Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Life is Good!

On Saturday, my Mama Lisas painting group met at Claire Noojin's home for some companionship painting. Mamas who participated included Claire, Jami Buck, Kay Rodriguez, Gail Bramer, Kathy Friedline, and myself. I brought a couple of snapshots of the grandkids and decided to start a small watercolor portrait of Silas, the oldest. He will be 4 years old in November and the photo I picked out to paint was from his 2-year birthday (I think). I loved the pouting expression on his face, in conjunction with the logo on his hat: "Life is Good". And so it is. This is approximately 9 in. x 10 in., watercolor and acrylic on paper. It was a good feeling to be able to finish this portrait in just a couple of sittings. I am now inspired to do a few more quick watercolors.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Another Hot Day of Plein Air Painting

Today was another scorcher! We had planned to meet this morning at Scott's Landing since it has a couple of shade trees and a covered gazebo next to the water. This turned out to be a good site for the weather. There was actually a comfortable breeze while we sat in the shade. The temp was at least 97 degrees with a heat index of over 100. But we were quite comfortable until about noon, and then the breeze slowed up and it began to feel HOT! Our plein air group started to meet last September, and Scott's Landing was our first site. It seemed nice to return today. Here is my watercolor painting completed today - mostly in the field but finished up back in the studio when I got home. I think this is just about done. We were complaining about the white pickup truck that was parked in front of the bait shop and blocking our view, but after I decided to include it in the painting, I decided it was one of my favorite parts of the painting.

Next week we have arranged to meet at the Blue Gill Restaurant - they offered to let us set up on their covered deck and paint - with a great view overlooking the marsh.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hot! Hot! Hot! at Battleship Park!

Mobile and surrounding areas are in an extended heat wave - it's been in the upper 90s with heat index over 100 for the past couple of days, with more to come through the weekend. In spite of the heat a couple of us actually made it out to the Battleship Park on the causeway yesterday. Our Plein Air South group has been meeting through the summer months and have tried to locate shady areas to paint in order to escape the heat. Ainsley McNeely, Suzy Fox and I met yesterday morning and we trekked out onto the birdwatching pier adjacent to the park. There are covered pavillions on the boardwalk with interpretive signs to assist in identifying the waterfowl. At the end of the pier is a double-decked covered pavillion. Suzy and I camped out on top and were able to catch the warm breezes, which almost made it bearable, and the sweeping views of the marsh and bay. Ainsley stayed sheltered below for more intimate scenes of the marsh. Here's my watercolor which was completed on site. I had fun using brushstrokes to depict all the different marsh vegetation, and lost my No. 4 sable brush overboard while adding the crane structures in the background. I'm also including a photo of the marsh view for comparison purposes. I'm not sure if I will do any more to this - maybe just a few extra detail touches in the foreground.

I had a couple of hours to recover yesterday afternoon before heading back downtown for the first session of a Figure Drawing Class at Space 301 Gallery, which is being taught by Ben Shamback (an art professor at University of South Alabama). This is going to be a great class - some of us from the Figure Group are participating in order to refresh our skills and glean some new tips. Here is one of my charcoal drawings from the first session. We were practicing getting our proportions correct and using convex lines in our drawings.

Monday, June 8, 2009

No Circus Today, and Catch-up on Plein Air

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus arrived in town last week, and are camped out in the Civic Center parking lot until the end of next week when the circus performances begin. This is a 2-week layover that allows the performers and many of the other staff to take some vacation time, so nothing much is happening until they all get back in town. But the elephants and "lions and tigers and bears", and various circus trailers, are all sequestered in the parking lot. Several of us plein air painters (Lydia and Tracy Host, Jami Buck, Laura Worsham, and me) tried today to get inside the compound so we could do some plein air painting of this unusual subject material - but to no avail. The nice fellow we talked to said that we could try again next week when the managers (those who can make a decision) come back into town. So we'll be there with our most persuasive manners employed. Stay tuned.

We then headed for Washington Square to squeeze in some painting. Laura Worsham documented us with her ready camera. The rest of us sketched or painted. I tried out some new "interactive" acrylic paints I just mail-ordered, trying to paint on gessoed watercolor paper. I was not impressed, as the paper/gesso combination just ate up the paint - too absorbent! By time I got home, I was a frustrated artist - so instead decided to finish the oak tree painting I started a couple of weeks ago when Jami Buck and I went to Washington Square on our own. I loved this grand old oak with it's huge limb reaching all the way to the ground. The challenge was to depict the various colors in the shadows on the trunk, showing the twisted musculature of the trunk, as well as the mossy bark and resurrection fern growing on the limb. Here it is - I think this is pretty much finished - but may need to add a little more color on the limb to reflect the foreshortening. This is oil on canvas, 8 in x 10 in.

I also "fiddled" more with my River Shack painting I started a couple of months ago. I decided to inject a little life into the painting by adding some pelicans on the dock posts. Last week my husband and I took a drive down to the coastal areas and photographed some pelicans so I could include what I hope are some realistic pelican poses. Here's what I hope is the final product. This is oil on board, 9 in x 12 in. I'm looking for a frame for these two paintings and may take them down to the Cathedral Square Gallery this week.