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Archive for the ‘Spring Paintings’ Category

Carmela's Lilacs again again again

What is more enjoyable than coffee or tea and mellow conversation shared with a friend, in any kind of weather?  My friend, Carmela, came for a morning visit last week.  It was warm and sunny, but early enough in the day to sit outdoors yet still savor hot, strong coffee.  Later, we would have switched to iced tea.

Carmela brought an armful of lilacs, white and shades of lavender, from her yard.  I don’t think she realized that lilacs are a huge passion of mine.  She simply and instinctively brought the perfect gift—beautiful, fragrant, and in season.

Later in the day I began to paint the lilacs, which by then were comfortably at home in a vase of cool water.  Since I normally let the paint do a lot of the talking, somehow an illusion of a great blue heron flew into the piece.  Can you see the heron?  His presence suggests that there is water nearby, as the heron lives on fish.

We do have plenty of water here in Lake Country, and great blue herons fly over our roof constantly en route between our myriad of lakes.  But maybe the above painting, “Carmela’s Lilacs”, is a flashback to our home up north where we lived for eight years, beside a bay with plenty of great blue herons in our neighborhood—and huge, ancient common lilac bushes pressed against the front deck of our home.

Margaret L. Been — May 26, 2016

 

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. . . of May.  April is delightful; I’m loving it.  But I can’t get May out of my paintbrushes which seem to be set on “Automatic Paint May“.

Here is “Coming up Lilacs“:

Coming up Lilacs

Don’t you just love the lilac colors?  We have French lilacs at every corner of our condo buildings, here in Nashotah Condo Heaven.  They bloom a bit later than common lilacs, and are not quite so euphorically fragrant.  But the Frenchies are beautiful and perform well in a marinara sauce jar (washed of course, but with its label intact) full of fresh water on the dining room table.

(Parenthetical Commentary:  Why are jars with their labels so much lovelier and infinitely more interesting as receptacles for flowers and dried weeds, than conventional vases?  There is simply no comparison, in my book.  If you haven’t bothered to save a nice big marinara jar, a huge pickle jar or a honey jar will also work—but I hope you don’t wash off those labels!  During nearly every supermarket trip I grieve the demise of glass jars and bottles which have knuckled under to (ugh) plastic.  Every bit of glass is PRECIOUS.  Olive oil bottles reside near the top of my food glassware list, because they are normally green and have such pretty labels!  Wine bottles are definitely the most gorgeous.  I ask folks to empty their wine bottles, and then pass them on to me—please, with labels.)

Back to May and the lilacs.  We do have common lilacs just a few yards away, in the park beyond our front door.  Every May I make frequent strolls to inhale the lilacs and journey back decades in time to my small-town-Wisconsin childhood home—a rambling Victorian with a commodious yard and guess what:  lots of ancient common lilacs.

In a week it will be May.  I wonder what my paintbrushes will do then!

Margaret L. Been — April 23, 2016

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More Rose up a FountainGarden in GouacheOn the Edgeblue and old pottery 2Out Back

These a only a few of my watercolor paintings which have been enhanced with gouache, a water soluble medium which is opaque unless greatly thinned with water.  Gouache does not dry permanently, as does acrylic paint; thus it really is a watercolor and it needs to be preserved behind glass.  But gouache adds heft and body, when desired.  In fact, gouache is also called “body color”.

More and more, I am adding some gouache to my foundation of transparent watercolors:  either a touch here and there, or larger areas built up to accentuate texture and brushstrokes.  My goal is to achieve a resemblance to the richness of oils.

I do have water-soluble oil paints, and have used them on occasion.  But the lengthy drying time puts me off, as I don’t have a lot of excess space in which to store works in progress.  Also, I don’t want to completely abandon transparency.  So transparent watercolors and gouache are the perfect combination for me.  And I think I have fallen in love with gouache!

Margaret L. Been — January 26, 2016

Red Cabin in Winter

Old Town

Proud

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Shades of Seurat

Spring is taking its own sweet time, here in Wisconsin.  We recently spent 10 days at our Northern home—280 miles North of our Southern home, and were surrounded by mountains of snow where a friend had plowed our driveway all winter.  While up North, we had another 2 inches of snow.  It was so beautiful that I actually ran out and photographed the tree tops, as if I’d never seen snow before.  Meanwhile, I confess I was thinking “Who needs this?”

We left to come “home South” on a Wednesday, and the next day 8 more inches landed in the North.  It was a real “WHEW” to get back down here where all but a few patches of white remained on the ground.  But it is still COLD/COLD/COLD.  So I just dream and paint—flowers, budding trees, and our summer patio with a lounge chair and the ubiquitous pitcher of iced tea.

And waterfalls!  The above rendering is my recollection of a spring waterfall that charges downhill on our Northern property.  Every year, as winter melts into spring, water rushes down over large boulders.  In heavy snow years, the deluge is audible even behind closed windows and doors.  This year, when the snow finally begins to budge, the waterfall will be spectacular.

This blog has at least one Northern Wisconsin reader, Diana.  So, Diana, is it actually beginning to happen up there?  When it does, springtime in the far North is something unforgettable.  As I recall, the longer we had to wait the more wonderful it was!

Concerning the above painting on YUPO® paper:  I have called it “Shades of Seurat”, because the salt which I sprinkled on wet paint reminds me of pointillism.  (See the rocks, mainly on the right side.)  That just happened.  I had no idea what I was doing—just happily salting the rocks, like I will be salting that leg of lamb which presently resides in our freezer.

But the lamb will also get white pepper, garlic, and curry.  Who knows what painted rocks would look like with that combination?  And why not try it?  At least the painting would smell great!  This is how we play!

Margaret L. Been, April 2014

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Lands Beyond

It took me about 5 years to come up with this one:  another way to be sure of creating painterly edges. 

For starters, you will see blurs around the trees.  These were formed first by charging wet paint onto the clean, wet Arches 140 lb. cold press paper.  Then I washed in the sky and rolled a wad of facial tissue (without lotion) over the blue.  The trees (or whatever they are beyond the sky) were achieved by dropping more color on the wet surface.  I dabbed in the flower type thingies in the foreground, and outlined the tree trunks with a knitting needle.  Finally I filled blank areas with yellow. 

Okay, but not okay.  I felt there was still a harsh, cut and dried look to the painting.  So I ended with my new trick—new to me, that is.  I’m certain that many others have done this trick, but I’m delighted to say I “happened” on it by myself.  Rather than waiting for the painting to dry before wetting the back of it and weighting it face down between paper towels, I ran water over both the front and back and then weighted it.  Additional edges got fuzzy in the process, colors ran into one another, and the paper toweling blotted the diffusing paint.  Voila!  A painterly painting!

Many of my past renderings turned out to be bla/bla/bla to my eyes, due to boring concise edges.  A chair, a table, a bowl of fruit—so what else is new?  Or mountains that looked like paper dolls.  No thank you!  Recently, I’ve recycled some of my former duds, by using the wet surface trick and it seldom disappoints me!

Again and again, I see proof of what my favorite watercolorist artists claim to be true in their experience:  that the medium is the artist.  With a minimum of manipulation, paint and water do their own thing far more beautifully than I could ever dream of doing!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, ©2013

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I will sweep my rooms,

tend my cloistered garden, brew my tea . . .

and one who mocked my dreams will never know

the heart of me.

© Margaret Longenecker Been

Published in MORNING IN MY EYES . . . poems of the meadows, rivers, woodlands, and seasons of life, by Margaret Longenecker Been.

Note:  A few years ago my musically gifted granddaughter, Nicole, set the words to a four-part madrigal which she composed specifically for the poem.  That is the greatest honor I’ve ever received in connection with my poetry!  MLB

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Sometimes a painting will look okay to me except for 1 corner, or 1 section, which simply refuses to cooperate or edify the whole work in any way.  I have extra mats in all standard sizes, which I can move around to isolate parts of a piece.  This helps me to decide what is worth saving, and what to pitch—or perhaps cut off, rinse, and re-work.  (On Yupo paper, the rinsing works really well.  The original white sheet is restored.)

Above, is a sample of 1 large painting (watercolor and gouache on Yupo paper) cropped into 1 medium and 2 smalls.  The left over piece is on my table, with many colors mingled on it.  Currently this “discard” is serving as a spare palette and a surface on which to wipe my brush when working on other paintings—but eventually the reject may become a rendering worth matting and saving.

The problem solving involved in making art (of any kind!) is a great part of the fun.  It’s amazing to see what one can salvage and redeem from an apparently lost cause!  Never think “failure”.  When in doubt, just crop!

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

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