Friday, September 19, 2014

Sketch, Study, or Finished Piece? Which Is It?







Yesterday I took a drive up to Lake Alpine. I wanted to do some observations, get my walk in, and test out our new camera. With regard to the camera, the zoom lens is pretty powerful. The second and final pics above were taken with then lens zoomed way in (or out I guess) and I thought the clarity was pretty sharp. My biggest complaint is always the mix of darks and lights-seems you can't have a good balanced shot of both the sky and the ground. Rich bought a couple of lens that may help and I will continue to learn about the settings and how they work.

With regard to painting, the angst continues!  Would a writer turn in a rough draft and call it a finished work? Would a marathon runner want to record their practice run as the final time? Golfer? Inventor? Scientist? The question of a finished product versus a rough draft, study, sketch or practice applies to many disciplines. I wonder at times about the origin of our need to hand in a perfectly finished final product. The urge to get it just right is irresistible and apparently deeply ingrained in our psyche. I would add that it goes without saying that you want someone like your surgeon to make the right moves every time. Ditto for the airplane pilot or the race car driver. Some things need to be extremely precise.

Thankfully though I am not a surgeon. I am just a painter trying to enjoy myself.  And trying to express myself but feeling rather thwarted. It's always best to examine the frustration in order to overcome it I think. I am interested in what people have to say about their frustrations. Chime in if you can.

OK, hope everyone has had a good week. Thanks for reading and commenting.
Libby

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

New Work and Mental Stickiness

Beyond
9" x 12" watercolor, gouache and pen

I am always a little nervous about showing something that is very different or just an idea or maybe that I am just unsure of yet. The other day I was napping and I must have gotten several ideas crossed. When Rich was gone earlier in the week I watched a NOVA program about the possibility of life on other planets. I have also come across the work of an artist based out of the Yosemite area who does a lot of different colored skies. She has a tremendous sense of color too. In any case, I dreamed of a deeply pink sky for my rocks. I experimented with pencil marks, thin pen marks and then fatter pen marks. Lastly, I included some outlining in a more opaque gouache application. The photo looks like that outline is green but truly it is an ochre yellow. 

Every time I consider going beyond the boundaries of color reality or what I have heard called "local color" I run into a heap of anxiety. I have some sort of mental stickiness about draping arbitrary colors over my landscapes and buildings. Or using colors together just because the color wheel and color theory says to do so. It BUGS! So, maybe there is a color theory haters anonymous group that I can join? 

OK, it's midweek. Hope everyone is having a good time so far. Thanks for reading and commenting.
Libby

Monday, September 15, 2014

New Work: Form and Flow; Pens and Podcasts

Form and Flow9" x 12" pen and watercolor on wc paper
Over the weekend I worked on two versions of the above piece. There are a couple of things going on here. First off, I purchased some new waterproof brush tip pens with pigment ink and wanted to try combining those with the acrylic and watercolor. Since the beginning of this art making business, I have been attracted to work that is "graphic" looking.  All of my sketches use a black pen of one sort or another but I haven't really understood much about why I like this look. Moreover, I haven't fully understood much of what lines can do. When you stop to consider things, lines and groups of lines are a very powerful design element. They are something too that everyone can make regardless of their skill level. Lines are also something that everyone can recognize right away in a piece of artwork. 

The other thing happening here is the drawing and exploration of these rock forms. I am taken with them I admit. The basis for the interest is probably that the formations are incredibly tactile and visual. Their shapes are easy to understand and interesting to draw. 

I have written before about the convergence of ideas and activities and how that coming together of similar elements can spark new interests for me. Currently, I am reading Rachel Carson's The Sea Around Us. Written in 1951, this book details all that happens in the waters surrounding our land here on earth. It's everything from how the earth may have formed, how life could have evolved, the formation and existence of underwater canyons and volcanoes, and the incredible amount of life living in waters so deep that well, they are unfathomable in their deepness! I have also been listening to a lot of podcasts  from a show called On Being, hosted by Krista Tippett. The show features interviews with all sorts of people and focuses on how we live today and how we want to live today. Central to many of her interviews is an exploration of scientific ideas and discovery as well as the interweaving of religious and spiritual discussions. I have also been out and about in my own environment hiking and walking. I think all of the above has combined to generate real interest in some new things for me. Thank goodness for intellectual curiosity and the ability to read, listen and to travel. 

OK, hope everyone has a good start to their week. It's countdown time to Columbia for me. I am hoping that I will be as productive as possible. We will see:) Thanks for reading and commenting.
Libby

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Happy Birthday? And New Work of Course!

Gathering
8" x 10" Acrylic on WC paper

Morning View
9" x 12" Acrylic on wc paper
Two birthdays? People that know me a bit may realize that my actual birthday is in April. September 13th is a day that I consider to be my second birthday. On September 11, 2012 I was admitted to Stanford Hospital for double bypass surgery. (Some cute person came up with the acronym of CABG to describe this procedure-coronary artery bypass graft.) We were delayed until the 13th (a surgery center is much like an airport with planes waiting to land-those planes in distress get to land sooner) and I went into the operating room around 5PM that day. All went well and I awoke the next morning with two brand new arteries. The whole thing is a miracle to me that I now experience everyday. It really is like being reborn for I would have likely died of a heart attack at some point without this surgery. 

I consider September to be another good month for me personally because generally speaking, Rosh Hashanah falls during this time frame. It's a time of reflection, thankfulness and forgiveness. It's also for many people a time of renewal and starting over. The weather gets better, baseball season is at its near apex, and my husband celebrates his birthday too. So, the awful events of 9/11 notwithstanding, the time surrounding my "second" birthday is generally good.

I am sharing the above pieces completed within this last week or so. It's a good start artistically speaking to this month. I hope everyone will enjoy this time of year. I know that I certainly will. Is it too early to wish everyone shanah tovah? Translated loosely it means: a good year.

Thanks for reading and commenting,
Libby 

Friday, September 5, 2014

New Work: Double Springs


Double Springs
8" x 8" acrylic on wc paper


Lake Alpine sketch
My first post yesterday was very cranky. I dislike cranky and so I am redoing this entry. 

First up is the new piece that I completed yesterday. I did several watercolor versions and settled on one of them which I am not showing above. Above is the acrylic version that I think is a good finished piece. It's on paper too which is a double bonus for me.

The third pic is a sketch of a rock formation at Lake Alpine. The paper is a cream color and the shot looks a little dark. I am using a new-to-me camera and am learning about it. Part of the reason for the crankiness yesterday was my camera woes. Everything takes time. The point though of the sketch was to keep my value plan as simple as possible. I used the white of the paper, a black and two mid colors.  I tried not to go back over any areas or to get fiddly with the details. What I thought was that I'd like to keep the value plan intact as I added colors. I tend to parse and splice and lose cohesiveness at times. (OK, a lot of the time.) And one of the things I learned in the drawing class that I took was how much I really like simple plans. My drawings looked good to me because of that simplicity so why not try and embrace that in my paintings as much as possible? 

I am noticing now that those trees in the background make a pretty strong column with the dirt on the middle of those rocks and I seemed to have missed that in my sketch. It's hard for me to say if that element is something I like or not. I may just have to think on it for a bit.

OK, today is Rich's BDay and so we'll see what he might want to do. I have painting plans which may have to wait.

Thanks for reading and commenting.
Libby

Sunday, August 31, 2014

August 2014 Wrap Up Post

1. Cascade/Impermanence
12" x 12" Acrylic on MDF board

2. Sentinel
10" x 10"
acrylic on mdf board

3. Clarity
9" x 12"
acrylic on watercolor paper


4. Milton Rd Oasis
watercolor on paper 8" x 10"

5. To and From
watercolor on paper 8" x 10"

6. Boston House
watercolor on paper 8" x 10"




September is almost here. Back to school, maybe back to work, and definitely time for a wrap up of the events in my studio. I have some new work to share this month plus a couple of events.   As always, my work is for sale via email and PayPal. Please feel free to contact me for details: libbyfife@ymail.com

New Art Work:

Lake Alpine has become a favorite spot for me this summer. There is a crispness to the air and a clarity to the water that catches my attention. The rock formations are numerous and remind me of just how slow and steady the passage of time is-surely slower than I can comprehend. The entire area is very inspiring. Pics 1,2, and 3 are all based on my observations and photos from some time that I spent hiking around the lake area. The trail beginning at the boat launch site is especially nice but I have also enjoyed the Lake Alpine access trail which begins at Bear Valley ski resort. Pic 3 shows a view of an abandoned water tower that sits on a hill on the way to Osborne Peak. The Peak is located about midway through the access trail that I mentioned. It is worth the hike up the additional hills to see it.

Pics 4, 5, and 6 represent some new ideas for me that I thought would be worth sharing. I am interested in lots of different combinations of materials. In particular, I seem to gravitate towards traditional pen, ink and watercolor combinations. For the last three pieces shown, I used pen and watercolor together. This combination allows me to experiment with what I call "mark making". It's  seeing what a brush and pen can do in the way of lines, shapes and patterns. Layer on the color and I am even more interested! 

Upcoming Shows/Events:

As noted in the last pic above, I will be exhibiting my work at Columbia State Park on Sunday September, 21. If you click on the yellow flyer above it will take you to the site for this show. There should be a lot of good artists there and of course Columbia is close by to Sonora where there are some fun shopping and dining experiences. 

In addition to the above show, I will also be participating in the Artists Studio Tour here in Calaveras County on September 27th and 28th.  This year the event is free to all who would like to visit the artists in their home studios. The maps are available through the Arts Council in San Andreas or you can contact me directly via email. I will be at Cate Culver's studio in Mountain Ranch. Randy and Joyce Klassen along with Debbie Lawlor and Cate Culver will all be exhibiting their artwork along side me. It's a great opportunity to sample different types of art and styles in one spot. Getting the map will also allow you to visit the studios of other artists who will also be exhibiting. It should be a very fun time. 

As always, comments and emails are welcomed. My web site is updated continuously to show new work. The site can be found here: www.libbyfife.com. I can be contacted by email of course to: libbyfife@ymail.com. I certainly hope everyone is doing well. Thank you again for reading my posts and supporting my efforts.
Libby