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mare and foal   summer 2013

mare and foal summer 2013

We are blessed this summer to have two mares and their foals living in the field bordering our back garden.

There is a horse breeder who keeps his prize stock in this area, other years we’ve had a whole herd one field further away.

But it is nothing like this summer, having them right outside our back door where we can watch and interact with them daily.

back field

horses in late spring 2012

Other years, Bernardo and Prelude have been in this field-  soul mates who hate to be separated, yet usually are every winter when their respective owners board them in different stables.

So I have had adequate opportunity to make endless sketches of various horses over the years. When I was small, horses were all I ever drew. As an adult I have had to learn the proportions all over again through continuous observation, as well as some anatomical study.

It is ongoing learning,  but I am happy with the freshness of the watercolour at the top of this post, which is a product of all the work that had gone before.

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Backgrounds!

May 28, 2013

Rose watercolor, 6x6 inches

Rose watercolor, 6×6 inches

One of the most persistent problems you hear beginners as well as more experienced painters complain about is ‘ backgrounds’.  In realistic painting, the subject is painted somewhere in the middle of the paper or canvas (since I’m talking about watercolors here I’ll talk about ‘ paper’), completed to satisfaction then oh, oh what to do with the  ‘background’.

It  is something like the dilemma of people cooking for vegetarians- they leave out the meat and all they have on the plate are the potatoes and beans!  You take away something and try to create a meal out of what’s left, instead of starting out with the idea of creating a vegetarian meal as a whole, using lots of different ingredients.

Are you still following me?

The way to solve the ‘background’  dilemma is not to try to figure out what to do with the background once you’ve completed the main subject but to treat the background as an essential ingredient, already integrated into the painting from the beginning.

Rose in process, working across the whole subject including background

Rose from above in process, working across the whole subject including background

It can help to decide on an overall color palette for the painting before you even pick up a brush. And look at the negative spaces, how the light falls, and try to shift how you see. Try to move away from perceiving just an object against a’  background’  to an intricate interplay of puzzle pieces- each equally important.

Anne's kitchen

Anne’s kitchen

Pears in sunlight 2

Pears in sunlight 2

These are basically travel sketches and I’ve been trying to keep my work really loose, so it only partly illustrates my point here.

This penny just recently dropped for me, so I’ve included some of my attempts in watercolor above. But it would be good to look at some classical oil paintings by Cezanne, for example, where the negative shapes are more clearly defined.

my trusty little traveling watercolor set

my trusty little traveling watercolor set

Living Tree, Oil pastel on Cansons pastel paper (SOLD)

This is an older work of mine. I’m including it to show the different textures one can get with oil pastels, and also because working this way-  ie more fantasy-like, is very close to me and is what I am missing with the more realistic oil paintings.

Trying to keep an open student mind/beginners mind I did a looser crop of my bottles, then let it dry a bit and worked into it with oil bars and oil paints, keeping in mind my oil pastel techniques. I’m happy with the direction, it has promise.

My bottles, close crop, first stage, oil paint on canvas board

My bottles, close crop, later stage, oil paint on canvas board

charcoal drawing early stage

I was preparing an exercise for my drawing group by doing the assignment myself.  I find that this helps to expose any unclarity or unexpected things that may crop up for my students.

Teaching always inspires me to get drawing myself, and my students’ fresh approaches often open doors of perception for me. Plus it is just a pleasure to see people unfold, take leaps, make discoveries.

I set up a simple still life of a pear on some cloth and covered some paper with a layer of charcoal, rubbed carefully out with some tissue. Then , working between line (using charcoal) and light areas (using a kneaded eraser) , I picked out some contours. The idea in this is to try to see in light and shadowed areas rather than line.  Here is a next stage.

Dark areas worked into and highlights picked out

This was only a demo for my class, so for a change I didn’t overwork it, here is where I left it:

Charcoal pear

Then, I liked it so much I did an oil painting of the same subject:

Pear on cloth, oils

Hanzeclavecimbel progress

January 28, 2012

Classic rosette wreath around sound hole

The above photo is from a previous instrument painted in 2007 (made by H.van Gelder). The ‘rose’ is not yet added, the rose is a metal, usually gold-leafed, emblem of the particular instrument builder.

Because of the labour intensive nature of painting the harpsichord, I’ve not had the time/energy to blog. But I’ve got everything set up and am painting now, so there is a moment to touch in.

The above photo shows a fairly classical treatment of the rosette wreath around the sound- hole of these 17th century Flemish harpsichords.

Johan, my client (and new friend), wanted a slightly different take on it. Indeed, the whole harpsichord is shaping up to be firmly rooted in the best tradition, yet entirely of this age as well.

As I mentioned before, there are at least 3 of us directly involved with the hands-on birthing this instrument (plus there are many more supporters of this project behiind the scenes): Matthias Griewisch, the master builder/creator: Johan Hofmann, accomplished harpsichord player, musician, and teacher; and me, Sarah, the sound board decorator/flower factory.  And each one has their craft and input. The collaboration is fun and inspiring.  (Johan on left, Matthias on right).

Johan and Matthias in Matthias's workshop

As far as we (and music historians) know, this instrument has never been replicated before. It is a world premier and won’t be unveiled until the Peter de Groot music festival in Holland  this July. It has some surprising, unconvenitonal details, so I can only give you tantalizing glimpses of the work process.

Where this is all leading to is that the rosette wreath is done. On this instrument it is flowerless. Johan chose for bay leaf and ivy. Here it is,  Compare it to the one above, it has a whole different feel.

Rosette wreath around the Hanzeclavecimbel

Photos of harpsichords by Rende Zoutewelle. Photo in workshop, Bert Kiewiet

Thanks from ArtCalling

January 1, 2012

heart-angelsblog.jpg

I like practical, connected, and meaningful art. I am excited and inspired by the arts in healing and community art.  For the last years I’ve been committed to finding alternative paths for myself and other artists so that we have choices outside the traditional ways of exhibiting and exploiting art. I have done a lot of thinking about right livelihood in relation to art, so will be airing some of those ideas here.
Over the years my thinking has been inspired by other artists, writers and friends, and I look forward to sharing some of those sources.

Dear friends, with the above words in march 2007, I started this blog.
Looking through the past 5 years’ posts I’ve stuck pretty much to the original intent.  The main themes have stayed roughly the same.

Through airing ideas here and the dialogue that has followed, ideas have developed and gained clarity. Especially those concerning new ways to think about art and; the challenges of art and market.

I’ve shared my oil pastels, older oil paintings, and new craft work. Have shared my dreams and goals, my ups and downs, and generally let a little slice of my life show here.

I want to thank all of you who have been popping in here from time to time and especially those who’ve taken the time to comment. My life has been enriched by your thoughtful remarks and the contact with like minded-souls as well as those with other views.

Alpha, Michael monocle, Thea, Rachel and Phil have been the most active commentors.  Thanks so much folks.

13,037 people visited in 2011. Most of you are from the states, with the UK and Holland close behind.

The top referring sites in 2011 were:

Thank you.

Latest craft attack

October 7, 2011

Blue arch with beads

I have uploaded images of all my felt brooches (created during my latest craft attack) onto my Flickr site .  Someone has just taken an option on Happy Blues Medallion and Purple beaded shiboru.

Now, I have commissioned work coming in requiring writing and organising skills, so my felts, wools, silks and beads are all sleeping in their baskets waiting until I have the frame of mind to get to them again. I tried knitting because you can pick it up and do a few rows in between, but it somehow aggravates a problem in my right shoulder, so it will have to be no handwork for now.

(Cool, I just found out how to color text in this program!)