The past two weeks have sent me out to Colorado and New Mexico. The change of pace, starry nights, and wide horizons did me good.
I spent last week visiting my brother in Colorado. He lives in a really neat log cabin tucked away at the base of the Rockies. I slipped away long enough to do a quick watercolor sketch.
Mt. Princeton beyond the South Woods
The week prior, I had the opportunity to travel to Northern New Mexico to prepare for a trip I will be taking to the area with students in May. Though it was a very busy few days on the move, I did get to paint from my hotel window in Los Alamos one morning. I loved watching the colors of the hillsides change with the rising sun.
morning in Los Alamos
I seldom travel without my watercolor set. Even if I don't have time to use it, at least I know I can if the timing is right. I've used this same Winsor & Newton set for seven or eight years now. It folds up to about the size of a half sandwich, so I can easily keep it with me without much thought or hassle.
my paintbox at work
Spring hasn't quite hit the Rockies or the painted desert like it has here in the Midwest. It felt great to come home to Redbud blossoms, rich green grass, and cheery daffodils.
I love my Grandma Virginia. As an artist herself, she has encouraged my creative pursuits for as long as I can remember. Her love for color and the joy she finds in painting have always inspired me. As I find my own voice as an artist, I am starting to see how similar my inclinations are to hers, which is a lovely thing and comes as no big surprise.
We used to draw and paint together when I was growing up. During a few visits as a kid, she had me dictate stories to her and then we would illustrate them together. I remember one silly one about a bunny who was also a magician!
Every birthday and Christmas, she sent me a favorite book about color theory or watercolor techniques. Some years she'd pick out brushes and sketchbooks that I was probably too young to really appreciate, but I loved feeling like I was learning to draw and paint like my Grandma.
Virgina and Me, taken August 2011
just a few
just a few more
Virginia has gradually been giving me, the artist-granddaughter, her exceptionally rich library of art books. I am beyond grateful for these gifts and love thinking of her as I study each one. She approaches her art with the attitude that there is always more to learn. I know that Sorolla, Hals, Wyeth and all the other new friends on my bookshelf have infinite lessons to teach and I feel totally humbled to have been entrusted with them. Thank you Grandma!
Not too long ago I bought a BEAUTIFUL book of photographs by Edward S. Curtis called Visions of the First Americans. It's filled with page after page of sepia toned portraits from the 1800's of men and women from tribes all over North America. One image of a Crow medicine man wearing a headdress made from a gutted bird really caught my attention. I have a few portrait commissions on the docket and thought that working from some of this powerful reference would help get my chops up.
I was given a dreamy new Raphael Kolinsky sable watercolor brush for my birthday (thanks Aunt Patty!) and I was SO thrilled to try it out on this painting. I'm tempted to toss every other brush I own. Putting down a wash with this #12 round is so effortless, it has changed everything!
It is far from peony season, in fact it couldn't be gloomier outside. I thought this watercolor remembrance of my favorite flower might bring some cheer to a chilly December. Enjoy!
I was so excited to work with a dear friend of mine on a Christmas card/wedding announcement last month. She got married in August and called on my help to make something special to send out to friends and family to share the good news of her wedding, and spread some seasonal cheer. Turtle doves sitting lovingly together in a wreath of holly seemed a perfect fit. I carved the design into rubber to make this festive print. Working on this sweet project definitely put me in the holiday spirit! So grateful to have friends who appreciate lovely hand made things.
"To the artist all in nature is beautiful. Those who are seized by the passion for truth will learn to find beauty in the most ordinary objects." Louis Kahn
I will be teaching a book binding workshop for high school freshmen next week. Fun! With my guidance, students will be constructing their own books and starting to fill the pages. 58 14-year-olds armed with binder's needles and bonefolders...a thought both exciting and terrifying. I haven't always been the best at keeping a sketchbook, but I see tremendous value in having a place to collect observations, thoughts, and notes on the everyday and the extraordinary (which are often one and the same).
I've been looking through some of my old sketchbooks in preparation for the class and thought I'd share a few pages that caught my eye. A couple are from time I spent in Italy in 2008(when I was drawing in my sketchbook every day) and some are from my Missouri life. Next time, I'll make sure I have something current to share!