figures


Luke’s great, great grandparents owned a carnival that traveled from town to town. Spin the wheel and you might win a bird in a birdcage.

Luke's Great Great Grandparents

Luke’s Great Great Grandparents

Their son, Luke’s grandfather, preferred the high seas and became a merchant mariner, traveling from continent to continent rather than town to town.  Eventually, the carnival was sold to Barnum and Bailey.  Though Luke didn’t inherit the wanderlust, he definitely inherited the love of theatrics and showmanship.  His great, great grandparents would be proud.

Watercolor Painting – The Carnival -commissioned by Luke’s wife, Carrie.  Image 8″ x 12″ framed to 12″ x 16″.  The painting will hang on the wall beside the player piano, across from the stand up Victrola (both in excellent working condition).

Limited palette: Burnt Umber, Raw Umber and a touch of French Ultramarine Blue.

On Monday morning I had an hour and a half to sketch on West Main Street in Salisbury, MD while Anita did errands.

From the corner of Mill and West Main Street, Salisbury, MD

On Thursday, Dave had errands to do, giving me the opportunity to sketch Main Street looking in the opposite direction.

Not quite finished when I had to catch my ride back to Tyaskin

West Main Street, Salisbury, MD detail of left side

West Main Street, Salisbury, MD detail of right side

Unfortunately, West Main Street, a lovely quaint street, is a bit of a ghost town.  A mother and son, waiting for I know not what, provided the opportunity to breathe a bit of life into the drawing.

Mother and Son …. waiting …. for whom?

Looks like I’ll be teaching a couple of multi-day, color scheme game workshops in Salisbury in 2013, most likely in February and again in April.  I’ll keep you posted.

Sketchbook, en plein air drawing: drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Black ink… followed by watercolor and gouache.

One of the many rewards of motherhood is receiving wonderful, handmade treasures from my children.

Fimo Creature with Bottle Cap Umbrella

Playing the Seasonal Version of The Color Scheme Game is more difficult than I had imagined.  The task was to paint the sketchbook drawing of the Fimo Creature in Winter Evening colors.  I feel the different parts of my brain working as I roll the clock back to a remembered winter evening and attempt to fix it in my brain. The subject of my drawing is not a factor. I strive to express the mood of the evening by choosing colors that suggest the atmosphere of that past moment.   There are as many color combinations of winter evenings as there are minutes in a day.  At times it feels more like a process of elimination, removing color and saturation options one at a time until I have distilled the choices.  This is exactly what I wanted from this exercise.

Sketchbook drawing:   Family Treasures No. 38, Fimo Creature with Bottle Cap Umbrella. Drawn first with fountain pen followed by watercolor.  Seasonal color Palette …. Winter Evening.

Last night I met Maria Woodford’s mentor, the amazing blues singer/songwriter, Gaye Adegbalola!  Gaye and Roddy Barnes (stunning piano and vocals) performed last night at Tierney’s Tavern in Montclair, NJ.  Over the top!  I’m still smiling….

Roddy and Gaye setting up

Roddy Barnes on piano

Three Muses, Marci, Gaye and Gloria

Incredible musicians and fabulous performers!  When the evening ended, I wanted it to start all over again.

Sketchbook drawings: drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Black Ink, followed by Peerless Watercolors applied with waterbrush.

Since Elementary School when they were first introduced to me, I have been a fan of Venn Diagrams. It is not unusual for me to see my surroundings fall into the overlapping intersections of Venn Diagram circles.  On the occasion when I can’t help but share my observation, the response is often a blank stare. Oh well ….

Kokeshi Geisha Dolls and Glass Inkwell

The wooden dolls, Kokeshi dolls made in Japan, were given to me by a childhood friend, Melvin Jameson.  He moved to the mid-west with his family when I was in the third or fourth grade.  My parents and I visited them while on a road trip.  It was during that visit that Melvin gave me these dolls.

I wanted a third object to break the background into a more interesting shape.  One of my glass inkwells served the purpose.  When the sketchbook drawing was complete I was faced with the problem of labeling it as part of the Family treasures Series or as part of the Glass Inkwell Series.  I find the labeling of anything to be a problem.

As the intersecting circles of Venn diagrams took form in my head I realized that the drawing could be part of both series.

Sketchbook Drawing:  Family Treasures No. 37 and Glass Inwells No. 7, Japanese Kokeshi Dolls and Glass Inkwell. Drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Black Ink followed by watrcolor washes.  Color Scheme: Split Complements (Yellow-Orange, Blue, Violet) Dominant Color is Yellow-Orange.

In 1951 my parents hoped they would name their new baby Christopher.  Instead, they named me Christine.  Eight years later, after trying one more time to add a son to their family, David Howard Charles Carter was born.

The Boy, Bisque Kewpie Doll, 1959

To celebrate this momentous event, my mother received not one, but two, bisque Kewpie Dolls!  One sat upon her dresser as long as I can remember.  The other moved about the house back and forth between the fireplace mantel and the knick knack shelf.  Until my brother entered kindergarten we referred to him as “The Boy”.  Sharing a room with my brother until I was sixteen brought us close together.  At one point, I insisted on bamboo curtains to divide our room in half and provide a bit of privacy.  As soon as I could drive I brought him everywhere with me.  As young adults we spent our summers together hiking the Appalachian Trail and rock climbing.  Eventually, after climbing the cliffs across the country, I left him in Boulder, Colorado to begin his freshman year in college.  I headed to Yosemite to climb the north face of Half Dome with the man who became the father of my children.  It all started with a bisque Kewpie Doll.

Sketchbook Drawing: Family Treasures No. 36, The Boy – drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s black ink, followed by watercolor.

Arranging more than two hundred paintings for the 123rd Annual NA.W.A. Exhibit (National Association of Women Artists, Inc) is a daunting task.

Setting Up at Sylvia Wald & Po Kim Art Gallery

Working with a group of fabulous women artists, the goal of placing paintings and sculptures where they enhance one another was accomplished before the sun went down.  The paintings will be hung today, a few adjustments being made with fresh eyes and clearer minds than ours were when we descended in the elevator last night.  This is my first exhibit as a member of N.A.W.A.

Gwenndalynns, Watercolor

My painting, Gwenndalynns, is hanging in the show.  The 123rd Annual Exhibit runs from September 1 -30th at the Sylvia Wald and Po Kim Art Gallery, 417 Lafayette Street, 4th Floor, New York City.  Opening Reception and award Ceremony is September 21st from 6-8 pm.

Painting: Gwenndalynns, Watercolor, Framed Size: 23″ x 31″

A perfect title for a Nancy Drew mystery.

Family Treasures No. 18

This is the second painting of The Glass Lady. I posted the first one on the Creative Color Blog.  I wanted to stay more delicate in this painting.  The Glass Lady was my mother’s.  She sat upon her dresser, hiding the small, homeless or injured objects that accumulated during the days and weeks and years of my childhood. In the first painting, the shadow became opaque and along with its opacity it acquired the visual appearance of being an object rather than a shadow.  With this in mind, I kept the shadow more ghostlike.  At the same time, I experimented with presenting the aspect “shadow as object” by allowing it to exist beyond the boundary of the yellow cell.

Painting: drawn first with vintage Sheaffer fountain pen filled with Noodler’s black ink, followed by washes of watercolor.

Color Scheme: Complementary Triad of Yellow, Violet and Blue/Green

The struggle to describe form on a face continues….  still working from photographs …. ugh!

linking light shapes and dark shapes

Everything I’m working on right now relates not only to human figures, but to masses of trees and landscapes, too.  Returning to plein air painting made me realize I need to sharpen my eye and brain to organize the shapes of reality into strong patterns of abstraction.  I thought, after so many years of painting movement and abstraction that I would have broken my habit of duplicating reality when it is sitting still in front of me.  I was wrong!

Slowly, very slowly, I’m making progress.  Every ten minutes I want to stop this discipline and toss or platter a bit of paint, swirl a bit of ink and simply play with color and shapes.  I can feel myself tighten when I reach the limit of my ability in realistic drawing and painting.  I want to return to something I am comfortable with.  I want to do an ink drawing of the hollyhocks in bloom and color it in with gorgeous pinks and greens.  I want to dash off to a music festival with my dip pen and watercolor box.

My mother before I was born, great hat!

It’s hard to believe, but I worked on this little 5″ x 7″ sketch for four hours!  It looked fresh and alive after about half an hour, but the forms on the face were wrong.  I went back and forth with watercolor, then gouache, to bring back lights, to correct values of shadows, to simplify, to capture light falling on the different planes of the face.  It ended up an overworked mess, but I am satisfied with the head looking like a solid form that might actually have a skull inside of it.  In spite of knowing my anatomy, there is a glitch in my hand/brain/brush when I attempt to paint realistically.

V. D. King at the Grisly Pear

This is how I love to paint.  Why do I bother struggling with painting from photos, stiff and boring?  Because I want to bring the skill and knowledge I gain from that discipline into my plein air and moving figure paintings.  They will become more consistently stronger.  And ….. I want to keep breaking through my limitations.  Until I can paint from a photograph successfully with the result being as lovely, loose and descriptive as the portrait of V.D. King, I will not be satisfied.

Grumpy Chris as a toddler

I am as grumpy this morning as I was when the photo I worked from was taken.  What is it that makes a face look old?  look young? look middle-aged? When does the balance of hard edges and soft edges work in the composition of facial planes?

Top image: ink brush or ink brush and copic markers

Middle image: watercolor and gouache

Bottom image: watercolor

I say I don’t work from photographs.  That’s not true.

Watercolor sketches of heads

Every few months I take an honest look at my work and choose an area I would like to strengthen.  I then dig through my piles of art books to find examples to emulate.  It is usually early in the morning or late at night (the sun isn’t illuminating the world with color) when I focus on going back to square one to learn or improve something I skipped or missed along the way.  For the purpose of exercise, I use photographs, photographs of trees, boat, landscapes, bodies, faces, etc.  These exercises are the foundation for the drawings and paintings created directly from the real, three-dimensional world or the world of my inner visions.  I view these as my body of work, the work I offer to the world with my name on the bottom.

Recently, while cleaning my studio, I came upon a folder of faces I found in magazines many years ago.  Perfect timing.  Inspired by another artist whose blog I follow, Qiang Huang, I want to improve my expression of form in the figure and head.

Frida Kahlo, Watercolor Portrait

Beside my drafting table is a pile of photos, including family albums, and the three books I find most useful for learning more about expressing unique personality in watercolor; Painting People in Watercolor by Alex Powers, Portrait Painting in Watercolor by Charles Reid and Interpreting The Figure In Watercolor by Don Andrews.  I return to these books again and again, always learning something new each time.

Yes, I do work from photographs.

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