Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The last day of 2013

I thought I'd share with you what the last day of the year looks like here in the Pacific Northwest.  

The prediction for the day is: low clouds, fog and poor visibility conditions improving around noon.  Cloudy with temperatures steady in the mid 40's.  Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. 

All three photo's were taken while on my walk around 9 o'clock this morning.

In the first photo we are looking south on the beach.You can see waves on the water and the breeze was blowing in my face and it felt cool but refreshing.

 This short set of stairs leading to the beach and we see more gray skies.  The tide is coming in but still plenty of beach to walk on.

Looking north you see more cloudy and gray skies. 

On this the last day of 2013 I look back and I'm very happy with all I accomplished this year.  I won't list them all but here are a few of my artistic accomplishments: I painted 56  57 paintings (which was a new record for me), I received an honorable mention at our local art show and sold 3 watercolor commissions, I also took on the 30 paintings in 30 days challenge …not easy feat, and yet one I'm contemplating attempting once again. And I think this is my 100th blog post for the year.
I like the fact that the year will end calmly.  I'm thinking its probably a forecast for the new year coming on, right?

Happy New Year - 2014

Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy New Year 2014

Happy New Year 2014, Oil on panel, 5" x 7", © 2013 Nancy Van Blaricom
In anticipation of a new year I finally used a saved champagne cork and muselet as my prop today.

Yes, I had to look up what the wire cage on the champagne was called.  I've always just called it 'the wire thingy'.  Whoda' thunk it had a fancy name….

I hope your new year is everything you hope it to be.  Cheers !

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Self portrait

I can only remember attempting a self portrait once before.  It wasn't very good.  I wasn't very serious about it and had used the back of some scratch paper and a ballpoint pen.  This time I was a little more enthusiastic after watching a video that Lisa Gloria just posted about.  Still …. not so serious as to get out the oil paints.
Self portrait, aprox. 6" x 4", gouache, © 2013, Nancy Van Blaricom

Instead I got out my gouache and gave it a try.  
I started out by sketching with a pen, then once I thought it was going in the right direction I started using the gouache.

I don't think this is and exact likeness, but, my husband recognized it as a portrait of me…. thats encouraging right?,
I did enjoy working not this one and hope when I attempt to use oils it will be as fun.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Some of my favorite artists:

 Last Saturday … the first Saturday after Thanksgiving, the annual Holiday House Bazaar once again opened the doors to start off the Holiday season.  This is usually the only event I participate during the year and its always something I look forward to.  I love that old friends drop by and I have the opportunity to make new friends.  Such fun !

This year the traffic seemed steady from the time the doors opened and vendors were kept busy until the doors closed.  Aside from all the many items for sale the community hall (where the bazaar takes place)  had a small menu where you were able to buy some soups, sandwiches, salads and coffee.

The fun day was topped off when the two paintings  below sold.
The top painting has always been a favorite.  This is a very poor photo, but even so, I love the light on the water.

The one thing that I wanted to capture when I painted the two paintings below was the light.  Finding a way to paint how I saw a particular moment.  Was it a cool day or was it a warm day, where was the sun at?  Was the wind blowing … all things that make a painting memorable to me.

Hope your December is going as well as mine is ….

Mail Call, 8"x 10" oil, © Nancy Van Blaricom

Early Morning Light, 8" x 10"  oil, © Nancy Van Blaricom

My booth is up on a stage where I can look down on a number of different vendors and customers.
A good time was had by all.  :-)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

My 12 favorite paintings of 2013

I'm not a prolific painter by any means, but, in checking my records I see I produced 56 paintings this year. 14 of which were small shell paintings on wood blocks, 2 watercolors and the rest were oils.  Part of the reason for the large amount ( for me its large anyway ) was that in January I entered a 30 paintings in 30 day challenge.  Believe me they were not all great paintings but some were worth keeping and tweaking on to improve. Some even ended up on my favorite list.

Here, in no particular order, are 12 of my favorites paintings with some comments on what I liked about the piece:

On the left was a typical scene from our boat travels into British Columbia.  I can picture myself there now by looking at that painting. I love how I've captured the fog and the hills.  This is B.C. to me.
The painting on the right is a local scene.  I am happy with the atmosphere I created in the sky with the clouds in a bright blue summer sky.

I was pleased with both of these two florals I painted.  I was challenged with them both because I wasn't use to painting flowers, ruffles with highs and lows creating depth of each petal. I think I'll try more florals.  I didn't realize how much I liked pink until I painted these … I guess thats part of the reason I liked the beets I painted also.  I thought the color combination was really nice here.

I liked the dappled sun I created in the painting on the left above.  I think I tweaked with both of these paintings and made them worth keeping but in my rush to post the 12 favorites I didn't take the time to find the finished photograph of them.  
The painting on the right made the favorite list because it not only brought back memories of the event but that I was able to paint the gesture of the 'Story Teller'.

I was really pleased with the atmosphere in the painting on the left above.  
I thought I captured the  essence of the location.  
I thought I did a good job with the rocky beach of another scene from B.C.  I like the trees also.

Maybe the cow made my list of favorites because I thought it really did look like so many of the cows I've seen.  I liked the way I didn't make the grass detailed, also I like seeing the sun on her.
The center painting is typical of my small shell block paintings … I like them all so it was hard to pick out one favorite.  This one is 6" x 6" on canvas.   Last, but not least for sure, is a painting of a little ceramic bird I picked up in a second hand store many years ago.  It really isn't that cute but for some reason I hang on to it.  I placed it on a cardboard box and when I finished painting it I felt after many tries through-out the years, I had finally captured the look of this bird.

I'd love to hear which is your favorite of these 12 paintings and why.  

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Research Vessel, 16" x 20"

Research Vessel, 16" . 20", oil on stretched canvas, © 2013 Nancy Van Blaricom

Living near the shoreline in south puget sound I see a lot of different boats traveling through these waters.  This particular boat was owned by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and they were just heading out to do some research on the six gill shark.  

Have you ever heard of a six gill shark?  It was new to us.  Read more about it through the link above.

Some thoughts on this painting:

I am very pleased that I was able to keep this painting like the vision I had for it.. When I started this one I wanted to make sure and keep the trees and bushes in the background.  Keeping their edges soft and not hard or sharp keeps them less in the focus of the painting.  That part of the painting basically painted itself.

Also, I was pleased that I managed to do some editing in my reference photo, eliminating a house that was in the background as well as editing the shoreline adding some boulders to the shore.

I felt while painting this one I achieved some  growth … and when that happens I am encouraged to start another painting.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Hanging small works …

I love it when one of my collectors sends me photos with my work hanging on their walls.

Recently one of my collectors sent me these photo's of some small shell paintings she had recently purchased.  Don't you think these look great?
 5 paintings of my Shell Series, Oil on wood block, © 2013 Nancy Van Blaricom

When you have a number of small items to hang there is always the question 'do I hang one or two together and hang the others on another wall' ….. or even hang them in another room.

I think she came up with the perfect solution to hang them vertically between two doors where there is just a few inches of space.

I love the look of these all hanging one on top of the other.

 5 paintings of my Shell Series, Oil on wood block, © 2013 Nancy Van Blaricom
Do you ever have small works to hang and you don't quite know where to hang them?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Just off the easel….

I don't often paint florals but when I saw these beautiful peonies I couldn't wait to see if I could capture the delicate and exquisite beauty of their dainty pink petals. Can you tell peonies are my very favorite flowers?

Three Peonies, 10" x 10", Oil on canvas, © 2013 Nancy Van Blaricom

 Side view of Three Peonies, 10" x 10", Oil on canvas, © 2013 Nancy Van Blaricom

Recently I purchased a few gallery wrapped 10" x 10" canvases.  I like the idea of not having to frame a painting in order to show it to the public.

I love to see a beautifully framed painting, yet, frames are as much a personal choice as the painting itself.  I usually frame my paintings inexpensively just to be able to show the work … affordable framing. I think passing on that price to the purchaser is better than me framing it in an expensive frame and having to pass on that price only to have the buyer reframe the work in an expensive frame of their choice.

I always offer to sell my work unframed … maybe by using the gallery wrapped canvas people can live with the art until they can make up their mind as to which frame would suit the painting best.

What are your thoughts to the framing issues?  do you always buy work pre framed.  Would you buy an unframed work and have it framed later?  I would love to hear your thoughts on framing…..

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Autumn fun ...

Autumn Scarecrow, watercolor, © Nancy Van Blaricom
We've had some beautiful weather here in the northwest with lovely yellow and gold leaves from the maple trees falling all around us.  It seems fitting that I should re-post this painting from quite a few years ago when I was mostly painting with watercolor.

Have a great Halloween.

Monday, October 28, 2013

About a year ago ...

Mini Pumpkin, 6" x 8", oil on panel, © Nancy Van Blaricom
My husband and I spent our morning raking up maple leaves from around our property.  It was a beautiful sunny day and just seeing all the pretty colors reminded me of a painting I did about a year ago.

What I really like about this small painting is the orange and blue together. Don't you think they are great compliments to each other?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Its just around the corner ...

Can you believe its already the middle of October? 

Lately I've been working towards having everything ready, well in advance, for our local holiday bazaar ...  each year its scheduled for the week-end after Thanksgiving and even though I know this I usually find that I'm still framing pieces or stuffing note cards in clear envelopes at midnight the night before. This year I've decided everything will be ready well in advance ... So far, so good. 

Each year I like to come up with something in a couple of different price range so that most anyone can afford an original piece of art for their home.  Last year I painted shells onto small 3.5" x 3.5" x 1/2" woodblocks. Each shell I painted I had found on our local beach, so each were very original.  

This year I'm working on a couple of original oil paintings I hope to finish for the show as well as another little item that might be of interest to some.  But ... until I know if it will be a good idea or not ... shhh, I'll have to keep it a secret.

Block shell paintings, oil on wood block, 3.5" x 3.5" x 1/2"
 © Nancy Van Blaricom 

Here are 4 of the 20 shell paintings I've finished for the bazaar.

On another note: Our weather has been beautiful the last couple of days & is promising to be great the rest of this week. Our local maple trees are gorgeous. Today was so pretty we decided to go to Theler Wetlands, about 24 miles away.  It was a beautiful sunny day.

These photos were taken a few years ago when we took the same trail as today.  Isn't it beautiful?

I hope your autumn weather is as good.

 Low tide in the wetland.

Beautiful colors in the marsh ... as well as a 
Grea Blue Heron sunning himself ... in the lower left hand corner.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Art of a Sketchbook - September

The other day I decided to walk to the waters edge and do some sketching instead of my usual 2 mile walk.  It was only 9 a.m. yet it was already showing signs that it was going to be a warm day.  With the sun in my face and my eyes squinting I was able to do one landscape sketch and two other sketches of nearby objects.

Looking south from the beach.
Cedar branch.
Dried leaves on the beach.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival

Recently we've had some really lovely weather here in the Northwest and a week ago today we decided to attend the 37th anniversary of the  Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival, about 90 miles away.  It was amazing.  Lots of people, lots of vendors, lots of food and lots of wooden boats.

Point Hudson boat basin.

A lot of boats are decorated with pretty bouquets of flowers,
either on their bow or stern.  Such a pretty sight with the beautiful polished wood.

For me one of the highlights of the day was when I spotted this plein air painter on the beach.

Periodically throughout the day I would go back to where he was painting and see how he was progressing.

And I was happy that I returned just as he was putting the finishing touches on his painting.

Ahhh, a beautiful painting to show for his hours of standing on the beach.

The end of our day we were rewarded with this view of boats sailing in the bay.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Mussels in a Group

I have been preparing for a holiday show that is the Saturday after Thanksgiving each year.

More often than not I find myself still working on framing or printing long after midnight the night before.  This year I'm ahead of schedule.  I have all my cards printed and most of my paintings ready to share.

This is a small 6" x 6" painting of Mussels to go along with the small wood block shell paintings I do.

Group of Mussels, 6" x 6", Oil on stretched canvas
© 2013 Nancy Van Blaricom

Side view of stretch canvas

Friday, September 06, 2013

My taboret ...

A number of months ago I purchased this wonderful cart at a garage sale in hopes of using it as a taboret  in my studio.  It works wonderfully. It glides across the floor so smoothly you wouldn't believe it, and look, it has 4 large drawers to store a lot of goodies in.

My taboret ...

My taboret cart neatly put away when not in use...
When I'm not using the taboret I am able to keep it at the end of my all purpose table with my brushes, most used tubes of paint and my palette sitting on top of it.

It has nice big drawers to store art supplies ...
Taboret almost in place....
When I am using the taboret I turn it sideways in front of my easel along with my palette. 

In order to paint from this distance I need to hold my brush by the end (not close to the ferrel) just to reach the painting.   I don't know if I would ever have been able to make that a habit with out the aid of my taboret.

Taboret in front of easel ...

In place and ready to start using it ...

What about you ... do you have a taboret?  Do you use it like I do, in front of you to help remind you to paint by holding the end of your brush?

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Art of a Sketchbook - Friday

Hi, Happy Friday to you all.  

We've had a lot of rain in the last few hours and when I looked outside I saw that the rain had broken a couple of these beautiful pink geranium flowers off so I went and gathered them up and put them into a vase.  I thought they would make a fun contour drawing in my favorite sketchbook, (the one with smooth paper from Barnes & Noble) for this weeks blog post, (you can click on the photo to enlarge it).

So, tell me have you been sketching?  Have I encouraged some of you to get your pencil and sketchbook & try sketching more than you use to?  I hope so because that is why I started 'The Art of a Sketchbook - Friday'.  I've really enjoyed sharing my sketchbooks with you.  Showing you that you do not need to follow any guideline ...  just get that sketchbook out and sketch with your pen, pencil, pastel, watercolor, whatever you feel comfortable with. 

With this post I've decided to slow down on 'The Art of a Sketchbook - Friday's' blog entries. For the time being I will post my sketchbook pages once a month instead of my usual weekly posts.  Please continue to sketch and then share your sketches with people. 

Until the next The Art of a Sketchbook sometime in September, happy sketching!

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Art of a Sketchbook - Friday

Three Sketches from three different days ....

I have a little ceramic bird I found in a thrift shop years ago.  I sketch him a lot but I don't seem to ever get the proportions right ... but I keep on trying.

I found this little Disney Mickey Mouse on the Oregon coast years ago.

This salt shaker is always in my studio.  It is mostly used for watercolor effects on wet paper.

There ya have it.  Three different sketches, three different days all from the same sketchbook... my favorite one with the nice smooth paper.  It's the 6" x 9" I bought at Barnes & Noble.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Mum's the Word ...

Orange Mum in a Spice Jar ...
 Orange Mum in a Spice Jar, 8" x 6", Oil on panel, © 2013, Nancy Van Blaricom

I think I mentioned to you that I was going to be doing more study where my oil works are concerned... Such as ... think about how to paint each subject as I paint it, how to use my brushes and what kind of brush strokes they make, etc.   

On this painting I set out thinking about brush strokes. How brush strokes in every direction suggest atmosphere.  Across suggests softness, down generally suggesting hard. 

On the easel ...

I set the little jar and a fake mum on a wood surface. Turned off the lights (in these photos the studio lights are on) in my studio and only had light coming from a window that was very near by, natural light.  When I first started the painting I had it on a little higher surface closer to eye level, but today when I re-visited it I just set it up on what was near-by.  I had to rework the glass spice jar and just a little work the background.

The easel and set-up...

I felt with this painting I have made a break-through.  I began this painting by focusing on brush work, I didn't try to finish this in one sitting, I accomplished most brush work by holding my brush at the end not close to the ferrel, which has been almost impossible for me before. I tried to focus on shapes I was seeing and colors as well.  

My favorite things about this painting: I like the reflections on the wood surface and the shine on the glass.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Art of a Sketchbook - Friday

Harold Speed :

"It is not enough to drink in and remember the emotional side of the matter, although this must be done fully, but if a memory of the subject is to be carried away that will be of service technically, the scene must be committed to memory in terms of whatever medium you intend to employ for reproducing it - in the case of a drawing, lines and tones. And the impression will have to be analyzed into these terms as if you were actually drawing the scene on some imagined piece of paper in your mind.  The faculty of doing this is not to be acquired all at once, but it is amazing of how much development it is capable.  Just as the faculty of committing to memory long poems or plays can be developed, so can the faculty of remembering visual things."

This is a quote I read not too long ago and decided to see just how much of a small outside patio table I would be able to sketch from memory.

I chose a simple object for my experiment and took a few moments to try to memorize the table.  It was  a bright sunny day and I tried to remember where the light was hitting it ... and where the shade was on the table.  Then two days later I sketched it from memory.

I thought this was a great experiment,  I remembered where the light hit the table but not where or how the shadow looked as it hit the ground or the shape of the ellipse of the base. I had started to sketch one of the chairs but realized early on I had not given enough thought to the chairs to even remember what they really looked like.

I'm going make an effort to try sketching more often from memory.  This will require me to pay more attention to what is before me.  

I took this picture today,when it is gray and cloudy, but it will give you an idea of the size and shape of the table I attempted to sketch from memory.

Do you think this is perhaps what is meant when they say "learning to see like an artist"?

Give it a try and let me know how you do sketching from memory.