Saturday, August 22, 2015

August 15, 2015

Some Saturday morning sketchers surround Joe, who organized the event, at St. Gregory Church

Yes, we are still on summer break, but we were invited to an Open Sketch last week at St. Gregory the Great Church. A few of us took advantage of the invitation and we want to share our sketches. Above is a selfie of just a few of us, with Joe, the event organizer. We are especially grateful to Joe, both for the invitation and for serving as a docent and sharing his vast knowledge about the history of the church and the art within. This man knows his art! Thank you, Joe!

There was so much to see and sketch that we were just a bit overwhelmed. Most of us walked around to get an overview, but quickly settled in to sketch. Ken began with a panoramic ballpoint sketch of the entire church, from a position near the front altar.

Elaine also began with an overview that spans an entire spread in her sketchbook. But her pencil sketch is from the back, looking towards the front altar. Between them, they have the entire church captured.

From there, Ken zeroed in on the altar and the archangel Michael, one of a magnificent painted pair flanking the altar.

He finished up with an ornately carved wooden shrine.

After her initial sketch, Elaine, too, focused on details. Here, she sketches three "pulpit people," among the smallest of the beautiful carvings on the wooden pulpit.

She finishes up with a quick brush pen sketch of a statue from Mary's altar.

Bill chose the same vantage point for all his sketches, experimenting with value as he used markers to explore the soaring stone arches. Notice how he directs the viewer and creates depth as he adds more value contrast.

Sara, too, was intrigued by the arches and the perspective view through them.

Then, like the rest of us, she moved to details. Below is one of a pair of candlesticks. The wooden candlesticks are carved and stand about 2-3 feet high, flanking the main altar. Sara has really captured the volume and beautifully stylized feathers.

Madeleine focused on details from the start, using a new tool, double-ended marker/brush pens, to examine carved wood panels....

 ... and a wrought iron lamp....

 ... before sketching the hymn books in their wooden rack. We love the selective use of color!

Speaking of color, Susan chose to sketch outside in the meditation garden, which was in full bloom. Of course she had to do a watercolor sketch to capture the brilliant foliage and mosaics

Sadly, we didn't take pictures of Vivian's sketches, but we'll add them as soon as we can.

If you want to check the accuracy of our sketches or are simply intrigued by the beautiful art and architecture, you can drop by St. Gregory the Great Church at 5545 N. Paulina. The church entrance is on the corner of Gregory and Paulina (one block west of Ashland and one block south of Bryn Mawr).

We'll be back next week with more watercolors. See you then—and again, thanks to Joe and St. Gregory's!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

August 1, 2015

This was our last class of the season and now it's officially summer break! But it's an action-packed summer break, so be sure to read through and see what's happening. You are invited to an open sketch session at an architectural wonder next week. And there is a gentle reminder to mark your calendar lest you miss our upcoming show. Read on!

Nothing says summer in the city like fireworks over the skyline. And here Abla captures all the excitement and color of the Fourth of July. She's skillfully combined acrylic with watercolor to highlight the rockets red glare (and lots of other neon colors, too!) reflected in the lake.

Bill is continuing his series featuring water and clouds. This beautiful beach scene is nearly monochromatic, but captures the feeling of a summer day perfectly. We love the variety of blues, the horizontal emphasis and the softly colorful clouds.

More reflections in water! But this time, it's a stand of weeping willows at the Botanic Garden. We love the natural colors Bill has achieved, the languid feel of the trees and his subtle impressionistic style.

Madeleine's weeping willow is very different in style and purpose, but it is also immediately recognizable as a weeping willow. This time, the tree frames a scene in Amsterdam. The leaves are as precise as the buildings, but much softer. They impart the feel of a veil and make us want to push through to examine the rest of the scene.

We do love to paint in series, it seems. Here Isaac finishes up his first painting of a white flower. This is one of the hardest colors of flowers to paint. Yet Isaac nails it, using the white of the paper and delicate grays to model the petals. Further, this is a prime example of just how important a background is. This blue is perfect.

 Again, Isaac skillfully uses the white of the paper and soft gray shadows. And once again, the background makes the painting. We love his choice to have the organic blossom burst from a geometric shape, set against a complementary colored shape. And we love his choice to have the background mottled, blending the stark geometry with the soft flower.

If we're talking flowers and series, we must consider Susan! In these next three paintings (yes, she's a fast painter, too!), she continues her series of floral portraits. The first painting isn't finished yet, explaining the white of the background. Notice how she also explores white flowers, but she uses the surrounding flowers and foliage for contrast.

And here's another thing we like about artists who paint in series. Susan's "towel woman" has evolved. Originally the focus of the painting, with flowers serving to add to the composition, now the woman has become a "floral fairy." She tells a story and draws the eye, but the focus of the paintings have changed.

We haven't been counting, but we must be close to enough for a calendar, right?

Isn't it wonderful how different artists treat the same subject matter? While Isaac zeroes in on a single blossom and Susan paints floral bouquets, Marva zooms out even further to paint a magnificent panoramic view. Interestingly enough, this is just as much a portrait as the closer view. You can see each tree lovingly detailed against the misty mountains taking shape. Yes, these are the Smoky Mountains, and those of us who have lived/visited there can attest to the accuracy of Marva's painting.

Mohammed uses nature as a background, although his scene is set in winter, unlike Marva's autumn painting. The pine trees are beautifully composed and we love the use of texture everywhere. You can actually feel the cold crisp winter air, can't you?

Glenn, too, paints seasonal fauna but he chooses birds in summer (are birds fauna?). We love the sophisticated composition, the carefully rounded shapes and applaud his background choice. In a very few brushstrokes and colors, he's managed to perfectly describe summer foliage.

Madeleine, having successfully completed landscapes, waterscapes, and foliage (see the Amsterdam scene above), now turns her attention to portraits. And she boldly attempts not one, but two people. Very brave! She's doing a great job of portraying her grandchildren in a loving hug. There's something in the pose that's wonderfully natural and childlike and also reminds us of Klimt. We can't wait to see how this progresses.

Sara's self-portrait continues to emerge softly from the shadows. Here's a perfect example of what makes a great portrait. There's an emotion and a personality that come through, but the artist also leaves something to your imagination. You feel you know the subject, yet you want to know more about them and their story.

Elaine's portrait also seems to have a story. We're especially fond of the close cropping and the gaze that takes us out of the frame, but keeps pulling us back. And who doesn't love a subtle gingham check? At Sara's request, here are the skin colors: Hansa yellow, vermillion, quinacridone gold and marine blue, with just a touch of ultramarine blue around the eyes. They are layered on the page rather than mixed.

John's doing people, too, but his are small, detailed and massed in the streets. The dark outfits nicely balance the dark shapes in the clouds and the people, mountains and clouds contrast nicely with the stark architectural shape.

Ken's Ten Cat series is progressing as well. Here we are inside the front door, looking up and out. The perspective lines are striking and the backview of the address is inspired.

The Ten Cat mosaic painting is finished! This series has to be one of our all-time favorites. Ken's style perfectly suits the subject. We'll be sorry to see this series end.

Hector's still life is a brilliant combination of soft forms and a sharp abstract background. We love the Cezanne-like fruits with their wonderful colors, crisp outlines and colorful shadows. And, in a bold choice, they are set against a flat patterned background. Again, we can't wait to see how this comes out! 

Lydia finishes up her final exercises before moving on to "old master" status. Her "egg" reminds us of Hector's still life, with soft colors, definite outlines and graduated shadows. She's also added a background! 

Her "fruits and vegetables" may not be finished, but already we see the shaping and color-mixing skills. Congratulations on your graduation, Lydia!

And we're off for the summer! We'll be back on August 29, but leave you with some things to look forward to in the meantime.....

Open Sketch date. You're invited to join us on Saturday, August 15 from 11:30–2:30pm at St. Gregory the Great Church. They will have an open sketching/photography session and we are invited! This is a great opportunity to sketch or photograph a truly magnificent architectural treasure, so bring your cameras, sketch pads, pens and pencils. A docent will also be on hand to answer questions. Join us—you'll be glad you did! Here are the details:
     Saturday, August 15
     St. Gregory the Great Church
     5545 N. Paulina
     Church entrance is on the corner of Gregory and Paulina;
     one block west of Ashland and one block south of Bryn Mawr.

Art Exhibit. It's on! We'll be having an art exhibition in October at Truman College. Watch this space for more information from our committee. If you have questions, click here to email the head of our show committee.