Day 135: Friday, September 30 - Leaf Hoppers

Sorry for the hiatus. My husband and I took a leaf hopping trip to Vermont, Montreal, Quebec and Maine to visit with old friends and just got back.
Our timing was impeccable:
trees just starting to turn,
absolutely glorious weather,
heavy rain and lightning as we left Boston last night.

Couldn't have been better. 

Fall always makes such sense on the East Coast.
Pumpkins in the front yard make sense.
Chrysanthemums make even more sense.
Scarecrows, stalks of corn tied to the mail boxes make sense.

There were apples everywhere,
on the trees,
on the ground,
for sale in front of the houses........

Color on the drive from Quebec to Maine.  Leaves just starting to turn. Gorgeous.

Nice to be back though. Fall classes have started, it's getting dark earlier, time for chili and beef stew and thick soups. Love the fall.

If you need a fabulous chili recipe? Try this Williams-Sonoma version. Yum

Day 134: Thursday, September 15 - Portrait class resumes

Today was my first day back at April Foster's portrait drawing class in Eagle Rock. It's held at the senior center so it's a tight fit for the 20+ people who squeeze in, using card table chairs and tv trays as painting stations. We have wonderful models, regular people, who can amazingly sit still for the session. I haven't been to class in a long time and it was fun to pick up the charcoal and try, once again, for an image.

We had a great model named Robin, a friend of one of the women in class. The model assumes 4 or 5 quick 5-7 minute poses at the beginning of class and then assumes a pose for the rest of the time. They do get breaks every 15 minutes and then resume the pose. My first drawing is usually the best. I'm not thinking about anything. Just putting down what I think is there. Then I start studying the model and things start going a bit crazy here, a bit crazy there..............but I always have a good time.

 5 minute drawing
 maybe 45 minutes?
maybe another 30-40 minutes

Day 133: Wednesday, September 14 - Pasadena Festival of Women Authors

Worked most of the day on the Pasadena Festival of Women Authors which is going to occur, for the fourth time, on March 3, 2012 with a fantastic lineup of female, local authors.  Michelle Huneven "Blame" - Susan Straight "Take One Candle Light A Room" - Heidi Durrow "The Girl Who Fell From The Sky" - and a wonderful mystery guest whose name we're announcing later - just to build suspense.  And again, Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey will be the moderator. The event has been sold out the last two years and we're hoping the community of readers supports us as enthusiastically this coming year!

Finally got the framing accomplished for the baby portrait I want to enter in the Valley Watercolor Society's "small" show.  I thought I was all done, liked the frame I'd finally found, liked the "look" of the finished product and then realized that just because a frame has a huge "11 x 14" printed on it doesn't mean that it's 11 x 14.  Turned out the frame would "hold" an 11 x 14 photo but the frame itself was 13 x 16.  There is no such thing as a ready-made 11x14 frame.  So took myself off to Anthony's Framing in San Marino, a wonderful shop owned by its namesake Anthony with two wonderful sidekicks David and Carlos.  "No problem. Calm down. We'll get it done by Friday. How does this look?"...........all in their calming voices.  So I'm done and will hand deliver it to the judges on next Sunday, with my fingers crossed behind my back that they accept it.

Day 131: Monday, September 12

As I said, I have been painting, just not posting. I'm trying to get a painting finished in time to enter it in the Valley Watercolor Society's show. Painting can be no bigger than 11x14 framed which in itself presents a challenge. I know how I want the picture to look but on my trip to Aaron Brothers, they didn't have any frame like I had in mind. Now I'm stuck.  I want a blonde-ish maple frame, edges for the frame to be about 1/2" thick, no flourishes, just a plain maple frame. No such item at Aaron Brothers.  I'll find it but I need to have everything framed and ready for drop off next Sunday the 18th.  And then a friend, AnnMarie just called and mentioned Michael's (maybe they have plain frames) and a place called Gonzales.  We'll see what they have.

I've been redoing the picture of Dylan, that gorgeous baby.  And I actually like my last attempt the best so I think that's what will be entered.

See what you think:

This first one I absolutely adored, didn't want to finish it for fear I'd wreck it so I've left it pretty much alone. I added a bit more suggestion of hair and some additional cheek color.

Then came number two.  Lots of red splotches on the baby's face.

Then number 3 which I like and which I think I'll use if I can find a frame.

Interesting lesson was learned on this photo source.  My daughter had sent me this picture of her favorite friend's baby, Dylan.  I loved it, knew I wanted to try my hand at it, and never thinking, cropped the photo into the version I've been painting.  I lost the original photo as a result because the only saved version was the cropped one.  I now make 2 or 3 copies of photos in my photo folders just so this won't happen again!

An extra post on a Saturday re Carol Marine and her family

I was thinking about Carol Marine and her husband and son who lost absolutely everything in the fire in Bastrop, Texas, outside Austin. A good friend of Carol's who runs the blog noone'sthebitch and who asked for donations from the art community because these wonderful folk had nothing, updated her blog to reflect the overwhelmingly wonderful response from the art community.......just as all of us who sent money were hoping.

This is the comment on the blog:

[As of mid-day on Friday, Sept. 9th, only five days after the fire, over 300 kind and generous people have donated almost $18,000 to help Carol and David. That's right: almost EIGHTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS!!! You have no idea what this means to them, folks. No idea. They have been moved beyond words and have cried about this more than once -- in a good way. :-)
Carol and David say thank you, thank you, thank you a million times over for this wonderful expression of love and support from fellow artists and fans of our book.
To see all these incoming links from art blogs far and wide, to see the names of so many studios and even other daily painting sites online, honestly, it's blown their minds. It's really something to be proud of. Y'all are part of something really special.... 
You've all helped turn a gut-wrenching experience for Carol and David into something affirming, amazing and beautiful.... They can never thank you enough and they will never forget this!] 

Day 130: Sunday, September 11 memorial

Click the link

Day 129: Friday, September 9 - I promise I haven't been a slacker!

Just because I haven't posted this week doesn't mean I haven't been working, plying my craft, trying to accomplish those 10,000 hours that are called for in the "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell.

I was going to post the paintings I've been working on but then got all involved in the 10,000 hour I'm going to post a long discussion/quote from the book because the idea is so truthful and it was interesting to me how various professors and professionals have set about proving the old adage that "practice makes perfect".

outliers, 10000 hours, Malcolm GladwellMalcolm Gladwell is the author of "The Tipping Point", "Blink", and "Outliers: The Story of Success".  “Outliers” are the high achievers, the best, the brightest, and the most successful people.  Gladwell has some interesting theories on what it takes to become an outlier.

In “Outliers” Gladwell explains that in the early 1990’s psychologist K. Anders Ericsson and two colleagues conducted an experiment at Berlin’s “Academy of Music”.  Basically, the school’s violinists were divided into three groups: the stars, the “good” performers, and those who were unlikely to ever play professionally and would probably become music teachers. They were all asked the same question: “Over the course of the years, ever since you picked up a violin, how many hours have you practiced?
All of the violinists had started playing at around age five, and they all played about two or three hours a week during the first few years. However, around the age of eight, an important difference began to emerge in the amount of hours they each practiced. By age 20, the stars in the group had all totaled 10,000 hours of practice over the course of their lives; the “good” students had totaled 8,000 hours; and the future music teachers just over 4,000 hours.
What the research suggested was that once you have enough talent to get into a top music school, the thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. In addition, other studies have also shown that excellence at a complex task requires a minimum level of practice, and experts have settled on 10,000 hours as the magic number for true expertise. This is true even of people we think of as prodigies, such as Mozart.
Gladwell quotes neurologist Daniel Levitin as follows:
“In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice-skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, this number comes up again and again. Ten thousand hours is equivalent to roughly three hours a day, or 20 hours a week, of practice over 10 years… No one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery.

Bill Gates

Bill Gates is certainly brilliant, Malcolm adds in “Outliers”, but most people don’t know that he spent most of his early years in his school’s computer lab. He had extensive access to a state-of-the-art computer lab, the likes of which very few in his generation would know until years later. By the time he dropped out of Harvard after his sophomore year to try his hand at his own software company, Gates had already been programming nonstop for seven consecutive years. He was way past 10,000 hours.

The Beatles

The Beatles, Gladwell continues, were invited to play in Hamburg, Germany in 1960 when they were still a struggling band. What was unusual about Hamburg is that they had to play all night, eight hours straight, seven days a week, for weeks on end. John Lennon, in an interview after the Beatles disbanded, talking about the band’s performances at Hamburg, said: “We got better and got more confidence. We couldn’t help it with all the experience playing all night long. . . In Liverpool, we’d only ever done one-hour sessions, and we just used to do our best numbers, the same ones, at every one. In Hamburg we had to play for eight hours, so we really had to find a new way of playing.”

Just Do It: Quantity Leads to Quality

“A ceramics professor comes in on the first day of class and divides the students into two sections. He tells one half of the class that their final grade will be based exclusively on the volume of their production; the more they make, the better their grade. The professor tells the other half of the class that they will be graded more traditionally, based solely on the quality of their best piece.
At the end of the semester, the professor discovered that the students who were focused on making as many pots as possible also ended up creating the best pots, much better than the pots made by the students who spent all semester trying to create that one perfect pot.”
The quote demonstrates that by producing as much as you can, the quality of what you produce increases.  With each pot created the students in the “quantity” group learned something new and perfected their skill.  In addition, their creativity was not restrained by the thought of creating “the one perfect pot”.  By being told that they were going to be graded on quantity they had more leeway to experiment and try new things.  .

To Have a Great Idea, Have Lots of Them

Bloggers have written about Thomas Edison’s idea quota: basically, he had a set number of ideas he had to come up with each week. Even though lots of the ideas he came up with were pretty lousy, he also came up with a lot of very successful ideas.

“Idea a Day” is a website founded in London in August 2000 by music executive David Owen and others, in which one idea is published a day. As well as perusing the ideas, you are encouraged to submit your own and share them. If you subscribe to their feed you’ll have one idea delivered to you every day. You can then use that idea as a jumping-off point for your own daily idea. Here are two interesting from the “Idea a Day” site:
“Add a tax to all unhealthy foods so that they cost more than healthy alternatives. A healthy diet would be relatively cheaper than an unhealthy diet. Then use the tax revenues to pay for more and better health education and sporting facilities.” – Day 3013 by Bounce
“Create a carbon offset tax. People would be taxed a certain percentage a month based on their carbon footprint. By doing things to lower their carbon footprint, the percentage would be lowered. For example driving a car that gets more than a 30 mpg, buying locally grown organic produce, or not spraying the lawn would cut back the tax. The revenue raised could in turn be used to develop green technologies, plant trees and protect rain forests.” – Day 2092 by Max

In conclusion, the more you practice your craft–whatever it may be–, the more you create, and the more ideas you come up with, the more likely you are to be successful. As we’ve been told over and over again, it’s a numbers game.

This information came from the following people to give credit where credit is due: Marelisa Fabrega, Bill Buxton and Mike Arauz

Day 128: Tuesday, September 6 - Call for help for Carol Marine

Carol Marine, whose face I painted months ago,

is in trouble! The Texas wildfires that blew through the prairies yesterday took everything, house, clothes, her studio.....she did get out with her computer, all of her small paintings, her new iphone, and most importantly? Her husband and son Jacob.

This was her self- portrait for the challenge in April, the "All About Me" Challenge.  Sense of humor, sense of commitment to other artists.

Here's Carol Marine's day before "take" on the fire:

She and her husband have been so wonderful, stating a weekly painting challenge and then taking the time and energy to post everyone's works.  A lot of time, a lot of hard work.

A news announcement is flying around among her friends and all of those who painted for her challenges.  They are asking for donations to get Karen and her husband and son back up and through paypal.  Everything they owned burned and yes, they have insurance, but in the meantime, we could help a bit.

A good friend of Carol's who was actually at the house when everyone was ordered to evacuate, has organized her blog so that donations through PayPal can be easily accomplished.

This is what Karin Jurick had to say:
A shout-out to the artists community -  Carol and David Marine and their son lost their home in the Bastrop, Texas wildfires on Sunday. Their entire subdivision was wiped out, up to 300 homes. I hear they are all safe, that's great news.

Karin Jurick, also a good friend of Carol's has stated all the "how's" of helping on her blog.  If you feel like making a contribution to Carol and David Marine, I'm sure it would be greatly appreciated.

I'm hoping we'll all donate a little something as a huge thank you for all of Carol and David's work these many months.

Day 127: Friday, Sept. 2

Drawing Magazine, Artists Magazine.....they all run together in my mind but today's email from Artist Daily featured some of the most gorgeous drawings I've seen in a long time.  They were spotlighting Eileen Healy.

Frank by Eileen Healy, pastel drawing.

This is titled "Frank". Have you ever seen anything more gorgeous?

Erin by Eileen Healy, pastel drawing.

And then there's "Erin" in pastels, above.  Can you believe those highlights on the matching thought out ahead of time, such fabulous "lighting"...... 

In an interview Eileen said:
I never plan a pose before a session. Though this can add a sense of spontaneity, it can be a hindrance when working against the clock when you have to pay a model. As a result I make decisions quickly. A strong sense of composition seems to come naturally to me. I think this has helped drawings I've done in my sketchbooks. These are not plans for paintings as much as small-scale graphite works in their own right. When I get 'blocked' I look at these and they help me through and possibly influence a bigger work. Space plays a very important part in my compositions. I dislike cluttered or busy work and my portraits are very direct with very little or no background. I maximize the format often with the figure, focusing on interesting angles and foreshortening.

My work with color in pastel is something I've developed after struggling with the medium. When I first started, I only used two colors on tinted paper, gradually introducing more colors and trying out different colored paper. I mostly work on colored paper, as it's very effective when accentuating highlights. I have also done pastel on white, which I enjoy, but it is more difficult. Light influences color, which determines my color range. Also a model's own skin color, especially in the shadows, affects the work. Using a spotlight will create very rich colors in the shadowed areas, often with deep blues and purples. I use small square Conté crayons, not thick rounded ones as I find these hard to control and messy.

I try to never lean too hard on my pencil or chalk unless I know what I’m doing. I'm a line person so I rely heavily on this, varying the quality/thickness of line as I work. This is dictated by the light source and its influence on edges. I don't have a set process. Sometimes I work from the darkest parts to the lightest, leaving the highlights 'til last. There's always a good buzz from that. I encourage my students to do the same and to make compositional decisions before putting pencil to paper. Work lightly at first. Measure up. Use construction lines.

Here are two more of her lush drawings. Enjoy.

Day 126: Thursday, Sept. 1 - My Birthday day

Time out from painting. Time for fun. Time for friends. Time for lunch with my birthday "twin" - Taka.  We were obviously separated at birth is why we don't look very much alike. We met when our girls were just two years old and they were becoming fast friends but we've only just recently, maybe 15 years or so? celebrated our birthdays together. 

And then serendipitously, I found our missing triplet sister (actually a blogger whose blog I follow - seriously not a sister, but born on Sept. 1).  Funny lady, Liz, writes a blog called "Flourish in Progress".  I've been reading her blog for a couple of months now, just enjoying the raucousness of it.  She had a really interesting experience with her blog.  She was googling certain words and photos that she uses in her blog, whiling away the time, and suddenly found another blogger who had totally stolen her blog, pictures and all.  Whatever Liz posted, this male was copying, posting, receiving comments.....and he never once mentioned Liz or her funny, funny blog.  Turned out this guy had been stealing from other people's blogs for quite some time.  Her column on this is a special one, funny, angry, informative.  I wished her a happy birthday as well.

Day 125: Wednesday, August 31 - Painting at last

Finally locked myself in a room on Sunday and painted away the day.  Had fun making small paintings.  The Valley Watercolor Society is mounting a show of small works, not to exceed 11 x 15 framed......which means you need to paint smaller than usual, which I tried to do.

Worked on a painting of my son............not too bad, not too good.
Painting:  It's not until you actually see it mounted together on the computer that you realize how "off" the painting actually is.  When you're just looking at it on the painting board, it seems kinda ok.

 And then I worked on a painting of my grand-nephew James....he's planning some kind of mischief here......
And then a very bad painting which I thought was wonderful until I saw it here.....Then you see the mistakes in the drawing.

And obviously this cute face needs a bit more hair
now that I see it in its finality.