Saturday, March 29, 2014

March 29, 2014

Well, things are all topsy-turvy for us today—must be the hint of warmer weather to come that's shaken our little world. At any rate, we don't have any video today. The camera made the round of our circle, but nothing came out. Who knows why? Maybe we were too excited looking out the window for tree buds. Next week for sure.

And here's where we'd normally proudly show you our newbies' first plaids. Except none of our newbies came back today...with or without their plaids. They'll probably be back next week, but for now, it's time to move on to our paintings.

Except there's another surprise there—most of us concentrated on drawing rather than painting today. Strange, isn't it? Sure, many of the drawings were preparatory to painting, but it seems strange to see so much black, white and grey and so little color. It's just like looking out the window.

Let's get started. We do have some themes going....starting with travel. Here for instance, we have a Canadian and his cat (you know we had to get a cat in there somewhere), followed by a Canadian moose...

...yes, someone was skiing in Banff, as you can see below.

And here we move to a warmer clime. Here's a detailed architectural rendering of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Look at the perspective. And the golden dome is all glitter, no metallics...this is what happens when someone is a skilled color-mixer. 

Isn't it strange how great minds seem to think alike? Here's more architecture...a little closer to home. We have a sketch, followed by a more fully developed watercolor from a sketch. Both are views from Chicago's own Marina City. So alive...reminds you of Georgia O'Keeffe's New York paintings, don't they?

And we're back to our drawing theme. We begin with sketches of fabric, followed by painted studies. Then we move to a carefully observed life painting of fabric. Can't you just see the folds?

And speaking of fabric, don't you just want to sink into the couch in this drawing? It made us suggest that John re-think his story...maybe make about a sofa....with people in a supporting role. Well, it's a thought!

We're always interested in people, as you know. From the disembodied feet in this "accidental" painting....


... to a merman and a little man. We meet the most interesting people in our world, don't we?

And there's more! We discussed gardens and flowers and Hawaii and calendars and more. There was even a theme on the "art library" table. Pat and Ken independently brought catalogues from shows we'd seen and loved...Gustave Moreau and Lee Bontecou. Very different shows, but each equally wonderful. Those books sparked a  lot of reminiscing!

No "gettting to know you" session today, but we'll start next week. Tune in then. You'll be glad you did.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

March 22, 2014

Happy Birthday, Ken!
What a day! We're back in session and we had treats. Yes, to celebrate his birthday, Ken brought in mini-cupcakes and candles. Of course, we didn't get a chance to sing, but the cupcakes were delicious. And the curly crazy candle was so much fun!

Meanwhile, today is cold and gray after a single day of springlike weather. Even though the calendar definitely says it's spring. Could be worse, though. On the actual first day of spring, we had a light dusting of snow! We're really ready for spring this year—can't you tell?

Are you wondering about the end of the video? With the melting of the giant snow piles, we've all broken out real shoes. We knew you'd want to see what we're wearing, starting with Pat's steel-toed boots and hand-made tights. 

Let's get started. What better way to celebrate Spring than with cats? So here are some of Ken's incredible multi-colored cats.

 Maybe the stripes on the cats inspired these stripes. Ken's been testing his Arches hot-pressed paper great effect.

As for the rest of us, we're feeling festive and tropical. Elaine paints a day at the beach.....

....while Susan documents her vacation in tropical Philippines. That's her (with her family) in rented costumes at a popular tourist/honeymoon spot. Looks like fun!

Don't Sara's colors feel like the essence of spring? 

And Vivian makes us remember the feeling of grass against our bare feet. We can't wait!

Meanwhile, the rest of us seem to be on a drawing kick; sometimes just as a prelude to a painting....

...and sometimes as a deliberate choice. John starts a new story with happy, frolicking children while Abla starts a drawing workbook (our old favorite—Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain) and draws fabric studies.

Our artist of the day was Matisse, who prompted sporadic discussions of flat art and his style progression.

But the real discussion centered around our upcoming series. Beginning next week, you'll get a chance to get to know us individually. This should be fun. So tune in next week to meet Susan, learn what inspires her and maybe even see her paint. Looking forward to seeing you then!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

March 1, 2014

It's March and there's a fresh dusting of snow on the ground—with more to come. Does that sound just a little contradictory? Yep, seemed so to us too. Maybe that's what influenced us in another of our inadvertent "theme" days. Call it what you will, "incongruity," "opposites," or "compare and contrast," our paintings set up in a natural "this vs. that" style.

Just look. We begin with cats vs. dogs. Even their style is different—Ken's regal, sphinx-like vs. Elaine T's animated, active dog.

Cats vs. cats (Okay, this may be a stretch as Ken paints cat faces both in profile and straight on.)

Dueling Saras. (Same sitter, same colors, very different feels)

Fall vs. summer (And we like both Marva and Elaine O's choice of season. Anything but more snow!)

Even angels vs. devils, thanks to Mark and John.

Don't you love the composition of John's final illustration? The balance, the flow, how your eye travels from the empty place in line down through the road into the abyss. All this framed by the devil as narrator/commentator. Beautifully done! What's next?

And let's not forget our new students. Even though they are working on exercises, they fit right in with our comparison theme. We have egg vs. egg (same egg resting on the same plate, but one is highlighted by color and the other has a striking graphic quality)

and plum vs. plum. Again, it's the same plum but painted from different angles. Can't you just feel the personality of the painter?

Artist(s) of the day. We had a plethora of books today. We learned about Aubrey Beardsley—and yes, his sinuous Art Nouveau curves do look like last week's carrots! We also saw some pre-Raphaelite drawings that were inspirational to both our sketchers and portrait artists.

Strange sight of the day. This may only be strange to our group, but Pat actually took a brush, dipped it into paint and nearly touched down on Ken's cat painting. Imagine! Perhaps this wouldn't be so odd to people whose teacher isn't so adamant about finding your own way, but we couldn't believe our eyes. In response, Ken promptly dipped his own brush in burnt sienna and the result is the painting at the top of our lineup. New inspiration technique? Radical teaching method? Momentary aberration? Who knows! But the result is incredible. Does the end justify the means?

And now for some good news/bad news. The bad news is that we've come to the end of our term. Yes, another seven weeks of growth and enrichment are over. So we'll be away for two weeks. But there's good news, too! We'll be back on March 22 to paint some more and celebrate Ken's birthday. Don't cry—it'll go by quickly and we'll see you soon!