I have been slowly savoring this new book by Mary Whyte. It is beyond wonderful. Yes, it does have the usual stuff about her tools and what her palette contains. It also contains her triad of colors for painting skin tones. And, of course, it shows many of her paintings. But there is more here than meets the eye. This book is like sitting down and talking to a good friend who also happens to be an artist. She shares her thoughts on the work, the struggle (even she, she says, tears up 1 in 4 paintings!!!), the determination and the joy of being an artist working with people as her subjects.
I love her work even though my style is not like her style. She was born in Ohio, lived and attended art school in Pennsylvania (where she met her husband, Smith Coleman); they moved to South Carolina to open a gallery and framing shop after her battle with cancer in 1991 and he supports her every day, not just by showing her work in his gallery but by making frames for her work that compliment the beauty of painting (I would love to see a show of her paintings in real life).
After reading this, I can't say I learned any new techniques. I'm not a beginner - but if you are, you will learn some new stuff here. But I do feel like I have learned more about Mary Whyte as an artist - how she lives her days, what she works on and how, more about models and most of all, it gave me a feeling of joy to read. She truly loves watercolor - everything about it, including the mistakes! - and it shows in her writing.
If you like her work, you will love this book. It will be a treasured friend on your bookshelf, waiting to give you confidence and support when you need it. I can see myself picking this one up again and reading Chapter Nine: Life as an Artist whenever I need to boost myself up a little or just remind myself that it's not all sweet tea and cake but the work that gets you there in the end.
And I have been working. I just can't show you anything yet. I'm past the planning stage of a full sheet painting for my Viewpoint entry but am still in the drawing on tracing paper stage. I'm taking it slow and easy and trying to not stress but do the work a little every day. I may have something interesting. And Mary says:
"Improving your work takes effort and time. It will not happen in a day, but when you are engaged in an endeavor that truly interests you, there won't be enough days in a week to satisfy your appetite to learn more."
"If you want to get better at doing anything, you must be willing to experience failures. Every seasoned artist I know has done many paintings that were failures...When you make mistakes, you have two choices: Give up or try again."
I am enrolled in another Strathmore online workshop. These are great and they are free! They usually last 4-6 weeks and you have a new lesson every week. I am a bit behind - or not - since you can go at your own pace and watch the videos whenever.
This workshop is about learning to draw on toned paper. I bought 2 Strathmore toned sketchbooks for it and some white charcoal. This portrait was done after watching the instructor and is a copy of his. The only drawback I saw while watching this was he didn't show the reference photo or the model while drawing so you just copied his sketching technique until you got approximately what he got. While he was working, I was wondering why he was drawing a garden gnome! ha ha Turns out this is a person who dresses up and does Viking reenactments, hence the hairiness of the model. I don't know if he used a live model or a photo reference since he never said. Using the toned paper, you just put in your darks and the white charcoal are your lights so the toned paper is your midtones. The next lesson is drawing a male figure and I'll share that one, too, when I get it done. If your're interested in any online workshops - for free - just click on the link and see what's on offer this time. They have various workshops throughout the year in all kinds of medium and styles. If you don't like what you see this time, get on their mailing list and they'll let you know when others come up.
Painting this on 300# paper made it easier to paint, I think. The brush can skip over the paper and leave some lights here and there. I still need to return and get some lights in the violet rows but that won't be hard. This was from a PaintMyPhoto challenge for the month of May = painting a complementary landscape. My complements I tried to keep yellow/green and violet. There is even violet in the sky but the photo isn't showing it as much.
Jennifer says this poem was written on her 35th birthday, just 3 months after she moved to Ohio and heard about a man in Ohio who released his menagerie of 50+ exotic animals and then killed himself. She felt haunted by the sudden perilous freedom of the freed animals whose presence that day was marked by highway signs warning 'Caution Exotic Animals.'
Jennifer says, "The greatest dangers may be the ones we can't see--the rustling in the woods one reporter noted months later that could've been the wind or an ornery tiger, or the wonderful and terrifying future which seems to get remade with every new decision we make."
I'm sure those of us in the Ohio Valley region remember this event and the horrible slaughter of the animals who escaped, knowing no better than to run wild in the suburbs. Don't we all want freedom, even if we cannot illustrate or define what that means?
May you find your freedom!
And kickstart your week with care for all others, 2-legged, 4-legged, winged or gilled.
If you've got a few minutes, click on my friend Carol's blog and see the latest in her watercolor series of painting her son's portrait every year of his life! What an amazing thing to do. Carol's son will be 27 soon and Carol has painted 26 portraits of him from babyhood to teenage years to adulthood! Here's the link:
I'm sure you're all busy. Aren't we all? Getting ready for upcoming shows means either matting and framing your work yourself or sending it out to the framers to do it. I took 2 pieces to Bowman's Framing yesterday to be done and ready for the Greater Cincinnati Watercolor member show coming up soon. We drop off our paintings the last day of May and the show begins June 2nd at The Barn (the Woman's Art Club of Cincinnati in Mariemont) from 1 - 4. And I have a deadline coming up soon and haven't even painted anything good enough to enter! Yikes! (The deadline for entry into the juried Viewpoint Show is June 1st and I got nothing but an idea.) And then there are family birthdays (shopping and wrapping and ordering cake), and Mother's Day (I can't tell you what I bought for her since she now reads my blog every day! Sorry, Mom! ha ha) , and handymen coming to do some work around the outside of the house (Monday) and class day (Tuesday) which means a day of cleaning beforehand. But I still find time to watch the Madrid tennis matches on t.v. (what happened to Roger Federer?? and is this truly the end?), and finish reading a wonderful book by Rosamund Lupton called Afterwards - what a story! I recommend it (and her previous book, titled Sister). Strong strong women in her books and the inner workings of the mind which is fascinating, especially how she works it into a dreadful scene of heartache and loss and anger. I pass on some of my books to my Mom, so she will be getting this one and some others I've recently read. How do you spend your days? Where do your hours go? How much time do you get for yourself, alone, to read or write; to paint or draw; to plant a garden or take a walk in a park? Don't forget to read something that stirs you; paint something that makes you happy; write in your journal; or draw something quickly while you talk on the phone. Sit and watch the birds feeding and see if they have babies yet (are they late this year with babies?). Water your garden vegetables or flowers and watch them grow. Most of all, take time for yourself. And remember, we're all in this together.