Posts Tagged 'painting'

Painting seasonal emotions

Several people I know, who live in the far north, talk about darkness, and how gloomy things are. I’m currently enjoying early evenings, taking time to play with paint.


Much of the time, that’s with electronic help (photos I took while on a walk, earlier in the day), because a location is either too crowded with people or the weather is uncooperative [rainy, or very cold] for perching on a park bench and sketching. I’m exploring new media (water-soluble wax crayons), and not worrying too much about how loose the images are. I’m going for the mood.

Washington, DC can be beautiful, with blue skies that make up for the crowds. I was in a shopping street filled with Louis Vuitton and other products I can’t afford, gawping at the windows displays….  watching college students pose in front of a backdrop of whimsical umbrellas. How tempting to snap a photo, then play with my tools.

So, how do you save yourself from the bad mood monsters? Is it art, or crafts? Making music, or going to a concert? Coding a new website or reading a great, cozy book? If you’re in Australia or somewhere in a heat wave, do you find yourself struggling with seasonal moods? For me, right now, I’m letting watercolors break up the gloom, playing with shadows, collecting leaves for practice painting, and trying not to dip my brush in the mint tea.


Taking a time out for Christmas

I’m going to take a brief blogging break, while I focus on Christmas, family, and enjoying the fire in the fireplace.


Peace, and happiest of days to you.

(Picture is taken from a Nativity Scene by an unknown Italian artist, circa: 1650 to 1675. In this scene, God overlooks the scene off on the right, a bit like Zeus, actually. He got cropped out by my camera. Picture is in the Baltimore Museum of Art).

Shopping small day 3: for artists

My local art store (Utrecht) has changed its name to Dick Blick art supplies, but shopping there still feels a bit more intimate than a big crafting store in the suburbs. I look at the Aquarelle Arches paper, and my heart skips a beat (no, I don’t need more. It’s worse than my inability to leave sock yarn in a store.). But grown up artists and dilettantes (and young artists in preschool) all need:

  • Sable brushes are nice and these look luxurious for watercolor work (the set I want is out of stock, Santa).
  • I don’t think I’ve ever used badger brushes for any of my oil painting. But synthetic bristle brushes are sturdy, and offer flexibility for young students who are just starting to choose either oil or acrylic (set of 3 brushes). Round the set off with a stack of disposable paper palettes, a palette knife, and you’re done.
  • Drawing and sketching pencils, colored pencils, sharpeners in funny shapes. Consider jumbo crayons that are easy to grip for young artists (great stocking stuffers).

Other local art stores and craft stores: Artist and Craftsman. Love them. I’ve been to their Philadelphia branch and their Baltimore one. Service at both was excellent, and the ones in Baltimore were able to explain which things I could get as a gift for a young person who wanted to try cartooning. Shopping for people who do pottery can include lovely time poking around at: Clayworks Supplies (three locations or online), or at Dick Blick — shaping tools are helpful and welcome to potters and sculptors. Happy hunting!

Choosing colors

So… how do you choose colors for something big?

I’m fine with paint choices on something small like a room. I’m fairly confident in choosing yarn colors (confession: years of sock knitting mean that *bright* colors do not frighten me). But now I’m thinking about something very large, that won’t be a knit accessory, won’t be hidden by cuffs, and won’t be changed for about 5 to 10 years.

How do you choose colors for an aging Victorian house that’s been painted butter cream for ages, without much contrast in trim? The previous owners replaced the porch with a deck (or maybe the porch had fallen off before they arrived), and in 1910, probably, the original owners tried to update the look to be more modern and less “fussy”.

How do you choose colors when everyone else with a similar house has decided on butter cream, blue, steel grey, or all white? Do you get a huge board and just paint it different colors and put it out in your front yard to see how it looks in different light? Or do you do what I’m tempted to do: paint it light burgundy with white trim and green and periwinkle accents, and avoid talking with the neighbors until they calm down?

Here are a few color combinations that I thought worked on the web:

New Orleans house

I’m also getting ideas from quilts online: purples, greens, and white: Lone Star Country Bride Quilt.




Needlework in gilt frames – Berlin wool work

Whenever I’m at a museum, I look for examples of needlework, either etched in stone or part of a painting. At the Kunsthalle Bremen, I found a portrait of Frau Medizinalrat Nicolai, from 1830. The artist was Georg Friedrich Adolph Schöner, and he used oil paint to portray her in clothing from the day — pointed lace collar, fitted brown silk dress, carefully crimped black hair. At her side is a small sewing box, with bits of colored wool or silks peeking out. In her lap, artfully displayed was this:

Detail from Schoner painting, Kunsthalle Bremen

Detail from Schoner painting, Kunsthalle Bremen


Thousands of Berlin work patterns made their way over to the USA and England back in the 1800s, and I wonder if this pattern is somewhere in someone’s attic? I’m sure there is already a treatise on the artful display of “women’s work” for the leisured classes in paintings of wealthy women. But I like to think this was the work she was doing while she sat for the portrait, and the artist wanted to add the color to the picture or an excuse to show off her wedding ring (her husband’s portrait is nearby).

A view of the portrait from the Kunsthalle website can be searched for here: Kunsthalle. So, when you’re traveling (on vacation, or taking little 11 hour “vacations” over the weekend), what do you look for when you’re in a museum? More photos later from Bremen and a trip to a gorgeous garden in Hamburg.


Tiny watercolor gems on paper

I had the pleasure of going to a small, temporary exhibit of the Walters Museum’s collection of watercolors by Léon Bonvin, a French painter who lived from 1834-1866. This painting drew me back, and each time I saw new details: the line of the house, the grass in the foreground, and then… faintly beneath the dark wash of night, you can see figures walking toward the house. (Or at least, I surmise that’s what they were doing.) Perfect gemstones of watercolor, each vivid with tiny details. Link to a bigger version of the painting is here:  Portions of the exhibit are online at the Walters website. I keep thinking — how did he manage not to gouge up the weave of the paper with all the additions of watercolor, gall ink, etc.?

The story of the artist is quite sad. Others have discussed his biography.  (The picture here is shared through the fair use from Creative Commons. I suggest going to the links of the exhibits online. There is a way to “explore the paintings”.) I hope you discover some unexpected tiny gems yourself this week, even if the spring rains keep you indoors.

Experiment with Pearl watercolors

Since today is the first of many days with weak sunlight, this is the best my camera will be able to do.So, what do you think? Try the Yasutomo watercolors out on darker watercolor paper? Or try using them to accent things where I want a bit of shine, even if the background is white?