Friday, April 27, 2012

What gets into painting competitions?

I've heard a lot of ideas about this just recently, partly because a good portion of Judy Morris's workshop included seeing ALL of the most recent NWS and AWS paintings, projected and discussed.

Here's what has come up recently, from various artists who have jurying experience, including Carrie Burns Brown, Judy Morris, and Linda Baker. These notes comprise observations, personal preferences, and general guidelines:

  • Don't use Pink.
  • Don't bother entering Flower paintings. 
 Okay, already I see a problem here: those hibiscus, the tulips, the magnolia blossoms:  I like to paint flowers, and so many of the ones whose structures and shadows intrigue me are pink!  It's never been my favorite color, either, but I have, in the past, been pretty wedded to local color.
Going on . . .

  • Paintings with color chords dominated by blues and oranges are massively over represented in shows.
  • Jurors have 3 seconds to choose most paintings: they must be able to read it and get it's reason for existing fast. So subtleties are not useful.
What will I do about all this?  Well, for one thing, I'll stay open to subjects other than flowers,  I did paint people at one time, and cats. Maybe I'm in a rut.  For another thing, I am determined to research and plan better color designs into my paintings.  My 'exercise' painting for Judy's class pretty well left the local color behind, while using only a triad of cerulean, alizarin, and quin.burnt orange.       If I left out the alizarin . . hmmm. Leaves Blue and Orange. I guess that's the next challenge.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Days Three and Four at Kanuga - it's All Over (for a year)

Re-entry is not for the fainthearted.  Yes, I'm "retired", but I can't remember the last time I was  out of town for 10 days, and generally I don't come back STUFFED with ideas and artistic energy. So, because of that, a synopsis of my last few days will have to wait.   Right now all my extra time is being devoted to (other than the 5 loads of laundry, unpacking, paying bills, etc etc,), using what I've learned as quickly as possible, so it sticks.

Here's a painting  I started before coming. It got a pretty good reaction during the 'big critique' on Wednesday afternoon, but the artist, Linda Baker, suggested at the least adding a lot more of the dark blue into the area in the bottom.  This I did, when I got home, then got really brave and used the technique Judy Morris taught us to add the patterning to the "moon".   I'm liking it pretty well - I don't THINK I've ruined it yet.  

Yes, a follow up will be posted.  If you are waiting for it, be sure to post  a comment, so I know!!!  I could use some motivation . . .


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Day Two at Kanuga - a Practical Design Lesson

What a great lesson today, great fun for the likes of me!  We started with a choice of one of two vacation “snapshots”, provided by Judy. Our assignment was to find what we liked about the source, and what we wanted it to say, then to modify the source to make a well designed painting.  We used black and white copies, scissors, tape, tracing paper, plain paper, gray markers in various values, white correction pens and chalk.  We rearranged conflicting shapes, removed or modified confusing elements, changed values from light to dark or vice versa.  And of course, ended up with a different solution for each of us.

This is the original photograph.


This was my take.
 I completely omitted the church tower in the center, changed the building on the left to be a very light value, and the sky to a middle value. I removed the confusing awnings from the building.   I also messed with the lantern to make it even more important in the composition.   The instructor thought it was a very strong solution.  Won’t be painting it: next we are starting over with our own source photos. 

This technique makes me feel like I’ll be going back to my drawers full of mediocre vacation photos to see which of them might make a smashing painting! It takes a bit of time, but feels like a reasonable way to use source photos, yet  free oneself from literal interpretation.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Day One at Kanuga

So, what did I learn today at Kanuga?
Well, first, it's ONLY day one. These pictures are of washes and salt experiments, from which I won't see the results anyway until tomorrow, when the salt has truly dried.
If it works out, I'll post the end results tomorrow afternoon.
In the meantime, yes, even after all these years, I think I can as of today do a better plain or graded wash, even on large areas, than I could have yesterday.  Going from one color to another, even more challenging, but I got better.
Mostly, though, Judy Morris is and will continue to teach us about design, and her technique for finding interesting stories and images within her photographs.  She has already showed how she combines images from multiple source photos in her paintings, and we are starting into using our black and white photos,  along with markers, scissors, tape,  in order to get rid of the problems in the design BEFORE you paint. Wouldn't it be nice not to have to crop them out?  As I noted in my sketch book, from her lecture - if it bothers you in the photo, it WILL bother you in the painting, so may as well fix it first INTEAD of thinking you can figure it out later. I already know that doesn't work! 
Well, off to the evening presentation (Ken Goldman), then homework, then some well deserved and needed sleep!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Kanuga: the excitement builds

Pat McGraw and I are thrilled to be heading to the Kanuga Watermedia Workshops (near Hendersonville, North Carolina) for a second year in a row.  What a great time we had last year! This year we are again in two different classes, suiting our respective styles and preferences.  My instructor is Judy Morris (click here to check out her website), and Pat is signed up with Carrie Burns Brown (and click HERE to see a Youtube video about her workshops).

Each of our homes, this week, is chaos as we plan and pack for a Week at Art Camp!  Art supplies, clothes for any and all kinds of weather, maps, cameras, our netbooks (can't go COMPLETELY off line). 

Tomorrow, Thursday,  I will borrow my sister's van so we will have LOTS of space this year, and we will leave on Friday, giving us two days to get there (the easy lazy way).  I expect I'll be posting more about the event as the weekend and the week goes by: maybe I'll even be able to post pictures. Fingers crossed!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Hit or miss, but more misses

Not my best spring for results.

First, I received my  notification from the Michigan Water Color Society (MWCS), regarding my entry for the 65th annual exhibit. It indicated that juror George James "NS"'d  (that's Not Selected)  BOTH of  the paintings that I submitted.  I'm disappointed, of course.  But truly not that surprised.  I had attended the projection of the nearly 300 entries last month.  Knowing that the juror would need to select perhaps 80 paintings from these, I did my own mental selection process.  It was pretty easy to see that there were many many (many!) more than 80 fine paintings present, good enough to deserve being included.  So it depended on what the juror was looking for.  I guess, not my style! But perhaps we will all learn more about his selection process at the lecture.    More information about the exhibit, the reception, the lecture, and the juror can be found here.

Second, an even LESS surprising failure.  I took a big breath and entered, wait for it, the competition for Northlight Book's Splash 14 book.  The painting I entered, Escape, is one of my favorites, and has been exhibited several places.   I knew it was an EXTREMELY long shot, but somehow felt like trying anyway.   The list of accepted artists was posted recently, and, no, no "Harra" in the "H"'s