Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Happy Holidays

Black Cap Chickadee Graphite on paper © Nancy Van Blaricom
Black Cap Chickadee, 3.5" x 6", Graphite ©2014, Nancy Van Blaricom

Friday, December 05, 2014

:: December Happenings ::

 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.  :-)

Monday, November 17, 2014

~ Book Review ~

Recently I downloaded The Art Forger on my Kindle to read on our travels. I normally prefer a good ol' paper book to hold in my hands but the Kindle served both an internet issue and being able to pack more than one book for the trip.

The book (novel) is based on a real art heist where a $500 million dollar worth of art was stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990.

The main character, Claire Roth, is a professional artist who makes a living painting reproductions of famous paintings.  Very soon into the book Claire is asked by an art dealer to make a forgery of one of the Edgar Degas paintings that was stolen from the Gardner Museum. Claire knows this is not right, but, she is offered as part payment her own art show which is something she has longed for so decides to forge the painting.

I enjoyed the book mostly because it shares artistic details which, for me, made it an interesting read.  Also it's a bit of a mystery as well as a love story.  You also read about Isabella Stewart Gardner and her numerous artist friends of the 1800's.

If you haven't read this book yet and you enjoy reading novels about art you might think of picking this one up.

Monday, November 10, 2014

~ Photos of Fall & East Coast Travel ~

Hi everyone,

Recently we took a journey to the East coast and saw some amazing scenes of fall colors and I thought I'd share just a few of the photos I took.  Although I think we may have just missed the most vivid colors of the season it was still remarkable.

In no particular order:
This first photo is of the beautiful Acadia National Park.  Acadia was first established in February 1919.

I have heard of Acadia National Park for many years and finally was able to see it for myself.  There was artistic inspiration at every turn.  If you haven't been able to see it for yourself make sure and put in on your Must See List.

Pretty colors were to be seen in Bar Harbor also.  Can you believe I didn't hear one local person say Ba  Haba while I was there?

Halifax showed color at every turn.

In each town we visited we enjoyed many local displays of color.  This street scene in particular caught my eye as it was staged with urns, pumpkins, colorful fall mums and then the added touch of the bicycle. Isn't it pretty?

There was beautiful scenery everywhere we looked. Although I still have many photos to go through  I just wanted to share a few before I get busy with other things and this season turns to gray and wet winter weather.

Enjoy !

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Cloud Studies #16, #17 & #18 & 19

I'm looking forward to attaching 16 or so of the cloud studies to a hard support and framing them altogether as one large study.  I'll keep you posted.

~ Cloud Studies #16, 17, 18 & 19 , each are on
4" x 6", oil on Gessoed watercolor paper 5 1/2" x 7 1/4"

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Practicing brushstrokes ...

Yellow Tulip, 8" x 6", Oil on canvas, © 2014, Nancy Van Blaricom

While going through a box of props I found a bouquet of silk tulips that I had stored away. I decided I'd like to use one of them, just one single flower, to practice some brush work.  Thinking about using the whole bouquet just seemed too overwhelming at this time so I cut one tulip and began to paint this lone flower.

Although it wasn't a real flower or a whole bouquet I loved working on this painting.

By using the single tulip I was able to concentrate on how my brush was being loaded & where to place each stroke.  Also I took my time and attempted to look for warm and cool areas, soft and hard areas, contrasts in value - dark/light.

This was such fun to work on I just may be encouraged to see what else is in my prop box in the way of flowers….. maybe.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

September's magic ....

Last Monday I took my camera on our walk and snapped a few photos of some colorful signs of autumn I am seeing here in the Northwest.

One lone maple leaf laying in the street.  Beautiful colors on a wet street.  Signs that it rained last night while I was sleeping.

A small maple in amongst the dry grasses with all the leaves turning beautiful gold, yellow and orange.  

Looking into the green trees and huckleberry bushes you notice the gold leaves as the start their journey for the winter months.

My last photo was one I took while we were off on our boat this last week.  Plenty of seals were sunbathing on the beach as we went by.  A beautiful array of colors as the morning sun warmed the seals and the trees.

I love how my surroundings are changing slowly to fall.  How about you?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The hiatus is over ….

I have to admit I never thought I'd take such a long break from my blog.  I've noticed a number of my favorite bloggers have also taken some time off this summer.  Hmmm, wonder what all this means ... Surely blogging isn't going by the wayside. I think we all just got busy and let our creativity come and go without talking about it on our blogs, what do you think?

So, are you on my blog as apposed to just reading it in a feed? If you are on my blog you can see my new header?  I'm in the process of making some changes on the blog.  I'm thinking about deleting some old unnecessary blog posts as well as doing some organizing just to freshen it up a bit.

Anyway, lets talk painting .....

Harley, 8" x 10", watercolor on Arches 140 lb cold press
© Nancy Van Blaricom
My latest commission was a portrait of this handsome Chesapeake Bay Retriever.  His name was Harley and he was as big as a Harley Davidson motorcycle, lol.  Harley was born on September 11, 2001.  Right, yes he was born on that 9/11.  Not an easy birthday to forget.  Harley's portrait was commissioned by a dear friend of Harley's owners a couple of weeks before Harley passed away. We 
decided at that time to continue on with the commission believing they would love receiving it.  

When I take on a commission I always tell those who are ordering it that I will try but there is no guarantee. Especially with a pet portrait ... they are so personal. I usually feel added pressure to make sure and catch the personality of the beloved pet, that occasionally it just doesn't come and I need to let it go. Fortunately Harley came about pretty easily after some no pressure sketching. 

I had previously taken a number of photos of Harley.  Some photos were of him where he turned his back to me ... thats what the first sketch you see is about, Harley's head from the back, just to learn some of his mannerisms.  Next I got out the watercolors and sketched him in the headshot that was picked for this commission.  Just loose brush work deciding on the values. Then, one more sketch in a sketchbook just to get the feel of where I was going to go with this.  By this time I was feeling pretty comfortable with Harley and proceeded with my painting.

Prep sketches for Harley, various sizes, © Nancy Van Blaricom
Since the owners received their portrait of Harley they have both personally thanked me and told me how much they appreciate this portrait, saying I had really captured him.  
It doesn't get better than that.

He will be missed sorely by many of those who knew him.  As big as he was, and he was a big boy, he was their baby.  R.I.P. Harley.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cloud Study #15

~ Cloud Study #15~
4" x 6", oil on Gessoed watercolor paper 5 1/2" x 7 1/4"

A friend sent me a beautiful morning sky photo.  That photo was the reference I used … my cloud study does not do the beautiful sky photo justice.  One day ... one day I will get better at painting skies with beautiful colors in them.


Happy Spring ...

Today, the first day of Spring, we are fortunate to have sun and daffodils.

Here in the Northwest we've been told that our summer will be warmer than normal. But, for now it is just perfect.

Hope the first day of spring is as superb as ours.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Cloud Study #13 & #14

Have you noticed I've been missing?  Although I have been thinking and reading 'art' I wasn't in the mood to paint.  I guess I was just wanting a break.  But .... I'm back today with a few more of my Cloud Studies. The top photo was from a reference photo taken in the summer.  I  loved painting this one.  I can almost feel that summer day.

~ Cloud Study #13 ~
4" x 6", oil on Gessoed watercolor paper 5 1/2" x 7 1/4"

The top photo was from a reference photo taken in the summer.  I  loved painting this one.  I can almost feel that summer day.

~ Cloud Study #14 ~
4" x 6", oil on Gessoed watercolor paper 5 1/2" x 7 1/4"

This second reference was from a more recent photo taken when we were experiencing one of our colder days with snow on the ground.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Cloud Studies #10, #11 and #12

~ Cloud Study #10 ~
4" x 6", oil on Gessoed watercolor paper 5 1/2" x 7 1/4"

~ Cloud Study #11 ~
4" x 6", oil on Gessoed watercolor paper 5 1/2" x 7 1/4"

~ Cloud Study #12 ~
4" x 6", oil on Gessoed watercolor paper 5 1/2" x 7 1/4"

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Cloud Study #9

~ Cloud Study #9 ~
4" x 6", oil on Gessoed watercolor paper 5 1/2" x 7 1/4"

I was wondering if I would become bored with just painting clouds after 5 or 6. I thrilled to say that I'm thouroughly loving this study and look forward to my next one.  

I can see some growth from my first one I painted, but not enough growth in my painting skills to stop now.

My next few cloud studies will be in one post instead of a blog post for each study … I think we will all be happy about that decision. :-)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Cloud Study #8

~ Cloud Study #8~
4" x 6", oil on Gessoed watercolor paper 5 1/2" x 7 1/4"

Monday, January 27, 2014

Cloud Study #7 & Gesso-ing watercolor paper

~ Cloud Study #7~
4" x 6", oil on Gessoed watercolor paper 5 1/2" x 7 1/4"

On another note …

Awhile back, Michael Chesley Johnson had a blog post about preparing his panels.  Cleaning any oil off of the panels first, then a layer of PVA size, 2 layers of gesso, then a thin layer of Acrylic Matte Medium to help the gesso from being quite so absorbent.  

Thats one thing I don't like about the gessoed paper to paint on.  Its way too absorbent to my liking, and since I happened to have a jar of Matte Medium I couldn't wait to give it a try on top of my already gessoed watercolor paper.  Its perfect!  I love the way my brush handles on the paper now.

If gesso on paper is too absorbent for you also, you might enjoy giving this method a try.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Cloud Study #6

~ Cloud Study #6~
4" x 6", oil on Gessoed watercolor paper 5 1/2" x 7 1/4"

With each cloud study I'm recognizing that I am feeling more confidence in my brush work. I still have a long way to go, but, its nice to see some growth.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Cloud Study #5

~ Cloud Study #5 ~
4" x 6", oil on Gessoed watercolor paper 5 1/2" x 7 1/4"

This was a pure pleasure to work on.  I tried to stay focused on the task at hand and as a result I saw the shapes of clouds take place. This is encouraging and I look forward to working on #6.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Cloud Study #3 and #4

~  Cloud Study #3 ~
4" x 6", oil on Gessoed watercolor paper 5 1/2" x 7 1/4"

~  Cloud Study #4 ~
4" x 6", oil on Gessoed watercolor paper 5 1/2" x 7 1/4"

When I had finished with these two studies I was a little disappointed with myself.  I had forgot all about what I wanted to learn with these studies, *sigh.

I wish I would have started out with thinner darks and as my values become lighter my paint would become thicker. This isn't how I approached either of these studies.  But, these are studies and I have taken note … hopefully I have learned.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Cloud Study #2

~ Cloud Study #2 ~
4" x 6", oil on Gessoed watercolor paper 5 1/2" x 7 1/4"

I'm enjoying this series so far.  I do think this is going to finally give me more confident brush handling. It may not come as fast as I'd like, but with practice I think I can accomplish my goals.

I did, during most of this study, remember to pay attention to my brushstrokes, but looking back on it I can see I need to work on direction of my brush strokes to help form the object.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A new plan ...

Last year in evaluating my work I realized I needed a refresher class with some of the basics.  I am a big fan of  Elizabeth Floyd's work and found the 4 week class she was offering a perfect solution to my art needs.

This year I've decided that my newest art goal is to work hard at better brush handling as well as work on gaining more confident brush strokes.

In following Elizabeth's work she has been sharing some beautiful 'cloudscapes'.  Small works full of confident bold brush handling and in seeing her small cloudscapes I realized that would be a great subject to help me with my goals. What better way to achieve my new goals than to pick a subject and paint it until your eyes become crossed, right?  Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but, for awhile I am going to paint and repaint the same subject.  Clouds. Thats right, clouds.  

Although each cloud is different the subject will be the same.   I will look through my photos starting there … working on one after another.  Looking for different colors and values as I paint … remembering to paint with confidence.

I hope you will stick with me as I start this series of cloud studies.  I promise to try hard on my goals and to get better as I work on this series  I hope you will share your thoughts on the studies as I post them.

Below Cloud Study #1:

~ Cloud Study #1 ~

~ Cloud Study #1 ~
4" x 6", oil on Gessoed watercolor paper 5 1/2" x 7 1/4"