Saturday, January 26, 2013

Chairway to Heaven

My apologies to Led Zeppelin.

I had a couple of revelations this week in the studio as I was working on focus studies using the same subject I've been playing with for a while.  I used values and color temperature (and color intensity) to create focus.

When I saw the result, I burst out laughing - I had created the chairway to heaven.  Surely if you just sit down in one of these seemingly everyday metal chairs, the glow of heavenly inspiration will be upon you, or maybe you just instantly transport directly from the chair to the heavenly realms.  Perhaps you must rise and walk through the heavenly portal I also created as the second focus alternative.

Seriously, I have learned quite a bit from these studies.  The focus studies are obviously exaggerated in their style, but I can apply these basic principles to improve my work. 

I shared a gradation study last week using these same metal chairs and a couple of personal communications I received about that piece shocked me.  I looked at it as a throw away exercise, but each person indicated that they would not only frame it, but would love to own it.  I had never even considered that. It was a revelation.

And I didn't even need to sit in the chairs to receive it.

Friday, January 18, 2013

All right Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close up!

Isn't it funny how some things stick with you?  For those of you who don't know, this line comes from Sunset Boulevard, an old black and white classic film.  Interestingly, I've never watched the whole movie, but I love that line.

This week in the studio I've been working on gradation using a close up detailed area of a value study I worked on last week.  If I ever actually paint this piece, I want to have problem solved all of the important areas, and moving my viewer's eye using gradation will be very important to the success of this painting.

I also thought I would share some finished student work from the classes I'm teaching to give you a close up introduction to a couple of artist/authors.  My goal for students is to learn the fundamentals of three dimensional drawing all the while experiencing different materials.  This first project featured watercolor and pen and ink and utilized the marvelous drawings of Mark Kistler.

Mark Kistler has been teaching children to draw for many years and used to host a television show called Imagination Station.  While I don't think his show is on anymore, his books live on and continue to inspire. His drawings are appealing to children, yet lay a strong foundation for three dimensional drawing.

The other artist/author I am using this year to teach the grid method of drawing using photographs, is Lee Hammond, who has several wonderful books available.  Children love animals and these books break down the steps of creating an accurate line drawing and then using shading to render beautiful drawings.

Both artist/authors have graciously given teachers permission to photocopy pages of their books for classroom use.  Mark Kistler gives permission in his books; I emailed Ms. Hammond to ask permission and received a lovely affirmative response.  I love that I can share these books with children and direct them to their local library and book store to discover that books serve so many purposes, that they not only transport us to wonderful worlds through stories and our imagination, but also allow us to discover and develop new skills.

All right, Mr. DeMille, fade to black.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Are we having fun yet?

The answer is YES!!!

 I've been designing possible paintings:


doing value studies:

teaching 3 classes of delightful 4th and 5th graders fun art projects:

and beginning a new hobby - carving stamps:


I hope your week has been as happy and full.  

Friday, January 4, 2013


Confluence - the coming together of separate things to become...ah, the possibilities are endless, but one this is certain, the result will never be the same.

I love the juxtaposition of this post with the last - two distinct styles of painting which represent where I am artistically.  

I am standing at the confluence - how exciting!

This painting is a result of several photos taken at the American River in California.  The three figures represent choices we all deal with - there are times when we are on a mission, head down, moving forward.  There are times when we have stopped to just enjoy the now.  And there is often tension between the two.

Confluence - Watercolor
I hope you enjoy it.