Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Painting from memory

The Sound WIP
9 x 12 soft pastels on Art Spectrum Colourfix
Miki Willa
Years ago I took a watercolor workshop on Whidbey Island in Washington. The instructor showed us how to paint beaches and islands like those in Puget Sound without using reference photos, or without painting in plein air. I was thinking about those paintings over the weekend and wondering if I could recreate the idea using pastels. I usually have something I am painting from, so this was a challenge. I am calling this a work in progress because I am still not completely happy with the overall look. I think the pier and house need work. I want to work on the shape of the land mass on the right. I think I would like a more sheer drop at the headland. I also want to work on the distant islands. I think this has potential. I just have to work on it.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Morning shadows

Early Morning at Number 5
9 x 12 soft pastels on Art Spectrum Colourfix
Miki Willa
I was walking back to my little room the other morning when I was struck by the shadows cast on the walls surrounding my door. The sun was just cresting the roof on the southwest side of the courtyard. There is a large tree near my end that cast these great shadows. After much debate, I decided to use purple, even though I saw purple and blue in the shadows. The walls are a dark cream stucco. The wall light near the door had reflections of so many colors, and I wanted to show them all. Unfortunately, this photo didn't pick them up well. I am not particularly pleased with the shadows on the lower part of the door, but I think I can work on that some more to fix it. The differences in the purples to the left and right of the door are from the camera. Color on the right is more accurate.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Fantasy drawing

Boar in Love
Miki Willa
This is so outside anything I have ever sketched before. I don't even know where it came from. I just got home from work and put my feet up. I was too lazy to get my sketch pad from across the room, so I picked up the note pad next to me along with the black pen, and began doodling. By the time I was finished, I was laughing pretty hard. I probably shouldn't share with the world, but I hope you have a laugh.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Water Lily at the Hilton

Water Lily
9 x 12 soft pastels on Art Spectrum Colourfix
Miki Willa
I think I have solved the lighting situation in my little studio. At least I can see the colors of the pastels before I pick them up now. That was a good thing this morning since I decided to do this on black paper. I was going for the dramatic effect.
The weekend after our furniture was shipped, we stayed a couple of nights at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki. What a beautiful place! There are several lily ponds on the grounds, all teaming with beautiful carp. Fortunately, there were blooms in each pond. I took several photos, but I liked the composition in this one the best. I attempted to paint a lily pond painting before, and was not happy with it. I like this one much better. I am especially happy with the depth I was able to attain in the flower.
I tried to get some carp in the photos, but I was concentrating on composition, and the fish just wouldn't hold still. I do have other references of this kind of fish. Perhaps I will be able to combine references when I get moved and have my computer back again.

Monday, May 19, 2008

More Clouds

White Plains
9 x 12 soft pastels on Art Spectrum Colourfix
Miki Willa
I forget who said to do 100 sky paintings, but I really believe in it. When I go back and look at my earliest attempts at clouds when I was doing watercolor, then again when I took up pastels, I can see huge differences. I used to think that daytime clouds were only white and pure gray. Living here for the past six years, I have really had time to study clouds and see all the different colors they reflect. Colors from the water, the land, and the sun. I am particularly pleased with sky holes in these clouds and the sculpturing. I also like the way they reflect on the water in places.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Beach Rocks

Beach Rocks
9 x 12 soft pastels on Art Spectrum Colourfix
Miki Willa
I decided that I wanted more practice with rocks. I really enjoy working on them, but feel I can do much more. This grouping was from a larger photo. There was much more driftwood, but I didn't want to complicate the painting with too much. I think the one trunk is enough for this composition. I also pushed the colors on the rocks a bit. Unfortunately, the lighting in my new digs is very lacking in the early morning. I am going to have to try and do something about that over the weekend. I have been really surprised when I get back home and see the paintings in daylight.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Painting shallow water

By the Sea
12 x 9 soft pastels on Art Spectrum Colourfix
Miki Willa
Painting shallow water means having a mastery of the light touch with pastels. This is something I am working on learning. The area I painted was a very shallow tide pool area as the tide was coming in. The sandy bottom was clearly visible in places where the reflected blue of the sky was weakest. There were also some rocks completely submerged that I wanted to show. In the shadows of the rocks, the sandy bottom was very evident. I am pretty happy about what I accomplished. Someone else was happy enough to buy it right off the easel. That made me doubly happy!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Homemade pastels

9 x 9 soft pastels on Art Spectrum Colourfix
Miki Willa

I think I am finally back on a regular schedule for a while. We have been moving out of our house in preparation for our return to the Mainland. Tom leaves tomorrow, but I have to stay to finish out my school contract year. In the meantime, I am living in a small studio apartment in the convent across the street from my school. So far, it is all good.

Part of the moving process involved cleaning out our studios at home. Tom has been saving pastel dust for quite a long time. He had several containers, sorted by hue. He finally decided to make them into new pastel sticks before we moved. We looked all over for distilled water, but couldn't find it. I remember growing up and always having distilled water in the house because the steam iron required it. How things have changed. Finally, he decided to use tap water. The colors are all unusual, but quite wonderful. I especially like the reddish/pink. I used that in the sky and highlights in the water. The other colors are two values of greyed purple, two greens, and the reddish/pink. The best part is that they are all a little streaky, which adds an interesting dimension to the painting. Unfortunately, I don't think the photo I took shows the colors well. I did add two blues, two yellows, and an orange from my regular palette. I like the homemades so well, I am going to be more conscientious about saving my dust in the future.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Still Here

I just wanted to let you know that I have not stopped blogging forever. We are in the midst of moving, and I am not getting much painting done right now. I will be back on next week once I get settled again. Please come back on Monday.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Pele's Home - Halema'uma'u

Pele's Halema'uma'u
9 x 12 soft pastels on Art Spectrum Colourfix
Miki Willa
Pele angered her older sister and had to leave her home. She sailed north to our islands, holding tight to the egg her mother gave her. She came to the older northern islands, dug holes with her digging stick and settled in to each fiery lair. Her sister, who commanded the water, followed her and drowned her fires out. Pele kept looking for a place where the waters could not reach. She finally came to the island of Hawaii and Kilauea. There, her sister's water could not reach her. The crater at Kilauea where Pele finally stopped is called Halema'uma'u (the house of the ma'uma'u fern). It was there that the precious egg hatched to become Pele's beloved sister, Hi'iaka.
Today, Pele's presence is recognized by the Hawaiian people. Halema'uma'u is alive with steam vents and the warmth of Pele's fire. In the last couple of months, the crater has had several minor eruptions, with lava visible. The sulphur from the new opening has closed the park and forced evacuations of nearby areas. It is a big reminder that the earth is constantly changing and reforming.
Standing on the rim of Halema'uma'u is like standing near creation. There is a very stark beauty, and a strong connection to Creation. This is my third attempt to put down my impressions of the place using pastels. This is the closest yet.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Motivation and muse

Makapu'u Lookout
9 x 12 soft pastels on Art Spectrum Colourfix
Miki Willa
When I started doing a painting a day, I tried to paint every day, seven days a week. That was just not working, so I decided to do five paintings per week, mostly on week day mornings. I have tried to stick with that, and have been fairly successful. This daily practice has allowed me to learn and grow as an artist. I usually look forward to my morning painting times. Not this morning.
This morning, my motivation and muse were elsewhere. The school where I work celebrates May Day with a big performance involving the whole school. For many weeks, the different classes work with a kumu hula (hula instructor) preparing a dance for the yearly theme. This year, the theme was the Year of the Reef. Everyone from the junior kindergarten three year olds to the seniors in high school learns their song and dance to perform before their peers, parents, and grandparents. It is much work, but great fun and quite wonderful. Try and imagine 50+ three and four year olds doing a hula in colorful costumes. So cute, you know. This type of celebration is pretty common in the islands. This year, the teachers decided to also prepare a dance as a gift to the students. This morning, my mind was much more on remembering the dance than finishing my painting.
I took the reference photo for the painting from the lower lookout near Makapu'u Point on the south shore of Oahu. Makapu'u is also a very popular hike for whale watchers during the winter months when the big gray whales migrate to our island waters. I think I will put this painting away for a while and come back to it with a fresh look in a few months.