Saturday, July 18, 2015

July 18, 2015

Welcome to summer in Chicago! Blistering heat, followed by torrential rain. You gotta love it! Fortunately, we're too busy painting and planning to be bothered. Yes, you heard us right! We are planning an actual exhibition for October. Scroll through all the beautiful paintings for the latest update on our upcoming show and how you can get involved. And keep coming back week after week! Consider this your official source for show news.

But first, the art (which is why we're all here, after all, isn't it?). Once again, we seem to be inspired by the same subjects. But watch how each artist has a unique personal take on the subject.

For instance, you know we love our trees and water. Today, we seem especially fascinated by weeping willows. Here Bill captures the graceful sweep of a grove of willows at the Chicago Botanical Garden. We love the depth he's achieved.

Madeleine has also used a weeping willow, but her single branch frames her Dutch landscape in the classic composition below. Her willow is sharper and crisper, too, as befits her lovely pen and wash style.

In a further exploration of the Netherlands, Madeleine finished the painting she started last week. All this practice has made her an expert in painting water, hasn't it? And don't these look like quintessential travel sketches? Maybe she should consider putting a book together documenting her trip.

More water; this time in Bruges. We absolutely love Bill's bridges, as viewed from the water. His painterly style makes this look like an impressionist oil painting. We are totally obsessed with the water, the brushwork and the masterful use of color.

Have you noticed our fascination with structure? Even Steve isn't immune to the lure of  architecture. But he puts his personal spin on this street scene from Montevideo, Uruguay. The raked perspective draws our attention. The tropical colors and deep, warm shadows just make us happy.

John's Peruvian fantasy continues to evolve. The perspective on the building is classic and now he's adding even more of the detail he's known for. Look closely as the roadways begin to fill with people.

Perspective isn't just for buildings. Hector's Escher-like abstract has swirling perspective lines that pull us into a vortex. Then the cloudy color quadrants remind us of nothing so much as an inter-galactic game of Simon. What fun!

Ken uses the same strong look of tile lines in his painting of the mosaic on the front of the Ten Cat. Despite the natural flatness of the mosaic technique, isn't it interesting how 3D the billiard ball looks?

Mohammed's winter scene uses the same composition as Ken's (but flipped), and also features an animal, but there the similarity ends. His sponge technique gives his painting a soft texture and a depth that are quite different from Ken's hard glassy surface. Can't you smell the pine?

Same here! Marva is the master of foliage and texture and the landscape below is a prime example. The vast valley floor is full of all kinds and color of flora—and Marva has painstakingly detailed each one so ou can almost see what each tree or bush is.

We love our plants, don't we? From the vast vistas above, to the elegance of a single blossom (okay, there are actually two blossoms here). Isaac's white flower has all the delicacy and subtlety of a Japanese woodblock. The subtle background color is an inspired choice. And the branch adds the perfect touch of color and contrast.

Susan's miniature rose plant also features white blossoms, but what a different feel! Hers is an exuberant riot of color. Seems funny to say that about simple white roses, but look at the blossoms—and the leaves.

Abla's fireworks look like giant flowers exploding over the city. The bright neon colors are carefully placed in the reserved white. This just shouts summer nights in the city.

And what says summer better than baseball? We love Spring's action-packed painting of a baseball player as he slides home, saving his hot dog in the process. The colors perfectly convey the feel of the day and you can feel the movement in the clear summer sky.

Ah, summer! Elaine captures the feel of a picnic in the summer sun in this portrait. Like the painting above, there is a feel of movement and story to this. We sense the spontaneity of the subject's glance and can't help but wonder what's caught her attention.

What better time of year for the painting exercises than now, when there are so many beautiful summer fruits? Spring uses an orange for the famous 3-way fruit. Okay, she's only finished two of them, but we love the highlights and texture of the fruit and the rich variety of colors in the fruit and the shadows.

Lydia chose a nectarine for the giant fruit exercise. The colors and striations are spot on and we love the vantage point she's chosen, featuring the stem connection.

We will be off next week, but we'll be back the week after with more wonderful art. Meanwhile, here are some things for you to look forward to:

Sketch date. Mark your calendars for Saturday, August 15 from 11:30–2:30pm. Unless pre-empted by a funeral or other occasion, St. Gregory the Great church will have an open sketching session. This is a great opportunity to sketch or photograph a truly magnificent neighborhood architectural treasure. Keep watching this spot for more information and plan to join us.
Art Exhibit. It's on! We'll be having an actual art exhibition! We don't have all the details yet, but we do know it will be in October and we know it will be at Truman College. As for the rest, we'll fill you in as we learn more. We have an incredible committee working on the show and things are moving fast. So watch this space. It's your official source for news.

How do you get involved?If you are interested in seeing fine art in person, mark your calendar and keep watching for details.
If you are interested in being part of the show or if you have questions, click here to email Hector. As head of our show committee, he'll be able to provide a prospectus and answer questions about details and scope. In your email, let him know:
  • If you'd like to be part of the show. Include your name, spelled correctly.
  • What you'd like to do to help. The committee can provide you with opportunities to be of service, or let us know what skills you have that we can use.
  • Any questions you may have. Ask away about eligibility, timing.... anything!
Meanwhile, we'll see you in two weeks!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

July 11, 2015

After a week off for the Fourth, we return with lot of news, a few "Save the Dates" and a whole lot of beautiful art. We'll start with the art; but you'll want to be sure to allow yourself enough time at the end to jot down some important upcoming dates.

Of course, we were inspired by the holiday celebrations and feeling patriotic. Here, Abla paints the fireworks over the city. This is worth a closer look, so zoom in to see the reflections on the water, the carefully rendered cityscape and the fireworks exploding across the animated sky.

We all seem obsessed with watching the skies. Bill revisited his cloudscape. Making the buildings more shadowed and muted has resulted in making the clouds even more active and lively. A lesson in how each part affects the whole.

But that's not all for Bill! He revisits his sunset on the beach. This time, he adjusted the size so it's smaller and more intimate. Exactly what he needed to draw us into the scene.

Here's more sea and sky, but this time, we're in the Netherlands. This structure is on the cold, gray North Sea and Bill manages to perfectly capture the atmosphere with his beautifully economic brushstrokes and color palette.

Madeleine's scenes are also from the Netherlands, but what a different vibe with this houseboat on a canal. We love the water and the homey touch the houseplants add!

No, that isn't snow in the foreground! It's unfinished, but it will be water. More sea and sky along a canal in the Netherlands. This time, Madeleine renders the scene in an exquisite pen and wash style that highlights the crisp, pristine beauty. Isn't it amazing how much we can tell about a place from the sea and sky?

Ken's study for his next painting in the Ten Cat series also has the clarity and precision of the landscape above, but there's no ink here. It's all watercolor as he explores the bar's mosaics and brickwork.

Isn't this one of Ken's best series ever? Here's the facade of the Ten Cat, featuring the sign and a view of the street in a wonderful perspective.

Ken's not the only one of us fascinated with perspective. Hector explores perspective in this Escher-like drawing. See the buildings, the reflections and the 3 point perspective. We can't wait until he adds color.

John combines two of our latest themes—extreme perspective and an active sky—in this pencil drawing of ancient Peru and the constellations visible from these mountains.

Isaac's bird-of-paradise places the sharp, almost architectural form of the flower against a soft, misty background. The subtle color gradations make the flower seem to glow.

If it's summer, we must be painting flowers, right? Absolutely! Susan has been buying models from a local garden center. And while she gives her plants a good home, she takes the opportunity to paint their portraits. Look at the careful details on the airy white blooms nestled beneath the sweeping gladiola plants....

Or the beautiful coral begonias contrasted with the blue-green leaves...

Or this study in purples, from intensely blue lobelia to velvety petuniuas....

Finishing up with an assortment of succulents. Is it any wonder that artists throughout history have been drawn to floral still lives?

Mohammed's managed to capture the very essence of winter with his pine tree and reindeer. And his style is perfect to convey the cold snowy atmosphere.

Look closely at the exercises below. Spring explores complementary colors in the rainbow arcs, then uses the knowledge she gained to paint the infamous paper towel on the sheet below. She goes on to get a perfectly neutral gray swatch, along with the famous "skin color match." Best of all is the extra-curricular fish. The warm color and expressive brushwork are just lovely.

Mark relies on brushwork to depict the sports equipment below. There are three objects, necessitating a second sheet of paper as he paints a boomerang, football and frisbee—things that fly through the air. (Pat actually tested the boomerang for Mark. Let's just say she needs some practice.)

Another one of our favorite exercises—the three way fruit. Lydia chose a lemon and painted it very wet, very dry and in combination. Her favorite? Drybrush, as it perfectly captures the texture of the fruit.

Sara continues with her self-portrait, skillfully using the wet/dry techniques and color skills discussed above. We love the warm colors she's chosen, the wonderful shadows and highlights around her hair, and are riveted by her gaze.

We can't say the same about Elaine's portrait...yet! We like the nostalgic, summery feel, but we are eagerly looking forward to seeing eyes on her subject.

And we end as we began... with a touch of patriotism. Glen's striking portrait is from a TV screen capture, but it's so much better than the inspiration image. He's carefully used value and color to create a depth of field that tells a story and focuses on the center of interest—the piercing eye.

Save the dates!

We have a couple of dates for you to save, so grab your calendars, phones or PAs. You won't want to miss either of these events.

Sketch date. You may remember back in spring when two of our artists participated in an open sketching session in a beautiful neighborhood church, St. Gregory. We have some great news. They will be having another such session on Saturday, August 15 from 11:30–2:30pm (unless pre-empted by a funeral or other occasion). This is a great opportunity to sketch or photograph a truly magnificent architectural treasure. Keep watching this spot for more information and plan to join us. You'll truly enjoy yourself.

Art Exhibit. It's come to our attention that we haven't had an actual bricks-and-mortar art exhibition since 2010. Hard to believe it's been that long, but it must be true. Scroll back through the blog and you won't find any group shows before October of 2010. So we hope to remedy that situation. We have formed a committee and are looking to mount a show in October of this year.... just in time for Chicago Artists Month.

So what does this mean for you? If you want to see some fine art, mark your calendar and keep watching this space for details. If you are in our class, you have a week to think about (and do) a few things:
  1. Decide if you want to participate in the show. If you do, be prepared to let us know on Saturday and furnish your name (correctly spelled, of course) to the committee.
  2. Decide if you want to help in any way. Again, let the committee know. No matter what your skills, we'll find ways to utilize them! 
  3. Think of names for our exhibit. The Chicago Artists Month theme for this, their 20th year, is The City as Studio. Seems perfect for what we do.... now we just need a catchy title for our show. Bring your ideas on Saturday or leave a comment here.

Enjoy your summer! And see you next week.