Sunday, February 25, 2007

Bethlehem Waterworks

Bethlehem Waterworks
watercolor on paper
10.5" x 14"
copyright 2007 Stacy L. Rowan
I love the sun. I mean I really love the sun. When it's sunny, I feel energetic and happy. When it's gray and cloudy, I feel gloomy and tired and I want to hibernate.

The day I started this painting it was very sunny - not partly sunny or mostly sunny, but completely and wonderfully sunny. So even though it was one of the coldest days of winter, I ignored my treadmill and decided to walk outside instead. Of course, before heading out I had to bundle up, because even though I am a fan of the sun, I'm not crazy about the cold. Once I had on enough layers to be twice my normal size I was ready to go. It was great! There is nothing like a walk outside on a sunny winter day after being cooped up for weeks.

The sun is also what attracted me to this shot of the Waterworks in Bethlehem's Colonial Industrial Quarter. I love the contrast between the sunny side and the shadow side of the Waterworks building. I also really like the highlights on the white branches of the sycamore tree and the sunny yellow edges on the pine branches. All of this brightness is perfectly set off against the shadowed side of the concrete overpass and the dark undergrowth on the hill.

I've been thinking about painting some of the historic Moravian buildings for awhile, but this is the first reference that really spoke to me. I have the sun to thank for that.

If you are interested, you can find out more information on the Colonial Industrial Quarter here.

Friday, February 23, 2007

What Art Isn't

I find that some people have strange ideas about art. Let me tell you a few things art isn't. Art isn't always pretty, it isn't always easy and creating it doesn't require some kind of magic that you must be born with or suffer without. Artists don't just pick up a pencil or brush and start creating masterpieces. Sure, most artists have at least a modicum of talent, and some have more than others, but every artist I know also puts a lot of time, determination and dedication into their art. Artists need to practice the same way musicians need to practice scales and second graders need to study their addition facts.

With this in mind I spent last night practicing for my pen & ink class. I suppose I could say I was doing my homework, but the word homework often has such negative connotations and this was more fun than torture. I was practicing hatching - drawing vertical lines. These lines are needed for drawing grass and are also the building block for cross-hatching which is used for shading. I bet you are wondering why I needed to practice drawing lines. Well, give it a try. It's not as easy as you might think. It takes practice to start all the lines at the same height, end all the lines at the same place, make them all the same length and create adjacent rows which are very close but don't overlap. You can see the results of my practice below. Not bad I think.

Sorry for the bad image. I need to relearn the tricks for scanning ink work.

So while I'm talking about class, I might as well catch you up. The first pen & ink class was Wednesday night. Turns out it is a small class, only 5 students, which is great! The small class size allows us all to work at the same table. Working at the same table, we can see the various steps of a drawing and how the individual marks are made. Watching how the marks are made was very helpful to me and much easier to understand than reading or listening to a description of how they are made.

The first thing we learned was a broken scribble technique. We use this technique to draw a bush. My husband thinks my bush resembles the little oval guy in Zoloft commercials. Despite his urging I resisted giving my drawing a face. It was tempting, but no. You can see my faceless bush below.

I'm really looking forward to my next class. The teacher, artist Dave Sullivan, had some amazing and inspiring drawings. I'm can't wait to try some bigger drawings myself!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I'm Alive

Just in case I have any blog readers left who might be worried that I died or dropped of the face of the earth, I wanted to assure you that I am indeed alive and well. However, between snow days, birthdays and holidays I have not been getting much art done. I have been having a lot of fun though! Not that that helps you much.

I hope to have some art to post later in the week. I was going to say tomorrow, but that seems so close now, so I'll settle on later. Later sounds good.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Please Pass the Pepper

Yellow Pepper
colored pencil on Stonehenge paper
approx 5" x 6"
copyright Stacy L Rowan 2007
This is a colored pencil piece that I just finished. Well, I'm not actually sure it is finished. I did this drawing as a fun, practice piece since I haven't worked a whole lot in colored pencil. The reference was posted as a monthly challenge in the Wet Canvas colored pencil forum. I was attracted to the reference and thought it would provide good practice for color layering.
Since I didn't intend for this to be a finished piece, I'm not sure I will take the time to add in a background. On the other hand, I do quite like the way it turned out, so I might. Decisions, decisions...

This is my second pepper piece. I did a watecolor painting a while ago of a bowl of red peppers from my uncle's garden. My mom has questioned whether I have some strange addicition to peppers. I wouldn't call it an addiction, I just find peppers interesting to draw and paint. I like their interesting shape and shiny surface. Plus they come in so many different colors.

I also find that pears are an interesting subject. I have two drawings of pears. And flowers, I've painted lots of flowers. Old stone buildings appeal to me too. Isn't it interesting that most people have a few subjects that they come back to time and time again. I'd like to know what subjects show up frequently in other people's work. If you're interested in sharing, post a comment. In the meantime I'll be off working on my watercolor of an old stone building.

Monday, February 5, 2007


I don’t like winter. I want to like winter, but I don’t. It’s not the cold and snow so much. (Although today’s high temperature of 16F is nothing to be happy about.) It’s the gray. Where I live winter is gray. The sun likes to hide for days on end and the clouds rule. The sky is gray, the landscape is gray, everything is gray.

Now some people may be inspired by gray, but I am not. I like color. My favorite season is Spring. Not only because Winter is at least 6 or 7 months away, but also because I enjoy the cheery yellows, pretty pinks and wonderful purples of spring flowers and the million different varieties of green. More greens than I could ever mix on my painting palette. I love to stare at the plants and trees and soak up all of the different greens. Yup, I spend most of Winter looking forward to Spring.

So today I will leave you with a touch of Spring to keep you going until we get the real thing. First is an ACEO of a pink dogwood blossom that I painted last April for my sister's birthday.

And second is a picture I took last Spring of some daffodils in my landscaping.

Now that I've taken care of the grayness, can someone else please take care of these frigid temperatures and relentless wind? Please?!?

Sunday, February 4, 2007

I was Tagged

So I must apologize since this isn't an art related post. My sweet older sister tagged me to blog on the topic of six idiosyncrasies I possess. As if I have anything strange to talk about? (I can hear you laughing, you know.)

After much thought and contribution from my loving husband (why was he so willing to help I wonder?), this is what I came up with.

  1. I am a chocolate purist. Now it's not my love of chocolate that is strange Most women I know love chocolate. It's the fact that I don't like my chocolate contaminated with any other flavors. Don't even think of putting caramel on my chocolate brownie or pretty raspberry swirls around my chocolate cake. Just give me chocolate - straight up!

  2. In our house foods have strange names. Mostly this is my husband's fault, but I went along with it so I guess I am partly to blame. You see he decided early on that our kids would be more likely to eat something if he marketed it well. So tortillas are called fun bread, cavatelli and broccoli - Roley Poly pasta, fresh spinach - leaves from the yard. I guess it worked because our kids eat really well. However, now that they are older, when we introduce a new food they almost always ask, "Is that what it is really called?"

  3. I hate to be told I am unable to do something, especially if the reason you think I am unable to do it is because I'm a girl! And once someone tells me I am unable to do something, I am going to try really hard to prove them wrong (unless it's something I don't care to try to do). I think this comes in part from having no brothers. My sister and I were raised to do the girls' chores and the boys' chores. Lucky us, huh? It also comes from majoring in a predominately male field in college, a field where women weren't especially welcome.

  4. I don't like the number 4. When I was growing up, my neighbor, who was one of my best friends, told me that the word for 4 in Chinese is the same as the word for death in Japanese (or vice versa, I can't really remember). Ever since then I haven't liked the number four and I take steps to avoid fours. For instance I never give my husband four kisses. I either stop at three or give him an extra to make it five. Strange I know, but this isn't supposed to be a post about how normal I am.

  5. At some point in my life I want to save an old stone house. There are many of these houses in our area. They were built mostly in the 1800s and they are beautiful. Well most of them are beautiful, some have seen better days. Unfortunately, sometimes these beauties are torn down to build new houses or shopping centers. I saw them tear one down and then crush the stones into gravel!! It broke my heart. Some call tearing down these old places progress. I call it insanity! So someday I want to save at least one and bring it back to it's former glory. I'm not sure yet how I am going to do this since it would probably cost a fortune, especially since neither my husband nor I are what I'd consider handy, but I'll find a way.

  6. And my last weird thing is...wait for toes! Yes, I said my toes. As my husband kindly put it, it is more like I have four hands. I can pick things up with my toes. You'd be surprised how much that comes in handy. I can also spread my toes abnormally wide. This freaks certain people out. (Yes Mark and Liz I am referring to YOU!) And when my feet are relaxed there is space between each of my toes, they don't touch at all. Just to prove my talent to you, below is a drawing I did of my foot. It shows me holding a pencil with my toes. Before you think I am really strange I will let you know I drew it for a class assignment.

Anyway, there are my six strange things. I hope my weirdness doesn't chase anyone away and stop you from reading my blog. After all, it's normal to be weird, isn't it?

Now for the fun part, I tag bluelilac and silvergirl. Have fun ladies!!