Monday, December 19, 2011

Celebrating Our Maritime Heritage: A Coastal Holiday

The Mobile Museum of Art is hosting a show for regional artists to celebrate our Gulf Coastal Heritage. The show is hanging at the museum from December 9, 2011 - January 8, 2012. I entered 2 pieces into this show: my watercolor "Bayou Resilience, Bayou LaBatre, Summer 2010" (commemorating the shrimpers who helped with the oil spill cleanup); and a newly completed oil painting, "Live Bait, Mobile Causeway", which started a couple of years ago as a plein air sketch. My small painting "Live Bait" (8 in. x 10 in.) won the 3rd Place award in this show. I was pleasantly surprised and pleased that my work was juried into this show, and very surprised to win an award. There are a number of other beautiful pieces in this exhibit, so hopefully you will be able to make it by the museum over the holidays to catch the show. We should all be grateful that the museum provided this opportunity to showcase some of our local talented artists. Here is a link to the Coastal Holiday exhibition news article in the Mobile Press-Register.

I thought I would show the evolution between my original plein air oil sketch of "Live Bait" and the final completed oil painting that I submitted for this exhibit. I think this demonstrates the value of doing onsite or life sketches to enhance the immediacy of the subject.

My oil sketch was quickly painted using thin washes with the oil paint diluted with turpentine and linseed oil. The main forms and blocks of color are laid in the area of vegetation and the body of the boat. The amber underpainting shows through, which tones down most of the colors. But the areas of reflected light and shadow observed onsite are apparent.

I picked out this oil sketch from a stack in my studio when considering what I could enter into the maritime heritage exhibition. Using a couple of reference photos I took when doing the oil sketch, I was able to refine a few details and clarify the colors on the boat, in the marsh and background wooded vegetation, in the water reflections, and on the pier. I built up the color and detail with thicker paint, mixed with a little linseed oil. My challenge was to continue to paint as quickly and lightly as I could in an attempt to keep this painting looking fresh. I think I was successful in capturing the spirit of that day at Scott's Landing.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Plein Air Excursion on Dauphin Island - Nov 2nd-4th

For the past couple of months, my artist friends Missy Patrick and Gail Bramer and I have been planning to spend a few days plein air painting on Dauphin Island. We decided to spend 2 nights at a Bed and Breakfast (Dauphin House) on the island and thus spend 3 days painting to our hearts' delight. We completed our trip last Wednesday through Friday. Although cool and breezy, it turned out to be perfect for some intensive plein air painting, and there were endless subjects to paint on the island. We also had a few others join us for the day the first day or two of plein air painting. This turned out to be a wonderful way to learn from each other and hone our plein air painting skills; figure out what type gear was best; and scratch the surface on painting subjects on the island. Once we started painting, the cares and worries were left on the other side of the bridge. The island has a slower pace and a definite laid-back atmosphere; and parks and scenic views abound. The days started with the hearty B&B breakfast; ended with relaxed conversation and a glass of wine; followed by seafood dinner and early to bed. As Gail said, she was suffering from DI withdrawal once she returned back to Mobile. I completed a couple of watercolors in my journal the first day; and spent the rest of the time trying out my oils and palette knife. I don't know how well I captured the scenes, but it was definitely fun trying. We are looking forward to our next foray into some intensive plein air painting, and planning some day trips back to the island before too long.

Two views of the pond in the Audubon Bird Sanctuary.

Below is marsh view next to the Ferry Landing on the East end of the island.

Below is photo of Missy and me painting the marsh scene.

Below is scene in Little Billie Goat Hole looking toward the Estuarium and the Gazebo overlooking the marsh creation site.

Below is fishing pier and weather tower on the East End, with natural gas rigs in the background. There was a grey sky as a weather front moved through for these two oil paintings on the water.

Below is bench along one of the nature trails at the Shell Mounds park. This was such a meditative place to explore.

Plein Air Painting in Downtown Mobile

Last month, my friend Satomi and I decided to do some plein air painting downtown on a Thursday morning, in an attempt to capture some of the downtown "flavor" - this was in anticipation of doing some drawings for a fund-raising cookbook to be put out by the Cathedral Square Gallery. I did a couple of quick studies of The Spot of Tea cafe on Dauphin Street; and the Saenger Theatre (looking out from our sidewalk lunch at Cafe 219). A couple of weeks later I spent another morning photographing several other historic structures as resources for future drawings. I was never able to finish some black & white drawings for the cookbook (due Nov 1st), but here, at least, are the 2 watercolor sketches I completed on that beautiful fall morning.

The Art of Reading Show

On my way out the door to head to the library to help take in artwork for The Art of Reading show on the morning of Oct 1st, I received a call that my Mom had just fallen and broken her leg - the same leg that was just beginning to heal from a hip implant she received a couple of months earlier. I headed straight to the emergency room, but Kathy, Phyllis, Tori and Ed came through and managed to pull together the show - in an outstanding manner. I've spent the past month or so doing hospital duty and eventually helping my Mom get back home and hopefully on the road to recovery; so am just now beginning to get caught back up on things. Here is a photo of me at the reception beside my monotype print, "Remember, It Is a Sin To Kill a Mockingbird". Kathy's wonderful photo of bridesmaid reading as bride preps for the wedding is over my shoulder.

The library staff furnished a beautiful cake, which was a work of art in itself, with a 3-dimensional artist urchin sitting atop a pile of books - I was lucky enough to be able to save it and bring her home with me. We had a wonderful selection of artwork in the show, and I commend those artists who took the time to share their love of books and reading as reflected in their artwork; and to the Friends of the Mobile Public Library for donating funds for several purchase awards (providing $800 in purchase award funds!) The show will hang at the West Regional Branch Library until December 2nd, so be sure to go see it if you haven't already. This is a bi-annual show, and already looking forward to doing this again in 2013!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Anticipating The Art of Reading Show

My friend Kathy Friedline and I are working with Phyllis Jeffery and the Mobile Public Library Staff to put together the second biannual Art of Reading Show. This is a wonderful opportunity for local artists to show work celebrating the love of books and reading, and also provides for artwork for the permanent collection of the library. The Friends of Mobile Public Library will be sponsoring up to $800 in purchase awards, with the purpose of providing artwork to hang in the branch libraries. The take-in and jurying/judging of the show will be October 1st, at the West Regional Branch Library in Mobile. So I hope all my artist friends have been working on their pieces and that we will see you then.

I thought I'd give a progressive report on the piece I prepared for the show. I tried something new for me. I've always been intrigued by the printmaking process, and decided recently to teach myself how to do monotypes. I just finished reading a wonderful book, Monotype Mediums and Methods for Painterly Printmaking, on painterly monotypes by printmaker Julia Ayres, which includes very straight-forward and easy to follow instructions for the monotype process - and it is not nearly as difficult as I had feared. My favorite book and movie has always been To Kill a Mockingbird, so that was my theme for my piece.

1. I rewatched the movie and picked a scene near the end for my inspiration: Scout is walking Boo back to his house after he rescued her brother Jem and revealed himself to her. I took some liberties in my depiction of Boo, but prepared a watercolor sketch of my scene. Because the printmaking process will reverse the image, I prepared this sketch oriented on the reverse of what I wanted the final print to show. Here is my completed sketch.

2. I then prepared my plate. I used a thin sheet of acrylic plexi-glass, cut to size, and then sanded to smooth and bevel the edges and provide a curve at the corners. I then coated the working side of the plate with a coat of gum arabic and allowed it to dry. Since I was planning to prepare a watercolor print, my guidance was that the gum arabic would allow the watercolor to cleanly be lifted off the acrylic surface and transfer to the paper.

3. I then placed my watercolor sketch underneath the prepared plate to use as a painting guide, and then applied watercolor on the surface of the plate (on top of the gum arabic) to complete my water color painting. Here is a photo of the completed painting on top of the plate. I used regular watercolor, but also applied some outlined areas using a Pigma archival ink pen. The areas I want to remain white were left unpainted.

4. In order to provide a clean edge for the print, I cut out a paper mat and placed over the painted plate, and taped to the plate so it would stay in place. I then soaked Arches cover paper (cut to same size as the plate) for approximately 20 minutes. I then removed the paper and let it drip most of the water, and blotted it with paper towels so it was damp wet but not dripping. Then placed the damp paper over the matted plate and also taped on the edge so it would stay in place. Then I used my rubbing tool to press the watercolor image from the plate to the paper. I found the perfect rubbing tool - an antique marble doorknob - which has a smooth curved rubbing surface and the knob stem provides a firm grasping handle for you to hold onto while rubbing the entire surface.

5. And here is the completed watercolor monotype print (Remember, it's a sin to kill a Mockingbird). I was quite impressed with the brilliance of the colors. I think that is because the gum arabic allows all of the pigment to be transfered from the plate to the paper. The printing process also adds an interesting textural effect to the pigmented areas. After the print dried, I scribed some favorite quotes from the book around the margins of the print, and then prepared my mat for framing. The finished print is 8 1/2 in. x 11 in.

I'm very satisfied with this painterly method of printmaking, and am looking forward to trying some more printmaking techniques. Using the watercolors makes it an essentially non-toxic process, and you can complete this without any expensive or complicated equipment.

The "Come Get the Skinny" Fundraiser

It's the beginning of the cultural arts season in Mobile (although I sometimes think the season never stops - there's always so much going on nowadays!) - which means it's time for the Mobile Arts Council fundraiser. This year they are doing a silent auction of artwork donated by local artists - called the "Come Get the Skinny". I have donated something a bit different from my normal work. I mentioned previously that I took a workshop/class from my friend Mary Elizabeth Kimbrough this summer on the use of acrylic gel mediums. Using some of the techniques I learned from this class, I prepared a gel transfer print of my recent watercolor of Grandaddy Goat, and adhered it to a canvas board to which I had applied several acrylic mediums to create multi-media work. This was kind of fun to play with. Here is my completed work: "Grandaddy Goat Takes His Nap No. 2". Come see it and lots of other wonderful donated work on Thursday, 6-9 PM, at the Mobile Arts Council. Additional details and representative artwork that you can bid on are on the Mobile Arts Council Facebook Site.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Last Flings of Summer?

I have some more catching up to do, and you will see that this has been a busy summer all the way through.
In August, the Watercolor & Graphic Arts Society of Mobile (WGAS) held our juried exhibition at the Eastern Shore Art Center in Fairhope. We had a wonderful juror, Paula Payne of Pensacola, FL, who is a signature member of both the Florida and Louisiana Watercolor Societies. She had her hands full, since we had 70+ entries and had to jury it down to around 45 pieces - and all were wonderful. We also had 7 prospective members showing their audition pieces in this show. It turned out to be a wonderful show, and we got some fantastic press coverage in the Mobile Press-Register. Here is a link to the article in the Sunday arts section:

I entered two of my figures in this show: a pencil drawing of a Figure with Braid in the graphics section; and a watercolor figure of a Figure in Repose in the Aqua Medium section.

On August 20 the WGAS participated in an Art Expo at the Mobile Museum of Art, sponsored by the Mobile Arts Council, in the morning - showing the local community what our organization was about and our current/recent shows; and we also presented a Hands-on Demo/Workshop at the museum in the afternoon in association with the Shared Expressions Show. We worked with approximately 20 participants demonstrating various watercolor techniques on 3 different types of watercolor paper. Our left-over supplies were then donated to the museum's art education department.

Also on August 25th I volunteered to help with VSA Art Partners at the Independent Living Center. My art partner was Javier, and we painted a frog on lily pads. They will have an Art Partners show and auction on October 20th at the Eastern Shore Art Center to raise funds for art supplies for this program. This is a very rewarding experience for those of you who have not yet volunteered to paint with these very special and very appreciative artists. Any much credit is due to my artist friend Carolyn Greene who coordinates this program. Javier was a delight to work with. Here is a photo of me with Javier at work.

In July and August, I attended a class presented at Space 301 by artist friend Mary Elizabeth Kimbrough on various techniques using acrylic mediums. Learned some interesting ways to create texture, and how to transfer images using acrylic gel medium. This was a different twist for me but was alot of fun. Using some of these techniques, I created a piece for donation to the Mobile Arts Council "Come Get the Skinny" art auction fundraiser - turned the piece in on Sept 15th and the auction party is on September 29th. All of you should come out for a good cause and to bid on some really neat art!

In early September, we started back up with our Figure Group, which has just moved from the downtown Space 301 facility to a bright and spacious classroom in the Spring Hill College art department. In a future post, I will include some of my recent watercolor attempts at the figure.

And last week, Satomi Kamei, Ainsley McNeely and I met downtown for some plein air painting. Here is my watercolor sketch of The Spot of Tea, which faces Cathedral Square.

Satomi and I later captured the Saenger Theatre.

The Cathedral Square Gallery artists are working on putting together a cookbook that will feature artists' recipes as well as recipes from some of the downtown restaurants, and will include original artwork of some of the downtown historic buildings and popular eating establishments. More on this later.

Tomorrow I have Figure Group in the morning and then my Paint Day with the Mama Lisas in the afternoon. And Sunday afternoon we have the WGAS Members Meeting, and this will be my first members meeting as President of the Society. It was a busy summer and we will discuss plans for our future shows in the upcoming year.

Having some fun learning to do monotypes, and working with my friends Kathy Friedline and Phyllis Jeffery to put together the second biannual The Art of Reading Show, which is coming up on October 1st. I've completed a monotype for this show. More later on all of this . . .

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Shared Expressions

I can't believe it has been so long since I last posted. I took a long trip to Colorado to visit the grandbabies right after the reception for the Mama Lisa show (in last posting), and when I got back I immediately began working on putting together two shows for the Watercolor & Graphic Arts Society (WGAS) - one was the Shared Expressions exhibit at the Mobile Museum of Art - a community show of the several of the local arts organizations in the Mobile area; and the other was a juried exhibition at the Eastern Shore Art Center in Fairhope. And then my Mom fell and broke her hip and had hip replacement surgery abut 1 month ago. I've been helping her recover from the surgery in addition to keeping on top of the art goings on. Anyway, we had the opening reception for the Shared Expressions show on Sunday, July 24. Here is the watercolor painting I entered into the Shared Expressions show. I called this "Grandaddy Goat Takes His Nap". I did this painting pretty quickly (within a week), and tried very hard to keep it loose - at least it is looser than most of my recent watercolors.

Here is a link to the newspaper article about the Shared Expressions show.

Other arts organizations represented are the Mobile Art Association, the Sumi-e Society, Camera South, Azalea City Quilters, and the Coastal Clay Collective. Also three artists are honored with retrospective exhibits: Lee Hoffman and Jack Sanders, who both recently passed away, and Frances Mutchnick - all previous members of WGAS. This show will hang at the Museum until September 25th. It is a really nice exhibit - lots of diversity and some beautiful work - so be sure to check it out if you haven't alrady been there to see it.

Here is a photo of me and my Dad at the opening reception. We both made a quick run from the hospital to attend the reception. It is really amazing what they can do nowadays with hip replacement surgery. My 81-year-old mother had surgery on a Friday and went home walking on a walker the next Monday! She's come along way in the month since the surgery, and has graduated to use of a cane at times, and should eventually be able to walk without any assistance. I'm proud of how well she's doing.

My next posts will cover other activities associated with the Shared Expressions exhibit, and also the WGAS juried show at the Eastern Shore Art Center. Also, more about the Art of Reading show coming up!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Persephone and Calf, Poplarville, Mississippi

I promised I would post a sequential progress series for my latest large cow portrait, which I just finished in time for The Mama Lisas show. This is a portrait of a cow and calf, taken from a photo provided by my friend and former co-worker Katie, who grew up on a farm in Poplarville, Mississippi. Katie raised cows for show as she was growing up. She says that the mother cow in this portrait is named "Persephone" - as she puts it: ". . . as in the Queen of the Underworld in Greek mythology; this calf was hell on wheels, just like her momma!" I was tickled by this story and I tried to capture their personalities in my painting. I am hoping that I was able to capture the mischievousness in the young calf - the third generation of "hell on wheels"! So here is my progress series for this portrait.

1. Free-hand drawing onto toned canvas.

There seems to be alot of controversy nowadays about free-hand drawing versus projections and tracings of images. I am of the "old school", I guess, because I really love to draw and somehow think that tracing a projected image would result in a stilted drawing. However, I actually do often use a crude grid system to help with placement and proportions in my initial drawing. In this case I gridded the 36" x 48" canvas into one-foot squares, used that for working out the relative proportions, and then free-hand sketched in the cow and calf, making appropriate adjustments based on my "aesthetic" eye. The sketch is using a one-inch flat brush with a thinned combination of burnt sienna and burnt umber acrylic paint.

2. Block out background and begin to wash in blocks of color in acrylic.

I washed in the light blue background (cerulean blue + cadmium yellow light + titanium white); and blocked in the green grassy areas (cerulean blue + cadmium yellow light + yellow ochre + naples yellow), adding a touch of cadmium red to the green mixture to hint at shadow under the cow. Blocked in some white areas on face, neck and horns, adding some cool shades of blue and violet to establish some forms and contours.

3. Build up color and mass in the mother cow figure.

I began building up layers of color to establish the mass of the cow - my palette here is primarily burnt sienna, yellow ochre, cadmium red, alizarin crimson, burnt umber, ultramarine blue and cerulean blue. I like using a relatively limited palette with lots of the earth pigments included. I apply glazes and swatches of color in a painterly and almost abstract fashion, hoping that the shapes will eventually emerge. The beauty of acrylic paint for me is that I can paint in glazes, and if it doesn't suit me, I can build over it with more glazes. The challenge is to make any "paint overs" still look fresh.

4. More layers and begin to define the face and ears of the mamma cow.

5. Further refinement of cow's face. Block in masses of color and shapes to define the calf. At this point I also tried to make sure I captured the expressions and personalities of both subjects.

6. Further refinements. I made some adjustments to the cow's rear legs to weight them more evenly to the ground, and deepened the shadow under the cow. Also filled out the calf's legs. At this point there was something not quite right about the cow's right front leg.

7. Final adjustments to front legs and hooves, addition of highlights, and worked up layers of texture and suggestion of vegetation in the grassy area.

8. Final adjustments and highlights and a coat of varnish - and it is done! Come see "Persephone and Calf" (acrylic on canvas, 36" x 48") at the Mobile Arts Council this month, during The Mama Lisas - Young at Art exhibition.

The Mama Lisas - Young at Art

Somehow I missed the entire month of April! I know I have been to several Figure Group sessions in the interim, and will post some of those experimental drawings here soon. But the major thing I've been working on is to complete a large painting for a show during the month of May. My painting group, the Mama Lisas, is having a group show at the downtown Mobile Arts Council this month. We call it The Mama Lisas - Young at Art; which is a pun on us being eight "older" women who are emerging artists in the local art community. Well, some of us are emerging, anyway.

The show will hang at Mobile Arts Council, in the Green Room, from May 9 through May 27. The opening reception is this Friday, May 13th, 6-9 PM. Please come on out to see us and our art! Here is a photo of our group.Gail Bramer, Joanne Brandt, Janie Brown, Kathy Friedline, Karen McGahagin, Claire Noojin, and Jane Sawyer.

Front: Carolyn Greene, Gail Bramer, Karen McGahagin
Back: Joanne Brandt (me), Jane Sawyer, Kathy Friedline, Claire Noojin, & Janie Brown

We've been painting together for several years, and providing inspiration and moral support to each other along the way. I like to think there is a certain synergy to having other artist friends to encourage you to keep working, following your dreams, and to progress and grow in your art. And thanks also to the Mobile Arts Council for giving us this opportunity to share our art!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Entering my new decade . . .

I reached a new decade birthday this week. No sense in trying to hide from it - I turned 60 this past week! I'm trying to approach it in as upbeat a manner as I can muster, and hoping that it will be a good year ahead. My dear husband took me to New Orleans for my birthday present, in order to ease the transition, I think. We spent 2 days and nights and never even entered the French Quarter - I think that demonstrates that we've been there enough times to learn about several other neighborhoods and many other treasures you can find in the New Orleans area. We ate at two restaurants on Magazine Street, and 2 on Esplanade; and visited the Audubon Riverview Park; City Park; the New Orleans Museum of Art; and Bayou Savage National Wildlife Refuge. It was a beautiful 2 days of spring-like weather. Spending time in the parks, I was missing having something to paint with. I had just recently read an article in Watercolor Artist magazine about using watercolor pencils, and we detoured to an art supply shop on Magazine and I purchased my emergency art kit: a handful of watercolor pencils and a small art journal tablet. I was then able to complete a couple of little plein air sketches - mostly learning how to use the pencil media, but hopefully I was also able to catch the spring spirit as well. Here are my 2 sketches:

There were several groups of sunbathers at the Audubon Riverview Park (located on the Mississippi River levee behind the Audubon Zoo), and I caught a couple here. The article I had read demonstrated how you could scribble the pencil pigment on the paper to create a little paper palette, and then lift pigment off the paper palette with a wet brush to apply to your painting. I tried that with limited success. I did better shading layers of dry pencil to fill in color in the painting, and then using my wet brush to mix and blend the colors on the paper. Very much a learning experience! I did not have a green pencil, so was mixing my yellows and blues to achieve the greens of the grass and tree leaves.

Here is my second sketch, of the scene in City Park behind the Museum of Art. I had a little more success this time in blending different shades of green, and also getting a little stronger pignmentation. Still need some more darks for contrast, but it is a learning experiment here. Note the ibis in the foreground. It was amazing that there were flocks of ibises in the park that were begging to be fed along with the ducks, geese and seagulls. Also several coots in the ponds. Such a beautiful day and a good feeling that the park has recovered so much since Hurricane Katrina.

We also spent some time at Bayou Savage National Wildlife Area, which is located along Highway 90 east of New Orleans. This swamp was also heavily impacted by Hurricane Katrina, with alot of salt water being trapped behind levees and killing the freshwater vegetation. I took lots of photos of the swamp with dead trees rising up to the crystal blue skies. But, there were also observable indications of recovery here as well, with new plantings of cypress, hackberries and other shrubs in the swamp. Here are a couple of photos from Bayou Savage.

Me in front of the spartina marses on the south side of Hwy 90.

One of those haunting scenes of the dead trees rising out of the impacted marshes on the north side of Hwy 90.

And before I close I just have to include a photo I took at the New Orleans Museum of Art. NOMA is celebrating their 100th birthday this year. There were several paintings from the permanent collections on display, and I really enjoyed the Modern Art gallery. I was pleasantly surprised to discover this wonderful painting by Richard Diebenkorn! My artist friend Conroy Hudlow had recently loaned me his book on Diebenkorn, an abstract expressionist painter from the mid-century who also dabbled in figurative art. I fell in love with his use of color, and was pleasantly surprised to see that NOMA had one of his figurative masterpieces in their collection. Here is the woman on the porch!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Mini Award and Sunday at the Redeemer

We held the opening reception for the Spanish Moss Miniature Art Show last Friday evening. The show is being held this year at the Mobile Arts Council and is sponsored by our small local group, the Alabama Miniature Art Society. We had 111 entries from 31 different artists, including artists representing 15 different states, one artist from England, another from Israel, and 6 local artists. So this is truly an international show on miniature art. I am happy to report I won one of the local merit awards sponsored by Alabama Art Supply, for my 4" x 4" acrylic painting "Feeding Time". My Alabama Art Supply gift certificate is the perfect gift for any artist, since I love to shop there for art supplies! The show will hang at the Mobile Arts Council through the end of the month - so be sure to go by and take in the show - you will be surprised at the variety and the quality of the artwork.

On Sunday, there was another art reception at The Artist's Place, hosted by The Episcopal Church of the Redeemer. My friend Claire Noojin and fellow artist Karen Spaulding are showing their work there for the month of March. I only took a couple of photos there, but here is a nice one of Claire standing in front of some of her artwork. If you haven't been to one of the receptions at The Artist's Place, you are missing an excellent opportunity to commune with local artists and art supporters. The Church of the Redeemer considers this a part of their art mission and they usually have a showing of a local artist's work on the second Sunday of each month, 2 - 4 PM.

Weather is starting to seem like spring, so will have to get out again soon for some more plein air painting. Hope to post some photos from outdoors painting here soon.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

LoDa Art Walk - Featured Art

Tomorrow (Friday) is the monthly LoDa Art Walk in downtown Mobile. The weather should be great, and spring is in the air, so we are hoping for a good crowd of art lovers and shoppers. I will be one of 3 featured artists at the Cathedral Square Gallery, along with Nancy Hanrath and Conroy Hudlow. This afternoon I took my mother down to the gallery (since she is unlikely to come downtown for the evening artwalk), and I was able to take a couple of photos of our featured art. (Yes - the cows are here!) The gallery is really looking good and we hope you can come check us out.

I also have a couple of miniature paintings in the Spanish Moss Miniature Art Show at the Mobile Arts Council. And several other galleries will also be open for the artwalk festivities. So come on down for some fine art, food and music, and to co-mingle with fellow art lovers downtown.

Cathedral Square Gallery: 5:30 - 8:30 PM
Spanish Moss Miniature Art Show Awards Reception: 5:00 - 6:00 PM
LoDa Art Walk: 6:00 - 9:00 PM

Monday, March 7, 2011

Spring Plein Air Session - Spanish Plaza

Last week my friend Jami Buck and I made an initial plein air excursion downtown to Spanish Plaza on a beautiful spring day. There was alot of activity downtown getting ready for Mardi Gras parades (Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday is tomorrow!), and some of the plantings were fenced in chicken wire to protect them from the parade crowds. But Spanish Plaza is a little off the beaten path and was very peaceful that morning. Here is my quick watercolor sketch I made (with only a little touching up back in the studio). I was able to catch one of our homeless residents sitting on a park bench, with the park statuary and vegetation framing him, and the busy Government Boulevard street scene faded in the background. Since that day it has been rainy and now coolish weather, but more beautiful spring weather is just around the corner and beckoning us to start back into plein air painting on a regular basis.

Last week I finished an oil painting class I've been taking at Space 301 - we spent 4 sessions on a still life and 4 sessions on a figure painting, focusing on capturing warm and cool light and shadow. And last weekend our Mama Lisas group met to paint together and plan for our upcoming show at the Mobile Arts Council in May. There is much other art activity coming this week. This month I am one of the featured artists at Cathedral Square Gallery, along with fellow artists Nancy Hanrath and Conroy Hudlow. Our artwalk reception is this Friday, 5:30 - 8:30 PM. We featured artists are responsible for providing the food for the reception, so if you can make it out this Friday come join us for some wine, refreshment and fun while observing the art. Also during LoDa artwalk is the reception for the Spanish Moss Miniature Art Show at the Mobile Arts Council. We'll be presenting the awards for the show between 5 and 6 PM before the artwalk begins. There are 111 miniature art pieces, submitted from over 30 artists from all over the country, as well as one artist from England and one other from Israel - and it is all amazingly diverse and beautiful art. You have to come see it to believe it. More to come . . .

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Challenge of Miniature Art

Last year I entered the Second Annual Spanish Moss Show, and learned that I am definitely not a miniature art artist! However, that has not discouraged me from still trying my art skills in such endeavors. I learned that miniature art is not just painting small - miniature art is a skill in painting very finely and detailed with small brushes to create a smooth painting surface that hides the brush strokes. However, there are miniature art societies across the world that exhibit miniature art in many media and styles, so I think there may yet be a niche for my work. In Mobile we have established the Alabama Miniature Art Society, and tomorrow we turn in work for the Third Annual Spanish Moss Show of Miniature Art. It will be shown downtown at the Mobile Arts Council during the month of March, with an opening reception during the LoDa art walk on March 11th. There will be artwork from expert miniature art artists from all over the country, and I think you will be quite impressed with the calibre of the artwork. I attempted two paintings, 4 in. x 4 in. in acrylic as shown below. I am pleased with these paintings as small paintings, but not sure they will compare to the other fine miniature artwork that will be displayed in the show. But here are my two entries. Come on down to the Mobile Arts Council during March and see how the real experts present their work!

"Cozy", acrylic on matboard, 4 in. x 4 in. (This is based on a photo of our grand-daughter Priya bundled in her favorite afghan and blanket.)

"Feeding Time", acrylic on matboard, 4 in. x 4 in. I loved the cows in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island - here are twin calves feeding in a small farmer's yard - I also loved the blue barn/shed in the background.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Treasures of Mobile Bay and Delta Area

I can't believe it is already 2011! The new year is already presenting a flurry of activity in the arts community. Yesterday the Watercolor & Graphic Arts Society of Mobile took in artwork for our Mobile Bay and Delta area show, which will hang downtown at the Mobile Arts Council during the month of January. This is kind of a different type of exhibit for the WGAS organization, since there will be no jurying or judging of artwork, although the works will be offered for sale. This is an opportunity for our artists to share their love for the places and creatures that surround us in the Mobile Bay and Delta area, and spotlight why it is so important to conserve and protect these resources. Mobile is a watery wonderland of sorts, with lakes, rivers, bays, coastal beaches, marshes, swamps and maritime forests in abundance. All of this beauty and diversity was threatened this past spring by the horrendous BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Efforts are continuing to try to clean up from the spill and to study what we can do to try to recover and protect our coastal and watery habitats from this threat and future threats. This exhibit is a way for artists to remind our community of why it is so important to protect our coastal resources: habitats, wildlife and birds, and also the people whose livelihoods and ways of life are dependent on a clean and healthy aquatic system.

The exhibit will hang through January 28th, and the reception will be Friday, January 14th, 6 - 9 PM during the LoDa Art Walk. Here is a photo of my watercolor entry: "Bayou Resilience - Bayou LaBatre, Summer 2010". This painting is based on photos I took with my friend Kathy Friedline in June, when our plein air group (Plein Air South) visited the bayou to capture the shrimp boats. Kathy and I spoke to these 3 brothers on their fishing boat as they came in from searching the Gulf and Mississippi Sound for floating mats of oil (note the piles of absorbent boom material on the deck of the boat), as part of the Vessels of Opportunity program. Bayou LaBatre is the center of the local seafood economy. These brothers came from a family of 11 children, all of which along with their parents were employed in the seafood industry and greatly affected by the spill. Our hearts go out to those who were impacted by the spill and the economic tailspin it caused, especially in the seafood economy. We are impressed with the resilience they possess and have demonstrated, and wish them godspeed to get back on their feet again.