Sunday, March 25, 2012

African Violet Painting

Pink African Violet, watercolor, 8" x 10."
This was my classwork from the Painting 205 class week before last. I was surprised to see how quickly it took shape following the methods I'm being taught, and how nice the results. It needs a few more touches to be completely finished. I'll be submitting this piece and one more from class to Brookside Gardens' upcoming Botanica exhibition to see if the jury accepts it.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Giant Studio Moving Sale

Big Blue, oils on canvas, 36" high x 42" wide.
Firefall, oils on canvas, 48" high x 36" wide.
The Aliens, oils on canvas, 48" high x 32" wide.
Red Sea Whips, oils on canvas, 56" high x 42" wide.

Dear friends and collectors:

My husband and I are getting ready to move and our basement is full of large paintings that I would prefer not to have to move or store, so I'm holding a once-in-a-lifetime studio sale. These four paintings are among many others for sale. All offers will be considered, no matter how ridiculously low. I'm willing to negotiate, but please start at $100--the materials in these cost at least that much. If there is more than one offer per painting, these will be bid competitively, and the bids announced here (bidder's identity will be kept confidential).

If you live in the DC area or within drivable distance, I will be happy to deliver any painting to you whenever convenient. If you are out of the area, I don't know about shipping, that may be more difficult--these are large paintings--but perhaps something can be worked out.

Any of these paintings could be a wonderful focal point in your home. Please make an offer.

Watch this blog for more paintings coming up for sale soon. My Afro-Cuban paintings will be coming up next.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Cummer Museum of Art Garden

Garden at the Cummer Museum of Art in Jacksonville, watercolor, 10" x 14."

On our last day of vacation, Herb and I went back to the Cummer Museum of Art in Jacksonville so I could paint in the historic garden. We arrived mid-morning and found a group of painters already there. While walking around to take in the gardens and decide which was the best view to paint, I chatted with some of the artists, who told me they were students from the nearby University of North Florida. Their class met at a different location every Friday to paint plein air and the museum's gardens were--quite understandably--a favorite.

Looking at the beautiful gardens on the banks of the St. John River, it was hard to choose what to paint, but to me the most outstanding feature was a gigantic live oak which appeared to be at least a few centuries old. Its venerable trunk had been sculpted by riverfront storms into a striking, contorted mass, and its spreading branches twisted and leaned down so far that some had supports built under them to keep them off the ground. A glass-topped table and some chairs had been placed on the lawn under the tree--there seemed no need to go any farther. I spread out my painting stuff and sat down to study this amazing tree.

It took me a long time to get the drawing right. Simplifying the masses of branches by eliminating some of the extraneous ones while keeping enough of them to give a sense of their size and intricate twining was the most challenging part, and it was well past noon before I was ready to start laying in any color. By this time the breeze had started to pick up and a gust of wind took my tiny metal water tin and brush holder and dumped them on the ground. After that I kept the brush holder on the ground and my spare hand on the water tin.

I felt confident that no one would steal my painting gear at the museum, so I left it on the table while we had lunch at the cafe (dynamite black bean soup and chicken salad) and then came back to finish my painting.

The botanical illustrations classes have helped tremendously with my watercolor technique, and I was able to put down the shapes of the branches and trunk with washes from the start. It's a time-consuming process that requires patience: wetting the paper, waiting for it to have just the right amount of moisture, putting the wash down quickly, manipulating it to get the darks to fade gradually into lighter shades, and so on. Herb was very patient and kept me company reading his book; when he got tired of that, he went into the museum and visited all the other exhibits we'd missed before.

I still wasn't finished when the four o'clock closing time was announced, but I had enough down on paper to be able to finish my painting later. We decided to make our way back to Amelia Island using the route we'd taken on our way in the previous time, but got a bit disoriented on the freeways downtown. Eventually, we found our way back to the scenic route just in time for a sunset along the coast--lovely ending to a wonderful day!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Revisiting The Okefenokee Swamp

Canal Diggers Trail, watercolor, 10" x 14."
On our recent Florida vacation I just had to visit the Okefenokee Swamp again. Our friends told us there had been extensive fires last summer and thousands of acres in the refuge had burned. I wanted to see the extent of the damage.

Fire in the wilderness is a natural phenomena, and as our guide sagely remarked, if it weren't for periodic  fires, the area would become so overgrown it would be known as the Okefenokee Forest, rather than Swamp. In fact, the peat floor was still smoldering in parts of the northwestern section of the refuge.

However, the lovely boardwalk trail that took visitors through the swamp out to an observation tower was gone, so the best way to see the swamp was to get out on the water, on one of the small boats, or stick to a few trails still open near the Visitor's Center such as the Long-leaf Pine and Canal Diggers Trail. We explored this short trail while waiting our turn for the boat ride, and found a narrow bridge crossing a small creek. There was no time to paint it then, but I hoped we could return later for a sketch.

Entering the Okefenokee Swamp

Our tour guide with Okefenokee Adventures, Joey was a seventh-generation Okefenokeer (married to an eighth generation Okefenokeer) and a colorful character. He worked us tourists on the boat with a well-worn routine full of jokes and set pieces while regaling us with interesting facts and bits of swamp lore. I saw an unusual water plant with odd-looking flowers and asked about it. Joey said it was called Golden Club. Later on he picked one flower and chomped the yellow part, saying this was one way to survive in the swamp. The yellow part of the blossom was edible, and he picked more flowers so we could each taste one. It was mildly pungent, like a radish--one would sure have to eat an awful lot of it to get enough nourishment!

Golden Club

The ride was about an hour and a half and took us through so many channels that looked much the same; I wondered how long it would take to learn their intricacies. We were back at the dock before I realized we'd circled back to our starting point. The swamp is beautiful, even the burned-out parts with its charred trunks, though I much prefer to see the cypress alive and dripping with Spanish moss.

Once back, we rushed back to the bridge at Canal Diggers Trail so I could work on a watercolor--we had less than two hours before the park closed, so my sketch is very loose and unfinished. By this time the sun had come out from behind the low clouds and was illuminating the fields of saw palmetto underneath the pines. The best view was from the middle of the bridge, naturally, so I had to stand. As you can see, I propped my sketchbook on the railing of the bridge and hooked the brush holder, expecting the breeze to try to snatch it away.

See more photos of the Okefenokee Swamp on my Flickr Album.