Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Pride of Barbados: Differences Between Oil and Watercolor

I frequently read about a widely accepted/presumed bias existing in the art world that somehow watercolor is a "lesser" art than oil painting. Or has been thought so in the past. Let me say first: I love both, practice both, and master neither.
But to prefer one over the other would, for me, be like choosing peanut butter over jelly. Fall over spring. Red over black. Unthinkable. Oil painting is luxurious; watercolor is effervescent . Oil painting is certain; watercolor is serendipity. Oil painting is a deep, sensual laugh; watercolor is a giggle.

Practically speaking, you get do-overs when painting in oil. The pigment stays open longer and you can blend, reblend, adjust values, shift things around the canvas; in fact, you can (and I do... frequently!) just scrape the whole mess off and start anew. Infinite chances to work on a nose or a bloom. The artist is only limited by personal patience and tenacity. Leonardo da Vinci said, "Art is never finished, only abandoned." I think he was talking about oils.

Watercolor. Sigh. So sparkly. With watercolor you really have to work to get a second chance. Once pigment meets paper, it is resolute. Oh, there are the proverbial tricks of the trade but the artist always has to barter a bit of spontaneity to use them. When working with watercolors I have to plan, plan, plan and even then, there is such an element of surprise. A big plus for me: watercolor is so portable. I've always got a studio in my purse. That leads to spur-of-the-moment sketches like this Pride of Barbados.

Sunday Morning in the Garden
ink/watercolor in Moleskin

Friday, May 29, 2009

"May-hem" and Sweet Cherries

Bowl of Cherries
oil on panel, 8x8
The perspective is a bit wackidoodle (Must. Learn. To. Draw. Repeat.) but the colors are great. This photo may not do it justice. Hard to go wrong with a primary palette. This is another plate from my MIL's mosaic stash and painting the pattern was very fun.
That I've made time to paint this week at all is something I'm proud of; it's the last week of school, kids are in finals, and there are all the usual May events. A dear friend dubbed it "May-hem." In a good way, of course. Happy May-hem!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Letterman Sketch: Some Like It Hot

Marilyn Monroe, Vanity Fair cover, October 2008
pencil and paper, with a bit of Conte "lip stick"
My soon-to-be-sixteen (we'll call him Sharkboy) has taken to showing up in our room most nights this spring to watch David Letterman with me. Mr. Right usually falls asleep before the show starts; Sharkboy and I generally make it past the Top Ten and into the first guest. That gives me just enough time to grab a sketchbook and an ancient magazine to enjoy a draw and a laugh propped up in bed. Heaven!
I put this sketchbook together a few months back and it is the bomb! I've promised to post a 'how to' with more pictures... stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Rusty Tomatoes: How to See Values for Painting

Rusty Tomatoes
8x8 oil on panel
After not painting for…uhhh… awhile, it was amazing how rusty and stiff it felt when I finally shoveled everything else to the side and smooshed some color around today. I honestly don’t think it is my brushstrokes that are out of practice as much as my eyes; I couldn’t see the values at first.

So back to the ‘ole reliable method: Squint, Squint, Squint. I actually have a pair of really strong magnifying glasses just for this purpose. Truth be told, I had those green “cheaters” on half the day, trying to lose the detail and just get the values in the big shapes down correctly.

The little plate is one my mother-in-law lent me from her to-be-broken-for-mosaics stash. It's such a lovely color.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Still Life with Vegetables or Why Do Radishes Wilt So Fast?

Pretty and Pungent
12x12 Oil on Panel

Plant a radish, get a radish, never any doubt.

Hmmmm... where did I hear that? A warning to all vegetable painters out there: alla prima, schmalla prima; you'd better be able to paint really fast to catch that radish before she withers! I confess that, by the time I realized they were flagging, there was no way to finish so I substituted some silk greenery and forged ahead.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Austin Hip: Dressing for Success

Fyvush Finkel's Girl
12x12 oil on panel
Ah, the courage to wear pink beads with an orange suit. So named because, as I painted, I watched a few old episodes of Picket Fences on Hulu. Remember actor Fyvush Finkel who played the cantankerous old attorney Douglas Wambaugh? Really funny. All episodes available here.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

You Say Tomato

Conscientious Objector
12x12 oil on panel
I bought this platter last year at a discount store strictly for the brilliant blue. Sometimes blues are a bit too... mmm... purple-y for me. This one is bright and clear and so scrumptuous with the fat red tomatoes. I loved working on the cast shadows - layers and layers of them.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Just Time for a Sketch

oil on paper
I love to paint figures and try my hand at it now and then. I have a dear friend - one of my twisted sisters - who is an amazing gift to many, many children, ours included. She and her husband recently had a fun dinner party to celebrate several milestones in our little band (a couple of birthdays and a graduation!) and -- great thing about painting on paper -- I think I'll just fold this up and make a thank you card out of it.

My Paint Brushes are Sprouting Cobwebs

One of the Bunch
12x12 oil on panel
Green and orange is such a winning combination. I think these shadows are more accurate. Still pulling from the vault, between mom-duties. So many fun activities this time of year but can't wait to push some paint around.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Painting Fast Before Dinner

No Small Potatoes
12x12 Oil on Panel
If you had told me 2 years ago, when I was still a practicing work-aholic, that I’d be painting produce and loving it I would never have believed you. And yet, here I am.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest, Abilene

Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest - Abilene, Texas
ink/watercolor in Moleskin

This weekend we are traveling to Abilene for our nephew’s wedding. He will marry in the beautiful church where I grew up. I know I won’t have time to sketch so I’m posting this one instead. I painted it while visiting there last summer.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Another Day in Paradise

A Girl’s Best Friend
9x12 oil on panel

A bit primitive looking but I like it. The blue + orange + gold combo is so appealing.
This is an old painted jewelry chest that came from my mother’s & is one of those family relics that makes you warm just to gaze on it. It’s mostly unremarkable, utilitarian, & has been around forever yet it is so right that it sits about the house. Hmmm… I’m not sure where mother got it. I’ll have to ask my sweet sisters.

“She’s On Her Right Brain.”

Monkey Bizness
8x8 oil on panel

Practicing my oil sketching. That’s a focus for this year: draw, draw, draw. I was in a painting workshop about a year ago and one afternoon we were all concentrating really hard when I became vaguely aware that someone was calling me. Just as I looked up to answer, the darling woman at the next easel said, “Mitzi can’t hear you honey. She’s on her right brain.”

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Making Lemonade

12x6 oil on panel

I wasn’t sure about this as I started but it turned out okay for me. I like the warm palette and the lemons reflecting in the glossy black tray. In fact, as I live with it, I like it more and more.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Definition of a Teacher / How to Paint Glass

Brown Jug & Tulips
12x16 oil on canvas
Another from this spring’s still life class with Laurel Daniel at AMOA/Laguna Gloria. My first attempt at glass and water. First I did it my way and it was a disaster. Scrape, scrape, scrape. Then I did it Laurel’s way and voila! She recommends first painting the stems and leaves without the glass and then going back, graying down what ever is below the water line a teensy bit and adding the vase and water. Simple, right?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Did I Really Start a Blog in MAY, For Heaven’s Sake?

Apples to Apples
12x12 oil on panel

(2 kids + 2 schools + 2 sports) x May = there is absolutely no time for painting right now. Period. So, despite my good intentions, posts will simply have to come from the vault. Ah well, it will give me a better look at where I’ve been. This is from a still life class I took with Laurel Daniel this spring.