Gifty Art

I like to get my crafty hat on once in awhile. This year I’m making cards, bookmarks, mini sketchbooks and origami things with watercolor paper, thread, glue, sequins, markers, buttons, mod podge and whatever else is around. These items will be for sale at the holiday art show December 3 and 4. Let the fun begin!

Holiday Art Show

We’re all busy at the studio working on things for our next open studio in December. I’m using the next few weeks to complete both oil and watercolor pieces, frame works and just get everything looking good. We’re open for two days this year to keep it more manageable with crowds. I will have works in various sizes and price points. It will be very festive and fun. Hope to see you there!

The Falling Leaves

…drift by the window

I look forward to autumn for many reasons but one of them is looking closely at the fallen leaves. The variety of color, line and pattern never get old. Each leaf is unique and amazing. I enjoy trying to capture the exact colors and markings on a fallen leaf. I placed a group of leaves on one sheet to allow for comparing and contrasting.

Watercolor, 20″ x 28″, cold press 300 lb. paper

Vegetables from the garden

Overall my vegetable garden was average this year. However, I really got a bumper crop of squash. I didn’t plant them but they came up and just took over a lot of real estate. They seemed to be a hybrid winter squash of butternut and delicata. I’m enjoying painting all of the variations and patterns. I will be selling the watercolors at our December 3 and 4 open studio at Urban Art Collective.

Assemblages

When arranging items for a still life I choose things that appeal to me for their color and shape but also for sentimental or personal meaning. My newest work includes a piece of pottery I made, a figurine given to me by my grandmother and a cross stitch cloth made in the 1950s by my husband’s grandmother. In my last still life painting I chose a piece of pottery made by one of my oldest friends, a wooden carved bowl and a painting from Guatemala.

The still life genre can be traced back to Dutch painting from 17th century. As the middle class grew in Europe, artists began creating art for homes, rather than churches or institutions. The art from this “golden age of Dutch painting” continues to influence some realistic artists today who hold the high level of finish these artists created as a standard of excellence.

The still life affords the artist control over composition, lighting, color and meaning or symbolism. Post-Impressionist artist Paul Cezanne painted the still life so he could study the objects over time, rejecting the idea that only transient light effects that the Impressionists focused on were important. Picasso and Braque used the still life to explore how three dimensional space could be translated into two dimensions differently by emphasising shifting angles and overlapping forms, without reference to local color or specific light effects.

I use the still life motif for its flexibility and challenge. What color, composition and form problems can I solve? What can these objects say to each other or to me?

Plein Air

The French term plein air means out of doors and refers to the practice of painting entire finished pictures out of doors. It’s most associated with Claude Monet and other artists in the 1870s who became known as the Impressionists.

I started doing work outside during covid and have been organizing an outdoor painting group for the past six months. We meet at various parks and locations in the Atlanta metro area. Most of the work I’ve done has been in watercolor. I recently purchased an easel to use for outdoor work. I entered a plein air competition in October. For this event I worked in both acrylic and watercolor. Working plein air appeals to me because it is the most direct connection with nature and light. There are challenges with weather, insects, hauling equipment and general fatigue after working outside for hours.

Here are a few works done plein air.

Student work in acrylic

The students in my acrylic painting class are doing some really good work. I’m throwing a lot at these students, including color theory, palette knife painting, abstraction and composition. It has been a pleasure working with these motivated and fun adults at the Spruill Center for the Arts (Dunwoody area of metro Atlanta). Here are some of the pieces.

Homage to the Southern Live Oak (Quercus Virginiana)

The Mural is complete!

I’ve been inspired by these trees since I first saw them in Savannah, Georgia. Their graceful but strong branches, often dipping down to the ground and covered with ferns, moss and Spanish moss, formed a complex pattern against the sky and created dense and dappled shade. I sketched them in the many scenic Savannah squares when I attended summer SCAD educator weeks. When I accepted the mural commission at Tyler Technologies I realized the horizontal nature of this tree would make the ideal subject for the 16 foot by 6 foot wall.

After making this decision I discovered that the southern live oak is also the state tree of Georgia. This oak is called “live” because it is an evergreen. Its range is from southern Virginia to Texas along the gulf coastal areas. The wood is very heavy and strong and many birds and other wildlife are supported by its acorns and dense shade.

These trees can live over 500 years! The Seven Sisters Oak in Louisiana is designated as the oldest registered living oak and is estimated to be between 500 and 1000 years old.

I added vertical elements to suggest the lacy quality of “Spanish Moss.” This draping plant is actually a flowering plant in the bromeliad family, not a moss. Contrary to what you might think, this plant does not harm the tree because it is not taking any nutrients from the tree but only from the air and water.

For the opening reception on July 15 I will be adding a sound element to the event. The field recording from Cumberland Island off the coast of Georgia, gives you an idea of the sounds you might hear when standing near these majestic trees.

Entire wall: Homage to the Southern Live Oak – 16′ x 6′ – July 2021 – Acrylic – Tyler Technologies, Duluth, Georgia

Detail: Main trunk with flicker, palmetto and blue jay.
Detail: Branches with perched yellow warbler (migratory) and brown thrasher (Georgia state bird).

Detail: Branches with pair of cardinals and blue bunting (migratory).

Mural ongoing

After working on the mural for a few days I decided to change the brown/gold color to a deeper and cooler blue/black. This created more contrast with the light green background. It came closer to the image of the tree I was looking for. I added some cool blue highlights. At home I altered my sketch digitally using the darker color and added shapes for birds. Adding the birds will provide some additional focal points for the very horizontal format. I’m choosing birds that would be found in the environment either as year round inhabitants or migratory birds.

This has been an enjoyable project because I have a good bit of freedom to create what I want and the working conditions are excellent.