I’m very grateful to Juror Bob Burridge for selecting my painting for the Naomi Brotherton Award out of an exhibition that included many outstanding and respected artists. Being recognized as Best of Show is a real honor. I found out about a week ago and still haven’t stopped smiling!
The painting is based on an old oil station in Jefferson, Texas, where the watercolor group had a paint out in the spring. My plein air effort was a failure, but the light and shadow shapes were so compelling that I tried it again in the studio. This painting was the result.
Faded Star, 21 x 14 inches, watercolor and gouache on gessoed paper.
So far my theater paintings have been at least partly gouache. This one, however, was done with watercolor only, using a wipe out technique. I really like working in a reductive way, so that the paint I take off is just as important as the paint I leave on.
This theater had a Zumba poster on the marquee. I’m not sure whether it is out of use or if they really hold Zumba classes inside.
The Garland Plaza – 18 1/2 x 11 inches, watercolor and gouache on gessoed archival paper
Another of the theater paintings. In this one I concentrated the saturated color in a small area of the sign, and let the rest dissolve into neutrals. This theater is still in use in Garland, Texas.
The Daingerfield Morris – 14×10 inches, watercolor and gouache on rag paper.
This is the start of a new series – old classic movie theaters. They are interesting to me for a number of reasons:
First, they are relics of a time when our community had more shared experiences than we do now; they are places where some of that sharing actually happened. The current show might have been an action film, and you might have preferred comedies, but you would go anyway because it was the entertainment being offered and everyone would be talking about it until the next show opened.
Second, I’m getting interested in signage and letterforms, and how little specific visual information is required to communicate because the shapes are so recognizable.
Third, the buildings are so highly stylized, and the ones that have not been restored have wonderful texture. When I shot the photo reference for this piece, I thought maybe the theater had been closed. However, the internet says no – they are still showing films here at the Morris.
The first theater I painted was in my sketchbook. This is actually the second one, but it is the first full size painting.
White Rock Elder 1, 11.5 x 8 inches, watercolor on gessoed rag paper
Here’s another piece done with the same technique as the previous one. It’s all watercolor, even though it doesn’t look like it. It’s the acrylic ground that makes the paint behave so differently.
White Rock Lake is close to my house, and I have in mind a series on the older trees that ring it. This one is the first.
Faded Star – 21×14 inches, gouache and watercolor
I’ve neglected my website and blog even though I’ve been posting on Facebook and Instagram. It’s high time to do a little catching up.
Lately I’ve been doing some water media work where the removal of paint is just as important in the process as putting it on. Faded Star is a good example. The paper support was primed with acrylic gesso before sloshing on a combination of watercolor and gouache paints. Then portions were blotted away to create the image. The gesso and method of applying the paint introduces more unpredictability and encourages intuitive working. Starting with a mess and reacting to it has always been a favorite way of working.
This old oil station is one I encountered on one of the Watercolor Society paintouts. I believe it is located in Jefferson, Texas.
This show at the TVAA gallery recently concluded. The work came from members of my sketch group. We showed some of the work we have done on location during our weekly get-togethers, but primarily our studio work.
Here’s a portion of the statement I wrote for this show:
For this exhibition, Robyn has chosen paintings that depict the landscape and details of infrastructure in the East Dallas neighborhood where she lives. The sources of these paintings are all located within three miles of her home.
By purposely focusing on views that are insignificant in themselves, she avoids appeals to emotion and
sentimentality. Instead, in this mundane subject matter she finds poetry of light and geometry that elicits a meditative sense of timelessness and calm.
These paintings were all created in her studio, but Robyn is also active as a plein air painter, enjoying the exercise of her observational skills by working directly from life. It was this interest in working on location that led her to the Urban Sketching movement and the friends that form her weekly sketch group.
Here is another landscape detail from our alley. This is not our own gas meter; it is one from a few houses down that was looking particularly fetching on the day. It reminded me of one of the Imperial war machines from the Star Wars movies, and I liked the contrast between the clunky machinery and the tangle of green at the base.
Giardino Segreto – Watercolor, 10×8 – NFS
Last blog post I was planning a personal 30×30 challenge and here are the results. The intent was to experiment with watermedia every day, and I did a little of that, but mostly I ended up with studies for things I intend to paint again in a more considered way – those are the suburban landscapes.
The ones that are more experimental are numbers 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, and 19. There is a lot to consider in them about what worked, what didn’t, and why. Experiments are heaps of fun because they are done purely for the experience. If they end up being worth presentation, that is a rare bonus. Usually they suffer from “too muchness”. Too bright, too design-y, too incoherent, too unresolved. However, they are excellent dress rehearsals for do-overs that can take me in a bit of a different direction.
I always struggle with color because I always seem to end up going overboard even though I want to keep the color subtle. #18 and #23 are the closest to the way I want to use color right now. I’m glad that a few got close to the mark!
Number 10 has about the right amount of looseness. That is another difficult target.
There were a couple of do-overs within the 30 because I just couldn’t walk away from a motif when I missed the mark. And the one figure piece because that was the only watermedia I had worked on that day. It was included even though it didn’t really fit with the rest. Even the food court still life has more in common with the landscapes than the figure.
Putting them all together like this really helps in evaluating the individual pieces. I have got to get a wall in the studio fixed up soon so that I can view things side by side in real life!
Keiko Tanabe is our juror this year, and I am so pleased that she selected New Moon to be part of the show. View all the work at the Eisemann Center in Richardson, August 30 – September 30. The reception is September 24th from 4 – 6, and I would be happy to see you there.