Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Artwork Headed to the Daylesford Abbey Art Show

I am pleased to announce that this year I will again be participating in the Daylesford Abbey Art Show.

Last year was my first try at being juried into this exhibit and it turned out to be my favorite show of the year.

Below is a sneak peek of some of the work I will be exhibiting this year.

Put Your Best Face Forward
18" x 22" watercolor on paper

A few years ago I took many reference photos of this yellow Gerber daisy. As I was looking for a reference for a new watercolor painting I saw this photo. The image made me think of how we all have a public face that we present to the world - showing what we think is acceptable - and a private one that we keep hidden - keeping to ourselves the parts that we think will make it harder for us to fit in.

Still in Yesterday's Clothes
8" x 10" watercolor on paper

My family shops at local farmers' markets weekly during the growing season, and I have a habit of painting the produce we bring home. I especially love when I find produce that still has it's leaves and stems attached. This pair of peaches reminded me of a couple getting home very early in the morning after a fabulous party. They may not be as beautiful as they were before the event, their clothes are a little wrinkled and they look a little tired, but you just know they had rockin' good time.

Leaves with Helicopters
8" x 10" watercolor on paper

I love autumn! It may be my favorite season. I love the smells of burning leaves and sweet apple cider. I love the warm, sunny days followed by cool, crisp nights. And I love the riot of color that explodes across the landscape. Yes, especially the colors, because I know they will be replaced by months of winter grey. So when I am out taking my morning walks in the fall, I can't resist collecting a colorful leaf or two... or possibly ten. And when the grey descends I paint the pretty leaves and return to the joy that autumn brings me.

Are You Getting my Good Side?
10" x 8" watercolor on paper

Cardinals are normally skittish birds, flying off at the slightest noise. This guy was hanging out in my pine tree feasting on some bird seed. Instead of flying away, I swear he started posing as soon as I trained the camera lens on him. He seemed a little full of himself, wanting to make sure I was capturing his best side.

Seasons' Reflections
10" x 12" watercolor on paper

I collect glass Christmas ornaments. I love how they catch the tree lights and magnify the shine. Many of the ornaments in my collection were gifts. Others I purchased while on vacation. As I unpack each ornament and hang it on the tree, I dip into those warm memories and linger in their comfort. The good feelings wrapped in those memories are reflected onto me each holiday season much the same way the glass reflects the lights on the tree.

8" x 10" reproduction of graphite drawing

This little house finch comes to my backyard bird feeder. I tried to take his picture a few times but he always seemed to fly off when I went to grab my camera. I think he is shy. Then one day he showed up with his lady friend and I was able to snap a few shots while he was distracted by her attention.

Produce Note Cards

An assortment of 8 blank cards and envelopes featuring a collection of my produce images. Two cards each of the beets, peach, apple and pears.

Related Links:
Daylesford Abbey Art Show

Show Details:
Opening Reception - October 13, 2012
3:00 - 6:00 pm
$30 per person

Free Admission to the show begins on Sunday, October 14, 2012

Show Dates: Sunday, October 14th - Sunday, October 28th
Show Hours: Daily 12 noon - 4:00 pm
             Wednesdays open until 8:00 pm

Address: 220 South Valley Road, Paoli, PA 19301

Call (610) 647-2530 ext. 100 for more information

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Travel Journals

Welcome back to my little home on the internet!

Summer is over and with it my scheduled hiatus. I have not yet determined what my blog posting schedule will be, but I am here for now and I am glad you are too!

Over the summer I was lucky enough to take two vacations with my family.

Whenever we go on vacation, I try to keep a journal of our adventures. It is so much fun to go back and read about the trip, and it is easier to remember the details when you have a framework to start in.

The first time I kept a journal was on a trip to Disney World that we took when my kids were very young. I knew that they were young enough that they probably wouldn't remember the trip on their own, so I wrote a brief summary about each day to capture and preserve the memories.

palm tree sketch from Hawaii
©2010 Stacy L. Rowan

Now that the kids are older, in addition to words, I try and sprinkle in a few sketches. The act of sketching more firmly cements the details in my mind and helps me soak up the vacation mood.

Someday I hope to create enough sketches on trips to be able to accurately refer to my travel journals as travel sketchbooks.

banyan tree sketch from Hawaii
©2010 Stacy L. Rowan

There are many artists in the world who keep wonderful travel sketchbooks. I love looking at the sketches and feeling the essence of a place - especially if it is a location that I may not visit in my lifetime.

If you are interested in learning about travel sketching or in viewing other artists' travel sketchbooks, the best place to start is with Katherine Tyrrell's Travel Sketching Squidoo lens.

As always, Katherine has compiled a wealth of information on the subject and neatly organized it for our benefit. She has included information on how to sketch and sketching tools, as well as links to artists who share their travel sketches in books or online.

My only warning about this site is not to pop in for a "quick" look. There is so much good and interesting information there, you won't be able to be quick.

shark & barracuda sketches from Florida
©2012 Stacy L. Rowan

If you are more interested in viewing images then learning about the craft, here are links to some artists whose travel sketches I enjoy.

Nina Johansson - look for the "Categories" drop down menu in the right hand sidebar of her blog and select "travel" to view her travel sketches. Or click this link.

Lynn Chapman - In December of 2011, Lynn took a trip to Kerala in Southern India. Her descriptions and sketches from that trip are wonderful. Try typing "Kerala" in the search bar at the top left hand side of her blog or click here.

Laura Murphy Frankstone is a prolific traveler and sketcher. You can see a collection of her travel sketches here.

Liz Steel is another prolific sketcher who is also well traveled. To see sketches from some of the places she and her friend Borromini have been, click the location tabs at the top of her blog.

I would love to hear from you if you have a favorite artist who shares sketches from their travels - leave a comment below. Viewing travel journals is a wonderful way to see the world without ever leaving your couch!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Eighth Drawing in my Series of Tap Dancers

Popping in here during my hiatus to post some in process shots of the tap dance drawing I just completed. This is the eighth drawing in the series and the ninth piece overall. (There is also one watercolor in the series.)

In process scan 1
tap dance drawing
©2011 Stacy L. Rowan

The image above is the first scan in my series of in process shots. You can see I put in quite a bit of work before thinking to stop and record my progress.

In process scan 2
tap dance drawing
©2011 Stacy L. Rowan

I started my work by focusing on the pant legs because I wanted to establish that large area of dark values so I would have both lights (the white of the paper) and darks to compare against when establishing my mid-values.

In process scan 3
tap dance drawing
©2011 Stacy L. Rowan

Above I did more work on the pants, but also started the background. The background was the least interesting section of the drawing to work on. However, at times it was a welcome break from the challenge of the other sections.

In process scan 4
tap dance drawing
©2012 Stacy L. Rowan

In the image below you can see that I finally working on my favorite parts - the floor reflections and the shoes. Fun!

In process scan 5
tap dance drawing
©2012 Stacy L. Rowan

If you want to be one of the first to see the final drawing, go here and sign up for my newsletter. In the July edition you will find a short article about this drawing, including a scan of the finished work. This month I am also sharing photos of my studio space and a few sketches. The newsletter is scheduled to email on Tuesday, July 10th so don't wait!

Now I'm off to continue my hiatus with more fun in the sun. Hope you are having a great July!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Summer Hiatus

carrot sketch
approx 7" x 12" gouache on colored paper
©2012 Stacy L. Rowan

Hot humid days are upon us, school is winding down and the farmers' market is in full swing. That means it must be nearly summer.

Every year I look forward to summer. The pace of our days is slower. We have more time together as a family. Days often start with breakfast on the screen porch. It feels like a special time.

As has been my tradition for the last few years, I am planning on taking a hiatus from my blog over the summer months. This will be my last regular post until the beginning of September.

The good news this year is that I will still be sending out my monthly email newsletter over the summer months. If you want to stay in touch all you need to do is subscribe. You can do that here. If you hurry, you can sign up in time to receive the June edition which is scheduled to be emailed next week.

Besides squeezing in some time to relax on the porch and have fun with the kids, I hope to make progress on a few art projects which I have been contemplating. So when I return to my regular posting schedule in September I should have a lot of new things to share.

In addition to publishing my newsletter, during this recess I will probably also be popping into Facebook with short updates, so you might want to "Like" my art page there if you haven't already.

I hope your summer is filled with all the best that summer can bring. I look forward to coming back together here in the fall and reminiscing about catching fireflies, eating ice cream and jumping waves. In the meantime, I'll see you in your inbox!

About the sketch: I am ridiculously pleased with this sketch of carrots. It is one of those instances where the process just flowed and the outcome matched the image that I started with in my head. I love when that happens! I am hoping that my summer schedule also provides me more time to play with these gouache paints and all my other sketching materials.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Importance of Play

iris sketch
approx. 9" x 5"
gouache on colored paper
©2012 Stacy L. Rowan

In last week's post I talked about how I would like to work toward a more painterly style and give up a little bit of control over the paint in order to leave room for some of the watercolor magic to happen.

This week I decided to really throw caution to the wind and give myself permission to just play.

I think as an artist it is very important to allow time for play. Playing with your art materials without expectation can really get the creative juices flowing. And I believe it can help keep the dreaded artist slump away.

So for my sketching play time this week I set aside my comfortable favorites and gathered together new paints and new paper. Talk about walking the tightrope without a net!

Last week, for some reason, I found myself thinking about painting on colored paper. It is not something that I have considered before, but I saw some Canson Mi-Teintes paper that I have used with charcoal, and I was curious how it would take watercolors.

Later in the week I received an unexpected gift of a small set of gouache paints.

(An interesting aside... When I first started using watercolors I turned my nose up at gouache because I couldn't imagine liking an opaque paint. But the work of this artist changed my mind. He creates stunning watercolor paintings and charcoal drawings too.)

When I saw the gift, I immediately thought that I couldn't wait to try sketching with these paints. And since gouache is opaque it seemed a good choice for the colored paper.

Feeling brave, I decided to take the leap. I gathered up the Mi-Teintes paper, the set of paints and my trusty water brush and went outside with the goal of sketching an iris or two. I love the shapes of the iris petals with their wavy edges and graceful curves.

My plan was to work from life and try out a few different approaches with my new paints. But the session didn't quite go according to plan.

Before I had even made the first brush stroke I heard the rumble of thunder. Let me tell you, if you want to practice sketching fast and loosening up, let your time limit for sketching be set by an approaching storm!

I made the quick decision to capture the form with white paint and then add color when I was safely inside. A few passes with the water brush and I had this...

iris sketch in process
approx. 9" x 5"
white gouache on colored paper
©2012 Stacy L. Rowan

I decided that was good enough and hustled inside to deposit my materials on the kitchen table. I then grabbed my little camera and raced outside to snap a quick photo to use as a color reference.

Back inside once again, and away from the threat of being struck by lightening, I finished the sketch. You can see the results at the very top of this post.

I have to say that this time spent playing was an exhilarating experience. I'm just not sure if the excitement was from the lack of expectations, the new materials or the approaching thunderstorm!

I'd love to hear your best sketching stories. Please feel free to share them in the comments below.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Evolution of Painting Style

another azalea sketch
approx 4" x 6"
ink and watercolor on paper
©2012 Stacy L. Rowan

I am having a bit of a style crisis. I think it is a natural part of artistic growth.

In the beginning most artists just want the skills to be able to draw something recognizable. If a new artist draws or paints an apple and people say "Wow! That is a great apple!" they are thrilled. Mainly because the people who commented didn't think it was a plum or a pepper.

However, as their skills improve they start wanting more.

For me, I am finding that I want to paint in a more "painterly" fashion - still realistic, but a little looser.

However, when I sit down with a brush, what comes out is very controlled. The part of my brain that controls the brush just can't help it.

Alright, if I am totally honest, this style crisis effects more than just my painting style. I hold the misguided belief that if I am in control of everything nothing bad will ever happen, life will be made up of rainbows and butterflies and the whole world will be happy.

At least I recognize that it is a misguided belief.

And I am working on being comfortable with relinquishing control - in my paintings and in life.

Typically in my watercolor paintings I have worked a lot on dry paper. When I apply the paint on dry paper it is easier to control where the paint goes.

I also mix my colors on the palette so I make sure I get the exact color and value I want before brushing it on the paper.

While this method of controlled application is very effective for painting realistic and detailed works, there is a trade off. Pre-mixing colors on palette and applying them to the dry paper means I lose some of the magic of watercolor.

One of the things I love most about watercolor is the way the paints mix on wet paper. Beautiful things can happen when an artist "lets the paints do the work for her".

But letting the paints do the work requires that I give up some of the control and take on a certain amount of courage.

Since courage can be harder to come by on large studio pieces, I decided to start with baby steps, also known as sketches.

After completing the azalea sketch last week, I knew I wanted to try it again only this time working more "wet on wet." Working "wet on wet" mean working on wet paper so the pigment can move and spread on its own.

Using last week's sketch as a reference, I started by creating an ink sketch of the outlines of the flowers and leaves.

Once that was complete, I applied yellow to all of the leaves. While it was still wet, I brushed in greens and blues and let the paint do its thing.

Once I was happy with the leaves I moved on to the flowers. Again I started with a light yellow wash and worked in with different yellows, yellow-oranges and oranges while the paper was still wet.

Although the outcome of the sketch might not look all that different, I was happy with the process of how I applied the paint. And I love the places where you can really tell that the watercolor pigments mixed and blended on their own.

Best of all, I gave up a little of my control and nothing horrible happened. In fact, it was fun to try a new technique.

Having fun builds courage, so I will definitely be trying more wet-on-wet experiments. I'm looking forward to seeing how these exercises influence my style.

One of the things I love about art is that there are always new things to try and always room for growth. Life in the studio is never boring!!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Spring Reward

sketch of yellow azalea flowers
Schminke pan watercolors on Fabriano CP paper
©2012 Stacy L. Rowan

When we hired someone to plant landscaping across the front of our house, one of my requests was for flowering bushes, especially ones with yellow flowers. Yellow flowers are my favorite, perhaps because they remind me of the sun and are a spot of brightness even on a cloudy day.

Our landscaper included four azalea bushes in his plan. Along the edge of the front porch are three that get bright, pink flowers and in the corner by the garage is one that gets yellow flowers.

I remember him telling us that the plant in the corner would "reward us with magnificent yellow blooms in the spring." He made no claims about the pink bushes.

To this day, fourteen springs later, when we see the buds form on the yellow azalea, we talk about how we are soon going to be "rewarded".

Sure the talk is mostly in jest, one of those family jokes that gets carried on year-to-year like a tradition, but in truth, I always look forward to seeing the yellow azalea bloom. For the pink azaleas there is no sense of anticipation. More often I am surprised when I notice they are covered in flowers, because I didn't notice the buds at all.

For the few days that the yellow flowers are at their peak, I take time to stop and appreciate them. And this isn't just because I love yellow flowers. It is also because our family "joke" has programmed me to think of the flowers as a reward. A reward that appears for a short time every spring and then disappears again until the next year.

I have no such programming with the other azaleas. Or with most of the other flowering plants that are in our yard.

The difference in my reaction is the mindset that the landscaper provided back on the day he shared his plans. This bush was special. It would reward me every year. Easy as that.

It kind of makes me wonder about how easy it would be to have a life full of rewards.

Or how simple it would be to change something we anticipate with dread into something less unpleasant.

Food for thought as I enjoy my annual gift of magnificent yellow flowers.

Is there anything in your life that could benefit from a mindset shift?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Changing the Mood of a Painting

Promise of Spring
approx. 4" x 3" watercolor on paper
©2012 Stacy L. Rowan

Last week I did a sketch of snowdrops for my newsletter. I love snowdrops because they are the first flower of the new growing season to bloom.

As soon as I notice the winter sun feeling a little warmer, I go out into my yard and see if any snowdrops are peeking up out of the ground.

To me these flowers represent hope. Hope that winter is coming to an end and that the warmer, brighter days of spring are on their way.

Not being a big fan of the cold, gray weather, come the end of February I am normally desperate for some sign that winter is going to retreat and allow the sun to return.

This year we had an uncharacteristically sunny and dry winter. When the snowdrops bloomed we already were enjoying the clear blue skies that I am normally pining for.

As I painted my sketch for the newsletter I was thinking of the type of weather we had this year when I found the first flowers, and I painted the snowdrops on a backdrop of cheerful blue. You can see that sketch (and this months newsletter) here.

As I thought about my painting and how it was representative of this year's winter experience, I had the urge to create something that would be a better representation of the typical winter.

On a typical March day the snowdrops are a bright spot of hope on a landscape of gray. Their white flowers stand out against the bleakness and whisper the promise that soon color will flood the world.

With these feelings held firmly in heart and mind I created a new version of the snowdrops . This time I chose complimentary colors, applied them wet to the background and allowed them to mix to grayish-blue hue which better represents the cloud cover of our winter months.

By changing the colors, I changed the mood and created an image that reflects my feelings of finding these little white blooms after a long, cold winter.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

And the Winners Are...

Thank you to everyone who let me borrow their brain cells and suggested titles for my "Name These Paintings" contest.

I can't tell you how much fun it is to read all the entries as they come in! You are all a creative bunch!

So without further ado... here are the winners...

The winning title for painting #1 is

"Pearfection" submitted by Len Murtha. Thank you Len!

The winning title for painting #2 is

"Waiting for the Party" submitted by Kathleen Probst. Thank you Kathleen!

Len and Kathleen, please email me your mailing address and let me know if you would like a pack of note cards or a small sketch as a thank you for your winning title.

Thank you again to everyone who helped me out by entering your suggestions! A great title can make the difference in whether a painting sells or sits in inventory. And in the end I had so many good suggestions it was tough to choose.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Need to Borrow Some Brain Cells

Sometimes titles for my paintings come easily either while I am working on a piece or shortly after I finish it.

Other times the portion of my brain that is responsible for titles locks up tighter than a bank vault.

I seem to be going through one of those bank vault times.

So I've decided to turn to the creativity of the masses. Many brains are better than one, right?!

I have a couple of pieces that are languishing in no-name land. I've tried to give them titles that would at least move them up to lame-name land, but they turn their backs and refuse to answer when I call.

This is where you come in! You can save my paintings from the agony of going through life with a lame title!

The paintings below both need cool titles. If you would like to help out them (and me), just shout out your title suggestions in the comments or in an email. Be sure to include the painting number so the title gets assigned to the proper piece. It would be a shame if Frank went through life known as Sue. ;)

As a token of my thanks for your help, whoever comes up with the winning title will receive your choice of either a pack of 8 note cards or a small sketch*. The winner will be announced here on my blog in next Thursday's post.

Now it's time to put on those thinking caps and let the fun begin!!

No-name painting #1

watercolor pears
©2011 Stacy L. Rowan

No-name painting #2

watercolor cupcakes
©2011 Stacy L. Rowan

The small print...
* The titling contest will run until Wednesday, April 25th at 5pm EST. If the winner chooses the sketch as their prize, the size and subject matter will be determined by me.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Easter Visitors

This year we had a couple of special visitors arrive for Easter. We picked them up on Saturday and they will be staying with us for two weeks. My kids could not be more excited.

sleeping chicks sketch 01
graphite in Moleskine cahier sketchbook
approx. 3" x 4"

Our "guests" are actually two chicks which we "rented" from a local farm. The farm provides bedding, food and a box along with the two chicks and instructions for their care.

Our chicks have been named Ginger and Momo - short for Mozart, because she started singing as soon as she was put into my daughter's hands. They are very cute chickies, all fluffy and round.

Not only are the chicks cute, but they provide me with a unique sketching opportunity, of which I plan to take full advantage. You can see my first three sketches in this post.

sleeping chicks sketch 02
graphite in Moleskine cahier sketchbook
approx. 3" x 4"

I started with some sketches of the chicks sleeping in order to familiarize myself with their forms. When asleep they are relatively still so long as I don't make any noise. Ginger is a curious one and the slightest noise will have her opening her eyes and turning around to see what is happening.

With two sleeping sketches under my belt I tried one of Ginger eating - another activity which keeps her still for at least a few seconds.

sketch of chick eating
graphite in Moleskine cahier sketchbook
approx. 5" x 2"

During my next sketching session I will try for a sketch of Momo. She is a little more shy but seems to be getting braver.
On a different note, I am super happy to report that the first edition of my email newsletter was very well received. I am currently working on the May edition. If you are interested, you can sign up to receive it here. It will be arriving in inboxes around the world during the first week of May.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Sketching Eggs

sketch of eggs
approx. 8" x 7"
water soluble graphite on paper

Working some more with the water soluble graphite pencil, last night I decided to sketch some eggs. Well, actually it was one egg sketched from three different angles.

What better sketching subject than an egg on a beautiful spring night the week before Easter?

I really liked how the dry sketches looked, so in the end I only wet the one at the top. In fact, so far that is the only negative thing I have to say about this pencil. I enjoy the look of the dry sketches so much that it is difficult to decide if I want to finish them with the water brush or not.

(The lines emanating from the top egg aren't really there. The scanner picked up the shadows from the slightly wrinkled paper.)