Sketch: Red Chair Porch (& a Printmaking DVD #giveaway #free )

Red Chair Porch 9x6 graphite & watercolor 
When I arrived in California from New England, I lived in a 1950's apartment about 30 minutes from Los Angeles. I was just beginning to ponder the notion of getting back into art-making, and I started sketching occasionally after work. This view (above) of my balcony was probably sketched in 1991. It took me another decade to get my goals aligned with my fingers, to prioritize art-making in my life. When did you decide to be an artist? How did you push art-making to the top of your list?

The winner of last week's book giveaway is Bonnie Rinier! Congratulations, Bonnie, and thank you to everyone who shared their favorite art books. Almost all the books mentioned are also in my art library, and I loved discovering that I have overlapping tastes in books with all of you lovely online artist friends!

My studio organization is complete, and I found a spare copy of an excellent printmaking DVD to give away. Printmaker Catherine Kernan does amazing, innovative, large scale woodblocks & monoprints, inspired by the pattern and juxtaposition of chaos & symmetry in nature. This DVD, Between Ink & Paper, is 85 minutes full of inspiration,  and tips and tricks from her studio, as well as great working practices for anyone interested in using Akua inks & modifiers.  If you don't win this DVD, I'd recommend adding it to your art library. When an artist has spent years teaching their craft, they get incredibly articulate from the repetition of process description, and this DVD is evidence that Catherine has been teaching for a long time. She is very, very good at what she creates, and how she describes her process.

Here are minute long samples from the DVD (if you don't see them below, you can watch them here and here.) Search youtube for a few more teasers.
Check out the size of Catherine's woodblocks in her studio (!)
Watch Catherine pull a full sheet of paper off a block after several layers of monoprint ink transfers.

If you'd like a chance to win this DVD, leave a comment (with your contact info if you don't have a blogger account) and tell us the size & subject or inspiration for your next art project. I'll draw names from a hat and post the winner on Tuesday, Oct 28th. Good luck!

Catherine Kernan's Afterimage 3 (55x56 woodcut & monoprint)

Catherine inking a woodcut (image courtesy of Boston Public Library)

Art Quote
I've never done a perfect drawing. The cheapest camera installed at the gas station parking lot will collect a more accurate depiction that I can make. I think of Art like I think about baseball. Whether you win or lose - isn't it great to be playing baseball?! Even the best players only get on base one third of the time. The reason we're doing this is that as kids, we started drawing and felt happy. So now, we should still be happy doing it. The focus should be on the love of art-making. Joy is in the full deployment of our faculties.
Anthony Ryder ~ 2010 during a Drawing demo


#Monotype: Shorty & Scooter (& a #video of #watercolor #artist Mary Whyte)

Shorty & Scooter 6x4 Monotype Ghost print with Watercolor (sold)
Would you like an instructional book on painting illustrative watercolor? See this post for give-away details.

Watercolor artist Mary Whyte published a beautiful book about painting portraits and the figure in watercolor four years ago, titled Working South, and just before the show associated with the book opened, CBS did an inspiring 7 minute story about her. She talks about the theme of her series; a generation of skills and jobs that are disappearing because things have changed, and they're no longer needed, or they've been replaced with technological advancements. A drive-in theater operator, a crab-pot fisherman, a spinner in a thread factory, etc. I've always enjoyed her work, and this is a lovely glimpse into her working style, her approach to painting portraits, and her amazing body of work.  (If you get this blog via email or rss and you don't see the video window below, you can watch it here.)
Art Quote
Frank Benson and Edmund Tarbell (and often Joseph DeCamp) were invariably identified as a subgroup within the Ten American Painters. At least one critic noted the lack of Impressionist elements in their first submissions to the Ten's group shows. "Tarbell has recently suffered something like an eclipse of light and color. Several years ago both (Benson & Tarbell) were producing strong and spirited work, but just now, they seem to be wandering in dusky light, using washed out hues and questionable charm." Benson's response to this criticism was to submit to the Ten's exhibitions a flourish of outdoor pictures of his family basking in the summer sun in fashionable white attire. Tarbell responded with a group of Impressionist paintings (through 1906) but then suddenly turned away from these outdoor pictures to concentrate exclusively on interiors and pure portraiture.  Interestingly, most of the final works of Tarbells' peak Impressionist period were exhibited with the Ten, and all were portrayals of family members in outdoor settings. ~Laurene Buckley, Edmund Tarbell, Poet of Domesticity


Mixed Media: Uncle Al and Aunt Florence in 1940 (& a #book giveaway & a #speedpainting #art demo #video)

Uncle Alfonse & Aunt Florence, 1940  5.75 x 5.5  Mixed Media on paper
I just posted a video demonstration of this little mixed media portrait on my youtube channel. The art was created with graphite, watercolor, colored pencil and hand carved rubber stamps. You can watch the video demo (3.5 minutes, played high speed) here.

Pencil drawing on plate finish bristol paper, to start....
I'm cleaning my studio, and I have a spare copy of a book in my art library, Sharp Focus Watercolor Painting: Techniques for Hot Pressed Surfaces - and I'd like to give it away to one of you lovely readers.  It's a hard cover, published in 1981, with 70 color plates (a sample of a few of them are below) and 115 black and white illustrations, with a dust jacket, in very good condition. I learned a lot about working on hot press or plate finish papers (my preference) from this book via the lessons in it.  Here is what the book description says online: 

Traditionally, watercolor paintings have been executed on absorbent, often rough-surfaced papers. This book introduces the art of watercolor painting on a new surface - the hot-pressed or plate finish papers. These extremely smooth surfaces allow the watercolorist ultimate control of textual effects: making possible more precise definition of edges, offering greater opportunity for lifting out, and reworking painted areas, and highlighting brilliant color. The hot-pressed surface also responds to all the conventional techniques of watercolor. After a discussion of the necessary studio materials and equipment, this book details the basic techniques of sharp focus watercolor painting with 16 step-by-step demonstrations, including wet-in-wet wash, surface color mixing, dry brush technique, and more. After eight additional color demonstrations, there is a gallery of 30 sharp focus watercolor paintings from the Georg Shook's work.
I bought this book because the brush marks in some of the
art reminded me of Andrew Wyeth

If you'd like your name to be added to the hat when I pull a winner for this book on Wednesday night - October 22nd - leave a comment on this blog and share your favorite art book title. If you don't have one, name any book you've enjoyed. [Be sure you've left an email address if you're not a blogger user, so I can get in touch if you win.] I'll pull a name and post a winner next Thursday.

Art Quote
Rest assured that if you work every day at your art, using the materials nearest at hand, you will gradually discover such beauty in them that they will fill you with happiness. And if you paint these things with the deep understanding that comes of constant association, you will be an artist. ~John E. Carlson


Watercolor: Crow Celebrates Fall (& preparation for Winter in the art studio)

Crow Celebrates Fall  8 x 5 Watercolor (sold)
Here in Southern California, the evening air is starting to whisper for sweaters, and the day time light has a couple of extra lumens of squint. With activities slowly moving indoors during the approach of Fall and Winter, this is a perfect time to get organized in your art-making space (c'mon, you know you want to), and review your plans for the season, and the supplies needed to carry them out. I start this process with a list. It's always too long, but I'm breaking it down, and getting things done. 1) Re-arrange the studio 2) sort/inventory paper, ink & paint supplies 3) clear a surface for paper tearing and printmaking plate prep 4) list themes of this season's work, and pin to a wall where I see it every day 5) collect reference photos, render sketches & snip inspiration, and tuck all that into a folder pinned near list from #4 6) plot schedule of art-making time for the month of November.... etc, etc.

Every year, I make more room in my studio by donating art supplies I'm no longer using, or art making stuff I have in duplicate. That means I have a couple of give-away posts coming up, so stay tuned!

In the category of artist tips & tricks, artist Eric Wiegardt talks about the benefits of using Gatorboard as a watercolor paper support while painting, instead of foam core or pressboard/plywood. I use it too, so I thought this might be helpful.... (If you get this blog via email or rss, and you don't see the video below,  you can watch it here.)

Art Quote
Creativity is the basis of self-expression. Why are some people supposedly more creative than others, and why can’t others open themselves up enough to be able to express who they are?

Creation is the birth of something, and something cannot come from nothing. When someone creates something: a painting, a poem, a photograph, the creativity comes from an idea, from a feeling, from emotion, or from a combination of ideas, feelings and emotions that are somehow ‘reborn’ from all our experiences and perspectives.

Creativity is the desire to express ourselves. To formulate these expressions, we have to draw from our reservoir of experience, dreams, desires and experimentation and mix together what was, what is, and what could be… I don’t think you can learn it, it is rather something that evolves. Your perception of everything in your life fills up this reservoir.

Some people are drawn to create and express themselves, others are drawn to reflect, to analyze. But in the end, they all could be creative if they had the desire to explore the way in which they are integrated in the world of their experiences. Because creativity is really a rebirth, a true tone we feel for ourselves and for our world. Then our work becomes a real part of who we are. Maybe all this is a question of how deep we are willing to go…
Peter Lindbergh, Photographer


Mixed Media: Ginger Hair (gelli plate #printmaking)

Ginger Hair 6 x 6 Mixed Media
 Getting together with art friends for an afternoon of making can be just the right kick-start for your creative mojo if it's gone missing. I love gathering with other artists, with a tote bag of art supplies for a few hours of creative time and catching up, with chips and salsa and some art-making background music. All the better if everyone is working in different media. The hostess of my last foray into Art Day supplied gelli plates for some fast no-press printmaking (thanks, JMC!). I came home with a stack of fun backgrounds to adorn with other media. This one (below) became a little watercolor & colored pencil portrait (above).

Do you gather with art friends? Have you considered hosting an evening of making with some like-minded pals?
a gelli plate print from an art day with my friend JMC

Gelli Monotype as background for mixed media art

If you're not familiar with gelli plate printing, have a look at this little intro video by the makers of the gelli plate I used. (If you can't see the video below, you can watch it here.)

Art Quote

As one of the most active and productive artists of the eighteenth century, Angelica Kauffman [1741-1807] created approximately 1,500 oil paintings, drawings, and prints, and her compositions were widely disseminated during and after her lifetime in the form of reproductive engravings and interior decoration, painted furniture, china, and textiles. Her distinctive and often sentimental images of Classical and British history, allegories, and portraits were familiar to a broad international audience, and major exhibitions of her work during the last ten years in England, Austria, Germany, and Switzerland have brought her works to the attention of contemporary viewers. The story of Kauffman's life is also quite well known: her youthful talent and choice to pursue a painting career, her personal charm and industriousness, her role as a Founding Member of the Royal Academy of Arts in London, her scandalous marriage to an imposter and later marriage of companionship with the painter Antonio Zucchi, her international aristocratic clientele, friendships with great poets and painters, and her wealth and fame as a popular and celebrated Grand Tour artist in Italy. This picture of an extraordinary woman—a romantic female "hero" in a masculine profession—is based on factual evidence, but it was largely the creation of her biographer Giovanni Gherardo De Rossi bolstered by laudatory descriptions of Kauffman in diaries and letters written by admiring friends, patrons, and foreign travelers. The pleasing qualities of Kauffman's Neoclassical imagery, along with her cleverly conceived and idealized allegorical self-portraits and confident self-promotion, helped to reinforce a view of her as an accomplished artist who easily overcame all obstacles to achieve success.
Wendy Wassyng Roworth  Documenting Angelica Kauffman's Life and Art,  2004

Self Portrait 29 x 24 National Portrait Gallery London