Sunday, February 18, 2018

February 17, 2018

We're recovering from the snow and getting closer to our group show. No wonder our thoughts (and paintings) turn to flowers and friends. Madeleine paints a cathedral silhouetted against an iridescent sky and nestled in lovely green foliage. Look closely at the subtle colors in the sky and the simple graphic style of the cathedral.

From there, Madeleine sketched and inked her next painting.... a wooded stream in Michigan. She'll begin adding washes next week. Be sure to tune in then to see more.

Isa finished her rose from last week, adding yellow highlights and an active sky-colored background...

...before beginning work on more roses. These are drawn from memory and demonstrate careful observation skills.  That, and the fact that Isa really likes roses!

She's not the only fan of roses. Yi finished her adorable painting of a cat hiding among roses. Zoom in to see how delicate and carefully drawn the rose is.

That's not all—Yi began this painting of a morning glory. We love the delicacy of the colors and are looking forward to spring!

Lilith is also looking forward to spring and spring flowers. Here, she's carefully layered petals against a lilac sky to create this beautiful painting.

More roses! This time, Sarah paints a bouquet featuring roses, baby's breath and more. The analogous colors are already unifying the grouping.

Basan, our resident acrylic expert, has been working to "build a relationship" with watercolor. Judging by the next few paintings, we think she's well on the way. In this field of flowers, she's skillfully used complementary colors and aerial perspective. And the rocks are incredible.

This figure silhouetted against a colorful sky uses watercolor's transparency well and has a powerful graphic quality.

Basan finished up with this bunch of grapes. The use of highlights and colors demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of watercolor.

Ken finished his latest tomato mosaic painting. It features tomato plants seen from above against pavement and flower beds, all done in mosaic.

And then, he begins another. This time, a single tomato is seen from behind. So far, only the sepals, but keep looking for the petals.

Elaine finished her New Guinea impatiens in a concrete planter.

Contrast that with her quick sketch of a cute beagle frolicking in backyard snow. Much more seasonally appropriate!

Elaine's been busily painting, as you can see. She set up a little painting corner and has been going to town, stopped only by ice dams. Here's a quick self portrait...

... and another. This one, though, is an experiment. It's painted on a background of iridescent gold watercolor ground. Watercolor ground can be painted onto surfaces that typically don't accept watercolor (like metal, canvas or glass) and it creates a soft, absorbent surface. Elaine was trying to get a Byzantine icon effect on this, but thinks it may need more experimentation.

Speaking of experimentation, Tony painted this intriguing painting of a diver using Cubist techniques to describe the motion. The girl, a relative, is an Olympic diver. We love the concept— and the result.

You've heard us extol the benefits of sketching and we're going to reinforce that advice. Sara did this wonderful sketch of a new baby and her father. She's created it as preparation for several studies and a final painting. The more you sketch and paint, the more familiar you are with the subject—and the better the final result... you can see in this latest painting. We love Sara's color choices, the way she's focusing on the faces and the feeling of warmth and safety.

Steve is sketching, too. Here is the next in his merman series. Next steps are to tweak things to perfection before transferring to watercolor paper and adding paint.

Bill added the final touches to his interior scene. We love the light and feel this just shouts vintage 40's.

And in the same vein, Bill is painting this lovely couple. He's trying for the feeling of warmth and love he got from them and plans to do a series of studies to fine tune this painting.

Upcoming events and important announcements

It's really happening—we will be having a group show at Ten Cat! The paintings were hung in the windows today and we'll be having one of our fabled opening receptions. You're invited to the reception, so mark your calendars. And if you can't come to the opening, stroll by and see the art.

The Ten Cat Group Watercolor Show.  We will be having a group show at Ten Cat Tavern. Drop by to see the art, enjoy a drink and maybe even play some pool.

      3931 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL

     Exhibition: February 18–????
     Reception: March 10, 2018, 4pm

Monday, February 12, 2018

February 10, 2018

We are in the midst of a "snow event"—we've either set or tied some record number of consecutive days with snow. Which would be fine, except that some of those days produced long and heavy snowfalls. This probably explains our sparse numbers this week. But those of us who braved the elements really came to paint. We tackled all the major genres, but perhaps the most appropriate for the day is Bill's cozy interior. Don't you love the warm, glowing light? Don't you want to curl up here with a good book and a hot beverage?

What is warmer and cozier than holding a brand new baby? Sara captures that feeling as she continues to create studies of her new granddaughter and her sons. Here's the baby meeting her uncle....

... and chilling with her dad.

How does Sara do it? As we may have mentioned in the past, she is a firm advocate for sketching. We're sharing some of her great sketches below. This is another Daddy/Daughter scene.

And here is baby Nora in a solo portrait. Look at her lovely eyes!

Madeleine is also a proponent of sketching.  Look closely and see that she's got her subject drawn before she begins to paint.

And here is the result. This was just a drawing last week and now we see the bridge and waterfall at the Botanic Garden.

More botanicals from Ken! This aerial view of a tomato plant against a pavement and flowerbeds has a warm summer feeling, doesn't it?

Crazie is also fascinated with flowers. She's finished the sweet lotus plant from last week. This is in gouache, which is basically watercolor with white body color added.

Then, Crazie begins a rose and some petals against a lock of hair. We are loving the color choices and the sky background and can't wait to see this finished. 

Moving from individual flowers to a full landscape, Crazie spotlights a tree against a vibrant sky. She's also testing a spray-on surface color to add texture.

Basma has been busy, too! As you may guess if you look closely at the following paintings, she has prior expertise in acrylics. She's trying for a more "watercolory" feel with these fruits.... 

... and this plant...

... before moving on to this majestic rooster.

To finish, Basma painted these beautiful landscapes.

Not a touch of snow on either of them!

Sarah's painting is our only concession to weather. This winter landscape features a deer and other wildlife silhouetted against a snowy background.

Lilith's koi would probably be hibernating on a day like today. Instead, this one is elegantly floating across the delicate background.

Did you miss the exercises? Lilith's soft, delicate take on complementary colors can be seen below. This is one of the most useful of the exercises, we've found.

Save the date

We're still planning a group show at the Ten Cat starting in mid- to late-February. We'll each have up to two paintings in the casual (no theme!) show. It's the perfect time to meet and greet us, see some good art and anticipate spring. We'll be hanging the show around February 18 and having our usual fun opening, so watch this space for further news—and an invitation to our opening reception!

Saturday, February 3, 2018

February 3, 2018

Sure, the groundhog may have seen its shadow, but you can't tell by looking at our paintings. We're all about babies, blossoms and vacations, making it seem like spring is around the corner. First of all, what better subject can there be than a brand new grandchild? Ellen dropped by with a dual portrait of her newest grandchild and baby Audrey's cousin before framing it. Look at the lovely soft palette and the path the darks and patterns weave through the painting. This beautiful portrait is going to be a family treasure.

Sara has two baby portraits—one with each of her sons. This is Sara's first grandchild, so we can't imagine she'll tire of the subject any time soon. Here is baby Nora with her father. Can that child look any cuter or more comfortable? Don't these remind you of Mary Cassatt in the way they capture the essence of a sleepy baby?

Sara paints the same grandbaby, but with a different son.  She's truly captured the essence of an uncle's first introduction to his niece. All these baby pictures are really about the relationship between the baby and the person holding her—and all of these succeed admirably.

No new grandchildren for Bill, but he's painting another of our favorite subjects—
buildings! This line and wash painting uses delicate lines (especially in the ironwork of the railing!) and a minimal palette for the washes. Still, it captures the feel of the buildings perfectly.

Madeleine has been busy! Here she finished her painting is of the capital building in Havana, Cuba. She's added a billboard featuring the name of the city and a graphic of Che Guevara to identify the location definitively, but subtly.

And then, Madeleine moved on to finish this scene from last week. Notice how adding the view through the archways adds a tremendous sense of depth.

But that's not all! Madeleine moved on to this painting. So far, she's only finished the rails on this bridge, but we're already intrigued by what is on the other side.

Steve is combining two of our favorite themes, with a unique touch! He's painting Hawaiian plants and scenes using paint he's created from Hawaiian mud. As far as we know, he's the only person doing this—and it's magnificent. We have a new nickname for him—the Mudman of Kauai—and anticipate tourists snapping these up from galleries all over the islands.

A little closer to home, Ken is painting flora too. But his tomato plants are from a slightly less exotic locale (his balcony). Nonetheless, his mosaic background is elevating these humble tomatoes to something extraordinary.

Isa's been feeling the floral vibe, too. Here, she's finished a springlike scene, called Peaceful Meadow. Most appropriate, we think.

Isa's latest obsession is with roses. We love the background she's added to make these delicate yellow roses pop. She's layered colors in a cross hatch pattern to create a beautifully active sky....

...and moved on to this lovely rose. She's used values confidently to model the single bloom. We're eager to see where she goes from here.

Yi is also painting roses. She's finished these delicate yellow roses and they look great! Especially noteworthy is the way she uses white of the paper to create highlights on the leaves and light on the petals. And we're amazed at the range of values she's able to coax out of a light color like yellow.

Emboldened by her success with the yellow roses, Yi has sketched her next painting. This will also be a rose, but she's adding an element of "cute" with the kitten. Be prepared to say "aww!"

Elaine is almost finished with her floral painting, too. She forgot salt (we're not kidding about that—she plans to use it to texture the planter edge to the left). This is a prime example of why complementary colors work!

So, instead of finishing the impatiens, Elaine did this small quick study of a daisy. The actual painting is not as fuzzy as the photo and the background is inspired by leaves in the reference photo, as well as Crazie's color choice. Scroll down to see what we mean.

Here's Crazie's lovely lotus flower. She's using gouache, though. Gouache is basically watercolor with white added. This makes it opaque and allows the painter to paint light over dark... something watercolorists can't do. Some purists lament gouache's lack of transparency, but we think Crazie's painting conveys all the delicacy of the blossom.

These three small studies are Crazie's experiments with gouache. She's able to paint white over blue and blend colors. We also like the whimsical painting of the little girl fishing for a bunny.

Finally, Crazie finished her figure study below. Also in gouache, this little masterpiece uses a minimal palette and graphic shapes in a Hockney-esque painting. 

Basan finished her still life below. She's experienced in acrylics, so she's also adding white paint to her watercolors, which results in gouache-like body color.

Basan has been working on avoiding white paint. Here, for instance, she's lifted the white center on this lovely bloom.

Here's the same bloom with more white added to the paint. As you can see, it's sharper and more solid.

Here is another pair of flowers from Basan to compare. With white paint, creating gouache....

...and without white, making transparent watercolor. Zoom in to see the variety of colors in the purple.

Sarah's been hard at work on her cityscape. She's added lots of delicate line work, defining the buildings and the people. We are also big fans of Sarah's treatment of the river.

Is anyone doing exercises, you ask? Yes! Lilith does the advanced color wheel in her soft style. She's inadvertently added black to the blue spoke of the wheel, but it doesn't affect the usefulness of this one bit.

And then, with time to spare, Lilith began this landscape. Seemingly minimal, there are many sophisticated elements to note: the energetic brushwork and the gradated sky. There's a lot to see here!

Save the date

Speaking of "a lot to see," we'll be having a group show at the Ten Cat starting in mid- to late-February. We'll each have two paintings in the show. It's varied and casual (no theme!) and we'll be having our usual fun opening. It's the perfect time to meet and greet us, see some good art and anticipate spring. We'll be hanging the show around February 18, so watch this space for further news—and an invitation to our opening reception!