I started this piece as a low-stakes challenge to myself to find the right Bryce color palette. I'd struck out twice before this, on larger surfaces with more grandiose plans. This time I told myself "just play with the watercolor palette and be patient with it." So, I took the three-layer approach as I did with my Yellowstone pieces, and had some fun.
Do you see the small vertical white lines all over the first photo? Those are hoodoos. They are these hoodoos, making up a crazy amphitheater. I used this composition of hoodoos to set the tone, in an oil pastel resist.
This is the middle ground of the painting. Here is where I got to know my earth tones, and exactly how much primary color I could put in them before sending the whole thing out of whack. I love these guys in the foreground. I like to imagine what they are standing around talking about.
Finally, I added this texture from the sandstone in Snow Canyon in the greyest blue mulberry paper I could find in my stash. Did you know that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was filmed here? It's an impressive place that I'm looking forward to exploring more with future pieces.
There is something about the way foothills and mountains look when they are backlit by a good sunset. I've tried painting them multiple times and just haven't been able to pull off my vision. Now that I'm exploring mixed media, I tried something different that came out exactly the way I'd hoped after an inspiring weekend in Joshua Tree.
I took this source photo of sunset in Joshua Tree, put it in 8 x 10, freehand watercolored an 8 x 10 piece of paper using what I assessed were the appropriate daylight colors for the landscape, shaded that in with charcoal, and Krylon'd the whole thing. Then came the tedious part. I traced each section of the design, relying heavily on my source photo, and chose translucent mulberry decor papers to perform the appropriate role in the appropriate space. (Fun Fact: You can get multi-packs of clippings of these fancy papers for about $3 at Blick stores.) I didn't try to match each color exactly, but I tried to ensure that the colors I chose performed the essence of what I experienced while immersed in all that blue dusk. I'm ordering prints, and they'll be for sale soon!
I'd never really spent any time in the desert until March. I do really like having trees above my head. But there is something about the starkness of the desert - what life exists really thrives! It's beautiful and stunning and unique, and each living thing is show-cased. In Joshua Tree the plant life is particularly crazy. There is an entire garden of these cholla cacti, but this one in particular, all on its own outside of the cholla garden, was the first one to impress me. And it was a lot of fun to paint!
As you can see, I took some liberty with the color as usual. If you look closely, though, you will see the purples and yellows even in the original photo. Playing with, and pushing, those lights and darks using color theory is how I'm working with oils these days. I just ordered fabric for a scarf, and can't wait to see how it turns out!
I've been diligently putting in 10 hours of creative practice per week, and nothing checks off more of those boxes of hours than carving linoleum blocks to create these designs. I made them to use with Shibori textiles, but then they were sitting around and I thought I should probably actually make art out of them. Each design is from a mosaic motif on an inner upper arch in the legendary Haghia Sophia in Istanbul. I love bringing them back to life! I am not sure where I will ultimately take this concept... but here is the start of my experimenting.
My mom had said she would love a print of these designs on a specific color peach, so I watercolored one of the colors of peach we saw in southern Utah in February. I also experimented with layering, so here is an oil pastel resist design of a motif carved into some wall in Venice. You'll notice a theme emerging.
When I was in Venice, I took a bunch of photos of every little ornamental crest or design that I found on the city's walls. I imagine they each belong to a family, and that the content of the design has something to do with the family's background. The first one has grapes. These two are leafy floral - probably grapevines again.
I combined the design from a wrought iron gate with another crest, showing leaves, under another Haghia Sophia print.
And here we have one of the lions of San Marco, usurped by Byzantine design. It's ironic, really, considering the Venetians plundered Constantinople and even their four famous horses from San Marco were actually... wait for it... Byzantine, from Constantinople's hippodrome.
It was a fun experiment, but I'm thinking of simplifying what I do with the block prints. What do you think?
I self-identify as a painter. I like the squishy-ness and forgiveness of a viscous liquid medium. Ever since I bought some pigments in Venice, though, I've been trying to figure out how to incorporate them into artwork without going full Da Vinci and mixing my own everything from scratch... Look. I walked away from Chemistry in 2002 and have not looked back. So drawing and collaging all of a sudden became way less intimidating then chemicals! And here we are. Here are some of my latest experiments. First, Bryce Canyon. No, it doesn't look like that but this fun watercolor / charcoal / pastel / paper collage mixed media piece set a good foundation for how I'm processing those canyon colors.
This piece is two-fold, I don't think it's done, and I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it. First, I was playing around with photo transfers. I have some cool overexposures I've been trying to decide what to do with, and I figured out this technique of transferring photocopy toner onto paper using acrylic gel medium - voila! Then I watercolored over it. And now I'm not sure what to do. It needs another layer... I may have some story illustration in my future. What do you think should be happening in this picture?
I put a bunch of things together in this piece. First, before adhering three overexposed photo transfers, I put some of my Venetian pigment onto the paper and squished it in with the gel medium. Then I went to town with some pastels and conte, adding color and some Venetial motifs that I collected photos of in the streets of Venice. Clearly this was fun... it's another good foundation for taking the work in new directions. What do you think? Stay tuned for how these experiments show up in my next round of work!
We didn't get a total solar eclipse here in Southern California last year. We did get a nice little crescent partial eclipse, though! I had big plans to go and take photos of the eclipse through the trees in a eucalyptus grove, but then I came down with a fever. I dragged myself off the couch, drove about 90 seconds to the beach, and watched it from the pier.
Ultimately, I decided to focus on the reflection of the light in the water during the peak of the eclipse. What I shot is below, and what I painted based on it is above.
I loved exploring a purple and yellow palette for this! For the first layer I mixed cobalt, ultramarine and pthalo blues with burnt and raw sienna. Then for the final layer I mixed those blues with cadmium red, permanent rose and some alizarin crimson, adding this and that here and there.
So, what do you think about a future scarf design?
I've had these on my mind for a year. Part of what I like to do with my art is inspire people to consider issues through beauty. Part of what I like to do with my life is explore dialogues between cultures. My Artisanat line of luxury accessories will do exactly that, and this is the first item! I've made seven, and they're available on Etsy for purchase. Here's how I made them:
First, I selected three different linens, cut them to size, folded them in traditional Shibori styles and dyed them. With my unique backdrop set using ancient techniques, I could then get down to the carving business.
I had been taking pictures of these specific mosaics on an inner arch of the second level of the Haghia Sophia in Istanbul since 2004. Every time I went, and later when I lived there, I would visit them, take more photos, and know that some day I would do something with them. So for this project I started drawing, then I transferred the design to a linoleum block and got to carving. Finally it was time to print.
A few finishing touches later (hours with my iron) and voila! Traditional Japanese design meets Byzantine designs from circa 600 AD. And a beautiful spread that tells a story for your table. Each table runner is very unique, thanks to the printing and dyeing process. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to pick out the perfect one for your table!
This is it. This is the one. This is the one that I like enough to consider doing watercolors on the regular:
The first two layers of this piece can be found at the Grand Prismatic, in Yellowstone. In case you don't know, not every photo of the Grand Prismatic looks like the geodesic cover of National Geographic Magazine. There's a certain amount of steam... but here are some of my highlights of what I caught. Below, the reflective mirror-like edges of the hot spring.
Now, this is not the Grand Prismatic, but it is one of the springs you walk past on your way there (a lesser prismatic, I suppose). It is bright turquoise. And steamy. Imagine you are a lobster...
Now, the overexposure! This naturally-fabricated popcorn ceiling can actually be found on the ground, under a tiny layer of acidwater, at Mammoth Springs. It reminded me of coral. It's tough to capture the little ball texture of this in a piece of cut paper, but I really like how it turned out with the lighter paper and the curvy edges. I rotated this piece 180 degrees so that the first layer had horizontal stripes, the second layer was composed from upper left to lower right, and the final layer spread from lower left to upper right. In sum, my favorite piece came out of my most drab source photos - go figure! Maybe I'm onto something....
I am newly obsessed with the geothermal colors and textures of yellowstone. I've picked up this little watercolor pad of 15 sheets, and my goal is to create a mixed media sketch out of every last page. Here is my second attempt:
It all starts with an oil pastel resist layer of texture. You can see my inspiration, below. This time, instead of sticking with the white oil pastel exclusively I decided to highlight the shadows with raw sienna and some charcoal, as well.
Then I chose my all-time-favorite color photo. I am obsessed with this hot spring, as is my friend and traveling companion who came up to me on the trail to make sure I got the photo. I don't even know where to start. It's opaque... but it's like a looking glass that leads to Narnia or something.
Finally, I broke out my tracing paper and, oddly, leatherman to add this overexposed outline of the Grand Tetons. I was away at a cabin, my dog was sick so I couldn't really leave, and I had only brought an exacto knife. The complicated fibers of the paper didn't exactly get along with the exacto knife, so I broke out my leatherman - otherwise for use in dire moments of survival, bears, etc. - and trimmed each little thread with the tiny swiss army scissors. I knew there was a reason I always pack for the worst!
Over the summer I moved to LA. It wasn't so out of the blue, but it sure felt like it once I made up my mind to go. Consequently, I've been absent! But I'm back. To get from DC to LA my friend and I drove 5,285 miles through 9 National Parks/Monuments/Recreation areas. As two women from two different countries of two races with two puppies, we experienced some things. We also won the License Plate Game at Yellowstone with our highly-coveted Washington, DC plate.
Between Yellowstone and everything else I have a ton of great art fodder. I'm taking technique ideas I got from Venice and applying them, one by one, to these pieces, which I will share with you. Surprise! I'm doing mixed media. Allow me to walk you through my first Yellowstone-inspired piece:
I hadn't been to Yellowstone since I was a little kid. Now that I know about science, this place was awe-inspiring. The geothermal activity was astounding. This piece is exclusively made of acid hot springs and the ire they wrought on nature.
I started with a base layer, inspired by the texture of the hot springs. This photo is from one of the many springs in Mammoth Hot Springs. Nature does this. Man can't touch it, or he incinerates.
On top of the texture, I did a watercolor painting based on this colorful hot spring photo. I believe this is from Norris Geyser Basin. It is insane what color chemical reactions can make!
Finally, I used artisanal paper to add the silhouette of these trees, scorched by the moving acid that bubbles up from the core of our planet. Let me know what you think of this new series!