Posts Tagged ‘Artist Shirley Trevena’

Tissue Paper

A few weeks ago I turned 82.  That was a pile of fun.  My one-liner was:  “Now I can start being eccentric.”  Family members and friends cracked up over that.

To add to the delight a gorgeous flower arrangement arrived from the local florist; the flowers were ordered by our daughter Laura who lives in Bellingham, Washington.  There were 5 lovely scarlet roses in the bouquet, and they are now drying upside down in our home.  (I can’t discard a celebratory rose, and we have them hanging here and there.  Others are dried for the stash of pot pourri.)

As if flowers were not pleasure enough, their vase was wrapped in an amazing tissue paper—much sturdier than normal gift wrap, with a plastic-y feel to it.  The tissue paper went from the vase of flowers on the dining room table to my art table, and the above rendering is the result.

First I sculpted hills (mountains or whatever) and rocky areas onto 300 pound Arches watercolor paper with gesso, and then pressed scraps of the tissue into the textured areas—making sure to cover the tissue paper with the gesso.  (What fun to scrunch around in gesso and paper.  Some people never grow up, and never want to!  🙂  )

When that dried, I painted the scene.  You can see where the gesso and tissue* form lines, rocks, and gullies, but a photo doesn’t adequately represent the piece.  In reality the textures rise and fall, potentially inviting fingertips if we didn’t know that we are never supposed to touch the art.

This is a large painting, approximately 20 x 16,  Finally I’ve learned how to take a photo of a picture too large to scan.  A little pocket camera never did the job, as any white or even light area would turn out to be a huge blob of bleached out nothing.  But my i-Pad takes fantastic pictures.  I can lay the picture flat on the floor or stand it up and the I-Pad photo is as close as I can get to the real thing.

Meanwhile, serendipitous treasures frequently pop up when I remember to keep my eyes open.  What next?  Life is full of surprises.

Margaret L. Been—September 7, 2015

*It’s occurred to me that one might simply walk into most any florist shop, and purchase this exciting tissue paper!

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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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Ever since beginning this wonderful pastime of painting, I’ve tried to keep raising the proverbial bar.  Every book I read—as well as every DVD I view—by an inspiring artist provides more to consider and new ideas to try.  I admit that some experiments bomb out, but hey!  We learn from mistakes, right? 

Invariably the second experiment with a new idea (technique, method, material, focus, etc.) works better than the first.  When the new idea involves some of my favorite things, you can be sure I’ll persist until I’m reasonably pleased with the outcome.  Thus, I’m currently in the midst of an ever-expanding series of “Birches”—which are definitely among my favorite things.

A fascination with this delightful way to create a representation of birch trees was sparked via the DVD, A LITTLE WATERCOLOUR, by Canadian artist, Karin Huehold.  This DVD is truly awesome, and I recommend it to anyone (beginning or seasoned) who loves to render natural landscapes in watercolor.

In her DVD, Karin Huehold demonstrates cutting a 22″ x 30″ sheet of 140 lb. watercolor paper in 72 tiny segments in which she illustrates a variety of methods for painting landscapes—lakes, mountains, fields, woods, rivers, the aurora borealis, etc.—as well as abstract designs.  Karin encourages learning in this way.  Nothing is lost when experimenting on a small segment of paper, and when we have built our confidence we can progress to larger pictures.

Hence, my birches—courtesy of Karin Huehold’s technique.  For starters, I covered the areas which would be tree forms (trunks and branches) with masking tape burnished securely onto the paper.  (Although I have used the tan masking tape sold in office supply stores, in the above instances I used painters’ blue tape.  Due to the width of this tape and its fine texture, I can easily cut contours in the trees and curvilinear branches, all of which are not so stylistic and rigid as birches from standard masking tape.)

Next I dampened the upper 2/3rds of the paper—leaving the bottom section dry for achieving a dry-brushed, textured look of ground or snow.  Then I charged several colors into the areas around the tree trunks and branches, varying the hues from bright to more somber and letting the paints bleed and diffuse into each other.  I love this kind of movement and contrast in a painting, and it seems that I never get exactly the same shades twice.  There is always the excitement of variety!

When the paint was dry, I removed the painters’ tape to expose the preserved white areas.  Finally, I dabbed color into the branches and trunks, not only with watercolors but with my watersoluble ink pencils as well.  Any texture you see in the trees was formed by the pencils.  (For the idea of combining watersoluble ink, watersoluble colored pencils, and watersoluble crayons with paint, I have British artist Shirley Trevena to thank.)  

The techniques employed in the above paintings are so easy, so incredibly fun to do, that quite assuredly “a kid could do them”.  And I plan to share the joy of the birches soon, with kids of all ages!

Meanwhile, like Monet and his beloved waterlilies and haystacks, I may continue with the birches indefinitely!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, 2012

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