Nizhoni Landscape

This summer, we migrate to New Mexico to beat the heat. I find myself at about 6,000 ft. living in the middle of a grassy pinion forest near Silver City. A perfect place to immerse in plein air painting. Nizhoni translates to “beautiful”.

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Here are the fruits of the first week on the hillside.

As you can see, I like plants. In the wild, plants need each other to get started and mature. Groupings like this are called “guilds”. In the Sonoran desert we have the Saguaro Guild, which combines a palo verde tree and a saguaro and other smaller shrubs. The saguaro seedling uses the shade of the palo verde to get started and eventually grow up through to direct sunlight.

I use my plein air painting skills to observe plant relationships. Here I see guilds, not with saguaros, but pinion and oak trees. While observing plants, many wonderful animals drift through: elk, deer, turkey, many birds, lizards etc. definitely not lonely here.

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Even though the temperatures are cooler, the sun is still pretty intense.

Sunny selfies for ya!

I can’t end this post without a plug for the upcoming Silver City Blues Fest, memorial day weekend. http://www.silvercitybluesfestival.org.

The Mimbres Region Arts Council (MRAC) and Silver City Arts Association (SCAA) are putting on a plein air painting competition during the blues fest and I signed up!

Find out more at http://www.mimbresarts.org

It all takes place in Gough Park, 1201 N Pope St, Silver City. Gough is pronounced goff.IMG_7936

Here, I’m practicing on the pagoda, and liking more the morphology of the Park’s trees:

But I really rather prefer the view behind me for the quintessential New Mexico feel.

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Hey, wish me luck!

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 carpe mañana

 

HOTA Tour Sat/Sun April 14, 15 10-4PM

Hello All!

I’m on the Heart of Tucson’s Artist’s Studio tour this weekend. Please stop in to see the latest. A lot of new creations; small plein air oil paintings, colorful collage, large oil and acrylic abstract paintings, and encaustics, all priced reasonably!

Bush in Bloom, Cornville, AZ, plein air, oil on linen, $50

Bush in Bloom, Cornville, AZ, plein air, oil on linen, $50

See the add in Zocalo magazine and online for my location.

I look forward to seeing you and catching up!

Meredith

 

Springtime in Sedona

Now is the time for a quick trip to the Verde Valley and Red Rocks of Sedona. I (we) hit the road, yay!

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The weather is perfect for outdoor painting.

(Snake-boots, in case you were wondering:)

Lately, I’m making small plein air paintings on linen. Small so I can make several studies of a scene in a couple of hours. This quicker work sets me up for studio painting later. I appreciate the freshness of the small works and love the swishy-scrubby brushstrokes and transparent to opaque layering.

Here are some examples of the weeks work:

While in Sedona, I stop at the Art Center, where the Arizona Pastel Artist’s Association (APAA) is having their National Show. IT IS Fabulous!

Pro Pastelist Aaron Shuerr gives a great demo on his red-rock country pastel painting process:

It’s an exciting week, actually get work done and have a blast, now to keep up with the plein air “quickies”.

Ciao!

P.S. Open Studio is April 14 &15 from 10-4pm. My home studio will be open. These and many more works will be on display and for sale. Please stop in.

Painting in San Miguel de Allende

Workshops are an important way to improve all around; new place, new people, new ideas…all coming at you super fast. It all works its way into the psyche and comes out in new and exciting ways…and continues to influence work miles ahead.

Here is a quick recap of my recent Art Travel Trip to San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico this winter. I love this workshop because you get an awesome good deal with three amazing artist instructors: Anne Blair Brown, Thomas Kitts and Frank Gardner.

 

Before the workshop starts, I tour around San Miguel. There are botanical gardens, courtyards, easy-to-read-signage. The city is a colorful, magical place.

We begin most days in front of Frank’s Gallery.

Here are pics of my fave morning vistas from the short walk there:

And coffeshop stops:

During the program, we divide into three groups and rotate. Each day a different instructor teaching a different aspect of plein air.

Thomas in the Garden; cast shadows, pedestrians and architecture.

Anne in a quiet courtyard; warm imprimatura (underpainting), loose brushstrokes, composition and perspective.

Frank at his land off the Old Camino Real; forced perspective, cactus, animals and tack.

There isn’t a lot of down time, but I manage to work on Tiny Sketch San Miguel, 100 pages almost!

Paint a few studies:

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Meet critters…

 

…and great people!

 

Viva Plein Air!

 

 

 

 

Painting Process and Series: Examples for Independent* and Self Directed Projects*

*Oil Painting classes offered now through The Art Verve Academy:

http://www.ArtVerveAcademy.com

Figuring it all out takes time.  Process is important, you don’t always know where it’s going to take you…then, surprise!

The following 7 examples of process and how series can develop are meant to get you thinking about what might go into the creation of an image, where it comes from and where it (might be) going.

 

Egg and D-Art*

(*after egg and dart, a neoclassical motif)

It began with a pastel sketch of an abandoned beaver dam full of small beaver gnawed branches, some of which I collected. Later, in an oil painting class, students worked from portable still life’s which I made using the gnawed sticks, painted egg-orbs, and other collected material. After the class was over, the little dioramas sat on a shelf. Eventually, on their way into storage, I made some drawings, for the beaver dam memory, and now, the drawings are becoming paintings.

The Hawaiian themed backdrop is for fun (variety).

First painting pass: Tone (colored background) and roughing in shapes and general colors.

2nd painting pass: Glazing (transparent layering) and scumbling (opaque layering).

Continuing on: Glazing and Impasto ( impasto means “like paste”, in other words, thick paint.) In process.

Sanctuary Cove

On a recent Plein Air outing with The Pastel Society,  we discovered this wonderful piece of the Tucson Mountains. To explore this new place, I opted for a series of color sketches of some of the things that jumped out first time through. http://www.tucsonpastelsociety.org/paint-outs.html

This feels like a place to explore more. http://www.sanctuarycove.org

Such is the process of Plein Air.

Vingettini Italia

(tiny vignettes of italy)

On a recent trip to Tuscany, Italy we had a good time living it up, eating and traveling. It was so good, I almost forgot to paint. Work needed to get done, fast. My friend pointed out tiny sketchbooks for sale at a local market. How about that?! The tiny sketch allowed for a composition, including colored pencil, to be completed in less than 20 minutes. 90 tiny pictures later, my mission to make art in Italy was satisfied, without regrets.

Two tiny paintings inspired from tiny-book, so far.

At this point waiting for paint to dry so painting can proceed. Just because they are tiny doesn’t mean they take less time to paint.

L’Accademia

While in Florence we visited the Galleria dell’Accademia where Michelangelo’s David is displayed.

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In a adjacent room are many plaster casts of original sculptures. Determined to bring something useful back, I made quick, near blind-contour pen drawings of a few, capturing gesture, if not proportion…managing one color sketch and a few photos too. Time constraints can be very beneficial.

The freshness of the drawings and the rainbow gradient of natural light over the white forms will make interesting paintings.

Charmed 

A friend showed me her charm bracelet of 40+ years…

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I borrowed it thinking it would be a challenge to figure out a way to paint it…after several trials I’m combining 5 charms next to each other for each painting. Something like this…6×6 inches. Puzzles.

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There are 60 charms on the bracelet. If nothing else, this will be good composition and painting practice…

99 Bottles of Beer

Marketing can be pretty colorful. I am naturally drawn into the clever illustrations that adorn some of the craftier products, in this case beer.

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This particular sketchbook is dedicated to this sort of thing. One good reason to keep a sketchbook, or two. Here is a spin on bottle(s) labeling, so to speak.

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Parts of these may be incorporated as tertiary aspects of still-life paintings, virtually unrecognizable and significantly out of context enough not to infringe on copyright.

Fruits

Fruits are most beautiful and colorful; wonderful inspiration. I take a lot of pictures, mostly of stuff that looks interesting to me. When reviewing photos, themes become apparent. Sometimes these themes prompt more observation in the form of drawings and paintings, sometimes, they are just pretty pictures that go nowhere.

This smoothie chronicle honors the fruits of life, (not the nuts…although a mixed-nut job might be an interesting challenge…who knows).

Pay attention to the stuff in your life. Draw and paint it. Use variations on a theme to get inspired and motivated to do the work. Have fun with it!

http://www.ArtVerveAcademy.com

 

Big Red

Heading back to Tucson from Colorado is a trek. Parts of the drive are gorgeous, other parts are a struggle to stay awake…so, entertainment and some imagination are necessary.  I like to stay on the relative backroads.

We gas up in a place called Waterflow in between Farmington and Shiprock, New Mexico. The 7 to 11 there is like a little museum of edibles and etiquette I remember from the way past traveling with the family back and forth across the Southwest.

Being visually inclined I am particularly inspired by “eye candy” literally. I don’t eat the stuff, just like to look at it, although I do love a sip of the Big Red, it tastes like fizzy strawberries and bubble gum…uh, yum.

So, here begins another project! You never know when these projects are going to sneak up on you. This one is taking more than the week to fulfill so I’ll give you the process and some “in progress” pictures and some unrelated stuff too.

Here we go:

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Now there’s something entertaining to look at.

Until the forest fires…5 on this trip.

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Ajck, that’s Jack and Pepe. Total opposites when it comes to the car. Entertainment, none the less.

 

 

Nice City Park in Snowflake, AZ.

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After driving for 10 hours, a plan has hatched for a new Grid Painting.

Now, to accumulate some related momento mori…to make 9 squares.

  1. Pocket Knife
  2. Falcon Feather
  3. Fake Hummel Figurine
  4. Antique Jump rope
  5. Tic-Tacs (inedible except for the orange ones)
  6. Big Red Soda (which I find in northern Arizona near or on a Reservation)
  7. Candle (to relax the eyes, focus and for remembering)
  8. Antique Spurs (kid-sized)
  9. Porcelain Horse (made in china, from Chinatown SF)
  10. Saddle Blanket (backdrop)

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I like the natural light from the window so I will paint the piece in this light, which limits working time to 1-4 in the afternoon on sunny days, which proves to be a bit difficult since we are having such wonderful thunderstorms in the afternoons here in Tucson. This is why it is ideal to have a couple of projects going at the same time which have different parameters, think trash collages or glass cubes etc.

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Halfway through, I assemble the squares to see if a change in scale or composition is needed to create balance. There are always changes so, the sooner, the better.

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Further work and another configuration:

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The grid paintings come about because they don’t take up a lot of space to make. Great practice for figuring out color and light. Small bites, not overwhelming. Easy to fit into a busy schedule. Thought provoking. Fun.

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Or try a short series exploring subject, concept, color harmonies, composition, like this next image. These works have a different impetus. Not meant to be a grid. I show them to you now because I’m working on them at the same time as the big grid but, at night, under controlled  lighting and off of a computer screen. Will give you the rundown later.

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Next week, we’ll see how it went with one or both of these projects…or maybe something completely different.

Practice, practice, practice!

Mountain Light

This light is awesome!  Strong, cool and crisp, you can’t find it in the desert. I travel for the light…not complaining, there is nothing like working from natural light. You have to get it while you can!

On this early summer, mostly-plein-air trip to southern Colorado, I squeeze in a still-life at the art-shack (studio).

Last year we introduced Duckie (and friends):

This year, Duckie makes another appearance.

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” The Fisherman’s Catch”

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