Monday, July 10, 2017

From Out of a Sloppy Wet Watercolor A Heron Rises

"Rising" watercolor

This is a new image, which I had started at Arts on Genesee at May Memorial back in June. 

I like painting when I am at a show, especially outdoor shows, because it engages the customers in conversation.

For this painting I had this idea of a heron rising from a swampy area, similar to the one at the end of our lake. I often see heron flying to and from that spot. I also wanted a moon rise, or sunset depending on how the viewer interprets the painting. So I lightly sketched the heron and then looked around for a large circle to trace. I ended up in the kitchen at May Memorial tracing a large platter for my moon/sun.
Then I headed back outside to my display and began a sloppy, drippy watercolor wash in orange-y yellow colors on the top, blues toward the bottom. There were a few people gathered around to see what I would do next. I had no idea.

Now What????

Then I laid crumpled plastic wrap over the wet paint to add texture by giving the paint places to pool into darker values.
Later I removed the wrap and was satisfied with the texture. I added a bit of extra color in some places to accentuate the irregular pattern. 


The swampy areas were made the next day. I was working under a nice shady tree, listening to the musical entertainment and letting blues, greens and Payne's Gray run down my wet paper as I held the painting upside down. Wherever the colors ran into the orange areas, trees and tree stumps were formed. Little bits of some type of plant life was falling from the tree I was under, maybe a few bugs too--they all became part of the painting.
I finished the painting at home in my studio last week, no bugs or plant life in there, just two nosey cats looking at a picture of a bird. Yum.

"Rising" is the 5th in an ongoing series of Heron images.
"Early Riser" watercolor

"Heron" fabric dye and paint on silk

"Keeping a Lookout" watercolor

"Night Flight" watercolor

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Painting on Silk class at Sackets Harbor Arts Center


I'll be teaching a Painting on Silk Class for the Arts Association of Northern New York (AANNY) at The Sackets Harbor Arts Center August 11 & 12, 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm for Adults and Teens 13+

Cost is $65 for AANNY members, $75 non-members

Call the Sackets Harbor Arts Center for registration details 315 646-3502.

Learn the art of painting on silk, using vibrant Dyna-flow colors. Students will begin on the first day with simple designs on silk hoops, learning to use Gutta Resist, and techniques for seamless blending of color. A few “Special Effects” will be covered as well. On the second day students will learn to set the color and remove the Gutta and in most cases have time do another painting.

The Sackets Harbor Arts Center is located at 119 Main St. in scenic Sackets Harbor. The Arts Center is a great place to take a class and the little town of Sackets Harbor is chock full of great restaurants.

So c'mon and make a day of it!

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Singer Castle

"Singer Castle"

Stormy Weather

Well I had a bit of a disappointment this week to learn that the June 29 Arts Showcase at Singer Castle on Dark Island in the Thousand Islands had to be canceled due to low ticket sales and the threat of an impending thunder storm. It seems that this summer we have a daily thunder storm---sometimes two or three each day and that can't be helped. So far our Summer 2017 has been cold and wet, with stormy weather and high waters wreaking havoc with everyone's vacation plans.

I was really excited to be part of this new venture for Singer Castle. The Arts Showcase consisted of a Dinner Cruise, a tour of the castle and an evening of art and music at the castle, and it is a shame that had to be canceled.


I think I was really intrigued by figuring out the logistics of what to bring to the showcase and how to get it there. I knew the artists would be traveling by boat from Chippewa Bay and since I've made that trip before, I knew the boat was not very large. My husband had worked on a structural repair at the castle and I accompanied him several times to the castle during the course of the work. So I did have some knowledge of the size of the boat. And I knew that the Bay could be choppy, so the artwork would need to be covered. It was also important to consider the weight of the artwork--it's a long walk from the boathouse to the castle when you are carrying paintings.

"Singer Castle-Tower View"

Narrowing down the choices

So I narrowed down the choices to three original paintings, each shown here. Two views of the castle, and one painting from the grounds of the castle. I also had several unframed prints and Singer Castle greeting cards, all set to go in a lightweight waterproof container ( you can tell that I used to go camping!!!)

But alas the event was canceled and I started to think about how much fun I had just planning how to move things about in an efficient way. It reminded me of the many years I spent working in After School programs in some of the most at-risk schools in Syracuse. I had to transport a lot of art supplies and only wanted to make one trip in and one trip out of the school especially on those days when police tape surrounded the adjacent buildings--- Yikes!!!! Or the years I spent teaching outdoor art camps for the YMCA. Art supplies, bug spray, first aid kits, sneakers, emergency contact information for every camper---the list went on and on--and all fit in a lightweight waterproof container!

So now I have a few paintings framed, prints and cards packaged and ready to go. There is always a possibility that there will be a time later this Summer when they can fit in another showcase-there are  quite a few with different artists already scheduled, so it might be hard to fit us all in. If they do, I've worked out all the logistics and I'm ready to go. 

"Best Seat in the House" from the grounds of Singer Castle, sunset over Canada.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Windy Hill Studio Newsletter

I'm sliding the Windy Hill Studio SPRING Newsletter in before the calendar officially says Summer. 

What can I say--it's been a busy Spring!

If you would like to receive the email version just leave a note in the comments section. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

What Happens When Creative Women Inspire and Collaborate

What happens when creative women inspire and collaborate? 

Painted Sounds! 


On March 16, 2017 several members of the CNY Branch of the National League of American Pen Women met and shared poetry and art with the intention of inspiring each other. Our goal was to create a new piece of art or poem based on a piece another artist or poet had shared. We had two months to create the new piece or pieces. It was great fun to share our words and images, but even nicer to see another Penwomen's eyes light up when they responded to something that lit the spark of creativity in their souls.


On May 18, 4:30 pm at the Genesee Grande we will be unveiling new work inspired by our fellow artists and writers. You are welcome to join The CNY Branch NLAPW at our reception and have the option to stay for dinner (buffet menu and prices are on poster below). 

If you are interested in being a part of our celebration please RSVP to Janet Fagal 315 685-0429 or email by May 11.
I hope to see you there! And if you are there I hope you will be inspired!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

We're baaaack...............

Arts on Genesee is back! And you'll find me there with paintings, prints, cards, silk scarves, alcohol ink designs, tote bags and what ever else I can whip up in Windy Hill Studio between now and then!

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Introduction to Watercolor Workshop in Watertown

"Cherry Blossoms"

Watertown and North Country Friends

I will be teaching an Introduction to Watercolor 1-day Workshop for North Country Arts Council on May 6,  11:00 am - 3:30 pm.

You can read more about it below, and click on the attached link for registration information.

Class Description

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 and atmosphere in your paintings. All supplies included. 
There will be a 30-minute lunch break half way through the workshop. Pot luck lunches are encouraged.
The class is for Beginner/Intermediate students, Adults and Teens 15+”
Class fee: Non-members $67.50, NCAC members $60.70
Pre-registration is REQUIRED. Registration deadline is May 4th.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Adventures With Alcohol----------Ink

"Yellow Flower" alcohol ink on ceramic tile

Adventures With Alcohol----Ink.   I'll bet I had some of you at "alcohol"! 

About two weeks ago I had a conversation with fellow artist and Penwomen Wendy Harris about the need to change it up every now and then. To step away from our usual media and method of producing art and do some thing DIFFERENT.

Wendy currently has a show of abstractions at the Edgewood Gallery in Syracuse. These paintings, in a variety of acrylic-type paints on various surfaces were definitely a step away from her usual and she was wondering how they would be received by the people who were used to seeing her pastel landscapes. In my opinion the paintings are magnificent! And I believe they were well received.

But the point I am trying to make is that artists (my self included) from time to time need to step away from their comfort zone and try something new. When I was teaching, especially the children's classes, these experiments in different media seemed to happen organically. I seemed to always be able to adapt something from the classes to my own work. Now I need to make the effort to make the change.

Enter: the Alcohol Inks

A few weeks ago I has attended a demonstration by an artist using alcohol inks on ceramic tiles. The random mixing and separating of colors intrigued me. And the colors themselves are so intense. So I immediately went out and bought all the supplies needed with the intention of experimenting as soon as possible. It's funny how as soon as possible can be put off for a couple of weeks. At this time of the year I am gearing up for shows and sales in the Thousand Islands and Sackets Harbor vacation areas and it's hard to put away the tried and true images and media to make time to "play". The to-do list for Windy Hill Studio is always jam-packed in March and April. 

But after seeing Wendy's experiments with a new medium, I decided it was my turn to play around with something different. So over the weekend I set aside the to-do list and tried my hand at alcohol inks. The inks were dripped, dropped and blown with a straw and what ever happened, happened. Some were very interesting and others were --hmmm how shall I put it--"a lesson in what not to do". But hey, you just wash away the ink with rubbing alcohol and start over.

I photographed my favorites and am sharing them here. I'm hoping to have a little more time in the next few days to experiment some more and see what happens.

Who knows??? Maybe my piece for Penwomen's Painted Sounds will be done in Alcohol Inks! Somehow I'm seeing Bobbie's flowers and Mary's "Untangling Dark". Hmmmmmmmmm

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Day in the Life of Windy Hill Studio

Posting a Painting Each Day.

Each day on my Facebook page I post a "Good Morning from Windy Hill Studio!" painting. Often people comment that I must be painting continually. I answer them truthfully; some paintings are new and some are old. Some of them I still have with me and some were sold long ago. But the jpeg of the image is something I will always have and I'm grateful for the technology that allows me to do this.

Posting a "Good Morning" painting is the way I start my day in Windy Hill Studio. It is the first item on the daily list, which sometimes includes painting, but also includes paperwork, marketing, lesson plans, photographing artwork and correspondence. So although the "Good Morning" painting might not be a new painting, the act of posting an image each day gets me into the right frame of mind for the daily tasks for Windy Hill Studio.

Daily Tasks

This morning's tasks included ordering frames in time for upcoming shows (and taking advantage of framing supply coupons before they expire), sending out jpegs for Cazenovia Counterpoint in July, and deciding on a couple of paintings for Associated Artists "Of Light and Shadow" show going up this weekend. In this list of tasks I should also include getting a start on this blog post which I will probably have to leave unfinished while I attend a meeting.  And now I've gotta go----------

Roundtable Discussion

And now I'm back after attending a Roundtable discussion at the Wise Women's Business Center. Today's topic: 5 Ways to Get Unstuck in the Face of Creative Burnout--always a timely topic for artists balancing the creative and business life. Sometimes after doing the business of art it is hard to jump back into the creative mode. At this time of year I am gearing up for the Spring/Summer/Fall tourist season along the St. Lawrence River/Thousand Islands as well as participating in a number of shows in Central New York. So creative energy is sometimes sapped by the business part of maintaining a successful studio. Taking advantage of things like the roundtable discussions definitely helps to put me back on track.

So What Am I Working on Now?

Currently in my studio I have four paintings in progress and one finished. Three of the in-progress paintings are pictured here along with Amy the Studio Assistant Cat. After last week's purple paint incident Amy has been surprisingly docile in the studio.

Two of the paintings (lighthouses) are earmarked for shops in the Thousand Islands area. Reproductions of the paintings will become prints and cards sold in the shops. Another painting needs to be finished by tomorrow to go in to a show this weekend. A few color adjustments need to be made and the wrap around canvas sides need to be painted. And the very soft watercolor was a demo piece for my Watercolor: the Basics class at the Eye Studio. It is quietly beckoning me to finish the piece.

There is one more in-progress painting, not pictured here, just lightly sketched on watercolor paper. Another by-product of teaching--always need to have a demo ready to go.

So it looks like I will be pleasantly busy for a while. Stay tuned. There should be some new paintings posted soon!

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.