Saturday, January 30, 2016

January 30, 2016

Can you believe it's already the end of January? Same here! Still, it's the middle of winter and Vivian makes the most of it, celebrating the beauty of the season with this lone red snow-covered Japanese maple leaf bravely hanging on through the first snowfall. Meanwhile, the stark branches cast shadows on the snow below.

Ken celebrates a different season as he paints morning glories hanging from vines in the middle of summer. The lush colors and detailed foliage form a stark contrast to the minimalist painting above.

In his latest series, Ken revisits his greatest hits from series of the past. Can anyone forget Annie his cat?

Tony continues painting landscapes. Here, he paints a gray autumn day at Montrose Harbor. You can feel the chill in the air as you watch the choppy waves.

Elaine is painting an autumn day, too—a brilliantly clear crisp one. And her subject, the Bahai Temple, sparkles against the clear blue sky. There is ground up quartz in the white concrete, so we're waiting to see if she adds glitter, but we don't think so!

As for the rest of us, we're all about the human touch. People are a favorite subject for most of us, from Hector's abstract figure....

... to Steve's merman. So far, it's a sketch, but join us next week to see the color go in.

Ellen has two subjects and a lot of texture in her flower girl painting, from the bouyant tulle skirts to the bouncy curls.

Sara is mixing media in her two-subject study, using pencils to carve out details on the second head.

And perhaps you are wondering about the beginner plaids and color wheels? Yes, Melissa and Nicola did them. And they are as uniquely lovely as others over the years. We just didn't get photographs. Whether it was shyness on the part of the painter (looking at you, Nicola!) or the fact that we were distracted by the abundance of extra-curricular riches, we just missed them. Sorry! Next week for sure.

Meanwhile, here are some paintings by one of our so-called "beginners," Melissa. She's going to fit right in! For starters, she maintains a sketchbook....

... does some lovely, complex still life paintings.....

... conceptual pieces in a unique panoramic format...

... and she paints plants and people, too. Here, Melissa began with a plant silhouette, then painted her piano teacher in the background.

More of Melissa's watercolor portraits. Her subjects range from artists...

... to her grandmother with an inviting bowl of pistachio ice cream and a wonderfully rendered spoon...

... to quick studies of her housemates.

And Melissa does self-portraits, too. Over the last year, she's done several quick studies of herself. None of these small studies took more than half an hour, but they are recognizable and very expressive.

And now she's working larger, using the mirrored salon rooms to great effect.

That's it for today. Join us next week for more news about upcoming events like Ken's next Ten Cat exhibit and a visit by our good friend, Johanna Silva.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

January 23, 2016

Happy new year! Yes, it's a new year and we're eager to get going with all new watercolors.  Even though we spent a lot of time catching up with each other after the long holiday break, we actually got a lot of painting done.

In case you missed it, here's Ken's annual Christmas Card. It's in a new style he's been experimenting with—a stained glass/mosaic look. And during the break, he started a mosaic class. We saw (and loved) his first piece, but unfortunately, we don't have a photo.

Vivian is also painting a tree, but it's going to be very different than Ken's extravaganza of color and pattern. This is a lone red leaf clinging to a Japanese Maple in a snowstorm. It's going to be spare and minimal and beautiful. Come back to see how this progresses.

Rosemary is back in her first term as a newly advanced master and she too is painting trees in this sweet little landscape.

Elaine is painting buildings too, but hers is a far cry from the little cottage above. This is the Bahai Temple in Wilmette, Illinois. It's the only Bahai temple in North America and it's magnificent. And speaking of churches, keep reading for an invite to a sketching party.

Tony began painting a white building against a blue sky, too.  But look at the difference! Feel the warmth of the summer sky, contrasted with the crisp fall sky above.

Besides trees and houses, we're drawn to portraiture. And not just single portraits—we're trending towards multiple subjects. Not just any subjects, though. These are people we know and love; they have to be done right! So here's how it's done: studies. Tony begins with a study of himself and his wife.

Moving to watercolor paper, he does another study. This time, the colors are more vibrant and the contrast is heightened.

Sara is also beginning a study of her husband and son. Even early on, she's skillfully modeling the faces and getting a definite likeness.

Another duet portrait from Ellen. These are flower girls in tulle skirts. She's using a limited palette on this difficult subject but it already looks incredible, doesn't it?

Not to be outdone, Ken one-ups everyone with three subjects. In this, his newest series, he is revisiting all his greatest hits from prior series. These are the famed "puddle girls." No, you can't see the puddle they are standing in, but we see that Pat has influenced the girls' fashions. 

And who can forget the morning glories? These echo the color of the middle girl's dress and look good any way you look at them.

What's a Ken retrospective without a cat? Zoom in to see how richly textured she is!

Speaking of texture, we love the hair on this painting as Ken revisits his series of women, based on Julia Cameron photos.

One more portrait—this one is a self-portrait by Melissa, our newest student. This is a wonderfully expressive and very quickly done. Fast and good—here's someone to watch!

We mentioned how quickly Melissa did her self-portrait.... she also did one of the famous beginner plaids.

You're invited to the Winter Open Sketch at St. Gregory
It's the winter open sketch on Saturday, January 30.  St. Gregory the Great Church will be open from noon–3pm for open sketching, painting and photography. This is a great opportunity to see an architectural treasure, so bring your cameras, sketch pads, pens and pencils. Joe, the event organizer, will be on hand to answer questions (and he really knows his stuff!).

     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

     Saturday, January 30