Friday, December 29, 2017

Zorn Palette

You know how sometimes one little bit of information from a class makes you feel like you got your money's worth?  I remember taking a quilting class years ago in which the teacher demonstrated the quilter's knot.  I can't even remember what sort of quilt we made, but I have never forgotten that life changing knot!

I think the Zorn Palette may be my quilter's knot for Studio Journeys.  This is such a simple, elegant palette that I'm surprised I never heard of it before.  It is the palette used by 19th century Swiss painter, Anders Zorn and consists of only 2 colors and black and white.  But what a gorgeous range of blends come from those colors!  He used yellow ochre and cadmium red, then Mars black in place of any blue, and white.  I didn't have any Mars black so substituted Carbon black.  I'm not sure if that makes much of a difference or not.  I'd like to try different blacks to find out.

Below is the palette in my sketchbook, with several values of each blend.  The squiggles are little samples of the yellow, red, and black mixed together in different proportions.  I then did a 12"x12" painting using this palette.  It has been so interesting to see these posted on our Facebook group because depending on the emphasis, you can get an entirely different look, from earthy to more vibrant.

I have really been enjoying these studies in limited palettes.  It feels good to squeeze out only a few paints and know they will not be wasted.  And the simplicity allows me to pay more attention to value.  I'll be revisiting this palette quite often!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Goodbye to 2016

Considering I've been working on this stitch project for two years now, I'm a little sad to be done with it.  It has become such a staple of my days and I thoroughly enjoyed this one.  I liked the stitching of individual components in 2016 and then seeing how they all joined together month by month in 2017.  So with this last post of December 2016, I'll say goodbye to it, at least for now.  I'm hoping that someday I may find a place to display the whole project and get some decent photos of it all together.  I really haven't gotten to see how the whole year interacts together.  Maybe a big space will come my way this year.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Color Experiments

When I found out that our second art bundle in Studio Journeys was going to be about working with color constraints, I was a little disappointed.  I've done so many color wheel studies and done paintings using only compliments or analogous colors, and I assumed we would be doing more of those.  I am so thrilled that Nancy Hillis took a different approach.

We started by using only secondary colors.  That never occurred to me to even try.  We mixed purple and green, purple and orange, and green and orange as the basis for our palette, and then mixed in black, white and two grays.  The secondaries produced a gorgeous range of colors with lots of earthy, subtle blends.

I decided to follow my friend Paula's example and keep good notes in a notebook.  Beside each palette study I did a small color study painting.  Those led to lots of different questions for more exploration.  What if I emphasized purple instead of green, what if I emphasized the dark values or the brighter intensities?  These experiments give way for a whole range of painting ideas.

This first mix is from Golden's Permanent Violet dark and Utrecht Veridian hue (a color that has always been way too harsh on its own, but it produced some gorgeous blends.)

Golden's Permanent Violet dark mixed with Golden's Cadmium Orange.

And Utrecht Viridian Green with Golden's Cadmium Orange

After I did those initial studies, I wondered what would happen if I started with a different version of the secondaries.  I grabbed some different tubes and started blending, then mixed each blend with a little white.  I then chose one of my favorite combinations to do another small study.

Green and Violet blends.

Violet and Orange.

Green and Orange.

I got a little obsessed doing these as I found the results quite delicious.  It feels like I now have a shortcut to the perfect color.  I spend so much time mixing the perfect dusty aqua, for example, with a bit of this and a bit more of that.  Now I can get a head start on it by starting with the right secondaries. 

It was also the perfect little quick project for the month.  With my son home from college and lots of Christmas activities going on, I couldn't focus on anything much bigger than this.  Happy Holidays Everyone!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

December Dilemma

It seems strange to me that I could easily pull colors for my daily stitching for every month except December.  Both in 2016 and 2017, I hit a wall there.  Maybe because the month is complicated with more time focused inside than outdoors.  If I used the actual seasonal colors I'm seeing out my window, everything would be pretty much drab gray, black and evergreen.  But then inside, everything is sparkly and colorful.  And emotionally, I'm all over the place in December.  Lots of festivities and activities, but also a lot of peaceful family time, with a little family drama thrown in.

Maybe I gave up trying, but last year I settled on a very neutral palette, with more leaning towards the whites and creams.  We were snowed in much of Dec. last year, so that certainly contributed.

Many of the components are very simple.

But then there are busier ones too.

And I had to add a pop of festive color, so I went with some red here and there.

It's hard to believe that I will be wrapping these projects up in a couple weeks.  I'm getting ready for a new start, although I still don't know what it will be!  I'm hoping for a flash of inspiration very, very soon.

Friday, December 15, 2017

November Leaves series

I finished the November Leaves series I was working on for Nancy Hillis's Studio Journeys.  I'm used to working in a series, but gave a little more thought to this one along the way.  Working in a series lets me see what habits I get into.  One that popped out at me is that I tend to compose in a circular manner and leave the center open when working in a square format.  So for these last 2 pieces in the series, I made sure I put something in the center and did a more asymettrical compostion.

Some series are tightly related from the beginning and clearly show the theme.  In this one the November leaves idea just served as a jumping off point, and really, my paintings had little related to what November leaves were actually looking like at the time.  That didn't bother me.  To me the important thing is finding inspiration to work and letting one painting inform the next.  At the end though, I did want to include that burst of bright yellow that was still clinging to the trees even late in November.

We're now doing some very exciting color studies which I'll post next week.  After working with these neutrals all month, I'm ready for a new palette.

Friday, December 8, 2017

November Leaves 4

This is the fourth in my November Leaves series.  I'm doing these in Nancy Hillis's online Studio Journeys group and enjoying it so much.  Our first Art Bundle, or assignment, was to work in a series.  This is not new to me, but I have enjoyed approaching working in a series with more consciousness.  I found that after I painted the first three however I wanted, I was ready to start pushing myself on a few things.  On this fourth one, I wanted to play with more minimalism, although I'm not sure if most would consider this very minimalist.  The constraints I've given myself for this series is black, white and earth tones in a 12" square.

November Leaves 4, acrylic on paper, 12x12"

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Winding Down

I've enjoyed my stitch projects so much, but now that it's December, I feel very ready to be done with them.  I'm excited to move on to something new for 2018, whatever that might be.

Here are my 2016 November segments all stitched together.

And November 2017 is done.

So one more round for December then these will be put to rest.

Friday, December 1, 2017

November Leaves 3

The third painting from my November Leaves series.  I made 6 starts and I'm trying to see if I can get all 6 of them to completed paintings before our new assignment comes out this week.  A couple more are very close, and one is getting finishing touches, so my hopes are high.

November Leaves 3, acrylic on paper, 12x12"

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

November Stitching, or lack thereof

I guess I got sidetracked by turkey eating because I forgot to stitch these together this month.  All I have to show today is a big pile ready for some stitching this afternoon.

Friday, November 24, 2017

November Leaves 2

Here is the second in my November Leaves series.  When I started this, my inspiration was a walk through lots of dried leaves. I brought a handful of them inside to draw from for my initial marks. I was seeing all sorts of black, browns and earth tones, thus the constraints for this series. But the super bright yellows and oranges are hanging around this year and look nothing like the earthier colors I'm using.  I may have to retitle these.

November Leaves 2, acrylic on paper, 12x12"

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

November Stitching

I was laying my November 2016 components out to stitch together, and I threw them next to my 2017 project for comparison.   This has been such a bright, cheerful Nov. that I thought they would look drastically different.  They blend pretty well here, but maybe when I join all of Nov. 2016, it will look more dark and somber.  I love rich colors next to dark browns and blacks.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Studio Journeys

I have been taking part in Nancy Hillis's Studio Journeys this month.  It's a monthly program that includes ideas, instructions, and community for abstract painting. Each month she provides an art bundle which gives a focus for the month.  This first one is "work in a series."  I was a little hesitant to join because I already work in series, but I have been fully enjoying it.  I like having an assignment to focus on for the month and some inspiration for doing it.  The Facebook community has about 350 members and has been a fantastic place for seeing a wide range of abstract painting.  Looking at so much work helps me clarify what I do and don't like in abstract painting, and it helps me clarify what  my own style is.

This month we are instructed to brainstorm 10 different series we could explore, then choose one.  We come up with some constraints for our series, make between 5-10 starts, and then choose some to develop fully.

I decided to work with November leaves.  Only in the middle of painting them did I recognize how similar my painting is to my stitching projects.  I can't seem to stay away from subtle shifts in the seasons.  Maybe because I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, where our seasons consisted of brown hills or green ones, I am now fascinated by all the shifts in the sky, earth,and plants that occur in Portland, often even in the course of a day!

My constraints for this series are 12" squares and black, white and earth tones.  I started each piece by very roughly drawing leaves I had collected.  They pretty much disappear in the final versions, but provide a little starting energy to get me going.

"November Leaves 1", acrylic on paper, 12"x12"

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

November Stitching

I love black and brown together, so November is a good month for me.  I love the way we see more black branches and limbs and deep brown leaves that make the remaining colors pop.  Here are some of my components from Nov. 2016 that I am now joining together.

I probably shouldn't pick favorites, but this one wows me.  That dark brown and black with a little chartreuse and a pop of hot pink.  Yes!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Dusty Rose

Sometimes when I'm uninspired, I like to browse through SCRAP, our creative recycling center, or the Goodwill Bins and see what jumps out at me.  I was hoping I might find the perfect pile of wool strips to start rughooking, but that was not to be.  Instead I found a pile of cheap, very sturdy, flashcards, unlike the awful new index cards which are about the weight of binder paper.

They are perfect for small collages, and I wanted a quick project.  Recently my 17yo niece said her new favorite color combo. is black, white and dusty rose.  Dusty rose?  I hadn't thought about that since the 80s when all you saw was dusty rose and country blue.  I didn't like it then, so I was curious how I would like it now.

I pulled a bunch of my black and white painted and marked papers, some found papers, and ones in shades of dusty rose, peach, pink.  Not surprisingly, I had almost no dusty rose in my stash.  I challenged myself to work very quickly and intuitively, sometimes pulling papers blindly and trying to make them work together.  It was a lot of fun and got me going again.

Sometimes I let the word on the flashcard show through.

 Sometimes I added paint to try to get more dusty rose.

 And sometimes I liked it just the way it was and couldn't bear to add pink.

I also found this perfect index card holder for $1.  I love the thought of a whole box full of mini collages in different color palettes.

So did I come around to dusty rose?  Blush yes, hot pink yes, but dusty rose--bleh!