I came across this posting about a monograph of Georgia O’Keefe’s watercolors, in anticipation of a show of her work at the Tate in London.  Oh! to be able to see it in London!  This painting isn’t in this monograph.  But it’s a favorite of mine by her, and in the same vein of her works.  

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“Pink and Green Mountains #1”, 1917, Georgia O’Keefe

What I find really compelling about these paintings, both as a painter and as a teacher, is that they are so gestural.  See how the brushstrokes are simple and straight-forward strokes.  Gestures.  Not a lot of fussing, very minimally worked.  Confident in the application of the paint. I rarely do figures in watercolor, and looking at the figure works in this make me wonder why.  

Results

June 8, 2016

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This is one of the sketches I did back in my studio after the trip to the Flower Fields, from my last posting.  As much as the trip turned out so different than my expectations for it were, I’m really enjoying  making paintings from the photos I took.  Lemonade out of lemons.  You just never know!

 

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Ranunculus, from the rows of purples and reds up to the white ones.

Yesterday I drove to Carlsbad (CA) to meet up with an artist friend to see and paint the flower fields. Carlsbad is in northern San Diego county, and has been know for the vivid colors that bloom each spring of the flowers that are grown there.  When I was a teen, my family would drive to Tijuana for the day to go shopping.  As we got to Carlsbad, the 5 split through the fields, and intense colors covered the land on both sides of freeway.  Back then you could get off the freeway and simply go walking in the fields, to get up close and personal with the growing blooms. We never stopped though, as were on our way to a different adventure.   But I had dreams of going there to sit in the fields and paint the flowers.

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Thank goodness for zoom-in feature on my cell phone!

A few weeks ago I shared a photo I found of the fields on Facebook that I’d seen.  Laura, my fellow artist friend, emailed me with the idea to go paint and sketch and paint in the fields. At last, a dream would be realized. Yesterday was the day, and though the flower fields are down to a few acres these days, and only ranunculus are planted (thought I love ranunculus), and you have to pay to get in to see them, we both packed up our art supplies and hats in bags and went, ready to plop ourselves down in the furrows between the rows of flowers and make art.

Or so we thought. They don’t let anyone walk through the rows of flowers anymore (frowny face)!  There’s a big irrigation ditch surrounding each field, that’s a few feet wide and a couple feet deep. Sigh! So we couldn’t plop ourselves down in the furrows and paint.  That said, every dozen rows or so they had little portable foot-bridges placed over the ditch, and about 20’ of ‘path’ cordoned off into the field.  

 

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The pink ranunculus rows

But there wasn’t much room to plop down in.  I’d been so looking forward to literally getting down and dirty in the flower plants and painting or drawing. But it was not to be. We sat on a bench for awhile and chatted about the business of art, swapping stories of things we are each doing, gazing at the flowers. And I got a little bit of sunburn where I’d missed getting sunscreen on as I was driving down. But I did get a few photos lovely photos.

I’m starting to work on some watercolor sketches.  And to see how I can turn them in to new scarf designs.  

#flowerfields #ranunculus #freshoffthedrawingboard #rosoffartworks

 

Pigments

March 20, 2016

Being a colorist at heart, I’ve always been curious in seeing raw pigments and learning about where the colors come from, be it minerals or plants, or those that are created in a lab.  My watercolors are infused with color.  In my workshops I show my students ways to mix and layer colors to create richer, glowing colors, rather than using color right out of the tubes.  I know there are plenty of painters who use specific palettes of color, limited to a small assortment of colors to create a certain tone to their paintings.  I’m a color hog, the more the merrier.  I never use any browns or black, and rarely grey.  I mix them or layer them using all sorts of colors to get wonderful rich colors in my paintings.  

Shutters

“Shutters”  Original watercolor on paper. 14″ x 14″. Architecture Collection. Study of classic tuscan windows, shutters and wrought iron. Orange, yellow and plum colored walls with green and blue shutters, the sky reflected in the window glass.      ©Jill Rosoff 2005

And I am curious about where pigments come from.  Typically they come from plants or minerals, and sometimes animals.  Imagine grinding up a lovely piece of lapis lazuli to get that specific blue in your painting!  Blues are purples were most expensive, so its no surprise why they are associated with royalty.   With the Industrial Revolution, color and pigments could be developed in labs, and more especially after the Scientific Revolution in the 18th C.   

I just found this article on My Modern Met about a lab at Harvard that has a collection of over 2,500 pigments from around the world, and you can go see them.  Its the Forbes Pigment Collection at the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, part of the Harvard Art Museum.  They have the pigments there to use in art conservation work, to be able to match colors of old paintings that are being maintained and preserved.

forbespigmentcollection3photo from My Modern Met, colors from the Forbes Pigment Collection

Seeing this article made me wistful for an art supply store I went to when I was studying printmaking in Florence way too many years ago.  Its called Zecchi Colori, on via della Studio (evocative name, no?).  Head a couple of blocks toward the Arno from the Santa Maria del Fiori, the Cathedral that dominates Florence’s skyline, Zecchi is on the right side of the street. The first time I went in there I thought I’d died and gone to heaven because around the perimeter of the store on the top shelf of the supplies were huge glass jars of pigments, bright, intense, glorious. I never did get a photo of them, seems ridiculous since I was so taken with them that I just never took a photo.  I did by a crock, though!  But I think I need to get into that lab at Harvard…

Majolica crock from Zecchi Colori, Firenze.

Majolica crock from Zecchi Colori, Firenze.  Its sitting on a new still life of fruit and vegetables that’s in process.  

Some Inspirations This Week

February 12, 2016

Earlier this week I got to see “Red”, the Tony-award winning play about one of my favorite painters, Mark Rothko.  In the first act there’s a terrific back-and-forth between Rothko and the young artist he’s hired to be his studio assistant, of different things colored red.  Its a verbal panoply of all things red, and in my mind’s eye as I visualized each thing they mentioned:  tomatoes, blood, lips, cherries, apple, red pepper, rose, red hair, beets, lobsters (cooked), sunsets, strawberries, pomegranates, poppies, I saw all those different versions of red:  cadmium red, alizarin, vermilion, scarlet, carmine, crimson, garnet and more.  All so different, and all so red.  I use them a lot.  Its a fun exercise, and illustrates so well the differences between warm reds and cool reds to boot.  In my workshop 2 nights later we started doing a similar thing, so they could all start envisioning different variations of just the one color.

 

Its a fun exercise, and illustrates so well the differences between warm reds and cool reds to boot.  In my workshop 2 nights later we started doing a similar thing, so they could all start envisioning different variations of just the one color.

Next:  I was born in the Year of the Monkey, so it’s ‘my’ year according to the Chinese zodiac calendar.  There have been some interesting illustrations for it online on various social media sites, but I wanted to share one with you all especially.  A friend of mine, Kay, who does sumi-e, created a lovely tribute to this year here.

And finally, speaking of reds, have a lovely Valentines!

Valentine 1

My palette in my paintings and in my scarves is typically bright colors.  One of the six-week workshops I teach through the local junior college’s community education department is about how being strategic with color combinations can actually enliven colors.   So I find it particularly intriguing to be developing a whole set of color ways for my scarves that are in more neutral colors.  Here are two I did yesterday, pinned to the canvas-covered board while they are drying.  

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“Loop de Lou” design, in coffee and brown, and in grey and black.

They are pretty interesting, yes?  Now, I’m a sincere coffee devotee, so the first color way was pretty much a “duh” for me.  This one will look good with black, on white, on oranges, on light blue, on lavender, you get the idea.  The one on the right, the grey, is a nice, cool grey, and will go with everything.  Imagine it on red!  And as much as these are perfect for winter colors, they’ll be perfect accents for spring and summer colors! Imagine they grey one on red!   

Get my scarves online in my Etsy shop.

It can be trying to be both the maker of product, and the marketer of that product.  It’s two completely different thought processes, two very different endeavors.

This week I’ve felt very gratified for the support of my online ‘peeps’, friends, Facebook friends, people who get my periodic email communications, everyone.  I submitted on of my scarves, “Olive Branches” for a contest on Artizan Made, a wonderful website that promotes hand-made products in home decor and eco-fashion.

Olive Branches

The winner will get a year of free advertising on the Artizan Made website.  Its a short contest, just a week long, and I sent in my entry.  I got notified that my scarf was accepted into the contest in the evening, just 2 days before the end of the contest.  Then I posted about it on Facebook, and asked friends to both vote and share my post.  I posted on Twitter, too.  and sent an email out to everyone on my email list.  And then I went to bed.

The next morning, I’d come even with the current leader.  More votes dribbled in, and then I sent an email out to everyone on my email list.  My numbers went way up.  It was a blast watching the numbers rise.  But more than that was enjoying all the responses, so many just saying “Done!” that was so lovely.  And heartwarming.  And felt so supportive.  So even if I don’t win this thing, I’ve gotten so much visibility from it, it’s fantastic.  And maybe a couple of early holiday sales.  

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