To find products to benefit:
- The ALS Association Iowa Chapter: See my blog post Cards to help fight ALS for information on “Family and Friends: Cards to support The ALS Association Iowa Chapter,” a set of notecards to raise money for the Association’s services and research programs.
- Lila Mae’s House: Order notecards, scarves, and bags online at Shop to Shelter for Lila Mae’s House (external website, shoptoshelter.com), or see my Creating for a Cause page for more information on this special collection to promote awareness and to raise money for organizations working against human trafficking.
(This post is “stickied” to remain at the top of the blog; newer blog posts may appear below.)
Using our viewfinders to choose an area of focus
On June 26 I was at Shalom Spirituality Center in Dubuque, facilitating the first session of Watercolor Playgroup, a plein air retreat. Unfortunately for the “plein air” plans, it rained all afternoon, so we took our artmaking inside. We worked from photos and used viewfinders to focus on an area of a scene that spoke to us. I demonstrated technique in drawing and watercolor using a workbook emphasizing shadows which I developed for the class.
There are two Playgroup sessions remaining, July 31 and August 21, 2021 (3:00 – 5:30 p.m. on each date), and you could join us for either or both of them! With plein air painting and drawing we begin with awe and wonder at nature. Weather willing, we can kick off our shoes, feel the grass, enjoy the smells of the trees and flowers and the sun on our bodies. This is a mindful experience bringing us to the present moment. As we gaze we can go deeper finding a new message.
Call the office at Shalom Spirituality Center, (563) 582-3592, to register at the special rate of $25.00 per session (sign up by the Monday prior to each session). The Event pages on Shalom’s website have more description:
(Note: June registration deadline no longer applies for July and August sessions. See note about special rate above.)
Shadows are grounding in a drawing or painting.
On a rainy day I used a flashlight to get a distinct
shadow for this example for the workbook.
A street scene from Saint-Victor-des-Oules in southern France,
painted for an earlier “staycation”-themed Zoom class.
At right, detail of the plein-air painters in the scene.
In the Spring an artist’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of … plein air painting!* Online watercolor classes were a great way to escape the winter climate; as the weather grew nicer, my students and I were growing impatient to get outdoors. Zoom classes are on hiatus for now while I venture on to some other projects.
Pictured: In Saint-Victor-des-Oules, France, some fellow artists and I walked up the road into town from our lodging on the outskirts and tucked ourselves into a little driveway to paint — the cars come up fast on these narrow streets! A beautiful part of travel is the “mindful moments,” being able to sit and absorb the wonderful smells of food and flowers and the sounds of people speaking French, paying attention and enjoying the senses and feeling “really there.” This scene brings to mind the scent of beef bourguignon floating to us through an open window.
* (with apologies to the source of the quote)
The beauty of Monet’s gardens at Giverny resulted
from careful planning and a lot of work, both
originally and to restore them in modern times
For my Zoom watercolor classes in April we are painting Monet’s gardens, focusing on water, trees and flowers. We work from a photo, a value sketch, and a color palette before we start painting. See the Classes and Events page for more information, and send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’d like to join us!
Pictured: My traveling companions and I were at the gardens at Giverny in an October, just when the trees were turning. The still water reflections were stunning amongst the water lilies. Everything in the gardens was planned, from the times that different plants and trees would be in bloom, to the reflections in the water.
Hen & Chicks logo
(click image to visit website)
On Wednesday I had an enjoyable phone call with friend Heidi Kaisand, owner of Hen & Chicks Studio in Conrad, Iowa, for her show “Create With Heidi.” The show is broadcast each week on KFJB radio, AM 1230 in Marshalltown, and available from the podcast page of the Hen & Chicks website. The episode with my interview is titled “Passion for Painting.” Heidi and I talked about how we met, how I came to paint the doors that serve as room dividers in her retreat space “The Nest,” and about the experience of flow in the creative process.
To quote the website, “Hen & Chicks Studio is Conrad, Iowa’s premiere destination for quilting and scrap booking inspiration!” In addition to shopping for supplies, you can listen to the show each week for a bit of creative encouragement, catch up on past interviews, find many more events and ideas on the Hen & Chicks website, and check out Heidi’s videos on her social media pages.
The Château de Lussan is a medieval fortified castle, still in use today (pictured with another
classic, the Citroën). We used masking fluid on the birds so we could paint the clouds.
I’ve added March class dates to the Classes and Events page — send me an email (email@example.com) if you’d like to join us! We’ll continue our “staycation” theme — above, I just could not resist adding birds to this view of the Château de Lussan in southern France (link is to Google translation of French Wikipedia page).
My classes have found that two hours goes by in a hurry! I’ve started a system of using the same subject two weeks in a row, with different warmup exercises each week, so class members can more easily complete a painting without feeling rushed. Those comfortable with finishing a painting more quickly can branch out with their own subjects.
Feeding the birds in Lussan, a village in
the department of Gard in southern France
Warming up with our color palette
Both of these scenes are from the restored medieval town of Lussan in southern France.
Above: I was fascinated with the door grillwork. These magnificent doorways were very old and imposing.
Below: La Petite Auberge de Lussan is a small inn and restaurant, or B & B. The tall obelisk in the front is a type that’s on many street corners commemorating a saint or prominent townsperson. I came upon this inn while wandering around the area. Some of those wanderings gave me the best subject matter.
February’s Zoom watercolor classes continue our “staycation” theme, where we’re going abroad for our painting subjects on Friday afternoons (2 p.m.–4 p.m. CST) and Saturday mornings (10 a.m.–12 noon CST). See the Classes and Events page for details, and send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’d like to join us!
Sketch on perspective
La Petite Auberge de Lussan
Warmup sketch showing trees from above
Red-roofed buildings and golden fields
My watercolor class “staycation” continues! These sketches and paintings from recent weeks feature views of the Italian countryside, which I visited during a Franciscan Pilgrimage to Assisi several years back. During that trip our group traveled in vans and we stopped along the way for lunch, an amazing experience with the wine, bread and cheeses and of course the views. I was busy sketching and taking pictures. When we got back to our housing on a quieter day some of us would meet on the patio and paint or write about what we saw.
It is so fun to paint these scenes and imagine what they were all about. As we painted I told my class to just go into the scene and feel and put yourself there. The warmup and sketches give some direction on colors and composition but each artist sees it differently, and that is a good thing. Then they can just have fun and we need that right now to relax.
Starting with February 12, I’ve scheduled two-hour Zoom classes on Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings in February, continuing the staycation theme. See the Classes and Events page for details, and send me an email (email@example.com) if you’d like to join us!
Sketch and painting of another view, with onlookers added
I decided we needed a “staycation” break in my Zoom watercolor classes, so this month we’re going abroad for our painting subjects! Recently we used this scene of Rue Martainville in Rouen, France.
I visited Rouen for a month in 2014 and lived in a 17th-century apartment on the second floor. There were several cafés and chocolate establishments nearby on Rue Martainville and I would sketch in the day and paint at night, accompanied by wine and cheese. As I visited various places and quietly sat and sketched, taking in the sounds and smells around me, I discovered a sense of place. I saw how we are all the same, going to work, dropping off school children, people walking their dogs, playing chess in a park, merchants tending their beautiful store windows.
The Classes and Events page has information on scheduled classes. This week I am “in Italy” — send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’d like to join us! This month, each Monday class will do a simpler version of the scene from the previous Saturday’s class.