Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Recent work

  With December came commissions.  I stayed up late painting while my husband stayed up late building a light table and a marble run for the kiddos.  We both think that the ideal situation would be for us to get to work together all day on various projects.  It's good time.

This commission came first, from some friends of ours.  Their little niece, who is the same age as my little girl, was killed in an accident recently.  This was my first posthumous work, and my first time painting someone who I haven't actually seen before.  It was difficult on both accounts.  We had to send images back and forth as I was painting, trying to make sure I was getting the face right.  When I've seen and talked to the person myself, there's a point where it just magically clicks and I know I've got it.  So this was an interesting process.
And then, of course, on an emotional level this was a new experience as well.  I guess I would put this more in the category of spiritual/religious work.  I have several friends who have lost children.  I wondered how a piece like this would affect the parents.  Would it be more difficult than good?  So I had to make it a matter of prayer to get the right image, the right feeling.  And I know I did have help.  The ideas came directly and easily.
I ended up dressing her in white (she loved the beach) and using the circle/square symbolism we see sometimes in our temples (with the circle being heaven and the square being the four corners of the earth). 
 My good friend Liz saw the small works I did for my sis and bro. in law and wanted to commission some for her husband.  We ended up choosing three images from their many travels around the world.  These are quite small, so not a lot of detail.

 And it was fun to see them framed.

 Next, my brother's birthday is just before Christmas, and I always feel like his birthday gets brushed over for the holidays.  So I wanted to do something good for his birthday this year.  This is a nice, big piece that I started many years ago, but never got past the underpainting.  I called this one "Engel Onder De Windmolens" (translated from the Dutch: Angel Among the Windmills). 

 And finally, one of six portraits I've been working on for the Bawden family.  I'm trying to finish this and one other in the next few weeks and then the series will finally be done!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Timeline Paintings

My brother in law, an architect, recently commissioned me to do some paintings for my sister, who does interiors, to put on a wall they've had some trouble with.  He picked up an idea from an art exhibit where each piece was hung flush with the next along the horizon line.  So we decided to take that idea and do a timeline of sorts, moments in their lives.
I settled on ten images, most are prettty small.  I took some photos of the process along the way...

And here they are, cropped in next to each other, just so we can see what they look like next to each other.  The sizes aren't comparatively correct though...

This was a fun project, as I really only do portraits and figure work.   So all of the architecture, landscape, interiors, etc., was all new territory for me.  Also, the palette was very limited (white, black, yellow ochre, and burnt sienna), when I typically use a lot of color.  The black became my blue, mixing with yellow ochre for the green.  And the burnt sienna became my red.
Thanks for the opportunity, Sam and Tris!  It was really fun!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Art in the Summer

 My sis setup some art classes in her backyard for me to teach this summer.  We just did one hour per class, once a week for a month.  I think, between the two classes, we had about 28 kids, ranging in age from 3 to 15.
We focused on watercolor, beginning with technique, and then moving on to projects which taught some basic art/design principles.  Teaching kids like this was definitely a new thing for me--a lot of work--but I learned a lot.  I was surprised by how much the skill and attention span varied from one kid to the next, seemingly regardless of age.
 One of our projects was this receding islands piece, based on a work by one of my favorite illustrators, Jon Klassen.  We were able to use the texture techniques from a previous lesson, while also learning about distance, atmosphere, foreground/background, warm/cool, gradation, etc..  SO many good things about this lesson, but I really needed two hours to teach it, instead of just one.

 One of the lessons ended in a variety of root vegetable paintings.  This might have been the kiddos' favorite, as it incorporated various media, and the stations/steps were clearly laid out on separate tables, so that there was very little instruction needed.
We created the dirt with watercolor texture techniques, after having created roots with either rubber cement or white crayon as a resist.  The beets/radishes were then stamped using both tempera and acrylic paints.  From there, they had the choice of how to do the leaves: with watercolor, colored pencil, or another stamping technique. 
 The results really varied and everyone loved this project!

 Sometimes it was fun just to watch the very young ones play and experiment with whatever materials we had on the tables, string, straws, you name it.  We got really messy sometimes, which is so refreshing for kids!

 One lesson focused more on drawing and observation skills.  We had two still lifes, one floral and one with plastic toy bugs.  One hour was simply not enough time to even scratch the surface with this.  So, even though they learned, I don't think it was very satisfying for them.  I needed a good two hours at least, and probably two sessions at that. 

I also held an activity in our backyard, just for friends and neighborhood kiddos.  I had been wanting to try the whole bubble painting thing.  I didn't instruct anyone.  We just put the materials out and let the kids go.  It was fun!  And the mess was actually kind of pretty!