Saturday, May 12, 2018

May 12, 2018

More strange weather in Chicago. It's downright cold today! So, since we couldn't be out gardening, what better way to spend the day than painting with friends? We look forward to future vacations and memorialize people, places and past vacations. Here, for instance, Susan paints her recent trip to Malaysia. She's standing with her husband before the Petronas Twin Towers. Each tower was built by a different company from a different country to meet the construction deadline.


Madeleine celebrates a vacation in Mexico. Just look at the luscious water colors and the incredible clouds in the sky. It looks like a pastry chef has piped trails of whipped cream. Beautiful!


Bill did two versions of the same vacation site in Ireland, but with different intents. First, this is Muckross House...


...and this is Muckross House in its setting, a national park in Killarney. The first is a portrait of the house; this is intended to portray the house as part of the park, which is how Bill remembered it. It's interesting how composition can reflect what we want to say.


Bill also did this scene from Bruges. While he considers this more of a sketch, we love the view across the canal and the touch of color in the red building, echoed in the touches of pink in the reflections. 


With some time to spare, Bill did this painting. The location is closer to home (a rooftop parking lot), but the real subject is the light from the moon and the streetlight. This is a lovely, atmospheric painting.



Elaine also painted a location close to home. While she's taken some liberties with the building materials, she's captured the feel of the sunlight in summer.... which was what attracted her to this in the first place.


Yi is painting her first building, she says. We're amazed at how well she's managed to capture the subtle colors and textures of this house. We can't wait to see the rest of the painting after our summer break.


Tony finished his Mediterranean cityscape, below. We love the feeling he's able to get with his new technique, using watersoluble ink and minimal color.


Tony's on a roll. Here, he is moving to portraiture. Actually, he's painting a version of his sketch of Alexei Jawlensky's Girl with the Green Face. It's in the Art Institute. Look closely at the texture and the beautiful line he's been able to get with the watersoluble ink.


Taking it one step further, Tony copied an old sketch onto watercolor paper on an office copier. This resulted in the exquisite texture he's been able to achieve. And then, he added even more texture with watercolor and watersoluble ink. We really think Tony's on to something here.


Steve's on to something here, too. He's moved on to the merman in his painting. And we are particuclarly impressed by the beautiful handling of the hands and the face. The hands are actually supporting the body on the rocks and the face looks statuesque. This is going to be great.


We know we were all looking forward to Ken's new series on Marina City. Sadly, he did some more studies and decided to return to his tomato plants. While they aren't actually Marina City, they are growing on the balcony there. And the blossoms do look lovely, so we're on board with the switch.


Isa finished her ribbon flower still life. She's touched up the background, added the table and finished off with a perfect little shadow. This is a highly skillful use of composition and minimal color. We are intrigued by the story told by this simple still life.


And now, we'll be off until June 9. That's nearly a whole month! Meanwhile, you can still see Susan's show. And consider joining us for our next class—you know you want to!



Celebrating Diversity Exhibition
Susan Silvano is exhibiting at the Walker Library, celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Stop by if you can.

When:  May 1–May 31, 2018
            
Where: Walker Library
             11071 S. Hoyne Avenue, Chicago, IL 60643
             312-747-1920


Next Class
Want to join our merry band or artists? The summer session of Watercolor begins on June 9 and goes through July 21. Save the date and, if you're at all interested, click here to learn more and register! We really do have as much fun as we seem to.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

May 5, 2018

What a day! We're painting familiar people, places and things—but we are experimenting like mad. We may have confused Star Wars day (May the Fourth) with Star Trek; regardless, we are boldly going down new and exciting paths. Follow along and you'll see what we mean. Here, Sara is doing a double portrait. She's been doing studies in various media to get to this. Also, this image doesn't do the real one justice, but notice how the soft color blends are uniformly glowing and beautifully rich.


Steve is also a firm believer in doing studies. And, while he's technically doing a portrait, the background is very important. So, he's using a variety of techniques (wet-in-wet, blotting, salt) to lay in the exquisitely textured background. Yes, the yellow outline is masking fluid and will come off soon!


Like Steve, Susan is combining a person with a unique place. Okay, like Steve's, it may not be a real person—this is a reclining Buddha from a temple in Malaysia—but the tropical background and use of color are essential to making this painting work.


Bill is also painting people in a location. Here, the people are real and they are walking a labyrinth. Especially noteworthy is the fact that we know it's a labyrinth, even though Bill hasn't marked every walkline. We get the sense of action and meditative movement, which is exactly the intent.


Here's another example of the value we find in studies. Bill is doing two studies of the same buildings. This first one is more pastoral and gently centers the architecture in fields of green.


In this start, notice how Bill is changing the vantage point, expanding the foreground and heightening the value contrast. We'll be anxious to see the differences when he finishes this one.


Madeleine's painting is also of a unique place—the Netherlands. We love the composition with the line of marching windmills and the reflections. Maybe we're in sci-fi mode, but we also thought they looked like daleks.... in a good way!


Tony is painting buildings and locations (in this case, a narrow Mediterranean street)  while taking his latest experiments even farther.  He's laying down color with two hands now.... one hand holds watercolor soluble pens and pencils while the other wields a brush with water, guiding the pigment. It's incredible that he can get such soft, dreamy results from a technique that looks like welding or soldering. Fascinating!


Ken has moved away from tomatoes and back to corn.... sort of. He's joined the architecture crowd with these studies of Marina City, the world famous corncobs. This is a small preliminary study and we love it! It really feels like Marina City, doesn't it?


... and here is the beginning of another small study of the river near Marina City. Again, Ken has the feel of the subject and we're looking forward to his newest series.


Elaine was traveling light today and did this line and wash sketch using only three colors (plus a sketchbook and Sharpie marker, of course). Who'd have guessed that you could get this range of colors from yellow, red and blue?


Yi is also into architecture. She only got this house sketched today and we'll be eager to see what happens when she adds color...


... as you can see in the finished floral below. Yi finished her painting of the morning glory. Notice how she's combined intricate sharp shapes and colors at the focal point and trailed off into soft focus as we move to the background. This is a skill it takes many of us a long time to learn.


Isa's flowers, as you recall, are fabric and not real. Here, she's added more shading and shadows to the flowers and ribbon. She's also brought in complementary colors to make the flowers even more interesting.


Tal has moved on to the "fruit and fabric" exercise and we're blown away. Look at the textures! The fruits are nestled into the cloth and the fabric undulates softly. Notice the edges and hems, too. This is lovely!


Exhibitions and classes you should know about

The Ten Cat show has been taken down, but you can still see Susan's show and join us for our next class—you know you want to!



Celebrating Diversity Exhibition
Susan Silvano is exhibiting at the Walker Library, celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Stop by if you can.

When:  May 1–May 31, 2018
            
Where: Walker Library
             11071 S. Hoyne Avenue, Chicago, IL 60643
             312-747-1920


Next Class
Want to join our merry band? The summer session of Watercolor begins on June 9 and goes through July 21. Save the date and, if you're at all interested, register! It's really as much fun as it seems.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

April 28, 2018

As you know, we love to experiment—and we have a cool new tool to show you. As you've seen, we often begin with a sketch and we love a nice line and wash painting. Tony's been doing a lot of drawing lately, concentrating on portraits. Look at the self-portrait below. He's been using a water-soluble marker to draw with. But when he adds water, the ink separates into incredible shades of blue, green, red and purple. And the effect works as well when he uses a sepia wash (the shirt) as when he uses water (the face). Isn't this great?


We're also showing you some of Tony's earlier work with this tool. Here, he's used the pen more heavily and added a blue wash. See how much more color separates from the ink?



 And here's an even stronger reliance on the line. We're also including a shot of the pen Tony uses. We love the colors in the black ink.


Here's a shot of the pen—in case you are interested in playing along with us. It's a double-ended calligraphy marker, made by Itoya.

Madeleine is also known for line and wash work, but this delightful family painting doesn't include any line at all. Instead, she relies on amazing composition, subtle color and touches of watercolor pencil. We really like this painting, especially the character she's managed to capture in each of the three subjects—not an easy task!



Madeleine has also made progress on the second of her Washington family portraits. Again, the composition is notable. Her grandson looks like a superhero in front of the Washington monument.


Sara is also boldly working on a dual portrait. Yes, that's baby Nora with her proud uncle. The preliminary sketches make this seem effortless, but the actual painting is stunning. The colors glow, the subjects' likenesses are dead on, and the hands in the foreground tell the story. This is going to be a family heirloom.






Steve may not be painting relatives, but his merman looks like he could be. Here's another fine example of composition as the subject is framed beautifully and the complementary colors draw the eye. The water and sun look real and make us want to be there.


With results like that, it's no wonder Steve is continuing with his merman series. Below, he sketching his next subject. 


Bill's also painting people, but these are strangers in a courtyard in Bruges. The architecture frames the people, who also lead the eye to the true subject.... the buildings and the tower in the distance.


Bill also painted this allegoric seascape. We're intrigued by the composition and the unique viewpoint he chooses. 


Elaine is painting a place, too. This is just the beginning, but we can already feel the sun on the garden.


Susan has gone back to add a few touches to her garden scene. We approve! The people pop even more against the lush garden background.


Yes, it's the season! Our thoughts are turning to gardens and plants. Like Susan and Elaine, Yi's brush is turning to nature. She's making tremendous progress on her morning glory. The intricately patterned leaves are both strong statements on their own, and a delicate frame for the lovely blue flower.


And what says warm weather more than red, ripe tomatoes? Ken is adding a mosaic background to his tomato plants and it reflects the season. The colors are soft and convey a sense of fun.


It's time for the giant fruit exercise and Tal has done an incredible job with his eggplant. This is a perfect image of the gradated, striped model he brought in. And we wanted to go home with Tal when we heard how he was planning to cook up the eggplant later that day. It sounded as delicious as the painting.


Tal did two versions of one of our favorite homework exercises.... the egg!  This one looked great to us, but he got a comment that it looked like a jellyfish.


...so he tried a different version. This one looks like it's carved out of ceramic, doesn't it? Tal captured the shiny highlight perfectly.


Dates, exhibitions and classes you should know about



The Ten Cat Group Watercolor Show.  We are still at Ten Cat! The paintings are on display in the windows for another week and you can still stroll by and see them. Details on the postcard below.

      3931 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL

     When:
     Exhibition: February 18–April 30, 2018
    





Celebrating Diversity Exhibition
Susan Silvano is exhibiting at the Walker Library, celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Stop by if you can.

When:  May 1–May 31, 2018
            
Where: Walker Library
             11071 S. Hoyne Avenue, Chicago, IL 60643
             312-747-1920




Next Class
Want to join our merry band? The summer session of Watercolor begins on June 9 and goes through July 21. Save the date and, if you're at all interested, register! You'll be glad you did.