Monday, October 24, 2016

Sea Glass – There’s Magic in the name and Romance in its History

What is sea glass?  Where is it found? Why do so many colors end up together in one location? What can you do with the beautiful gems you’ve found?

Before you get all excited about gathering some for yourself, be aware that many beaches restrict taking any glass away. And some of the best places to find glass are out of the way locations that may be difficult to reach.

The following site explains where this glass comes from and how long it takes to make the smooth rounded pieces that people seek.

The Colors of Sea Glass
Where Do They Come From?

...Just where do the colors of beach glass come from? Sea Glass is simply old glass products that were thrown into the sea, but, "Sea Glass is JUST GLASS, like Diamonds are JUST ROCKS"©

It takes decades for broken glass to "become" sea glass.
If you think about it, the common colors of sea glass, Green, Brown & White are still in wide use today......Rarer colors of sea glass are pieces that the color has not been made or used commercially for many years.

“We have broken the colors into rarity categories, it is a general rule and not to be carved in stone (or glass!) as certain colors can be found more readily in some areas. For Example, lavender glass can be a rarity in some areas, yet abundant in Maine & Canada; but hardly ever found in the islands. Next time you're in an antique shop or flea market, look at the glass items and see if you haven't found a piece of glass this color!

“By The Sea Jewelry is proud to offer the finest Genuine Sea Glass Jewelry in just about every color of sea glass in the world! This glass knowledge is based on 28 years of collecting and decades of researching the origins of our glass.”

The rough and tumble journey back and forth in tide water creates rounded corners and a smooth surface. The colors become almost translucent. If you find some in a shop or from an artist, check it out carefully to make sure it is real sea glass and not fake. The color and clarity can give you clues.

Google has a wonderful search bar where you can find just about anything. They have a guide to show you where to find sea glass, a book on how to tell if it’s real, and items that are made from this precious glass. Remember that what makes it valuable is the origin of the original glass, and the years it took to tumble it into a smooth, clear stone.

GOOGLE LINK: All about Sea Glass

There is a difference between fresh water glass and sea glass that is made smooth and beautiful by the salt water. According to the following link, there are also legends attached to this fascinating wonder of the world. Sailors long ago thought that the blue ones were mermaid tears that spilled ashore.

For some more history and help with identification, go to:  Glass Beach Jewelry  

This remarkable gift from the sea can be yours for a price, unless you’re lucky enough to find one of those hidden coves where the tides have come and gone for hundreds of years. Many of these pieces will still be in a state of development. Their edges may be sharp; their size may be small, and their shape odd.

But if you persevere, you may find a colorful stone that possesses that clear see-through sparkle. If the color is rare and the size is large you may have the beginnings of a treasured necklace or the centerpiece of a priceless mosaic table.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Building Habits that make Painting Daily Automatic

"Queen of Diamonds"  20 x 20 mixed media on canvas
If your paintings could talk, what would they say?  I think mine would want me to set them free!  They would want me to let loose instead of trying to control every move. We’ve all been taught to think carefully before we make a brush stroke and to know what we’re going to do before it happens. But that creates anxiety doesn’t it? If you’re like me my hand begins to shake and I stress over “getting it right.”

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.” Jon Barrie, author of Peter Pan from Jan. 2015 Woman’s Day.

Those doubts tighten your muscles, the flow of paint, and the release of energy that makes your composition exciting. Having a well thought out plan is one thing. Allowing spontaneity to occur and to alter your initial concept is when the “magic” happens.

“A watched pot never boils.” When you keep too tight a reign on every stroke, every composition, or you over analyze your progress, you may miss out on something enchanting and remarkable. Let it happen! Just do it.
"Cafe' Costa Rica" 20 x 20 acrylic on canvas
If your paints could talk, what would they say? Mine would be angry with the disorganized mess, with the damaged caps from using a nut cracker to get them off, and the crimped twisted tubes, etc. A neat freak I’m not! I get so caught up in painting I sometimes forget that a neater pallet and a more organized paint box would actually make my job easier.

Recently I subscribed to Eric Maisel’s “Sunday Newsletter: Emotional Healing”. With my free subscription, Eric had a free gift: “The 97 Best Creativity Tips Ever” by Eric Maisel, 2011 all rights reserved.

I’m going to share with you the first 10 tips on Eric’s list.

1.  Be consistent in showing up. Getting to your creative work only once in a while won’t keep it alive. Make “routine” and “regularity” sacred words!

2.  Who knows how many artists fail because the light that shines through them is refracted in a thousand directions and not concentrated in a single beam? Pick projects and complete them! It is not really possible to work on a thousand things at once.

3.  One of the best ways to help yourself create every day is to craft a starting ritual that you begin to use regularly and routinely. When your ritual becomes habitual you will find yourself moving effortlessly from not creating to creating.

4.  Make the following pledge: “I will do some creative work every day, if only for fifteen or twenty minutes.” Honor your pledge for the next two weeks and spend fourteen consecutive days creating.

5.  Looking for only the perfect time to create? Forget about it! You are always in the middle of something so it is right in the middle of things that your creating must also happen.

6.  Even small amounts of time can be used for creating. Do you make use of fifteen minutes here and twenty minutes there?

7.  Are you good at capturing your own creative thoughts? Or do you let them slip away by telling yourself that they weren’t really all that good or all that important? Stop that! Start right now doing a better job of capturing and recording your ideas.

8.  You must reckon with your own character. Creativity requires curiosity. Are you curious enough? Creativity requires risk-taking. Are you willing to risk? Creativity requires energy. Can you marshal and unleash your energy? Creativity requires patience. Have you cultivated that quality? Turn yourself into the artist you need to be!

9.  Telling our truth can bring us pain and get us into trouble, but worse pain and worse trouble await us if we keep silent. Tell your truth—carefully, artfully, and courageously!

10.  Say yes to your creative work! Avoid maybe like the plague. Maybe is a state that takes you right to the edge of meaninglessness. Maybe plays to your weaknesses, your anxieties, and your doubts. Maybe frustrates you and disappoints you. Avoid the maybe trap!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Fall Harvest has Inspired Artwork through the Centuries

"Auburn Nights" 20 x 16 Oil on canvas
Autumn’s color and crisp clear weather define my favorite season of the year. Pumpkin fields, apple orchards, and yellow cornstalks turned into scarecrows on doorsteps. The smells of bonfires, burning leaves, wieners and marshmallows roasting on sticks. The colors of yellow ochre, red orange, burnt sienna and raw umber capture the mood and the feeling.

When my children were still of trick-or-treating age, we’d pile into the car and drive out to a favorite farm where we’d purchase apples for making sauce and jack-o-lanterns for carving.

Ripe and delicious the wares tempted us to buy candied apples or sometimes stay for fresh apple pie and vanilla ice cream. Crunchy leaves underfoot accented the fun as we carried our finds back to the car.

Sometimes we’d buy a large jar of golden honey dripping with goodness to be used in cooked cereals and hot teas. Grandma would take some of the sticky stuff and make spun taffy rubbing her hands with butter and stretching the hot concoction until it was almost white. The sugar-sweet candy melted on our tongues.

On Halloween night at our house, I made a big pot of chili that the children were not too crazy about eating. But when they returned from “trick-or-treating” with their father in tow, they had to down a few bites before they were allowed to open their bags of candy.

At our house, Halloween costumes were hardly ever purchased. Every year, we scrounged the house for possible costume parts. After many Halloween celebrations, we ended up with a large costume box filled with various themes and sizes. The box was a big hit with neighborhood friends; and, for years, provided hours of entertainment for the children throughout the year.

The Raggedy Ann and Andy costumes my husband and I wore to an adult party were in the box plus the simple white pillowcase with cutout eyes and a cottontail glued to the rear.

Ears were tied with string and the white cotton case could become a rabbit or a sheep depending on how tall the toddler was and how long the ears.

One year I became a Geisha girl using a silk Japanese robe my son had given me. I wound pantyhose around a 1960’s fur hat and turned it into black towering hair.

After my face was painted white and makeup had been applied, I finished my “look” with white stockings and black platform thongs. My friend said that was either the ugliest costume she’d ever seen, or the best one there; she couldn’t decide which.

Many people go through life wearing disguises of one kind or another. They hide behind a false front and then take off their mask when in their own familiar surroundings.

We all try to make a good impression and put our “best foot forward.” We want people to like us. But there comes a time when the masks either come off willingly as people try to gain intimacy or the disguise is revealed painfully later on. The adage “better late than never” doesn’t work in this case. In relationships the “sooner the better” you find out the truth the better.

In your interactions with others watch for these red flags:
  • Outbursts of anger or temper tantrums. The person’s mask sometimes slips to reveal these important inconsistencies. They may apologize profusely and have convincing arguments for their behavior, but trust your own gut instincts. If the other person is covering up an uncontrollable temper, imagine the fireworks when the mask comes off permanently!
  • Irrational behavior. Tirades, spending or eating binges that come out of nowhere may be deep-seated and bubble to the surface when a hot button is pushed. This person may have emotional issues that are way out of their control and probably yours.
  • Public outbursts. If causing a public scene doesn’t bother them, then erratic loud behavior in private may be the “norm.” When their own actions don’t embarrass them, nothing you can say or do will make any difference. If you dislike public displays, make a fast exit from this person.
  • Treatment of other people. How they treat their mother or other close relatives may tell you a lot about their history and habits. If they treat strangers and outsiders better than those who are close, beware! This type is a performance artist always looking for applause and admiration. Around family they really let their hair down. Courtesy and thoughtfulness go right out the window.
  • Beliefs and values are out of step with actual behavior. Some people brag about being honest yet they look for every excuse to justify cheating, slipping into a second movie theater without paying, covering up a mistake or blaming it on someone else.
  • Possessiveness that requires an accounting.  “Why didn’t you call?” “Where were you when I called?” Who were you talking to just now?” You’re constantly bombarded with questions from this insecure type. They doubt your answers. They want to control your time, your friends, even your relatives. They smother you with affection, but it’s just another means of control. They want you all to themselves. Your life, your needs, your wants suddenly become smaller and smaller until you disappear altogether.
  • The green-eyed monster disguised as love. “Were you flirting with him?” “I saw you smile.” “Your line was busy for 30 minutes! Who were you talking to?” As the song goes: “Every move you make, every turn you take, I’ll be watching you.” When the mask finally comes off, it becomes obvious the only person they love is themselves. With this jealous man or woman you’ll feel guilty even when you’re not. You can’t do anything right. Being human is a sin.
  • A raised fist, a not-so-gentle jab may just be the beginning. Physical abuse is escalating behavior. In the beginning it may start with shouting and name-calling. Eventually the threats turn into action. If you see a glimpse of this when the mask is still on you’d better watch out! When they’re in their comfort zone they may take the velvet gloves off.

Watch out for those red flags, not only on Halloween, but every day of the year. When the smile and boasting phase is over and the disguises come off, be sure you don’t end up with a real goon or ghoul!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Racial Tensions are created not Born

"Celebration" 20 x 16 acrylic on gesso board
I’m always attracted to scenes comprised of people; especially of other cultures and races. I find people of color to be interesting and attractive; they manage to tell the most amazing stories like my latest painting, above, “Celebration."

How many times do you take photos of friends and family at special events or significant occasions? Most of us enjoy celebrating birthdays, graduations, promotions, weddings, engagements, births and deaths with our favorite people. The photos save the memories and document the life processes of the past. Sharing special times with those you care about creates bonds of love.

"Tansy's Pride" 9 x 12 Pastel on Bristol
Painting an intimate scene that reminds others of those joyful times gives me pleasure. If my artwork can help bridge the gap between racism and understanding then I am fulfilled. 

Each culture and people we come to know adds to our knowledge. Seeing people in new ways may eventually bring acceptance. We humans are more alike than we are different.

Creating meaningful relationships between people is a slow process. If I can help others see similarities rather than differences, I have achieved my goal.

Hatred is not born, it is taught and nurtured. Children show us the meaning of acceptance when they play. They make friends easily and seem to take people at face value in non-judgmental ways.

"With these Hands Hope" 16 x 20 mixed-media/canvas
Oppression and discrimination are learned traits that fester in a climate of fear. Why do some people think they are better than others or that white skin is somehow purer or better than colored skin? Why do some people think they are spiritually or religiously better than anyone else? Most likely they were shown this through ignorance and example; but in the eyes of God we are all equal.

I may not agree with everyone I meet, but I can certainly accept their uniqueness and the value that they bring into the world. My religion and my faith bring me joy and salvation, but someone else may have their own set of beliefs that I must respect and acknowledge.

When you judge others, you lose sight of your own faults and failings. Being self centered or allowing our own feelings and opinions to get in the way puts up a barrier that is difficult to remove. You come across as arrogant, unapproachable, and rigid.

"Fish Market" 24 x 18 acrylic on canvas
Everyone on this earth has their own perspective based on their environment, upbringing and life experiences. Rather than quarrel and try to disprove “the other guy,” we should listen and hope for understanding. We will never all agree. But we can become peacemakers, and listen with our hearts.

If other people are unwilling to meet you half-way or they become aggressive toward you and invade your space, you have every right to defend yourself. Better to “agree to disagree” than to come to blows. Don’t marginalize your own principles and beliefs out of fear or to assuage someone else’s anger. Stop this kind of behavior before it escalates. Get help if necessary. Walk away!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Living Waters Undulate, Inundate, and Facinate Artists

"Skudeneshavn Norway" 20 x 16 Oil on canvas
It’s always hard to get ahead of the curve. Just when you think you’re pulling forward, someone or something pulls the plug on you.  Last week it was a leaky roof. Our place is about 17 years old, and one by one, the houses around us have been getting new tile roofs. Now it’s our turn.

Once the water gets through, however minimal, the damage above has already occurred and wood rot begins. We’ve repaired three fascias’ already, and there may be more. But that’s “water under the bridge.” (I couldn’t resist).

When our family lived in Kansas City, we battled water continually. Except for a bedroom for our teenage son, the leaky parts of the basement had prevented us from refurbishing it.

Finally we found a solution to the crack that ran diagonally down one wall. A friend who repaired swimming pools slathered it with a rubber adhesive that sealed any leaks. We were ecstatic.
"Arabesque" 18 x 14 Oil on canvas
After several dry months went by, we painted and laid carpet in our new family room. The children and their friends finally had a place to hang out. And then the spring rains started up with a vengeance. We held our breath, but the patch held.

The rains continued; one of the heaviest downpours in K.C. history. The front window well filled and flooded into the basement, and then another and another. We started a bucket brigade, but couldn’t keep up with the water filling the wells back up again.

We ended up taking out our soggy new carpet and replacing it with area rugs that could be rolled up in a hurry and put away. We dug trenches around the wells and added pipes to draw the water away. We slanted the front yard so the water wouldn’t come towards the house. Alas, nothing worked. A hard rain could still wipe us out in a matter of minutes simply by filling up the window wells.

"Egret Reflections" SOLD/Prints available.
Water is one of the necessities of life we cannot live without. We fear it. We’re drawn to its sparkling surfaces and its shadowy depths. Without water we would perish; and yet, we have difficulty controlling its unpredictable movements and enormous strength.

Recent flooding this summer in the Midwest brought back so many memories. Artists try to capture the violence and beauty of water; its serenity and peace.

How do you make reflections both in the water and on top of it? Small wavelets on the surface create white netting in the sunlight. Depth changes color. Clarity demands a different technique to indicate a translucence that depicts the sandy or rocky bottom below. 

Painting water requires practice. Once you get the hang of it, brushing on water is fun and addictive. 

Water droplets seem almost impossible until you realize that you have to get away from the canvas before they appear realistic. When you learn how to make them, you have to learn when to stop. Too many of them may give your canvas the look of poke a dots.

"Kelly's Rose" (A rose heavy with rain water) 16 x 12 Acrylic on Panel
It is easy to get carried away as you get better and better at painting lakes, seas, oceans, rivers and puddles. Samples of my own work throughout this blog illustrate how you get better at painting water with practice.

“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.”
Joseph Chilton Pearce

I chose the following three artists to demonstrate their personal techniques for water paintings done in acrylics.

Marion Boddy-Evans shows you how to paint water droplets 

Lori McNee has the best suggestions for painting different types of water 

Mark Waller shows you the fine details and colors that make up the ocean’s surface.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

How you Look at Clouds may determine how you Paint them

"Vikeholmen Lighthouse , Skudeneshavn, Norway"  Acrylic on canvas
I once heard that unless your clouds are the center of interest, don’t paint what you see – paint what people expect and want to see clouds look like. In other words, don’t allow the clouds to “steal the show.”

I’ve had to work at clouds. Landscapes sometimes overwhelm me. I always do better focusing on portraits and close-ups of details. But I want to do better. I love to study cloud formations and enjoy their beauty.

What do you see in the shapes of clouds? I see teddy bears and turtles, and fat round babies. I see enormous faces from different places. My imagination depends on what kind of day it is.

Judy Collins saw things in the clouds around her (inspired by Joni Mitchell’s words):

“Bows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere, I've looked at clouds that way
But now they only block the sun they rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done, but clouds got in my way

I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It's cloud's illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all.”

If you want to catch Collins singing, watch this video. 

Is there a right and a wrong way to paint clouds? Some people think so. I did not get into a juried show once because the judge did not like my clouds. I've since tried to improve upon them.

"Beach Buddies II" 20 x 16 oil on canvas
Two different artists below show you two very different techniques. One starts with the “lights” and makes small circles, adding the darks later. The other starts with the darkest darks making odd rather than defined shapes. Both agree that the results should suggest transparency.

Tim Gagnon likes to create fluffy cumulus clouds.

Mark Waller, the artist below, believes that clouds should be made up of random shapes. Like Gagnon, he believes that paint should be applied gently and loosely. “Little circles” should come after not first, and be defined by the dark straight edged underpinnings.

"Vikeholmen Lighthouse, Skudeneshavn, Norway" a close-up view 20 x 16 acrylic on canvas

Thursday, September 1, 2016

An Artist must have "True Grit" and Know how to Use It!

My husband and I were searching for a movie on Xfinity; a cheap vintage one.  We settled for a 1969 John Wayne movie “True Grit” because my husband had never seen it. We were delighted and pleased with our choice. Good old fashioned values, humor, and the simplicity and perfection of John Wayne. What more could you want?

Curious afterward about the meaning of “grit” I discovered that it referred to courage, resolve, and strength of character; a perfect description of the main character who was determined to do something important for her family and for her dead father. Her quest was difficult and unpleasant, but she met each obstacle unafraid and with true grit.

That word grit stuck in my craw for days afterward. Another definition was “loose particles of sand, stone, salt, etc.” Things I had already used in some of my paintings along with paste and fiber. My purpose was to add texture and interest.

In my mixed-media painting “Broken” I used a fibrous paste to create the texture of a cement wall, and added shapes and symbols popular in the Sixties to look like graffiti. In addition I dipped a torn newspaper article of recent disaster into liquid paste and applied it in appropriate places. 

My drawing of mother and child was left untouched until acrylic color had been added over the background and then wiped off to reveal the symbols. The figures were then painted in oil.

“Moonlight Magic” began as an experiment in texture and various colors that were mixed with fibrous paste. When it was dry I began applying various shades of blue, wiping off raised parts with a cloth to allow some of the under painting to show through. 

I had no idea what the finished canvas would look like, but I kept moving and adding paint until I had the look I wanted. Raised areas defined the final color and design.

“Auburn Nights” (shown in my last blog) was the re-purposing of an old oil canvas I was dissatisfied with and had put aside. 

Wanting to engage in frugality and needing a rough surface to define the windy unpredictability of fall weather, I painted over the canvas in reds and browns. This is a simple canvas and didn’t take long to finish. 

I did most of this painting free-hand with brush and paint. I decided that if it wasn’t perfect, I would not go back over it, but let the canvas speak for itself. I think the texture beneath the surface added to the feeling I was trying to create.

“Queen of Diamonds” is a statement in textures, shapes, and angles mixed with a bit of realism. I knew from the first that I wanted a Harlequin theme to highlight and accent the figure as center of interest. Whether I was successful or not remains in the eyes of the beholder.

A Studio Silver Creek artist shows you step by step how to create a textured background using paste and shapes: 

Watching Michael Lang paint is a religious experience. When he starts slapping on simple inexpensive acrylics you’re never sure what it’s going to look like, but he does. His technique is hypnotizing. Using a combination of brushes, cloths, fingers, a squeeze bottle of white paint and a spray bottle of water, he dips and dabs until his masterpiece is finished.