Sunday, March 27, 2011

This is Spring

Voting ends tonight at 11:59pm EST for the Morning Call Best of Blogs contest. Thanks to everyone who has voted! I have moved up from 7th to 3rd!

I thought today I would share some pictures of Spring in my neighborhood just so you could see why I am still looking for pictures of Spring in other places.
Ten days ago Spring looked like this...

©2011 Stacy L. Rowan

Buds were getting ready to burst open.

©2011 Stacy L. Rowan

The early blooming flowers were spreading.The day was warm and sunny and the temperature hit a high of 70F. It was warm enough that I was able to ride around in the convertible with the top down and the heated seats off! I was loving it!

Three days later I woke up to this. It took me totally by surprise.

©2011 Stacy L. Rowan

Two mornings after that I looked outside to find even more! Yikes!

©2011 Stacy L. Rowan

At least snow in March is a temporary thing. And it is mostly all gone (again). Our temperatures are still hanging out about five to ten degrees below normal and are predicted to stay there for the next few days. Hopefully once we get through that Spring will be here to stay.

By the way, my mom says we should have expected this since March came in like a lamb, which means it will go out like a lion. That has me thinking - Bring on April! ......On the other hand, I'm a sunshine girl so I'm not real fond of April showers...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spreading Sunshine - Tap Dance Series Watercolor

"Spreading Sunshine"
24" x 18" watercolor on paper
©2010 Stacy L. Rowan

Finally I am sharing with you my first watercolor in my tap dance series! I am not sure why it took me so long, but I am glad I am doing it now.

My model for this painting was the creative and talented Germaine Salsberg. She was in town creating choreography for the Tap Ties company and agreed to allow me to come to several rehearsals and take pictures. I tried to act very suave and professional but truthfully I was a little star struck.

The first rehearsal I attended Ms. Salsberg was wearing these wonderful yellow shoes. I loved them and knew immediately that I had to paint them! What could possibly be more fun than tap dancing in yellow shoes? Well, maybe painting a tap dancer in yellow shoes, but not a whole lot else.

When it came to naming the piece, I wanted to reference the shoes because they were my inspiration. Since I view tap dancing as a dance of joy, "Spreading Sunshine" just seemed to fit.

This is the largest piece in my tap dance series and for now the only watercolor. (Although I have more planned!) It is currently on display at the William Ris Gallery in Stone Harbor, NJ. I hope you like it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring in Wheeling, West Virginia

Photo of iris
©2011 Leslie Nutting

This beautiful flower photograph was sent to me by Leslie Nutting. According to Leslie this is an early type of iris which is very small and blooms when the snowdrops do. Who knew? Not me. So in addition to helping me hold on until Spring arrives and sticks around in my neighborhood, this project is also teaching me new things.

You probably won't be surprised to learn that I like to rush Spring. I want it to arrive as early as possible.

Of course, I actually have no influence on when Spring gets to town. Shocking, I know.

But I fool myself into thinking I do by planting early blooming flowers. First I planted daffodils. Then some crocuses. Last year a friend kindly gave me some snowdrops and winter aconites from her yard.

I'll give you three guesses to what flower I'll be looking to plant next. Oh yes, it will be the early iris. And I'll have Leslie to thank!

Leslie is an artist. She paints contemporary portraits, figures and landscapes. I especially love her figure paintings as they are full of emotion. If you'd like to check them out, her links are below.

Leslie Nutting Website
Leslie Nutting Facebook Fan Page

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spring in Vancouver, Canada

Photo of purple crocuses
©2011 Mary Jane Muir

Spring must have peeked in on Vancouver, Canada for a day or two because that is where my friend Mary Jane saw these beauties blooming. Have I ever mentioned that my favorite flower color is yellow? And purple is a close second. So you can bet I loved finding these pictures in my inbox.

Photo of yellow crocuses
©2011 Mary Jane Muir

I love how the yellow crocuses are all snuggled in among the daffodil leaves. They look so cozy.

Mary Jane is an illustrator and published author. She shares her colorful art and illustrations on her two blogs...
Painting Puppies
Maple Pancakes

If you have a moment, why don't you hop on over to check them out? I think you will like what you see.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Origami Crane

Sketch of origami paper crane - Day 141
sepia ink in Moleskine pocket cahier sketchbook
©2010 Stacy L. Rowan

This sketch is from my sketching project last year, although this is the first I am sharing it. I sketched it on Day 141, by which time I had fallen out of the habit of regularly posting my daily sketches. Now seemed like as good a time as any for posting it.

Every day this week, many times throughout the day, my thoughts have turned to Japan and the tragedy that has occurred and is still occurring there. If I had 1,000 origami cranes my wish would be for the situation with the nuclear reactors to be brought under control, for the rescue and clean up efforts to be able to procede without disruption from aftershocks, and for the people of Japan to be able to find some peace and start recovering from this crisis and the sadness and fear they must be feeling.

Maybe I would need more that 1,000 cranes for those wishes.

(Edited to add this)
If you don't have 1,000 origami cranes to wish on either, but would still like to help Japan (and you love art) click here. Thank you.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Spring in Rome

Spring near Rome, Italy
photo ©2011 Kelly Medford

Kelly Medford was the first to send me a photo which showed evidence of the approaching Spring season. Thank you Kelly!

Kelly lives in Rome, Italy and carries her easel wherever she goes. Painting in plein air allows her to combine her love of being outdoors with her love of creating art. Her photo is from a recent hiking trip. Look carefully and you can see the green buds of leaves starting to unfurl and white blossoms.

When you get a chance, please check out the links below. Kelly's beautiful landscapes will brighten your day even if Spring hasn't showed up in your neighborhood yet.

Kelly Medford -
Blog - Adventures in Painting
Facebook Page

Also if you have photographic evidence of Spring arriving near you, email me your photo and I'll share it here on my blog. Check out this post for details.

On a separate topic, I have entered my blog into a "Best of Blogs" contest being run by the local newspaper. If you enjoy reading my blog, please consider voting for me here. You do not need to live in my area to vote, but you will need to register for the site. Voters may vote once a day in each of the categories. Voting ends at 11:59pm on March 27th.

Wish me luck! And thank you for voting!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Comparing Watercolor Papers

(untitled - any suggestions?)
8" x 10" watercolor on Arches paper
©2010 Stacy L. Rowan

Ever since I first started painting with watercolors, I have used Arches 140lb Cold Press watercolor paper. I think I chose this paper because the instructor of the first watercolor class I took recommended it. And it has never given me any reason to switch.

But I kept hearing other artists talk about different papers that they adored. I tried to ignore their enticing stories, after all I was in a committed relationship with a paper I loved, but curiosity is a temptress.

One of the papers I've often heard lovely things about is Fabriano Artistico watercolor paper. So I did the unthinkable and bought myself a sheet. I stored the paper away in my flat file and there it sat. And sat, and sat, and sat.

The problem was that I didn't know how paint would handle on the Fabriano paper, and I was afraid to use it for any painting for fear that I my inexperience with the paper would lead me to mess up the painting.

I kept waiting for a painting that I wouldn't mind sacrificing in the name of learning and that painting never came. It was like contemplating sacrificing one of my children. Not gonna happen.

But I really wanted to try the new paper.

Then it came to me... the idea to paint two simultaneous paintings - one on Arches and one on Fabriano. So that's what I did. You can see the results in this post.

Sweet Dreams
8" x 10" watercolor on Fabriano Artistico paper
©2010 Stacy L. Rowan

Visually I think the paintings are very similar except for a few minor changes in color choice. (I found that I wanted to make some changes along the way and have them not be completely identical. I just couldn't help myself.)

I enjoyed trying out the Fabriano Artistico. It did handle paint differently than the Arches. The biggest difference was the ability to lift dry paint. It is much easier to lift the paint on the Fabriano than on the Arches.

In some cases this is a benefit, like when I wanted to soften edges but was a little slow at getting back to them. At other times it was a little frustrating, like when adding a wash to an already painted area. Occasionally the dry paint would lift causing the two washes to physically mix. I found that water control is very important when painting over a dry area.

I actually found that painting on the Fabriano was similar to painting on Aquabord. If I hadn't had experience with Aquabord I might have been more frustrated working on the Fabriano paper the first time.

My verdict - I will definitely use the Fabriano paper again. Although, given my comfort level with Arches paper and the fact that the stuff is nearly indestructible, I will probably still reach for the Arches more frequently. For me Arches is like that old pair of shoes that fit so comfortably. And since I've never had any problems with it or been dissatisfied, I don't feel that I need to make a change.

That being said, I do think it is good to have more than one option when it comes to supplies. So I am happy to now have two papers which work well for me.

Arches Watercolor
Fabriano Artistico

Note: I was not compensated for this review in any way.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Spring is on the Way... sort of

Photo - winter aconite
©2011 Stacy L. Rowan
This is my first year growing these early bloomers.
Seeing flowers growing in March makes me very happy!

Last week our snow finally melted. We've had a handful of days where the high temperatures were in the 40s. A few days it might have touched 50. And rumor has it that one day there was a record high of 67 degrees! I happened to be away on vacation that day though so I can't confirm the rumor.

Once the temperatures start becoming bearable I love to take a tour of my yard and look for green leaves poking their way through the dirt.

Photo - Leaves of mini daffodils
©Stacy L. Rowan

The monotone colors of winter are not very inspiring to me, but the new growth of Spring always gets the creative juices growing.

Of course where I live Spring is a fickle character. The day after the record high of 67, the temperatures dropped back to the mid 30s. Two days later it snowed.

Some years Spring can tease us for two months or more before arriving in all her glory. All the teasing is rather frustrating to me.

Photo - Snowdrops
©2011 Stacy L. Rowan
Also my first year growing these.
A kind friend gave me snowdrops and aconite from her garden last year.

I've been hearing stories of Spring arriving to stay in other locations and I had an idea of how you could help me bear my end of winter frustrations.

Email me* pictures of what Spring is doing in your corner of the world. I will share the pictures here for all of my readers to enjoy. I will also choose the picture that inspires me the most, do a small sketch of it and mail the sketch to the person who provided the photo.

That way I will have Spring on my blog, even if I don't have it in my neighborhood.

* The fine details:
Email pictures to my email address located on the right hand side of the blog. Please make sure you own the copyright to the photo you are sending. Also please resize the photo to be web ready before sending (72ppi, max dimension 500pixels).

Please provide a link to your blog or website, if you have one, so I can post it along with your photo. A blog or website is not required to participate. But if you have one I'd like to share some link love. :)

I realize that only half of the world is heading into Spring. Those of you living in the southern hemisphere can play along by sending photos of what Autumn is doing. I don't discriminate against any of the colorful seasons.

My current plan is to post photos once or twice a week. Thanks for playing along!