19 November 2011

Vineyard painting

On the first day of our stay in Solvang, we went on a wine tasting / painting "crawl," to three wineries in the Santa Ynez Valley. We didn't have a lot of time to paint at each location, so after messing up a painting at the first place, I re-thought my methods, and at the second winery I decided to do a finished sketch to come back and paint later, and took a photo or two to remind me of colors. Since I was using my Droid as a camera, the colors weren't the greatest on this one (though some of my pictures came out better), but it was enough to remind me of the things I liked about it--the house, the stripes of the grape arbors, the perspective from far away to close up.

I also wrote the colors directly into the drawing, erasing as I painted, but on Tuesday morning back in the garden at our B&B, where I actually painted the picture, I forgot to remove a few; if you look really closely, you can find the word "purple" embedded in the mountains.

It was Theresa's suggestion to us to do the close-up of the grapes at the side of our paintings and use that as a framework, and it reminded me that painting isn't just about duplicating what you see, it's also about design and layout and the thought processes leading up to making something more. Other people on Every Day Matters have also illustrated that, with their borders  through which parts of their paintings intrude, and I love the effect. Thanks, everyone!

This is my last post for my watercolor trip (although I have some photos that I hope to use to paint more scenes from it). It was great--I would encourage others to take one. What a wonderful treat to sit outdoors all day long and capture color on paper.

17 November 2011

Quotes for the Teen Scene

I mostly don't talk about work here (I like to keep this blog separate for art), but I was so excited by the day's events, I just had to share. The new furniture for my teen section at the library is finally arriving next week, so I'm scurrying around trying to get ready. One thing left undone was to apply the wall quotes I ordered from http://www.wallwritten.com. This company is fantastic--on the website, they provide a design function so you can create your own quotes, and I really went to town. The colors of the front sides of our new chairs are going to be teal, purple, and lime green (the backs are blonde wood with chrome legs--very trendy), so I went for an overall color scheme of the same with the quotes, with orange accents. Being the typeface maven that I am (my former career was movie title designer), I was excited to get to be artistic in selecting typefaces, colors, and layouts.

The package of quotes arrived awhile ago, but I haven't made the time to do the work--it's difficult to do it when the library is open, which it is 9:30 to 9:00 daily. Also, I knew I probably couldn't do it by myself (too right). I finally decided today was the day, and told my friend Patrice (head of the reference dept.), who promptly volunteered to help me put them up. She is the best combination of calm, resourceful, and practical, and I knew she would be the perfect collaborator, so I gratefully accepted. It took us all day, but we did it! Here are photos:

This is the prep work. The quotes come as three layers: backing grid on heavy paper, the vinyl letters, and then a thin sticky layer to which the letters adhere. You first hang everything up, as we did here, to find placement and get them level. Then you take them down, burnish them thoroughly from the grid side, then peel that off (which takes a long time and a lot of patience) and stick them to the wall (a harrowing experience of trying to get them straight without ruining them!). Then you burnish again, and peel away the sticky layer to leave the vinyl letters on the wall.

Some of the quotes were in two or even three parts, and WallWritten obligingly puts diamond shapes on each layer so you can apply one and then match diamonds to place the other parts. Here are all the quotes. (Sorry, some are a bit blurry--I took these with my Droid.) I surveyed the teens by sending out a list of about 30 quotes and asking them to pick their top three; we ended up choosing five quotes (getting permission from the authors to use them). Three are from young adult authors (Diane Duane, Cornelia Funke and Stephen Chbosky), and the other two from people who just said something clever about reading.

In two weeks or so, the new furniture will be installed, the rest of the art will be done (I still have some stenciling to do--there will be an area rug with a paisley pattern, so I got some paisley stencils to put a pattern on the walls and the bookshelves), the poster hangers will be mounted, the computers will be there, and it will be a real teen section at last!

16 November 2011

Dion Dior and More!

An online friend from the Every Day Matters group has had her blog nominated in a contest for Top Blog of the Year. She makes beautiful artwork and writes wonderfully about it--here is her blog:


And you can vote for her here:


First elimination round ends THIS FRIDAY, so don't hesitate--VOTE!

15 November 2011

State Street Casual

Sunday was our "transition" day--we moved from our hotel on the beach at Santa Barbara to a B&B in Solvang. We had no plans until a 5:30 gathering at the new place, so I had a brisk walk and a leisurely breakfast at the beach, then packed up, checked out, and went wandering around State Street looking in the shops. Along about lunchtime, I parked myself at an outside cafe table next to this arbor entrance to a shopping alley, and spent an hour or so painting bougainvillea before driving the 35 picturesque minutes through the San Marcos Pass to Solvang.

Painting like this day after day really tunes you in to everything from an artist's perspective, and made me realize that I live in a city (Los Angeles) with a wealth of "views" begging to be documented. Instead of waiting years to go on a week-long vacation somewhere else, I have made myself a promise to spend at least one weekend a month finding and painting the many aspects--both beautiful and mundane--of my own home town.

14 November 2011

Painting at the Mission

Our third day in Santa Barbara, we met bright and early in the rose garden out in front of the Santa Barbara mission, and started doing value sketches to decide what to paint. I have to admit I was somewhat disappointed by the block-work facade of the mission, and so I turned my attention to the surrounding neighborhood from the vantage point of the garden. I loved these tall eucalyptus trees, and thought that the combination of those, the palms, and the Spanish tile roof of the house peeking out of the foliage said Santa Barbara every bit as much as would a view of the mission. Palm trees were a constant frustration on this trip--they are surprisingly difficult to capture!--and I am now determined to keep painting them until I get the likeness I want. So far, my results have been either overworked (muddy) or understated (flat), but I hope to get the hang of them soon!

NOTE regarding "Another Trick" (below)

The painting I posted as an illustration of spatter is not mine, it was painted by CINDY BRIGGS, one of the instructors from Make Every Day A Painting. I posted it because it is a GOOD example of spatter (which I have just learned to do and so do poorly!) and also because it had a glimpse of the needlework grid material peeking out of the upper left corner of the photo as an example. Several people commented positively on the work, and I wholeheartedly agree that it's lovely, but it's not mine. Just to be clear.

Our friend the seagull

On the second day of our trip to Santa Barbara, it was dark, stormy, cold and cloudy. After freezing while we painted all morning at the East Beach Cafe, we went to the pier (Stearn's Wharf) for lunch (hot soup being very popular), and then Cindy and Theresa found us a somewhat protected and quite scenic place to paint, on the upstairs balcony (lee side) of a wine bar out on the pier.

So, we drew him in various attitudes, turning him into a flock of seagulls, and painted him. A fun technique with the drips and spatters (this is when we first discovered the genius of the squares of needlework canvas, although it took me awhile to get my spatters even--not in evidence here!).

Another Trick

Some watercolor artists seem to spatter with aplomb--their paintings have wonderful speckles and dots seemingly sprayed at random across them and yet falling in all the right places. The first time I tried to spatter (by flicking towards my painting with a loaded brush), it came out more like arterial spray, and I hastily backed off of that plan for ruining my art. But I learned a trick from Cindy and Theresa while on my vacation painting trip, and I'm going to share it with you.

This is a photo of one of Cindy's luminous demo paintings she did for us, during our wine tasting day in the Santa Ynez Valley. See up in the left-hand corner that little bit of red grid sticking out from behind the picture? It's a piece of plastic needlepoint canvas. You paint the colors on it that you wish to spatter, and then you hold it above your painting and blow through it, and all the paint goes beautifully in a nice even spatter. You can do multiple colors at once, or layer them by doing first one, then adding another, until you have enough spatter. You can use different sizes of canvas (they come very fine to quite large) to achieve different sizes of spatter. Genius! When you are finished, just dunk the piece of canvas into your water to clean it, then wipe it down and put it back in your pack for re-use.