I decided to do a self portrait today to mark the beginning of my 67th year. I work on a MacBook and there is a built in program called "Phone Booth" which is the camera and then some variations. It works better than a mirror because when you are looking at the image you are not looking directly into your own eyes because the camera is in the top of the lid. You get a different perspective. It is a cruel, cruel camera. You wouldn't believe the lines it added to my face!
I found a wonderful blog by a terrific artist who does a lot of print making. Her name is Belinda Del Pesco and you can find her by clicking on the title of this blog. It will take you right there. Belinda posted a mono print she made using Caran D'ache watercolor crayons. I was intrigued. She put it through a press which I don't have. She was kind enough to e-mail me encouragement and a few helpful hints, so I thought today would be a good time to try it out. I found a piece of glass to draw on. I always tape the edges of glass for protection. I started with the crayons but some were resistant to marking on the glass. Curious that some were easier to use than others. I decided to try some of the Stabilo pencils I bought and found them much more user friendly for this project. Unfortunately, I don't have the wide range of colors with the Stabilo, I wet the paper, blotted it and layed it down on top of the painted glass. Belinda suggested I put a sheet of wax paper on top of the paper. Then I used a French Rolling Pin (baking item) and put as much pressure as I could. Anyway, you see the results above.
Not great but it has possibilities. I need to practice this technique and try some variations. I have the new Daniel Smith stick watercolors. I think that might be a very interesting product to try with this process. Belinda also paints on top of her prints and adds other mixed media. Can't wait til tomorrow to experiment further.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
I was flipping through the newspaper and came across this ad for the new Star Trek movie. I am always tearing things out of magazines and newspapers for my clip file. I decided this time to paste it into a sketchbook and work a little on the ideas this image triggered. Otherwise it winds up mislaid and probably never used. I thought if I acted on it right away, I might actually use it! Two things interested me about this image. One was the lighting on the faces...dramatic, theatrical. I can use lighting ideas on any face I have by analyzing which planes of the face the light is striking. It is one of the lessons I teach in the advanced portrait class. The other, more interesting idea was how the space was broken into shapes and then the interesting cropping of each of the heads (which had been elongated). I did two drawings and need to spend more time trying different arrangements, but I like the effect of the strong lighting and crowded heads.
Posted by Myrna Wacknov at 10:58 PM
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Monday night I had the privilege to demonstrate my watercolor technique to the Milbrae Art Club. I was requested to paint a flower since they had no members who do portraits. I searched my photo archives and found this beautiful agave plant. I love the shapes and shadows it forms but the color was uninspiring for me. Green and more green! What can you expect from a plant. I put the photo through it's paces in Photoshop Elements and managed to get some color that was exciting to me. I have posted the before and after of the photo.
I was delighted to find many friends in the meeting and everyone sat around the table I was using while I painted. I love intimate settings like that. It was a fun evening for me. I hope it was an informative evening for those that came. I had hoped to finish up the painting yesterday but time got away from me. I worked on it this afternoon. After deepening the values, I needed a way to pull everything together and make the various colored shapes make sense. Having discovered a Maxine Masterfield Book in a used bookstore the other day, I decided to use her White Line to good effect. I couldn't find my white acrylic ink so I used white gesso in the drawing bottle. That worked fine! I made sure I flushed the needle in the cap with clear water so the gesso would clog it.
Speaking of the bottle with the needle in the cap, the Masterfield book gave the supplier of this item (Maxine had discovered this tool back in the 80"s!) The company still exists and probably supplies Cheap Joe and Tap Plastic. Google Gaunt Industries in Chicago. It is the Hypo 200, 25 gage needle. The best part is you can order extra caps!!! I have permanently clogged some of mine, so now I can replace them.
On another note, a gentleman filmed my last demo at the Los Altos Art Club using Tyvek and Hydrus Liquid Watercolors. It was the other floral painting, not a portrait. He did a wonderful job filming and editing. Anyway, I have asked his permission to duplicate and share the dvd with others. I haven't heard back from him yet, but I am hoping to have that available for interested artists.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Today was an artists' reception where I have some paintings on exhibit and I was asked to do a demonstration. The weather turned shockingly hot for us Northern Californians (around 100) with no air conditioning. I was glad I had something to distract me from the sweat that was beading up everywhere. There was a small but attentive and interested group so I had fun. I decided to get a start on my self portrait for David Lobenberg's challenge. I used the photo on my blog heading as I have never actually painted that version before. I am also working on a collage version, so I don't know if I will submit this one to David, but at least I have one completed.
Tomorrow I am going to be doing a demonstration for the Millbrae Art Association at the Millbrae Recreation Center. Meeting starts at 7 PM. They requested a floral, so I need to pull something from the photo archives. If you are going to be in the area, stop in and join us.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
I usually don't post personal and family photos on my blog but I wanted to make an exception tonight. It's Celebration Time!!! We attended our middle son's Senior Graphic Design Exhibition. That's Kevin standing in front of one of his creations (upper left). He is now ready to become an entrepreneur and hang out his shingle as a web designer along with other graphic design projects. Graduating from Stanford with a degree in computer science, he was well established in his field. After being diagnosed with a devastating chronic illness 7 years ago, he was no longer able to continue in the career he had established. Through hard work, focus, discipline, determination, a wonderful doctor, modern medicine and my good cooking, he has created a new path and life direction. It is wonderful having an in house graphic designer but now it is time to share his talent with the rest of the world. You can view his website by clicking on the blog title. Anybody need a website built?
Posted by Myrna Wacknov at 8:58 PM
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Here is a second collage painting. I actually worked on the previous posted painting and this one at the same time. Gluing papers down really sogs up the paper. While the first was drying, I started this painting. My approach was very different. I photographed the stages and have posted them here. This painting started on fresh untouched 140lb watercolor paper. With the paper upright on an easel, I sloshed on colors very loosely blocking in the composition. Then I started tearing and gluing (with diluted Elmer's white glue) different Japanese papers I had previously stained with watercolor paint. I added some painted tissue paper I made awhile ago. Then I let the whole thing dry. Yesterday I finished it with watercolor and some Stabilo Water soluable crayons. This is the brand Shirley Travena uses and I finally located them at Accent Arts in Palo Alto. I don't know that they are any different or better than Caran D'ache. I still operate under the delusion that if I have the same products I can get the same results as the artist I admire. I love Shirley's line work with the Stabilo Crayon. My rational brain knows that it is the hand of the artist, not the marker that makes the difference, but it couldn't hurt to have the same brand. Right? I did wind up using a bit of white acrylic on the beard. This collage process makes it possible to go back and forth and make changes and corrections. I am very pleased with this painting. I have the next one planned....a self portrait. Check out David Lodenberg's blog (a link is on the side of my blog). He has issued a challenge to other artists to do a self portrait and send it to him, Posting will be the end of June.
I had a request for the titles of my Gerald Brommer books on collage, so here they are.
TRANSPARENT WATERCOLOR: ideas and techniques Davis Publcations 1973 (found in a used book store...lucky me!!!)
WATERCOLOR & COLLAGE WORKSHOP Watson-Guptill 1986 reprinted 1997
COLLAGE TECHNIQUES a guide for artists and illustrators Watson-Guptill 1994
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
If you have been thinking about entering a national watercolor competition but haven't taken that leap, now is the time! The San Diego Watercolor Society is taking submissions for their upcoming national show and the deadline is May 16th. You can do it all on line. This is a top society with a wonderful reputation. John Salminen is the judge this year. I have it on good authority that there has been a low entry rate this year. Maybe because it is all being done on the internet and old timers aren't used to that yet. All of you are techno savvy, so no problems there. What this means is that your odds of being accepted are higher when there are fewer entries. Don't miss out! Click on the blog title and it will take you to the SDWS show entry page. This is the painting I submitted.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
I'm all excited about collaging again. I found an old book (1960's) by Gerald Brommer in a used book store. It had mostly black and white photos but lots of exciting techniques and ideas for watercolor. The book was written by a High School art teacher, for art teachers. The best bit of information in the book was a long, clear description by Alexander Nepote, on his torn paper collage technique. I thought this information had gone to his grave with him. If you have ever seen a Nepote painting in person, it is a wonder to behold. I started pulling out the two other books I have on collage by Brommer and reread them. I was getting all fired up to make a collage of my own.
I decided to collage over an old painting that was never going to find a happy home. It was on 300 lb watercolor paper which is ideal for collage. There is something cathartic about tearing and glueing and getting rid of ugly. I love the mysterious color left peaking through. I ruined the first drawing of the four heads trying to bring it to life. I wanted to draw them again but needed an interesting background. This newly collaged piece was what I planned as the background. The idea for the patterned circle shapes where the heads would be came to me while I was in a dream state. I kept layering and playing with the abstract until I was fairly satisfied. Then I drew the 4 heads with my wooden drawing tool fitted with a dark blue permanent pen. I tried to go slowly and deliberately but it still comes out funky. Originally, this was supposed to be the finished piece, but I decided it needed some color. The whole things was glued down with diluted Elmer's white glue. This makes it possible to paint with watercolors on top. My husband thinks it still looks unfinished. I smile. We stay married because he doesn't take my legal advice and I don't take his art critiques seriously.
Friday, May 8, 2009
The SF Bay area is very spread out and the last few days found me driving all over the place. Today I sat again at the Gallery Concord. That is a 100 mile round trip drive for me. I really don't mind the distance as I listen to books on tape while I drive. Sitting for 5 hours at the Gallery can get pretty boring unless I take some work with me. It is a wonderful space and a terrific old building. Unfortunately, there is no incidental foot traffic in this neighborhood, so we don't get a lot of visitors.
Today I decided to take my computer and draw from the 1500 photos I took in Spain. I started a new sketchbook and I am going to devote the entire book to images from Spain. I don't know why I didn't think of this idea before. Most of the photos never get used. This is a way to get lots of drawing mileage and see which images can work their way into a painting or two. Here is today's efforts. They were all done with a mechanical pencil, probably 2B lead on white paper. I have no idea where the colors are coming from in the photos.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Tonight was an interesting "gig"! I did a demonstration for 1 1/2 hours at a restaurant that has some of my paintings on display. Along with some other fine artists, the work really dresses up the place. They have an enclosed patio area, so that is where I was set up. E-mails went out to a large data base about this event. It was an interesting idea to promote the art for sale in the restaurant, but a real shot in the dark as to how interested the clientele would be in the event. As I suspected, not a lot of interest. However, 3 or 4 people came with their children because the kids were interested in watching me paint and the parents were interested in fostering the art development of their kids. They were able to gather around the table and encouraged to ask questions. My best fan was a darling little girl named Leah who sat by my side most of the time and we chatted away about art as I painted. It was very enjoyable and I got a good start on a new painting.
I divided a half sheet into quadrants and managed to finish two of the sections. I had applied full strength clear gesso on the paper with a sponge roller. I was wanting to see if it would give me a specific texture. The answer is no! I started using the Hydrus liquid watercolor but was getting so much blooming and spreading that I added traditional tube paints with it and had much better control. I am hoping to have the other two sections done in the next day or two.
I am willing to try different events at least once. Something good always comes of it, often not what you expected at all. In the meantime I had fun, met some adorable future professional artists in the making, finished half a painting and had a delicious dinner at a really nice restaurant. Over all, an excellent evening.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
I have almost finished the YUPO painting yesterday while sitting at the Gallery Concord. I don't want to post it until it is finished. In the meantime, I did some sketches putting 4 different views into one composition. I grabbed a sheet of Tyvek and drew with the bleeding Pilot Precise V5 blue pen using my "magic drawing stick". The paper was on the floor and I sat in my office chair and drew away! Kind of funky but fun. Now I have to figure out where to go from here.
Posted by Myrna Wacknov at 10:20 PM
Friday, May 1, 2009
Sometimes, I think I have lost my ability to produce good work. I guess it is like writer's block. When everything I do is unsatisfactory to me, I start to get depressed, worried, anxious. I was feeling scattered and unfocused. I was struggling with simplifying this image more and couldn't come up with a value plan. I just decided that I needed to get some paint on the paper. The beauty of YUPO is that you can keep changing things so I figured if I just started, I could make decisions and changes along the way. I had drawn the image on the paper with a watercolor crayon stuck in my new drawing stick. I wanted to make the background on the left dark, at least on the top, but the YUPO had other ideas and I kept lifting it off. After I finish the hands, I will adjust the background and see if I can't get the value darker. In the meantime, working on YUPO is always a learning experience. Now that it is coming together, I am having fun trying different techniques to get the paper and paint to bend to my will. Wish I could take Sandy Maudlin's YUPO class. Now there is a master of the medium!
Tomorrow I sit at Gallery Concord. I should be able to finish the painting. If you find yourself in the area, stop by and say hello.