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

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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.

Three-Plus Poppies

“Three-plus Poppies”, ©Jill Rosoff 2013, 4″ x  6″

I have these small pads of watercolor paper that I keep around for quick “jots” of ideas like this one.  In watercolors, any whites in a painting are the paper left untouched, since watercolor is a transparent medium, and the transparent version of white is, well, nothing.  Transparent.  It’s a fun conundrum to play around with.  

In this piece, I wanted to leave no blank paper, no white areas, but instead to paint the whole piece of paper, and to let the shapes of the flowers do most of the talking.  Getting the colors this rich and intense is a fun challenge in watercolors.  And there’s still good contrast between the brightness of the yellow centers, and the dark lines where the green paint overlapped the red.  Unintended, and perfect.  

One other thing:   I love rich, vibrant and maintaining a sense of the transparency in the paint.  In watercolors it is possible to use too much paint, which when it dries, looks dry, dusty and opaque, qualities that you just don’t strive for in watercolors.   I like striving for the saturation and the transparency, especially since they are paradoxical.  Fun!

It’s now available on Esty here.  

Icelands in dark red and oranges

“Red and Orange Poppies” ©Jill Rosoff 2012

I went on a bit of a blog-hiatus last month.  Between making my holiday cards, which I’ve done for the past 25 (gasp!) years, and then making Christmas gifts for my family, I was plum tuckered out.  Maybe that’s sugar-plum tuckered out?  Only the fairies will know for sure.  And they’ll dance about it.

I’m back at it now.  I have some new paintings that I finished up over the holidays to post here that I’ve had on the drawing board for awhile.  This painting actually came out of an idea I had for a new colorway for my scarves, one that was more fall or winter inspired.  And to play with new color combinations through a very familiar theme is an interesting process, because it can help to bust open a preconceived idea.  Since Iceland poppies are in a naturally spring-y color spectrum, which I really love, I have pretty much painted them that way.  But now I think not every poppy needs to be in yellows, oranges, reds and pinks, do they?  I mean, there are pink daffodils, for crying out loud.  What if I could have a lavender poppy?  Ooooh!

My New Year’s resolution?   I will not be as literal with color.  The reds can be deeper, softer, not so siren-like.  The orange can be a faded tomato orange-red.  And the green?  Instead of a bright spring bud green, how about verdigris?  A nice, oxidized, dusty green.  This worked for me!

Now all I need to do is remember to write 2013 instead of 2012.  I’m thinking I’ll get that done by February, earliest.  

“Red Tulips”, ©Jill Rosoff 2012, 15″ x 11″

I’ve had bouquets of daffodils, tulips and sweet peas in the house a lot lately. Its spring! and they’re really affordable now at Trader Joe’s.  And REALLY affordable from my sister’s garden–she has a wonderful huge crop of sweet peas along the fence in her yard.  The flowers have been my live ‘models’ for both for my paintings and my scarves, and I take them to my workshops for my students to use as subject matter for their paintings.  I’ve while I’ve got a couple of paintings of daffodils nearing completion, but here’s my most recent watercolor of red tulips.  I love these pieces, just the red of the flowers, on the white background, punctuated by the black stamens in the centers of the blossoms.

Tulips were some of my ‘teachers’ in watercolors.  On a trip in Europe toward the end of college, I bought some bulbs in Amsterdam which were sent to me when it was time to plant them.  In the spring, voila, I had some lovely tulips in my garden, and sat outside trying to get them down in watercolor.  I was painting exclusively with oils at the time, and watercolors are nothing like oils to paint with.  So I practiced with the watercolors, trying to figure out how to use them, as often as I could as long as those tulips were blooming in my garden, just about 2 weeks.  I tried to get those watercolor paints to behave.  Ultimately I learned to surrender to them, which is usually the case, isn’t it?  So this painting is my most recent visit to an old friend and teacher.  

The other fun things?  I’m getting ready to show this coming Sunday, May 20th at the 18th Annual Balboa Island Art Walk.  I really enjoy this show, partly because its on the bayfront of Newport Harbor, which is beautiful, but also because at this show is along a walkway thats about 8′ wide, so our displays are flat along the walkway.  You can walk right up to the artwork, there’s no intimidation factor of having to enter into a 10′ tent.  Click here for more information about the Artwalk.  I’ll be between Coral and Apolena streets, just look for my apple-green umbrellas!

And I’ve got all sorts of new scarves!    I’ll have them at the Artwalk, and they are also available through my new Etsy Shop, “Blooming Silks”.  Please visit soon!

Scarfing Up

March 7, 2012

Image

Mostly Lavender Poppies, habotai silk scarf, 8″ x 56″.  ©Jill Rosoff 2012

Both last weekend and this coming weekend I’m showing at the Art in the Park portion of Dana Point’s annual Festival of the Whales.  This is another one of my new colorways in my new collection of scarves.  If you couldn’t make it last weekend, come on down this weekend.  The Art in the Park is at the corner of Dana Point Harbor Drive, and Island way.  I’m on the grass on the south side, look for my apple-green umbrellas!  I also have my original watercolors, notecard sets, and my new reproductions available.

Want to see more of the scarves?  You can find them (and buy them too!) in my Etsy store.  New ones are going up all the time!

New production is blooming

February 23, 2012


Scarves in process, February  ©Jill Rosoff 2012

I’ve been doing a lot of marketing work lately, one result of which is that I haven’t been painting much lately.  And I miss it!  But I’ve had a lot to do both in the marketing and in my art projects.

One project is my hand-painted silk scarves.  I paint them with permanent dye, right on to the silk fabric.  I’ve been in production, developing the designs, and getting ready to show them at a few shows in the upcoming months.  My next show is the Festival of the Whales in Dana Point, CA, at the Art in the Park section of the Festival.  For the first 2 weekends of March each year, Dana Point celebrates the return of the once-endangered California Gray Whale with “a leviathan-size event”.  I spent my teen years near here, I learned to sail sabots in Dana Point Harbor, so it’s a bit of home turf for me.

Back to the scarves.  The photo above is from my production day yesterday.  The scarves are pinned onto canvas on the painting table, where I then paint them with the dyes.  You can see the vestiges of previous dyeing under the scarves.  These are just 2 of the new crop of poppy scarves, all of which signed and numbered, and which I will be showing at the Festival of the Whales.  Come see what they look like on!  My booth will be at Art in the Park at the Festival, located at the intersection of Dana Point Harbor Drive and Island Drive.  It’s at stop E12 on the shuttle route, which you will find on this map.  Look for my apple-green market umbrellas.

If you aren’t anywhere near Dana Point and are unable come to the Festival, the scarves are currently available in my Etsy store, where I’ll be posting the new ones as soon as they’re completed and photographed.  And for those in and around north Orange County, they are now also at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center‘s gift shop, in Fullerton, CA.

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