Sunday, February 28, 2021

Done Is Good


"Bougainvillea Season," ink and watercolor,
7" x 7" Legion Stonehenge Aqua W/C 100% cotton hot press

Liking this ink-with-stick approach. It's simple, but the simplicity does allows for learning about quirks of various paint colors; composition; use of light, medium, and dark values. I overdid the darks here and added one too many layers. That's hard not to do with the color red--it's just so luscious that I get carried away. Still, this one sends out some nice, vibrant energy. I'm calling it done-is-good. 

"Done-is-good" is a mantra I picked up in graduate school from the professor who supervised my thesis research development and writing. I often wanted to keep revising ad nauseum, but "Coach" would often say, "Sometimes done is good, Suzanne." 

Though that was years ago, I continue to use that mantra with my freelancing writing/editing gigs. I am still inclined to revise too much, but "Done is good" helps me hold that impulse back and let go of the projects.

It's a good mantra for the art learning curve, as well. There's always the temptation to keep keep adding lines and layers. But sometimes--most times?--the less fiddling, the better. Done is good.  

Friday, February 26, 2021

Recipe for Perfect Happiness


"Happy Anniversary," 7.5" x 10.5" ink and watercolor on Yupo hot press paper

I heard this poem below ("Recipe for Perfect Happiness") recited on the radio today by the late Lawrence Ferlinghetti today, the darling poet of San Francisco, who died recently at 101. (I'm so glad we went to City Lights Bookstore last year to help celebrate his 100th birthday. What interesting people were there to sign his giant BD card!) 

It's a beautiful poem. And I think it goes quite well with today's artwork, which is based on a photo of a bouquet of flowers given to us in January to celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary. Our happiness, too, has been greatly enhanced by boulevards of trees, cafes in the sun, and strong black cups of coffee. 

Recipe for Happiness - Lawrence Ferlinghetti

One grand boulevard with trees
with one grand cafe in sun
with strong black coffee in very small cups.

One not necessarily very beautiful
man or woman who loves you.

One fine day.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Summer's Just Ahead


Katy's Garden, 6.5" x 10" ink and watercolor

And then back to the ink and watercolor. Now that's just fun, in contrast to the more traditional watercolor-only paintings I've been doing, which I find laborious and painstaking except for those rare sweet-spot moments. 

I used a Speedball dip pen to establish some basic lines, then went over some of those lines with a stick dipped in black acrylic ink (as artist-friend Emily Weil taught me to to). Went for a walk while all that thick ink dried, and then came back and splashed in the colors. 

Quick and easy and now, taped above my desk, makes me happy as I prepare to work on a freelance editing project. That's how it works: an hour of art-making often provides good fuel for the day's other tasks. What a beautiful formula when it works. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Take Three: Closer. Maybe?


Roy's Flowers, Take 3 6.5" x 11" watercolor on Arches 100% cotton cold press paper

Yep. Got a little obsessive-compulsive on this one, as this is my third try (see earlier posts here and here). Mostly, I tried to mess less with the center flower's petals and let the paint have a little more control, with juicier washes but fewer layers on the flower petals. (Background has more layers.) 

Not quite the sweet spot I was seeking. Not quite like riding a bike yet. But maybe a little progress. I think? 

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Take Two


Roy's Flowers, Take Two; 7" x 11" watercolor on Arches 100% cotton cold press paper

Didn't quite find that sweet spot that I wrote about last time, but, I do like this second attempt better, and there were at least a few thrilling moments (while working on the background) that hinted at sweet spots to come if I just keep practicing. 

Really, what's not to like about this art learning curve? Better than doomscrolling news re: the failed impeachment conviction, vaccine shortages, and threats of new COVID-19 variants, I can tell you that.  

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Still Looking for that Sweet Spot

Roy's Flowers; 7.5 x 10" watercolor on Arches 100% cotton cold press paper

 Our friend Roy took a gorgeous flower photo recently and gave me permission to paint from it. I loved his photo so much, but this painting -- meh. Too controlled. Colors maybe not quite right. Plus colors overworked with too much glazing (layering). And too many hard edges. Even though his photo had plenty of them, I'm finding that that always doesn't translate so well with watercolors. 

But I learned more about timing. Or maybe more accurately about my own impatience. Delicious things can happen when you make an initial wash, let it dry but not completely, and then layer on another color of paint that isn't as watery. I have a hard time waiting long enough, though. There's a sweet spot when it's still wet, but not too wet, and yet not too dry. Still trying to make that happen on a more regular basis. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Thank you, Joaquin Miller

Thank you, Joaquin Miller

7" x 10.5" watercolor, Arches 100% cotton cold press paper

Yes, thank you, Joaquin Miller, and everyone who ever tended to the Oakland hills before and after him, for every redwood saved and planted in the Joaquin Miller Park. 

Be Peace 2

Be Peace 2

7" x 10.5" Watercolor, Arches 100% cotton cold press paper

Took a little more time with this one. Peace is worth spending time on, isn't it? 

Monday, February 1, 2021

Be Peace


"Be Peace"
5" x 6" watercolor
Arches 100% cotton cold press paper

We go by this little temple every time we head into Oakland from Alameda via the underground Posey tube. It's on a very busy intersection in a rough part of the city and seems deserted. But it's always a remind to be peace. Equanimity: that's the name of the game, folks. It's taken me a very long time to learn this, but it's true--now more than ever.     

Flower Drama

"Flower Drama" 

This one quickly got out of hand into high drama with that dark background. Hmmmm...maybe a reflection of the times. Can't we leave the drama to the flowers, people? 

Just in case you're curious: this one did not feel like riding the bike, like described in my last post. Well, maybe in a few little places where the watercolors did their own thing. But hoping for better rides ahead as I learn more about this medium.

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