Thursday, October 30, 2008

Lost and Found

Fall watercolor fun

When I was a young(er) adult I never lost stuff. I wasn't organized, but I could always find exactly what I was looking for when I needed it. Always. I got annoyed when other people lost things because I didn't understand how that happened.

Somewhere over the last 5 or 10 years I have lost the ability to find what I need when I need it. I don't know if it is an age thing or a parent thing or what, but I lose things.

Tonight is the perfect example. I had written down notes for a job I am doing. I remembered writing them. I could practically see them in my mind's eye. But I had no flippin' clue where they were! Can I tell you how annoyed I was at myself - the girl who never used to lose anything.

And it's not like I haven't realized that I lost this ability and taken measures to improve my odds. Instead of making notes on tiny scraps of paper, I have started writing things down in spiral bound notebooks. That way there are no little scraps of paper to get accidentally thrown away or lost between the couch cushions.

Of course, if one notebook is good, five must be better, right? Because then I can have a different notebook for each different topic - art, art clubs, freelance work, general life stuff... - you get the picture. It was a great idea until I started grabbing whichever notebook was handy. Now each notebook contains a little bit of everything.

But it's okay. I have a new plan. I am now ripping things out of notebooks and putting them into binders so like can be stored with like. Hmmm...does this defeat the purpose of having notebooks in the first place? Naaaah....ya think?

Anyway, after searching all the obvious places and all the places I would never think to look, I did find my lost a notebook. But at least they were in the proper notebook if that makes it any better.

And the bonus is I also found my original notes on the painting I posted last time. I knew I had a different title, but of course when I was posting I couldn't remember it and I couldn't find my notes. So my original title for "Warmth for the Lonely Traveler" was "Winter Solitude". Which do you like better? Feel free to leave your votes in the comments.

The image I posted today was of some fun I had in my watercolor sketchbook. It was just some playing with fall colors I did before going on my wild hunt for lost notes. I was going to write a post about the changing of the seasons and the slight panic I feel as fall turns to winter, but...well...I got a bit off track. There is always next time. If I can find my notes...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Art Sales

Warmth for the Lonely Traveler
12" x 16" watercolor on paper
Stacy L. Rowan

I am pleased to announce that today I am launching a new blog, At the Moment, which will be dedicated to the sale of my artwork. This new blog is my online gallery of the artwork I currently have available. I chose to start off the posts with one of my favorite pieces, "Guardians", my painting of the Bethlehem Waterworks. I will be adding work regularly until all of my available work is posted. After that I will add new work as I complete it.

I chose today for my launch because it is International Artist Day, which according to their website is "a worldwide tribute to artists which will honor and bring recognition to the contributions they have made to civilization." Announcing the completion of a goal I've had for at least a year seemed like a good way to celebrate.

On this International Artist Day I'd also like to recognize Rose Welty. Rose and I became friends through the Virtual Sketch Date. She has worked along side me for the past few weeks, offering encouragement and advice, while she prepared to launch her own sales blog. Thank you Rose!!

I am excited with this new venture and would love if you would take a look. Let me know what you think.

Information on the painting:
Last New Year's Eve I was lucky enough to have a guided tour of the Sun Inn in Bethlehem, PA. I took over 100 photographs of the Inn which just celebrated it's 250th birthday.

The reference for this painting is from the guest suite on the first floor of the Inn. The Sun Inn was well known for its comfortable lodging and had many famous guests. Travel was difficult back in the 1700s, there were no mini-vans with built-in DVD players and heated seats. So as I painted this I imagined the welcoming warmth of the Inn after a long day on the road. But I also realized that most of the travelers were probably gentlemen who were traveling alone and were probably missing the company of their family. The cold light coming through the window and the single bare branch outside represent this loneliness.

This painting is currently on display in the Bethlehem Palette Club 2008 Fall Juried Exhibition. The exhibition is being held at the Siegel Gallery in Iacocca Hall on the Lehigh University campus now through December 14th.

Watercolor Pears - Oct VSD

Colorful Crowd
6" x 4" watercolor on paper
Stacy L. Rowan

Here is my entry for this month's Virtual Sketch Date.

Viweing the reference, I was excited by all the colors I saw in the shadows on the white tray and in the cloth under the tray. I knew right away that watercolor was my choice for the month.

Unfortunately I chose to work on a strange paper. The paper forced me to change the brushes I normally use and to come up with a new plan for getting those beautiful colors down. So the final painting doesn't look exactly how I expected, but overall I am pleased with this colorful crowd of pears.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Background Material

With my new KMBW series of simple still lifes, I've found myself thinking that I want to have options beyond a white background. So I decided to take a field trip to the fabric store.

Let me start by saying that I do not sew and never have. So this was pretty much virgin territory for me. Have you been to a fabric store lately? I was amazed!! So many different fabrics! Shiny ones and soft ones and fuzzy ones. Prints and solids. And the colors - holy cow! They even had the cotton fabrics arranged by color so as I walked down the aisle I saw reds then oranges then yellows... Loved that!

These are the fabrics I purchased. The red one I have in mind for a specific project outside of the KMBW series. The solids satisfied my need for simple colored backgrounds for the series. The blue-ish, purple one with the vines I thought would be fun to paint draped and folded. And the dark purple one...ah, well, I just couldn't pass it up. It was shiny and pretty and called out to me. Can you say impulse buy?

One great thing about the cotton fabrics is that there was a whole array of 18 inch by 24 inch precut squares for a reasonable price. It was so nice to pick up little squares instead of lugging big bolts of fabric around the store. And I think they are the perfect size for my still life set ups.

So if you paint still lifes and haven't been to a fabric store recently, I highly recommend the trip. I can't wait to create set-ups using my new fabrics. And since I've told myself I can't go back until I use most of what I just bought, I had better get busy painting!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Painting Jelly

watercolor jelly jar Homemade Jelly
3" x 5" watercolor on paper
Stacy L. Rowan

Here is the second painting in my new KMBW series. This time I chose to paint a jar of homemade jelly. And before anyone asks - no, I didn't make it. It was actually a gift from one of my mother-in-law's friends. Can I tell you how much I love people who share their homemade jelly? It really is a completely different product than what you buy in the store.

As soon as I brought the jelly home, I took it right upstairs to my art table. I knew how it would glow from the late afternoon sun that comes in the windows next to my table. I couldn't wait to paint that glow. And I'm happy to say that I made it to the end of the painting without my family finding that jar and taking it for their breakfast toast!

One thing I've already learned from this new series is that I have to be careful that "quick and loose" doesn't become sloppy. I want to be quick and loose in a controlled manner, which seems contradictory even to me. Like most other things, I assume that balance will come with practice. I'll let you know.

On a different note...the October Virtual Sketch Date reference is being posted tomorrow over on the Virtual Sketch Date blog. If you want to participate, please read the guidelines first. There has been a small change in how the sketch date is being handled.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Interior Sketch

approx. 5.5" x 9"
2B in Canson Field sketchbook

Here is a quick sketch I did last night. I don't normally sketch interiors, but I wanted to sit on the couch by hubby as he watched the Penn State game, and this is what caught my eye. I did it in graphite since I don't trust myself with watercolors on the couch!

After my sketch, I started a new stippling project. This is only my third one ever, but I find stippling to be a very relaxing activity. Sort of like I imagine knitting to be. And since the image takes so long to build up, I can do it while listening to the TV or having a conversation with someone. Perfect for when I want to do art and curl up on the couch.

approx. 7" x 5"
005 black Micron on Canson paper

It doesn't look like much now, but after quite a bit of time and millions upon millions of dots it should look better. Does that sound like crazy person talk or what?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Simple Still Life

orange watercolor pumpkin Little Jack
5" x 3" watercolor on paper
Stacy L. Rowan

This little pumpkin was an exercise in "keeping my brushes wet" (kmbw). Using Rose's Daily Inks as inspiration, I decided to choose a simple still life subject and paint it quickly working from a loose contour drawing. I set a target time of 15 minutes for the whole process. Although truthfully, I didn't set a timer or anything so I might have gone over by a few. I do know that I painted quicker than normal and that was my intention.

I really enjoyed the exercise and plan to repeat it - with new subjects of course - several times a week if possible. My goal is to paint more regularly and to focus on capturing the essence of the subject with few details.

As you've probably noticed, I typically paint in a controlled, detailed style. I enjoy painting this way, but also want to be confident painting over a broader range of the loose-controlled spectrum. Skill and confidence with a loose, quick style would be excellent for creating plein aire sketches. Sketches that could be used at a later date to develop studio paintings.

As for the goal of painting more regularly...well, of course I would love to paint every day because I love painting. But life often gets in the way, and I can go several days or more without painting at all. Setting a 15 minute limit makes the goal of painting more regularly seem manageable. And painting small, finished works in that time will allow me to update this blog more frequently. Plus I have something else in the works that will benefit from the output of these exercises. I'm still working out the details, but promise to share more later in the month.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sketching People

graphite sketches of people at soccer game Sketches of people at a soccer game
graphite in a small Moleskine

This is my second page of soccer spectator sketches. (See here for the first page.) The sketching got easier as I went and I was happier with this page than the first.

Some things I learned...

- I did much better when the people I was sketching were pretty far away. The distance helped me simplify their forms. When the people were closer I had a hard time ignoring the details. Also when they were further away I didn't have to worry about being "caught".

- Although distance helped me simplify the forms, it made capturing faces a challenge. I struggled between what I thought a face looked like and what I was actually seeing. Most of the people who were at the right distance had their back to me, so I didn't get enough practice with faces in this sketching session. I will look for opportunities in the future.

- I preferred my sketches that were made with more short, straight strokes instead of a couple of long contour lines. I was better at capturing the form with short strokes and I felt the resulting sketches had more personality.

- Speaking of personality, it was better for me to put the eraser away and rely on restating lines that needed correcting. Better for the personality of the sketch and of the artist!