Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Vacation at Home

I have been off from work for several days and I should not admit this, but I have not painted yet! I thought I would paint first thing each morning. There is a belief that the morning is your most creative time, before thoughts of the day and life really start to kick in. Paint before the coffee gets cold in your cup. Of course the danger there early in the morning is that you mistake your cup for the water! Yuck! I thought I would get up in the morning and paint. However, each morning when I stepped on the deck with the dogs, the cool morning air beckoned me to stay and relax and read. The air felt so wonderful and I knew a hot day was on only hours away. It was difficult to walk back inside. So I quickly made a pot of coffee and found a painting book and planted myself on the deck. And so here we are halfway thru vacation and I have not painted. But I HAVE relaxed and read a lot and I’m happy with that. My husband has been off all week too. We done a lot of things we don’t normally get a chance to do. And today we took an amazing trip to Conowingo Hydro Electric Dam along the Susquehanna River just north of where the river empties into the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. We did not go to see the dam, but to see birds in the area. When the turbines are running, the fish don’t fare too well, and thus the eagles and other birds to fare very well. The area is known to be the best place east of the Mississippi to see bald eagles, but usually in the winter months. We thought we would check it our for a future trip. We saw about 20 bald eagles and 20 great blue herons, along with a few other birds we don’t normally see at home. This is a picture of the river below the dam. Just about every rock had either a GHB or an eagle on it. We will be going back this fall.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Quotes from Great Women in History

I have a journal that I keep for inspiring quotes and I'm always adding.  They are uplifting and inspire soul searching.  And now I get to share them with you! Here are a few I recently found.  I know someone will find these words moving.  

Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.
Gloria Steinem

Don't let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It's your place in the world; it's your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.
Mae C. Jemison

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Elements of Design

What are the Elements of Design you ask.  Well, let me tell you!  Wait, if you are an artist, you should know, do you?  They are space, shape, line, value, color, texture and pattern.  And not every painting has to have all of them.  Thank you to Margot Schulzke and A Painter's Guide to Design and Composition.  Actually, the elements of design are something that I am aware of when I paint, either consciously or subconsciously. It was interesting though to read someone's description of what each one is.   My paintings do not have all of the elements of design. Many of my paintings came to life as paint, brush and water hit the paper.  And therefore a few of the elements are missing, but the paintings still work. Paintings that were  planned have more of the elements of design.   I don't always feel like planning.  Sometimes I feel a bit more adventurous and want to just put paint and water on paper, tilt the paper, try a few tricks and see what appears.  Other times I have a pretty specific idea of what I want to paint.  That requires planning and investing a fair amount of time, but like any journey well planned, there are not too many surprises along the way.  I still have a lot to read and learn in A Painter's Guide to Design and Composition and a few lessons to complete.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Developing New Habits

I subscribed to the Painters' Key via email.  Robert Genn is a wonderful artist and writer.  I found this piece from 2009 to be of particular interest to me as I am trying to paint everyday, which is a challenge with a full time job.  I wanted to share this with you.  Thanks Robert!

"I am your constant companion. I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden. I will push you onward or drag you down to failure. I am completely at your command. Half the things you do you might just as well turn over to me and I will be able to do them quickly and correctly. I am easily managed--you must merely be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want something done and after a few lessons I will do it automatically. I am the servant of all great men, and, alas, of all failures as well. Those who are great, I have made great. Those who are failures, I have made failures. I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision of a machine plus the intelligence of a man. You may run me for a profit or run me for ruin--it makes no difference to me. Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will place the world at your feet. Be easy with me and I will destroy you. Who am I? I am a habit!"

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Daily Thought

I subscribe to a daily email entitled "This Day's Thought". It's a nice way to start the day.  One of the recent daily thoughts was

"There is a right way to settle all problems and most of our troubles are the result of trying to avoid that way." Author unknown

I just wanted to share this thought.   Usually the easiest way is the right way!   Have a good day!

Friday, June 18, 2010


The idea behind this blog was I would work thru my watercolor instructional books.  I'm going rather slow at that.   I have a few paintings I want to do.   And I'm trying to get my Etsy site going.  So, I decided let's have a third project!  Why not?  So I took Painting Watercolor Landscapes with Confidence, by Brian Ryder off the shelf.  There are several exercises in the book that may prove valuable.  But I just read tonight.  I will say the best thing I've learned for my mental state is this . . . the biggest difference between amateur and professional painters is confidence, yes that's right. Confidence.  It's all in your attitude!  AND both amerature and professional painters discard as many paintings. WOW, that made me feel better!  I should be able to charge ahead with confidence and know that every painting I throw away will make me a better painter.  Hmm?  That make take a few more conversations with myself.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Look Around, it's a Feast for the Eyes

van Gogh said that art requires constant observation. But my question is what are we observing. I don't have a photographic memory. I can look at something for a long time, but not really remember it. So how do I remember it? I've heard it explained like this. Observation requires a discipline that many move quickly past because it requires patience, and it feels like wasted time. To master observation one must surrender to the process, let go of the feeling of wasted time sitting and stareing and let what is flow in, like a gentle breeze. Once mastered, observation becomes less about observation and more about feeling.

I've been so emersed in preparing my Etsy site that I have not painted in several days.   I've simply been observing.  It's fun.  I love early morning and late evening light.  It's magical.  So look around, there is a feast for your eyes if you take the time.   It's really not time wasted.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Quote for Today

"Every house where love abides
And friendship is a guest
Is surely home, and home sweet home
For there the heart can rest."
Henry Van Dyke

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Lost in Photoshop

Ever been there? It's amazing my neck does not hurt from the hours hunched in front of the computer! It all started with the idea that I needed to create a banner for my Etsy Shop and well, I now have oh, probably 15 banners. I learned several new things in Photoshop (yeah!) and had lots of fun in the process. I found a few interesting sites looking for that perfect picture that I did not find. However, it is amazing how things work out. This morning, while sitting on the deck enjoying the early morning cool air, I noticed the sunlight on the barn that sits along the edge of the woods (yup, hence the name of my studio.) I jumped up, ran inside, grabbed the camera and took some pictures of the barn. I thought I had found the perfect image for my banner. I then wandered around the yard taking a few more photos of the dogs playing. And then, there it was. Darla, our black lab, was sitting survying her yard with a row of trees lined up behind her and and there was a perfect spot of sunlight off in the distance. Snap! That's it! Inside for some coffee and a little more photoshop! I have an Etsy banner. Down to business and get the rest of the details figured out (and there are alot of them) and get prints and cards posted for sale. My goal is the end of June.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Good Day, Sunshine

It's Friday and I am at home working on lots of different things. It's nice to have a day off from work! The sun it shining and it's not humid. What a day! The dogs had walks and now they are happy and snoring!. I would like to paint but I am a bit distracted by a few other projects I am trying to finish this month. I am almost set to list things on Etsy. It requires a lot more planning than one would expect. And while I am doing that I am also revamping my website. So I'll just tell you about what I want to paint soon. I like to work on 2 paintings at the same time. I can go back and forth between them and always keep a fresh perspective on them. The first will be of a mini castle with a field of lavender in the foreground. The inspiration came from a photo a friend sent. In keeping with my need to stray from what's in front of me, the painting will be of my own special place inspired by this photo. The other painting will be quite different. I found the "inspiration" a week ago in a cooking magazine . . . it is a strawberry cake, with white icing, with a piece cut from it, decorated with deliciously gorgeous strawberries. All beautifully displayed atop an old white tin cake stand. I just have to paint it and it will require a fair amount of restraint on my part because I will not be able to change too much. Along with the picture of course is a recipe. I think my reward for painting the cake will be making it and sharing it! Hmm, maybe I should reconsider my overall inspiration and incentive for painting! I may be be on to something here!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Ta Da!!

I'm off and running with the idea of learning from all the "how to" books I have and what better way to start than with a painting of a winter scene during June. Of course last night I was wearing a fleece sweatshirt because it was so chilly! Albeit, I'm not overjoyed with this painting. It did come together fairly quick even though it defies everything within me to NOT paint exactly what I see. I discovered, or should say rediscovered, during 2 art classes last month that I am not someone that can or wants to paint exactly what I see. I want to have something in front of me that inspires me either a in plein air or a few photographs and then I tend to see how the paint and water are going to behave on the paper. At that point my imagination takes a little trip! As a person, I'm not someone that usually insists on my own way. So as a painter, I don't feel the need to MAKE the paint do just as I want. I would rather see what fate and the future have in store. So, I share this painting because I did what I said I would, I jumped into a "how to book" and followed a lesson but this isn't quite the type of painting I like to paint. It has parts that I like. And as a lesson, I'll take parts. I do like the effect of purple and orange together. What did I learn? I believe I learned more about me as a painter than how to paint. As time goes on I hope to learn more about painting. Either way, this will be an interesting project because the lessons may not be quite what I expected, but life is not always what we expect, but we learn either way.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

St. Francis of Assisi

"He who works with his hands is a laborer, he who works with his hands and head is a craftsman, he who works with his hands, head and heart is an artist."
St. Francis of Assisi

Something to remember when "thinking" takes over because things are not working out like you had wanted them to. Maybe the colors are not right, or the composition is not working. Maybe you are devoting more time than you had planned. Whatever the reason, remember that you are an artist and your heart has to be in it. Don't think too hard about it. Let it be. Oh, let's sing! Are you swaying with me?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Quote for Today

I found this quote today, as usual while looking for something else. It touched me and I wanted to share it. Maybe it will change the way you look at your day.

"Keep your thoughts positive, because your thoughts become your words.
Keep your words positive, because your words become your behaviours.
Keep your behaviours positive, because your behaviours become your habits.
Keep your habits positive, because your habits become your values.
Keep your values positive, because your values become your destiny."

Mahatma Gandhi

Do you remember the song, Accentuate the Positive? I remember Bing Crosby singing it. The words I remember most from the song . . . Accentuate the postive, elminate the negative . . . remind me of that quote. The glass is either half full or it is half empty, it's all in your attitude.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Time is Now

Inspired by the movie Julie, Julia, I thought I'd start a blog about painting. In the movie, Julie decides to cook her way thru Julia Child's the Art of French Cooking and blog about it. I'm not quite that ambitous yet. I did think that a blog about painting might actually make me paint instead of just thinking about painting. And I have to admit I've been thinking about this blog for awhile. Actually so long that I got really ambitous and took two watercolor classes, one on Tuesday nights and one on Saturday mornings. And now the classes are over. So, I guess this is where "the rubber hits the road", or perhaps more appropriately, where the paint brush hits the paper? I had lots of ideas about how to blog about painting. I could read an instructional painting book a month, I certainly have enough of those types of books! And then I could paint from the lessons in the books. Or, I could paint at least one painting a month from all the things I have collected that I found inspirational. That should be easy. But the cold hard truth is I just need to make time to paint and whatever happens happens. I'll be sure to let you see what happens.