Friday, July 11, 2014

Barnyard friends

        Barnyard friends came about as a result of a show I did last fall. While at another show, a gentleman approached me and asked if I would be willing to show my art a small local Barbecue competition. Game for anything once, I showed my work in addition to new barnyard art and sayings pieces painted specifically for the show. I sold a few, but their place is now firmly in the galleries that represent my work.

       This guy is so absolutely adorable and really reminds me of the pig, (Wilbur?), the from Charlotte's web.
10 x 10, Acrylic on canvas, Day 10 of the 100 Days-100 Paintings.

       This one took me back to my animal husbandry class in my Junior high years. It was a tremendous program, taught by a teacher that was wonderful for and with his students. We had to have an animal to raise and take it from birth to basically meat. Our choices were, a calf, a sheep, or a pig. I knew my parents could not afford any of those at that time so I asked if I could raise rabbits. Permission given, we built a hutch and I raised my critters from start to finish. My product ended the class with a price of about 50 cents a pound if I recall correctly. It was a learning curve I will never forget!

       Barnyard cow, 10 x 10 Acrylic on canvas, Day 11 of the 100 days-100 Paintings

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Fairhope Sunset

       Fairhope Sunset came about as yet another demonstration for a student. One of my watercolor students from the beginner class is very keen on learning all he can! He has come to several classes here at the Raccoon Retreat studio and we both have a very enjoyable time. He is very inquisitive and constantly asking questions, and I love it. He always leaves telling me he learned so much that day.

       Today's lesson was brought about by his query on how would you approach this piece? He had already attempted it on his own, and had muddied up the colors in his sky quite a bit. We had a discussion on color and the use of either transparent or opaque colors in a painting. We also talked about complementary colors and how they gray down or neutralize their complements. I suggested using the warms only at the very end to add pops of color. This piece does not have any warm color added at all. I painted it in three colors, Hansa Yellow PY3, Ultramarine Blue PB 29, and Permanent Rose PV19(also called Quinacradone Violet).
These are all three transparent (at least to me) cool (to me as well) and mix well with each other. Toward the end, I wanted a little more richness to the sky blue and added a touch, (a touch mind you folks!) of Pthalo Blue PB15.

     So four colors, lots of layering later, (and a lesson in patience! I'm getting a lot of those lessons lately!) Waiting for mine and his to dry while working on another at the same time. I always advise my students to have more than one piece if they are impatient. Wait for one to dry while working on another (this is so you don't end up with mud, folks!)

       Patience, I'm learning a lot of that lately............... The internet shut down for me no less than 14 times today while working in the studio! (I know this only because I have Pandora on and I put a tick mark every time it happened!) Repair day, July 10th cannot come soon enough!

      Ah lessons in patience... pray for me tomorrow in the morning, I am having a paddleboard lesson from the same student to see if I like it before we invest in the time making one! I'm excited to learn a new skill, I just hope I don't embarrass  myself falling off a dozen times!

"Fairhope Sunset" 9 x 12 matted to 11 x 14 Day 9 of the 100 Days~100 Paintings

Queen Conch

       Queen Conch is a watercolor demonstration done while teaching a class. I choose to demonstrate as well as discuss while I am teaching. I find it helps my students to understand what I am trying to teach them. I was explaining the process of layering, building washes and adding final color for details. I really enjoy teaching both adults and children, seeing the delight in their eyes when they finally 'get' what I am trying to explain. Hands down though, the best way to learn is to observe the technique, practice it in class, (if you are taking a class,) then go home and try it on your own! I learned more doing this than anything else! At home, you don't have the instructor telling you to stop, don't do that. It allows yourself to dig into a hole, (how did I get that color?) make mistakes and fix them. It adds to your frustration level, yes, but it also forces you make decisions on your own. (You really didn't want to take lessons for the rest of your life, did you?) Making the decisions yourself builds confidence, re-enforces what you learned in class, and allows you to make mistakes. You then learn from the mistakes and move on. When I teach, I tell my students every mistake I have ever made, hopefully so they will not do the same things. Invariably, there is at least one in the class that isn't listening and makes the mistake I have tried to get them to avoid. When they are blustered, the other students in the class tell them, yes she did say not to do that!

       Anyway, I guess what I am trying to tell you dear readers is:
1. Don't let minor setbacks pull you down.
2. Allow yourself to make mistakes.
3. Learn from your mistakes.
4. Don't make the same mistakes again!
5. Above all, paint, paint, paint-time behind a brush is worth more than any instruction!
6. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do that.
7. Try to do something new and challenging.
This works for everything I try, tile mosaics, stained concrete floors, tiling, designing, and too many building techniques to go into right now!

Posted today instead of yesterday because of continuing internet issues,
'Queen Conch' watercolor on paper,9 x 12, matted to 11 x 14 Day 8 of the 100 Days~100 Paintings

Monday, July 7, 2014

Baby Loggerhead


       This year found me doing a lot of firsts. I was "gifted" a project late last year by a fellow artist. She was well aware of my love for sea turtles, and had a project she had been asked to create by the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. She was not able to do the piece and graciously gave it to me because of my "expertise" in painting sea turtles. Intrigued, I contacted the Sea Lab and talked with the person that wanted the project completed.

       The project was to be a 3D sculpture of a nest of Sea Turtles! More specifically, a boil of baby turtles. (If you google Sea turtle boil, you will be fascinated as I was.)The DI Lab had borrowed and used a similar piece that was currently in use by both Weeks Bay preserve and themselves. Getting the sculpture back and forth with time constraints included was becoming an issue. The DI Lab proposed and won a grant to get one completed for their use both at the Estuarium and on the road. He already had me excited about the project when he told me it was to be used as a teaching tool both at the lab and on the road. This journey began in November with a meeting that gave me a scope of the piece. Marching papers in hand, I went home and realized the task before me. First, they wanted a "nest" about 15 x 15 x 30 inches. They needed it to be lightweight, durable, portable, and pleasing to the eye. This nest would be encased in an acrylic cover and needed a base for it to mount upon. Second, and the most fun to me was the baby turtles and eggs themselves!

       Over the course of the next month, I managed to make a push mold top and bottom from wood, and found a clay that could be used to make the babies. Once each turtle was made and baked, they had to be hand painted. The first few were a process in learning how to manipulate the clay, getting a curvature that was lifelike, then bake them to preserve them in their various positions. Then came the task of painting them to resemble the little babies. Still not under contract, I already had several days work under my belt when I went back to the lab and showed them what I had accomplished. Nervously, I carefully unpacked the first 6 little fruits of my labors. When they examined them and broke out in big grins, I knew I had made the grade! They loved them, and were very pleased at what had been done, and we agreed on a plan of timeline, payment and completion. They contracted for the acrylic while I was to do everything else.

       The holidays came and went, and I turned my studio into a crazy mess of clay turtles, sand, paint and foam for the nest. I had an absolute ball completing the project, setting fire accidentally to one of the clay pieces when it slid off the form and hit the burner in the oven. That was a setback that had the husband telling me to no longer leave such a thing unattended again. I had to rebuild several of the babies as they were a bit toasty and unusable. Lesson learned. I also had to turn my attention to the "eggs". The eggs from the other project were made from ping pong balls and mine would be as well. You can manipulate them by heating them with a heat gun to become wrinkled and lose their round shapes. Take care though, they too will catch on fire if heated too quickly. I found this out in my husbands shop one afternoon while playing with the first ones. My beloved glared at me and asked that I please not do that again! No worries there! The nest proved another task, building the layers of foam and manipulating it with a wire brush. Then I moved on to the coating of practically bomb proof paint that is a mixture of sand, glue and paint used for drywall priming. This was painted onto the foam and then I pushed sand into the wet mixture for more texture. The nest looked very heavy when completed, but is relatively lightweight, and yes, practically bomb proof. I then began the task of mounting the completed turtles, eggs and additional sand to complete the look.

       This piece gave me a great deal of growth as an artist. It made me learn, experiment, and complete things I had never done before. Push molds, sculpey clay, three dimensional work, and a bag to carry the piece in for transport, it all stretched my imagination and made a learning curve I will not soon forget. By the time I finished the project, my love for turtles was complete and I felt as though I had been through a college course with my final being the nest.

The completed project before mounting to the final base and acrylic.

Now, back to that painting at the top! This is a baby loggerhead just emerging from his egg and painted in sepia acrylic.
"Baby Turtle" 12 x 12 Acrylic on canvas Day 7 of the 100 Days~100 Paintings

Saturday, July 5, 2014


     Sadly enough, I had to get an attitude myself today. I normally am very patient and willing to wait for an appointment from our cable provider (even though it still is not for several days!). But today was the absolute last string cut from my puppet. I had worked to get my blog post ready and when I went to post it to the internet, the connection was lost yet again. When the connection was established, my entire post was gone from the screen.

      I called my cable provider, went through the automated system, and once again 'she' determined there was a problem with the line. 'She' placed me in touch with a young man that sounded foreign. Once again, I had to explain my problem to yet another person, and this time the frustration was mounting. I told him I know that this is not your fault, but this is utterly ridiculous and I was fed up with spotty problems. "I see mam you have an appointment." he said probably from the script. I said yes I have an appointment, but the young man I talked with previously had said he was going to try and get it moved closer. I need to be able to research and blog I mentioned to no avail. "Mam you have an appointment" He said yet again. He had me restart the computer and unplug the cable box,(the automated system had already done this earlier), he then said I am checking the box, can you tell me what you see? One light, two, three blinking, then 4, wait that's connected! Can you go to an address on the internet for me. I did and he said it seems to be working now. I said, for the moment, it may last an hour or a minute, then it was gone again.

       He then suggested  "Mam you could upgrade and get a new box and faster service."
(Wrong thing to say young man.) Trying to maintain civility,  I told him WHY would I want to upgrade, when what I have is not working now! Even now, as I write this, the connection is gone, the lights are blinking, and I have a knot in my stomach from the distress this is causing me. God is testing my patience, I can feel it!

        I am over technology, I bought a recharge device that overheated my phone, my phone died right after I finished paying for it in full, it was replaced, but then the screen went black when I dropped it in the road while walking the dogs. I now have a new computer (phone) that I am trying to learn about, (but I cannot get on the internet to pull up the tutorials.) The computer I am working on is about 6 years old, has the Vista program on it, and it is running slow. I could run the grime fighter I purchased from Avast! but I need to be connected to the internet. (Do you see dear readers, where this is going?) The cable box has multiple lights blinking for the moment, but by the time I go to post, there may be no "Connection"

     "Attitude" watercolor on paper, matted to 11 x 14, Day 6 of the 100 Days~ 100 Paintings

Friday, July 4, 2014

Feeling Crabby!

       Feeling crabby isn't the half of it!
            I am here at the computer keyboard, typing as fast as I can, wondering when the next interruption of my internet service will come. These posts were supposed to begin on June 30th, but to no avail!
            I am by nature an impatient person when it comes to technology because it takes time away from my easel and studio. So consequently when I want it to work, I want it to work! Well the past few weeks have been spotty at best. Just when I think I can finally post, or get on to check emails, the connection goes out and throws me into fits of frustration. When I say fits, it simply means I do not even try any more to get onto the computer. I would rather be in the studio creating than fighting with machinery!                                                                              
       To begin the story, let me back up a few weeks........ We had just arrived home from two weeks visiting our daughter in New Delhi, India and came home to internet problems. My husband works full time and other than my music on the computer, I do not get on very much. (Right now, I have notifications from everyone's favorite social media!) I check emails, post on social media, then maybe research some for the classes I teach, then I am off, done... I would rather be painting, creating, making art that needs to be made for commissions, the galleries that help support my artist lifestyle,        and for my shows in the fall.

           Needless to say, I was not paying much attention to the connection problem that was lurking in my studio. Approximately  a week after coming home, I noticed the issue. I kept seeing a repairman outside on the line (several times!), so I assumed someone had called it in and the problem was becoming a distant memory. Not so for me! I finally called it in and got the automated system, "she" checked my box, and at that particular moment, it was working! "She" said there was no issue with my box and hung up. Then the internet quit, for about the 5th time that morning! So, I thought, well now they know there may be a problem, so they will check it right? I was so wrong................... and after no response from the media company, I called and got   in touch with our local provider, by their 800 number and talked with a gentleman that said there is a   problem on the line after getting me to troubleshoot   the box here. Success! He said they would call me to arrange an appointment. A week goes by, and a major electrical hit nearby during one of our afternoon thunderstorms. I am still thinking that I am on the list to get looked at. End of week, I got nothing! Called again and got a technician that told me there was no record of the previous call and I am at the bottom of the list . I explained that was not satisfactory and I needed to be moved up if possible with another person that cancels. He said he would try and would get back with me in the next couple of days. Two days later I receive an automated call to please contact them. I excitedly call, thinking they have an appointment for me! The young lady responds, no this is just to confirm your appointment on July 10th. WAIT, what! (This is July 1st!) I explain this is an ongoing problem and I need someone sooner rather than later, she then tells me she cannot move up the appointment, only the technician can take care of it as he initially handled the call. I am near the end of my rope by now and tell her make the appointment. I then talk with my neighbor, and she was told the same thing, but she told them, by then she will have a new service, (they fixed hers the next day!) Maybe I'll change tactics and get her to talk with them next time.
      Today seems to be better, with the line working for at least the past two hours. But you wait, I'll go to post, and it will probably be down again. When that happens there may be a small explosion coming from the Raccoon Retreat Studio here in sunny Fairhope, Alabama. These four  "Crabby"  creations are days I,II, III, and IV of the 100 Days-100 Paintings for 2014, all created in Acrylic, all of them 12 x 12

"Beautiful Blue" Watercolor matted to 11 x 14
This little guy is the painting for Day 5 of the 100 Days-100 Paintings 2014. This is my 5th year doing  
100 Paintings in 100 Days. I began July 1st 2009. (This was also the year we bought, and began a major construction project in Fairhope , Al .
I began doing the multiple paintings during the summer in an effort to get ready for shows in the fall and to provide for my galleries that so wonderfully support my artistic adventures. The galleries and collectors I have gained over the past few years have been amazing to say the least. Come with me on the adventure, that this year will see 500 paintings completed during the blog.