Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Solstice and I got a gift!

My favorite holiday is here again...dark and gloomy, as usual. The sun, on it's rare and brief appearances here in Vermont,  has barely been able to peer over the distant tree tops during the last week. But what I like about winter solstice is that it is the turning point; ever so slowly the days will lengthen and light will strengthen.  May there be some bright cold sunny days right around the corner?
photograph by Michael Poster
Look who I found at Windham County Humane Society...what a lucky day for me! He's 16 pounds of cuddles. And he is obviously a painter's cat...look at the bold black brush stroke under his nose. He has not been named yet...any suggestions? He's a laid back guy, only slightly perturbed at a rambunctious cattle dog who is monitoring his very move.

In 2012 our two old cats, Harley (19) & Norton (13) left us six months apart. Many knew Harley who loved an Open Studio for all the attention she would garner from visitors. She never tired of guests. Norton was her exact opposite. At the first sign of a stranger at our door Norton would run and hide, a very private fellow.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sketching Group

I have been an avid sketcher since high school. It is fun. It appeals to my industrious nature. I get better at it over time (unlike many other things which I seem to get worse lifting heavy objects or walking fast or remembering proper nouns). Sketching seems to help put the world in order on a personal history kind of level.

Birds of a feather occasionally flock together and this often happens over coffee somewhere on Main Street in Brattleboro, Vermont. We talk. We check out each others new pens, pencils and sketchbooks. We stop talking and start scratching quietly on paper. We try not to be too obvious in scrutinizing  our hopefully unsuspecting fellow coffee drinkers while they eat their lunch or work on their laptops or commiserate over their parents or toddlers. We complain when our 'model' leaves the scene. Sometimes we decide still life is easier.  For a couple hours a week we enjoy the company of other sketchers.

For those artists who think it feels weird to draw in public, I say it is one of the nicer things people do in cafes. Most people are too busy text-ing to notice what or how well you draw. Why not join us? Or assemble a sketching group wherever you are.

Our coordinator and organizing guru wears two pairs of glasses - at once. She is an accomplished sketcher (and has X-ray vision).

These recent sketches were done in a watercolor moleskine landscape format  (5 x 8.5")with Prismacolor Premier fine line markers

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Aegis Art Works Exhibit

I've been invited to show my pastel paintings during the Cotton Mill Open Studio and Holiday Sale. My work will be on the 3rd floor filling the exhibition space at Aegis Art Works. Come up and have a look...there is room for all of you! Suite A354, 74 Cotton Mill Hill,  Brattleboro, VT.
Friday, Nov. 30, 10-7
Saturday, Dec. 1, 10-6
Sunday, Dec. 2, 10-5

Check out Michael Poster's Photographs on the second floor in his huge brand new studio(!), as well as two dozen other artists and fine crafts workers all over the building; blown glass, woodworking, furniture, ceramics, circus, dance, music, film, garden sculpture, jewelry, books, bodywork, jams, candles - shopping, performances, demonstrations, food, fun....plenty of parking.

Aegis Art Works handles fine art - crating, installation, transport, exhibition and storage.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Butternut Gallery and Second Story Books

One of the best things about my hometown, Montrose, PA is the Butternut Gallery and Second Story Books. The proprietors, a husband and wife team, Betty Bryden and Tom Canouse, show a continually changing selection of fine art and craft. Their collection of lightly used books never ceases to amaze me; always something I'm interested in. This place is a treasure in the community. How lucky to have this enduring business and cultural addition right in the center of town. They regularly show the work of over twenty artists.

I  moved away from the hometown of my life. I now live in Vermont, but I return to the Butternut several times a year and I bring my new paintings there. Stop in during the holidays for some good cheer,  new art,  unique gifts and good reads...children's books, too. 570-278-4011

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Why draw?

Why not?

Sometimes you just want to draw - motivation!  So, I looked around my house with pencil in hand for the subject. Ah, those adorable squashes (and one pumpkin)! They taste great, but so far have looked too good to cook. After all, I had purchased them for their appearance. Having a block of two hours, I strung them out on my smooth maple dining room table adding an item destined for my husband's lunch.  The cherished vase, made by Ray Kaplan of Philadelphia, has been sitting on the table alone for several weeks since Ray gave it to us.

This is a subtle and delicate pencil wash drawing...if I was using pastels I may have given these objects a very different treatment. Moleskine Folio A4 Watercolor Album (12 x 8.5 inches), Derwent Sketching Wash pencils (light and bold), brushes, water, sharpener and erasers (dogs snoring under table optional).

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

River Gallery Exhibit

First Friday in Brattleboro, Vermont is a wild time: bars, stores and restaurants on Main Street and beyond are displaying new art exhibits; exuberant gangs of thirteen year-olds clog the sidewalks; parents supervise their kids' teams selling baked goods; live music abounds---first Friday of the month-12 times a year! Those who came for Gallery Night duck into art exhibits and are rewarded by seeing original art. 

This year I have been part of a group that meets twice a month at River Gallery School of Art. Independent Study is comprised of 8 artists and Lydia Thomson, artistic director of the school. We discuss our works in progress and offer critique. Our oil paintings and eclectic works on paper are truly worth seeing. Hope you will stop in during November and check out fresh new individual works by:

Jillian Farwell
Basha Freudenberg 
Carol Graham 
Hollie Landfried 
Joan Lovell  
Jennifer Meehl
Isabel Murphy 
Rodrica Tilley

First Friday celebration is 5:30 to 8:30pm Nov. 2nd. The River Gallery is on the second floor of 32 Main Street AND there is an elevator!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Garden Triptych

These three pastel paintings started in the garden on an easel set up in the driveway....en plein air. Then, months later, they moved to the studio to be finished. It was a wonderfully successful garden of annuals with a few exotic tropicals thrown in; castor bean plant,  dahlias, cannas. This little garden was alive with butterflies, bees and hummingbirds all summer. It's all over now; their frost-blackened bodies pushed into my compost bins.  Situated right in the middle of a rather tight driveway, I spent the summer defending my plants' right to exist in proximity to concrete trucks, numerous building crews, weed whacking kamikaze teenagers and the speed-demon UPS man. Survive it did and bloomed brilliantly right up to October 13th....and 27 degrees!

SOLD  10 x 10, 10 x 14, 10 x 10in. (25.4 x 25.4, 25.4 x 35, 25.4 x 25.4cm)

Now I am trying to decide how to frame these three paintings; separately? together? color frame? Some paintings paint themselves...not these 3 and they're not going to jump into stock frames, either.... decisions, decisions, decisions. Any ideas? Tell me what you think...and thanks for looking.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Barbara with a dahlia behind her ear.

On a recent trip to Pennsylvania two of my friends volunteered to sit for their portraits. This is the more successful of the two charcoal drawings. I'll try again to capture some of the charm & style of my other friend. My friends are good sports, besides being smart, confident darling women. This drawing took about 45 minutes.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Svelte Model with Big Hat

As I approached The River Gallery School of Art on the last day of the summer portraiture classes,  I saw a stylish woman wearing a cute black dress and a huge hat, carrying a big shiny black hat box. She strolled quickly down the sidewalk in front of me. I was hoping she was our model that day. This is one of the two charcoal drawings I made of her. Some people are just so very interesting to draw.

Yellowstone NP photograph by rodrica tilley
On another front, I just returned from Montana where I completed three more Fifty State Paintings. It was a fabulous week amongst the mountain tops, wolves, mountain bluebirds, elk, bison and wildflowers of Yellowstone Park. Aside from a little smoke in the air it was a perfect week for plein air painting. Check it out here and join the mailing list for that blog while you are there. Only 15 more states, so you won't be swamped with emails.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dozing model

Yes, the afternoon was hot and we were all sleepy. How do models ever stay awake, anyway? I was  almost nodding off and I was standing at my easel, moving around....a little. This is another vine charcoal on some mystery drawing paper that I found in my studio, made during my weekly portrait class at River Gallery School of Art.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Little Bitty Pretty One

I returned to my stuffy little studio after a few days of travel painting wondering what I would paint next. As I opened my door this is what I saw. One of my homely little prickly cacti had turned into a butterfly and it was begging for all my attention...Right Now! 

I might be working on a new series: Windowsill Bloomers. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Portraiture Class

The River Gallery School of Art offered 5 afternoons in July of portrait class with Jason Alden instructing. The class is full at eight students and our feverish labors are taxing the "air conditioner". We are all struggling with our own goals and abilities. The school does not promote one style of work over another. It encourages students to explore various styles and mediums and find their own individual method of expression. That said, we all worked in charcoal on newsprint yesterday. We were being encouraged to see the overall structure, proportion and direction of the face, skull, neck. This is my 35 minute drawing of the model's head. Having a few hours perspective on it makes me see some things I could have done better, but I still like it. I think I am falling in love with portrait work again after many years away. Do I have any sitters?

Friday, July 06, 2012

Retreat Waters

These quiet waters are on the property of Brattleboro Retreat, a 620 acre mental health and addictions treatment hospital. It is the shallows just where the West River joins the Connecticut River. The public uses these vast and picturesque waters year-round; canoeing, kayaking, ice fishing, cross country skiing. And it has been the subject of many a painting and photograph, which did not stop me from joining a small group of plein air painters on a recent Wednesday morning. We were invited to set up our easels on the lawn of a private residence high above the water. In good spirits at such a fine day we each made a very different painting of the same place.

I am an intense plein air painter. I spent two hours working on this from 9:30 until 11:30. By that time it was a very different scene than it had been when I began. That is my signal to pack up. After hundreds of paintings done out of doors, I am not leisurely about getting my subject painted as quickly as possible. I have trained myself to work fast and search for the essence of the scene. I work the whole picture at once. No dawdling; just enough detail to convey what I think is essential about the light and place. After two hours you might just as well go home or start another painting. This day I was happy to save my remaining energy for an afternoon of gardening.

This painting is for sale. Contact me if you are interested.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Pastel Papers

A reader of this blog asks if I could recommend an inexpensive pastel paper to use while learning the art. No. All sanded pastel papers are expensive..and those who know less should buy better papers. It will make learning way easier. 

There are basically three kinds of pastel papers:
1. traditional part rag  Canson Mi-tientes and Fabriano ...less than $2 a sheet
2. pumice coated papers like Wallis, Art Spectrum, UArt, Pastelmat, Richeson, Sabretooth, Sennelier, Ampersand and others
3. Velour paper. 

I only use sand- (or coated) papers and at sometime I have used every one of them. None are cheap, BUT some are reusable. We all have mediocre pastel paintings. I routinely wash mine off with gamsol and an old bristle brush. This leaves me with a "toned" sheet of perfectly good flat paper.  Read what Dakota Art Pastels has to say here. You may choke on paying $24 for a 2' x 3' piece of paper, but maybe you can share with classmates/friends...and trust me, paper is not the place to stint. It goes on sale, then I stock up. Get a pack. Put it in a safe, dry place and stop thinking of it as something you might ruin. Use it and re-use it. It is a beautiful tool. The invention of this paper changed pastel work from drawing to painting.

You can coat your own watercolor or printmaking papers...especially if you want to avoid actual painting (we all have those days) but I don't think the product will be as good and not much cheaper.

I have friends who use only velour paper and Cassatt and Degas only had Fabriano type papers. I sure am glad they used good quality paper and your great grandchildren may be glad you did,too.

I have no financial interest in this company, but they stock all things pastel and they know artists like sample packs. (scroll down) They also send out pastel sticks in assorted sample packs. And you can learn a great deal from reading their catalogue.

My figure-in-a-scene paintings were done on recycled Wallis Museum papers and boards and if I don't like them I can recycle them again. But right now I like them. What about you?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Can't go wrong with Gallery Wright

The first Vermont showing of my paintings is at Gallery Wright in Wilmington VT; Nine pastel paintings from the Fifty States Plein Air Painting Project as well as one of my large flower garden pastels, June Bloomers. Those of you who have been following the Fifty States blog know there is a story behind many of the "on location" pastel paintings. Some of the tales are about miss-adventures on the road, some are about history or geography or quirky anecdotes. It has been an interesting project involving a car full of art supplies, many miles of open road and a "mature" artist.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Falk Road, Dummerston, VT

I love to drive around my new neighborhood in Vermont, investigating possible painting sites...just looking at the views. On a previously un-driven-by-me gravel road ten minutes from home I came upon this fabulously tree-infested, nicely cultivated property. The garden was tilled and some stakes were up. No vehicles came by for the 3 hours I was there on the side of the road. Then the clouds even decided to cooperate. A perfect day for plein air painting.

This 16 x 20 was done on the very toothy Richeson pastel board (slate) with a mix of Sennelier and Great American soft pastels.

Monday, May 07, 2012

I am Screaming

The $120 million dollar sale of Edouard Munch's pastel "The Scream" has brought forth several emotional reactions here;

Yips of delight - hey, it's a pastel! My chosen medium has in the past been occasionally dismissed by artists and buyers alike...'not as valuable as oil paintings'. Hmph!

Moans of pain -  being a member of the 99%,  I find it a sign of the excess, that unfortunately means too much political power is residing with the 1% of the obscenely wealthy.

Sobs of joy- I love this iconic series of four paintings. Rarely has an artist achieved this degree of expression of the inner self....and been so embraced by millions of viewers.

Mumblings of hope - still. I look forward to this masterpiece being accessible to the public that has so cherished it. It would be too sad if it disappears for long. Keychain fobs, coffee cups, tee shirts will just not do. Give all of us a chance to see the original - face to face.


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