Friday, November 17, 2017

LOOKING FOR COLOR


Garden of the Gods in Colorado


I needed a photo of a landscape for a 30-day watercolor sketching project. I came across my file of photos of the Garden of the Gods in Colorado and was struck by the color palette that ran through my photos. Burnt sienna, yellow ochre, raw umber -- color names that roll off my tongue and that remind me of Florence and Tuscany whose landscapes are filled with them and where their use as art materials originated. Cave paintings include these three colors and the ancient Romans mined the earth to recover the iron oxide clay that produced these well-known hues.

My interest peaked, I looked for other landscapes whose color palettes identified a place. I compared the Garden of the Gods landscape with Whidbey Island, Washington, with its reds and greens.


Whidbey Island, Washington



the lush green and grey woods near Ashland, Oregon,


Ashland, Oregon


the greys of the land and sky near the Pacific Ocean from different parts of the Bay Area.


Pacific Ocean coastline


and the rich teal and burnt sienna around Amsterdam.


Amsterdam



I realized how easily I could identify each place by its colors. Our senses are ripe with memories. Is there a color palette that reminds you of a place you've visited?


Friday, November 10, 2017

ONE YEAR

One year, and what a year it has been. The national tumult created a new dialogue about what our country means. Every gathering I attended brimmed with discussions about what we needed to do to resolve issues that we have ignored or thought we had resolved. I, like many people, had been too complacent for too long. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said,

"History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period
 of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, 
but the appalling silence of the good people."*

I have grappled all year with what I could do to speak out and support my beliefs. I marched in the Women's March last January, I sent postcards of our National Parks to our leaders in Congress to remind them that people of another era with strong ideals created our park system to safeguard the beauty of many parts of our unique country. I emailed and wrote my own representatives whenever I felt strongly about new Congressional actions. I used Countable* and the AAUW Two-Minute Activist* to further express my voice. I could have done more, but with reflection, I realized that I am not comfortable as a vociferous activist or willing to step up to run for an office. But I can do my small part to support what I believe in and those whom I see as holders of American values of freedom of expression, honesty, and diversity.

As an artist, I looked for another way to be heard.  I found a poster exhibit, Get With the Action at SF MOMA until Spring 2018, which showcases political posters since the 1960s to the present. One of my favorite posters from that era still hangs in our house.



I received the postcard, This Is Your Assignment, from Holstee* as part of their monthly mailings. The card, a design by Courtney E. Martin and Wendy MacNaughton, came during Holstee's month dedicated to Resilience. Martin, a writer, and MacNaughton, an illustrator, designed the postcard to remind us in this turbulent year that we can find answers to our fears.


Produced by Holstee, Designed by Courtney Martin and Wendy McNaughton

In preparation for the next Women's March in Oakland in January, the Oakland group has designed a new logo to fit the messages that the Women's March conveys.


from Women's March Oakland


What's the best way for me to stand for what I believe in?
Be creative.




Check out these websites for creative ideas:
HOLSTEE:  https://www.holstee.com/collections/shop-themed-kits/products/resilience-moving-through

other postcard sites:

https://www.andersondesigngroupstore.com/blogs/news/art-soul-of-america-collection

https://www.syracuseculturalworkers.com

http://wendymacnaughton.com

http://www.courtneyemartin.com

WOMEN'S MARCH OAKLAND:  https://www.bonfire.com/womens-march-oakland-oak-tree/
COUNTABLE:  https://www.countable.us
AAUW TWO-MINUTE ACTIVIST:  https://www.aauw.org/what-we-do/public-policy/two-minute-activist/


*More of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. can be found at https://paradoxologies.org/2010/08/28/martin-luther-king-jr-on-complacency-mlk/

Warning: beware of the website, martinlutherking.org. It is a front for Stormfront, a racist, extremist group.

Friday, November 3, 2017

ART DOESN'T COME EASY


What qualities best describe you?
Adventurous, resourceful, honest, resilient, persistent?

We all can find a little of ourselves in those words, but persistence stays at the top of my list. 

Watercolor is hard. I am determined though. I keep working at watercolors, and sometimes I'm satisfied with the result, other times I'm not. I first learned to watercolor using layers of washes. In a new class, I am trying to learn direct painting, where I put a stroke of color down, decide if it is the right color, and then add other colors directly to the wet paint. Sometimes this technique works for me, sometimes it doesn't.  Some days I feel like picking up my art supplies and throwing them in the trash. But I don't. 

Instead, I follow a quote from a greeting card, "If things aren't going RIGHT, go LEFT." I find other ways to help me over the bump that occurs in every creative process. When I try too hard and focus too much on little details, I have to remind myself to relax, breathe, and feel the movement of the brushes or pencils that I'm working with. Sometimes I step back and do something completely different. Yesterday I spent the day organizing parts of my workroom (again). 




This last month while I continue with my watercolor class, I answered an online challenge to do a quick postcard-sized watercolor of the same landscape every day (I excluded weekends). None of the paintings are worth framing, but they were a good way to release all the inner demons who tighten me up, who lurk behind my brush and zoom in on all the little flaws, leaving me cranky and disheartened.




At the end of the sequence, I realized I was much more relaxed with the direct painting method I have been trying to learn. Again, the new, unfinished painting is not worth framing, but I feel I have a better understanding of what I like about watercolor and how to add in the new techniques I'm learning. I keep trying.