I just read the transcript of Bob Dylan’s speech last week at MusiCares, when he was honored as their Person of the Year. It’s part of the annual Grammys events.  I wish I could have watched him, but it wasn’t broadcast on television.  However one reporter, Randall Roberts, thought to transcribe it, and the LA Times published it.  Its a hell of a good read.

Pink Fuschias

“Fuchsias” ©Jill Rosoff 2011, 6″ x 17.5″

I think it’s important to remember that creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum.  It is almost as if its a redistribution of wealth, that everything that we take in, visually, aurally, emotionally, spiritually, through taste, through feel, through smell, all of it can come back out of us in the art we make, if its painting, cooking, making music, writing, or any other creative endeavor, all of it reflects what we have learned so far.  My artwork is influenced by so many things, by what I learned growing up, what my parents taught me, what I saw in museums, what I tasted.  Anyone who knows me knows I’ve usually got a cup of coffee with me while I’m making art.  I’m influenced by a great latte.  Yup, I said that.  

Dylan talks about the music he listens to, how he hears the songs and then writes something that reflect them.  Read especially the part about the “Come all ye” songs, and what he wrote after that.  You’ll have a V-8 slap-your-forehead moment.  I look at Van Gogh, and Thiebaud, and Klimt and Diebenkorn, and so many more, and then I indulge in them as I paint my paintings.  Going to museums to see the actual work of these artist heroes of mine is like plugging me in, I get all excited and fascinated and wish I could paint right then and there.  Thank goodness for my iPhone, I can now take notes on it.  But I still often take a notebook into a show with me to jot down things.  Musically I try to channel Gabby Pahinui as I struggle to get my fingers, which are ingrained in American folk music rhythms and patterns, into playing Hawaiian slack key guitar.  Its my new, great struggle.  

Read the transcript here, even if you don’t subscribe to the LA Times online, you can read up to 10 articles a month there for free.   I’ve downloaded it so I can go reread it now and then.  So can you.

And if you live in or near Orange County, CA, come take one of my watercolor workshops!

Always Learning

January 1, 2015

Recently in my Saturday watercolor workshops, I told my students that if they ever wanted to go to a local museum to see a show, or to an art supply store, that I could easily be persuaded to join them.  One of my watercolor workshops students took me up on it, emailed me and made a date to go to a small, local, private museum, the Irvine Art Museum.  We went last Tuesday afternoon.

Mt San JacintoMt. San Jacinto, by Phil Dyke, one of the pieces in the Westways Cover Art show a the Irvine Museum, through 1/15/15

This small museum is “Dedicated to the preservation and display of California art of the Impressionist Period (1890-1930)”.  The show they have up now is of cover art from Westways Magazine, the monthly magazine of AAA. Up until 1981, Westways’ covers were all original artwork of landscapes, commissioned expressly for the magazine.  These works of art for the magazine covers are as wonderful as they are varied.

Many of the artists that were engaged to do the works are known California artists, including many of the California Plein Air watercolorists:  including Phil Dyke, Maynard Dixon, Maurice Logan and Rex Brandt, along with other plain air masters and illustrators.  For me its always just plain fun not only seeing the actual works, but also studying each piece, working out how each artist composed their painting.  And when I’m with students, talking about how the paintings were made, what the artists did to create their artwork.

For me, seeing original art is a ready-made lesson, where I get to study not only the images, and the techniques and visions of each artist.  My real excitement is seeing if I can figure out how the artist painted the image, particularly with watercolors and gouaches simply because its my chosen medium.  In general its fascinating to work out because in watercolors, you have to build a painting specifically due to the transparency of the paint.  The more I can glean from how each artist paints, the more it feeds my own work.  When I go home and paint, usually using the imagery I know, I try applying the techniques and colors I’ve just seen, and see if I can incorporate their colors, the economy of their brush strokes, and how they use dry brush over wet on wet.  I sat in front of this Phil Dyke piece of Mt. San Jacinto, marveling at the broad under-painting of the shape of the mountain, and then those very few, specific brush strokes that essentially show the mountain extrusion from the ground.  Wow.  

Want to see some of these treasures?  Just googlewestways cover art“.  Here’s a brief bio for Phil Dyke, too.  And if you can, go see the paintings in person.  There’s another one of the Grand Canyon that’s simply remarkable!  Thanks for calling, Lori!

Happy New Year!

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: https://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.

 

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