Thursday, August 30, 2007

White on white

In the tradition of painting what I eat. Today I peeled two hard-cooked eggs with the intent of making deviled eggs for lunch. I was intrigued by the shadows and highlights of the eggs laying in a white bowl that I decided to try to paint them first. Here they are, quickly done because I was hungry:

watercolor on sketch paper, 15x7cm (6x3.5 in)

I missed posting a couple of my little watercolors earlier, so here are those, too. Um, food, of course....

This one from August 10:

Okay, so I ate the end of the loaf first. Wouldn't you?

And another from just a couple of days ago: a few things from my garden arranged on a plate with a slice from a more recent loaf of bread. I did this one very quickly because my matting supplies had just come and I was eager to get set up!

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Windowsill: WIP

That's such an odd acronym. WIP. Work in progress. It sounds so industrial. Or office hysterical.

I'm still working out how to approach the work meant for the sanded indigo paper (the BIG piece of sanded indigo paper!). So I decided to do something in a more familiar zone to kind of loosen myself up. Ha. A nice piece of pearl (in this case, that means pale grey) Fabriano Tiziano, unsanded, about 9x12, horizontal. A photo of a simple scene: the windowsill in a kitchen I once had. I forgot that the simple ones are the hardest to do. (How did I forget something so fundamental?)

1: Basic layout of composition with first layer of color for wall under window. You can see a bit of my reference photo in the upper left.

Usually once I've worked out a painting, it takes me a day or so to do, and then I let myself live with it for a while so I can fine-tune it. Not this one.

2: Setting up the shadows on the old fashioned wide blinds, outlining the window ledge and frame, and building up the reflected light and shadows on the wall under the windowledge. I did not color correct this photo, which was taken in light that makes the painting seem just a bit more orangey than it actually was.

I worked on this one for 3 days. Not all the time, of course, but having to just walk away from it for long periods and not even look at it. Already I can feel something wrong, but I can't pin it down.

3. Finishing shading the shadows on the blind, giving the window sash some depth and a little shadow, and (finally) setting the tomato and peppers in place.

This is actually number 4. I didn't take a picture of number 3. For that, you have to imagine this with the orangey wall in number 2 above. I was too busy trying to capture the glowing highlights and shadows that so appealed to me to see the problem; I just knew something was off. This is always the worst part of doing a painting for me!

I normally go right to sleep, but last night, there the painting was, drifting across my mind. I kept meditating past it, and then there it would be again. I finally drifted off. When Mona the Magnificent woke me to crawl under the covers for her morning purr, what I needed to do was in my head.

I went straight to the easel in my nightgown, and got out one of my brand-new Terry Ludwig darks (chortle), in the same blue as the darkest in the blinds. I scumbled lightly over the orange, and run a dark band along the base of the window surround. I still have the warmth of the wall, but now the painting is unified by the shadow color.

Now the finetuning: I'll use some of those warm colors when I do the drawstrings, and a touch to warm up the cold looking outside shadows a bit too. Not so you'd notice, but enough so that the whole looks like it belongs together. Then I'll tape it the wall and live with it for a while until I am enough distant from it to know what else needs to be done.

Maybe then I'll be ready to work on that big piece of sanded indigo paper.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Anticipating Autumn

Pastel on indigo Tiziano, sanded ground added, 13.5x13.5 cm (5.3x5.3 in)

What was I thinking of? I have been planning a large pastel, and decided to use a dark paper with a sanded ground added. Because the ground will be heavier than I am used to, I decided to do a test piece using colors like those I probably will use in the larger piece, to feel the way the pastels handle on the surface and against the dark ground.

Rummaging through my photos, I came across one taken from my daughter's backyard of the hillside opposite, during a particularly colorful autumn. Perfect! Except that I wasn't thinking about the fact that I was using a 14x14 cm piece of paper. All those teeny, weeny strokes! But it worked well as a study, and I like the way all those bits of color express the New England fall. At least that one: it was one of our good ones, where the trees are like a tapestry.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Bedside table, monochromish

Yesterday and today were cleaning up and organizing days, cleaning out cat and dog hair from behind and under furniture. Sorting out my paper and deciding which to use for my next pastel, which is taking shape in my mind. Getting one of the rooms upstairs ready to become my framing room. This meant moving the cats out and moving their "paraphernalia" to the utility room downstairs. The cats aren't banished for good: just until I get things set up and the mats stored so cat feet can't walk on them. After all, that room has the best sunning windows in the house. It would be cruelty to deny them access!

Between episodes with broom, vacuum, and mop, I took breaks pulling up the latest crop of weeds in the sadly neglected vegie garden. I may have a crop of lettuce and beets and basil after all.

And piled into bed without having done my little painting. I picked up my notebook and did a quick and calming ink outline of some of the objects on my bedside table, from the peculiar angle afforded by drawing with my head on my pillow and my notebook on my knees. My position, not the angle, accounts for the wonky clock dial. This morning I did the painting, in a morning frame of mind.

Tonight I am simply going to bed.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Mortar and pestle in blue

Here is last evening's little ink and watercolor piece, again 15x9 cm:

I've never explained the "rules" I set out for myself in doing these simple sketches. The rules are simply a way to provide a simple structure within which to work, and have no particular significance:

I focus on something in my immediate surroundings, and keep it intimate: what I can take in at a glance. I allow myself to arrange things, as the main focus is always composition, both space and color, but not to fuss over it. I keep the time to under half an hour, and often find I spend less than that. But above all, I enjoy doing them. These are not a test, or an exercise so much as they are a way for me to bring my mind and my eye to the present moment. It is a peaceful way to end the day.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Crabapple branch on the table

India ink and watercolor on heavyweight sketch paper, 9x14.5cm (3.5x5.75 in)

Doing these little ink and watercolor sketches are fun. Even if they are simple little things, I learn something from them, and it is a great way to relax in the evening. Especially after realizing that now I will be dedicating yet more space in my house to art: the matting and framing area.

I joked to a fellow artist that I live in a studio with a sitting area in one corner, and an attached kitchen, bath, and sleeping room.

All of which desperately need refurbishing. Which is a polite way of putting it. I can't bring myself to order plasterboard and skimcoat, but I can spend the same amount of money on art supplies. Ah, priorities. But winter is coming and it would be nice to have real walls instead of lath in my bedroom, and real cupboards in the kitchen.

Instead, I am planning my next large painting, and waiting for my framing supplies...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Mystery fruit

In the past two weeks, in the time I've had, I have been working on a fairly complex large pastel painting, and playing around a bit with little watercolors in my notebook. Most were explorations I don't think I want anyone to look at.

This one started as a simple little watercolor sketch of some crabapples on a hot pad. Then it got out of control. At one point I nearly ripped it out of the notebook to throw in the trash. But I figured since it was a goner, I might as well go for broke and began playing with all kinds of things. This is the end result. I decided it was more interesting than what I'd started out to do. I can't say these are crabapples anymore, though they do still have a passing resemblance. I think.

watercolor on heavyweight sketch paper, 15x9cm (6x3.5 in)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Getting framed

Ok, figuring out what equipment and supplies I need to do my framing was pretty straight-forward. But then came the hard decisions- the dang little details. I hate those. Regular matboard or archival? Regular foamcore or acid-free? What colors of mat for which painting. Don't want bright white-- warm white, cool white, cream, grey, colored mat? Separate back-mount? Tape-seal edges? What kind of wire hangers? How many of what do I get now? What size frames for which paintings?

This sort of thing wears me out and ends up paralyzing me. I finally decided to keep things simple, prioritize, and to let the details wait. Decide which to frame first, get what I need to get them in frames. Then deal with the rest. So (deep breath)... here I go. Order going in tomorrow.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Prayerflag for Misty

Two years ago, I adopted Misty. I was looking for a small dog, about 4 or 5 years old. Instead, I ended up with an oversize 11 year old beagle with a heart condition. I knew no one would adopt an elderly beagle with a heart condition. So I did. Misty turned out to have an outsize personality to fit her outsize body, and a sweet, gentle disposition, and her presence filled my house. I fell in love with her.

For nearly two years, Misty's heart condition (and a near total deafness) did not slow her down (I can't imagine what she was like as a puppy!). And even this summer, as she gradually began to show her age, her love of life never flagged.

Late in the afternoon on August 4th, Misty died, her head cradled in my arms. My daughter helped me bury her in her favorite spot behind the barn, which had the richest repertoire of smells. The next day, I made a very rustic little prayerflag, writing the story of Misty in my life, to put on the side of the barn.

I learned so much from you, Misty. Thank you for coming into my life to teach me.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Double coneflower

Yes, there is such a thing! They start out looking like regular pink coneflowers, and then suddenly they sprout another "flower" on top. The new flower is, of course, simply another set of modified leaves masquerading as petals. The flower often ends up looking like a pompom with a skirt. This one was just getting started when it ended up posing in a glass of water on my table as the subject for a watercolor sketch.

Since this is a sketch, it does not have a background: the grey shading is due to the fact that I took the photo as a thunderstorm began to move in, changing the character of the light. Bah. But perhaps it will cool down, and I did get two new roses planted. One to go.

Watercolor on heavyweight archival sketch paper, 20x30 cm (approx. 9x12 in)

I suspect this blog will undergo some changes in the near future. Right now I am spending time (and money, yikes) getting ready to frame some of my work in preparation for shows. "From day to day..." will morph into more of what it's been: a means of exploration, a sort of on-line journal of art and musings. I will be posting more of the, um, "experiments" here, too, and probably works in progress. I'll try not to let it get more irregular than it is now, honest.

In time, I will also have a web gallery-- you'll be the first to know!