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Posts Tagged ‘gouache’

It’s that time again—when it’s all about flowers and most anything green. Spinach salads, trips to the local garden center to find more INDOOR PLANTS, dreaming of the outdoor gardens while the temperature beyond our doors and windows hovers below freezing, and frequently below zero.

The end of our lane contains a pristine white mountain, where the plow has heaped snowfall after snowfall so that we in our condo community can get out of our garages. This is Wisconsin, USA, and that snow mountain may be with us for several more weeks. But all I can think is FLOWERS.

The above allusion to flowers has seen many mutations since its beginning in late January. Several times it almost got pitched in the recycle bin, but with each frustrating session I came back with renewed vigor and determination. I simply had to have something to show for the New Year!

This painting is 16″ x 20″, and is now framed in a lovely antique wood frame, on the wall beside my piano. I like the rendering, but up until a couple of days ago I definitely did not! Here is why: It started out with a photo realism approach—something that normally doesn’t work for me! The flowers were a dark magenta, with blobs of yellow here and there and something that was supposed to represent sky—in overly predictable blue.

The magenta was overpowering. My well educated husband walked by my art table and preempted my thoughts by commenting, “It needs some white.”

So I attacked the magenta flowers with white gouache (always my friend in coverups.) But somehow the white took over. More yellow. More magenta. Then some alizarin crimson to deflect the winey magenta.

Then more yellow to light it up even more, more blue to anchor the piece to the table—but this time aqua blue, always a winner. This all sounds fast and frenzied, but it took weeks punctuated with days for drying (I tend to gob the paint on thickly), excursions to our local medical clinic where our body parts are kept in running order, and time out to eat and be sociable. And sometimes I slept.

Finally the paper was so clotted with layers of watercolor and gouache IMPASTO style, that I had a fleeting sense of nausea. “You are going to have a bath,” I almost shouted at the paper which was actually curling up on its edges from the barrage of paint.

A bath indeed. Not a shower, but a soaking in our kitchen sink. I brought the dripping mess back to my table and plunked it down thinking I would attack it once again, as it began to dry. But then the magic appeared.

The gross top layers of paint were gone. Somehow much of the yellow had turned to a soft green when blending into the aqua. The magenta/crimson combo had turned a light lavender when confronted with shades of blue. While the paper was still damp, I covered it with plastic food wrap and squished the wrap with my fingers to create creases.

When I removed the plastic the next day, I felt like apologizing to what I found—a lovely bit of art for which I could hardly take credit. As is so often the case, the paint knows best! ūüôā

Margaret L. Been — March 2nd, 2019

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Growing more and more enamored with abstraction, especially that which is soft-edged, flowing, and organic as opposed to geometric, hard-edged, and harsh, I was tremendously pleased with the above 24″ x 20″ rendering—so pleased that I framed it and the mysterious painting is hanging high in our living room, brightening up the entire wall.

When I study the painting, I imagine different scenarios:¬† a moonlit swamp; a campfire; the triumph of light over darkness and joy over sorrow; the vicissitudes of a long life on earth. ¬†The print which you see does not do justice to the colors therein; they vibrate and rock.¬† Recently, the “vibrate and rock” appealed to a seven year old great-grandson/friend who came for a visit and art making.

“I want to do one like that,” Deacon decided after studying my various paintings on our walls.¬† Then he excited me up to my earlobes by saying, “I like the way the colors run together.”¬† Do I have a kindred soul here, or what?

Deacon proceeded to create his own mystery painting.¬† He learned that simply painting color over color with a loaded brush creates blackish-brownish mud, which I praised and applauded because children’s art is ALWAYS wonderful.¬† Then I showed him how gently introducing colors to different areas of wet paper, while jiggling the paper to let the wet colors mingle, causes mysterious marks never to be reproduced in the exact same way.

There wasn’t time to introduce salt and plastic wrap which add texture to a painting, but hey—we quit art making in order to fly kites with Deacon’s great-grandfather (my Joe) in the park outside our front door.¬† Kites are important, and highly symbolic of our free and funky Boho lifestyle.

My, aren’t we full of metaphors and similes today!?!¬† Having written poetry most of my life (since I could first wield a pencil or pen), I tend to think in metaphors and similes.¬† They are everywhere and—like paintings and kites—the colorful ones are the most fun! ūüôā

Margaret L. Been¬† —¬† May 2nd, 2018

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Ice Tea again

It is often said that artists can create the world the way they wish it would be!¬† This may be true of most of the arts, and many crafts as well—where one is fashioning beauty from ashes—or victory in the midst of something that seems like defeat.¬† In my poetry, I have often featured the presence of light in apparently dark circumstances.

Without getting more ponderous, when indeed my mood is upbeat as I share with you, the above painting is the world the way I’m eager to experience it—and will in a few weeks.¬† Having lived in Wisconsin for all but three of my eighty-four years, I should know (and do!) that April in my home state is not like “April in Paris”.

Sometimes we get teased a bit with warm splashes, and these are meant to be savored but not viewed as the permanent seasonal weather change.¬† Meanwhile, we can paint (sing, write, dance) whatever weather we want—thereby creating our own reality:¬† our own private world.¬† A case in point is this painting, titled “Ice Tea Again”, reflecting a pastime which is HUGE in my estimation:¬† drinking ice tea on our patio beside our pretty little patio garden, while watching the birds and chipmunks that enjoy the hospitality of our feeders.

I have done many ice tea type paintings, but this one is unique.¬† Were you to actually see the painting, now framed in a 16″ by 20″ softly gilded frame, you would probably observe that something new has been added:¬† touches of mixed medium accents which add texture and individuality to the piece.

At this moment two amazing British artists—Ann Blockley and Soraya French—are vitalizing, coaching, and inspiring me via books and (in Ann’s case) DVDs to experiment with mixed media.¬† So “extras” have been added to this watercolor and gouache rendering, including areas of enhanced color on and around the flower shapes made with hard pastel pencils and Derwent Inktense sticks.¬† The winding vines were formed by streaking India ink from a pipette and letting it ooze around on the damp paper.¬† You may notice the sketchy lines drawn by oil pastels* in areas alongside the vines.¬† And, as always, thick applications of gouache have covered a plethora of boo-boos.

The above-mentioned artists, and many others, stress the importance of playing with the mediums, learning what they can do and not worrying about the outcome.  JUST PLAY!  This really appeals to me after a rather dragged out autumn and winter beginning with the loss of my beloved corgi in October and adding a challenging shoulder replacement to the mix.  I intend to play, while drinking volumes of ice tea!

Included in the “play”, is the fact that I am diving into water soluble oils.¬† This is happening at my newly acquired hardwood easel.¬† The easel doesn’t work for watercolor painting, as there is not room enough in the bedroom studio to flatten out the surface.¬† But oils can be done on a tilt.¬† While watercolors, gouache, and mixed medium play happens at my dining room studio, oils are slowly drying and developing on the easel.

Margaret L Been — April 14th, 2008

*When I received my order from DICK BLICK of a beautiful, magenta colored wood box of 60 oil pastels (Van Gogh brand) I reverted to childhood.¬† I can’t express the wonder and joy of running my fingers over the surface of these sticks, marveling at the gorgeous color gradations.

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panel a

I came up with another excuse for putting off blogging:¬† my mouse died.¬† After countless years with my pet mouse, he (it) bit the dust.¬† I simply cannot get the hang of keyboarding with my pinkie.¬† But now I have a brand new purple mouse from Office Max, and I’m eager to blog.¬† I LOVE the color purple!

Obviously, the long skinny panel above wouldn’t fit into my phone camera without showing the surround of our front door and a rug.¬† But you get the idea that by February in Wisconsin those of us who do not care to ski, skate, or roll in snow are dreaming—even pining—for spring.¬† Nowhere does this longing express itself more blatantly than in our home.¬† Flowers are blooming all over the place!

This gallery wrap canvas experienced many mutations.¬† The pink at the top began as foxgloves, those deadly but lovely bell-shaped flowers that always remind me of Beatrix Potter’s foolish duck who laid her eggs under the “protection” of the Foxy Gentleman who lounged among the foxgloves.

My foxgloves were rather ugly, so I tried to morph them into tulips.¬† The tulips were equally unpleasant, so I dabbed away—adding gouache—until the tulips became those fragrant blossoms that most anyone can render convincingly:¬† lilacs.

Yes, May!!!¬† Next down the line were purple irides (otherwise known as irises), something I can normally manage to paint because of their ruffles.¬† Then more lilacs or maybe pink irides, and finally my beloved mertensia—Virginia bluebells.

A lot of gouache was layered onto this watercolor flower arrangement, giving the panel a nice textured effect.¬† I painted the sides with acrylic, because when I spray the finished panel with an acrylic fixative for preservation it is easy to cover the flat surface—but the sides are harder to spray.¬† I want to make sure my gallery wrap panels will last, at least for a few decades and perhaps longer.

In a little over two weeks, daylight saving begins.¬† Hurray!¬† And it’s already spring within the walls of our home!¬† ūüôā

Margaret L. Been — 2/23/18

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Heading Home for Good.jpg

I doubt there is any middle ground with Yupo paper.¬† One either loves it or hates it.¬† The “haters” are those artists who demand control of their paints, and always work with an unflappable agenda in mind.¬† These folks create beautiful¬†works of abject realism, and often artists of palpable realism are highly trained and amazingly gifted—especially if they achieve high end realism in watercolors.¬† Everyone knows that chasing watercolors is a bit like herding cats.

I am neither highly trained nor amazingly gifted, and fortunately the art I love the most does not fall in the category of abject realism.¬† My favorite artists, the French Impressionists, Post Impressionists, Les Fauves, etc. who worked largely in oils¬†were realistic to a degree, but always with an intensely¬†personal voice.¬† For anything other than “personal voice” I would use a camera—and for me, that wouldn’t be half as much fun as getting out the Yupo and letting the paints fly hither and thither.

Last week my good friend and fellow artist, Vikki, and I shared an art day at our dining room table.¬† We began on Yupo.¬† My rendering was, for starters, terribly generic and¬†dreadfully similar to stacks of other paintings I’ve done:¬† tree – space – tree – space; ¬†leaves and blossoms on tree – space – etc; and plomp – plomp – plomp –¬†ad nauseum.

Now I detest—and desire to always eschew—the¬†plagiarizing of¬†any thing or any person, including myself.¬† So that night I looked over this Yupo thingy, almost upchucked, sprayed it with my trusty water bottle, pressed plastic clingy food wrap onto the entire surface, and went to bed.

The next day I removed the cling film and VOILÀ!  Something I could further develop and live with:  the suggestion of a Viking ship* with sails, and lots of turbulence all over the place.  So much better than plomp Рplomp Рplomp!

I added delineation and definition via gouache to the¬†vessel and its surrounding sky and water—leaving a plethora of confusion, color, and turbulence in the sails as if the depicted journey was, like many of life’s journeys, fraught with distractions, dead-ends, and disasters.

However I am always a positive-note person, so then I named the piece:¬† “Heading for Home the Last Time”—reflecting my blessed assurance in a¬†glorious destination through it all,¬†and eternal joy in the presence of¬†my Lord Jesus.

Margaret L. Been, May 2017

*Because this painting is matted and framed to 12″ x 16″, it was too large to entirely fit in my scanner.¬† Thus the ends of the ship do not completely show on the print.¬† The original in its full size is more representative of an actual Viking ship.¬† Since my husband is descended from Vikings, and loves ships, I wanted to be somewhat realistic.¬† ūüôā

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Here is a bold venture:¬† a painting which turned out to be too large for the ready-made frames at our local craft stores.¬† I had grabbed an entire sheet of Yupo¬ģ and had a blast, painting and¬†thinking I would crop the finished work to fit a 24″ x 20″ frame which I had on hand.¬†¬†But I was¬†pleased with the¬†entire piece, and couldn’t figure out where, if any, I wanted to sacrifice part of it.

A brainy idea:  custom framing.  This is pricey indeed, and I will not do it very often.  But the result is satisfying.  Below you can see The Big One on a living room wall:

Wall 2

AW.JPG

Many layers of gouache were piled onto this painting, over washes of watercolor.¬† Actually called “Waterfall”, this rendering evokes memories of a real waterfall we had on our 14 plus acres up north, where we lived full time for eight years.

Our land bordered on two roads, one up and one down a hill. ¬†Our home was on the downhill road, next to¬†a lake.¬† In the spring, snow and ice melted from the above road and roared downhill to our back yard, over boulders and brush.¬† The sound was stirring, and so loud that it resonated through closed windows.¬† In the¬†summer, the waterfall morphed into a trickling downhill creek—always refreshing to sit beside on one of the big boulders.

How beautiful to have mellow memories, and then to paint them (and have them framed)!

Margaret L. Been — April, 2017

NOTE:¬† Obviously I couldn’t scan this painting on my home scanner, so I photographed it with my cell phone.¬† Because the piece was framed with non-glare glass I could do that.¬† But I failed to get the entire bit into the top photo.¬† In the shot of the painting on the wall with its surrounding environment, you get a better idea of how the waterfall fans out at its base.

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Here is another British watercolorist who inspires me again and again through her books and DVDs.¬† Ann Blockley creates unforgettable, unique scenes which are, in her words unlike the “candy box scenes” we are accustomed to seeing.¬† Rather they are imaginative, and deeply personal—inspired by¬†sights, sounds, and fragrances of familiar places around Ann’s home in the Cotswolds.

While demonstrating techniques for using watercolor in tandem with India ink, water soluble crayons and ink sticks, salt, plastic wrap, texture and granulating mediums (employed with a relaxed realization that the tools and techniques may decide their own path on paper, different from that which the artist has foreseen) Ann has challenged me not only to experience nature with all my senses, but also to take a deeper look at my photo books and computer files of favorite places I have lived:  to let the essence of these scenes penetrate my mind and heart, with the goal of more effectively expressing beloved places in my art.

The photos¬†recall a¬†lifetime of favorite places¬†including: ¬†my small-town Wisconsin¬† childhood home with a quiet stream at the base of our apple orchard; the Wisconsin Northwoods and waters where we vacationed when our children were young and where¬†Joe and I lived full time¬†for eight years beginning in 2001; my “home away from home”, Colorado where I¬†spent a year at school, where Joe and I lived during his stint at Ft. Carson, and where we have visited many times since; more western vacation areas—Northern New Mexico and the farthest NW corner of Washington State; and our present home in Wisconsin’s Southeastern¬† Lake District:¬† a¬†pleasant blend of small communities northwest of Milwaukee with¬†lakes, rivers, woods, and a few remaining farms.

I will never live long enough to even begin¬†capturing on paper the abundance of beauty which has underscored and punctuated my 83 years.¬† But I’m making a start, greatly motivated by the work and encouragement of UK artist Ann Blockley.¬† Here are a few of many¬†scenes which I’m studying with a mind to painting—not with photographic accuracy but rather in response to their essence, in the coming year:

my-childhood-river

my-prairie

goldenrod

autumn-bog

DIGITAL CAMERA

under-our-windows

river-bank

gorgeous-clouds

Margaret L. Been — 1/22/17

NOTE:¬† If you GOOGLE Ann Blockley’s website, you are in for a TREAT!¬† MLB

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