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.
This piece is based on some narcissus flowers that are past their prime. The way the blossoms dried, they looked as if they were facing into a wind.
Winds of Change – approx. 22×30 inches, watercolor
A blanket of white snow on the ground makes for exciting graphic compositions, but we don’t often have such scenes to paint here in Texas. The Monahans sand dunes offer similar opportunities, though. There’s a storm brewing in this watercolor. Just as I set up to record my view en plein air, a sudden windstorm blew through – my easel and kit were blown off into the dunes, and my eyes, ears, and car were filled with sand! This painting was done from the vivid memory, safe home in the studio.
Monahans Sand Dunes – watercolor SOLD
There might have been a post about this piece previously, before I added the background. It began as a botanical study of a dried branch from my jimpsonweed that echoed the shape of a calla lily, and remained in that state for a few months as I debated whether to keep it as a botanical or turn it into something else. I began thinking of the branch as not just resembling the calla lily, but as actually changing into the lily form through the process of death. The lily also put me in mind of brides and nuns.
The background was added to associate my subject with the 12th century abbess, artist, and composer Hildegard of Bingen. In Hildegard’s thought viriditas, or greening, shows the power of the divine in creation. I decided to have my withered branch levitating in front of a background pattern of acanthus leaves.
This piece was juried into the 53rd Southwestern Watercolor Society Membership Exhibition, where it won the Watercolor Artist/Creative Catalyst 2 award.
Lately I have gotten interested in botanical artwork, the result of realizing that work based on direct observation has always been an important part of my work, even when I was painting large abstracts. I’m also committed to finding my subject matter wherever I happen to be. For these two pieces I didn’t have to look any farther than the back yard.
I also prefer to paint my subjects as I find them, that is, not idealized, in the tradition of memento mori works. Sometimes I find things in fresh and full flower, but in November that is usually not the case. In the autumn, things have been through long hot summers and have been chewed on by insects, and are all the more interesting for it.
Here are a couple of recent pieces, some native Texas plants. Both of these are about 8×10 watercolors.
The first is turk’s cap, aka Malvaviscus drummondii. In the fall they form fruits as well as new flower buds. – SOLD
This second shows the leaves and acorns of some sort of oak. I’m not sure what kind it is that we have around here. Their leaves can vary so widely.
Happy Autumn to all!
Watercolor is the perfect medium for a series of paintings that has been percolating for a few years now. The subject matter is tree trunks, and how they show or heal over damage from insects, parasites, chainsaws, and so on.
A title for this series is giving me a little trouble. “Scars” is too full of drama for something that is a plain fact of life. There’s an appeal to “beauty marks”, but that’s too sentimental. Until I come up with something better, they can go by the title of “trunks”.