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

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!

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