Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Watercolor Class Beginning March 14

For anyone looking for a Watercolor Class in the Syracuse area--

I will be teaching at the Eye Studio 712-714 West Manlius St in East Syracuse.
Watercolor: the Basics
Beginning March 14, ending May 9 (no class on April 18)
Adults/teens 15+
Tuesdays, 4:00 - 6:00 pm
All supplies included
Cost: $200
The best way to learn the beautiful luminous technique of transparent watercolor is to begin with the Basics. In this class you will learn the properties of watercolor, color mixing, wet-on-wet technique, dry brush and creating texture. In each class there will be a demonstration by the instructor, with ample time for students to experiment with techniques. 
Contact Ilene Layow at the Eye Studio for registration information.
315 396-0519 or 315 345-4576.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Reaching for the Light

"When Trees Rest" watercolor

Reaching for the Light

In my last post I referenced the idea of chasing the light as the hours of daylight grow longer. I had been working with a series of winter paintings in acrylic and watercolor. The two paintings in the last post were very different in approach: one with a dramatic winter lighting, the sun low in the sky but still lending enough light to bounce colors off the snow and cast long purpley-blue shadows. 

The second painting was more subdued with a pale winter sun and limited palette. It also made use of some abstract elements which teased our perception of foreground, middle ground, background.

In the third painting I had planned on a towering tree with bare branches against a powerful gray sky. But somehow "gray" never happened. 

I had sketched the tree on watercolor paper, and instead of pulling out the Payne's Gray, murky blues, and a little Raw Sienna, I filled my palette with bright cheerful colors and began dropping them onto a piece of crumpled tissue paper spread over my wet watercolor paper. I wasn't sure how much color would soak through the tissue paper but there was certainly enough to create the vibrant sky in the final painting. The crumpled tissue paper I had painted over, left a wonderful pattern of crinkly lines and blotchy spaces. The pattern and the push/pull of warm and cool colors created a sense of depth in the sky. The use of atmospheric perspective (branches reaching endlessly to the sky) re-inforced that concept.

I realized at some point that the tree and sky reminded me of the these words by Greta Crosby: "When trees rest, growing no leaves, gathering no light, 
They let in sky and trace themselves delicately against 
dawns and sunsets".

And so instead of a painting of a tree against a dark overcast sky, we have a tree at rest. Not growing, but still reaching for the light against a glorious sky filled with hope for the coming Spring.

The Art of Winter

You can see all three of these paintings in The Art of Winter at the Thousand Islands Arts Center, in Clayton NY. The show opens February 3 and runs through March 17.

Related Posts:

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Two Views of Winter

"The Old Toboggan"

Yes, I'm Still Painting Winter Scenes

In preparation for the Art of Winter Show at the Thousand Islands Arts Center, I started this painting during the week in between Christmas and New Year, finished it last week.

I'm not sure where this old toboggan came from, my dad acquired it long after my childhood sledding days. He offered it to me when my kids were growing up but since it had no cushion and my kids were more into skiing than sledding I declined the offer. Many years later I saw the possibility for using it as transport down and up the snowy, hilly road (?) leading to camp. 
When we go to camp in the winter after a big snowfall we usually cannot get even the trusty Subaru down the twisting, turning road. So the toboggan comes in handy for bringing the cooler, cat carrier and any gear we need for the weekend down the hill. And yes, you read that right we do bring the cats in their comfy carrier with extra blankets to keep them warm. We are usually wearing snowshoes to help us walk in the deepest snow, so I'm sure we are quite a sight. The woodpeckers are nearly falling out of the trees with laughter as we plod down the hill, with our gear falling off every time we round a curve. And that's the easy part. When it's time to go home it's all uphill--we move a lot slower but are nice and warm when we get to the top of the hill.

In this painting I've presented a winter scene in a traditional format of foreground, middle ground, background. The winter sun is low in the sky creating spectacular shadows across the snow. Various shades of orange, pink, yellow, white and purple mix in here and there and catching the high points. Atmospheric perspective is indicated by the muted colors and minimal detail in the woods. The toboggan is the focal point and receives more attention in its details. The warm colors of the toboggan especially where it catches the light bring it forward and pull it away from the background.

Another View

In the painting "Five Birches" (below) I've presented another view of Winter. 

In this painting the focal point is in the middle ground, but elements from the middle ground overlap into the  foreground which seems to disregard the picture plane indicated in the middle and background. I had fun with this one, and although there was some planning involved, there were parts of this painting that just "happened". That is one of things I like best about watercolor.

I used a limited palette of cool blues mixed with Payne's Gray, balanced by the warm tones of the purple and pale yellow to set the mood for this painting. I feel that the day is ending and night is creeping in, but the viewer might think otherwise.

At this time of the year as we are moving slowly toward longer periods of daylight, the idea of chasing the light appeals to me and it seems to be coming out in my paintings. 

Related posts
You can see another recent winter painting in my last post. Just click on the link below.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

You Say You Want an Evolution? (of a Painting)

Falling Snow, Rising Moon

You Say You Want an Evolution???

Ok, I couldn't resist the really bad pun reference to the Beatles song. Forgive me, it was too good (or bad) to pass up. 

The evolution I am referring to is the evolution of a painting. Many times people ask me how a painting comes about. How do I decide what to paint?  And why? 

Evolution of a Painting

The painting above was the image for our 2016 family holiday card. The painting, a watercolor, was imported into a graphics program and the words Season's Greetings were added at the lower right corner. And when people ask about the image itself I tell them that it is based on the scenery in the Pacific Northwest, specifically a misty morning in Bellingham Washington.

But the image did not start out that way. This painting was originally done as a demo piece for a class I was teaching in July at the Thousand Islands Arts Center, called Creating Atmosphere in Watercolor. And the moon rising over the trees was originally the sun. Oh--and there were no trees. Confused?? Read on.

For this particular lesson I was showing how to paint the sun by tracing a penny on the dry paper, and dropping a bit of pale yellow in the center of the circle and then adding a drop of water to the center, sending the pigment out toward the perimeter of the circle. And remember in watercolor--paint only goes where the water is, so the water stayed in the circle. The idea was to avoid painting a bright round blob that looks like it has been pasted onto the sky. After that had dried, I got the rest of the paper nice and wet and painted some diagonal lines in two shades of blue in the sky area, alternating with areas left unpainted (white). I used a paper towel to plot up pigment here and there until it looked like a group of fluffy white clouds scudding diagonally across the sky. And then I moved on to another demo and left my sun and clouds to dry.

Fast Forward to November

So my demo watercolor sat in the studio for a few months as I kept busy with other projects. But every time I looked at the painting I could see the possibility of changing some of those diagonal clouds to a line of trees covering a mountain. And the clouds resembled the mist I had seen in the mountains in Bellingham Washington one morning as we were headed to Seattle. So I chased the idea around in my head for a while and then finally in November I picked up the painting and finished it turning clouds into trees or mist and added a gently falling snow. Since I was turning the sun into the moon, I darkened the sky so that it looks more like evening.

So the painting that began as a demo for how to paint the sun, and was later influenced by a scene I remember from earlier that summer, became a winter painting of the Moon rising over a tree covered mountain.

And that is the Evolution of a Painting.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Renewing a Love Affair

Well, I'll bet I got your attention with that title!!!!

Over the last few months I've been renewing my love affair with glass. Several years ago I fell in love with stained glass and did quite a few pieces like small lamps and window hangings. My most ambitious pieces were two sidelight windows for my front door. But after I stopped taking classes I stoped working with glass, mainly due to issues of space and I wasn't keen on using lead solder in the house. I could have used unleaded solder, but it doesn't flow as well. So I put glass aside and went back to painting.

Last winter I decided to take a class in Kiln Fused Glass at Ilene Layow's Eye Studio. I renewed my love affair with glass (oh the colors, the luminosity, the subtle ripple effects!!!) and I have been taking classes on and off since then. For some reason I really love cutting and breaking glass! And okay it's another way of working with color, light, form and design: some of the things I am most concerned with in my paintings.

Pictured above are a few of the most recent pieces, all done with the intention of giving them away as gifts (it is that time of the year). The red, green white candy dish is a contemporary take on Christmas, the four blue and yellow combinations with red sprinkles (frit) are dessert plates, to be used at any time of the year, but they would be nice for Chanukah as well. And the yellow and red dish is an "any time of the year dish".

Here are a few close-ups.

The Land Between the Waters

I've also been working on and off with a series which I call the Land Between the Waters. My life, especially in the summer is all about spending time at camp on Grass Lake and over on The St. Lawrence River where I teach art classes and show my work. So the series began with that idea of me being on the land between the waters. The series blossomed into several pieces where the land, either green or brown glass, winds its way through undulating blue patterns. Some pieces I have kept, some given away.

The first piece in the series--going with a beachy look.

The piece above belongs to my son Michael and his wife, who also live in the land between the waters in the Pacific Northwest.

Green and blue combinations are the colors of the lake: blue in the distance and green in the bay as the green trees reflect their color into the water.

Today I created a piece where the water runs through two pieces of land, just another variation on a theme. If it comes out good, I'll post it.

And for old time's sake here is one of the sidelights in stained glass that I mentioned at the beginning of the post.

And Now for Something Completely Different

Ilene Layow's Eye Studio where I take my Kiln Fused Glass classes is moving in the next few weeks. When the Studio moves into the new and much larger space I will be teaching Watercolor Classes. I'll keep you posted!
Here's the link for the Eye Studio.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Catching Up, Taking a Break

Joan Applebaum, Barbara Baum, Bobbie Panek and Judy McGinn pose with Gambrinus the King of Beers.

Catching Up

After spending months preparing for two big events I decided to take some time off from studio work to attend to some things that had fallen by the wayside. The events were both wonderful and all-consuming and I was cramming in preparations for each as I was trying to keep up with my regular studio work. Exhausting! 

The first event was the 90th Anniversary of the CNY Branch of The National League of American Pen Women. I should start by saying we celebrated our anniversary for an entire year with special exhibits, field trips and events. And seven of us went to the Pen Women Biennial in Washington DC, an unforgettable experience.
(Above) Five members of our group outside the White House West Wing just after our private tour.

The culmination of our year-long celebration was an exhibit of art, poetry, prose from current Pen Women and artifacts from our 90 years of history. The exhibit was held at Onondaga Historical Association---the best place in town to celebrate history! We also gave out "Friend of The Arts" awards to three members of the community.

I was in charge of the art/poetry show and the exhibit of artifacts. Which means that for a few months a whole lot of artifacts sat in my living room waiting to be combed through and either selected or put back in storage (AKA still in my living room). 

Being a history buff I was in my element when I was sorting through the artifacts and placing them on display at OHA. But alas, the exhibit is over and I still have several boxes in my living room.

Many people were involved in making our Pen Women 90th Anniversary Celebration a success--too many to name here, but essentially the entire CNY Branch of the NLAPW and Onondaga Historical Association! What a great night it was.

And if you would like to learn more about the NLAPW visit

And On to the Next Event

As soon as the Pen Women event ended I started attending to last minute painting and details for my show at Tyler Art Gallery @ Oswego State Downtown. I was delighted when Amy Bartell the director of the gallery asked me back in 2015 if I was interested in showing my work in the Fall of 2016. I had planned on this show being a little different from my other exhibits. I always try to have a general theme (I'm usually all about the landscape and water) but this time I wanted a slightly different twist on my usual.

Land, Sky, Water

Land, Sky, Water are themes I have visited often in my work and this time I selected that theme but with a specific direction. This time I was concerned with painting atmosphere, rather than specific imagery. I had a few images all set for the show but planned on creating a few more. As it turned out I painted seven new paintings to go with seven other paintings I had done previously. I was very happy to sell a painting even before the show went up on display! But by the time I was done I needed a break from painting.

The opening reception which was part of the Downtown Artist Series, was well attended. There were friends from Syracuse, North Country artist friends, fellow Pen Women, friends from church and many students from SUNY Oswego.

The Downtown Artist series also featured the work of two student artists: Graphic Design student Melissa Digiovanna and Poet Milo Licata. Melissa, pictured here with her mom and yours truly,
 created a poster based on the colors of my painting "Daybreak". Milo wrote two poems based on my work. After the student presentations I gave a short artist talk.

Taking a Break

So, after these two big events I decided to take a break from the studio (yeah remember that from the first paragraph???) and concentrated on removing wallpaper, spackling walls, painting and otherwise finishing up the kitchen renovation started way back in the summer. Then I went onto tackle a few more neglected things on my list. And then a few more. Then it was time to put up the Christmas decorations.

All the while I kept thinking of my next painting. Break's over. Time to get back to the studio.

Oh, and those boxes of Pen Women artifacts are still in my living room.

Related Link:
My show Land, Sky, Water will be on display at the Tyler Art Gallery @ Oswego State Downtown until January 20, 2017.

"Daybreak" watercolor

Monday, November 21, 2016

Just Can't Leave the Water!

In my recent artist talk at Tyler Art Gallery @ Oswego State Downtown I mentioned how living near the water has influenced my paintings. That influence comes through in my other work as well. The colors, the images all make their way into the more abstracted pieces I do in silk and in glass.

The wall hanging on silk has our iconic little island against a tie-dye background bordered by blue fabric. Ornamental buttons made from polymer clay in shades of blue, green and white anchor the corners with shimmering beads (sunlight on the water???) coming from their centers. 

The 2 glass plates are part of my "Land Between the Water" series. I can identify with those each summer as I go between home, Grass Lake and The River. 

So even here at home with the snow swirling around outside, I am back at the lake.