Tag Archives: flowers

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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A Beautiful Day for a Stroll in the Garden

I’m just going to post pics of the lovely Jardin des Martels. We spent hours wandering the many gardens, including water gardens and an animal farm.

Welcomed by dancing water.

Welcomed by dancing water.

Yellow fall color is strong against fading purple blooms.

Yellow fall color is strong against fading purple blooms.

Purple surviving in the shade. This palette really seems French to me!

Purple surviving in the shade. This palette really seems French to me!

I offer more garden photos here, to reduce the homepage load time, a little anyway:

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The Importance of Play

Theo and I recently watched a TEDtalk on the vital importance of play, not only in brain development, but in daily thinking and problem solving. The speaker, in part, was encouraging adults to continue to play, and at first I felt a little frustrated, because I don’t play much here. I recreate, but that isn’t the same as play. And then I realized where I do most of my playing: art. It is where I experiment and take chances; try new things, and put substance to my imagination. So in that spirit, here is where I have been playing lately.

I posted the geraniums I had painted for a neighbor already, which you can see here. I think they began to catch a sense of play in my painting. My next was a painting for myself, also of geraniums. I had a photo of geraniums on a window with French blue shutters, a very common sight here. I am trying NOT to paint all the details of real life, and yet capture the feeling the image originally gave me. I also confess to doing very little architectural painting because line and precision seems rather important to making buildings look “right.” However, I wanted this window for myself, because it felt very French to me, a memento of sorts. The results initially had a sort of mind-bending quality, a sense of M.C. Escher really. The top of the window seemed quite shallow and close, while the bottom was obviously deep enough for potted flowers. I just couldn’t keep that, but I didn’t want to repaint the whole thing. So I played with it.

These begonias have been played with, but still look "off."

These geraniums have been played with, but still look “off.”

These have had more depth and shading added. It's better, but I am still pondering.

These have had more depth and shading added. It’s better, but I am still pondering.

So, I am still thinking about altering it, but it is only for me, which means I am much more willing to forgo the work when it stops feeling like playing and just live with the imperfection. Someday it may feel like playing again, though, who knows. Regardless, I am satisfied to know that my mind is no longer twisting over the truly impossible dimensions!

The other subject that has captured my imagination is the mountain-ringed Lake Brienz. Stoney and I have so many photos, and yet my mind still swirls with how I might better capture the magical qualities of that atmosphere and area. I already showed my little watercolor pencil sketches, where I just felt I had to try to catch, with whatever pale means I had, some of what lay before me. I need a teacher in plein air painting, seriously! Well, watercolor is not one of my better mediums, but I certainly use it better than I do the watercolor pencil, and something about the mountains really suggested an effort in watercolor. The mountains were fun to play with, and not too hard to give a sense of them. I played with the sky until I felt like it was sort of what I was imagining. But the water had me stumped.

Struggling with the problem of water in watercolor?

Struggling with the problem of water in watercolor?

As I’ve mentioned in a few of my posts about visiting Switzerland, the water in the lakes is really remarkable. They are a dense turquoise I had previously only seen in pit mines. There must be some sort of constant breeze over the water that keeps it rippling and moving like it is almost at simmer. And the skies are often at least partially overcast, with a mist or at least haze over the valley. The result is a brightly colored water that usually has very little reflection. I could paint this in acrylics, but how to capitalize on the translucent quality of watercolor and still show this amazing water? I could find no online tutorial or anything with water like my memories and photos were showing me. So I got out my paints and scrap papers and played. What I ended up with is very similar to what I would do in acrylic regarding line, but with a delicate application of wet on dry, and even some lifting to keep the contrast from being too strong. I think it works fairly well.

Lake Brienz completed, probably. Maybe.

Lake Brienz completed, probably. Maybe.

I’m still toying with the possibility of bringing the rose a little more left. And the lower shadows on the fading mountains are really bugging me, so I may do something a tad drastic there, but we’ll see. That’s the fun, isn’t it?

My next attempt to exorcise the swirling images of Lake Brienz from my head will be acrylic, and probably a tad abstract. I don’t play in the abstract often, but it can be a lot of fun. After all, it truly IS play!

Do you do anything, as an adult, for playtime?

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The Parc de la Tete d’Or in Lyon

In all fairness, this park is quite large, with a whole lake and a zoo and more, and we only visited the botanic garden near the hotel. But I look forward to sharing some of what we enjoyed, just the same, and consider it a glimpse into Lyon’s lovely gardens! I am quite excited to try painting some of these images. Click on any to see them larger, then again for greater detail.

Follow the link to more photos of this lovely French garden…

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Finally! Getting to paint in France

And no, the big cardboard O’Keefe-ish flowers don’t really count. They seriously are wall insulation. (I’ll return to Swiss posts shortly.)

First up, I have been slowly working on a gift for the wonderful couple who kept Theo for a weekend and help us out in more ways than I can count. They literally live beautiful, Christ-honoring lives of blessing others. Their wedding anniversary is this month, too. This one took awhile, mostly because we were still homeschooling, and grabbing two uninterrupted hours (a minimum, really) is challenging. Not to mention all the rain this spring; I really prefer painting in good light. It’s hard to be sure of my colors in gloom. So here it is, before I added their names to the bottom left:

A gift of love. :-)

A gift of love. 🙂

The rose in my photo was positively luminous, and I had hoped to capture that quality, but no success this time. I will have to play with it again and try another idea or two I’ve had. However, the rose did have that velvety look of a romantic rose, so it actually worked pretty well for an anniversary present. And while this adorable couple still love each other quite obviously, they both love the Lover of their Souls far more, and He will truly make their love as unfailing as His!

One of the things I have longed to incorporate into my painting (an ongoing theme, in fact, if you have read old art-lady posts) is more energy and looseness. Less depiction and more Life! Unfortunately, this would seem to go right against my nature, as most of my paintings come out looking restrained, if not overworked, however I may try. So this summer, I really want to mess around and see if I can’t loosen up! Ironically, I began with another study from a book, on an uninspiring subject–radishes.

The French radishes in the marche are just like these.

The French radishes in the marche are just like these, all long and rooty.

The goal was to not get too worried about actually capturing the veg as to capture color and texture, and use the gel medium. To be honest, I felt like radishes didn’t lend themselves too well to this exercise. So, with all these lovely colors mixed, I decided to try for GERANIUMS!

I do think geraniums are energetic. They aren’t so delicate that they cry out for watercolor, but they aren’t too complicated, like roses, either. The leaves have great texture, and the colors are vibrant. I was going to go out and buy a perfect painting subject at the jardinerie, but although a month ago they were everywhere, I am guessing geraniums are reaching the end of prime season, because there were not many out there. And what there was, was just sad. Two pitiful-blooms-and-some-buds sad. My thinking was, if it turns out nicely, I’ll give the plant and the painting to my geranium-loving French neighbor! Oh well. I bet I could have found one in Switzerland! So….a photo instead.

Geraniums in terra cotta.

Geraniums in terra cotta.

The radishes did not work as a finished painting, but I learned a few things. While this painting certainly has its flaws, I think it is the first I have ever done with a loose impasto technique that actually works. The terra cotta is actually done as a watercolor wash, and frankly, parts of it bug me, but hopefully I’m one of the few who will notice. The effect of letting the otherwise heavy pot impart a sense of texture rather than building up true texture allows it to recede beneath the plant visually and in importance. I really tried to discipline myself to use brush direction to suggest the leaves rather than actually painting out leaves, and mostly I think that worked. There are a couple of dead spots, but I feared overworking yet another painting. I am mostly happy with my fluffy geraniums as well. I think the composition turned out ok, although I wonder if I overdid the red in it just a tad. With red, less is often more.

But, voila! I have finally gotten to play in my paint. There are holidays here where you stay at a B&B and use an in-house studio’s supplies and instructor along with other like-minded people, and I want to go SO BAD! Someday….

I have another try at geraniums on a  French window I want to tackle, and maybe Lake Brienz in Switzerland. I still have plenty of canvasses and canvas board to play with!

(A clarification: it doesn’t take me two hours to do a painting; I just need two hours to do any step or layer. Most paintings are at least 6-8 hours, thanks to fast-drying acrylic.)

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Spring Comes to Southern France

We had a whiff of spring for a week or so…truly welcomed!

Blooms!

Blooms!

And then the weather was like…”Psych! Not really!” And we were covered in snow. Well, for here, anyway. Back home was covered in more than a foot, while we might have had two inches which disappeared the next day. But the cold hung around.

Fine weather has returned, though, so I don’t feel so hypocritical posting my spring blooms.

Cherry trees are everywhere!

Cherry trees are everywhere!

Even the moss is blooming. I didn't know moss bloomed.

Even the moss is blooming. I didn’t know moss bloomed.

The weather was nice enough to enjoy pizza in the park.

That face is deliberately chosen for photos. Ah, well.

That face is deliberately chosen for photos. Ah, well.

I know spring has just begun, and I look forward to more photo opportunities. This is one of my favorite times of year, especially as we celebrate Easter!

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Corrugated Cardboard Canvas #2

I’m done with my second canvas of disposable art. Theo and I really like it, but Stoney finds the background jarring. First, the sketched subject with background and shading blocked in.

Then with a painted subject, but no real background yet…

 

And lastly, the cardboard daisies with their controversial background, and finishing touches on the flowers. I like it. I like the sense of leaves and stems without their actually being any leaves or stems. The subject is weighted to the left to give a sense of movement toward the poppy canvas, whose stem sort of gives a sense of movement back toward the daisy. I’ll show them together when I give a tour of my dining area.

 

 

And there you go…sound-dampening wall coverings for the price of the paint.

Oh! And I found gesso! Not that I bothered to use it here; I finished off the can of spray paint. But the E.Leclerc in Roques had a sizeable art aisle, and they had gesso. Another artsy random fact: French acrylic paint smells a lot more than American acrylic paint. But then, so does most of their school glue, which only comes in sticks or tubes. Next time, a tour of the living room, or salon.

 

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Poppies…poppies…

With walls all block and plaster, and ceramic tile floors, much of our home is an echo chamber. The acoustics really are terrible, even if the light when the sun pours in is heaven itself. So I am doing whatever I can to break up the hard surfaces with soft, sound-absorbent ANYthings.

When I opened the IKEA table box and found two large cardboard panels, I snagged them for the walls.

Big blank “canvas”

They are in the process of becoming art large and lightweight enough to break up the wall, but cheap enough I can toss them in the trash when we go home. I decided to go all O’Keefe and paint big flowers. But first I had to get the cardboard surface prepped for painting. This turned out to be tougher than you’d think. While the big supermarchĂ©s here have art supplies, they are basic. No gesso. And I cannot for my LIFE locate an art supply store in Toulouse. There must be one, but so far it eludes me. But I decided that much gesso for cheap cardboard is probably overkill on the expense anyway. It only has to last a few years, right?

spray paint to the rescue…sort of

The next step was to sketch in my flower. I had a photo reference for a poppy that I used. I also blocked in the highlights, even though in acrylic you would normally work dark to light. The white spray paint had given me a ground to work on and greatly lightened the cardboard, but it still wasn’t white.

The flower takes shape.

I then blocked in the background in a medium yellow wash, and painted myself a poppy. However, I lost sight of how jarring the crimson’s complement, green,  would be right up against it. It became an electric green at the center of the flower, so I washed it with the pale terra cotta I had used to wash the background.

disposable wall art

So my question to you all is, is the poppy’s center still too jarring? I’ll show it on the wall in its intended home, but please let me know if you think I should neutralize the center green still more. Does it grab your eye more than the red poppy, pulling it away from the petals?

The poppy, drawing on the colors in the room.

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Ushering in Spring

My homeschool students have done their spring-themed projects, kicking off their spring session. My older students had a rare experience with acyrlic painting, and a first experience on canvas paper. We observed sheep and lambs together, then worked through a loosely guided drawing, in a neutral paint color with our brushes, of a lamb. Although the lamb’s head and the background were painted traditionally, the wooly body was acrylic with medium added, painted with plastic spoons. We definitely created some fluffy lambs!

Third grade homeschool student.

Another third grader.

A second grade homeschooler.

Kinders painted a garden of spring flowers, in a lesson introduced by Deep Space Sparkle here, although we didn’t take time to spatter. We dripped puddles of watercolor, then turned our papers up over newspaper and let the drips paint stems. We then read the book Ish, by Peter Reynolds. Afterwards, we returned to our flowers to add details with chalk pastels. I think they were very flowerish!

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Kindergarten Fall Favorites

There are a few tried and true lessons that kinders can be counted on to really enjoy and feel successful with, and as much as I love to try new art projects, I can’t deny these fledgling artists the opportunity to crow with the sense of accomplishment. In the fall particularly, they love to tell parents “I did that!” when they draw their pumpkins after the annual pumpkin patch field trip, and when they paint their sunflowers.

I love how quickly these little ones catch on to the concept of contour lines, but this year’s kinder class was especially sharp. After I followed a glue bottle’s contour on the white board with marker and showed the result, before I even called up a student to be my next contour model, one of them cried out, “We have a contour line!” They were excited to try to transfer their perception of my pumpkin’s contour to their papers in oil pastel. This was also their first formal oil pastel project, and they were so excited to see how the colors layered and blended. This year’s class at Faith may be a rambunctious little group, but they are also excited to learn and quick to apply what they do learn. Some first pumpkins:

Homeschoolers get to draw pumpkins, too. Note that our pumpkins are still growing out of the ground, like the ones they visit on their field trip.

We also paint sunflowers. We observe real sunflowers, too, and start their centers with oil pastel. In the past, we have painted our petals, double dipping to mix our paint on the paper. This year I wanted to try something new, and tested it on my class of 5 homeschoolers first. (Poor guinea pigs.) This time I introduced spatter painting and we spattered yellow and black over our center dots. Then we glued torn tissue paper (using liquid starch) petals around our center dot, and then painted our black outline. The kids seemed to have a lot of fun, and I think their sunflowers turned out quite dramatic, but it was a MESS. The capital M kind. I’ve done all these things before, but never all on one project. I had a wonderful time and would repeat it again with any group of a half dozen or less kinders, but I do NOT plan to take it to school! Those kinders will joyfully paint their sunflowers.

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