Driving through the Bighorn Mountains a few years ago, Bob and I came upon the beautiful scene that so clearly shows the changing seasons. It was very late September, a cold, clear, crisp morning. Off to the right far up the hill some horses were playing, chasing and calling out to one another. It was a very memorable moment for both of us.
Then our brakes on our brand new van glazed over and started smoking - another memorable moment!
I'm calling this one a study because I am already thinking of things I'd like to try to play with the image. I also have this on my wall as a large photograph, but have always wanted to do in in some form of art.
I have moved from working in mainly scratchboard for over a year to doing pastels and acrylic or oil miniature paintings. I've been thinking about why that is, and what my goals for each would be.
1. Scratchboard: I love the extreme detail that is possible with scratchboard. A lot of mine are in black and white so the focus is on light, values, and lost edges - not color. On the downside, since it is a very slow process with many layers of diluted ink it takes a long time. Working from life is not much of a reality for most scratchboard artists. Working from photos can be a problem for me. The tendency can be to just copy it instead of interpreting it. Sometimes I feel the need for an alternative to force me out of it.
2. Pastel: That need for an alternative has led me take up pastel again. My #1 goal for pastels is to practice a much more impressionistic way of working. I love the textures and looseness of pastel painting. I also often prefer things other than brushes for my work: scratchboard tools, pencils, pastel sticks, etc. I also enjoy the color possibilities of pastels. With my limited amount of colors in pastel I have to think more about what colors and values I can get to make the image work within those limits. That is a very good thing! Again, it forces me away from copying the photo too literally. My goal for pastel is to gain enough studio skill that I can move into plein air painting. I tried it a bit this summer, but hadn't yet gained enough of the basic skills to succeed. I'm still working towards a more impressionistic look in them - I suspect I'll be fighting that battle for quite a while!
3. Miniature Acrylic/Oil Paintings: Sometimes I just like to paint and I am enchanted by miniature paintings. This is another area that I became aware of within the last year. I have looked at lots of miniature shows online and studied the guidelines for art enough to have an understanding and appreciation for it. (Minatures have the goal of 1/6 scale or lower, a very flat surface - no impasto, are normally quite realistic, and need to hold up well to magnification since they are meant to be held in the hand and looked at through a magnifying glass.) Plus, I don't currently have enough sales or wall space for larger art. Miniatures, for now, will be a bit more in the hobby stage, just working on them occasionally. As I get a few finished and framed I may submit work to some miniature shows. I'll set next year as my goal. It seems a lot of the very good shows run in the fall and winter.
I'm hoping all these things will mesh together to help me grow in expressing myself as an artist.
This one is titled "Fleeting Brilliance" and is 9x12" pastel on sanded paper. I thought it was finished until I looked at it on the computer. It's not for sale yet because I am going to work on it more later today. When I get the final version I'll switch out this image for the new one, keeping it in this same post to keep the days in order.
The river is our local river, the Raisin River in Monroe County, Michigan.
Last of the day's light over the lagoon at Sterling State Park on a warm summer's eve. I really loved the way the water was catching just a few streaks of red as the sun dropped below the horizon. I almost lost the series of photos through a moment of careless deleting on the camera. Fortunately I was able to run a recovery program on the card and get them back. Once gone these moments in time can never be duplicated (except in art!)
The Pictured Rock National Lakeshore is a magical place of color and textures. We were able to take the boat ride along the shoreline quite a few years back and I have always wanted to do some artwork based on my photos. Here is one of the most colorful. The water there is very cold, deep, clear, and colorful. It is a very beautiful place. It also has many miles of hiking trails, but we didn't do that part. I wanted to see the rock formations from up close at waterlevel. Now to be a kayaker...!
We went to Kentucky to visit some friends and got lost down in one of the 'hollers' as we drove to their house. The road was deep in the woods, down a valley, with a stream too deep to drive running across it - no cell phone reception to call the. Fortunately a few local kids were hanging out down there and were able to give us directions. Turned out if we had been able to cross the creek we would have been on their property. As it was we had to take about a half hour driving around the other way.
But is was a really lovely area with some bright yellow summer flowers dotting the hillsides.
For many years I have enjoyed sitting on my patio in the fall as the sun goes down and seeing the edges of the apple leaves turn to gold from the beautiful backlighting. This pastel painting is my impression of the scene.
Leslie Saeta, from Slices of Life hosts a challenge every now and then for artists to join her in doing 30 paintings in 30 days. I tried this early in the year and stopped after a week or so. Now I'm trying it again starting today. The challenge runs through September so I'm catching it on Day 1.
I'm planning on doing mostly pastels because I could use the practice. My goal will be to focus more on large shapes and impressions and less on details.
This one is a sunset from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, one of my own photo references from a few years ago. It is a 5x7" pastel using soft pastel on Ampersand Pastelbord ™. It's not a surface I have used much. I have several pieces of it, but I'm finding I like working on sanded paper better.