Sunday, September 27, 2009

By Value, By Jiminy

This was not in the least bit easy. Talk about conflicted! Yikes. I tried to keep the "neutrals" segregated on the left tho that neutrals vs. "chromatic" (or whatever) division is so arbitrary it's LAFF-a-bul.

Will this layout help me? Dunno! I am going to convert the pans to this scheme as well. Best to be consistent, eh?

Here is the straight values B+W version. How'd I do?

BONUS Word O'the Day: ricockulous. Use it.

Six Most Grand of the "everyday"

The joy:
. Pulling sweat pants from the dryer and immediately putting them on.
. Beethoven, anything.
. Spotting patches of blue in an otherwise overcast and cloudy sky.
. Bacon.
. Birdsong so early in the morning that it's still dark outside.
. Teaching, when they "get it".
Addenda (30Sept):
. The first sip of coffee.
. The first sip of ice-cold beer.
. Fresh flowers in a vase.
Addenda2 (18Nov09):
. ABBA (sorry)
What are yours? I miss any? Comment!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Shade. Light!

See the Shades of Pastel Biennial National Juried Exhibition, sponsored by the Maryland Pastel Society. It's beginning today and running until November 7, 2009, at the Strathmore Hall.
(Have an adventure: take Metro.)

Angel at the Welcome Mat

The photographer Jacques Henri Lartigue took this pic in 1905, when he was 11. Entitled 'My cousin Bichonnade'. It's delightful.

A Lartigue self portrait is here, entitled My Hydro-glider with Propeller. Taken in 1904, when little Jacques was 10. I guarantee it'll make you smile.

There is a show of his work now at Howard Greenberg Gallery in NYC. Anyone there? Please go see it! Or better yet, buy a print. (WSJ story here.Jacques Henri Lartigue in wiki.

More pix by Lartigue are here. (And here.) The one I actually recognize is this one, of the race car getting sucked out of the frame. I always admired it. (Might dust off my interest in oddball effects in photography. Tho it's somewhat ho-hum these days, given the magic of Ps.)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

We are all in this together. La la la lo.

Scene: Weekday, noonish. Metro train pulls into station, stops. But ho! The main lights in the individual car in front of Subject are off, yet the doors open. The lights of the other, surrounding cars glow, as do the station lights, so it's dim, but not pitch dark. AC hum is also missing. Conclusion? Dead car. But it'll still go.

Action: Subject enters car, via center door. (Too lazy to walk down to other cars. What the heck. There are people in it already. Conclusion? Safe enough.) Sit down. Subject begins sketching. No prob! My own personal picture show.

Train lurches and lumbers and jolts along its jolly way. Stops at Tenley to gather in some more lazy folk. Two affluent AU students (as extrapolated from the ratty-tatty way they are dressed -- faux skid row) get on. Very small child in stroller in the front of our dim car begins well-modulated, quietly happy musical chant of la la la la, up and down the scale, over and over. Not annoying! Kind of cute. Pleasant background 'music'. (Conclusion? Child misses the car's AC hum and is filling the void. Apropos!)

Train comes to a halt in the tunnel between Tenley and Van Ness. No one, including Subject, pays this any mind. This is normal. We all know.

But hey, yo! End-of-car-forbidden-door springs open and MetroMan (our pilot?) shoots in, wearing enviable phosphorescent Metro vest, with walkie-talkie shrieking garbled phrases about "stuck train just outside Van Ness". Or some such. Alas. We all hear it. Oh, woe.

Fellow travelers in dim car exchange wry looks, smiles of resignation, wordless shrugs. But whoa. MetroMan races to and fro, pushing obscure buttons at each end of the car and raising seats up to lean way over to push additional very obscure buttons in exposed wheel wells. Maybe there's hope. Musical chant of la la la la continues unabated. No fear there! Go, kid, go!

MetroMan races out into the next car, trailing dire walkie-talkie snippets. Hope! But, alas, no. Very shortly a bellowing voice comes onto train speakers telling us that the train is broken and that "This train will go out of service at Van Ness station. Repeat: this train will go out of service at Van Ness" and we are all to get off. "This train will go out of service at the Van Ness station." He repeats this about four times, just in case we didn't understand. Musical chant of la la la la fills the momentary silence after these announcements. Kid not even close to being the least bit distracted from his mantra. (Conclusion? Kid is monk. Tenacious. Won't let it go.)

"This train will go out of service at the Van Ness station." Alas. We get the picture. But no! Maybe not, bro. Well dressed elegant old woman up a row. She leans over and asks the elderly gent next to her, "Did he say this train will go out of service at the Van Ness station?"  Um, hello?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Study these closely, they may help:

Found on Darren Rowse's, this is a guest post from Robert Bruce (@KnifeGunPen), entitled 27 Thoughts on Blogging for the Artist. It's dated April 17th, 2008 but still very meaty.
Some of the interesting ones are:
. Though tempting, you’ll never crush your own mediocrity working only four hours a week.
. The creation of great art has nothing to do with Community.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Examined: Seven Essentials for Plein Air Adventure (rev03Jan10)

(or Seven Things That You Ought To Have IN THE CAR. All The Time. Anyway.)
One: Tall kitchen garbage bags. Avoid damp trowser bottoms if you have to sit on a dew-covered bench. Fold into a pad to add insulation between you and a metal bench. Use to cover your pochade box (or you) if you get caught in a shower. Spread below your easel if you are in a location where you have to catch your pastel dust. Use as a sled on snow-covered slopes.

Two: Bug spray or bug repellant of some kind, chemical, electronic, or magical. There is nothing that will drive you, shrieking, out of a field more quickly than a swarm of gnats. Well, maybe a swarm of mosquitoes. Other uses for chemical version: bear repellent (works at close quarters only), after-hike cologne, solvent for underpainting, auto fuel. For electronic version: gag gift. Alternative use for magical: pick up line repellant. You wish.

Three: Binoculars. Keep compact binocs tucked away in the car at all times. There are numerous occasions when your eyesight will need a boost or when you think you see something very interesting way out there but just can't be sure. Besides, mavens say that you can't really do justice to a plein air scene until after you have taken the time to walk all over it, through it, and around it. If restrictions of mobility, distance, barriers, or the imaginary lines of "private property" constrain, binocs can get you there. Or help you pretend you're there.

Four: Duh! A roll of paper towels. Use for: Picnic napkins, wipes, and placemats. Soaking up spilled coffee. Cleaning fingers covered with pastel dust. Dry wipes for panpastel applicators. Blotter for watercolor painting. Lumbar support. Lens-less telescope.

Five: Stash of small bottles of water. Anyone who lives or has car-toured in the Southwest knows about always keeping water in the car. Your life may hang in the balance. Other more everyday uses: dampen paper towels to wash pastel dust off hands, to dip your brush for watercolor or gouache underpainting, to help swallowing asprin, to slake thirst at picnics, to soak neckerchief and tie it around your neck on warm days, counterweight for the tripod easel, etc.

Six: Windbreaker, lightweight, hooded, and neutral-colored. Protects when the weather double-crosses. Hood (along with the beanie, see below) keeps your brain from losing essential heat when it's chilly. Neutral color won't reflect untoward hues onto your painting surface. Dress jacket up with a shining bow tie for white-tie-and-tails events. Dress jacket down with a neckerchief for hoe-downs.

Seven: Hats. One big-brimmed sun hat and one beanie for the colder days. Invert the big-brimmed one and place at the base of your plein air tripod; you may make coffee money. Place big-brimmed one on building and hire mariachi band. Invert the beanie to hold harvested raspberries.

Misc: stuff . . .(rev.4Oct09)
. Tooth Brush (take an old tootbrush, preferably a stiff one, use a hacksaw to cut the handle off pretty close to the bristle end; voila! --> a tiny traveling nail brush)
. chapstick
. reading glasses
. moistened hand cleaners in packets
. fleece hoody
. rubber bands
. binder clips (at least 2 big ones)
. Swiss Army knife (with scissors)
. folding 3-legged chair
. MORE --->  Suggestions for the New Plein Air Painter, from Katherine Simmons (06Mar)

What's on YOUR list? Click on the COMMENTS button and contribute to the general wisdom.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Marshmallow Test

Brace yourself. This borders on child cruelty.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Too subtle for me!

This is done plein air! It's about 8" x 10" (cropped down from 9x12) on PastelMat paper, done entirely with soft sticks.

It's a view across Hunting Creek Lake, from the fishing pier at the boat ramp, at Cunningham Falls State Park. On, without a doubt, the single most dreary day of the year. See below for ref pic. / / / The water reflections were quite a bit of fun. I may have twenty layers of pigment (well, maybe a half dozen . . . ) in the water area! Every time I looked up from the paper, the water looked different. It was a LOT of fun.

Bonus LINK: The Treehouse Camp at Maple Tree Campground. Right over the ridge of Crampton's Gap, west of Burkittsville. Next to Gathland State Park. Rent a tree house or a tree cottage!

Double Extra SUPER Bonus: hey hey hey. Look what came in the mail. . . WOOOT

Monday, September 7, 2009

Kelly Place

This is iteration #4 of this piece. It's 9" x 12" on PastelMat paper. About 85% panpastels and 15% softies. And just a touch here and there with pastel pencils. (Discuss.)

Kelly Place: "Kelly Place is both an outdoor educational center and unique bed and breakfast located in the heart of the Four Corners, just 10 miles west of Cortez, Colorado, nestled between the red-rock canyons and majestic Sleeping Ute Mountain."

The original photo was taken by my friend John Robinson and is posted in this blog entry here. And reproduced below!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Figgy Fiber (or 'Another Still Life that is a bit too Still')

This is 9" x 12" on a base of beveled museum board. I glued a thready, fibery-looking piece of crumpled rice tissue paper onto it, using Colourfix primer as the "glue". I put another coat of primer on, once the "glue" coat was dry.

The underpainting was gouache, big flat color areas, no value, no modeling, no complicated thoughts at all. See below. (NB: I am beginning to consider this mindless underpainting as the way that I can invade the blank white page with some confidence. Like, hey, if I am going to practically cover it all over anyway, what's the harm? It seems to provide me a nice comfortable open door to the work.)

In any event, on Too Still here I used about 99.5% panpastels, fixed twice during the process with SpectraFix, and then just a few touches of softies at the very end.

The figs I bought at Wagshal's, which usually has great local produce. In this case, the figs taste awful. And I love figs! But they were photogenic and so I did break out the big camera and make some nice reference pix.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Labor Day Weekend 09

Crusty Tennis Chicken
4 servings

- 4 organic chicken breasts, bone in
- Marie's Honey Mustard salad dressing
- 1 cup plain granola (no raisins or fruit)
- 2 cups panko

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two shallow bowls, one with a 2:1 mixture of the Panko and granola and the other with about a half cup of the salad dressing. Rinse and dry one of the pieces of chicken and dip it in the dressing to coat it all over. Next dredge both sides in the crumb mixture. Place in a roasting pan, skin side down. Rinse, dry, dip, and dredge the rest of the chicken breasts, replenishing the dressing as necessary. Arrange all of them in the roasting pan, skin side down. Roast for 20 minutes. Turn them over and roast for another 20 minutes or "until they register 180 degrees on a thermometer." To crisp the crust, if you insist upon it, run the chicken briefly and carefully under a hot broiler.

Serve with Haricots Verts à la Vapeur (oh-la-la!) or with Orzo with Artichokes and Pine Nuts and Roger Federer on tv.