April Flowers

Central Jersey has had both showers and flowers lately — varying degrees of drizzle & splatter (with a handful of rain-free days) and many beautiful flowers beginning to bloom. Indoors has some similar activity: the splatter of paint water and new floral art. I have been exploring variations on the Tulip Trio painting (which some of you might recognize since it is available as a notecard); in the spirit of the season, I thought I’d share some. Click any thumbnail to enlarge the image.

Wherever you are, may the promise of springtime bring you joy.

First Painting of 2020

Happy New Year! I hope you are off to an inspired start to 2020. I’ve been playing around with watercolors recently. It has been a while since I painted with them regularly, so I’m brushing up (pun intended).

I began this piece to experiment with techniques and water/pigment ratios in preparation for some upcoming projects, not to create a new, finished painting, but in the end it appeared to have enough going for it to stand alone. It is called Cosmic Brush.

Here’s to another year (and decade) of art adventures.

Merry Christmas (2019)

Merry Christmas, everyone! Hard to believe there are just 10 days to go. (To the Peanuts/Schroeder fans out there, only 1 more day until Beethoven’s birthday.)

The painting shared today is not particularly Christmassy, but one could say the red is kind of festive. Nothing fancy about this piece. Just a quick one for fun and economy–another one of those that started because I wanted to use up remaining paint from another project. When I used up what was left on the palette, I didn’t yet think this painting was “done,” so I did the unorthodox and squirted some paint from the tube right onto the canvas board. Tally ho, palette knife!

The shape of the lighthouse reminds me the faintest little bit of Kilauea light on Kaua’i, which I visited in September; however, it was not intentionally painted to look like any particular lighthouse.

Now the oil paints will hibernate for the winter, and I will use less odorous media until I can open windows & doors for a cross-breeze that doesn’t affect the cost of heating. 🙂

May the Christ light your days this holiday season &  your way in the new year.

Paintings from Paradise

Alooooooha! Two and a half weeks ago, I returned from my first visit to the Hawaiian Islands–Kaua’i and Hawai’i (the Big Island), plus a day on Oahu. The different environments, animals, and a number of the local art galleries, inspired some fun, artistic exploration once I got back to the mainland. That’s what I’m sharing today. 

  1. Some pen doodles inspired by some of the simple graphic designs on National Park pins. My traveling party saw green sea turtles (honu in Hawaiian) on two occasions: once at Punalu’u, a black sand beach, & again at Kaloko-Honokohau, a National Historic Park.

 

2. Ginger plant (acrylic, 8 x 10″). The ginger blooms in several different colors — red, white, yellow, & pink. The pinks & reds were quite striking against the green foliage of the rainforests.  

3. Painting of a honu resting (oil, 9″ x 6.5″). This was painted more like a watercolor would be (in terms of layers & values). First I painted the yellow across the whole hardboard (such that it started off looking like a background color), and then the blues on top of that, preserving the lights. Many of the greens were actually mixed right on the surface when the blue & yellow paint met. 

Mahalo nui loa for reading. 

Viking Spirit!

Ahoy, avast, and all that. It recently occurred to me that it had been a year since I stepped aboard the Draken Harald Hårfagre, a Viking great ship built in modern times, on September 1, 2018, while it was docked at the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia. This educational visit prompted a 6- to 7-month (painting) voyage on my part, and I realized it had been about as long since I had completed it– without yet sharing it here with you. Lest anyone wonder, it wasn’t a solid 6 months of painting, but rather 6 months or so from start to finish. Sometimes I let her (the painting) sit docked, as it were, for a few weeks while I worked on other things & thought about what to do next. Also, this painting is not of the Draken, but it is decidedly inspired by the ship. I found the deep red sail of the ship particularly striking and thus chose a red color for my painting.

Here is the irrefutably concise–in comparison to a 6-month, day-by-day version–travelogue of this painting’s development. Medium: tempera & acrylic. 

1. An acquaintance had given me a sizeable twice-painted-over painting on hardboard (with hanging wire already installed) that she no longer wanted. I sanded and gessoed over the old image. (Photo might be of the second layer of gesso. Gesso is essentially a primer.)

2. Next, thumbnail sketches (drawn in the car during a road trip).

3. Starting to add base colors/underpainting. The painting was too big to do on a table or my easel, so I propped it against a bookshelf.

4. Adding local color & developing water. I like a number of qualities about the water at this stage– there’s a looseness, an energy, the play of light & dark–but somehow as the painting continued, it got tighter, more controlled, and, because the green water seemed a little too tropical for a Viking voyage, darker & bluer. If I ever paint another version, I’d like to try to keep that looseness.

 

5. Bringing focus to the ship itself, including the sail. Somehow, over the several months, the visual line/direction of the composition changed  from something more linear to a kind of whirlpool. The water in the above photograph is constructed in an angular/zig-zag manner up to the ship; over time I embraced the whirlpool or vortex spiraling around it. 

6. Completion. I took this photograph outside (because my apartment does not have great lighting), so the colors look a bit different than in the other photos. Somehow it also seems flatter…but it gives a lot of depth to the corner where it hangs in my apartment. Curious contrast. 

Ready to cross the North Atlantic?