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Monday, December 27, 2010

Rainforest Lily Pads

I've always loved pond lilies and lily pads. They evoke a feeling of peace, quiet and a pretend world. This painting is mainly in watercolor, but the area of the lily pads are in paper collage and acrylic paint. For paintings like this, I'm having difficulty photographing them because the texture of the raised collage area is lost. I guess the viewer has to imagine the texture!
If you click on the painting, then use the magnifying "plus sign" to further magnify the painting, you can get a sense of the texture.

Monday, December 13, 2010

September 11th Feelings

In September, I was touched once again by the sorrow of the 9/11 experience and got to thinking about my response. Feelings of sadness, of loss, of terror, of the senseless loss of life and wounding that continues, even as the years go by, somehow has to all be dealt with. As war rages on in the Middle East, as mistrust continues, we have to start building bridges of understanding and of hope for peace. My response was this painting: "Out of Destruction, Hope Rises". It is in acrylic on canvas with oriental paper and gold foil collage.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Here is my favorite little artist! My grandson, Ben, is shown here last year enjoying finger painting!

I've been promising to give some ideas on my blog about encouraging children in art. As you look at the delight on Ben's face and the hands all paint covered, you know this is where the action is with little artists. Ben's mother, my daughter, Julia, was " into" art from an early age, also. She now has a studio in her home and Ben shares that area with his mother. Not only is he encouraged to work on a flat activity area, he also, has an easel of his own.
This love of art is multi-generational in our family. My mother was an artist and I grew up doing my art next to her in her "studio" (our dining room table, that had to be cleared for dinner each day!)
Finger painting is always a great way to get little artists going!

When I was a child in school, finger painting was a once a year deal, and then only with some teachers. My standout memory there was that I was all excited to do finger painting in the afternoon with the traveling art teacher who came once a month to our classes. Late in the morning I developed pains in my stomach and tried to ignore them, but soon the teacher discovered I could not get up from my seat, the pain was so bad. My mother was called and I was whisked off to the hospital with appendicitis. The doctors told Mama that I kept saying as I was put under, "I want to finger paint!" over and over! LOL!

Doing finger painting with little kids in my teaching years (pre-kinders to second grade), the thing is that they so enjoy it that they will not give up until they wear right through the paper and have nothing to save, to take home or hang up. So, to help with the mess and to help them have some paintings to hang up, I bought a stack of old cafeteria trays at a flea market and would give each child who was painting a tray to paint on instead of paper. They had just as much fun and whenever they got a picture they liked, I would press a paper down on the tray and they had a "print" of their design and could go right on painting!
Also, as another lark, when we were highlighting the letter "P" in reading, I would let them "Print with Pudding". Now that is fun! Same trays, (washed completely clean!!!!), and I gave each kid a little tub of their favorite flavor of pudding.
We would not do any prints of this! Soon they would "eat" their "paint" ! Finger licking good art!

I've been known to do some finger painting in my watercolor washes....great fun!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A year ago, I was in Blair Co., Pennsylvania, attending my mother's family reunion. The next day, I went to Ganister, where my grandparents lived. I spent most summers there as a child and everywhere are things that bring back fond memories. My grandfather owned a big brick house and on the same property was an old double frame house that, at one time, had been a freight depot for the railroad. Various family members lived in it over the years. In my childhood, this end of it was Uncle Fred and Aunt Barbara Guerin's home. In those days it was stuffed full of kids and the warm smells of Aunt Barbara's homemade bread and other goodies.
Time has passed and it was no longer lived in. In sad repair and need of much restoration, my cousins sold it to the Rails to Trails organization. After restoration, it is now has new life as a rest stop on the trail between Hollidaysburg and Williamsburg. On my last visit, I photographed the old buildings and scenes. This particular door, the old cellar door in Uncle Fred's house just begged to be painted. It represented how time adds a certain patina yet, a sense of timelessness, too! This door was very old in my childhood and still goes on into the next hundred years!
It is painted in pastel on Wallis Sanded Paper. That day, the light played with colors in a lovely way as it streamed down across the door and wall while the shadows had a wonderful purple quality. Moss did its part, also, in the color show! The door, the wall and all the house is ready to go on into the future!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

When is white not white at all? Actually, we can say, "always" if we are looking carefully and if we are painting carefully!
The Watercolor Workshop June project had to do with seeing and painting white. Our shared image was a white iris. As usual, we can take liberties with the image and I did add some elements. The interplay of light and shadow and the influence of nearby colors all influence what we see and what our brains have come to read as "white." This was a fun project to do and it got the whole group into great discussions of the rendering of white subjects.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Glacier's Gift to the Prairie

The painting that is at the top of the blog is one that I made based upon photographs taken at Curtis Prairie at the University of Wisconsin Arboretum in Madison, Wisconsin. Curtis Prairie is one of the few original tall grass prairies left in the state. By that, I mean that is was never plowed under, farmed or developed in any way. We are fortunate to have many new prairie restorations to further expand our natural tall grass prairies in the state.
I call this painting "The Glacier's Gift to the Prairie." Another feature in Wisconsin are the beautiful glacial boulders that the glaciers brought down from Canada and dumped in our state.
Many homes have lovely rock walls in gardens made of these boulders. We have a couple of those in our home gardens. This particular rock wall is along the edge of the prairie at the visitor center.
I painted it in pastel on Wallis sanded pastel paper. I was attracted to the light and shadow patterns on the rocks and the interaction with the native grasses.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Pair of Parrots

Here is another version of the green parrot project for my Watercolor Workshop Group. This time I experimented with ideas from Karlyn Holman's books about using oriental papers and Yes!Paste to collage the background leaf area around the parrots. I have several of Karlyn's books and love her many wonderful ideas to "break the mold" and experiment.
Here is the URL for Karlyn Holman's web site. There she lists her books and DVD's. She is a great inspiration!

In this painting, I saved the area I wanted to paint the parrots in, as "saved white", then worked colors into the background in a wet-in-wet method. While these were still wet, I started tearing off small pieces of the oriental paper, various sizes and laying them around the parrots. I used a wet brush to paint them into the colors there. Next, I let everything completely dry. The next day, I opened the Yes!Paste jar and added a small puddle of water on top of the paste and worked it around with a brush until I had a nice "paint quality" that I could paint over the pieces of oriental paper. This did not disrupt the colors already there and glued the oriental paper down. When this was dry, I could add any other colors I wanted, define the tree stump, leaves etc. and paint in the parrots. I used white oriental paper with some gold threads running through it on the leaf area and on the tree stump I used some oriental paper with a sort of bark, brown leaf quality.

When I shared my painting with the Watercolor Workshop group, questions were raised about the archival quality of the Yes!Paste. This sent me off to seek an answer. It turns out that when the paste was first on the market, it had a different composition and was not archival. But, they developed a new formula and changed the paste. It is now very archival and used by many artists and by scrapbookers and and other crafters. It is available at most art and craft stores and from DickBlick and Cheap Joe's and other art suppliers.

Since I painted this one, I have found that Daniel Smith's Catalog is a wonderful source of oriental papers that can be used in this method.
They are listed under "Decorative Papers" and some are made in Japan, in Thailand and in Napal. The thin, lace, filmy qualities are great to use in this way.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I belong to a Watercolor Workshop group and we have monthly projects. Last month, our theme was greens and
the posted optional image was that of a parrot.
Having a topic to focus upon and shared images, makes it great fun to see who other artists create on the same theme. I'm always inspired by what my watercolor friends come up with and enjoy experimenting along with them.
Here is my finished painting on the shared image.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A time to begin.....

Why a "Playpen?" After teaching children for 43 years, mostly very young children, they taught me that we are naturally creative, artistic, and intelligent. Play is the birthright of children. But, what happens to human beings as they grow up in our culture? Unlike my kindergarten students, my second grade students were asking "How to you draw?" , "What color should I use?", and stating whether they were "good at" and whether their classmates were "good at" art and about any other thing we were doing. By fourth grade I noticed we had students who thought of themselves as "talented" in art or "good in" art and students who thought of themselves as lacking talent or "were not good at" art. What is it that we take away from human beings as we educate them, raise them in our families, and allow them contact with our culture?
As I followed my heart back into active art after my retirement, I was confronted by the same traits in my fellow artists as well. Very young children do not concern themselves with being "good at" unless they get messages from others about whether they are or are not "good at". Besides witnessing this change over time in the artistic sense of trust, exploration, creativity in children, I noticed the many children who felt they needed to seek adult confirmation as to what adults thought of their work. They run to the teacher often with their drawings, paintings asking if we like their work. Unfortunately I saw most adults feeding into this trap, by offering praise or criticism. My own preference was to turn the question around as ask the child, "What do you like most about your picture?"
Thus the "playpen". For my quest is to experiment, create, explore, paint, draw, enjoy. And to nurture that in my artistic friends....and my non-artistic friends as well.
Welcome to Elsie's Art Playpen! Jump in and join me in the creative process!