Sunday, June 26, 2011


I've finally managed to complete another lunchtime painting. I've been working on this one for a while, and it took two starts to get something that I liked.

This is based on a photo taken by a budding photographer who is a cousin to my husband. She was showing several of her photos during a family picnic last year, and I was struck by one image in particular -- a closeup image of a peony in bloom.

I asked her if I could use the image for a painting, and told her that the resulting piece would be hers.

So, it's been a year, but I finally have a small painting (4"x6") for her.

I like how this painting is divided into clearly warm and cool sections. Many of these colors aren't present in the source photo...I embellished as I built up glazes, and punched up colors to build a sense of depth. Warm colors tend to move closer, and cool colors recede.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mark making with markers

The folks with the Grant County Art Council hosted a "paint-out" last Saturday at Welton Park near the Grant-Hardy border.

Not very many people participated, but those who came had a good time and worked on some scenes of the South Branch, which borders the park on its way through Petersburg Gap.

I was meeting someone, so I could not stay for the entire session. I decided that I would use my limited time to play with my Prismacolor Markers and sketch -- it would be quicker and less messy to clean up when my lunch partner arrived.

The top scene is of a stand of trees lightly kissed by the bright noon sun.

This bottom scene is mostly made up...I'm getting better at imagining and simplifying scenes, so this one deserves a small pat on the back. Several canoes went by while I was working on the tree drawing, and I thought it would be fun to play with very simple shapes and reflections in an imagined scene on the river.

The markers are a little hard to get used to. I really wanted to smoothly transition from light to dark in places, and with the markers that sort of nuance is difficult. They're best in a posterized sense..mass strong, simple shapes, and use a minimum of values.

I bought the markers so I could develop thumbnail value drawings as a precursor to painting. As usual, the markers have remained in a coffee cup on my desk, and the brushes have reigned supreme. But, this was a good opportunity to play, and I like some of the results. I really had to think about moving shapes forward and back based on values and relationships to surrounding shapes.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Portrait workshop project

I've been playing with a project from an April workshop that I wanted to share.  Jane Paul Angelhart returned to the Shenandoah Valley in April and conducted a workshop for VECCA.

Jane had prepared three portrait projects for us to work on through the three-day workshop. Since I'm so meticulous on these portraits, especially at the beginning, I didn't come close to finishing the first two projects, and I missed the third day altogether because of work commitments.

However, weeks later, I've finally finished the little girl from the first day of the workshop, and I thought I'd share some images of my progress.

For her class participants, Jane provides reference photos and a 7x10 piece of watercolor paper with several critical outlines pre-drawn. Those are the red marks you can see on the first image above. (I'm posting these images larger than I normally would because they are class exercises.)

This first image is my favorite because I love the hints of color on beautiful, clean paper. There's something so fresh about an image at this stage.

As you can see in this version, I've skipped quite a few steps, but mostly the changes involve building up the skin tones of her face by using washes of Daniel Smith's Quin Coral, Perinone Orange, Quin Gold, and MaimerBlu's Sap Green. I also used gentle scrubber brushes to soften and alter the line of the highlight along her forehead.

Finally, here is the finished version, which includes several more washes along the background, additional washes on her shirt, refinement of the shape and shadows of the ear, and some more touches of wispy hair. I didn't want to fuss too much with secondary areas such as the ear, because that's not the focus of the image. Her eyes, as well as the shape of that beautiful highlight, should be the dominant element. 

I cannot stress enough how much I have learned from taking two workshops from Jane Paul Angelhart. She is an extraordinary teacher, who provides the right kind of guidance from the onset. I never thought I could paint portraits because my early attempts at mixing skin tones were always disastrous. But Jane's palette, and her enthusiastic demonstrations and advice make all the difference.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mill at Babcock

Glade Creek Mill at Babcock State Park

So here is the colored sketch of the mill at Babcock. I'm not very skilled at these on-site exercises, and I really need to practice more to get better. I'm all for another weekend at one of West Virginia's state parks to give it a try!