Sunday, September 18, 2011

Seasons United

How would you like to spend your year with just two seasons!! Well here's a story about a dyptych painting that spent five years separated from one another. Seasons was painted on two 3 x 4 foot canvases to create an 8 foot painting horizontally for the Tannery Row Artist Colony in Buford, GA, "BIG" show. After the show a lovely lady took both pieces home to see if they would fit into her dining room, but later in the day, she returned with one of the paintings almost in tears that the entire dyptych would not fit into any space in her home. So half of Seasons went to live with her and hung alone for five years. In the meantime, I was asked to sell the other half of Seasons but I couldn't bring myself to part with it. Each time I told the perspective buyer that someone else owned the other half of the dyptych, and that someday, she might want to add my Spring/Summer to her Fall/Winter scene. Spring forward five years and I've moved to The Art Cottage! The owner of Fall/Winter decides to redecorate her dining room and realizes that she now has a place to hang all of Seasons! In trying to contact me, she runs across my blog, The Art Cottage, and lo and behold, there is Spring/Summer hanging in the living room of my new home.
To make a long story's a pic of Fall/Winter all alone on the dining room wall! So sad....
And here are Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter reunited to create "Seasons"!
....and another view to show how long the wall really is....
I'm so happy that I didn't sell Spring/Summer to another buyer! It is hanging exactly where it belongs now. Happy Ending!! But, just in case you're wondering if there is a big empty spot on my living room wall.....
"Metamorphosis" has found a new home too! Keep paintin' til next time, carly

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Oil Pastel Demonstration

Sunflower Magic
Oil Pastel on 16 x 12 Ampersand PastelBord

On the fifth Thursday of each month, I do some type of demonstration for my students and anyone else who might want to attend, of a technique or with a medium which they are not familiar with. This was an oil pastel demo using several techniques that are used with traditional oil paints. First, we have the subject...a couple of tall fake sunflowers that, sort of hide, the old water cooler.

The group was quite surprised to see my initial sketch since it looked nothing like the standing sunflowers, but I explained that as an artist, we interpret the subject. We don't always want to be explicit when it's not a great scene anyway...we have options!
Here's a pic of my set up in the studio for using my oil pastels.

...and here's a couple of closer images so you can see some of my tools and oil pastels. I use several brands but this painting is done mostly with Craypas Specialist, Sennelier, and Holbeins.

The initial sketch of the sunflowers is done with an acrylic ink. I love the bottles with the squeeze tops. Having little control over the drawing gives me the ability to keep the image very abstract. The color I used for this drawing was a deep purple, a complement for the yellow of the sunflowers. I work upright allowing the drips and runs to create even more lines of interest as you'll see in the next image.

While the ink is drying (which takes about five minutes) I'm choosing several colors for the dark background keeping in mind that my foreground flowers will have an abundance of yellow. I select a dark violet, dark thalo green and ultramarine blue. Laying the sticks on the side for a 'brush-like stroke', I quickly lay in colors for the background. This becomes my underpainting stage. Using mineral spirits and a large stencil brush, the colors are blended allowing each to retain its on hue. I don't want to blend so much that all the colors get dull and lifeless.

The yellow is now stroked on and blended. I've reinforced the outer edges of the petals with lines in a deep cad yellow at this stage. If your composition needs changes, now is the time to do it! but good planning from the start is vital to a final painting that stands the compositional test. The next image also shows how I begin painting by using my same dark colors to deepen the areas in and around the sunflowers.

My blending techniques include using a tortillon, the stencil brush, and the ever faithful finger tips! Just be careful on sanded don't want to use the finger tips unless the paint is very thick over the surface. And!!Don't overblend!! Allow the eye to do some of the work.

I also used a scraping technique with a razor tool which allowed me to get back to the underpainting surface when I laid on a color that I felt didn't harmonize with the other colors. I don't plan all the colors ahead of time. I like to reach and grab the first thing my eye lights on. Sometimes it adds a nice surprise to the art...sometimes not...but, either way, it's always interesting!

The final image is posted at the top of my blog page. Feel free to add comments...I love to read what you have to share too! and if you're in Darien on the next "Fifth Thursday", drop by at 1 PM to see what we're up to! Until next time, keep paintin!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Biking Fun

Beautiful weather! A recent overnight trip to Fernandina Beach for an early morning bike ride! and time to get some great reference pics along the way. The ride took us thru Fort Clinch on the northern end of Amelia Island, with live oaks shading the pathway and sand dunes peaking thru the trees on the ocean side. Here's a pic of the riders in front of me! I'm always surprised at the photos I capture with one hand on the bike and one on the camera just clicking away....!!

...after the ride with the group, Deb and I biked thru the "greenway" leading back to her home. It's a beautiful natural landscape with marsh grass, canals, wildflowers, and native critters. Thought you'd enjoy seeing some of the beauty we spied that day!

Don't you love that rich orange color!

Everyone knows you can never have enough references for "pond scum"! As I was taking some pics of the scum along the canals, Deb sure to get a pic of the sign behind you!

Right after taking the scum pic, I spotted a gator watching me with nothing but his eyes showing above the scum!

If you're in the lowcountry any time soon, join me for a bike ride! Never know what you might run into along the way!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Weekend Happenings

Saturday afternoon, several great friends, a boat, a river and sunny skies. The perfect recipe for a fun filled day enjoying boating on the Julienton River and the Intercoastal waterway. Of course we started out by having lunch at Hunter's, a small cafe overlooking the river at Shellman Bluff. Best way to get there is by boat! I had fresh brim...yummy! and upon leaving the dock, we ran into the catcher of our of the local fishermen! It doesn't get any better than that!

Here's a couple of views from the boat ride!
Friday evening, the group taught me how to play Mexican Dominoes! It's one of those fun games where you really don't have to think a lot...but it does help to pay some attention! And "summer punch" with snacks go great with Mexican Dominoes! Amazing as it seems, I was the winner of my first marathon game! Not so lucky on Saturday evening after boating however...I came in last...but I was the first player to reach 1,000 points!

Sunday...overslept as usual! I really must get home earlier on Saturday nights! But still had time to get a few things accomplished....first in the kitchen. Had considered a roman shade for the window to give it a softer touch...but when I spied this one at the World Market, perfect color and $10...well, it had to be.

But I would like to make one comment about hanging this type of shade...when you read the instructions (some do, you know!) take a sharpie and mark up ^ or down mark on each of the hangers. When you're up on that ladder and you can't remember which way it goes, you'll thank me! or when you get all three up there and you look back and realize one of them looks'll thank me!!

Another thing I love about living in a more tropical environment is all the natural plants that grow outside your door! This is "ironwood"...not sure why they call it that except I've heard that it will take over your garden if you let it. So I keep cropping it back for kitchen will stay alive and green like this for several weeks!
...and don't you love the white napkins!

Here's another outdoor plant that is awesome indoors if you have space for it...this one is in the corner of the studio! From outside it looks like I have a palm growing...
Thought I'd share what the handyman, Kelley, did last week! A new fan for the classroom!

...and of course, I got around to adding to my blog posts today! So until next time...keep your brushes dipped in paint and your canvases glowing with color!


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sunset Bike Riding

Every day near sunset, I jump on my bike and zip around town catching fleeting glimpses of the setting sun thru the trees and out over the marsh. Along the way I've gotten to know several neighbors who walk their dogs at sunset and met a number of others who enjoy the boardwalk along the river. Yesterday I decided to ride across the bridge on Hwy 17 that crosses the river in town. The view was fantastic with the sun, bright red, glancing off the water...but alas, I'd forgotten my camera! So the pics you see here are from my rush back to the cottage, grab the camera, and try to make it back to the top of the bridge to get some last minute shots of the sunset. The bright glimmers had disappeared but the sun still gave its usual display of color that no camera can actually capture. You just have to be there....

In the last pic, the sun looks more yellow, but from the eye, it hung bright orange red over the treetops before disappearing behind a purple bank of clouds!

On the way back to the cottage, I stopped at a neighbor's to get some shots of the oak hydrangea that grows "wild" along the house and sidewalk.
and here's my last stop for the evening - Doodlebugs Flower Shoppe! The owner has ok'd my painting her building!

Even if you don't bike, get out and catch a glimpse of the setting sun today! a kid again! Till next time...from the art cottage!

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Studio/Gallery

Some mornings after the coffee brews, I take a cup and go directly to the studio. My red bamboo director's chair becomes a perch from which I direct the day's activities. Early morning light streams in thru the eastern corner of the building but northern light takes up much of the day until late afternoon.

Here's the new easel which will also lie flat for watercolors or while working on those crazy ink underpaintings of mine. The painting is a new one. An island scene of early morning beneath the live oaks and palmettos.

The view toward the east/southeast side of the gallery. I saved the stereo cabinets and placed them side by side. Perfect for the music! and, as you can see, the door knobs made a great hanging space!

Below is the northwest front corner of the gallery. The other side has a huge window just like this one. The upper windows are painted over on the outside. That's a job for when I feel really confident on a tall ladder and the temperature isn't over 80 degrees!

From the gallery, there's a short hallway leading to the classroom (room to the left of the pic) The door in the back center of the hall leads to more rooms. One will be a storage for paintings/supplies. One, an office, and the others don't know what they want to become yet!

...and if you ever need a large table, here's how I made this one. Use an old sturdy wood table, mount a 3 or 4 foot wide door onto the top using L brackets to hold it to the top of the old table. This door was solid wood and very heavy! Thanks to my friends who helped with the lifting! and it's perfect for the center of the classroom! Everyone works around it, I can do framing on it, and it's perfect for underpainting those large panels!

Another great find in my building was this cabinet which I believe was used for knives at one time. The other side has pegboard for display, but as you can see, my paints fit nicely in the slotted drawers and the top is a great place for small boards. I also keep small matboard pieces here for students to use when doing exercises or warmups!

I'll be adding a ceiling fan to the classroom in a few days! Maybe a surprise for my students next week...don't tell anyone!

Until next time...keep painting!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Keeping Pace

Notice my new background? Well the ladder has been moved to the last part of the building that needs painting...the back hallway and hopefully, future studios for other artist friends! Those rooms still have boxes yet to be opened - but I've decided that unless they say "art" or "art books" on the outside that they, most likely, will go unopened for a few more months! If I haven't needed it by now, I may never need it!

Here's another remake of one of the smaller bedrooms. I call it the "Poppy" room. Not because it's filled with poppies, but because of the poppy red color used for accent against the stark white of the walls...and because I like the sound of the word. Makes me think of bright cheerful morning flowers and this is a bright cheerful morning room where the sun shines in from the east.

Before....except for the awful smelly carpet that was on the floor. I think my back will never be the same after pulling up carpet that was glued to tile that was stuck to the concrete floor! But the check pattern left by the tile in black really worked out well with the new decor! I think!

and the after....

Hope my "Poppy" room brings a smile to your face today!


p.s. The plumber stopped in today and now the kitchen has hot and "cold" running water!! but it needs a new drain to the sewer! LOL

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Art In The Park

The Blessing of the Fleet weekend is one of the most exciting that takes place in our small town of Darien. The waterfront is lined with shrimp boats decorated for the Blessing ceremony and live music fills the air on Friday and Saturday evenings. The Tams played this year with their early 70's music. Lots of dancing by the more "mature" crowd. Strange how that music era appeals to everyone!

The Old Jail Art Center sponsors an "Art In The Park" event which coincides with the Blessing of the Fleet in Vernon Square. So that all of you will know that I have been painting since arriving in Darien....and not just on's a pic of the photo wall where everyone could decide if they wanted to be the Sheriff or the Convict! Which would you choose??

I also plein air painted on both days, along with several other artists. Here's a couple of my small paintings.

My studio was open part time during the weekend and I was amazed at the response to the "open door". Folks just dropped in, complemented my art, talked about classes and really encouraged me. So's one pic of the studio so you can get a glimpse of my space! The half wall separates the classroom from the main gallery.

....keep the brushes in the paint....til next time!

Monday, March 28, 2011


The Back Yard

I am happy to announce that it takes approximately twenty minutes to mow my entire lawn! and that includes cranking the mower! I finally got around to hauling all the old piles of leaves and dead limbs out to the street. The city started their own pile of lawn debris across the street, so I figured good timing for clean up! The Blessing of the Fleet is this weekend so the city is getting things into shape for that! There is really no schedule for picking up yard just put it out and they take it away 'whenever'. Also filled in the "pit bull" holes left by the previous tenants!

Finished the outside work just in time for the storm to hit. Rain poured down, thunder crashed and the wind whipped the trees about...but the most wonderful thing happened during the storm. A migration of birds (don't know what kind but they were small) flew over the building and right into the wind and rain. Thousands beat their wings against the wind then glided a few seconds before carrying on with their flight. The path zigged and zagged but on they flew...regardless of the weather.

I kept thinking...why not just stop, wait out the storm in the treetops, then carry on! But it was obvious that they were following a path that I couldn't see, led by instinct instilled at birth and timing that could not be forsaken for safety sake.

I hope I can identify with their courage to face the storms that come, flying into the wind with perseverence and knowing when to rest for renewed strength. We can learn a lot from little birds...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Where Fireflies Gather

I've always wanted to design rooms around paintings....instead of buying the painting to match the room like so many folks do...and I'm not naming names here!

Where Fireflies Gather is one of my favorite abstract landscapes and I thought it would be perfect for one of the twin bedrooms. First, here's the pepto pink room as it was in the beginning!

But after a "white makeover" to the walls and ceiling and a "black makeover" to the old linoleum floor, it looked rather spiffy!

And now for the fun part! An old post cut in half makes a perfect "headboard" look. The twin bed is up on risers to add some height. Don't you love crawling up to get on a bed...makes you feel like a kid again! The windows have bamboo shades for a natural feel and white sheers to let in a lot of light. Notice the greenery...just pick whatever is growing outside and pop in a glass jar. This is a palmetto and ivy arrangement. But of course the center of attraction is the painting on the wall!