Thursday, May 28, 2009

Painting for Different Strokes

Wheat Farm
8 x 18 soft pastels on Kitty Wallis Professional White
by Miki Willa
based on gray scale photo provided by Karin Jurick
I really enjoy watching all the wonderful interpretations of Karin's biweekly photos on Different Strokes From Different Folks blog. Every once in a while, I decided to try my hand. For this one, Karin provided us with a gray scale photo of a Pennsylvania farm and asked us to use our own favorite palattes. This was great for me. I loved the photo, and I knew it would lend itself to my favorite complimentary palatte. This was quite fun to paint. I really like the lost edges in the distance and the cripsness in the nearer buildings. I also had a lot of fun with the size.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Abandoned packing shed

The Packing Shed
12 x 18 soft pastels on Kitty Wallis Professional white
by Miki Willa
This painting has been kicking my butt. I think it is finally finished. The place is a lavender farm northeast of Bellingham, Washington. We were there on a very warm day, enjoying the lavender, the bees, and the beautiful surroundings. At one point, I spotted this old packing shed. Apparently, there used to be fruit grown on the property. The shed was still in relatively good condition as far as looks go, but I don't think I would want to spend much time under it. I love these old structures from a distance.
I started the painting with a gradient orange to yellow underpainting. It really kept the painting warm, which I think made for some of my problems. I finally decided to stay with the orange in the sky and work from there. I used the grayed out greens from my Terry Ludwig pastels for the trees in the background. I then used the warmer greens as I came forward. After fighting with it for days, I decided to kick back and have fun with it. Now, I like it.
I have decided to stay with more realism with my pastels and non-representational with the acrylics and collage. That decision has really eased my mind. I do really enjoy the style I have developed with the pastels, but want to expand my horizons. I think this will work out very well for me. I believe change can be very good, but I am of an age where hanging onto some of the old is very comforting.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Acrylic abstract painting

Blue Silo
12 x 16 acrylic on 300# watercolor paper
by Miki Willa
I finally decided to stop listening to that inner voice that tells me I cannot do something. I chose colors I like together, images that make me happy, and set to work on my first real abstract painting. The result is pleasing to me. It has the farm fields and grassland, the approaching storm, and the blue silo. You may see something completely different, and that is great. The best part for me is that I did it.
Creating non-representation art is very difficult for me. The box I think inside is pretty narrow. I have been able to stretch it somewhat in my representational art, but not to this extent. I expected to get more set in my ways as I got older, but it seems I am doing some rebelling at the present time. This painting represents more to me than just trying something different. It is me stepping outside my box and taking a chance. I am betting that my work in the Artist's Way is having some effect on my creativity. This is a great thing and I am really enjoying this divergent path along the journey.
One of the things that has happened to help make this happen is creating a new studio space just for collage and acrylics. We have a small rust-orange colored room I claimed as my own. I set my sewing machine in there along with a bunch of stuff we were storing. Last week, we cleared it out, bought a new table, and I moved things around to make it a wonderful studio space. Now I can work on my pastels in the studio I share with my husband, and not get glue or acrylics on my pastel paintings, or his. He set up his oil studio in the garage. It is so good to live with another artist.
Speaking of pastels, I have nearly finished the one on the easel. It will probably be posted here in the next couple of days. In the meantime, take a look at my newest collage at Miki's Collages.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Landscape in acrylic

Earth and Sky
6 x 5 acrylic on 300# watercolor paper
by Miki Willa
I had some left over acrylics on my palette after working on some visual journal pages, so I decided to paint a small painting. I tried a painting in acrylics years ago and really hated the result. I was determined never to try it again. Since I started my visual journals, I have found I like acrylics for that purpose. I still put too much paint on the palette and hate to throw it away at the end of the day, so I came up with this idea. It was fun to mash all the paint around with small strokes, creating a sense of some texture. I may get some small canvases to create more abstract pieces with left-over paint as I go. I may learn to enjoy acrylics after all.
In the afternoon, I worked on the pastel painting on the easel. I am happy with the direction it is taking. I do enjoy working with the pastels quite a bit. I would like to do more paintings that are less representational, but I am having trouble making the shift. I will get there, but it will take more time and study. My left brain is screaming for me to get back in line and stop all this nonsense. My right brain is working up to taking the leap. It is an interesting place to be on this journey, and a very funny one for me. A year ago, I would have bet money I would never be in this place in my head. One should never say never.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Gathering

The Gathering
12 x 18 soft pastels on Kitty Wallis Professional White
by Miki Willa
I finished the painting today and I am happy with it. I like that there are very few sharp lines. I love the play of the light from the oven surfaces and the corrugated wall. I am happy that there are hints at structures and oddities, but they are not so well defined. I am glad I waited until I was ready to finish this piece. I think it is one of the loosest things I have done so far.
I think I am done with this series for a few weeks. I am feeling pulled to landscapes again because of the incredible spring days. Even the rainy ones make me happy. Our back yard is constantly changing, and I am loving the new surprises every day. I didn't move here until early June last year, so this is all new to me. I am sorry to say we lost the lavenders over the winter, but we are going to replace them as time and money allow. The blueberry bushes are going great guns. I think we will get a great harvest this summer, if we keep them all watered on the dry days. We also have a new gala apple tree that Tom got me for Mother's Day. It had several blossoms, so I am hopeful for fruit. My lilac tree is in full bloom. I was thrilled to be able to cut a bunch. I will have to get out the ladder and cut some more. They smell so good.
Have a wonderful spring weekend. Take a look at the new paintings Casey Klahn is posting at the Colorist. They are really wonderful.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

WIP The Gathering

The Gathering WIP
12 x 18 soft pastels on Wallis Professional White
by Miki Willa
I am having a hard time finishing this painting because I really like what it looks like right now. I like the roughness of the sketch and the contrast of the blues and yellows and oranges. It looks somewhat cartoonish, but gives an idea of what it is all about. I will finish it so it works with the rest of the paintings in the series, but I think I will go back and do some more in this style.
This is a glass furnace at Avalon Glassworks in West Seattle. Son Hugh has just picked up more glass on a bubble that will become a folded plate, or taco. This furnace is very high tech and different than the other ones we have seen. It is opened by pressing down on a pneumatic foot pedal. Very cool.
I have taken the plunge and started a new blog dedicated to my exploration of collage art and visual journaling. You can take a look here.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Glass Blowing Series - Glass Furnace I

Glass Furnace I
12 x 9 soft pastels on Art Spectrum Colourfix
by Miki Willa
In working to convey my impressions of glass blowing studios and glass art, I find myself more and more drawn to non-realistic representations. In this painting, I deliberately left the top portion dark and vague. It could be anywhere, maybe even a cave. I did add some detail to the furnace itself, especially at the bottom, which is further forward. One of the things about being in a glass studio is the intensity of the heat, light, and creativity makes it difficult to really focus on the details too much. At least it is for me because I get caught up in the heat, light, and creativity.
So many people have no idea what goes into creating a piece of glass art. We see so many "hand blown" vases, plates, cups, and glasses at places like Crate and Barrel for such low prices, we are astonished at the prices in glass studios. We forget that most of these pieces are made in factories where repetition is the bread and butter. The glass artists I watch work hard. They often sketch out their designs before they gather any glass. They need to understand the properties and chemistry of glass, especially colored glass. They have to have respect for their chosen medium. Then there is the heat and physical endurance, especially in the upper arms and lower back. Next time you look at a piece of glass art that is made in your local area, be sure and look closely. You will be amazed.
In this series, I am paying tribute to these glass artists.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

My first collage

Landscape 1 , 12 x 6 torn paper on 300lb watercolor paper

I finally overcame my fear of trying something new and created this collage. I used paper from magazines, scrapbooking background paper, paper bags that I painted, and some washi paper I had stashed. I also found one of those skeleton leaves in the garden and added that for texture and interest. I decided to do a relatively simple landscape. I wanted to keep it rather simple for a first collage.

I knew the colors I wanted to use and looked for them in my paper stash. I was missing a few, so I took a grocery bag and painted pieces with acrylics. When I paint landscapes, they are pretty realistic in style. I tend to use fairly standard sizes, so I wanted to get away from that with this piece. I think I accomplished my goal here.

I do have a number of technical questions I will have to find answers to. I am sure there must be better mediums out there for attaching everything without all the wrinkles. How do I apply the medium to the pieces of paper without them curling up on themselves, or should I strictly apply the medium to the support. I read about using a tacking iron, and that sounds cool, but the curling up thing would still be an issue. I will sort all of this out soon.

In the meantime, I have a pastel painting on my easel. It is another one in the glass blowing series. I should have it finished in a day or two. I will post it when it is ready.