I like painting myself! Does that mean I’m self absorbed? Maybe…
But there are very good reasons to use your own image for a painting.

For one thing, you always are available and won’t have to pay (or bribe) someone else to model.
You needn’t worry about pleasing anyone else, so it’s easier to take risks or be experimental with a self portrait.
It’s also a good way to push technique.

You can play with creative color or interesting value patterns! I call the painting above “Alter Ego”.  There’s texture added to the watercolor paper before painting, using tissue paper, gesso and mat medium.  I stamped with ferns into the medium to create texture.

In the painting “Epic Island”, below, I intentionally did not focus on getting all the features proportional. The nose is too big, eyes set a bit low. But it captures the feeling I wanted, with some exaggeration and weird color. Not everyone will appreciate blue and purple shadows, and that’s OK…

The best reason for making a self portrait is that the creative process is one of self
discovery and realization.
A portrait can be a window to the soul, as much as a likeness.

I’ll be teaching a SELF PORTRAIT workshop at Oregon Society of Artists on September 27th, 2013.
10am – 4pm
$95   / Register or more information HERE

“Possessing Nothing Yet Having Everything” Chris Stubbs

I remember talking with Chris Stubbs, a well loved portraiture artist who was teaching at OSA Tuesday mornings, about our painting challenges. And she said, “each time we paint, we have to prove our ability to do it over again, don’t we?”

You would think after painting all the years I have, that I would be able to know a piece will “work out”. It’s true, having a history of success does bolster confidence. But each time, starting with that white piece of paper, I reaffirm my ability. Or not… some paintings just don’t work out the way I want them to.

As an artist, I quickly lose interest in playing it safe. I WANT to take risks — challenging myself to work on the edge of my ability. That’s where the FUN is!
It also leaves room for failures and mishaps.

“BIGdarrin” Ted Nuttall

And that reminds me of what Ted Nuttall said at the WSO Fall Convention (2011). ” We never achieve the level of success in our paintings that we see in our minds. The mind is always one step ahead”.

So true…!

Here’s my holiday greeting to you for 2012…

      This is a new version of a painting I’ve been working on, blossoms from the magnolia tree off my deck. I started painting this at the Wild Arts Festival. It follows the colorful white flower theme, based on my belief that if you get the values right, you can paint in any color you like! Perhaps this proves the point.

Marbling is not so predictable.

Full disclosure: it’s time consuming, messy and results vary. Preparing the paint is a challenge. But once you’ve mastered paint mixing, basic concepts are easy to learn. Some degree of control is gained through experience. Possibilities are endless… and how exciting to see the transformation!

I originally learned to marble from Galen Berry, who is a master. If you have the opportunity to take a workshop with him, do it! I won’t go into detail on the process, because you can find it all on his site. Galen also sells the supplies and a very good instruction booklet.

The surface to be marbled is first treated with an alum water solution and dried. The paint sticks where the alum was.

 The process uses acrylic paint — we used M.Graham, which worked very well — whereas some quality paints don’t work at all. The Terre Rosa was fabulous! The paint is thinned with water to the consistency of milk or light cream and spritzed over a tray of carrageenan water, adding more and more color until the surface is covered. Then you can create patterns by cutting and combing the surface in zigzags or swirls. Or add gall which pushes the paint away, creating lacy “holes” in the pattern.

Originally my interest was in cloth. I found it ideal to cover journals — a way to personalize them. We purchased cotton cloth from the Dharma Trading Company.

My next discovery was marbling over silk ties (with original patterns and colors less than fabulous). Adding a marbled swirl pattern smoothed and integrated the stiff geometrical shapes while introducing a few new colors. Definitely one-of-a kind wearable art!

For shirts, both sides need to be marbled separately. A favorite T top had a little stain. Fixed that with marbling! You’ll never spot it now. Silk works best.  Tip: paint does not stick well once the cloth is wet. I made a form out of a rigid sheet of plastic to keep the
second side from becoming wet while I marbled the first side.

What I am most thrilled with is how marbling transforms a painting that isn’t working.

This was a throwback to my airbrush days, but the painting had no serious possibilities as art until marbling over it.

My brain is churning over other ideas combining marbling with watercolor. Thin rice paper marbles well and is almost transparent for using in collage work.

My WEB PAGE has been updated …
CLASSES for 3013,  www.rene-art.com

Online registration for my workshops is still to come. Just contact me to sign up…

9 of my paintings (below) are available for sale at Paxton Gate, 
just in time for Halloween. 
They are smallish and with classic black frames.

Paxton Gate is a very cool place, 
if you have not yet been introduced. 
It contains all things weird and beautiful, from nature — 
bones to butterflies. 
The Portland store is located on N. Mississippi, 
next to Pasta Works. Clicking on the red name 
takes you to their web site.

Last Sunday I was at the OSA booth at “Art in The Pearl”, 
doing a demo on white flowers. 
There was a time when I avoided painting white flowers, especially with white backgrounds… 
it was difficult to give them interest and definition. 
But that was because I thought shadows should be gray.
Then I discovered a wonderful thing 
about white flowers… 
                     they can be any color you want to make them! As long as the values are true, 
the color is believable. In other words, white flowers are better
with colorful shadows and reflected color. 

Take these Sasanqua Camellias.
The color in the petals make them appear almost translucent!
Without the color, above, the shadows are just gray.
See how flat this looks compared to the first one?
Same thing with these lilies. White doesn’t have to be boring or drab. 
For the lily above, I used one of the lilies in the photo below. Can you find the one? 
It’s the flower in the center, cropped out (and rotated) below, right.

 I like it’s curves — the twisting shape 

the contour makes — and have used the same basic form 
in several paintings.

I’m delighted to say the 3-day botanical workshop at Oregon Society of Artists went very well.  Here’s a painting in progress, 10 x 10 inches, started during the workshop.

Preparing for a workshop gives me an opportunity to try things I’ve been wanting to try! This time it meant acquiring a bunch of lilies to photograph and paint. Here are some of the reference images we worked from. We also had the actual flowers to move around or photograph, and we discussed how to make a good art reference photo.

Below, a group of thumbnail sketches, or small, rough contour drawings… they’re about 6 inches across. Sketching thumbnails is a good warm-up exercise and also a useful way to think through the design process.

After choosing an image, a color study becomes my road map for a successful painting. I did a quick small version in my Pentalic Journal, below.

I’m using a variety of papers, to compare them —
      Strathmore board for wet media
      Crescent 5115 Hot press watercolor board
      Arches watercolor board
      Canson watercolor board

Right away I noticed the Strathmore (in this quick study, above) is different from the other surfaces in that it is fairly absorbent, causing the paint to soak in quickly, leaving observable edges. Notice edges in the dark background.

One good thing about the Strathmore is that both front and back surfaces are sized to paint on, whereas other boards have only one usable surface. While not my favorite, I find the surface is suitable for loose, fairly wet work. Above, I’ve used it to make a quick value study of a magnolia blossom. Since I know the surface is extra absorbent, I used enough water in the background wash to compensate.

The Crescent, Arches and Canson are all very workable for me. I still love the Crescent board best, overall. It has long been my favorite surface for workability.

But sometimes a surface with more texture is fun to play around with. I do like using Arches paper on wood cradled panels. 

I notice the Canson makes the whitest surface… it’s acid free but not 100% rag (cotton). It’s also the least expensive, and works just fine.

The covered area overlooking the garden was a lovely place to gather on a slightly damp day. I brought several roses from home. The cherry parfait roses with their frilly red edges on creamy white petals and are fun to paint. Notice how everyone’s unique style shows through in their work.

Jane is deep in concentration as her painting blossoms.

Nancy’s sketch is carefully composed and I look forward to seeing it with color added!

        Here’s Joyce with her lovely work.

Heidi with 2 roses together — each one a star.
Diane with a luscious rose — love how the color melts across the page! Kudos for painting wet.

Marcia’s rose pairs with a tight bud.

                 Niya’s rose exudes personality


in progress

And this is my demo piece for the day…

Last Friday we painted needles & cones. It was a perfect day — so sunny we were happy to have some shade.

Here are a couple of studies I worked on…

A pine cone…

Some from the archives…

Tomorrow we’re off to the Peninsula Park Rose Garden to paint (of course) roses! It’s supposed to rain… but at least no downpour expected, and there is a large covered area. I’ll bring cuttings from home. The cooler weather should help to preserve them.