scissors spots and more

progress being made on the new hanging scissors watercolor

The background is slowly coming into focus - and then, hopefully will fade slightly to highlight the scissors.

Next step in the background is to add the rest of the vertical (or weft) "yarns."  And then, finally, a wash over all - except for the scissors.


scissors and spots

Feeling much better today - was sick with a very nasty cold - fever for a week - a daily parade of symptoms - temperature is normal now (97.8F is normal for me) - painted today - drew - worked in the woods breaking down the ancient basswood that fell in last weekend's storm - feeling much better now - but with very little voice to speak of/with.

in progress photo of a watercolor with scissors and spots

These spots remind me a little of Damien Hirst's spot paintings.  The plan for my spots is to meld with some other shapes to create just the right background for this hanging scissors.  Next comes many little vertical rectangles within the spots, then the scissors will appear, then many little horizontal rectangles will go within the spots and then, finally, a wash to marry everything.  That's the plan - anyway.


watercolor in a glass pitcher

Water in a Glass Pitcher in Blue; watercolor on paper; 13" x 10"

Another watercolor with echos of past oil paintings: here and here


teacup and blues

Teacup and Blues; watercolor on paper; 13" x 10"

It's so nice to come back to watercolor.  I didn't know how much I had been missing it!  The juxtaposition of spontaneaous with premeditated actions is so wonderfully available in watermedia.  It's also very nicely preserved if one can leave it be.  Maybe that's what's so captivating about this media - it encourages you to live in the moment and relish it.

And the paper!  The gorgeous Arches cotton paper is almost too hard to cover up.  I'm glad this composition called for so much of it to remain untouched. 


from 2004 - water in a round bowl

The Black Jacket; oil on panel; 11.5" x 7"

It was the bowl full of orange roses that started this painting back in 2004.  I wanted to paint them in a context as I had already painted them alone.  The refracted light cast on the white chair seemed magical.  And the jacket, Dansko clogs and rug were part of my everyday life - a cozy backdrop for a sparkling bit of extraordinary-ness.

The time seems right to reflect on this now because the bowl in the painting is currently my water container for watercolor painting.  Also, this is a piece that hangs in my studio and can easily be seen from every angle while I work.  It's obviously important to me - like an old shoe.


over night growth

There was some new growth in the background of the little vessel.  These things happen.

Little Vessel #2; watercolor on paper; 10" x 8"


second little vessel - in watercolor

Little Vessel #2; watercolor on paper; 10" x 8"

This second little vessel in watercolor grew slower than the first but ended up being a nice complement to its predecessor - both in color, composition and balance of brush strokes to pebbling.  Neither is a favorite as they both seem to need each other - like siblings.

I'm pretty sure a teacup in watercolor is next.  I need to sleep on it to know.  Goodnight.


a vessel hanging from a thread - in watercolor

Little Vessel #1; watercolor on paper; 10" x 8"

Taking a subject that I painted in oils and re visioning it in watercolor has allowed me to explore some new ways of expressing the background.

The thread that holds the vessel is repeated in the fine white lines that separate the droplets/pebbles.  Above, the white line is taut while below, it becomes a tangle - losing its singularity within a mass of gently-hued colors.  There's more going on visually in an immediate sense with the visible brush strokes and the flowing dots of colors.

In the oil paintings, I took great care to blot out any hint of a brush stroke in the backgrounds.  I wanted all of the focus, attention and detail to reside in the object - creating a heightened sense of gravity and contemplation. 

I still want my stillifes to be contemplative - that's why the hanging object remains.  I'm ready to make more connections though.  Hopefully the two temperaments - one introverted and the other extroverted - can coexist in a single painting.


tiny vessel - a drawing

Tiny Vessel Drawn; graphite on paper; 8.5" x 5"

After exploring pinwheels and kleenex ghosts in a tiny format in watercolor, it's time to move to vessels. 

Also, after 35 years of using 2mm 6B Sanford Turquoise lead in a Staedtler holder (along with a Ticonderoga 2B pencil (mostly for its eraser)) I've switched to Blackwing.  It's absolutely delicious in its delivery of graphite - heightened with the 2-step sharpener Blackwing makes.  I no longer have to switch back and forth between two pencils.  Blackwing does it all.  I'm hooked.


tiny kleenex ghosts #1 & #2 - in watercolor

Tiny Kleenex Ghost #2 and Tiny Kleenex Ghost #1; both are watercolor on paper; and both are 7" x 5"

Revisiting an old favorite.  This time, working much smaller and in a different medium, there's an opportunity to show a bit more of the back story - as in how the 2-dimensional background is created to best portray the essence of the little ghost.  But it also makes me think of the ghost's personal back story - as in why spend so much time illuminating this little guy?  what's his significance in my life?  why should the viewer care about him?
Time to make more in this tiny series.  Attacking these questions from many angles is bound to yield the best results.  Time to set thoughts aside and paint - the answers always seem to take care themselves that way too.  Boo.


more tiny pinwheels - in watercolor too

Tiny Pinwheel #2, Tiny Pinwheel #3 and  Tiny Pinwheel #4; watercolor on paper; 7" x 5"

Here are the second, third and fourth little watercolors of the pinwheel - further exploring the use of the thread/white line as a unifying/connective element while adding swooshes, dots and colors to play with balance and tension.


tiny pinwheel in watercolor

Tiny Pinwheel; watercolor on paper; 7" x 5"



cross threads and evolution

from my sketchbook

 My stillifes have made several attempts at evolving.  At first the series tried to break away with highly-textured pointillist backgrounds and then when the thread slackened as on the pear when it sank to rest on a surface.  They also stretched in size until the background seemed to engulf the object - heightening the sense of loneliness and separation.  Now, they seem to be asking for more connectivity.  The thread that suspended the object is popping up elsewhere in the composition.  Is there still room for contemplation while at the same time opening up the space for a sense of community engagement - weaving in past and present histories - creating a patch that will fit into our cultural fabric?  Are they still dominated by a sense of gravity or have the cross threads woven a new perspective?  And is that alright? 

The idea on top was drawn in bed without my contact lenses (I'm extremely near-sighted) so initially it took on a slant upwards and to the left. The triangle in the lower left was added on Sunday morning to balance things out.  This inspired the next little sketch.

It's time now to work things out further - in color and larger - and with thought to what my stillifes series now conveys.  Watercolor presents itself - on heavy textured paper and with saturated hues - except for where the threads lie - those lines will be left bare - preserving the nature of the white cotton paper.

Edit (June 4, 2013): Below is the first watercolor that sprang from the thoughts above.  It was done on a fourth of a large-heavy-textured sheet of Arches watercolor paper (that I've had stored in my studio for over 10 years!) so there are only two deckled edges.  I'm going to look into their 20" x 16" paper with all edges deckled.  I'd also like to see how hot pressed, cold pressed and textured paper relate to the new direction these pieces are taking.

vessel study on cold-pressed Arches w/c paper; 12" x 10"


bleeding hearts - another drawing

Bleeding Hearts Sketch on Toned Paper; charcoal, graphite, conte on toned paper; 10" x 12"

This is the third toned sketch I did yesterday.  The others were a china teacup hanging from a thread and an artist's mannequin hanging from a string (through a tiny screw eye in its hand.)

After getting to know bleeding hearts the day before, the drawing above came very quickly.  There are variations but 4 tones dominate: the white conte, the light gray of the paper, the dark gray of the graphite and the black charcoal - all color-less.  Even so, I sense the pink-ness coming through.  Maybe it was the experience of painting it from life with the colors and smells (bleeding hearts smell just like tulips) permeating the studio.  It could, however, be a nagging question of mine.  Years ago, 37 precisely, I was an architecture student at the University of Minnesota.  As an assignment, my studio instructor asked us to define pink.  After all these years, I might be getting closer to finally anwering his question, "What is pink?"