Friday, July 18, 2014

Powhatan's James River Plein Air - Sticking it out in the Rain!

                                           Powhatan's James River Plein Air Study 8 X 10

Now that summer is half over I thought I had better catch you up on what I have been up to recently besides teaching summer open studio class in my home studio.   The above plein air study was CP painted on Ampersand pastelboard last Wednesday.  My cohort in Plein Air travels, Kathy Scott and I painted at the new Powhatan James River State Park.  She in oil and as usual I worked in CP.  We had planned to get an early start before the impending rain or heat and humidity of the Mid Atlantic set in.  But after a brief walk around we were forced to work under the pavilion on our morning's pieces.  The view was at more of a distance from what I had originally decided to paint so I worked from memory of the view I liked the best, supplemented with short jogs out into the rain to re-familiarize myself with the original view.

The rain of course was not my only challenge today.  You see I had a board from a failed attempt to plein air in my bag which had a slightly rendered image on it already, a statue in a garden surrounded by rocks.  Although it appears in the photo below like a landscape sketch it was really in a vertical format 10"h X 8"w.  After erasing the board as best I could, then turning it into a horizontal, you can see what I was left with in the image below:

Not the best when using a translucent media like colored pencil, but I actually had little hopes for this new piece given the rainy day we were working in and the distant view of my desired composition.  As you can see in the reference photo taken below,  my view from under the pavilion showed little of my original vision.    

But 3 hours later when the rain had stopped and a few faint sun rays came out, we were invaded by a YMCA camp bus of little people ready for a "Nature Talk" by the park rangers.  So we packed up and vowed to return on a sunny day.  I worked for a short while when I arrived home the next day tweaking the far bank and foreground areas.  You can see my statue underpainting is hidden (actually she is under the tree bases and along the front bank of the river).  

Lessons learned:  #1Yes, you can salvage a failed start and cover it in CP just like in other media, on Ampersand that is.  #2 I was proud of Kathy and myself having stayed the course in the rain.  We found a scene stuck with it and worked thru the conditions. #3 I think I captured the atmospheric moisture in the distant shore as still kept  the lighting and shadows of my initial view before rain set in.

Besides being a great friend and CP artist herself Kathy is always ready for an adventure!  Here is Kathy Scott's plein air from our trip: A 10" X 8" oil painting titled: The James River In Powhatan.   More of her work can be seen at her website:  As you can see Kathy chose to keep the rainy feel of the day with her piece.  Her view was certainly different than my own, but I'm sure you will agree, a lovely calming view of the James.


Our trip was the second in a series for me of James River views from the central VA area in which I live.  More to come for this series.  Next blog post will continue my plein air travels with CP from this weeks trip to a the Harrisonburg area of VA and more!  

Have a colorful week!  


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Finally I have my latest piece finished, photographed and up for all to see: Life's Bowl 18 X 18, Colored Pencil on Ampersand Pastelboard

Life's Bowl
Colored Pencil on Ampersand Pastelboard
18 x 18

The Rainer Cherries in, and reflected on a this silver cup and the antique silver spoon near it, are kind of a metaphor for the how life is supposed to go.  We all know the phases, "Born with a silver spoon in your mouth" or "Life is a bowl of cherries"  As you all know I love my shiny objects and reflections.  And the pieces I put them into usually go quickly and with a lot of joy.  Don't get me wrong I loved the reference for this piece and the composition but I just became bogged down with life in it's process.  Kind of like life was trying to prove the above noted phrases wrong.  

After the successful art fundraiser which took 15 months to plan in March (I wrote a blog entry about it Last month) and my classes gearing up in early April, I just plain ran out of gas.  And then the dreaded 
.........Cue Ominous Music Here......... "Artist Block"....... hit me!  Smack in the face!  I didn't have time for it.  I hadn't thought it would hit of all people me!  The girl who loves to get out my colorful pencils and play with color.  But it did, it hit hard and as hard as I tried I just couldn't get myself back in line.  Has that ever happened to you?

I tried meditating, relaxing, fiddling with another media (Acrylics).  I tried a short vacation, garden work, you name it and I just couldn't recover.  So what do you do?   You GOOGLE Artist's Block!  Yes, you heard me right, when all else fails in this day and age you google it!  And after reading articles other creative types had written, you tube videos, and the like, I stumbled on an article that said "Artists block is just procrastination,  get over yourself and get going, the only way out is to get to work!"  Well now I'm paraphrasing the article but that was it in a nutshell.  If I thought that bit of information would have gone to my core as it did over the next couple days I would have remembered which article I found it in, so I could give the author credit here.   

So if you google it you too may find that article or my blog entry, and I hope either one helps get you back on track.  

Oh, and since I'm back on track, I'll let you know about my current show where I am one of the four featured colored pencil artists mentioned below.  And if your in the Annapolis area before July 6th stop by and see a great show put on by the CPSA Chapter in Washington DC in the Willow Gallery at Quiet Waters Park, Annapolis, MD May 21st - July 6th.  Reception is June 1st from 2-4 PM.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Colored Pencil Painting "En Plein Air" Article

I am very pleased to announce the above image is the issue my article (Plein Air This Year) for Colored Pencil Magazine - May 2014 edition has been published.  And may be accessed by subscribing to either the Print version or the Ezine version by the following link.

You know working in plein air (painting in the open air) has been documented here in my blog since it's beginning and while I use the skills learned and honed for normal CP work, a few changes have been adapted to what can work en plein air.  I have traveled to Europe, Bermuda, and around the US either on special art trips where the focus has been to work plein air and on family vacations, business trips with my hubby and with other artists working in various media.  As normally the only CP artist I have had to adapt.  And whether you are just travel journaling for vacation or doing a sketch crawl, CP is a great clean media to work in.  I hope you enjoy the article and the magazine as it has many other great CP artists included.

I have ventured out plein air-ing this spring but due to some tough weather outings, getting a finished piece done in the field has not happened.  Many starts and beginnings which you will see in a future post, have happened.  I hope to complete a few when my teaching schedule lightens up.  So stay tuned!

The main reason I have been slightly absent here on the blog is my local art association (Bon Air Artists Assoc.), of which I am president and a co-chair on our fundraising committee, produced our first inaugural exhibit "Artful Healing", a fundraiser to benefit World Pediatric Project (WPP) here at the Jepson Alumni Center at the U of R.  We showcased 63 local Richmond artists exhibiting and selling wonderful artwork of which a portion of sales went to WPP.  Over $42,000 of art was sold during the 1 and a half day event in late March, with the help of Crossroads Art Center.  The artists were thrilled and from the donated portion of sales we raised enough funds to send a travel medical team to one of the South American locations WPP goes, to help heal children.  30-40 medical procedures can be facilitated during one of these trips.  Bon Air Artists Assoc. worked tirelessly on the project for over 15 months and with the first year under our belt, we are looking to 2015 for a second "Artful Healing" to continue our efforts to support this great cause.

As we push thru the April Showers this week I hope all of you will get out there and make some CP art happen, even if it's just a sketch of a future painting idea or a flower from your garden.  

Gloria Callahan


Sunday, March 9, 2014

At The Root Series

 At The Root - Orange Beets  9 X 12 Colored Pencil On Ampersand Pastelboard SOLD

My "At The Root Series" is officially that with the addition of the second piece, see my blog entry from my last piece created in 2013. (At The Root - Radishes) here  The background colors of this new addition are more true in this image than in the radish piece photo in the above noted link/blog entry.  So imagine the radish piece with more yellow in the background.  I must get the radishes rephotographed so they represent the series as more cohesive in color, which of course they are.

Which brings me to sharing my thoughts on a series.  I find it difficult to work on more than 2 in a series without interjecting a new subject matter (or non series painting).  Why you ask???? My old job was as a production painter for a local Richmond print company that sells hand colored - watercolor prints.  I did this for 8 years.  And is the reason why I do not paint for myself in watercolor any longer, or for that matter work in large series.  Burn out yes, but also working in a series stifles me a little.  So I need to take breaks and do another subjects in between.      

I like to think about how a series might hang when I work on them.  This piece faces to the left and the radish one faces to the right.  Keeping the direction you want the viewers eye to go in makes both pieces hang well together.  Of course they also should hang well when hung separately too, which I believe these do.  Color integration and cohesiveness is also something to keep in mind so they play well with their series siblings.  Even though they are of different colored veggies they have the same greens in common, the same background and surfaces are similar.  All things to keep in mind when working in series besides the obvious subject matter.  Framing in like frames also is a must, I believe. 

Timing for blog entries has been very short lately, due to the rather large Art Exhibit/Fundraiser for World Pediatrics Project I am helping to co-host.  Getting much else done by the way of art completion has taken a back burner these last few months.  But rest assured we are in the 2 week stretch before the event so the end is in sight, and before you know it I'll be back to the blog with more entries.  I thank all of my readers for your patience and returning to my blog to check in.  

Oh, and yes there will be more At The Root paintings, imagination has me thinking of all sorts of new subject, so stay tuned.

Waiting on a colorful spring to arrive and roots to grow flowers,


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