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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sunset Blues and Danish Rooftops

"Carlsbad Sunset North"
8 x 12 Chalk pastel on paper
Click here to purchase
We get a lot of awe-inspiring sunsets here in California, especially along the coast in the fall and winter for some reason.  One of our favorite sunset spots is at the beach in Carlsbad.  If you get there on a day where the ocean fog hasn't rolled in early, the last hour of sunlight makes for spectacular viewing.

I used blue-toned Canson Mi-Teintes paper for these two sunset pieces, one showing the view north (including the distant lights of the Oceanside pier) and one looking straight out over the horizon.  I took the reference photos back in December, on a day where we decided to avoid the Christmas shopping rush and hide out down along the beach for a few hours.

"Carlsbad Sunset West"
9 x 12 Chalk pastel on paper
Click here to purchase
Both sunset pieces are daily painting exercises, completed in one session each with the exception of a little finishing before posting.  I tend to go over my horizon lines with a ruler.  If I don't, I can hear my grandmother's voice every time I look at it, reminding me that a water horizon must be absolutely straight.  It's funny how some of those early art lessons stay with you for life...

This last piece was rescued from the pile of epic failures:

"Solvang Skyline"
9 x 12 Wax and chalk pastel on flat canvas
Click here to purchase
It started with wax pastels.  I was in the throes of morning sickness, and worried about using chalk or acrylic.  I decided to try wax pastels, blending them with a bit of water.  I disliked using them for two reasons: the smell bothered me (probably wouldn't have been in issue if I wasn't in that awful first trimester), and the color didn't pack enough punch.  If I had more of a delicate touch as an artist, they probably would have been great.  As it was, the effect was like weak watercolors, so I put it away for a few months.  This week I decided to give it a touch up with the chalk pastel, and was much happier with the result. 

Solvang is a Danish settlement community along Highway 101 in California.  It's become a must-stop for us on any trips up to Central or Northern California, as it's a great place to eat and has some interesting shops.  I've taken a lot of pictures there, but this is the first time I've painted one of them.  If you're craving a little taste of Europe, this is a good destination to get your fix!  We always save room for a little bakery stop before leaving.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Growing a Garden...In a Workshop

"Monet's Muse" 22 x 28in Acrylic on Canvas
ORIGINAL SOLD
Click here to view prints
It's summer again, and time for another Sojie Workshop.  This time the focus is on landscape and light, with guest demos and a variety of translations including traditional and digital media.

I wasn't sure if I would participate this round, as being pregnant makes it difficult for me to predict how I'll feel each day.  Scrolling through the photo gallery, though, I spotted one that called to me:  a photo of Monet's garden in Giverny.  I was lucky enough to be able to translate this photo, and the result is above.

(Click here to view original photo:http://www.redbubble.com/people/rhoufi/works/8918649-monets-garden-the-lake-and-the-lodge)

The great thing about the Sojie workshops is that artists are required to post works in progress.  For me, this means thinking carefully about each stage of the painting, and taking my time as I paint.  I usually paint in a bit of a fury, so these workshops give me a chance to grow and learn from the process of posting and sharing along the way.

I bought a small set of Golden acrylics, with pthalo greens and blues, which I built up in thin layers (another way of working slowly and with more restraint).

The painting was quite enjoyable, and progressed in the following stages:


Stage 1: I toned the canvas with some payne's gray and white, blocking in lights and darks.







Stage 2: More lights and darks, and some basic compositional elements included as well.  I worked a bit on the water, knowing it would be an important part of the background of the painting. 
Stage 3: I finished up the house and sky, and the light hills in the background.  I used a large brush to work in the middle ground greens, keeping the brushstrokes uniform to the forms of the plants.  Finished the lights and darks in the water, pulling some of the colors from the background and middle ground into the water.
Stage 4: Finished the middle ground flowers, added some foreground greens, and blocked in the form of the foreground tree to see if it would work in the composition.
Final stage: finished the tree and foreground flowers, using darks to emphasize the lights in the colors.

Anything from Monet's garden would be inspiring to many artists, but this particular piece came at a unique time for me.  I had recently inherited a book called Monet's Garden in Art, which features artwork from different guests inspired by the famous Giverny garden.  Shortly after, I read about an exhibit in New York that features a replica of Monet's house and gardens, which left me wishing I could afford to grab a quick plane ticket and go see it.  By the time I saw Rhoufi's photo, it seemed like a natural stop on the inspiration highway. 

Click here to see Rhoufi's profile:

Click here to see more of my botanically inspired artworks:

Friday, June 15, 2012

Along the Water

"Along the Water" 9 x 12 Chalk Pastel on Paper

Haven't touched the pastels lately, but I bought a new set since I was running out of colors and have been yearning to put them to paper. 

A few years ago, I took some great photos at Irvine Park.  I'd been to the park a few years in a row without even knowing there was quite a bit of water there, rife with paddle boats for the amusement of park visitors.  I snapped this scene from the train, knowing one day it would give me a great little painting exercise.

Something about the park reminds me of the images from the old Impressionist works, with families enjoying picnics or lounging on the water for the afternoon.  I didn't see any ladies in nice dresses with parasols, but the atmosphere is quite similar-- a nice place to relax on a summer afternoon.

The painting didn't take long, as it was more of a spontaneous play session.  I've been working with acrylics on canvas, so I took a little break to enjoy the sensation of scrubbing dry chalk on paper for a while. 

I did manage to get a piece into the San Diego County Fair again this year:
"Indoor Garden" 9 x 12 Mixed Media on Paper
Original on display through 7/4/12
Click here to purchase original

I still haven't decided if I'm physically up for any plein air contests this year, but will definitely head down to the fair to check out the fine art exhibit (it's a big one-- over 700 pieces I think!)  I'm always happy if I get anything in to this show, as it's juried and they only accept about half of what is submitted for the exhibit.


Click here to see my California Dreamin' collection of prints on Redbubble:
http://www.redbubble.com/people/nikihilsabeck/collections/15817-california-dreamin