Saturday, December 15, 2018

December 15, 2018

We ended our year with a treat table (thanks to Elaine T and Sara for the festive cookies and cheese platter), calendars from Susan, and, of course, lots of color and fun. Keep scrolling for a special treat, our annual 2018 class photo.

Marva has almost finished this lovely ode to summer. She plans to add the boat on the shore but it's already an idyllic scene with the weeping willow and all the textures of summer (the bark, the grass, and the water and sky). Only half a year until we see this again!

Ellen painted tons of Christmas cards, but they're all gone. So, we present more of her Chinese Brush Painting. These two paintings use watercolor on mulberry paper. This is the best of the papers Ellen has tried. It has one shiny side and one softer, more absorbent side which gives the brushstrokes their unique character. 

Don't you love the pine needles on these pine cone branches? The variety of brushstrokes is incredibly beautiful.

Moving into color, Ellen paints these flower blossoms against an azure sky. And she's added a chop at the top right. It's her name, hand carved into a wine cork. Needless to say, we all spent some time trying to fashion a logo from our initials.

Isa added to her painting from last week. We love the transition from the autumn leave to the pine trees outside the window frame. The copper cup has such fine texture. And, look closely at the way the line of the window frame complements the line of the leaf edge.

Looking back towards autumn, Isa added finishing touches to the painting below. Look closely at the subtle yellow wash she's added to the table cloth. It's just the perfect touch to tie all the warm elements together.

Elaine O. is also painting trees and leaves "off-season."  In this study of Chicago's Cloud Gate in summer, the trees frame the view. It's just a small 6" x 6" study, but it really captures the feel of the city and the tourists enjoying summer in the city.

From there, Elaine O. moved on to this beloved childhood icon. Do you remember the Weinermobile? This will probably be back as Elaine O. feels she needs to add a background. Still, we all had to smile when we saw this.

It must be an Elaine thing today. Elaine T.'s painting of Ming the Merciless also drew smiles of recognition from everyone. Look closely to see how exquisitely modeled the face and hands are... and mark your calendars for January 26, when it'll be back and closer to final. 

Steve finished his study below. This is a poster featuring Nijinsky in Debussy's Afternoon of a Faun ballet. (We had it rotated last week.... sorry!). We love the way the dancer's limbs and the folds of cloth move sinuously across the page. Steve claims he is experiencing "opera withdrawal" (opera is a bright pink/fuschia color that Steve uses to add excitement and warmth to skin tones) but we love the way he's modeled the body, even without opera.

Dana also painted an action figure as her final project for the class. We are impressed with the level of detail, especially given the small size of the painting. Notice how she's used a similar subject this week and last, but this time, the character is silhouetted against a dark background instead of being a silhouette against a light one.

With time to spare, Dana experimented with wet-in-wet paint blending on this butterfly. Zoom in to see the subtle gradations on the wings. And we're thrilled to congratulate Dana on her graduation from newbie to "old master" and look forward to seeing her again next term.

What better place to settle in and read about all the fantasy and action figures in the prior paintings than Sara's sofa? You can just feel the sunlight streaming into the window, can't you? You may be seeing this again as Sara has some tweaks she'd like to make, but meanwhile, just relax in this moment of calm. 

Here's a study in contrast... from Sara's warm, calm interior to Ken's blustery cold exterior. He's finished this snowy study in blue...

...before beginning this painting, another moment in Ken's day. We're crossing the Dearborn bridge at night. Who knew so much happens at night? There's the snowy sky, the lights shining in the snow and the reflections on the wet pavement. 

Tony's very nearly finished with his cityscape. This copy of a Van Gogh painting uses only the color that can be obtained by wetting and separating the pigments in a calligraphy pen. Yet, look at the depth and texture Tony can get from a single black marker. And for some reason, the deckle edge adds the perfect touch.

We mentioned that we had calendars from Susan. This year's calendar features scenes from her recent trip. That's right—the trip wasn't that long ago, but she's already managed a full year's worth of happy memories. This is her memento of Australia. She's using indigenous elements (boomerangs, kangaroos, etc.) to memorialize Oz.

And, not for the squeamish, she's painted a trip to a crocodile farm in Queensland, Australia. Fellow tourists hold baby crocs and pythons while a larger crocodile pops out of the water to feast on a chicken head.

Moving to New Zealand, Susan records a visit to Tamaki Maori village to experience an evening of  Maori culture. Zoom in and read all about it.

And, of course, what visit to New Zealand would be complete without a visit to Middle Earth and The Shire? Here's the movie set with hobbit holes nestled among the undulating hills and roads. 

We end by wishing all of you the merriest, most joyful holiday season—no matter what holiday you choose to celebrate. And we look forward to seeing you in January!

Our 2018 class photo, courtesy of Lydia

Exhibition Opportunity

Interested in an opportunity to exhibit your work on the 48th Ward art wall? See information in the image below.


Register for next term. 

You may want to think of joining us. Registration is open. Check your calendars and think about it. After all the holiday madness, you'll want to be part of our fun and relaxing group. Spring I and II (seriously, that's what they call it) dates are:

  • January 26 — March 9, 2019
  • March 23 — May 11, 2019 (off April 20)
For registration information—come on, you know you want to join us—visit Truman College Continuing Education.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

December 8, 2018

It's beginning to look a lot like winter! Allow us to illustrate with this painting by Ken. It's the latest in his Day in the Life of Ken series—November 20, 2015 to be exact. This is 9:37pm of that day, getting off the Brown Line at Merchandise Mart. It's cold and frosty... and very blue, isn't it? No matter if you call this his autobiographical period, his blue period or his Van Gogh period, Ken has managed to really capture the feel of a Chicago winter.

In contrast, Marva began this warm and delicate landscape painting of a tree on a bank. There will be a boat in the river, distant trees and even more wonderfully warm and textured elements to make us feel like we're enjoying warm weather.

Susan just returned from a trip to Australia and New Zealand is is chronicling her trip in paintings. Below is a  painting of a Haasy River ride. The tourists are boarding a boat on a beautifully blue and placid river.... then, they are spun around in a wild ride. We like the way Susan uses an inset to contrast the ride with the calm setting.

Here's Susan's view of the Sydney Opera House. She left room on the right side to add the story of the Opera House and its construction. It's fascinating!

Here's a scene from Susan... cows calmly grazing on lush New Zealand grass. Notice that she's added a kiwi with travelogue information at bottom left. Very clever!

This isn't finished, but here's Susan's whimsical take on the Hobbit village. The Hobbit hole below is the Artist's residence and she's repeated the round lines of hobbit dwellings in the undulating landscape. Come back to see how this turns out.

Talking about fantasy worlds, Elaine T. began this painting of Ming the Merciless. We already love the hands and cape and can't wait to see more. There is nothing like a good villain, is there?

We can't have a starker contrast than Ellen's painting of Bella the dog. It highlights her personality, too... but it's obvious this is a sweet and much-loved dog rather than an evil despot from the planet Mongo. Ellen has a new specialty—dog eyes and tongues. In fact, she's gaining a reputation among us as a pet portraitist.

Steve is painting a study from a sample he got from Pat, our teacher. The sensual lines of the fabric and the woman remind us of the Hawaiian landscapes and mermen he's so good at.

Like Steve, Tony is taking inspiration from the masters. Here, Tony copies a Van Gogh, but uses his tool of choice—a black calligraphy marker. Then, he uses water to draw out the various pigments in the ink into soft washes and adds darks with the touch of ink from his fountain pen. Look closely to see all the color and subtlety in this seeming monotone.

Sara's also going monochrome below. But this isn't a finished painting; it's a drawing of her next painting. In this beautiful drawing, Sara captures the feel of the textures of the objects and the quality of light drenching the room...

... before moving on to a light underlay of color. It looks like Sara's sofa is the place to be for a warm and cozy afternoon.

Isa's also into "comfort paintings." Here, she's adding to her painting of pumpkin pie elements. We love the use of warm colors and great texture in this painting.

Still in her orange period, Isa takes on the challenge of difficult textures. Here's a fall leaf perched on a hammered copper mug. This is going to be great—notice how Isa already has achieved the feel of the hammered copper.

Elaine O. finished the painting of her Wyoming living room. Like Isa, she's in an orange mood. And, like Sara, she's painting a cozy interior. However, this living room in Wyoming has more of an evening feel and seems more suited to seeking refuge from a winter storm.

Moving from interior to exterior, Elaine O. finished this painting of the Volunteer Firefighters' Memorial from Rosehill Cemetery (visit if you ever have the chance. It's a wellspring of American history). She started with cerulean blue—the complement to all the orange above—and finished using only two more colors, light red and yellow ochre.

Dana also used a minimal palette to get a maximum effect. This small painting is a spread in her sketchbook. She confines her color to the background sky and the foreground sand (and did you notice she uses complementary colors?), silhouetting the focus of the painting However, if you look closely, you'll see that the horse and rider aren't a flat black; there is depth and movement here.

We have only one more session before the holiday break, so plan to be back next week. Meanwhile, here's a public service announcement about grants for artists who qualify.

SPARK Microgrant program

Check out this grant opportunity to see if you are interested and/or qualify. It's a program of The Joyce Foundation and Chicago Artists Coalition called SPARK. A recap follows, and you can learn more at this site:

SPARK: A Program of The Joyce Foundation and Chicago Artists Coalition 
Program Description. The SPARK Microgrant is an annual, unrestricted award opportunity for Chicago-based visual artists who identify as ALAANA (Asian, Latino, Arab, African diaspora, Native), an artist with a demonstrated need, an artist with a disability, or as a self-taught or informally trained artist who is striving to make their art practice a primary vocation.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

December 1, 2018

Nearly all of us made it in today, despite the torrential rains. Perhaps Ellen's painting best expresses our morning. She's using a new technique—blowing on wet paint—to get the feel of a soaking wet dog drying out. This dog looks exactly like we all felt!

 After that explosive burst of color, Ellen also did these delicate cherry blossom paintings. Equally colorful, but quite a different mood and technique.

It looks like Ellen's experiments with Chinese brush painting have inspired us. Here, Tony uses his water soluble calligraphy markers to draw bamboo stalks. If you look closely, there is a faint green background. That's drawn out from the black ink, not applied separately!

After the stark black-and-white of the calligraphy marker, Tony painted this colorful cardinal. It's painted directly in watercolor—no pre-drawing!

Tony is gravitating towards vibrant, saturated color. He's finished his bug on a rose with rich complementary colors. No, we still don't know what kind of bug it is, but we admire the way it sits among the swirling rose petals.

More complementary colors! Steve has also done a floral painting using green and red. Notice how different it feels—Steve uses warm colors vs. Tony's cool ones. Oh, and there is no bug here.

Elaine T. is into color, too. She painted these beautifully colorful glass marbles against an inky background. We love the way they sparkle and shine and we each have a favorite.

Marva finished this painting of pine trees against a magnificently colorful sky. Look closely to appreciate all the color, movement and beauty she's included.

Ken has jumped on the "colorful sky" bandwagon in his new series featuring a day in the life of Ken. Each painting will be a snapshot of a different moment of the same day. Below, Ken is on the Irving platform in a sudden snowstorm, waiting for a southbound Brown Line. Actually, the sky isn't colorful, but it is full of movement and energy. We are totally smitten with this view of a train pulling into the station.

This painting features another snapshot from the same day. It looks like an homage to Vincent Van Gogh, doesn't it? We love the light on the building, trees and street. Oh, and those aren't stars; they are street lights.

Ken begins another painting from the same day. This is downtown Chicago at approximately 10:12pm. Keep watching and we'll be sure to provide the exact times and locations for these paintings.

Elaine O. has moved inside (a good choice, given the weather!) to start painting this interior. It's a Wyoming apartment she lived in, with a nostalgic feel and a lot of memories. The furniture, in particular, got us all chatting about favorite chairs, benches, and mementos from our past.

Sara painted this interior using only two colors. It's much more au courant than the room above, being Sara's current sun-drenched living room, complete with a cozy sofa, reading material and a snack. Makes you want to curl up, doesn't it?

Sara is planning to re-do this as a full-color painting, so she spent the morning sketching the scene. You'll notice that she concentrated on the tablescape, especially the bowl. This is going to be good. Come back to see more.

We mentioned the torrential rains. Dana took the worst of it. She missed a bus and walked to class, arriving totally soaked. It took almost the entire morning for her to dry out. Fortunately, her sketchbook remained dry and she decided to concentrate on hair studies today. She began with this magnificent updo....

...before sketching her classmates. Below is Sara. Especially worth noticing is how Dana really observes her subject and paints all the different colors she sees. No wonder these look so real—no one's hair is a solid mass of yellow or brown.

Dana did three more classmates below. We all had a great time identifying each other and marveling at the detail Dana achieved in a very small sketch. Did we mention these are tiny? It's true... each head is only 1-3 inches!

Talk about dedication... Susan was going to a Christmas party, but she dropped in to show us some paintings she finished during the past weeks. All three are captioned and are from her recent Australia/New Zealand vacation. From a lighthouse in Victoria.... climbing the Sydney Bridge...

...even watching a geyser in New Zealand. Definitely a vacation worth painting about!

SPARK Microgrant program

Check out this grant opportunity to see if you are interested and/or qualify. It's a program of The Joyce Foundation and Chicago Artists Coalition called SPARK. A recap follows, and you can learn more at this site:

SPARK: A Program of The Joyce Foundation and Chicago Artists Coalition 
Program Description. The SPARK Microgrant is an annual, unrestricted award opportunity for Chicago-based visual artists who identify as ALAANA (Asian, Latino, Arab, African diaspora, Native), an artist with a demonstrated need, an artist with a disability, or as a self-taught or informally trained artist who is striving to make their art practice a primary vocation.