Saturday, July 23, 2016

July 23, 2016

Today was a far cry from last week's perfect summer day. Most of the country found itself in the middle of a heat wave and we were no exception. It was a perfect day to spend painting in air conditioned comfort. Appropriately enough, most of us painted scenes of summer and how better to start off than with typical midwest summer scenes. Here's Ken's latest in the corn series. Again, he's painting in quarters, with each quarter more abstracted than the last.

Greeta's cow series is also quintessentially midwest. These particular cows look like they are cool and comfortable in some mountain meadow, but we have to agree with Greeta, "who knew cows were so cute?!"

Moo-ving along (sorry! But you can see how we couldn't resist?)  to more typical summer scenes, Greeta finished her small study of five boys in a boat, and then realized she needed to paint it again.... but much bigger. Sorry for the blurry quality of these two paintings—that's the photograph, not the painting.

Here's the start of the bigger painting. We like the boys' position in the boat even better than the study and are looking forward to seeing this progress. Notice the skin tones? Especially the standing boy, whose shoulders seem to have a touch of sunburn.

 More vacation paintings of kids having fun in the summertime. These boys are climbing a giant friendship tree in Mississippi... even though climbing is strictly forbidden. Look it up. This tree is over 500 years old and absolutely huge! Alan painted this one on traditional watercolor paper...

.... before moving back to his beloved Yupo to paint this girl dancing at an evening music festival.  We love the way the girl is doing her own thing, oblivious to the people listening to the music. 

Another vacation painting by Alan, this one is a 55 Chevy from a Mississippi vacation. Also painted on Yupo, he's used watercolor pencil to achieve the intricate detail and perfect color of the car.

Alan has officially begun a series..... old cars. This truck is a larger version of last week's painting. This is on traditional watercolor paper (last week's was on Yupo), but the subject has the same retro feel.

Alan has been working hard on another vacation scene—a wonderful house full of re-purposed elements lovingly painted in intricate detail. We love the texture on the windows, glass block and shutters. Zoom in to see the painterly foreground and the detailed ivy. This is a great example of using Yupo to maximum effect.

Mary is also painting houses. Like Alan, she's also using watercolor pencil to great effect. Look at the level of detail she's managed to achieve in the adjoining house and store—not to mention the trees. This is her childhood home, so it's no wonder every detail is so lovingly rendered.

Like many of us, Bill find practice makes perfect. Here is explores a stone facade carved into the side of a mountain. First is a grand view with an impressionistic feel.

 ...followed by a closer view that gives this an entirely different feel. This version feels cozy and private. The mountain foliage seems to encircle the entrance, drawing focus and also creating a feel of intimacy.

With all the foliage above, and knowing that Bill has just returned from a vacation to Ireland, you'd expect his next painting to be very green indeed. Instead, his impression of Dublin is very urban and features one lone Dubliner against buildings. Not a speck of green in sight. But come back next week to see how he balances the small figure against the large buildings.

Madeleine is also painting her remembrances of an Irish vacation. Like Bill, she spent the morning sketching. And like Bill, this is an urban scene. Madeleine's drawing is a beautiful view of the rooftops of Dublin. The perspective is spot on and we're eager to see her next steps.

The following two paintings are Madeleine's, both begun weeks ago. In quite a different feel than the cityscape above, here is an intimate and inviting view of a table and chair against a window. Decorative glass birds are backlit with sunlight streaming through. We love how the curtains draw us deep into the space and almost give us a sense of voyeurism.

You'd think this is a memento of a tropical vacation, but no. Madeleine is painting a tropical bird as spotted in a Chicago neighborhood. Quite a familiar site, as many of us recognize the bird... and the restaurant. Look closely at the iridescence of the feathers and the intricate detail.

Susan's painting is actually tropical. These are fishermen in the Philippines. We love the moving water, colorful sky and sand.

It almost seems wrong to move to Steve's painting of a merman (coming right after fishermen as it does!), but we are thrilled to see this finished. We are enamored of the texture in the water, sky, rocks and tail. There is movement in the tail and the water splashing on the rocks. The sky reaches back forever and the water has the perfect tropical hue. Look at the subtle iridescence in the tail. All in all, we are so glad Steve finished this, undeterred by the flaw in the paper. See if you can even spot it now. Hint.... it's on the shoulder.

Not all of our paintings were a riot of color. Elaine's detail of a neighborhood church (we're talking staycation here) uses only two colors but still has the feel of a European vacation.

Another example of how you don't need a rainbow of colors or strong values to make a strong statement—Sara's self-portrait is soft and subtle, but manages to convey a lot. Despite the tight values, there is real dimension here. And this looks like a real person, even with the minimal, muted colors.

Join us next week. It'll be the last class of the term, but you'll want to find out about the Summer Sketch Club which will fill our summer Saturday mornings. You're invited to this drop-by-and-sketch club, so be sure to come back for details.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

July 16, 2016

We're having a perfect summer day today and our paintings reflect it. Even though we are still missing some vacationers, the rest of us have been painting enough to make up for them. Scroll through and see what we mean. Look at Alan, relaxing in his garden with a good book on a lazy summer day. It feels like a Mary Cassatt painting, doesn't it?

Seems like many of our summer scenes involve water. Here, Alan switches from his favored support (Yupo) to watercolor paper to paint a fire hydrant. Don't adjust your colors! This is what they look like in Ocean Springs.

Here, Alan is back to painting on Yupo. This time, the water is the Gulf of Mexico at sunset, as seen while relaxing on a deck at a bar.

Another summer scene by Alan—an old car at an old gas pump. It feels rural and nostalgic, doesn't it? Like something Hopper might paint.

Alan does one last painting this week—this is of a bronze statue at a park in Birmingham, Alabama. Zoom in and look at this one. We love the color and the texture. We are amazed at the incredible level of detail Alan has achieved using Yupo. We just love this painting.

Rosemary spent her time drawing and painting the flora and fauna of summer. Notice the edges on the rose petals? Lovely, aren't they? And no, that's not an ultra-slim bluebird; notice the pale yellow mask lines on the right? While the mask is drying, Rosemary is careful to keep paint away.

More fauna of summer? Maybe not, but Elaine has finished painting a sign that has long amused her.

Greeta is also painting animals—but her subjects are cows. Still, they are so cute you just want to reach out and pet them, don't you?

More summer and water scenes from Greeta. This time, it's five boys in a boat. This is the essence of a lazy summer day, wouldn't you agree?

Susan is also painting children near water. This beach, though, is in Chicago and the water is Lake Michigan. Despite the skyscrapers in the background, we feel the peace and relaxation of a day at the beach.

Steve is also painting people on a beach, but his merman is a bit more fanciful than our other water paintings. Look closely at the scales he's added to the tail and the deepened green water. In fact, look closely at all the texture in this painting. Every surface is a thing of beauty.

Speaking of things of beauty, Sara has added more color and subtle modeling to her self-portrait. We are all blown away by this elegant, sensitively-drawn painting. This is portraiture done well.

And what says summer more than a field of waving corn? Yes, Ken is continuing his corn series with this lovely painting. He has divided the painting into fourths vertically and very subtly, he has changed his style, but not the subject. We love the feeling of movement this gives as we move from stylized stalks to abstracted and mosaic-like ones.

Ken is starting another painting in the corn series. Like the one before, this one  will probably progress through the fourths of the painting. Join us next week to see for sure.

Hope your summer is as lovely and idyllic as ours. Join us next week for more.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

July 9, 2016

Hope you had a happy 4th of July—we certainly did. In fact, we were inspired to do something new today. Instead of sitting in a circle for showtime, we lined our paintings up on the old-fashioned chalkboard rail to view in a row. Okay, that's not the big new deal. This is—we started making up a story to take us from painting to painting and had lots of laughs in the process. We thought you'd like to share in the fun, so we are going to keep the commentary to a minimum and invite you to make up your own story around our paintings.

We start with Susan's view of Tony at the beach.
 Mary begins to paint her childhood Milwaukee home.
 Sara continues her exquisite annual self-portrait.
 Alan does a self-portrait in watercolor and acrylic on Yupo.
Alan's mastery of Yupo is evident in this watercolor/acrylic sunset...
 ...and in this smile-inducing painting that had us singing. Come on, you know the song!
 Elaine continues to paint a sign from the Lakeview neighborhood.
And Greeta paints a cow...
 ...and Alan relaxing on the water.
Greeta begins a painting of boys fishing in a small boat.
 Steve fine-tunes the clouds, rocks and skin of his merman.
 And Ken's corn series continues. Notice the progression in this one painting. Each group of four stalks becomes more stylized and mosaic-like.

So, could you do it? Could you make a story that uses the paintings (in order) as illustrations? Feel free to stretch your imagination... and share the results if you'd like!