Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Farmer's Eclipse


This bitty blog post is just a bit about last week's eclipse event. We were lucky enough to be in the pathway of totality.....and did it ever put on a show. We, and a "few" other folks that stopped by, stood on a hill on our farm that gave us a lovely 360 degree view of the spectacular "special effects" caused by the eclipse. 

The photo above of a Farmer's Eclipse, was taken in our barn. The hundred year old (plus) barn had been rebuilt after a tornado strike. The tin used in rebuilding was recycled  from another structure. As recycled tin, it had numerous nail holes, that allowed the half moons of the beginning sun eclipse to shine thru onto the shovel. 

The photo below was one I just couldn't resist, a pic of both Frank and my hands having the eclipsing sun shining thru two of the tin's holes.



One of the best effects, in my humble opinion, was sunset all around the horizon, north, south, east and west!  I centered my camera on one spot on the horizon, and within 5 minutes elapsed time.....we went from a sunny August day to twilight. The in-between eerie sunlight.... was so Kool!



The whole eclipse experience was awesome.....in the best sense. And just made even better by experiencing it in such nice company.  

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Update on Chocolatier.......In Traveling “Illustrated Word” Show

 
(Photo of Chocolatier hanging at Hopkins County-Madisonville Public Library with the kind permission of Ashley) 
  
This time around I'm just posting a bit-o-update on my coloured pencil/watercolor/acrylic painting Chocolatier. I was lucky enough to have it accepted into the Kentucky Art Council's traveling exhibit, the Illustrated Word. It's a lovely art show of pieces dedicated to “showing” the different way the written word can be commented on or actually used in visual arts. It's “traveling” around to a dozen different libraries in the state of Kentucky, and it just so happens this July/August it's hanging at the lovely Hopkins County-Madisonville Public Library, not too far from me.


  

(Photo of Ann Morgan, with Chocolatier at opening reception with the kind permission of Donna Slayton)
  
This exhibit “travels' via the “above and beyond” efforts of local librarians, who transport the entire exhibit from their library onto the next one....all on their own dime and time. And they also have to hang the show and repackage the art pieces safely for transport. So KUDOS to all the hard working librarians and volunteers who make this show possible, along with the organization of the Kentucky Arts Council.

It's sorta nice that this painting is included in a "traveling art show" as I envisioned the young lady in the painting as being a well heeled young lady in 1910 or so, who was taking the "Grand Tour" as was popular in "Downton Abby" times.  I think of her sauntering around Paris and sampling candies from the local chocolate shop.  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Reading Greek or a Book Fair Moment

 
watercolour on paper, 16 x 20 inches, my own photo reference

This blog post is a bit about how I'm spending my summer vacay......painting, of course!
I pulled this old-ish photo to work on, because a recent watercolour “crash and burn” was on my mind and I wanted to explore ways to work thru the problem of showing a crowd scene in watercolour. I wanted to show enough info to let the viewer see that folks were milling about in the courtyard, but not have it be the main event.
So I pulled an old pic I had, of the Southern Book Festival in Nashville's War Memorial building and courtyard. It had a lovely contrast of straight lines of the building, great shadows with figures popping in and out of the light, and a strong central figure set of the statue and the figure reading at the base.

So, I planned on making three washes for the painting. I masked off the courtyard, main figure and highlights of the shadowed figures, and poured away. As always with these full body watercolour pours.....it warps and bubbles up scarily! But I just go away and do something else, and air conditioning does it's magic and when I come back it's FLAT!
 
Then a second more intense wash....


 
And the final darker wash. The shadowed columns and crowd are beginning to contrast nicely with the lighter first warm wash.

 
After it was (totally!) bone dry I removed all the misket. I began to daub in the bright highlights of the shadowed crowd, the Greek statue, and the reading figure at it's base. I also blocked off the columns and did a small repainting to set the columns “straight” and adjust the values. I was especially pleased with the composition play of both the statue's sword and the crowd shadows "pointing" towards the main seated reading figure.  With a bit of watercolour penciling to straighten up details and a bit-o-white gouche (opaque watercolour) on some lost highlights, I called it a wrap!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Cherry Bowl

CHERRY BOWL 

This  week I'm pleased to welcome my guest blogger, Frank Lyne, who is going to tell us a bit about his recent project:
  
This bowl is made of a knot in a cherry log. The knot wasn't evident on the surface, but revealed itself when I split a log too big to easily move into more manageable portions. I already showed this picture of the knot in my previous post about making Singer. Singer was made from that portion of the billet that's below the knot in this picture.

 
While carving Singer, I set the bowl idea aside, but came back to it later. One side was already rounded and there was already a bowl-like depression in the center. I merely had to make a few cross cuts, round off the edges and sand it down. Mostly used a dremel drill to smooth the interior because no other tool would work. It could be used to store loose change, or maybe snack size Kit Kats.

 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Dorothy Dix Project

 
Portrait of Dorothy Dix (detail)
Mixed Media (Colored pencils both Prisma & Polys and acrylic paints with text on paper glued to the surface) on black illustration board
Portraits painted from Dorothy Dix photos used with kind permission, of Austin Peay State University’s Felix G. Woodward Library, Archives and Special Collections.

 
This week I'm starting out a new historical project....a portrait of “turn of the last century” advice columnist Dorothy Dix. After just a quick search I found that the lovely Austin Peay State University’s Felix G. Woodward Library, Archives and Special Collections had a ton of great photos of Ms. Dix..... aka Elizabeth Meriwether Gilmer. So I picked out a photo of her in her 30's, 50's and 80s, and decided to show her as her life and career progressed. I did a quickie sketch combining the three views, along with a bunch of (snail mail) letters representing her fans' questions and a newspaper where her columns appeared.

 
Using the colour thumbnail I made a pencil sketch and traced it off onto the black illustration board using yellow graphite paper. I started on the left with coloured pencils, drawing in the Art Nouveau border. 


 
I then began penciling in the stacks of her readers' letters, resting on a shelf connected to the border. I took some random text with some headline phrases about Ms. Dix....”Confidante of the Nation”.....”highest paid journalist of her day”......printed them out on the computer, the size needed for the painting and glued them down onto a painted newspaper hanging off the shelf. I also included the permission from the Austin Peay Archives. After the adhesive (gel medium) dried I began glazing over the hand drawn text columns and pictures with white and yellow glazes to blend it all together. I wanted it legible but not blaring.


 
Then I was able to get down to the “fun” part......the first of the three Dorothy Dix portraits. I am doing the early and elderly portraits of Ms. Dix in colored pencil because I want them to recede a bit from the center and main portrait, and using colored pencils on the black illustration board will mute the colors a bit. For the center portrait, when she was in her hey day as a journalist, I will paint in full colour acrylics.



Friday, May 12, 2017

Singer

Singer
cherry
  This week I'm delighted to be sharing another guest blog by the talented sculptor, Frank Lyne.  He's introducing his latest sculpture.....Singer.


Upon finishing my last figurative carving, I meant to begin work on a cherry billet already in the shop. It didn't seem deep enough for what I had in mind, so I went back to the stable wood stack and selected a much bigger cherry billet. It was too big to move, so I decided to split it in half. It wouldn't split. After burying 4 wedges as deep as they would go, I stuck a 6 foot pry bar in the split and rocked it back and forth until at last a shell popped off, revealing why it wouldn't split. There was an internal knot that didn't show at all on the surface. Although the shell wasn't very deep, the knot looked interesting, so I took it to the shop to see what could be made from it.



  

It looked like it could be a bowl, so I made a cross cut above and below the knot, then another cut to flatten the side opposite what was already a bowl-like depression. This project looked like it was going to be more trouble than it was worth, so I turned my attention to one of the parts I had cut away from it. It was a slab big enough to make a full size face, but not deep enough for a whole head. It occurred to me that Olen Bryant, my sculpture teacher 50 years ago, would often make faces on slabs not nearly deep enough to make a full 3-D figure, so I thought “Why not?” For source material, I took pictures of a back up singer on a TV show. Although she isn't famous, I didn't attempt to closely capture her likeness, only her expression as she repeatedly belted out the word “rise” each time the song reached the chorus.




With a slight turn of her head to the right, she worked best in our house in a spot where that turn would make her face toward the middle of the room.






 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Discussion or Paper Cutting My Way to a Successful Painting

 
The Discussion 
8x10 inches acrylic on stretched canvas
  
This post is some more about my current fav “sketching” technique. I wanted to do a little painting sketch, on a small 8x10 inch stretched canvas. My primary technique goal was to paint the figures very broadly and try not to return to my habitual detailing, detailing...detailing. Now stretched canvas is VERY springy.....in other words if you tried to trace off a pencil sketch.....it bounces with every lick of the pencil. Besides canvas weave is also very bumpy.....the canvas texture is very visible.
So......I took the long way 'round.....I traced my sketch onto a piece of heavy tracing paper, and cut out the figures. I taped the cutout paper over my canvas and brushed on the very green grass.


  

This let me get a good clear outline of the silhouettes of the three figures and let me paint in the cool dark colours of the background without worrying about dashing paint over into the facial areas.

 
It also let me work confidently on getting the intense color of the green grass with the warmer grass colour along the center line of the painting closest to the main area of interest.....the head and shoulders of the talking figures. And concentrate on getting the background crowd dark and greyed enough to be a perfect backdrop for the central foreground figures.
I was following a bitty scribble chart noting that I wanted a cool background to transition to a warm foreground. I wanted my two contrast points of interest to be on the two groupings of the three figures. Everything else was going to be muted, and less distinct to leave the focus of the painting to be the three figures having their discussion.

 

Here you can see my strategy for painting the facial features....without painting lines and too much details for the very small space. At this size things were a bit fiddly, but it worked. I also adapted the practice of having three brushes going at the same time.....one with a light flesh tone, one with a mid tone and a third with a very dark tone. I just painted in the mass tones of the faces.....and let it dry.

 
I took the “finding marks” of the shadow masses and went off painting, using them as my guide for facial feature placement. I wasn't satisfied with my pencil sketch's features or hair or in one case, arm placement. All easily worked on and changed as I painted.

 
Here you can see where I painted in the right hand man's boots. I used teensy tiny scissors, cut out his boots, placed the stencil over the correct spot, and painted in the boot outline. After removing the stencil, I painted in more light and shadows to make the boots look like....boots!

This painting has been a blast to do.....and as always....I learned a lot!