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Posts Tagged ‘Fine artist Karlyn Holman’

White Roses 3

What do St. Bernard dogs, 911, and gouache have in common?  You’ve got it:  RESCUE.  The above rendering was rescued by gouache from having an unsightly case of the speckles, kind of like art measles.

A rescue job was necessary on this floral because whenever I love something I tend to go over the top, refusing to quit.  This characteristic has resulted in nearly 63 years of a great marriage, a lifelong addiction to maple sugar candy (those little maple leaves obtainable from the Vermont Country Store), and whatever painting trick has captured my heart.

I’d read about “color sanding” in books by Northern Wisconsin fine artist, Karlyn Holman but I only tried it recently.  The trick requires watercolor (or ink) pencils and sandpaper or a fingernail emery board.  When a colored pencil is shaved over wet paint, delightful speckles form—delightful that is until the entire page is covered with speckles.  I managed to do this on the above painting until suddenly the piece was (no kinder way to put it) butt ugly.

Of course great professional artists such as Karlyn Holman always recommend circumspection and moderation when it comes to tricks.  And let’s face it, the great artists don’t even need tricks; they only use them cautiously for a bit of extra fun.  🙂  Just leave it to me, to carry the “fun” to extremes.

But then, there’s always gouache to the rescue!

Margaret L. Been  —  March 5, 2016 

 

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.Beautiful Bouquet for Jamie

Recently our Denver son, Karl, visited us “back East”—in Wisconsin.  He spotted a painting I’d done for his sister, our daughter Debbie,  Rather than continuing to lose you readers in a string of our family connections, I’ll simply state that after seeing the painting, Karl said, “I’d like one like THAT.”

Wonderful!  So satisfying when someone likes your art, right?  But “one like THAT”—similar to, and in the time frame of, the above-pictured rendering–was done three years ago.  Now I’m trying to paint “one like THAT”, but I always come up with something different.

Maybe because of writing articles and stories for magazines and newspapers for decades, I’m sensitive to the ominous significance of plagiarism.  I have always been super cautious not to plagiarize someone else in my work.  Now that visual art has pushed my writing career to the background, I cannot even pick up a paintbrush and plagiarize myself!

Every individual who devotes huge chunks of time to art will attest to the fact that we change and grow.  I’m constantly exposing myself to different and new techniques and styles through books and DVDs.  When too weary at the end of a day to actually work in my studio (a card table in a corner of our bedroom), I immerse myself either in volumes of my beloved mid-to-late 19th century French artists or in the theories and works of present day water-media artists whom I find greatly inspiring:  Cheng-Khee Chee, Charles Reid, Barbara Nechis, Jean Haines, Shirley Trevena, Taylor Ikin, Clare Harrigan, and Karlyn Holman*, to name a few.

Although I never sit down at my art table with an open book or a DVD screen before me, I know that ideas for different approaches seep in through a kind of soul osmosis.  Constantly I enjoy delving and exploring fresh possibilities—even some that I’ve discovered on my own, such as mounding gouache on top of watercolors to achieve a textural effect resembling that of oil on canvas.

Hence I may never able to reproduce “one like THAT”.  But I’ll continue trying, and something will connect!  Scanned and emailed images of various new paintings are bombarding Karl, and when the right one appears on his computer screen he will reply, “Stop!  That’s it!”

One like THAT!

blue and old pottery 2

 

More Equinox

©Margaret L. Been, September 2014

*Many water-media artists tape their paper to a board before beginning to paint.  I prefer not to do this, as I enjoy tipping and wiggling my paper so that colors will run and form beautiful “cauliflowers”.  Some of the paper taping is done simply to prevent 140# cold press watercolor paper from buckling when wet.  Through her teaching, Karlyn Holman demonstrates the perfect solution for that—forever freeing artists for the need to tape their watercolor paper to a board.  Here is Karlyn’s wonderful trick.

Thoroughly wet the back of your finished painting.  Then make a sandwich:  a plastic placemat on a table or counter; clean paper toweling over the placemat; the painting face down on the paper toweling; another layer of paper toweling on top of the painting’s wet back; another layer of plastic placemat or whatever; and a large book, or several books, to weight down the sandwich.

Leave the sandwich overnight, and voila.  A perfectly flat painting.  If the watercolor paper is still damp, I repeat the sandwich process (omitting the wetting stage of course) until the painting is dry enough to mat.  COOL!  Thank you, Karlyn.  Wisconsin people are indeed brilliant!!!  🙂 )

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Boreal Twilight

It is the night before the night before Christmas—a time of great joy for our family (50 immediate family members counting children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, husbands, wives, and significant others).  There are also friends whom we consider to be family—some who have been an integral part of our lives for decades, our children’s close friends among them.

Meanwhile, this is an art blog.  How I love sharing art talk with kindred readers!  I’ve been thinking big time about the people who have encouraged and instructed me in this late-in-life experience which has become an absolute passion and joy!

My family has been an incredible support, and they like to have some of “me” on their walls.  Joe smiles when the UPS drops packages at our patio door—brown boxes loaded with brushes, tubes of paint, and huge increments of paper.  At one time he said, “Don’t artists use the 3 primaries to get all their colors?”  My answer was “Yes, that can be done, but just look at what manufacturers have produced in recent decades.”  Joe got the point, which is pretty obvious when one views the two generous containers in my studio:  one overflowing with partially squeezed tubes, and the other abounding in delicious brand new tubes waiting their turn to get squeezed.

The support of those whom I consider to be “real artists”, has been an amazing surprise and blessing at every turn.  By real artists I mean exactly that.  These are the individuals who were often drawing and painting as children—just as I was always writing a poem or an essay.  They are professional in every sense of the world—whether in teaching or selling (and frequently they are doing both).

As a fumbling, embarrassed beginner (not that long ago—it was 2006) I never dreamed of getting encouragement from artists who know what they are doing.  But I soon discovered that collectively artists are actually the most out-going, supportive people on earth—creative souls who love nothing more than to share their passion while inspiring others to experiment and grow.

Most painters (and this is probably true in other visual art disciplines) realize that each of us is one of a kind.  We learn from each other, however each person’s work will have a signature which is unique.  There is art for all people, at all levels.  I certainly know the difference between the four to six digit paintings which hang in the most discerning of galleries, and my own art which may be displayed and very occasionally sold at an Art Walk on the sidewalks of our small neighborhood community.  I am contented, and tremendously happy to be a part of the entire scene!

I owe more than words can say to a friend, fine artist in pastels, and encouraging teacher in the gorgeous Wisconsin Northwoods—Diana Randolph.  I attended two of Diana’s workshops held at a school a couple of hours from our Northern home—one a drawing class and the other an introduction to those beautiful buttery, silky pastels.

Drawing was (and I admit still is) my very weakest thing (I can’t call it a skill)!  This is a sobering admission since the reading of Art History reveals that down through the ages drawing has been the very basis of art.  Years were spent, simply drawing.  Pre-Raphaelite English fine artist and critic John Ruskin believed that color should only be introduced after an intense discipline of drawing-drawing-drawing.  Sorry, John.  I simply couldn’t go there, and my heart does not leap at the sight of a pencil or charcoal stick.

But COLOR!  There I was immediately hooked/grabbed/enamored/and fulfilled—body and soul.  To add color!  Well I had been doing that in decorating my home and body nearly forever.  Why not add color to paper or canvas?  Diana’s pastels got me so excited that I ordered high quality soft and hard sticks, the right surface, the sandpaper, the solvent to smear in strategic spots, the whole bit—only to discover that pastel dust did nothing worthwhile for my tetchy breathing apparatus.

Realizing that pastels were out, I deduced that oils would also be a problem for this confirmed asthmatic.  So what was my logical medium for COLOR?  Water/water/water and wonderful 37ml tubes of watercolor.  (Winsor & Newton, Da Vinci, and American Journey all come in these large tubes.  I also love some Daniel Smith colors which are available in smaller sizes.)

Diana Randolph is the only “real life” teacher I’ve worked with.  But a long time friend, fine artist Jan Roberts, has also been a constant source of inspiration.  Jan works in most every medium, and I have three of her magnificent oils hanging in our home.

My bookshelves groan with contemporary watercolorists who have shared through their books.  I have studied via books and DVDs—reading and viewing over and over and then some.  Each of these artists is unique, and they have varying views on many aspects of what to do, and how.  All of them encourage beginners, and acknowledge that they once were novices as well.  (Maybe when they were three years old! )

Book and DVD studies are also refreshing and freeing!  I respond to some techniques and am not so crazy about others.  This, perhaps, is the birth of an artist’s voice—compounded from much exposure from books, films, and actual galleries whenever possible!  A person can never learn it all, and knowing that I am a student, forever growing, thrills me right down to my toes!

Here is my list of surrogate teachers in watercolor painting:  Americans—Charles Reid, Cheng-Khee CHEE, Barbara Nechis, Karlyn Holman (Wisconsin proudly claims Karlyn!), and Taylor Ikin (the “YUPO Queen”); Canadians—Karin Huehold and Linda Kemp; and British—Shirley Trevena and Jean Haines.  These are amazing teachers who differ in many ways—their main similarity being the creation of fantastically beautiful work.  Due to the marvels of technology, I have received email encouragement from some of these artists.  The profusion of encouragement never fails to remind me of Hans Christian Andersen’s THE UGLY DUCKLING.  I realize that I’m not quite a “swan”, but the swans have really made me feel like I belong—and this is a beautiful feeling!

Currently, I’m enjoying practicing a method from UK fine artist Jean Haines’ DVD, AMAZING WAYS WITH WATERCOLOR.  Jean begins some of her paintings with a single spot on the paper, and letting the subject reveal itself from that spot by streaking lots of color and water in a diagonal.  Jean stresses the need to let each stage dry completely, and to enjoy the beauty of each stage—the color fusions and the way a subject will evolve for future development.

Jean demonstrates painting cockerels (of course that’s UK for roosters).  She loves cockerels and so do I having raised numerous fancy breeds of cockerels (I think I’ll call them that!), hens, and chicks for eighteen years on our little funny farm in Eagle, Wisconsin.  So I have been experimenting, and here is one of my studies—called “Overdressed for the Occasion”.

Overdressed for the Occasion 2

It will undoubtedly take many more “bloggings” to share the countless ideas I’ve incorporated from books and DVDs.  I hope to do that in 2014.  But this blog entry has grown so long, I wonder if anyone will make it to the finish.

Nevertheless, I don’t want to edit a single word of thanks to all of my teachers, and to you readers.  You mean so much to me!!!  🙂  Merry Christmas!!!

Margaret L. Been, December 2013

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Winged Life 1

“It is well to have some water in your neighborhood, to give buoyancy and to float the earth.”  Henry David Thoreau, WALDEN

We Wisconsin natives are akin to water.  Forming a border on three sides of our state (Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, and “Old Man River”—the Mississippi) water defines whom we are, to a great degree.  I grew up with water—a friendly creek at the base of my family’s property, a summer lake home, the gorgeous Black River bluffs outside my grandparents’ door, water/water/water.

For eight years Joe and I lived full time on a quiet flowage with the Big Elk River just around the corner from our bay.  A favorite summer pastime of mine was to take my paddle boat, a book, suntan lotion and plenty of iced tea plus peanut butter and jelly sandwiches up the river where I dozed, read, swam, and ate my lunch.  The latter was a bit foolish, due to a plethora of black bears nearly as abundant as water in the vicinity.  As the years passed, we got more savvy about bears and Joe put a stop to my solitary picnics—but I could still paddle upstream, read, doze, and swim.

Now we live not on water, but surrounded by lakes and rivers in the unique Lake Country of Southern Wisconsin.  A considerable benefit of water proximity is the abundance of winged water life:  an abundance we enjoy every single day from March through mid-November.  Great blue heron, sandhill cranes, Canada geese. and many kinds of ducks fly over constantly, along with additional shorebirds such as sandpipers and egrets.

Along with these seasonal neighbors, our little garden and patio area host year round friends—cardinals, sparrows, chickadees, etc., and summer residents:  Baltimore orioles, mourning doves, robins, and those occasional warblers which stop enroute to northern nesting sites.  And throughout the year, we watch nature’s undertakers—the turkey vultures soaring with their frayed wings over the woods beyond the park, while scouting for a decaying meal.

Winged life is as much of whom we are as the water which surrounds us.  Thus it follows that birds appear in my art, along with water and wild woods.  Also, frequently present are something we do not have in Wisconsin but rather are native to my “home away from home” state—Colorado.  Obviously, that “something” would be mountains.  We paint what we love!  For me that also includes clouds and mist hanging over the water, woods, mountains, or whatever.

Just as we writers have a voice, ever developing as we live and grow, artists also speak through their work. I began in 2006—trying to paint realistic scenes which were at best colorful, but at worst totally humdrum and thoroughly uninspired.  I’ve saved many of the early renderings, and I can’t get over how unoriginal they are.

Not skillful enough to produce a beautiful photo-realistic scene (which I greatly admire from fine artists!) it was only when I cut the fetters that had bound me to standard, realistic shapes and colors that I realized I actually do have an artist’s voice.  Through books and DVDs, fine artists Barbara Nechis and (Wisconsin’s own) Karlyn Holman encouraged me to cut loose and sing!  With my one and only true “strength” which is color, this was (and is!) possible.

When I paint what I love, invariably someone else will love it as well.*  Time and again, I’ve offered a family member to choose from a group of paintings and he or she will pick what I like best.  For 2 summers now, I’ve presented to a jury—to select paintings for inclusion in a summer exhibit at our local arts center; and each time the jury has chosen the paintings I prefer.  I would never paint primarily to please others, but it seems a given that when we please ourselves others are pleased as well!

So curvilinear shapes of birds, trees, mountains, and flowers are continually surfacing—those things I love best.  Having been translated from years of living in a semi-wild environment to a suburban locale, occasional abstractions of buildings and bridges will appear.  But nearly always, these traces of man’s ingenuity float among masses of curvilinear shapes—often the shapes of winged life!

Margaret L. Been, ©2013

*Note:  often when painting what I love, I think of a late fine artist in oils who painted what he loved—while amassing a fortune because so many others (including the Walt Disney Company) loved his work.  Thomas Kinkade, the “Painter of Light” came to a tragic end.  Yet his art tells me that despite his very human failings, he had a beautiful soul!

From blog browsing I’ve discovered that Kinkade’s paintings are controversial.  Many object because they are either:  1) too realistic; 2) not realistic enough; 3) too idealistic; 4) not credible because one cannot tell where the light is coming from; 5) too commercialized; 6) ugly because they are popular; 7) not ugly enough (this critic believes that “real” art should be ugly because he believes that life itself is ugly); and 8) on and on ad nauseum.

I’m working hard on trying not to get unnecessarily angry,  but these comments have taxed my resolve to the max.  Although Kinkade’s art is not what I would choose to adorn my home, I believe that a valid function of the fine arts is to rise above the mundane while attempting to express a beauty intended for man before he (or she!) bit into that apple.  My belief stands unaltered by the stupid criticisms listed above.  Each artist has his or her personal concept of beauty, but striving for beauty is certainly a worthy raison d’être!

I question whether or not those critiquing Kinkade’s work are actually artists.  My exposure to the art world has revealed to me a tremendous spirit of love and acceptance among those involved because:  1) making art is never easy, although it may look easy to the uninitiated viewer; and 2) every artist should be considered free to make art as they see life. 

This spirit of love and acceptance has also caused me to realize that a penchant for beauty need not be the driving force behind all who make art.  Showing life as it really is in this fallen world is also valid, along with showing even the ugliness of some people’s “reality”—whether or not I like that kind of art.

Some critics maintain that Kinkade was not a “real artist” because he was intensely popular during his career.  He has been called a “hack”—a term normally applied to writers who produce for profit.

Hello, critics.  Have you ever heard of William Shakespeare?  I rest my case, although I might add, perhaps you “. . . doth protest too much, methinks.”  Shakespeare’s HAMLET, Act III, scene II.

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After six years of direct painting either on wet or dry paper, I’m finally developing the courage to tackle the essence of traditional watercolor art—transparent layering.  Up until recent weeks, any forays into layering that I did were accidental—and if these attempts yielded anything better than the artist’s dreaded “mud”, then they were the quintessential “happy accidents”.

Perhaps I’m a bit thick headed!  It has taken years of constant immersion in books and DVDs—especially by watercolorists Barbara Nechis and Wisconsin’s own Karlyn Holman just for me to decide to focus on layering.  What a satisfying focus!  The subtle nuances of the initial wash shining through subsequent layers of varying color is a never ending source of surprise and delight.  One never knows what will emerge, and each painting is different from the last.

There are some guiding principles for the process:  thin layers of transparent paint work best, with gradual rather than radical color variations, and each layer must be thoroughly dry before applying another.  Some artists speed up the drying with a hair dryer.  I simply move on to another project, and give each wash more than enough time to dry.  It’s fun to go from painting, to soap making, to knitting, to my piano, to a good book.  After all, the name of my stage in life is LEISURE WITH NO STRESS—and that’s a wonderful thing!

I’ve been thinking a lot about how beautiful a city scene can be, when venerable old (or tasteful new) architecture is accented by gardens and the natural life which abounds therein.  Years ago, my husband and I traveled 2200 miles of back roads in Scotland, Wales, and England—staying at sheep farms along the way.  On the last day of our vacation we took a train from the village of Dorking to London, a journey of about an hour.  As the train catapulted (British trains do exactly that!) through back alleys of London residential neighborhoods, I was totally charmed by the gardens complete with picturesque potting sheds in even the tiniest back yards.  The plethora of vines and plantings pressed against old buildings (some being centuries old!) was a sight I love to recall. 

From that day on, I’ve passionately loved the English garden look—not those formal, ostentatiously groomed plantings on the large English estates but rather the cozy “cottage gardens” which ramble in profusion outside back doors of country and city homes across the UK.  When delineated by stonework, a wall, some fencing, or some other architectural detail, the cottage gardens exude a timeless sense of nostalgia and ambience. 

I have created the cottage garden look outside my own door with perennials, culinary herbs, and “garden art”, and this is the kind of garden I love to paint.  Hence the above rendering, the most multi-layered watercolor I’ve done to this date.  Things are finally clicking inside my skull, and I think I’m “getting it” at last!  🙂

My favorite part of the above painting is the shading of hues above and within the arc which represents some kind of architectural detail.  But I also like the “in your face” flowers which shout at you from the foreground.  These were painted in gouache, that wonderful opaque watercolor which builds texture similar to oils and acrylics but does not destroy one’s precious high quality watercolor brushes!

I like to say I am 1/2 Celt, as my mother’s family surnames were either Scottish or Irish.  But according to my records, many of these ancestors married people with English names—Blake, Wood, Soper, etc.  So it figures that I immediately felt at home when I discovered the English cottage garden, and have been (at least mentally) living in one ever since!

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

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