Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Art Colony and Grand Marais, MN

This week I am off to the beautiful area of Grand Marais on Lake Superior. It is a 4-5 hour drive from my house and filled with wonderful sites along the way. This week the Grand Marais Art Colony is sponsoring its 6th Annual Plein Air Painting Competition. This will be a first for me and it is a wonderful excuse to get out and paint in an area that I love. I am rather new at this, but I have my paints packed and my canvases ready to go.

The Art Colony is the oldest art organization in Minnesota. I did some checking on their website and they really are geared to the artist. They actually have a real printing press for those who would love to try printing. One can actually rent time to use it. I do wish that I lived closer.

This week there will be many events going on with the plein air competition. A guest speaker, Albert Handel, will be talking at the Old Playhouse Theatre. He is one of the countries leading pastel artists.

I hope to update my experiences during the week.....that is if I can find an internet connection. I will be staying in a cabin so my chances won't be great.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What a Workshop Last Week!!

Demonstration of plein aire painting on Angel Hill in Taylors Falls, MN by Marc Hanson

Last week I attended a week long workshop given by Marc Hanson, a signature member of the Oil Painters of America. What a worthwhile class!! We had demos, painting exercises, painting along the river, in the park, in the was great!

Marc is an excellent teacher and he is able to take something and make things make sense. The "light" finally went off. I have always had considerable trouble painting landscapes as I tend to get too much into them. The key is to simplify. The exercises that we did the first day or two of class were extremely helpful. Simplifying big areas into one value area and limiting the values to a light, middle and dark one....difficult when there is soooo much stuff to look at. However, it was incredibly helpful. The next day we did a series of quick value studies implementing these simple principles. Taking color out of the picture eliminates the tendency to overwork and mismatch the wrong values. The last few days we actually painted using color, but we also thought out the entire idea or concept prior to painting.

I really cannot say enough about the class. It definitely was worth the time and money and I highly recommend taking it.

Below is a photo of some of the gray studies that I attempted to do.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Workshop in Taylor Falls this week....

This week I am taking a workshop from Marc Hanson of Taylor Falls, MN. Today was the first day and what a treat. I am learning so much. Marc is an accomplished plein air painter who works in oils and pastels. His work is beautiful and it is such a treat to have one giving a workshop within such a short distance from where I live.

Today we did value studies. The first two in black and white with grey tones and the next two in color. Marc did a demo and made it look so wasn't. Tomorrow we are just doing black and white studies, saving the color for the next day.

Thank goodness the weather is beautiful. Hopefully, it will remain this way the rest of the week.

More to come ~

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Freaking Out....or How Does One Make a Living....

"Precious Moments"
charcoal drawing (framed & the plexiglass is acting as a magnet-the sun was shining in the window) and a print using my new printer
copyright MaryAnn Cleary

Work, Sweetie, work!

This past week I have been busily printing out small and medium sized prints of my photographs using my new Epson printer - 0ne of those ones that has pigmented ink and one that can do a larger format using a variety of papers!

I must say that I am very pleased with the performance thus far. I am still on a learning curve, but I am a quick learner. I have found that the Epson papers sometimes do perform a bit better - not for all, but I did try using an acid free card stock in colors...probably a mistake when learning...and then I purchased some of the Epson presentation paper (heavyweight). It has a coating on it that does make a huge difference in the colors! So for cheap papers for cards or whatever, it is worth getting the Epson paper. The colors are much more vivid. The cost per paper is around $0.23 versus acid free card stock of around $0.13 or so.

I have used other glossy papers though and found the results very good though. So for photographic papers it seems that a substitute is ok with similar results.

However, the best part and the main reason that I purchased this printer is due to the black and white reproductions! I just finished up "The Precious Moment" charcoal and of course, I needed to see what would happen! Wow! Delightful! A true black and white! No bluish tints! A real black and white with real blacks! I used a Somerset velvet cotton rag (acid free) paper and I really liked the results.

Off to mat up some photos.... and work on the 29-Day project ... and the daily painting..... or maybe sit back, have a glass of wine and read "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch. What an incredible human being. You may want to check out his lecture if you have not seen it.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

A Precious Moment

"A Precious Moment"
charcoal drawing on paper, 16 x 16 inch, unframed
copyright MaryAnn Cleary

This is one of those drawings that I enjoyed doing immensely. I truly miss drawing the human figure and one of my most favorite subjects is a mother and her child. My favorite medium is charcoal and not just charcoal, but charcoal on Rives BFK paper. The two together are heavenly.

I have no idea why I do not do more drawings using charcoal. I have been trying to stick with just oil painting, but sometimes it is best to utilize what is best and what feels comfortable for the end result. In the future, I will try to use the medium that I feel appropriate and the one that meets the needs of what I am trying to draw or paint. What is best for accomplishing the end result! To tell you the truth, I love charcoal, I love colored pencil, I love watercolors and I love why not use the most appropriate medium to get what is needed accomplished? I have been trying to fit into a tiny box of "one must develop a body of work that is consistent and similar". That is definitely a good idea. However, one can do that, but it can be a series of charcoal drawings, a series of watercolors, a series of oil paintings...... sometimes it may be best not to limit the options available.

Another thing that I just found out is that there is life drawing at several sights in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. It will mean driving, but I do miss drawing from a model. I also found a place in Minneapolis that is called Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School. I must try and attend at least one of these. It is held at a club where one can draw from models not normally found in the typical studio environment...burlesque dancers, roller derby girls to belly dancers...and I can have a glass of wine. It sounds very interesting and fun. There is also a life drawing studio in White Bear Lakes that is a bit closer. I hope to be able to go to that one as well.

For now, enjoy and please feel free to comment.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Painting 4 finished ~ 29-Day Giving Challenge

More Pink
watercolor with pen&ink on Arches paper, matted, painting 4 for the 29-day challenge
images size ~ 4x6 inch
copyright MaryAnn Cleary

Here is one of the watercolors that I started yesterday completed....or at least I hope so. This one will be added to the others that I have finished.

Yesterday, after my greatest advisor saw the changes that I had done to the "poppy" painting, she said, "Add it in". So the poppy painting is part of the 29 small paintings.

Remember when I finish this little mini-series collection, I plan on giving them away. If you would like to be a part of the give away, please just leave a comment and I will add your name to the list.

Today was a "mow the lawn" day or at least I tried to get it mowed. Mid-day a thunderstorm came barreling through with thunder and hail even though parts of the storm were supposed to have nickel-sized hail. The skies are sunny and the sun is getting ready to end the day. I just love this time of day as the sun shimmers through the leaves of the trees making them look a golden yellow-green.

Don't forget to leave your comment...or drop me an email. Well, off to work on a charcoal drawing of my daughter and grandson.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The 29 Day Project is in the Works.....

original watercolor and ink on paper, image 4x6 inch
copyright MaryAnn Cleary

My latest project is doing 29 small watercolors that are approximately 4 x 6 inches in size for the image. The giving challenge was started a few months back by Cami Walker. For 29 days, the challenge is to give away something. I have decided to paint a collection of small watercolors, as they are easy to ship and lightweight, for the challenge. The collection will consist of 29 flowers and once I have all the paintings completed, they will be given away. Please leave a comment or email. I will put your name on the list. Remember the collection needs to be completed first. Pass the word to anyone who may be interested.

Each little watercolor will be matted and shipped to the winning person by me free of charge.

These will all be given away once they have been completed. It has taken me some time to get my arms around this project....trying to figure out what to paint, what not to paint, should they be similar or not. Finally, one day the light dawned on my crazy brain and "why not paint 29 small paintings of flowers". Everyone loves to get flowers...or most folks anyway. So that is my plan. Also, my daughter is helping me with another set of eyes as to which ones are "rejects" and which are "keepers for the give-away".

The "Sunflowers" will be number 1. It is a keeper for the give-away.

The one below is not....reject...

watercolor and ink, ~ 4x6 inch image
copyright MaryAnn Cleary

This one is a "reject". I have mixed feelings on this one so I would love to hear other's comments. My wonderful critic felt that for such a "wee" painting, that the flower was a bit over powering. She may be right.

Below is a "keeper" for the give-way.....accepted.....

"In the Pink"
watercolor and ink on paper that has been textured with modeling paste, ~ 4x6 inch image
copyright MaryAnn Cleary

So it looks like there are two completed watercolors and 4 more in the works....


These are two more in process....they still need some work...and who knows if they will be accepted for the give away. Once they are completed I will post the final painting and also whether it will be added to the 29.

The three paintings below are in the initial stages and hopefully, I won't trash them. With these I plan on leaving some white and doing the leaves and grasses in the background....without overdoing it. This will be a test. As I get comfortable with doing watercolors again, my skills should improve. With each day, I will keep everyone posted to the progress....pass the word.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The Rum River at Princeton

The Rum River at Princeton
original oil painting on canvas on board, 9 x 12 inch, unframed
copyright 2008 MaryAnn Cleary

This morning I finished up the landscape painting that I was working on of the Rum (aka the Spirit) River. This section of the Rum is in Princeton, Minnesota and this is in late afternoon as the sun was setting. For this painting I pretty much used a limited palette (ultramarine blue, cad. red medium, cad. yellow light and a cad. yellow green plus the usually white). I really am not sure if I like it or not. Many areas I did scrape the paint off with a palette knife and then reapply it. However, for now it is what it is. If anyone is interested, the painting is up for auction.

I am also continuing to work on the 29-Day Giving Challenge project. I finally decided to do 29 small watercolors, photograph and scan them, and then offer them as a give-away to 29 lucky folks. If you are interested, please drop me an email or leave a comment, and I will put your name in the drawing. As the little watercolors become completed, I will post them. This should be fun. Stay tuned for the sweet little flower paintings......

Friday, August 01, 2008

Capturing a Moment...a Hawk

Hawk in Flight
copyright MaryAnn Cleary

Hawk Checking the Area
copyright MaryAnn Cleary

Today was a no painting day.

Late this afternoon as I was coming back from town, I decided to take a drive to the local state park that is very near my home. The sun was setting and I had planned on trying to get some photos of wildflowers and cattails and just enjoy the delightful summer evening. Walking along the path back to my car, I heard that destinct cry of a bird of prey. I looked up there was a gorgeous hawk circling out from some nearby trees.

Thankfully, I had my camera and the zoom lens on it. My first few photos that I took caught the hawk in flight, but they also looked like a black dot on a blue background. The bird was just too far away. The hawk circled out and around many times and finally perched on a tree in the not-too-far distance. I decided to try to see how close I could get before the hawk took off again in flight. I actually made it within 50 feet or so from the tree where the hawk had perched before bird took off again in flight. I am so glad that I have a camera where I can snap several pictures quickly without much lag time between shots. I probably ended up with 10-15 shots of the hawk in flight.

Here are a couple of photographs that I took. This is my first time being able to capture a hawk this close with my camera. Neither of the photos have been cropped - just some light and color adjustment. What a fantastic afternoon!