Sunday, July 31, 2011

Wacky Weather and Loose Trees

With two special days to celebrate between my hubby and I, we headed up to sunny Portland for festivities. Originally we'd chewed on going camping. As we watched to weather in Oregon, it continued to be chilly and rainy. Shoot! Ok, we'll head south, to sunny California. We researched the weather near beautiful Burney Falls. But ~ alas ~ rainy there too. So, heck we'll go check out the totally the opposite direction where its usually rainy, Portland, Oregon. And, you guessed it. Sunny and in the 90s.

Roland made reservations overlooking the rolling park at the river's edge at the "RiverPlace Hotel". Now we have to take Cody, our Golden Retriever, and the hotel is great, even offer us "puppy sitting" options for when we dined at the restaurant. We refreshed with the "Strawberry-Cucumber Water" available in the lobby and ride up to our room. Once unpacked and settled in, we set out to enjoy the glow of the sun and greeness of the park.

When we return from our walk along the sparkling river, in our room we find a "breakfast-in-bed" tray with two dog bowls resting on it, accompanied by this autumn-ish card ~ for Cody. Inside it read, "Welcome Cody! We are delighted that your parents have brought you to stay with us at RiverPlace. Your comfort is of the utmost importance to us. If there is anything we can do to enhance your stay please let us know." Signed "RiverPlace Hotel Staff". Roland and I smiled at their attentativeness and Cody, well, he enjoyed the biscuits from the bowl!

This was the sweeping view we had from a corner room on the 9th floor. Portland is a yummy city ... we stumbled upon their "Rose Celebration" with parades in the evening and amusement park rides along the river by day. As always, went we head home, we stop by the delicious "Pearl Bakery" to pick up fresh bread and treats for us and our neighbor, Mary, who loves good baked good almost as much as we do. And a fond g'bye to Portland we wave.

Perched adjacent to our Portland visit is a playful and colorful demonstration I worked up for one of my private students. Her request was to learn "trees" . . . so I did a quick rather abstract rendition on the left, then replicated a more detailed sample for her on the right. You'll notice how much of the shaping of the trees is established with shadows and negative painting around the highlighted front trees. For the trees on the right I used some white wax crayon to save those "sky window" holes and also, used a mist-er to squirt a sprinkled, random water pattern, into which I dropped a variety of greens. The mist-er technique is an easy way to create a leafy pattern with colors running into one another.

I'm learning to live life as loosely as these trees were paiinted, but I'm probably more effective in that with the trees :) At least I have a visual example . . . and plenty of patient friends.

Any feedback, my wise and worldly audience?

Monday, July 25, 2011

First the Ranch . . . then an "Art Amble"

For years now, I'd been wanting to go visit and paint at this lovely couple's ranch. I see Carolyn & Rob nearly every Ashland First Friday Artwalk as they cruise thru the Art Center and stop at my studio. Last year I even had a date to go out . . . but something came up. This year I actually made the 30 mile round trip out past Ruch (a tiny town in the Applegate Valley) and on to Buncom (a deserted mining town) ~ and on to the Ranch. What spacious rolling greenery, dotted with rustic buildings and wildflowers! Plopping down admist the long grass and wondering group of cows (who found me very intriguing), I selected the ole' barn and the first building homesteaded in 1865. I love the colors/textures in the wood against the cool greens of the trees 'n grass. Of course, I didn't get it finished but polished up the sky and details at home in my studio. The visit only made me thirsty to return for more plein air time.

The adjacent journal page records an onsite sketch and event in Jacksonville. The local art group, Art Presence, in Jacksonville has finally mustered the interest and energy to support the revival of our Third Friday Art Amble. Several businesses have agreed to show various artists at their stores and artists offer up their works and possibly some refreshments. This image was from the first of the Art Ambles and I was located at the Applecellar Bakery. It was a well attended chance to bring the public into local stores, see local artists and even see them demo their process.

I choose to work in my very portable journal, of course. This picturesque setup of bread loaves, wheat in a charming wrough iron basket sat in the corner of the wooden-floored shoppe full of yummy breads and bakery goods. I sketched as patrons came in to buy goodies or just peek at the art work.

The Art Presence business card actually complimented the subject matter that I'd selected for my sketch . . . so I included it, nestled just below my windows for previous butterfly and pink rose inserts.

I always go back to my "illuminated letters" which begin my page text to fill in the colors. I think of how to harmonize the entire wide-open double page spread. For the left page I brought in rusts and ambers from the Art Presence business card and bread crusts, and from the left side, I used the greens and brown madders of the barn and scenery over to the right journal letter. Color . . . can things get any more juicy :) ?!?!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Social Media & Newbies

I indulged in a bit of educational pursuit ~ both absorbing and giving with these journal entries.

On the left I'd taken a "Social Media Class" with Betsy Lewis ( It was a quick paced presentation with introductions (I loved hearing every one's "dream" life), a run thru our fears of Social Media, then perusing a lengthily handout encompassing ALL the areas an artist needs to complete to be "on track" with a professional art career. Next we had to go thru and select where we were lacking and which of those we'd need to do in the next month! Whew! Fascinating and informative - but I did a hurried contour drawing and grabbed one quick photo of Betsy, which I later could not even find! So here, I've whipped up my memory of Betsy, filling the contour drawing with color.

I've been wanting to experiment with a new stamp making medium and decided to create floating sheets of paper for a border. I've been using erasures for my stamps but want to move into a more reliable system (last time I used erasures, they ended up have a dimensional logo which appeared in ALL the stamped images!). This Speedball sheet seemed my answer. I'd traced my simple "floating paper sheet" onto the pliable printing surface and begun with my ole' system of cutting out the image with an exacto knife. But I found I could not bend the "Speedy-cut" printing sheet without it breaking off - yikes! Heck, I decided to use it anyway, holding together to cracked off corner (see bottom right cracks coming off the central image cut-out).

Again, using my usual watercolor paints, I slurped my purple across the printing surface - only to find it would not adhere to the surface. After fumbling with acrylic, I went back to a straight-out-of-the-tube watercolor pigment. I did get the pigment to stay on the surface. And dotted my image around the border of my journal page . . . whew!

I also scanned, then printed out small, the pages of the handout - they were valuable info and this always helps keep me from loosing class notes or handouts. I've attached all the pages with one of my lil' brass brads. Quite a lesson . . .

Next page is a demo I did while teaching my "Watercolor Exploration for Newbies". This class blossomed out of my "Basis in Watercolor Journaling" Class when students wanted more focus on watercolor techniques. This quick demo was to simplify a landscape. And once again, I'm not certain if it was I or the students who learned more :) But it was a jolly class and although we wrestled thru some frustration, students got plenty of practice at new techniques.

It's all learning . . . and aren't we blessed to be able to keep doing it and stretching ourselves our entire life . . . if we choose to do so?!?!

Happy Stretching!!! . . . if you're brave enough . . .

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Marionberry Cobbler & Ducks Butts

This journal entry waxes from laughter to growth spurts.

The page on the left is dedicated to my new Business Coach. We met very serendipitously, she walking by my Ashland Art Studio where I was working, where we then struck up a conversation. Ultimately, she offered a free consultation and we agreed to meet. Since she was new in the area, I knew one thing I had to introduce her to: the Marionberry Cobbler at the Standing Stone Brewery (!! Not only are they one of the greenest companies in the area but their Marionberry Cobbler is to die for. I swear, it's the must do on my birthday every year!!! So we had our consultation and a very animated, fun conversation. The relationship has grown and we've not only spurred me onto bigger things business-wise (that I'd never have invented myself) but has morphed into a friendship in it's developing stages. A couple of months later, I was perusing thru my DayTimer and found these two pages stuck together with a gooey, purplish stuff with particulates in it. WHAT in the world is this stuff? Examining the page I realized it was on the page I'd taken notes from my meeting with Anne and was, of course, marionberry cobbler! Naturally, in between giggles, I had to install it into my journal page with Anne's portrait!

Adjacent to Anne is a tale from my hubby's travels, literally and figuratively. For a couple months now Roland had talked about taking a camping trip just he and Cody, our Golden Retriever. Finally he charted his agenda and location ~~ and the boys took off for a near week of solitude and exploration.

His first stop was just east of Redding, but the campgrounds were stark and winds were disconcerting. Next he tried in Redding and spent the next few days there befriending the local ducks. When he decided to travel home and was just unloading one of our friends dropped by and that's the image I replicated here. The lil' clipping of the duck's butts is from a sweet card Ro left me which said, "I'd follow you anywhere, the view from behind is great ... " which was especially endearing to me (who has had a "rear view image" issue all my life). Needless to say, I was pleased to have my boys home . . . but we both grew from being apart.

And that's a good thing . . .