Monday, December 29, 2014

December 31, 2015

Interested in learning to watercolor? Or in fine-tuning your skills? If you're in or near Chicago, now's the time to sign up for Watercolor Painting, Spring term at Truman College. And as a bonus, you'll be able to spend Saturday mornings with us! Here are the details, thanks to Pat and Ken.

First of all, register early! The city colleges require a certain number of registrants before the class starts. Otherwise, they will cancel the class—and they are really cracking down this term. Just a warning for those of us who habitually wait for the first day of class to register. 

Class begins Jan 17 for what is called Spring 2015 term. You can registered for Spring II (March21-May9) at the same time if you want to. You can register and pay online, and Ken walks us through the process below. You can also do the same in person, but it's business days/hours only. 
Registering on-line, as explained by Ken, your guide

The new class schedule is up, and I was able to register for both classes, but not without the usual half hour and phone call to Truman, so if I may, allow me to ease your registration.
  1. Type in the address box of your browser.  It will ask you for your password, and if you know what it is, fine, if not I can’t help you any more.
  2. Once you log in, you will see a list of verifications for your address and phone number and all that crap, and your normal instinct, and my usual mistake, is just to check them out and move on, but what you HAVE to do is click into EVERY box, or else you will never get past this page.
  3. On the next page you will have to agree not to sexual harass anybody.
  4. Then you will have to click on academics, and the next thing you know it will want the numbers for your class, which of course you won’t know because they are listed several clicks away on the far side of the webpage, but I wrote them down for you:
         66479 for the first watercolor class and 66481 for the second. 
  5. The only other difficulty is that you won’t be able to pay from there, you will have to go all the way back to Student Services I think, and go through Finances.
Oh, and the first day of class is Jan 17th.  
If you have any questions, call Laura at 773-907-4440. She's incredibly helpful, as always.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

December 13, 2014

It's our last class of the year and, as you can see, we're all in the holiday spirit. Just look at us—don't we look happy and festive? We had a wonderful day. It was an impromptu Christmas party with gifts and treats—and our very own Santa, too. What better way to end the year?

Happy holidays from all of us!

We begin with an eagerly-awaited tradition—Ken's annual Christmas card. No cats this time, just a tree, gifts and stars (plus warm holiday wishes, of course).

Susan's also in the holiday spirit as she paints a beloved Christmas memory from her childhood. (Do you recognize Susan as a little girl?)

Mark's Christmas painting is all about the shopping.... and the red shoes. There must be a story behind those.

Madeleine begins a painting of boats in a harbor. We love the colors and are especially enamored of the structural lines at the bottom.

Also in harbor mode, Tony finishes his wintry painting of Montrose Harbor. There's an overwhelming sense of serenity and quiet about this.

And while Lorado Taft's sculpture below is called Eternal Silence, the mood in Greeta's painting is very different than Tony's quiet harbor. It's autumn in Graceland and the feel is crisp and stark.

Greeta's revisits summer and her fruits perfectly convey the feel of the season. Notice how perfectly she captures the textures... the patina on the copper, the dark granite, the glistening blueberries and cherries. Not to mention the perfect paper bag. This would be the envy of any of our beginners on Paper Towel day.

Bill's abstract has a light party feel, despite the grey graphite base. It feels like a confetti shower!

We're also strangely attracted to greenery. Maybe it's because we all were wearing red and need some relief...complimentary color style. At any rate, Bill combines a red pot with a green plant in a favorite corner of a room.

And here, he zooms in even closer, zeroing in on the plant itself. In the process, he highlights the textures of the dirt, the glossy pot and the carved wood support.

Steve's bromeliad study moves even closer. He concentrates on the plant alone, with deft touches that add to the sense of depth and the feeling of reality. We are completely blown away by this. It feels utterly real, yet embodies classical botanical illustration. Here's someone who knows his bromeliads.

... in rather the same way that Sara knows her trees. Here she's in her element, doing a softly colorful house portrait, attractively framed by a tree and foliage.

Ken, too, is painting buildings, but his are distinctly urban. This painting marks the end of his series. While we are sad to see it end (we are fans of these paintings), we look forward to the show and the opening party. Come back next year for your invitation! We are also interested to see what his next series will be. If you have any suggestions, feel free to comment!

Having considered the flora, we move to the fauna. Our fascination with birds continues. Mohammed adds a background to his painting; the yellow and blue/red/purple rays are the perfect complement to the colorfully stylized birds.

Abla's latest birds on a branch are more realistic, but equally beautiful. In this winter scene, two birds are puffed up against the cold as they perch on orange tree branches, symbolizing perseverance against adversity.

Alan, too, is on a bird kick. But he's also using his painting of an "owl in a towel" to experiment with Yupo, the fabled plastic paper. Alan is a big fan in this, his first attempt. And no wonder, he seems to have a natural affinity for it.

Elaine is also experimenting, but with paint, not paper. Here she's reversing her usual order and underpainting the shadows. Come back next year to see how this portrait of Molly the beagle comes out.

Ellen missed last week; she was busy painting with her granddaughter. Unfortunately, we didn't get photos of those paintings (you'd have loved them!), but we did get Ellen's homework. She makes use of spatter technique and inspired brushwork to produce this wonderful work. It's full of action and life and movement. You can just feel the muscles of the horse and see the dirt flying as he runs.

Today, she started a painting of a violin. Again, you can feel the movement as the virtuoso plays. We also admire her bold brushwork and rich colors.

Do you remember how we mentioned gifts and treats? Oh, yes, we had both! No pictures, unfortunately. We descended on the treats so quickly, there was no time for photos. We know we'll have to diet in the new year, but today we feasted!

We began with deliciously decorated Dunkin' Donuts, courtesy of Bill and Madeleine. Then, we moved on to Greeta's homemade kolacky (prune and apricot) and pretzel/chocolate/caramel/pecan treats, finishing up with scones from Taste of Heaven, thanks to Susan.

And as if that weren't enough, Susan also gave each of us a 2015 calendar, featuring her series of Philippine paintings in honor of her 40th anniversary (Congratulations, Susan and Tony!). Yes, it was truly a wonderful day for us.

So we leave you with best wishes for the holiday season and the new year, as well as a final picture. Sure, it's blurry (we're calling it "artsy"), but if you look closely, you'll see Santa Ken and Pat, dressed as a Christmas Angel tree-topper.

All our best! See you next year!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

December 6, 2014

Hope your Thanksgiving was as wonderful as ours.

Yes, we're back! We've only been apart a week, yet we had so much to talk about, it's a wonder we got anything done. But, as you'll see, we were very productive. Lots to show and tell; plus, you'll be thrilled to know that we've embarked on some exciting new adventures (all around the globe, actually) and simultaneously discovered some great new themes. Let's get started and you'll see what we mean.

We're still thinking of the holidays, as you can see. Greeta's back to painting the magnificent fruits and vegetables she's known for. Just look at those beautiful shadows—and the glistening cranberries remind us of cranberry sauce while inviting us to string them up for Christmas decorations.

Bill is also painting a still life, although his subjects will soon become a tasty guacamole. Yum!

Bill has become intrigued by the Urban Sketching phenomenon. Here he paints a Chicago scene, describing a flight of pigeons from a city building—and, in the process, typifying our sudden fascination with birds and buildings. Yes, we're on a new kick! Follow along.

Ken continues his fascination with architecture. Here, he finishes number 15 in his series ...

 ... begins number 16 in the same series....

 ... and takes a break to begin work on his eagerly-awaited annual holiday greeting card.

Susan, too, joins in on some urban sketching, although her setting is a luxury villa in the Philippines (formerly home to Imelda Marcos and her collection of shoes).

Tony is on the bandwagon, too. Here he begins a serene, snowy winter scene.

Meanwhile, we discovered that he's already a skilled urban sketcher. Here, Tony plein air sketches the temple of Hadrian, a Roman ruin in Greece.

This exquisitely delicate sketch of the Parthenon is also his. Can you believe he's only been sketching for about four years?

Besides architecture, Tony sketches animal life from Greek pottery, horses and dolphins ....

...and a lovely still life of grapes on a rustic tabletop.

Vivian is also painting tabletops, but hers are less rustic and more urban. She's overpainted the tables with a rich brown, making them more industrial, but allowing the rich underpainting to show through. And what would an urban tablescape be without wads of gum on the table underside? These are particularly well-done. We know you can't tell from the photo, but these feel so 3D we are tempted to grab the putty knives and start scraping. 

Madeleine's taken us to the botanical garden in this delicately stylized and whimsical painting. Here's a woman with a definite style.

Marva does water, too, but with an emphasis on brushwork instead of line. There's so much color and movement here, we can't help but feel the waves crashing and the clouds moving.

Elaine's water is much calmer, and she introduces people into her landscape—okay, just one person and the colors are slightly off, but you get the idea...

While Mark's loose and lovely painting of loaves and fishes features denizens of the deep and some beautifully renedered rope. Just look, too, at the skilled use of blooms to signify bread in the background.

Moving from fish of the sea to birds of the air, Alan paints an amazing eagle. Yes, you're seeing this right. The eagle is on his back having his wing fixed. Can't you just sense his pent up energy while he waits to fly away?

More birds here! Abla's bluebird perches on some delicate magnolia branches against a luminous lavender sky...

... while Mohammed's focus is more on the birds than the blossoms.  In both of these paintings, though, the branches frame and contain the action beautifully.

Inspired by a park in China, Sara adds persimmons to her branches. (Sorry, this first sketch is much sharper than the photo would indicate).

After determining his color palette last week, Steve moves quickly to paint a Hawaiian bromeliad. Isn't this the essence of a classical botanical illustration?

Artist(s) of the day. Our library is back! Today we had two wonderful books. Bill brought a book that has inspired him, Gabriel Campanario's Art of Urban Sketching. It features hundreds of sketches by hundreds of artists from around the world—all of many different subjects in many different styles. Hmm.... kind of like today's class.

Our second book was The Voluptuous Return, a small book of watercolors by Mississippi artist Walter Anderson. We were simply blown away by the radiant watercolors and the exuberant brushwork. If ever you're in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, be sure to visit the Walter Anderson Museum of Art. From what we've seen (and based on testimonials from Greeta and Sara), you'll be truly amazed.

See you next week!