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



Friday, August 29, 2014

New Work: Boston House

Boston House
9" x 12" wc and pigment brush pen

On Wednesday I had taken a road trip over to the small town of Ione. The first part of my route took me across Pardee Reservoir. Shortly after you cross that area you come to a crossroads. I turned right to head to Ione and took note of a little house situated at that juncture. Our area still has a fair number of these stone buildings still in existence. I don't know anything about this little house but I can guess from what I know about similar buildings around the county that this building was built sometime in the mid to late 1800s. The whole area is rife with these rocks and stone in general. The colors are really quite amazing.

I am slowly learning about mark making and water color handling. There is no other way to learn here than by doing. Books and input from others does help but physically handling the brush, paint, water and paper all together is what does it. Adding in the pen was a huge leap for me. And in all actuality, considering this as a finished piece of art is the real leap (and challenge). Because of the way I have learned (just as much as what I have learned) I have come to believe that certain things are necessary to consider a piece of art "finished".  It takes awhile to expand your thinking.

OK, hope everyone has had a good week and that you are all set for the holiday weekend. Here is a brief link to what this holiday is about.
Libby

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mixed Bag

Milton Road Oasis
wc on strathmore paper


Pardee Light 2

Road to Ione 3

Quarry? 4

Boston House 5
My camera, which I have used for several years now, is no longer doing the job. Something has to give!

My day yesterday, art wise, was a mixed bag.  In the morning, I overworked a piece. I got the idea out but it was overworked. The big thing lately is reconciling my sketches with my paintings. There are a lot of things I like about my acrylic paintings that I just can't do with watercolors. Acrylics allow me to work and rework the form-to think things through with the brush in my hand. Watercolors demand the thought to be finished before the brush even touches the paper. It's a very different process.  The thing that I like about my sketches, which is different from the acrylic work, is the freshness of the finished piece.  I feel like my thinking is all right there on the paper. The brush strokes are much looser (while still being controlled) and the color is often more crisp and undiluted. The sketches are the best impression of what I saw and felt. (The acrylic work is just more refined by nature.) And I like the mark making that I can do with the sketches. I have been using my Pentel brush pen and I like it a lot. It's my confidence level here that is in question.

In other news, I went on a small road trip this morning. I drove over to Pardee dam, crossed the bridge and went on to the small town of Ione. Along the way, I spotted what seemed to be an enormous pit with cliffs (pic # 4 above). It was the brightness of the white rocks that caught my eye. They were brilliant in the early morning sunlight. We've no shortage of rocks here evidently. My impression is that they are either visible or just below the surface. There was a quarry in San Andreas some time ago I believe. I got to thinking about natural resources such as minerals and water. Pic #2 shows the Pardee reservoir, owned by EBMUD (East Bay Municipal Utility District). The water in that reservoir (which is not low by the way) comes from the Mokelumne river which flows down from the Sierras. That resource is piped into the Bay Area and is the primary water source for EBMUD. I read an article not long ago about wells in the west end of our county going dry because of the diminishing water tables in our area. Water was shared (at a cost I presume) from our water district (of which the recipients are not a part of to my knowledge). Shared resources are a very difficult subject. As someone from the Bay Area originally, if you had asked me several years ago where our water came from, I would probably have replied that it came from EBMUD. Goes to show you. 

OK, hope everyone is having a  good week so far. Thanks for reading and commenting.
Libby

Monday, August 25, 2014

Sketches, Peggi's Class

Lake Hogan sketch

Lake Alpine sketch
Over the weekend, I worked on a couple of ideas. The first pic shows one idea that I tried. My sketches have always been a lot of fun for me. I particularly like the look of pen and color together.  It's good to know why you like a particular style or method though and just recently I came to some conclusions. The marks create definition for the forms, can separate sections and can add tone and movement. So, I guess what I am saying is that the purpose of the marks is what interests me most.

The second pic shows the other thing that I am working on. I like the design a lot-that rock is front and center with the plants and water and other  rocks swirling around it. My plan is to tighten up the design and be more selective about the colors. The marks I made feel a little fussy to me so I would like to simplify that also. I think I have an idea here but just need to continue to work on it.

Peggi's class on Thursday and Friday was a great success for me. I came away feeling like I actually knew some things which is a good confidence booster. We did lots of contour drawing and also focused on identifying and drawing negative space shapes. We delved into simplified value plans and the concept of shading to create volume. I had no issue with simplified value plans for single objects and even several objects grouped together. However, it's a big leap to an entire landscape. So, slow down I think and really observe. And in actuality, that was the one thing I took away with me: Slow down, observe truthfully, and make an honest mark. That applies to everything else too so it's an exciting lesson. 

Alright, hope everyone's MOnday is off to a good start. Thanks for reading and commenting.
Libby

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sketches, Values, George Post Copy, etc.



Copy of George Post piece







We have been enjoying some beautiful October-like weather. It's been between 80-85 for much of the day which is just about perfect. Both my back and front door open onto the living room and the breeze coming through is really refreshing after the oppressive heat.

I have been sketching in the morning time with the doors and windows open, listening to a show that is new to me. Through the blog of painter Randall David Tipton, I was introduced to the broadcasts of a show called On Being, hosted by Krista Tippett. The show focuses on what it means to be human and the various ways in which we choose to live our lives. It's good stuff so thank you Randall! 

The above sketches are from my time in the morning when the house is quiet and before Rich has gotten up. It's no stretch to say that I love this time of day best. I feel very clear headed and full of purpose, unlike as the day wears on and I feel fuzzier and fuzzier! Most of the sketches are from my trips to Lake Alpine. I sketch from photos and see if I can get things in place and focus on how I felt about the colors and shapes. 

The last two photos are from my exercise this morning in which I tried to isolate just a light and dark pattern in my photo. You can't hardly roam around the painting world without running into people that advocate doing this: simplify your light and shadow pattern, consolidate your values, tighten up the composition in some way. One does not want a "spotty" painting. The third pic down shows a copy of a George Post piece that I did yesterday. I looked at the photo of the painting in my book while I was sitting in dim light. The light and dark patterns became very easy to see-what a strong composition! I think there is real merit to this particular painting axiom. It's not the only  thing that makes Post's painting wonderful but it gives it the structure that is needed for a great start.

OK, I am off this morning for a walk and then will motor on to Copperopolis for the class with Peggi Kroll Roberts. Good stuff! Hope everyone is having a good week.
Libby


Monday, August 18, 2014

New Work; Talkin' Paint; Drawing Class

Sentinel
10" x 10" acrylic on MDF board

Cascade 2
12" x 12" acrylic on MDF board

This weekend was a "discovery" weekend of sorts. I worked on the above two paintings and learned some new things. Here they are:

I learned (once again!) about keeping an open mind while painting. I mean an open mind in every sense of that expression: open to the possibilities, open to reworking a failed passage or piece, and open to using the hues that will get the job done. I also mean open to looking at your landscape (or subject matter) in any number of ways. For the second piece shown above and which was completed earlier in the month, I was stuck on the idea of a yellow sky and spindly trees. My insistence on that scheme and denial of what I saw result wise caused me to begin to dislike the finished piece. Rather than relegate it to The Closet of Shame however I decided to see what I could do to make it better. I mostly see the Lake Alpine landscape in the early morning. The sky really is blue, the trees are that green and the rocks that brilliant. I like that so why not paint it in the way that I see it in my mind's eye? So, I did just that. I deepened the colors of the trees and figured out a better way to knock back the intensity of the trees in the background. I am much happier now and very glad to have the piece on my wall.

The other two things I learned are about using colors and keeping an open mind. Too often a color is rejected outright because it doesn't fit in a "perscribed" palette or it isn't appealing on its own. Dioxazine purple falls into these two categories for me. I don't use it outright but generally as an accent color for shadows. It's pretty intense though. It is good as a "mitigating" color. To me, mitigating colors are the secondary colors-orange, green, and purple. They help to boost or tone down the primaries, among other things. I used purple to boost some of the green in the first piece and to change the character of raw umber which can be flat and cold when mixed with white.

I also learned just how versatile quinacridone/nickel azo gold is as both a mixer and "mitigator" color. It's both cool and warm if that makes sense. It mixes beautifully with white and can be added to my convenience green (sap green) to really warm it up without making it obnoxious. It can boost the cool yellow that I use too, making it appear warmer as well. Best of all though is what it does with raw umber. Add a little quin. gold to the raw umber and it is transformed! It perfectly describes some of the dirt that I see around my landscape. I use it now along with ultramarine blue to boost my sap green and to give it variety.

Last week was productive for me-several sketches and some completed paintings that I like a lot. This week will be short. I am taking a drawing class taught by Peggi Kroll Roberts on Thursday and Friday. This is a big deal. Peggi is an outstanding painter. I have several of her DVDs and appreciate what she advocates: mileage, mileage, mileage! So, wish me luck!

Hope everyone has a good start to the week. Thanks for reading and commenting.
Libby

Friday, August 15, 2014

Sketches and Sizing






The above sketches are all from some of my recent visits to Lake Alpine. My scanner sucks but I think the idea comes through with the pics anyway.

The first sketch is a complicated scene but for me, I was attracted to those two front trees. The light in the shadows on those white trees seems to be a beautiful bluish violet, almost moving to a warmer phthalo blue color. My scan shows as more purple but my sketch and idea is more blue.  The second sketch shows a view of the shoreline. It's one of my favorites. That area has a lot of rocks and fallen trees. The last sketch is from a hike that I did with my SIL. It goes from Bear Valley ski resort to the edge of Lake Alpine. The water tower is at the top of a ridge ( a series of two hills) that we hiked up. I planned out a drawing for an acrylic version of the idea and completed a watercolor version of the idea earlier this week. I posted those results on the blog a few days ago.

I recently started soaking my wc paper and stretching it onto a board. The soaking and drying/stretching is supposed to prevent buckling of the paper when heavier washes are applied. I have had pretty good luck with no buckling but I learned something today about sizing. The sizing on the paper is what helps to prevent the paint from sinking very deeply into the fibers of the paper. When you soak the paper for a long period of time, much of the sizing (which is gelatin based) is removed. The gelatin helps the paint to "sit" on the paper as it dries.  My thought here is that with pre soaked and dried paper, the colors sink into the paper just as if the paper was wet, causing the colors to be a little more diluted than what you might at first think. One of the main reason I started in with the watercolors is that they can be quite brilliant-very saturated. I have been missing this lately and I may now have a partial explanation for why. (You still must take into account paint load, water load and pigment properties.) Knowing how your materials will perform separately and in combination with each other and the reasons behind this is pretty important to the outcome of your piece.

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