Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Painting Details - or not

Virginia's Pond
12 x 9 soft pastels on Art Spectrum Colourfix
Miki Willa

In my continuing journey to become a better artist, I find I am looking more critically at some of my favorite artists to see what they are doing right. I am beginning to see that there is a way that these artists handle details that draws me in. James Gurney wrote a post about what artists include in their paintings that was really though provoking along these lines. One of the artists who handles details in a way I find quite wonderful is Richard McKinley.
McKinley knows just where to include details and where to indicate them. He uses color, line, and light to draw the viewer into his landscapes and details to guide you along the path to the place of most importance. I am fortunate to be signed up for a workshop with him in July. I am looking forward to learning some of his techniques.
Today's painting is done from a reference photo of my friends', Virginia and Jerry, pond in northwestern Washington. Several years ago, they bought a large and wonderful log house on several acres. Thanks to a family of beavers, they looked out from their deck onto a great pond. I have been meaning to paint this for years, but lost the photos until a few days ago. I was drawn to this photo because of the yellow leaf. Tom thinks I need to make the leaf look more like what it is. I am working on it.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Deception Pass

Deception Pass
12 x 18 soft pastels on Art Spectrum Colourfix
Miki Willa
I finally got time to work on a larger piece. I really had fun with this one. This is one of my favorite places in Puget Sound. It is at the northern end of Whidbey Island, and it separates Skagit Sound from the Straits of Juan de Fuca. It was named Deception Pass by Captain Vancouver on one of his exploratory voyages because he was certain it led into a sheltered bay, but found it to be a strait instead.
I am finding that I use totally different greens and blues here. I wasn't frustrated once in finding the right green. Besides, I recently read Richard McKinley's post about greens and tried to apply some of what he said. I think it really made a difference.
I read an article in the latest Pastel Journal about painting local landmarks, and how that is a good thing. I have also seen artists talk about local landmarks being so cliche. For me, I paint what I enjoy seeing or what moves me in some way. I also find that I am painting the kinds of things I am drawn to in other people's art. I was reading Travels With a Sketchbook in . . . the other day, and Katherine was talking about analysing what you like by going to a large exhibition and seeing what you are drawn to. Now, I just have to figure out how to find the right market for what I do. It is time to start marketing my work.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Olympic Mountains in Spring

Spring on the Sound
9 x 12 soft pastels on Art Spectrum Colourfix
Miki Willa
Summer isn't officially here until this weekend, but we have had absolutely beautiful days yesterday and today. It still feels like spring after unseasonably cold weather. It snowed in the mountains last week. We took full advantage of the sun yesterday, and we drove east to a great park along the Green River. As soon as our computer gets fixed and hooked up to the printer, I will be doing some paintings from this area. In the meantime, I am using photos from a few years ago as reference.
This painting is from a photo looking west across Puget Sound toward the Olympic Mountains.

Friday, June 13, 2008

New Home, New Studio, New Painting

Late Afternoon on the Sound
12 x 9 soft pastels on Art Spectrum Colourfix
Miki Willa
It has been a while, but I am finally set up in my new home and new studio. We moved from Hawaii to the Pacific Northwest. Hawaii is beautiful, but this place is quite wonderful. The mountains, tall evergreens, Puget Sound, and my incredibly beautiful back yard all call to me. My studio is great with fantastic natural light, even on these gloomy days of June.
My first painting in my new studio is from a reference photo my husband took of a small ferry coming into port on Whidbey Island. I loved the way the cloud colors reflect on the water. I am adding this to my cloud series even though the sky is not the focal area.