Commitment: the state of being emotionally impelled to do something. My commitment is to making art, loving life and doing well.

Daily Artworks... my continuing challenge for 2015: Observe and record. Record and observe. And stretch - s-t-r-e-t-c-h - myself.
What will I discover?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Art Every Day Month - Post 12

Wet into Wet Washes
Spruce branches - Detail of 11" x 15" Watercolor on paper -
Study of wet into wet washes
Source photo
It was a cool, drizzly day and the spruce branches were shedding raindrops in a dramatic way.  The branches bowed over as the water drained off the needles and ran down to the end, accumulating over the bud-tip until the drop got too heavy and separated, flicking the branch back and releasing a tiny spray of the water that remained on the needles. Then the process started all over again. It was worth getting wet to stay out there and watch it.

In the painting, the drops of water didn't work as well as I'd hoped in the wet into wet washes, but I know what to try the next time.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Art Every Day Month - Post 11

Complementary Colors
Leaves on the Forest Floor - Detail of 11" x 15" Watercolor on paper -
Study of chromatic neutrals from complementary colors

Source photo
 Walking along the trail on an overcast day, I was not so much scuffing my feet in the leaves as simply looking at them. I was impressed with how brilliant the browns and oranges and the occasional yellows were - and how, well, unsaturated, or unnaturally de-saturated, the colours of the other leaves were.

It looked like I was walking through one of these special effects settings on a digital camera, you know the one where you neutralize all the other colors except the one you are interested in showing.

The two complementary colours I used in this painting are orange and ultramarine blue, and their various chromatic neutrals range through ochre tones to khakis and dark dull grays. I layered several coats of watercolor paint, which allowed the pigments to pool and dry on top of each other, and which enhanced some already interesting wet-in-wet effects.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Art Every Day Month - Post 10

Brushstrokes - Detail of 11" x 15" Watercolor on Paper -
Study in Making Marks with a Brush
This painting is a study in brushstrokes and making marks, and also in complementary colors -  the yellow-greens and red-violets in various intensities give a sense of depth and shallow distance in the image.

I started the drawing by setting the direction I wanted the marks to flow in and then I followed these faint lines, repeating brushstroke gestures as I went.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Art Every Day Month - Post 9

Brushstrokes - Detail of 11" x 15" Watercolor on Paper -
Study in Making Marks with a Brush

In Oriental painting, there is a formal study of brush marks, similar to the calligraphy of Oriental writing. This is not that.

As I was experimenting with this study of  brushstrokes, I became fascinated with the results that a movement of the brush touching the paper and leaving a mark in paint would give. I was amazed at how a sequence of free gestures repeated in a variety of ways could build up into a compelling image suggesting leaves and branches. Rhythm, repetition, shape, direction, flow.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Art Every Day Month - Post 8

Brushstrokes - Detail of 11" x 15" Watercolor on Paper -
Study in Making Marks with a Brush

I love the look of watercolor washes. Some watercolor pigments dry with a granular residue that settles in the surface of the paper and enhances its texture, and others when dry appear to float above the rest of the image.

In this brush stroke study, the contrast of the misty blue background washes and the definite shapes of the brush marks gives a quiet landscape feeling to the picture.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Art Every Day Month - Post 7

Brushstrokes - Detail of 11" x 15" Watercolor on Paper -
Study in Making Marks with a Brush

I've always been fascinated with Japanese sumi ink drawings, and this experimental series of brushstrokes has a feeling that evokes this style - the various intensities of neutral tones, the suggestion of foliage as subject matter, the flow of the lines in the composition, even the shape of the brush marks. Even the glow of color in the background has a suggestion of natural environment.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Art Every Day Month - Post 6

Brushstrokes - Detail of 11" x 15" Watercolor on Paper -
Study in Making Marks with a Brush

Things never turn out the way you expect... this month has been wonderful for opportunities and not so good for routine.

Closing in on the end of this year's Art Every Day Month, I can look back and see I have maintained some of what I pledged to do and fallen back on some other things - I have mostly kept up on the daily walking, and on taking the daily photos, and I have generally not kept up interpretating in paint what I have been observing and posting the results.

So, my 2012 AEDM challenge will stretch a little beyond the end-of-November deadline, and I'm glad I'm able to do it.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Art Every Day Month - November 5

Crossed Branches
Tangled Criss-Crossed Branches  - Detail of 11" x 15" Watercolor on paper -
Examination of layers in foreground and background

Source Photo

Cameras focus in different ways than the human eye does. We are fortunate that our eyes can adjust quickly and see whatever details that we want to concentrate on.

A camera just wants to take a picture. The camera sets its focus at a particular distance in the scene, and depending on other settings, the rest of that picture may or may not be in focus.

Sometimes the scene we are looking at is confusing, and our brain uses certain cues to figure out what the eyes are looking at. One of these cues to depth perception is perceiving overlap - what is in front and what is behind.

In this photo of tangled branches, the focal point was supposed to be the raindrop on the branch. (See it?) The camera actually focused on the nearest object, the left-hand side of the red osier dogwood branch, and put the rest of the trees in the scene gradually out of focus the farther away they were. The overlap effect is intensified because of the difference in focus. Meanwhile, the camera flash made the different colors in the branches show up brightly, and that turned the tangle of branches into an interesting geometric pattern of shapes and colors.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Art Every Day Month - November 4

Types of Separation
Separation - Tree Stump - Detail of 11" x 15" Watercolor on paper -
Examination of types of separation in wood

Source photo
Walking through the woods, I was intrigued by the various ways that whole objects can become separated. There's sawing, there's peeling, there's cutting, breaking, twisting, tearing, splitting, and cleaving. In this tree stump, you can pretty well see all of these. Each of these processes leaves a particular mark or texture, the signature of what has taken place. It's up to the observant person to notice what has happened.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Art Every Day Month - November 3

Spooky Dead Plants
November Fireweed - Detail of 11" x 15" Watercolour on paper -
Study in silhouetted form

Source Photo

There are walking trails and bike trails running throughout our town. Part of my AEDM process this month is to go out for a morning walk along one or other of these nature trails, with a camera, and take photos that focus on some design element that I can use in my daily painting. My intention is to elaborate on that design element or concept and make an "abstract" painting for my daily posts. After a month's practice at abstracting, I hope that my realistic painting style will have loosened up somewhat. 

Well, that may be easier said than done...yes, my daily walking is a good habit, my daily picture-taking enhances my ability to use the camera, and my daily observation of design elements sharpens my perceptions. So far so good. Painting in an abstract style, however, is tricky. I am so used to using recognizable images in my artwork that they creep in unbidden right under my eyes.

So today's image... is it realistic or abstract? You be the judge.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Art Every Day Month - November 2

Spotting Red
November Crackerberries  -  Detail of 11" x 15" Watercolour on paper - Study in saturated/ unsaturated colours

 Source Photo
 This month's AEDM has turned into a personal and professional challenge for me.

My overall intention is to loosen up my painting style by painting abstract images every day this month. "Abstract" means that from some source material, the artist extracts some theme and elaborates on it in the work.

Now, as a life-long realistic painter, I have come to rely on Image as a necessary part of the picture, and including detail and references is a tough habit to break, I am finding. Will I have enough time in November to show some progress with painting in an abstract style?

I have told my Inner Critic to take a month-long sabbatical, and so far I have been able to work uninterrupted. But old habits are hard to break, and this is "loosening up" is proving to be more of a challenge than I expected.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

November Challenges

I have started a November challenge. Actually I've signed up for two of them. They run parallel to each other, so I thought with two groups watching me I have double the accountability to meet my goals. Well, really, I am only accountable to myself, but those daily check-ins do help me keep focused.

Art Every Day Month was Leah Piken Kolidas' challenge to herself ten years ago to create some art every day for one month and to post it on her blog. Today, there are over 220 participants signed up in AEDM, each pledged to make art and post it online throughout the month of November. This year is my third time doing Art Every Day Month and I am looking forward to the challenge. (You can find more info or sign up on the AEDM website.)

Contentpalooza is a 30-day challenge to write 30,000 words, create 30 images — or a combination of both. Also with over 220 participants, the Contentpalooza group is hosted on Facebook. (For more info or to sign up you can search for Contentpalooza in the Facebook search box.)

And my challenge to myself? My ultimate goal is to loosen up my artwork with daily practice. When you stop and think about it, that's a big thing to achieve in just 30 days. I'm glad I have so many people in these groups looking out for me as I get going with it!