Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Prodigal Cat and Progress on My Cow Painting

I'm enclosing a photo of my "prodigal" cat tonight. She's been gone for two months (since 1 Nov) and we found her at the old house site by the bay tonight. This is the 14th time (if I've counted right) that she has disappeared from the house we are living in now and returned to our old house on Bay Front Road. Our bay house was damaged during Hurricane Katrina. We immediately moved to a house approximately 2 miles away, with the intention initially of repairing the bay house. Although the bay house was repairable, due to the uncertainties of building permits, FEMA rules and high insurance, and we ended up selling the house. However, our cat Abbie apparently continues to want to go back home by the bay. She has repeatedly disappeared, sometimes for several months at a time - and we always eventually find her back at the old bayhouse. One time she was gone for 7 months! Anyway, we found her again tonight after going there to call for her. She seems quite comfortably back at home with us tonight. Thinner but not too much the worse for wear.

I'm also including some "teaser" previews of the cow/bull painting I've been working on. I'm still working to finish this painting hopefully by the new year. I have another one I need to start and finish prior to the end of February to be ready for the upcoming cow show.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Eve Bonfires on the Mississippi River

I hope y'all had a good Christmas so far. We spent a couple of days in New Orleans so we could see them light the bonfires on the Mississippi River levees. During a visit to New Orleans last year a week before Christmas, my husband and I drove up River Road north of New Orleans and saw them building the bonfire structures on the river levees. We decided this year we would go back and watch them actually light the bonfires. This is a tradition practiced every Christmas Eve by several small towns along the river, and legend has it that the lighted bonfires were meant to guide Santa safely down the river with his Christmas loot. Anyway, we settled in at a small town called Gramercy -really there are three towns in a row - Gramercy, Lutcher and Paulina - that all have a concentration of bonfires. The locals also set off fireworks during the event, which makes it very festive. Some of the bonfire structures were also laced with firecrackers for additional sound effects. One was built to resemble a bulldozer. Here are a couple of photos before the lighting, during the lighting, and showing off some of the fireworks. You might want to catch these festivities next Christmas Eve.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Man with a Chainsaw

I've let the Christmas holidays distract me - what with shopping for gifts, addressing christmas cards, christmas parties, etc. I've also been trying to work more on my large cow painting, trying to finish it before the end of the month so I can start another one and complete it in time for the cow show in March and April (I'm organizing a cow show called "Divine Bovines", with 8-10 artists showing their artwork on a cow theme). Anyway, in order to not let this blog be dormant for too long, I thought I'd post an older painting. I've said I like to paint people, so here is one of the "portraits" I painted of my husband in his favorite venue - chain-sawing! He loves to work in the woods sawing down dead timber or making up firewood. Lately he's been clearing an area on some property we own down by the bay for a potential house site. This painting is called "A Man and His Chainsaw" (2001), acrylic on canvas, 24" x 30" (one of my favorite size formats). I loved painting the squinting expression on his face, the denim for the overalls, and the shadow on the storage shed in our back yard. I named this after a painting in the Mobile Museum of Art, that I've admired for some time, of a depression era farmer/woodmen in his overalls and straw hat titled "A Man and His Saw". But this painting is sans hat.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Figure Group Display at Space 301!

Last night (Friday) was the December LODA Artwalk, where the galleries on and about Lower Dauphin Street stay open late for a communal reception. Thursday night was also our last session of Figure Group for this term. Space 301 asked us to display artwork generated during this fall term for the LODA reception, and most of us participated. We set the room up similar to one of our sessions, and mounted samples of our work in various creative (and not so creative) ways. Here's a photo of the layout of the room, and some samples of our artwork. Artists whose work is displayed below include myself, Gail Bramer, Kathy Friedline, Mark Johnson, Mary Elizabeth Kimbrough, Claire Noojin, and Missy Patrick (I did not get photos of all the artists' work - but Lydia Host's work is displayed on Mary Elizabeth's blog). As you can see, we have so many different styles. Our sessions start back up in early January.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Nostalgic Chair and Pear

Nothing newly completed to post tonight, but I thought I'd post the painting I entered in the Chairs and Pears exhibit this spring at the Mobile Regional Library. This was a themed exhibit organized/curated by Kathy Friedline. Kathy asked many of the artists in the community to prepare artwork including either chairs or pears (or both). Kathy had done quite a few delightful paintings of pears, and a recent one of several pears cavorting and hiding around a stuffed armchair, quite amusing and fun. It sounded like it would be a fun theme for an exhibit. Anyway, the art community responded royally and we had a lively and fun show. I did this painting of one of the adirondak chairs my husband made for me when we lived in the bayhouse on Mobile Bay. I named it "Nostalgic Chair and Pear" because this chair was washed away by Hurricane Katrina, along with most of the yard and the back of our house. He had sized the chair to my body, and prepared the slant of the back to be most comfortable for me. I really miss that chair. The pear was to add a bit of spunk. This is 24" x 30" acrylic on canvas.

I used a quick and loose painting technique over a sienna underpainting, similar to the technique taught by Bill Harrison in Fairhope, based on a workshop I took with several of my Mama Lisa friends). Oh - the Mama Lisas is our group of "seasoned" ladies who decided to paint together on a regular basis. We usually meet monthly at one of our homes, and paint whatever strikes our fancy. We provide motivation and inspiration to each other to keep on working to improve our artwork. Kathy Friedline is one of our Mamas. Jami Buck, Gail Bramer and Thayer Dodd, who I've been plein air painting with, are also Mamas. I'll also mention the other Mamas from time to time in this blog.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Dodd Nursery and some recent Figure Drawings

Last Wednesday we met for plein air painting at Thayer's nursery (Dodd and Dodd Nursery). Thayer and Tom Dodd specialize in native plants and we were treated then to a tour of the greenhouses and some of Thayer's stock plants. Here is the painting I did of several of the greenhouses and rows of vegetation stacked in front. Not much was blooming this time of year, but it was amazing all the different colors in the vegetation and the different textures - more challenges for the plein air painter! This is oil on 9" x 12" gesso board.

I also promised to post a couple of recent figure drawings - here are two from last Thursday's group session. These are in watercolor - I really love painting with Quinacridone Gold, since you can produce such a wide range of tones. This is our volunteer model, who did a great job on the spur of the moment. She seemed very relaxed and was also very talkative, we all had a great chat while drawing! We decided she should indeed keep her glasses on, and that was fun to draw as well. This Thursday will be our last session until after the first of the year. We've had alot of fun this time.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Miniature Art Show Closes, Plein Air and Figure Group

Dr. Java Coffeehouse was so good to sponsor the first annual miniature art show for the State of Alabama, called the Spanish Moss Juried Miniature Art Show of the Southeast. This was a wonderful show of small and miniature art, all pieces to be 8" x 10" or less, with many truly high quality miniature art pieces from all over the U.S. and several other countries. I hope you had a chance to take in the show and a cup of java. The Dr. Java folks should be thanked for taking the initiative and their special efforts to sponsor this show - which was of great benefit to the local arts community. The show closed on Dec 2nd, and I picked up my artwork on Wednesday afternoon. This is just a simple little pen and ink (image size is approx. 4.5" x 4.0"), but I thought it looked like the pears were having a conversation just between the two of them. Sorry about the quality of the photo, which was taken with the paper under glass, but you can get the impression of the piece.

Wednesday morning I also met with Jami Buck, Missy Patrick and Thayer Dodd at Thayer's nursery in Semmes (Dodd and Dodd Nursery) to do some plein air painting. We painted the green houses, rows of plant stock, and surrounding landscapes under cool and partly cloudy conditions. I'll post my oil sketch after I do a little touchup on it.

Thursday night was our weekly figure group session and I'll post some sketches from our session in my next blog posting. We had a great session, even though our official model did not show up. One of our artists who had shown up for the first time last night agreed to pose for us, and she did a great job of modeling. I think some of our artists were truly inspired last night! Also, Devlin Wilson, who serves as our group moderator, announced last night that Space 301 wants our figure group to display samples of our work during the LODA Art Walk next weekend. So we will be on display! We have a good time and accomplish some good work during these sessions. Check out Mary Elizabeth's blog to see some photos of our group and sample artwork from the sessions.