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.  

Making for Shows

May 26, 2015

I’ve been doing a few art shows/artwalks recently, so my art-making life has been centered around them.  

purple LoopdeLoudonationcroppedsmLast week I was a vendor in a boutique at a luncheon and fundraiser for the local chapter of the Alzheimers Association,   I’m happy to support the Alzheimers Association, not only because of people I know whose families have been affected by Alzheimers, but also because this luncheon supports the caregivers of those affected by Alzheimers, and honors a caregiver each year.  And I always provide a scarf for the auction they have during the luncheon, which I make just for the occasion in the AA signature purple color.

This event was followed 2 days later by the Balboa Island Art Walk.  I really enjoy both these shows, and they both bring me to my target market clientele.

This was my 8th time in the Balboa Island Art Walk.  Its held every May, on the bayfront walk of Balboa Island in Newport Beach, CA. The bay front walk goes around the perimeter of the island, and is at most an 8′ walkway.  Artists’ displays can be at most 3′ deep.  So people can easily get up close to see the artwork, and not have to make that socially awkward, unintentional commitment of walking into a 10×10 pop-up booth space to look at the work.  I love that! I wish more art shows could figure this out, that the pass-by rate decreases when people don’t have to walk into a pop-up tent!

Booth-pr-Balboa2015sm

Balboa Island Art Walk 2015 booth, pillowcases & scarves on the left, watercolor paintings on the right

And now I’m replenishing my inventory, especially the scarves, for the upcoming Contemporary Crafts Market in Pasadena, CA, on June 5-7.  

Poppies selections jan-14

“Poppies” and “Poppies on Waves”, 2 of our popular scarf design lines

This is one of the best shows of work by fine art and hand craft makers, where the vendors who are showing are the people who actually hand-make their wares.  There is a fee to get into this show, but if you go to CCM’s website, you can download a pass that gets 2 people in free for the whole three days, a $16.00 value!  There’s only so many passes available, so don’t delay!  

poppies-eyelets-coffee.sm

Pillowcases being painted, with permanent dyes

I’ll be primarily featuring my new line of hand-painted pillowcases, as well as my silk scarf line:  Poppies and Poppies on Waves (above), Olive Branches, Flower Fields, Layers, Koi, Watermelon Wedges, Apples, and hopefully some designs I’m working out  now that I might be able to sneak in!  

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!

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!

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

“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?

I heart you

January 18, 2013

Valentine 1“Valentine 1″ ©Jill Rosoff 2013, 6″ x 6”

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.

Lavender poppies on red patterns“Lavender Poppies on red patterns” ©Jill Rosoff 2012, 10″ x 7″

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.

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