Sunday, October 27, 2013
Late in a September day my husband took me and my canvas for a boat ride and we anchored off of Duck Point on the Siletz River. Fishermen know where it is because of the good hole there for catching Chinook. I sketched with pencil onto the canvas. Then the next day at the RV camp I painted it from memory of years past. Finally a month later I finished it at home.
Sunday, October 20, 2013
For the past three months most of my painting time has been devoted to painting this 22" x 28" memory of our families' trip to Central America. At the table are representatives of three generations of a Mayan family, three generations of our family, and two generations of another family from Oregon.
At the heart of our table are the tortillas. As an invitation to the viewer the empty chair at the bottom of the painting reveals the variety of foods provided by OAT, our tour company. We enjoyed many local foods accompanying the chicken soup. The line of the tablecloth, I hope points the eye eventually to the open side of the house and to the steaming volcano.
While painting I wondered what Mildred's values were in a land of earth quakes and volcanic eruptions. I had learned that the Mayan people believe they were created from maize. Corn is still a major part of their life along with Western China kept safe in a China cabinet anchored by ropes to a cement block wall. I have not figured how to depict the ropes meaningfully to the viewer but presentation of traditional and new foods must be high on a list of importance.
Monday, October 14, 2013
Mildred still doesn't look Mayan. With a pencil I drew in a new hair line. Brushing the brush strokes smooth with a soft clean brush does make skin look moist and glowing. The lower lip is even more full than Mildred's. The eyes are good because she is looking at the girl who is passing her a coup while speaking.
The five year old face also looked like me so with an exacto blade I scraped and added some whites.
Mildred is a weaver of Mayan women's blouses. So details in the weaving are important enough to try and depict more clearly.She also made a thin decorative braid for her daughter ending in a tassel. I hope people are familiar with shuttles for the loom. With a few corrections like eliminating the weaver's shuttle because it looks like some knitting not weaving. Also eliminating the clutter because the painting is about what we all felt about lunch. Also, the post between the dwellings opening needs clarity because people still see the openings as windows. Pertinent to the meal is the food storage in plastic covered buckets. I'll label them as being beans, rice, dried fish for protein, and dried corn. Since Mildred says she fixes chicken soup often, every market day means a meal with fresh foods. Food storage is important to the meal and should be a part of the painting.
Monday, October 07, 2013
In the 80's I taught airbrush at Linn Benton Community College until my eyes swelled up from the detergent used to clean the brushes. furthermore I needed glasses to see up close and paint spray would obscure and then harden on my glasses or goggles.
Directions for airbrush-like soft blending on a large scale canvas.
One trick is to keep the surface damp without puddles. With a spray bottle or natures' sprinkles dampen the entire surface. Place canvas flat on the ground. Then with a cloth rag dip into jar of Liquitex Ultra Matte Gel. Spread gel thinly and evenly over the canvas. Keep the surface damp by spritzing with water. Next add a little color on rag saturated with gel. Spread colored gel over the still wet canvas. Then help along the spreading with more spritzing.
If luck is with you the sun will break through the mist and dry the canvas as it to my great pleasure today.
The upper half of painting "Sunshine....", required four layers of the gel treatment.
Saturday, October 05, 2013
Picture is of accordion watercolor book class participants
One morning and one afternoon the workshops include my watercolor painting accordion books for the eighth year. Each year brings new exciting ideas about a family oriented crafts that include nature study. Other classes include fish printing, wire wrap Jewelry making, recycled grocery bag printing, and bird house making. Classes begin at 10:30 AM and 2 PM. At the Oregon Hatchery Research Center at Fall Creek Road 13 miles West of Alsea on Highway 34 the third annual Fall Creek Festival. This family event welcomes families with members of all generations. The event takes place in the classrooms of the Research Center overlooking spawning salmon in Fall Creek. A morning and afternoon workshop is free with all supplies and a free lunch included. Also given is a vegetarian option. Don't miss the tour of the hatchery after lunch. The public is invited but reservations are necessary as space is limited. This year will include found supplies, and demonstration of commercial papers, paper folding and ideas on seeing nature and keeping memories. To make reservations call 541-487-5512 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, October 04, 2013
The challenge here is to decide whether or not to add a boat in the background or a dragon fly on the bent grass - or neither. Perhaps work more on the color of the light. The tender green grass wet might pick up more on the golden atmosphere. There might be more transition of the shallow water or mud.
"Lunch at Mildred's" on a rough self-prepared canvas allowed for a dry brush soft pastel effect. In landscapes the soft approach is easier than trying to do portraits on a rough surface. No wonder that commercial prepared smooth canvas and linen is advertised as being ideal for portraits.
The most important lesson is to keep from building up thick bulging strokes of paint. These ridges make shadows counter to the final shape of the face. Mixed texture gives the face multiple expressions in different lightnings. Likewise, just the smallest difference in color in any given part of the face can change expression from hope to impish mischief.
High lights are the brightest when thick and create a shadow to pop them. So thinking of the direction of light can wait until last.
Paul Cezanne was a good mentor for me because he selected hard edges and soft to create form. Also he painted wonderful whites.
Thursday, October 03, 2013
Eleven people around a table is a challenge for me. Eleven portraits with facial and body language illustrating the group is engaged and relating to one another. There is outdoor light, reflected light from the white tablecloth, and light from a light bulb.
The biggest challenge is deciding what belongs in the painting and what would get in the way of telling a story. The composition needs to invite the viewer as though they were taking part. My device is to have the empty chair and table setting in the foreground. Central to the story is corn - the Mayan symbol for how they were created from corn. The corn plant in the opening of the home could be a ritual plant sewn by a child. The child takes a kernel from this plant and plants it again to see that each generation of corn is identical. The ritual teaches them that they are an identical seed to their ancestors. The tortillas in the center of the table is displayed in their handwoven cloth in a basket. A cloth in a kettle also made the tortillas the most attractively presented food.
This painting is almost done but the steaming volcano is important but too close to the edge so must be revised and made more prominent. Destructive explosions and earthquakes are a reality for Guatemalans.
As I keep saying every day for two weeks. Tommorrow will be the resolution.