Friday, October 29, 2010

Make a Statement – Go Orange!

I don’t know about you, but orange always makes me think of food; you know carrots, oranges, squash, and especially pumpkins on Halloween. Blue the featured color in my last blog is the Complement of orange. Use blue in a room or as sky in a painting along with orange and both colors will pop; each adding zing to the other, bringing out the best in each color.

That pizzazz may be why orange is one of the friendliest colors on the palette. It’s made from two Primary colors: the sunshine color yellow, and the bold and daring red. Designated as a Secondary color because it doesn’t exist unless mixed, orange and everything it touches becomes outgoing, self-confident, competitive and successful. Wear it or use it and test the reaction. Flaunt it and see what happens! Orange is a real attention getter.

That’s why road work and construction signs, vests, hats, and gear are made in shouting orange. You can’t miss them! Orange is like a dose of caffeine – great in the office where you want to be productive or on playroom walls where energy and action are the order of the day. Bad on a bedroom wall unless you enjoy sleepless nights.

Orange is often called the “social” color because it encourages lively conversation and good times. Think of your last cookout, the smoldering orange embers, the fruit punch sunsets afterward. Orange is the color of life and vitality. Splashes of orange can brighten the world and provide a delicious visual twist in a painting.

To see other bright and colorful paintings, go to Carol's online gallery at Paintings featured in this blog: "Flash Dance" and "Brown Thrasher," Georgia's State bird.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

“Am I Blue? You’d be, too.”

Yes, one more lament before I hang it up and get back to the business of blogging. My once trusty camera has “given up the ghost.” Made of plastic, the threads for mounting on a tripod are stripped, the plastic cover for conducting battery power has come unhinged; and quite frankly, so have I. Why is that such a big deal? Because I can’t upload any photos or paintings until I purchase a new one and it’s a low-budget month. Doesn’t every crisis, especially financial ones, come in threes?

Now about that title; since paintings are usually made up of color, I thought it would be fun to discuss color’s history, effects, and uses. The color for today’s blog: Tada – blue! Did you see that coming?

Blue is the most popular color on the planet. Over 50% of people choose blue as their favorite color (it’s certainly one of mine). Over the centuries, blue has come to symbolize trust, truth, faith and heaven; most of us know blue from the sky overhead and the oceans and seas around us. Is it any wonder then that blue has come to mean depth and stability?

Technically, blue is a “guy” color and the favored hue among men, analytical people and professionals. Light shades of blue remind us of health, healing, peace and understanding. Darker shades give off the feelings of empowerment, knowledge, integrity, and seriousness.

I have used blue often in my paintings of birds. They appear calm and beautiful in their natural setting. Many people use Cerulean as a base color for sky; sometimes as their only color. I’ve found it a bit flat for my tastes, and usually add part cobalt or viridian to the mix. Of course, flashes of yellow or Alizarin Crimson along the horizon never hurts, either. I’ve received many compliments on my sky colors so I must be doing something right.

The color blue has inspired paintings like The Blue Boy, music (The Blue Danube, Blue Moon, etc.), flags, religious icons, clothing (blue denim) and songs (Blue Suede Shoes). The down side is that the color blue can calm you down to the point of depression if you surround yourself with too much of it. What’s your favorite color?

Once I get my new camera, I’ll upload the completed “portrait “from my recent class and the last painting in my 1920s series. Standby!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sounding Off

There is nothing worse than being self-conscious. It limits creativity, weakens resolve, and leaves one feeling inadequate and tentative. I’m experiencing all of those feelings of late, and it’s affecting my ability to blog, to paint, and to write.

While I’m currently enjoying my portrait class, there are voices over my shoulder pointing out the flaws in my implementation. Some of those voices are mine as I over analyze and over concentrate; so I end up turning my once fluid brush strokes into stiff adulterated jabs. Other voices come from without as well-meaning friends and relatives offer advice or compare my painting to the photograph I’m working from; a photo digitally prepared and far from the natural skin tones.

My writing is suffering from the same self-consciousness. People don’t always agree with my opinions or points of view, but instead of accepting the fact that the world is full of differing opinions, they must prove that I’m wrong and they’re right. Maybe I’m getting thin skinned, but it’s difficult enough to put yourself out there without getting a barrage of criticism for doing it.

Why does it always have to be the “squeaky wheel” that gets the grease? Why does the aggressive driver own the roadway? Today, everyone’s a critic and everyone has the “right” answers, especially politicians. I don’t know about you, but I’ll be glad when this election cycle is over.

Our world could use a little more kindness and civility. We need a strong dose of integrity and the needed backbone to tell the truth. We could also use more humor and less negativity. Like Tom Sawyer, we need to white wash the picket fences in our lives and bring a fresh perspective into our homes, our neighborhoods, and the world.

Come to think of it, I’ll start right now. Maybe if I tame those misbehaving paint brushes and beat them into submission, I’ll get over my self-consciousness.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

“Me and My Shadow(s)”

Shadows – they follow you wherever you go. They reflect your size and shape, but they aren’t you. The sun and the ebbing twilight distort your shadow as the hours tick by. Indoors, shadows cast by a lamp or an overhead light are blurred by distance and movement.

In a painting, cast shadows are critical. They help define light source, the time of day, and the illusion of reality. In varying shades of gray, shadows enhance the colors they absorb and help to tell a story. The shapes and forms they create add interest and viability.

Without shadows in a painting there would be no folds in clothing, draperies, or hillsides. Faces would be flat and uninteresting. There would be no smile lines, form or depth; no indicators of age or character.

In life, we fear the unknown shadows and flee from the dark ones within that remind us of our failed humanity. Capture these craters of the soul and you have a novel or an artistic masterpiece. Shadows, after all, give us character and add the twists and turns of body and soul that bring out the best in us as we touch the hem of Heaven, or the worst in us as we sink into the depths of Hell.

An overweight relative lost a sizable amount of weight. When I saw her, I said: “You look like a shadow of your former self,” thinking I was paying her a compliment. But the next time I saw her, she had gained all her weight back.

Apparently, my comment had brought out her feelings of insecurity, and she reverted back to her “former self.” Her weight defined the person she thought she was; the person she knew and felt comfortable with so she fled back into the shadows of her former weight where she felt safe and secure.

For better or for worse, shadows reveal the truth in all of us and in art.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Backed by 500 Years of Experience

You heard it right! The system I’m using in my portrait class, as taught by Richard Kirk, was first developed by Albrecht Dürer over five hundred years ago. “Dürer’s device was an empty picture frame with vertical and horizontal strings crossing at regular intervals,” and that’s straight from the artist’s mouth.

Kirk’s teaching method is similar to Dürer’s. Using a system that he created, Kirk’s grid principle has nine elements with each element subdivided into four quadrants. “This in effect creates 36 elements that help you organize your work at a glance without a complicated numbering system,” Kirk said.

To make a long story short, Kirk’s method is far more accurate in capturing a likeness than sketching. Why? Because:

1. Most artists can’t or don’t have access to live models and so work from photographs. Even with a model, photographs are a necessary supplement.

2. Photographs are flat and sometimes retouched or distorted.

3. The grid system allows for more accuracy and control.

In addition to photographs, the artist must take other factors into consideration. A study of the eyes and face can show where the camera was poised, where the light source is coming from, and describes how artificial light effects skin color and shadows.

In class, I’m doing a portrait of my granddaughter, Lyla, using a photo I took of her last summer. The light is coming from windows and a glass door on a sun porch and from the overhead light in the room. Additional light may have come from the flash on the camera.

Lyla’s left shoulder is consumed with light and not distinct, I will have to fill this in. Between the artificial light and the ink on my printer, the skin tones will have to be altered. Using a grid on Lyla’s face, I was able to enlarge the drawing to fit the 12x16 canvas. I’m using a canvas sheet that will have to be mounted to a frame. In my next class, I will begin applying color and oil paint.

I’ve included two more studies of facial contours and features. These were also done using the grid system.

I’ve uploaded the changed drawing of my next and last Roaring Twenties mixed-media painting. I used blue to enhance the lines. I’m going to name this painting: “Vamp on a Ramp.”

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

It’s a Frame-Up

You can’t get away from it. Every piece of artwork needs a frame. Most artists would prefer to do their own, but there may be limiting factors like time, space, or lack of skill. I qualify on all three levels.

A frame is a must when you display in a gallery or art show. A frame sets a painting off and brings out the color theme in a way that nothing else can. Ironically, many buyers prefer to get their own frames and casually discard the frame the artist so meticulously purchased albeit at a somewhat lower cost and quality; a for-show-only purchase, superficial, but necessary.

My deceased brother-in-law was a framing expert. As an avid art collector, he started a framing business in the basement of his home just to accommodate his hobby. I coveted his business and hoped I could stir up interest in my husband to make an offer when his brother-in-law died. But alas, you could put my husband’s artistic desires on the tip of his little finger, and a son-in-law beat us to it.

A few weeks ago, I purchased some chrome and black frames for my 11x14 Roaring Twenties pieces. I was so excited to bring them home and try them out. Here again, the saying: “You get what you pay for,” rang true. Made in China, these lovely frames were cut a tad short, and my stiff, unyielding panels were too tall by ¼ inch. Could I drill a groove, I wondered? Could I cut through that synthetic polystyrene and make needed space for my panels?

This part of the artistic process is the most difficult for me. When it comes to woodworking and making my own canvasses, I’m all thumbs and no brain. By the time I pay extra for what I need, I’ve eaten up my profits, big time, which is one reason I started including recipes in my blogs for “starving artists.”

To hear more of Carol’s complaints or to see the fruits of her labors, go to:

Today’s artwork features wildlife drawings and paintings.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Featured Painting -- “Lucky Lady”

A mixed-media painting, complete with geometrics, glitter, and a smoking hot card is the next in my Roaring Twenties Series. Some of the effects didn’t photograph well, but the original is the “cat’s meow!”

Red glitter covers the ruffles, the collar, and the cuffs of the see-through negligee. Sparkling polka dots add a playful juxtaposition with the white dots on the dominoes and join with the Ace of Hearts in highlighting my gaming theme.

I have one more in my “geometric” duo, and then I’ll move back into the portrait realm on a larger scale. I’m currently taking a portrait class, with an emphasis on using photographs as backup and supplemental. I have included a couple of studies that I did yesterday.

If they look elementary, they are. This is like a college student going back to grade school to relearn the times tables.

I was looking for a basic refresher course, and this class is it! In addition, I'll complete a nice portrait and recall past learning experiences in a classroom setting.

Just as a teacher or a nurse is required to take refresher courses periodically, an artist needs an occasional boost in the brain as well.

In today’s blog, I’m sharing another “Starving Artist” recipe that is cheap, easy and nutritious. Enjoy!

Pinto Bean Casserole
1 lb. pinto beans cooked and drained. (or use equivalent canned)
1 small onion finely chopped
1 tsp. finely chopped jalapeno peppers
1 T. taco sauce
1 T. chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste

After the beans are cooked (or heated), add all ingredients and place in a casserole dish. Top with 8 oz. of Monterey jack cheese and some chopped parsley. Drizzle with taco sauce. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Serve with crispy tortillas and a tossed salad.

To see the rest of Carol's Roaring Twenties artwork, go to:

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fall in Florida

 Last spring I featured some pictures in my blog of the Poinciana tree, a lovely import from the West Indies that produces brilliant red flowers each year. Today I’m sharing photos of the Golden rain tree, an elegant beauty that produces cones of yellow flowers in the fall, followed by salmon colored seed pods. Some of you may know it as the Chinese flame tree or varnish tree.

We can thank Thomas Jefferson for importing this tree from China in 1809 and Thomas Edison who introduced the Golden rain tree to Florida’s landscape at his Winter Estates.

The leaves of the Golden rain tree are beautiful in their own right, composed of small green protrusions on either side of a green stem (pinnately compound). Lacy in appearance, the leaves provide a fern-like backdrop for the blink-bright flower cones and the papery Chinese lantern pods that follow. Even though they are an eye-catcher, these trees are considered an “invasive exotic” because the seed pods can sprout and produce small trees faster than lightening, or at least faster than their deciduous neighbors.

Each fall, I look forward to seeing these trees go through their cycle of green, yellow, and salmon. While I was taking these photos, a great egret and a wood stork shared common space as they foraged together at a nearby pond. I may use these scenes in a future watercolor painting.

On my next blog, I’ll show you the completed (or near complete) 1920s geometric panel I started a few weeks ago. I decided to start with flapper boudoir art first. Stay tuned.