Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Things are still developing with the new painting. I think I will have to take a lot of time to develop the reflections in a realistic manner.

Most of my attention at the moment is focused on balancing the overall values. There are lots of areas in this composition that have the potential to attract too much attention, especially with all the bright, reflective highlights. So I'm working on tamping down the contrasts in the less important areas.

I've got an army of brushes at work....I'm using the RS White Sable flats, and my usual synthetic rounds, but I've also got three Princeton Neptune brushes at work. They are made with "synthetic squirrel," and they allow me to go back into areas without disturbing the underlying washes. They also are a huge help in blending.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Heavy metal

I am steadily working on my current project. I'll hold off identifying the subject right now, but I think it might be familiar to some. I think it's an unusual subject, and it's one that I've contemplated doing for some time. The demands of the Wardensville series has finally pushed me to it!

This is my largest painting this year...15x15...and doing these big, wet washes has been a challenge. I think that's why I avoid larger works. It takes a lot of concentration to keep things under control when you have washes running all over the place. This size requires the use of large, flat brushes, which hold more pigment (and more water!).

That's where I often make a mess of things, because I'll try to "fix" something, and then a massive bloom will erupt, and then I'll mess up all sorts of other areas to "fix" the solution to my first "fix," and then it spirals out of control. Agh! Then I swear off big brushes and return to my little paintings for a while.

But, in this case, so far so good. I'm finished with the big areas, so I can concentrate on developing the forms.

I'm working essentially with three colors - a cool blue and cool yellow, and a warm red. I like the neutrals produced by this mix.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

"Winter Whites"

"Winter Whites" - 12"x12"

Merry Christmas!

I am pleased with the painting that I used for my Christmas cards this year. Normally I use a tiny little painting that's no larger than the image size that ends up on my 5x7 cards. This year, I tried something very different, and painted a large painting, 12x12.

I also used some different techniques - namely in reserving some of the whites. I have done a very limited experiment in the past with white crayons to reserve an area of whites, and I don't think it worked very well because of the opaque nature of the white crayon.

This time, I got a pack of clear wax crayons specifically designed for use with artists' materials, and that's what's reserving most of the white areas of the snow-covered foliage on the embankment above the roadway. There's a bit of that treatment in the background trees above the house as well.

Most of the foreground snowbank is made of areas that I painted around with a large brush, as is the snow-covered roof of the house. In fact, I used no masking fluid anywhere on this painting, which is a first for any of my snowy scenes.

Other lighter areas were created by dropping water into fresh paint, which created lovely blossom effects (good for lacy bits of vegetation). I really wanted a loose feel with this painting, and I think I managed that. I really feel that I am fussing far too much on some paintings, and it's sapping vitality from the final product.

I felt reinforced in that belief a few weeks ago after seeing the new Van Gogh exhibition at the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C. called "Repetitions," which examines Van Gogh paintings where he completed the same composition multiple times. Generally, I always felt that I preferred the earliest versions of these series because they seemed fresher and more energetic.

I'm also pleased that multiple people have correctly recognized the location of this painting, even though I have changed elements to improve the composition. That indicates that I've got the essence of the scene, with minimal hand-wringing. I'll call that a success!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Signature member of WVWS

I'm happy to report that I've earned Signature Status in the West Virginia Watercolor Society!

I submitted a portfolio of works to the WVWS Jury Committee who anonymously reviewed the paintings and engaged in a critique session. Committee members then vote on the merits of the portfolio to determine if the applicant should gain the status sought for in the application.

I received my mailed notice of acceptance, as well as copies of the reviewers' critiques, at the beginning of the month.

For the 2013 review period, I earned Signature Status, along with WVWS members Andrea Burke, Monica Wilkins and Debbie Lester.

Julia Jones, who also lives in Hardy County, received her Juried Status during this review as well.

Congratulations to all these fine artists!

Learn more about the West Virginia Watercolor Society at www.wvwatercolorsociety.org.

Here are the pieces that I submitted for the committee's review:

Saturday, December 7, 2013

West Virginia Juried Exhibition honors

"Mumbles and Squeaks"
I am very pleased to report that when I attended the opening of the West Virginia Juried Exhibiton in Martinsburg, W.Va., on Nov. 24, I learned that I was among the award winners!

The biennial exhibition features 53 works created by 46 West Virginia artists. West Virginia Division of Culture and History Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith told the group that jurors Samantha Wall and Julie Peppito reviewed more than 500 entries for the exhibition.

Of the 53 pieces, 18 won awards. The Governor's Awards (3) are valued at $5,000; the Awards of Excellence (7) are valued at $2,000; and the Merit Awards (8) are valued at $500.

I am proud to say that I was among the Merit Award winners.

Here I am, looking at my painting at the 2013 West Virginia Juried Exhibition!
Simply getting into this exhibition has been one of my goals since 2007, and this was the first year that I made the attempt. So just having my painting on the wall was my prize - that I won an award is a bonus.

The press release from the Division, which lists all the participants, can be found here: http://www.wvculture.org/news.aspx?Agency=Division&Id=2382

A gallery of the award winning pieces can be found here: http://wvculture.zenfolio.com/juried

And images from the exhibition's opening, including me receiving my award, can be found here: http://wvculture.zenfolio.com/juriedopening