Rose Garden ’15 / oil

2 important things I learned from gardeners without having to ask
2 important things I learned from gardeners without having to ask

#1   ”  We can only do this because we’re rich.”

#2    ” It’s not work if you don’t HAVE to do it.”

I though about it later. This is what happened.

When the Tulips wilted all at once , the volunteer gardeners at Lewis Ginter Botanical pulled them out and replaced them with Summer flowers so fast. I was amazed.  As I walked past them and saw the new plants going in, I said to the gardeners, ” OMG , You guys work fast! ” and “Nice work, you guys!”

They were all on the ground digging the dirt. A man said to me, “We can only do this because we’re rich.” I laughed and told him, “I’m in that club too!” hahahhaha

Then another day I was sitting in the shade mixing up my colors, and some guys were pruning the roses in the hot sun. One of the volunteer gardeners was very friendly and talking to people walking through. I heard him say, “It’s not work if you don’t HAVE to do it.”

Which answered one of my questions, because I can’t decide if art is “work” or not. I still don’t know. Do I HAVE to do art to keep my sanity? Does that make it ok for me to call it “work” even though it’s so much fun and it doesn’t pay?

We could debate that subject, but it sure looks like work to me what the gardeners do!

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Exquisite Corpse, untitled

Sarmistha Talukdar did the left and I finished it on the right.
Sarmistha Talukdar did the left and I finished it on the right.

The Exquisite Corpse is a Surrealist art game where 2 or more artists work together on a piece and neither knows what the other did until it’s finished. so they come out all crazy!

Sarmistha started this one with the Teddy Bear and balloon on the left and covered it up except for 1 ” in the center for me to connect my lines and match colors. Then as the 2nd artist on this corpse, I had to imagine something to connect to the edge of Sarmistha’s side, without taking off the wrapping paper on her side until I was finished.  I did the side with Nature. On the 1″ of Sarmistha,s side I could see a touch of green in the cut out shape under the bear’s chin. That’s why I used green too. I found a gell pen at AC Moore that’s close to the color she has. And she used oil pastel too, so I used my oil pastels.

I think it’s an amazing coincidence that we both drew an oval on the top of the picture! I didn’t cheat by lifting the wrapping paper. Maybe we have ESP!

Sarmistha is a scientist for real! she’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dept. of Human and Molecular Genetics at VCU

This is an exquisite corpse I started for Henrietta Near to finish.
This is an exquisite corpse I started for Henrietta Near to finish.

I tinted an 8 x 10 board with blue acrylic and collaged some pretty and shiny paper on it. I’ll give Henrietta the same paper I used and she can add anything else she wants to on her half. Using the same colors or papers gives the corpse a continuous look to the halves. I covered my half except for 1″ for Henrietta to go by and marked “up”.

Helene Ruiz is having an Exquisite Corpse workshop at Artworks on Hull St. in Richmond VA. on June 18 6:30 to 9. I think it will be fun! If you’re interested in the Exquisite Corpse, join us!

Old Barn Still Standing / oil

Here's a little story for you.
Here’s a little story for you.

This barn is at the Windemere Gallery in Mechanicsville VA. The man that owns the gallery is Robert Dugan. He’s a nice man and welcomed me to paint there. He told me the barn has a lot of history.

The 1st day I worked on my charcoal drawing on paper. I heard a noisy crow and looked away from my drawing. The crow was chasing a Red Tailed Hawk. Now, it’s not unusual to see birds doing funny things when you go out to the country to paint, so I didn’t think too much about that. I find that a lot of times, I’m alone and see something unusual and have no one there to say, “Did you see that!” or “What just happened!?”

This is the strange thing. One day I was working hard on my painting for a while and stepped back to look at it. I saw a TURTLE COMING STRAIGHT AT ME !!! It was walking slowly, but aiming for my feet. It didn’t look like it wanted to bite me. So I just stood there and watched it. It came over to my feet and looked up at me! I waited for it to say something, but it didn’t, so neither did I. hahahaha I thought it looked like it wanted me to give it food. All I had for a snack that day was some mini doughnuts that got smooshed in my art cart. I decided not to give it a doughnut because I thought that might make the turtle thirsty and it was kind of dry out there. After a minute or so, the turtle walked away, leaving me wondering. Of all the turtles I’ve seen in my life, this was the 1st that wanted to be my friend!  (or did it?)

When I was ready to go home, I went into the gallery and Robert was in. I told him I saw some wildlife. He asked me if I saw a groundhog, and I said yes, but the weird thing is, a turtle came over to my feet. He didn’t seem surprised. He told me there’s so many turtles out there, he has to watch out for them when he mows, and stop to move them out of the way so he doesn’t run over them with the mower. And sometimes he feeds them bread. So that explains it.

Isn’t that funny?!

American Wisteria

oil pastel and oil paint on paper
oil pastel and oil paint on paper

I love to see the wisteria blooming wild by the side of the road when I’m driving in the country. Sometimes it gets so thick it can choke out trees. This is an old vine at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden on a stone wall.

First I drew it with charcoal on the paper, then used oil pastel for the wall and as an underdrawing for the Wisteria.  The oil pastel alone looked a little weak for the flowers, so I used oil paint and put a second layer on to bring the flowers off the wall visually, by using the contrast of the more solid paint against the more sketchy pastel.

I’m glad I finally got a sketch of the Wisteria, because I’ve been wanting to draw it for years.

Poe’s Enchanted Garden ’15

poe's enchanted garden 15

Do you like that wisteria? I made that up. hahahahhaha    They have a small vine on the other side of the wall. It’s not blooming yet.

The entries for this show, “Poe’s Enchanted Garden” are due this week, so I have to stop working on this painting and let it dry. I still want to make changes because I can see a lot of mistakes in my linear perspective that I could fix. Sometimes I just have to say, I’ll try again next year, and I hope no one will notice my mistakes. Opening night is April 23, 6:30 PM. They’re having “Unhappy Hour”.

Too many people talk about fear of failure. Maybe it was the way their parents raised them to think they can’t make mistakes. I don’t get it. But when I look at this painting, I can’t tell if it’s a success or a failure. A lot of times my paintings get rejected. They’ll probably hang this one, I guess. As an artist, you have to get over fear of failure and just don’t care too much. Apathy helps you in the art world, even though it’s a bad attitude.

.IMG_1412This is my underpainting in grisaille.

Poe’s Enchanted Garden ’14

This is my entry from last year. The new one is almost finished.
This is my entry from last year. The new one is almost finished.

I liked this view in the garden but only a few little pansies were blooming when I did the painting. So I looked at the Blue Bells in Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and faked in the Blue Bells on this painting. This year I’m faking in a huge Wisteria on the other side of the wall.

It seems like it’s taking a long time for me to finish the new painting of Poe’s garden, but as a plein air painter, I wait for the sun to come out and go there to work on it. That only gives me one or two days a week. Then I only stay for a couple hours at a time because the light changes and my concentration fades.

Now I’m waiting for them to turn on the water in the fountain that I’m painting this year. Water is always a challenge for me to paint. I  hope it works out. The paintings are due on April 18th for the show opening in the end of April. They’ll have “Unhappy Hour” that night.

Evening after Rousseau by Felix Bracquemond

etching and drypoint
etching and drypoint

The Winter weather is a bummer even in our normally mild VA.  I hung out at the museum last week and worked on a drawing of a horse. The VMFA has a great new exhibit of etchings by Bracquemond, so I got a shot of my favorite one for you.

When I was in art school I took a print making class and learned the process of etching. It’s more difficult than drawing with a pencil because you can’t erase. My etching from art school looked kind of weak, I must admit.  Strong drawing skill is a necessity if you want to do an etching.

This artist is a master. I hope you can see it clearly on your computer because I was amazed by the depth showing. The detail is so fine. The textures go from sharp to fuzzy. How did he do it?

In a Union Trench / charcoal and chalk

Cold Harbor Battlefield in Feb.
Cold Harbor Battlefield in Feb.

People stop and talk to me when I go out to draw and paint in plein air.  One guy reminded me that the Richmond Battlefield National Park at Cold Harbor is only a small part of the  line of battle. They have a great map with lights in the visitor center showing troupe movements. It was complicated.

When I walked the trail through the Union trench one day , I thought the shadows looked good to show the walls of the trench at 2:00.  At noon there’s a shadow going the long way down the trench.

It’s a narrow path through there so I didn’t take my easel in because I didn’t want to block someone else walking through.  Sometimes an artist has to hold the sketchbook in one hand  to draw and not use an easel. You get used to it.

No Camera Needed