Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Steamy Greens

Just a few weeks ago we returned to our Arizona home , after having visited NY state's Hudson Valley area. The main purpose was to re-connect with dear friends and family. It was wonderful to be with special people, and to see for ourselves that all is well.

Some of the special memories are watching the gorgeous " ponies" race in Saratoga, a private evening boat ride on the Hudson River, dinner out on a hometown ( Rosendale ) street where a movie was being made, going out painting with a good friend in a charming garden, ( the first image, " Magenta Corner " was from our outing), visiting NYC and seeing the beautifully restored Sorolla murals ... ( not to be missed, by the way- check out ) and a twilight in a friend's garden that felt like being in
"A Midsummer Night's Dream".
And oh yeah...I taught a workshop, too! The second image is a demo I did for the class.
What could be better than going out to a picturesque location, working " en plein air", and sharing some of the knowledge I've accumulated over the years ? The workshop was small, but that meant that I got to paint alongside of my talented students. It's always an honor to teach at the historic Woodstock School of Art.
I had been longing to re-visit , and really missed the 19th century ( and earlier) streets, the richly varied farmer's stands, the lush gardens, and the emerald woods.
I forgot about the humidity.
It's awfully high. It's steamy, it's dank, it's more than damp...
Anyone that knows the area, is aware that is all I need to say about that.
Steamy greens and all, it was a great trip.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Monsoon Season

Here in the land of seemingly endless deep blue skies, red rocks,and high desert scrub, one would not think that there is a rainy season.

Who knew?
I sure didn't, before I moved here. Right in the midst of summer's intensly scorching heat comes a respite in the form of occasional afternoon downpours.
We're lucky enough to have far-off views, so these intense storms are sometimes viewed at a distance. Other times, they'll come up over the hill suddenly. The skies will darken, the wind picks up to a fierce pitch, and huge raindrops, and even hail sometimes pelts the thirsty ground.

"Monsoon Study" , the second work,is a plein air pastel, looking in to such a storm, which is about 15 miles away.

This piece was painted in about 30 minutes, as the light was shifting at lightning speed!

The first piece, is an untitled oil, which I did in the comfort ( and safety ) of my studio from some photos I took in order to later explore these dramatic storms.
There is a great beauty in the intense darks, and highlighted bits of the landscape.
I do love the sunlight, but we all need stormy weather in order to thrive.

Yes, there is a bit of metaphorical musing in this. A recent favorite CD is Mary J. Blige's "Stronger".
She sings " I can see color"... A favorite line is "If April showers bring May flowers, then bring on the rain"...

Words to live by in these difficult times, I think.

Monday, June 28, 2010

I Like Lemons

Sunny yellow lemons are a delight to paint; in fact I don't know if there is a realist painters out there that has not , at one time or another, used them in a still life...The cheery primary color is irresistible- in fact even when I see them piled up in the grocery store, I linger, and enjoy the color.
This painting, "Siracusa Lemons"is a slightly different take on the subject. This small grove is in an ancient quarry , in Sicily.
It was delightful to see them on the tree.
Now that it's summer, and I do like to cook,I like to go for dishes that are minimal fuss, can be made and chilled ahead, and use the wonderful things that are now available. A lot of summer dishes call out for lemon. Here's one I use for green beans: ( I'm not a chef by any means, so things are approximate.)
It will serve two.
Two serving of fresh green beans, washed, and trimmed
Juice and zest of one lemon.
About 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil.
One clove garlic, finely minced ( if desired)
A tablespoon of provencal herbs.
A sprinkling of salt, pepper, to taste.
Cook the beans until just tender, and still retain color.
Whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice. add to this the garlic, herbs, and salt, pepper.
Place beans in bowl, cover with mixture, and chill.
I like to take this out of the 'frig a bit before serving- flavors are fuller at room temp.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Ups and Downs

Riding my bike is something I've always enjoyed; it's a plus that there are health benefits.

When we moved to Arizona, I didn't count on there being so many hills let alone that we would be living on a hillside...I suppose that it's good I have a nice down hill ride if I want to go any where. When I do get to my destination, there's an " uh-oh"when I think about the ride back.

"Black Hills study", plein air pastel
This art career, and surely, life in general follows a path of ups and downs. This spring has especially been a roller coaster ride. A joint project that I had high hopes for fell through, a workshop at a popular art school was cancelled, another joint showing opportunity was nixed, plus the usual rejection, and, of course, absolutely dismal ( well, nonexistent) art sales.

Amazingly, and wonderfully, other opportunities materialized almost immediately!
A new friend invited me to partner with her on an exciting project. Two established galleries asked me to participate in their new season group shows. I won a best in show at the Arizona Pastel Artist's exhibition. I won a top award at the Pastel West Coast exhibition. Another friend
suggested that we apply next year for a joint show. Another, dear, fabulous artist friend will be visiting , to scout out local galleries with me.
And then there are the every day blessings. I revel in the blue skies , big vistas, and brilliant sunshine. I'm thankful every day that I'm in the beautiful studio, and that I have a wonderfully supportive mate, a beautiful son, and as aforementioned, great friends.
It's nice to live on a hillside.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sometimes Bigger is Better

A few weeks ago, I went out to paint in a location where I had taken a ride to view ancient "first people's "ruins. This whole area is a painter's dream.

What struck me at this time was the blanket of wildflowers beneath towering red rock formations. I had to come back to render this in pastel; the rocks had rich dark shadows, with the sun illuminating some edges as it grew stronger.
Coconino Spring, pastel, 12x16
My usual pastel plein air size has been 9x12, as it's just the size that fits in my guerrilla box.
I knew that this would be limiting, for these massive formations and open field, so I went for a 12x16. I taped the paper to a foam board a little bigger, and used a bungee cord to hold the board to my box- worked great!
I concentrated on the light and shadow areas on the rocks, knowing that this would be the area that would be changing the most. As I worked,I was enthralled with the reflected light, and the jewel tones in the shadows. On location, I only made a "color note" for the sky, where it pressed up against the rock, knowing I could block it in later, as well as just some rough indications for the vegetation. Looking at it the next day, I decided I liked the "partial "sky, and my visual notes for desert scrub.
So, I ended up with a piece that is a little bigger, and looser to boot!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Spring in AZ

Thought I would try to get in to the world of blogging, from the land of AZ.
I do enjoy writing, as well many other things, so I'll share musings about the good things in life; mostly visual. An occasional tune , book title, or recipe may pop up along the way, too.
This image is from a late season storm, along a favorite road , just outside of Sedona.
It's a pastel, and will be included in an exhibition back in NY. Out of the blue, I was invited to be in a group show; just when a couple of other shows did not materialize. Things do move in mysterious ways. This will be a nice opportunity to show a few pieces side by side; Northeast with new Southwest.