Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spring trees in bloom - ACEO

tags:  eastern landscape painting - original pastel painting - for sale - redbud tree - dogwood tree - barns - magnolia - cherry tree
More ACEO-sized mini-pastels....for a new series on spring:

Redbud Tree
White Dogwood

Cherry Tree & Red Barn

During the time we lived in CT, my favorite season was, hands-down, the spring.   Around mid to late April, the land transformed from a dreary winter drab to acid greens of new leaf growth and blooming trees set forth to put on their show, and it was always exciting to see everything come to life again.  In our neighborhood, you didn't have to go far to find lots of different trees in festive spring blossoms.

But, they don't last...the magnolia trees are among the first to bloom, but they begin to drop their petals almost immediately, producing a carpet of creamy white below them.  This one was on a huge property right near downtown.  

I'd never seen redbud trees (I believe that is what this tree is) before moving to New England.  This particular tree was short and stocky, almost dwarf-like in its appearance.  I knew back when I took the reference photo last year I had to paint it.  It will likely be the first in a bigger size I do.

Dogwood trees are special to me.  I was born in MD, and although we moved to AZ when I was very young, I still have memories of them, and they are probably my favorite of the east coast trees.  Their graceful, curving branches always remind me of a Japanese painting.  

The cherry tree was situated on the corner of our street and New London Rd.  And, then there is the barn...an old, but well-maintained barn that I became quite fond of.  It is in many of my photos, and I was indeed lucky to get the photo of the tree in bloom with the barn.  The barn is an integral part of this image to me.

So, one or more of these will make it to bigger sizes, possibly in oils.  It's part of a series on spring I want to do.  


Cats are great to have around for their entertainment value.  Sometimes, Nelson forgets to put his tongue back in his mouth.  And, sometimes, I happen to get my camera before he remembers to.  It never fails to make us laugh.  

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Colorado Wildflowers #1-5 - ACEO


Montage of Colorado Wildflowers #1-5
Each 2.5 x 3.5 inches
soft pastel on black Strathmore paper

These were so fun to do!  The size is perfect, the paper and pastels cooperated, and now I have five little botanical paintings of some of the amazing wildflowers found in Colorado.   I think I will try to do a few of these every day - they are a great way to combine drawing and painting into a regular thing in addition to whatever else is going in the studio.  

A truly bizarre thing happened when I was taking photos of these earlier today, though.  I normally take my photos outside, and place the painting on the ground, and hold the camera directly above it to take the photo.  It's simple and depending on light conditions, I can take pretty darn good photos like this.  

Anyway, I took the last 3 down to photograph on my front step, and set them all on the clipboard.  Unsecured.  I didn't really appreciate exactly how windy it was outside, or I would have taken the photos one at a time clipped to the board.  So, no sooner had I taken the first photo, a wind gust blows two off the board.  I quickly grab them and then note that the Aspen Fleabane (which is accidentally mis-titled here as "Arctic Fleabane") has blown away in front of the garage.  

In the time it took me to place the two paintings inside and go back to grab the other, it had disappeared. Gone.  Absolutely nowhere to be found.  I literally searched the entire parking lot, under all the cars, the street, and everywhere within a 100-ft. radius, and it was simply nowhere.  Unbelievable.  Well, that's a mistake I won't make again.  So, I had to re-do it.  Probably v#2 is better anyway, but still...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Small landscape studies - ACEO original art

Tags:  pastel painting - abstract landscape - fall colors - cloud painting - sunset

More experimentation...

ACEO trio #1
each  2.5 x 3.5 inches
pastel on Strathmore black paper

New ideas come about in any number of ways, I've found.  In this case, I had recently purchased a new pad of the black Strathmore Artagain paper I enjoy working on.  The local art store only had a 12x12" pad rather than the 9x12 I usually get.  Wanting to keep the size consistent for the Ancient Architecture series I've been doing on this paper, I trimmed up a few pieces to have available.

Normally, I save these left-over pieces for trying out color combinations for the paintings.  However, as I got to thinking, it occurred to me that I could instead use them as small color thumbnails for larger paintings, or even do them as miniature paintings in their own right.  For those not familiar with ACEO, it is the acronym for "Art Cards, Editions and Originals".   ACEO's are a spin-off of the original Art Trading Cards that have been popular for years:  artists creating small works of art and trading them with other artists.  The only criteria for both ATC's and ACEO's is that they must be 2.5 x 3.5 inches.  Otherwise, anything goes!

I've seen an increasing number of artists working in this size, in everything from mixed media collage to highly-detailed paintings in oil, and I've always been intrigued by the whole ACEO/ATC movement.  They are also popular on Etsy and eBay.

I did the first three yesterday, and here's what they look like in a wood mini-frame ($1.50 at Walmart):

Cloudscape #1, framed

Honestly, how cool is that?  The display and presentation options are endless.  

Today, I worked on another set, all from memory/imagination, and meant to be abstract fields of flowers:

ACEO trio - #2

It was so fun working on these little nuggets of soft pastel goodness, having fun with color and ideas - I think I'm hooked!   After working on these, I had another idea to do a series of Colorado wildflowers on these cards.  Two are done, and I'll be posting those tomorrow along with others I finish.  They will dovetail nicely with the surreal florals I'm doing in oils.  Working in soft pastel in such a small size limits the detail I can get, especially since I don't have any pastel pencils.  But, I love the simplicity.  

Because of the small size, these don't look as good when they are enlarged to more than 100%, so I used GIMP to create these montages.   

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hovenweep #2 - Ancient Architecture series

Something totally different....

Hovenweep #2 - Standing Alone
pastel on black Strathmore

Last night, while catching up on one of our favorite TV series via Netflix, I was noticing the wonderful abstract paintings in the office of one of the main characters (the POTUS, in fact).  Reds and blues and other bright primaries and secondaries.  So, that is the source of inspiration for the palette in this latest painting in the Ancient Architecture series.  I think there is some Wolf Khan influence in there as well.  

It almost went into the trash before it was even 1/2 way finished; I had grabbed an earthy brown to use for the area behind the ruin, and realized it didn't work with the reds.  I scrubbed it out, but it's still visible as an underpainting of sorts, but I did salvage it.  Since this obliterated the black surface of the paper, I decided "what the heck?", and proceeded to use my brush to scrub everything out.  It's always surprising how freeing things become when you figure it will head to the trash anyway:  nothing to lose!

I titled this painting such because one of the distinctive features of the Hovenweep ruins is that the buildings do all stand alone, and the reds used in the painting were meant to emphasize this.  They aren't in large "houses", like those seen at Chaco and Mesa Verde.  And the puebloan architects and masons frequently placed their homes (or whatever this was) directly on exposed slickrock; this particular building sits atop a sandstone ledge.  Beside it, a rubble pile is all that remains of the rest of the building, with a few scatted rocks shown to represent what used to belong to the dwelling.  


Unrelated update:  the dumpster diving raccoon had managed to extricate himself from his metal prison, presumably with the help of additional trash thrown in there.  A good thing, as the trash was collected today.  A friend had suggested I contact Animal Control, and I don't know why I didn't think of that initially, but I won't hesitate to call if that situation arises again.  

Rose - floral painting, 6x6

tags:  original art - pink rose - oil painting - alla prima - surrealism

"A picture is first of all a product of the imagination of the artist; it must never be a copy." -Edgar Degas

Rose, Enjoying a Day at the Beach
oil on wood panel

Here's the latest floral painting that I mentioned in the previous blog post.  It's admittedly off on a tangent, perhaps a weird one, but I decided to post it anyway.  For my FB studio page entries, I've taken to posting quotes along with the painting.  I decided to include the same quote for this post as well, as I think it's apropos for this painting in particular.

I don't think that all art has to be beautiful, serious or even have a point.  Sometimes, it can just be funny.  Did you laugh when you saw this painting, or did it elicit an eyeroll?  If you smiled or laughed, then thank you - that's what I was hoping for.   It doesn't have to make sense.  

I almost wiped this; the rose was exceptionally difficult to paint, but I forced the issue and now I think it mostly resembles a rose.  It is far removed from its original location in a home garden along New London Rd in Mystic, to this imaginary beach.   We are back to overcast skies and some snow flurries here today, so a cheery flower at a beach sounds pretty good right about now.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Yesterday's Storm - 6x6 landscape

Tags:  plein air landscape painting - original oil painting - 6x6 - clouds - Durango - southwestern skies

Does it qualify as "plein air" if you didn't leave your house?

Spring storm over Twin Buttes
6x6 inches 
 oil on wood panel

We had a snowstorm come through our area yesterday.  It didn't provide any accumulation, but temperatures dropped into the low 40's and it was windy.  At times, the snow obliterated the mountains we see from our windows to the west.

I worked on another floral painting, which I'll probably post later.  It's odd, and people probably won't like it but I'll throw it up anyway.  After I finished it, I looked out the window next to my studio and found the late afternoon storm clouds to be a compelling image.   It's been a while since I've painted clouds, so I pulled up another panel and quickly whipped this out....all from the comfort of my indoor studio.  Good practice, since the clouds move and change rapidly.  

A really exciting thing is that Wayne recently bought a condo near the downtown area, and we'll still have a view of Twin Buttes and Perins Peak.  Not as great for photos, maybe, since there are telephone lines that sort of pollute that view, but it has a large window facing west and a deck where I can go and paint sunsets.  Awesome.  And, it overlooks the Animas river to the south.  

Here are a few more photos taken during yesterday's storm:

Blowing snow cloud, looking like a cumulonimbus, west of Twin Buttes and Perins

This little guy was hanging out in the dumpster.  You can see snowflakes caught in the flash along with his quick assessment of our intents....

....and then he went right back to his nap again.  As of this morning, he's still in the dumpster, and we don't know how he will get out before the trash collection comes.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Coneflower, Approaching Sunset - floral series - SOLD

Coneflower, Approaching Sunset
oil on wood panel

I'm really enjoying this informal floral series, I must say.  Flowers are much trickier than landscapes to paint (for me, anyway) because of their distinct shapes and structure, and they allow me to dig into my collection of oils and use colors not found in the arid landscapes, and challenge my color-mixing and matching skills.

And, I like paring these essentially realistic flowers with simple, abstract backgrounds.  A good balance for the direction I'm trying to head with my work.  Purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpura) are a popular perennial found throughout the east and midwest, but they don't grow out here.   

The palette for this was cadmium orange, cadmium yellow, thalo violet, alizarin crimson, Van Gogh cobalt blue and white.  I mixed most of these colors together for the "mother color" to use in the background.  Creating a mother color is one of the easiest ways to harmonize a painting.

On an unrelated note, I recently set up a shop on Etsy to sell some of my work.  I don't think that many viewers and followers are buyers, but I thought I'd mention it, or if other artists like to do trades.  There is a widget for the store in the links column.  

On the theme of sunsets, here is a photo from one of last week's sunsets.  The sky has been cloud-covered since Saturday, so nothing since then.  

March 18

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Hibiscus Nocturne - floral series

Tags:  floral painting - oil painting - alla prima - fine art - orange flower - 6x6 - hibiscus flower

"Hibiscus Nocturne"
6x6 inches
oil on wood panel

Another floral, this time using a square format*.  Mother Nature figured out that orange and fuchsia pair up beautifully together with this variety of hibiscus.  It's based on a photo I took last year in Tucson the day before I returned to CT.  In mid-April, the home gardens in the desert are exploding with glorious color.  

The bright color of the flower suited itself well for a darker background, which decided it needed to be a nocturne.  Moonlight is filtering through some clouds up there in the corner, I think.

*Inspired by the large number of daily painters utilizing this size to paint on, I recently made up a batch (32, to be exact) of panels on a lightweight wood panel I found at our local Home Depot.  Unlike the MDF boards I've been using (and still like), this light-weight plywood-composite type board doesn't flex.  It is 1/4" thick, making it nice for frameless display as the edges can be painted almost like a mini gallery wrap canvas.  

I used a utility knife to carefully score and cut the 12x12" panels I had cut at the hardware store into the 6x6" size.  I used wood putty along the sides to give them nice, smooth edges and then used 2 coats of alkyd primer on each, hitting them with a quick sanding after they were dry.  I have begun applying a clear polyurethane sealant to the back of both the MDF and these plywood panels to protect against moisture issues and improve durability.  

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Rays of Hope for Japan - auction piece

Tags:  loyal Japanese dog - original pastel painting - dog portrait - 9x12 - Japanese earthquake donation 

"Rays of Hope for Japan"
9x12 inches
pastel on Strathmore 500-series paper

This week's challenge on the DPW site is for donations to help the Japanese tsunami victims.  Since I don't have any cash to spare to send, this was a perfect way for me to help out those folks suffering who have literally lost everything.  I wanted to do something special for this auction - something that would symbolize hope after such devastation and loss.

This painting is also a reminder that it is not just humans that suffer during a catastrophe, but animals as well.  Pets are displaced from their humans, and the loss or disappearance of a beloved pet just adds to the sadness and despair of people already grieving.

I imagine this image of the spaniel will be recognizable to many viewers; if by chance you haven't seen this video that went viral, have a look.  Warning:  it is emotional to watch (but in a good way).

For this piece, I chose to vignette the background with a loose representation of the Japanese Rising Sun flag and rays of hope.  The green represents renewal and life.  The Japanese symbols in the lower left mean "Hope" in Kanji.  Here is a link to the DPW challenge page, where you can see all the work artists are generously donating.  I'll be posting my submission shortly.   After careful consideration, and given the subject of the painting, I have decided to donate proceeds from the auction to the Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue & Support.

Addendum - 3/30/11:  I am happy to report that this painting was sold through the auction, and proceeds were given to the JEAR&S.  Thank you to L.S. for your bid!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Iris Portrait

Tags:  floral art - iris - blue flower - surrealism - oil painting - 6x8 - alla prima - original art

Back to oils and florals for a bit....

Pale Blue Iris & Pink Sky
8x6 inches
oil on board

I love irises.  They are probably my favorite flower, and I developed somewhat of an obsession with them during the time I was living in CT.  In late May through early June, I would cruise both my neighborhood and the downtown home gardens with my camera, taking photos of every beautiful variety I could.  Bi-colors, bearded, dwarf, native, cultivated....I love them all.  

As luck would have it, a neighbor a few doors down from us also seemed to have an obsession with iris, and each spring, his garden would have new cultivars to photograph and enjoy.  His wife told me that he had a special fondness for purple iris varieties.  This particular iris is from his spring garden last year.

I knew this would be a challenge to paint - all those creases and folds and subtle variations in hue and value could result in a major frustration.  I just approached it as nothing more than a series of abstract shapes.  A limited palette worked perfectly - cadmium yellow light, alizarin crimson and Van Gogh cobalt blue.  I mention the brand here because Talens/Van Gogh is actually a student-grade oil.  I didn't know this when I bought it, and the pigment is actually ultramarine blue.  However, its low tinting strength - normally a negative and one reason I don't use student-grade oils - turns out to be its best feature.   

It turned out better than I thought it would, and I purposely tried to keep blending and excessive brush-strokes to a minimum.  The background was done as the suggestion of a landscape - looks a little bit like a mesa...hmm.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hovenweep #1 - Ancient Architecture series

tags:  original pastel painting - fine art - abstract landscape - southwestern landscape art - 9x12 

Hovenweep #1- Down to Earth
9x12 inches
pastel on black Strathmore

Despite the abundance of new Chaco references, I decided to move to the Hovenweep part of the series for a bit.  Located in the far eastern edge of Utah, just across the CO border, Hovenweep National Monument doesn't have the Great Houses found in Chaco or Mesa Verde.  They are instead small clusters of smaller dwellings that are usually situated on the edge of a smaller canyon or drainage, and some are several miles apart.  I have misplaced my information sheet on the specifics of the sites, but the inhabitants were Anasazi, and inhabited the area until about 1300 AD.  During our visit in early Dec, we spoke with one of the park rangers, who told us that Hovenweep was completely un-excavated and there are no plans in the future to do so - a trend I'm most pleased to see.

And, for this piece anyway, I decided to try something a bit different and utilize the black surface for part of the design.  The masonry of the Hovenweep ruins is a bit different than either Chaco or Mesa Verde, and I noted that it varied quite a bit even among the different structures.  They utilize some of the same features (T-shaped doors and windows, for example), but have their own unique style.  Many have rounded rooms, reminiscent of small castles.  In this particular ruin, the upper part is comprised of larger square sandstone bricks, with the lower part made of thinner slabs or sections of rock.  I felt the difference in texture and form was an important part of this particular structure, along with the distinctly lighter colored rock used in the areas shown.  

Due to the smaller size and scale of the ruins, the landscape figures much more prominently into the scene, as with Hovenweep #1.  I've titled it "Down to Earth" both for the palette - muted greens and earthy reds - as well as the connection with the land.  This is as close to local color as I've come yet, save for the sky.  It's hard to tell in this photo (taken with a flash), but the pastels utilized for the sky and rock are not the same.  

I may utilize this same technique for the other pieces I do in the Hovenweep parts of this series...we shall see!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Chaco #7

Insanity, I tell you!

Chaco #7
12x9 inches
pastel on black Strathmore

Is it too over-the-top?  Maybe, but that full-on-disco sky refuses to be ignored.  It grabs your attention.  

I wasn't sure it was going to work out, and I had to brush off 2 attempts at the broken wall face before I got something remotely acceptable that wasn't going directly in the trash.  The original colors I had chosen included yellow and red, but all that remain of them are on the beams; they looked atrocious when I tried to use them there [on the broken wall], although tiny dashes still remain in the flat wall...can you see them?).  So, I just kept with the blue/green theme of the rest of the dwelling.  Works much better.  It's sort of growing on me.  

The source of my palette inspiration for this piece?  Fellow blogger Diane Mannion's recent post on her DPW challenge entry:  looook at those brilliant primaries and secondaries in her painting!  I discovered Diane's work and blog through one of her earlier DPW challenge paintings; be sure to check out the rest of her wonderful oil paintings during your visit.

On another front, I have decided to start up a studio page on Facebook.  I had one last year, but when I permanently deleted my personal account, that went away as well.  When I found out I could have a business page without having to have a personal account as well, I decided to roll with it.  There doesn't seem to be much cross-over between us blogger folk and those who rely only on FB for their social networking, so it's a good way to reach additional viewers.  I hope, anyway.

The fact that it is free, can be viewed by non-FB people and has the capacity to have many albums as a static source of one's work clinched the deal.  I'll keep it as a streamlined, soundbite-oriented version of my blog.  So, for those that prefer the format of FB for updates, here's the link:

And, finally, on the subject of inspiration again, I thought I'd share this video with everyone.  A friend turned me on to Mr. Conte's music last year, and even though I don't know a word of Italian, it doesn't matter.  Can you not listen to this and want to start pushing some pastel or paint around on a canvas?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Chaco #6 - Ancient Architecture series

More Chacos...

Chaco #6 - Window with Beam
pastel on black Strathmore

I'd planned to start with the Hovenweep series, but we took another trip to Chaco Culture National Historical Park (official, formal name) this past Saturday, and I came back loaded with enough reference photos to keep me painting for weeks if I chose.

I guess I must really like this green, because even though I am trying not to repeat colors, I discovered after I had finished the painting that I had used it on #3.  But, it gives a different look with a deep earthy red and robin's egg blue sky.  

This particular image is based on photos taken at the Chacoan Great House Pueblo Del Arroyo (house by the gully or creek), so named as it is closest to the banks of the Chaco Wash that runs through the canyon.  

On this trip, we also took the ~8 mile round-trip hike to the most remote of the Great Houses in the park:  Penasco Blanco (white rocks).  The weather was in the low 70's with a breeze and ideal for hiking.  

Below are some photos taken from the hike, some converted to sepia or b/w.

Monolithic sandstone cliffs form the edges of Chaco canyon
A trio of petroglyphs high up on the cliff face is seen below a cluster of old mud nests (swallows, I'm guessing).

A large raptor coasts silently on the thermals above.  Possibly a red-tailed hawk, but much larger than most I've seen.  

Grown-over ruins at Penasco Blanco.  This is one of the few pueblos in Chaco that archaeologists have chosen not to excavate, and I'm glad.  The Chacoan people deserve to have at least some of their history left untrammeled and not picked over and reconstituted.

The "keyhole" door at Penasco Blanco.  Original wood beams are visible in the small adjacent windows.  Given that this was built around 1100 AD, that even this much remains is remarkable.  Piles of rock from collapsed walls are seen in front.

The same wall and door as seen from behind (north).

A look down and across the canyon coming back from Penasco Blanco; it is one of the only ruins found on the south side of the wash and overlooks the canyon itself.  Willow and salt cedar (aka tamarisk - an invasive species found around most southwest waterways) line the edges of this now-dry wash.  

One of the larger petroglyph panels in the afternoon sun.

Casa Chiquita on the hike back.

A balanced rock sits precariously atop a narrow base along the edge of the canyon.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Chaco #5 - Ancient Architecture series

Chaco #5
9x12 inches
 pastel on black Strathmore paper

I never cease to be amazed by the skill and resourcefulness of the masons that built the Chacoan pueblo structures.  This is another view of Pueblo Bonita, and you can see what are probably the remains of a T-shaped door up at the top right - on the second story.

It's always fun to work in compliments, and I thought these blues and earth-oranges went well together.  In addition to the practice of experimenting with various color combinations, this series has also been good for practicing linear perspective drawing, something I haven't had to do much of in other landscapes.  

I hope it's not too obvious that the window in this painting is almost smack-dab in the middle of the paper; I made some minor adjustments, but that's where it just wanted to be.  

This will probably be the last of the series from Chaco for a bit [although we are possibly going to Chaco again either tomorrow or early next week].  Next up will be Hovenweep, a scattered set of puebloan style ruins that are much smaller in scale and decidedly less grandiose than either Chaco or Mesa Verde.  


Here is another example of human artistic ingenuity at work.  Theo Jansen is a Dutch kinetic sculptor.  Take a look at his amazing and delightful creations out of PVC pipe - they look like something right out of DaVinci's notebooks.   These make me smile:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chaco #4: Doorways 02 - Ancient Architecture series

Chaco #4: Doorways 02
12x9 inches
pastel on black Strathmore

Another view from inside Pueblo Bonita looking through one of the rectangular doorways and across to another.  Interestingly, there are steps that lead to each doorway.  The row of wooden beam ends protruding from the wall above the door are all that remain of the support for the second story floor of this pueblo.  

For this pastel painting, I relied on scumbling of colors to achieve the lighter values within the second room, which has much more reflected light.   


This evening's sky - a waxing crescent moon covered by a thin layer of pink clouds:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Chaco #3 - Ancient Architecture series

Chaco #3
12x9 inches
pastel on black Strathmore paper

Hmmm...this looks a bit better in person; I could not do any color adjustment to get the correct saturation of the turquoise-green on the right side without completely over-saturating the left-sided greens.  I loved the design of this, but may re-do it in a different color scheme later; it doesn't look as good as I'd hoped when I tested the colors out together...and so it goes.  


Nelson celebrates Fat Tuesday in style* and wishes everyone a happy Mardi Gras!

*[subject was not harmed or otherwise subjected to inhumane working conditions during today's photo session.  And, there's nothing like a string of beads to top off one's fancy tuxedo attire.]

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Tulip Trio in Pink

tags:  pink tulip - floral art - original oil painting - 6x8 - surrealism - for sale - alla prima

Tulip Trio in Pink
8x6 inches - oil on canvas panel

Yes, another floral in oils has somehow slipped in between the architectural pastels.  It is, after all, almost springtime and these beauties will begin emerging from winter dormancy within a month.  I painted this yesterday, on a whim, after going through my many reference photos of flowers and selecting some for a series of 6x6" wood panels I have recently made up, and decided to keep this in a portrait format.

Have you ever had a painting just wander off in its own direction as you painted it?  This was one of those paintings.  The original photo was taken against a shingled wall and building base back in Mystic last April - ugly, but I loved the flowers.  I originally planned on a neutral background, similar to the rose portrait painting I did last month.  Somehow, it evolved into something resembling a simple abstracted landscape.  I pushed paint around, removed some, added more, switched colors and finally decided to stop.  I can't stop thinking that it might look really, really cool with some clouds.  Or a completely out of context mountain range in the distance.  

I don't know if it works or not, but for some odd reason, I like it.  I do love the color harmony I get with oils; this has thalo violet, cadmium red medium, permanent rose, sap green and a pale cobalt blue hue with white.  

Back to the pastel Ancient Architecture series tomorrow.  

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Chaco #2: Doorway - Ancient Architecture series

Chaco #2: Doorway
12x9 inches
pastel on black Artagain

Anasazi architecture, both their pueblo and cliff-dwellings, is characterized by these unique T-shaped doorways.  This door is found within the large Pueblo Bonita at Chaco Canyon.  As you walk through the door, there are additional doors leading to other rooms on the left and right, as well as those you see in front.  Wooden beams form the strut supports for the roof of the doorway.  The doors are not very high - about five feet.

Unlike Chaco #1, for this piece, I wanted to do some bright, saturated colors that are not at all based in reality.  I have this amazing chartreuse-colored Unison that I seldom get a chance to use, and I love it with its compliment.  I picked accent colors I thought went well with the purples/yellows, and for value.  The limited palette (9 colors total) forces one to be creative in their application.  A grayscale conversion confirmed that the lighter purple, darker orange and turquoise are identical in value.  

Friday, March 4, 2011

Ancient Architecture - new series

Chaco #1
12x9 inches
pastel on Strathmore Artagain (black)

Here we go again with a new series!  I think this will be an on-going one, just like the Miniseries Quartets, since there will no doubt be a steady source of new references from which to work from.

A few days ago, I was looking through my photos taken of the various Anasazi (or Ancestral Puebloans, if you prefer) ruins we've visited, and marveling in the wonderful abstracted shapes they form, along with the impressive degree of detail and masonry skill.  Some readers may remember my original post and photos from our visit to Chaco Canyon last fall.

I am always on an exploratory quest with my work, and color and palette harmony is one area that I always feel could be better in my pastels, especially since I find myself constantly falling back into the trap of representational colors [although that is not necessarily a bad thing].  I'm also trying to head in the direction of simplifying my work and losing unnecessary detail, particularly in my landscapes, and to expand my use of color beyond the local.  Recently, I was able to replace some of my beloved copies of the Pastel Journal that the USPS lost last year, and they arrived earlier this week.  In the June '08 issue, the simple landscapes of New Mexico artist Mary Silverwood are featured, including some of her very colorful and simple depictions of Chaco ruins.  I loved the concept immediately, especially since I had photos in that similar format.  As much as I enjoy her style, I don't want to copy it - just borrow an idea.

Wolf Khan's use of color and line in his minimalist landscapes of barns has appealed to me for years, and I often pull out my copy of Wolf Khan Pastels when I want to refresh my vision.  Recently, Casey Klahn  posted a series of links to video interviews with Mr. Khan regarding some of his older work, and I'm working through those.  I've admired Casey's use of color and ability to distill down his landscapes ever since I discovered his blog, and then there is the series by blogger friend Jala Pfaff has been doing with her abstract Strata series where she has been exploring color.  So, between all of these sources of inspiration, I hopefully now have something that is somewhat unique.

My goal with this series is really to focus on the simple shapes and design of the ruins in combination with experimentation of various color palettes.  And, of course, to pay homage to the original inhabitants and masons that were responsible for creating these enigmatic dwellings and cities of stone, mud and wood.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...