Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hidden Depths

"Hidden Depths"  (pastel, 16x16 inches)

Here's what will be my second entry to the New Braunfels Art League June show "Water, Water Everywhere." I prepped this and yesterday's painting at the same time last week.

I treated my recent bout of artistic boredom with an "I-don't-have-anything-to-loose-except-more-boredom" attitude and left all deliberate thought processes at the door. I chose a couple of highly complex images only because water and reflections have always fascinated me, and instead of asking myself "How in the heck am I ever going to paint these?" I didn't think much at all except for "Ok, what size? I've got these frames, so 16x16 it is!"

Then I jumped right in with a very loose and fast underpainting using the only acrylics I happened to have on my shelf (see yesterday's post) and a glazing of a warm toned pumice gel...

I worked a bit with pastel on this one at the Texas State Arts & Crafts Fair last weekend, but didn't much like what was happening, so back at my studio I washed all that in with some mineral spirits and 'added' it to the underpainting.

Then I started over with the dry pastel. I thought maybe the best way to deal with the double-layer of focus in this painting (surface and depth) would be to put in the surface objects first (leaves and rocks) to get them in place, before adding too much to the underwater reflections.

 But I did sort of work on tones of the reflections as I put in the stuff on the surface.
 I really did try not to think too much, and to just react to the image, and let the colors and objects lay into the painting depending on the patterns already present in the underpainting.
 When I finally felt I had enough solidity to add the little water-lights around the floating leaves, the depth really started to 'pop'!
 Lastly I worked on brightening up the sky,
..and adjusting the tones and directions of the tree branches so that they would hold up a bit better realistically.
Then I stopped because it was enough!

Thanks for watching! Tell me what you think, and show a friend!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Reflection Interrupted

"Reflection Interrupted"  (pastel, 16x16 inches)

As my first post in half a month, I'm happy to be happy about this one. I've been having some annoying "life" stuff distract me from my artwork lately and have had a bit of painter's block on top of it. So last week I tried a completely different technique than I've ever done.

Basically, I played. (Thank you to Dawn Emerson's very inspiring demo for the APS earlier this year!)

The New Braunfels Art League has a special show each month, and June's is called "Water, Water Everywhere." From experience, I've found that a good way to work around painter's block is to let someone else tell you what to paint. So I like doing stuff for these special shows because they always have a theme that can sometimes pick your subject for you; in this case: water!

Since I'm usually very tight and controlled, or at least maniacally organized in my process, I decided to throw all that away and jump in to this project without knowing ahead of time exactly how I would do it. I found a couple of photos that stirred up my imagination, and also had a certain format/viewpoint that would be very difficult to paint in my usual style. I definitely was not in the mood and did not have the patience to render the semi-abstract complexity of this image in perfect detail!


Instinct told me this would have a better impact as a large piece, and I have some 24x24 frames with 16x16 mat openings that I decided to size it to.

I didn't have a plan, but I knew I didn't want to lay all my colors down on a solid ground, so I started with a fast and loose acrylic underpainting direct on my gatorboard. (The acrylics I had were some samples from the Plein Air convention. They were primaries and represented 3 basic values, so that was ok by me.) I liked the semi-transparency of the acrylics on the white board.
Thinking of transparency, I now needed something with pumice for the pastel to stick to, and since the acrylic part was rather cool, and I happened to have a bit of gold-colored pastel primer from an earlier job (made from Golden brand acrylics and fine pumice gel,) I mixed a bit of that with some more clear pumice gel, and added a 'warm' layer on top of the underpainting:

This week I got to work on the pastel part!
 I tried to stay quick and loose with the first colors, and working with the patterns of the underpainting. I wanted to catch the feeling of the patterns of light more than the exactness of the photo.
 I like to check occasionally that the painting will harmonize with the frame/mat.
 I was careful as the painting progressed to build up the colors and values loosely throughout the entire painting, so that no part would get too fussy.
 I stepped back often for an overview.
Finally, with a few added bits of rusty-red color, I felt it was finished!

Thanks for watching! Tell me what you think!
I have another water painting prepped to (try to) finish tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Little Miss Cryer - New Award!

"Little Miss Cryer" (pastel, 8x6 inches) 

has won the Cheap Joe's Art Supply Award at the Pastel Society of the West Coast "Pastels USA" International Juried Exhibition at the Art Center Morro Bay, in Morrow Bay, CA. The show runs May 21 - June 23, 2012

Monday, May 14, 2012

Cloud Study 1

"Cloud Study 1"  (graphite, 7x7 inches) 

A couple days ago I was lost for a few hours in my endless file of sky photos, adjusting and cropping about a dozen compositions for potential paintings. This particular one called to me to draw it RIGHT NOW! It didn't allow me any time to sync the photo to my iPad or cross the 60 ft to my studio out back. So I opened my sketchbook in front of my computer and got to work!

(New note to self: Keep a spare set of pastels in the house!)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Baa-bee and Maa

"Baa-bee and Maa" (pastel, 8x6 inches)  click here to bid

Well, after a hectic week of crazy life away from the easel, I've finally finished this one that I had started on Monday. I suppose I'll never be able to completely cut animals out of my subject matter. I just have to get away from them for a while now and then... But these two were irresistible!

I spent a long day cropping and adjusting some sky photos this week, and I think I might paint some. I'm almost done with a drawing that I'll post tomorrow.

I've begun putting some thoughts to what new work to create for my 2-Woman Show later this year with friend and fellow pastelist Jeannette Cuevas. The exhibit will be at Cactus Jack's from October 20 through the end of the year.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Golden - original pastel painting by Rita Kirkman

"Golden"  (pastel, 6.5 x 6.5 inches) 

Golden may be a study for a larger painting of the same subject. When cropping from the photo reference, I was confident of my square composition, but unsure of what size would work best for this image. So I started small, with a 6 1/2" square, to fit one of the leftover gold floater frames I have. But I might also do this one larger. I like the composition and colors. I've used some touches of iridescent golds and greens in this, which don't reproduce well on screen.

Here's my photo and beginning drawing.
"Golden" is now available at Cactus Jack's in Gruene, Texas.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Straight Up - from the plein air convention

"Straight Up"  (pastel, 5x7 inches)  click here to bid

Here's one of the two paintings I did from my hotel room window, after wimping out on the cold Saturday afternoon at the Plein Air convention last month. I took tons of beautiful photos, and really was dying to paint. I'm just too much of a 'studio' painter to uncover my hands and stand in one spot outside when it's less than, say, 65 degrees!

Here was one view from our hotel room (the view changed very rapidly on Saturday!)

...and here was the painting I attempted to create from the awe-inspiring view:
"Weathered Range" (pastel, 4x6 inches)

I had to settle for a general impression of the range, and the feeling of temperamental cloud patterns, as various mountains appeared and disappeared with the clouds and rain. It was also a learning experience to realize how very high-key such a distant landscape really is when viewed with the eye. The photo shows it much darker than it really was. Still, I had a very hard time with the red of the rock; that was quite subtle and difficult. I was glad I hadn't tried this outdoors!
When I finally tired of keeping up with this view, I rolled my eyes in frustration and caught sight of the breaking clouds above. I instantly set to work on "Straight Up", which was much less trouble, as clouds still look like clouds even when they change position. This little piece of sky soothed my need for some sort of creative success on that day!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Red Rock - from the Plein Air convention paint-out

"Red Rock"  (pastel, 8x10 inches)  click here to bid

I've finally had time to sort through my photos from the First Annual Plein Air Convention last month. Here's the painting I did out at Bonnie Springs Ranch, NV, on the Sunday morning outing. I tried to catch the cool, blocky shadow patterns on the mountain in the morning. Just an hour later they were almost gone!

 Here I am, painting!

The Saturday trip was icy cold and windy. Tremendous views, but no painting for me - I caught lots of great photos but wasn't brave enough to break out the easel... unlike so many of the die-hard professional plein air painters, many of them were there to help instruct and demonstrate for the rest of us!
Here are just a few of the great painters out there on Saturday:

Bryan Mark Taylor
Jean LeGassick

Matt Smith

Michael Godfrey
 Below are some of the inspiring views on Saturday. See the clouds coming over the mountains? Those were blowing at 20 mph and hitting us as freezing mist! Brrr!

Some of the die-hards still painting as many of us wimps were catching the first bus back to the hotel!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Pinky - original pastel painting by Rita Kirkman

"Pinky"  (pastel, 8x8 inches)   click here to bid

I've come back to pastel and my favorite surface, terra cotta pastel primer on board.

Pinky is not really a pink pig, but her ears sure are (and her toenails!) Shes a pretty stylish gal!