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 . . .