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This was my starting point. What a dramatic sky! I especially loved the dark curve in the lowest part of the big cloud just over the horizon and toward the right. I painted a fairly accurate version, although I amped up the colors, making the clouds more violet and that hint of peach-pink over the hills more pronounced. It was lovely, but it just did not do it for me. I wondered why.

Look at the photo. The sky is full of movement! I wanted a painting with that kind of energy, that kind of spirit: a roiling, glorious cloud explosion. I started cautiously, accentuating and defining that lower part of the cloud even further. I found myself giving it a little curl on the left. I liked that! Why not, I thought? Why not just go for it, make the sky full of swirls?

Worst case, it would fail and I would throw it away. It wouldn’t be the first time. When I was first starting to paint, Jayne Shoup (check out her amazing art: invited me to her studio, showed me lots of particulars about materials, and answered my many questions. I remember her saying that when she finished a painting, she judged whether it was successful. wd gaster cosplay tutorial If not, it went into the fire. That was certainly a freeing thought!

I started looking at the parts of the clouds as just shapes, then made those shapes more evident, adding curls to show the movement. I pressed on, until the painting was no longer an exaggerated realism, but something quite different: a sky full of activity. Finally, I thought, looking at what I had done: Here is the spirit of that sky! This is the result:

As someone fairly new to art, it can be hard for me to get a real sense of where my work stands relative to others’. Visual art, like all the arts, is very subjective, although there is perhaps some general agreement about levels of quality. You know the difference between a Broadway play and a high school production, even an excellent high school production. But within those general categories, it comes down – at least largely – to the viewer.

I once submitted a painting to a juried show. electricity outage houston It was declined. Soon after, I submitted it to another juried show, more prestigious than the first, where it was accepted and sold before the opening reception. I had a similar experience with writing some years ago. I submitted a manuscript to a professional journal, and they rejected it. The rejection letter was so vague that I had no guidance about how to revise it. So I submitted it untouched to another journal (and again, a more prestigious one), where it was accepted and used as the lead article in that issue of the journal. Go figure.

For the last few years, I have been been bringing paintings to the Champlain Valley Fair here in Vermont. The art show attracts a large number of artists, from beginners to professionals. I fall somewhere in the vast in-between. And I have won awards there! It’s only the Fair, but it is so gratifying to know that someone (they do use judges who are well-known artists or gallery owners) finds my work worth a ribbon. And this year, for the first time, I won first place in pastels! I am so psyched about this! Here is the winning painting (“Why I Live Here,” 18″ x 24″):

With the photos right next to one another, you can see that it’s two sides of the same pasture. That large clump of trees at the right of the left hand photo (that’s cut off by the edge of the image) is the same seen in its entirety in the center left of the right-hand photo. I took the photos a few days apart, and you can also see that the field has been hayed in the meantime.

I really loved the sculptural aspects of this landscape: the curving shape of the land, the sinuous lines of the grasses. electricity pick up lines Those lines are especially obvious in the image of the hayed field on the right, but you can see them in the left image as well. See the slightly bluer band of grasses snaking down from the tree clump to the foreground? The slanting lines of the brighter yellow-green coming from the left side?

I used black paper, wanting to let some of the black to give texture and depth to the grasses. I set up side-by-side easels so that I could work on both paintings at once. I thought that might make it easier to be sure the paintings were connected. I imagined two paintings that could each stand alone, but that would also work beautifully together. I worked on the lines of the pastures first, since they seemed the most important part of the paintings, and I wanted to get them right. But they were not right. The colors seemed a bit off to me, and the whole thing seemed too stripey. Ugh. Here is that stage:

Can these paintings be saved? Not as they were! I washed out the whole thing. Art Spectrum paper will take washing, at least up to a point. I might have overdone it! You retain a ghostly image, but that’s just fine if you are doing the same painting. I tried again. But the washing had damaged the paper a bit and the ghost image meant that I lost the texture that I wanted from the black paper. I overworked it in my efforts to get something I liked. I threw them both out.

But the idea continued to call to me. I really wanted to make those paintings. After a break of a month or two, I tried again, this time doing one painting at a time, hoping that it would feel less daunting that way. Sometimes when I am stuck with a painting, I think my creative mind works on it while I am going about my life. Occasionally I have dreams offering solutions. Often, I just leave the painting up on the easel and look at it once in a while until the solution seems clear. But in this case I guess it was the passage of time and whatever mysterious thing happens in some subterranean way. It also helped that I tackled it during my painting retreat with my friend Cindy, so I could get moral and artistic support!

I love them! It’s exactly what I wanted. They are clearly twinned, but each is complete in itself. The colors are similar, but the balance of the colors are somewhat different in each. electricity trading strategies They have that texture of the black paper. They have movement, lots of movement. One thing I did was to remove the foreground grasses in the photos, which I realized were just a distraction. I omitted the pinks, which I liked but which complicated the palette too much. But mostly I gave it time. And mostly I didn’t give up.

I spent six days, more or less all day, painting with friend and fellow artist Cindy Griffith. It was demanding! It’s great to have company for something like this, not only for the critique (although that helps enormously) but also for the company. Who knows if I would have stuck it out otherwise? I think it would have been too easy to decide that I really needed to get some laundry done, or run into town, or (truth be told) just goof off.

“Lake Country Birches,” 12″ x 9″. Then I went to a scene from recent visit with my cousin. I’d brought a number of reference photos with me for this retreat. Choosing one to work from is an interesting thing: what appeals to me one day might fall flat when I look at it another time. Rocks, birches, goldenrod, lake, and distant hills. electricity bill cost per unit I love the layering here, bringing the eye from what is right in front of you into the distance.

I’d warmed up enough, I decided. I took a deep breath and pulled out the photos for two paired paintings that had been eluding me. I’d worked on them twice before, and both times had been dissatisfied and thrown them out. As you can imagine, I was a little apprehensive about trying again! But this time they worked. I guess I learned something from those four failures. Here they are:

These are “Pasture Rhythm 1” and “Pasture Rhythm 2,” each 16″ x 20″. They are two sides of the same field, and I very much wanted to make twinned paintings that both stood alone and were clearly connected to one another. It occurs to me that this is a great metaphor for a good relationship! I am very happy indeed with the result. I used black paper and a light touch in the foreground to indicate texture.

After that challenge, I felt that I needed a little respite, and pulled out two mostly finished paintings that just did not quite work. In both cases, I liked the start that I had made, but could not figure out what was needed to make the paintings come togther. It’s amazing what ignoring a painting for a few months can do for your understanding of it! In both cases, I figure out what changes I needed to make without too much trouble. Here they are.

And the completed painting: “In Green Pastures,” 12″ x 16″. gas jeans usa See how I exaggerated the swirls of the field? I added foreground elements so that the scene did not just “fall off” the bottom of the page. And of course I amped up the color and the curves of the hills. This is the feeling of the scene, at least to me, if not the literal actuality!

And the result! “Yin-Yang Landscape,” 12″ x 16″. The title refers to the contrast between the quiet of the lake and the fiery movement and color in the foreground. Yes, the elements are all there, but would you even recognize this scene? The colors are not only exaggerated, they are changed; the fields now include purple and dark red. I made the foreground shades of turquoise to harmonize with the color of the lake. And the goldenrod became some dark red flowers from my imagination, the better to contrast with that bright green field. I repeated colors: the red in the field and the flowers, the turquoise in the lake and foreground, and the purple in the distance as well as in the field’s shadow and the foreground. I am very pleased with the result!

This is “Headed to Camp,” 11″ x 14″. Now the focus is almost entirely on that camp road, the grasses, and the shining destination of the lake. The house is barely visible. I used a limited palette of magentas, light turquoise, greens, and a touch of gold. I do love the effect of those colors on the grass. I “moved” trees and bushes to frame the scene. And, hey, I can make a light magenta sky if I want to!

With all of these paintings, I used a similar technique. They are done on black paper, which I have allowed to show through for texture (for example, in the camp road) or for rich darks (in all three of the paintings). I often exaggerate color and movement, but I have carried that further than usual in these paintings. power definition physics electricity I spent a lot of time thinking about how I wanted to proceed and about colors, although as with any painting, the painting itself starts to make demands after a while. And I worked slowly, considering almost every stroke. Since I wanted to make use of the black paper, I couldn’t just cover it up. I am very happy indeed with the results.

Lovely, isn’t it? I have been drawn to (ha, ha: art joke) these complex skies lately. They are so evocative. Of course, they are also difficult, and when I am painting I am complaining to myself about wanting to paint such complicated clouds. In the painting, I lowered the horizon to further emphasize the sky and added darker colors, even a dark red, to further dramatize the clouds. I painted the clouds with more variation in dark and light than the photo as well. I saturated the colors somewhat, painting richer blues and exaggerating the salmon colors. I lightened the glow of the unclouded sky, since that was much of what appealed to me in the scene. Here is the initial version of the painting.

At this point in any painting, at least for me, it is time to ignore the reference photo. The photo starts me off and reminds me of the basic shapes and colors, as well as the feeling, of what I want to convey. But once I have that down, there is a conversation between the artist and the painting. This painting still looked too simple to me. It lacked something. The non-cloudy areas of sky somehow seemed too empty. I added more soft colors to the open sky areas. This meant that the lake reflections also needed to be altered. I also slow down at this stage of painting, making a small change and checking the effect before making another. I included very dark greens in the low hills, to soften the almost-black quality there. I added the tiniest touch of an almost neon orange in the “sweet spot” of the orange glow above the center right hills. Some of the clouds seemed too dark, so I changed that. I went back and forth, sky and lake, air and water. electricity storage costs This is the final painting.