My new painting called “Close to Home”

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Let me show the progression of this painting before I start talking about it.

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I have this terrible affliction called insatiable stimulationWhat is this you ask?  

OK. I made this up but let me tell you the symptoms:  If my surroundings are not well-lit, sunny, happy, colorful and changing every 2-3 months I get agitated, depressed, restless and I want to physically move to a new home.  More poor husband.  Can you imagine your wife asking to move every 2-3 months?  He has learned to nod, smile and pretend he’s listening. I know he thinks I’m crazy and yet he still sticks around -God Bless em’.

So, it’s probably not realistic to move every 2 months.  I have had to create coping mechanisms to trick my system into thinking it’s in new surroundings without actually moving.  What I do is I gut my living room.  I empty it of everything and then I refill the room with whatever I own in a very different way.  For instance, this was my fireplace mantle at Christmas and this is what it looks like in January…

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I change the pillows, blankets, nick-knacks, table.  Everything.  And for about two months I lose that itch for new surroundings.

I tell you this long winded-story because it is the muse for my new painting.

I feel like I have kind-of run out of inspiration for a new room given my same-old tricks.  So I said to myself, “You’re an artist.  Create a new painting to give you inspiration for a new room”.  Duh, I can actually do this!

Now this new painting is a bit weird I know.  It’s incredibly bright.  A bit naive. And a bit wonky – (In a nutshell it’s me!). I had a hankering to cut paper like the artist Eric Carle of The Very Hungry Caterpillar child’s book.  Cutting paper is very physical and in reality it is carving away at negative space instead of creating a positive image.  Paper arranging allows you to move your composition around so that you can work on the spaces in-between images and make sure those spaces are just as interesting as your true subject matter.  Now when I say it’s me, what I mean is that it is incredibly personal.  I live in a little yellow house, the 4 birds represent my family unit, I am an avid gardener and environmental advocate, the two people represent the long hikes I take with my daughter and dead center is our lovely kitty-cat Willow.

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After painting all of the paper cut-outs, I truly had no idea what I wanted for the back-ground.  I sat with it for about a week and then I took a deep breath and decided to start with a grayscale under-painting.  My idea was to paint color over the under-painting but the black and white had so much energy to it I stopped.  It sort of reminds me of when the Wizard of Oz moves from B&W to color.  That is the most magical part of the movie. So I kept it black and white.  About 6 layers of varnish later and it’s one cohesive unit.

The painting is large. It’s 48 inches across.  It will be the focal point of my room.  But not until I become stir-crazy sometime in March.  I am content with my current living space, so I better not push it -LOL.

When that day comes, I will post a picture :)

 

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Translucent vs Opaque Painting

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My painting II class has resumed in the new year and our first lesson is a loose abstract play on translucency vs. opacity. Here is a little write-up I did on the project:

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Where I find playing with loose shapes and a ton of water free and fun, a lot of my students panick at the idea.  Too funny.  I think the idea of having no control freaks us adults out, but very quickly it is a reminder that you can adjust and work with whatever comes your way.

Gosh, sometimes art is such a great metaphor for life isn’t it?  lol

So we got going.  In essence – “playing”.  Allowing the watercolor paint to flow where it wanted… and seeing what we could find to “pull out” of the painting.

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I started to hear comments about how it truly is easier to draw the negative space or contour of an image.  The focus is on the space between objects as opposed to the objects themselves. You use a different part of your brain which I’d imagine is the special part of the brain.  It feels different and is a great way to exercise that part which we don’t always use.

It was great to see how very different everyone’s artwork turned out.  Isn’t that another great thing about art?  You can all begin in the same place, but wind up in vastly different places.

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It was a successful class.  I could see I had challenged some people and took them out of their comfort zone.

We also discussed changing the opaque color.  What if it was white, taupe or green?  The different look you would get. Also, you could loosely paint with watercolor and after it dried, do another coat of watercolor as opposed to changing to acrylic.  The project is a great stepping stone into experimenting with mediums. How about gouache?

So if in these winter months you are looking for something to do, try it.  And send me a photo of what you come up with!

 

Surfer’s Christmas – RI Christmas Card Series

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I think this image is one of my faves.  There’s just something nostalgic about it.  Who wouldn’t want to go Christmas tree shopping in an old vehicle?  And what surfer wouldn’t want a vintage woody to strap their board to?

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Narragansett, RI is famous for its seawall.  It wraps around 3.5 miles of breathtaking Atlantic coastline. It’s where us locals go to catch our first whiff of spring and where every tourist HAS TO take their selfie.

So, without great detail, my image hints at the seawall.  I have a friend who grew up in Newport, RI and said the card reminded her of the seawall there which is great.  It’s a universal nod to our entire region.

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I’m reminded of the phrase “Salt in my Veins”.  I live that.  I love that. I have traveled to many regions and encountered many seas, but only in New England do I inhale this distinct smell of rotting seaweed, fish and salt.  It is so pungent and so strong.  I’ve not smelled it in the south, nor the west, nor any countries abroad. It is a North Atlantic smell.

It’s what brings me to the seawall.

It’s how I know I’m home.

 

 

 

 

Holiday Herring Gulls – RI Christmas Card Series

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This might sound weird, but I am pretty sure I could devote the rest of my life to painting seagulls and never tire.  For one thing, they are fascinating and for another, they are hilarious.  I think of them as the con-artists of the bird world.

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Funny thing.  My whole life I thought the male seagulls were white and the female seagulls were brownish-gray.  Guess what? I was wrong!  Brownish-gray seagulls are juveniles. They grow into their white feathers when they reach adulthood. Good thing I figured this out before I began illustrating ;)

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There’s nothing like a good peck under the mistle toe ;)

Santas Lobstas – RI Christmas Card Series

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They way I brainstorm on card concepts is to pick a theme and then write down the hundred things that come to mind.  From there I pick six.  Anyways, while I was brainstorming my family was sitting in the kitchen. I yelled out “Quick, what comes to mind when you hear Christmas in Rhode Island?” I got all sorts of blurts, but the funniest one was the exchange between my husband and son.  They both looked at me and said “Forget a sleigh of reindeer, we want Lobsters!”

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Seriously guys?  Yes.

I guess not everyone has Lobster boats miles from their home.  It’s a pretty unique and beautiful thing.  Not to mention tasty if your into seafood!

Also nearby, is the Narragansett Light house.

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Put them together and what do you get?

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Christmas in Rhode Island.

A RI Red in a Quohog Tree – RI Christmas Card Series

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Have you heard of a Quohog?

It’s pronounce ko-hog.  It’s a Native American word for clams.  When the English settlers came to America this was what they were taught and in our region, it has stuck.  A quohog is a quohog.

Now can you guess what Rhode Island’s state bird is?

Yep. You guessed it. A chicken.  The Rhode Island Red.

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Rhode Islanduhs love their chickens!

Don’t even ask what I was thinking, but as the radio was playing the 12 days of Christmas, I kinda got this image in my head… and the rest is history.

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Yeah, guess you kind of have to be local ;)

Gansett Gingerbread Towers – RI Christmas Card Series

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Where I live, there is a famous Victorian era building called The Narragansett Towers.

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It’s right along one of our prettiest beaches so every Rhode Islander passes along its way at least once each summer.

I thought it would be fun to convert our landmark into a gingerbread house. If only we could eat it!

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I’m wondering your thoughts on a card with a black background.  Is it too menacing for the Christmas holiday?  I keep flip-flopping on which to print; black, white or go back to the drawing board.      ….hmm….. choices….

For Santa – RI Christmas Card Series

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I’ve had a lot of fun designing Christmas cards that are very unique to where I live.  They call Rhode Island “The Quirky State” and this is for so many reasons…

Here is a link to favorite foods, locations and traditions of Rhode Island: 48 Cool, Hidden, and Unusual Things to Do in Rhode Island This way, you will be able to understand why people might find my cards funny.

Some local faves are coffee milk and famous Allies Donuts.  So here I have offered them up for Santa instead of those regular old cookies and milk.

In the next few days I will send images of each card in the series. I am also playing with different editing software to try to decide what I want the final cards to look like… Luckily I have plenty of time.  I won’t be offering these until next year :)

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              I hope you are all enjoying the things that make your region special.

Tis’ the Season!