Saturday, October 25, 2014

October 25, 2014

What a glorious day for the start of our new term! It's warm, bright and sunny. We saw the return of many old friends (and new ones). Plus, we had an early Halloween. Yes, Steve brought treats—donuts and iris bulbs. Can't get much better than that, can it?

Oh, and we happen to be in the middle of one of the most incredibly colorful autumns in recent years—so we had to paint that. Let's get started, shall we? Despite a slow start (we had a lot to catch up on!), we have plenty of paintings you'll want to see.

I know we mentioned the colors of autumn, but we couldn't resist starting with Chicago architecture...especially when it's as colorful as Ken's downtown skyscrapers.

 ...or Elaine's church facade, which is finally close to finished!

And Greeta is back with a rendition of Mundelein College, a Chicago architectural treasure. Innovative and historic, this deco skyscraper college is as beautiful and forward-thinking today as it was when ground broke in 1929. The former students among us agree this is a great rendition of a beautiful campus.

Spanning our two major themes (fall colors and architecture), Greeta paints changing colors near a cabin on a lake. She's also testing a new color, quinacridone violet and it looks to be a success. (We love the quinacridones!)

Susan also paints changing colors, but on a single tree in the city. (The actual painting isn't as out-of-focus as this—it has all the crispness of a fall day, we promise!)

And Sara's brilliant trees are in Rosehill Cemetery, which is also a Chicago treasure. Incidentally, Sara had a great quote about this setting, but we didn't write it down. Be aware you'd find it as funny as we did.

And Ellen's successfully uses a natural sponge to paint her changing colors. Straight out of the impressionist wing of the Art Institute, this lovely  painting has all the sparkle and clarity of the season, along with the beautiful range of colors the season is known for.

Meanwhile, Allen is back, too, painting the view from his back window—a serene lake view with colorful foliage. But, unsatisfied, he starts again! Can't wait to see how this turns out.

He's already proficient at painting water. Just look at the pelican painting below. The water and wood are especially fine.

Hector is also intrigued by wood, but he concentrates on tree bark, finishing up the richly layered abstract below.

 ...before moving on to a fallen leaf.

Interestingly, Vivian uses the same autumn colors in her tablescape. We're keen to see which direction this painting goes. 

Marva is back, too. While she was gone last term, she painted these two abstracts. The colors are beautifully rich and saturated. They make a wonderful pair—and more than one of us wish we had fabric in this print.

Just as many of us wish we were here among the rich saturated colors after the rain on Laguna beach.

We're thrilled to welcome Steve back too from his European concert tour. He returned to add finishing touches to the merman he began two terms ago—plenty of drying time for his watercolors! Still, he hasn't lost his touch. Just look at the fine detail on the hair, fins and tail.

Tony is back too and he's also painting scenes of water and exotic locations. Here, a Greek marine painting makes for an interesting abstract.

But he didn't stop in Greece. Tony also vacationed in Cuba and painted some of the scenery, both urban and rural landscapes. Notice the deckle edges on the paper? That's handmade paper he bought in Cuba.

Here's another rural scene, followed by a beautifully composed portrait of the man laboring in the first painting.

John has finally finished his epic drawing and begun a new drawing—much simpler—of an evil elf who gives charcoal to children.

Here's his previously finished drawing. Every square inch is filled with fascinating story elements.

We also welcome back our newbies, Madeleine and Bill, as full fledged old masters. They continue to amaze us. After a walk in the fall foliage, they each felt compelled to paint the experience, but in their own unique style. Madeleine begins to ink a beautifully composed scene—equally beautiful upside down.

Bill is more influenced by the colors and values of the light. He's moving on to begin "The Plan," a systematic approach to painting that never fails to yield amazing results. Watch this space for more!

And here's a blast from the past! Ellen found and revisited an old painting she did. Remember back when we tried to consciously paint a "bad" painting?  Taking her original figure of Pat, Ellen created a mandala. Looks like a stained glass rose window, doesn't it?

Once again, we didn't have an "artist of the day." The library table was full—with live artists and with sweet treats. Steve very generously started our day with Halloween treats...

... and ended the morning with another surprise gift—white iris bulbs for everyone! We predict a spate of paintings of white irises next summer. Watch and see!

Join us next week!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

October 18, 2014

After a week of unremitting rain, at times torrential, we were ready for a bright and sunny day. Unfortunately, today was not that day. We had a cold, windy and rainy start to our morning—so we were forced to add our own warmth and color! And we did, as you can see below.

Today was also Open House Chicago. This architecture festival, sponsored by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, is basically a giant, city-wide, weekend-long open house. All across the city, visitors get free access to incredible buildings. From historic mansions, skyscrapers and museums, to private clubs, hidden rooms and sacred spaces, it's a wonderful opportunity to explore architectural treasures.

Yes, Chicago is home to some of the world's most incredible architecture. And what better way to kick off the weekend than with paintings of architecture? Here we celebrate beautiful Chicago buildings, from Ken's colorful downtown skyscrapers....

... to Elaine's northside church entryway. Strangely, neither of these are on the tour list—as beautiful as they are, too.

Susan celebrates architecture, too, but her lighthouse is in the Philippines, not the shores of Lake Michigan.

And her beachside windmills are also in the Philippines, not the Windy City.

Like Susan, we all seem interested in painting water this week. Abla's fall scene continues to develop, with water and brilliant fall color.

Mohammed's Hawaiian waterfall is delicately and skillfully rendered. You can see the foam at the bottom!

Sara's sun-drenched colors invite us to linger in the garden for a sad, final goodbye to summer.

But John's drawing of a storyteller and his stories remind us that fall is here and what's better than curling up inside with a good book?

Also drawing inspiration from the great indoors is Vivian. Her tablescape is intriguing and beautiful. It's abstraction at its best.

Despite our fears that Hector might ruin his tree bark abstraction by adding a touch of black (yes, black paint!), he bravely set to trying. And it was exquisite! Look at how much richer and deeper his painting is—of course, we're talking a judicious use of black in skilled hands!

Our newbies are also into nature... and color! Look at Oscar's leaves—both the "big leaf" and the lovely golden leaves below. Those amazing colors are actually in the originals. We love this season.

Equally colorful are the "three-way" fruits. This is one of our favorite exercises, where the same subject is painted very wet, very dry, and in a combination of techniques. Here Oscar paints peppers and Kristen paints a mango; who would have thought something so educational could be so beautifully colorful?

Kristen zipped through more of our exercises at record speed. Here she does the infamous egg, not once, but twice—and the second one in an amazingly soft technicolor blue. Unfortunately the photo doesn't do it justice, and she assures us that eggs really do come in  this color.

All of our beginners are prolific this term. Bill re-painted his pomegranate seeds, achieving the deep glistening color below.

He also did three versions of the fabric study, although we only show one here. Just look at the brushstrokes and color blending he's managed to attain.

Madeleine uses the same scarf for her fabric study, but what a difference in style! Her delicate study looks like a classic ink and wash, doesn't it?

And once we've done the fabric and the fruit, what's left but the long-awaited fruit and fabric! The final exercise is an actual still life and marks the passage from newbie to "old master." See how Bill and Madeleine use the same set up but produce such uniquely personal paintings.

Artist of the day. There was only one book on our library table, but it was available for the taking, not just looking. John brought a booklet about Chinese brush painting. There were samples and instructions and we hope to see the influence of the book in future paintings.

See you next week as we begin our new term—no break this time!