Saturday, December 25, 2010

Gingerbread Queenslander

Nay's neice Kyra installed the roof tiles. The front steps and roof trusses we made out of Rice Krispy treats.

Christmas in Australia. Naomi and I decided to build a gingerbread house in the local architectural style: high set, with a wraparound verandah, a swimming pool, and no snow. No snow was my favorite part because it meant we could have lots of color.

Here's Jessamine having a look

For the yard I wanted to do a candy collage instead of building specific plants. Naomi made some awesome palm trees out of the big peppermint sticks and some cotton candy, which started drooping and contracting immediately. You can tell in this photo: she did the blue one first

The humidity (87%) was a big issue. After sitting overnight, the house looked like it had been hit by a cyclone (also be an authentic effect). The hard candy was melting. The melted-sugar glue turned back into liquid and dripped off the board onto the floor. The railings fell off and everything sagged. The gingerbread, instead of going stale and stiff, stayed soft and was delicious to eat.

This is just from standing overnight.
We transported the whole thing to the Christmas Day luncheon, where the grandchildren eventually destroyed it.
Naomi and I decided we have outdone ourselves (and the candy budget--$115.00) and have nothing left to prove. In the future we will build only small gingerbread houses...unless there's a contest or something.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mural at Raleigh Hills School

"The Garden Grows; We Grow" was the theme for this 4x27' framed mural. 512 enthusiastic children contributed ideas, painted dots, and offered daily encouragements as they passed by--"Good job!" "I like your painting!" "Hi Mrs. Artist!" I love my job.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mafficking on the River

At a fundraiser this evening for the Multnomah Arts Center Association, six of the guests sat on the pontoon boat long enough for me to put them in the painting. Thanks to Bill and Marge for a beautiful evening on the river!
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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Progress of a Painting

Here are two stages of a painting I'm working on for the October show at the Glenn & Viola Walters Cultural Arts Center in Hillsboro. I'm working from a snapshot I took without time to properly frame the picture, so I've cropped it and reorganized things a bit. There's still quite a way to go on this.
This painting is 30 x 32 inches

New Additions to the Sophie Series

These oil studies on acrylic-coated Bogus Sketch paper are from last Saturday's Open Life Session at the Multnomah Arts Center. Sophie has modeled for me so much that I could have a show of paintings & drawings of just her.

Another way to treat paper so that you can oil paint on it is to give it a coat of hardware-store-variety shellac. It doesn't warp the paper like the acrylic matte medium does.

Those clips in the corners are clothespins holding the paper to the venetian blinds.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Art Party: collage & paint

Every so often I have an art party in my studio. This one was more of a collaborative workshop with me as the teacher. The idea is to use three elements to create a picture: an image from a magazine, a postage stamp, and a word or phrase. It's nice for folks who aren't expert painters because the magazine image gets you started and you can have a nice image in your painting without having to render it.

As you can see, there was a lot of variation and even departure from the three-element structure, but creativity is more important. If you have an idea, follow it.

The first image below, "We Don't Know for Sure" is my demonstration piece. The rest are collaborations (to various extents) with the other artists. Each person chose her own image, painted her board, pasted in the image and started painting, and at some point after that I got involved in refining the balance of the composition. I love this process because the resulting paintings are something neither I or the other artist could have come up with working alone.

"Om Shanti," by April with very little help from me.

"Bloom" is Sandy's piece from the last art party

"Not Knowing, I Really Can't Say"
by Sandy and me.

"This is Where the Miracles Happen"
by Sherie and me

"Take Nothing for Granted"
by Maggie with a little refinement by me.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Color Theory 101

Breaking down the color in a photograph. Start with a magazine photograph. You want one that has two or three strong colors and natural lighting, and not too much going on--food magazines (like Martha Stewart, Saveur, Sunset) seem to have the best photos for this project. Choose paint chips that match as closely as possible the colors in the photograph. Look for shadow and reflection colors as well as the strong colors. Assemble the paint chips in a pattern that roughly matches the composition in the photograph.
Step three is to copy your collage using paint.

This is an optical illusion that demonstrates the fact that VALUE IS RELATIVE. Squares A and B are exactly the same shade of gray. I even sampled them in Photoshop to test this out and they are, in fact, identical. So the dark squares lit are the same value as the light squares in shadow.

Three identical value scales look different on different backgrounds. Value is relative.

Color is the same way. A color can look very different depending on its context.

Robert Gamblin's paint company is located in Portland. They make high quality artists' oil paints and have a great website with lots of information for artists. I recommend watching the video describing what RG calls 'color space,' the three-dimensional model of color that maps hue, value, and chroma, and relates it to Gamblin's paint products. Very useful for painters.

Adobe Systems (where I had a summer job once) offers a site for playing with color and creating color palettes. It's called Kuler.

ColorMunki has a Munsell color sorting test you can take (it's worth registering for) as well as a 'Knowledge' section with an excellent glossary of color terms.

Friday, July 16, 2010

SW Taylor from 9th Ave

Today's the last day of the workshop. Here I'm looking east down Taylor St. starting at eight o'clock.
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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hawthorne Bridge

Today I biked into town early and did this little sketch before class. The board had another painting on it which I'd sanded down a bit, and it was mostly dark. I started with the dark shapes of the bridge and trees and then cut in the sky and water around them.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Little landscape on the way home

This is on Terwilliger. The road has some beautiful curves and today I had my little paintbox with me, coming back from the first day of the plein-air class downtown. It's six by eight.
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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Plein-air Painting Workshops

Here's Gay Pulley's painting from the last day of the Multnomah Village workshop. If you know the village you'll recognize the bento hut across the street from the Arts Center. Interesting challenge to paint bright yellow in shadow. In the light side we used cadmium yellow medium + cad orange + a little white. In the shadow side we started with yellow ochre, added cobalt blue and alizarin crimson, and then some cad yellow until it acquired the proper color identity.

Here are more photos from the July 6-9 class.

I have discovered a new landscape painting book, recently published, written by Mitch Albala (whose work is on display this month at Brian Marki Fine Art on NE Broadway--a good show with Scott Gellatly and another artist). Mitch teaches at the Gage Academy in Seattle. His book is excellent and I highly recommend it: Landscape Painting: Essential Concepts and Techniques for Plein Air and Studio Practice.

And here is a link to an album that includes some of my favorite landscape artists.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Every fall the apple trees drop fruit onto the ground. There's grass but it's not a proper lawn--there are bare patches and fallen leaves, and rotting apples with the fresh ones. In the shadows cast by the house and posts the raindrops are sparkly and blue and the wet leaves reflect the sky. I gather the windfalls into this old bucket (it came with the house) and dump them in the compost.

This painting is sold.