Saturday, March 25, 2017

Drum Circle....or Details, Details, Details

Detail of Drum Circle
18x24 inches acrylic on canvas
This week's blog is about my recently finished painting, Drum Circle. It's fairly large-ish for me, 18 x 24 inches and my intent was to show a scene with different folks interacting with each other. I also wanted to play with the full value spectrum of light and dark.


Another artistic aspect I wanted to play with was design and composition. By the time I'd firmed up the painting's composition I was working with a triangle, formed by the left hand figure's leg pointing up to the background building's yellow high light and coming down to the toddler's tippy toed feet. I also had a secondary visual “pathway” or circle of interest....hints of pure red in the drum leader's tie-dyed t-shirt, the hat with the Drum Circle sign, the toddler's drum and his drum stick, and the cup of cola in the nurse's hand. Both these visual devices or details are to guide the viewer's eye around in the painting.


I also had a ball doing subtle brush work details, like the side turn of the nurse's head with just a bit-o-glint on the sunglasses, her nose and lower lip.


I was also pleased with the free handed brushwork of the nurse's hand holding the white cola cup centered on her co-worker's white shirt. By varying the color and temperature of the different whites, I was able to show them all together yet differentiate between the different white objects.

Along with the detail of the toddler intent on beating his red drum at the top of the post, I had a blast doing different LOD or level of details on different sections of this painting. These different bits of detailing within a complex painting were a classic example of both “the devil is in the details” and the delight to be found in detailing a painting just enough to tell it's story with out over doing the level of detail.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Illustrating Words

Illustrating Words
This weeks post is a lovely “cross blog guest post”, by SCBWI Midsouth's own Randi Lynn Mrvos, the intrepid editor of the ezine Kid's ImaginationTrain and you can find her at:

  I love to see how children’s illustrators bring scenes and characters to life. Their choices of color and media unite with the text of a manuscript to turn a story into a book. This made me wonder about the choices the artist would make to illustrate my upcoming book Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show and Tell. I’m curious to see how the artist will capture the essence of my words.

The book contract indicated that I would have some say in the illustrations. I wasn’t sure what that detailed, but when the creative director approached me about my vision for the story I felt privileged. The best way to explain to her how I felt about the story was to show her two of my favorite picture books.

The art in Because of Thursday by Patricia Polacco and Winfred Gordon McDonald Partridge illustrated by Julie Vivas conveyed a whimsical abstract realism with a muted color palette.

This would be a good fit for Maggie, a Charlie Brown-like character who’s down on her luck and for her rescue dog Trooper.
After sending the director my thoughts and the covers of these books, she asked three illustrators to come up with a sketch of a kid. Two were nicely drawn, but a bit cartoony.
The third artist captured the quirky characteristics of Maggie. He used a water color wash to create a curly red-haired Maggie.

Waiting to see the completed art is like wondering what your baby will look like when it’s born. I’m nervous, but excited. If the illustrations are anything like the preliminary sketch, the artist’s choices will engage young readers and get them in the mood to meet Maggie and Trooper.

Randi Lynn Mrvos


To see the blog that I "cross blog posted" on Randi's blog just  go to:

 I have really enjoyed playing this "cross blog posting" game,and so appreciate Randi playing along with me!


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Wooden Geode in Blue

 Wooden Geode in Blue
Acrylic paints on wood with mica chips and salt
This time around I'm still painting but on an entirely different surface. A few weeks ago, Frank started on Turkey Hollow, and in the process of establishing a level base of the carving, Frank sawed off a angled bit of the billet. I saw it discarded on the saw table, and got an idea. I asked him to smooth off the bottom and sides and a top surface.

I had seen some actual gemstone geodes recently at a nature preserve gift shop, and fell in love with the glow of the colours. I had also seen some highly abstracted wooden ones on Pinterest. When I saw the discarded piece of wood on the saw table, everything came together and I decided to try making my very own wooden geode.

I brought the wooden piece inside and poured on a lotta acrylic gel medium, and actually squeegeed off the excess with a small hand held squeegee. After letting it dry for a coupla days I laid in the first of many coats of gel medium mixed with varying intensity of all the different tubes of blue acrylic paints I had on hand. On the top, I finished off with some pale blue and white for a graduated effect

While I was at it, I found an old sample that had come with a paint order, of mica chips suspended in acrylic medium. I also found some small salt crystals in an old plastic “salt grinder”. Both things found their way onto my wooden geode. I continued to cover the salt and mica chips with layers of clear acrylic medium, and the blue parts of the geode with thin layers of multiple shades of blue. As a finish Frank put some tung oil on the still exposed wood sides and bottom of the piece. It's his usual finish for his sculptures.
I finished this piece when it's sheen matched what I'd seen of the “real” rock geodes. I guess you could call this project a real “mixed media” piece......both cellulose and crystalline in it's making.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Us at the US Bank Celebration of the Arts Show

This bitty blog post is just a snapshot of the two of us at the US Bank'sCelebration of the Arts Show reception at the Kentucky Museum on Western Kentucky University's Bowling Green Campus. We both had artwork in the show, some on the bottom floor gallery and some in the upstairs gallery.

I'm pictured with “Do You Wanna Play?”, my motion paintings of our dog Bridge. Frank is standing with “String Player”

Frank also had "Turkey Hollow" on display:

And I also had “Just Messing About” showing:

As always is the case it was fun seeing both how our works looked “out in the (show) world” and seeing all the other artists' works. Western Kentucky puts on a fabulous reception and is a pleasure to get invited and to attend.

Y'all go by the Kentucky Museum and take a look!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Primary Still Life in Yellow

Primary Still Life in Yellow
8x10 inches Acrylic paint
This week's blog post is about a third in a trilogy of small 8x10 inch canvases.....titled Primary Still Lives, one each in blue, red and today's: Yellow. These are of course, the three traditional primary colours of the rainbow or a painter's paint box. I wanted to do these leetle still lives as an experiment in colour composition.
I started this one out with a blue underpainting....yes, blue! The wine coloured drape I'd used for the background folds was a clear claret colour which I wanted to paint using glazes. When glazing a specific hue it's fun to put a different primary color down as a “base” or in this case a shadow. The first glaze is a kinda “road map” for how the painting is laid out. You can see I left white all the spots that were going to be the “star of the show” in yellow.

After the blue glaze was dry, I glazed in the magenta color that would rest in the background shadows and be highlit in the little flower vase and in the cloth folds in the foreground, plus a sprig of crab apple blossoms.

I had just begun to ghost in the yellows on the backlit leaf in the foreground, and the more muted yellow of Frank's abstract sculpture on the right. Since the visual focus of this painting was YELLOW, I leaned the background wine colour a bit towards purple, the traditional complementary colour to yellow. A complementary colour is one that is opposite one another on the traditional colour wheel.

After a lot more glazing and drying and adjusting I was finished. I decided to display this one on a shelf right beside Frank's carving I'd used as inspiration.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Do You Wanna Play? or Bridge Times Four - Act III

Detail of Do You Wanna Play?
Final Panel in a series of four 6x6 gallery wrapped canvases
Acrylic glazes on gessoed canvas layered with Prisma & Poly colored pencils

  This is the final chapter or act in the making of this artwork. For the final 6 x 6 inch canvas I wanted to show Bridge at his best....looking up at you.....just saying as plain as day: “Do You Wanna Play?”

In this part of the artwork, I switched from straight, slow drying acrylic paints, and painting in a semi-impressionistic style, to a tighter more realistic style. I wanted to show the different kinds of fur that “is” Bridge, from the short brindle ones on his muzzle to the longer “fluff” of his white collar with wisps floating over his black back coat which is almost blue it's so black.
To do this panel, I used a mixed media technique.

I painted multiple thin coats of gesso over the rough canvas, until it was mostly smooth with just a slight “tooth”.
I then laid in a very light coat of acrylic glazes (a bit of paint mixed with a lotta acrylic glaze medium) in the colour pattern of Bridge's face, muzzle and coat. This both gave me a “road map” to his features, and provided me with the perfect ground to use coloured pencils for his fur.
I then used various coloured pencils (mostly Polys and Prismas) to sketch in the darker brindling on his face and muzzle. I also used multiple strokes with dark coloured pencils over his back.

 I finished off his portrait with acrylic glazes on his eyes to get that lovely liquid reddish golden brown of his eyes....not forgetting the all important daub of white highlight for a defining shine.

I also finished up this gallery wrapped 6x6 inch canvas by painting the top part of Bridge's ear peeking up on the top face of the canvas and showing the blue chew toy on the side face below.


With just a bit of coloured pencil lettering on the white slats connecting the four pieces topped off with an acrylic varnish, and Frank's VERY clever hanger, (making sure that the four canvases hung STRAIGHT) I was finished with “Do You Wanna Play?”

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Do You Wanna Play? or Bridge Times Four-Act II

Detail of Do You Wanna Play?
This is act II of a three act "play" for my artwork: Do You Wanna Play? Featuring our dog, Bridge.

Frank had put together four wrap around 6 x 6 inch canvases, so's I could show a bit of the motion that “is” Bridge. I captured Bridge playing with his current favorite “toy” old chewed up blue plastic coffee can. He'll spend minutes....minutes!! I say!.....playing with this toy. And then he'll get distracted by birds flying overhead to give chase, and then break off barking at them to pace a passing car......inside a field fence row. 

In the second canvas frame, I've captured Bridge tossing up and catching his toy. In composing these square canvases, I wanted to used the abstracted and slightly blurred backgrounds as a foil for his lovely white fur on chest and underbelly and tail. While using background bieges and tans to show the bend of his back and the exuberance of his jumping forelegs. To pre-plan this I painted the background FIRST, to see just where I wanted all the lights and darks to best show his outline.

I then went onto the next square. In this one I had caught Bridge in a favorite pose.....the “do you wanna play?” bow. Just as in the previous canvas I painted in the background to make sure that I was able to highlight all the different outlines that said: “Play bow”.

Here he is in progress......

Next time around I'll finish up this “Do You Wanna Play?” artwork.