Category Archives: Art

A Virtual Exposition

Well, we are packed up, folks….shipping out of France and back to the States. All fall and a touch of summer I had the incredible privilege and blessing of working in a studio in Toulouse under the coaching of Professeur Mireille Racine, retired from teaching art in a Paris university. It was sort of like having a stage, or internship, as a graying woman instead of as a college youth. I wish I could continue! But, since I can’t, I have decided to host myself a little exposition, all virtual of course, of just those artworks that were done under the influence of Prof Mireille. Most of the paintings have already been individually posted, but I like the contrast and the growth evident with them gathered together.

She asked for my goal for my art, and I told her that I wanted to loosen up, to be able to be more expressive and playful, even as I continue to develop in my basic skills. I apologize for the poor lighting of this exposition. My indoor lights were mostly sold for the move, and sunny Southwest France isn’t so sunny at the end of November.

Sort of beginning and ending.

Sort of beginning and ending.

The first is my pears painted with palette knives, a first for me. It really did make me a little looser to work with something that wasn’t a brush. She pushed me to incorporate my pear colors into my background for unity. In November Stoney and I visited Van Gogh’s museum in Amsterdam (I should probably post photos, eh?), and when I returned, Mireille pushed me to take my fall still life and overcome my intimidation of Van Gogh’s brilliant style and attempt it myself. The results rather surprised me. It was fun, and one of my last paintings.

Impressionism, take 1; and impressionism, take 2.

Impressionism, take 1; and impressionism, take 2.

My composition (or lack thereof) has been a point of repetition for Mireille. I tend to paint in bands and leave things looking too separated and linear. The landscape on the left, a Texas oak tree standing before an oncoming evening storm, was a fight for me. We did a lot of repair rework to get the light effects of French impressionism. To work the whole canvas quickly is just not my habit, but it is necessary for this sort of painting. The second landscape is a garden in Lyon, and it came noticeably more easily. I worked around the canvas as I had been coached, trying for a spiral composition. Big improvement!

Going abstract.

Going abstract.

To some extent, these are both studies, not really finished works. In fact, I began the one on the right first, trying to improve my palette knife skills. They actually have these wild cedar trees here in France, all twisted and agonizing. I started it before the Cezanne-inspired tree on the left, but didn’t really feel comfortable with it, so moved on. Mireille helped me see how to keep the visual lines clean so your eyes aren’t arrested or derailed, and its rework shows improvement. The other is clearly (to me, anyway) another iteration of the Texas oak tree. The goal was broken color that is incorporated throughout, like Cezanne, but clearly…NOT. Definitely a different feel than the impressionist version. It was fun, though difficult, and prepared me more than I knew for my pumpkins.

My favorite acrylic is still probably The View of the Sea from Sts Maries de la Mer (shown at the bottom).

We also tried to branch out some in my media as well as my technique, and so worked some in watercolor. One thing I learned is that I don’t just dislike working in watercolor because it is difficult and uncooperative with a mind of its own; I actually don’t like watercolor because I just don’t much have fun with it. I enjoy a lightness and sense of being out of time with acrylic; watercolor is labor and a fun-sucker. I don’t know why this would be for me, because it is true even when the results are to my liking. I worked some en plein air, in the studio garden.

DSCN1173

Some other kind of tree.

 

DSCN1171

A rose tree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A window in the countryside near me.

A window in the countryside near me.

I still prefer using my acrylics for something more like a watercolor effect. I’m still not sure I got the lighting effect right on this one, but not for lack of her trying to help me see it correctly! Still watercolor-y, but fun. I gave watercolor one last chance, though. I thought maybe if the usage was abstract enough I would quit trying to make it do what I want, and just how it turned out, no angst. I tried it with a portrait of my cat, inspired by a cat portrait on pinterest.

Cat 1 and Cat 2.

Cat 1 and Cat 2.

The first attempt was on the left, which didn’t quite do what I was looking for, but came close. So I tried again, using more water. Bad idea! Mireille gave me the confidence to try to salvage it, the cat on the right is inferior in many ways, even after her help.

So that’s my exposition. Prof Mireille pronounced my stage a success. I do think what I gleaned has been quite effective. What do you think of my progress? Is my work showing more life and vibrancy than before?

 

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Learning to Loosen Up

Clearly, I am having more fun traveling and living in France than I am publishing blog posts about it. However, one new thing this fall is a workshop in a Toulouse art studio with a retired art professor. A French art professor, who taught at a university in Paris. Can I say how over-the-moon I am about this lady? She is so kind, and speaks French slowly and clearly for me, the foreigner in the room, and every little tip she gives me seems to REALLY help! Having never had much formal training, this is like heaven for me.

This is the last thing I painted sans aide:

Des artichauts, des oignons, et la laitue...yes, that's right, in French. After all, it IS French produce; it seems more boring in English.

Des artichauts, des oignons, et une laitue…yes, that’s right, in French. After all, it IS French produce; it seems more boring in English.

This was actually rather challenging for me, in part because how could I capture this amazing lettuce? It is dark and opaque, yet light and fluffy. More importantly, I committed my most frequent painting problem here: I overworked the piece. Trying to get the colors right, the background right, the reflections in the pitcher, and the fluff of the lettuce…it could actually knot up my muscles, because I couldn’t loosen up and play with it.

This was one of my two sample pieces I took to the art studio. I told her I’m concerned with how uptight my painting is…that I struggle with actually playing with my art. The more abstract dandelion/stars piece was my example of “fun.” It is also entirely ME. I have no real style, and my art needs to express ME, not just be a poor camera. So, the first product of Mdm Mierelle’s help is the result of trying to paint something without using a brush.

Pears by knife.

Pears by knife.

So I washed in a gray background originally, but then changed to palette knife for these pears I had found at the market. I’ve never really painted anything entirely with my knife, although I have wanted to for, well, years. Yes, I am a total fraidy-cat. I just couldn’t really commit, and then someone else pushed me to it. I LOVE them! I mean, sure, anyone who knows me and my painting knows I love pears anyway, but I REALLY love these pears! However, Mdm Mierelle didn’t let me keep my background, though. She insisted that an artwork needs bridges for the color for unity. So I tried again, and it took me quite awhile to get a background that felt right. More work than the gray, but it feels soft, more real.

So next, we explored a more impressionist style. The goal is to succeed at recording less visually, while revealing more of how the scene affects me. My model was a photo of a Texas wildflower scene as a storm approaches. Another stretch for me. And we followed this by playing with the same scene, more in the style of a late Cezanne landscape. Both are the first time I have ever tried that sort of style.

An impression of spring in the Texas hillcountry

An impression of spring in the Texas hillcountry

A Bolder splash of color

A Bolder splash of color

Any of these you can check out more closely by clicking on the photo, then clicking again to magnify. I LOVE looking at the knife strokes on the pears.

So this is how I start my workshop with a French art professor. Whatever comes out of it, I am having a blast! I paint three hours alongside 4 or 5 other artists, each pursuing their own dream. I don’t think we have anyone using the same media even at the moment! I am living my dream. Thank you, Father God!

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Hospitality Part 2, Barcelona (or, You Can’t Get Too Much of a Good Thing)

My husband and son accompanied me and Sherry to Barcelona. My friend Sherry is a beach girl; she lived a large portion of her life in Southern California, but she’s been landlocked in recent years. I thought she would really enjoy Barcelona and the Mediterranean, and I loved Barcelona so much I wanted to revisit it and share it with her.

Roadtrip!!

Roadtrip!!

I made sure our hotel had easy access to the beach.

Dirty window, but that is definitely the sea.

Dirty window, but that is definitely the sea.

 

And to the right...

And to the right…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And we made sure to have at least one seafood dinner on the beach. The size of my prawns was SHOCKING. Honestly, I couldn’t eat them alone. Sherry had to crack them open for me; I was just too grossed out.

Each of these things are as big as my hand. Look at those eyes looking at me!

Each of these things are as big as my hand. Look at those eyes looking at me!

Then we toured the most-visited site in Spain, the Sagrada Familia, designed by famous architect Antoni Gaudi. Oh my! It really was different than any other cathedral I have visited.

Our tour guide explained in both English AND Spanish, which was a nice exercise for Theo's beginning Spanish.

Our tour guide explained in both English AND Spanish, which was a nice exercise for Theo’s beginning Spanish.

Click through to follow us on our tour… Continue reading

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Paris: the Day of the Musee D’Orsay

The next day was a Sunday, and found Theo still sick, and he seemed to be getting a cough. But our museum passes were all pre-purchased, and Theo still had hopes of seeing the beaches of Normandy Monday, so we decided to see if he would improve. We left him to his internet and manga and headed back to Paris, Myriah to the international service at the Cathedral du Notre Dame, and Stoney and I to Sainte-Chapelle, apparently once a royal chapel, and an amazing collection of stained glass.

The chapel is under renovation, it’s third one, I believe.

The chapel isn't far from Notre Dame, and the is the smallest church we have visited.

The chapel isn’t far from Notre Dame, and is the smallest church we have visited.

The difference between restored windows and yet-to-be-restored is clear. These are dirty.

The difference between restored windows and yet-to-be-restored is clear. These are dirty.

The restoration process is extensive and painstaking. They remove panels and take them apart, cleaning each piece, replacing the leading, before putting the puzzle back together. It must take FOREVER.

The restoration process is extensive and painstaking. They remove panels and take them apart, cleaning each piece, replacing the leading, before putting the puzzle back together. It must take FOREVER.

See some of the results, and our visit to the MO, by clicking here. Continue reading

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Paris: the Day of the Louvre

Our first day, having left Theo surfing the net on his iPhone in the hotel room with meds at hand, we began (via metro) at the Arc de Triomphe. We saw it from across the street, where plenty of people were congregating, yet saw no way across the exceedingly busy round about. We did see people darting across the round about, and opted to view from afar. We later found there is an underground access, for future reference.

The Arc de Triomphe...bigger than I thought.

The Arc de Triomphe…bigger than I thought.

Thus begins a very broad, very long road to the Seine, the Champs-Élysée. On it we passed a store my younger daughter would have enjoyed visiting.

Louis-Vuitton. The Sun King would have shopped here, I'm sure.

Louis-Vuitton. The Sun King would have shopped here, I’m sure.

We passed through many Christmas shop stands and landmarks, re-entering the metro at the Jardin des Tuilleries, after the Egyptian obelisk.

I can't even remember what this post is.

I can’t even remember what this post is, but I liked it.

Christmas comes with roasted chestnuts.

Christmas comes with roasted chestnuts.

A close up of that roof.

A close up of that roof.

Coming up on the garden...

Coming up on the garden…

And the Egyptian obelisk...actually brought from Luxor.

And the Egyptian obelisk…actually brought from Luxor.

With Egyptian writing.

With Egyptian writing.

And from here we began our day at the Louvre. Click on through to join us… Continue reading

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A Painting for Me

A couple of weeks ago, during a sermon, this painting came to me.

The transforming breath of God.

The transforming breath of God.

This one just really made me happy, and speaks to me on so many levels. We, as carriers of the Word, are sown throughout the world; and as our hearts respond to that Breath in thanksgiving, rather than complaint, we are transformed. We shine with His indwelling light, and illuminate the way for others. I am always grateful when God gives me an artwork of my own.

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…And the first painting of 2014

I actually need to post Thanksgiving and Christmas, wonderful in part due to the presence of my older daughter, but I first want to put up this most recent painting. My daughter requested it in order to make some lacy felt pieces she was given into fairy wings, and I JUST got it finished in time for her to take it on the plane with her as she returns to the States tomorrow.

All color blocked in with the underpainting.

All color blocked in with the underpainting.

My daughter agreed to pose for me, as I really am not one of those artists that can work from imagination alone. Besides, I have never actually painted a human figure before, so this was a first.

Must. Hurry!

Must. Hurry!

I placed the braid too far right for the felt wings to place properly, so I had to go in and move it. Have I mentioned how much I love painting with the very forgiving acrylics?

The final painting, but not the final product.

The final painting, but not the final product.

I really took this one down to the wire. It is the only thing still waiting to be packed, so I knew I didn’t have time to attach the wings myself. Myriah will have to do it herself when she gets it home, but we have modeled the final fairy, complete with wings, although the photo isn’t too good.

Some day she will earn her wings!

Some day she will earn her wings!

I was glad to have something personal to send with her!

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The Last Painting Projects of 2013

I am pretty sure I never posted my acrylic interpretation of the Swiss lake that I did in watercolor. Here she is…

I still see things I could improve, but I am trying not to mess with it.

I still see things I could improve, but I am trying not to mess with it. Mostly I learned how to make the water look more like the dense pool of color I saw while there.

I also painted a Christmas gift for my secret prayer sister here, which they call a Sonflower. She is a lovely French lady who has a real heart for Michigan, an area of the States she has visited in the past and where she has friends. I also have visited Michigan, so I chose a lighthouse I have actually been up in! (I am pretty sure I have photos here somewhere. I’ll have to see.)

first layer

first layer

A lot of my paintings I seem to work in circles. I’ll rough in some color, highlights and shadows of the background, then move to my subject and do the same. I’ll return to the background, moving around the composition, and bring up more detail and mostly finish it before focusing on my subject more completely, and then clean up the background again. For most of my projects, even landscapes, that results in these spiraling circles from out to in and back out then in again.

Not here. This painting firmly declared it would be worked in layers. I pretty much completed the background here first, and did most of my subject, the lighthouse, as well. Then I moved to midground and pretty much worked it up, too.

Other than touchup in lighting, what you see is mostly what you get in the end in the midground.

Other than touchup in lighting, what you see is mostly what you get in the end in the midground.

This the final painting, although I added a short verse along the snow, bottom right. I enjoyed this one, too, and might even make myself a print of my photo of it for myself someday, if the photo holds up. I didn’t really shoot it for printing.

My final painting with its reference image.

My final painting with its reference image.

I found a photo from that 2009 vacation, in a rather odd spot, but for proof that I have been in this lighthouse, check here.

Lastly, I wanted a gift for the lady who had been praying for me, but I had very little time. Both of these paintings really did need to be done before Thanksgiving. So, I took my waterfall study from years earlier, cut it free from all the positioning work I had done with text playing around with it, and attached it to a canvas board. I printed the verse it had been inspired by (chosen by my Kansas friend) and attached it as well. I then painted a unifying color and texture around them. It doesn’t have the elegance of the original, but for a quickie, I think it works.

Well, actually, looking over the digital image I’ve changed my mind. *sigh* It’s amazing what looks ok when you are rushed compared to what you like when you can really examine something. C’est la vie. I don’t think I’ll even post it.

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Albi and Adding Another Art Museum

Our last tourist trip this summer was to Albi, this time a daytrip date without Theodore. It was a really lovely city, and as clean as anything in Switzerland. It is also home to the Toulouse-Lautrec museum, so I have another to add to my collection. I was quite surprised at how much of his work was on, essentially, cardboard panels. Much like my sound-suppression paintings at the apartment, only studies for great artworks. Or not even studies! Starving artist isn’t always a cliché.

At the entrance to the Toulouse-Lautrec museum.

At the entrance to the Toulouse-Lautrec museum.

Coming up on Albi's centre ville.

Coming up on Albi’s centre ville.

The cathedral here is supposed to be the largest brick cathedral in France. Apparently most are made of stone.

cathedral plaza

cathedral stairs

Stoney going in.

cathedralstatues

Ornate stonework.

It may also be the gaudiest interior in France, although my sample size is rather small still.

It may also be the gaudiest interior in France, although my sample size is rather small still.

Impressive organ.

Impressive organ.

Albi’s cathedral and T-L’s museum were next to the Bishop’s home (actually, I think the museum was in the bishop’s home), and you could tour his garden. It was a little marvel.

The other side of the city in the distance.

People lining the walkway.

We considered a river boat tour, but I chickened out at the last minute.

We considered a river boat tour, but I chickened out at the last minute.

We were actually there on a holiday weekend, so there were some shops closed in spite of its touristy nature. One was the bookstore pictured, which I would totally have LOVED to see! We did manage, for dinner, an interesting wood-fire cooked pizza, in which the mushrooms were served large and entire. The pizza shop was right across from the carousel. Fun date!

The evening's entertainment.

The evening’s entertainment.

bookshop

Sad moment.

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Sometimes Experiments Fail

But it’s the experience that matters, I remind myself. I am always telling my students (and their parents) that what we learn in experiencing art is as important as the product, if not more so. I hope so here, as I don’t think much of the product this time.

It all began with a striking photo I saw on a “flyfishing in Ireland” website. It was a river tumbling down a bit of a cascade with gray rocky outcrops and green and yellow moss and shrubs. The water in the photo was almost entirely white with the flow; it looked almost ethereal.I’ve done paintings with flowing water before, to good effect, using white ink.

A non-experimental study for a painting I did for a friend.

A non-experimental study for a painting I did for a friend. Even as just a study, better than the new one.

And then I wondered, with the yellow in the plants and moss, what if the stones had more purple? So I undertook an experiment, trying to add more drama with the high contrast. And then I found that I, apparently, didn’t bring my ink. I have watercolor; I have acrylic. No ink. Could I make it work with what I have?

Not working, for so many reasons.

Not working, for so many reasons.

Well…I am going to say “no.” It’s interesting, but no, it is not what I was looking for. The actual river in Cork is much more compelling. I might try again, returning to the gray stone, once I return to the States and find my white ink. But oh well.

By the way, the photos are with a new camera my sweetie bought me. No shadow marks and spots! Thank you, Love!

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