Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

There is no way I will spend much time indoors when summer is fleeting. Rain or shine I can be outdoors either on our roofed-and-sheltered-on-three-sides patio, or out in the gardens. Every possible ounce of soul food (plus actual vitamin D) is in the process of being stashed

Like our resident chipmunks scurrying hither and thither with their cheek pouches loaded, I am hoarding a storehouse of images with camera and paints. But rather than scurry hither and thither, I move as slowly and deliberately as possible—unwilling to miss any of the fragrance, sights, or sounds of summer’s demise.

This laidback mentality is something I desire to maintain year around, and often succeed—especially at my vintage age when life is carefree and just plain fun! But during summer’s demise, lazing around is no trick. It just comes naturally!

Even my paint brushes are relaxed. They scarcely move—letting the paint do most of the work with a bit of help from me tipping and bending the paper. With lots of juicy watercolor and gouache, the artist is simply a behind-the-curtains director—welcoming the ad-libbing and improvising that occurs on stage.

Such are the lazy days of summer’s demise. ENJOY!

Margaret L. Been — 9/4/19

Read Full Post »

More tree Textures 4

We have not had a riotously colorful Autumn in SE Wisconsin.  No one seems to know exactly why some are and some are not.  Absence of chlorophyll, duh.  But what else plays in?  Moisture?  Lack of it?  Frost?  No frost?

We can dither all we want, and may never know for sure.  Up North where we lived full time for eight years, we were ablaze with color every year—in the land of the sugar maples.  Only problem:  by the end of September it was all over.  Crunch crunch.  But so gorgeous while it lasted!

Meanwhile, I tried to replicate what Autumn sometimes is, and can be.  As you can see, I started well on the lower one-half of the left side as you face the above rendering.  But then something obstinate, rebellious, and ornery kicked in.  I couldn’t continue with Autumn colors, and had to insert Spring.

I guess you can tell where my heart is.  But I don’t want to escape, as so many do, to the land of alligators, water moccasins, and crazy election problems.  Never, no never.

Much better for me to live day by day in our capricious climate, appreciate the Winter beauty, and experience that March through May euphoria every year—followed by an often torrid Summer, and then our perfidious Autumn of unpredictable color.

Meanwhile, I can paint what I want.  No alligators, no water moccasins, no crazy voting machines—just a capricious Autumn of a different color.  It’s called DENIAL!  ūüôā

Margaret L. Been  —  November 18, 2018

Read Full Post »

Happy Spring!

Happy Spring

“Happy Spring” is the name of the above colorful piece.¬† Of course we have snow on the ground today, buy hey that’s Wisconsin.¬† We love our gorgeous state, no matter what! ūüôā

Last week I texted a photo of the above to our son in Denver and daughter in Bellingham (WA).¬† The siblings immediately began messaging that they would like that painting someday (presumably when I have gone yonder).¬† Not wanting anyone to be disappointed, I answered that I, or rather the Yupo paper and paints, could produce a similar flower garden—so there would be more to share,

Here is my repro attempt, in 3 stages:¬† 1)¬† a light wash of colors covered with plastic food wrap in one area and Kosher salt in another for background texture; 2) the texturing agents have been removed and a little definition has been added; 3) more definition, and voila—c’est fini!




Not exactly the same but similar.

Margaret L. Been — April 4, 2018

Read Full Post »

Karen's Patio

Recently a friend¬†posed a question that has inspired me to ponder.¬†¬†Knowing I’d only been making art for a few years, she asked, “Do you think you are getting any better at it?”

After pondering long and hard, I keep coming up with the same answer:¬† “No, I’m not improving—only changing.¬† And definitely growing!”¬† Not only growing in the sense of experimenting with my paints and¬†stretching into areas I never dreamed of before, but I think I’m growing as a human!¬† After all, the intensive reading of art history and studying centuries of great art (mostly via books and periodicals, not galleries) cannot fail.¬† Learning any new thing will result in growth in comprehension and appreciation—and that growth fans out to impact many other areas of life.

I’m learning to see with fresh eyes—similar, perhaps, to the eyes of a child.¬† I’m discovering beauty in off-beat places—like the weathered and rustic back alley behind the stores in our¬†up-north small town, and a case of colorful gelato in¬†our local coffee bistro.¬† Just last week hundreds of teensy tadpoles slithering about in the shallows of the Rock River set my mental paintbrush slithering on hypothetical 140 lb. cold press paper.

More than ever before, I think in pictures and translate mental pictures into shapes not readily discernible to anyone but me.  When I paint a picture from my mind, or from an experience I want to remember, one or more facets of that scene or experience will surface in colors which convey mood and emotions.

Below you will see an example of painting an experience—a rendering which I shared awhile back, and am repeating in this instance because it shows the technique of¬†expressing one or more facets to tell a story, rather than trying to replicate a scene in photographic detail:

Jamie and Leo's Day

The experience dates back to a wedding in September, 2013.¬† Family members and friends of¬†our granddaughter Jamie and her sweetheart Leonardo were waiting outside of St. John’s mini cathedral in Delafield, Wisconsin for that moment when we could¬†enter the church for the ceremony.¬† Anyone who has experienced the best of a typical Wisconsin autumn can reconstruct the scene in his or her mind:¬† warm sunshine, crisp air,¬†blue sky, and the sleepy¬†droning of cicadas.¬† The day—mellow beyond words.¬† Jamie and Leo—even more¬†mellow and precious than the day.¬† When a scene or experience is mellow beyond WORDS, only a picture will suffice.

So in this rendering—“Jamie and Leonardo’s Day”—you will see sunlight, the Norman architecture of the St. John’s cathedral and campus, and the suggestion of trees in early autumn while the grass is still summer-green.¬† I could not begin to paint Jamie and Leo, but I could record the happiness I experienced at their wedding.

Growing through art.¬† Along with growing in ways to see, I’m growing in a tolerance for messes.¬† Life in process can be messy, but I’ve always been a neat freak.¬†¬†From the onset of my art adventure, I’ve had to relax with messes and even enjoy them when they reflect a work in process.¬† There are paint stains on the carpet around my art table, and splatters on the strip of drywall behind where I work.¬† Part of the d√©cor!¬† Evidence of a life lived with the exuberance of freedom from fussing and fretting about things that don’t matter!

No, not better.¬† Just changing and growing.¬† The painting at the top of this page is a rendering of my friend Karen’s patio.¬† I did this back in 2007, from a photo that I’d taken when visiting Karen.¬† I had¬†my original¬†painting reproduced at a print shop, to a place mat size, and then laminated—so we have placemats of Karen’s patio.¬† I also gave her some of the placemats, and she¬†recognized her patio.

Were I to paint the same scene today it would be vastly different—not only because Karen is always assembling fresh details of vintage beauty in her home and garden, but because¬†today I would not even dream of trying to reproduce a scene camera style.¬† Certain features of the patio d√©cor would grab me, and I would express those features—colored by my mood and the essence of that day.

The mention of “mood” brings me to the realization that perhaps only in the arts can one’s subjective mood be the prominent and dominating factor.¬† In our everyday world, objectivity is absolutely essential—for survival, for accuracy in our work, in our understanding of other people, and for¬†a correct¬†view of life itself.

Contrary to much current thought, we live in a world which is objectively BLACK AND WHITE—in terms of TRUTH AND NON-TRUTH, GOOD AND EVIL, RIGHT AND WRONG.¬†¬†But in the arts, we can express with subjectivity—life as we see and experience it, uniquely from the inside out.¬† Considering the countless benefits of (and reasons for) art, perhaps that is one of the greatest:¬† the arts are windows to¬†subjective aspects of the human experience.

No, not better.¬† As far as I can see, just changing and growing.¬†¬†At age 80, I’m blessedly free of a competitive spirit in my work.¬† Thus, art making is pure pleasure and excitement for me—devoid of any sense of struggle or drive which would mar my freedom, spontaneity, and joy.¬† If I can express just those three things—freedom,¬†spontaneity, and joy—I’m delighted.¬† And completely contented!

Here is a very recent example called “Blue and Old Pottery”—done in gouache (with hints of watercolor and acrylic) on Yupo paper.¬† Not better, just changing and growing.¬† And different!¬†¬†That’s part of the excitement of art.¬† No two paintings are alike!¬† ūüôā

blue and old pottery 2

Margaret L. Been — July, 2014

Read Full Post »

My Incredibly Beautiful Future 2

I believe I’ve been¬†converted to the¬†nuances and moods¬†of layered watercolors!¬† Yes, undoubtedly I’ll retreat on occasion to directly splashing and sloshing heavy increments of paint—especially when working on YUPO¬ģ.¬† But transparent layering has opened new territory for me, that I don’t really ever want to leave—at least for very long—without returning!

A great advantage of layering transparent nuances and moods (often resulting in colors I never even dreamed of!) is TIME—a plethora of time in which to rest between applications of paint while knitting a few inches, fixing a meal, taking a walk, or sleeping.¬† Thus the process of creating a single “masterpiece” (every painting which gives us pleasure should be called that!), is prolonged—along with¬†an intrinsic¬†sense of purpose, commitment, and fulfillment therein!

The above layered work, called “My Incredibly Beautiful Future” was mainly created by the rolling tissue¬†trick.¬† I learned this technique from Canadian artist Karin Huehold via her amazing DVD,¬† A LITTLE WATERCOLOR.¬† A tissue (the cheapest I can find—as in 99¬Ę per standard size box) is torn in half, and one part is rolled into a finger-like shape.¬† Then the “finger” is rolled on wet paper charged with wet paint, wherever one chooses to create clouds, mountains, or¬†mysterious “things”.¬†¬†¬†

After rolling the first increment of tissue I left the painting to dry, and then I thoroughly rewetted it with my 2 inch Simmons Skyflow brush.  (Arches 140 lb. cold press paper allows plenty of drying and rewetting without causing bleeding and/or lifting of the dried paint.) 

Then I applied different transparent colors, and rolled those areas with the other half of my tissue.¬† (One would probably not need to be¬†so penurious as I am.¬† Especially on a larger painting, an entire tissue could be used for one roll.¬† I just happen to be part Scottish.¬† I tend to skimp once in awhile—but not that often!¬† ūüôā )

After the 2nd rolling, I allowed the paint to dry again.¬† Then—without rewetting the paper again, and with¬†more transparent paint in still different colors—I negative-painted* around some of the tissue-created mountains,¬†clouds, and things.¬† In a few spots, I even rolled¬†into the negatively painted areas while these were still damp.¬†

This could go on and on, depending on how much knitting we want to accomplish, what we are fixing for dinner, how far we want to walk, or how late we want to sleep.  There can never even possibly be a duplicate, using this technique.  We will always be surprised/astounded/wiped out with amazement by our spectacular results!  Happy rolling!

*Negative painting is simply painting on the outside rather than the inside of shapes.¬† It can be done on blank paper, to create a background for shapes which will then materialize because we’ve painted¬†a background around them, or (the easier way which I normally choose) by painting on the outside of shapes¬†that¬†we have already created.

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

Read Full Post »

The Haunted Mesa . . . inspired by Louis L'Amour's novel by that name . . .

In the above painting, inspired by one of my favorite novels—THE HAUNTED MESA, by Louis L’Amour—I began with the “dampen the paper/charge the paint/and back off” concept but backing off simply did not work.¬† Instead, I spent¬†hours letting layers dry, painting new layers, sponging off muddy parts¬†(Arches 140 lb. cold press paper takes a lot of sponging and reworking without falling apart), and much consternation to the point of nearly tossing the whole bit into the waste basket.¬† Hour after hour and layer upon layer, I just couldn’t seem to make the painting come alive.

Then I accidentally turned the paper (to what I’d thought was) upside down, and voil√†—THE HAUNTED MESA materialized before my eyes.¬† I¬†like this¬†one as much as any I’ve ever done.¬† I guess¬†my punch line¬†is, in the words of Winston Churchill, “Never give in . . . .”

The painting is large enough that it wouldn’t¬†completely fit¬†into my scanner.¬† (It will be matted and framed¬†to the outside dimension of¬†16″¬†x 20″.)¬† But I was able to scan aspects which especially appeal to me:¬† the yellow-green sky and the faded background layers, as well as a good amount of the alizaron crimson/permanent magenta/ultra-marine violet¬†foreground.¬†

The cloudy areas in the foreground were created by randomly rolling a wadded up facial tissue over the freshly painted, wet surface.¬† I’m just a bag of funny tricks!!!¬† ūüôā

Margaret L. Been, ©2013

Read Full Post »

What a fun weekend we just enjoyed!¬† Along with a couple of Father’s Day celebrations, Joe and I attended a gallery Open House Reception¬†at our local Delafield Arts Center (Delafield, Wisconsin) where three of my watercolors are currently on display with an exhibit¬†featuring works from¬†the Pewaukee Area Arts Council—of which I’m¬†a member.¬† (Whew!¬† That was a long sentence!¬† ūüôā )

It was my first juried show, and I am still floating a bit from the happy surprise of having work selected.¬†¬†My above-pictured painting is “Out of Ashes”—a watercolor on my beloved YUPO¬ģ paper.¬†¬†Many artists in our group had never heard of YUPO, and wondered how I could get such vibrant color with¬†watercolors.¬† YUPO—a glass-like synthetic surface—is the answer.

The funny white parallelogram in the upper right section of the painting is not a part of the picture; it is an odd reflection of light from something in the room, which bounced off the glass into my camera lens.

Below¬†you will see¬†my other two selections in the exhibit, which will remain on display in the DAC Community Room until July 31st:¬†¬†“Amethyst Quartz” and “Lost Ocean”.¬†

Six summers ago, when I purchased my first watercolors, brushes, and paper, I never dreamed of the whole new life awaiting me.  I just thought I was going to have a bit of fun.  Perhaps the most amazing surprise of all has been the friendliness of people who participate in the arts.  There is room for everyone, and all are welcome!  As a newcomer, I never expected to be so accepted and encouraged.  What a wonderful world within a world! 

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

Read Full Post »

This is the time of year when we’ve occasionally¬†gone to New Mexico in the past.¬† I am traveling in my mind, and my paintbrush follows—all the way to Santa Fe.

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

Read Full Post »

Too wonderful!

Belgium 89
United States FlagUnited States 59
Malaysia FlagMalaysia 5
Australia FlagAustralia 4
Taiwan, Province of China FlagTaiwan 2
Canada FlagCanada 2
Bulgaria FlagBulgaria 2
Russian Federation FlagRussian Federation 2
Oman FlagOman 2
Indonesia FlagIndonesia 1
Czech Republic FlagCzech Republic 1
Saudi Arabia FlagSaudi Arabia 1
United Kingdom FlagUnited Kingdom 1
Germany FlagGermanyThese are countries from which readers have accessed this site in the last week.WordPress is now making this information available on our “back pages” where we get the stats.

I don’t know how to include the chart and type out of the box, so I am simply typing in the box.

To communicate with people all over the world–I never dreamed of anything so wonderful before.

Dear Readers from other places–I’d love to hear from you and about you!

Margaret Been

(Sorry, Belgium.  Somehow your flag missed the copy and paste.)

Read Full Post »

I don’t draw or paint animals very well.¬† They always seem to look like people, especially in the area of the eyes and facial expressions.¬† Now it may be argued that dogs are practically people—at least that goes for Collies and Pembroke Welsh Corgis.¬† But Ground Hogs are definitely not people, so I won’t try to paint them.

Meanwhile, I’ve always LOVED Ground Hog Day.¬† In Wisconsin, the traditional “take” on the day is confusing.¬† Whereas in some quarters 6 more weeks of winter may be considered “bad news” (for those who don’t ski), in our proverbial neck of the woods ONLY 6 more weeks is cause for a big HOORAH (provided you don’t ski).¬† Whatever . . . .

Here is a painting of what the Ground Hog may see, not in 6 weeks but perhaps in¬†a few¬†months—when he does come out to inspect my garden.¬† ūüôā

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »