Sunday, May 31, 2015

May 31, 2015

Interested in learning to watercolor? Or continuing your watercolor studies? Now's the time to register for the next term beginning June 6. You can register and pay online. You can do the same in person, but it's business days/hours only. 
If you're interested in online registration, though, Truman College has a new web site and it's even less intuitive than usual.
Some computer-savvy people have spent a lot of time trying to find where to register and have suggested we provide the steps to anyone interested. So here we are: 
  1. Login to
  2. Go to my academic plan>my registration>add classes.
  3. Search for Personal development courses under Truman to find watercolor.
  4. After that it's pretty easy. 
 If you have any questions, call Laura at 773-907-4440. She's incredibly helpful, as always.
Oh, and the first day of class is June 6. See you then!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

May 9, 2015

Today was the last class of the term and it was full of excitement and celebration. We watched an exciting art sale happen live and in person right before our eyes in class! We celebrated Madeleine's birthday with some delicious cookies and look forward to Sara's birthday (and her traditional self-portrait). We applauded our new students graduating to "old master" status. And we're looking forward to our impromptu sketch club. Keep reading for the time and place—of course, you're invited!

As you can see, our thoughts (and our paintbrushes) are turning to vacation. We're all painting places we've been or look forward to going. Follow along and see what we mean. We start with Elaine's painting of a young artist. If you look closely, he's painting rockets and planets; so, while it's unlikely he's actually has vacationed in outer space, he may hope to. But he was on vacation while he was painting—or is that stretching things a bit?

Susan also includes a person in her painting. It's part of her "Venus emerging" series.... hmm, can you sense the beginnings of a calendar, here? And the flowers were from two actual scenic spots around Chicago...the ranunculus is blooming in a flower box in Andersonville; the bluebells are from Pat's backyard. Doesn't it seem like an idyllic vacation?

Mark's vacation dreams center around sports. Here, he paints his baseball bat and juggling balls. That's right... Mark can juggle. He treated us to an exhibition today, and he's quite good, too!

Sara makes Chicago feel like the vacation spot of the country as she paints two more magnolia trees in her "treetops in spring" series. Here, the beautiful pink blossoms fade to a soft white and pink cloud just before they fall.

... while this treetop is brighter and more vibrant, like her painting from last week, but with a different palette. This will make a beautiful triptych, won't it?

Ken is also painting a Chicago tree! Yes, you heard that right. Here's the beginning of his painting below. It's a tree in the back garden of the Ten Cat, so look for some color and pattern. in this view from the inside of the Ten Cat, looking out. Notice how everything is colorfully patterned and sparkling. Even the backlit door frame and the bar are brightly striped. Does the Ten Cat count as a vacation spot? It's fun and relaxing, so we say yes!

Bill ventures further afield. Here, he paints a windmill from a vacation in the Netherlands. This classic scene is beautifully composed and we love the foliage and reflections in the water.

More beautiful reflections.... more Amsterdam scenery. Bill's swans near a bridge beautifully evoke the mood of the place. We think water is his new favorite subject. No wonder; he does it well.

Madeleine is also painting water and the Netherlands, but what a difference in style! Her painting is classic line and wash illustration (zoom in for a closer look!) rather than Bill's impressionist take. The entire foreground here is water, so we're eager to see how this progresses.

Steve's vacation spot is Montevideo, Uruguay. The colors on these buildings just feel tropical, don't they? And the raked perspective gives a sense of rhythm and movement.

... as opposed to the classical symmetry of Tony's church. Unfortunately, this image is a bit fuzzy, but it's a church in Playa del Carmen in Mexico. Tony has skillfully used minimal touches to describe an entire thing... look at the wood beams over the arch, for instance. You know exactly what the adobe walls look and feel like, don't you?

And our newbies have all passed with flying colors. Starting next term, they are all officially "old masters." Here are some of their last few exercises. First, the egg. This is one of the hardest exercises to figure out, yet each of our artists has done a beautiful job. Isaac's is softly modeled and exquisitely balanced.

Anna's painted two, in plein air. Notice how much flatter they appear in the bright sun? And how the shadows are softer and more diffused?

Veronica paints her egg indoors in artificial light. Look at the dual shadow and the light bottom edge. This is one well-observed egg!

In class, all three shared the same three fruits to do a mashup of the famous big fruit/fruit family exercises. You'll recognize the same fruits below in our artists' distinctive styles. Isaac's quintessentially watercolor fruits feature sophisticated color blending and texture.

Anna's rich colors add vibrancy and make the fruits perfectly 3D.

Veronica has chosen the lemon for the fabled "big fruit." She's perfectly captured the stem end—and this lemon truly had the ridges you can see from this viewpoint.

Sketch Club. Our informal sketch club is back—and you are invited to join us! We'll meet on Saturday mornings, beginning May 16 and continuing until our next session on June 6.  Here are the details:
  • Who: You! This casual meetup is open to anyone with a pencil and paper and an urge to sketch
  • When: Saturday mornings (5/16, 23 and 30) 10:00am.
  • Where: Rosehill Cemetery. We'll meet at the entrance on Ravenswood and Rosehill
  • How: We meet at 10 and are on our own for the next two hours to wander and sketch. We'll reconvene around noon near the entrance to compare sketches.
It's fun and relaxing and very casual—join us if you can.
And with that, we say goodbye until our next class begins on June 6. See you then!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

May 2, 2015

It's official! Spring is here. You can tell by the paintings—and if that doesn't convince you, just look out the window. It's warm and sunny and perfect. Temperatures are nearing 70 and jackets are coming off. Yep, it's definitely spring.

In her continuing "spring" series, Sara paints everyone's first sign of spring...the trees bursting into bloom overhead. While these are small studies, they perfectly capture the fresh colors of treetops against the lovely blue sky. Pat, our teacher, suggested making these into a diptych or adding a third for a triptych. We totally agree! We begin with a maple tree....

... and move to a magnolia. Enjoy these blossoms as they don't last long.

Susan, too is all about flowers. In another "Venus emerging from the sea" series, Susan does a self-portrait emerging from a shower against a background of complementary colored flowers. What a great composition.

In our group, if the subject of flowers comes up, our thoughts turn to Steve, our resident expert. Here is his pitcher plant framed in a beautiful gold frame. We love how the speckles in the frame echo the texture in the earth and sky. This looks like an old master, doesn't it?

What's this, though? Steve steps out of his comfort zone to paint architecture. But not too far—these buildings in Montevideo, Uruguay have all the color and whimsy of tropical plants.

What better harbinger of spring in Chicago than the outdoor cafes popping up around town? Tony paints the Tavern on Rush here. The tables are ready and it's a beautifully sunny day (just look at the shadows). Made us all anxious to eat there.

Ken has changed perspective on his new "Ten Cat" series. Here we are on the inside looking out. While this has all the vibrant color of the rest of his series, we are in love with the strong grid of the backlit window frames and can't wait to see how this turns out.

Here, Ken's doorway sparkles with a kaleidoscopic burst of color. It's like this typical city door has shed its winter coat and donned a new spring outfit.

And then there are those who prefer physical action to sitting at bars and cafes. For instance, Mark's thoughts turn to exercise. What better way to celebrate the season than getting outdoors and grabbing your skateboard...

... and a sack lunch? Don't you love these paper bags? Hector's painting features basically one subject and one color.... but what a lot of variety, movement and interest he's managed to inject!

It seems we love to spend time outdoors near the water. Here, Bill paints swans on a waterway in the Netherlands. Notice how the high horizon line lets us focus on the water (and the swans).

Madeleine also paints birds on water but her scene is closer to home (it's Montrose Harbor). And notice that she also has stone structures in the background adding to the active composition.

But that's not all! She begins sketching her next scene. Coincidentally enough, it will also feature water in the foreground.

And when the lovely spring days draw to a close, what better way to spend a spring evening than painting the events of the day. Okay, that may be stretching things a bit—Elaine's subject is happily painting spaceships and stars, not flowers or ducks. But still.... you get the idea.

Speaking of painting, our newbies are doing some incredible work. Look at Anna's color swatch matching! We love the rich deep colors she's chosen... and how accurately she's managed to match them. And even though composition is not part of this exercise, she's composed the swatches beautifully.

We're at one of our favorite exercises of the year... the 3-way fruit. In this exercise, we paint one fruit (or vegetable) three different ways—very wet, very dry and with a mixture. While most of us find this frustrating, it's a great introduction to techniques and a chance to see how we prefer to handle paint. Here Anna paints a mango. You can tell it's hers by the deeply saturated colors and you can tell it's a mango by the secret message in the last painting. What fun!

Veronica's apple is equally lovely. Zoom in to see the lovely color blending and how skillfully she's managed to capture the 3-D shape of her subject.

Isaac set himself a difficult task, choosing a kiwi fruit. Look at the final three results (wet on the top left; dry and medium) on the bottom right. He's managed to make this drab brown fruit interesting! Notice the modeling? And zoom in to see how he used the newly-discovered techniques to describe the fuzzy texture.

Would you be surprised to learn that we have only one more session before we break? We were surprised too! But it's true. We'll be back next week and then we'll be off for three weeks until the summer session begins. But it doesn't have to be goodbye! Tune in next week for news of our impromptu pop-up sketch club and an invitation to join us.
Now get out there and enjoy your day!