Sunday, February 20, 2011

Pamela Allen exercises--part 2

Pamela gave us an alternative exercise for those who didn't want to venture into the complimentary color one. I needed more practice (and still do!) with composition, so I gave this one a quick try.

The assignment was to pick two colors and do a whole composition using only those, focusing on different values and intensities. The color didn't hang me up, but the composition did.

My thoughts here were that I wanted a big, bold contrast between the citrus and the blue bowl. I wanted it strong and graphic, yet anchored in a setting. I came up with this:

Pamela said the composition and scale made it visually confusing--the bowl is so much bigger than the chair, and the strong diagonal gives a strange perspective. Also the bowl is too big and cramped in the space, and there needs to be more variety in shapes to keep it interesting. Here is her revised version:

I do like the additional space she added. The bowl still really pops but is anchored much better in the space. And I really like how she kept the right half quiet, keeping all the emphasis on the bowl. She mixes up patterns, like putting the stripes of the floor in different directions to keep things interesting.

So now I'm struggling with how to do scenes that are not realistic, yet don't throw the viewer by being visually confusing. Not sure if pictorial pieces are ever going to be my thing, but it's a great learning experience!

For those of you who are interested in Pamela's classes. She only takes 20 in her class and has been teaching only one online class a year. Her classes fill immediately with return students, so there are seldom openings. But the good news is--she is considering repeating some of the classes more often during the year to allow in new students. If you are interested, email her at

On another note, Stephanie is giving away one of her carved hearts over on the Portland Art Collective blog. Go here and leave a comment to enter. I have several of her carved pieces and love them!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Pamela Allen workshop

I am really thrilled to be taking another Pamela Allen online workshop this month. I got so much out of it last year that I couldn't resist another round, this one focusing on color and pattern.

We started by doing the same exercise we did last time, but since I wasn't hugely successful the first time, I was happy to have more practice. We chose a painter whose colors attract us, and then we tried to copy those colors in fabric.

I chose this painting by my favorite Portland artist, William Park.

And my fabric version. I would have liked to have found a bit brighter, bluer green for the background, but this was as close as I had. It's a great challenge and teaches so much about putting together colors you might not naturally go to.

Next we take those colors and create our own small composition with them:

Pamela critiques each step of the way by photoshopping in changes she recommends. A fabulous way to see what works! My first exercise was fine. On this one she suggested a little more modeling with a few more pieces on the trees and mushrooms. I really like the added depth it gives to the mushrooms especially.

Our week 2 assignment was to take another painting we are drawn to and then recreate it in all its complimentary colors. I chose this Matisse:

Warning--this gets really ugly! The compliments make her look ghoulish. But I was really happy that Pamela said I had them all right. It's a huge challenge because you are not only thinking about color compliments, but also trying to find the correct values and intensities in that compliment. And translating from paint to fabric carries its own special challenges. A very worthwhile--but exhausting-- exercise!

You can see the exercises from last year here, here, here and here, and I'll be posting more as the class continues.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day!

We had a Valentine's swap at our art group meeting this month, and this was my card. I wanted to see if I could take Beryl Taylor's reverse applique technique and use it in a shape other than a circle. It works fine, but I still think there are much easier ways to get a similar effect, so more play is needed.