On the Easel: Desert Florals

Here are two paintings that are in process, and almost finished. I thought I’d post them so you could see what was occupying my time recently!

The first is a barrel cactus and in reality the blossoms are more vivid than they appear here, but they need to be amped up, and the spines “pushed back” as well as other tweaks.  

Barrel blooms in progress

The second is one of my favorite subjects: The Desert Red Bird of Paradise. I’m happiest with this painting so far, but it also needs tweaks and the stamens!

Red Bird of Paradise blooms (in progress)
Red Bird of Paradise blooms (in progress)

I’ve had the privilege this year of being in a watercolor critique group where we each have 15 minutes to present one or two paintings for constructive criticism. Both of these went before the group this month and I’ll work on them as time allows soon. It’s quite beneficial, I highly recommend joining one of these groups!

Are you willing to change?

Echeverria, watercolor by Rachel from several years ago

I wanted to show you a series of paintings that I did through a class taken in the summer with the fabulous painter Nancy Frost Begin. She challenged us to be willing to simplify our subject and change elements such as color, value, etc. to INVENT rather than just REPORT in our painting. I started with the photograph that inspired this painting I did of echeverria several years ago and I simplified the subject first.

This was a more simplified painting with deeper values than the original.
This is a cool version of it in progress

The first question: Was I willing to change the color?

COLOR change

Was I willing to change the shape?

One of my favorites…abstracting the shape

Was I willing to change the scale? To zoom in? or out…

SCALE change and also playing with pure color against the various grays made from the orange and blue

Was I willing to change the value?

VALUE change…the white edges became the dark edges and it has a large focus on LINE.

Was I willing to change the form?

I chose to remove it from being plant like/organic and making it more geometric…and also play with the color.

Was I willing to change the space? i.e. reverse what we think about the background and foreground

One might expect the warm colors to be in the center and come forward and the cooler in the background to recede, but I flipped it, as well as flipping the color on the little spines to dark

What a difference they all are aren’t they? coming from the same point of inspiration. It was a mind blowing and mind expanding exercise that I’m sure I will do again! I loved it!

Nancy Frost Begin, NMWS will be the guest demo artist for the Rio Bravo Watercolorists on November 20, Wednesday at 10:30 at the International Museum of Art, 1211 Montana, El Paso. She will be discussing What Are You Willing to Change?

Paintings on the “Cradle”

I’ve recently mounted paintings onto deep cradled wood panels, sometimes painted on the sides, sometimes not. Here they are individually and as a group.  Click on any photo to enlarge and browse.

The paintings are at the Marketplace at Placita Santa Fe (5034 Doniphan Dr, El Paso) or at First Impressions Salon (6633 N Mesa St # 502 – ask for Leslie)  

Because they are mounted on wood and are not behind glass, they can be shipped.  Contact me if you’d like details.  

A Modern Take

These varnished watercolors applied to black painted 2″ deep canvases are selling as fast as I can paint them. They have a more modern rich color because of the varnish and not being behind glass. The smallest is 5″ square. The largest so far is 8×10″. Fun to do and see on the walls! So far they have been only at Flattop Salon but I hope to have them at the Marketplace at Placita Santa Fe and at First Impressions. #elpasowatercolors #flowers #shopsmall

On the Easel

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Hello everyone!  It’s been a productive week so far including doing several value sketches, finishing Cactus Queen and hopefully finishing this piece to submit both to a show this weekend!  We shall see…

I wanted to share the progress on this piece including my set up.  I paint exclusively now standing up at my easel for the most part with the painting almost vertical.  If I need to I can quickly level the painting to not have the paint puddle. So on the left I have several reference photos, not working completely and specifically from any of them, but largely using the value sketch to guide me.

flordelsol (2)And I’m happy to announce that pendants made from prints of my watercolors are now available at Dorsey’s Cards, 6101 Dew Dr, on El Paso’s Westside, along with greeting cards.  Stop by and say hello to Andrea Dorsey and her staff!

My prints, cards, and magnets are available at the Marketplace @ Placita Santa Fe, 5034 Doniphan inside the Magic Bistro!

First Day of School

yellow Bird of Paradise blossoms

And that means back to painting for me!  Getting back to a regular schedule just feels so good.   I spent a couple of hours in the studio yesterday painting yellow Bird of Paradise blossoms on scrap paper in preparation for working on the larger painting I blogged about the other day. 

I was really happy with the bloom on the left but then I used too heavy a hand on the delicate red stamens that are so distinctive. On the right blossom I used a smaller brush, less paint and tried to do each in one “take”.  I  painted the stamens first, let them dry and then painted the bloom.

These blooms were done without drawing first.  I wanted to use the paintbrush as the drawing tool and focus on the shapes, curves and 3D effect of the petals and using warm and cool yellows to achieve it.  I enjoyed the practice session a lot!

Getting Back into the Groove

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Yellow bird of paradise in progress

I’ve had some time off from painting because summer with teens is busy and I’ve had knee surgery and other stresses.  But now I’m on the mend, and school starts soon, but when will painting start?  HMMMMM…. that is the big question I’ve been asking myself for a week now, as I find time to mop the kitchen floor, organize cabinets, etc.

Does any of this sound familiar? I bet I’m not the only artist to feel like this.

In the organization, I found a handwritten note that I had made and then lost, and I want to share it with you.  It’s tips on how to get back into the groove,  Here are three that  I got by  listening to this art motivational podcast by Alyson Stanfield:  https://www.artbizblog.com/reboot-podcast/

  1. Show UP! Physically get into the studio, wet your paints, plan your colors, and just PAINT!
  2. Have low expectations…. be your own best friend to whom you would say, of course you won’t do well right out of the gate…you have to warm up.
  3. Remember your “learning edge” or what excites you to learn.  work on that, as if you are painting for the bin or garbage can.

So how did this work for me?  I showed up today, I worked on a piece that I was already not happy with and had put masa paper on top to have a fresh start with background colors coming through, and I remembered to squint to see values.  I’m excited by delicate flowers, especially desert ones, so this project worked to get me rebooted today.  I like how the masa paper which is a Japanese thin paper that puts a texture down helps the delicate blossom effect.  And what I found is that I LOVE putting paint on paper.  that’s the thing I need to remember when I get out of the groove again.

I also used to paint from computer screens thinking that it’s better to be able to zoom in, but I’ve found that I prefer painting by referring to a printed photo.

So, what works to get you back into the groove?  any tips you can share? I’d love to hear some…thank you for stopping by today!

 

 

Dog Days of Summer?

Apples a la Blasdell

Apples a la Blasdell

Take a break from the heat this Friday evening — it’s cool inside the watercolor show at EPCC!  I will have almost a dozen paintings on display so it’s a great place to see a lot of my work in one place.  L’Alliance Francaise d’El Paso is hosting their annual watercolor show at the Administrative Services Center of EPCC at 9050 Viscount. this Friday, August 10th from 6-8 pm.  The food and drinks are yummy and there is a lot of fabulous art to view.

To get there, take the Hunter/Viscount exit, turn left, go past Montwood intersection and turn at the light with the EPCC sign on top.

spurge among the prickly pears

Spurge Among the Prickly Pear

 

 

The show continues until Labor Day and the hours are 8-5 Monday through Friday. The pieces are not for sale at the show, but can be purchased directly from me after.  Remember, as an email subscriber you get 10% off the price of any original purchased directly from me!  The prices of these pieces run from $295 for the 16 x 20 size to $425.

 

Here are some behind the scenes views as I got ready for the show this weekend.  First, I needed to round up framed paintings, and because there’s only so much storage room at my house, I needed to go to my inlaws’ house where I happily “store” them on their walls!  I am so fortunate to have them, in many many ways.

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Then I made sure no smudges or dust was on the paintings/glass and redid the labels if necessary.  I don’t remember where I found this idea online, but I make bags from old towels by sewing up two sides so it makes a pouch to carry each painting.  For the 1/2 sheet paintings, or the ones that are 20″ x 28″ or larger in size, I’ve used a larger shower sheet/beach towel size and sewed a hand towel sideways at one end.  The smaller towel is not quite as long but it works to make a large enough bag to carry the bigger framed pieces.  I am normally quite the procrastinator, so I was proud that I got all this done and in my trunk a day before the show setup!

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Here’s one of the “X” freestanding walls that holds my work.  I’ve included what I call the painting “backstory” on the labels along with media, my name, phone and title of the work.  It’s what I was thinking, or what inspired me, where I was, etc.

Work in progress: fantasy beach

As a beach comber this might be a fantasy beach…it is a piece in progress started by laying in colors in a soft wash and then carving out and defining shell shapes with medium and dark values. It is a lot of fun and maybe 75% done.

The next steps are to make some shells more believable and continue getting depth and partial shells. Also I will string a path of darks leading you into the left top shell focal point.

This is the painting in an earlier stage. What do you think? I would love to hear!

Chiles en la Mesa

I am putting the finishing touches on this piece which will be donated to the Art Con Corazon fundraiser run by El Paso Human Services, Inc.  for their programs helping current and former foster youth.   

This is a first for me, not in donating, but in using watercolor ground to put on a surface, in this case a wooden board, to allow it to accept watercolors.  The ground needs to cure at least 24 hours before it can be painted on. 

I like how the wood grain surface shows through the ground which is the white background. The next step is signing it, putting a finishing spray on it, I believe, and getting it to the organizers. 

It has been a hectic couple of weeks so I am happy that I accomplished this and hope it does well in the auction. 

Art con Corazon will be held next Saturday, October 7th at First Baptist Church, 805 Montana Street, El Paso. It runs from 12-3 and the $10 entry includes appetizers, refreshments and music. Lots of beautiful art will be available for auction and all funds benefit the kids.  Hope to see you there!