Friday, December 31, 2010

Good-bye to 2010

A collage of oil painting practices  - Click to enlarge

 Recently I've been busy with thoughts of what the new year will produce, but I quit making resolutions some time ago and if I make goals I usually keep them to myself.  I seemed to never be able to complete the goal once I said it out loud ... jinxed from the get go.

I guess just to wrap this year up I'll say I hope to create better art in the new year.  Learn to 'see' what I haven't been able to see before and produce art with a passion.

Happy New Year,  Cheers!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Have Yourself a Merry little Christmas ...

Red, Red, Red  ~ watercolor

This watercolor painting is so pretty in its gold frame and inner gold matting.  Red and green could have easily made this a cold painting but with the pink of the under leaves and the gold surrounding the painting it warms up a room.  Red, Red, Red is soon to be living in a new home.

Its been busy around here with Christmas soon to arrive and lots of socializing going on.  I'm still in the process of learning something about oils.  I've recently purchased a dvd to see how the big kids paint.  I've purchased some new oil painting art supplies ... an early Christmas gift to myself.  I'm reading the books I own on oil painting and also trying to learn to mix my oil paints to achieve different  colors.  I have a lot to learn but I'm enjoying the journey.
Merry Christmas ...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Wow, this is harder than it looks.........


I'm still attempting to work in oils.  My, but this is much harder than you oil painting bloggers make it look.  You can see by the photo's above - the photo I took of the pumpkin and some fall leaves on a white background, then I turned it into black and white after I had completed my painting to see if I as close in values.  Not so good ...

A few issues I'm having is that:

  • To thin the oil paint I find that I have more than once used turpentine to thin the paint instead of my  medium.
  • My brush strokes are bazaar at best, I'm not use to seeing shapes.
  • Not knowing what brushes to use and when.
  • I'm also wondering if this set-up with the fall leaves was too much for me at this stage of my learning oil paints.
Those issues above really have nothing to do with the poor drawing skills I've shown, but non-the-less I'm going to continue my oil painting journey.

I'm open to all suggestions and advise ....( except 'quit while I'm ahead').

Friday, November 12, 2010

Exercises in oil paints

I'm still attempting to go back to the basics.  For now I'm trying my hand at oil paints. So far I am omitting color from each sketch, focusing on form and value. In the photo above you see where I massed in all the objects into one using only burnt sienna. In the photos below I also used white and where I'm not only trying to make recognizable shapes but also trying to show where my light source is coming from.
  I have started keeping some notes and questions I have as I use them and assume I will learn as I go.

I was using a canvas pad for my support for these exercises then decided the work wasn't worthy of the canvas and switched to card stock.  For now that's fine. I didn't paint on yellow canvas or blue canvas or card stock.  I'll attempt to correct the lighting and camera settings next time I photograph the work.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

more Back to Basics

More sketches with markers.  Fun work, trying to see the dark, middle and light values.  

Monday, October 11, 2010

Getting back to basics

Getting back to basics.... using 3 values using the white of the paper, a 50% cool gray marker and a black sharpie.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Studio update

I thought it was time I updated you on my studio. A little over a year ago I came up with a few ideas that has really helped keep my space organized. I had a few of these storage bins but they were more or less just in the way. Then I decided to purchase more and store my art supplies in them in a way thatI could tell what was in each one and still give them a look of being organized. By lining them up along a wall (this wall is a sloping wall) and placing a label in the front of each bin I can tell what is in each one. I also can use the top of these storage bins for items that I might want to use immediately and since this wall is sloping I can use the space behind for large sheets of mat board, easel ... things I don't use everyday.

In the second photo I used an sheet to cover up items that I store under this table. Nothing fancy, but it works to keep it looking neat and tidy. It was an easy solution with some hot glue.
You can see some photos of the messy unorganized 'before' space by looking here and here .

If you click on the photo's you can probably read how I have the bins labeled. The row on the left is labeled "Misc. #1, #2 and #3 from top to bottom", the next bin in the center "Bazaar #1" and on the far right "Bazaar #2".... Now, those labels are funny, BAZAAR..... but I was just finishing up selling at a local Bazaar and so it sounded appropriate. Now it just seems bazaar! When I do sell at a Farmers Market, a holiday bazaar etc. I just pack both bins and I'm ready to go. I have two bins labeled "Frames #1" and Frames #2" that holds nothing but small frames. One bin "Oils" and one "Other Mediums".

Maybe you can use these storage ideas ... better yet, share with us some storage ideas you've used.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What happens when you don't think your paintings through.

A pair of Oystercatchers...

Cropped to see the Oystercatcher on the right. Still not a strong painting.
Cropped to see the Oystercatcher on the left. Still not good.

After doing a few sketches (I posted the sketches earlier) I still didn't catch how boring this composition was. Its just all wrong.

On the other hand, what I do like is the 300 lb. cold press paper I used. It had been such a long time that I had forgotten how nice it is to work on. The surface stays nice and flat while you are working on it. Also it is so easy to do corrections on 300 lb. paper. Also, I like the bright colors.

In one of the artists group I attend occasionally one of the artists said it looked like an illustration. You think after all the illustrations I worked on for the children's book they might have become a habit?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A first for me...

on the back of a large piece of paper folded to 10" x 8.5"
Once a long, long time ago I started to draw a self portrait. I didn't finish it ... it was a miserable attempt and soon realized it. Today I decided while sitting at my desk with some scratch paper (very unthreatening to use paper you don't care about- know what I mean?) and used a ball point pen and proceeded to sketch my portrait. I'm not sure it's even a decent likeness (my face can't be that fat and my eyes surely can't look like that) but I'm happy to have finally done a self portrait. So many artists paint/draw themselves numerous times a year... that way they always have a live model around who doesn't complain. I think I'll try this again sometime.

Speaking about my work and my critiquing of this ball point pen sketch, I'm wondering how you handle your self-critiques. Can you be objective and move on ... maybe you can continue on with more sketches, but what about a more important piece of work that you are really trying to complete for a show etc. Do you have a trusted person in your art life that can give you an honest critique? and possibly tell you what would have made your painting better? Fortunately I do have someone who is willing take a look at my work and if asked will offer suggestions to help me improve the work ... my husband. He isn't an artist yet he can take one look and more often than not give me a suggestion that makes the painting so much better. What about you?

Friday, September 17, 2010

A new site to help artists

I have found a new web-site to help us artists. Its so exciting. A Live Talk Radio For Artists with hosts Leslie Saeta and Dreama Tolle Perry. These two artists who live across the country from each other (one lives in Kentucky and the other lives in California) have a live talk radio show each week. You can listen to these programs live or download them to your iTunes and listen to them over and over like I do. Also on the web-site you can join in on a monthly painting challenge ... and in a year you will have enough paintings for a calendar. You can check the web-site out here . Also on the left hand column here on my blog you can click on one of the recorded radio programs and listen. They share some wonderful information with us fellow artists. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Annual Fall Open House

Each year here on the Island the owner of Arts & Flowers Nursery opens her home to the public where she has invited numerous vendors/artisans to display their wares in her home. The cost to the vendors is only to bring a batch of cookies to share with the public. Last year was my first time to attend and I had a great time. It was so nice to meet a few new local vendors and see some folks from the island I hadn't seen in awhile and always enjoyable to meet new people who stop by my booth.

If you live near by please stop by and say hello or if you know of anyone who lives in the area please send them a link to this invitation. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Is there hope?

You won't believe what happened... Last night I was sitting down at my computer thinking I'd do what Toni suggested. That is, play with my blog layout designs. Get comfortable with them. Oh My Gosh ! With-in two minutes I had completely changed my blog, losing my original template layout (yes, I did save the original template). What a shock. My all white blog was completely black. I about fainted. Deep breath, calm down, see if you can't get this under control. Finally I was able to get it to what you see now... white. I'm feeling better now. I'm still not sure how to do a few things, but before I beg for more help, I'm going to see if I can't resolve some of the issues myself.

Lets leave the blog issues for a minute and go on to some (non) painting issues:
  • I now have my seal drawing on my watercolor paper.
  • All whites have been masked out.
  • Now I can't go any further... A classic case of 'white paper fright' !

So in attempt to get past the white paper issue I've done a value pencil sketch of two Oystercatchers. Also, a color sketch. Just trying to move on to something other than the large seal painting. I figure I can fool myself into thinking none of the work is really important. Pathetic logic I know.

So, what do you think is there hope for me and my blog ...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

My apologies ...

I can't believe how long it's been since I updated my blog. I shouldn't have neglected it but I felt after working on the illustrations for the children's book for so long I was in need of getting away from any pressure I might put upon myself to get something accomplished. I've had a wonderful two months and am now ready to get back to painting.

Below you can see two preliminary sketches I've done for my next project. You can see the original photo I am using as a reference in the archives on the right side of the blog, dated July 23, 2009, (More on this subject in the next paragraph). On the left of this photo is a color sketch - using watersoluble crayons...CARAN d'ACHE. I haven't used them much and they will take a little getting use to, but, they did help me get a sense of color value for the project. Then there is a pencil sketch and also some watercolor test swatches. I need to get busy with this as there is a show coming up in October I'm hoping to enter.

Preliminary work-Nancy Van Blaricom
Preliminary work for painting
Something I hope to run by you other bloggers ... As you may have read here before, I have the old classic blogger template and I keep thinking I need to update my blog. Such as having my archives listed differently.... geesh this is such a pain to have them listed this way. Also making other changes to the sidebars. I just don't want to have to go in and fiddle with this blog, I want an easier way. Can any of you coach me? I'm a nervous Nelly thinking of the things I could lose. I'm not sure completely starting over is really a bad thing, you know, getting rid of some things I wish were not here, but, I'd rather be the judge of that instead of randomly lose stuff. So, can any of you help me?

Again sorry to have been away for so long. But I'm back now and I hope to be posting a lot more often.

Monday, July 19, 2010

What a thrilling sight

You may have trouble telling what these photo's are unless you are able to click on the photo photos to enlarge them. The photos are of killer whales. The first one is a pic. of one swimming by the second one is of it broaching. We were fortunate to be able to be on our boat when a number of Orca whales were going across our path. Definitely a thrill of a lifetime.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Cloud Study

I took a few minutes today to practice painting clouds.
Frequently we have some beautiful clouds around here ... I need to practice if I'm ever going to be able to capture their formations.
The two images on the left are, from the top left, a pencil value study, bottom left, gray, black and white value study. Middle image is the photo I worked from ... and last is my little watercolor.

For some reason I'm not able to upload the better photo I took. Maybe its for the better.
If you click on the image you can enlarge it........

Friday, June 11, 2010

Something new....

On Saturdays in the summer I can usually be found at the local Farmer's Market selling prints, originals and lots and lots of cards. I had been printing out some shipping labels that stuck to the bags that I put cards and prints in when I sold them. I think I printed something like Thank You and below that my web-site address. I wasn't too happy with them and finally came up with an idea I think I'll be happy with. I had a stamp made with my name/watercolors and web address on it. I love the look of craft paper bags and I think the stamp with my name looks much better than I was using before. What do you think ... do you like the stamp?

I hope by now you've all seen the preview of the book I've been illustrating for such a long time. If not you can see a preview by going to the previous blog entry and clicking on the book widget. This will take you to the preview where you can click through 15 pages of the book. The book can be enlarged by clicking on the "full screen" text in the upper right hand corner.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Annabelle's Wish

                       Annabell's Wish                
           Annabell's Wish        
           By Peter Kirk Todd        
       Book Preview    

Monday, May 10, 2010

From my sketch book

This sketch is from my watercolor sketchbook of my grandson. He is crazy about baseball and I think a great all around player. I love to watch him pitch. He's so in control of that ball and has such great focus for a 12 year old.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Still working on illustrations ...

I'm still here ... I've been busy with a number of different art projects, but, mostly still working on the illustrations for the children's book I've mentioned before.
Nancy Van Blaricom©,2010
Illustrations © Nancy Van Blaricom 2010
Also, while working on the illustrations I'm also trying to learn more about my Mac and Photoshop Elements 8 for the Mac. Never having Photoshop before, you can imagine how it can make my head dizzy at times.

As of today I have finished all 28 pages of the illustrations. I still have the title page and book cover yet to do... after that the photographing of them and editing - this is where Photoshop comes in.

Wish me luck.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Beach art and more ....

beach art
The above photo is of some very fun beach art I found one day. I'm not sure how a person happened to have some paint with them at the time of doing some beach combing, but I'm glad they did. The yellow paint made the driftwood look like an eagle, really, they had even attached some found feathers... not eagle feathers, they looked more like seagull feathers. On the right side of the eagle there is a face painted. You can see it's a woman with her mouth open sporting some pretty red lipstick. Then facing you, you see the drift has a face painted on it. Below that on the right is a painted face of a raccoon. It doesn't look as much like a raccoon here in the photo as it did in person. I never did figure out what the painted arm of the driftwood on the lower left was suppose to represent .... but, the whole things made me smile. I love it!

The other thing I want to share with you is a wildlife artist and author I've recently discovered, Sherry Chadwell. She has a weekly newsletter she sends out sharing some of the happenings she and her husband Jim encounter with their surroundings and creatures in their area. You can subscribe to these weekly stories on her web-site here. She also has a delightful book, The Saga of Peabody and other True Life Adventures, you can order off her site. Its filled with numerous short stories and sketches. I could go on and on about the delights of her stories, but you should just go find out for yourself.
Sherry  Chadwell

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Following the Masters - Robert Henri

My painting of Marine Storm Sea after Robert Henri

On the blog Following the Masters this month Michelle has given us the opportunity to paint from Robert Henri's paintings. Although I have his book The Art Spirit, I had not really looked at his work much before. I ended up loving the painting I chose, "Marine Storm Sea". Before I finished the two studies and my interpretation of this painting I was sure I could feel the surge of Mr. Henri's sea.

(above) Robert Henri's Marine Storm Sea

a pencil value sketch as well as a watercolor and some white gouache

I swear to you every time I take a photo of my work it looks different, like I've changed the settings such as the lighting settings ... and I have not. Any suggestion's?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Pastel Chalk sketchbook ...

Pastel Chalk Lemon - Nancy Van Blaricom
Lemon ~ Pastel Chalk
(click on picture to enlarge)
I think I mentioned this sketchbook, as well as many others, back in February 2007. This one has a corrugated brown cardboard cover with brown paper bag type paper and appears to be hand bound. The only thing I put in this book is pastel chalk work. I just like the way it looks with color on the brown paper.

I really do need to update this blog.... I need a different archive system but this template that I am using is one of the first ones and it isn't easy to update.... Any suggestions about how to get a new template that I won't lose everything, or how to change some of the sidebar? I welcome all suggestion's. Can you tell I am not techie?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Pen and Ink Sketches from the shore

Here are two pen and ink sketches from yesterdays walk along the shore line.

Pen and Ink sketches - Nancy Van BlaricomThis is Mt Rainier in the back-ground. The body of water is Case Inlet and the shore below the mountain is Key Peninsula
Pen and Ink sketches - Nancy Van BlaricomI had planned on sketching the view from where I sat on a log ... then realized I had gotten carried away with making the trees too large to include anything else. Oops!
Also, I had done a couple studies of the small waves that were lapping along the shore and I just couldn't focus on how they were shaded. Today I may take my camera and see if I can't capture some wave action to study.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Virtual Paintout - San Francisco

Yellow house on 6th Avenue- Virtual Paintout

I love contour drawing.....
I've decided to give Virtual Paintout a try. Oh boy, what fun. I found I was all over San Francisco using Google Street View. I was hooked on placing the 'person' icon in locations all over the city. Finally I settled down and picked this pretty yellow house to sketch, did a contour drawing and then painted it.

I'm looking forward to seeing where the Virtual Paintout will be next month. Give it a try!

Friday, February 05, 2010

Autumn Leaves ...

What a beautiful sunny day it turned out to be. I think I heard the weather reporter this evening say it reached 61 degrees here today. I'm seeing daffodils ready to bloom in a lot of yards, and yesterday at a friends house I saw a rhododendron blooming. Its looking a lot like spring around here.
Autumn Leaves ~ Nancy Van BlaricomAs the day wore on the better it seemed to get. I received a call that a couple would like to come look at the work I had available for sale ... in particular "Autumn Leaves". After they came and confirmed that was the one they had in mind I offered to let them take it home to see if it would work out for them in the particular spot they were thinking of. Within the hour they were back with a check ... Its a good day. "Autumn Leaves" SOLD.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Illustration update....

All illustration's copyright ©2009-2010 Nancy Van Blaricom

In the photo above you can see a few pages of finished illustrations I have completed for the children's book I have been working on. Each actual painting is 8" x 8", on Arches 140 lb cold press paper measuring approx. 11" x 10". You can tell in the photo that I have each small painting slipped into a clear envelope (notice the glare) to keep them clean until time to photograph them for publication.

There are parts of the illustration process that I am thoroughly enjoying ... such as the physical painting of each page. Other parts like the deciding how the the character will look on each page is somewhat tougher.

~ "A wisely chosen illustration is almost essential to hasten the truth upon the ordinary mind, and no teacher can afford to neglect this part of his preparation". ~ Howard Crosby

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Look what came in the mail ...

Robert Genn, Twice Weekly Letters
Day before yesterday, the mail-man brought me a wonderful book. Its a huge book. The book measures 9" x 6" x 2". It is written in columns like a newspaper. It's ten years of over a thousand unabridged letters ... including an 82 page index. The book measures 9" x 6" x 2". Robert Genn sends out e-mail letters twice a-week, full of advise and inspiration. I have been a subscriber to his twice weekly letters for about 6 years and have never regreted it. You can subscribe to Roberts Genn's Twice Weekly Newsletters by following this link. If you don't already subscribe, give it a try.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

a tale of two hales

To the left, my small thumbnail
marker pen value sketch of Ellen
Hale's "Morning News" from the
magazine article.
Victoria Magazine February 2002
In this Victoria magazine article, February 2002, the author Claire Whitcomb tells of two sisters-in-law, that were pursuing careers as professional artists. Ellen and Lilian Hale.

Ellen was born 1855 into one of Boston's most prominent families. Her father was the author and clergyman Edward Everett Hale and the grand niece of Harriet of Harriet Beecher Stow. Her mother encouraged Ellen and her seven brothers (in particular Philip) to draw. She later assisted Philip with his career as an artist.

In the 1870's she studied with William Morris Hunt, the city's foremost painter, who took on forty female pupils. Ellen finished her training in Paris, exhibited to critical acclaim and made her living as an artist until she died in 1940.

She paved the way for a second wave of women , among them a twenty year old, Lilian Westcott. Lilian was from Hartford Connecticut, and enrolled at Boston's Museum School in 1900, taking advanced drawing and skipping a class taught by Ellen's younger brother Philip Hale. She would recall later "I always took it for granted, being successful, I assumed I would be."

So did Philip Hale who courted her. Lilian did not want to marry and mix her art with marriage, but Philip persisted. He was 17 years her senior, an accomplished artist, teacher and critic. He is quoted, telling her, "We shall have you a great painter one of these days". They married in 1902 and had adjoining studios in Boston. In 1908 a daughter, Nancy, was born. When people would admire his paintings he would say "wait until you see Mrs. Hale's pictures.

Lilian's best subject was her daughter. Nancy was quoted as saying "I had to pose so much in childhood that when I reached the age of about 13 I finally figured out a requirement of my own. I wouldn't pose, I said, unless I could be painted with a book. So all subsequent picture pictures show me in the act of reading. Several are silhouetted against a window: some show the book, some don't but have the eyes downcast".

Philip continued to paint and teach in Boston. Once home he's go straight to Lilian's studio, receive a kiss and a call for a critique. He was needed in her career because of his unwavering vision of her as "the loveliest and noblest and most talented creature that ever was." When she was exhausted from jelly making, Phillip fussed. "The only thing my father ever wanted my mother to do was paint," wrote Nancy.

Having Ellen in the family and as a very important role model, it seemed that being a woman and an artist was not unusual. When Philip died unexpectedly in 1931, he was 65, she was 49 and forlorn. After 5 unhappy and lost years she came around and mounted a solo show. It was not well received. Modernism had set in. She never contemplated another solo exhibition but continued drawing. She would have Nancy's children sit for her. In 1963, before he death at 83, she won her final prize for a charcoal of a young girl given by Rockport Art Association.

The article ends with a wonderful quote from 1900, painter Anna Lea Merritt, The chief obstacle to a woman's success is that she can never have a wife." ~ Don't you love that quote? ~
The author goes one to say Lilian and Ellen Hale managed just the same.

If you enjoyed reading about these two, you may also enjoy reading Women Artists in Boston 1870-1940; Women Artists in Boston 1870-1940 by Erica E. Hirshler

In this article I think we once again see very confident women artists surrounded by support.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Book illustrations ...

Now that the holidays are behind us I'm once again able to center my attention on the children's book I am illustrating. There are so many steps to making a book. Picture sequence, storyboard and book dummy, size, scale and shape, all need to be considered.

In the photo above you can see my story board to the upper left ..... small thumbnails of the sequence of the book, then to the right of this a dummy book a sketch of what you think the page may look like. You can see numerous watercolor sketches I've done, then on the bottom row, you see my drawing on tracing paper and to the right of that my finished drawing on watercolor paper. I haven't given myself a deadline, but I am looking forward to seeing this project completed.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

"The Eminent Emmets"

John Singer Sargent's The Fountain, Villa Torlonia, Frascati, Italy
This is a painting of Jane while she is sitting straight-backed at her easel beside her husband at the fountain.

The magazine article from the Victoria April 1993 magazine was titled The Eminent Emmets. In this article they are talking about a 19th-century family of five cousins - two sets of sisters. The first set of Emmet sisters to achieve fame was Rosina, (born in 1854), Lydia and Jane - raised in New York by their mother who had been formally trained as a painter. The article says that "To be an Emmet meant to be a creative woman." The second set of sisters, cousins, Ellen and Leslie, raised in San Francisco - they had no known role models. "yet when they moved to New York at the ages of nine and seven, their talent, especially Ellen's was discernible.

In the depth of the depression, the article goes on to say, two of the cousins earned salaries of $70,000 (yes you read that correct). Rosina was 23 years older than the youngest and was the one who blazed the path for them all. Rosina, in her mid-twenties had serious training in New York with American Impressionist William Merrit Chase in his Tenth Street Studio. She almost immediately began to earn money with her illustrations, such as a $1,000 prize for a Christmas card design.

When Lydia, who was eleven years younger than Rosina, was eighteen, Rosina took her to Paris where they both studied. When Lydia came back to New York, she took Ellen, her cousin, then fourteen and enrolled her in the Art Student's League. Later returning to Paris she took Ellen and supported them both in their studies, later making sure Jane came to stay with them.

Ellen and Leslie spent three years in Paris in the atelier of Frederic MacMonnies. John Singer Sargent told her cousin Henry James that she had more talent for her age than any man or woman he had seen.

They seemed to have a wonderful support system for each other. Ellen wrote to Leslie in Paris when she'd gone off to England to earn additional resources for their studies by painting portraits, "Do not stint yourself for paint or bread". When Ellen and Leslie's step father abandoned the family, Lydia offered to help raise funds. Ellen wrote saying "we can get along as long as I have ten good fingers".

None of the cousins were competitive with each other as their strengths went in different directions. Ellen was great at portraits, Lydia was famous for her "woman's touch" (not sue what that means) If Ellen painted husbands of the day, Lydia painted the wives and children.
Jane moved to England where she had moved to marry John Singer Sargent's best friend, artist Wilfrid de Glehn.

Indeed, "The Eminent Emmets".
After reading about these amazing cousins I was surprised that I hadn't heard of them before. I'm assuming I probably had and just forgot. Also, I was shocked at the amount of money these woman were earning from their art during that time. And I loved the fact that they helped each other both morally and financially. I wonder could we all succeed with this kind of support?
This is my sketch of a painting found in a scrapbook of Lydia's.
Below is her painting. She was able to achieve such depth in this simple little painting.