Saturday, October 31, 2015

Painting in Watercolor: Estuary at KVI, Part One--preparing

Estuary at KVI
KVI beach is one of my favorite places on Vashon Island. I picnicked  there with my kids when they were growing up, watched the fireworks from the beach, took my class there on field trips when I had Suzanna's School. I walked there daily when recovering from surgery. 

Here's a little watercolor of the stream and bank behind the beach, with some tips on technique. I used a photo for inspiration--then lost the photo, so I'm sorry I can't show it to you.

Very light pencil sketch
 1. First, draw the composition very lightly in pencil. This is the basis for the painting. I drew the darkest and most interesting lines in ink. This is not something I've done before; usually I either draw the scene in pencil, paint over that, and ink last, or I draw the whole scene in ink and paint over that.

Value study; noticing where the lights and darks are

2. When working in the studio I have the luxury of doing a value study. This gives me a chance to look more closely at the scene and make some more decisions about what to include.

3. Something else I can take time for in the studio is to create a color palate. That way I can try out colors and color mixes ahead of time.

When painting on scene, I often have another piece of paper to try out colors before applying them to the painting.

Next time we'll splash--or brush--on the color! Oh, and add detail.  You won't miss it if you follow me by email (top left corner of the blog page). I hope you join me!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Gesture drawing on paper bags

Two minute gesture drawing

My dear Rifaat cuts up grocery bags for me to draw on. I like the neutral tone, and besides, gesture drawings are only two minutes--nothing fancy. No fancy paper, no big expectations, no time to do a "finished" piece! My work is freer; it's easier for me to get out of my own way.

20 minute pose: ink and wash, pre-painted paper

As a result, my life drawings are getting better. Doing the gestures with a pen and brush is giving me confidence and developing my skill, with good results that carry over into the longer poses. I've started doing the longer, 20 minute poses with pen and watercolor paint, sometimes pre-painting the whole paper in a neutral tone and letting it dry before the pose starts.

Drawing and painting anything everyday helps. Rifaat tells about a famous ballet dancer who practiced every day. He said if he skipped one day, he could feel the drop in his performance; if he skipped two days, his fellow dancers noticed. If he skipped three days, his audience could tell the difference. I think painting works on the same principle.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Estuary High Tide work on silk part 1

Estuary at High Tide photo taken at KVI, Vashon
I printed photo out because I love it so and want to do a work in silk based on it. It is one of my "abstract" photos.
I've had it on my wall for over a year. I've been thinking about what materials and dyes to use, whether to make it 2 dimensional or 3, how to make the textures...

Yesterday I decided begin the process of making a work on silk.

 First step: Thumbnail in ink, with notes on value study and materials.

value study in ink and pencil

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Watercolor Painting from Photos part 1: Clouds at Tramp Harbor

I have taken thousands of photos in the last few years. Literally. My computer says I've taken more than 8000! I love them all. Some are family photos, sure. Some record details I think I might use in paintings or illustrations later: the way ferns grow, moss on maple roots, how my grand daughter dances. Sometimes a landscape is just too luscious to pass by: some of these I've begun to use on calendars. Lately I've been attracted to more abstract compositions.

Clouds at Tramp Harbor
I was looking through my photos for these abstract compositions to use in my silk art, when I came across this photo. OMG! Beautiful! I want to paint this one.

So how do I go about it?

value study
  • First, a value study. That would be a thumbnail sketch in pencil showing where the darks and lights are. Where is the composition darkest? Where are the middle tones? Where is it lightest?

Next to decide what pigments to use. I have my favorites of course. I don't own black water color paint; I use indigo and burnt umber to make and almost black, or mix in a little green for a green black.

I make my own grays. Ultramarine mixed with burnt umber makes one gray; indigo and burnt umber another. Of course you can make your gray bluer or grayer. I like a blue gray for clouds, this time with ultramarine and burnt umber.

Now to do a small color study.

Hmm. My drawing skills need work. Time to put it aside and maybe do a full sized painting later.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Haunting the Tea Shop

Finally picked up my sketch book after several days. I tried sketching my matcha latte and flower-in-a-tea-cup in front of the connecting door to the book shop, in ink, prior to adding watercolor. But the ink ran when I put on the first strokes of a wash. So I tried again sketching lightly with pencil before dipping my brush in color. I'm not too happy with the results of this second try, although I do like the  ambivalence of the background.  The bookstore shelves look like a city scape out a window at night.

Later, I looked at the ink sketch and decided I really like it better, so I finished it. I think the composition is better, and so is the drawing. What do you think?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Tree of Life Rainbow Quilt; an Inspiration

Sunday Quaker silent worship was --not quite silent. One friend asked in prayer that the burden of the world he had taken on be lifted from him. I can so relate to that one! Studying the refugee situation and trying to understand the Islamic State had me really down!

After silence, one friend sang "For the Beauty of the Earth", and another sang "The Battle is Over" in her sweet clear voice. It was very moving.
During the silence I was gifted with several visions for new work. This is one of them.

In my mind, I saw a woman snuggled in this Rainbow Quilt, a soft, comfy, beautiful quilt of indigo blue with rainbows along the sides. When I got home, I developed the idea further and looked up fabric I might use: A charmeuse silk or silk blend for the top; bamboo rayon, cotton velveteen,  or quilters flannel for the bottom. The rainbow, tree, and rose painted on silk and appliqued onto the top.

I need to earn some money at the holiday bazaar and studio tour to buy the fabric, so not sure when this will be completed.

I wonder who it is for?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

To Revitilize; Dance with the Wind

Boat is back in the water! We hauled out Wednesday afternoon.

James scraped the bottom and took out the non-working knot meter, then headed to Tacoma to see if he could find a transponder (part of the depth sounder that goes through the hull) to fit the hole in the hull. Rifaat fixed some issues with the outboard and took off the old sloppily painted name with acetone so that we can put her name on neatly.  I went over the hull with oxylic acid to get rid of the yellowing and with acetone to get rid of blue marks from old fenders and black marks from who knows what. Oh, and I painted her hull. She looks good!

Of course once she was in the water, we had to try her out, make sure the new transponder Tim put in didn't leak.  We had a fantastic sail!! and yes, the transponder did leak. We sailed back in time to haul out again, get the leak fixed, and get back in the water-- before the tide fell too far and there was no water under the lift.

Still, it was one of the best sails ever, and I do remember how much I love Sailing! There's something about dancing with a good wind that really revitalizes one! Best part: Rifaat and James really stepped in and made the haul out a team effort. I guess I won't sell the boat after all!

Now I can focus on art.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Comfort Cat

Jackson, my self care partner
Change is coming. 7000 people per month are said to be moving to Seattle, where the climate is still
livable. I want to prepare myself emotionally, to strengthen my community, and perhaps to develop skills that will help both new residents and long time residents to adjust. Self care is top on the list.

I think I shall do some posts on self care and community building.

Take one cat
Put blanket on lap, cat on top of blanket
Pet cat until you feel calmer

Calming and focusing:
Find cat
Do several gesture drawings
repeat until at least one sketch actually looks like a cat

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Strong Female Protagonists in My Life

Marj dancing with a young man
Nina is 100 years old today--and still dancing! Her younger friend, Marj, who is only 91, is dancing
as well. I tell you, these women are my kind of Strong Female Protagonists! Nina lives with her son in her own home. Marj also lives in her own home. She writes bi-weekly articles on cooking and nutrition for the local paper and is in charge of putting together a book on the history of her church.

These are my role models! Not to mention 95 year old Dorothy, who writes books introducing people in the community and has instigated a "take a senior to lunch" program with the Hardware Store Restaurant.

Nina's party was one of those wonderful community building events. I saw people I have not seen in years, and many good friends from my current lifestyle. There were people of all ages, music good to listen to that did not drown out conversation. People brought good food; fruit and salads from their gardens, their favorite main dishes, tasty desserts.

As we face changes in our world, let's cherish events like this!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Sailing for Soul

thumbnail sketch for "Sailing by Dockton"
Sailing was really good for me. I've been down lately, since learning some things about what refugees are going through--not only those from Syria, but also those from Central America trying to find asylum in the US. After sailing I felt alive again!

I've been feeling scattered about my art. Making things to sell at the markets I've committed to just didn't have meaning for me. Usually one watercolor sketch is enough to pull me out of a down period and get me focused again. Not so this time.

finished "Sailing by Dockton"
My mastermind meeting with Jane Valencia found me still feeling scattered. Some how, though, telling Jane about seeing the Orcas and about my concerns for the refugees, helped me to gather my scattered wits and to begin to see a way forward, to see what I might do to contribute to a better future.

I believe I can
* raise money to contribute to organizations working with current refugees
*gain skills to work with future refugees coming here, to Seattle, perhaps by volunteering with an organization such as the International Rescue Committee
*work toward building a stronger community here with resources and mindset to help people coming  from war-torn and violence torn countries.

So, what does all this have to do with sailing?
Sailing gives me the energy to move forward. It renews my soul.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Syrian Refugees and Saving Starfish

The need is overwhelming. So many people!

A father carries his daughter off their boat, which was stranded at sea for five hours, and on to the island of Lesbos. [Anna DiCenzo/Al Jazeera]I've been grieving for the thousands--millions!!--of people fleeing violence in their home countries and streaming into Europe searching for safety, or being stopped at our boarders and sent back to die in the countries they fled. I got together with some friends to talk about what we might do.

3000 people A DAY landing on the island of Lesbos, Greece! Syrian, Iraqi, and Afghanistan violence fueled by a climate change that has destroyed people's ability to grow food and our--the US--bombings. 1.3 million people fled Iraq when we invaded. They went to Syria, a country already struggling, with a repressive government. A perfect situation for extremists to take root.

It seems hopeless!

Then someone told the story of the boy saving starfish. There were thousands of starfish washed up on the shore. One little boy was picking them up, one by one, and throwing them back into the ocean. A man asked him, "What are you doing?"
He answered, "I'm saving the starfish."
"You know you can't save them all," said the man,  "so why are you even trying? What you are doing doesn't matter!"
Melinda McRosti, restaurant owner
"It matters to this one," said the boy, as he threw back another starfish.

Today I came across this article about a woman with the same attitude as the boy. Her organization is called Asterias (the Greek word for Starfish)

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Got hit by a cold yesterday and still feeling foggy. I did manage an ink sketch yesterday, but had a hard time with it.
I sketched it first with a fine point drawing pen. Couldn't seem to get the leaves in the right place. tried again with a brush tip pen on top of the first sketch.

It does kind of reflect the way I felt yesterday; kind of brain fogged and colorless.

I've been working through some grief as well. Learning about what so many people in the middle east and in Central America are going through -- it breaks my heart! Wondering what I can do about it. Where can I volunteer my services?

Checked into International Rescue Committee. They have a volunteer orientation in Nov I might go to. IRC does work locally to help refugees resettle in this country.

Wondering, how can I keep up with boat maintenance, taking care of my 91 yr old mother, stay focused on my art,
AND volunteer? Will I have to give up the boat?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Orcas and the meaning of life

We didn't get this close, of course. Still, it was pretty wonderful watching the Orcas from the sailboat. When I told Rifaat about the Orcas, He remembered  a close up and personal experience with an Orca named Haida.

Seems Rifaat would go up to Canada about 2-3 times a year. While there, he would visit Haida at Stanley Park. There was a place were instead of double paned glass between the whales and the people, there was only a single pane. Rifaat would press his forehead against the glass and make a deep humming sound. Haida would answer instantly, and come nose to nose with Rifaat.

The two would walk together, the whale on one side of the glass, the man on the other. They would walk in one direction as far as they could go, then turn and walk in the other direction as far as they could go. If Rifaat sprinted, Haida would keep pace--still slow for him. Rifaat is convinced Haida was a whale ambassador.

The last time Rifaat went to visit Haida, the old gentleman whale had died of pnuemonia.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Burton from the Marina

Burton boatyard from Quartermaster Marina dock
Back to Watercolor sketching!

I love hanging out at the dock! Today was warm enough to dangle my bare feet in the water--for a few minutes.

I tried out some fine point colored pens to note detail...not sure that was such a good idea.....

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Watercolor sketch

Dockton, Maury Island, from the boat
No time to sketch today, and I only did a few gesture drawings yesterday. Instead I worked on the boat with Rifaat and James yesterday--Rifaat got the outboard fixed! James and I celebrated by sailing today.

It was a fine day to sail! We saw a pod of at least 6 Orcas at the entrance to the harbor. Although we gave them a respectful distance, we did get close enough to hear them sounding and to watch them toss salmon in the air and catch them. One Orca lept all the way out of the water so that we could see the belly!
Swinnomish Channel, a sketch done while cruising Aug 2010

It was windy! We reefed the main sail (made it smaller) and headed back into the harbor, following the salmon the Orca had chased in to where it was too shallow for the Orca to follow.

I got my sailing brain back! It had been too long, and I had all but forgotten how to sail well, so I was nervous when the wind came up, until I began to "remember" the boat. Now I long to cruise Puget Sound again! Maybe I won't sell the boat after all......

Monday, October 12, 2015

Driftwood watercolor sketch on 60 lb drawing paper

I have lots to say about this sketch! This particular piece of driftwood carries some wonderful memories of playing with children. It was our pirate ship, our castle! Three year olds practiced their climbing skills on it, and 5 year olds perched at the highest point commanding their crew.

One of the sail boats in the back ground could be Sea Change, the 32' Pearson Vangard I sailed with my husband Bob. One night we anchored just about where the black boat is. In the morning we woke to the welcome of at least a dozen swallows chirping, perched on the boom, looking into our windows!

I'm using a different sketch book, a wire bound with 60 lb all purpose drawing paper. It doesn't have the texture of my other paper, but it handles the water color surprisingly well.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Matcha Latte at the Vashon Tea Shop

My favorite drink!  Haven't found anyone else who makes them as good as the Vashon Tea Shop.

I tried to balance the colors by putting some red on the chair and on the table to balance the red of the flowers in the tea cup. Reflections and the lines of the napkin help to draw the eye to the matcha latte in the glass. A little yellow on the glass brings the latte forward.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Studio Rain

Yesterday it rained. No going outside to paint, so I drew and painted my studio.

It's a rather unusual composition. The figure (Rich Rifaat) looking out of the bottom left corner has got to raise the shackles of anyone teaching composition. The wicker bust to the right draws the eye as well.

So I added a little color.

And some rain outside the windows. Now my attention seems drawn more neatly to Rifaat working on the computer. I would use this to highlight text to the left of the sketch

 or flip the sketch like this:

Does this get your attention? Or does it just seem odd?

Friday, October 9, 2015

Sweet Dreams--painting my emotions

This is like...a first draft. The blue shadows on the wings bother me; I think they should be gold or some deeper hue of the same color as where the light hits the wings.   Or maybe the blue helps focus attention on the human figures. The feeling is there, though! Snuggled with my sweetie is like being held in the arms of a loving angel!

What do you think?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Karate Kids 3

practicing kicks
Those kids are so fun draw. Each one has a different way of moving and standing!
I'm beginning to have my favorites.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Burton Boatyard

Boatyard in Burton
I like the leaves on the ground leading the eye to the sailboat and balancing the autumn leaves on the tree. However, this is a little confusing; which way is the light coming from, anyway? The boat in the foreground has the light hitting the hull from one direction and the cabin from another!  The sailboat seems to be entirely in shadow.

It's as confusing as our planned sail to the South Sound. We planned to go, but light/insight from another direction seemed to advise we don't go. Then circumstances changed and it looked like we could go, so we headed to the boat for a trial run and sail this evening.

The outboard started up fine. Then died and would not start again. So we don't go. I don't want to shoot the narrows without a reliable motor.

Oh well, life is like that sometimes. I'll fix the light on the boats tomorrow. I wish the outboard was as easy to fix.

Boatyard in Burton
 -------Oct 8
 Is this any better?

 PS I think we figured out the outboard problem; water   getting into the fuel through a drip right onto the gas tank opening with a faulty gasket that could not keep the water out. Water in the gas is never a good thing.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Barn in Paradise Valley

Such a beautiful sunny day was yesterday! Forgot my painting water, so I did a pencil sketch and inked it and took some notes. Then I took it home to finish it. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Karate Kids

I've been wanting to learn how to draw people in action. What better opportunity than watching my grand daughter in Karate class with 20 other children?

"fighting stance"

Saturday, October 3, 2015

At the Vashon Tea Shop--balancing colors

At the Vashon Tea Shop
Getting the colors right in the scan was a challenge! In fact, I never did quite figure it out. The original scan was too dark, but in trying to adjust it, the greens got much brighter than in the original.

What did I learn from this painting?
  •  I like balancing colors; if I put a little red in one place, I put another dot of red somewhere else. 
  • Things are rarely or never all one color; reflected lights put colors where one might never expect them.
  • The painting is more interesting when things--the ladies' shirts for example--are not all one flat color.

Painting a living plant

Drawing attempt #3, Painting attempt #1
Yesterday it took me four attempts to draw this right. I inked and painted two of the drawings today.

Drawing attempt #4, Painting attempt ;#2
Each painting is teaching me something new, or at least reminding me of something I used to know about painting. Today's lessons:

  • Living plants change from minute to minute, and even more from day to day. Their leaves change position to adjust to changing light. Today there even seemed to be more leaves! So I had to guess as I painted.
  • Light and shadow change rather quickly as I am painting.
  • Sometimes I am too lazy to paint every single leaf! 
I like both attempts. The first one seems freer, while the second may be more accurate. That's a lesson right there: more accurate may not be more interesting.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Vashon Coffee Rosterie sketch

People gather on the porch for coffee and talk, to relax or just to read the paper.And today there was sun!

When I first moved to the Island, this was the Country Store, where one bought the oh so necessary winter mud boots, seed, and warm work clothes. When the Country Store moved to new quarters, Stewart Brothers Coffee moved in.

Now Stewart Brothers is gone and Eva has moved Minglement--our local health food store--to this location. The coffee roaster is still there, and Eva has added fresh roasted coffee to her offerings!

In the background you can see the new Allied Arts Performance Hall going up. Harmon and I watched the last roof truss lifted into place about noon.