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Posts tagged ‘abstract_watercolor’

My painting in St. Agnes Library Exhibit

My painting, Quilt, will be in the St. Agnes Library exhibit from Sept. 2-28, 2016. The reception will be Wednesday, Sept. 7 from 5:00-6:45 pm. The Library is at 444 Amsterdam Avenue, near 81st. Street.  Hope to see you there.


Quilt           15×12            $800

I was taken with the quilt pattern and imagined the colored squares rising up and moving around.  Of course, there were also flowers and fruit and a stool and… Well the setup at the League in the summer is always chaotic. I just used the quilt to try and make sense of it all.

Merced is not just a river

The Merced is not just a river. This painting has been in my brain since 2011. That’s when my husband and I joined our friend, Barry and his wife, in a trip to Yosemite. I took a lot of pictures, many of the water rushing over and around the rocks in the Merced River. Such good memories!


Merced      12 x 9      $600

Merced = Memories. I remember the water and the rocks.  I remember the BnB, the wonderful breakfasts and the hummingbirds, the deer, the waterfalls, the magnificent Yosemite beauty.

As I painted this it all came rushing back.  I hope Barry’s and Jen’s memories are as good.

Date: 2016. Size: 12 x 9.  Price $600.

I have no clue.

Sometimes, I really have no clue.

Lovely Chaos

Lovely Chaos      12×9      $600

The set-up at the Art Students League for Frank O’Cain’s Abstract Watercolor class is always chaotic … by design. You have to pick and choose, what to paint, where to put it on the paper … in short, it’s an exercise in composition. I confess, I painted this vertically, made a whole lot of changes to try and make it work and then kept turning it around and around to try and discover what really worked and what else I could do.

Frank’s input, as usual, was critical. The changes were not monumental, but then they rarely are. It’s being able to see the little things… I wish I could say I’m the one who always sees them.

2016. 12×9. $600.

It’s subtle

Improving on a painting that sorta works, but not completely, is often difficult. Sometimes the next painting is worse, not better. Even when it’s better, sometimes it’s subtle.

My first painting of a straw hat, grapes, green vase and a basket wasn’t god-awful, but sure wasn’t a home run.

Yellow Hat

Yellow Hat       15 x 12

I couldn’t figure out how to fix it, so I decided to start a completely new painting.

Miracle of all miracles, this one is better …  much better.  I enlarged the hat, changed the shape of the green vase, adjusted the color of the hat, enlarged the holes in the hat and moved them so the color linked with the grapes, removed the handle from the basket (you didn’t know that’s what it was, did you?) etc. etc.

Yellow Hat 2

Yellow Hat 2      16 x 12      $850

Whew!  Each change was subtle but thank goodness it worked out.

From Pretty to Not Bad

Today’s watercolor at the Art Students League went from pretty to not bad.  I have to admit that one of the worst compliments someone can make of one of my paintings is that it’s pretty.  Pretty = insipid,  not impressive, not powerful, not … a lot of things to which I aspire.

So I had done a relatively insipid watercolor based on the chaotic still life setup and hated it. When asked if there was any way to salvage the painting, Frank (Frank O’Cain, the instructor) hesitated and then replied, “You could paint on the back.”

Unfortunately, I had already done another unacceptable painting on the back, so that wasn’t an option.  In frustration, I grabbed the biggest brush I had handy and started slopping in color.  Fifteen minutes later, I had created something that both Frank and I considered to be “Not Bad.”

From Pretty to Not Bad

From Pretty     15 x 12     $800

I’ll go with “not bad” over “pretty” any day.

Is it better, or just different?

This past week I did three versions of the still life at the Art Students League, more flowers, vases, fabric, books, etc. than I know what to do with. With each one, I asked myself: Is it better, or just different?

So here’s the first one:


Flowers    9 x 12    $600

I liked it, but there were some issues, so here’s the second:

Flowers 2

Flowers 2   12 x 16     $850

Well, I think it’s better than the first, but… here’s the third:

Flowers 3

Flowers 3      12 x 16      $850

This is the one I like the most. But who knows, I may decide to do a fourth … or make one or two small changes to this one.

You never know… but it’s good to have choices.  And I do think the last one is better.

You never outgrow your first love …

Maybe in art, unlike in human relationships, you never outgrow your first love.  I’m back at the Art Students League as a monitor for Frank O’Cain’s Abstract Watercolor class. I set up the chaotic still life which everyone works from and I try to help students understand what it means to abstract from something real (the still life setup).

But most importantly, for me, it means I’m back working in watercolor, my first love in art.  For the last 9 months, I’ve been trying to figure out how to work with acrylics: I’ve learned a lot of lessons, but none of it is second nature…yet. Not the way it is with watercolor.

Now this doesn’t mean that everything I create with watercolor will be a masterpiece. Far from it. But I’m not second guessing myself every step of the way.

So here are two out of three paintings I did during the first week from the strangely chaotic set up I created:

Green Apples 3

Green Apples 3     9×12     $600

And the previous still life based on the same chaotic still life with the same three green apples…

Green Apples 2

Green Apples 2     9×12      $600

I won’t show you the first one. It was my “I’m just getting back to watercolor” experiment and not really ready for prime time.

I do so love watercolor!

Art Exhibit at 96 Street Public Library

The 1100 Watercolor Society (of which I am a member) is having an art exhibit at the 96 Street Public Library (Lex – Park) from January 4 through January 29, 2016.  Artists Reception: Saturday, January 9, 2016 2-4pm (Lower Level).

I have three paintings in this exhibit, all of which I like, but one of which represents a change in direction for me.

I Can Fly

I Can Fly      18×24      $1400

Frustrated by my inability to capture the wonderful pattern in a scarf in our complicated still life set-up at the Art Students League, I washed out the whole thing. When all that was left were vague shadows of the previous painting, I grabbed a big brush and just started swooping in the color. Because I wasn’t worried about ruining anything, (or creating a “masterpiece” for that matter), the painting just happened.

At the end of the summer, I was getting ready to start working in acrylic, something that simultaneously thrilled and terrified me. This painting says: Everything is going to be okay. I can fly.

A Tisket a Tasket

In Frank O’Cain’s Abstract Watercolor class at the Art Students League you never know what you are going to get (and I say that even though I am one of the people creating the still life set up from which everyone works).  This painting, A Tisket a Tasket, was based on a still life with two baskets (among other things).

Do you remember the nursery rhyme, “A tisket a tasket, a green and yellow basket…”?  This set up had two baskets, one yellow and one black/brown (nope, no green but, hey, I used my artistic imagination).

A Tisket a Tasket

A Tisket a Tasket 11×15 $$750

The week before, I did a quick sketch of some books, a flower, a star plate and a vase to create Books n Such.

Books n Such

Books n Such    7×9    $375

With the complicated set up at the League (for which I am partly responsible), the key is deciding what to focus on, what to paint.  Trust me, with both of these paintings, what I was seeing was much more complicated.

Evolution of a painting

Sometimes paintings just spring from your forehead (so to speak) like in mythology.  On the other hand, most of the time you have to work at it. This blog outlines the evolution of a painting: how it starts, what you do next, and then after that, and after that…

This example is interesting because it combines  picking and choosing from the complex still life set up at the League, my interest in a Nicholas de Stael painting (which I only could see in black and white), and the demands of the painting I was creating.

First the set up (or at least the part of the set up I decided to focus on):

ASL Set Up

ASL Set Up

Then, my first stab at a painting:

My first stab at the painting

My first stab at the painting

And then, the de Stael painting (B&W version only) that I decided to use as inspiration:

N. de Stael painting (B&W version)

N. de Stael painting (B&W version)

So I  eliminated the fabric and by also eliminating perspective flattened and raised up the table top.  I added legs for the table, a bar on the top right and expanded on the colors to come down from the left corner and move over the table.  The purple vase was too strong so I washed it out.

Next iteration

Next iteration

I darkened the space under the table and used my dirty water (created by cleaning my brushes after painting all the colors so far) to darken the surface on the left.

Next iteration

Next iteration

Well, I’m not sure where I go with this next.  Frank (bless him) says my version is already better that de Stael’s and (of course) who am I to argue.

Yet another “to be continued…”