Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Travels, Art Journaling and Plein Air Colored Pencil Paintings

Slocan Lake View, BC, CA- 6" X 12" Plein Air,  Colored Pencil on Ampersand Pastelboard
Available For Sale

As life gets back to normal after traveling for almost a month in September.  I'm playing catch up on all things art related and business related.  But BOY! did I have fun! For an artist who gets recharged by traveling and being on the road, seeing the Pacific Northwest (specifically the Oregon Coast and up to British Columbia, Canada) made the top of my list for my 2018 travels.  I'm an east coast girl so I know it pretty well, north south and mid Atlantic.  Although I've enjoyed previous trips to Washington State and Montana, getting to enjoy the PNW for 3+ weeks as an artist and spend time with my sister was a joy.

I travel journaled for most of the trip and those images will come in another post, stay tuned.  I still need to put a few finishing touches to a couple pages :))  Journaling is always a great way to get the feel of a place for me art wise.  Observe the lighting, atmosphere and vibes of a place. (And the afore mentioned are so different than here in VA.)  Travel journaling kind of gives my head time to adjust to actually making art on a trip. It also gives this "name challenged" brain of mine a place to write location names, places and people I see along the way.  The dates on photos correlate to the dates in my journal so I know where I was on each day.

The scene above was of Slocan Lake's south slip, where ferry boats would come into Silverton in the early part of the 20th Century bringing supplies and miners families to town.  My sister has a lake house there and her view of Slocan Lake is beautiful also.  So many photos to paint from so little time! My reference photo taken for a few tweaks after I returned to Oregon is below.  While the photo is close to what I saw, the camera greatly changes the tones on the far mountain range I observed.  They were not the very blue as seen below.  While pretty I wanted to capture the actual view.
Photo of Slocan Lake View for reference

You see the human eye can see so many more values and colors than the camera. Which clones major darks and cannot see the subtle tones our eyes can.  Plus for this morning out it was really about the fog that still settled in the highest mountain ranges and the lightly dusted glacier of Idaho Peak seen in the distant right.  With some editing of the scene, (removing a couple small trees that interfere with the distance focal point) I hope I can give just a little of my experience of a moist, foggy day to the viewer.  The dew in the grass and shear quiet of the location.  While it was only mid September the tourist season was ending in Silverton.  The campgrounds nearby emptied in the few days we were there and brisk high 30 degree temps hit in the mornings at lake level.

I took so many photos while in British Columbia of the scenery, mountains, rivers and lakes  I will have no shortage of landscape images to work from.  If anyone is from that area who stumbles upon my blog I hope you feel I did it justice.

Of course the piece is for sale and you can contact me at my email: gloria@gloriacallahan.com if your interested.  All of my Colored Pencil works on Ampersand board are created using artist grade lightfast pigmented colors, and are protected with fixative and 6 light layers of archival UV Acrylic Varnish.  

Now off to frame this little guy!

Friday, August 3, 2018

International Guild Of Realism Acceptance for my Colored Pencil Work

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"Happy Tequila" 16" X 12" Colored Pencil Painting on Ampersand Pastelboard

Being MIA from the blog apologies and fantastic news!  While still working and teaching in colored pencil I've been a little preoccupied with all that summer brings into your life.  A too long break from this blog is one of them.  So sorry all if you've been waiting.  

And the big news is I finally got out of my comfort zone and actually applied to The International Guild Of Realism for membership.  This was a career goal for me and one I had been putting off for all the reasons we do such things.  Fear of not being good enough and procrastination come to mind as just a few reasons.  I know this may sound odd if you have been following me for a time.  After all, I  have my signature status in the CPSA, I've been showing around the US since 2008, teaching and demoing my techniques for 9 years.  Not to mention blogging about it for almost as long.  

While I am a member of several art associations and have held office in some of them, I like you have that little voice that whispers into my brain............ you know the one....... the one that says unkind, un-encouraging phrases.   

I find it best to apply to art shows, competitions and professional organizations with no expectations at all.  Put it out there in the universe or internet and promptly forget about it.  Well kind of, if it's a show I need to track where I have entered my work for commitment to show.  But other than that give it up.  After all there's not much use in worrying about it after I hit the enter button is there!  

Well to my absolute delight I was accepted!!!!!!  Woooohoooo!!! ;))
After paying my dues I am now listed on their member page and will be able to apply to their future show calls for entry. The next show for me to apply to will be in 2019, since they request you not apply during a current show process.   But they do have a show curated or juried this fall at: 
IGOR 13th Annual
Juried Exhibition at
Sugarman-Peterson Gallery in Santa Fe, NM 
Oct 5 - Oct 29, 2018

I do hope you will check them out and if the show is near you please check it out.  I am so honored to have been added to their membership roster.  In an effort to let more people know about this wonderful group, I have copied from their home page this about the organization: 

The International Guild of Realism's primary mission is to advance realism in fine art through museum exhibitions, art gallery shows, workshops and education programs conducted by our members, marketing support, and internet exposure.
For us, "realism" ranges from the classical based upon traditional, academic-style painting to the contemporary where cutting edge techniques and a wide variety of subject matter are used to comment on today's world. Our members represent a wonderful spectrum of styles including (but not limited to) Trompe l'Oeil, photorealism, surrealism, and super-realism.
The International Guild of Realism was founded by a group of leading professional realism artists from around the globe in 2002 with four goals:
  •  Recognize the best realists working today.
  •  Create gallery and museum exhibition opportunities.
  •  Provide advertising and marketing support for IGOR members.
  •  Offer a bridge between art collectors and the highest quality realist art, created by our members.
We know that as greater numbers of art lovers have access to high-quality realism, the value of these paintings will increase — not just in monetary terms, but in appreciation, understanding, and international attention.
For art collectors, we have juried exhibitions in museums and galleries that span as many aspects of realism as possible, providing incredible panoramas of international work. For museums, we curate themed exhibitions that capture a snapshot of where realism is today. For fellow artists, we gather and share information about workshops conducted by members, and magazine features about realism techniques. It is our passion and our privilege to continuously grow and share this beautiful art form.

Not back to finishing a long project.......soon to be posted here on the blog.
Smiles and have a colorful day!    Gloria

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Finding Your Own Photo references, "On Glove - Eurasian Eagle Owl" Colored Pencil Painting

On Glove - Eurasian Eagle Owl 16" X 12" Colored Pencil On Ampersand Board
As an artist who respects copyright laws, I'm always up for a sure bet in obtaining original photos to create paintings from.  Sure there are sources online where you can obtain wildlife photos - copyright free.  However their use is prohibited from entry when applying to major juried art shows.  Besides what fun would it be if you didn't have the "adventure" of getting out in nature and up close and personal with your subject! As I get older "Adventure" is one of my goals.

I'm not a stealthy photographer, even in my own yard I scare away the birds from the feeder.  Unlike my friend Kathy who sits calmly with her glass of vino and gets fabulous photos to paint from.  I need the "sure thing", the guaranteed close up shot, the it can't run, fly away, scamper off - shot.  And I have paid dearly for these opportunities.  But what adventures!  From game reserves, to tours and class lessons.

The Male Eurasian Eagle Owl in my recently finished piece was an amazing specimen.  Several years ago my husband and I spent a few days over the Thanksgiving holiday at The Homestead in rural western VA.  On the blustery Friday after, we decided to take the Falconry class they offer on the estate.  "Sure bet" remember.  Hoping for some up close and personal photo ops.  We started with the smallest raptor an American Kestrel, which I had the pleasure of having a private moment with.
That's me before I let my natural silvers come in.
Getting photos of the peregrine falcons in flight was amazing too, although they are not as cute as the little guy above.  The finale experience was the Eurasian Eagle Owl which was A M A Z I N G.  Did I say before that I love owls! Well this guy did not disappoint!  According to Wikipedia: The Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo) is a species of eagle-owl that resides in much of Eurasia. It is also called the European eagle-owl and in Europe, it is occasionally abbreviated to just eagle-owl.[3] It is one of the largest species of owl, and females can grow to a total length of 75 cm (30 in), with a wingspan of 188 cm (6 ft 2 in), males being slightly smaller. Females can weigh from 1.75 to 4.6 kg (3.9 to 10.1 lb) and males can weigh from 1.22 to 3.2 kg (2.7 to 7.1 lb).

He was ruthless in his gaze, as the handler had him "On Glove".  This woman was fearless!  His wing span was immense by my standards (almost 6 feet). He had confidence in letting us know with a penetrating gaze, that he could rip us to threads easily.  

Working on rendering him I wanted to blur out the background to simplify and put focus on "his majesty".  I debated taking out the glove and placing him on a branch.  But the fearless stance of the woman handler just had to play a part in my piece, and as I thought of a title, it just had to be there also.  Plus it was great fun to capture the leather texture of the glove and it's stitching. (It was little protection for his talons or beak.) The windy November day had his ear tufts and facial feathers moving and ruffling.  I loved the movement it lent to the stationary composition.  

Living in rural VA we have wonderful Barred and Screech owls serenade us at night from the stream at the back woods of our property.  They call back when you mimic their calls.  When I listen to them each Spring I remember my encounter with this Male Eurasian Eagle Owl and respect their space.  I do love when they perch on the top of our conservatory's roof and serenade me to sleep.  

Where can you find adventure, original photo references?  In the weeks to come I'll be listening for my owls, Spring is on it's way!


Saturday, January 13, 2018

Dreamland - 8" X 10" Colored Pencil on Ampersand Pastelboard

Dreamland - 8" X 10" Colored Pencil on Ampersand Pastelboard

New Year and finishing old paintings:

As 2017 came to a close I found myself trying to finish some abandoned pieces in the studio, ones that had their starts for various reasons and were set aside for a moment, then another moment.... and so forth.  Commissions get in the way, teaching and so does life it seems.  When my work takes a back seat, it always seems that "artist block" has a little more to do with my not getting back to "it".

This little portrait study was intended to be an exercise in the shadowed skin tones on an infant as well as a subject for a demo I did at the gallery I show my work at, Crossroads Art Center.  The sweet little guy in the photo is not a grandchild but a family friend's baby.  An innocent sleeping babe's photo whose devoted mother posted on Facebook.  It was a photo that I found very intriguing, as well as full of softness.  After commenting on her sweet photo that I would one day like to paint her sweet baby boy, I couldn't get it off my mind.  She of course gave me permission to use it as a reference for a future piece.  (Getting approval before using someone else's photo is a MUST, I wouldn't have otherwise.)
Demoing at Crossroads Art Center Reception

My intrigue was a self imposed challenge of sorts, one I have mixed feelings whether or not I have succeeded.  But of course we artists have always been afflicted with the "Artists Curse", self critical to the tenth degree, as well as the plague of "Am I finished----no wait-----maybe just one more ---- tweak".  We all suffer from it from time to time, oh yeah, how many years and paint over's did the Mona Lisa get?  Even Leonardo had the curse.  But he had the luxury of using oil, usually an opaque media that can be painted over or wiped off.

Colored pencil is not as forgiving.  Depending on the surface used you can make some major corrections but rarely do they completely go away.  The sanded surface of Ampersand Pastelboard can successfully be erased with a vinyl eraser with the hopes that only a ghost of an image remains.  See my older post: "Powhatan's James River Plein Air Study - Sticking It Out In The Rain"  for a sampling of what can be painted over in colored pencil on this pastelboard.

But I digress, the conundrum for me on this piece was NOT major erasing or corrections at all it was the later, endless tweaking.  You see the challenge for me was "Can I create a painting in colored pencil of this sweet baby softly sleeping WITH all the dark shadows caressing him as he sleeps, WITHOUT creating skin tones that make him look ashy or dirty?????  For colored pencil the translucence of layering skin tones on my normal white background isn't too difficult, but settling the figure INTO the shadows of a sleeping baby's crib?  Well that was it!

I did lighten the image up a bit from the photo his mother sent me.  And made it a tad larger so I could see all the gradual changes in tone.  I cropped in to focus on the highlights and then shadows under of his lashes and to the light that catches on his rounded sweet features.  My rendition is lit a little more yet, but I think doing so helps show the internal glow of this innocent soul.

I actually love creating skin tones on the sanded surface because it takes so much of my waxy Prismacolors.  With the combination of my heated Icarus Board* and brushes to soften the waxy pigment and blend the pencils "like buttah".  Applying many many layers, building numerous colors lightly, brushing, and building over again, the sanded surface slowly fills with pigment and the shades blend into skin.  You see it's the filling of the surface for me that helps with the painterly look which is my style.  No surface speckle remains.  And when sprayed with fixative and then several layers of varnish the sanded board is completely smooth to the touch.  Thus making it difficult to tell what the media is.  I love that!!!!

*The Icarus Board invented and patented by Ester Roi and built by her husband Mario, is a godsend to colored pencil artists who love wax based pencils.  No solvents are needed, no odors, toxic fumes to blend the pigment, just warm heat.  And in January this is a welcomed thing.  Please click the link above to her website and enjoy the art and information she shares about it's use.  I recently purchased the larger fully heated board that can strap to my drawing board or easel if needed.  The larger heated surface helps me work faster and bigger as needed.  I used to use my previous board only when I need to blend backgrounds, make highlight corrections to soften edges at the end of my process.  But I have found that I love the larger board over my older version (half hot and half cold).

I had great fun creating the woven thready look of the baby's trusty companion bunny, snuggled up close to his face.  And it was a source for noodling and fiddling to get the sewn on eyes to look thready and stitched.  I've since learned this bunny had a washer/dryer debacle and I think lost the battle.

If you feel I have accomplished my goal of a "soft shadowy portrait without an ashy look"  let me know in the comments below.  And as always your comments are appreciated.


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