Monday, May 28, 2007

Happy Memorial Day

I second my sister's sentiments.

Thank you for everyone who fights to keep us safe and free. I will always appreciate your sacrifices and the sacrifices of your families.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

We're Back on Track (I think)

Well, the new computer is up and running...sort of. Not everything is compatible. But don't worry, only the unimportant stuff like SCANNERS and PRINTERS!!! Who would ever think to release an operating system that isn't compatible with scanners. Geniuses that's who.

But I won't bore you with any further tirades. I'll save them for my poor husband who is stuck playing IT guy. He kindly set up a "scanning station" for me so I could add images to my blog without resorting to using the digital camera. He's a nice guy and only laughs at my anguish when I don't look like I am going to throw something at him.

So to celebrate this milestone I actually have an image to share. I did this little drawing the other night. I felt the pull to do some graphite work after a string of watercolors. I decided to get my feet wet by drawing a fortune cookie that was sitting on the counter. I don't really enjoy eating them, so I might as well draw it instead, right?! Anita Davies's work inspired me to add the lettering. Her lettering adds such a nice touch to her sketches.

So here's my fortune cookie. I hope it's fortune predicts a friendly existence between me and my new computer. Only time will tell.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Say a Little Prayer

Hubby is working on setting up the new computer. Please say a prayer that it goes well and quickly. I miss my scanner and my photo editing software and real email and... well you get the picture.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed and will let you know how it goes.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

You Can Never Have Too Many Books

...especially art books.

I know I have been remiss in posting lately. I wish I had a good excuse, but truthfully I just haven't felt like dealing with the lame imaging software on the laptop. I'm also wishing for my scanner back. Hopefully all of this will be rectified soon.

In the meantime I thought I would tell you about some of my favorite art books. These are just my current favorites. I have a whole shelf full of books and I find I fall back in love with different books at different times.

My latest favorites, in no particular order, are...
Incredible Light & Texture in Watercolor by James Toogood. My faithful blog readers may remember that I took a workshop with Mr. Toogood back in January. I really enjoyed the workshop and learned a lot from it and the book. One of the best parts about the book is the section in the front that deals with "Color, Paint and Pigment". This section gives details about specific pigments. It was very eye opening for me and appealed to my engineering side. But even artists without an engineering side would benefit.

Dramatic Light by Patrick Howe. I love this book because I love paintings with dramatic light and strong contrasts. When I look at other artists works, I am attracted to paintings that have a lot of darks, a lot of lights and just a few mid-tones. This is also the first book that I've seen that talks about the wetness of paper, describes how to recognize the different degrees of wetness and shows an example of paint applied at each of the different degrees. Controlling and understanding the amount of water in your paper, your paint mix and your brush is critical for painting successful watercolors. And it's tricky too! This demonstration helps speed artists along the path of understanding.

Drawing from Line to Life by Mike Sibley. Mike Sibley is one of those great artists who is not afraid to share what he knows with other artists and this book is 287 pages of sharing! Now I have to admit that I haven't read this book yet. I've looked at it, skimmed it and drooled over the pretty pictures, but read every word - no, not yet. However, I did take an online course with Mr. Sibley on Wet Canvas. I read every word of that class and it was fantastic! This book is an extremely thorough discussion of graphite techniques with an abundance of images.

So these currently are my three favorite art books and the reasons I love them. Maybe I'll lose myself in them over the next few days while I wait to be fully functional.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


This is a graphite drawing of my Grandfather, Ernest.

graphite 9" x 12"
in private collection
copyright 2006 Stacy L. Rowan

He passed away eight years ago. It is hard to believe it has been that long. He was a bit of a grumpy fellow, but those who loved him knew it was mostly an act. He would give you the shirt off his back or the fresh bread he had just finished baking. His homemade applesauce was delicious. So were his pies.

I did this portrait as part of a drawing class on Wet Canvas. While I was working on it I felt like I was spending time with my grandfather again. That was really nice. Except for when I left him propped up on my drawing table and he stared at my husband and I when we slept. That was strange. Once I had the eyes done my husband requested that I leave the drawing laying flat on the table overnight. I'm a nice person so I complied with his request.

Last December I entered this drawing in the member show for my local art club. It won first place in the category for drawings (pencil, charcoal, colored pencil and pen & ink). I think Grandpop would be proud.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

By Request

I have had several requests in the last few days. A couple of people wanted to see close-ups of my latest painting, I was asked about how I acheived the color for the statue and I was "tagged" by my Wet Canvas friend Robyn who blogs at Have Dogs, Will Travel.

First the close-ups and color combinations...I am providing two detail shots, one of the statue's face and one of the lower part of the painting that shows the flowers. The color still looks awful to me because I am still working on my laptop, but I hope it gives some more information than the original picture did. To get the statue color I used various mixes of Terre Verte, Sepia, Raw Sienna and Raw Umber. Some spots were underpainted with cerulean blue (for instance, the bottom right hand side of the skirt) and some of the darkest shadow areas have a top layer of ultramarine blue.

Detail of "Birdbath Statue'
copyright 2007 Stacy L. Rowan

Detail of 'Birdbath Statue'
copyright 2007 Stacy L. Rowan

Now to fulfill my other request. Robyn, who lives in and creates her art in Tuscany (she has been posting some beautiful botanical paintings and drawings from her garden lately) tagged me to spill 7 things about myself that people don't know. I did a version of this a few months ago when my sister tagged me. That time I only had to share six things. Also, according to my sister, I cheated because one of the things was actually about my husband. So, since I don't want Robyn to rescind her offer to let me come visit her someday, I am going to play again. I've added two new items at the top of the list and recapped the five from before.

  1. I may be an artist now, but I got my degree in a completely different field - chemical engineering. I worked as an engineer for 8 years before my kids were born.

  2. From the time I entered college I said I would never marry another engineer. (After all, engineers are a bit nerdy!) I also said I wouldn't marry someone who didn't like to dance because I love to dance. Guess what kind of guy I got it, a chemical engineer who didn't like to dance!! Luckily he learned to like dancing, or at least like it enough that he will dance with me. We are still working on the engineer bit, but I don't think I'll ever break him of being a little bit nerdy. For the record, I also said I would never have an amniocentesis during pregnancy and I ended up needing to have one. So now I try never to say never.

  3. I am a chocolate purist.

  4. I hate being told that I am unable to do something.

  5. I don't like the number 4.

  6. I want to save an old stone house.

  7. I have weird toes.

Now I am supposed to tag more people, but all of the people I was thinking of tagging are already taken. I was going to choose Robin N, Mary, Billie, Judy, Dave and Jeanette, so feel free to go read their blogs.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

As Promised

I've been having a bit of a rough week. One of those 'everything that can go wrong' types. But I believe in honoring my commitments, so I wanted to make sure to post my latest watercolor. Unfortunately, the coloring may be way off in this image as compared to the original since I have no real photo editing software to speak of on my laptop.

watercolor 5" x 13"
copyright 2007 Stacy L. Rowan

This is a statue that can be found on the property of Green Hill Farms in Bucks County, PA. The farm was once the home of Pearl S. Buck and now is used to teach people about her work. I took my family members to the farm to tour the Buck house as part of Girls' Weekend. Every GW hostess gives a souvenir to the people who attend her weekend. For my souvenir, I gave each attendee a book by Pearl S. Buck or James Michener (we also visited the James A. Michener museum in Bucks County) and a bookmark. The bookmark was a laminated copy of this painting. (Of course, I reduced the painting when I copied it so it would actually fit inside the book.)

I painted this using my own photo reference which I took in the late afternoon of a beautiful fall day. Unfortunately, I didn't see any sign indicating who made this sculpture so I can't give them credit. If I find out who the sculptor is I will definitely let you know.

The most challenging part of the painting was the group of flowers at the base of the sculpture. Since the stems where the lightest part, I had to employ a technique called negative painting to render this area. Negative painting is painting the areas around an object. In this case, I envisioned where I wanted the stems and leaves to be and then painted the dark background around them. Luckily I had some practice using this technique in graphite when I took a class on Wet Canvas. The class was taught by Mike Sibley who is a pro at negative drawing and all things graphite.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Working Again

Thanks to my dear hubby I now have access to my backup files through our laptop. We did lose some updates when our computer went bust (it seems the last scheduled automatic backup didn't happen), but most of our files are safely on the external hard drive where they should be. And now we copied the contents of that hard drive over to our laptop so the files are easily accessed. What a relief!

So here is the painting I was planning to share before all of this nonsense happened.

original watercolor 16" x 12"
copyright 2005 Stacy L. Rowan
It is a watercolor painting titled "Uncle John's Peppers". My uncle grows a huge garden every year. Just last week he and my aunt planted 125 tomato plants for this year's harvest!! My uncle is very generous with the vegetables that he grows and people are always stopping by to take home whatever is ripe. One year when we were visiting he gave me "a few" red peppers to take home. His definition of a few was around eight!

Now if you know me, you know that I am a thrifty person. So I just couldn't stand the thought of these peppers going to waste. What was I to do?!? Invite family over for a dinner of homemade stuffed peppers? Have my husband take the "extra" peppers to work to give to his colleagues? Get real people! I'm an artist! So of course I used them in a still life set up and took lots and lots of reference photos. Then we ate them! (The peppers, not the pictures.)

I think that was a pretty good plan of attack. After all, this painting won me first place in the watercolor category of my local art club's member show. Thanks Uncle John!!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

I Survived!!

Well, Girls' Weekend is officially over for another year and I am happy to say I survived!! In all honesty being the hostess wasn't as bad as I had built it up to be in my head. But I'm still glad that I won't have to do it again for another decade or so.

The ladies claimed to enjoy themselves and were very appreciative of the bookmarks that I had made them as part of their souvenir. They even ooooohed and ahhhhhed over the invitation. So I guess my hard work paid off.

Now on to the next, which is trying to get back my ability to post images. My tech guy (also known as dear hubby) said he will try to get me back up and running, or at least walking, this week. So stay tuned!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

I Was Hoping...

Today I was planning (and hoping) to share some of my artwork from last year that I haven't posted here yet. I thought this could get me through Girls' Weekend without entirely deserting you. Unfortunately, last night when my husband was using the computer it died. Yep, died. Really dead. He had to reboot because he couldn't connect to the Internet and the computer just wouldn't turn back on. Without warning we went from fully functional to blue screen of death. Can you hear me sighing in disgust???

Hubby did his best to fix the problem and even consulted with a very technically knowledgeable friend. The friend's official word - it's dead.

Now hopefully our automatic backup worked last Sat night and all our files are safely resting on our external hard drive. However, we can't take the time now to sort out how to get said hard drive attached to the functioning laptop since Girls' Weekend kicks off in T minus 44 hours and counting.

So the only thing I have to share with you today is frustration. Sorry 'bout that! I hope to be back up and running by this time next week. And if I am I promise to share my newest completed watercolor with you.

In the meantime, we are thinking about replacing dead PC with a new Mac. If you have any words of advice on the subjects of Macs (pros or cons) I'd love to hear them.