Like many people, I’ve lived in a lot of different places. Sixteen years ago (has it been that long?!) we moved our family to Middle Tennessee for a better job opportunity and fell in love with the rolling hills, fireflies, humid summer nights, and green tree covered vistas. But even with all that Southern love, I’m still not “over” the Pacific Northwest, so it is fortunate that I am able to come back each summer for an extended visit. And, guess what? My friends still love me and want to spend lots of time hanging out! They also are very supportive of my painting passion and let me disappear for a couple hours to paint the beauty here, where I am staying through the end of June. Already I’ve done 4 plein air sketches in the past week, applying the recent workshop lessons of keeping things simple and quick, not trying to create a finished painting, capturing light and mood rather than worrying about impressing anyone. I’m finding out that doing the quick sketch is training my brain to see and paint with more attention to shape relationships and values. Here are the sketches I’ve done so far...I may or may not tweak them later or use them as reference for a studio painting. I’m just enjoying myself in this very pretty place....my Northwest home❤️
Thanks for reading and viewing!!
This little fellow was scampering along the path looking for food to stuff in his cheeks and store up for the coming winter. I took several photos of him hard at work one day last fall and painted this in my studio in January.
6x6 Oil on panel $275 at the Centennial Art Show this weekend.
The Nashville Parthenon originated as an exhibit at the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition and received a makeover in 2002. It is a centerpiece of the urban Centennial Park near Vanderbilt University. This view is from the SW side of the park, where you can see the skyline of downtown Nashville in the distance.
5x7 Oil on panel $275 at the Centennial Art Show this weekend.
The same day I photographed the diligent squirrel, I also walked the park and photographed many other areas and sites. This seating area is one of many that surround the Lake Watauga in Centennial Park. It's a popular place to stroll and, believe it or not, to fish. A few years ago, I met a man fishing there and we got to talking. He told me he worked the night shift cleaning the nearby Burger King and, on his way home every morning, he would stop and fish here until he caught a couple that he would take home and fry up for breakfast.
8x10 Oil on panel $350 at the Centennial Art Show this weekend.
The artists of The Chestnut Group partner with local conservancy groups to support and preserve natural and historic areas in the Nashville region. Our members spend many months viewing, studying, and painting from life and/or from their own images of the place we are promoting. In the Fall we return to Radner Lake for the show in November. This current show in the Parthenon supports the programs and events that take place year-round in Centennial Park. I hope you take the opportunity to come and enjoy the art and have your own encounter with Athena!
From 1982 to 1990 a full sized replica of Athena Parthenon was quietly being constructed in the inner courts of Nashville's Parthenon under the direction of Alan LeQuire. In 2002, LeQuire and master gilder Lou Reed directed the 4 month project of gilding and painting details on her face, wardrobe, and shield. Today Nashville's Athena stands a shining golden 42 feet tall, towering over the thousands of visitors who visit Centennial Park and the Parthenon.
She certainly towered over the dozen or so plein air painters who were so lucky to be able to enter the sanctum on off-hours to study her and paint from life this amazing statue! We set up around the room, each with our own specific view of her and with our own impression of what we hoped to capture in our painting.
I had done a little homework prior, namely to understand what color mixtures make for a convincingly glowing gold. The few days before our session I was trying out various combinations of cadmium yellow, cadmium orange, burnt Sienna, Indian yellow, white, and a few others. It turns out that it's the color of the shadow areas that help the gold to be convincing...another lesson in "shadows are not black." In this case, shadows are very warm and reflective.
My Athena painting is finished and framed and ready to go to the art show next week. As you can see, I used artistic license by adding the two little girl figures to show both the scale of this amazing statue and to express her strength and dignity. Can you imagine what they're thinking?
I have 4 more paintings for the art show/fundraiser and I will post photos of them next week. I hope you enjoyed sharing this experience with me! It's definitely one I will never forget! And I hope you will be able to make time to visit (May 23, 24, 25, and 27 from 9 AM to 4:30 PM and May 26 from 12:30 - 4:30 PM.@ the Parthenon) and view all the amazing paintings by the wonderful artists of The Chestnut Group! Thanks for reading my blog!!
The Southern deciduous trees are greening up. The pink azaleas out front are rioting in blossoms. Iris, dogwood, cherry, and even my stubborn Lady Banksia climbing rose are all joining the joy of Spring. My backyard is a sacred space where I retreat from the duties of the day and feel my soul respond to beauty and goodness. There are places in the world designed by man and God for this purpose, to wake us from our sleep and remind us, as Christ did, that we are made for more.
Along with much of the world, I watched as the wondrous Notre Dame Cathedral was consumed in flames this week. I've never been to Paris and never seen Notre Dame personally, but I have been in many other cathedrals and ancient churches, standing or ruined. There is a feeling of awe in these spaces, both from the incredible design of the magnificent structures and from the centuries of worship, prayer, tears, and Presence. I feel a difficult-to-describe yearning when I'm in places like these; something that embodies the idea of "sanctuary."
And now it is Easter, full of life, truth, promise and beauty...a day of worship and gratitude for God's enduring love and redemption. This is my painting-in-progress of the cathedral sanctuary in Mazatlan, Mexico...our favorite winter destination. I shared my photos of this beautiful church in a previous post and my hopes to be able enough to create a painting that captures those ephemeral feelings. I wonder if I'm getting close?
Exercising...I've blogged on this before and probably will again in the future, but here is an exercise that challenged everything my left brain brought to the easel: Painting Upside Down!
No, no, I wasn't personally upside down; only my reference photo and my painting were. Here's how it works (and, believe me, it is very baffling at first): turn the photo of what you wish to paint upside down and paint the canvas in the same manner, upside down. It sounds simple enough, but the brain does not want to let go of control and order! The first instinct is to paint right-side-up what you are viewing upside down, which is incredibly difficult and disconcerting. It's like your mind is wanting to make sense of what is not making any sense at all.
The point of this exercise is to be released from the idea of the Thing (the doorway, the car, the structure) and paint simple shapes and values, shape relationships with the shapes next to them. This is an exercise done quickly, about 45 minutes. No masterpieces here. No fussiness. No stress. (that explains why I left the detailed bicycle out!)
One thing that I immediately noticed when I turned my painting right-side-up was that the stucco wall actually looked like stucco! Because I wasn't carefully drawing the curve of the doorway I was able to capture a painterly impression of the warm and lumpy exterior.
I hope this wasn't too confounding. Did it make sense to you?
I like sharing the details of becoming a better painter in this blog because it both reinforces for me what I'm learning and also sheds light for you, dear readers, on how much goes into becoming a good artist. It also gives me opportunity to consult the thesaurus so I'm not repeating the same word ("confusing") over and over and, instead, get to choose the much more delightful "baffling", "disconcerting", and "confounding."
Thank you for letting me share my ramblings!!
A few months ago I read an intriguing article about the reality/non-reality of color that really got me thinking and I've wanted to write about it here ever since. The problem is that I don't want to get all scientific and intellectual because that's over my head and kind of mind-numbing. I also don't want to copy excerpts from studies and articles on the subject, so here goes...in my own words:
Do you think you would know "blue" if you were born without sight? If you see something bright yellow, do you have a unique "feeling response"? The reality is that a large portion of our brains are stimulated by color in unexpected ways, completely unrelated to the hue or wavelength of the light reaching our retinas. We interpret a green lawn as green, regardless of whether the shadows of a tree make that green more of a blue. Our mental associations with color are anchored in our experiences in this world.
Have you ever noticed that a mere suggestion of a color, without seeing it, fires up your mind? Pink is a good example (even though there's a feud over whether it is even a real color or not!) But think about pink for a minute and your brain will imagine a rose, a baby blanket, your favorite sweater; all of them 3 dimensional objects your brain has categorized as pink to help you interact with your external world.
Color perception seems also to be linked with culture and language. A tribe in Africa is able to distinguish and name several different shades of green, but could not pick out an obviously blue square amongst a grouping of green ones. They were able, however, to pick out more hues of green than the rest of us can. Scientist think that until we have a word for a color, we don't "see" it. Our brains seem to be wired to ignore what doesn't appear relevant.
Have you heard the phrase: "learning to see"? Artists hear this all the time as they are developing their visual skills. They hear it most when painting from life. It has taken me years to see the reds and violets in the shadows of trees or the warm yellow on the sunlit side of a white house. I remember watching an artist from California paint a grove of cedar trees and her choice for the dark shadows was a warm maroon! The "rule" is that shadows are painted with cool colors, but by golly, that maroon beneath the cool greens of foliage was perfect!
Color is influenced by not only conditions of light and angle, but also by relevance and language. It was never relevant to my life whether or not a white house actually was more pale yellow on the sunny side and bluish on the shady side until I started learning how to paint one that rings true to the viewers eye.
I've got more to say on this subject, but that's all my brain can take for now. Stay tuned for future pithy posts about the brain and color. Thanks for reading my blog!!
It's been a few years since I got my first initiation into internet website management. I started with what has proved to be the easiest website to construct and maintain: this one- Weebly. It is truly a "drag and drop" website builder, with only a few complicated steps involved to link it to Facebook and MailChimp. Even so, it took me a 40 hour week and lots of YouTube video views to put it together.
Fast forward a couple years...I get a phone call from my local art group leader asking if I would be willing to help out with their website. I'm pretty sure I wrote a blog about this. Whenever I attempt something new I enter the world of humility and humiliation. Most of mine in this case were in the privacy of my own office space as I became familiar with the Wix website platform. It always feels like I am going to blow up the internet, when I'm learning this stuff, but I quickly realized that until I push that little "Publish" button, nothing at all changes on the viewer side. Wix building is so much more complicated than Weebly, but also offers so many more options to make interesting pages. I was able to animate images, add fun little boxes and lines in different colors and styles, use all kinds of fonts of multiple sizes, etc. Once I got the hang of it, it was fun to work on.
Another fast forward to now: I've been invited/recruited to work on The Chestnut Group website and, guess what? A completely different platform: WordPress. And to top that off, it was built for this artist group by actual professionals. Holy moly, there are pages within pages, secret dropdown menus and so many boxes to check, uncheck, ignore, pray over! My introductory experience involved having to decide what to do with boxes that had words like "delete user" "expire member" "block password". Yikes! But, fortunately, I have teachers that have walked me through the various things I'm expected to do. And, since it is so easy to forget things, I've been creating recipe cards for each of the procedures with step by step instructions.
So....all that to say, along with all the learning that comes with being a professional artist, I am also learning to be an amateur webperson. (Just can't bring myself to say WebMaster) I think it's been really good for me to stretch my brain muscles and gain confidence; but also it's helped me understand and be compassionate for my friends who don't feel comfortable in this computer age. Everything is changing and it is easy to be left behind, left out, if you don't keep up with technology. Hey, if I can learn, you can learn! If I can do it, so can you!
Be a boss and do something techie today!!
Here are a few more oil painting terms to add to my last blog post:
Scumbling: applying an uneven layer of paint over a thin, dry underpainting so that the first color shows through, creating an attractive effect of complex color. (you might see this used in a cloudy sky or the side of an otherwise drab building)
Tonking: named after Professor Tonks (no, I'm not kidding), it is a method to remove excess paint by laying absorbent paper directly onto the painted canvas, pressing gently and evenly, and then carefully peeling off.
Sgraffito: the Italian word for 'scratch', this technique involves using an implement to score into the paint, creating lines or scoring into the layers of paint. (example: creating wood grain effects on a table)
Some artists use this method to sign their paintings, which is especially helpful if the paint is very thick.
Crazing: (sounds like something you'd get while spending an evening tonking, honky-style...but, no.) This is the term for those fine lines and surface cracks you see on old paintings, due to the underpaint drying more slowly than the surface varnish, causing it to separate and crack. One of the challenges of creating a lasting painting is to understand and practice professional painting techniques.
Fugitive Pigment: colors that fade or change under the influence of sunlight, heat, or other environmental conditions. Again, avoiding the sad fading or yellowing depends on the artist's knowledge and use of quality materials.
Sfumato: Italian for 'smoke', this is painting in thin glazes to get a cloudy, hazy effect. You would see this mostly when the artist is trying to make things look far off in the distance.
and, finally, Mahl Stick: is not the club you use when "crazed" after "tonking"! This is a wooden stick used by the artist to steady her arm while painting a more detailed area of the work. It's usually held on one end and propped against the easel, while the painting arm is rested on it, leaving that hand free and steady for detail work.
Here's a fun challenge: can anyone make a sentence using all seven of these vocabulary words??!
Thanks for reading my blog!!!
Occasionally I throw around words in my blog that may be as unfamiliar to you as they were to me when I first encountered them in my art studies. I thought I might highlight a few with their definitions and give you a leg up on your word power. It could come in handy someday...like at Trivia Night or working a crossword puzzle. Here goes...
Chroma: the intensity and purity of a specific hue (the absence of adding white or gray to a pure hue)
Alla Prima: beginning and finishing a painting in a single session (often using thickly applied paint)
Impasto: thickly applied paint
Pigment: dry powder derived from plant, earth, animals that can become paint when mixed with oil, water, or other medium
Opaque: not allowing light to pass through, not transparent
Transparent: allowing light to pass through (allows previous layers of paint to show through)
Luminosity: the measure of glowing light, appearance of radiating or reflecting light
Grisaille (pronounced gri-Zay): French word for painting in monochrome shades of gray or brown
Chiaroscuro (Kee-ahr-uh-skyoor-oh): Italian word for painting in light and dark shades of the same color
That is enough for now! We are in the doldrums of winter here in Tennessee and I must say it looks way more like Seattle than the South. I'm trying to keep a steady schedule in my studio, painting from photographs of sunnier days. Here are a few tidbits of the paintings in progress currently:
The best advice on this art adventure was given to me a couple of years before I ever picked up a paintbrush and that was "take a painting class and get involved with the painters in your community." Of course, it took me two years to overcome the fear and commit to art lessons, but ever since I have been actively involved with other artists in my community and the larger Nashville area and have reaped untold rewards!
Last year I began to consider art events further afield and was, happily, accepted into two art shows on the west coast, which got me thinking about some of the national art organizations that serve oil painters. There are several and I began to investigate what other fellow artists thought about them. Some felt it was an unnecessary expense, but many of the artists I admire had two or three listed on their CVs. After a lot of deliberation I decided to join the National Organization of Oil and Acrylic Painters, otherwise known as NOAPS, which welcomes all comers who pay the dues. I also applied to Oil Painters of America, who jury applicants based on submitted jpgs of recent paintings. If accepted, you begin as an Associate Member and have opportunities to advance, after a few years and a few hurdles, to the Signature membership (where you get to put letters behind your name!) The biggest jump is the Masters Level and it is a small and special group of amazing painters.
When we got home from vacation this week a pile of mail was waiting and in it was a fat little envelope from Oil Painters of America. You know what a fat envelope means, right? (happy dance!) So now I am a card-carrying American artist!!
Thank you for letting me share my happy news! Thanks for reading my blog!
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...