Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Lovin' the Pan Pastels

For the past few months I've been alternating between watercolor and pastel. My last few posts have dealt mainly with watercolor; now I need to give pastel equal time.

I have always loved the immediacy of pastels. Colors are added and changed quickly as they go from the pastel stick in your hand, right to your surface. No pre-mixing or blending required. I have never been a fan of pastel dust though, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to experiment with Pan Pastels. After just one day of experimentation I was SOLD! I even broke my "no messy pastels in my new studio" rule. Pan Pastels create very little dust, the colors are amazing and yeah I became an addict.   So….. I might need to enroll in a 12-step program to help me break my new habit. Just kidding.

Anyway back to the art. I've been working with some images from Ireland, trying to capture the dewy atmosphere and dramatic cloud formations. And yes some of the "typical Irish scenery " too like tumbling down castles. I've been pleased with results. The pan pastels are great for creating misty atmospheric landscapes (that sounds like Ireland!!!). And their soft foam applicators keep me from getting too detailed. I prefer working on Ampersand Pastel Board because I like the firm, slightly textured surface and the boards are easy to stored because I don't have to worry about wrinkling or dimpling a paper surface.

I'm preparing to teach another Pastel class at the Y Arts Studio and you can bet that Pan Pastels will be part of the lesson plan!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Season's Greetings!

The title for this post should be "knowing when to put away the photograph", but given the subject matter and the time of year Season's Greetings seemed more appropriate.

The painting pictured here, titled"It's Snowing Again!" is based on a photo taken in my brother-in-law Steve's front yard. I had just returned from a walk along Nantasket Beach (lots of good photos there!) and was struck by how pretty the holly looked as it climbed upward against the lattice. The sun was shining on the plants but a few chunks of snow still lingered in and around the branches. I was intrigued by the green holly, red berries and the lattice in the background. The lattice made a nice grid pattern which appealed to me. I had used grids as a design element in other paintings and decided that I would do the same in this one.

My first step was to lightly sketch a few of the leaves, berries and part of the grid pattern. I was selective in what I chose to put in the painting because  I was trying to capture a mood, not to make a copy of a photo. I had planned to start with a wet-on-wet wash of greens and blues to establish some of the base color and to set a mood. I covered the berries with masking fluid to keep them free of green and blue paint. I let my blues and greens flow freely and used a paper towel to mop up some excess color in a few places where I wanted the lattice to be closer to white than blue/green. After the wash dried I painted a few holly leaves and then started playing with the background. I deepened the colors behind the lattice and started painting shapes of leaves (no details) in the background. As I was doing this other shapes emerged from the negative space, so I tried to make them as "leaf-like" as possible.

So…if you are wondering "where is the part where I put the photo away???" It was shortly after I had painted the leaves. The background in the photo had a lot more information than I needed for a painting. So once I had painted the leaves, I had taken what I needed from the photo. The background and lattice were made by painting negative shapes, or to put it in simpler terms, by painting around shapes, rather than painting the shapes. And by leaving much up to the imagination of the viewer. My in progress photo (yeah..I know...it's crooked) will give you an idea of how the image emerged.

Once I had gotten the leaves and background painted I painted the red berries using three shades of reds. I added the snow by basically painting around the shape and then creating a light violet shadow on the bottom with a dry brush. The lattice was left as a white-ish grid which served to unify the composition. Before the painting was finished I added a layer of yellow to a few of the holly leaves to warm up the painting. The last detail was the tiny snowflakes made with opaque white paint. just beginning to fall.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

For the Birds!!! Adding "life" to a subtle background.

Like many of my paintings "Cardinals" started off as a demo piece for my Wednesday morning Watercolor Class at the Y. I was looking for something "winter-y". I had seen a photo on Facebook of a group of cardinals, thirteen to be exact, sitting on some sort of non-descript perch. I loved their brilliant red color and decided right away that I wanted to paint that picture…well not exactly that picture. Although I was initially intrigued by the red cardinals against the grayish white background, I knew that I needed to make a few changes in the composition. There were far too many cardinals in the photo, some would need to be eliminated for a cleaner, less cluttered look. After a few sketches I came up with a plan using just five cardinals, and turning the nondescript perch into tree branches. I added a few vertical lines to imply tree shapes in the background. 

I wanted my background to be subtle but still have some life to it, so I mixed a combination of Payne's Gray with various blues and greens. Since I wanted the snow on the branches to remain white I had covered that area with masking fluid. I had also used masking fluid around the outline of the birds to keep the gray paint away from the areas that would be painted bright red. The Payne's Gray and blue/green combinations were applied to a wet surface letting colors run together. I then added a bit of yellow for some warmth and contrast. Then I covered the wet areas with crumpled Saran Wrap and hoped for the best! This was after all a classroom demo, so I wanted good results!

After letting the paint dry a bit and the colors pool around the crumpled Saran Wrap, I removed the wrap and exposed the background. It turned out exactly as I wanted! It was full of many little random nooks and crannies in various shades of gray, blue, green and yellow which created a surface pattern and more importantly, a sense of depth. 

The birds were painted in a loose painterly fashion, rather than a tight illustrative look. After working with the soft grays, I enjoyed painting the bright reds, oranges and yellows. The tree were kept subtle; you can see the background pattern behind the trees, which helps to unite the composition. The spindly branches coming from the trees draws our eyes from the strong vertical tree shapes, to the birds. The subtle background texture complements the focal point without becoming a distraction. 

At the very end, I used opaque white to add tiny falling snowflakes. I was pleased with the final result and decided to use the painting for our family Christmas card this year. After photographing the painting, downloading it into the computer, importing it into a graphic program, and adding text, the only thing left to do is print the cards!

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Pan Pastels:Working With a New Twist on an Old Medium

I have recently returned to pastel painting after taking several years away from it. I loved the colors, the immediacy of the strokes and the texture but hated the excess dust which seemed to be everywhere in my studio. Storage of pastels always seemed to be a problem and the matting and framing (and making sure that no stray pieces of pastel were sitting on the matt) was such a pain. So I switched to acrylic painting and watercolor, but missed the effects that I was able to get with pastels.

Now that I am teaching Pastels again, I find myself reaching more and more for my pastels. I still hate the dust though.

SO…I decided to try pan pastels and now I am enjoying their soft ethereal quality, as well as their lack of dust. Yesterday I attended the pan pastel workshop at the The Arts Store in Syracuse and learned a few new tricks to teach to my Monday night pastel class at the Y.

I'm currently working on a series of images from Ireland, trying to capture the quality of light and dewy atmosphere. Pan pastels might just be what I've been searching for. Stay tuned…...

Thursday, November 13, 2014

North Country Arts Council Fall Show Has Something For Everyone!

Yesterday I was gallery sitting at the North Country Arts Council Fall Show in Watertown, NY. This is the second time I have participated in this show, and the first time I have actually seen the show installed. I was unprepared for the variety of artwork. The show features an array of paintings, drawings, sculptures, mixed media, pottery, jewelry and graphics, from artists living throughout the North Country. My husband and I have a camp in the Indian River Lakes, so I consider myself a North Country artist too, and I felt like I was in good company.

The show consists primarily of juried art from North Country artists, but there were a few invitational artists and groups represented in the exhibit. Stone carvings by David Marangle, sculptures by Chris Belven and classical portraits and still life by Paul Pedersen were all part of the invitational group. In addition, the River Community Wellness Program in conjunction with Fort Drum presented the Soldiers Art Show and Better Arts, a division of Better Farm contributed a selection of work from their visiting artist program.

There is also a section of pottery for sale benefitting Dragonfly Pottery Studio which suffered a devastating fire back in the early part of the fall. I'm happy to report that Dragonfly is re-building and "in-progress" pictures on their Facebook page look great.

And one more pic….I love this one done by a soldier during his deployment in Afghanistan. 113 small paintings, 1 each day, done for his daughter (hearts) and son (suns)… a promise he made and kept each day.

The North Country Arts Council Fall Show is on display at the Dulles State Office Building in Watertown, NY, through November 22. Hours: 9:00 am - 6:00 pm.
Go see it!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Is this Any Way to Spend Halloween????

Wow, what a busy night here at Windy Hill Studio. In between greeting trick-or-treaters at the door I have been getting a few things ready to bring up to Bay House Artisans. We are still open and will be till at least Black Friday.  Hours: Friday - Sunday, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm.

The latest pieces are in the Art-to-Wear category. Two velvet embossed scarves (Grape leave and Celtic) and a Rootin' Tootin' Super Cute Bag with a raspberry colored velvet square embossed with a sun pattern on a hand-painted fabric bag.

And… a truly fun experimental piece: A hand-painted fabric Christmas table runner. I call this one "Dancing Trees".   My two cats Tony and Ziva "helped" with the project. My entire kitchen was filled bits and pieces of red and green fabric. I think I will be picking thread off of every horizontal surface till February!

Gotta go now…trick-or-treaters at the door! Happy Halloween!!!!

Click on the blog post to open up the other two pictures.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What Should I Do……FIRST?????

More News From Windy Hill Studio

This is the "in-between" time for me. The 2-3 weeks in between sessions at the Y Art Studio and my first thought is What Should I Do…... FIRST???? We usually have a couple of weeks in between sessions so we can prep for our next group of classes and also try to catch up on everything we were too busy to do when we were teaching. I always have a few pieces that I really want to finish, but I feel the pull toward the new pieces which need to be done in preparation for the next session. So my "in-between" time becomes a race to see how much I can accomplish in preparation for teaching and still please myself as an artist.

Whenever I am teaching a painting class my demo pieces usually coincide with themes for upcoming shows or sales in specific areas. So, I am currently putting finishing touches on a couple of watercolors for my Ireland show scheduled for March 2015 at Sparkytown. Both pieces started as demo pieces for the Watercolor class. (Yes I believe in multi tasking). And in the next session my Wednesday morning Watercolor class will continue and the students will progress to more advanced techniques…at least that is the plan! And most likely I will continue with the Ireland theme in my own work. Students obviously will be painting other things.

But my Monday night Drawing class will be changed to an Intro to Pastels class, so that means I have to get a few pastels ready to go before class begins in November. I used to work extensively in pastel so I'm not worried about teaching it, but I do want a few new pieces. I will be working on pastels in the Arts Studio for the next couple of weeks so you might catch my act as you are walking through the Y. Or hey, just sign up for the class! It starts on Monday November 3, 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm and runs for 6 consecutive Mondays.

We are still going strong at Bay Hose Artisans (probably will be till Black Friday), so that means I'm keeping my cards, prints and art-to-wear stocked. The paintings are still there too and also a few at The Lyric Coffeehouse in Clayton. The North Country Arts Council will soon be announcing the accepted pieces for their Fall Show. I hope to hear from them soon.

And tomorrow is the launch party for The Healing Muse, a literary and visual journal from SUNY Upstate Medical which I am pleased to be associated with for 14 years.

Whew, my "in between" time fills up fast. It's time to get back to painting.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Updates From Windy Hill Studio…Thousand Islands, Snowy Splendor, Ireland

This has been one of the busiest seasons for me. By "season" I mean the Spring, Summer, Fall time of year when I show and sell my work in the seasonal galleries throughout the Thousand Islands and the North Country. I also was accepted into 3 juried shows here in Central New York and was featured artist at Arts on The Square in Watertown, so that kept me busy too. And I was teaching in a variety of places near home and near camp, so life got hectic and things like blogging went by the wayside. It's actually been more than a month since my last post! I am still painting though and that's what counts.

Although Fall is here my "season" is not completely over. I will be exhibiting a group of paintings at the Lyric Coffee House during the month of October. The Lyric is located at 246 James St. in Clayton and open from 8:00 am - 8:00 pm.

And we are still going strong at Bay House Artisans in Alexandria Bay, where I am one of the members of the co-op. People say we are the most unique shop in that town and I agree. You can find us right smack in the middle of A-Bay….white house, white picket fence…lots of signs that say "OPEN" (we had a contest where people voted on their favorite sign).

Here in Syracuse the "Snowy Splendor: Winter Scenes from Onondaga County" show will be opening soon at the Onondaga Historical Association. I don't have the date yet for the opening, but will post it when I know. I have two paintings in that show: a watercolor and an acrylic.

And, last but not least Ireland: I have booked a date for my Ireland show (haven't really come up with a title for that one yet). The show is scheduled for March 2015 at Sparkytown, opening reception March 8. More details on that as we get closer to the date.

That's all for now from Windy Hill Studio.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Sunken Rock Lighthouse in Alexandria Bay is my favorite of all the Thousand Island Lighthouses. There is something about the green top of the squat little lighthouse and the stark simplicity of the small building which appeals to me. I guess it's a combination of an Edward Hopper style of loneliness and the clear simple lines of an Edward Weston photograph. The white lighthouse and its' accompanying building reflect light and color all day long as the sun shifts in the sky, and the water changes as the sky does.  I love capturing the color of the sky and water at this time of day as the sun sets and the land becomes nearly a silhouette. The last golden rays of the day are reflected in the two buildings and bounce across the ripples in the water. Purple shadows creep across the surface of the lighthouse and join the golden flecks riding on the watery ripples.

This painting was done in as a demo piece when I was teaching an Acrylic Painting class at The Thousand Islands Arts Center. I had started the painting at camp and would bring it into class each day to use for instruction. The week was rainy and cold and the headlines were dismal; a large fire in TI Park, two young Amish girls were abducted, Robin Williams died, so many parts of the world in a turmoil. It was good to lose myself in the painting, at least for a few days. And good to have the squat little lighthouse as a kind of beacon of hope.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Art Show in Watertown

Time Stands Still : Images Inspired by the North Country opens on Saturday at Arts on the Square in Watertown. The exhibit is sponsored by the North Country Arts Council. I will be sharing the spotlight with ceramic artist Tonya Murdie. The reception is from 6:00 - 8:00 pm. Refreshments and live music by classical guitarist Gary Walts are all on the agenda.
Stop by if you are in the area.
Arts on the Square is located at 52 Public Square in Watertown.

Artist Statement

The paintings in this exhibit all deal with nature. The places we return to year after year where time seems to have stood still: the lakes, the rivers, the mountains and the woods. The much needed refuges from modern life. Here we are provided with a sense of peace and tranquility. The daily pressures disappear and we stop moving long enough to feel the heartbeat of nature and the cycle of the seasons. We find that indeed time has not stood still, but finally we have.

In 2007, my husband and I bought a camp on Grass Lake in the Indian River Lakes Region. Time spent at camp and in the nearby Thousand Islands has provided an endless source of inspiration for my artwork. It has also provided a sense of ownership and responsibility for the resources in the region. And I realize what a privilege it is to be part of this beautiful countryside. We are so lucky to have this privilege. But with this privilege comes a responsibility to insure that it will be there for future generations. Does the land belong to us or do we belong to the land? Does the lake belong to us, or do we belong to the lake? When we first bought our camp, I felt that the lake belonged to us. Right now I feel that we belong to the lake. 

And each morning that I wake up at the lake the privilege is renewed.

It is my hope that in each of these paintings I have captured a moment when time has stood still, at least long enough for us to appreciate the natural beauty of our area and to work to insure that it remains as beautiful for future generations.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Early Riser, the latest in my Heron Series

I have always been fascinated by herons. Especially by their huge sweeping wings and the curve of their long necks as they fly straight above the water, coming to rest only to strike an equally majestic pose amid the fallen trees and branches along the shore. We are fortunate to have several herons on our lake and I although I always enjoy watching them in flight, I think my favorite heron sighting was at the end of the lake down by the beaver dams. A heron had stopped to rest and had chosen the largest beaver dam to perch on. From there he looked down the length of the lake a if he were King of Grass Lake...maybe he is.

I have painted a few heron pictures over the years; the first two in colored pencil, the third in silk fabric dye and the last two in watercolor. Early Riser began as a watercolor demonstration for Healthy Kids Day at the Y. I was part of the "entertainment" in the Arts Studio. I had started with a light sketch of the heron and the fallen tree. Then I got my paper (300 wt. cold press) sloppy wet and just let my colors run and flow. I was working with the idea of early morning colors, the reds, yellows and pinks that you find in the sky and bouncing off the water as the sun is rising.

I left much of the background vegetation as soft shapes without detail to lend a misty morning quality to the picture. And also of course to keep the emphasis on my focal point: the heron. The heron is just beginning to take flight, beginning another day on the lake. The details on the heron, fallen tree and background trees were all added later in my studio when the paper had dried. I rewet the paper occasionally to keep edges soft in some areas.

This picture has been described as having a magical quality, probably due to the luminous colors. To me, herons are a bit magical anyway. On the day we first saw the camp it was a cold, gray dreary early April day, around 5:00 pm, just beginning to lose what little light we had on that rainy day. As I stood on the dock looking at the lake with chunks of ice still bobbing in the water, I wondered "should we buy this place?" A heron flew past me, in slow motion. I was sold.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Spontaneous Image with Influences from Boom Babies, Old Advertising and SUNY Fredonia!!!

I am currently teaching a Mono Prints class at the Y Arts Studio, so I have been thinking more about how I use the mono print process and where it takes me in my creative work.

For me Mono Prints are a jumping off point toward creating an image. Although I have had a few mono prints which stand alone, as un-altered  images, for the most part I see the mono print as a beginning. I love the spontaneous look of the mono print, but I also love the contrast that comes with pairing that spontaneous image with words and forms defined by precise lines and modeled shapes.

Maybe the Blue was created in response to a themed juried show, but I can not remember what the theme was. I do remember that I was juried into the show, for this image which is based on a trip to Boom Babies to help my daughter choose a dress for her first formal. For my first layer I used a mixture of blue and purple acrylic paint printed on dark blue paper. After it dried, I added the green and yellow acrylic paint and bits of a powdered metallic gold paint. I printed that over the first blue/purple image. When I was sure everything was dry I went into my mono print with colored pencil to create the more precise lettering. The large bubble-like letters used in the word "blue" were inspired by a student graphic design project which I saw at SUNY Fredonia when I was touring the Art Department.  I worked the word "blue" in a diagonal pattern across the paper. The word is meant to be read, but I was really more interested in creating shapes from the letters.

The word "maybe" is an enticement to look closer into the image. An ambiguous word to grab our attention...maybe what???.  I love the lettering used here which reminds me of the fonts used in old-style sophisticated advertisements. The entire phrase "maybe the blue" is very small toward the bottom of the piece, with purple organic squiggles underneath and serves to balance and unify top, middle and bottom of the piece.

I love it when people ask where the inspiration comes from. Sometimes, as in this piece the inspiration comes from several places. Images, colors, forms are stored in my memory waiting to be called upon. In creating an image like this, I am telling a story, but not in an illustrative way. I am using the elements and principles of design to best suit my needs, but not always conscious at that time of where I have pulled a certain influence from. Working with this balance of intuitive and planned is what excites me when working with Mono Prints.

Friday, May 2, 2014

An Interesting Compliment

Someone Who "Gets It"

Last night I had a nice compliment on my work. Not the usual comment about my use of color though.

This person said "when I see you paintings it reminds me of what I want to be doing this summer!"

I really liked that comment because I realized that this woman "gets my work".  I am not a ground breaking, cutting edge artist. I paint what I love; which is the land, the sky, the water, even architecture.

And in my work there are often traces of humanity and what we leave behind as we step out of the scene. Like our canoes resting on the shore taking a break while we explore an island. Or an Adirondack chair waiting in the yard while we retrieve our book, lemonade, sunblock, etc
A hammock just hangin' out by the water waiting for someone to plop down, swing back and forth and watch the leaves fluttering in the breeze.

It is my hope that the viewer sees themselves in these scenes and enjoys the moment captured in paint. And then I hope they let their imagination take over to write the rest of the story.

Friday, April 18, 2014

What's new at Windy Hill Studio

What's new at windy Hill Studio??? Lots!!!

After a long cold winter I am looking forward to the hustle and bustle of my busy season May through December. Although I am busy painting and teaching year round, things seem to speed up once Spring rolls around. Seasonal galleries and gift shops re-open and art organizations hold spring shows.

This year I will again be participating in the Bay House Artisans Co-op in Alexandria Bay. I've been working on some new images for prints and cards. Of course I will have original paintings as well and some fiber art too.

I will be returning to The Thousand Islands Arts Center in Clayton, as a teacher for Watercolor and Acrylic Painting, and also doing a Family/Youth 1-day Workshop. And I plan to have artwork, prints and cards available at their gift shop.

The Gallery in Sacket's Harbor will be opening soon and we will kick off with our Spring Show May 24. I have a couple of entries ready for the show; also some things available in their gift shop.

The View in Old Forge has moved the date for their Central Adirondack Show to May, rather early compared to their usual schedule. I am hoping to get up there to drop off a few pieces next week.

I had a few interesting opportunities come my way in the last few weeks. I was selected as one of twenty women artists of Central New York for the Ignite the Spirit Show at The Syracuse Technology Gardens. Our opening reception was well attended and the food was fabulous!

The Arts Store is putting together a show called Caffeine...Love It or Leave It. As it turns out I have an image that perfectly fits that show! So I am looking forward to being part of that exhibit and seeing what other people will be showing. Should be interesting!

Stone Quarry Hill Art Park is presenting a juried show titled All things Cazenovia. I have a couple of paintings depicting Cazenovia scenes (Painting in the Art Park and Red, White and Beauties) so I plan to enter them and we'll see what happens.

I'm still busy at the Y, teaching and doing a bit of my former job as Arts Studio Coordinator as they search for a new person for that position. We've had two people in the position since I left; hope we get someone soon but it's a good thing I still remember what to do! I am planning to teach a Printmaking class for Youth and a Mono Prints class to adults. Also a colored pencil /gel pens class for adults.

Ok...time to paint!!! More later on what's new....I haven't even started talking about the teaching, the experimental work and the images from Ireland!!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

No Details Today...I'm Painting Atmosphere

Over the next few weeks I have tasked myself with trying to capture atmosphere in my paintings, particularly the acrylic paintings.  I have often worked with misty, wispy effects in my watercolors; they always seem so well suited for that fade-in/fade-out technique for portraying morning fog lifting off the  water and misty mountains.

But the acrylics call for a different approach; one that has more to do with the push and pull of veils of contrasting colors. I have been using my photos from Ireland as a basis for capturing atmosphere. And what better place than a an island full of mystery with crumbling castles, quaint villages and breathtaking scenery around every narrow winding road. A place where the locals say "if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes, it will change". And they are so right. On the day we toured the Dingle Peninsula we drove in and out of rain several times.

Dingle is one of the most scenic areas in Ireland with long fingers of land reaching out into the sea, and misty islands appearing, then disappearing as the fog shifts. Frequently a light rain blows in from the sea, washes the land and then quickly blows back out to sea, leaving behind misty droplets of water hanging in the air. Heavy clouds hang over the land, but the sun peaks through, casting dramatic shadows everywhere. At one particular spot where we stopped to take photos I was completely taken by the quality of shimmering light, not just on the water but all around us. And that is what I am trying to capture when I talk about atmosphere. Shimmering light, little to no details. But how do we achieve this effect?

I have found in my work that the push/pull of veils of contrasting colors and color temperatures (warm, cool) create a sense of subtle movement within the painting. Warm colors come forward, cool colors recede creating a sense of depth and making the viewer feel that they are a part of the atmosphere surrounding the scene. The blue/purple underpainting in the sky and water is still very visible in the finished piece. Shades of gold, rose, yellow, unbleached titanium and white were applied roughly over the under painted surface, leaving plenty of the blue/purple to peak through and add drama. I used a palette knife to apply much of the color. The palette knife deposits paint in a more random method than a paint brush. Areas of built up paint catch the palette knife as it scrapes over the canvas board. The little bits of paint left behind add a textured look to the finished piece, and in this case they also resemble bits of moisture hanging in the air.

This particular canvas board had paint built up in quite a few areas because there was actually another painting underneath: one that just didn't make it. Failed paintings can teach us a lesson and can also be the basis of something new and different. Every cloud has a silver lining...or maybe gold, or purple!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Harmonious Color and Moody Neutrals

In my two recent watercolor paintings "Good Morning Beautiful!" and "Waiting for Spring" I am working with a limited palette. Both paintings were begun in my watercolor class at the Y Arts Studio, with the intention of using each as part of my lesson plan on limiting your palette. But each painting is quite different in subject matter and mood.

"Good Morning Beautiful! started with a simple arrangement of three objects: two eggs and a lemon. The composition is simple and follows the rule of thirds grid and all three shapes are similar in that they are ovals. The colors I chose are cheery shades of yellow, orange and a very pale red with accents of white. Yellow, orange and red are analogous colors, which means they all lie next to each other on the color wheel creating a harmonious composition.

I began the painting by sketching the three objects, then painting the perimeter of the eggs and a small area on top of the lemon with masking fluid. After the masking fluid dried I painted a very light wash of yellow and orange across the paper. After the wash dried, I peeled off the masking fluid and began laying in washes of color on the lemon and the eggs building up shadows and creating depth through successive washes of color.

The grid pattern was a afterthought. I had started the painting with the intention of using it as a study rather than a finished painting. But as I worked on the painting I became more interested in developing a finished piece, rather than just a study. So the grid pattern evolved as a way to unite the elements in the composition. Because geometric patterns are visually strong they can distract the viewer from the focal point. For this reason I kept the pattern light and somewhat fragmented.

My end result is a cheery good morning in the kitchen type of painting, hence the name "Good Morning Beautiful".

"Waiting for Spring" has a more subdued palette dictated by subject matter and time of year. The lighthouse at Tibbett's Point stands bathed in washes of pale neutrals; the February sun tries to peek through the clouds, bits of mist rise off the icy water. This painting is all about that time of year when winter has worn out its welcome: the sky, water and snow often seem to be the same color. Spring is still several weeks away.

This painting began with a light sketch. I masked one side of the lighthouse, the other two buildings and part of the snow to keep the color pure white. The sky, water and snow were created with a sloppy wet-on-wet wash of blues and greens mixed with Payne's Gray. Bits of pale red and yellow were added to create depth. As warm colors come forward and the cooler colors recede (push/pull) we create a sense of space and depth within the painting. All colors, warm and cool, were kept very light, very subdued to lend to that bleak end of winter atmosphere. The addition of Payne's Gray to the greens and blues created a series of moody neutrals perfect for a February sky in Northern New York.

The only spot of color is in the red roofs on two of the buildings and the top of the lighthouse. I tried to carry bits of the red through the painting, so that the viewer would not fixate on the red roofs. There is a light red in the shadows on the snow and a bit in the sky to carry our eyes across the painting. I added a darker wash of Payne's Gray mixed with blues and greens to the water to indicate areas where the ice is melting. Details were kept to a minimum lending a somewhat dreamy atmosphere to the painting. Perhaps to keep the viewer dreaming of Spring.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Each year when winter rolls around I find myself painting at least a couple of winter landscapes. Usually the paintings are in preparation for The Art of Winter Show at the Thousand Island Arts Center. This year is no exception; last week I delivered a watercolor and an acrylic painting to the Arts Center. The show opens on Friday, but there's always a chance that I will miss the reception due to weather conditions. Painting the winter and driving in it are two entirely different things!

The winter light as it sits low and pale in the sky always intrigues me. The early morning light and late afternoon illumination are the most interesting with orange, pink and golden hues bouncing off new fallen snow; trees casting long purple/blue shadows. I never have to go far for inspiration...especially this winter. The snow covers and hides a host of problems turning everything into a winter wonderland.

This year's entry in acrylic paint was started as a demo for my Painting class at the Y. I was scheduled to teach a class called "Painting the Winter Landscape", but due to a clerical error, my class was transformed into an Intro to Acrylics Class. But, I had planned on painting a winter landscape and I still needed something to enter in the Art of Winter show, so I stuck with the winter theme.

I was working from a photo and began by lightly sketching the major shapes: tree-line, a few drifts of snow and a stand of trees near the lower right corner, no details. I omitted distracting details like power lines and much of the partly covered fallen underbrush. I under-painted using complementary colors to add more vitality and depth to the "local colors".  In the original painting some of the orange underpainting in the sky and snow peaks through, but I am not sure that shows up in the photo below. Those little bits of warm color add a dynamic interplay with the cool tones of the winter sky and the shadows on the snow. The sky and snow were both painted by mixing colors directly on the canvas when wet so that the transition from color to color remained soft and diffused, lending a realistic quality to those areas. The tree-line running across the back was painted with a variety of dark hues including combinations of Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue and Pthalo Green. I used a bit of light purple, (almost a lilac color) to lighten and subdue some of the dark tones.

When the painting was in progress the trees in the far background became a temporary focal point, due to the path of shadows leading the eye back to them. After I added definition to the trees in the right lower corner and added the arch of the branch across the path the other focal point emerged: the trees in the foreground, especially the arching branch. The trees in the far background were subdued with less intense colors and no details. I added some bits of stick-like branches poking through the snow to help lead our eyes through the picture. I painted in a few fallen trees partially covered with snow to help transition from the snowy path to the wooded area.

The show opens February 7 and runs through March 31. If you are in the Thousand Islands area stop by the Arts Center located at 314 John St. in Clayton. The Art of Winter will run concurrently with a selection of fiber pieces and weaving artifacts from the Arts Center's Handweaving Collection. The town of Clayton is quiet in the winter, but there are still a couple of nice restaurants open serving lunch. If you are lucky you will see a few hardy souls zipping across the frozen St. Lawrence River in air boats!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Peaceful Night

It's a peaceful night here in Windy Hill Studio. I'm working on a watercolor and listening to some Native American flutes and drums.

I'm working on a painting for the Winter Show at The Thousand Islands Arts Center. It seems strange to be smack in the middle of January with plenty of chilly weather but no snow. I seem to recall several inches of it covering my yard just a week ago. But I'm sure it will be back. Till then I'm creating my own winter wonderland. Haven't finished enough for a picture, so here's one from a few year ago. It's called Frozen River.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A New Year at Windy Hill Studio

The new year always finds me planning direction for the upcoming months. I'm usually lining up teaching opportunities for spring and summer, looking for possibilities for showing new work and
deciding what to paint and when to paint it. The winter months are slower for me; most of my gallery/sales opportunities are in the late Spring, Summer and Fall. So the winter is the time for planning and painting.

The winter itself presents endless possibilities for painting; sunlight on new fallen snow is full of subtle shifting colors. Yeah...I know, we don't see a lot of sunlight in the winter here in Central New York. But those heavy leaden skies can have a somber beauty to them too.

One of my plans for the new year is an update to my website. That update will be coming in the next few weeks after I gather together the newest images and write some new text. And delete the sold paintings!

I am currently teaching two painting classes at the Y Arts Studio: Watercolor and Acrylic. In both classes I am working on winter landscapes as my demo pieces, also intending to use them in the Art Of Winter Show at the Thousand Islands Arts Center in Clayton. During the winter months I have plans to paint a few "River" pieces which will be exhibited in the Thousand Islands areas; specifically Bay House Artisans in Alexandria Bay and The TI Arts Center Gift Shop in Clayton. Boldt Castle, Singer Castle, the Thousand Islands Bridge and the Lighthouse at Tibbett's Point are all on my list of paintable images!

I have submitted my plans for summer classes at the Thousand Islands Arts Center. This year I will be teaching Watercolor and Acrylic Painting for adults and a Parent/Child painting workshop as well.
Last summer I divided my time between camp and home. Many of my teaching and work opportunities were in the North Country/Thousand Islands, so I spent quite a bit of time at camp...always a great place to relax and at the same time be inspired by the scenic landscape. This year I plan to do the same. Windy Hill Studio North has been recently renovated and is a nice cozy spot to paint while my cats doze in the dappled sunlight streaming through the windows.

I will still be teaching Drawing and Painting classes at the Y for adults and various types of studio classes for kids.and I plan to teach at least 2 weeks of Y Arts Camp this summer at Stone Quarry Hill Art Park.

I'm looking forward to a pleasantly busy winter of teaching, painting and preparing for the summer shows. I have an exhibit now at the Y Arts Gallery titled "Camp". My intention in this show is to capture those timeless and intimate moments shared by all who live life in the outdoors. I am continuously inspired by the land, sky and water. It is my hope that this show will bring back memories of what it was like to be a kid at camp: splashing your canoe paddles in the water, canon-balling off the dock into the lake, running through the grass to catch fireflies and staying up late to roast marshmallows around the campfire while re-hashing the day's escapes.

I hope I bring back a few memories of the good old days at camp, whether they were 10 years ago, 50 years ago or just last summer.