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In early January, I started a picture which my mother had asked for. I have blogged about the process and my struggles with it. I finished it last week, and my husband photographed it today.
A belated happy birthday to my mom! I hope this brings her lots of happy memories and brightens her day when she looks at it.
Since our hobby is sailing, here is a picture of many people indulging in sailing (but not us! I was on the shore taking the reference photo.) However, we often get out in our sailboat, the Cay of Sea. My husband’s last job was stressful, so an overnight getaway was important. I would often pick him up on Friday after lunch and we would head to the Maryland shore of the Chesapeake Bay, our destination determined by which way the wind was blowing. When he retired, we moved to a rental house at the marina where our boat has been kept. We no longer have an hour’s drive before indulging in sailing, just a walk on the pier outside the back door! Our boat is currently out of the water for the winter, but we are looking forward to many trips on the Chesapeake this summer.
My husband will be writing about our sailing adventures; if you’d like to follow along, please visit his blog: http://middlebaysailing.wordpress.com/
In my earlier post I showed a tracing of the darks in the picture I am working on, “Sitting on a Curb.” For comparison, here it is again:
The next step was to make a negative of this tracing:
As you can see, I have modified some of the shapes. Seeing them in a different format, (here the negative image) helped to point out some needed changes. So now it is evaluation time. What questions do I need to consider?
Are the shapes recognizable and will they be interpreted to mean what I am trying to say?
Are the shapes interesting and entertaining? Do they interlock with each other?
Is there a dominance of either light values or dark values?
I think the shapes are fine, but I am concerned about the dominance. I think the lights and darks are about equal, so I am going to make the background grass become all a dark shape, with mid-values for texture.
Now the challenge is to apply this to the painting!
Last spring, the City of Fairfax held a “Paint the City” event in conjunction with the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the City of Fairfax. (Fairfax has been around longer, but fifty years ago they changed to the current name.) The weather was typical for spring: bright sun alternating with drenching rain. Since I paint with watercolor, being indoors was the best option. The view in this picture is looking down at the intersection of University Drive and North Street from inside one of the shops at the Village Plaza.
Yesterday in watercolor class, Gwen Bragg introduced us to another planning strategy. The first step is to take a sheet of tracing paper and make an outline drawing. Then, taking another piece of tracing paper, lay it over the first sheet and make a black and white value study, using a black marker and the white of the paper. The third step is to lay another piece of tracing paper over the first two and make a negative of the second drawing, filling in black where the white spaces are.
Those of you who have been following my blog may have noticed that the project I “launched” in January has fallen by the wayside. It got to a level where I liked what was happening but was struggling with what to do next. I also found that I was reluctant to continue for fear that I would mess it up. How much emotional investment do I have in this piece of paper and layer of paint? Too much, I guess! I have gone back to “Sitting on a Curb” and am applying this planning approach with it. Today I copied the line drawing and made the first value study.
I found several interesting things. First, I need to pay more attention to the edges of my shapes, making sure that they convey the information that is needed. Second, I have massed more of the shapes together, being forced to decide if an area should be dark or light and not falling back on a middle value. Third, I need to address the background shape above the children’s heads.
As I struggled with this today I became aware of how much WORK was really involved – and how much I wanted to avoid it! I would rationalize that I needed a break to clear my head and instead of going back right away, the vacuuming is done, the refrigerator is clean, and the piles of paper in the kitchen have disappeared. The ultimate in avoidance tactics will be when the checkbook gets balanced!
Tomorrow, I will decide on the background shape and then try the negative of this study.
Negative painting is the term used for painting the spaces around an object or shape. One essentially paints that which isn’t there (the negative), leaving the object (the positive) as the lighter shape. Today I used this technique to make valentines, since Valentine’s Day is next week.
My first step was to tear the watercolor paper into the size I wanted for cards. The dimensions were mandated by the size of the envelopes. Then I taped the paper to my painting board, covering over 1/2″ on each side to leave a border. I wet the surface and put in a light wash of the selected colors.
After letting this dry, I traced some hearts on the paper. I painted around the hearts.
When this layer dried, I traced some more hearts, overlapping them with the first layer. Then I painted around both layers of hearts.
After several times of layering in hearts, I penned in a border, removed the tape and had a finished card.
After taking a week off from painting because we were traveling and helping my daughter with her new baby, this was a good exercise to get me thinking like an artist again and energized to finish the projects already started.
A couple of years ago we vacationed in California with some of our adult children. One of the excursions we made was to a lavender farm, which for some reason had a resident camel. This is my son, who is within kissing distance of “Mel” the camel.
Is this what you need to feel ready to face the day? That business meeting? The writing of the term paper?
Coffee plays a large role in our society: We offer it to guests, friends, and strangers. We offer it in the morning, at night, after a meal, between meals, with a meal. We like its smell, its taste, the sound of it being prepared, the oily, dark texture of the beans, the steaming and bubbly appearance of a cup freshly poured, and the warmth of the cup on cold hands. Connoisseurs speak of it with terms as flamboyant as those applied to wine, and coffee cafes have menus with more choices than letters in the alphabet. We use coffee as a drink and as a flavoring in puddings, ice cream, bread, and cookies. The economies of coffee have greatly changed many parts of the world.
Please share your favorite coffee story!
Bellissimo Restaurant in Fairfax, Virginia is where my Italian Collection is hanging for display. This name ‘Bellissimo’ has particular significance for me. In our first few months of living in Italy, I heard the word “bellissimo” repeatedly. Italians are all about beauty. Perhaps more than any other people I’ve been around, Italians seem to have an innate sense of what is beautiful. When you are in Italy, you are indeed surrounded by beautiful scenery, landscapes, buildings, vistas and art. Italians dress well because it is important to give others something beautiful to look at!
I returned to Italy several years ago with my Italian class from Fairfax. We spent a week in the home town of my Italian teacher taking in the sights of Umbria province and the village of Torgiano. Many of the images in my Italian Collection are based on photographs I took on that trip. Several of those paintings can be seen in Bellissimo.
Chef Omar Lavayen is an artist in his own right, creating masterpieces of art with every entree, every dessert, and every detail of Italian dining. Chef Omar and his wife Mary have recreated the atmosphere and cuisine of northern Italy with spectacular accuracy.
I got to spent part of the afternoon today with Omar and Mary when I delivered two more pieces for display, and took down a piece that had sold. They generously provide wall space to hang this collection, and regaled us with an indescribably delicious lunch.