Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sedona Day 5

From Jordan Trailhead
9 x 6 soft pastels on Kitty Wallis Professional White
by Miki Willa
I am a little late with this because we are on our way back north and didn't have time before this evening. This painting is very different for me. Michael threw down a challenge to use a limited palette in the field. I decided to try it. We selected a warm and a cool of six different colors - blue, green, red, orange, yellow, purple - plus black and white. Value was not really considered in color choice because we had the black and white. He used hard pastels, but I used softer ones because that is what I had. We drove to the Jordan trail parking lot, where there were several red rock formations to paint, and I set myself up near Michael. This was quite a challenge.
After several attempts to get decent colors that were near local, Michael told me that putting the white down first was a big help when trying to get a lighter value. Then, I made the mistake of putting black down first in the shadow areas. I should have thrown away the black and used the dark cool purple. Once I figured that out, I was much happier. What I ended up with is pretty abstract, but I think I like it. Go figure. If Michael posts his from this day, I will put a link in a future blog.
Today, Tom and I have been driving north from Barstow on Hwy. 395. We have seen some of the most spectacular scenes we have seen in all our driving around the country. There was high desert with Joshua Trees, mountains with heavy snow, ranch land, rivers, small towns, and the colors were incredible. A veritable feast for an artist's eye. We ended the day in Carson City, the capital of Nevada. I am so glad we decided to drive to Sedona and back. This would have been a terrible thing to miss.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sedona Day 4

Painting in Jerome, Arizona
First, I have to say I don't loathe yesterday's painting as much today. I see possibilities in it. That is a good thing.
This morning, we drove to Jerome, an old mining town that went bust and has turned into an art colony of sorts. The town is built up a hill, as are most old mining town. As you wander up and down the streets, you can visit many different art galleries from fabric art to blown glass to paintings. There is a big artist cooperative in one area, and the old high school is home to several galleries and studios. We parked on the middle street, across from the Mile High Grill where we later had lunch. I decided to paint a couple of the buildings across an alley from the Mile High. The photo above was taken by my husband, who chose to be photographer today instead of painting.
The painting is not finished, but I know where I want to take it. I was intrigued that the lower buildings had one set of perspective points while the upper on that is behind had its own set. The front buildings are also on a sloped street and sidewalk. I still have to work on those lines and angles, but I think I am fairly close to the values I want. The windows will be interesting to finish. I think I will work on this one some more before I post it.
Now that we are nearing the end of this week in Sedona, I really want to say what a wonderful model this mentoring workshop is. All of us are staying in one house. We eat breakfast together, then we have critique sessions. After that, we follow Michael to a great place to paint. Michael is there as a resource for us as we need him. We are each working on learning different things, and he has time to give each of us the individual attention we want or need. After a few hours painting, we head back to the house for lunch together. Then we are on our own for the afternoon to paint, explore, read, or nap. Any paintings we do, we can include in the next morning critique session. I really think there should be more mentoring workshops like this. It has been a great experience for Tom and me. Check it out at Michael's Sedona page.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sedona Day 3

Munds Mountain
12 x 18 soft pastels on Kitty Wallis Professional White
by Miki Willa
Today was not a good painting day for me. Once again, I bit off more than I could chew. These rock formations won the battle today. I suppose I could work more on this and resolve all my issues, but I fear it would all turn to mud before my very eyes. What went wrong? Many things.
First of all, I was not really grabbed by anything I saw this morning. It was all majestic and beautiful, but nothing that spoke to me and said, "Paint me!" At one point, I thought about painting a large cactus. Perhaps, I should have stuck with it.
Second, I painted with my sunglasses on without realizing it. Once I took them off, 95% of the way through the painting, I was amazed at what I was seeing. It was too late, however, to really fix anything.
Third, I simply couldn't see the values and color temperatures today. Some days are like that. I really wanted to put oranges and yellows where there was shadow. Then, I had to gray them down. The greens were far to dark and looked cartoonish. I got lost in all the shapes and forms in the rocks. The basic large shapes are correct enough that a person familiar with the area would probably recognize it, but that is about all. I could go on, but I think I have beat myself up enough for one painting. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day. We are going to Jerome. That should be fun.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sedona Day 2

9 x 12 soft pastels on Kitty Wallis Professional White
by Miki Willa
I am feeling better today, and I think it shows in this painting. Today, Michael took us to a wonderful place between Doe Mountain and Bear Mountain. Everywhere you looked was something wonderful to paint. There were mesas, grasses, junipers, fluffy clouds, strange plants, and distant mountains. I decided to try one of the red rock formations, just to see if I could do it. Michael makes it look so easy.
We started the day with critiques of yesterday's paintings. That was a very valuable experience. I think it was especially good because I was away from the painting for a day and could look at it with fresh eyes during the critique. After the critique session, Michael did a quick demonstration of how he works through the composition of a small painting. He gets so much out of a few strokes. I tend to make things a bit busy sometimes. That is evident in my painting from today.
I chose this scene because I liked the contrast of the red rocks with the blue sky and the clouds. I was worried about not having the right colors for the southwest, but I feel pretty comfortable with the palette I chose for this painting. I am glad I purchased more dark purples because they were perfect for the shadows. I am pretty happy with the rock formations. I think I can achieve a better effect next time by not being so fussy. I just had to feel my way around this time. I am not happy about the lack of depth from the foreground to the rock formations. It is really much further then it looks. I think I was working so hard at getting in the great yellow grasses, I sacrificed the depth of field. Fortunately, we are going back to this place to paint another day. All in all, I am pleased with the direction I am heading. Now, if I can only come up with a non-cheesy title.
(I had to change the location to give a more accurate description of where we were.)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sedona, Day 1

Low Rock
9 x 12 soft pastels on Kitty Wallis Professional White
by Miki Willa
We finally made it to Sedona! It is very beautiful here with all the junipers, cacti, manzanita, and of course, the red rock formations. We are staying in a wonderful house with Michael Chesley Johnson, Trina, and one other student. Today was our first painting day. Michael led us to a park where we had spectacular views of Cathedral Rock. There was also a wonderful stream with smaller rock formations. As you can see, that is what I chose to paint.
Unfortunately, I came down with a wretched cold during the drive down from Washington. My head is very clogged up and concentrating is pretty tough. I just didn't have it in me to tackle the large rock formations. I was quite happy to work on this red rock slab just across the stream from my vantage point. I am afraid the photograph does not show the slab in its best light. It really is darker than the sand to the right of it. There were some very busy leafless branches just behind the slab, but I took them out. They detracted from the forms and shapes in the rock. It is a very calm scene on a overcast coolish day.
This workshop is very individualized. Each of us are working on our own styles and how to work better within that style. The other two students use a much brighter palliate that I do. I like what they did today very much. I think that the sun will come out later in the week and I will break out the brighter colors as well. The colors I chose today reflected the weather and my physical discomfort. Hopefully, the cold will pass quickly.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

New Pastels

Yesterday, Tom and I drove up to Mt. Vernon to visit Dakota Art Pastels. We are trying to get everything we need for the upcoming Arizona trip. We needed paper and I was running out of my favorite Terry Ludwig darks. While we were there, I took a look at the new gray set by Terry and fell in love, so that got put in the pile. This morning, I decided to clean out and reorganize my palette. It looks so pretty, I just had to share it with you. The box on the upper left is the new Terry set and the one on the upper right is my set of Unison lights. I realized last summer, when taking a class from Richard McKinley, that I really didn't have very many good lights. Now, I feel ready to tackle the colors of the Southwest.

Visiting Dakota was great fun. I could have ordered on line, but we really wanted to experience the store. I got to look at all the colors I could want before I had to buy them. We could see the true colors of the Art Spectrum paper without having to rely on the computer screen. While we were living in Hawaii, we didn't have much choice but to order online. I enjoyed my shopping much more yesterday.