April 18, 2013
“Tuscan Hillside” ©Jill Rosoff 2012, 9″ x 12″
Imagine how funny it was that this question came up in two different workshops, two completely different groups of people. We were working on how to paint landscapes in each session, so it’s not a complete surprise. I love that it did, and it also made me a little curious. Is painting a tree a paint-by-numbers proposition? Nope. The starting point is: lets take a look at the kind of tree you want to paint.
“Trees have a spirit and personality; none of them are the same.” Trees come in all shapes, sizes and colors. The trunks of trees can be all ranges of browns, greys, even green, blue or, as in fruit trees, burgundy. The leaves are any and all shades of green, with touches of all the other colors used to create contrasts. The fun here is the learning, observing: first figuring out what the tree’s shape is, and then deciding how to put it down on the paper. Is the trunk the more visually interesting element? Or the way the crown of the tree is shaped? In watercolor, you put down the lighter elements, then build in the darker, more richly colored ones. Because, as always, in watercolor you paint light to dark. The other trees also punctuate, more because they are a textural contrast to the stripes I used in the patchwork of fields.
In the painting above, the trees, especially the pencil cypresses, act like punctuation marks, creating small points of contrast, which keeps the rest of the rich colors from sort of going flat. Put a finger up and block out the cypress trees and you’ll see what I mean.
Or look at this painting done by a fellow watercolorist/shopowner on Etsy, JC Strong. You know its a tree, but it’s a deftly shaped tree silhouette of lovely combinations of purples and greens.
I read this quote the other day on Facebook: ”The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see.” When I teach my job is to lead people down the path to explore, look and learn by observation. There’s no one formula.
February 3, 2013
This weekend starts a small avalanche of small celebrations: Ground Hog’s Day, Super Bowl, Chinese New Year, Mardi Gras, Valentine’s Day. Busy busy busy. The realization of this came to me in the form of a small gift ofa great treasury on Etsy entitled “February“, which includes three of these events, and which featured of my “Valentine 1” small painting. I thought it was so cool to combine the three holidays in the collection, it was the first time I’d seen them put together in any sort of way. Many thanks to Cindi Ressler for including me in her very fun treasury.
That painting of hearts that she included, along with the other ones I’ve done recently have ended up being really fun explorations in the quality of transparency (and not) that watercolors can produce. So I decided to try another simply shape, for fun, one of my favorite shapes, the star.
“Stars 1″ ©Jill Rosoff 2013, 6″ x 11 3/4″
What I’m enjoying in this piece is that the two white stars, and the background as well, are not painted in. In watercolors, generally any white in a painting is the paper that’s been left untouched. Its one of the great, fun, confusing conundrums of this medium. Since the paints are intrinsically transparent, there’s no white paint to use to cover something up. Because white when it is transparent, is, well, transparent. So there’s a bit of trompe l’oeil going on, where the white areas are negative space, created by the colored paint that surrounds them. And they look solid! These paintings are little celebrations of the transparency of watercolors. I like it. Let me know what you think.
You can find all the paintings posted in this blog available to purchase via my shop on Etsy. Have you looked there yet?
January 27, 2013
“Three-plus Poppies”, ©Jill Rosoff 2013, 4″ x 6″
I have these small pads of watercolor paper that I keep around for quick “jots” of ideas like this one. In watercolors, any whites in a painting are the paper left untouched, since watercolor is a transparent medium, and the transparent version of white is, well, nothing. Transparent. It’s a fun conundrum to play around with.
In this piece, I wanted to leave no blank paper, no white areas, but instead to paint the whole piece of paper, and to let the shapes of the flowers do most of the talking. Getting the colors this rich and intense is a fun challenge in watercolors. And there’s still good contrast between the brightness of the yellow centers, and the dark lines where the green paint overlapped the red. Unintended, and perfect.
One other thing: I love rich, vibrant and maintaining a sense of the transparency in the paint. In watercolors it is possible to use too much paint, which when it dries, looks dry, dusty and opaque, qualities that you just don’t strive for in watercolors. I like striving for the saturation and the transparency, especially since they are paradoxical. Fun!
It’s now available on Esty here.
January 18, 2013
Valentine’s Day is that day when if you’re in love you hope to goodness that you figure out something great to do for your partner, or your partner does something lovely for you. If you are single, the commercials for jewelry, flower deliveries and certain card companies are annoying reminders that you’re not contributing to the economy like everyone else is.
For me this year, I have decided to make Valentine’s Day about exploring layering and the wonderful transparent characteristic that watercolors have. OK, yes, you can get them with acrylics too, but watercolors’ textures, I think, are much more lively. And watercolors came first (so there! I say in my best Edith Ann voice). This was another experiment I did for my workshops, where we took the oh-so recognizable image of the heart, and layered on colors, holding onto the transparency, and enjoying the new colors created as one layer overlapped another. Not to mention the great textures in the blooms!
This along with a few new paintings just in time for Valentines Day can be purchased in my Etsy Store.
January 11, 2013
I started this piece in the fall, as a demonstration piece once again in one of my workshops. This piece actually started me on the intention of loosening up on color ‘rules’ I have consciously and unconsciously obeyed. Since I often use a subject I know when I’m playing around with ideas, and I have been painting Iceland poppies forever, so shape, color and composition are like second nature to me, I find it really easy to go for changes and experimentation with them as my subject.
There is no such thing as a lavender Iceland poppy. Yellow, orange, reds, pink, and white yes, but nothing in the blue spectrum. And I’ve always wanted them. So ‘tada!’ I made them. In the grand scheme of things its really not much of a huge plunge, but then again, baby steps are just fine to start out on new paths. I also broke another covenant I heard early on in my painting education, that paintings with red backgrounds can be difficult to make work, let alone sell. Thank goodness Henri Matisse didn’t believe that! There are essentially four different reds used in the background, but with layers and some mixing, it looks like more. I am really enjoying how this piece turned out. You?
This piece is now available through my Etsy shop.
November 23, 2012
“Leaves 2″, ©Jill Rosoff 2012, 12″ h x 6″ w
This experimenting I’ve been doing these days with leaves is fun. As much as it is about the shapes of the leaves, negative space and wet-in-wet, it’s also about color combinations. This one started as orange and blue leaves first, and I added the alizarin crimson and yellow ones as I developed it. It’s become about the primaries plus one secondary. Hmmm!
This piece is now for sale via my shop on Etsy. I have a pre-Christmas special on both my Etsy Shops to celebrate Small Business Saturday through Cyber Monday, November 24th – 26th, 20% off everything in my shops. Just use the coupon code Thanksgiving12 during the checkout process. For my paintings, notecards and reproductions, go to RosoffArtworks. My silk scarves are available in BloomingSilks.
Support artists and their handmade work on Small Business Saturday!
November 12, 2012
“Leaves, wet in wet, purples” ©Jill Rosoff 2012. 12″ h x 6″ w
This painting came out of a demonstration I wanted to do for my watercolor workshops exploring wet-in-wet and dropping in color. It was also to show the physical properties of water in watercolor, and how it can be used, exploited, but also how it can be a great tool. I lightly sketched the leaf shapes onto the paper first. Then one by one, I painted each leaf in clear water, then dropped color into the wet areas with strong watercolors, diluted enough to make the paint liquid but to hold on to the intensity of the color. As each drop of color spread out when it hit the wet paper, I dropped more color into the tips and the stem to hold on to that intensity of color. It was lots of fun to do, but what was truly fun was watching my students observe what the paint does as the water dries.
This piece is now for sale via my shop on Etsy. If you’re looking for holiday gift ideas, you can now purchase a gift card for my shop on Etsy and let the person your giving the gift to choose what they want!
September 25, 2012
The artist, next to my tulips painting (see the clipping of it over in the right-hand column, there). Segment of painting in process, by Janet Logan
A little over a week ago, for my first time ever, I was the model for a small artist’s group. This all came about when 2 friends, mother and daughter, came over for coffee in July. I met Connie while at an former job, where one of my responsibilities was to schedule educational seminars for the members of the professional organization. Connie worked for a company in New England that gave qualified educational seminars, which she brought to us and was the seminar presenter. She came out a total of three times, over the years, but when she came to do the first one, she asked if her mom, who lived nearby, could come to see her give the seminar. Her mom, Pat, turned out to be a painter too, and we immediately hit it off. After I left that job, I lost contact with Connie, sadly. Then a little over a year ago, Pat emailed me that Connie had an artist client for whom she was doing PR who was going to be a group show nearby here, and could I come to the opening? And suddenly, happily, we were back in contact. Thank goodness for the internet!
So Pat and Connie came to visit, we were having a great conversation over cafe’ lattes, when Pat suddenly said she loved the way I was sitting on my couch, under one of my paintings, and would I consider modeling for this group she paints with? Long story short, we scheduled it, and it happened a week ago Thursday.
In the emails confirming the date, Pat was so excited that I was going to pose for them. She wrote, “You were just so elegant sitting in your space with your large painting behind, being so animated about your work. So, if you could bring your couch and that large painting, that would be good.” I howled as I shared this little gem with Connie. Just so you know, the painting she was referring to is a very large piece, the paper is 40″ tall by 60″ wide. Unframed. But her enthusiasm was so fun and so sweet to hear, that I offered to bring one or two of my 22″ x 30″ pieces with me to hang on the wall behind me while I posed, if she wanted. She was thrilled.
So, here is where I was sitting when Pat and Connie came over: my couch and the painting over it. I was sitting on the right side of it, leaning on the arm of the couch, as you can see in the drawing up top, with my legs up on it, out to the side.
And here is the set-up Pat had ready for me at their studio, with a futon approximating my couch, and two of my watercolors (obviously not as large, and much easier to transport) up on the wall behind.
Very similar! And particularly easy, since I don’t have a bevy of nubian slaves that would be able to schlep my couch and painting onto my car, and to this painting studio. Yet.
And here is Pat with her painting of my part-way through the session. And yes, Pat is wearing one of my scarves that her daughter Connie had ordered from me for Pat’s birthday. Doesn’t she look great in it!
More of my experience watching others paint while I model, and their paintings in the next posting.
August 17, 2012
“Plumeria”, ©Jill Rosoff 2012, 6″ x 17 1/2″
“Hi, my name is Jill and I’m an art supplies-aholic.” Someday, somewhere I’m going to be someplace where I’ll introduce myself like this.
Yes, I love art supply stores. LOVE them. Kid in a candy shop love them. They are a world of possibilities, tools and supplies that look so fun, so interesting that usually my imagination goes on overload after awhile. These days its a really like a treat to go to a good art supply store, there are good suppliers online and I usually know what I need to get. It’s wonderfully easy to order and have the supplies arrive at my door, or get specialty items I need directly from companies that specialize in products, say, for painting silk scarves. But a really good brick-and-mortar art supply store is hard to find anymore. There used to be three great stores I would go to, and now there’s just one left. >heavy sigh!<
So the other day I went to the art supply store, and as I walked inside I was immediately sideswiped by the huge table-full of watercolor brushes on sale for ONE DOLLAR EACH. I kid you not. Right there, right as I walked in. Now, I’ve spent my fair share on lovely sable brushes for watercolor painting. But these were right there, tempting me. And it was a one-day !Surprise! sale to boot. What did I do? I surrendered, just a little. Actually I got them for students who needed to fill out their brush selection. So I felt a certain sense of justification, even care-giving for them, so they could take advantage of a good deal even though they wouldn’t actually be there.
I went primarily to make a list of specific supplies for students signing up for a new watercolor workshop I’ll be giving at Orange Coast College in October in the community education division. I spent almost 2 hours there, sorting through to recommend the supplies they’d need: watercolor papers, paint colors, brushes, palettes, so I could make recommendations on the supplies list I made up for the workshop. When I finished with those, I looked for whatever new things I could use for painting and printing new designs on silk scarves for the fall and the holidays. Dangerously fun. And coming soon.
About this painting: I started this piece after returning from my vacation/music workshop in Maui in June. I have always loved Hawaiian slack key guitar, its soul soothing, and found this workshop where some of my slack key favorites were going to be the teachers. So off I went, lugging my guitar, my small traveling paint kit, and a camera just in case (!) something caught my eye. The great little place we stayed had plumeria trees growing right outside the door of the rooms, so we would sit on our little patio in the mornings with our coffee, with the trees framing our view of the ocean. A visually and aurally delightful few days. It didn’t suck at all!
March 7, 2012
Mostly Lavender Poppies, habotai silk scarf, 8″ x 56″. ©Jill Rosoff 2012
Both last weekend and this coming weekend I’m showing at the Art in the Park portion of Dana Point’s annual Festival of the Whales. This is another one of my new colorways in my new collection of scarves. If you couldn’t make it last weekend, come on down this weekend. The Art in the Park is at the corner of Dana Point Harbor Drive, and Island way. I’m on the grass on the south side, look for my apple-green umbrellas! I also have my original watercolors, notecard sets, and my new reproductions available.
Want to see more of the scarves? You can find them (and buy them too!) in my Etsy store. New ones are going up all the time!