Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Dried Hosta Leaves Project

My sisters gave me the book version of Gardenista and it has been a wonderful book for relaxing in the shade this summer.  The website is here.  One of the chapters featured the Provincetown garden of John Derian who loves a slightly wild look to his garden.  He keeps simple bouquets in the house and doesn't mind when they start to decay.  Sometimes my bouquets decay but not on purpose--just neglect.  This summer I thought I would let a bouquet of hosta leaves dry-up in the vase.  When they dry this way, they do not disintegrate like they do when they dry on the plant. They curl beautifully with some flexibility, and turn a golden color looking almost like fabric.  Above and below are some of the photographs I took with my iPhone and edited in Photoshop Express.  The cyan colored one is an inverted color edit which really holds my attention because it seems to be looking at me.

I love the folds and waves in these hosts, but I probably should use a tripod next time.  First I'll have to acquire one.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Boy With Rooster by Adraino Cecioni (Italian)

Took this photo in one of the galleries of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  I enjoyed this sculpture so much when I first saw it a couple of years ago and didn't realize until today that it was acquired by the museum in 2015.  I was among the first to see it there!  The piece was modeled in 1868 and cast in bronze in 1873.  Dimensions:  31' x 19' x 17".  The museum website notes that Cecioni was influenced by earlier sculptors who portrayed children (boys) grappling with animals such as geese.  You can see an example of the 15th c. sculptor's (Verrocchio's) Putto with Dolphin here.  I find this Boy with Rooster much more exuberant.

Last week I participated in a three-day painting workshop at the York Art Association.  Rebecca Noelle Purvis, who was visiting from Hexham, UK, led us in the techniques she uses to create expressive landscapes.  By expressive she was referring to a response to the landscape--conveying thought and feeling, suggestive.  We began by choosing our photo references and doing several thumbnail sketches trying out vertical vs. horizontal aspect and cropping.  Next we used the Fletcher color wheel to work out a limited palette.  The predominate color for my painting was red/violet which I used for the underpainting.  Below are photos of the underpainting and the 99% complete painting.  It felt good to be painting with oils again.  Now to keep the momentum going.  You can see some of Rebecca Noelle's paintings here.

Monday, July 31, 2017

End of July Joy

Not at all trying to hurry Summer along--in fact, I'm really trying to slow things down--but we've had rain and cooler weather since my last post which seems to have brought on a burst of creativity.  I pulled out all my oil painting supplies and got right into painting a small landscape.  That was good   because I'm starting a three-day "Expressive Landscape Painting" workshop this week at the York Art Association in York, PA.  The above scribble has nothing to do with the workshop.  It's all about my trip to visit the twins in Seattle earlier this month.  Their mommy got a new iPad Pro and Pencil for her birthday.  She has a fine arts degree and is a professional illustrator, so I told her about the Procreate app.  She looked it up, liked what she saw and started using it right away.  I could hardly believe how quickly she developed a figure painting.  Witness my scribbles above--an example of what I have achieved with the app.  I watched her work for a few minutes and learned some new things about the app.  For one thing, it works very much like Photoshop in that you can build your drawing/painting in layers and adjust opacity, brush size, switch to pencil or pen very quickly. I am getting better with it, but I am left-handed and the Pogo stylus I'm using doesn't respond well-- I go along and then it stops.  For the time being, it works better if I just use a finger.  I will look into the Pencil, however, and see if it is recommended for left-handers.  In the meantime, I'm getting better already.

While looking through my photo archives at landscapes references, I found some images from Ireland that I call Galway Blues.  They strike a cool note on this last day of July 2017.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Mid-Summer Mood

Our recent heat and humidity wave almost did me in.  After several cool days in Seattle, I returned to what seemed a blast furnace on arrival at BWI.  I survived and the last two days with rain and cooler temperatures have totally rejuvenated me.  Part of this year's summer is a general lack of focus in my creative life.  I've been all over the map and generally resisting making a commitment to any serious project.  We all get into a rut from time to time.  For me, working with a camera, sketchbook, or painting/drawing app like Procreate gets the creative juices flowing.  Along with that I look through old sketchbooks. The above is a photo collage of a few things I found in a sketchbook  from about three to four years ago.  It reminds me how much I love birds--especially ravens and other "blackbirds".

I was sitting on the patio yesterday and feeling happy again about the mosaic rocks that decorate the rock wall that surrounds the area.  All were created by Rick Shelley.  See his whimsical and exquisite works at www.rickshelley.com.  These are ours:

Because it's summer, here is a favorite summer photo from the past.  I call this "The Gate Keeper".  This praying mantis was very comfortable with us as we worked in the garden.  Although we were in and out of the gate all day, she stayed put and kept an eye on us.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Just returned from Seattle, WA where I was visiting family.  Still feeling a bit of jet lag, but had a wonderful time with the twins, Lillian and Penelope, who are now 2 1/4 years old.  We had art play on the patio several times.  Drawing with them is an energy filled experience.  They draw fast--sometimes big gesture arcs and zigzags followed by carefully placed little lines and dots.  I might color in some of the shapes as they are formed and they would shout out the color.  They are just starting to use words, although they definitely have a language they understand with each other.  They get frustrated when we don't understand what they are trying to say--so understandable.

Loved being in the Seattle area with July temperatures in the 70's.  Flowers were amazing and I saw many gardens but really had trouble taking photographs with the little girls along.  I did have my iPhone and took several videos, but haven't figured out how (or even if it's possible) to post videos on Blogger--another thing to research.  Here in Pennsylvania, flowers are blooming nicely too.  Above is our favorite daylily.  We love its creamy pinkness and beautiful fragrance.  The scent is particularly  lovely at the end of the day--it envelopes the back garden.

With the small amount of time I had for working on my texture layer challenge, I did manage to try a couple of things.  I don't think I've mentioned before that I use Photoshop CS5.  I've used Photoshop several years, but still feel like a novice.  There are endless things to learn about this program.  If you are interested in working with layers and don't want to spend hundred's of dollars on the latest Photoshop, I recommend Photoshop Elements which you can buy for under $100 and it does everything the average photographer might need for basic editing as well tools for more creative editing.  Below, I used the brick steps from the previous post and turned it into a night scene with a ghostly figure.

Next is the photo of me on game day with my sisters combined with another archived texture which I converted to gray-scale using Channel Mixer.  This was a quick trick because I wanted to get a post in today.  I'm having fun with these exercises and hope to share a few more in the near future.

And here are two photos of cosmos--one of my favorite summer flowers as seen in Gettysburg, PA

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Texture Layers

Recently I met with my sisters for a hearty breakfast and a game of Word on the Street.  The game board and large letter tiles make it look deceptively simple.  We played with the "moderately difficult" stack of cards, which seemed about right for us, but I have this nagging feeling there's something in the rules of play we overlooked this time.  Nevertheless, here I am looking confidently in control.  I like this photo and decided to frame it with a texture layer.  I found this one on Flickr.  There are several "Texture" groups on Flickr.  Some of the groups collect photos of things that have a textured surface.  The ones I'm interested in have photos, of what I would call, found or created texture.  I'm even more interested if the photographer says they are free to use and have fun with.  The above was created with such an example.  One of my favorite texture makers is Linda Vachon.  Below are two textures she posted in the Flickr group:  textures free.

A quick example of how I might use a texture layer in Photoshop, I choose the spider web above and added portions of a photo of me.  I used the Liquify tool to distort my mouth and eyes and added some dark brush strokes for a more sinister atmosphere. 

I have created some texture layers of my own, such as the photos I took of my scratched and stained studio table, water drops on glass, the texture of certain papers.  Here are three examples of photos I took outside our house. 

Blossoms on Brick

Camera Motion on Brick Steps

Webs between pavement and stones

I challenge myself to come up with new photographic works featuring these texture photos.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Celebrating July 4th

A laziness is starting to take hold now that it is July.  I just want to relax with a book in the shady garden down from the patio.  In fact, I did do some of that yesterday, but I also brought out my easel, pastels and charcoal and worked on some sketches of the garden statuary.  These are good subjects.  They don't charge a fee, they don't move and they have interesting textures.  It felt good to be working outside and taking time to really see the variety of greens and other colors that exist in the filtered light of tall oaks.  

Thinking of making art reminded me of my volunteer day at the York Art Association last week where I had a conversation with the Office Manager (also talented artist), Jessica Lee.  We talked about the challenge of making art when art is not financially supporting the artist--the subject was not specifically stated, but as I recall it, this was certainly the undercurrent.  Jessica is creating art everyday.  This past year she immersed herself in learning poured acrylic techniques--a technique that requires lots and lots of paint and acrylic medium.  She is exhibiting somewhere all the time and posts her works on Instagram and Facebook everyday. When it became known that she was having trouble affording art supplies for poured acrylic paint technique, donations of various art supplies started coming in.  She is thrilled with the gifts which are challenging her to move in new directions. She is still creating art work everyday--currently pastel works, which is why I decided to work with pastels yesterday.  Looking at her work is helping me.  See Jessica Lee on Instagram @jessalynn08.  There is a link there to her website as well.

Jessie and I also talked about drawing and I told her about an assignment I had in Drawing 3:  draw something in super-size.  At the time I was in love with my Canon A610 digital camera and made that the subject.  I found two photos that picture it.  In one I'm working on it at home on a ping pong table.  The finished drawing is on the classroom wall.  I really enjoyed that assignment.