Archive for the Painting Category

In a Thumbnail

Posted in art, How to Paint, inspiration, Meditation, mountains, Painting, PLEIN AIR PAINTING, Watercolors on April 11, 2018 by sebland

image.jpegIn preparing for today’s class, I was pondering over the fact that some of us were having trouble with our plein aire paintings. Searching the Internet soon revealed I’d been leaving out one very critical piece of advice. Every workshop teacher I’ve ever had has begun each session with a thumbnail sketch – sometimes more than one. image.jpegLazy and eager to get into the fun part of putting paint to the canvas, I had let slip this most important step. It was an “aha” moment. For those viewers who are raising a questioning eyebrow, a thumbnail sketch is a small study, usually about two inches square. The artist can draw a quick outline in pen or pencil, indicating what’s important in the piece, where it will fit in the picture, and indicating where the light, medium and dark values are. Sort of a roadmap or recipe to help guide one through the painting.  I like to think my time of meditation and prayer every morning is my thumbnail sketch. I look at the overall picture of my day, try to decide what is important and where my values should be, what is light, what is dark, where are the gray areas? If I spend a little time with my thumbnail , I’m likely to paint a better picture of my day. I definitely need to practice this before I begin every painting. Maybe I’ll be a little more diligent before rushing into my day, to get the values right.

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Sitting on the Riverbank

Posted in art, inspiration, Meditation, Painting, PLEIN AIR PAINTING, Watercolors with tags , , , , , on April 10, 2018 by sebland

imageI’ve studied under several plein aire artists: Michael Chesley Johnson of Campobello Island, and William Scott Jennings in Sedona, Arizona –  numerous online painters, and countless videos and DVD’s. These guys paint in subzero weather and desert thunderstorms. Not me! In New Brunswick, I’m the old lady who left the workshop when the rain was  blowing sideways into my poncho. I had lunch at the Fireside Inn where FDR had lunch and toured the “cottage” on Campobello Island while my classmates struggled on and produced good work. I’m a Texas gal, and we know when to come in out of the rain. So when the weather is pleasant and the winds aren’t too cold, I gather my friends, a pot of coffee or a bottle on wine, and we find a shady spot and set up our easels. I have painted in Northern California on a wet and foggy day, and I’ve been alone on Ghost Ranch in an arroyo, painting very close to my car because a mountain lion warning had been posted. These are memories I cherish, and I’m looking forward to painting with my friends on the Oregon coast this fall, but nothing, really nothing, can compare with sitting on the bank of a river in the Texas Hill Country with good friends, feeling the breeze, smelling the diesel fumes off the trucks rolling over the bridge, and being grateful for this day. This best day, because it’s the only one promised me. I’m hoping you are feeling grateful for your day. It’s a gift, so treat it with the greatest respect. It is truly precious.

Light Shining in the Darkness

Posted in Acrylics, art, inspiration, Painting with tags , , , , , , , on February 17, 2018 by sebland

imageI believe that we all have seasons of the soul, just as nature has its seasons. As artists, we lie fallow sometimes, waiting for the time when a seed will fall into the cold soil, take hold and begin slowly to grow into something we can till and nurture and maybe even harvest.  Our lives don’t always run according to plan. Dreams die, friends grow old and leave us, bodies let us down, we lose heart and begin to doubt ourselves and even our own worth. I call those the dark nights of the soul. And then something happens. A friend offers an encouraging word, someone lifts us up in an unexpected way, even an encouraging word comes from a stranger, and we are up and running again. . John 1:5 says:”The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”  As a  creative person, you have that light within you. Look for it, because it is there, and the darkness cannot overcome it!

It’s a Dog’s Life!

Posted in art, Family, How to Paint, Painting, Watercolors with tags , on January 16, 2018 by sebland

There are times an artist must search far and wide for inspiration. Then there are times when opportunities literally fall into your lap. I have four grandchildren, one great grandchild, two grand cats and four grand dogs. Generally I can keep them all straight, but now and then my kids slip a new one in on me. Limo, a fine beautiful basset hound, who weighs almost as much as I do and strongly resembles a hippo as he lurches across the floor, came to live with daughter and her husband several months ago. With eyes that make you feel guilty even while feeding him, he made a great model for a portrait. His foster brother Rowdy has a lot more color, making Limo a bit more challenging to paint. I did several sketches and yesterday completed a watercolor I liked a lot. Then I remembered Rowdy’s portrait was vertically oriented, and since they’ll hang side by side, I went back to the drawing board. I haven’t painted a lot of animals, but I think I captured Limo pretty well. Dogs wear their souls in their eyes, I think. He’s a wise old guy and I’m glad he has a happy home.

Coping with Commissions

Posted in Acrylics, art, How to Paint, inspiration, Painting, Watercolors with tags , , , on January 14, 2018 by sebland

To be really honest, I’m not terribly comfortable about commissions. I have enough trouble bringing my own ideas to the canvas, much less trying to interpret another person’s visions. This one, however, is quite large and I know and trust my patron’s faith in me, so I’m taking it on. The space is wide – six feet, but only 26″ tall, so we’ve settled on three 24 x 24″ canvases, side by side. She loves bright colors, lots of friends around her, and just lost her husband, so this one  must be a narrative of the joy of life and the way we love and support one another. My way to begin is to sketch with watercolor the feelings, the emotions and some of the things I know she’s looking for. Then I’ll prime and begin in acrylics to paint the panels. This triptych may take a little while and may undergo many changes. I invite you to travel along with me and we’ll see where this one takes us. I’ll bet the finished product will bear little resemblance to this first sketch!

One Day at a Time

Posted in art, inspiration, Painting, Watercolors with tags , , , , on January 1, 2018 by sebland

I’ve never been much for New Year’s resolutions. I’m too likely to feel defeated when I don’t keep them after a few days of trying half-heartedly to lose 15 pounds and find I’ve gained seven, or instead of walking a mile a day, I drive the half block to the mailbox. I did promise myself to draw and sketch a bit more this year. No promises, I just think I will make an effort to act like a real artist and hone my drawing skills. I’ve always loved writing and keeping a prayer journal, starting each day with a list of the good things happening to me and around me, so in this new year I’m going to fill a new sketchbook with those things around me that I enjoy. Today it’s my soft bed, my warm blue robe and my thirteen year old cranky cat. Maybe tomorrow it will be my coffee cup. Or my warm house shoes. What are you grateful for today?

The Angels Sang

Posted in art, Christmas, holidays, Family, inspiration, Painting, Watercolors on December 20, 2017 by sebland

It’s been a tough ten days in our neighborhood. Two very dear friends have died, another neighbor’s home burned, and here we are singing glad tidings of great joy. The shopping, baking, parties, gift giving goes on around personal sorrows and tragedies, and joys are shared even as tears are falling. How can this be? Where is the joy amid so much personal loss? It seems to me that it’s in the caring, the little acts of kindness shown by neighbors who want to know, “How can we help?” I see it in the every day gestures like a silent hug, a meal shared, a quiet word of love, tamales or venison sausage left on a doorstep, the many little thoughtful ways one person reaches out to another. In a world full of turbulence where there seems to be more and more anger and violence, I see unexpected but welcome acts of thoughtfulness.

So as we tell the stories once again, and sing the songs, taste the sweetness of homemade fudge, smell the cookies baking, we are reminded once again that like that night 2000 years ago, in an imperfect world, the Light shown down, and the darkness did not overcome it. And so I wish for you and yours peace, hope, joy and love.   May your Christmas be merry, and may your Holidays be happy, no matter the circumstances!

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