Saturday, April 25, 2015

April 25, 2015

It was a cold and rainy morning (sounds like the beginning to some story, doesn't it?). But actually, it was just another spring morning here in Chicago. The rain may have kept quite a few of us away, or maybe the blocked streets and construction. At any rate, those of us who came had a great time and painted some lovely paintings, too.

We start with the latest in Mohammed's series of cats. This one is no cuddly kitten but we love the personality—not to mention the way he uses the sponge technique to such great effect. Doesn't it just make you smile?

And this row of cats and dogs can't help but make you smile, too. And who knew a garage could be so exciting? We love the wet-in-wet clapboards and the textured roof!

Ken's into architecture, too. Here is the doorway to the side of the Ten Cat. Even the bricks look like stained glass.

Hector hasn't added color yet, but his sketch is coming along beautifully. The perspective is right on and no matter where you look, there's something aligned and interesting.

Elaine has Dave standing outside a building, squinting into the spring sunlight. In fact, except for the rain, it's a day much like today.

...before beginning another sketch, but this one is inside. And as you might be able to guess from the windows, it's evening.

Susan joins the architecture crowd, painting a fishing village on stilts. She pulls back to show water, mountains and a hillside lush with foliage.

The rest of us can't be bothered with buildings. We're ready for spring and flowers. Abla sketched a vase of tulips and managed to put in a soft, background wash that just shouts watercolor and spring.

Sara has progressed from studies to actual paintings of spring trees. This flowering treetop against a spring sky is the very essence of the season.

Here's another tree beginning to bloom. This one is a maple and features clear golden green buds against the blue sky.

Steve is officially finished with his pitcher plant on canvas. For all the challenges presented by the canvas, this painting is beautiful.

And because he finished early, Steve did one of our favorite things—experiment! Here he is trying a triangular, wedge  brush. He got it from Connie years ago and hadn't used it much. Now he wonders why he waited so long. Look at the foliage below, especially the leaves bending and the veins in the hosta. And zoom in to see how the leaves twirl. We suspect we'll be seeing this brush in heavy rotation.

That's it for today (we told you it was a small crowd), but come back next week for more.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

April 18, 2015

It's another perfect spring day... a little cool and windy near the lake, but beautiful and sunny. We have a lot of paintings and a lot of news, so let's get started. And read to the end for our news.

Today, it's all about flowers! Well, flowers and beauty of all kinds. We start with Susan emerging from a shower amid a sea of orchids in a painting reminiscent of Diego Rivera's series of women with lilies. Lovely!

Sara is equally enamored of flowers. Here, in one of the most masterfully sophisticated uses of color we've seen, she paints a flowering tree against a warm spring sky. The photo doesn't do it justice—trust us that this is breathtakingly beautiful.

Equally well observed is her daffodil. We love the textured background and the crook to the stalk. Here's someone who knows flowers!

And, of course, no one knows flowers like Steve. Despite the difficult stretched canvas support, he adds soil so rich you want to touch it and a background that could have come from Monet's Giverny.

Even Abla is painting flowers. Here, she begins some colorful tulips in a vase.

Of course, she takes time to finish her winter stream first!
Mohammed does us one better. In his new favorite technique, he paints a landscape that's deep and rich and looks like flower gardens as far as the eye can see.

Bill finishes up his first pair of pigeons and begins another. You can't see it in the photo, but the wings have the beautiful iridescence of the real thing.

And Madeleine is attracted by birds too. In this beautifully composed scene, you might say she has all her ducks in a row (sorry, couldn't resist!).

Tony's café scene exhibits the same sense of being outdoors. Look at the shadows under the awnings!

Ken has finished his façade of Ten Cat. Despite the liberties he's taken with color, we all recognize the place—and agree that he's captured the feel.

Number two in the series is the doorway to the side of the main entrance. We're eager to see how the leaded glass window progresses.

Hector is in the same situation. He's sketched the beginnings of a painting with a lot going on. Seemingly a study in perspective, this also examines man-made objects, their origins in organic shapes, and more. Keep watching this one!

Superman is immediately recognizable, just by his shape. We can't believe how quickly Mark was able to do this!

And Elaine celebrates spring... albeit it's a cool grey spring day... by painting a vacation memory from just such a day.

Our newbies continue their color experiments. All four of them have passed the dreaded "paper towel" test with flying colors and are glad to know it's smooth sailing now. Anna and Veronica continue to explore complementary colors.

... while Glen and Isaac match colors. The color matching is so spot on, we feel obliged to point out that one of the swatches is a paint swatch; the other is the physical sample of the color the artist is trying to match. Notice the paper towels?

Phone case of the day. Veronica wins that prize! Her cell phone has a skin that looks just like a tiny watercolor palette... right down to paint splashes and the tiny travel brush in the center.

Art show. Yes, we are exploring the possibility of having a group show. Probably at Truman. No firm dates yet, but we're thinking about it. Watch this space for more news because, of course, you are invited!

Sketching. After class, two of our intrepid artists ventured out for even more art. A local church, St. Gregory, had an open sketching session in their beautiful church. You've seen the façade (Elaine painted it a while ago) and the inside is truly magnificent. This was the first time they have tried this, but we hope it's not the last. And if there's another one, we'll let you know in plenty of time to join us. You'll thoroughly enjoy yourself.

April 11, 2015

Spring is here. It's a beautiful day. And that's our excuse for the delay. Well.... that and the fact that our usual photographer missed a session. Thanks, Sara, for filling in!

Also, it occurs to us that we haven't featured enough cat paintings to earn our space on the internet lately. So we take this opportunity to rectify that situation by starting out with Mohammed's soft fluffy kitten and bunnies.

...followed by Bill's rock doves (Don't they sound cuter than if you call them pigeons?) and breathtaking sunset.


You can't beat lovers on a beach to keep up the "cute" factor, as Susan knows.

As for the rest of us, our thoughts turn to the flowers beginning to bloom. Sara captures spring's first daffodil and Steve paints a pitcher plant.

But we can't stop there. We paint lovely green foliage and trees in a landscape setting.

(except for Abla, whose trees are in a beautifully frozen setting.)
These trees encircle the base of a mountain painted in bold strokes reminiscent of Van Gogh. The train almost looks like jewelry, doesn't it?
This abstract also uses bold lines and evokes mountains.
The primary colors remind us of how useful (and beautiful) our early assignments are. Here, for instance, are some expanded color wheels, with tints, tones and shades of colors...

... working up to one of the most useful skills a painter can have—the ability to use complementary colors. And we love seeing our beginners test their colors in uniquely creative styles...

And here are those same colors masterfully used by Ken to detail architecture, both downtown...
... and at the Ten Cat, a local bar (and the subject of his newest series).

Seems like many of us are into architecture, featuring buildings as backgrounds, like the ones below.

...or as featured players, like these.
We are drawn to interiors too, and explore perspective.
Even John (our guest artist) is on the building theme as he explores digital art in a new story.


Happy painting! Get out and enjoy the weather. Paint or draw something and we'll see you again soon (yes, this week's paintings will follow shortly, so keep watch!)