I think this was one of my first plein air sketches from Middle Creek Wildlife Preserve in Lancaster Co. PA. maybe 2006.
I want to use both sides of the paper and this will get ruined along with 2 others. They’re 7″ x 10″. I pulled an old sketchbook out of my flat file to find a piece of paper to redraw my new landscape larger on the other side. When I slap some oil paint on the back of this paper these will be lost. If you want to stop me from ruining one of these you can make me an offer, otherwise, maybe tomorrow these die.
I can’t remember where this scene was. That was around the time I started drawing in plein air so I can’t remember if I had a vacation at VA. Beach or maybe Chincoteague, because this looks like Assateague.
I have to be ruthless with my old art. I haven’t looked at these for 15 years. I won’t miss them. Anyway, I’m posting them so you can compare them to my new paintings, and so they can live on the cloud forever, at least until the electricity goes out.
Doesn’t palette knife painting look like a lot of fun? Instead of watercolor, I think I’ll paint these flowers with my palette knife and not use a brush at all. I need to buy a palette knife set so I have a variety of shapes to work with.
I’m not sure if artists that use the palette knife to paint prime their canvases or not. It might make it a little easier to scrape the paint across the canvas if the canvas is sanded and gessoed and sanded again. That makes it smooth. Then the canvas needs a coat of background color.
I can glom the paint on real thick and try to get it to go where I want it to go without a paintbrush. It will be a challenge making shapes and lines and textures and still making a flower out of it.
I’ll go back to the garden to mix some green colors then I can paint at home.
Drawing flowers is fun and easy. I’d have done two except it was too hot. Maybe I can get out earlier tomorrow and do another sketch or try to do a watercolor study.
This is a tall bushy plant and the flowers don’t last long before they start to wilt. It has some unopened buds. I saw a butterfly go to this flower when I was drawing it but he moved on before I could sketch him. Maybe next time.
When I was in art school they told us to not make a balanced composition. They said the mind seeks balance and when it finds balance it immediately moves on to the next thing. If you give the art viewer unbalance it keeps their attention longer because they want to fix it. So, I guess this still life would get a better grade than the one I did when I was a young chick in school because it’s less balanced. It’s top heavy for one thing, with the big flowers above the lighter peaches and even lighter starfish.
I consider this pastel to be bright and bold but I realize a lot of people would think this is tame compared to the garish modern art they’re used to looking at. I’m talking about overly bright colors with no place for your eyes to rest. The kind of art that makes you want to put on your sunglasses. Once I heard a juror / art teacher say she doesn’t like gray. I thought no wonder she doesn’t hang my paintings. They all have some gray. I need gray to make shadows. shadows add depth and you need shadows to show light, but those things aren’t important to “contemporary” jurors.
Once I had an artist friend that told me she hates green. It makes her feel sick. I said, no nature lover, huh? And she said no she’s not a nature lover. I wondered if she was talking about my paintings which have a lot of green. I’ll just continue to use the gray and green that I like.
I think this pastel shows solar energy. When I think of paintings that are glaringly bright with colors straight out of the tube unmixed, it reminds me of someone yelling at you. Like, screamers are weak if they have to yell, and there’s no need to fight back because you can’t reason with someone who’s having a fit. Or, that artist using neon paint could be a primitive and doesn’t know how to mix colors and how to use gray. In which case, it’s not my responsibility to try to make them follow the path I was taught. But if an educated art teacher / juror rejects paintings because they have gray in them that’s discrimination.
This shows a close up of a peach, its reflection and the starfish and its reflection. It’s a complicated section for your eye because the starfish on the edge of the table points into the reflection. Then you have a double peach because it’s attached to its reflection. The starfish is on the edge of the table to give the composition more for the viewer to worry about and keep their attention longer.
One thing that made the reflections difficult was that at first I had the red and white checked vinyl under the still life but when I drew it I made the checks larger and blue. I couldn’t exactly visualize how to draw the table cloth reflections but I knew it would have a curve. So I did the checker design in pastel on paper and put it under the flower pot. I made a little cheat sheet. Then I could draw it and it was easier to work that part out.
This peach is one of the many focal points in my new still life.
I’ve been sitting far back from my easel and it looks like the still life has more energy than I do. I’m saying to myself, “Whoa, Nellie!” This thing could power the neighborhood! Fortunately our electricity stayed on during the recent storms, and we keep getting more storms every day that aren’t as bad as the hurricane, but scarier because of more lightening hitting the ground out back, where the hurricane was a big wind but I’ve heard the wind howl much worse in the past, so I slept ok.
This photo shows the work I did on the background. First I filled in with a teal pastel then blended the teal color into the paper with my kneeded eraser. It’s sanded pastel paper so it can take a lot of layers of pastel but you have to blend down the first layer so you can build up on top of that. Then I tried some other colors on top of the teal on a scrap paper and I liked the tint of red violet with the teal. At first, I put a light layer of the red violet on it and then decided to make the layer heavier so I went over the background again. The red violet on top of the teal vibrates visually because they are close to the same value on the gray scale but different colors. I didn’t want a flat background because this whole thing is so strong the background needs to be strong too.
I’ve gone all over the whole paper 3 or 4 times, every square inch of it, to get the look I want.
This flower. As I was rearranging my flowers every day to draw them this one had a few petals that got bent and I drew them bent. I considered trying to straighten them out but decided that I liked the way the yellow petals cut into the dark center of the flower, so I left the petals bent. Then later I was looking at it from far away and I thought, this flower is trying to communicate. What is it saying? I don’t want to tell you because maybe to you the flower isn’t communicating at all. Or maybe the flower is saying something totally different to you than it is to me. And it’s kind of personal and it might sound silly. And I don’t know if it came from my subconscious or if the message is for me or for the viewer.
Now I have to do the hardest part of the still life which is the reflections on the flower pot. I’ve been putting it off. I’m almost finished. Some days I work on it for an hour or so and some days I work on it off and on all day with frequent breaks because it makes my hand tired. And some days I just can’t concentrate on it at all.
ok. You want me to tell you what the flower is saying, don’t you. It’s signing, “I love you.” And I don’t know if it says that to people who actually communicate in American Sign Language. Where is the love coming from and who is it meant for? I have no answer to that. This still life has taken on a life of its own.
I moved my still life to the window. It’s a North light which is the best for a drawing studio because the shadows don’t change much all day. My still life is blocking the sliding glass door to the balcony. It’s not actually a drawing studio but a dining room. No problem. I live alone.
I had to buy more sunflowers because the first ones wilted. When I went back to the farm stand on Sandbridge Rd. they were all out of sunflowers. I like the big ones with the darker yellow but I bought some of the smaller ones in the lighter yellow at a grocery store. Then yesterday I checked the farm store and they still didn’t have any so I ventured down to another farm store at Pungo. ( I love that name, Pungo. If I ever get another cat I might name it Pungo.) They had the big sunflowers at Pungo, Flip Flop Farmer stand. So one problem solved and in time because a hurricane is heading straight at us! The Sandbridge Rd. floods so I wanted enough sunflowers before the storm gets here. Then even if the electricity goes out I can still work on this.
Another thing I wanted to buy for the still life is a bigger starfish. I went to the oceanfront and got one this morning from a souvenir store. It will be easier to identify as a star when I draw it. A lot of people were going to the beach and walking on Atlantic Ave. It looks like most don’t wear masks outside but a lot do and I did when walking on Atlantic Ave. because of all the people.
I’m excited that I finally got my pastel started and I think it’s off to a good start. I’ll have to do the flowers and the peaches first because they won’t last.
I’m going to draw the starfish going off the edge of the table because I like the old master still life paintings when things are falling off the table. You often see plates, grapes, fabric etc. that looks like it might fall. That makes the art viewer want to go into the painting and push those things back from the edge. It’s a trick to get the viewer involved with the painting.
I drew my table from the corner because it’s a less stable composition than if you were looking directly at the table. With the starfish going off the edge and the angle of the table I think my still life will be unsettled feeling, like the dangerous times we’re living in.
Long ago, when I was a young chick in art school, they insisted we must learn linear perspective using vanishing points. It was too technical for me. I promptly forgot what I learned. After doing a few vanishing point exercises I decided if I wanted to draw architecture I’d just eyeball it.
It’s not easy to draw architecture. I have to try at least twice and it’s still not exactly right but it’s not annoying my eyes so this will do. My perspective is a little off and my proportions are a little off, I hope it’s not noticeable.
When I can get my lines straight I’m happy. I did this all free hand not using a photo or even a ruler. To check my lines for straightness I look at my drawing on the edge the way you look down the edge of a board to see if it’s warped, tilting the drawing so I’m not looking straight at it but kind of looking sideways. Then I can see where my lines go off straight and it’s easier to make corrections. It might seem like a slow process to draw straight lines this way but I want to do it freehand and practice will pay off in the long run.
This is a close up showing two focal points. The light in the foreground is a focal point because it’s contrasting with the bridge support that is partially illuminated by it, that support being the only one with a lot of light on it, and the dark lines going behind it on a slant. The secondary focal point in the background is a streetlight far away. It’s white against black, so if a viewer’s eye is zooming in on details their eye will stop there and look at the background for a second before moving on. You can see some sketchy boats in this photo which aren’t a focal point and aren’t even noticeable from far away. Yeah, those are boats. I could hardly see them from where I was but I drew them anyway. (artistic license – draw as much or as little as you want to)
The lines look tilted because I wasn’t holding my camera exactly square to the paper.
This close up shows reflections continuing from above the bridge to below it. I wanted to have some light reflecting under the bridge to tie the top to the lower part with a little light. That’s another secondary focal point on the far right of the drawing because of the white square on the black background and the orange square next to it.
Sundown was my favorite time of day to draw this scene from the balcony of my hotel. A half hour earlier the sun was glaring on the water so bright I couldn’t look in that direction. A half hour later and the buildings in the background blended in with the trees’ darkness.
I started this pastel in Plein air at the inlet on the 6th floor of the hotel. I did my drawing and picked my colors in plein air. Then I got an apartment and moved in. After a couple days I stopped unpacking and organizing the apt. so I could finish this. Now I have to get back to the unpacking job before I start another art project.
It was 2005. I was practicing figure drawing at open studio every week but didn’t go out to draw in plein air yet.
My daughter, Sarah went to Perth, Australia as an exchange student. She stayed 3 months, I went along and stayed 3 weeks. We did some sight seeing before her classes started. Before we left I was thinking how cool it would be to hear and see a kookaburra. I must have had my hands on the rungs of my headboard that night because I dreamt I had a hold of a huge bird by the legs. I thought, this isn’t a kookaburra, what is it? Oh No! It’s a phoenix! The bird lifted me off the ground and I hung on.
This is my watercolor illustration of my dream.
The phoenix went above the clouds. I saw strange constellations in the Southern Hemisphere. I dipped my toes in the clouds.
This is my pastel illustration of my dream.
I almost lost these two when my art got stolen but was happy to see them when I got my stuff back, even though they might not be my best work, since I did them from my imagination.
A guy just called me from the same apartment complex where my art was stolen, different building and told me he had my art. He found it propped up at his door. He knew it was stolen. My phone number was on the back of this drawing. He’s an artist too, also named Chris, and refused to take a reward.
I’m so glad to see this one again! All I can say is thank God. I got my stuff back. And thanks to everyone that was pulling for me to get my art back! I never would have figured prayers would help me but maybe they did! Everyone come over tonight and let’s celebrate! the drinks are on me!
The model for this is another statue in Hollywood cemetery. She’s holding a wreath over a grave and I changed it to a cornucopia. I think I took the wings off her, but that was long ago, like 2008 or so, I forget.
My computer is still on the fritz. It won’t upload another photo.