Blog

flora and fauna, step by step, how to

A red amaryllis

amarillus-full-webI saw this stunning flower growing out of a very small border garden.  I snapped a quick pic with my phone and I found it interesting–mostly because I was amazed that such a beauty came from a meager space.  It had just rained and there were some raindrops still on the petals.

When I got half way through the work, I realized my values were so much alike, I was headed for trouble.

I was using a few different reds…from Sennellier Red (the main red) to Alizarin Crimson and a little glazing with Opera.  I needed to change something, but I could not figure out what to do.

There was a point where I was very ready to gesso over the whole thing.  Instead, I slept on it.  Two days later, it came to me what I should do.

I glazed the background petals with scarlet red by winsor and newton.  It was so intense and gave me the depth I needed.  Problem solved.

The problems we face are only as difficult as those we are up to solving.  If we can’t figure them out, it’s perfectly ok to continue and keep moving forward.  don’t quit. Take a break.   That’s a good reason to blog.  I may be talking to myself, but I don’t mind. It’s better than watching t.v.

If you  would like a print on paper, metal, canvas or textile, click the image.

 

 

 

people

Guitar Player

guitarist-th

I painted this in July and forgot to include it in the blog  Better late than never.

Meeting friends in downtown Chapala and  walking the malacon after dinner, I spotted this young man in a crowd, meandering his way through the restaurant umbrellas.  I did not see his face but he had a quick step of happiness in his stride.

Of course, I had to paint him. I loved the way he casually slung the guitar over his back and he was definitely walking with a purpose.  I wondered, “was this before or after a gig?”

It’s a treat to see he wore a pink shirt and straw hat.  Of course!  Thank you kind sir for your happy stride.

prints available here

dogs, horses, cats

Jake and Elwood, Calico Twins

jake-friend-th.jpgJake and Elwood are named after the Blues Brothers film.  Their caretakers are my good friends in Washington.   Judy and Larry adopted them when they were babies from a shelter.  Calicos are my favorite cats.  I love their temperament and their handsome looks.  They are usually a little on the hefty side, which feels nice when they sit on your lap.  Judy’s photo of them was amazing and inspired me to try this watercolor.

Lately the more I try to preserve my whites on the paper, the more I get caught up on dancing around the main issue.  I learned a lot with this painting.  I tackled what I thought was the main goal first and sketched it out in pencil.  There are 2 cats who love to look out the window and love to dream.  Anything can happen out there and no matter what, they stay safe inside.

Yes, they are dark against light.  Inside vs. outside. I added a little twist by curling their tails together which create a visual heart.  Cats are popular for a reason.  Maybe they are really as wise as the Egyptians made them out to be.

To purchase prints here’s where to go.

Ajijic

Man with Panama Hat

I noticed this gentleman in downtown Ajijic, Mexico.  I took his picture early last summer and he struck me as being very distinguished.  He looked serious.  His camera had a very long lens and a sun visor.  He looked at ease and he was definitely not your average person in the square.  I kept looking for a dog but he did not have one.

I did not forget him so six months later, I am painting him.  So what is it about him that makes him so intriguing?  I am guessing that he has a history and it is not Mexico.  I think he has traveled and I think he has seen a lot of the world.  Why do certain images stick in our brain.  I hope he is ok and doing well.

The thing about this watercolor is this…it was painted as a tonal value piece.  Three shades of light, medium and dark painted in paynes grey.  The paper was Fabriano Uno paper, the old version that had little or no sizing on it.  I soaked the paper well and adhered it to a board.  I started by using wet into wet and because the paper was stretched. it was pretty near impossible to get a hard edge.  So I went with it.  Later I learned that stretched paper cannot hold a hard edge, and you do not lose color the way you do with painting on sized paper.  I did not know that.  So everything will have a soft edge. Originally, the pencil drawing on the sheet had detail in his face, in his shoes and his camera bag.  All was lost. But I don’t consider this a bad thing because I learned from it.

When the painting was dry after a whole day, I gently laid layers of transparent colors on certain areas, such as the background foliage, the people and the tiled shiny wall.  Listo.  Reproductions are here:

panama-hat-web

Ajijic

Cleaning the Light

cleaning- the -light-thI saw this woman a few months ago cleaning a doctor’s office.  I was struck by the beautiful light coming from the open door.  Inside was dark and she was almost in silhouette.  I could not get her image out of my head.  So here she is in watercolor in a fairly large painting.

In Mexico,  you see women with the revered string mop just about every day.  They sweep and then mop.  It isn’t as easy as it sounds.  I’ve tried it a few times and I’ve given up.  I don’t try anymore.  Now Betty does it for me and I really appreciate her.

I just love the image as it is a celebration of our everyday lives.  We should always appreciate these little gifts of a simple life, as they make us more human and more humble.

Purchase prints or textiles here:

cleaning- the -light-web

thoughts behind the work

When drawing freehand can be a strain

lady-oshkanwaska-thI have always drawn freehand.  This means no outside aides such as  projectors or outside electronic devices.  Now I’m on a venture to get bigger and bigger in my artworks and I need to at least make my photo and apply a grid to it so I can get my proportions correctly.  Yesterday I spent 3 hours drawing and erasing a medium sized layout on watercolor paper.  It was a nasty experience and I still don’t have it right, so I’m feeling frustrated.  The last time I used a projector was in 2004 when I painted a several big oil paintings.

This was a very large oil on linen that a good friend in Washington is holding for me.  It is rolled up in a tube with a few other big oils and someday I will arrange to get them back to me in Mexico.   At the time, I had an old projector and I remember that I hung the linen on the wall and did an outline of the composition in oil and the color I recall was burnt umber.  That’s all I can remember at the time.  But I think I worked on this painting a really long time…..maybe a few weeks.

lady ashkanazi

Once again I am toying with the idea of going back to oils but right now I have a major focus on watercolor as I feel I need much more attention to getting better and better at the elusive water media.

I know it’s a well documented idea but it’s important to never compare yourself to others.  One thing I am know is that I had classical artistic training that I am grateful for it every day.

thoughts behind the work

Painting Scissors: trials of life-art lesson

scissors.jpgThere is a story to these scissors.  It is about how I love tools and figured out a way to keep them, in spite of letting them go.  Loving tools can be a good thing or a bad thing.  When I left my home in Washington, I was determined to get rid of everything that was not absolutely essential.  My new chapter in life had to be bare bones.  I was successful.  My wonderful friends helped me de-stash.  If you have never done it, it is hard.  They did a big 2 day garage sale for me while I left the premises for those days.  That was a good plan.  I did not want to mess things up.  I know I would have cried and acted weird so they took over.

 

Here are just a few of the things they sold for me.

P1080444P1080445

So how does a painting evolve from this?  I took pictures before I left the house and even though they are not posted here, there were two photos that stood out.  One was where I laid out all my hammers, every kind of hammer you could think of.  The other was I laid out a shot of all the types of scissors that were in the sale.  I drew the hammers on my sketch pad with walnut ink. Then I drew the scissors with a black pen on white watercolor paper, thinking maybe it would be a good coloring book page.
So what I did was paint these 2 sketches: hammers and scissors became patterns for clothing. aka wall art.   I underpainted the scissors drawing  with inks and then painted several layers over that when it was very dry. First I used blues and purples for the background, (cobalt blue and violet) and then several layers of transparent yellows and golds for the scissors.  My favorite orange was the Maimeri “orange  lake” which is a gorgeous and very transparent color.  I layered a little Maimeri gouache white over the ribbon.
scissors-raw-dark-web
available scissors watercolor
img212
hammers wash watercolor in Walnut ink  available: hammers

So here’s the point to this story. …You never lose things in life.  They are in your memory, your heart.  That’s what this making art stuff is all about.  You make an effort to try to enjoy what’s in front of you before it disappears because you know you will disappear too. If you leave a little art behind, maybe somebody will get a chance to enjoy what you did too.  amen