Monday, August 3, 2009


I received a nice e-mail from Peggy Stermer-Cox and thought I would share it. She posed the following question:
"I've been thinking about asking you a question. How do you maintain your drawing skills? Would that be an entry you'd care to post? It seems to me your drawing skills are strong and an essential part of your successful work. Again, thanks! Peggy"
The answer is "practice, practice, practice". I'm sure we all have noticed how we get rusty when we don't use any skill we have acquired. I do love to draw, so it is easy to keep it up because it is pleasurable. It is the things we need to do but don't enjoy doing that are hard to maintain.

Yesterday I took an ART HOLIDAY with my good friend Andrea and we took the subway into San Francisco, had lunch and then went to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Okay, so we detoured a little into a few shops along the way. It was Free Tuesday at the Museum! I didn't even know they had "free Tuesday" but a welcome surprise. The Georgia O'Keefe/Ansel Adams special exhibit was extra but that was why we came. We couldn't get into that part of the museum until 3 PM so we spent some time in the gift shop....a most dangerous place for me....and then we went up to the top to see the new sculpture garden. The top floor had some very unusual pieces. One was what appeared to be two photographs cut into strips and then plaited together like an Ikat weaving. I loved the idea, did a fast sketch with notes and took some photos. I am definitely going to do a piece in this manner put with watercolor paintings or drawings, not photographs.

The Georgia O'Keefe exhibit turned out to be so much more interesting to me since I have been reading and studying about color. I was able to analyze how she used color and break it down into the Faber Birren concepts. Her use of intensity, gradation, shape, et al was so exciting to discover with new eyes on my part. Now I have to get a book out of the library and really study at length. No photographs were allowed in this exhibit. In fact, no pens! I was sketching and the guard handed me a pencil. It's printed for all the world to read on the back of the ticket that no pens are allowed. Don't know how I missed that.

I am in the final stages of my color work. For fun and surprises I put all the variables on slips of paper and randomly pull them out and create a painting with those elements. I created 4 different value plans for this particular drawing. Then I pulled a slip with one of the Faber Birren variations. I added a slip from color variations. I did this 4 times and then matched each set to one of the value patterns. The one above was GREY/TONE/SHADE using Deep Rose Red, Gamboge and Viridian. The color choice was by writing all my paint tubes on separate slips of paper and pulling out 3 of them. I lucked out as this set wasn't too weird. I painted this on a new paper that I coated with gesso and textured slightly. One of the texturing elements created pin prick dots that look like measles on this guy. I think I will do this one over on regular watercolor paper.

The next painting is going to be a huge challenge to pull off because I have to work with the Split Compliment Red/Yellow Green and Blue Green. Sometimes you get very ugly paintings but sometimes you get some amazing results that would not have happened any other way. What you always get is a fun challenge.


Deborah Ross said...

`I have been fascinated by your last several posts, and I will look for Faber Birren's book. I want to try most of the things you have done, but I feel like the door to my brain shuts before all the info can get in. I'll have to read the book and glean some new ideas from it. Thanks so much for giving us this mini course on color and I hope it's not over.

Kathy said...

I like your hue lottery technique! Really neat. We must be living in a parallel universe because I was looking at an O'Keefe exhibition on the East Coast around the same time you were on the West. I, too, am deeply impressed by her work.

Mike said...

Your penchant for setting challenges for yourself beyond the subject really hones your painting skills, Mryna. I am amazed at your ability to create these little games to keep yourself challenged.

Mr. Birren's books are all set around the same group of ideas about color harmonies. Most artists would do well to become familiar with those ideas as they absolutely deliver great results. However, the **trick** to working his ideas is an understanding of the design principle of DOMINANCE. That sets up all of his harmonies.

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