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.  

neutrals1.sm

“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.

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!

"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?

 

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!

In the “this moment just gets better” column!

I just received this photo via email.  In my last posting about the Unique LA Show I talked about my fellow vendor who was talking on Facetime with her mum in London so Mum could choose the scarf she was going to receive for Mother’s day.  Well, here she is, wearing the one she chose!   From London!  Via Facetime! 

mum with scarf3

Doesn’t she look great!  

I may be just a little goofy about this whole thing, but it was just so much fun, and startlingly cool, realizing what was happening when Lisa, the other vendor, asked if she could show the scarves on Facetime to her mum.  In London. As my family would say, “Who’d’ve thunk it?”  

Thanks to Lisa Bennett of Cards by Li Be for sharing her mum’s photo with me, and now you too.

I sell my scarves online in my Etsy shop Blooming Silks.  And I’m happy to take orders!  Delivery time is 2-3 weeks.  Questions?  Contact me here:

And please know that your contact information remains confidential!

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Catching Up

May 26, 2013

Happy Memorial Day Weekend.  I get to relax a little this weekend.  I spent the last two weekends doing two art shows, one showing just the scarves, one for both the art and the scarves.  I’m pooped!  The first was Unique LA in downtown Los Angeles on May 11 & 12, and then on Sunday May 19th I showed for the 5th time at the Balboa Island Art Walk.  I’ve showed at the Balboa Art Walk five years, now, this was my first experience with Unique LA.

The fun thing about Unique LA is that its all local, hand-crafted work.  And it was held in the penthouse of the California Market Center, where clothing wholesalers are located.  I had a table location to show my hand painted scarves.  tableday2

My immediate fellow vendors included: on the tables on either side of me were lovely women that made jewelry, across from me was a soap maker, a woman who made letterpress cards next to her, another table of necklaces on her other side.  Oh, and the place a few spaces down that made, I kid you not, both salted caramel donuts and bacon/maple donuts.  Which were both over-the-top delicious, by the way.  And I’ve now had my donut ration for the next five years.

This woman was my first sale Saturday morning.  She must have tried on a dozen of the scarves, and each one looked better on her than the last.  Here she’s in the one she ended up getting:  Lavender Poppies with sap green buds.

 DinaLavenderPoppiesSM

She bought it and put it on for the rest of her day.  Makes the artist’s heart go pitter pat!

Later on my friend Rheena Mae came by, and modeled this one of the Poppies design in yellow, again with sap green stems and buds.  I think she needs to buy this one, don’t you??  Especially to wear with that sap green dress!

RheenamodellingyellowpoppiesSM

Rheena makes a line of necklaces and bracelets called Mae Mae.

The second day was Mother’s Day.  I’d been talking with all my neighbors, especially the card maker, who was English, and had told her mum in London about my scarves.  When she decided to get her one,  she came over with her iPhone while she was Face-timing with Mum so she could show her all the scarves, and Mum could choose the one she wanted.  It was so very cool!  and my longest-distance ever real time sale!   There we were in LA, she was in London, and we were having this conversation so she could pick what she wanted.  From thousands of miles away!  My grandparents would be flabbergasted.  I’m still getting a thrill out of it!

Here’s a close up of some the scarf designs on the display rack.  scarvesonrack

The purple scarf in the middle is a new style, and it’s on a color field.  I’ve started experimenting with dying the scarves a background color first, then painting the pattern on the colored background.  The other styles featured are (left to right, top to bottom):  Fall leaves, Flower Fields, Farfalle (in turpuoise and green), Lines & Dots, Leaves (in grass and chartreuse), Farfalle (in light orange and deep pink), and Stars (in pink with lavender centers).  

I only wish I’d had another pair of hands at the show, if only to document all the fascinating things people were wearing.  I could’ve done a series just of all the shoes!  But I did get this on, one customer had this small purse, fabricated from soda can pop tops.  Fun, isn’t it!

poptopphonepurseSM

And finally, here’s another new design, a development of the “Poppies” design.  This one features a wave pattern in the background.  If you have seen my paintings, you’ll know that this wave pattern is one of my signature patterns.  I am tickled how I worked out a way to include this pattern onto the scarf designs–using foam brushes and  a pair of scissors.  I’ve made this design so far with these hot pink poppies, as well as with orange and yellow poppies so far.  Next experiment is with a different color of wave!  Maybe magenta waves behind the lavender poppies?  Any ideas?  Leave me a comment!  

poppiesonwavespatternSM

Next time I’ll show you the Balboa Island Art Walk.

Busy Busy Busy

May 1, 2013

I’m getting ready for shows and events in May and June here in Southern California.

uniquelaspring-pinkbanner-joinus-1

Next weekend, May 11th and 12th, I’ll be showing my hand-painted silk scarves at Unique LA.  This local artisan made show will be at the California Market Center in their Penthouse.  The show is open from 11-6 both days, my location is T106, not far from the coffee bar (you’d think they’ve met me!).  

dec2012

Bring your Moms for Mother’s Day!  AND, if you print out and bring this blog post you’ll receive 10% off the price of any scarf (retail sales only).  

*    *    *    *    * 

The following weekend, on May 19th, I’ll be showing for my 5th time at the terrific Balboa Island Art Walk.

Artwalk Postcard-1

This is the Art Walk’s 19th year, and there are more artists than ever showing their work.  I will once again be located between Coral and Apolena Streets, just look for my apple-green umbrellas.  The show is strung all along Balboa Island’s bayfront walk, overlooking lovely Newport Harbor, from Marine Avenue past the Ferry Landing.  The Art Walk lasts from 9 am to 5 pm.    

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy display at the 2012 Balboa Island Art Walk

I hope to see you at one or both events!  Thanks!

How Do You Paint a Tree?

April 18, 2013

Tuscan Hillside

“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.  

See my work on my website, and in my Etsy shops for my paintings and my scarves.

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