Saturday, January 31, 2015

January 31, 2015

Johannah Silva shares a laugh with Steve Meyer about plants and paints.
That's right! We had a guest speaker today. The ever popular Johannah Silva (above) was here from Winsor & Newton to chat about watercolor, watercolor media, and more. We saw (and smelled) a variety of paints and media and learned about pigments through history. We got some botanical  lessons, too, as we examined Rose Madder Genuine, the only "scented" watercolor in the W&N lineup. We passed a sample around trying to identify the scent. And we did! No, it wasn't rose; it was bergamot (like Earl Grey Tea). And we discovered that bergamot is a member of the monarda family (the same as bee balm). The fascinating things we learn!

As if that weren't enough, we even got some samples of artist grade watercolor and some granulating medium for the class to test drive. If you've enjoyed our adventures with gum arabic, just imagine what we do with granulating medium! Keep coming back and see.

Over and above the excitement, we found time to paint. As you might expect, we were group-thinking about flowers today. Steve brought his flower paintings from last week along to explore framing options (sorry! no photos) in a heated discussion.

Sara continues her three-step process of painting plants. Today, the subject is a paperwhite (also a beautifully scented plant!). She starts with a sketch ...

...moves to a watercolor sketch....

 ...and begins the final painting.

Ellen spent her time painting foliage, too. She uses the sponge technique to create a fall scene with all the color of the season, but muted enough to serve as a background for the forefront couple.

Another proponent of the sponge technique is Mohammed. Notice the differences in texture between the brush and sponge portions of the painting.

Alan combines a door from New Orleans and a wreath from Biloxi to celebrate Mardi Gras. But the real star of the painting is the foliage green color of the door.

Then he moves to Yupo for another southern scene. The smooth synthetic paper really makes the magnolia blossoms stand out in the foreground (and yes, those are magnolias. We are nothing if not botanically accurate!)

Still using Yupo, Alan begins a self-portrait. Notice the shiny green bits? That's masking fluid... something not often seen on Yupo.

And he finishes up his owl lineup. These cuties are painted on standard watercolor paper, though, not Yupo. It really suits the texture of the feathers, doesn't it?

Madeleine's signature line and wash style is well suited to these birds on a stark tree. The stylized foreground birds and tree are complemented perfectly by the swirling, colorful background.

Same subject matter.... different style. Abla reserves her details for the birds and flowering branches. The soft background makes for an exquisite counterpoint.

Bill's landscape is soft and watery, but has so much depth. Look at all the layers reflected in the still water.

And then, Bill moves to an urban landscape. This evocative cityscape uses soft color to depict a fog-shrouded street.

Madeleine, too, uses soft yellow and dove grey for her urban painting. We love this color combination!

Ken's buildings are in much sharper focus than Bill's or Madeleine's—and the whole feeling of the city changes.

Still in the city (Graceland cemetery, to be exact), Greeta accents softly colorful stone with crisp fall foliage.

Here, she lavishes attention on the leaves in the foreground. You can sense the feel of the dry, curled leaves—and they actually look like they are blowing across the grass.

With tomorrow's anticipated snowstorm, you knew some of us were thinking of snow. Mark's snow is on a Wyoming ski run (look at the earth and the snow shadows).

And Steve begins sketching a breathtaking snow-covered woodland. All that's here are a few pencil lines, darkened to show detail. Actually, the paper is white as the snow we are looking for.

All in all, Elaine has the right idea—it's probably a perfect day to stay indoors and snuggle up with a warm puppy.

As Johannah answers questions about masking fluid and passes out samples of W&N's fine paint (at right), we're all looking forward to seeing Ken's show at Ten Cat tavern. Join us next week for a report on Ken's opening reception. It's always a good time for all.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

January 24, 2015

We have lots to show, but don't click away before you scroll to the end. There you'll find an invitation to the opening reception for Ken's show Wacker Drive. There's no better way to spend an afternoon than seeing fine art in the company of fine artists... not to mention the cozy ambiance, good food and drink. 

We're painting in themes again today, starting with things that make you go "aww!" How can you resist Elaine's soulful beagle eyes?

Or Ellen's painting of true love? She starts with a study...

 ... before beginning the real painting.

While this may not have the "aww" factor of puppies and young lovers, we can't help but toast the couple above with a lineup of spirits by Hector.

Alan's lineup of big-eyed owls takes us back to cute and cuddly.

Moving from fauna to flora, Steve's soft, fuzzy textured plant was done in a single sitting!

Sara, too, concentrates on flowers, following a process that plays to her strengths. First she starts with a lively sketch (here, a Christmas cactus).

And then she moves to a watercolor, trying to capture the energy and vitality of the sketch. The Christmas cactus sketches focus on brushwork (l) and color (r).

Here, she begins with a sketch of intricately textured hydrangea.

Then Sara moves on to a watercolor. Even at this stage, she's used the sketch to find her intention.

Combining fauna with flora (are birds considered fauna?), Abla's added flowers to her delicately painted and beautifully composed birds and branches.

Madeleine also paints a bird, branches and foliage, but she gives it a tropical feeling. You can just feel the sun on the branches.

Alan steps away and gives us a long view. He uses Yupo perfectly to depict this dreamy landscape.

Here he uses Yupo again, adding crisp texture to the foliage. Alan loves his Yupo... and it shows!

Bill is also intrigued by trees, finishing up his "Tree of life" from last week.

Trees also feature prominently in this landscape, hiding a house and reflecting in the water.

Mohmamed's landscape also has water, and the colors make it glow.

Ellen's landscape also owes much of its success to the energetic brushwork and the colorful stone.

Mark's landscape is a snowscape from a recent snowboarding vacation. When he wasn't hitting the slopes, he took time to sketch (keep going to see some of this sketches).

Hector's landscape also uses vibrant color and sparkling brushstrokes. As a bonus, his painting looks good upside down as well. Look and see!

Greeta's beautiful painting of Graceland cemetery goes to show that color enlivens even stone and concrete, yet the statue still looks like stone.

And Bill combines many of our themes in an elegant energetic sketch that captures the urban landscape. This minimalist sketch conveys the scene wonderfully.

Ken, too, loves urban landscapes.... so much so that he's basing his next series on the one he just did. Same subject, just a little more abstract. We're very excited as we really like this series!

Here's how it starts. Who would guess that this basic tattersal plaid will become the jeweled painting above? And, by the way, if you like Ken's urban landscape, be sure to join us for his upcoming show. More information at the end of the post.

We promised you a look at Mark's vacation sketches. Here they are, with Mark's signature content mashup. He mixes bison with snowboards, rings with shoes, flowers with the Great Lakes, and whiskey barrels with other whiskey barrels.

Coming next week. We're eagerly anticipating a visit from our friend Johanna Silva from Winsor & Newton. Always educational. Always fun!

Invitation to Ken's opening reception. Join us!

You're invited! If you've been reading the hints we've been dropping for the last few weeks, you'll know that Ken Schadt is having a watercolor exhibit. It features his recent series of downtown cityscapes and will be at Ten Cat Tavern. There will be an opening reception at Ten Cat next Saturday and you're invited. Please join us in the back room at 3931 N. Ashland Avenue in Chicago. For more information and a view of the paintings and the inspiration, visit his website.