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Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday (sounds ominous, doesn't it?)

Today I have no kinks in my shoulders. Stress build-up from more than 7 years seems to be on a decline. I am sitting in the office that I thought was wasted space, having spent the last 2 hours re-wiring our network so the printers and vonage phones will work. It is NOT wasted space at all. Actually a potentially cozy spot, complete with a chair/ottoman for some quiet reading.

Kevin, Betsy, and Liam (addie the lab, and ernie the lakeland terrier) arrived from Denver after a 13 or so hour drive. Liam was SO pitiful...his routine was all out of whack. He was entitled to every fussy minute he had. For 9 weeks old, he is really doing good. I want to scream too after a drive like that! Kevin and Betsy had eyes that were kinda scary...couple of beers fixed that. Everyone got a good night's sleep, and Betsy declared the new room better than the one at the old house.

Turkey day was GREAT. We had new friends (Tim, Shandine, Hannah, Seth Tyler), old friends (Ron and Pam), Family (M&D, Randy's M&D, Betsy/Kevin/Liam, Mark and Lisa, Jessie (Jesse boyfriend), Josh...

New friends cycle in and out, some staying longer than others. The best friends are the ones who cycle in and stay. Two of our best BFFs live in Little Rock, and we don't get to see them near enough. Susan and Sharron have seen me through several last names, and many of the wheel of fortune's ups and downs. I never intended my blog to be anything other than to show the life and times of being an surely is NOT to be construed to be a weekly 'bulletin' that some people still write once a year for their christmas cards! I've received many thank you's from artists I have never met for the upbeat, sometimes silly entries I make that put smiles on their faces...all of which somehow relate to 'what keeps me in front of the easel'.

Weather was great yesterday. New house backs up to a wonderful 18" thick stone/brick wall. Many of us yesterday enjoyed eating outside, moving chairs as the sun travelled across the winter sky. When the last bit of sun was replaced with shade, we reluctantly went back inside. From 3 months to 90 years young, it reminded me of Europe. People floating back and forth, keeping in touch with those inside around the dining room table, catching a bit of ham or pie on their way back and forth, no one in a great hurry to leave. We joked about, 'here, move your chair over by the pool'. All the chairs that filled 3 levels of deck before gave us plenty of choices for a grassy, European looking yard. And if you can't tell how relaxed I was, I didn't even bring out my camera!

Now, for painting updates. I did this 2 weeks ago at Tim's...another 'see if you can copy a painting of mine' experiment. Well, I did, and it is SO different from his...not better, just different. What fun! Without all the tedium of setting up your own still life. Below are the 2 for comparison...his is much more vibrant color, mine is just loose. I didn't come anywhere close to a 'copy'...and his red is much more intense. Until you look at them together, mine looks pretty good. I just wish you could see the one swoosh I made on that front onion with pure pigment!

This was the last class...I feel much better about this one. Tim's is on the left. I was just getting ready to 'refine' the foreground when he stopped me. He says he likes mine better because it is more 'fresh'. I will learn when to quit.
Keep in mind that mine are being done with a huge advantage of being able to copy his composition...and still life setups. Easily 1/2 of the process. So, when I can call it done after an hour and a half, that is really cheating. But fun. He and I are still having fun seeing how different Ann Templeton's palette of colors work. I'm not opposed to using other pigments, but I really want to discover nuances of her palette before I jump to something different.

I gave me a break today. The kids left late morning with lint in their eyes, leaving me with an opportunity to PAINT! I have another 10 years of unpacking to do, and nest making, picture hanging to do, but I wanted to savor the quiet. 

Until my new studio space is empied of boxes, and we figure out how to finish it out, I am going to set up in a corner of the breakfast room with all that wonderful north light. By the time I figured out what gear I wanted to get out, I only had an hour of daylight left. This is a combination photo I took of the Cape Town Bay at sunset in 2002, xmas, at Mike and Paulette's house. 

Got a good start. We'll see how much influence Tim has on my paintings as this one progresses. Teehee. Like I want you to believe he has none. Just his presence in the room talking, chatting about Sargent or Schmid while I potz around moving pigment like I know what I am doing has no effect. 

Then, all of a sudden, he asks if I'm stuck...and with a 'May I', he sits down and makes one brush stroke that brings it all together.

And I have people asking me to teach. What folly!


Monday, November 24, 2008

Unpacking the studio in the new house

Was just relating to good friend, Susan Sharpe about my day...when I realized I was saying something to her that would make a good blog topic.

I have saved all my art magazine subscriptions for 2 years, and when I didn't have a new one to read would read an old one. Realization set in when the old ones were just like new ones to me...just as enjoyable (except the advertisements are out of date).

In fact, maybe MORE enjoyable. Proof that you will comprehend what you are ready to learn. As a beginner, you 'gloss' over some of the information, tips and tricks, demos. With some experience and seasoning...there is brand-new information for you. Since we as artists follow artists like Picasso, Sargent, Henri, Homer like they were gods who walked on water from 150 years ago...the information a couple years old is still very valuable.

The new house has a large area upstairs perfect for bookcases that don't have to be 'company decorated'. I sorted the magazines (that were in scattered places in the old house) into stacks. I can't wait to start back through them.

Wonder what kinds of new stuff I will understand this time?

Big family week...Betsy, Kevin and 'my baby' Liam will be here from Denver late Wednesday night. Had grandson Tyler (15) here on Saturday, and put him on a plane for Denver to see his mom on Sunday. New art teacher Tim Tyler and his family Shandine, Hannah, and their 2 out of the nest boys, along with my M&D, Randy's M&D, my brother, wife, Jessie & Josh, will all be here Thursday. Tyler flies back in on Saturday, and his dad picks him up on Sunday to drive 4 hours south to Pine Bluff.

Pam and Mom are planning and prepping all the food, all I have to do is show up!  Teehee! Shandine LOVES to be creative in the kitchen as well, so I know we will be treated to a few of her family's favorites. I won't be fixing my own favs...or we'd have 3 different feasts!

Well, maybe I will make my own version of broccoli casserole...cream of mushroom soup, velveeta, mushrooms, rice, almonds...can't do Thanksgiving without MY fav recipes. And that fresh cranberry salad with whipped cream (scratch, of course), apples, grapes, pecans...Always had Mom do her dressing, it is always so moist...I've always 'done' Thanksgiving with all my recipes...usually asking friends/family to bring desserts (since I don't eat many sweets, that is always last on my list). I'm not in cooking mode this year...can't wait to get the house settled so I can get back to painting!

Pam and Mom are great...they did Thanksgiving cooking and brought it to our house last year too...and turned around and did it for xmas. Isn't it funny how Thanksgiving is more fun with friends/strays/family...and everyone has their menu they just have to have? Xmas last year we had an odd assortment of food, from chicken enchaladas to white queso, to chili, and we ate off and on all day. That was pur first holidays at home since the fire. We all kept real busy and avoided the pink elephant in the room. Who knows, maybe next year I will be ready to do the entire thing myself!

Hope everyone has a great turkey day!


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Silence is Golden? Painting, Moving, AWARD RECEIVING

Hmmm. Nov. 4. Nov. 15. 2 weeks. What in the world has Vicki, aka Red, been up to. W-e-l-l, ya aren't gonna believe it.

more painting with Tim Tyler. I am having a ball, actually thought I was making some good stuff, loose, plein air, one session...then was asked if these were just studies. Wah. Hate to say I don't know the difference between 'alla prima' and 'study'. I'm sure someone out there can enlighten me! Good thing is they were totally outside.

Am picking up some glare from my new north light windows...and am using new camera, so will take me a bit to find the optimum spot to photograph in the new house.

The trees were so pretty during October. It was really fun seeing how different they were from week to week!

I'm learning how to 'find the painting' within the vast view your eyes see when outside. That is a very big step for me.

I'm also learning how to be extravagant with the pigment...and to work on gessoed boards. At first it is very strange because the initial pigment seems to go on and show the white board through the brush hairs. But as you get more paint on, you almost sculpt into the pigment.

You have to be very careful to keep brushes separate (light and dark), no turpentine or medium...just pure juicy pigment laid in strokes next to each other.

Don't you just love the color on tree #3 where the red in the left background is almost a neutral? Could have used a bit more of that somewhere else, but by the time I realized it, the sun was gone...and the painting finished. Guess that is why studies are can go home and paint them all over again!

Make sure the bright sun grass that goes behind tree #2 comes out on the left side...make sure the bright yellow on #2 comes out a bit on the left tree...

I remember some very sage advice from Charles Reid...he said not to ever touch a painting started on location, unless you are back in that same location at the same time of day, with the same light. Keep your partially finished painting pristine, because you will never capture the same feel or color mix in the studio. Just begin another painting.

Gave my first tree painting as an xmas painting swap. I could tell the recipient was underwhelmed. But this is the funny part. She called me that night to tell me that she 'got it' after getting home and putting it on the counter. When seeing it from a distance of 8-10 feet, it was a TREE!

These little paintings do hold up from a distance. You can call me Red Monet (teehee)! I was fascinated with the water lily series in Paris. Up close there were 3-4 large brush strokes that meant nothing. Then you back up across the room and those strokes made a water lily. Absolutely mind-boggling.

This cupid statue holding the cornucopia of flowers is on the side of a street in Eureka Springs. The day after we got back from our 13 hour drive from Denver, we got up early, hopped in the car and took off to meet Tim and a few other plein air painters for a day outside. We took a leisurely morning coffee, then scouted for light, parking, lunch. I found this little grotto made of native stone and the steps went down to another level.

I was having a bugger of a time with the board, tho. The pigment went on, and the oil disappeared! You couldn't move it at all. Was trying not to use medium, but that did make it slide a bit. We finally figured out that I had picked up a Claybord, not Gessobord. It WAS soaking up the pigment. Tim suggested that I wet-sand with linseed oil on the statue and work some more on it. A good start, and I have a good source photo. I was liking the way the stone in the back was looking...even though you can't see the texture. Again, just over an hour.

The next Saturday I painted this little still life in the morning while we waited for the sun to warm up a bit outside. My challenge was to take a small demo painting Tim had done and to attempt to copy his color for color, stroke for stroke.

At one point I was struggling to match color, and he told me that Van Dyke Brown was the answer. Another time I could hear him snicker, as he showed me how to copy one of the marks...with your thumb! Another with a Q-tip, another with a watercolor brush (NOT a Charles Reid one, however). I had a ball with my fingers in the paint. He explained that was a blackboard in the background and to use fingernails to create an illusion of marks...and that would be a good spot to sign.

Was done with this by lunch, so went out and painted tree #3 in the afternoon.

Here is a photo of the two paintings side by side: His is the smaller, more proficient one. I was pleased with how close I artist can't even perfectly duplicate his own paintings without changing something. Takes a forger for that!

OK, now for the rest of the story. We got a green light to move last Monday, Nov. 10. Nothing packed, we could have had a dinner party Tuesday night...a final hoorah for the 'estate'. Called our movers on Tuesday and he had a free day on Wednesday, or it would be a week. Since we are such spontaneous idiots, we looked at each other and said 'why not?'

They brought over a big tractor truck, and 6 young men, and a bunch of boxes. As they were getting the furniture out, I asked if I packed something, would they load (they did not have time to pack and move in one day). SO, when Brian said yes, I started a packing frenzy. Just kept my mind on the goal...get as much stuff out on the truck as possible, with the hardest stuff first (kitchen, books)...stuff that wears you out when you have to do it in armloads. They put clothes in the wardrobe boxes.

By 3pm we had all the furniture, washer/dryer, all the clothes, 80% of the kitchen and books, the big easels and 4 or 5 boxes in the studio I had done Tuesday night.

By 6pm the beds were up, the French Armoire re-assembled (those break down for easy moving). We slept in the new house Wed night. Randy goes over to the old house every morning to get the papers and brings back a load of stuff that is hard to pack...lamps, wine, fridge stuff.

As the movers brought boxes in that I had packed, I unpacked them and shoved them back out. Thursday my Mom came over to help with the kitchen organizing...I went and got the rest of the pantry dry goods, and that job was complete.

Friday the furniture store delivered the new sofas, office furniture and kitchen table/chairs. (thank goodness for Randy's lottery win...makes moving and getting new stuff possible) Seriously. That happened in more credit card bills!

Saturday we had a luncheon for our Ozark Pastel Society xmas art swap. At the same time, the cable guy was here installing internet and TV connectivity, AND the fitness center moved Randy's weight set. Saturday afternoon I died in my chair,

Saturday evening we went to the reception for Artists of Northwest Arkansas (ANA). Their annual juried show had 285 entries from 7 states. The judge narrowed that down to 82 that he would see in person. 20 or so of those were photography and 3-d work. Of the remaining 60, I had 2 of my 3 chosen for hanging (the limit).

Ta-ta-DAAAA! My 'Eyes For You' won 2nd place in Pastels/Drawing. Got beat out with a graphite drawing of 2 horses. It was really good, even though modern art puts pastels more with paintings than drawings.

Eyes For You (aka Italian Girl)
Pastel $1500
She was standing outside a coffee shop in Amalfi in an absolute trance watching Charles Reid paint. 
Now, new house pics. I've just about got everything else in the old house packed...Josh helped me Sunday get all the studio packed, and those paintings in boxes for the movers. Yesterday I packed more on the main floor, and moved all the big art. Randy got the bar stuff last night.
The next 2 weeks should be a bit slower, hopefully. I'm off to paint at Tim's tomorrow, and the movers again on thursday...mostly stuff that goes upstairs.

The office area just inside the front door...already have my art library unpacked!
just next is the dining room

Buffet looks good here, huh? I am going to order a gallery hanging system for this wall so my good art (Charles Reid, Ann Templeton, Kippy Hammond, Leslie DeMille) can hang with spotlights.

The living room and new RED sofas

The new kitchen table/chairs
the kitchen
We are so thrilled with this new house. Never been lived in. Anything that is wrong, the builder has a crew on it. It is so cozy, and the floorplan so open. Upstairs off a media room is a floored attic that with walls and skylights (north) will make a Fabulous studio...better than what I had.
Randy and I feel this is our REAL start-over since the fire. The 'estate' house was always an albatross hanging over our heads. Here there is no acre groomed lot on the golf course, no 1/4 acre of groomed planted beds, no SWIMMING POOL to throw money into, no 15 year old house to keep repaired, no security fees, no snotty neighbors who have changed the complexity of Pinnacle from a community to being rude, out for themselves. People in this new neighborhood actually slow down when they see Randy out with the hairy kids instead of honking and floorboarding their car.
That's all for now! Whew, caught up again...gonna go unload the truck.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Vampires, Mummies, and the Holy Ghost!

Yeah, I lifted Jimmy Buffett's song for my ringtone. We just had Halloween...had a good time with the kiddos in Denver...

I've got some great pics for painting source...and some great pics of baby Liam. MoĆ® (me, Mimi), got to be the FIRST ONE TO KEEP HIM ALONE as in EVER more than FIVE hours (and I am Betsy's step-monster)! Betsy and Kevin had just purchased a new 'family' car, so she and Randy took off for tags, inspections, etc. I had to keep the kid.


He is having trouble being in his physical self. Not real comfortable yet. Betsy had made a baby sling for him, and when he couldn't settle down, I put it on and 'wore' him all day. Feeding, burping, rubbing. He was all wadded up in this thing...happy as a little clam. Did you know breast milk does not have to be refrigerated? for up to 10 hours? (at cool room temps). Sure makes things easy as long as mom does not stay gone too long.

Liam and I sat at the computer (no way, WAY)...I watched 2 DVD's of Tim Tyler painting a still life with Baby Mozart playing in the background. Liam and I were both zoned out when everyone got home. Then Jodi and Rip (our daughter-outlaw and 10 year old grandson) came over and we got some real good time over dinner.

Next day I was able to get out a bit with Betsy and Randy, got relegated to the backseat of the new family car with the 'bwat'...(teehee)...painful! We went to REI outdoor store for a bit of shopping for, of all things, smartwool socks for me since Denver has much more selection than we have. Liam got fussy...some shopper was sitting there trying on I walked by her I did a hand-off to Betsy and said 'take care of this bwat!...I hate kids'. Betsy, of course, knew I was being funny, but the look on that lady's face! And I had on my 'Funky Feet' shoes.

Took watercolor bag with me, but was more interested in zoning out with Kevin, Betsy, Liam, Addie (lab), and Ernie (terrier)...Jody, Rip...and our 3 hairy kids (Annie, Beemer, BJ).

We took the kids out for dinner, got to our hotel around 10, left for Arkansas around 5:30am (yup, sun wasn't up)...I basically rolled out of the bed into the car and slept sitting up for another 3 hours.

Talk about brutal! We got home after 13 or so hours, met Ron and Pam for a quick mexican up early on Thursday to join our new friend/painter/artist Tim for a paint-out day in Eureka Springs.

Here are some Liam/Rip pics: (oops, forgot how to do an inline slideshow)

gotfor...betsy had her doctor's appt, on tuesday after our shopping, and we got to have him for 2 hours! Here is Poppy walking Liam down a beautiful downtown Denver sidewalk. Might be a painting here!

Poppy and Liam at REI. I overheard Randy tell him he couldn't cry in an outdoor store.

Ain't technology wonderful? Food on the table, and me and Betsy are shooting each other at the table.

Betsy, Poppy and Liam

First Feeding

Mimi, Liam, Rip, Poppy

Mimi, Liam, Betsy, Poppy
Next Post! Back to the studio...Artists have a great need to be balanced, and family/new babies/new hubbies/outlaws/grandsons/ all help with that balance.
Thanks to Betsy, Jodi, Rip, and Kevin for loving us...being our 'kids' and letting me be granny. And for those 2 'real' redheads for letting me pretend...