Archive for the ‘Apples’ Category

Always Time for Tea 2

At the start of a new year, I like to take a life inventory—reviewing the past year and setting my future course in light of all I’ve learned from successes and failures.  In the area of art making, the possibilities for growth are endless.  I will never learn it all, and thus I’m free to thoroughly savor the process!

Most recently I’m absorbing all I can from DVDs and books by two English watercolorists—Shirley Trevena, and Jean Haines.  I cannot begin to do justice to their art by way of description.  But you can check these fine artists through their URLS:  http://www.shirleytrevena.com/ and http://www.jeanhaines.com/ .

As you will see from her website, Shirley Trevena creates complex transparent layers in her work—carefully glazing over under-layers which are completely dry.  Her drawing skills and grasp of perspective are stellar, but Shirley has a refreshing way of presenting different aspects of her still life paintings from varying angles.  A pitcher may be straight up before your eyes, while the fruit bowl next to the pitcher is tipped on its side so that fruit tumbles out—almost into the lap of the viewer.  I believe this technique of abstracted form and presentation of irregular dimensions began with Cubism.  I find the method tremendously freeing, and it creeps into most of my still life patio scenes—i. e. an iced tea pitcher on the patio floor and an upside down lawn chair precariously dangling from a tree.

From Jean Haines, who also excels at transparent layering and drawing with paint, I’ve discovered the creative freedom of a diagonal wash.  I confess that over the years of experimenting I’ve found the traditional wash method (beginning at the top of the page and systematically working down in horizontal strips of uniform size) just a bit BORING.  Yes, I know; I’m odd!  🙂

Often, Jean begins in an upper corner, and randomly streaks paint diagonally to the bottom of the paper.  She introduces color upon color, letting complements fuse into gorgeous in-between shades.  Then, from the subtle blending of colors, Jean Haines gently begins to extract her subject.  Like Shirley, Jean will often reveal only part of a subject.  Just as Shirley paints fruit which may be missing a bite or two, Jean will delicately allude to the star of her painting:  perhaps a dark nose and one ear buried in fluff, unmistakably representing a small furry dog—or one indigo eye with a white dot and streaks of colorful feathers embellishing her cockerels (which I’m trying to render—see the last entry before today’s).

Both of these fine artists stress unabashed COLOR!  From their time-honored tradition of skillfully muted atmospheric English watercolor painting, these ladies continue their great national heritage by exploding into new areas of vibrant atmospheric color.  Both Shirley Trevena and Jean Haines stress the priorities of slowing down, thinking about each stage, and thoroughly enjoying making one’s very own individual art—different for every person who picks up a brush!

Gather ye rosebuds

Margaret L. Been, January 2014

Note:  My two paintings featured in this entry are:  “Always Time for Tea”, and ” ‘Gather Ye Rosebuds’ “—inspired by Robert Herrick’s poem.

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Another teacher has joined my DVD library:  Canadian watercolor artist, Karin Huehold.  Her 120 minute lesson has opened up still more enticing possibilities for me.  In fact, I was so excited last night after viewing Karin’s DVD—A Little Watercolor, that I simply couldn’t sleep.  So I got up, traveled the distance of about 10 feet from the bed to my bedroom art table, and went to work.  (My husband can sleep through anything, and he loves having a happy woman!)

Karin cuts a (presumably) 22″ x 30″ sheet of watercolor paper into 72 little sections.  Her method of cutting is amazingly quick and accurate—for the moment Karin has lost me on that one.  I’m experimenting with her technique on Wisconsin’s own Strathmore 140 lb. cold press note papers, each card being 5″ x 7″.   Any that I like too much to mail out can then be floated mounted (without a mat) on 8″ x 10″ backing board, while leaving the other 1/2 of the note card for another painting.

Karin begins by wetting the top 1/3rd to 3/4s of her tiny section, leaving a thin dry strip of paper under the wet part, and wetting a strip at the bottom.  Then she charges color (any color, the artist’s choice) into the wet sections.  Naturally the paint stays on the wet areas, leaving the dry strip intact.  After a few seconds or moments, she inserts detail by painting into the background—a line of foliage, a few individual trees, or a moon.  The moons are created by wrapping facial tissue over any round object and stamping.  I used an empty plastic pill bottle for my moons.

As the lesson progresses, Karin gets more detailed.  Any of her methods may be translated to larger sheets of paper.  But the little guys are delightful—and I write a lot of snail mail letters every week.  I haven’t bought stationery or prepared note cards for years, because I love to make my own. 

I had so much fun banging out a few note papers in the dead of the night, that my mind was whirling when I finally went to bed—and I still couldn’t sleep.  Some of us are like that, when we are enthused.  (Tonight I’ll gladly crash.)  The fruit of my night owlery is displayed on this page.  I went to bed thinking that the blue sky cards were okay, but the reds were not so great.  However this morning, when I got up and checked the dried paintings, I liked the reds even better than the blues!  I scanned them all into my computer, so after the originals are mailed out I can produce prints for gluing on to more note papers. 

Karin Huehold’s style of communicating is so relaxed, friendly, and whimsical that I feel like I’ve spent 120 minutes with a good friend or a cousin after viewing her lesson.  I’d gladly toss her an apple if I could, —all the way to Alberta!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

Note:  Any artist scrutinizing these pictures will know that the textured areas on the red sky paintings were caused by sprinkling table salt into the paint before it dried.  For some unknown reason, my husband thinks this is uproariously funny!  I’m showing him that I have a bunch of tricks up my sleeve!

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A week ago we were sweltering in Southern Wisconsin’s famous heat and high humidity.  Then suddenly we experienced the annual turning, always around Labor Day weekend and always exciting to behold! 

Now the days are once again crisp, and the wind is whooping through our “wind tunnel”—that alley space between our condo building and the units across the way.  I love the wind tunnel and the whooshing, rattling noise it makes as it passes through, bombarding the aluminum panels outside our bedroom wall as we drift off at night.

The park beyond our front door has once more come to life with fall activities.  It was a mecca for softball games and happy gatherings through July, but grew strangely quiet during the August weeks of brutal heat and humidity.  Now the park hums once more.  We never lived beside a park before, and can’t get over how much fun it is.  We take our visiting great-grandchildren to the playground there, and they’re convinced that it is our very own park!

The path around the park will continue to be a haven for dog walkers, until winter descends with its treacherous ice.  As well as walking our Baby Dylan around the park, we relax in our living room, or on the patio, and watch the dogs trotting by.  Dylan responds to the sight and smell of every canine with a low, ominous rumble from deep inside his throat.

My garden still thrives when watered, but it is desperately trying to say, “Please, let me go to bed now”—with the exception of the newly planted mums who love the cool autumn air, and promise to color our sweet little world for many weeks to come.

Suddenly I have this craving for anything to do with apples—apple cider, applesauce, apple crisp dessert, and that great fruit all by itself.  Our local apples will mature to tangy excellence after the first frost.

There are more kinds of apples than (as my mother would have said) “you can shake a stick at.”  My all-time favorite always has been (and will be) the honorable MacIntosh.  Maybe that’s due to shades of my Scottish heritage surfacing after all these centuries.

We have a tradition of going appling with our son, Eric, and his wife, Cheri.  We did this for years when their children were growing up.  What memories we have of apple outings with the children.  When we moved up north for 8 years, I grieved every autumn—thinking of not being able to go appling with Eric and his family. 

But now we are back here again, and—as of last autumn—the tradition was resumed,  Although their children (3 of our 13 grandchildren!) have grown up and gone on about their lives, Eric and Cheri look forward to appling as much as Joe and I do.  Come the first frost, we’ll be off to Walworth County with our loved ones—appling again!

Margaret L. Been, ©2010

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