Saturday, February 22, 2014

February 22, 2014

It's good news week for another of our painters today! Remember Elaine T's painting from last week? The one painted in response to a night at the theater? WildClaw Theater's playwright and director saw her painting and loved it (as did we!). So well-deserved fame and approbation has come to rest on another of our painters! Congratulations, Elaine!

Besides that, we had an actual theme going today—it's "change." We suspect it may be inspired by the weather. We actually had some days this week where the temperature topped the freezing mark. It feels like spring to us and we're ready for a change!

Let's start with the Elaines. They've both gone from "eew" to "aww!"(and yes, we actually made those sound effects). Elaine T's gone from an itchy, scratchy red eyeball to Shadowcat. Can't you just feel her soft, gentle fur? And Elaine O's eerie zombie toddler has revealed his soft, gentle nature. Can't beat kittens and children, can you? Come on, say it with us.....awww!

Sara's changed from sketching to painting. 

Ken's cats have changed style and color. Same cat (Annie)....totally different feeling!

Even John's getting into the act! Here, as he begins the last illustration of his story, he's added a happy character! (Of course, it's the devil, so maybe it's not as much of a stretch as we'd think.)

Coincidentally, this is the 3-way fruit week for our newbies. Watch how their fruit or vegetable changes when it's painted wet, dry or in combination.This time around, everyone seemed to be especially good with drybrush. Look at the groupings below as they progress from wet to medium to dry and see if you don't agree. Done well, drybrush sparkles...and this group knows how to do it well!

Artist of the week. Well, Elaine T, of course. She's carving out a niche for herself with Chicago theater companies. Pretty soon, she'll be doing costume and scene design. Or maybe program covers like Hirschfield. We'd go just to collect the programs.

Ken also brought a book on Vuillard for the library table, sparking comparisons with Bonnard. We loved his style and were especially inspired by the backgrounds and the self-portraits. Tune in next week to learn more about Aubrey Beardsley and explore lines and curves. As you may have guessed, next week's artist was inspired by the carrots above. Don't they look like the essence of Art Nouveau?

Happy painting!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

February 15, 2014

Happy Valentines Day! It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, all bright and sunshiney and what do we paint? Hearts, flowers, sunshine? No—some of the scariest, spookiest sights you'd ever want to see. You'd think it was Halloween! And in that spirit, keep scrolling down for a real treat—a new book on the "artist of the day" table.

Actually, our paintings may be scary, but they are scary good, so let's get started.

The eyes have it for the Elaines. First off, Elaine T saw "Open Heart Surgery" by WildClaw theater, a set of medical radio plays and was inspired to paint the creepy itchy eyeball below. Brilliantly scary! Elaine O's zombie-eyed baby is only scary by default—she waited to paint the eyes until the end. It'll probably be much less eerie next week.

John continues his spooky march of dead penitents.

Followed closely by more things that will haunt your dreams. From 3D dinosaurs to cats, masks, ice floes and more cats! Did we mention cats?

Thank goodness for Marva and her inviting landscape!

Her brilliant fall colors are a perfect introduction for our newbies. Here they are exploring complimentary colors and matching swatches. Tune in next week to see how they use this knowledge.

Artists of the Day. We had two books on the art library table. First off, M. C. Escher. Most of us are aware of his visual puzzles and mathematical woodcuts and lithos, and they were fascinating to see. But some of us were unaware of his tesselations—and they blew us away today.

Our second book was PaintPaintPaint by Kristopher Dodd. Hot off the press (it arrived yesterday), this features oil paintings by Kris. The paintings are varied and wonderful; a real pleasure to see. And we're not just saying that because we know him, both through Pat our teacher (there's a lovely acknowledgement to her in the book) and as a frequent curator of the artist pairings on the library table. It was a thrill to welcome him to the table—slightly ironic but most fitting. To see more than the cover, click here or the link in our sidebar at top right. He's earned a place on our blogroll of art friends. Kudos, Kris! We love your book and your art.

See you next week for more art and fun.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

February 8, 2014

Lots going on today! We're contemplating a slight style change and want your opinion....

But first—do you ever look at the links on the side? One of them, Mandala-a-day belongs to our very own teacher, Pat. And just this week, she was contacted by a Swiss metal band, Promethee. They saw her blog and wanted to license the rights to one of the mandalas (#203, specifically) for an album cover. Isn't that amazing?! We are all very excited and wanted to be sure to share the news. Here's the mandala they liked. And here's a link to the band's website. You can also see them on YouTube, or follow them on Facebook. I think you'll agree this is a great choice on the part of the band. You rock, Pat!

We were so eager to share that news that we bumped it "above the fold" instead of saving it for after the art. But that's not the formatting change we were talking about. We had a request to break up the information about the paintings, keeping the words closer to the paintings we're talking about. Saves scrolling up and back so many times. That makes some sense, so we'll try that. Let us know what you think.

We must be affected by this weather more than we'd like to think. John's co-workers told him his drawings are just too cold and depressing as he continues his story illustration below.

Meanwhile, the rest of us are trying to escape... happy places like cabins in the woods.....

 ...or sunny vacation days—at the zoo, the Kiddieland carousel or a fun-filled weiner-dog race at a Wisconsin fair.

In fact, animals are big with us today. Besides the weiner dogs, we painted our pet cats and dinosaurs.

And our newbies continue to amaze us. First of all, they braved the elements to attend. Secondly, they painted some lovely color wheels. Besides being lovely, they are going to prove very useful. And one of our students has moved on to explore complementary colors and attempt the notorious "paper towel."

Artist of the day. Ken brought in a book on pre-historic art, so the artist of the day is Unknown. Nonetheless, there were some very sophisticated and meaningful drawings to be seen on cave walls. And we couldn't help notice that the rich warm color palette of ochres, golds, siennas, browns and blacks has been making its way into Ken's latest efforts. Some things span the ages.

Miscellaneous. Lots of little miscellaneous things today, so we'll just list them in no particular order:
  • Happy Birthday, Bernie!
  • We miss all our "fair weather" friends who are spending the day in warmer places—Sara, Susan, Steve, Ellen, Alan and Greeta—and to those who are snowed in like Vivian.
  • Ken's show continues at Ten Cat Tavern. See our entry from last week for details, but be sure to stop by if you get a chance.
  • Congrats again, Pat!
  • Darn that groundhog anyway.
Let us know your thoughts about our new descriptive style....or would you rather go back to seeing the paintings uninterrupted by narrative?

 See you next week.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

February 1, 2014

First of all, Happy New Year! (And no, no one painted a horse. Sorry!)

We had some video issues today. We don't know if it's the computer or the camera—or the snow—yes, let's blame the snow for everything! Anyway, no video today. Sorry again!

But now the apologies stop. We've got some wonderful paintings to share today. In stark contrast with the fluffy white snow, we're all about color. From glowing abstracts to color wheels and the soft golden hues of summer, our A-team braved the elements to focus on color. Among these hardy souls were all of our new people. Now that's dedication! They did more than just show up, too—every single one of them did extracurricular work. There were trees and dinosaurs and a whole stack of paintings from days gone by. This group is impressive!

Among the old masters, many of us find it incredibly useful to repeat beginner exercises—or even use some of their techniques. We learn so much more the second time around. For instance, Mark experimented with complimentary colors to get a beautifully colorful grey rhino. Ken relies on plaids to test colors and techniques on a new paper. And John uses a grid  as the basis for  his undulating clouds. Meanwhile, Elaine is remembering dreamy summer days when water isn't frozen over and covered with snow.

Keep scrolling or swiping through our paintings. They all get a "gold" star from Ken today—just because the artists showed up. But I think you'll agree they've earned their stars on merit alone.

Color of the day. It's grey. But not just any single grey—we discussed our favorite way to get to grey. You'll notice Mark used alizarin crimson and veridian. This is one of our absolute favorite neutrals. It makes a lively pearly grey that goes all the way to a deep dark black.

We also discussed another combination, featuring burnt sienna. As you may recall, last week many of us found the siennas and ochres to be weak—but burnt sienna and Ultramarine Blue are something quite different. These two colors create a wonderful spectrum, with each color making the other better. And when they meet in the middle, the result is a beautifully rich, warm black.

We've been fascinated with complimentary colors and neutral greys for a while, now. If you'd like, click here to see some of our experiments in grey from back in 2011. Each of the greys (scroll down to the bottom of the post) uses a different color combination. Who knew how incredibly colorful grey and black could be? And how many ways there are to get there?