Saturday, April 22, 2017

April 22, 2017

Happy Earth Day! And what better way to celebrate than to enjoy some corn paintings? Yes, we remembered to photograph Ken's paintings today! Here is the finished painting we promised you.

Having finished that, Ken continued in his series, combining corn and "the plan." Not to be confused with Pat's "plan," this involves doing something to the painting, then recording into a codified series of steps. He's done that below. Can you see the corn influence?

But Ken tired of the plan and decided to go back to the fresher feel of the original series. He's done a line drawing and zoomed in for a more closely cropped look at his last painting.....

... before doing a study of it. This is a small scale painting, preparatory to a larger, final painting.

And that's our theme for the day.... series and studies. Ellen paints another in her "Portraits of Mom and Dad" series. This time, they have a bright, sunny, 60's glow. This version has a distinct Peter Max vibe, but more complex and less linear.

Ellen continues with this version, which is cooler and more retro looking. Despite the more restrained palette (complementary blue and orange with a touch of red), it's still very vibrant and alive.

Elaine is also working on her series, "People I Don't Know." This portrait also uses a minimal palette (red, blue and yellow, plus a touch of gold). And yes, this is Captain Beefheart, but technically, Elaine doesn't know him personally so it counts!

If we are having a contest for who can use the fewest colors, Steve would be the winner! Here, he adds a second color. The vintage green is ground-up grey Hawaiian mud. And the skin is also ground up Hawaiian mud, but red. We love the look and feel of this and hope it turns into a series.

Bill finished his painting of Havana, Cuba. We can't say enough about the beauty of the buildings. And, of course, this is part of a series of vacation paintings. 

These Spanish rooftops are part of Bill's travel series. We love the colors, the perspective, and the unique vantage point.  Tune in next week to see the progress.

Madeleine is also painting a series of travel paintings. This is Quebec in winter. It feels sunny, but frosty, doesn't it? We particularly love the mountains, the shadows and the varied, but subtle shades of grey.

Part of the series, Madeleine paints a bird atop rocks in Spain. Quite a different feel, isn't it? The rocks are beautiful against the clear, flat sky. Again, come back to see the finished painting!

Sara is our Series Star. She regularly paints in series and often does multiple studies. Here is her second study of interior perspective. This time, she relies more on subtle color variations and less on sharp value changes. Look closely to see the lovely color gradations.

Here's a perfect series—daily painting. Sara has been doing daily sketch/paintings and this week's lot is unified even more by the use of yellow...

... from the forsythias.... the daffodils, perfectly set off against the blue glass vase. And look at the stems in the water in the vase! Beautifully observed.

Susan is also enamored of spring flowers. Here, she channels Van Gogh as she paints a view of her house, glimpsed through a neighbor's flower tree. Between the flowers and the sky color, this is the very essence of spring.

Tony has two series going this week. First, his cityscapes. He's captured the cool, grey feel of the sky and water in Finland. The bits of green stand out against the stone and draw our eye directly to the stone house.

And this is the beginning of a painting of Chicago, as seen from in front of the Art Institute. What was Tony doing there, you may ask?

Working on a new series... this time of drawings. Yes, Tony is taking a drawing class at the Art Institute. Here, he uses felt tips on this linear abstract.

Don't you love Tony's use of line to show depth?

And just to prove he's been there, Tony sketched this statue. We've all seen it and immediately recognized it.

Even Beth has done a series! Just by doing today's exercise, the three-way fruit, she has a series suitable for framing. If you don't remember, the exercise calls for her to paint the same subject three different ways.... very wet....

... very dry...

... and in a combination of wet and dry.

As lovely as each one is separately, don't they make a lovely triptych?

See you next week!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

April 8, 2017

It's a beautiful, warm, sunny day—the kind of day when your thoughts and taste buds turn to sweet, golden corn. But you won't believe what happened! We didn't get a photo of Ken's latest corn masterpiece! Seriously, we all looked at his latest, oohed and aahed over it, but forgot to take a photo. Come back next time to see it. It'll definitely be worth your while.

Meanwhile, we're still on a portrait kick. And we had a special treat today. Ellen had a painting of hers professionally framed—and we're in love! That's a museum quality deep mat with a quarter inch of paper framing the painted area with non-glare glass. But that's not the best of it. We love the painting with the complementary colors and the orange reflections on the dancers that are picked up by the softly glowing frame. This is a beautiful framing job—and a painting worthy of the effort.

Hard at work on her next masterpiece, Ellen does a second study of a portrait of her parents. This is another fine use of complementary colors. We especially like how the personalities of the sitters shine though.

And for all of us who are fixated on her llama, Ellen brought back the llama painting. She's overpainted the highly-textured purple llama and the whole scene drops into focus...without losing the llama!

Susan uses equally brilliant colors in this painting of two women enjoying friendship and flowers...all set against the background of a pineapple farm. What a lovely vacation memory!

Unlike Susan and her friend above, Elaine doesn't even know the subject of her portrait—probably why it fits in her People I Don't Know series. And her color choices are far less exuberant, too. This is basically two colors (complementary colors, of course), but used judiciously enough, that's really all you need.

If two or three colors seem minimalistic, just look at Steve's painting. It's only one color—and a unique one at that. Yes, if you recall, Steve ground up a bit of Hawaiian mud and blended that with gum arabic to make his own paint. This is part of Steve's Playing in the Mud series—and it's going to be amazing!

Tony's back with a soft and subtly colored painting of a sea gull. The pops of color at the beak and feet are perfect against the greys.

Here's another of Tony's subtle and dreamy landscapes. Look closely and you'll see a lot of color in the grey rocks, stones and sky. And need we mention that a lot of it is complementary colors?

Sara continues to paint every day, with incredible results. Inspired by a glimpse of dogwoods behind some other trees, this lovely landscape took nearly all week, but it's worth the effort.

Today, Sara is revisiting her interior from last week. She's only begun, but already we are in awe of the way she mixes color. Zoom in and see if you don't agree.

Hector is taking a break from his pale, soft abstracts. Here he layers vibrant color and shape. He finds this exercise meditative and relaxing and it's obvious he's enjoying himself thoroughly.

Beth has finished her second color wheel...the really useful one with the tints, tones, shades and hue. We love the surprise pop of red-orange in the yellow-green space.

You'll recognize this as the "match the color swatch" exercise. Beth's nailed it—you can tell when the swatches and the painted simulations are indistinguishable.

And, just because she had a bit of paint left over, Beth played around on a scrap sheet. Not exactly complementary, but what a beautiful color pair!

So did all our beautiful colors remind you of coloring Easter eggs or little girls in pastel spring bonnets? Remember, we'll be off for a week (next week) for spring break. But we'll be back the week after and look forward to seeing you then.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

April 1, 2017

No joke! It was a lovely day today—and a perfect day to get together to paint. We begin with one of the coolest beginner plaids we can recall. We aren't sure if Beth was confused by the directions she received (everyone in the class contributed—everyone except the teacher, that is!) or if she's just naturally creative, but we love the results.

Here's Beth's first color wheel. Besides getting a great range of colors from just three paints, she's managed to make this feel like a happy flurry of confetti. We suspect we can stop taking credit for her beautiful plaid.... she's got skills!

Here Beth begins her second color wheel. She gets to use more paints, but explores hue, tint, tone and shade.

In a fine example of "waste not," Bill paints this diptych using two bits of leftover illustration board. And the experimental geometric pattern he used didn't go to waste either. He used it on a piece of pottery! Keep watching this space. We plan to post a picture after it's glazed and fired.

Bill returns to watercolor for this plaza in Havana, Cuba. We love the lavender stones in the plaza and are especially fond of the buildings and windows. Look closely at the expressive brushwork.

Here's another cityscape that's also primarily gray—but what a different feel! Madeleine's snowy vision of Quebec is cold and crisp and clear. We also see the differences in the grays.

Far from snowy Canada, Madeleine turned to a sunny beach in Israel. This simple painting is exquisite. Look closely at the unusual, but perfect color choices for the sky, sea and sand. The textures are equally wonderful. We absolutely love this painting!

And this one, too. Madeleine's painting of the ravens at Masada is another textural tour de force. The rocks and sky are rich but subtle, and she's managed to make the ravens sculptural and iridescent.

Ken isn't through with corn yet! We thought he was through with stripes, but apparently not. He says stripes aren't through with him. In this homage to stripes, he's choosing to concentrate on the corn leaves, filling the page with leaves and filling the leaves with colorful stripes.

As for the rest of us, we continue to be fascinated with portraits. Elaine fine-tuned the face and added a background to her portrait (below). Especially interesting is the way the minimal cool colors describe the personality of the subject.

This portrait is very different than the other. Elaine is using rich, warm colors to create a soft, blissful mood, as opposed to the papery, brittle feeling above.

Ellen finished this sweet painting of her parents all in one sitting. We love the stylized approach, the vintage background and the skilled use of color. Ellen isn't sure if this is the final or merely a study. Either way, this is sure to be cherished.

Steve finished sketching the subject of his painting. In this, he's tackled some tricky subjects like foreshortening and hands. Quite successfully, too!

And here is the interesting part of the painting. Do you see the cup below? It's hand-made paint! Yes, Steve has ground some Hawaiian rocks to create pigment, which he then mixed with gum arabic to create paint. This is what he intends to use to paint the sketch above. Get closer and look at the test samples he's painted. It will be a sepia tinted painting of Hawaii, painted with Hawaii! Keep coming back to see this.

The brown liquid in the cup below isn't hand-crafted paint. It's coffee, plain and simple. Sara missed last week, but she's been busy doing a painting a day and being an inspiration to us all. Look at the beautiful vase and the great hand. There is something to be said for painting daily!

Another of Sara's daily paintings. Isn't this lovely? We love the composition, the springlike blooms and the complementary vase. Most of all, we love the sense of light surrounding the flowers and catching the porcelain inside the vase.

Remember what Sara was working on before break? Here's the finished room. There are so many gems to focus on—the path of sunlight in the foreground, the light spilling from the lampshade at left, the softly blended colors on the walls and wood floor, and the pop of green on the upholstery. Yet, Sara isn't quite satisfied with the background....

... and is doing some studies to play with the colors and value contrast. She'll be trying different options to make the space recede vs. flattening the space. All in all, this will be a series worth following!

For those of you who missed Steve's concert, we have a testimonial from Ellen. It was incredible! Keep watching this space for news of the next concert. You'll be glad you went!

Until then, happy painting!