Saint-Gaudens and the Mountain

I’m incredibly fortunate to live within a thirty minute drive of two National Park Service sites. Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park is the closer, just down the road in Cornish, New Hampshire.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve visited, with family, friends, on my own and most recently, with my plein air group.

I’m boring… I paint the same building each time, the Little Studio, getting better with every rendition even though I continue to struggle with perspective. This day I sat in the field ignoring the yellow-jacket buzzing around me and focused on grape vines twining on the pergola as the tours came and went.

Once I was finished I looked for my artist friends but they had spread out across the property. Eventually I joined one who was painting from a lovely bench with a view of Ascutney across the river in Vermont.

Yes, that’s the other scene I consistently paint but no regrets here… it’s just fun!

OK… I’ve had enough with the Little Studio! I hereby declare I will paint something else when I next visit. But sorry no promises about the mountain. As Cyndi Lauper sang, girls just want to have fun.

A5 landscape Arteza Watercolor Book

Plum Island Reverie

Every year my birthday gift is the same…drive to the ocean and walk the beach.

As background, I have a summer birthday, and walking the beach among all the vacationers, children and sun worshippers is not my idea of bliss.

Now I’m no fool, all I have to do is delay a few days until it’s September, preferably a sunny, not too hot – not too cool, weekday. The summer crush is over, the children are back in school, and the beach is nearly deserted. That’s just the day for me!

The last few years we’ve driven to Newburyport, Massachusetts, specifically Plum Island and the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. This year Hurricane Dorian had blown through a few days earlier and kicked up loads of shells. There were the classic New England trinity – clams, oysters and mussels – along with lots of “exotics” not often seen on our beaches, especially Sand Dollars.

Sand Dollars everywhere!

I have never seen that many whole Sand Dollars in one day. It brought back memories of a fellow on Marco Island Florida who would walk the beach looking for ones that were still alive. He’d wind up and pitch them back into the surf to be carried out with the tide to live another day. He showed me how they’re really flattened out sea urchins and when alive are a lovely fuzzy purplish maroon. I silently thanked him for the knowledge as we threw one after another into the sea.

Sunlight and fresh sea air… now that’s a gift!

A5 landscape Arteza Watercolor Book

Moving Beyond Adolescence

A few days ago my friend Bobbie Herron published “That Dang Adolescent Period” on her blog, Aloft with Inspiration. In it she describes the idiosyncrasies and unpredictability of watercolor and the importance of perseverance. Please take a minute to read it… I’ll be here when you’ve finished.

Finally I was inspired to revisit a sketchbook-painting I started… and abandoned… over a week earlier. It had hit the adolescent phase where inexplicably everything looked wrong. Not only were my proportions off but my colors looked pale and insipid.

It needed more layers… but where to begin? I was paralyzed. Instead I closed the book knowing it was unfinished.

The sketchbook sat on my desk all week mocking my indecision.

Then I read Bobbie’s post.

It took me less than an hour to add more hair to the crown improving her proportions. A few more layers of bold juicy watercolors and I called it done.

The adolescent had grown up.

A4 – Arteza Watercolor Sketchbook

Moleskine Fan… Not.

I’m baffled why I keep buying landscape sketchbooks as I’m not a fan. I must have either needed a bit of retail therapy or like a magpie I was drawn to the bright Moleskine brand and packaging.

The extreme horizontal format is great for capturing broad sweeping vistas but that’s not my preferred drawing and painting subject. Oh I do a few, but when I do, I tend to choose one of my larger sketchbooks.

This must have been one of the older Moleskine watercolor sketchbooks with inferior paper because many of my earlier pages were plagued with watercolors which bled through to the other side. I can put up with a lot of issues including buckling but bleeds are a deal breaker for me. I need to remember this experience and commit to never buying another.

But… once I start a book, no matter how uncomfortable I feel, I also feel compelled to finish it. I want to number it, shelve it, and pick another. So began my quest.

The model’s arm position worked well with this format.

The text block balances the sketch and fills the white space.

I’m pretty pleased with myself that I managed to draw her in the near darkness.

A few more sketches and then, magically, I had reached the last page. I quickly drew a modified contour selfie, added splashy watercolor, and a new favorite quote…

Done!

Color Me With Watercolor

I spent July continuing my watercolor portrait practice. These two were inspired by fellow Sktchy member, Lauren Arno, who challenged us at various times during the month!

And… in just over a week I’m also going to take her online watercolor class through Sktchy. I’ve always felt there’s no better way to expand my repertoire than by taking classes.

Color me happy!

Dino-mania!

In all my current zest for drawing and painting portraits there’s still an obsession I haven’t given up… Dinosaurs and their ilk!

Sometimes I draw from life-sized models as I did from one in the Birds are Dinosaurs diorama at VINS, the Vermont Institute of Natural Science.

… and other times from small plastic replicas!

Replicas are a lot easier to find!

I see you!

Portrait Retrospective

Where does the time go? This morning I realized I haven’t posted in over a month and yet I’ve completed 2 additional sketchbooks since then.

I guess I’ll start in by showing you a few of my favorite portraits from May and one from early June. All were drawn from photographic references posted on the Sktchy app by other creatives. You’ll see I often switch things up by sometimes forgoing my beloved ink lines and instead choose to sketch in pencil before I paint. There’s a different feel to each of these methods but I enjoy them both.

This month watercolor was my only constant.

A Chance for Redemption

Last October I drew a portrait of a Sktchy muse, Ania H. , for the InkTober 2017 challenge. After finishing I stepped back and noticed how far off I had gotten with my proportions, her eye in particular.

Today I was challenged to revisit a portrait and redraw it using the same reference image. Finally… a chance for artistic redemption!

After daily portrait practice, not only can I see facial proportions better but I can translate them onto the page.

I love seeing them side by side!

It’s all about her eye isn’t it.