking paths everywhere, so I loaded up one of the beach cruiser bicycles with my gear and scouted out some awesome painting hideaways.
Salt Marshes are incredible ecosystems and so wonderful to experience. I found a viewing tower to set up my easel in with a 360 degree view of the marsh and the hummock islands that dot it. To capture the graceful beauty of the flat, wet, grassy environment required generous strokes of juicy warm paint. The constant sounds of the low tide marsh serenaded my hours of work: squirting, squidging, popping, and splashing; there was a lot of drama going on unseen in that serene setting!
Later I found a lovely spot on a bridge over one of the many ponds where the herons and egrets and (what kind of bird is that!) one amazing Anhinga. I think he was showing off for me..or maybe just drying out the feathers. The most challenging part of painting at Kiawah was deciding on the subject...there was so much to choose from! Yay Nature!
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White's Creek is an area just outside of Nashville, quite rural and home of a popular tourist destination, the Fontanel. Just a couple of miles down the road from this is the beautiful landmark home of the late mother of Vicki, a good friend of mine. Vicki invited me to paint my heart out there before it was sold and so I did!
I began with the tractor shed, filled with rusting equipment and boards, tools, (and possibly snakes!). I started the painting with the old fuel tank in the foreground, but decided it detracted from the darks and lights of the shed interior that had caught my eye.
The second painting was of the grand old house. My drawing skills are still developing so I made the decision to work out the drawing from earlier photos the night before, being sure to get the lines and perspective accurate enough to please the eye. It was a dream to start the plein air painting from that pre-drawing and it was such a beautiful Tennessee morning to paint in!
I returned a third time to the homestead to paint the fascinating barn. What a history I uncovered through the internet! It was built in the mid 1800s as a solid, 2 story paper mill structure, constructed of handmade bricks on the bank of a branch of White's Creek. You can still see the cut limestone block abutments on the sides of the stream below that served to direct the water needed for the boilers. If you want to learn more, click HERE.
I hope I have captured not only the representation of the house and buildings, but also the beautiful natural setting they are aging in. I invite the viewer to consider what lives and hopes and dreams took place here, what history was occurring, what changes have come in the century and a half since it was a thriving paper mill.
Three finished paintings:
It's that time of year again! The Tomato Festival is right around the corner...August 12th. Time to get the paintings ready. My biggest hurdle is finding a whimsical note to my work. It just isn't in me to paint tomatoes walking hand in hand...or Godzilla tomatoes climbing tall buildings. Here's what I came up with this year:
Aaaaand for the "up and coming" fruit/vegetable? This may qualify as whimsey:
One thing about Tennessee weather is that it changes frequently...like every 5 minutes. Day 3 we were promised thunderstorms but it began instead with sunshine and big puffy clouds. Very pretty. Our painting location was moved back to OnTrack Studio because the forecast created the need for indoor painting possibilities.
Today's subject was Concept; why am I painting this? What draws me into this scene? What am I trying to say, to capture? Marc's assignment to us was to go find something we wanted to paint and choose a few words to describe what the big idea is. He discussed the difference between illustration vs. emotion in a painting. Illustration will give the viewer the hard facts, the lines, the colors. To be successful as an artist/painter, we must want to evoke emotion in the viewer and this will take time and experience. I wonder if I can apply this to the problems I encountered yesterday with the unsatisfying creek painting. I knew how I was responding emotionally to the peaceful flowing water but can see that I need more experience to be able to intuit values and colors to communicate the loveliness.
Today I was determined! So, what caught my eye was the enchanting simplicity of the red-roofed shed with baskets hanging off the eaves (and the shed behind it with the red wagon repeating the roof color), all nestled against the explosion of cool green trees. (I guess that's more than a few words to express the Big Idea)
I set up my kit on the lawn (out in the open) and painted hard, with one eye glancing upward as the sky did its changeable thing. Uh oh, thunder in the distance. My setup was only 20 feet or so from the covered deck; I had time. A few minutes more painting...I really was forced to concentrate: where are the shadows, how saggy should I make the roofline? how dark do I go in the back shed? Yikes! That is a very dark cloud heading this direction! What did Marc say about intuition? Mine was telling me it was time to move to shelter. Two minutes after everything was safely relocated, the heavens opened (and not with angels!) This is my quick 2 hour painting:
The storm brought a sudden drop in temperature and the day went from low 80s to low 60s. Some of us got kinda chilly. We gathered for a final demo by Marc and a critique session of the work we each had accomplished, which sounds scary but wasn't. Marc helped us learn from each others successes and challenges. We were able to ask questions and encourage one another, and we finished with a sense of community and camaraderie. Much appreciation to Marc Hanson for giving us such a fantastic workshop!
Tuesday morning we gather on the porch of Leiper's Fork Gallery and then make our way a mile or two down the road to a beautiful ranch, familiar to many of us from previous workshops and paint-outs. Because it's Spring in Tennessee, we spent several minutes spraying ourselves silly with various versions of anti-tick & chigger sprays. You cannot be too careful!
Marc Hanson, again, started us out by sharing his vast knowledge, this time covering the topic of color, which is no small subject matter. You can tell when someone has truly wrestled with and mastered an issue; they speak with what could be described as grace. Big words and flashy accessories are not required...Marc plunged through a wealth of information about the primary colors and their characteristics, the warm and cool versions of each, the subjectiveness of color temperature, the need for both knowledge and intuition with color decisions.
For me, the big take-away was to learn to mix colors intelligently. This requires that I observe how much red or blue or yellow is in the local color of the scene I am painting, the intuition of how warm or cool that color may need to be, the knowledge of which version of the primaries to choose to reach that desired color.
We were then turned loose to find the scene that was speaking to each of us. This was the one I chose:
Isn't it pretty? Tennessee basically comes in one color in the spring. If you guessed "green" you would be correct! And green just happens to be one of the most challenging, not only to mix, but to render it in such a way that is actually pleasing in a painting is super difficult. I knew that going into my painting, but still happily had naive hopes that I could work it out.
What did happen was sort of a murky green mess, but, as you mindful readers know, it is our mistakes that teach us the most!
Lucky for me, Marc chose the same part of the creek to paint his demo. Now I could see how a master handles all that yellowish green.
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A beautiful Spring day, perfect for a painting workshop! We began the day...well, after the torturous drive through Nashville rush hour traffic to get to OnTrack Studio in Franklin...on the covered porch with Marc Hanson talking with all of us about his favorite supplies and discoveries. He generously shared his thoughts about brushes, supports, and miscellaneous tidbits (such as: Utrecht brand titanium white stays more fluid than other brands in cold weather.) He embraces a humble attitude when it comes to the tools of painting, having found that $4 brushes (Simply Simmons) work just as well as the high end brushes for much of the lay-in of a painting and a sun-shield from Walmart is handy for shading a canvas. He stores his many palette knives in the $3 plastic brush holder from Hobby Lobby. Gotta love the practicality!
His demonstration painting took us right to the heart of the day's lesson...to get the composition and values correct at the start. #colorgetsalltheglorybutvaluedoesallthework Dividing a large canvas into 4 sections, he painted one light-valued scene, one middle-value scene, one dark-value scene, and one final scene evenly weighted with all 3 values.
When a painting is done with the correct values, it will "read" beautifully even in shades of gray. Here is Marc's demo done in the late afternoon on Day 1:
THIS IS NOT MY PAINTING!!
The reason it looks so fabulous is that it is the work of a Master... who was teaching all of us passionate students how to create something beautiful.
Tomorrow (Day 2) we will be allowed to play with color. That will be in the next blog post. Thanks for reading!!
Hello! My name is Wendy and I am passionate about oil painting! Whether in the studio or out in Mother Nature, I get lost in the experience of capturing on canvas the moment and the feel of what I am painting. I pour my love and energy into every single piece of artwork and I hope it shows! This blog is a place where I can use words to talk about art, painting, life, faith, things that make me laugh, and things that inspire. I love every response, so don't be shy about leaving a comment...