I caught this little scene last weekend on the Columbia River Dikelands near our town.
This lowland marsh district is full of farms, water-filled ditches and grazing livestock. In the distance, foothills and ridges stand guard.
This time of the year, the clouds and fog in this area are ever-changing and just lovely.
Right now, though, a winter storm is blasting through, complete with flickering lights and extremely high winds. I have three very excitable young boys bouncing off the walls and repeatedly opening the front door to get a better look. I better go get the candles and flashlights ready. :)
I must credit my three-year-old for the title, - he was very disappointed that I was painting just a 'normal tree', as opposed to a much more festive Christmas tree. :)
This normal tree is seasonally appropriate to me; we had many 'brown Christmases' when I was a kid. I didn't like them then, but I can appreciate their subtle beauty now. Several years in the perma-green environment of the Pacific Northwest (which I completely love), has made me all the more aware of the lovely sepia tones of midwest winters, especially on those overcast, frigid, snowless days.
(This photo is from a Minnesota November.)
And also, making that collage of my 200 paintings had me overwhelmed with color. Too much color!
Lol. Don't worry, I'll get over it - you know I can't stay in one spot too long. ;)
I absolutely love the sunny days of summer, but, after many bright days in row, I long for the clouds and the rain.
To me, gray skies are a soft, warm blanket.
It's raining today, and I am happy.
This is one of my favorite buildings in our town, and this little scene is my 'why I love the rain'. I've passed it hundreds of times, and only once have I ever seen it lit from within. It was all I could do to not bang on the door and beg to be allowed inside. I'm sure it would be warm, and smell like dirt and grease and oil, and there would be work tables and scads of tools with worn wooden handles, and shop stools scattered about. And snacks. :)
My sweet friend Kara invited me to participate in an 'Around the World Blog Hop', so today's post will be a little different than my norm. First, I'll answer a few questions about my work and then I'll pass the baton to two other artists that have graciously accepted my invitation. What a great way to learn a little more about each other - thanks for the invite, Kara!
By the way, besides being an invaluable friend and resource for all my arty angst, Kara is an incredible watercolor painter and I adore her work. Be sure to hop back along the blogging trail to check hers out as well - you won't be disappointed. :)
Ok, here we go...
1. What am I working on?
Well, I have a nearly finished painting of cherries in a box that I did last Friday. The cherries just didn't come out as 'juicy' as I wanted, so I'm really debating whether it's worth trying to improve, or if I should just ditch it and start something completely new. I get a little stubborn about these things, and then Kenny Rogers starts on a loop in my head - 'know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em'... and I go a little crazy. :)
2. How does my work differ from others of my genre?
Hmm..., that's tough. I'm not good at defining 'style' (mine or anyone else's), so the main distinction is my 'voice', whatever that exactly means. After happily painting the ideas of others for years, I feel like I'm finally starting to figure out what I like and what I want to say through my work. I'm sure life experience has as much to do with that as anything - whatever it is, it's rewarding to experience and refine.
I also know that my creative style has never naturally been 'loosy-goosy'. I clearly remember a print-making critique from a fellow student in my college years, - I'm pretty sure she wasn't a fan of my subject matter - but she said my work was always 'crisp and clean'. :) I keep trying to loosen up, to use bigger brushes, but my default is definitely neat and tidy. I really did love my eighth grade drafting class. :)
3. How does my creating process work?
I paint from my own photos, so the creating starts long before I settle into my painting corner. I bring a camera everywhere, and am always grabbing little moments of light, interesting shadows, snapshots of our daily life. The more I do this, the more I see things I wouldn't have seen before, the better I can tell in advance if an 'amazing' scene will or won't translate onto a little 6" x 6" panel. I'll move around, up and down, to change the perspective, horizon line, etc., and just get as many options as I can. I literally have thousands of photos on my computer, and still, most days I feel like I don't have anything to paint. :)
Once I finally make a selection, I use a simple photo-editor (I use Picasa) to crop and edit my pick. Composition is like, so, so, key, -- sometimes it feels like I spend more time cropping to find just the right composition than I do actually painting! More than once, I've nearly completed a piece before admitting the composition was lacking - I really want them to be interesting and unique.
There are other challenges to painting from photos - the camera distorts lines, and of course, colors can be all wonky. This is where my design background comes in handy. Most often, I will print a fast gray-scale copy of my composition, and then draw right on it to make it work for me. I'll fix distorted lines, make sure the perspective is right, move things around, add a tree here, take out that telephone pole that is just one too many, etc. Did I mention that composition is key? :)
I rely very heavily on my photo reference for composition and values, but everything else is more intuitive. The camera doesn't always capture the color of sky that I remember, or the warmth of the sunlight or the lusciousness of the cherries in their box, so I try hard to ignore the photo at some point and just make the piece 'mine'. Y'know, just wing it. Not that anyone would be able to tell besides me - haha! Yup, not very loosy-goosy. :)
Ok, after all that, I'm gonna pass you on to two very talented artists, both of whom (as far as I can tell) work very differently than me. I can't wait to learn more about them!
Sunny Avocado paints in several different styles and media. Her portfolio includes beautiful portraits, whimsical puppets, mouth-watering pb & j's, and energetic abstracts. I'm especially a fan of her birds series - works that combine a wonderfully moving abstract background with realistic little birds. 'Beaks' and 'Beaks II' are my faves - love 'em! Thanks, Sunny for accepting my invite! Now go visit her blog, Sunny Avocado Art!
I literally grew up down the road from Kayleen Horsma, and thanks to art, we've recently become friends. Kayleen is an oil painter, I find her work so expressive, so moving, so beautiful. She recently completed a show entitled, 'Expressions of a Sami Heritage', and I just loved it. She has been so encouraging to me, and I totally look up to her. Go check out her blog, Painting Color Within - she's super talented! Thanks, Kayleen!
You're so gorgeous and warm and terribly dangerous to drive in. :)
Whenever we head out of our small town, my boys discuss the upcoming trip for time, distance, landmarks, etc, and they always refer to any wooded area, in any region of the country, as 'The Forest'. As in, "First we go through 'The Forest', and then we cross the bridge..."
It makes me smile.
This scene from 'The Forest' was just the other day, driving away from my sister's house in the Washington hills. So pretty.
This little copper bank has kept me busy! I've been fiddling with him off and on for three days now. Sigh. They don't always just come flying off the brush. Ok, they almost never do. But, I am glad I stuck with him instead of wiping off in frustration.
We got this little fella from our favorite local vintage vendor, and my three-year-old promptly claimed ownership. It makes me smile when I see him being carted around the house. :)
This sweet little cottage is tucked under the high and curving ramp of the Astoria-Megler bridge in Astoria, Oregon.
Of course it's all about the light for me, - the setting sun, the long shadows, -- I cannot resist.
I completely enjoyed making this one - it makes me smile and chuckle and wonder a bit if you'll all think I've lost it. ;) Ah, well, I suppose you know by now that sometimes I really need a little 'ugly' in my 'pretty' -- a power line in my sunset, you might say. ;)
Honestly, I can barely recall the first part, because we spent the last part of the month making a road trip to Minnesota for my grandfather's funeral. :(
He was ninety-five and will be greatly missed, most especially by his bride of seventy-one years, my sweet grandma.
My unexpected family reunion was exceedingly bittersweet, and it's taking me some time to get back in the swing of regular life. So much life needing to be attended to, -- it can be ultra-challenging to find time to paint.
But, I have missed it terribly, and I'm so happy I finally have something to show you! My two older boys are back in school and the youngest is thoroughly enjoying having the place to himself, and I will hopefully have more time in my painting corner. :)
This scene is from somewhere in Montana. Oh, Montana, you with your big sky and never-ending round bales. You are so lovely in August.
I've had a hankering to go to the beach (coast, whatever you want to call it) lately, and it's no wonder - we haven't been since my parents visited last August! Can this be true?? Considering we live about an hour from some of the most beautiful coastline in the country, that's crazy.
Must go to the beach!
This happy little waves-at-sunset scene is from a few winters ago. It was taken at Fort Stevens State Park in Warrenton, Oregon, very near the wreck of the Peter Iredale.
I've wanted to paint the Carlton Elevator for a while, but all my photos of it were taken on cloudy days. Imagine that. ;)
On our little anniversary tour of the neighborhood, we actually parked the car and wandered around the tiny wine-tasting town of Carlton, Oregon, just so I could take oodles of sunshiny pics of this here lovely elevator.
I haven't painted for a couple of weeks and this was a fun way to jump back in. (After spending a couple of hours on a too-hard-for-rusty-skills, what-was-I-thinking-wiper-off-er, of course. ;) As I do.)
We started our Sunday drive by doing a loop on Sauvie Island, the largest island along the Columbia River. Known (at least by me) for its pumpkin patches and corn mazes, the 26,000 acre island is flat and farmy, with the added bonus of foothills and mountains rising gloriously in the distance.
This little scene was one of many just like it, - a lone oak standing guard in his field.
Reminds me of that old saying, "Farmers: Outstanding in their field."
Y'know, like you'd see on a t-shirt in the Miles Kimball catalog. ;)
(That makes me sound like I'm 114 years old. I am not.)
Side note, my mom ordered us personalized pencils from Miles Kimball one year that read: 'Stolen from' followed by our name. :)
Ohhh, for some reason that makes me laugh and laugh every time I think about it! Boy, we used to fight over that catalog. Good times. :)