Sunday, December 13, 2015

December 12, 2015

We're on our last day of the year and feeling festive. We had a lot of fun, a lot of food and a lot of friendship. Thanks to Greeta, Madeleine, Bill and Sara for the baked goodies and to Abla for the pizza.

And of course, we took time to paint, too! As usual, we had some unconscious themes going... some of which were a little unexpected, but beautiful nonetheless.

As the weather turns colder, it is no wonder our thoughts turn to waves crashing against rocky shores under dramatic skies. Everything in Marva's landscape seems to be in motion from the pounding surf to the rolling sky. We love this!

Surprisingly, for many of us, our thoughts turn not to tropical isles or snowy ponds, but to Michigan. That's right.... Michigan! Here Bill paints a view across a pond. The colors and bare trees are distinctly autumnal.

Same pond....but the color palette makes it look like spring.

With an even more delicate color palette and some calligraphic brush strokes, Bill takes us to a Michigan, of course.

More water, same state. Here, Bill skillfully uses complementary colors to differentiate the trees from their reflections.

Madeleine was also inspired by Michigan. The drying grasses and boulder are highlighted against the bare trees. Once again, Michigan seems to lend itself to bold calligraphic brushwork.

Far away from Michigan, Madeleine paints a richly textured street scene in Bruges. The bricks, windows and cobblestones keep our eyes swirling around the figure silhouetted against the doorway. It's Madeleine in a self-portrait. Notice the name of the shop? Yes, it's "Madeleine," spelled correctly! And it offers gifts and presents made with love. How very festive!

But the holidays are also about family. Tony's painting says it all.... beautifully. The composition, the postioning of the couple, the muted limited palette—everything about it is perfect for this wedding portrait from the 1940's.

From this, Tony takes us to a view of a contemporary wedding, looking through the church door. All the elements are cleverly designed to guide our eyes right to the focal point.

Still on the theme of churches, temples and holy places, Tony finishes his painting of a Greek monastery on a cliff. With a very limited palette, he manages to convey the architecture and the towering height of the mountaintop.

Elaine is also painting a temple... even though she hasn't gotten farther than sketching and dropping in the background. This is the Bahai Temple just north of Chicago. It's the only Bahai temple in North America and the first of only seven Bahai temples in the world. It's incredibly beautiful; Elaine has her work cut out for her!

Here's a temple of another kind. Sara's sweet painting of a couple's first home is an homage to young love. We also love the tree framing the scene.

Susan ventures farther afield in this painting of Machu Picchu in Peru and paints the mountain and the entire sacred valley below. To get an idea of scale, look at the small tourists hiking at the bottom of the painting.

Here, Susan paints the majestic Iguaco Falls in Brazil. Yes, that's all water—three tiers of falls!

But tourism isn't all temples and tourist sites. This is fun! Susan paints herself and her husband visiting a bird sanctuary near the Iguaco Falls. Their shirts inadvertently matched the toucan's bills! No, it wasn't planned! You can't make this up.


No birds in this tree. Abla has finished the tree and moved on to the autumn leaves. The tree trunk is so richly textured and modeled, we can't stop looking. And we can't wait to see how the rest of the painting turns out!

Finally.... a sign of winter! Alan paints tree branches caked in ice and snow. You can just feel the crispness and cold, can't you? And yes, that's Yupo!

Back to regular paper, Alan paints tree branches against a brilliant blue fence, which is in turn framed by bricks and leaves.

While we're on the subject of trees, we turn to Ken's Christmas tree. In an innovative twist, he paints a stained glass tree against a star-filled mosaic tile background. Wow!

It's a perfect complement to the finale in Ken's Ten Cat series. This monumental pool table exudes solidity, serenity and calm, despite the Klimtian patterning all over. We can't wait to see what series 2016 will bring for Ken.

How can you think of holidays and tables without thinking of food? Greeta, the master of food painting, begins a platter of oysters. The pearlescent shells, the lemon, everything is beautiful... is it any surprise we're all hungry after Greeta paints?

Rosemary is right in step as she paints one of our favorite exercises.... the giant fruit. We love the apple, particularly the way it's anchored with its colorful shadow.

This is the very essence of monumental. Vivian is doing a large watercolor, based on a small, quick sketch. This has a massive presence here that is sculptural and very impressive.

Mohammed's girl with a book is coming along nicely. He's beginning to add color, beginning with an exquisite red. We have always had a fascination with red, finding it hard to get a rich and pure red. This is it!

Interested in joining us next year? If your new year's resolution has anything to do with releasing your creativity and having some fun, this is for you. Registration is now open for January classes. Come in or register online. Start at Go to My Academic Plan>My Registration>Add Classes. Here are the class numbers (you can register for both at once!)

Jan. 23 to March 5 (Spring I) Class No. 67223
April 2 to May 14 (Spring II)  Class No. 67224

Happy holidays to all of you from all of us!  See you  on January 23... and until then, happy painting!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

December 5, 2015

Welcome back! We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! And now, here it is December and the holiday season is full on us. We know you have cookies to bake and trees to trim, so let's get started without further ado.

Spoiler alert.... if you are one of the lucky recipients of Ken's annual holiday greeting card, you may want to avert your eyes lest you spoil the surprise! Here is his study for this year's card. It features his current fascination with stained glass and mosaic.

Madeleine is also into texture. Look at the bricks, tiles and windows of the street in Bruges. Notice the figure? It's Madeleine, ushering in one of the themes of the day. Come back to see the name of the shop next week—you'll love it!

Alan also paints familiar figures against tourist attractions. Here's Greeta by the WWII Memorial in Washington, DC. He's painting this on his favorite support, Yupo. Look at the skirt!

Greeta is painting figures and memorials as well. This powerful image features the Vietnam Memorial and the child makes a profound statement in this beautiful painting.

We're all interested in people today—and sketching. Back to mat board, a surface he's had great luck with, Mohammed is sketching a woman with a book.

Vivian is sketching, too. She's taking this older, smaller sketch and using it as the basis for a larger watercolor. We love the energy in her sketch and are looking forward to the painting.

Abla is also sketching... and working on the wonderful tree trunk. We are in love with the color, the texture, depth and modeling. This is going to be worth waiting for!

More people. More trees. And water! Elaine's added water to this scene of a paddle boat race on a Wisconsin lake. It's a view from the winning boat—the close cropping lets you feel the pressure as the second (and third) place racers make a final bid for a win.

The water in this beautiful national park is smooth and misty with only a moose enjoying the
sunrise. This looks much better in person than the photo. Marva truly is a master landscape artist.

... as you can see below. Marva is beginning a landscape scene from even farther north. The sky already looks crisp and frosty. Keep watching to see the final painting.

Everyone is attracted to water today! Whether it's being churned up by paddle boats, misted, frozen, or smooth and reflective like Bill's painting. This is beautifully composed and uses a very limited palette to evoke a definite mood.

Didn't we say we loved reflections in water? In another beautifully composed painting, we peer through autumn foliage and trees, to a cottage reflected in a still lake. Alan painted this beauty on hot press watercolor paper.

Back to Yupo, Alan uses a cottage as background for a Dodge pickup truck (you can see the name). This truck has caught on fire in the past and the texture of the burnt and rusted hood is in sharp contrast to the smooth background.

We are not big fans of pigeons.... except in this lovely painting of a pigeon-infested storefront. The pigeons add a decorative element and the muted palette and wet-in-wet technique adds to the moody charm.

Another face-on view of a building. But this is has a very different feel. Sara uses pen and ink to create this crisp architectural rendering of a suburban house. And the clear sunny colors make us want to drop by this sweet, welcoming home.

Speaking of welcoming, Greeta finished this still life. The turban squash gives this the feel of a thanksgiving cornucopia and the softly sketchy background adds just the perfect touch.

Rosemary does one of our favorite exercises—the three way fruit. Except she's using a leaf instead of a fruit or vegetable. Here are all three styles, along with the model. From left to right, the mixed model, wet-on-wet and dry brush. We love the sparkle of the dry scumbled brushstrokes.

And we welcome back world traveler, Susan. As always, she takes her sketchbook along and we love to see the results. Feel free to blow these up and see the notes she's added. These sketches bring back vivid memories of a place.... more than any photo. As you can see, she's been to Rio de Janeiro!

Here's a view from her hotel window. We love how she uses both pages of a spread when the panoramic subject dictates.

A controversial cathedral and another hotel and tour bus.

A view of Buenos Aires....

... and a tango performance and lesson!

Back home, Susan uses her sketches as the basis for full paintings, as in this scene (look back at the second sketchbook image).

Here, she documents the architecture, landscape and lifestyle of people she met on the trip. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a painting must be worth a thousand photos.

Come back next week! It's the end of our term and our year. It'll be fun!