Plumeria Down Under

September 1, 2014

An email arrived earlier this summer, someone asking about one of my paintings of plumeria.  These are always fun emails to get, of course.  This person was from Australia, making the contact even more exciting, to realize someone halfway around the world found my work and so enjoyed it they wanted to buy a piece.  This person did end up buying that painting, and icing on the cake, they commissioned a second painting, based on a small one I posted on this blog a couple of years ago.  The client wanted the commissioned piece to be larger than the original, so I got to adjust the composition, adding a more flowers to it, to make the larger format work well.  

Here’s the finished commission.

Plumeriasfinal100

 

I shipped both paintings together, and they arrived the other day, they have them in their “hot little hand.  They are gorgeous – thank you so much!”  Its so lovely knowing that something I loved making is going being enjoyed so thoroughly by someone else.  Thank you back!

Haven’t been painting?  Egad.  Can’t be so!  Yes, I take breaks from painting.  But I rarely take breaks from being creative.

Spring was been busy this year.  I taught two six-week workshops at #Orange Coast College’s Community Education division, one on Flowers in Watercolors, the other was Watercolor Still Lifes.   And I have just finished a new six-week workshop on painting Cityscapes, and I’ve got two more slated for the Fall semester.  I also started a new part-time job with a non-profit in April, which has been very stimulating and fun.  I announced a new line of scarves for my Blooming Silks:  “Layers” which I will be showing at the Contemporary Crafts Market in Pasadena, CA over Halloween weekend.  And I went on a trip in June.

It’s the trip that I want to share about today.  To begin with, I love Hawaiian music.  My family has listened to Hawaiian music my whole life.  My mom got us started, she went to Hawaii with her family when she was a teenager in the late 40’s, and learned to play the ukulele from the locals.  Gabby Pahinui has always been one of my music heroes, and the guitar style he played is called Slack Key, or ki ho’alu in Hawaiian.  If you have seen The Descendants, you’ve heard this music, it’s the soundtrack to the movie.  Other favorites are Ray Kane, Dennis Kamakahi, Jeff Peterson, George Kahumoku Jr., and Kimo West.  Just to name a few, there’s so many!

I’ve played guitar since I was a kid, my dad taught me how.  My family used to sing and play together, along with some friends, mostly folk music, a little bluegrass, and some early rock and folk/rock.  But I’d always in the back of my mind thought it would be so great to learn to play slack key.  Well, a couple of years ago Mom and I went to a slack key workshop organized by George Kahumoku Jr. in Maui, where the instructors are some of the slack key artists whose music I been listen to.  I was in heaven for a week, inundated and overwhelmed with the beginnings of the slack key style.  It was so wonderful, that we went again this year, and if possible, this year’s workshop was even better than the first one.  

View from the room

First off, this was the view from the lanai of our room.  We woke up to this each morning, drank our coffee here, dried off after swimming, sipped on cocktails, and sometimes just sat in peaceful awe.  We went swimming and/or snorkeling every day.  We didn’t take a computer, so I was happily unplugged.  

We were there for the music.  For a week we were immersed once again in Hawaiian music and culture, eating lunch and dinner with the whole group, and sometimes breakfast, and swimming when we took breaks from workshops.  There were classes for six days, mostly in slack key guitar or ukulele, but also in lei making, kapa cloth making, and hula.  Mom was taking classes on the uke, I of course on my guitar.  Every evening, after dinner, there was a kanikapila, or jam session, where everyone played and sang  together.  

Here’s a shot of most of our faculty one afternoon, as we celebrated the life of musician and songwriter Rev. Dennis Kamakahi, who this past spring lost a short, intense, battle with lung cancer:

faculty

David Kamakahi, Jeff Peterson, Herb Ohta, Jr., George Kahumoku, Jr., Richard Ho’opi’i, Laurence the sound guru, Jason Jerome and Led Kaapana.  This room was where we had our kanikapilas each night, over 80 of us sitting in a huge circle, playing slack key music together.

The last day of the workshop we performed at the Ki Ho’alu – Slack Key Guitar Festival 2014 at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center in Wailuku.

group shot

Group shot of the workshop, ready to perform at the Festival.  Photo by Scott Hillman

Here’s a great video from the same workshop 3 years ago, so you can hear the music.  This is from the workshop 3 years ago, and features George Kahumoku, Jr., the late Bob Brozman, Led Ka’apana and Herb Ohta, Jr.  George, Led and Herb were all teaching again this year.

"Three Purple Tulips", ©Jill Rosoff, 2007, 5 1/2" x 8 1/2", $55.00

“Three Purple Tulips”, ©Jill Rosoff, 2007, 5 1/2″ x 8 1/2″

In my workshops, especially the newer students often use the word “dark” when talking about colors that are the opposite of pale.  So I like to ask them, “What do you mean by dark?”  This question usually gets a lot of stumped looks.

The word ‘dark’ means having little or no light, when you look it up.   So it’s really not a very accurate word to use for a descriptor of deep or rich color values.  So I’ve developed a list of contrasting words that I encourage my students to consider instead of the words light and dark.  It opens them up a new way of thinking about how to describe colors, hopefully.  

pale                                                   rich 

diluted                                              saturated

soft                                                    harsh          

weak                                                 strong

muted                                               bright

tint                                                     shade

subdued                                            loud

restrained                                         intense

 

delicate                                             overpowering

 

mild                                                    deep

These comparisons produce a lot of different ideas about colors.  Can you think of any more?

 

Teaching About Color

March 20, 2014

I have a workshop of new watercolor painters that just started last night.  For new painters, I give out a list of supplies they’ll need to have, including a list of paint colors they need to get.  This list includes a breadth of reds, blues, yellows and greens, mostly, noting that they can choose to add any colors they want, that a combination of those colors might not create…usually for me this means pinks, purples, turquoises, and some greens.  Black and white are not on my list, neither are the umbers or siennas.  I talked about this in a posting a year ago: http://jillpaints.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/about-using-of-brown-and-grey-in-watercolor/

In getting ready for a set of workshops, this one is all about still lifes, I do some research online about the genre, refresh my memory, and find known and unknown painters’ work to show my students.  And you know how when you go online that the thread of what you look at can look like a ball of string your cat unravelled?  This time I stumbled upon pictures of a eucalyptus tree I’d never seen before:  a rainbow eucalyptus.

Rainbow Euc

One sample of a rainbow eucalyptus

A quote from Love These Pics, where I found the above picture (and many others) notes:  “The landscaping article Under the Rainbow explained, “As the newly exposed bark slowly ages, it changes from bright green to a darker green, then bluish to purplish, and then pink-orange. Finally, the color becomes a brownish maroon right before exfoliation occurs. Since this process is happening in different zones of the trunk and in different stages, simultaneously, the colors are varied and almost constantly changing. As a result, the tree will never have the same color pattern twice, making it like a work of living art.”

Now, I get to have some fun explaining to my students how all tree trunks are not brown.  Happy First Day of Spring!

Spring is A-Coming

January 19, 2014

Tulips (bonanza)

“Tulips (Bonanza)” ©Jill Rosoff 1992  40″ x 60″

I love painting spring flowers.  I paint them in watercolor, I paint them on my silk scarves.  Is it the colors?  The shapes?  That they make me happy?  Yes, yes and yes.  I just can’t get enough.  I walked into my local Trader Joe’s the other day, and saw the first spring tulips in the flower bins.  So I bought a bunch.  No hesitation, just leaned down and picked the color that was hollering “pick me!” at me.  They were orange with dark orange infusing from the lower part of the petals to the tips.

Now, it’s been hot in Southern California the past few days, and those buds drank a lot of water.  So they were buds on day 1, fully developed flowers on day 2, and wild things on day 3.  They were starting to droop because of the heat.  I refilled the vase, and on day 4, they were upright again.  I know they only last a week, but oh how I enjoy them.

My watercolor workshops are starting up again in 2 weeks.  My Saturday morning workshops start on Feb. 1st.   I also have two 6-session workshops scheduled at Orange Coast College Community Education, “Flowers in Watercolors” starts February 5th, and “Watercolor Still Lifes” starts March 19th.  As much as we’ll concentrate on watercolor technique, we’ll also focus on how to analyze the subject to be able to build a composition using the watercolors to their best effect.

The painting above was painted in 1992.  It lived in a restaurant in St. Helena, CA for 8 years, and now hangs in my living room.  The size noted above is the paper size, it’s framed in a simple dark wood frame, and floats on a linen background, so it’s even larger.  A  wonderful large art presence in the room.

 

Basics and Color

July 19, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Homemade color wheel, approximately 3″ x 3″ 

I made this color “wheel” a few years ago during a one-on-one lesson with a new student from my Watercolor Workshops.  We were going through the primaries and how the other colors were made from them.  I found this little scrap of watercolor paper and painted the colors and numbered them.  The primaries I numbered with “1”, the secondaries “2”, the tertiaries “3”.  This was all new information to my student, an adult, who hadn’t learned it in grade school.  She had gone through her whole life until then not knowing something that is an elemental building block of information, not only to making art, but I think to life.  

This happens more frequently than I had ever thought.  I have been teaching more frequently lately, in the local Jr. College’s community education, to teens at a local library in an after school program, and in my Every Other Saturday Watercolor Workshops.  I’m amazed and sad that art is less and less a part of primary and secondary education.  So soapbox time!  

Kids need to be introduced to art early, so they have the experience of being artistic, creative, think inductively.  And because its documented that art especially helps young brains think more creatively.  There’s so much information available about this, about how art helps people to think in alternative pathways.  Art was a regular part of my primary education, regularly in elementary school, and then I took ceramics for all but one semester of my four years of high school.  I ended up a painter, but though I don’t work in clay any longer, there are things I know from those hours of potting that still inform my art.

So now I have my students paint their own color wheels using their own watercolors. Yes, you can buy very functional color wheels in an art store, but there’s nothing like the experience of creating a new color by mixing two others, or layering one transparent color over another one, to make a third color.  And it lets them know what colors the paints in their palettes will be able to make. Oh the discoveries they’ll make!  

I kept the color wheel I painted, its pinned to the wall next to where I paint.  Not because I need it, but to remind me of the basics, and how fun it is to open others’ horizons about color.    

 

This past Friday I participated in the local chapter of the Orange County Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association‘s Visionary Women’s Luncheon.  Each year they honor caregivers of those touched by Alzheimer’s and related forms of dementia.  I was one of the artisan vendors in the Artists’ Gift Faire that was one of the features of the luncheon.  This was my second year in a row participating, and I was pleased to be asked to join them again to support this organization and all the great work they do.  The luncheon also features presentations, awards and a keynote speaker.  This year it was to be Rita Moreno, last year it was Shirley Jones.  Stars of some of my favorite musicals!

When I can, I take my ‘traveling’ silk painting equipment when I know I’ll have the space to demonstrate how the scarves are painted, alongside displaying and selling them.  Its a great attention-getter in the mix of other vendors of artwork, jewelry, and other artisan/hand-made goods.  And its fun to talk to people while I’m demonstrating, get their questions, and show them my process.

set up and ready to goMy set up, with 2 blanks pinned to a padded board, the dyes and brushes lined up in between, and the lovely adult beverage that started the day out so well!

scarfdetail.2

Detail of one of the 2 scarves I worked on that day.

donationI donated this scarf for the silent auction portion of the fund-raiser–purple is their ‘theme’ color.

This woman, in the photo below, came up to my display, and asked, “Will you help me pick out the best scarf for what I’m wearing?”   After ascertaining that she likes longer scarves, I selected the four I thought would look good on her, with  her lavender dress and white jacket.  This is the one she decided she couldn’t live without. 

happy customerVMAADoesn’t she look great in the yellow poppies?

As I mentioned, there’s a keynote speaker at this Luncheon, usually a star who supports the organization.   Rarely do they venture out into the crowds–they usually enter and leave by a private entrance.  So I don’t expect to see them, even from a distance.  Well, as I was painting along, I saw  suddenly someone  watching me.  I looked up, and it was Rita Moreno.  I like to be in America!  I whipped off the latex glove I that wear when I dye, and reached to shake her hand, to thank her for stopping by.  She smiled, looked at all my scarves and said, “You’re very talented!”.  So sweet!  So what did I reply? “Thank you so much, thats so nice of you to say, and so are you!”  Made my day.  Songs from West Side Story ran through my head for the rest of the day.  OK by me in America!

me and Rita Moreno

Rita and me.  Ay ay ay!

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