Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Romancing of the Hay Rolls

My romance with hay rolls began a long, long time ago. Many years ago I painted this image from the Western Slope of Colorado, near Steamboat Springs, when I visited there. I love the sweeping sky and fields during that time of year, stripped with the alternating harvest textures. So this original actually hangs in a special place right in my home studio.

But my romance continues. Just the other day driving into Medford I was thrilled at this site. In fact, Roland and I took a late evening ride just to photograph them with their long shadows. Yes, I could be planning another painting. But most of all, I enjoy the round shapes. Personally, I don't like square edges on much of anything. I constantly round rooms off by moving furniture at angles to soften the corners. I mean, even my home and Ashland studios have turned furniture to break up those "square angles"! So, it would come as no surprise that these beauties are cherished in my eyes.

Perhaps, with this new viewpoint of hay rolls, you'll find a new amusement in your late summer travels. One can find beauty in the most unusual places . . . keep those eyes open. Cheers!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Luxury of a Day of Play

I can't remember last time I took off a day, just to go paint and play with a friend. A dear lady, who'd taken several private lessons with me (yes, she was the one to witness the "crime scene" of previous post) and we found we had so much in common ~ we could launch a painting day together. She has a home on the far east side of Medford which affords vast views looking across the valley and she suggested I come there to paint. When she offered the kindness of lunch too, it was an easy "yes, when should I be there?"

I arrived around 9:30 and hiked over to the viewpoint Robin had envisioned for our paint site. On the far left was Roxy Ann Winery, undulating hills and alternating fields of various colors and textures. We got settled and I started off with the sky, leaving whispers of white clouds to accent the distant hills. Robin worked on a closer view of the fields - a heaven of greens.

Morning turned into afternoon and we packed up to head back to her house. She'd prepared a variety of delicious samplings: Zucchini/Tomato Torte, Garbonza Bean/Carrot/Olive Salad (my fav) and then, for dessert, watermelon balls with mint. I was STUFFED (you know I usually have just a yogurt for lunch?) and couldn't move ~ so relished her offer of poking thru several of her favorite journaling & reflection books. I could have stayed longer had her husband not returned home :)

But it reminded me how recharging just taking a day off to simulate and relax your spirit with friends and food can be. I can't recommend it highly enough!!! Thank you, Robin!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Lesson of First, Profit the Next Trip

T'was our first RV "Shake down" trip. We'd planned to go to Lake Lomolo, up near Diamond Lake. We'd camped there last year and felt familiar enough to launch our new vehicle's maiden voyage there. So we drove the windy Highway 62, feeling, rather like driving a "cloud", and found the last available lake side camping site. I'm the one sitting in the driver's seat, dropping the hydraulic leveling system and Roland, on his side in the dirt below my window, when he notices "something" squirting out of an area that looks like the breaks. Oh, SWELL!! The next hour, we're searching the Owner's Manual to try locating where the break fluid reservoir is located ~ ~ finally we find it and it's very full. S-I-G-H!!! Ok, now perhaps we can enjoy ourselves. (But we still don't know what the squirting fluid is?)

I get household details set up, the beautiful dahlia's from Mary's garden that she brought over as we were leaving, get in their vase, place mats on table etc. and it's starting to feel like home. We take a walk down the shore watching Cody romp in the shallow beach in front of the show covered mountain backdrop. Later in the evening we manage to bake our first pizza in our lil' oven, well, it did burn a tad. The smoke set off the smoke alarm and freaked Cody out (as he loves peace and undisturbed quiet). I'm getting used to which switches need to be on for the water to work and where to crawl under the bed to see what our water level is (especially because we are "dry" camping). Sleeping in our comfy bed is relaxing and refreshing.

It's a chilly wake up, but with Roland's positive encouragement, even in the foggy rain, we head out to visit waterfalls! Our first stop is at Whitehorse Falls, a low, but thunderous cascade. Next we drive to Toketee Falls with it's near half mile hike thru lovely redwood forest with lush, white dogwood trees blossoming in front of rich evergreen shadows. This tiered waterfall has two layers (top drops 40 feet, the second 80 feet), both set back among basalt columns with lovely turquoise blue pools below. The most breathtaking waterfall was our third and last to see, Watson Falls. Not only do you get an enchanting hike into the forest, with numerous wild flower faces peering silently up at you, but one of the tallest 272 foot falls can be seen from a bridge right in the middle of the creek! By the second waterfall, the sun had burst out, sprinkling sun spots everywhere in the green surroundings ~ lovely day! We watch an evening movie after dinner and curl up early as the night's chill creeps over us.

This morning breaks with a 48 degree temperature and I'm turning on the heat to do my yoga and meditation! Breakfast finds things a bit warmer, but I notice the lights seem dim, don't they? Middle of dish washing, the CO2 alarm goes off!! This is like the last straw for Cody and he's outside in no time, standing over by the car, wanting to go home. Roland notices the lights too and starts a search to find out why the batteries are not recharging themselves. Roland has trouble starting the generator and finally, in a unanimous vote, Cody especially, we agree, heading home is the best thing to do before we can't get home. I drive the car behind the RV, and instruct Roland to JUMP if anything should go wrong en route! So we return home, tail between our legs.

Next RV endeavor, we've gotten several things repaired and ourselves more informed :) We choose a nearby campsite on Road #37 at the North Fork of the Butte Creek. Green, shady lil spot and just as I'm putting down the levelers again, I notice some kind of liquid on the sheet he's lying on under the RV. Grief, it's still leaking . . . ok . . . we opt to just stay crooked. I've been crooked before, I can live with this! We settle in and actually get to relax.

In the morning, we're attempting to set records here, it's 37 degrees outside! After a leisurely breakfast, watching the chipmunks hop from rock to rock, we don our day packs and head out for the meandering trail along Butte Creek. From this end of the creek we come up to the back of Fish Creek and at the crest of the dam we see this invigorating view. Mt. McLoughlin reflects in the quiet waters and two fishermen carve thru the mirror stillness. This is the kind of camping I'd been envisioning :)

We stayed another relaxing day, leaving the next day. I'm looking at alot of my little "cling-y" patterns that I want to keep doing even in the RV and am learning to let go of them, exercise flexibility. So I'm seeing this whole direction with the RV and the possible move to Mexico, as a huge learning experience for me. I certainly has freed up my attitude and I'm growing too, along the way. So, I encourage you all, to remain open. Just to see what magical gift the Universe may have in store for you! Happy trails . . .

Monday, June 14, 2010

Britt Festival Opening Festivities

Yes, this day finally felt like Spring is actually approaching for real. Our small art group, "Art Presence", created to present more professional quality art and artists in Jacksonville, was thrilled to be part of this event. In concert with and celebrating the opening night of the Britt Festival ( Jacksonville closed off both the north and south parts of 3rd Street adjacent to the main street. One side was for the artists and the other side, for wine pouring and music.
The day blossomed gorgeous, sunshine and clear blue skies (it was rainy and 40 degrees last week). Our "Art Presence" officers arrived at 9am to tape off the booths and shortly, the artists began arriving. Town was already hopping and by noon the people were swarming our booths, delightful, lively music dancing through the atmosphere ~ ~ and Summer-ready faces ALL smiling.
We artists had debated the event, as to possible sales, but as usual, just being visible and available for personal relations was the real pay off! I had a previous client come by and tell me they were interested in me doing a commission for them. Later in the day, a local business owner, who'd been sampling three of my giclee prints, dropped in to let me know he wanted to purchase two of them!

As the afternoon passed, I took up my journal, to start in a sketch. I nested in a corner of my booth, out of the hot sun, and captured this nicely cropped vantage point. I was most pleased with the brick effect I acquired with use of my favorite wax crayons! What you think?

Once all packed up and delivered back at home, we opted for a quick Boca Burger in town and a weird "Freckled Lemonade" (where one had to fish out the strawberries from one's lemonade).

On our after dinner walk, I was complaining that it was way past time for our local deer to birthing their sweet babies and that I was suffering "fawn with drawl". I swear, not ten feet further we came across our first fawn nestled in deep grass with her mom (of course, I didn't have my camera). But the next morn, out our kitchen window we saw these tiny twins hobbling clumsily across our back yard. OH, they are so adorable!!!

I have to admit that this time of year, ending of Winter and the flurry of Summer, punctuated with the start of the Britt Festivals, is one of my favorite parts of the year. After a couple months of grey rain and a town of quiet (although I love our lil' green wood burning stove that glows warmth and charm into our home), I relish flood of visitors touring through our sweet Historic Town of Jacksonville, the cascading of live music around 3pm when the Britt performance of the evening practices up the hill from us and floral blossoms and green are every where. Does life get any better?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Start of Summers Journal Entry

They say Memorial Day is the "declaration" of Summer start. I'm in total agreement, however, our Oregon weather has disagreed. Up to a few days ago we had rain showers and very cool days. But my lil' family forged ahead, ignoring that silly unpredictable weather and made picnic plans for Sunday May 30th.

I got home from church and we each made an unusual sandwich accompanied by drink and packed off to a nearby park. Oh my, it was packed!! We'd read in the paper that national soccer groups were gathering here for playoffs but didn't GET the impact til we saw the soccer fields speckled with players and attached family, picnic gear and coaches. Luckily, we found a parking place AND an open picnic table. Cody, our lovable Golden Retriever stationed under the picnic table, should there be any food droppings, and us perched gazing ~ ~ we reveled in the cool breeze, the abundance of families playing, chatting together ~ ~ just an overall feeling of joy and freedom. In the background, I heard the Ice Cream Man come along with his sing-songy tunes repeating in the air - there's some childhood memories! My favorite vision was of this little pink-be-decked girl, holding hands with her older brother, both were smiling. After lunch we took a prolonged tour around the perimeter of the park where it was more quiet, savoring just b-e-i-n-g.

For our further initiation into Summer, we completed our meal with our first annual visit to DQ for a soft ice cream cone. One lil' decadence we still enjoy ...

The adjacent journal entry page was an adventure. I was working with a private student, demonstrating Light Molding Paste which was dry, and attempting to squeeze out some liquid Alizarin Crimson Acrylics onto the page. Yep, you guessed it - - the slight clog unclogged all at once -- squirting a pool of blood-like pigment all over my page. I sopped up as much as possible and made an attempt to add lighter value pigments to soften what my student had now named "a crime scene". But nothing helped. It remained a red, ghastly blob on my page. What to do???

My original idea for the page had been "play" so I went in search of anything that could bring back that feeling. I came across a jester I'd painted and using opaque gouache, overlaid this flamboyant fellow and his white spinning pins over my bloody mess. I have to admit, this helped and now, I'm fairly at ease with my disaster.

So once again, I want to model for you, well, maybe not the accidental means by which I started this "need for a creative solution" but, at least the process. You can "save" almost anything . . . don't give up . . . let even your life lessons be avenues to see differently. I'd love to hear about some of your "creative solutions" . . . and your feedback.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Portrait Demos

These last few weeks have gifted me with a flutter of private students. I've personally noticed that, since I've been practicing portraits in my journal, they have been becoming better and better.

Here, I'll show you one of my earlier (and painful at that) portraits. You can see the people look pinched, with little attention to color in their faces.

These latter two are recent demos for students. Lil' June, a sweet older woman, is not really finished, but shows some beginning techniques, while the baby, is pretty complete. You can see I usually start with a light wash of Aureolin Yellow, or in the case of the Oriental/African American skin tones, more of a Yellow Ochre. Then, I start to fill in the darker shadow areas with a darker value of usually a mix of Thalo Blue and Brown Madder. This mix can take you to cheery cheek shadows all the way to intense warm blues for behind ears. My cheeks usually are intense, pure pigment of Quin Pink, Perrol Orange or Brown Madder and then toned down with shadows. I always try to remember, I can "take back" a brilliant pigment, but can never bring back to "life" a dull color!

With the baby's background, I found I could help define the chubby cheek. It had gotten a bit bulge-y when I painted it and the background moved in the edge some. I also chose an especially pure blue, hard edge against the cheek orange profile edge to help create a focal area.

So who knows "who" will be my next "suspect" to help me develop more those quick, skilled portrait skills? Volunteers anyone? And I just want to encourage you to "b-e-g-i-n" to try portraits, you don't have to show them to anyone and ~ ~ practice does improve ones skills. Take my word for it!!!