Friday, April 26, 2013

Work in Progress-heading to Kenya!

The fun of being a portrait artist is that I never know what's around the corner-no two portraits are alike! 
Recently a client came to me and is returning to her native Kenya for a visit that coincides with the 50th anniversary of that country's independence. So, we came up with the idea of a portrait of the 4 presidents who have held office during that time the addition of the Kenyan flag and several monuments. 
The only way to create this portrait idea and make it reality is as a collage...but the surprise was that it was flying to Kenya in a suitcase which nixed the first choice medium-pastel!

Now pastel can take a fair amount of abuse. And once it is framed and behind glass, it will be around for generations!  I ship pastels all over the world but I do not ship them with glass! 

So right now I am hustling! The only photos are random AP news footage that she had pulled off the Internet and since it is for her own enjoyment and as a gift to a friend, it's OK to use them. But that also means there are few good ones for our purpose! The hustle part comes with deadlines vs an oil painting.......of our most popular mediums-pastel, pencil, watercolor and oil...., oil takes the longest to dry. So today I am back out in the studio, trying not to procrastinate in what promises to be a sterling day outside....ah well, I'll just open up the studio doors!
Here's a peek:

The gentleman at the upper left is Jomo Kenyatta, the first president. The upper right man is his son, many years later who is the current president, Uhuru Kenyatta. And waiting to be completed (well actually they all are-this IS an unfinished oil!) is Daniel Arap Moi and  Mwai Kibaki.

The space between the top two figures will be filled with the Kenyan flag and two popular monuments-soft focus as the emphasis is on the 4 men.

Somewhere I have to figure out where to put the "50 years" that the client wants included.....the real fun of this at times is the "winging it" part! No photoshopping or printing on canvas for me. You can see the pencil lines on the gray background of Moi who is unstarted, but I will step back to see where I want to add the other elements and apply my 25 years of wisdom there! Now that's MY idea of freedom of art! Keep an eye out as I have several other works in progress without quite the tight deadline! 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Silk scarves techniques

What a fun time I had recently painting on silk scarves! 
I took a class as frankly, I knew nothing about the techniques involved. I paint all the time BUT learning "how" to do a familiar task in another format is always a fun experience and the results are below!
The one on the left is an abstract horse design and the one on the right is is a flowered design. I would say it's time for an evening out!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Chickens and bees and the Art Studio

Chickens AND bees :-)

I am guessing that not many artists' studios are surrounded by gardens filled with old roses, sunflowers, herbs and vegetables,  birds, bees and chickens AND ponies but if not, they are missing a unique opportunity to not only have first hand subjects to paint but to kick back and become one with their surroundings in a way that encourages creativity and thought.

The experience begins as the sun rises (this time of year) at 6:30 to peak over the tops of the trees to touch and warm the beehives (so the bees will wake up and forage!).  The wild birds have already been at full force however and the extra growth in the pasture next door has encouraged hundreds to roost in the wild plums....we sound like a bird sanctuary and can watch the sunflower seeds disappear as sand in an hour glass! 
The bees are new. It was not a hard decision to add bees to our mini farm.

I've often stopped at the bee displays at State Fairs and such and as everyone else, was intrigued with the glassed displays that allow you to watch the bees in action. And our studio is surrounded by wild roses, plum trees, our gardens and an assortment of tiny, beautiful little wildflowers growing throughout our yard. The decision came after some research and phone calls and a return call from a "Bee mentor" that kicked out butts into gear and a frantic scramble for hive supplies as the packaged bees were coming (fast) sort of made the decision for us :-) And for us, it was not about the honey. Lord knows there are plenty of honey producers out there. No it was about the pollination....and then discovering that hives world wide are declining. Maybe, just maybe, our one little hive can make a difference. 
Steve heading out with sugar water to fill the bee feeders

And we know one thing-they won't starve around here!
Blooming wild plum trees

The ponies make sure there are few wild daisies in the pasture but our "borrowed" pasture next door is now lush with wild plums, blackberries and thickets of high grass. The birds at our feeders have multiplied tremendously because of nearby cover that encourages their quantities :-)

It's been a cold spring and I am not sure if the roses will begin their early May parade but every year, the old roses are stunning.
Peonies in May
The May peonies are stunning as well with large cabbage sized pink balls of petals that I hope will prove appetizing to our bees.

Seven Sisters Roses growing around the perimeter of the herb and flower garden
Our herb and flower garden is next to the hive and last year our native plants such as Rubeckia, gloriosa daisies and coriopsis were stunning. Whatever bees were here before could not stay away from them or the Monarda. So in some deep inner core, we're feeling more than our visual connection with our subjects and surroundings. It's more of being one with where we are. We live here, our art studio is here and everything basic that has connected man to the earth is here. How much more do you really need?

Add to that, our Dorking hens (an ancient Roman breed with 5 toes) just laid their first egg yesterday! Time to build the nest boxes!  

Our first egg!
 HAPPY EASTER everyone!

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