I thought I would enter one more post about my trip to Hawaii. The week included several wonderful, but muddy, hikes. We were warned that the trails were wet and muddy so we prepared before heading for Mauna Wili Falls, or so we thought.
This summer, the west has been unusually cool and wet. My theory is that the earthquake and tsunami in Japan belched up a ton of frigid water from the depths of the ocean and all that cold water has effected our weather this summer. I have mentioned this to several people and their reaction has run the spectrum from, "You're crazy" to "that sounds logical." What do you think? Could the earthquake in Japan have an effect on the weather on the west coast?
Whatever the reason, the dry season in Hawaii is seeing lots of rain and you can see how muddy it is in the top photo. The trail at this particular part was raised on wood steps but most of the way we were down in the mud. Hiking out from the falls was even worse since it rained while we were swimming. Our sneakers turned into mud pies on the bottom with layers of encrusted slim. Mud on mud makes every step through the tree roots, rocks and mud a potential slide into the muck. I had several close calls as I grabbed nearby trees and boulders to stop an undignified plop into the mud but both Jeff and I made the hike into and out of the falls unscathed.
Jeff, my husband at a dry patch in the trail
What we thought would take a few hours had turned into just under four hours of intense hiking with us having to watch every step. By the time I got back to the car I was exhausted and starving for lunch.
Mauna Wili Falls, The Payoff
I did take a dip in the pool at the base of the falls but the water was freezing and several of the other hikers didn't venture into the water. Another adventure accomplished but I don't think I'll try it again unless the trail is dry.Comment on or Share this Article →
I just returned from seven days in Hawaii on Oahu. What an amazing place. I always take paints and sketching stuff but the beauty of the place is slightly intimidating. I always come home without painting.
Lots of people think that Oahu is just the busy side, with Waikiki and Honolulu, but the island is so much more. Just a short ride out of the city there are pristine trails to hike, waterfalls, lush rainforest and quite beaches. Thought I would share a few photos I took during my trip.
On the North Shore is Sharks Cove, a great snorkeling spot, but only in the summer. The winter months see some of the biggest surf anywhere and many surfing competitions take place then. When we where there, it was still relatively calm but the seas were changing and several rollers came in smacking against the rocks and churning up the bottom. The visibility was just OK.
This cove along the east shore has a lovely little beach farther in, off to the right of the photo. That is where the famous love scene in "From Here to Eternity" with Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster was filmed. Isn't the color of the water amazing?Surfboards at Waikiki
Just before sunset, most of the surfers have come in but there where at least a dozen locals still catching waves as we sat on the beach to watch the sunset.
Living on the West Coast allows me easy access to the Hawaiian Islands and I make it a point to get there as often as I can. Maybe some of you are more disciplined than I am and have done some painting there. Although I always take some art supplies, I never get around to painting. It is all I can do to just take in the charm and character of the islands.Comment on or Share this Article →
In previous posts, I have talked about the importance of drawing to improve your painting and thought that I would again mention how wonderful it its to go to a life figure drawing group. This exercise is invaluable in teaching proportion, improving observation, handling perspective and understanding shape relationships. I have been absent for a while from my Tuesday group but recently decided to make an attempt. I struggled until the final pose. I realized that I was not drawing with straight lines but instead was attempting to render the curves, well, with curves. I know it sounds counter intuitive but as soon as I switched my thinking to straight lines, my drawing improved dramatically.
Here is a closeup of the head and shoulders where you can easily see the angles I used to draw this figure. I don't understand the science behind this but I think that the eye exaggerates the curves and softens the sharp edges. Even when a point is apparent where the angles meet, the eye still rounds that point into a curve. The figure looks a lot better and more accurate with these angles than with curved lines. The use of straight lines to make curves is one of the principles of academic art and should be taught in every first year art class. This method is also transferable to your painting as well. The use of angles and straight lines will always render the subject more accurately than the use of curved lines. Try it and see what you think.Comment on or Share this Article →
Dana Point Harbor Boats
Notoriety is an interesting phenomenon. One that can make the individual not only famous but also bring fortune. I have been intrigued by the recent fame of an artist here in Los Angeles. Alex Schaefer was in the spotlight after being investigated by the police for one of his paintings. If you are not familiar with the story here is a brief summary.
Alex was painting a bank plein air, on location, for an upcoming show. As a social commentary, he added flames to the top of the building as if it were on fire. For Alex, the burning bank symbolized how the global economy was destroyed by the banks with their reckless investments. Someone saw him painting a burning bank and called the cops. The police came out to talk to him, checking to see if he was a terrorist. Then the police came to his home to see if he was a terrorist. Then the LA Times wrote about it and published a photo of Alex and his painting of the burning bank. Finally, he sold the painting on Ebay for over $25,000. Way to go Alex.
Fame and fortune. Fortune and fame. They are intrinsically connected. I have heard the refrain that if your work is good it will sell but more and more it seems necessary to get attention with outrageous, unusual or newsworthy behavior to advance. Being propelled into the human stream of consciousness through social medium and learning to capitalize on that notoriety seems essential to financial success. Feeding the frenzy and making that notoriety last is another matter. Success is measured in many ways so figuring out were and how your definition fits into this crazy short attention span world should be one of your first challenges.Comment on or Share this Article →
Side Door at Carmel Mission
I just happened upon the airing of an interview of Lady Gaga by the French fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier on TV. In my former life, I graduated from Parsons School of Design and worked as a fashion designer in NYC for ten years, so I have an interest in the combined worlds of fashion and art.
The interview covered familiar ground as Lady Gaga told many of the same stories that are known to her fans, affectionately called Little Monsters. Often compared to Madonna, Gaga talked about being born famous. How fame is something that comes from within. Her love of fashion and everything artrageous is part of her personality. Pushing herself artistically and staying true to herself are priorities. She closed the interview by teller her beloved fans that she will continue to be fearless, to create and to change. Whatever you think of Lady Gaga and her music, listening to her interview she sounded like a mature, likable woman who knows what she is doing with her art and her career.
As a designer in NYC, I was in the spotlight and enjoyed wearing a costume (my fashion) as my public persona to camouflage and shelter the real me from that intrusion. I think Lady Gaga does the same thing with her over the top fashion. Being in costume is very liberating and allows an artist to be whoever they want. One of the most revealing moments was when she talked about being comfortable enough to fall asleep in her wigs and costumes. She went on to say, by living the fantasy she hopes to make it her reality.
As an artist I am constantly faced with the need to project a persona to the public. It must say, I am an artist. reconciling that with who I am can be daunting. The personal struggles of artists are documented throughout art history from Michelangelo to Van Gogh. How an artist deals with rejection, acceptance, staying connected to our muse, success and failure are the stuff of legends. Never forget that watching that struggle is very interesting to the public and makes for high drama.
Next time I'll talk about a local artists who found a national spotlight.Comment on or Share this Article →
High Sierra Snow
I recently decided to enter a show where the theme is "Winter's Light," so I looked through my photos for inspiration. It wasn't long before I found a number of likely shots that would work. First, I set up a folder on my computer specifically for that show and then moved copies of any photos that would be helpful into the file. Next, I researched to see how other artists have handled the same theme so I looked through my books and then online. With several ideas to consider, I then sketched out the compositions, blocking in the values. This helped me to see the painting in my mind even before I started to paint.
Finally, I put paint to canvas. I have never painted snow before so "High Sierra Snow" is my first experiment with the frozen form of water. I blocked in the shapes and placed the dark shadows on the mountains. The mountains were a combination of rust and blue with accents of peach. The color of the sky that high up is very intense with a lot of blue. Believe it or not that same blue is what I used for the snow in the shadow of the mountains and the accents on the water. The blue looks completely different in each placement because of the color next to it and under it, but honest, I dipped into the same pile of paint for all three areas.
At one point, I became aware that the painting could go either way. The colors were odd and I considered wiping it down but since the composition was strong I decided to work through that. I also realized I needed to paint what was there not what I thought should be there. So the snow is blue, the water is rust and the rocks are peach. Overcoming the initial reaction to add more white into the snow color wasn't easy but I reasoned that the colors in the shadows must me darker than the colors in the sunlight so I resisted.
Color is surprising, fascinating and very fun to play with. The more I experiment with color, the more I realize I need to experiment even more.Comment on or Share this Article →
Cruising the Shore
It seems a little crazy to talk about the approaching holidays in September but now is when I have to paint for all the small works shows that will be exhibiting at Christmas time. I need to "think small" to find inspiration for those little gems.
I have started my group with "Cruising the Shore'" a 5x10 seascape from Leo Carillo State Beach. This painting started as a 8x10 but I decided I didn't like the composition and cut 3 inches off the bottom. The sand and extended rocks, which I eliminated, didn't add anything to the painting and actually distracted the eye from the ocean. I was able to experiment with the photo image before actually cutting the original and of course it helps that I paint on panels so adjusting the size is easy.
I never thought to do this until Calvin Liang explained this process in a workshop. He was painting on a larger panel and said he would give it to his framer who would cut it to the size he wanted and then make a custom frame to fit the painting. He had just used masking tape to block off his canvas but I took this concept a step further by reviewing several of my works to see if cropping them would improve the painting. Each one has things that I really like but problems with the composition. By cropping them, I came away with a much improved painting and some lovely little gems for the upcoming Holiday season. Now, I realize I can look at a painting and adjust the dimensions to improve the finished piece. It is an easy fix to make a painting work.Comment on or Share this Article →
Sailboat at the End of the Dock
I recently completed paintings for three different gallery openings. This has kept me focused on my work and painting nonstop for weeks though the entire summer. Preparing for an opening is an emotional experience. The power of creating, coordinating everything and the thrill of the reception all keep the adrenalin pumping. Now, after I have delivered all the paintings to their designated galleries and the openings are behind me, I can't help but feel let down.
I decided to take a much-needed week break from painting. Of course one week often lead to two and then it becomes difficult to rustle up the motivation needed to get back into painting. It is not for lack of ideas. I have several concepts ready and waiting but I feel lazy and a little lethargic.
So how do I get over that post reception let down and find the spark I need to paint? Here are a few ideas that get me going again and may help you too:
- Get out of the house and go to a museum. There is nothing like seeing a new exhibition to spark my need to create.
- Look through my favorite teaching art books. I am always inspired by Richard Schmid's book, Alla Prima but I am sure you have your favorite.
- Discuss my feelings with another artist. Sometimes all I need is a little positive support from a friend.
- Take my camera and head out to a beautiful/interesting spot. Whether you paint landscape, figurative or still life, seeing something that really grabs you will make an impression.
- Just paint. Sometimes all it takes is going through the motion of putting brush to canvas and before you know it your back in rhythm.
It is normal to go through periods of accelerated productivity followed with arrested progress. The ability to stay intense and focused is not infinite and recharging my batteries could be just what I need. Next week I will be painting again and this lull will be a thing of the past, just a little glitch in my journey.
Happy painting.Comment on or Share this Article →
Revised Umbria Autumn
I had a local show coming up which needed some large paintings for the lobby of an office building, so I looked at several older paintings with fresh eyes. Finding things now that I wasn't happy with, I decided to revise and rework some areas of the painting. Luckily, I hadn't varnished Umbria Autumn and could easily redo certain areas.
Old Umbria Autumn
Looking at the original painting, I thought that the wall and ledge where to predominant. I wanted the valley and sunset to be the main interest but found I was "caught" by that wall so I experimented with Gimp (free Photo Shop) and decided to eliminate the wall but not the cliff. Here are the altered images which helped me to deside what to do with the actual painting.
- The top adjusted image extended the cliff but only transferred the problem from the wall to the cliff.
- The second change wasn't bad but now the road, sky and tree line all pointed in one direction; to the left right off the canvas. There was nothing to stop the eye and bring it back into the painting so I realized I needed something on the left to keep the viewer in the painting.
- The dark shape on the left was unattractive in the third version.
- Last was the format I used for the final changes. I kept the cliff and extended the tree line over the walkway and cliff. I am much happier with the feeling of the painting. When I walk into the room and look at Umbria Autumn, I now see the valley and sunset first, then my eye moves around the painting. The cliff and trees in the foreground give perspective and scale which allows the viewer to place themselves in the painting.
- I also darkened the cliff so it receded into the shadows of the foreground.
Stapleton Kearns has a blog today that also discusses this idea so you may want to read his post.Comment on or Share this Article →
Dana Point Harbor Boats
Sharon Weaver at Segil Gallery Reception
Last night was the reception at Segil Gallery for my show with Lynne Fearman called "The Color of Light." Many of my favorite paintings were included in this show and I had an entire wall dedicated to paintings with the ocean. Despite it being Labor Day Weekend we had a large crowd in attendance and red dots appeared on both Lynne and my paintings.
"Morning Hits the Rocks" was among the paintings which sold to a collector in Texas.
I am grateful for the opportunity to show at this lovely gallery in Old Town Monrovia and to have so many friends that stopped by making it a special night. Thank you to Laura Segil and Lynne Fearman.
The show continues through October 1 so please stop by at 110 W. Lime Avenue in Monrovia or contact Laura Segil at 626-358-5563.Comment on or Share this Article →
In my last blog, I talked about improving a composition by changing what you find in nature. But what about color? Should color be designed and changed to unify and improve the painting?
In this photo I took of field workers picking strawberries, I wanted to use a simple, unified palette. I wanted to maximize the beauty of the sky and distant hill, I saw a connection of the sky with the field through color and I wanted to make the greens more attractive . Here is my thinking for the changes I made to the colors in the painting:
- If you paint landscapes working with green is a necessity. Figuring out how to mix a vast variety of greens is a must and making green appealing will save a lot of paintings from the storage closet. I could have just as easily made the greens more blue but decided to make them more olive since it was a hot day and I wanted to use peaches in the sky and for the ground.
- Landscapes are very often predominantly cool colors (blue sky, green trees) so finding a balance by adding enough warm colors is important.
- I exaggerated the warm colors in the clouds and I added peach into the neutral ground between the rows.
- The sky blue accents peek out at the top of the hill and through the clouds on the right. For continuity I used the same sky for the plastic along the rows of strawberries.
- The accent colors of the figures and truck provide relief from the very chromatic colors.
As I was writing, I realized that it would be a fun experiment to try painting this scene using the alternative palette; push the greens toward blue, not olive; the sky and ground with pink, not peach. I will try to do that this first week in September and post it to my blog so we can see which one is the best.
Have a great weekend and enjoy the last few days of summer!