Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Midterms and Michelangelo

The greater danger for most of us
lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short;
but in setting our aim to low and achieving our mark.


ceiling fresco, Sistine Chapel

I hope you all had a beautiful Easter or Passover and that you are all enjoying those beautiful moments when spring is peaking through the clouds!

After my spring break from Italian and Art History classes and my wonderful pastel workshop, I started back to school. I had convinced myself that a "B" would be absolutely fine (a gift even!) on my Art History midterm because there was so much information to cover! We studied 30 artists and another 30 terms and historic figures. On top of that, she gave us 5 essay questions to study and of that, she would pick 3 for the exam. Of those 3 questions, we could pick the 2 we wanted to write about.

Before returning our graded exams she explained what she had been looking for. Not just titles and dates of the artists' works but for their contributions to art and/or architecture. For the essay, the social, economic and political influences on art and so on.

Basically we were covering 1400-1600, Italy and Northern Europe.

Sistine Fresco, Rome

She picked up someone's paper to give us an idea of what she had wanted from us. She began to read "Giotto was an Italian artist, considered to be the "first Renaissance painter." With Giotto came a huge shift in Western art. ... In Lamentation in the Arena Chapel in Padua, painted in 1305, you can see modeled sculptural figures, an unseen light source creating light and shadow ... etc etc"

Phew, that sounds kinda like what I wrote ...

"Jan Van Eyck was the first Flemish artist to become known internationally. He popularized oil painting and portrait painting as an art form. His incredible Ghent Altarpiece is an amazing example of his work done in 1432 ... " She continued reading.

Wait ... that is my paper ...

She read my descriptions of Martin Schongaur, Brunelleschi, Alberti, Masaccio and Michelangelo, as well as the first page of my essay on Patronage in 16th century Italy and Northern Europe. Though no one knew whos paper it was, it was almost embarrassing how long it went on. (But I was also really happy!)

Then she said, "This is what an A+ sounds like. I don't expect everyone to do this, I mean, this (she held it over her head) was over the top, but at least you know what I am after." CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? I couldn't, but I smiled the whole way home (and for the next 3 days.)

I am still learning.


There is so much more to share about other things that have been going on here
but since I have gotten a bit carried away with my story, I will leave it there for today.

My beautiful friends,
I hope you are all getting showered with the love and praise you deserve
for your many amazing talents and gifts if not shower yourselves!

A blessed week to you!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter!

Be yourself.
Life is precious as it is.
All the elements of your happiness are already here.
There is no need to run, strive, search or struggle.
Just be.

Thich Naht Hahn

Smile, breathe and go slowly.

Thich Naht Hahn

Blessing and light
for a
Beautiful Easter!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Plein Air ... and weather

A bit more from my Plein Air workshop with Richard McKinley ...

Kerry from "Farmlass" commented about the romantic nature of doing plein air and she's right, it is! It's wonderful being outside in the fresh air, listening to the birds and enjoying the beautiful views. Well, until you are madly packing up your stuff because the wind is beginning to knock over your easel and rain is coming down on all of your pastels and onto your painting! But until then ... it's great!

Plein Air at Lake Casitas, Ojai, California
My set up and my first "watercolor underpainting" (before the rain came!)

Detail of my Lake Casitas pastel with help from Richard back at the studio

The third and last day we went back to our original spot at the Nature Preserve and I decide to do the same composition I did on the first day, but with the watercolor underpainting or "under-wash." Then I went back and finished the piece in the studio. I have a little more work to do on the trees but it's pretty close!

Nature Preserve, Ojai California
April 2011
Pastel, with watercolor under-wash on Wallace paper
(if you click on the picture to enlarge, you can see the watercolor under-wash in the clouds- It's still visible in other places but it's much less noticeable)

Oh, I almost forgot! I was on Suzanne's Blog "A Brush With Color" and she had shared the live "Eagle Cam" on her blog. I hadn't seen it! You can watch these amazing baby eagles and their parents in Iowa. It's live streaming video of their nest, 80 feet up! The best is when the mamma is feeding her babies, or when she was trying to protect them from the wind today!

If you haven't seen it, check it out HERE. During the day it's in color. It's my new favorite thing!

Keep your love of nature,
for that is the true way
to understand art more and more.

~Vincent van Gogh

Wizard of Art Student Show 2011

One week ago, after my three day pastel workshop and my Saturday class with Bert Collins, I headed back to L.A. in time to for the annual Wizard of Art Student Show. I fill in at the school teaching art or working at the desk whenever they need me to fill in. (I also teach summer art workshops)

The students are anywhere from 5 years old (with an occasional four year old) to 75, with the majority being under fifteen.

Oh, and by the way, the kids named their own art pieces for the show ...

"A Dog and His Date"

Zoe Peters, Age 7
Pastel on Paper

Wizard Walls covered in art

My "Working" Family after the students left the show. You can see how boring and uptight everyone is! HA! ;)

Donna and Paul (a.k.a. "The Wizard")

Mekenzie cutting a rug ...

My absolute favorite piece in the show ...

"Black Dog in a Rainbow Future"
Dashell Zam age 9
Acrylic on Canvas

Isn't that the best?!

If you want to see some of my all time favorite posts,
with more amazing art by the kiddos, click HERE!

We are all inventors
each sailing out on a voyage of discovery.
The world is all gates, all opportunities.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Have an amazing week!
Blessings and light!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Pastel Workshop with Richard McKinley

I have been hearing about him since I started taking classes at Bert Collins' studio.
"Richard this" and "Richard that" ... "he's so great ... wonderful ... inspiring ... knowledgeable" ... and on and on.

Hmm. Who is this guy? I mean, Bert is amazing and if she thinks he's fabulous ....
So, I checked out his blog. It's called "Pastel Pointers with Richard McKinley," which is indeed a great blog and yes, he is very knowledgeable. So, I got on a waiting list for his next workshop. And I waited. It was so long ago I can't even remember when it was.

Then, last month I got an email that someone had to cancel and there would be an opening for his Ojai Workshop (which was perfect since my family lives there!) It turns out he lives in Oregon and travels around the country teaching these workshops. In a week or two he is off to Illinois, then New Mexico, Washington and by summer he will be in France.

At the risk of missing my Italian midterm (which I did!) I took the spot.

It was amazing. He was a wealth of both new information and techniques, as well as reminding us about all of the good old art 101 stuff about composition, value, creating depth etc. I don't think anyone had ever explained things so clearly!

There was A LOT of information imparted and if you are interested you should get his book. It also covers how do do watercolor under-washes for pastels, which might be one of my favorite things ever! There were also a couple of people doing oils. If he is ever in your neck of the woods and you want an amazing workshop, you would not regret it. You can check the schedule on his website.

Richard McKinley at Lake Casitas doing a "demo" for us

His yummy watercolor under-wash ...

Here come the pastels ... how gorgeous is his palette?

And here is the magic he created. I wish you could see it person! It's was so rich and glowed at the same time~

Pastel by Richard McKinley

Richard, if you read this, THANK YOU!
I left inspired, jazzed, excited
and ready to head to the great out doors with my palette in tow!

(Although I still have to take my Italian Midterm!)

We do not see nature with our eyes,
but with our understandings and our hearts.

William Hazlitt

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Plein Air Pastels and Ojai

So ... Where do I begin?

When I posted last, I was taking a break from studying for my Art History midterm. I was staring at a stack of flash-cards thinking, What in the world have I gotten myself into? I mean, learning the history is wonderful, but the memorizing of all those dates? Also, if people could do these works of art and build these buildings in a year it would also be really be helpful! Unfortunately, many of the dates were things like "1456-1485." Oy. So, that my friends? ... is not my favorite part of art history.

So, Tuesday afternoon I had an Italian quiz and then planned to head out of town that night - to Ojai- after the art history midterm (around 10pm) for my 3 day pastel workshop with Richard McKinley. When I got out "early" at 9:15 pm I was thrilled, until I realized I had locked my keys in the car! Ooops. Thank God for the Automobile Club. Scary how quickly they can break into your car!

I got up to Ojai around midnight and my Richard McKinley workshop began at 9am on Wednesday morning. One word? Amazing. I actually hadn't really done Plein Air before, other than casual sketching and little watercolors on my travels. I've been more of a "studio girl." Working out on location? Not so much. This was a whole different thing, and Richard was incredible. (More on him later.)

This was my very first little pastel field sketch. (The shadows are bluer than in the photo.)

Afternoon Field Sketch - Ojai Nature Preserve
Pastel on paper

We were in one of the nature preserves and in the early evening (after a lecture, his demo, lunch and our own drawing) we took a lovely walk around the area. The light was amazing, the mountain shadows a gorgeous vibrant blue, and we even saw 3 Western bluebirds flying around the eucalyptus trees!

I got back to my sister's around 7:30 and got ready for the next two days of the workshop. The weather was a little crazy over the 3 days with sun, wind and rain but as always, Ojai was just beautiful. I felt incredibly blessed to be there, in that place, with all of those wonderful, supportive and talented people. (I think there were about 18 of us all together.)

Come forth into the light of things,
let nature be your teacher.

~William Wordsworth

Staying back at my sister's, I fell in love with her wisteria!

All my life through,
the new sights of Nature
made me rejoice like a child.

More plein air adventures to come...

Hope you are all having a wonderful week!
Blessings and light my friends!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Musso and Frank Grill

After living in Los Angeles for 18 years (did I just say 18?) I finally made it. I met my friend Evelyn there, who lived in the Hollywood Hills for more than four decades in a beautiful English Tudor built by Bette Davis. She knows Hollywood better than anyone I know (not the movie version but the real one!) and she was the perfect person to go with to Musso & Frank Grill!

Musso & Frank Grill was opened in 1919 on Hollywood Boulevard by Joseph Musso and Frank Toulet and is apparently Hollywood's oldest eatery. They are known for their great history, fabulous martinis and a great "crab Louie." I had to go directly to class after lunch, via three freeways, so I opted out of the martini.

I don't know the last time they changed anything in there, if ever (which I love!) and it's the kind of magical nostalgia I love about Hollywood. Sometimes it cracks me up that I live here. You may have heard of some of the past patrons of the establishment ... Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Greta Garbo, Orson Wells, Claudette Colbert, Bette Davis, William Falkner, Ernest Hemingway, Charlie Chaplin, Gary Cooper, Ginger Rogers ...

Driving on the way there, up Highland, I just barely avoided a crazy accident at Melrose and arriving at the restaurant felt like I was going to pass out. Fortunately, I recovered in time to enjoy my crab Louie and lunch with Evelyn. Phew.

Oh yeah, did I mention the amazing sourdough that I have been eating on for 3 days? (see above) Apparently, it's flown in from San Francisco and the next time I go there (to Musso and Frank, not San Francisco) I might just order a martini and a loaf of bread!

Oh, and this is kind of a crack up ... check out Hollywood in the 1940s!

I don't say we all ought to misbehave,
but we ought to look as if we could.

Hope you are all having a fantastic weekend!
(I will be studying for midterms!)


Thank you Evelyn!!!