Saturday, May 31, 2014

May 31, 2014

The sketch club reconvened today in our last outing before class begins again next week. Three of us met at Rosehill Cemetery and we couldn't have asked for a better day. The sun was out; the sky was blue and it was warm and beautiful. Once again, we wandered and sketched, enjoying the history and the memorials, along with the peace and quiet. A wonderfully relaxing time was had by all. Above is an example of the incredible architecture to be seen—the May chapel. No one sketched it this time, although we all stopped to admire it. Some other day, perhaps.

Here's what we did sketch. Ken did sweeping landscapes in quick sketch style. His goal was to capture the play of light on the trees. We think he's succeeded! See if you don't agree. Here, for instance is a beautifully composed view through the sun-dappled trees.

Again, notice the sunlight on the trees?

Here's a wide view near a lake....

...and a closer look at the weeping willow in the distance.

Sara gave herself the challenge of shading with a gel pen. Again, not the easiest thing, but she nailed it! And in a brave new twist, she's adding photos of her subject so you can see exactly what she saw. Here's a wider view...

...followed by some beautifully-rendered and shaded studies of details.

Elaine started with a wide view, too, featuring a sleek black granite shape opening out of a lighter lotus flower.

Then, she moved to the chapel, but chose to sketch the door near the back, nestled into an earth berm. She's also daring to show you a photo of what she sketched for comparison ....although it's from a different angle, so the perspective isn't quite the same. Still, brave of Sara and Elaine, isn't it?

Come back next week to catch up on what the rest of us were doing during break—and to see some beautiful watercolors, of course.

See you then!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

May 17, 2014

We weren't painting, but we reconvened the "Sketch Club" and visited Rosehill Cemetery. What a beautiful morning! And what a wonderful location. Everywhere you looked, there was history, beauty, nature and architecture. Enough sketching opportunities to keep us busy for quite a while! Just look at the Firemens Memorial above. Or take a closer look below.

Only two of  us managed to make it, but we had a great time. Unfortunately, the photos were of the cell phone variety and two are rather fuzzy. Still, you'll get the idea of what we saw. Ken felt inspired by the entire landscape

...while Elaine concentrated on famous individual memorials. Just a note: her sketches were actually better in person, sharper and clearer!

We didn't even get to see the whole place, so you know we hope to return. Probably not this weekend, though; because of the holiday weekend, no one will be there, so we'll see you at 10 am at the Ravenswood entrance on May 31. You know you want to join us! And it's your last chance before class begins again on June 7. See you then!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Meet Sara!

Here it is—installment four in our "Meet the Artist" series. We know you've been waiting eagerly; we appreciate your patience and promise that this will be well worth the wait. Today, you get to meet Sara, see her paintings and learn more about her...her inspirations, colors and subjects she's passionate about, even a fun fact or two.

For instance, Sara totally understands the Mothers Day delay in posting this. After all, she's a mother herself, as you can see in her self-portrait. Doesn't she just capture the essence of motherhood? The gentleness...and the patience as she corrals a wriggling toddler. Interestingly enough, those qualities also serve her well as a painter.

Sara's been painting for nearly 15 years now. However, she came to watercolor with a bit of a head start as she was already proficient in the use of colored pencils.

And right from the beginning, Sara had her own distinctive style. Notice the colors above? The lovely soft greens and the cobalt violet that's become her trademark? Still, she went through all the beginning exercises—and even brought in some of them to prove it. From the color wheels and swatches ....

 ... to the famous egg, Sara's skill as a colorist was immediately apparent, as was her drawing ability.

Her earliest paintings demonstrate her love for flowers. Notice that she begins with sketches before moving to color. And her skill at combining, choosing and layering color becomes evident quickly.

Sara next developed an interest in portraiture, painting friends and family. She painted her parents.... 

...her children ...

... and children of friends.

Here, Sara fine tunes her method. She frequently begins with sketches and progresses to studies before moving to the final painting. Each iteration makes her more familiar with the subject so when she begins to paint, things flow effortlessly.

Sara also began a series of self-portraits, doing one series each year near her birthday. Unique to these are the fact that she does several versions of each. Her intention is less about capturing an exact likeness than it is about capturing a mood. Common to all are striking composition and a masterful use of color.

Already known as a painter of flowers, Sara turned her attention to trees, painting trees through all the seasons—winter....



...and fall. Sara never met a tree she didn't like.

Like Wyeth, Sara finds inspiration close to home. She is a brilliant chronicler of her own neighborhood—the trees, the buildings, the light and the seasons. Yet, she imparts a universality that makes us feel very familiar with these places.


It's fascinating to see progression over time and development of individual style, isn't it? What do we notice about Sara?
  • Sara works in series....within series. She returns to subjects that interest her again and again over time and, within those, she does multiple explorations of each image.
  • Sara is a prolific sketcher; she draws well and often. She has many sketchbooks full of trees, flowers, and people—all with incredible energy and vitality.
  • Perhaps more than any of us, Sara excels at composition. Look at the neighborhood paintings—there are parts of buildings, cropped perfectly to tell her story and direct our eyes. We often see her looking at paintings upside down or on their sides, checking the composition. It works! Check any of her paintings. Every inch is active; something is always going on—yet everything is exactly where it should be and has the perfect amount of weight and balance.
  • Sara works in layers. She layers objects; she layers landscape planes; she even layers colors. All of this adds depth and richness, but without creating clutter, busy-ness or muddy colors. Amazing!
  • Finally, Sara is a master colorist. She eschews strong value shifts and sharp lines. Instead she relies on clear, bright colors (reminiscent of Wolf Kahn's beautiful pastels)—all in middle ranges, which is not an easy feat at all!
And here, as we promised, is a shot of one of Sara's sketchbooks.  Enjoy the flowers, trees, family and the view from her windows. Even without color, there's a light and liveliness that lets you know you're looking at Sara's work.

Join us when we reconvene on June 7. We'll be continuing our "Meet the Artist" series—there are plenty of exciting artists still to meet!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

May 10, 2014

Happy Mothers Day! It's the end of our term and we have a lot to show. Seems a shame to have to say good bye. But don't worry—we'll be back in June. And in the meantime, we'll be re-forming "sketch club." Keep reading for an invitation to join us, along with information about our next artist retrospective and a save the date for a fun concert event. We certainly have a lot going on. Let's get right to the paintings, shall we?

Today's theme was "fun!" Unequivocally. Maybe it's the much-anticipated arrival of spring, but we were all having fun and painting it too. After all, what can be more fun than kids in a park?

Or a group of women and a merman splashing in the water?

Even the trees are happy! Here's a chorus line of dancing urban trees ...

... followed by the beginnings of a colorful magnolia tree.

The tree's colors are echoed in the color-matching exercise's bright vibrant colors.

Even the buildings are happy! Admit it, this building makes you feel as sunny and happy as its facade. You are unable to resist doing the happy dance, right?

And this urban landscape takes the fun a step further. Inspired by Ken's buildings, Vivian echoes the happy landscape but takes the opportunity to add some inverted buildings into the negative space in the sky. See them? Makes you smile, doesn't it?

Ever the master of negative space, Mark silhouettes traditional Chinese dancers against a colorful moonscape. You can tell he enjoyed himself.

All these fine paintings are as much fun to look at as they were to paint. Seems a shame to break off for the season. But we'll be back. And in the meantime, there are plenty of ways to get your art fix and/or keep up with us. Keep reading!

Meet the Artist—Sara! This is turning out to be one of our most popular features. So we continue with our "Meet the Artist" series. This week, we examine Sara's body of work and it's going to be incredible. Be sure to stop back in a day or two for a retrospective of nearly 15 years of amazing art. Don't forget! You'll want to see these paintings!

While we're out....Sketch Club. During our hiatus, we'll be getting together for some informal sketching—and you're welcome to join us! We'll meet on Saturday morning May 17, at Rosehill Cemetery for informally sketching and sharing. We'll start at 10am, meeting at the entrance at Ravenswood and Rosehill (about 2 blocks north of Bryn Mawr). Bring a pencil and some paper. Looking forward to seeing you there.

Save the date. Mark your calendar for June 15. The DePaul Community Chorus (featuring our very own Steve) will be presenting a concert at the DePaul concert hall at 800 W. Belden., featuring favorite selections from operas and operettas. It's fun and it's FREE—what better way to spend an afternoon?  Click here for more information. See you there!

We'll be back on June 7. See you then. But be sure to check back in a day or so for our special feature on Sara!