Saturday, October 1, 2022

Finding Inspiration in Value

In all my 2-D art classes in college (and maybe also in high school -- I can't remember that far back!) teachers repeated the same mantra: "Pay attention to your values. Do value studies. You need more value change."

I do recall thinking 'That doesn't apply to me; I'm a COLORIST!'  How wrong I was, and how clear it is today. Color gets the credit, value does the work.

Human brains, indeed mammal brains, use value change to identify movement and other kinds of information that might be crucial to survival. So if we want our paintings to be relevant to viewers, we need to use value change.

This floral, while interesting from a color and "looseness" standpoint, is lacking in the value changes which can make it much stronger.

Just a very few minutes with the brush tool and darker values in Photoshop makes a difference. It's subtle, but improving.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Birds, birds and more birds!

Artists who are members of the El Paso Transparent Watercolor Association have been working on BIRDS this spring and summer. We discussed differences in bird and human skeletal construction, studying bird behavior, flight and song. We shared birdwatching experiences, practiced painting techniques and drawing skills. 

Following are some of the great "bird" paintings they've done and want to share with you! If you enjoy our little virtual show, share this blog page with your friends. Just copy the url, above, and paste it into your own email inviting friends.

Spring Session 2021 Instructor Laurel Weathersbee
"Redwing Blackbird"

Frances Caldwell
"Woodpecker on Lechuguilla"

Frances Caldwell
"Heron #1"

Frances Caldwell
"Heron #2"

Frances Caldwell
"Heron #3"

Bonnie Deming
"Bosque Beauties"

Bonnie Deming
"Evil Eye"

Bonnie Deming
"Madera Canyon Magic"

Pamela Sutton
"Greater Egret"

Jacques Barriac
"Scarlet Macaw"

Jacques Barriac
"Gambel's Quail"

Nancy Diaz
"Billy Bob and Bubba,
Checking Out Their Red Footed Friends - 1"

Jacques Barriac 
"Those Two Must be Very Cold! Their Feet are All Blue!"

Nancy Diaz
"Billy Bob and Bubba,
Checking Out Their Red-Footed Friends - 2"

Jacques Barriac
"Blue Jay"

Jacques Barriac
"Scarlet Macaw"

Jacques Barriac
"Steller's Jays"

Ann Cone
"Contemplating the Day" - White Crowned Sparrow

Ann Cone
"Eye on the Prize" - Lesser Nighthawks

Sandy McHale
"Mr. Lescombe's Autumn Vines"

Sandy McHale
"Contemplating Wine with Dinner"

Monday, May 11, 2020

Chickens to the Max!

Chickens bring up a real mixture of emotions for me - I grew up with farming people. Farmers all had chickens. As a small child, I found chickens VERY SCARY. If you've ever been chased by a rooster, you know what I mean, and then there are other scary things in the chicken yard - like reaching into a dark area to find eggs (and finding a bull snake instead), having to rake and sweep in a chicken coop (ick) or stepping into a big wad of chicken-leavins...No, I didn't like chickens then and I don't think I like them now. BUT, that being said, they were an integral part of my early life -- from the early morning crowing to the day long clucking to fried chicken on the dinner plate to the feather pillow under my head at night.

My daughter, Diana, raises chickens. She has memories of her grandma Irene's "chickies" -- gorgeous little game hens. Here's a photo of Diana's favorite rooster, Maximilian.


Max himself is beautiful and inspiring -- look at those feathers! Fortunately, he stood still enough for this portrait!

"Emperor Maximilian Holds Court"

Of course, a Maximilian around here reminds us of Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph, appointed by Napoleon, who wanted favors! That Maximilian reigned as emperor of Mexico from 1864-1867. This guy looks pretty regal, don't you think? I still don't like that look in his eye! I used a tiny sharp knife to scratch feathers in the dark areas.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Still Happy

Laughing Buddha #2 was not as good a painting as the trial run, so I decided to put the two together, via weaving:
"Double Happiness"

Not sure I saved it, but it was an interesting exercise. Weaving together "failed" paintings has sometimes produced a sparkling surprise. Other times, it just doesn't work. Not always clear why... Here are some thumbnails of other weavings I've done through the years. Some of them have appeared in this blog.

"Espiritu" - from two unrelated subjects -
I chose because of colors and then cut completely freehand.

"Prickles and Lace" - started with two florals, both in pinks.

"Robledo Sunset" - two very loose sunset paintings -- on Yupo!
"Anasazi Textures" - I tried the nearly impossible, weaving AROUND the main subject.

"Legacy" - on Yupo; polyester webbing, spraying, additional cut
shapes on top, background shapes lifted out. 

"Windy Fun" - here, the weaving provided only the background.
Can't recall if this one ever had a name - I chose two paintings with no subject relationship,
just liked the dark background and round shapes.

So if you are looking for inspiration, how about looking through a stack of "failures." Choose two that have SOMETHING in common - it doesn't have to be subject. They could be related only by color or by shapes...

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Double Happiness

I couldn't tell you today whether the Mah Jongg hand "Double Happiness" inspired this composition, or did I just chuckle in recognition when I read the name of the hand...At any rate, assembling a few of my favorite things -- a garden-sized laughing Buddha, a pot of white coral bells and a glass bluebird of happiness -- was double happiness.

This morning I  started swiping paint on the trial watercolor sketch, and it's not too bad...I think I'll transfer the drawing again to good watercolor paper and make another run at it. And, rather than pick apart the composition flaws here, I think I'll just enjoy the inspiration.

"Double Happiness Trial 1"

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Golden Inspiration

Could there be anything more inspirational than flowers? Not for me. And the most "golden" of all might be yellow roses, my fave. Right after we moved into town, September of 2014, my friend Nancy and her husband Fred came for a visit. Nancy brought me a "yard warming" gift, a yellow rose bush!

That rose bush grew and prospered (unlike the dozens of others I have unintentionally killed over the years). Today, it is covered with blooms:

A couple of years ago I attempted a painting of my yellow roses, cut, in a pitcher given to me by another friend, Gail.  Here it is:

Not my best work, probably, but wow did I enjoy painting those roses! I used a lot of nickel azo yellow, quin coral and too much indanthrone blue. Maybe it's time to try that again...

Wednesday, March 4, 2020


Surprise! Birds....again! I am endlessly inspired by these creatures. Their plumage -- bright or subdued, their songs -- musical or raspy, everything about birds is so intriguing. 

Several years ago, my husband and I took a "Ghost Town Tour," visiting a number of ghost towns throughout New Mexico. One was Mogollon, in the far western part of the state, a forested and unspoiled area. While walking through a wooded area, I noticed a flash of red.  Had to get out my bird book to identify the little guy: a Painted Redstart. Wow! what a brilliant red! 

I decided to place the birdies on top of a blues-greens quilt background, simulating light-through-the-trees and leaf movement.  Gorgeous little guys - I hope I get to see them again.

"Painted Redstarts"