Sunday, March 30, 2008

Art Blog Search

Another short post because I wanted to share the ArtistBlogSearch which I first saw on James Gurney's blog. It is a Google custom search which searches "the best artists' blogs while eliminating splogs and inactive blogs that clog the results on most search engines." I tried out a few searches and came up with results for a lot of blogs I already read and others that seem worth checking out. It seemed to return more pertinent results than a standard google search. I think it could be a good resource for art collectors searching for works in a specific medium or style or with a specific subject. And of course it is good for artists looking for information on art topics.

I also used it to check some search terms that I want to lead to my blog. It was an eye-opening experiment! I found I have work to do on several of my search terms.

Why don't you go have a play with it, then come back and tell me what you think. Do you see value in having a separate search engine for artist blogs? Do you think collectors will use it or only other artists? Did the search terms you want people to find you with actually lead to your blog? If so, can you give me some pointers?

About the photo: It is time for the American Cancer Society Daffodil Days again and I was happy to get my annual gift of daffodils from my husband. Of course I couldn't resist taking some pictures. I love the reflection in this one.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Line and Wash Easter Tulips

Just a quick post today. I have lots to share but I also have six art deadlines in the next three weeks! Thankfully most of the paintings are ready, but I still have one to finish up and some matting and framing to do.
Tulips ink and watercolor sketch
approx 4.5" x 7"

I managed to step away from the deadlines for a few minutes yesterday and do this line and wash sketch of my Easter tulips. Despite the fact that most of my studio work is in the form of watercolor painting, I haven't done much watercolor sketching. Probably because it is so much easier to just grab a pencil and go.

My husband told me these are Tiger Lily Tulips. They have wonderful markings on their leaves that I have never seen on a tulip before. Their petals are bright orange with black on the bottom. So, when the tulip opens up there is a black flower shape in the center. I love that!

I used my 005 black Micron for the line work in this sketch. It laid down wonderfully in my Moleskine watercolor sketchbook. I was not as happy with how my regular tube watercolor paints worked. They seemed to lay on the surface of the paper and I had a tough time getting the saturated colors I wanted. I think more experimenting is needed, which is okay with me since I really enjoyed creating this little sketch. After my deadlines, I might even be inspired to assemble my "grab and go" watercolor sketch kit and leave it by the door.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

More of the Same, Less of the Old

Now to talk about Day 2 of James Toogood's workshop...

After successfully checking the "painting from model" box on Saturday, I intended to start a painting of water on Sunday. Jim gave an excellent demo Sunday in which he explained how he paints water. He also brought in some of his beautiful, original paintings of Venice for inspiration.

So I sketched out my composition, started putting in my first washes and...couldn't get into the painting. I found that I kept thinking how I would tackle the model painting instead. Fresh from my success the day before, I was anxious to push on, challenge myself some more and keep learning.

Finally around mid-afternoon I gave in. There was less than 2 hours remaining of the workshop, but I got out a new piece of paper and did a quick sketch of the model. Since this time we were working on the whole figure and not just a portrait, I knew I wouldn't finish the whole painting. Instead, I focused on getting down the first application of skin color and then adding the underlying blues, greens and reds. If I had more time, the next step would have been to start adding darks. I am happy with what I accomplished in a short time frame. Here are the results so you can judge for yourself...

Two other interesting things about Day 2 -
Downstairs from where class was held, there was a fabulous exhibition of Cecilia Beaux paintings. Dad and I spent time visiting this exhibition on Sunday to see how a master painted portraits. What amazing works!! I am so glad I took the time to see them. Her use of darks really illustrated what Jim was trying to teach me.

Also on Sunday, one of the women attending the workshop asked me if I had an art blog. I didn't think much of her question since earlier I had been telling Jim how many hits I got on my blog from people searching his name. (He assured me he is working on getting a website together for those of you looking for examples of his great paintings.) Then this woman told me that she had read my blog post about attending this same workshop last year, and it had helped convince her to sign up! She had been concerned that since Mr. Toogood is such an advanced artist he might not be friendly and encouraging. I am so glad I could put some of her fears to rest. Isn't the Internet cool!

Anyone else who might have similar concerns, let me assure you there is no need. Jim not only is knowledgeable and accomplished but he is very nice, extremely helpful and genuinely humble. I would recommend his workshops to anyone who uses watercolors and paints in a realistic style.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Walked Into the Workshop and Out of My Comfort Zone

I firmly believe that workshops should be a time of experimentation and learning, a time to leave behind the familiar for a few days (or hours) and explore the new. If you are going to stick to your same old - same old during a workshop, you might as well save your money and stay home.

And while all of the above sounds great, it didn't stop the unwelcome guests, Fear and Uncertainty, from crashing last weekend's workshop with James Toogood when he recommended that everyone spend at least one day creating a painting of the live model we had in class.

WHAT!?! Me work from the model? But I don't really have any experience painting people. Heck, I barely have any experience drawing people!

Since I didn't want Fear and Uncertainty to follow me home and keep me awake that night, I decided to "get it over with" and paint a portrait of Dave, our Saturday model. Thankfully, Jim is an excellent instructor. He guided us through the entire process -- giving suggestions if drawings needed correction; telling us his formula (paint mix) for the initial wash of skin color, which would become out lightest lights; pointing out where he saw color in the model's skin and, perhaps more importantly, what colors he saw; and teaching us about adding rich darks. From start to finish he made Fear and Uncertainty sit down, be quiet and behave.

Below is my version of Dave's portrait. I am pleased with the outcome of my first ever watercolor portrait. I achieved a good likeness and was bold, for me, with my color application. (The models eyes really were drooping much of the time - modeling can be tiring and boring work - plus I was too far away to see his eyeballs.)

watercolor on paper
approx. 15" x 20"

Dad also painted Dave, but I didn't have my camera with me so I don't have an image of his painting.

More next time about Day 2 of the workshop.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

I'm back

The James Toogood workshop was great! As an instructor, Jim does fabulous demonstrations, shares a wealth of information and offers encouragement to all of his students. I took at least 6 pages of notes trying to capture his knowledge so I can refer to it later. I also took a big step out of my comfort zone this weekend...okay, more truthfully I was nudged out. I'll tell you more about that later. I promise to share at least one image too. But right now I have to get to bed. Real life starts back in full swing tomorrow, and I have to be ready to play catch-up from being gone for a weekend.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Too Good to Miss

Last year Dad and I attended Jim Toogood's two day watercolor workshop at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. It was a great two days and I learned a lot. So when the opportunity presented itself for me to attend with my Dad again this year, I jumped at the chance. This weekend Dad and I will be in Philadelphia learning from Jim's demos and harassing each other during painting time. Since we are also celebrating Dad's birthday (a little early), I might even spring for lunch one day.

When I get back home and to my computer, I'll come give you my review of the workshop. But right now I have to rush off and do a line drawing so I have something to paint tomorrow.

The sketch on the left was completed the same day as my bar lights sketch. I did this one sitting in the car in the Steel Ice Center parking lot which is on the old Bethlehem Steel property. The street light is new, but fits right in with the character of the old buildings. That's why I like it.
This is my favorite of the two sketches from that day because I like the highlights caused by the late afternoon sun. Unfortunately, I didn't notice that the bottom ellipse got away from me during the shading process until I saw the scan on the computer screen. Since sketching for me is all about practice (versus finished works), I left the wonky ellipse. It will remind me to recheck my shapes several times during the sketching process.

graphite sketch of street light in large moleskine

Saturday, March 1, 2008


Bethlehem Brew Works bar lights
graphite sketch in large Moleskine

I went out to lunch with my hubby today while the kids were at a birthday party. I took the sketch book along and did this sketch in one of our favorite places to eat. These lights hang over the bar in the Bethlehem Brew Works. I liked the metal cages around the glass globes and the way the first light in the line is a sphere but the others are more elongated. I intentionally gave the third light an unfinished feel. It's a quick sketch since we were already done eating and I didn't want to hog a table.