Saturday, February 26, 2011

"Music from Heart" (oil on stretched canvas, 16" x 20") sold


The flutist's beautiful regal face and braided hair caught my eye during a Christmas concert at the Mormon Temple.  There were actually hundred other young musicians playing the flute, as the Suzuki flute teachers in the Washington metropolitan area show off their students' accomplishments with holiday melodies every December.  It was this poised college senior, however, who inspired me to paint the flute and the hands.

There are artists who can paint reflective surfaces with their eyes closed.  I am not one of them.  The hands were as tricky.  I had them so big (did you notice when you obsess with something, it tends to become magnified?) that, but for my teacher, Diane Tesler, the girl would have ended up with a giantess' hands!  Someone in the class asked if she were my daughter.  I told her that I didn't have an African-American child, but I would be proud to have a daughter like her.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"Rose Arbor" (oil on linen, 8" x 10")

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It was in the low 70's a few days ago, and I got excited about an early spring, especially after I spotted snow drops blooming in my garden.  I shouldn't have.  We are back to winter today and I am back to day-dreaming about a mild spring weather in which I can paint outside.

I have been to George Washington's River Farm in Alexandria, VA many times, and every time I was enchanted by this scene with a series of brick pergolas.  The day when I painted the piece last year was my lucky day with perfect light and roses in bloom.  The roses were pink, but I changed them to white.  Why not?  It seemed to work better that way.  By the way, "Rose Arbor" is one of my favorite plein air paintings.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

"Niagara Falls" (watercolor on paper; 4" x 6") sold


My husband and I visited Niagara Falls many summers ago.  It wasn't a honeymoon, but still a lot of fun.  An awesome place!  I still remember the thunderous sound of the mighty waterfalls.  Soon after I came back, I painted this postcard-sized painting; it took less than 30 minutes.  You cannot get any more "fresh" than that.  The painting was juried into the Art League show in Alexandria, VA in 1999.

My late mother, who had a dry sense of humor, said when she saw the piece: "That's a lot of water for such a tiny painting."  After I had my daughter at the age of 39, I would go on and on about how cute she was.  Her response: "Even porcupines find their babies adorable, I am sure."  Oh, I miss her.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Cherry Blossom" (watercolor on paper; 18" x 14") sold


Cherry Blossom is the name of a tour boat that goes up and down the Potomac River.  On the day when I took the reference photo, it was glowing with the sunlight.  A perfect subject to try out the  watercolor technique that I learned in Jean Grastorf 's workshop!  She uses only three colors--a red, blue, and yellow--in large tubes, which she dilutes to a creamy consistency in small separate cups.  On a stretched paper, the whites on the drawing have to be protected with masking fluid. 

Then the messy and fun part begins--you pour the colors, letting them mix and mingle.  As the paper dries, you have to do this in several stages for darker values, at each stage protecting the areas of lighter tones with more masking fluid.  Tedious, yes.  But you just cannot get the same glowing effect with brushes.  The painting was juried into the Art League show in Alexandria, VA in 2005.

Friday, February 11, 2011

"At the Louvre" (watercolor, 14" x 20") sold


I love France.  I love her art, food, language, and way of life.  Many years ago, my husband and I spent two happy weeks in France; on the last day of our trip, we went to the Louvre Museum in Paris as a way of saying "au revoir" to this fabulous country.  It was the middle of March--the college spring break time in America.  We should have guessed.  The museum was mobbed; the long line outside was nothing compared to the crowd in the packed room where "Mona Lisa"--the most famous painting in the world--was housed.  Our eyes were blinded by the hundreds of camera flashes going off simultaneously.

Dazed, we wandered around the huge museum, until we happened upon this artist, busily copying Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres's "La Grande Odalisque."  I am not a big fan of the genre of odalisques, which seems to have titillated generations of male painters and their patrons.  However, the concept and design of the reference photo had always intrigued me and, several years later, I got around to painting "At the Louvre."

You could say that I used a minimalist approach in this painting, with just a bare minimum information to get across the message.  I even had the audacity to leave the shape of the odalisque in the copyist's version totally untouched as pure white paper.  By the way, this is a good way of learning to paint--copying Old Masters' works at museums.  The painting was juried into the Art league show in Alexandria, VA in 2005, and received an award in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Watercolor Exhibition by the Baltimore Watercolor Society in 2006.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

"Snorkeling Fun" (acrylic collage on paper, 20" x 14") sold


Are you tired of the winter and wish to get away to a place where the sun shines and the air is scented with tropical flowers?  Here is a painting that will whisk you away to such a place.  One winter it snowed so much that we couldn't take it any more, so we escaped to Maui for a week.  Soon after we came back, I created this painting in acrylic. 

All the pieces--figures, corals, and tiny swirling orange fish--were cut out from separately painted paper and collaged on a dark blue ground.  A lot of work, but also soothing for a detail-oriented person like me!

Friday, February 4, 2011

"Sheep Country, Yorkshire" (watercolor on paper, 10" x 6 1/2" each) sold


"Sheep Country, Yorkshire" was an interesting exercise in Carolyn Gawarecki's class that I took several years ago at the Art League School in Alexandria, VA.  We were to paint a triptych, each painting with a distinct foreground, middle ground, and background.  Then we had to assign the different values (light, mid-tone, and dark) to the three parts in each panel, never repeating the same scheme.  Colors were a secondary consideration and we had to focus on values.  A big headache!

The above painting is what I came up with.  The left panel has a light foreground, mid-tone middle ground, and dark sky; the center panel has a mid-tone foreground, dark middle ground, and light sky; and the right panel has a dark foreground, mid-tone middle ground, and light sky.  As it happens, the left panel has the feeling of an early morning; the center panel, that of the mid-afternoon; and the right panel comes across as a scene at dusk.  How about that!  Good teachers exercise our mind and force us to grow.  Thank you, Carolyn.